2006-01-14: And it all ends
Europe, for all it offered, took, gave and had in store, is behind us now. We have bid a fair well to the big wide (crowded, interesting, decaying) land up cross the equator and returned to the land where we may not have both been born, but we have both been raised in. Of course coming home isn't any easier than a lot of the journey.
When we were in Heathrow after returning from Italy (and having our bags delivered) we immediately began the great bag reshuffle. We were going to be guessing what weight things were and how much we could carry in each suitcase but we were lucky enough to find scales scattered about the airport departure lounges. So we would pack a bit, weigh it, adjust it and repack it. Over 10 kilograms of children's books were shoved into my trusty backpack, luckily this was then placed inside the new bag so it could be carried with wheels. That still left me with two carry on bags right at the 7 kg limit (the laptop may have been even more). I pushed the bags around on one of those trolley things that you usually see overburdened with bags as people move about airports and our trolley too appeared over burdened.
We checked our bags in early for our flight and discovered that we could move up to an earlier flight. We decided to do this and it was just as well. We had 45 minutes originally to transfer at Dubai, a near impossible time as experience has taught us now you need at least 2 hours to change flights at the same airport. As an extra bonus this flight was near empty. After take-off we grabbed a set of middle seats, Edyta spread out on three to fall asleep while I took the last to begin my marathon movie run (I still haven't perfected sleeping on planes yet). The flight was nice and quick (only 6 hours or so), the food plentiful and the toilets easy to get too.
Our arrival at Dubai occurred at 3am in the morning. Edyta freshened up and we then went shopping. However Duty Free in Dubai isn't hugely better than anywhere else in the world for prices. We changed some left over Euro for the funny Arabic money (who likes big notes? They have some huge denominations on theirs). This was then whittled away by toys, creams, chocolates and a McDonald's breakfast. Six hours after arrival at Dubai (and after being woken for our early prayer call) we boarded our next plane.
This plane was crowded, there were no spare seats on the plane at all and worst of all we were stuck in the middle of an aisle between a man with a baby and a young girl (who seemed infatuated with sitting next to actual Aussies). The flight was squeezy and by this time the laxatives airlines put in their food were starting to work and every fart was needing a toilet to collect the message they carried. Being a full flight there were often lines for the toilets, and to make things worse at some stage one of the toilets packed it in and most started to run out of toilet paper. The floor at our feet became a mess of discarded food items, blankets, pillows, newspapers from England and anything else that fell from our hands. It was a long flight too, direct from Dubai to Sydney (flying past Adelaide, if only they could've stopped at the corner to let us off). Luckily the young girls was all to accommodating to move whenever Edyta needed to get out to the toilet as climbing over me and then her was a lot easier than getting past the man with a baby strapped to him.
Finally after a marathon flight the plane touched down. We were welcomed back to Australia with the regular gassing you get on the air plane (but no warning about it this time). Inside Sydney airport we had to pass customs. First we had to get through the passport control. Due to a toilet break and then filling out the entry permit cards (which we weren't given on the plane) we ended up missing the empty queue and getting stuck in the line from two planes that arrived at once. At least when we were past this we found all our bags (always a good thing these days). Customs didn't give us any grief, in fact that couldn't even be bothered looking at the stuff we had (customs works on too hard for me to bother with it approach). Outside we were left wondering where to meet Thong as there was no pick-up location. We found Thong standing by the door after we had searched around several areas already. He'd been trying to wait in the Limousine bay but a big burly bouncer kept making him move on.
Our biggest surprise in walking outside at Sydney was seeing how green things were. We remembered dead and brown for summer. Turns out Sydney can stay green. On return to Adelaide we found it dead and brown. Edyta and I spent a few days in Sydney before flying back to Adelaide. After travelling all around the world on planes for the last 5 months we only had one last flight to make and then a big break. Of course this last flight had dramas for itself. We got dropped at the wrong terminal (my fault) and then found that check-in time is very stringent now and we needed to be in some 5 to 10 minutes earlier with luggage. So I had to go and upgrade to another flight 3 hours later (this was the third time I've had to change this flight). Edyta wasn't happy with this and it was near impossible to reach anyone, not helped by my phone battery dying. The three hour wait went by quickly (experience) and at last we returned home to Adelaide.
Our journey around the world is over. Now it is time to start the rest of life's journey...