Saturday, October 19, 2013

Zanzibar - Dar es Salaam - Dubai - Melbourne

The last few days have been travel days as we gradually made our way back to Melbourne.  We ate our last breakfast beach side at the Villa Kiva Beach Resort early on 17 October before being picked up around 7:00 am for the hour long drive to the airport in Zanzibar.  The one departure there terminal was packed with three separate flights leaving around the same time, which was entertaining.  Our Precision Air flight to Dar es Salaam was at 10:10 am and we were in the air for around 15 minutes. 

When we arrived at Julius Nyerere International Airport I had hoped that we'd be able to check in our bags for our Emirates flight to Dubai at 4:45 pm and maybe even escape the airport for a bit to go explore Dar es Salaam.  That plan didn't work out though because when we went through security with all our luggage we learned that we wouldn't be able to check in until after 1:30 pm and would be stuck in the small international terminal departure area until then.  With a few hours to kill, no food and no wi-fi all there was to do was sit in the little three row seating area and read my book.  I dubbed the spot Westerner row as everyone with international connections was stuck there unless you wanted to go back out through security with your luggage.  Lesson 1: Catch the noon flight from Zanzibar.  Lesson 2: The airport in Dar es Salaam sucks.

After a few hours we were able to line up to check in at Emirates and then proceeded through customs.  I was very happy to finally have some access to food so I could eat lunch and then walked around checking out some of the shops before boarding.  The 5 1/2 hour flight to Dubai was fairly non-eventful but packed.  I watched the movies Now You See Me and The Heat as the entertainment channels had a predetermined running order.

Arriving at Dubai International Airport was a bit of culture shock as it was clean, luxurious and screamed money- a far cry from our African airports and the past 3 weeks on safari.  We cleared customs quickly as our bags had been checked through to Melbourne and had transfers prearranged to the Admiral Plaza Hotel.  This was my first time in Dubai so I didn't mind the drive around at night before we got dropped off at our hotel around 1:00 am.  The sad thing though was that we would be leaving at 7:15 am, so that meant I got about 4 hours of sleep on a hard trundle bed as the three of us shared a room.  Although we didn't get much sleep, staying the night in Dubai did break up the flights and allowed us to shower and change clothes before the last leg to Melbourne.

The driver picked us up at the hotel and drove us back to the airport.  I do wish I was able to explore a bit of Dubai but that will have to be on another trip.  We wandered around the duty free shops in the airport before our mid-morning Emirates flight to Melbourne.  Although it was full we were on one of the brand new A380 planes, which are very nice and have wide screen tvs in the headrests, a good selection of entertainment options and legroom.  I kept myself occupied during the 13 1/2 hour flight by watching the movies The Sapphires and The Hangover Part III, as well as the entire third season of the tv show Portlandia and Blur's free concert in London during the Olympics last year (this was fitting since I have been reading Alex James' book "Bit of a Blur" during the trip).  Due to the timing of the flight I didn't sleep at all as it was within my normal awake hours for the past few weeks.  I suspect I will pay for this over the weekend since we arrived in Melbourne at 6:30 am this morning.  The goal for today is to stay up as long as I can to try and get onto Australian time.  Wish me luck!

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