Hi all, I just want to say “g’day” from what I hope is the first of many updates from my 5 month visit to Australia. The point of this blog is just to keep you up to date with my experiences down under and show you what life is like in this wonderful place.
I guess the first place to start is with the two flights – if you’ve ever done a long haul flight then you’ll know that these can be tiring, but you will also know there are plenty of ways to pass the time. If you’re like me, and have never completed a flight longer than a couple of hours, then you will find there are plenty of ways to keep entertained. Flying with Etihad from Manchester airport the first leg of the journey took us to Abu Dhabi, a flight of six and a half hours - this might not sound bad compared to the second leg, but for someone who doesn’t fly long flights, this came as a shock.
No matter because there is a large range of in-flight entertainment from the newest film releases such as “Gringo” and “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” which helps the time fly by. Films aren’t for you? No matter because there is an exhaustive list of albums of varying genres to choose from, and if you don’t like some of the songs, create your own playlist for the journey. This will let you sit back and drift off to sleep, read a book or just bob along to your tunes, but even this can be a long shot for music lovers, so if you get bored of music and films, there is always the option to unclip the games console from the chair in front and have a game of “Tetris” or “Angry Birds” amongst many others.
Now, you can be expecting to pay around £1000 for return flights to Melbourne, and you might be wondering where this money is going… well, let me tell you. Whilst you are flying at an altitude of 39,000 feet, the friendly and welcoming stewards and stewardess’ regularly come around with a selection of drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, and it’s all been included within the original price (so, like my seat neighbours found out, you can drink to your hearts content). Even if they’re not on one of their rounds, give them a buzz and they will be more than willing to provide you with a drink, but if they are not serving drinks, there is a good chance that they are on the way round with food, which is often a choice of vegetarian pasta, chicken or lamb. This might sound basic, but for airline food, I would not expect more, in fact, I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of meals, the first of which was finished by mousse, and the second (on the Abu Dhabi to Melbourne flight) pineapple rice pudding. The only issue that I can find with the food and beverage side of the flight is that the “milk” served with tea was powdered “coffee creamer” which, as a Brit, I found deeply offensive – first of all, who uses something powdered? And more importantly “COFFEE CREAMER” in tea??? I don’t think I need to go into any more details about how disgusting this is.
The layover in Abu Dhabi was a strange experience – the initial security appeared to be a shambles with the officials waving everyone through. Now this might sound a bit dodgy, especially as they appeared to be dressed in full military uniform, but once we reached the gate to board the connecting flight, it was a complete turnaround – the team were searching all bags and people so if you had any drinks, you had better finish them or lose them. Not only this, but you can expect to have both your bag and yourself drug swabbed before being allowed on the plane and any electronic equipment being inspected before being cleared. Although the contrast is strange, it’s comforting to know that security is strict, and all is forgotten when you are back in the air to complete the final 7,350 miles in which you are provided with blindfolds and ear plugs to help you sleep as well as a toothbrush and toothpaste in case you do not have any in your hand luggage. Not only this but the crew also provide you with the Australian declaration card which has to be completed prior to passing through immigration – something that many TV shows portray as a stressful experience, but this is only the case if you lie on the official documentation.
I’ll leave it there for now, but I’ll update you with my first Aussie experiences and Lattitude Global Volunteering orientation soon. Right now, I’m planning a schooner with my new friends and fellow gappies this avro.
Schooner – Australian drinks measurement just under a pint
Gappies – Lattitude gap year volunteers
Avro - afternoon