A Rough Guide to GUFF - Part 8 of several
It's been a while since I've posted anything under this topic, but I've been busy. I guess part of the reason for this is that I've reached the point where there's not a lot to say about GUFF in general terms, and it's getting into the specifics of my trip. It's also hard to comment on the plans I'm making when it could all turn pear shaped when the trip actually starts. However, I feel for that very reason, now is a good time to talk about my intentions. Then I can see how they compare to what actually happens.
Part 8 - Planning
More or less the first thing I did after finding out I was the GUFF delegate was to check out the visa situation, since if there was likely to be any problem getting into the country. Fortunately, providing you're an EU citizen, it's pretty straightforward these days. For Australia, you must apply for a "eVisitor" online. This is free, and is normally granted in about 24 hours. For New Zealand it's even easier, as EU citizens can travel for holidays without a visa.
The next thing was to check I could get the time off work. There were raised eyebrows at me taking my entire year's holidays in a single block, but in the end it was no problem. I wanted to go to Au Contraire before Aussiecon, so a week an New Zealand followed by 3 weeks in Australia seemed a logical breakdown.
I also started talking to as many previous fan fund winners as I could, and got lots of helpful advice. Ang, Sue Ann and James Bacon in particular have been hugely helpful. I also got a number of offers of places to stay during the trip, which was also fantastic.
I felt it would be a good idea to get my main flights booked as soon as I could, so I at least had the main part of the trip nailed down. I looked at lots of options from various airlines. I did toy with the idea of trying to do a round the world trip, but that didn't seem to be practical, and these days it's best not to travel through the US unless necessary, as I really don't want to end up on the wrong side of Homeland Security.
There were some fairly cheap options for flights to Australia, but the tricky part seemed to be the New Zealand leg. In the end, the best deal seemed to be to book with Quantas as a multi-stop trip. While they were a little more expensive for an Australia only journey, they were a lot cheaper than any combination of flights I managed to find. It should also mean that if anything goes wrong with my flight connection, it's the Airline's fault and they have to look after me.
The next step was planning what to do when I get there. I'll go into my plans for the conventions later. For now I'll talk about what I'm doing around them.
Norman Cates, a former DUFF delegate, was very generous in offering to put me up when I arrive in Wellington. Hopefully I'll get to meet some of New Zealand fans in the run up to Au Contraire,
I would have liked to go to lots of places in Australia. Sydney is the obvious choice, though only really for touristy reasons. However, I was advised that the biggest fan community outside Melbourne was Perth, so a stop-over there seemed a must. I also felt it would be nice to catch up with old friends Damien and Juliette as their 2005 trip was one of the things that sparked my interest in GUFF. After that there really wasn't time for any more stop-offs.
Sue Ann suggest I come to the monthly meeting of MUGS, the Melbourne LEGO Users Group, so keen to forge more links between LEGO and SF fans, I readily agreed.
Booking internal flights in Australia was pretty easy, and reasonably cheap. I hope that JetStar are nicer than Ryanair (I think I've flown with Ryanair enough that I doubt anything will surprise me).
One thing I'm quite pleased about is that my flight on the way out is on a 747 (operated by BA - I hope they don't go on strike), while on the way back I'm on a A380 super-jumbo. I haven't been on either before, so getting to experience the two largest passenger planes on the same trip should be interesting.
I've outlined my itinerary below.
Sat 21 Aug: Arrive in Heathrow, depart for Wellington
I've a few hours in Heathrow. Anyone fancy meeting for a pint there?
Mon 23 Aug: Arrive in Wellington
Fri 27 Aug-Mon 29 Aug
Tue 31 Aug: Depart Wellington, arrive in Melbourne
Thu 2 Sep-Mon 6 Sep
Tue 7 Sep-Wed 8 Sep
Thu 9 Sep-Sun 12 Sep
Sun 12 Seo-Tue 14 Sep
Wed 15 Sep-Sat 18 Sep
Sun 19 Sep
Mon 20 Sep