Wednesday, 2 October 2013

The Return

My trip finished pretty much as it went ... with lots of highs and lows.

An hour and a half into my first flight (and more importantly 20 minutes before the end of "Man of Steel").  The  movie system on the plane crashed, and so I had no in-flight entertainment for the remaining four hours of the flight, and I couldn't get to sleep.

So I just found myself staring out the window and watching as the world passed below me in the darkness of night.

You know, looking at boring things like the way that the Mediterranean coast is so clearly outlined by all of the cities and towns ringing the sea, just like you're staring at a giant aerial photograph at night.  The hundreds, no thousands, of little towns spotted all throughout Turkey, followed by the sudden blackness of northern Iraq which in turn is followed by Baghdad and Basra lit up below and then finally all of the oil fields and ships of the gulf ... yea, I know, blah, blah, blah ... see it everyday, boring.

Of course my flight got into Dubai an hour early, giving me a whole extra hour I had to wait until my next flight, which was in turn delayed from departure because of technical problems (something you always want to hear before heading off over the Pacific Ocean for 13 hours).

But I told myself that this early arrival was sort of good, because it gave me a chance to get those gifts for Kim and the kids ... and my mum, who after reading that Kim & the kids decided they deserved gifts, sent me an emailing stating that she does too.

However, as I was to find, a day riding around Lyon looking for bike shops followed by a sleepless night on a plane, does not put one in the mood for shopping in an overcrowded airport, the end result of which was that after searching for gifts for the kids for two hours, I decided that if I had one more person step in front of me, I might punch them, so I went and had breakfast instead.

So I failed.  I did buy a gift for Kim and got some kudos points for that, before racing to the terminal to then wait another hour due to the delayed departure mentioned above.

Now here's a funny thing.  For the third flight in a row, as I sat down in the window seat that I had booked in advance for free because I like sitting next to the window, I was asked by someone if they could have my seat.

What is with that?!?

Am I the only person who realises that if you want a window seat, you should perhaps you should book one, not randomly start asking people if you can have theirs after you get on the plane?

I know it sounds petty, but I usually try and get on the plane right at the end of the queue, so each time this happened everyone around me was in their seat looking at me, and I'm asked to give up my seat in front of them all. I then say no, and become the bad guy of the flight for the next thirteen hours.

Thank God for earphones and in flight entertainment.

Anyway, I again couldn't sleep, so I watched six movies as Emirates continued on their campaign to try and completely dehydrate me and provide the worst service they could.  This time they fed me luke warm pizza (which by the way is not my favourite type of pizza) and for the third time in a row, when I turned my attendants light on to ask for some water so I didn't have to wake up the two people beside me, the attendant just walked past, turned it off, and kept going.  I kid you not, this happened to me three times on different flights.

Emirates has really gone downhill since I last flew with them.

But this all wasn't really important, what was important was that I get into Melbourne on time, or preferably early, as I only had one hour and twenty five minutes to get off the plane, get my luggage, get through customs, get back to the domestic Qantas terminal, check back in, get through domestic customs and then get on my flight.

If you take into account that they start boarding the domestic flight 20 minutes before it leaves ... I had just over an hour to do all this, and that sounded awfully tight to me.

This meant I spent a lot of the last part of the flight checking the estimated time of arrival, which had shown us arriving about 14 (very important) minutes early all the way from Dubai to Perth ... then over the last three hours our arrival time slipped back further and further until I was getting too nervous to check the time because everytime I did we were arriving another minute later.

In the end we touched down four minutes early, and I decided I'd take that.

It took the usual ten minutes to taxi in and get off the plane, but I got through customs in super fast time before charging off to the baggage carousel to begin praying to whatever Gods would listen that my bags came out quickly.  I should say that past experience suggested that if I missed my 7.35am flight I would be stuck in Melbourne Airport for most of the rest of the day waiting for the next international connection flight and so I was desperate to make this connection.

Which is why I was ecstatic when my bag dropped out onto the carousel after just 5 or 6 minutes.

Now it was only my bike I needed and then I could join the short, but growing, customs line.

FORTY MINUTES LATER, with me again having very severe urges to punch people and scream a lot, my bike finally emerged from the over-sized luggage carousel, but I pretty much knew my chances of getting my flight were gone.

Trying to hold onto some glimmer of positivity, I ran to customs with all my bags and searched for someone who looked 'staff like' to see if there was some way I could jump the long queues and get out quickly, and that's when my good old luck returned.  Just as I approached this guy in a uniform and started to explain my situation he opened up a whole new line and told me to jump in it quick and I'd be through in a few minutes.

He, and the other customs guy who accepted that I had cleaned my bike to the nth degree (I had) and could therefore just go straight through, were my two favouritist people of the day (and yes I know that favourtist isn't a real word, but it sums up how I felt).

So I made it.

It was very close with the Tasmanian flight almost fully boarded when I arrived at the gate, but who cares:  I made it.

And in Hobart my luck continued ... because I arrived so late, my bags were the first two off the Hobart flight.  Seriously, they carried my bike out from the oversized luggage door before the carousel had even started, and if you've ever flown with a bike you'll know that that never happens. and then my other bag was one of the first one's that came out.

Rather bouyed and excited by this final turn of good luck, I texted Kim to say I was heading out now and would see her in a second ....

She texted me back to say she was running late and would be there in 10 minutes.

But she did arrive, and that's all that matters ...

... well that, and where my kitchen was at ...

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