SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - A Dutchman and his grandson boarded a flight to Sydney, looking forward to visiting sunny Australia, but ended up in a much chillier Sydney — in Nova Scotia, Canada.
Joannes Rutten, 71, and his 15-year-old grandson Nick booked the trip through a Dutch travel agency with plans to visit family living in Wollongong and Tallong, south of Sydney, according to local newspaper the Illawarra Mercury.
They set out from Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport with Air Canada on Saturday but instead of arriving to views of the Sydney Harbor Bridge and Opera House, they touched down at Sydney in Cape Breton Island, off Canada’s north east coast — more than 17,000 kms (10,000 miles) away from their intended destination.
Air Canada organized hotel rooms in the wrong Sydney, a former mining town with high unemployment and a population of about 26,000, until they could arrange flights on to the right Sydney, which boasts sun-kissed beaches and 4 million people.
They finally arrived in Australia on Wednesday.
“I think it was quite an adventure for the 15-year-old. They’re not seasoned travelers. Joannes was absolutely exhausted when he arrived,” Rutten’s cousin, Yvonne Wallace, from Wollongong, told the newspaper.
Clare MacDougall, who works for Air Canada, was at Sydney Airport (Nova Scotia) to meet the aircraft.
“When the door opened, the flight attendant said: “You’re not going to believe it but we have two people who thought they were en route to Sydney, Australia,”” she told the Cape Breton Post newspaper.
“They arrived with no Canadian money — they had all Australian money.”
No one from Air Canada was immediately available to comment.
It is not the first time travelers have mixed up the Sydneys.
In August 2002, British tourists Raeoul Sebastian and Emma Nunn from London spent their holiday in Nova Scotia after thinking they were flying to Australia.
Last year, Monique Rozanes Torres Aguero from Argentina flew into the wrong Sydney for her vacation but decided to stay after befriending a local woman at the airport, according to the Cape Breton Post.
Writing by Belinda Goldsmith, Editing by Miral Fahmy