I did it! Another year under my belt. After I got to Rattus's 10th anniversary in 2015, it's been one year at a time, but my boss pointed out that next year is the 40th anniversary, so I can't miss that! 2018 or bust!
I flew in the day before, as is my habit, to give me time to acclimatise to Sydney and maybe catch up with friends. Everything seemed to go wrong with Friday, starting with getting out of bed. I checked my email and found Tiger had cancelled my flight 3 hours before it was scheduled to go citing "operational reasons". It said to call them to book a new flight. I did and was left on hold for 50 minutes. (While I was waiting I checked to see if there was any way I could do this on their website, but a phone call was my only hope.) When I finally got to talk to a human, she told me there were no flights from Brisbane she could put me on today, so I agreed to a flight from the Gold Coast when my darling and long-suffering raccoon said he'd drive me. Yes, I know I only have myself to blame for flying with Tiger, but they'd always treated me well before and I thought they'd cleaned up their act since they got bought by Virgin. I was determined to fly to Sydney on Friday because this was my chance to go to the Finnish Consulate to renew my Finnish passport.
Once settled into my room (I'd found a hotel right on the edge of Moore Park), I headed out to find the Finnish Consulate. Google Maps helpfully guided me via public transport to a construction site in the rain. It turns out they'd moved, but Google Maps had pulled the info from my Contacts which for some reason I'd saved from an earlier visit. It was too late for me to get to their new location so I made my way back into the CBD to explore for a little before having dinner with Belinda. When I got an SMS from her I realised my phone had not updated to Sydney time (I had switched off automatic time zone on my phone because it keeps getting it wrong in Brisbane) and I was running late so I had to hot foot it to the other side of the CBD. (Sydney is very big to a small town rat such as myself.) Meanwhile, Stephen (my frequent roommate for Mardi Gras) was having dramas of his own. His Virgin flight had been cancelled and they automatically rescheduled him for a flight later that night (Tiger, take note!) only to have that cancelled and he was rescheduled to fly in early Saturday morning. He rang Virgin but they were adamant there were no flights to Sydney that night. (It was raining fairly heavily in Sydney, but nothing like a storm.) He ended up huddling with other early starters in the only part of Brisbane Domestic airport still open at night. I spent that night alone and lonely, but at least I was warm and dry in a comfortable room and slept soundly that night.
Saturday thankfully went much more smoothly. I got to enjoy an early morning walk in Moore Park until I was drenched by a surprise downpour, but Stephen got to the hotel at last and there was much rejoicing. We took a bus with our suits into the CBD and got there smoothly without the full buses and crawling traffic. Leaving early pays off! We found a new furry who was even earlier than us and we set up shop next to a fairy ring and became the official furry gathering point for that year. (I think we had the honour of being the first furs he'd met irl up to that point--what a leap from never having met another fur to marching in Mardi Gras! I hope we made a good impression.) We were up towards the front of the parade this year and there was patchy rain so it curtailed my own exploratory impulses, explaining why I didn't take many photos this year, but the rain stopped when it was our turn to march. Another great march as always, thanks to Dustan and Loupy.
We went back to our room (still a long walk, but at least we didn't have to brave a taxi or Uber), freshened up and had a long walk to the Erciyes Restaurant (one of the few places still open at that time of night, but it was worth it!). Stephen had been holding up remarkably well on one hour of sleep, but after dinner it finally caught up with him. He'd wanted to go to the after party but he couldn't stay awake so we both had an early (?) night.
Sunday we got to hang out with Kamadan (an NZ spotty cat) and Vel (the only sometimes scary demonic platypus). We made it to the airport with plenty of time and enjoyed a drama free flight back to Brisbane.
I took a handful of photos which I left up on Google Photos.
The official float photographer took a lot of great photos, including this lovely one of Stephen and I (I took Rattus Alt because I feel as if Mardi Gras belongs to him):
The official Mardi Gras photographer took a great shot of the float:
You can also see the livestream of the whole parade (the time link goes straight to our float) here.