All posts by mike

Arrival at Sydney Airport, Vodafone, Essentials, Subway – part 2

Jan 14, 2011:

As you’ve already read in a previous post, my shuttle was not there (any longer). Of course I had the phone number of the shuttle service, but because of the expensive call rates in Australia with an European SIM card I shifted the call. Let’s buy an Australian SIM card!

Prepaid phones/SIM card at airport

Vodafone and Optus have both stores at the Sydney International Terminal International airport in the arrival hall.
I decided to go for Vodafone, although I know that they do not have the best network in Australia. I decided to choose the “Flexi Cap” prepaid offer. It has the advantage that I can use the credit flexibly. For $ 49 AUD I got the following features: $ 350 AUD credit for calls to Vodafone Australia network, 3 GB data volume, and $ 350 AUD for all other expenses (“Flexible Credit”). The credit expires after 30 days. The tariffs change frequently, now has the Flexi Cap offer more inclusive services. To activate a Vodafone Australia SIM you have to call the number and enter the code from the activation voucher. After the call, the activation can take “up to 2 hours,” as the employee in the Vodafone store said to me

So, at first late breakfast / lunch. What works the same everywhere in the world? E.g. ordering at Subway restaurants. Let’s go to the departure level! On the departure level, there is next to the check-in area a large variety of food stores and shops (including Australian Post Office).
The way was quickly found, first a few meters along an long hallway and then an escalator. I was standing in the departure hall. After a series of check-in desks is the beginning of the food court. My trained eye saw immediately a Hungry Jack and a Subway next to it.

Essentials for Australia

When you are in Australia, you should I buy some essentials, as soon as you arrive. E.g. Australian sun cream. For Australia, a sunscreen with SPF 30 or 50 is recommended, and I mean according the Australian standard. A European sun screen with SPF 30 protection in Australia is not sufficient. Furthermore, it’is also recommended to buy a hat that protects the head and neck from UV rays adequately.
Both can be purchased at the International Terminal departure level both shops are at the rear right corner . 😉
In addition to a pharmacy and some Clothes stores, there is also a branch of Australia Post. I already have a SIM card for my phone, but I want to go online with my netbook.
As my netbook also supports the network of the reliable Australian mobile operator Telstra , I bought at the Australia Post a Telstra sim starter kit. You get Starter kits at Telstra stores, supermarkets and at Australia Post for $ 2 AUD. The employee informed me that starter kits come with no credit and must be activated later. I replied that I will add funds to the account online by credit card.

Free Internet Terminals at Sydney Airport – International Terminal

In the arrival hall as well in departure Hall are free internet terminals from the mobile operator “Yes Optus”, which you can use without registration. … if they are working.
I went to the Arrival Hall, because I first saw a terminal there and wanted to activate my sim card. The Internet terminals are very rustic computer with an Ubuntu installation and auto login (for the IT geeks among you). After several minutes, the browser will run on the Internet terminal. Enter the address and let’s go? No way! Even after 2 minutes of loading time the site wasn’t visible. Then the computer restarted automatically. Apparently I was’nt the only one . My “neighbors” of the other Internet terminals already cursed inwardly. There were also internet terminals in the Departure Hall …
So back to the Departure Hall! Here I had finally found a working internet terminal. First I checked e-mails … (Note: already more than 85 unread e-mails arrived). The free internet terminals are a really good thing, in Europe frequently you have to pay a fee. disadvantages have the two terminals but: Due to a not so powerful hardware equipment reacts very slow the Internet. In addition, the computer automatically restarts after X minutes of non-use.

After some time, I tried again to call with my phone. I dialed the number of the shuttle company. It rang … So, the SIM card works well without the Internet activation, it just takes some time.

Arrival in Sydney, border control, australian money, baggage checks – part 1

Jan 14, 2011:
We were again around 8 hours in the air. The pilot of the Boeing 747-400 landed the plane butter-softly on the runway, you could feel hardly anything. The weather was a bit gray at 22 °C. The captain announced, that it’s going to be even more beautiful and we had to reckon with 30 °C.
I relaxingly pulled out my backpack from under the seat and moved toward the aisle. After several minutes I could move towards the exit in the aircraft. After I left the gangway, I went first to a restroom. Incidentally, they advertise proudly there, that the toilets flush with recycled water 😉

Free Sydney Guide book and Duty-Free

After some meters you landed in an elongated area of “duty free” items. Before it, there was a shelf: Free “Sydney Guide books”! Everybody can take a free travel guide book for Sydney. In addition to to English there are also Japanese and other languages. Of course I took an English copy.

Wait lines at border, customs and immigration

Directly behind the duty free shopping area then the Border Control (“Immigration”). I decided to go directly to the Border Control. First I had to find the right wait line. There are wait lines for flight personnel, the default wait line, an express line, and another, but apparently you need for it a special electronic passport .

Border control / Immigration desk

At the end of the wait line they distributed people by hand on different counter.
With a friendly “Good morning” and my charming smile, I greeted the lady at the counter and handed her my passport, my ETA (Electronic Travel Authorization) confirmation, as well as the “Incoming passenger card”, which I already filled out during flight. She looked at my passport and compared the photo with me. Then she looked at the “Incoming passenger card” and entered something into her computer. As a next step, she asked me what kind of medicine I have with me. If you’ve read my previous post, you know that I have stated that I checked “medicine” at the incoming passenger card. I told her that I only have “standard travel medicine against headache and those stuff” with me. I told her that I was not sure if I had to declare”standard travel medicine”, therefore I ticked it on the incoming passenger card for safety’s sake. She said that would be a good thing, because Australia is very strict about it. She wrote a letter on the card, then she put a stamp in my passport and wished me a nice day.

Baggage

Immediately after the border control, I saw lots of baggage belts. A few moments later I saw a variety of flat screens, and on them were flight numbers, baggage carousels and related numbers. I walked straight to the correct baggage claim and saw my bag in less than 30 seconds. “That’s fast!” was my first thought.

Australian money / ATM at Sydney International Airport

I looked around and saw an ATM with the label “Travelex”. The name “Travelex”, I already knew the famous traveller checks, as an alternative to cash.
It’s time for the inaugural use of my new Mastercard Gold abroad!

A few moments later, the most beautiful money in the world came from the machine.
Okay, maybe not the most beautiful, but it is very unique. It feels like plastic (not like paper) and has a small “window” (transparent surface) on the bill. All bills are extremely colorful and each face of it has a face of celebrity. The bigger the bill, the higher the value. Easy to understand.
The system works completely different with coins , more about that later …

Import baggage check

to the next wait line! I moved with my trolley and my backpack from the luggage belt in direction to the import baggage wait line. At half way I was approached by a woman, I think she had a British accent. She asked me if I could raise her two heavy bags on the baggage car. Of course I helped her. Then I continue my way to the next wait line. 10 minutes later we arrived in a room with several exits and numbers of 1-10. An employee of the airport took my “incoming passenger card” and pointed to one of the exits. Yippee! Another wait line. After a few minutes I hit a fork in the queue at an employee of airport. She also took the “incoming pasgener card”. She asked me what kind of medicine I carry. I gave her the same answer, then she wrote something on the card and showed me the way to the next wait line. Yippie! Let’s wait a bit! : D More minutes went by, another employee took the “Incoming passenger card” (which she kept), then my luggage was got scanned. After a few meters I left the security area and arrived at the arrival hall. So it took me over an hour from plane to the arrivals area. Is the ordered hotel shuttle still there? … you can imagine the answer.

Where’s my  shuttle driver?! Alone at Sydney International Airport

I “scanned” all the  name badges. My driver was already gone. Great…

What happened next? You can read it in the next post.