We finally made it!
April 21st has arrived! It always seemed so far in the future, and never really seemed real. A dream even, somthing that prrhaps wasn't quite real. Even today as I got up at 2.30 in the morning (yes 2.30!!!), i mean who gets up at 2.30 in the morning? The only people up at that time are people on the move. People who are coming home from a night out, or people who are going somewhere. On the way to the airport we pass countless people on their way home from pubs and clubs - so that must make us the ones going somewhere!
All holidays have to start with a funny story. So what's ours?
As you know, I was up early, and those of you that know me well, know that I always like to be ready early. Barb told me that she would pick me up between 3 and 3.15. So rather than cool my jets in the house, I decided to wait at the top of the driveway. 3 o'clock came and went, so did 3.15, pretty soon it was 3.30. Where was she? I decided to text her. No response (I later found out she had left her phone at home on the kitchen bench!) As we waited, we looked up in the night sky and commented that we couldn't see any stars, not particularly unusual we thought,probably just cloudy!
Eventually Barb and Bruce arrive, so I ask them ummmm, did you forget to set the alarm? The answer they gave me was totally unexpected. It seems that the river was so totally shrouded in fog, that as they left their jetty to cross the river, they took off in the opposite direction, they ended up doing three circles just trying to get their bearings. Apparently they even paid a visit to a houseboat along the way! Reason finally prevailed and Barb insisted they go home to find a torch! Now you can imagine the scene can't you. Two people whomhave had little sleep, up very early, and navigating their way across the river in a boat. Add getting bamboozled and frustrated with the fog into the equation! I believe there were countless swear words, and numerous instructions given on how to hold a torch properly! Eventually they made it safely to the other side!! They have lived on the river for 14 years, and have crossed it so many times it probably doesn't bear counting, but tonight of all nights, a simple crossing was not in the cards!
All's well that ends well though, and finally the International airport is in sight.
It still doesn't seem real though. It is only now, as we sit here 6 hours into the flight, 2 movies later, and we have finally watched the little plane leave the continent of Australia, that we look at each other and say "we're on our way to Italy!"
The adventure begins!
Out flight is very monotonous, but is made slightly more exciting by the fact that I am suddenly hit with a case of the runs! Call it Delhi belly, Bali belly, whatever you like, but halfway through a flight, I can tell you it is not fun. I did have the foresight to buy some Imodium before we left, but I thought I had packed them in my bag, not anticipating to need them so soon into the trip! No pun intended but shit, this flight was now looking like pure hell. Barb convinced me to ask the attendant for something, and thank god she did, I was as right as rain again quick smart.
Dubai is finally in sight! We arrive to a dirty dusty looking city. It seems that they are in the midst of a sand storm. The part of town we are staying in, the buildings are all fairly typical of any Asian city. It wasn't until we ventured out after a shower and a change of clothes that the building scape took a change for something completely different! Not your typical buildings here! To say that in Dubain they do everything bigger and better is probably a little bit of an understatement! Our first stop of the evening (and by this time it is around 9 pm Sydney time) is the Dubai Mall! Wow! That is all I can say! The place is enormous, and filled to the brim with high end, glitzy glamour, and beautiful shiny, bright colorful things! Jimmy Choo shoes in all the colours of the rainbow. We make our way to the water feature, where every half hour there is a light, and water spectacular! Better than fireworks, the display is set to a backdrop of music such as thriller! Amazing - but that is not all this mall holds! There is also an ice skating rink, countless water features, and an absolutely amazing aquarium, which has a huge glass wall within the mall, to try and entice you in. But wait, there is more - there is also an old fashioned themed gold souk market place. All themarble and the decorations, it is mind blowing! In one section there must be a million butterflies suspended from the ceiling!
I am not sure how far we walked, but we went from one end of the mall to the other, with many side diversions in betwee!! It would be very easy to get lost in that mall im sure! Even though our brains were pretty well addled at this stage, we managed to get out alive, and in one piece. Finally our body clock tells us that it is probably time to call it a night, so we make our way to the taxi rank! Again, more than you could possibly imagine. Think of the guy that stands on the Tarmac directing planes, but here he is directing 50 or more taxis, are you are starting to get the picture! Don't get in the wrong taxi, they don't like it, there is a definite order that must be adhered to (plus if you get in the wrong taxi, the meter is ticking while you are in a holding pattern!)
Home, and bed has never felt better. We have an early start in the morning, so we ask for an early morning wake up call at 5.45am. We really need not have bothered, as we were both wide awake at around 2am and watching tv! You see that was wake up time back home! I decide that I might as well have a shower, but really I should have just stayed in bed, as we both fell asleep again, but we were thankfully woken up with a start when the phone rang.
Off to the airport. As with most airports, there is a coming, and a going side to the place. The arriving side, while still,very impressive didn't give us even a hint as to what the departure side would look like. I could easily see Tom Hanks live in that airport for a very long time! We check the board for our departure gate - gate 121 - the board tells us that it is a 25 minute walk from where we are! 25 minutes, filled with people everywhere, and duty free shop after duty free shop. Architecturally and aesthetically it doesn't disappoint, there are fountains and lifts that are pure works of art! They love their water, and their fairy lights in Dubai! In fact on our flight yesterday, the ceiling was twinkling the whole way with "stars".
The impatient side of me wants to get heading down to gate 121. I reason that we can wait somewhere down there, there will still be plenty to do. We pass Irish pubs and snooze cubes, that sure got our attention! We are at this stage thinking that we have more than enough time to get to the gate. There's gate 121, and flashing up on the board - final boarding call! Toilet stop? No madam, sorry, you need to just get aboard! Oh, and by the way happy upcoming birthday!
Rome here we come!
As this is my first time flying in this region I am amazed at the views from the window. Flying over the desert is not at all like flying over our desert. Ours is a rich red colour, below us all you see is sand. Even the clouds look a sandy colour. As we head over Beirut, there are many strange formations, they look like dried up rivers, cracked, and parched, giving the appearance of snakes in somthing like an aboriginal painting! There are pockets of civilization here and there, and then out of the barren flat lands you see a lone mountain top peeking through the clouds! Further along there are mountain ranges, that have colour variations that look like snow with underlying vegetation, but I think in reality it is just vegetation and more sand!
Not long now and then we must try and navigate the Italian train system and find our way to the hotel!