Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bob Goes Down Under - 26th June to 14th July 2008


The following is the story of my trip to Australia in the Summer to see Thomas and Kath.

It is a story of self discovery for me and was a real eye opener in terms of what life is all about and what I want and need for myself.

I wrote this blog in a couple of notepads as I went along so what you are reading is exactly how I felt at the time and is written very much 'in the moment'.

It was a trip of a lifetime for me and I tried to squeeze in as much as I could when I was there and with 10 flights in 18 days and many 18 hour days it was exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. In many of the pictures I look completely knackered and that is because I was, but I would not have changed a moment of it.

I have split it into daily blogs as too much happened to document in one entry.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin...

Day 1 - 26th June

After a few months of working very hard doing lots of overtime shifts and two months of constant nighshifts to finance my trip to Oz and my other holidays, it was time to head down under.

I had came off of a nightshift, had a few hours sleep and then went to see my Mum's paintings that are on display in the library. Then bought a few bits and pieces that I would require for the trip.

I spent the evening getting organised and it was well after 1am before my head hit the pillow and I lapsed into a coma.

At 4.45, I was dragged kicking and screaming out of the land of nod by my alarm, phone alarm and house phone all ringing at the same time. I turned off both of the alarms and answered the alarm call from BT and grunted a thankyou to the poor sod on the other end of the line who had the unenviable job of waking up grumpy bastards like me!

I ate breakfast, showered and then called a taxi take me to the airport.

The driver was a nice fella and when I told him where I was off to, he revealed that he loved Aussie Rules Football and that he followed Hawthorn. He was delighted when I revealed to him that I was going straight to a Hawthorn game as soon as I stepped off the plane in Melbourne! I promised him that I would give them my support and told him that Thomas was a fan too.

When I arrived at BA check-in, I immediately sensed that there was a problem when the girl behind the desk asked if I was staff and she looked perplexed when I informed her that I was not.

She spoke to one of her colleagues and then told me that the flight had been overbooked. 'I have a flight to catch to Melbourne from Heathrow at 1230, so what does that mean exactly?' I asked with a sinking feeling in my stomach. She disappeared for 5 minutes and when she returned she assured me that all was well and I would be able to board my flight.

Thank God, I thought. Dodged a bullet there! She then asked me for my visa. 'Pardon?' said I. 'You do have a visa, don't you?' she asked as the sinking feeling returned. I sheepishly told her that I did not.

What a fanny I am! I have been so busy lately that I had completely forgot to get one organised.

I called Thomas and after he agreed that I was indeed a fanny, he reassured me that I could buy a visa at the BA desk.

The girl behind the desk returned to help me and thank God that because of her professionalism ten minutes later I had purchased a visa and was now good to go.

The flight to Heathrow was uneventful and I arrived at the infamous Terminal 5 with several hours to kill before my next flight. A couple of coffees in Costa later and it was time to board my Quantas flight.

I ended up sitting beside a lovely Mother and Daughter who were returning to Melbourne after a 2 month trip round Europe. Nice people but they had as much trouble understanding my accent as I had understanding theirs so after a cuple of hours of speaking much slower than I am used to, I decided to watch a movie and a couple of episodes of the Simpsons from the in-flight entertainment menu.

The Quantas flight attendants did a great job of looking after us with frequent food and wine and I spent my time reading and listening to music.

Eleven hours and 6, 000 miles later I arrived in Hong kong.

Day 1 and the first part of my journey was over....