The Right Way Up

So we finally arrived back at Heathrow at Sunday lunchtime; to glorious blue skies. So much for the cold, damp, wet weather everyone said it had been like whilst we’d been on holiday, I think others were just trying to make us feel guilty.

As expected, the journey home was a long one; with the internal flight from Brisbane to Melbourne adding to the endurance flights. We finally left Australia just before midnight and settled down in the Qantas A380 Airbus with the full intention of getting some sleep.

No chance!

The fourteen hour flight from Melbourne to Dubai seemed to go on for ever and even a large dose of ‘Game of Thrones’ to watch on my iPad didn’t really help. Also, just when I managed to get to sleep I was woken by the stewardess offering me my dinner/breakfast/lunch (I didn’t really know what the time was so it could have been any one of those meals) but seeing as it was food I was happy to accept it.

Eventually we arrived in Dubai around 7am and after negotiating the two lots of security checks that were in place, we re-boarded the same plane (all spick and span again after a service clean) and headed off on the final leg from there to Heathrow, some seven hours apart.

We got through UK Border Control after thirty minutes of queuing and were soon collecting our cases and entering Arrivals, where Matt was waiting to take us home. After rescuing the dog from the kennels Tina and I managed to stay awake for a couple of hours before giving up and catching up on the lost sleep.

And so to reflect on the holiday.

I must say Australia is a fantastic place to visit; with so much to see and do. And you really do feel chilled when you get back. I drove to work on Tuesday with not a care in the world. ‘No worries’ when someone overtook me. ‘Fair dinkum’ when someone cut me up on the roundabout. ‘Alright Possums’ when I met my work colleagues on my arrival.

Then I checked my e-mails and started working through the backlog of the past three weeks. Arghhh.

Still as someone quite rightly said “You need to do one to pay for the other!” How very true.

man-in-overload

Hollywood, Los Angeles, London and Thrapston…

OK so the title was a bit of a headline grabber but it’s true!

So we arrive at our final day of our holiday, although this is not quite strictly true as we will be travelling from tonight through to tomorrow afternoon UK time so actually it officially finishes on Sunday.

I left Tina in bed as she didn’t get a good nights sleep and had a shave & shower. She soon woke up soon after. We went down for breakfast, which had a good selection, although as usual not much for gluten-free-ites. We returned to our rooms with coffee/tee (yes, very American as you don’t see many without a cup of something in their hands) and finished off packing. We are a bit worried out the amount of weight in our cases but once packed they do seem lighter than when we came over, how can that happen as we have the same amount of clothes?

We checked out of the hotel and agreed that we would return to Hollywood, where our road trip started, for one final look around.

We set off down the I5 towards Los Angeles and in particular Hollywood; the traffic was busy, in particular heading north out of the city, Americans on the way to their holiday weekend breaks no doubt.

We headed for the same area that we stayed at on our first night in California and soon found a car park costing $10 for the day. We then walked the short distance to the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood boulevard. We were surprised how busy the place was compared to last time we were there, although I guessed the Memorial weekend had brought more visitors out. We stopped for a Starbucks coffee and then walked around the shops for a while.

Lunch soon beckoned so we ordered two plates of nachos with the full works. Of course we should have realised by now that American portions are enormous and neither of us could finish the plate full of Mexican food. We then browsed a few more shops before finding a seat close to the water fountains where we sat for an hour or so, people watching. I was then asked by a couple of people whether would take their photos, which of course I obliged. What I should have done was to charge a dollar a time as did the lady at the Las Vegas sign last week. Missed opportunity or what…!

We then took a slow walk back to the car and set the sat nav for the Alamo car rental return depot, that’s close to the airport. Thirty minutes later we were unloading the cases and boarding the bus that would transport us to the terminal. Once in, we dropped our bags off before queuing to get through security. The process is really tight now, with all jewellery and anything metal having to be removed, including Tina’s birthday presents and placed in a tray. I wisely removed all my gadgets and unlike at Heathrow, got through without a bag search this time.

As soon as we were clear, we hit the duty free shop, buying the kids some smellies as prezzies and then grabbed a drink from Starbucks. Unfortunately there was no free wifi within the departure lounge so for the next few hours or so we were without Internet. As we had arrived a few hours before the flight we had wait until 8.30pm before boarding.

The flight boarded quickly and we took off shortly before 9.30 local time or 5.30 UK time and were immediately served dinner and drinks. The flight was a bit turbulent; in fact it was probably the bumpiest time I had in a plane and whilst I was OK with it Tina was in tears. After an hour or so it subsided although there were a few more rough areas during the rest of the flight.

As is normal on these type of planes, I find it very difficult to sleep and only managed to grab a few minutes during the nine hours we were airborne. Towards the end of the flight, we were served breakfast although I skipped it as it was not gluten-free.
After circling Heathrow for 15 minutes we finally touched down around 3.15pm about half an hour earlier than scheduled. We queued for Border Control before collecting our cases and going through customs. We then found the transfer bus to our car and soon were on our way around the M25 and M1. At Junction 14, we swapped drivers and Tina drove the remainder of the journey home.