Home at last

Home at last
Hobart, Australia

Hobart, Australia

And now we’re home.

I don’t know about Lil Sis, but I tried to sleep on the flight from Brunei to Melbourne. Every time I felt myself falling into sleep, some part of my body resisted and I woke up again. I can’t explain this any other way, just that my body was crying out for sleep, but wouldn’t let itself tip over into sleep. I can sleep on buses and in the car, but my body wouldn’t sleep on the plane. It was weird. And very frustrating because I was exhausted.

The trip back seemed to go a lot more quickly than the trip over, despite the lack of sleep. We arrived in Melbourne just before 6 am and had to go through the passport check. We have the new style passports with an electronic chip, so you can scan your passport when you get into the terminal, it prints you a ticket, which you then take to the entry (or is it exit?) gate, look at the camera and it recognises you and lets you through.

Only it doesn’t if you aren’t wearing glasses in your passport photo and are wearing them when you go through the checkpoint. Someone didn’t think of that did they? Sorry Mr Border Protection Official, I didn’t pay attention to your information leaflet.

Once I had that sorted (I blame exhaustion), we picked up our bags (finally), proceeded through customs and were out in the real world of the Tullamarine terminal. From there it was a matter of dropping off our bags (which had both mysteriously gained a kilo in weight between London and Melbourne), getting some breakfast and making our way to our departure gate for the last flight of the trip to Hobart.

It was all relatively simple, the flight was mercifully short and not very full, we got off the plane quickly and there was Juniordwarf and Slabs waiting for me at the gate. It was so good to see them and I was glad to be home.

So . . . now that I’m a seasoned traveller, I’m sure you want to hear some insightful travel tips.

So here they are:

1. I have no idea how many clothes to pack. I was expecting much cooler weather, so I had a lot of warmer clothes I didn’t wear. Don’t pack too many clothes. Example: you won’t need 6 pairs of leggings. You’ll probably end up wearing the same pair of jeans for a week.

2. Hotel rooms in the UK might not necessarily have a fridge in the room. It pays to check.

3. The stretchy pegless clothesline was a handy item, but neither of the hotels had anywhere convenient to hook it onto.

4. A tip from a friend: Take one UK power adaptor and a 4 plug powerboard to charge multiple devices. I found one that you can recharge USB devices via a USB connection as well as other devices through the power plugs.

5. My iPad was my best friend on the trip. I put all my travel documents on there and could access them very easily. And Skype was Juniordwarf’s best friend while I was away.

6. Things you don’t need (1): I didn’t use any of the puzzle or crossword books I took. I only read half of one of the Kindle books I bought for the flight because the inflight entertainment system on the place kept me entertained.

7. Things not to forget: Contact lenses.

8. If your phone isn’t unlocked and you think you can do without your smart phone, you can buy a cheap (£4.99) pre-paid phone for the UK (it’s called pay and go there). I used an O2 International SIM card, where phone calls back to Australia cost 3p per minute. Local calls were 25p per minute. The credit I had left covered a 2-minute phone call to Juniordwarf from Dubai at £2 per minute. At the end of the trip I still have about £4 in credit left over from a £20 initial load of the SIM. The vast majority of the call costs were for local calls rather than calls home.

9. The Alcatel phone isn’t one I’d recommend, as the SIM card kept slipping out of contact with the points in the phone and I had to reset it at least once a day. However, for £4.99 and 2 weeks, it was good enough.

10. Things you don’t need (2): You won’t have time to decorate your travel journal with pretty little scraps of paper and other scrapbooking stuff. You won’t even open the box. Leave it at home.

11. Travel money (1): I used the 28 Degrees Mastercard, which has no currency conversion fees, no transaction fees and no annual fees. The only unexpected thing was that I had to sign for every single transaction, despite having set a PIN before I left home and being told that you had to use a PIN overseas because signing credit card slips isn’t acceptable. People in some establishments were aware of this, and others had no idea how to process a signature transaction. Only one shop asked me for ID to verify I was who the card said I was.

12. Things not to forget: Contact lenses. (This bears repeating.)

13. Travel money (2): We got some GB pounds, Euros, $ Brunei, $ Singapore and UAE dirham before we left. The latter three were for use in the airports (Brunei accepts $ Brunei and Singapore), but they weren’t necessary, as both Brunei and Dubai airports accept $ Australian, and all you really have time for there is to buy is a drink and maybe a tacky souvenir (or is that just me?). Any major duty free purchases I would have used my credit card, so getting those currencies was really just for the novelty of having different currencies. The Euros were worth having for small purchases in Paris, but getting it in a single 100 Euro note (about $143) wasn’t helpful when buying postcards. (Sorry postcard retailers of Paris.)

14. A long black in the UK is called an Americano. And they give you milk on the side. I believe these are actually 2 different types of coffee (long black adds the coffee to the water and Americano adds water to the coffee), but no one I asked for a long black knew what it was. (Any coffee experts feel free to correct me, as I have no idea what I’m talking about. For the record, the coffee I make is a double shot added to hot water, so whatever that is, that’s what I drink.)

15. The sun still rises in the east and sets in the west in the northern hemisphere. (This is an in-joke and Lil Sis will understand. Everyone else will say ‘facepalm’.)

16. In England they drive on the left hand side of the road like we do, but if you stand on an escalator to get out of the Tube, you have to stand on the right hand side, not the left like we do. And as for which side of the path you’re supposed to walk on, we still have no idea.

17. I’m not sure if it was worth taking the laptop. It was good to be able to copy all our photos from our SD cards at the end of each day and have a backup of them in case something happened to the cards or cameras, but that’s really the only reason I’d take it. It was a real pain having to take it out of my bag and out of its case at every single airport screening point on the way over (5 times) and the way back (4 times). And it made my carry on bag heavy. So you need to balance this with the potential loss of your photos if something happens to your camera.

18. Your own headphones are most likely a lot better (and will fit you better) than the ones the airline will give you for the plane. Take them.

19. I kept resetting my camera’s time every stop we made. Usually after I’d taken a few photos. As a result, the times on my photos are all muddled. I think it would have worked better either to have left it on Australian time for the whole trip, or to have set it to UK time after we’d left Australia. The auto time failed dismally when I was in the UK and for the first day or so, every time I turned the camera on it decided it was an hour earlier than it actually was. I don’t think it recognised daylight saving. Sometimes devices can be too smart. I won’t rely on it again.

And that, my friends, is the story of my relatively small adventure. I had a great time, and am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to do this. Now I have to adjust back into my life again.

Until the next trip 🙂

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