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Published: February 21st 2010
Day 65 & 66: Saturday, January 30, 2010 thru Monday, February 1st, 2010
(Lose 1/31 due to time/date change)
Cairo, Egypt to Dubai, United Arab Emirates
to Melbourne, Australia
to Auckland, New Zealand.
Remember on the previous blog that I ended with "I cannot wait to get the hell out"? Yeah, that's called tempting Fate, boys and girls.
I wake up at 8am to the sound of someone trying to open my hotel room door. I groggily call out "Hello?" and get the reply "oh, you're still in there." So, guess housekeeping was ready for Contiki to get the hell out. I hop in the shower and pack and I'm updating my blog when they try again. I, not so patiently, yell out "Yes, I'm still here, I'm not leaving until Noon!"
So, at Noon, I head down and check out and then continue typing my blog in the lobby for a couple of hours until the shuttle shows up. Some of the other group members took this extra time to sleep while others went ATVing around the pyramids. Sounds like they had fun, glad I chilled though. Myself, Krista and Mike are the only ones taking the 2 pm shuttle so we say
goodbye to the remaining few and head off to the airport. Along the way, Krista and I bond and we find out we have quite a bit in common- too bad we didn't start talking earlier in the tour. Poor Mike suffered thru girl chat and I tried to give him some man chat by saying "Hey, did you catch the game the other night? You know, the one where the guy kicked and/or caught the ball? Yea, it was awesome." No such luck. They depart at Terminal 1 and while one of the shuttle guys helps them with their bags, the other one gives me a couple of Egyptian bookmarks. I thank him and, knowing he did it for money, added another Euro to his tip. (A Note from the Future: As I am typing this in Auckland, New Zealand, I am amused by the fact that I now have 5 currencies in my possession: US, Euro, Egyptian, Australian and New Zealand. Well, 6 currencies if you count my rockin' bod.) We get to Terminal 3 and shuttle guy #2 helps me with my luggage and we're about to head inside when shuttle guy #1 runs after us- I
left my iPhone in the shuttle. Why the hell am I forgetting the big things on this trip? Wallet in Athens, left my credit card at the front desk on the cruise ship (luckily they hunted me down that night), and now my phone. Can't I leave behind a sock or something? Okay, so I've already lost many of those too, I'm just tired of losing my wallet and phone. So, every 10 minutes now I have a jolt of fear course thru my body and I dig thru my bag and find both. It's fun.
So, pointless rant over, Shuttle Guy #2 and I head inside and we get to the ticket line and Emirate Airlines
isn't open yet. So, he shows me where to sit and says that the ticket kiosk should open 2 hours before the flight, so I have a couple of hours. I sit there and read and finally they open and I get into line. I get to the front, and hear Fate whisper in my ear "You're my bitch now!" I hand the airline lady my passport and plane reservation and she does her thing. A couple of minutes later, after much keyboard
French squatter in Dubai airport.
I don't think so. Homey don't play that.
typing, she asks me if I have my Visa for Australia. I say no, I'm not going to Australia, I'm going to New Zealand. Then it hits me, I have a 8.5 hour layover in Melbourne. I then ask her if I need a Visa just for a layover and she says she's checking. She types, then she gets up and talks to someone, and about 10 minutes later (honestly) she comes back and as I stand there sweating, she says "No, you're fine. If your layover is 8 hours or less you don't need a Visa." Thank friggin' God! She then does a few more types on the keyboard, looks confused, and turns to the ticket guy working next to her. He answers her question bluntly (I can tell by body language- needless to say, can't tell what they're actually saying) and she asks another question. He quickly becomes annoyed and, again, just from body language, i can tell that he is saying that he isn't doing her job for her and keeps holding a hand up to block her face/words. She's getting upset, and finally another lady comes over to help her. They talk, get another person over,
and finally she turns to me and says, "You need a Visa." What the? What happened to "No, you're okay." I then ask her if there is a place in the airport where I can get a Visa and she says no, I'll need to go to the Australian Embassy in Cairo and she suggests I rebook my flights for tomorrow. The thought of that displeases me so much that I tear up and start crying. Right there, in front of the ticket counter. I hate not having a handle on my emotions. She gets worried over the American girl that is melting before her eyes and pats me on the arm and says that I can get on the first plane I was scheduled to go on (which would take me to Dubai, United Arab Emirates) and that maybe they can get me a Visa there. I don't even know that country, so that kind of freaks me out even more. I need to make some decision so I say I'll reschedule my flights and she has a guy lead me to the Emirates office where they'll help me with that. I've managed to calm down and stop crying
by the time we reach the office so that is good. We get in there and I explain what's going on and luckily another foreigner followed us in and she tells me that she goes from Dubai to Australia all the time and that the airline in Dubai can get me a Visa. Yea! I get to go to Dubai! If only I had time to Google it! I head back to the ticket counter lady and tell her I want to do the first part of the trip. She gives me that one ticket and says that I'll need to pick up my luggage in Dubai and then go back upstairs and check in again/try to get a Visa. I thank her and head off to the gate.
I get on the plane and try to relax and worry about one leg of the journey at a time (and this leg should take about 3 hours). The stewardess comes over and offers me a hot towel and I think "I don't get it" as I accept it. A friggin hot towel to wipe your hands on, this is a luxury? Then I actually wiped my face with said
hot towel and happiness was mine. See, us women usually wear makeup and we can't partake in this event as we are supposed to. Luckily, I had given up all hopes of looking good during this long travel and hadn't bothered with make-up A hot towel on the face is nice! The plane is decked out with stuff to help your long flight go faster, and the tv screen in front of me will let me watch various movies (good ones too) and television shows as well or listen to different cd's or play games. Fun! I decide to honor my trip by watching "Aladdin" since most of us on the tour group had had "Arabian Nights" going thru our minds most days. I finish with that and we still have about an hour and a half to go so I watch Grey's Anatomy, life is good.
We land in Dubai and I had actually been able to read up on it thanks to fancy TV which also offered information about our destination. Seems this is one of the biggest resort ports and the picture were gorgeous. So, if I get stuck here an extra day, not so bad.
I race down to baggage retrieval and wait and wait. To add insult to injury, a voice comes on the loudspeaker informing my flight that they are sorry for the delay, but it will be another 10 minutes. Ugh. I look at the clock on the wall and it is 1:20 am and my flight leaves at 2:40 am and I still have to get my luggage and myself checked in in addition to the Visa. I ask one of the Emirate guys who is standing by in case anyone needs help (great airline actually) what my odds of making the flight will be. He looks at his watch and then uses his walkie talkie to ask the luggage guys to try to send mine up first. He says I might be able to make it. We both stare intently at each piece of luggage that comes our way and he sees my backpack first and grabs it for me, puts it on a trolley, and tells me which way to run. Thanks guy! I get to where he said there should be an elevator that will take me up to Check In, but I can't find an elevator, only
an escalator. So, I strap on Monstro (this sounds like it's turning into a porno) and hike up the escalator with that and my two carry on bags. I need to ship some stuff when I get to NZ so for now I'm just carrying it around in an extra tote. I get to the Emirates counter and I am sweating up a storm! I get to the ticket guy and, while gasping, tell him what's going on. He looks at the screen and my passport and says "No, you're fine- the system shows you have a Visa." WTF? I want to question him further but it is the answer I want so I just smile and grab my tickets and passport and jog to my gate. I'm there with about 10 minutes to spare so I run into a bathroom to towel down and try to get somewhat presentable again. While at the ticket counter, I had debated about taking off my jacket. Good thing I didn't because when I did take it off in the ladies bathroom, my white t-shirt underneath was also soaked and had become transparent and clingy- not good in a Middle Eastern country. I
go into the stall to do, you know, but upon seeing a 100% French Squater toilet, I decide I can wait for the plane. I finally see a true, honest to God, French squatter, and it's in Dubai. Weird. So, took a picture of it. Enjoy!
I board the next plane and this flight will be a long one, 13.5 hours from Dubai to Melbourne. On the first flight (Cairo to Dubai) I had a window seat with one seat next to me and no one sat there, so plenty of room. On this flight, I was in the middle part of the plane where they had four seats smooshed together, and I was one of the middle seats. One guy on my right and one guy on my left. When it looked like everyone had boarded, we all dove to empty seats and I thought all was well. Until the people showing up late arrived and it was a group of about 8 who took up all remaining seats. So, back to being a sandwich. Both guys were about my age (okay, younger) and the one on my right was originally from Pakistan but now lived in Australia.
The one on my left was originally from Italy but now lived in Switzerland. Damn- talk about international! We never swapped names, so can't even say I forgot them. The baby in front of us starts screaming as we taxi down the runway and her older sister decides to help calm her down by singing at the top of her lungs. We all laughed, but our eyes were twitching as we did so. I spent the time on this plane trying to sleep (no room), watching "Finding Nemo" in honor of Australia, "The Invention of Lying", and "Love Happens" along with many more Grey's Anatomy episodes. Yes, we had that much time- 13 hours. As we were approaching Melbourne me and my seat mates remembered that we could have been playing games too so the Italian and myself quickly partake in a quick game of battleship and he kicked my ass.
We land in Melbourne around 11 pm and head to Customs (I'm so used to this by now- it used to intimidate me.) The guy at custom's sees how long my layover is and suggests that I go down to baggage retrieval because it's not uncommon for the bags to not make it to the next leg of the journey. Son of a ... okay, I've got time this time at least. I head down to baggage claim and instead of watching the bags go round and round, I head over to the information desk and show them my ticket. They confirm that my bag is all set to go to Auckland with me. Yea! I don't have to check my bag... again... for the third time. I head back up stairs and sleep on some chairs (off and on that is) until about 4 am when I just can't even try anymore. I do some reading and try to play on the net but my laptop battery is almost dead and I can't find a wall socket. So, for the final two hours, I just stare at a wall.
We board the plane going to Auckland around 9 am (30 minutes late) and I find someone sitting in my window seat. Not just in my seat, but his legs stretched out onto the aisle seat. I'm too tired to be polite so I just say "You're in my seat" and proceed to shove my bags in the overhead bin. He pauses a moment and then gets up and i sit down. He then turns to the stewardess and asks if there are any other available seats on the flight and she says no, they're full, so he slumps down next to me. What the hell? You want to move away from me? That's fine- I already think you're an ass. He continues to prove my assumption right, in many ways, for the rest of the flight. I felt very bad for the guy sitting in front of jerkoff because jerkoff kept bracing his knees against the back of that guys chair (and putting his bare feet in the seat pocket- ew) and jiggling this guys chair the whole way. At one point, that guy got up and when he came back, he slammed his body into the seat, therefore jarring the hell out of jerkoff's knees. He slowly moved his knees away from the chair and proceeded to rub them in a "Can you believe what that guy just did?" way. I was happy at that point.
3.5 hours later, we land in Auckland around 2:30pm and I scramble far far away from jerkoff. Head down to the baggage terminal, grab my bag, get the bus info from the information desk, and hop on a shuttle that will drop me off near my hotel, Chifley Suites Auckland
. I get off the bus, strap on Monstro (tehe again), and go around the corner where a pretty steep hill promises to lead me to my hotel. My legs were literally shaking for the final steps of that hill- I am carrying too much crap to do that much walking. I find my hotel and stumble into the lobby. I give the reception lady my name and the sheet that has my reservation code. She looks it up in the computer and tells me "Oh, Sam called yesterday." Sam is a good friend (only saying that cause she'll read this) from LA and that was the oddest thing in the world to hear- I can't fully explain how confusing that was. I'm in another country, in another world basically and this stranger is mentioning a friend of mine from many miles away. It was weird, I'll just say that. I ask if everything is okay and the lady says Sam is fine, just saying hi. Okay, hi Sam! I get up to my room (20th floor) and realize that Sam was saying more than hi, she had sent me flowers and chocolate! Awwww thanks babe! What doubly touched me is that that is exactly what Mom would have done once I had gotten so far away, so it definitely shows how well Sam knows me and my family. Dad would have sent me whatever toy he had just gotten from a Frosted Flakes box, but we'll leave that for a future trip 😊 I munch on some Belgian chocolates (awesome by the way) as I look around my spacious room. It's a suite, actually, and i have a kitchen, two balconies, a living room and a washer/dryer. Yea!!! I can do laundry!!!! It's only about 4 pm but I am done for the day- I can't do any sightseeing. I look at a menu of take out delivery and decide that I'm even too tired to eat. So, I take a much needed shower, watch TV and work on the blog and try to stay awake. However, at 8 pm I throw in the towel and go to bed.
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