Saturday, May 22, 2010
Update From Tasmania
Well, here I am in Hobart again......... I arrived here Wednesday morning, after setting out from my place in Paris at 8:30 am on Monday morning, when my Etihad chauffeur picked me up. First there was a shortish (less than seven hours) flight to Abu Dhabi, then fourteen hours through to Melbourne, which was very difficult, just so long and also very turbulent, as it was over the ocean - it did get calmer once we started to go across Australia.

I managed to do something to my ankle at Charles de Gaulle, because of course we had to go down steps and up steps to the plane, after having to walk up steps and down steps to get from one side of the terminal to the other, because whoever designed Terminal 2A decided it would be great to put a raised restaurant in the middle and not have escalators. I hadn't expected at all that we would be bussed out to the plane. And when we got to Abu Dhabi, there was trouble connecting the airbridge and opening the door, so they opened the door and brought steps. At that point I called for a wheelchair, and got wheeled around the airport by a man named John, who kept asking me if I believed in the miracles of the Holy Mother Mary. He would want to pick his audience for that one fairly carefully in Abu Dhabi, I would have thought. "Are you a Christian?" would not be the ideal conversation opener in most of the Middle East.

Apart from the length and the turbulence, the flight was not too gruesome - I got moved to the front right hand seat in the cabin, which is a single, after being assigned a seat next to another initially. I don't know, this has happened to me on every flight lately, that I've been moved so that a family could sit together, and normally I do end up with a better seat. This one was quite spacious, and also easy to get in and out of, since there was no-one in front - those "pods" can be a bit tricky to manoeuvre in to, if there are seats both in front and behind, the actual opening is a bit narrow. The lie-flat feature of the seat was great, quite long enough for me. I am 165 cm, but I don't think you would be comfortable if you were taller than 170, you would have to bend.

The food was not bad, I had tagine of lamb on the way from Paris, and from Abu Dhabi, a grilled beef tenderloin and a hot breakfast. You could ask for food at any time, the staff were very good and attentive in fact. And I watched two movies - "The Last Station" about Tolstoy, this had Helen Mirren as Countess Tolstoy, she was excellent, of course, and "The Lovely Bones", which I liked far more than I thought I would. It was sad, but very well done, with flashes of lightness and humour. Apart from that, I slept quite a bit, so the flat bed seats are good for something.

Getting off at Melbourne was the usual long walk, then fuss at all the checks, but one good thing was that I didn't have to do the suitcase-lifting. Etihad give you a card that allows you to bypass that, if you have nothing to declare and not more than two suitcases, the nice man who looks at the card and tells you which line to go in for the x-ray just waves you through the door behind him. This was great, because I hate that bit, I think it is set up especially so that sadistic staff can laugh at people who get off fourteen hour flights and fall flat on their faces when they try to lift their bags onto the waist-high conveyor belt.

I had to stay the night in Melbourne, and chose an airport hotel - NOT the Hilton, the prices there are outrageous. The Best Western is further away, but has a courtesy bus and a decent restaurant, at half the Hilton price. They delivered me back in timefor the 8:45 am flight to Hobart, and everything went very well. The nice Qantas man did not charge me excess baggage, although I was a few kilos over, and I also managed to get a huge L'Occitane free gift, when I bought some shampoo and conditioner. At Hobart, I had to wait an hour or so to check in to the hotel, but I called my project manager, who said not to come in that day, so I had a long sleep before I had to go to work the next day.

There seems to be a great shortage of accommodation in Hobart this week, so I have been staying at one hotel for three days, before moving to an apartment hotel this morning. At last I can unpack properly, and also there is a washing machine in my apartment! I am about to spend Saturday evening taking advantage of this.
posted by Ally at 2:13 pm ¤ Permalink ¤


  • At 3:59 pm, Blogger Kathryn in NZ

    Welcome back downunder! You'll get honorary Tassie status at this rate, teehee