The most stressful part of my trip so far took place at check in at PDX. Apparently you need a visa to travel to Australia. To be honest, I still don't really know what a visa is but the nice woman from Alaska airlines in Portland checked me in to LAX after not being able to reach anyone on the phone from V Australia to inquire about the other parts of my trip. She also waved my baggage fees for my double bike box, wheel case and heavy suitcase so I wouldn't have to pay baggage twice once I, hopefully, got cleared for travel on my flights to Tasmania. After some Internet sleuthing (iPhone is now officially worth it) and phone calls to u.s. agencies, I found out that I could apply for a visa online for $20 and most are approved immediately. I'm 50/50 on having trouble entering countries with out hassle. Trinidad was a breeze, but everyone there is in a constant state of 'liming' meanwhile Canada still gives me a hard time every time I go there, eh. Luckily my visa was approved instantly, I exhaled deeply and things started to look up.
The rest of my travel experience was remarkably stress free. Aside from long layovers, which I'll take over rushing from gate to gate any day, everything was quite wonderful. I was only charged $50 excess baggage by V Australia. I found vegan food at LAX, I forgot to request a vegan meal on my flight, but the über helpful flight staff scrounged some up for me, the Boeing 777 was a delightful aircraft complete with mini tvs in he backs of the seats in front to you packed with plenty of episodes of 'my name is earl.' I took the train to downtown Sydney on my layover to walk around, see the opera house, harass some couriers and get food before heading back to catch my flight to Launceston, Tasmania.
Quarantine in Australia and Tasmania is understandably strict, being islands with big farming industry. I was a little bummed I couldn't bring the remainder of my mixed nuts into country, nut they didn't have a problem with my surplus of clif bars. At the Launceston airport they didn't have a quarantine checkpoint but a guy with a dog that walked over and smelled the checked bags as they came thru the conveyor off the plane. It was unreasonably cute.
I was met at the airport by athlete coordinator Rick Martin and a newspaper reporter and photographer. Luckily I wasn't dressed like a bum on the plane and after a short interview and photo shoot Rick and I departed for my host's house. I just assumed that I was staying in Launceston, the 2nd largest city in tassie, but instead I found out that my hosts lived an hour away in Devonport, which means I had to cancel my massage for the next day in Launceston. Devonport is a cute smaller town but not sure how much trouble there is to get into here. I am staying with the Minehan family. Sam, their older boy at 17,
races bikes so I have a ride to all the races while I'm here. The Minehan's are super nice and accommodating. We are only a few blocks away from the Devonport track which holds the only two day carnival.
My second day we went to the Silverdome in Launceston for what I thought was going to just be a training session but instead there was racing that night. My body was definitely not ready for that but I got to do a couple wheel races and keirins and a pretty fast scratch. My hips and butt were not happy but the track was nice. I got a massage the day after and and then the following day we went to Rosebery for the first carnival only for it to be rained out. I think I'm headed to Launceston to ride a crit today. Big carnivals start on boxing day!