Amy's Paradise

This blog may be the ramblings of an Irish Dancer in Australia who writes stories too…

Travelling Beyond My World – Part 1 – 23/04/2012

Cannot believe it is my birthday! I’ve just returned from three weeks in Europe and it just went so quickly. It was a birthday present to myself – far more pricey than last years present that I bought myself – an iPad (which I love!). I still cannot believe it happened… and I have barely done any TCRG study and my exam is a month away! Eeeeekkkkkkkk! I’m so screwed! (possibly…)

I went to Dublin, Belfast, London and Paris. My main thing was to see some of the World Irish Dancing Championships in Belfast and I desperately needed a holiday. Haven’t had a real holiday in several years. I had plenty of money in the bank and so going overseas for the first time and by myself was what I really needed… or I’d go crazy!

April 1st – Set for domestic terminal in Brisbane flying domestic to Sydney. I was terrified… never holidayed without parents or friends before and I was seriously nervous being in 4 foreign countries for three weeks. There were some many things that could go wrong (and did!). Also I had never been outside Australia (unless you count Tasmania over the Bass Strait). I was terrified but excited about my new endeavour.

Once in Sydney, it was a nightmare. Getting from domestic to International terminals by bus and then going through check-in with 2.5 hours, I just made it to the gate to board. Of course there were people trying to swindle out of paying for extra weight and extra carry-on luggage, language barriers – it all took time. I was freaking out. I cleared through nice and easy though and ran down the long terminal to find the gate, of course, it was right at the very end that took about 20 minutes to briskly walk to.

I flew with Etihad, and once on the plane it was all new to me. It was bigger with more seats than domestic aeroplanes. It also had free entertainment, which I thanked God for. I guess flying for 14 hours to Abu Dhabi, you’d expect free movies and such or there’d be some testy clients. We took off and the plane was awfully chilly, thank goodness for blankets, a pillow, they even give you a little pack with a toothbrush and paste, socks, sleeping mask and ear plugs (I guess to help you sleep if there’s crying babies).

The worst thing on a long flight, such as 14 hours, is not getting the aisle seat. Being stuck at the window or centre seats, you are stuck, trapped there like a bear in a cage, unless you can somehow vault yourself over the sleeping person without waking them past the tilting back chairs. It’s just impossible. Guess that’s the luxury of economy and first class, lying down on beds, easy access to the bathrooms and the ability to stretch your legs.

Now preparing for this flight, the Etihad website is not at all clear with some of their rules, such as the bags. I noticed lots of forums where people asked the question about 23 kg limit, but it doesn’t matter how many bags you have. Somehow I had the limit stretched for free to 30 kgs. I don’t know what my agent did, but thank God. I came back with 28.7 kgs worth of stuff.

Now you can have any amount of bags at check-in as long as it isn’t over 23 kgs in total of all the bags together. They are very strict about this and it’s a heavy fee to pay if it’s over. It’s about $45 (or so) per kilo over (depends where you’re flying to and from). That’s costly for your holiday. Some people were opening their suitcases and putting on clothes and stuffing things into their pockets. Others tried to talk there way out of paying their $237 or so extra for their luggage. If it’s a kilo over or so they won’t charge, unless they are in a bad mood, but 5-10 kgs or more… They have to charge, of course they have to. I mean they are running a business or everyone would bring everything and several kitchen sinks. A plane can only carry so much. Apparently there was a car on one of my planes. Wouldn’t want to think how much that costs!

They are just as strict with this with carry on. I was just on the limit leaving my country, but they didn’t check, it just looked like a hand bag, so that was cool.

Now food. It was actually really nice. On the flight to Abu Dhabi I got lunch and dinner and snacks in between. The best was the chicken pie with gravy, peas and potato mash. We also got savoury snacks, Weis Ice cream bars, sandwiches and things. Delicious. The only thing was from Abu Dhabi to Ireland, my connecting flight, we were served breakfast and it was a bit dodge. Do not order the french toast with caramelised bananas if possible. Maybe I just got the bad batch. I only ate a little bit, but mainly ate the yoghurt and crackers that they served on the tray.

The crew were really nice and I love their uniform with the hat and scarf, the entertainment was pretty good, it was annoying you couldn’t turn off the arabic subtitles, but they had the latest movies and TV. Also they had news, music, radio, games. All free. The only thing you had to pay to use was the phone or internet (if you hooked up your laptop).

Adu Dhabi airport was interesting. I had never seen such a large airport with the shopping malls and such. I had about a 3-4 hour gap before heading off to Dublin. So I connected to Facebook and messaged my parents and went looking for souvenirs. I bought a little camel statue. I really wanted to have a look outside, but it was midnight there so I didn’t actually see Abu Dhabi till flying back. Ate some more food and then got on another plane for 8 hours.

So with a total flight time of 24.5 hours (29 hours approx. in total with waiting in transfer lounges) from Brisbane to Ireland with 2 stops, I was ready to finally meet the ground and say hello to Ireland. A land that I had only read about or seen in films. My God I was excited as we touched down. I was freaking out slightly as I had never been through customs and border control. And I always freak out that I’ll lose my luggage and, of course, it doesn’t help that it is always one of the few last bags to come off the plane.

April 2nd – But it was 7:30 in the morning in Dublin, Ireland and it was raining, but I didn’t care, because I wasn’t in Australia. I was starting an adventure that would enrich me in so many ways, learning to become independent and wise with knowledge of culture and history of European culture. By golly I was excited!

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