Going underground

It had been a busy week in the run up to departure.  I had been to Manchester for work and had been running around sorting out last minute holiday shopping and phone repairs.  Titchy had spent most of that week either writing packing lists or actually packing.  Seriously, four days of preparation and planning to fill a case with underpants and shorts.  Rather than worrying about the packing, I was more worried about the practicalities.  We had booked a car to get us from Adelaide down to the ferry to Kangaroo Island and all that I could focus on was what we would do if we couldn’t fit the 5 of us and the suitcases into the car.

I didn’t have too much time to think about the holiday as Titchy had been the organiser more so than me.  Truth be told, I wasn’t that excited about going to Adelaide.  If you go to Paris, you see the Eiffel Tower. Go to Rome and you see the Colosseum.  Go to Egypt and you see the Pyramids.  But what do you go to Adelaide for?  All of the research that I had done suggested that there were vineyards and pretty gardens to look at, but no focal point.  I was looking forward to the break and the warm weather, but not really sure that Adelaide would be the place for me.

On departure day, we said goodbye to the cats and set off for the airport.  It had rained heavily overnight and the roads were flooded, the perfect way to depart for warmer weather I think….leaving the folks at home in the rain and the cold for maximum social media smugness.  We were at the airport in plenty of time, as you might expect, and as it was outside of term time for the schools and a Saturday, it was remarkably quiet and stress free.

It wouldn’t be a trip to the airport without it!

It was to the the first time that I had flown with Emirates and my expectations were very high.  I don’t know huge amounts about international airlines and so all of my expectations have to be down to Emirates marketing efforts.  They  sponsor the big sporting teams and venues and, to me, were a luxury brand that would be a nice little treat.  How wrong I was.  Maybe my expectations having been built up was always going to lead to a disappointment for economy travel but it was all a bit drab and tired.
My daughter wanted to get some homework done on the plane to get it out of the way but it wasn’t possible as the internal lights didn’t work for our seats.  The hostesses were perfectly pleasant about it but nothing could be done about this or the USB charging point that didn’t work at all.  I was also disappointed with the entertainment choices, there were no films that really caught my fancy and the TV shows on offer were not great either.  Having said that, as we flew on a Saturday we had a live stream of the Premier League fixtures and that provided a few hours of fun.  It might actually be cheaper to fly back and forth to Dubai every weekend than it would be to pay for a Sky subscription.  The live football was slightly offset by the kid behind me repeatedly kicking me up the arse, but what can one do?

The lack of entertainment did, however, leave me with lots of time to focus on my other hobby, people watching.  Despite checking in pretty early, we had not been able to get a window seat which is always a shame as the plane often flies over our house as you come out of Newcastle Airport.  What made this all the more disappointing was that the person, who was travelling alone and sitting in the window seat spent the entire flight with the window shutter down and not taking any interest in the world below.  The swine.

Despite requesting the adult meal options for my 11 year old boy on check in, he was given children’s meals with big old plastic cutlery.  He wasn’t happy but, in all honesty, you couldn’t have made a decent dinner by picking the best out of the adult and child options.  As there were a few picky eaters in the party, I was able to enjoy about three meals in each sitting but wouldn’t say any of them were truly actually enjoyed and to ask for Coke and receiving Pepsi, it pretty much cemented the none-premium brand in my mind!

After some disappointing sandwiches, which seemed to have a filling of ‘more dry bread’ we arrived into Dubai a little later than planned.  This resulted in a quick run across the airport and didn’t really give us the chance to take too much in before we got our connection to Adelaide.  What I did see was a lot of classless bling, perfectly summarised by a huge golden palm tree in the middle of the terminal.  I think that was pretty much all I wanted to see of Dubai…it was all fur coat and no knickers.

The twelve hour flight to Adelaide passed without too much excitement.  My only worry being that we had some English chocolates in our hand luggage that contained fruit and nuts.  I wasn’t sure if we could get that past the very strict Australian customs.  I couldn’t just eat it as it had melted, despite the Twirls that we had with us being perfectly fine.  To save us appearing on the next episode of Border Force being escorted to a side room, we just ditched it in a bin once we landed and walked past a very friendly customs check. I said hello to the three border force guys watching over us and got my first authentic ‘How ya going mate?’ In response and was as happy as Larry to be down under.

As we walked into the airport, there were a lot of people waiting to greet relatives or friends. A young girl had a huge poster with ‘Welcome to Oz’ written on it, despite not having a clue who she was, I thanked her very much for the welcome.  She looked very confused and as if she was going to burst into tears so I kept going and spotted our very own welcoming party further down the way.  To see Titchy’s Australian relatives together for the first time in over a year was amazing, to do it in Adelaide seemed surreal, especially after a long journey across so many time zones!

We hugged and greeted each other and then they offered to drive us to our Air BnB diggs on the other side of town.  We split into two cars and drove across town taking in the sights.  Titchy’s Aunt and Uncle explained that the main centre of the town was a mile square and that it was skirted on all sides by parks and greens with the suburbs taking over from there.  It looked very clean and smart and the first impressions of the city were great. I couldn’t wait to get in to have a look around, but only after some sleep!  I had applied 36 hour deodorant twice since I had last slept and it was time to catch up but the journey had been fine, and the kids had been amazing considering their age and addiction to WiFi.

The Air BnB was outside of the centre, on the East side of the city near College Park.  It was a very modern and clean building on Payneham Road. We had no idea what was around us but we did know that there was a bed upstairs and that’s all that we could focus on.  We were on the other side of the world, we had had a good journey and we were ready to begin the adventure!

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