Based on the grueling trip over, we were not looking forward to our flight back to the States, but we were determined to enjoy our last two days aboard the Noordam on the way back to Sydney, Australia.
With that in mind, we spent our time relaxing and getting to know our new found friends on a deeper level. We also exchanged contact information so that we could continue our relationships on a long distance basis.
The evening of the 23rd day was our last formal dinner on board which gave us one more time to dress to the nines, dance a few dances, drink a few drinks, and spend a little more in the casino playing blackjack with the dealers we had gotten to know so well over this extended cruise. It was a great evening. This was followed by another great night of sleep on a rocking ship that lulls you into a languid dreamworld unlike anything you will find on dry ground.
We spent our last day on-board packing for the trip home. Let me pass along some advice to future cruise travelers on extended voyages. If the cruise ship does not have a laundry for the passengers, but offers to do your laundry for a price, do what we did. On the first leg of our trip, we used most of our clothes and stacked them in our laundry back awaiting the second half of the voyage. Then, on the second half, we purchased the unlimited laundry option. At that point, we were able to send all of the laundry from the first half of the cruise to get cleaned. From there forward, we sent in small loads every few days so that when we packed to go home, we were packing all clean laundry.
That brings me to the trip home. Ugh! The first leg was from Sydney to San Francisco on the Boeing 777. Four hours of flying followed by 10 hours of torture while flying. I envied the passengers in business class because their seats converted to beds. However, we were not about to pay and extra $10,000 to get a bed.
Like all good and bad things, they come to an end. We landed in SF around 10:00 AM, got through immigration and customs, rechecked all of our bags for the remainder of the trip and then took the BART from the airport to Fisherman’s Wharf. There we had a wonderful lunch followed by a long walk to reactivate or legs after the cramped 14 hour journey. The walk included a stop in Ghirardelli Square to buy some dark chocolate for the remainder of the trip and a stop in a camera shop to buy a new lens cap and a UV filter for my telephoto lens.
By mid afternoon, we were both exhausted and decided to go back to the airport and await our red-eye flight at 9:00 PM to Washington, DC. We were going to spend more time in downtown SF but sometimes the body does not cooperate.
Well, we made it home in one piece and our neighbor was waiting at the airport to pick us up and bring us back home. It is wonderful to have great neighbors that are also great friends. When we got in the door at around 11:00 AM on the 18th, we simply dropped our luggage in the living room and went directly to our own bed. Of course we turned the hot water back on and reset the thermostat first, but that only took a few minutes.
That was the end of our bucket list journey down under, but not the end of its impact on our lives. It took almost ten days to get our bodies back in sync with the local time. It was much more difficult flying west to east than the reverse. Is that your experience too? I would welcome comments on your experiences.