From Lunar Landscapes to Patchwork Quilt Cultivation
Never, never, never book a long haul flight from Australia to Europe without at least one night stopover somewhere, that is unless you have the luck of travelling first class and that probably isn’t likely for most of us. This is my first piece of advice, it just isn’t worth the stress on your body.
Flying out of Brisbane at 5.00 am having not slept for twenty four hours seemed Like a good idea. My reasoning being that I would be able to sleep longer and better on the flight if I was tired, but no this didn’t happen! I did manage an hour or so as we flew over Australia, then woke up only to find we were still hadn’t even left the Northern Territory. It was then another hour till we exited via the coast of Western Australia.
You cannot help but be impressed by the enormous oasis in the middle of the desert that is Dubai and the airport a fitting match. Dubai Airport is enormous, so big that it takes a train to move you speedily for some distance to your departure gate. Like many of the other man made structures that appear in that part of the world it is a vast spiralling monument to those in power at the time of construction.
Peering down on the gulf states from thirty two thousand feet as we headed out of Dubai exposes the true expanse of the lunar landscape. No trees, water or seemingly vegetation of any sort (I know there really is some I just can’t see it ). I can’t help thinking in wonder at the resilience of the people that have called the region home for much of human history. Tankers, too numerous to even mention, steam back and forward, filling man’s insatiable appetite for petroleum products.
I handled the long, long trip from Australia to Dubai quite well really but the next leg of my trip however, was a different story. About half way over the Mediterranean I was ready to jump out of the plane. Again, not that it was a bad trip, it was just doing my head in being cooped up, too, too long! Even the magnificence of eastern Spain from the air wasn’t enough to totally dispel this feeling, and magnificent it is! A patchwork of gigantic proportions, laid out as intricately as any of their famous mosaic murals; fields under cultivation producing varying colours and textures, with small nutmeg kernel hills popping up here and there dotty the tableau.
Madrid Barajas Airport is a giant mausoleum on this Friday evening at 8.00 pm but later discovered that we had actually arrived at the newest and as yet under utilised runway. This also turned out to be another very fast, few kilometre train trip away from the main airport, it being much busier and just a little scarier.
There is a smell in the air that I can’t explain, I won’t call it a scent because that would elude to something pleasant. Not that it was offensive either, although I think it could be, if a little stronger. My nostrils tingled but realised that I better get used to it since it wasn’t going away anytime soon!
My hotel booking was supposed to be very close to the airport, walking distance even, but I quickly felt like someone standing on one side of a raging river needing to get to the other side without a bridge. After twenty three and a half hours travelling and a couple of failed attempts to find a shuttle bus I opted for a taxi. What I would have found if I had researched the transportation options better was that the train from the airport would take me one stop and cost under €2.00. I then had to only walk 500 mtrs in a straight line to my hotel instead of costing €20.00 by taxi. Then again, as I said I’d had it and all I wanted to do was arrive at my hotel.
There have only been two times in my life where I have been genuinely happy to find a McDonalds (I haven’t and never will be a regular consumer of fast food) and both occasions involved an overwhelming desire for a cup of tea. The first after a long and uncomfortable bus trip from the middle of Laos to Bangkok, a city that never seems to close, except for a two hour window between about 4.00 and 6.00 in the morning, unhappily coinciding with our bus arrival. The only thing open in the whole of Khao San Rd was Uncle Ronald’s restaurant and those Giant arches gleamed like the gold of El Dorado and made my heart happy as I sipped my “Lipton”.
The second was my exhausted 9.00pm Friday night arrival at the Hostel Aeropuerto, made even more euphoric by the unexpected discovering of the same gleaming arches directly across the road, calling me to my pot of gold (a cup of black tea and a garden salad), bliss!
- Never book a long haul flight from Australia without an over night stop over.
- Always research transportation option – including key words if not in English speaking countries e.g tickets – billetes (Spanish)
- Sometimes it’s just worth it to pay a little extra to get where you are going
- As much as it pains my to say it but MacDonalds can be a saviour.
- Hostel Aeropuerto – immaculately clean, great staff, comfortable, only €30 single room or €35 double