Had we read the email incorrectly and did we in fact have to obtain a separate visa to get us to Australia to enable us to pick up the other visa?!!
Whilst I was brewing up for a good blubber, T as always remained calm and to the point. He asked the lady whether there was some information electronically on our passports allowing us to enter the country, maybe.
She had a look; "Ah, yes, it says access is granted for you both."
"Write your names and address on those pieces of paper."
"You haven't got your address anywhere your case. What happens if your label comes of? We have no way of knowing this is your bag or tracing being able to easily trace it back to you."
She had a good point. We duly did as we were told, wrote our names and address on two labels and handed them over to her. She put my address on my case, but was then so busy telling us how hard it was for the airline to find the owners if there was no I.D. anywhere on or in a lost bag, she forgot to put T's label on his case. Laughing at herself, she said she would go down to baggage after checking us in and attach it to his bag .
"Hope you had a nice trip!!
Kind Regards, BA Munich"
Check in - eventually - done and security cleared, we sat down and had breakfast. T felt he better make the most of having German cuisine on offer and ordered some wurst and a bier - any excuse!
Then we boarded our first plane of the day, and flew the shortest flight we would be on for a while. As the plane took off and we climbed higher above the Bavarian countryside, the cars and houses gradually becoming dots and then disappearing altogether behind the screen of clouds, I wondered if we would ever return.
We had a couple of hours between flights at Heathrow airport, but by the time we had marvelled at the English products we can't buy outside the country, enjoyed the novelty of being able to read the synopsis on the backs of novels, and sampled whisky in Duty Free; the time soon passed.
Most of it was spent in Boots to be honest. We had gone in to buy some toiletries, but when we reached the till with our basket full of products, the cashier looked at our boarding card and explained we were only allowed to take containers less than 100ml onboard our flight. We could have many containers; so long as none of them were larger than 100ml. Sure enough, most of the items in our basket were over 100ml in size.
Some of the products we were able to buy the travel versions of (which was OK, but annoying as we had wanted larger ones so we could use them in Montreal after the holiday). So, as one of us waited at the till whilst the cashier scanned the allowed items through, the other one of us would be doing a dash around the crowded shop trying to find the miniature versions. That done, she then told me I could claim a hair product for free, under the 'Buy two and get the third free' offer. Never one to turn down a freebie; I ran back to the haircare section, grabbed a bottle and took it back to the till where, sure enough, it was larger than 100ml. Aargh! So, getting more and more flustered as I knew the cashier was patiently waiting for me and I could see the queue building; I returned to the haircare aisle to find something else and ended up with a random product which I chose solely with the reason it was under 100ml.
The flight to Australia (which to T's delight was on an A380 - a plane which he had worked on the production of, I hastily add before you assume he is a total plane geek), was divided into two legs. The first leg was to Dubai and took seven hours. The plane was busy and to my total horror, our footwell smelt of vomit. To make matters even worse, a few hours into the flight someone was very loudly ill in one of the toilets near to us. Never nice, but I have a total phobia of all things to do with throwing up. I am hysterical about the subject so, to be stuck in this metal tube in the sky surrounded by the sound and smell of vomit was my idea of total hell.
At Dubai, we had an hour in the airport whilst they cleaned the plane. We tried to change seats, but the plane was still full and therefore moving was not possible; but on our return to our seats, we discovered to our relief (to put it mildly) they no longer smelt.
Thirteen hours later, and with around an hours sleep under each of our belts; we landed in rainy Sydney.
Hang on, we had spent a whole week in the UK and it had not rained once, yet not even a minute had passed in Australia and it was raining! I had not sat on a plane for 20 hours (seven which were vomit-scented) for rain...!!!
Following our hectic time in Europe, we managed to slow the pace down a bit and enjoy the sun (and surf). That is not to say we didn't continue catching up with family and friends. In addition to spending lots of time with T's sister and family who live in Sydney, we also caught up with T's ex-colleague and family, who used to live near to us in Sevilla. They were touring Australia for three weeks and as luck would have it, the three days they were in Sydney coincided with the days we were in the city!
After not seeing them for two years we met in Manly, which was pretty surreal! It's a small world...
Our six days Down Under came to an end all too quickly. On our last evening we checked to see what the weather was doing in Montreal. Glowing from our afternoon spent on the beach in the sunshine, we read the forecast: snow.
Best get our coats back out of the suitcases then...
Our journey back was somewhat stressful.
It got off to a bad start on our way to Sydney airport. We had - for once - left a reasonable amount of time to drive there, (even after stopping for a quick coffee and slice of toasted banana bread on the beach one last time). Our flight was at 10am, and so we left Balmoral just after 7.30am, reasoning it would take around thirty minutes to get to the airport. This time was soon increased when we then proceeded to drive over the Harbour Bridge three times, after taking the wrong exit and then ending up back on the bridge but heading in the wrong direction. After that detour, we were in sight of the airport when we hit a traffic jam. The queue was virtually at a standstill and we feared there must have been an accident. An hour and a half from when we first hit the traffic, we finally reached the airport. there was no sign of an accident; it appeared to be solely due to the volume of traffic.
T dropped me off at departures with the two bags to check in and went to return the hire car. I ran to the desk, convinced we had missed out flight as it was now after 9.30am; but to my relief they were calling for passengers for our flight. We appeared to not be the only ones caught out by the traffic. We checked in and rushed through security and then walked straight on the plane in a ruffled, hot state.
As we were so late, we had been assigned seats apart from each other. I found myself sat in-between two guys, who, although not huge, weren't exactly small. Great. Just how I wanted to spend the next thirteen hours. But, as luck would have it, the lovely lovely man sat next to T said he would swap places with me. So, although the following thirteen hours were still spent trying to avoid the guy on my left who was spilling over his seat onto mine, at least to my righthand side was my husband!
It was quite an uncomfortable journey, and although I tried my best, I didn't succeed in grabbing even a wink of sleep. Finally landing in LA airport, we then had to collect our bags and take them through security before leaving them once again and embarking on a plane to Dallas Airport. Here, despite the last plane being delayed slightly (thankfully - that was one delay I was only to pleased to experience!) we had an hour-long wait before the three-hour flight. At Dallas, we got off to discover our next flight was also delayed by an hour, but after being totally convinced some eighteen hours earlier that we would not even be in the continent at this stage in the day, we weren't too bothered. It was our last flight too, so no more connections to get afterwards - just M to pick us up at Montreal airport and take us home!
Another another three-hour flight, which we spent dozing off as our unsuccess at getting sleep on the long flight caught up with us, we finally touched down in Montreal.
Waiting for the bags, T's came off the carousel quite quickly. We then stood and waited for mine...
and waited some more...
...and then some more, as people who had been on our flight collected their bags and then went on their way.
Soon there was only T and me left - and still no bag.
We went to the baggage desk and after looking on their system, they discovered my bag was still in LA.
If it had to happen, at least it was this way around as we were going home so I could make do without my stuff, but it was still very annoying.
We were intrigued to notice the gaps in-between the rungs of the metal barriers from baggage to the arrivals exit had been filled in, and couldn't help wondering if this was as a result of us and the mayhem we caused with our bikes bags when we first arrived in Montreal?!?!
M picked us up as promised, and we finally arrived home some twenty-eight hours after leaving our holiday apartment in Sydney.
From then on the boy was far more impressed with the empty Easter egg box I had dug out from my hand luggage than us.