A journey begins when you step outside the ordinary and into the extraordinary. Today marks the first steps on our tenth trip to Japan, my twentieth trip overseas. You would think that it would be all too familiar now but I want to feel as excited as I did on my first trip.
So much is different now. For starters, there are three of us. Alex has been excited about this trip ever since we mentioned it to him.
“I want to go to Japan, catch an Anpanman train and have a hot bath.”
“We need to save up money for a ticket first [and that’s why we can’t buy you x.”
“Are we going to international airport today?”
“Not today, you need to wait until winter. Is it winter yet?”
“No, it’s autumn.”
“Then we can’t go yet.”
Well, winter, and today, had finally arrived.
When I picked him up from childcare he couldn’t contain his excitement, jumping and skipping his way to North Ryde station.
I had imagined walking west up that path to the station, the late afternoon Sun in my face, watching other aircraft fly off on adventures.
It wasn’t like that. The sky was overcast and the day was dull. Not really the kind of day you start adventures. There was nothing I could do about that, so I lugged my eleven year old backpack up to the station, down the lift and on to the train to the city.
B was waiting for us at Town Hall, having had the day off work for last minute preparations and to take Kita to his boarding kennel. She had the Samsonite luggage, its wheel replaced but a couple of days before.
At last Alex could take the “Airport Train” that he has so persistently requested lately. Around the City Circle, through the tunnels past Green Square, Mascot… ….and the airport stations. Instead we get off at Wolli Creek, for our destination tonight is a hotel.
We walk past the modern, but isolated, apartments that have only sprung up around Wolli Creek in the past decade, stopping off to buy some chips and drink from an Asian grocery beneath one building. They are selling the wonderfully named biscuit confectionery “Couque D’assess”.
Across the busy Princess Highway we walk, then along the Cooks River and through Condell Park. The lights of the airport shimmer of the quiet waters as aircraft fly past towards the north.
Our hotel sits alone. It was once long ago the Sydney Airport Hilton, but is now a less prestigious Mercure hotel. It is the closest hotel to the International Terminal, but it is surrounded by so little. A rowing club, a motel, private long term airport carparks, residences and the industrial/automotive highway.
But I like this isolation, like the singular purpose of the airport. It is meant for those who fly. The isolation means that there is nothing else for us to do but to relax in the hotel, so necessary because of our too early flight tomorrow.
We go down to the hotel restaurant, “Seasons”, for dinner, order a pizza and caeser salad for us, a kids meal for Alex. It is not cheap, but the food is good and it is nice to be able to return straight to our room afterwards.
Almost straight to our room. The key cards don’t work. Have I forgotten my room number? No, the cards have just stopped working.
The Doctor Who episode “The Impossible Planet” is showing. The music sounds just right.
Outside the window is the colour of an airport at night. The CBD is just visible too. It’s a good view for getting you in the mood to travel.
How many times have we driven past on our way to a previous adventure? Now it is so close that I can almost touch it. Yes, I am excited.