United Airlines is much maligned these days. Combining the troubles of United with the long trip, we expected the worst. We checked in early and went through security easily, with the exception being Karen and her titanium hip. Even though she has a card, they always want to pull her aside as if she has something secreted. Which always leads to another problem. Her stuff sits on the end of the belt. I tried to retrieve it, asking for permission. I got no answer. This continues to frustrate. Anyway her bins were piled on top of one another and she got everything, or so she thought.
We went into the Red Carpet Lounge and were comped drinks. So far so good. Moved along to the plane which was scheduled to leave on time, around 11PM on Tuesday. Yeah, 9/11 at 11. Once we got settled upstairs in the 747 (Business Class, very nice), Karen realized that she did not have her laptop. She tried to go back to retrieve it but lost and found was closed and the plane was leaving. We got information on who to contact, left emails and phone calls and also left the info with our IT person, Stanley and my assistant, Lisa. Fortunately, they were able to retrieve the next day. This is the second time for this, as I left my laptop in Long Beach on the belt a few months ago. This apparently happens often, as they have a process for this occurrence. Am still unclear on why they have to be unpacked. It is not so in any other country.
The nice thing about business class, besides the seat and room, is the service. We slept for a good part of the trip and, as in previous United transpac trips, every time we woke up, our water glasses were full. Hydrating makes a lot of difference on these trips. Got an article finished for MediaPost on the plane in advance of OMMA. You can see it at http://publications.mediapost.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=67447
We landed at 6AM Thursday (1PM in San Francisco). Dawn was breaking as we landed, so we were in darkness for pretty much the full 14 hour trip.
Immigration was quick. Our bags came out immediately. SFO could learn something from the Aussies! Customs was quick too as we had nothing to declare. And yes, they screened our bags with my laptop inside. Quick walk to the cab line, got a cab immediately and headed into the Sydney CBD (Central Business District or downtown) to the Sofitel. We had inquired about checking in early back in the states (thanks, Lisa) and were told they would "do what they could". We announced ourselves, were told we had an upgrade to a deluxe suite and that the room was ready! We got to the room, (escorted by a bell man from Fresno!) and looked at each other, kind of in amazement. A very nice suite with a separate living room. And we got here with no pain. Knock on wood.
Took a nap and went out to see the city. Just a short walk down from the hotel is the Circular Quay, which has the Opera House on one side of it. We walked out to the other side and had a delightful seafood lunch at Peter Doyle's, kind of the McCormick's of Australia. Outside on the patio, looking out at a very small and intimate harbour. Lot's of boat action with many different kinds of boats reminded us of Hong Kong or even the Chao Phraya river in Bangkok from the deck of the Oriental Hotel (one of the single best places in the world for breakfast or a cocktail at the end of the day). Sydney and San Francisco are often compared. Greater Sydney (4MM+ in population) and the San Francisco DMA (5MM+ in population) are similar in size, both on water (although as I said, the Sydney Harbour is cuter) and have diverse populations. Both founded in the 19th century. Old buildings and new. Sydney seems hipper. But also has more suits. We can see the similarities but also the differences.
While we were playing, Mediasmith was hard at work and the Anvil group got our latest out the door. It's an article that first ran in iMediaconnection on OTT, bringing web video to the living room. You can check out the latest Anvils and previous editions at http://www.mediasmith.com/white/newsletters.html
Thursday night, we joined Andrew Darbyshire and his senior staff for a drink at the end of the day and toured the offices of Bullroarer, an Australian mobile content provider and our newest big client. They are in the process of introducing into the U.S. in the next few months. Nice group of people. From there, we went down to the harbour and had dinner at Cafe Sydney with Andrew and his wife Jeanette in Customs House. A top restaurant by reputation and it live up to the reputation. Great service, wonderful food and a top Shiraz. Wonderful company too. We're happy.
Fell into bed for a welcome sleep. Up at 6AM due to jet lag. Felt like we could handle it so we took the CityRail subway to Surry Hills and explored around before meeting Andrew for some Thai food and a little business. After which we took the light rail (tram) to Darling Harbor for shopping, drinks and a nice walk across the Pymont Bridge and back to through the CBD during Friday rush hour. More people than we had seen yet on our trip. Rested up and had a light pizza dinner.
We have two more days in Sydney and then head up to the Hunter Valley wine country and the iMedia Conference. We'll post some pictures soon. Really.