Friday, December 24, 2010

23/12/10 - 24/12/10 A Christmas Eve in Noumea

This Christmas, I was presented with the opportunity to spend the week over Christmas with Emma's family in New Caledonia. Essentially, that meant a holiday with great company on a french tropical island with free accommodation. I have a hard life, don't I?

So my trip began with me finishing my shift at the Big K, and taking the airtrain straight to the airport.

I arrived before Emma and her family, and decided to check-in on my own. Upon check-in, I discovered that unfortunately, I wouldn't be able to sit next to Emma on my flight, due to us being booked on separate tickets and it being a full load. Thankfully, it was going to be quite a short flight, so it didn't concern me too much.

Emma and her family had some luggage issues, and as such after arriving at the airport,
Gerry, Emma's Dad, had to turn around, go all the way back to Kenmore, and get back to the airport before check-in closed. Needless to say, it was a tense wait for us. Thankfully he did make it back in time.

After passing through immigration, and having a browse around the duty free shops, I did my usual plane spotting gig. I killed a good 15 minutes walking from one end of the international terminal to the other. It turned out that as I was walking around, I saw our plane land, barely 20 minutes before we were due to depart.

Naturally, 20 minutes isn't nearly long enough for a plane to be unloaded, cleaned, refuelled, reloaded, re-catered and boarded, so our flight was delayed by a good 30 minutes.

Air Calin Flight SB151 Brisbane - Noumea
Aircraft: Airbus A330-200 F-OJSE
Class: Economy
Seat: 31A, then 31F, then 30F
Pushback: 2119
Arrival: 0018

The flights. It's all about the flights for me. This flight was no different. I fiddled with the in flight entertainment, chatted to the person next to me, and tried out the recline on my seat. All were quite good, but I noticed fairly quickly into the flight that there were other sets of seats free. I asked one of the flight attendants if I could grab my girlfriend and sit in one of the other seats. The attendant said this was fine, so I jumped up and tried out some of the other seats. Eventually I settled on an empty exit row seat, and got Emma to come down and sit next to me. Legroom is awesome.

A little while later, I looked out the window, and the runway was only about 10 meters below us. Apparently we were landing.

The rest of the night was a very quick journey from the airport to Noumea, and a very good night's sleep.

Actually, that last bit is a lie. Probably the dodgiest night's sleep I've had in a while. As I found out pretty early on after arriving in New Caledonia, it is damn hot. And apparently we've come in their hottest December on record.

Christmas eve was a very enjoyable day. Compared to my last few Christmas eve's, this 24th of December has been wonderful. The past few years were made up of panicked customers trying to finish off their last bits of shopping and me being yelled at by said customers for being out of stock of a highly popular Christmas present which has been on sale for several weeks *before* Christmas.

This Christmas eve was spent lounging by the pool, eating delicious french food and drinking delicious European soft drinks and alcohol. Guess which type of Christmas Eve I prefer?? Hint: it's the one with croissants.

In the afternoon, we went to a local patisserie and bought more bread for the evening meal. The smell of freshly baked bread makes your mouth water. Additionally, I got to see my third ever sunset over the water! We drove past one of Noumea's main beaches just on sunset, and we saw the orange sun dip beneath the waves, while eating a chocolate eclair. It was awesome. Easily the most beautiful, as it lacked Phuket's thousands of other tourists, and San Franisco's perma-fog.

For dinner, we had barbecued prawns. Now, being the true blue "shrimp on the barbie" Aussie that I am, one would think that this would be a common occurance for me, but actually this was my first ever barbecued seafood. I'll probably go home and eat some snails to balance the Aussie:French ratio.

Next up: Christmas! Other Shenanigans!

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