there and back again

SATURDAY and loooong SUNDAY, 3rd & 4th December

I dedicated the morning for packing. I threw away all the folders and brosures that I had been carrying all around and they were making my bag pretty heavy, didn’t pack my warm fleece and jacket leaving them to hold in my hand and put on when I arrive in London. But I had to pack my warm shoes and travel in jandals, because it was really hot. Suddenly I got so much space and my bag was so light, that I was really surprised! It was about 1 pm when I finished packing. My friends weren’t at home. The whole family was taken over by the Christmas fever, like parades and parties. I went to the town centre to buy some more chocolate bars to fill up my bag and fish & chips for lunch. It was busy, because later J. told me that there was a Christmas parade which I missed when I was packing. I had no luck with Christmas parades in NZ.

The legendary Mr Whippy ice cream van

When I came back home, J. and the boys had already got home too, so I did have a chance to thank her and say goodbye before H. came to pick me up. My dear friend offered herself to drive me to the airport. It was again one more circle made in my journey. Just as H. was the first person to greet me in New Zealand, she was also the last one to wave goodbye to.

The flight back home seemed to pass quicker than the flight to the Southern Hemisphere, which was odd, because I flew to Australia then and it was a shorter trip. I guess going back home is always faster than going away.

If we go according to the calendar, my journey back home did look quick, because I got on a plane in Auckland at 18:50 on Saturday and arrived in London at 12:00 pm next day, so it was as if I travelled just for 17 hours. But it wasn’t like that according to the actual hours spent in the air and at the airports.

So here are some numbers:

AUCKLAND – MELBOURNE: 3 hrs 25 min; 2,639 km;
from Sat 18:50 to 22:37 Kiwi time (20:37 Aus time)
We had to stop by to fill up. Interesting that there were no Christmas decorations at the airport while in Dubai, there were lots of them. Melbourne is on my ‘to-visit’ list.

MELBOURNE – DUBAI: 12 hrs 50 min; 11,656 km;
from Sun 00:25 to 13:40 Kiwi time (from 22:25 Aus time to 4:40 UAE time)
We were chasing the night. I saw dawn in Dubai.

DUBAI – LONDON: 7 hrs 10 min; 5,504 km;
from Sun 16:45 to Mon 00:35 Kiwi time (from 7:45 UAE time to 11:35 UK time)
It was already the middle of the night for me and for my sister the day has just started.

I travelled for 29 hrs 45 min, so almost 30 hrs out of which 23 hrs 25 min in the air conquering 19,799 km. I did well staying awake for the rest of the day, not quite knowing what I was talking about.

the flight

Finally I bought an adapter to plug in the charger for my laptop and I’m back to life! 😛

I’m in Australia and I’m staying at my friend’s in Kippa-Ring on the Redcliffe peninsula, about 20 km north-northeast of Brisbane, Queensland. I’ll write more about this place later, but first how I got here.

My last dinner in London were pancakes with white cheese and blackcurrant jam made by my sister. I’ll be dreaming about them every time I miss a Polish homemade meal.

We took off from the Heathrow airport on Monday at about 22:30. It was my first flight by such a huge plane and I was feeling lost. I got a bit confident when I saw this on the seats 😉 :

Shame to admit, but I didn’t know such simple things like how to turn the light on or where I should plug the headphones in. The screen was great, so when I finally figured out how to operate it, I listened to the latest Kate Bush’s album Director’s Cut (love it!) and watched Rio and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. I was overwhealmed by all that new stuff in front of me that I didn’t know what to choose. After the second film, though I was actually tired and thought I should try to sleep. However it was time for breakfast and soon after that we were landing in Dubai. It was 5 a.m. UK time, but 8 a.m. in the United Arab Emirates. I had flown for 6 hours and lost the night.

In Dubai I had only 2 hours to change the planes. Long enough to refresh myself and browse through the shops. I forgot about Australian custom restrictions and bought a box of dates. Luckily, they allowed me to take them with me later at the Australian border. I was a good girl and declared them.

Back to Dubai. I was amused to see those signs next to each other on the information board,

I didn’t have to wait long to get on the second plane and I was more educated this time. The screen was showing 13 hours of flight, so I had enough time to sleep and watch movies. Sometime in between those “activities” (because I wasn’t very active, you know?), I saw we had crossed the equator! YAY! (sorry for the blurry photos, but we had strong turbulences, like on a train or coach… in Polish terms. 😉 )

A couple hours after we took off in Dubai, we flew into the night. Here we still had had 7 hours till Brisbane:

I’d been travelling for that long by coach, but it wasn’t the same as it was by plane. When you travel by coach there are stops more often, you can stretch your legs, walk for a little bit until the next part of the journey. On the plane it’s difficult and the only walk you take is to the toilet and back. It’s even more difficult when you sit in the middle and not by the aisle. I had a seat between two people on the first plain, but I was lucky to sit by the aisle on the second. Believe me, there’s no point in taking the seat by the window. You can’t see anything anyway, because it’s a night or just empty sky and you have to jump over two people, who can be fast asleep, to make a pee. OK, I’ll finish with that my “travelling long distances by plane” philosophy.

We landed in Brisbane on Wednesday, 3rd August at 6:30 early morning (still Tuesday 2nd Aug 21:30 in the UK). For you, I left London ‘yesterday’; for me it was two days ago. Funny thing is, the time…

A bit of statistics: about 20 hours in the air and 17,000 km away.

I stood in a long queue to the passport control just behind… a Polish family. I wasn’t surprised actually. When I was finally able to go with my dates after being questioned by a custom officer, I took my bag, which I welcomed like a pet or a long time no see co-traveller, and left the airport building. I WAS IN AUSTRALIA!!!! 😀

Soon after that my friend picked me up and on the way to his home he promised to give me some essential Australian experiences. Apart from seeing the All Blacks vs Wallabies match, I don’t know what else that could be. 😉

This is my home for the next month: