Yes it is a few days since the last blog.
In that time we drove to Nice, following Julien and Virginie, and travelling with Jacob for the last time. I was bemused that the toll booth swallowed Julien’s ticket, a new experience for him. Must be our influence over those machines!!
Before we left we visited Julien’s friend who makes amazing clocks. Pieces of mechanical art out of bike parts. Large and beautiful mechanical creations that are alive and have obviously taken months of creative and technical effort. http://www.artmecanique.com/
Some people are just really clever!! Sadly, these are too big to pack into the backpack, and a little out of our price range. His charge is commensurate with the extensive time he has taken to make each one.
We toured old Hyeres, our last old town, which are actually really interesting places to walk through. there is a sameness about them all, but intriguing nevertheless. Intriguing on how they were built many centuries ago, and how people lived in them then, but also intriguing on how people live in them now.
Bit of a fuss at the airport, dropping of passengers, finding an open diesel station on a Sunday, worrying about checking our bags in on time, dropping off the hire car, all last minute panic type stuff. In the end, we said our sad goodbyes to our wonderful son, who had guided us so well, taken us out of our comfort zone and given us increased confidence of how to travel in strange lands.
The four of us sat quietly for the hour or so waiting for the closing phase of our journey, reflecting on the many experiences, most of which have been shared here with you.
Our first flight from Nice to Dubai was uneventful. We had centre seats on the aisle, if that makes sense. The 777 aircraft of Emirates have two aisles. Three seats, aisle, four seats, aisle, three seats. I generally like the window so I can look out. But on long haul flights, with the passenger in front rocking their seat back, you can’t stand up, stretch, or get out without a lot of hassle. For both our flights, we had seats in the centre section, so it was much easier to stand up when we wanted and the high ceilings gave a better sense of freedom too. You can still see out the windows a bit, enough anyway at 12km off the ground. Arrived Dubai at midnight, six hours in the air. The pilots had made good time, but we had to hold for half an hour, circling around the Gulf waiting for a spot in the landing queue.
Once we landed and came off the main runway, we taxied to our stopping point. That took fifteen minutes. Yes, fifteen minutes of driving around the airport on taxiways. A bit like trying to find a parking spot in the shopping centre it seems. And when we alighted, there were no nice covered walkways, just steps onto the tarmac and a line of ten odd looking large busses that we all piled onto. Chris and Cass had row 16 seats which are the best in economy and plenty of legroom, no seat in front, but near the toilet. So we got separated from them as we exited and caught different busses. Trusting that they wouldn’t be stolen, we travelled for another fifteen minutes on the bus before finally arriving at the arrivals entrance. Yes, this place is huge.
Gate numbering goes to around 360, which is a little deceptive as there appear to be three terminals adjacent to each other. Terminal 1 has gates 101 to about 160. Terminal 2 has gates 201 to 270, and the same for terminal 3. So it seems that there are something like 180 departure gates, not 360 as the numbering may indicate. Nevertheless, a big big place.
I cannot recall much of what we did there for ten hours. For the first hour or so, we tried to find the Transfers Desk as we had seen on the flight board that a flight left for Perth at 3am, seven hours ahead of our scheduled flight. It was worth a try to see if we could be wait listed. Alas the flight was full, and the baggage transfer window meant we couldn’t transfer even if there were seats.
So we settled in for a long wait. We found some of the seats with footrests that we had seen people sleeping in, but found them incredibly uncomfortable and slippery. Later on a wander into Terminal One, we found carpet on the floor, and many bodies stretched out on the floor behind the rows of seats. Note for next trip to Dubai – take a walk to Terminal One and find some floor space where sleeping seems more possible.
Resting was not helped but a loud incessant woman trying to make a phone call. Shouting Hallo, Hallo, a multitude of times, then carrying on her conversation with a now deaf person, we are sure she didn’t need any technology to get them to hear her. Kerry and Chris were disturbed by her rantings on their seats way down the other end of the area. Cass and I just started giggling after a while. Earplugs helped a little.!
Boarding for flight two came around and the long haul of ten hours was uneventful. Good food, smooth flight, typical bumpy descent into Perth and a landing that had a few gasping where the memories. I’ll have to remember to not watch the forward facing camera when landing in Perth on a wet and windy night. Seeing the centre lines of the runway off at a 20° angle from straight is a little disconcerting at 250kmh landing speed. We eventually managed to maintain all wheels on the ground and momentum pulled the craft straight. You know, these are amazing machines, these aircraft. Ten hours of flying, 9000kms most of which is 12km above the ground, all propelled by two engines that push us along at 900kmh or thereabouts. And people complain about the TV screen, or their coffee….. which is annoying, but get things into perspective! The crew was great, attentive, and friendly. We enjoyed flying Emirates, not any complaint what so ever.
Passport check queue was long with several flights arriving – it was 12:30am on Tuesday. Not sure where Monday went. Customs woman was friendly and appeared to be genuine when she asked how our flight was, and happy to chat about where we had been, all whilst going about her work. Quarantine checks. Yes we have been on a farm in Europe. ‘I bet that was fun. Any mud on your shoes?’
Australian voices, relaxed and helpful. Nice to be home….
Janet and Larry had come out on the wet and stormy night to meet us, much to our surprise. We gratefully accepted their lift home, and found a stash of lovely goodies at the door, bread milk, Tim Tams!! Thanks Jan!
And the doggies. Apart from being woken up at 2:30am, yes they were pretty pleased to see us, and us them.
So folks, that’s it. Over the next few days I will revise things, add a few more photo’s etc.
Jacobs blog makes interesting reading and if you’ve got into the habit of checking on our travels, go over and check out his. http://jacoblaw89.wordpress.com/