Two Months Down Under

December 1, 2013 at 12:56 am Leave a comment

image

(View from my balcony)

And so, after a mere 26 hours of travelling I have arrived for my two months adventure living, working, and holidaying in Sydney, Australia. Although a long trip, the flight was comfortable and distracting. Fortunately, surprisingly, my company had funded business class tickets so I had ready access to space, entertainment, booze and anything else one might need.

It started with a chauffeur to drive me from home to the airport. He was punctual and found us – my main two must-haves in any taxi service. The driver was pleasantly chatty and explained that Emirates had 68 cars picking up first and business class passengers for that day’s flight from Manchester to Dubai and that this fleet of cars was picking up as far away as Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and Hull. It made me think that there must still be pretty healthy margins for flight operators these days…..

Check-in was efficient and for the first time in my life I checked two bags in. Two bags! This is the most luggage I have ever travelled with. Two months is a long time after all.

And so, after a failed attempt to purchase the specific suntan lotion for my sensitive skin and rosacea-inflicted face as diligently researched by my lovely wife, I took refuge in the Emirates lounge. It was busy. And, I must admit that as I surveyed the lounge and its inhabitants I could not help feeling rather young, quite slim, and confident in my full head of hair and rather well dressed. The inhabitants of the lounge today were of a certain age and weight. This was clearly a holiday flight rather than one dominated by business travellers. It was full of couples – men who travel regularly and their wives, who don’t. The men were comfortable in the familiarity of the lounge and uncomfortable in the unfamiliarity of having their wives with them and the subsequent need to curb their natural drinking tendencies. The wives were looking less than impressed with or grateful for their hubbies’ sacrifice of spending all of those hard-earned airmiles on a shared lounge and business class experience, it finally dawning on them that they were seeing the reality of their partners’ travel experience – an experience which their husbands have moaned and griped and claimed great hardship about for the previous twelve months. Husbands and wives sipped champagne and struggled to maintain conversations.

Once on board, my assessment of my fellow passengers on the top flight of the Airbus 380 confirmed that this flight to Dubai was a holiday flight for those of a certain age with enough airmiles or money to do it in style. By “style” I  mean in the bar at the back of an A380 business class cabin. I have never witnessed the bar quite so full. Many couples made their way to the bar as soon as the meal service had finished (and some before) and stayed there. This was the cause of much raucous laughter at points during the flight and over-friendly departures on landing. Couples who had never met before that flight had bonded and become somewhat “over-friendly” over copious amounts of Veuve Cliquot and a toasted almond. Emirates will have to start decorating the bar with pampas grass methinks.

We had been slightly delayed leaving Manchester and arriving at Dubai. Consequently there was no time for shopping or the business lounge but straight to the gate where I met with my travelling colleague and made our way on board the flight to Sydney.

The Sydney leg was much more subdued. Emirates tend to force you into sleep mode when leaving Dubai, turning the lights off as soon as they have finished serving breakfast – the ultimate confusion for one’s body clock. I put the quietness of the plane down to the fact that it was largely full of Australians still in a state of shock after their first Ashes victory. More likely though it was due to hangovers from their first leg and overdosing on episodes of Family Guy. There were, however, far too many paunches in PJs or tracky bottoms on view. And consequently, sleep did not come easily to your truly.

And so I binged on movies – Wolverine, Olympus Has Fallen, Star Trek into Darkness, Elysium, and Killing Season interspersed with Victoria Wood singing about the EECs plans to eradicate the word wanker.

I did close my eyes and rested for a couple of hours. I rested despite the snorers, the talkers, the man with something akin to Tourette’s syndrome who shouted loudly in his sleep. I rested despite the one or two who always insist on opening their windows and flooding the sleepy gloom with sunlight and despite the one or two moms and dads who constantly walked their small children up and down the aisle.

We landed on time, got fast-tracked through security, and were collected by another Emirates chauffeur who deposited efficiently at my apartment – my new home-away-from-home for the next 62 days and nights. And so to sleep……..hopefully.

 

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Entry filed under: middleman. Tags: .

HS2…….Bring It On! Jet Lag…….

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