In transit - Australia to London
Dubai Travel Blog› entry 2 of 2 › view all entries
Hmmm, I am still behind in my blogging and trying to catch
up so bear with me... Righto, still in transit:
Our trip to Dubai was long. That’s probably one of the better ways to describe it. Sure, playing Tetris on your own screen can be fun for 10 minutes. Working out how to work your eating tray takes another 5. Pulling faces at the kid across the other side of the plane can entertain for over 3 minutes. If you get really creative you can also play capture the lettuce flag with your leftover meal. Other wastes of time include changing socks, making up other lyrics for Brittany Spears songs, and planning your next half hour. Try to repeat that process 30 times and you get a little bored.
Once we landed in Dubai I was getting out of my seat and I saw this steamy gassy stuff coming out of vents in the ceiling of the plane. My first thoughts were of terrorism and I gave myself mental images of me diving to the floor and commando crawling all the way down the aisle. Luckily, both peer pressure and personal pride got in the way of that exiting idea and instead I took it all in my stride and acted like I knew exactly what was happening.
We hopped off the plane onto the tarmac (which looked darker than the tarmac in NZ) and walked towards a bus. It took a solid 10 minutes for Hannah to convince me that it wasn't actually hovering and the wheels just couldn't be seen. Even when it moved it didn’t seem to be moving on wheels. I may sound crazy but I was just willing to believe that New Zealand was just so far behind the rest of the world that I had just stepped into a real first world country.
The eerie quietness of Saudi Arabia's major airport belies its busyness.
Anyway, we decided to go to the toilet and freshen up. If you get the wrong one you may have to end up squatting over a hole in the ground (not so difficult after a couple of tries - at least you can see what you are doing). Incidentally, it was pleasing to see that the lavatories in Dubai have very strong customer service representation.
Another interesting thing about Dubai was the really long treadmill they had. I seem to remember seeing these in movies. You stand on it and move much faster than anyone who is not standing on it. In this way, with minimum effort, you can get a long way and beat other people going to the same destination as you. We decided to go up and down it a couple of times to get the experience (as any good tourist would). Funny though, we were the only people on it for most of our trips.
Well that’s Dubai in a turtleshell. It really was a lot more fun than I'm giving it credit or than I experienced. Bear in mind that we had just endured a gruelling flight from New Zealand. Playing on the walky thing was almost as much fun as waggling my head back and forward with reckless abandon because of how it felt after having no sleep for 2 days. You know.... when your head gets really floppy and doesn't stay upright. Don't really know why I went into detail but there you have it.
The next flight was not too bad. When you experience 17 hours then 7 doesn't really cut it. After you've realised your toenails are cutting holes in your brand new travel socks, and you have managed to shave them down with your plastic knife from the meal you just finished, the trip is almost over.
We had heard a lot of horror stories of customs in Europe. People told us to 'declare everything and you'll go through really fast.' Others told us to 'leave everything behind so you don’t have to declare anything.' Someone told us to keep an apple from the plane so that we would be pulled out of the cue by customs because they would suspect us for bringing in illegal fruit. All this advice was very good and we are very appreciative. The only thing was that we feel as if we didn't even go through customs. I walked to a desk and asked if my marmite and the wooden handles on Hannah's bag were counted as contraband (please note that we hadn't even opened our bag'. They guy said no and told us to go through the door to the other room. Off we went to see what lay beyond and before you could say 'but this sounds crazy because you should always have to go through customs and the fact that you didn't just proves how the tightest plan or system becomes fallible simply through human error' we were acting like celebrities and waving to all the people who were waiting with cameras on the other side.
Once again, as dutiful tourists, our first stop was the bathrooms. At any point we expected armed guards to come swarming in and knock the door down and say 'don’t flush that because we have to search everything you customs avoider!' I have to say that I have never been under quite the same amount of pressure when doing business before or after this moment.
Funnily enough for the 96 million people who go through Heathrow every year, there wasn't a lot of noise.
Just so you know, we got a black cab. It was expensive. Try not to take a black cab if you can avoid it. The piece of mind is not worth the piece of your pocket they take with them when they drive off. There are a lot of other decent cab companies out there. The cabbies in London need to pass a very very hard exam before they can get their cabby licence. This amounts to about three years plus of driving around on a scooter trying to find the quickest way to get from one destination to another (Just make sure you do not get an illegal cab because they are normally people who have not been able to pass so they will cost you more coz they'll get lost). If you have already booked a hostel or accommodation already ask them whether they have deals with cab companies. We should have - we found out as soon as we arrived that we could have paid a third of the fare because there was a special arrangement with the hostel and a cab company. There goes our food money for a week :)