We left our hotel in Dubai just after seven in the morning to be at the airport in good time for our ten o'clock flight to Melbourne. Flying time was to be fourteen and a half hours so that, with the half hour delay in leaving and the seven hour time difference, we were due to land in Melbourne at seven am on Wednesday morning.
It was a good flight, again, with lots to eat and drink, all provided for us.
There was a great personal ICE unit - 'Information, Communication and Entertainment', which provided dozens of films to watch, music to listen to - and audio books, which I only found towards the end of the flight, in the Entertainment section. Good fun.
By the time four am came, and I hadn't slept at all - I'd tried - I was beginning to panic at the thought that I probably wouldn't have a chance to catch up on any sleep the next day. Then I found the section on the ICE unit with exercises to do while flying and relaxation techniques. I did the exercises and then found a sub-section with music to help you get to sleep. There were two pieces, the first of which was entitled, 'Entice the Dream', which sounded promising. I sat back and waited to be lulled to sleep. The music was quite relaxing but every now and then it would crescendo, which seemed a bit counterproductive. A bit more chilled and you'd have had more of a chance of actually getting to sleep. Although, when you start remembering that you only have about an hour's potential kip left before the crew would be bringing round the breakfasts, you get a bit tense and the whole idea of sleep escapes you, anyway! Also, the television screen would darken because you weren't fiddling with any buttons but then flash on every now and then so that the brightness of the screen was another distraction from sleep! Very frustrating.
I just gave up on the idea of sleep in the end. People were stirring and a baby was crying and I was getting hungry, so everything was against me dropping off.
We landed on time and everything went quite well until we got to the Passport Control. We'd filled out our cards with our personal details and what we were declaring. We'd remembered that we had a couple of apples that we'd need to dispose of before meeting the officials, wondered if a sealed pack of cashew nuts would have to be jettisoned (decided it would be safer to but couldn't find them in the end to carry this out!) and didn't think any more about the process. I'd read 'drugs' in the first question and ticked 'nothing to declare' without reading that this section included prescribed medication, so I put a question mark at that one to show my honesty!
Got to Passport Control and showed my passport and the security card, pointing out my query. What happens? I have to wait for a more senior officer to have a word with me before I'm cleared to carry on - Iain's on the same medication, has kept mum, and is waved on through! Still, no worries, the lady official checks the screen, checks that the drugs are prescribed and lets me through.
We see the 'Quarantine Bin' where any food stuffs that we've brought into the country can be tossed,so ditch the apples we can find (but not the nuts) and continue to collect our baggage. Iain is striding over to Belt 5 when I see an official with a cute beagle. I'm just about to comment on how sweet it is when I realise that it's sniffing my hand baggage very enthusiastically and I realise that this is like the contraband dog in the video shown just before we disembarked. Guilt over the drugs issue surfaces again and I'm feeling on the wrong side of the law. I'm also thinking of the two chocolate squares that I've kept back from breakfast for Mike and Rose and wondering if they're included in the prohibited substances. (As I write this, I remember that I also had my prescribed mediation in that bag, but at the time it never crossed my mind!). I look around for support from Iain, but he's off in the distance, oblivious to my dilemma. Thankfully, the Drugs Officer merely asks me if I'd had any fruit in my bag, and I could honestly say that I'd had apples in it but that we'd dumped them in the bin provided. Not even a caution! Phew.
Caught up with Iain who was assuming that I'd got lost and wasn't in the least worried about me, and we collected our bags. I don't want to appear a victim in all this, but I really felt that the next stage would involve rubber gloves and when another official started walking towards me with blue ones on I felt a bit apprehensive. With no reason, thankfully! Except that we were then singled out, yet again, and had to wait to have our bags checked though another scanner. I was feeling guilty again - which was probably showing on my face!
Anyway, we eventually got through the gates and, as we glanced at the people waiting for passengers, I caught sight of Mike and Rose in the crowd, big smiles on their faces. It was such a wonderful surprise to see them; fabulous. And so sweet of them to think of doing it. They'd taken an even longer bus journey - fifteen hours, or something, just they could get off at the airport.
We'd booked a short-stay apartment in Melbourne, rather than hotel rooms, and we knew that we couldn't check in until after two pm, but we could leave our luggage before that and they would store it for us. So, after a cup of tea at the airport we got a taxi to the apartment.
After dumping the bags we walked into the centre of Melbourne and just mooched around getting the feel of the place. We had a great breakfast in one of the street cafes and that made us all feel a bit better. Mike and Rose had had virtually no sleep on their long bus ride, so we were all in the same boat. We picked up some provisions for the next day's breakfast and headed back to the apartment block
The apartment is lovely. The apartment block is obviously pretty new and the rooms are clean and spacious. One big lounge, dining and kitchen area (with dish washer), two double bedrooms and a bathroom with a washer and dryer. And a little balcony you can sit out on.Absolutely ideal.
We got settled in, got the internet access sorted and went out for something to eat in the early evening. The day had started off pretty overcast but had been lovely and sunny in the afternoon and then, in the evening, it poured! Talk about Melbourne's four-seasons-in-one-day weather pattern! But we made it to a very nice little restaurant and had a great meal before heading home for an early night.