Published: May 21st 2012May 21st 2012
An account of my journey to get to the other side of the world..
On my way to Auckland airport at 9.30pm Tues 15th May, 11hr flight to Kular Lumpur taking off at midnight. 3 hr wait at Kular Lumpur airport - massive #starbucksfail, worst coffee ever. My (Dad´s) backpack goes from showing signs of fragility to a shoulder strap breaking.. will have to carry the 9kg in front of me from now on.
13hr flight to London, sooooo happy - a row to myself! Save my feet from further puffiness (even with the flight socks). Another 3hr wait at Heathrow airport to fly on to Lisbon, Portugal. I arrive in Lisbon at 10.30pm - the same day I started from Auckland, indeed I have gone back in time. 7hrs light sleep in a Lisbon hotel then back to the airport around 9.45am to find that my 11am flight to Madrid is cancelled. Traffic controllers are striking today every 2 hrs. An 8pm flight it is. I better start liking this airport.
8pm and we´re all on board the plane, when an announcement in Portuguese is made (all communication is Portuguese first, then English), and people start getting out of their seats and collecting their bags. Then in English I learn that the plane is going to be delayed by 3 hrs, apparently traffic controllers are on strike again at this time. We are all shuffled off the plane and back to the terminal by bus. Starting to get a little weary.
For the 13hrs I was at the airport I collected 32 Euro worth of food and drink in vouchers, rotated sitting areas every 2-3hrs and read 549 pages of Marion Keyes´ novel ´The Brighest Star in the Sky´, which was so entertaining I recommend it. When choosing a book from the small English section, I thought this was the best choice - such a collection included ´how to be a coach as manager´ (bit too close to work), ´the rules of life´ (there were way too many listed), and ´sex and the city´ (kind of been there done that).
Madrid. Arrived at the hotel at 1.45am-ish. Such a relief. (I always think that the stage of travel when you´re most tired is when mistakes are made and things can easily go wrong. So I put the worst scenario in my head when getting into a taxi alone from the airport ot the hotel in a foreign country at 1.30am. I give the driver the hotel´s address on a piece of paper - tearing off the bit which has my name and the fact I´m staying there for 4 nights, I tell him it should coast about 30 Euro, and I take down the taxi´s details and a description of all I see. I then look really alert and make eye contact in the rearview mirror from time to time with a look that says I´m alert, take me seriously and don´t try anything. I think it works ´I´ve always arrived at my destination).
Feeling completely run down in Madrid, sleeping a lot, a bout of tonsilitis unfortunately. Thanks Aunty Anne for the medical advice! I venture out briefly everyday - bottled water (unsure if I can drink the tap water, but can´t be bothered asking yet), sunlight, internet, food... then retreat. There isn´t much more humbling than being alone in a foreign country and not knowing the language and much of what´s going on. ´No hablo Espanyol´ - I don´t speak Spanish. Thanks LCC girls for the phrasebook - been handy in so many ways. e.g. reading the sign on the internet cafe for hours when it opens....
Contiki Spanish tour kicks off this afternoon from the hotel and I´m feeling better. Looking forward to meeting the group, we´ll spend another couple of nights in Madrid.
ps got my vegemite and protein powder through customs... yes!