Sunday, 29 April 2012

Cairns to Melbourne

Returned to the world of textiles. At the bike shop it took 15 minutes for a man to dismantle and box my bike, and squeeze in most of my luggage. This had taken Tony, Laura and I several hours. However, presumably no-one weighed it in Glasgow or London because I didn't have any more stuff, yet now it was over the 23 kg limit, and this was only ascertained after it had been taped up - at the airport. The 8 kg discrepancy would have cost $150, so obviously I took most of my luggage and added it to my carry-on baggage. The woman who dealt with me was none too friendly (and hardly looked up from her monitor) but the man next to her was, and he lent me scissors, tape and a bigger bag to take on the plane. I became increasingly stressed, ripping everything out of the box, reweighing it a few times and getting covered in bike oil in the process. Dragged the box to the oversize baggage section (I wasn't paying $3 for an airport trolley) and returned to the desk to criticize the woman for her lack of eye contact. She smiled sweetly and said she would take my advice onboard. Unfortunately, when atempting to pass through security, I realised that in my anxiety I'd included bike tools with the carry-on luggage, and, of course, they wouldn't let me do that. So, somewhat sheepishly, I had to return to the woman previously mentioned to ask for the box to be recalled, for it to be opened up AGAIN and taped up AGAIN. This time she smiled a lot and fixed her gaze on me. More dramas in the departure lounge, where it seemed ridiculous that passengers who had been given allocated seats queued up before being called forward. Stupid idiots, I thought. I hate standing in queues and ignored the announcement for our flight over the PA, as it would surely take ages for all the boarding cards to be processed. Five minutes later I heard my name being called over the PA and had to rush to make the plane... Although I'd asked for a window seat, I forgot about the wings, which obscured my view. However, (a) it was mostly cloudy through out the journey and (b) the man next to me said we would fly through the Outback. I had hoped to retrace my route along the coast, and get a perverse kick from measuring this three-hour flight against seven weeks of gruelling, sweaty toil. Peter, my original host in Melbourne, had suffered a relapse of his ME-type illness and asked me to try and find someone else to stay with for my remaining two nights in the country. As luck would have it, my older brother, Anthony, has a friend in the city, Sandra. She and her boyfriend, Howard, picked me up from the airport and took me to their place in Brunswick. Sandra cooked up a fabulous Spanish seafood affair, featuring muscles, prawns and beans. A serious foodie, she uses the finest ingredients in her cooking and we even drank white wine from a different type of glass to the red. They also have this Japanese fridge, the door of which can be opened from either side, as although it opens like normal, it's hinged on both sides. Whereas, Howard is into his hi fi and had searched the planet for the best kind of speakers, which are huge and individually shaped. Stupidly I itched my back to relieve the sunburn and it got worse and worse. Eventually I restrained myself from touching it again and the pain subsided during another uncomfortable sleep.

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