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Published: August 16th 2017
The first of three flights lands safely, albeit with a big bump. The hazy early morning sun is starting to burn up the Dubai desert. For some reason beyond mere passengers there is no air bridge available. Instead we will leave the aircraft (A380) parked on the apron and be transported to the terminal by a fleet of special people-mover buses. Emerging from the plane we are greeted by the already 36 degree heat. Just as well we haven’t yet changed into our New Zealand winter clothes.
Once in the terminal we have a couple of hours to kill. This vast modern terminal was designed only a few years ago to cater for the increase in passengers numbers. The queues at the toilets and food outlets demonstrates the need for a rethink on the available facilities. Just as well we have two hours to fill in.
By mid-morning we’re back on board for the 14 hour flight to Sydney. The flight is not really news worthy. Two meals, some snacks, and the use of the on board entertainment system. There is a bit of bouncing around as we cross the Equator somewhere over the Indian Ocean. Our flight path
takes us across the Southern Ocean before we make our approach over South Australia towards Sydney. With the sun rising we come into land from the east. Watching the approach on the small screen from the comfort of our seat sometimes isn’t very comforting. We feel the pilot needs to straighten up a little to the right. With another large thump we land. As we speed down the runway there is a distinct fish tail and wobble. We are in the middle of the plane, what it must be like down the back we can only imagine. With relief we slow and taxi to the terminal.
We are in transit so we need to endure another security check. Once again the items in the carry on bags cause alarm. After a rummage and another scan all is clear. Even the gunpowder residue check proves fruitless. We can now enter the transit lounge and enjoy all it offers. Our first stop is the Transit Desk to sort out our seating arrangement on the flight to Queenstown. What an easy process once we find it. Our boarding cards are torn up and new ones issued. Great. Seats 7B and 7C. We
can complete our journey together. After a final change of clothes to prepare for the single figure temperatures at our destination we have time for a coffee before boarding.
The bus takes us to our aircraft. We buckle up and sit back while we take fifteen minutes to taxi to our take off position. We have a good tail wind which takes fifteen minutes off our flight time. As we approach New Zealand we break through the long white cloud and there spread out below us are the beautiful snow covered Southern Alps. We fly the length of Lake Wakatipu and make a smooth landing.
Immigration is a very easy process but it is a long wait for our bags. We hope they haven’t been left in Paris, or Dubai, or Sydney. Perhaps they don’t know where to find Queenstown. After some time our bags emerge. We confess to the Agriculture inspector that we are carrying food items, we chat to the Customs inspector about our collection of medicines, bags are x-rayed, and we can follow the green arrows. We are almost home.
Waiting in the arrivals lounge is our very kind chauffeur, a good friend who
has offered us a ride home. Outside the terminal it is cloudy and rather cool, but not that cold that we need the puffer jackets. As we drive towards our home an hour away we can feel the excitement building at the prospect of seeing our house. Spring hasn’t quite arrived so trees are bare. We feel the comfort of familiar surroundings. Our own bed. We won’t need to download the user manual of another washing machine. We will be able to take clothes from the wardrobe not the suitcase. Preparing and cooking food will be much easier. Familiar surroundings fill you with with feelings of comfort and safety. The first crocuses, hellebores, irises and snowdrops are flowering. Inside on the bench is a bag of groceries and a flowering chrysanthemum. A very kind sister has visited. Our walk through the house finds everything in order. Now for the big turn on – water and electricity.
We are home safe and sound.
What a trip. The places we have visited, the people we have met, and the food we have eaten. We have had a wonderful time with many tremendous experiences. Our decision to use apartments has made it a very relaxing holiday. People ask about our highlights. Where to start. Sicily, Matera, Dolomites, Burgundy, visiting family in London. Exciting moments. Driving in Catania and over the Stelvio Pass, the discovery of the blue alpine gentian, the meal in Roccasecca. We hope those of you who have followed our journey through our blogs have enjoyed coming along with us. Thank you to those who have commented. Your interactions have been appreciated. A special mention for our very dear friend and traveling companion, Jane. She has guided us through Italy, France and England without complaining. At times we thought we might have to leave her on the roadside. On other occasions we could give her a big hug as she had us parked right outside the front door of an apartment with a very obscure address. We hope she looks after her new owners as much as she looked after us. We can still remember her instruction while whizzing through a very long Italian tunnel, “If possible do a U turn then turn right”. All is forgiven.
What now? A big sleep. Reflections. Getting back to normal.
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