The Long Leg

October 21, 2017 - Wollongong, Australia

Our flight home was at 10.15am so we needed to be on the 7am shuttle from the hotel. As usual I was up early and then woke Margaret at 5.30am so we could be ready and packed before going down to breakfast. As this is an airport hotel it caters for early starts. Breakfast begins at 4 am but we didn’t need to be there that early. We didn’t eat too much for our breakfast but had just enough to keep us going until lunch on the plane.

Perhaps we were complacent but we can also blame the coffee being slow to arrive and my eggs as well, but in the end we had to rush to get back to our room for the bags and back down for the shuttle.

As we came into the foyer a doorman took our bags to the shuttle and held our place while we dealt with formalities at the desk. We needn’t have been concerned as there were people later than us and the shuttle may have several minutes late in leaving.

With our pre-printed boarding passes the bag drop was quick and easy and then at Immigration there was only a few people ahead of us. At this airport the last part is the Security Screening and we joined a long, long ‘snake’ before being sent in batches to one of many X-Ray and Metal Detector stations. We were still very early really so it wasn’t a worry.

From there it was a long walk to the very end of the Departures area to find Gate B32 and because there was some construction work going on there seemed to be no way to get to it by following the signs. Finally we found it but there was very limited seating. We found a seat a little away from the gate but within sight. We needed to keep an eye on things as Dubai is a No-Announcement airport.

When the sign said ‘Gate Opened’, that only meant we could all file in to a Gate Lounge that these days of A380 aeroplanes was way too small. There were almost as many people standing like us as there were sitting and crammed together. To add to that there was a security screening stage to check for liquids – again? Boarding was done by zones but that only seemed to mean standing up and moving to the front rather than going anywhere. We were the last zone to be called forward so I guess the earlier people had gone somewhere. We went down an escalator to the airbridge level and onto the plane.

Once we were all safely stowed and accounted for the plane moved out toward the runway. I guess that was around 10.15am but it was 11am before we were airborne. We were glad of a snack and a drink as the on-board menu only had dinner and breakfast. How do you keep amused and relaxed for a fourteen-hour flight. Margaret slept and listened to opera and I programmed a long playlist of songs that filled time between movies. I watched ‘The Secret Scriptures’, ‘Red Dog: True Blue’, and a Charlie Chaplin film (I could listen to my music while I watched). Sleeping, reading, eating and walking the circuit filled the time until we landed in Sydney at 7.15am local time, so a little later than scheduled.

Somehow we managed to breeze through Immigration, bag collection and Customs and by 8.10am we were out in the arrivals hall. Sarah thought she might make it to the airport so we looked around a bit, had a coffee, and sent a text message before heading for the trains. Unfortunately we missed the Illawarra connection at Wolli Creek by only a few minutes and had to wait for the 9.39am train instead. We arrived home about 11.15am.

The place looked like we had only just walked out. The plants were all doing well thanks to Barbara’s attention to them and also for the collection of mail we would now have to work our way through. After eight weeks of practice we were quickly unpacked and had everything sorted away although we kept looking in the wrong place for things. I guess we had been doing that for the last eight weeks as well.

Now we are back to the mundane things like grocery shopping.

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