About Me

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Wife (to Shaun), Mother (to Danni), Dog walker of Archie the JRX, improving cyclist, reformed gym bunny, broken runner Collector of exercise DVDs & equipment. Cake is my weakness together with cider (Westons only thanks)and brandy. Noisy spectator of running & cycling events. Owner of Tribby the campervan

Friday, 12 February 2016

Aussie Adventure - London Heathrow to Sydney

After our overnight stay at the Hilton Garden Inn we checked in at the Malaysian Airlines check in desk, made our way through the security checks and into the departure lounge.  We'd booked in to the Plaza Premium Lounge - we both like to have some peace and quiet, something decent to eat and drink and the Plaza didn't disappoint.  The food has a lovely oriental twist, so don't book if you like a traditional full english cos you ain't gonna get there!

I'd read loads of advice about what to do to prepare for a long haul flight - some of it was very confusing and conflicting so I guess it's all personal choice and you learn from your own mistakes.
  • don't sit down before the flight - you're going to be sitting down for a very long time when you get on the plane, keep the blood circulating through your legs for as long as you can.
  • hydrate and eat a light meal
  • if you're on an early morning flight don't sleep before you get on the plane
  • listen to some relaxing music or meditate
Some of the above I took on board - like eating and hydrating (I'd paid to eat and drink as much as I could!)  We just sat and chilled, walked a bit to look round the duty free.  We couldn't buy much as we only had 7kg of hand luggage and were right on our limit for checked in for our internal flight from Sydney to Melbourne.

Our long flight from Heathrow to Kuala Lumpur was on an Airbus A380 - an absolute monster of a plane on two decks!  Once we sat down it was obvious that the flight was practically empty so a good chance to juggle seating and get some decent sleep at some point lying down!

No sooner had we taken off than the flight attendants were offering juice, water and salted peanuts, and not long after that lunch!   Because I've had far too many bad experiences of chicken dishes on flights I'd ordered "Western Vegetarian", outward bound lunch was Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni & ratatouille with a pasta salad(!) and a fruit salad which was very quickly swapped for Shaun's strawberry gateaux (Western Vegetarians obviously aren't partial to a bit of cake!)  I should really have taken a photo of my tray of food but I was too hungry to fiddle about trying to find my phone!  It wasn't too bad, bit dry in places but it tasted great!

One of the great things about long haul flights is the choice of in-flight entertainment - there was certainly lots to choose from.  Shaun was actually more fascinated by the interactive map than the 60 odd films to choose from. My first choice was the Man from U.N.C.L.E with the very gorgeous Henry Cavill - Shaun decided on a nap!    I then watched The Gift - when I say watched, I missed a whole section and had to rewind it thanks to falling asleep!  At some time after that I had a full on sleep which was great and somehow with only 3 hours to go before landing in KL I was being served breakfast.   I think there was some mix up as I ended up with omelette, potato cake and a meatball!  Veggie Fail!!!!!   Having said that it was very tasty and no ill effects after.

Two pieces of advice I would give for these flights is to make sure you have plenty of water. After my long sleep I woke up feeling a bit rubbish - either take on board a bottle which you can ask the flight attendant to refill or just keep buzzing for them to bring you a cup of water.  Stash the pots of water you get on your meal tray and never say no if liquid refreshment is offered.  You also need to get up and walk about.  One tip is to walk the long way to the toilet (walk the length of the cabin and back up the other side) it's not a great distance but long enough to get the blood flowing in your legs and alleviate any stiffness in your joints.   On the flight back (when I thought the whole plane was asleep) I actually managed to go through a whole leg & back stretch routine in the aisle - much to the amusement of one passenger who then did the same! 

During take off I got chatting to a young man who was travelling to Jakarta - quite useful when we got off at Kuala Lumpur as he offered to show us where to go for our onward flight to Sydney.  It was quite simple in the end but KL is a huge airport and it was a bit daunting at first.   We now wish we'd stayed in KL for a night so I think we'll be back!

We only had about an hour and a half before we boarded our next flight, but enough time to have a quick freshen up and change clothes (top tip - pack a change of clothes if you're not doing a stopover - it's a wonderful thing to be able to change into fresh underwear and a tshirt).   I'd packed baby wipes, toothbrush & a mini tube of toothpaste, compact deodorant and a some smelly for each of us - oh and a hairbrush for me and some moisturiser!   It's a good idea to pack these in separate bags if you can, it saves it all getting lost in your hand luggage bag.   That goes for anything electrical you might need too - my ipod, earplugs and phone and charging cables were in a small make up bag.  Obviously you need to keep all your liquids and gels in the see-through plastic bags for checking at security.

Our flight from KL to Sydney was rammed - no room in the overhead lockers to put our hand luggage and seemingly less leg room than on the A380.  We spent the next 8 hours with our hand luggage bags at our feet!   The A330 is also much noisier than the A380!  I started to watch 12 Years A slave but didn't get very far with it.  As soon as we'd reached cruising altitude the flight attendants came round with landing cards to be filled in - always my job wherever we go!   I think we had lunch served soon after take off - mine was a fish dish in some bland lemon sauce.  I'm not sure what meal it was as it didn't seem like 5 minutes before we had breakfast!  I then managed to nap (upright) for a while and watched the Book Thief and before we knew our 8 hour flight was nearly over and we were being served a snack before landing at Sydney - a funny little bread roll with a few salad leaves for me!   Shaun had a full on sub roll with egg mayo in!

The entry into Sydney had been the one thing I had worried about most - we've all watched the Border Patrol programme on the TV and of course I was worried the suitcases hadn't made the connection at KL.   In reality arrival at Sydney couldn't have gone better and before we knew it we were out into the taxi rank to transfer to our hotel.  A lot of blogs/articles will tell you that the taxi fare from the airport to the City is about AUD50, ours was only AUD30 (about £15 at the time of writing).   I have never been so pleased to see a hotel bed in all my life, but first we needed to walk a bit to get the blood flowing again and even though it was getting on for 10.30pm we walked a little way up from the Break Free on George Street (our hotel for the next 3 nights) and bought an ice cold cider each.  That cider was sooooo refreshing.   It's a good idea to shower before you go to bed too, after all it's been 24 hours since your last one!

The long flight definitely is not easy by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a means to an end and that is all you need to focus on - the amazing adventures ahead.

Next post I'll tell you all about the Break Free on George Street where we stayed and our amazing experiences in Sydney.   If you've got any top tips for long haul travel or experiences come and say hi in the comments.

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