Solo Flight in Sydney

Monday was the first day Kevin went to work and I went out in the city with just the boys, which caused great worry among the ranks. Imagine the most directionally-challenged person you know. Now put a bag on their head, put them halfway across the globe, stick a map in their hand, and assign them three children. That’s what Monday was going to be.

Knowing this about myself, I  prepared.  I studied maps, planned routes and back-up routes, had Kevin quiz me on what I’d do if something went wrong at each point, made pie graphs and Venn diagrams of the day’s plans. I prepared for the worst.

Things only ended up slightly worse than that.

The plan: to make it to the Sydney Opera house for the 9:00 tour then stroll through the Botanic Garden, find a charming place for lunch, take the train home, and be poolside by 2.

We left the room with 15 minutes built into the schedule, just in case. But once we got to the ground floor, we had to go back up to the room to get the bag we left up there, leaving us with just 12 minutes to spare. That’s okay. I can work with that.

We started toward the pier. I double checked timing on my phone and I realized the ferry we planned to take was going to get us to the Sydney Opera House 8 minutes late, which I somehow hadn’t realized before. My back-up plan training clicked in. No problem! We’ll take the trains!

The concierge pointed us to some stairs across the way and told us we just go straight until we get to the Town Hall Station.

Here’s how that played out.

train route

Our extra 12 minutes had whittled down to an extra 2 minutes by the time we reached the station, and huge drops of sweat started running down my neck. Unfortunately, none of my plans involved packing a change of clothes.

At the station we had to find platform 6, which may as well have been platform 9-3/4 because it DID NOT EXIST and everyone was on their Monday morning commutes and appeared to be in a different dimension than us. I tried asking a couple people for help but either they didn’t speak English or I wasn’t speaking English anymore, and I got no answers. I pulled the boys this way and that, forging through rivers of people and telling the kids NOT TO TALK TO ME RIGHT NOW!!!

But if you put enough monkeys in a room they’ll write Shakespeare, and so it was that we somehow found The Platform that Does Not Exist.

Unfortunately, on Platform 6 there were also Signs that Did Not Exist. Trains everywhere, but not a single freaking sign. No signs! No numbers! I blacked out for a minute and when I came to, I knew which train was ours. I don’t know how I knew. Maybe someone whispered it to me. Maybe it was somewhere in my ancestral DNA. But somehow, I figured out which train and marched the boys toward it. Here’s what happened inside my head as we got closer to its doors.

Wait—is this our train? Maybe. It might be. It probably is. Right? Yes, it definitely is..Or is it that other one?  “PLEASE STAND BACK, DOORS ARE CLOSING.”  Oh crap! Already? It’s okay. I’m sure this is our train. Yes. I’m sure of it.  But I’m never right about these things! So maybe we should choose the other one?! Oh Toto, what should we do?!  “PLEASE STAND BACK, DOORS ARE CLOSING!”

At which point I grabbed all three boys’ hands in one of mine and yanked them on the train, leaving most of my hair and one of Leo’s arms on platform 6.

Now, are you ready for the surprise ending?

It was the right train!

I went through the same mental gymnastics when we got to the station I thought we should, maybe shouldn’t, definitely shouldn’t, probably should get off at and lo! The opera house rose before us like a vision!

It was a 9 minute walk and we had 8 minutes to get there but we were full of hope and confidence after successfully getting on the right train and off at the right station. We raced up those stairs like we were in the finale of a romcom movie, trying to catch the plane and profess our love to the girl who most certainly will forget us if we miss that plane. We ran up those stairs, ready to grasp our happy ending and shout HURRAH to the world below!

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Alas, there was no happy ending to be had. The doors were locked. The plane took off without us. And with no kindness or understanding, the clock chimed 9:01.

(It’s true, clocks don’t normally chime 9:01, but I swear, somewhere nearby a clock very loudly chimed 9:01.)

So we casually walked down the stairs, found the right entrance, and bought tickets to the 9:30 tour. I know, a total fizzle-out ending for such a heart-stopping saga, and one might wonder why I even panicked in the first place if there are tours every half hour throughout the day, but there you have it. We can’t always explain these things.

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The rest of the day went pretty well, except that the boys ate the day’s worth of snacks in our first 15 minutes and then were immediately hungry for lunch. At 9:15. So the Botanic Garden turned into The Whiny Walk of Wrong Turns until we found the first place we came to, which of course was McDonald’s. (I personally think all the M’s should be W’s down here, but it’s not up to me.) Not exactly a“charming place for lunch” but it was unusually small for the amount of people in it, so there was that.

We made it back to the hotel’s pool by 3:00, which isn’t bad, considering. Kevin checked in to make sure we all survived the day.

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Yep!  I texted. I still have both the kids!

Tomorrow, I decided, we are only going to visit places from which we can still see our hotel.


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