Update from Brisbane

As I write this I am staying at my co-worker's home near South Bank in Brisbane. Ryan Mitchell has been an example of the great hospitality I have received from everyone through work and throughout Australia while I have been down here. At the end of my two weeks of scheduled work I had procrastinated and not made plans for my week off. Ryan and his fiancée Nicole hosted me in their guest room. Today Ryan took me surfing up and down the Gold Coast from The Spit and Main Beach through Surfer's Paradise and all the way to Coolangatta. I even got to leave Queensland and go into New South Wales. I have a good picture of me standing on the border in both Queensland and New South Wales which I'll post up later. In Coolangatta while standing next to Ryan watching surfers in the great blue Pacific I was almost attacked by a Dragon, but I'll save that story for a separate post (including pictures).

As for the surfing, I didn't really stand up that much, but I did have a good time and even successfully did some body surfing with a few tips from Ryan (who knew you had to hold one hand forward to support yourself and increase speed while continuing to paddle with the other hand?) It looks a little odd for sure, but it really makes you go faster.

I just booked two nights at O'reilly's Rain Forrest Resort in Lamington National Park in Queensland about two hours south of Brisbane. It should be awesome. On Thursday I'll head back to Brisbane and spend the rest of my time at Tinbilly hostel right down town in Brisbane. Hopefully I'll be having Tea a lot with Rain from Raleigh and Eva from Farnborough and the rest of the Red Hat Brisbane folks when I'm back. Friday the Brisbane office is having a Christmas party which I'll be attending (so early!).



Ahmet's Turkish Restaurant in South Bank of Brisbane

As you could probably guess Australia is generally hot. It was weird to go from cool/rainy in Raleigh straight back into August hot summer. It took me about a week to  get past the jet lag but now I am good on that point. (It's nice not  waking up at 5/6am every morning and being ready to go for no reason,  and also getting sleepy at 2/3pm in afternoon).

Brisbane is a pretty lively place even though Ryan Mitchell keeps telling me it is "small." Though it is pretty spread out. Last night John Ko took us to Ahmet's which is a Turish restaurant in South Bank. We got the "King's feast" which is a  multi course meal and it was very good. At one point jko noticed that all 6 of us were from different countries, James Livingston (AUS), Nigel Jones (New Zealand), Anand Vaddarapu (India) me (US), Jose Castillo  (Spain), John-Bae Ko (Korea).  Jose Castillo is another L2 from the Farnborough, UK office though originally from Spain. We are staying together at the Evolution Apartments on the same block as the Red Hat offices here in Brisbane.

James Livingston and Nigel Jones

Australia, or not (day 1)

I got an opportunity to help out in our Brisbane, Australia support center recently. At different times, a couple people from North America are going and a couple people from Europe are going. Today I started my journey to Brisbane. It hasn't gone well so far. My flight from RDU to ATL was delayed by over an hour due to rainy and cloudy weather in Atlanta. By the time I made it to Atlanta I had missed my connecting flight to LAX.

However, luckily for me I had planned to have a big layover in LAX anyway. There was another flight to LAX an hour after my missed flight  that would arrive at 10pm with my LAX to BNE flight leaving at 11:25. The exact word I said to the ticketing attendant when she informed me of this was a long exhaling "sweeet." Well it turned out to be a bitter sweet moment. We boarded early, around 8pm for the 8:20 take off. We sat around idly for 20 minutes while the pilot made really lame jokes about how his plans to go to Miami were interrupted because he had "a job which required him to fly to LA."  Oh and he also mentioned "but that's what they pay me for." haha okay buddy.

At some point the pilot mentioned that one of his mechanics noticed a panel on the plane that wasn't quite right. It needed to be repaired. The pilot then made a joke about how the panel should take 10 minutes to fix and 20 minutes to do the paper work. In the end we didn't leave until close to 10pm. I was expecting the pilot to make a joke on us about how he felt bad for us and that we had the unfortunate situation of having to chose Delta for our travels. For some reason he never made that joke.

Now remember my flight from LAX to BNE was scheduled to takeoff at 11:25.. Once we finally take off from ATL the in seat monitor informs me we will be arriving either 11:10 or 11:25. Then the captain tells me we are arriving at 11:05pm. We actually do land at 11:05. It takes until 11:25 to get towed up to the gate.

By the time I'm in the terminal the airline staff are calling out "Brisbane." When I go up to the guy he shakes his head and tells me he doesn't think I'm going to make it. (It turns out LAX is so big you have to ride a bus to get from one terminal to the next.) Instead he directs me to the ticketing area to book another flight. It's so late there is no one even there to book me but I noticed some employees off in a tiny office nearby. They're clearly finished for the night and are all talking and eating food. I stand there for a bit in the doorway like an idiot while they stuff cheesburgers in their mouths and stare at me. After just a bit too much awkward silence I  just announce "I missed the Brisbane flight." This Aussie chick "Emma" steps up to help me.. she logs onto one of ticketing computers and books me a flight for 9pm Saturday to Sydney, from there I'll have to get *another* connecting flight to Brisbane. She also hooks me up with a "distressed traveller" discount at the local Four Points hotel. I asked her about the status of my checked bags. "Will they stay here tonight or can I get them." She says I can get them and goes off to talk to someone. Oh, turns out the baggage guy is already gone. So I can get them tomorrow at 3pm. Luckily I did end up not putting *all* my toiletries in my checked bag.. I have a toothbrush and toothpaste in my carry on laptop bag. I hope no one notices I'm wearing the same clothes tomorrow that I wore today.

So to wrap it up, in my first day of travel and attempt to get to Brisbane I had two (2) delayed flights, and two (2) missed flights, with one of the missed flights being my final destination. I'm now a day behind schedule and stuck in a hotel in LA with only the clothes on my back, a laptop (thank god ;-)) and a toothbrush.. It's 1:50 am Pacific but I'm three hours behind and we just had Daylight Savings end so it feels like 4:50am to me. Initially I was pretty frustrated with this bad travel luck but then I found myself grinning because it's not often you get an opportunity to do something like this.

Hm, what will I do in LA tomorrow?

Oh, Happy Halloween!

Europe pictures uploaded

I uploaded all mine and Matt's Europe pictures. There are over 1000. There is definitely some redundancy.. so I will have to weed that out. Within each album mine come first then Matts. They should be chronological.

London > Paris > Amsterdam > Berlin > Copenhagen > Stockholm

Link to Gallery

London Saturday October 11th

We left Raleigh on time around 6pm after enjoying a beer at the Admirals club at the airport thanks to Matthew's American Express Platinum card. The flight was unextraordinary. Matt slept during much of it because he has the gift from God to sleep anywhere. As for me, sleeping on the plane didn't happen much. Mostly I just counted the hours and slowly realized that I was going to arrive in a foreign country where the sun would just be coming up.. and to me it would feel like 1 or 2 am.

We landed around 6am after waiting in a holding pattern around Heathrow because they didn't want us to wake the Londoners.

We got our bags and followed the signs to the tube.

We got on Picadilly line terminating at Cockfosters. On the train we rode past our intended destination almost to the end of the line. On the Train Matt is telling me all the different monuments and interesting places we are going to see. All I can think about is, "but when do we sleep before all this?"

We went back on the right train and finally got Hampstead where we called Leo and met him around 10am. Leo is a former Red Hat employee out of the Farnborough, UK office that Matt knows through work. We arranged to stay with him this first day of our journey.

We showered and went out walking around London South of river Thames.

Some major landmarks we saw were Big Ben and The Parliament, London Eye, former city Hall, London Bridge, London Tower and Tower Bridge. We had fish and Chips at Hornimans pub. Then we went to Buckingham Palace and St. James park where we saw a friendly but fat squirrel (see youtube videos <link>). We continued walking around London and ended up at Trafalgar Square Shopping district. In Trafalgar Square there was a concert with Indian singers and lots of Indian people and Indian food and the like. We continued on into more very very busy streets/intersections.

Big Ben with John and Matt

Europe October 2008

On Friday October 10th around 6pm myself and Matthew went on a two week Europe backpacking trip mostly planned by Matthew. Matthew was the experienced travel buff and I was along for the ride per se. At 6pm we left from Raleigh Durham airport for London Heathrow. We arrived around Saturday 6am local time in London after about 7.5 hours in the jet. We stayed the night and left in the morning on the chunnel for Paris. Wednesday the 15th we left Paris by train to Amsterdam. This will be the last train. On Friday morning we left by plane for Berlin. Monday morning we left for Copenhagen. We stay in Copenhagen until Thursday the 23rd when we fly to Stockholm, Sweeden. Saturday night I fly back to London while Matt stays in Stockholm with a friend. Sunday morning I fly back to Raleigh. Matt stays with the friend for the remainder of the week and works in Farnborough, UK at the Red Hat office located there.

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