It’s a Long Way Home

We were up and out of cabin 4130 at 7.30pm, for the start of what would be a very long 30 hour journey back home.

We went to the Veranda Café for our breakfast and sat with Beryl and Sue.  Once we’d finished, we just had to make ourselves comfortable until we were called to disembark.  So we went and sat out in the sunshine at the pool deck, our carry-on luggage at our sides.

At about 9.30am we were called to disembark.  We went to the terminal building and identified our suitcases, which were then loaded on the bus for the ride to the airport.

Once we arrived, we made our way to the Emirates check-in desk and booked our bags all the way to Newcastle.  We had about a four-hour wait until the first leg of the journey, a flight to Dubai.  There wasn’t anything I wanted to buy in the duty free shop, so we just decided to go straight to the executive lounge.

The Bidvest lounge was very pleasant.  There were comfortable chairs and lots of different types of snacks and drinks.  There was also free wi-fi so we were able to check our emails and our on-line bank account.  We enjoyed quite a few drinks and partook of some of the food.  There isn’t really much else to do waiting in airports, but at least it was more comfortable than the standard departure lounges and the food and drinks were free!   🙂

Soon it was time for us to go to the departure gate for our flight, where boarding started soon afterwards.  We had a 9½ hour flight to Dubai.  I had the window seat and Trevor was next to me, then there was another guy, who worked for Microsoft, in the aisle.  He was Portuguese and he was on his way to Dubai for a job interview with Microsoft there.

The flight was fairly boring and uneventful.  As ever on Emirates, the in-flight meals were massive, and they kept coming around asking if we wanted more wine.  The entertainment consoles were very sophisticated as well, and Trevor was able to watch a live English Premiership football game at 35,000 feet.  I just watched the skymap and waited for the time to pass (slowly) as I found it impossible to get any sleep.

We eventually arrived in Dubai; it was about 1.00am as we had to put our watches forward two hours from Cape Town time.  We had another six hours to wait here, so we hoped the VIP lounge would be comfortable and perhaps allow us to snatch some sleep.

 

Sunday, 18th January 2015

The airport at Dubai is massive; it must be one of the biggest airports we’ve ever been to.  After disembarking the aircraft we walked through the concourse which was bustling with life and crowds, despite the hour.  I bought some L’Oréal anti-wrinkle serum in the duty free shop, then we went along to the VIP lounge.

The lounge was very big and was quite crowded.  There were tables at which people were sitting using their laptops, and also armchairs and coffee tables.  The food and drink area was like that in a staff canteen; hot meals as well as cold, and a bar at the end where some people were perching on stools.

We also saw a ‘quiet’ area which consisted of loungers, each containing reclining bodies hoping for some sleep.  They were all occupied so there was no chance of us having any.  We had no option but to just wait it out.

The time passed slowly.  I hate this part; once your holiday is over you just want to get home and the long journey back is just so tedious.  It is also quite a test of endurance to do two long-haul flights back to back; I can understand why some people avoid flying where possible as it is uncomfortable, but unfortunately airport lounges are a fact of life if, like us, you want to go to these far-flung exotic locations.

We enjoyed the drinks and some of the snacks and eventually the morning came, and it was time for us to make our way to the departure gate for the second Boeing 777 aeroplane.  Tiredness was catching up with us and we felt grubby and disorientated.   😦

We boarded the plane and found we had been allocated the middle two seats in the middle section of four, neither window or aisle.  I knew then there was no chance of any sleep as I didn’t have anywhere to rest my head.  It was going to be an uncomfortable flight home.  Flight time was given as 7 hours 40 minutes back to Newcastle.

The plane started taxi-ing to the runway.  It took absolutely ages because Dubai airport is so big.  However, we were jolted wide awake from our semi-somnolent state by the captain’s voice coming over the intercom, telling us that, unfortunately, we were going to have to return to the terminal as there was a passenger on board who was being extremely unco-operative regarding his baggage blocking the emergency exit.  So he was going to be removed from the plane!  It gave me a fright when the captain started telling us this, because I wondered just what he was going to say.

So he aircraft trundled its way back to the terminal and, once the doors were opened, four armed security guards boarded the plane and went back to where the recalcitrant passenger was sitting.  He was escorted off the plane; two security guards in front of him and two behind.  We then had to wait, of course, for his bags to be offloaded.  It did make me nervous though and my already-overactive imagination went into overdrive with thoughts of terrorists and bombs and stuff.   😦

Eventually the aircraft doors were closed again, the plane taxied to the runway and finally we were airborne – two hours late.  The cabin crew brought round the inevitable drinks and meals and Trevor and I commented that we’d done nothing but sit around and eat and drink since leaving the Voyager – and it wasn’t over yet.

So there’s not really a lot more to say.  Just boring, boring, boring.

Finally we landed at Newcastle International Airport at 1.00pm, British time.  The weather was a bit of a shock to the system as there was a dusting of snow.  A bit different from the 35°C we’d experienced in Réunion!

Once we’d collected our cases from the carousel and got through passport control, we made our way to the Metro station for the journey to Newcastle central railway station, where the train for Durham was already in.  Twelve minutes later we saw the dearly familiar silhouette of Durham Cathedral as we alighted from the train.

A 10-minute taxi ride and we were back in the house again.  Another superb holiday was at an end.

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