It is yet to feel real.
For the moment I am enjoying all the emotions that are going with the official start. Below is a quick bullet update of the journey thus far.
Hobart Airport with my beautiful three, sister and father. I found if I looked them in the eye I lost my composure. I have never hugged my adult children so much in such a short period ever. I did not want to let them go!
Saying goodbye to my father at the door, well before we were called to the boarding gate was one of the most difficult emotional things I have ever done. My dad left early, I think he found the goodbye hard going. He was not alone.
Saying goodbye to my three was emotionally the hardest thing I have ever done. I cannot describe the pain of walking away.
35 hours later I now feel like somewhat of an authority. Flying economy sucks, if you can afford to upgrade do so.
When booking flights use the power of the internet. Get seats where you sit on your own in a two person aisle or sit on the outside. Check the recommendations of others on the type of plane you will be flying on and learn from their wisdom or mistakes. Now the important point – check with the local guy when he checks you in that you actually get the seats you booked. Our longest leg of 13.5 hours had us seated two in the middle and down the back. Not what I booked!
The happy couple in our long booked seats opposite the dividing wall, I promise, I only wished them the best – lucky ducks.
Buy noise cancelling head sets. Sweet Baby Jesus they are worth every penny and some. Enough said.
Wear comfortable clothes. Think clothes that feel like pajama’s but don’t look like them. Plus you could be wearing these clothes for a very longtime.
Shoes. Wear shoes that are not only comfortable but can be easily taken off and put back on when you feet inevitably swell to look like your grandpa’s. My thongs are now worth their weight in gold.
Re the Captain, he now has a new pair of shoes, his shoe removal moment involving plastic bags on the plane, was actually very funny. Imagine his old gym shoes , holes in them, sweaty feet that havn’t been released for 20 hrs, with no socks on, a very delicate operation in deed!
Don’t drink too much alcohol but drink plenty of water. Malaysian airlines made drinking too much alcohol impossible as service for this offering was once. Drinking enough water would have been impossible if we did not have water bottles. Question why they give you thimble size cups of water. Hint, buy a big bottle of water from duty free, don’t drink plane water.
Arriving At Your Destination
When your bags aren’t at your end point destination, Don’t Panic, just because your perfectly weighted 30kg bags, each containing every thing you need to live on a boat and are each worth thousands of dollar are not there. I repeat Don’t Panic!
No no, take this as the perfect opportunity to practice your French, as this first occasion really matters. Stay calm and play nice. Plus it is illegal to abuse either verbally or physically any French authority. The sign says so.
The first thing we did was go buy a beer and a coffee. This stop and collect ones self, seemed like a good strategy and worked well for us. Once we had done this we went back to the lost baggage department and it seemed to go much better. The staff appreciated the photo of the bags, I had just purchased a new charger and my phone was now working. My pre purchased French charger version is currently having a holiday on it’s own, not sure where those bags are at the moment?
This “stop before you leave the airport” is a repeatable strategy bags or no bags.
Side note to this, the Captain’s beer had surprise tequila inside the bottle. First taste of French beer – Delicious!
Taking the bus into town was so much easier without our large bags. (See every piece of shit does have a silver lining.)
We found our hotel first and dropped all our heavy carry on baggage. My poor Captain, I was calling him my camel as he wore the majority of bags. It helped to keep anxiety down, as we had to count the pieces each time we moved. Two large bags, two bags one man bag, one satchel, two water bottles and one feather pillow. I lost the pillow at Heathrow as we made a crazy dash from one terminal to the other, 2 minutes between missing the flight. I will buy another pillow.
Others have told us we may not like Marseilles, not the best part of France I was told.
Wrong– I was blown away from the first view in the sky to walking around the bus, train station. Yes the high rise buildings showed compromised living, as we travelled in from the airport but I for one was fascinated. (A no longer secret pleasure of mine is to look at houses others live in.) When in New York I took more photographs of people’s apartments than anything else, hence I found the apartment blocks enthralling. Would I want to live there – no way! It made me count my blessings. No photos unfortunately as my camera was in my bag and I was too wrecked to get it out.) Plus every city has different views, the view from my room is special…. TBC
Once in town most important job was to find our hotel. The shower was bliss even if we put our dirty clothes back on, still bliss.
Next we found a SIM card and beer. Have I mentioned it is hot over here so a beer was perfect. Warning to self: I need to remember all pricing is double what we pay at home. Also I can’t tell you the last time I purchased a beer in a cafe at home… life is already different.
In France it appears to be OK to shout out loud to your friends or family who are across the way, bring your dog into public spaces (Lilly would like it here) smoke where ever you want, and beep your car horn constantly as you drive. The cars are mostly small, and most have dings and body paint scrapes. This high level of side damage seems to be a car’s fate in this city.
In France the World Cup is Big. At least 6 TV stations broadcasting football.
On the day of arrival Algeria had won their game, Algerian flags where everywhere, young men drove through the streets ecstatic and proud. Plus the driver’s hands where attached constantly to the horn. This level of public joy was to share in case new comers like us didn’t know that Algeria had won. Marseilles appears to have a large Algerian community.
Did I mention that it seemed very loud and noisy everywhere we went?
After the first tequila flavoured beer, our first meal in France was also an experience. Was it French. No. Arabic Yes, for the next hour we could have been in the Middle East rather than Europe.
Our host Billel was delighted to welcome us. Between my poor French and his poor English, we where made to feel more than special to stumble into his restaurant. I think two random Australian’s rocking up, was as much a surprise to him as was our international meal to us. Sharing family photographs was a hoot that added to the occasion. First French meal to come.
The Algerians were all sad at how bad Australia was going in the soccer. This highlighted how perspective is everything. I / We think our boys are doing an amazing job and I for one am expecting an Aussie upset sometime soon…
Take aways from lunch. If we ever go to Algeria and get half the welcome we received today, we won’t feel lonely or neglected. Plus the chicken was good so hunger shouldn’t be an issue either.
Not understanding the language wasn’t too much of a barrier to having human connection, talking to the barman’s wife on the phone was unexpected. Her English was better than the rest but non verbal communication still won the day. Thus far the French have been overflowing with hospitality and helpfulness when asked.
Later in the afternoon we purchased a bottle of wine, a stick of bread and some cheese. Just because. I mean you can’t come to France and not do this, surely.
Random Points Of Interest
French toilet holders stand up rather than have the paper roll down.
French computer keyboards are very different, so touch tying on shared computer proved interesting.
Arabic tea is good, it is very sweet and minty.
Less people spoke English than I anticipated.
So Day One Done
So day one down. My Captain has been asleep for over 10 hours now. I am hoping this will come my way soon. I am not sure if my lack of sleep is jet lag, I don’t think so. More the overload to my senses and the excitement and drama of knowing tomorrow we move on Miss Catana, with or without bags. So long I have dreamed of this day… and now I feel a little anxious, nervous and excited all rolled into one.
Best Bit Of The Day
Seeing the buildings and hearing the language. I got a huge kick out of listening at Heathrow airport to the huge range of English and Irish accents. I felt I was living inside the Bill. Second best bit was chatting to my niece on the phone. Talking to family in the same time zone while the rest of our families slept was pretty special. My niece is in Europe on a student exchange for twelve months, it will be nice to connect as I know she has missed her family, I understand.
Compromise Of The Day
We unfortunately did not get to walk down to the harbour. It was a choice between thunder and rain and the opportunity to go and hand wash our only clothes. As a result we missed one of the cities best bit, so we must resolve to return.
Worst Bit Of The Day
Waiting at the baggage carousel for our bags to come and they didn’t show. The horror of starting anew from here is not worth considering yet. I have been planning and packing those bags truly for months now. I did mention that each bag weighed exactly 30kgs. Not a gram over or below. I took a photo as proof. Yes I love my bags. Even more now they are not here.
PS I think in the rare chance Australia does not progress to the next round of the World Cup I will make my second team Algeria. My flag recognition is now perfect, why not. Plus I know an entire French suburb that will be celebrating with passion.
PPS Never again will I travel with my camera and not the cord to download. This is stupid and I could have found a space. Thank goodness I carried my hard drives carry on. I nearly didn’t. Not worth considering.
Photos to follow as soon as I get those bags!