So we were up at a reasonable hour this morning as we had to make the most of the morning I had left in Gothenburg. I packed up all of my stuff and then we were off. To save us a trip back to Tove's later, I was able to drop my suitcase and bags at her mum's apartment (which is more in town), and then just come and pick it up later.
From here, we went to the Universium. When you first get there, you catch a lift to the top, but the lift goes diagonal, rather than vertical. This was rather different. This took us up to the 'Swedish' part of the museum which had different Swedish fish, snakes, insects, and reptiles, etc. Then we carried on to the aquarium with sharks and stingrays and the normal type of aquarium fish. From here we went through to the open rainforest which was full of exotic sorts of birds, reptiles, and monkeys which all just freely wandered around us. It was also very warm and humid in here, of course. There were lots of bright and beautiful birds around the place, as well as massive green lizards, bright poisonous frogs (but these were kept in tanks), sloths lounging around in their hammocks not making a single move, and then about half a dozen little monkeys running round all over the place. They were cheeky little things, coming right up to you and running straight past, or just stopping to pose for a while. We both got within about 30cm of them and got a couple of good photos. There was another one that sat and checked himself out in the reflection of the security camera for a while too - very cute.
Once we came out of the rainforest, next was the 'science centre' part of the museum. It was mostly activities for kids, so we just had a quick look through, and took a few photos of the space centre and had a go at the crime scene investigation and super hero activities. It was a really cool set up for kids though. We had a wander through the shop and I just bought a couple of postcards.
From the Universium, we walked to the bagel shop to get some lunch. Tove took me here especially after I told her about our delicious bagels in Amsterdam. We had a quick lunch and then walked back to her mum's apartment. I got changed into some 'aeroplane' clothes and then luckily Tove was able to borrow her mum's car to drive me to the airport. That made things a lot easier for me, rather than having to catch the bus back to the airport. It was a quick goodbye, as she wasn't allowed to park the car where we stopped, so I grabbed my stuff and was off into the airport.
I tried to check my bag in through the self check in machine, but I couldn't figure out which of the 50 numbers on my ticket to use, so I just went up to the check in desk but the lady said I had to go back to the machine to check in, and she showed me which number to use. So I tried this and it still didn't work, but by then there was a lady by the machines to help, so I asked her and she told me to use a different number, which worked this time. So I checked in and then lined up at the counter again to drop my bag off, and then the lady said my bag had only been checked through to London, and not to Dubai and then Auckland. Luckily she was able to change it though, but it meant she may as well have just done it from the start after all!
Once that was finally all sorted, I tried to figure out where I needed to declare my tax free items, and the person I talked to said to go through security and upstairs (where you leave from). So I headed on through security and upstairs and found the shop that the other lady had told me to go to and the lady in this shop told me I had to go back downstairs! I didn't understand how I could do this and go back through security, so I asked her if I could just do it in London and apparently that was ok. So I left it there for now and went to wait in the departure lounge for my flight to London - the first of my 5 flights home!
Sweden has been a lovely place to visit and it's been great to finally see Tove's 'home', so many years after we first met. Even though Tove told me that Swedish people are one of the best English speaking European countries (a lot of their TV programmes and most movies are all in English), I think I've felt the most nervous here in regards to speaking, other than when we first arrived in France. I'm not sure why but I think maybe it's having been away from the security of having the whole Contiki group who also could never speak the native language. I kept asking Tove to talk to the shop keepers, etc for me, and she kept saying just talk English, they'll understand you!
I've had no cell phone the whole time I've been on Sweden. It worked in every other country we went to, and Telecom would always send me a text as we arrived in each new country, but it just wouldn't work in Sweden for some reason. That's why I had so many issues trying to contact Tove on the first day, because my phone just wasn't registering that I was in Sweden.
I had about an hour to kill in the departure lounge before leaving Sweden. It was a 2 hour flight back to London, and then I had about 5 hours to hang around in Heathrow. When I first arrived, I went straight to the shop to sort out my duty/tax free items. I had to make sure I had filled in a whole lot of forms and then they stamped it and sent me to another shop to actually claim the tax back. They were really rude and unhelpful at the first counter. I got all that sorted anyway and had a wander around to decide what to get for tea. I only had £10 cash, so I had to spend it wisely!
I ended up buying some sushi for tea and then went and found myself a seat. It was pretty cramped up in the main seating area, with hundreds of people waiting for connecting flights. The airport wifi wasn't working which I was a bit annoyed about since I had to sit there for another few hours. I managed to fill in the time anyway, doing I don't even know what, and then it was time to embark my Emirates flight for Dubai.
As far as I'm aware, Emirates is meant to be one of the best airlines in the world, so I was wondering if I would notice anything better than any other airline. They had a good amount of space it seemed between my knees and the seat in front of me which was good. I was sitting next to an Australian woman, in the middle seat of the middle of the plane which I was annoyed with. I had asked the lady when I checked in if I could request a seat, but I think she just ignored me. The 2 seats on the other side of me stayed empty for ages, so I thought I might be lucky and be able to move over, but unfortunately they got filled at the last minute by a guy in a wheelchair, so I guess that's why he didn't get on til the end.
I think the food on this flight was the nicest aeroplane food I've ever had. I actually ate everything which was served up to me, whereas normally there are always bits which I'll pick and choose. The TVs on the plane were also touch screen, so you didn't have to use the annoying little remote to choose your movies. And unlike Air Tahiti, you could actually choose when you wanted to start your movie, and not end up missing the start of it because you aren't ready. This first flight to Dubai was 6 hours, so the time went pretty quickly. I had a sleep and watched a couple of movies and next thing we were there. The next flight though was a lot worse! This was 14 hours and was too long.
Once I got off the plane in Dubai, I didn't have a heap of time here to get to my connecting flight. We went through security etc and I saw one of the guys from my Contiki trip, heading back to Australia. I went to the toilet and the first cubicle I walked into was a non western one that I had to squat over. This doesn't really bother me, but when I had all my bags and things I really couldn't be bothered trying to use it. So I walked back out of the cubicle, hoping that there were some Western ones too and the cleaning lady saw me and obviously realised what I was doing, so showed me where to go.
Once I came out of the toilets and found the signs to figure out where to go next, the map showed me that I was at the complete opposite end of the airport and it was a 26 minute walk to get there! I wasn't quite that rushed for time, but I still made my way fairly quickly to the departure lounge. I wish I had had a bit longer here rather than Heathrow, so that I could've had a decent look around. I filled up my drink bottle ready for the long flight to Sydney, but as I headed into the departure lounge, they were doing bag searches and taking drink bottles off everyone, even if they were empty! This really annoyed me because 14 hours is too long to fly, having to call a flight attendant every half an hour for a drink of water. Plus, then you have to keep your tray down with a cup on it the whole time, which is also really annoying. I don't get why they do that, when you've already been through security and then bought a new bottle within the airport, so obviously you don't have anything dodgy in it. It was so frustrating. I saw a couple of people getting really angry with the security guards about it.
Also, as I checked in and went through into the departure lounge, I was behind a guy who got upgraded to first class, so I put on a big smile hoping to get the same, but no unfortunately not. Then as I was boarding the plane, I saw another lady saying goodbye to her husband and 2 children, as she was also on her way to an upgraded first class seat. I thought how annoying that these 2 people who were flying with others got upgraded and had to leave their group, and then me travelling on my own didn't get it! Haha. There are 2 levels on the Emirates planes, and first class was upstairs. This area was roped off to us 'lower class' travellers. I would have loved to have seen up there.
This time I was in an aisle seat on the outside edge of the plane, so I was happy with that seat. I watched several movies on this long flight - The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, One Thousand Words, Flicka, Friends with Kids, Loves Kitchen, Alabama Moon, Alvin and the Chipmunks 3, and then half of Damsels in Distress, but it was pretty stupid so I didn't watch all of it. It took me at least 3 attempts to watch every movie I think, because I kept falling asleep and then having to rewind every time. I wanted/expected to do a lot during the flight since it was so long, but I just had no energy to do anything and couldn't keep my eyes open to do anything. So literally all I did was attempt to watch movies, sleep, and eat a couple of meals.
So 14 hours later, once I arrived in Sydney, going through security this time I had to have an explosives scan of my bags and also a pat down to see if I had anything on me. Of course this came back negative. It was another quick stopover in Sydney, and I was so thirsty. So I asked one of the Emirates guys if I bought a bottle of water, then we're they going to take it off me as I boarded again, and he said no, but looked at me to say 'why would we'. So it's obviously not all Emirates flights that they take your water off you, just the ones that are leaving Dubai.
The flight from Sydney was delayed by about an hour, and it was another 2 or 3 hours to Auckland which again just consisted of a lot of sleeping. It was really cold on this flight though while I was trying to sleep, so I had to ask for a blanket. When I got into Auckland, I had to go and pick up my bag which had come through from Sweden thankfully, and I hadn't had to deal with it throughout all of my flights, and go through customs and security. Luckily this was just a quick process, because I didn't have much time to check in for my flight to Palmy because we were so late.
As I came out into the arrivals lounge, I saw and remembered that you could check your suitcase in at the international airport for a domestic flight, rather than dragging your bags all the way over to the domestic terminal. So I headed over to the check in machines, and there were 2 but neither of them would work. When the Air New Zealand lady came over to check it out, she said that I needed to check in at the machine at least an hour before departure because they need time to get the bags over to the domestic terminal. So, it meant walking all of my bags over to domestic after all. This was about a 10 minute walk in the nice cool NZ air, but it wasn't raining at least!
After a short wait, it was time to board plane number 5 - the last flight home to Palmerston North! I got a seat to myself and managed to stay awake the whole flight. I had to use the toilet for the first time ever on a domestic flight and oh my god it is tiny. I thought the bathrooms on the international planes were small, but this one was so little that I could hardly manage to get my pants down. We flew over Mt Ruapehu on the way and I took some lovely photos of it covered in snow. It looked pretty amazing from all the way up there.
Then it was landing time in Palmy. I was at the back of the plane, so last off. Brendon, Mum and Dad were there to meet me - Brendon with some lovely roses for me. I came straight home for a shower and to semi-unpack, before going round to Mum and Dad's for tea. I was knackered, but I wanted to be able to tell all my stories and share the photos all at once, rather than tell Brendon everything and then have to say everything again when I saw Mum, Dad and Tara. I got over feeling tired though once I started sharing my photos, but everyone else fell asleep by then!
Once I left Mum and Dads, it was home to my own bed for a decent night's sleep! Thankfully I still have a few days at home to try and get over the jetlag before going back to school.