The morning of departure day was surprisingly calm. My usual neurotic self had a great night’s sleep and I woke up quite relaxed. This was unexpected as I had spent the last few weeks stressing over every minute detail of my exchange and waking up at 4am questioning if I had actually completed everything. As I had a 9pm flight time, my day was quiet and I found myself very collected. It was like I had entered a surreal calm bubble.
The first flight was 14 hours, Brisbane to Dubai. A few words of wisdom I can pass on to fellow travellers is log on early to your airline’s website and change your seats! I had discovered my first allocated seat was directly behind a bassinet. (A screaming baby for 14 hours? No thank you!) I would also recommend getting a travel neck pillow. (After neglecting for years to get one I finally invested and slept for a lot longer than I usually do.)
Dubai airport is amazing! I had a three-hour layover there and was very impressed. Being thoroughly modern, the airport had waterfalls, sculptures and really fancy elevators. It was only 5am but the shops resembled a busy marketplace. There were so many shops and crowds of people spending way too much money on designer duty-free but it was fun to watch. There are many food restaurants to choose from. I found a cute cafe/ bakery thing to sit and use some free WiFi.
By this time things were getting pretty groggy. The flight to Birmingham was on a much smaller plane. As it was daytime, it was pretty hard to sleep. However, as there was almost no cloud cover, I had an amazing view over the landscape we were flying over. Flying out of Dubai was incredible as it was desert dunes and mountains. It was so dry and barren but every now and then you could see a little collection of houses. (I also recommend buying a really big drink bottle at Dubai airport as this plane didn’t have water fountains and things got pretty dry between drink and meal breaks.)
Many hours later, I arrived at Birmingham airport. Heads up, you need a British pound in order to access a luggage trolley; otherwise you will be stuck like me lugging around a 30kg suitcase. Be prepared for things to get manic at the point. Lots of little European flights are arriving constantly and they all ended up going through immigration with us so there was some pretty lengthy lines. (Make sure you allocate enough time to get through the airport if you are connecting to a bus or train.)
After an exhausting 24 hours of flying, I think I made it to 7pm local time before falling asleep.
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