This is the website of Neil McDougall, a musician/blogger/podcaster/bookie from Ayrshire.

Neil’s Antipodean Adventure 1: The Shower Smells Funny

So, this past March/April I went to Australia for a month.  I meant to write about the experience before now, and here I am finally getting around to it.

Basically, to TL;DR it, it was the best holiday I’ve ever had.  Not that there was a high bar for it to leap over; the best holidays I’ve probably had before that were probably caravanning in Anstruther or down in Dumfriesshire when I was a kid.

However, you probably want to hear more detail about it, don’t you?  Well, let’s crack on.

First of all, the travel side of things.  It was my first time flying.  Ever.  Yeah, that’s a hell of a way to get your wings – 20+ hours, two flights there and two flights back, halfway around the planet.  I booked the flight about 4 months in advance and got a pretty good deal – Edinburgh to Perth via Doha on Qatar Airways, economy class, costing me £625 all in.  I think, considering everything that’s happened since (coughBrexitcough), I scored a stoater of a deal.  Although, having written that last bit, I had a butchers at Skyscanner and put in similar dates for next year, and the prices were actually a smidge cheaper.  Blimey.

Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked.  Edinburgh to Qatar, Qatar to Perth, I flew out on Sunday the 20th of March, and was originally set to come back on Tuesday the 19th of April, but due to some sort of SNAFU along the way, flight times changed (maybe due to the clocks changing, or maybe a change in flight scheduling post-booking, I’m not sure), and it meant that my flight from Doha to Edinburgh was scheduled to depart an hour after my flight from Perth to Doha landed, so I got on the blower to Qatar Airways and they sorted the situation out, but as a result it meant I was spending an extra two days in Australia and flying home on Thursday the 21st of April.  What a hardship.

To make the travel a wee bit less stressful, I decided to head up to Edinburgh the day beforehand and stay in the Holiday In Express near the airport, and this is where our story really kicks off in earnest.  The morning of the 19th of March rolled around, and my stuff was all packed – my backpack with all the stuff I was going to need for carry-on purposes (toiletries, paperwork, laptop, 3DS, camera, Anker battery bank, Aussie plug adapters, cables, bluetooth noise cancelling headphones, a change of clothes and a couple of other bits and bobs) and I had a nice big roller case that my next door neighbours kindly let me borrow in place of the usual smaller case I’ve used for away trips.

I set off at just before lunchtime and headed to Stewarton train station, headed for Glasgow to spend a couple of hours at Walkabout with a good friend that I knew I wasn’t going to be seeing for a while after that, due to the commitments of their new job.  Yeah, yeah, I know, it’s a bit cheesy going to Walkabout the day before I went to Australia, but hey, it was near the bus station.

So, after a few beers, a bit of banter and a hug goodbye to my friend, I sauntered off to Buchanan St Bus Station and hopped on the Citylink Air bus to Edinburgh Airport.  Handy that they’d started this service a few months beforehand – my original plan was to get a train to Edinburgh city centre, get a hotel in the city and get a taxi to the airport the next day, but this worked out pretty well.  I hopped on the shuttle from the airport to the hotel (The Holiday Inn Express, as previously stated), checked into my room and settled in.

The room was alright.  Pretty basic.  The shower smelt wierd.  Not a bad smell, but it smelt a bit like hairspray or nail varnish remover, that acetone-ish smell.  I unpacked my laptop and the clothes I was going to travel in, and chilled out in the room using the dog-slow free Wifi to smurf the interwebs, had a shower and later on, went downstairs to have dinner.  It was a pizza.  It was alright, but probably hideously expensive for what it was.  Captive audience and all that.  I probably should’ve just got the shuttle to the airport and ate at one of the pre-security eateries, it might’ve actually been cheaper.  Post dinner, I just took it easy in the room and tried to get to sleep at a moderately reasonable hour.  My flight didn’t depart until 13:45 the next day, but my plan was to have an early night, wake up at daft o’clock and watch the Australian Grand Prix, hoping that the early start would mean I could catch a decent amount of sleep on the flight from Edinburgh to Doha, during nighttime in Australia, in an attempt to minimise jetlag.  Didn’t quite work out like that, though, and I lay awake most of the night.

Got up out of bed at about daft o’clock and used the RadioPlayer app on my phone to listen to the radio commentary of the F1 (the crappy free internet put paid to any plans of a video stream).  Once the race was over, I showered and headed downstairs for a thoroughly average hotel breakfast.  Some sausages, hash browns, a fried egg, a croissant and a coffee.  Pretty ho hum, but it filled a hole.  Used the hotel’s computer facilities to print off my last bits of flight paperwork, tore down my laptop, packed chargers and cables and the likes into my backpack and said goodbye to the hotel room, heading to the airport terminal on the shuttle bus.

Check in was pretty painless.  When I got to the desk, there was a massive queue of Asian/Indian folk, mostly men, but it became apparent that they were all in a group and Qatar had set up a line specific to them, so I was able to use a different line which got me seen quicker than I was thinking, which was good.  Got through security with no hassles and into the terminal proper.  Hit Superdrug for compression socks (should’ve bought those before I left home, but it slipped my mind.  Whoops), changed into said socks in one of the toilets, went to Cafe Nero for a coffee and a sandwich for brunch, then Wetherspoons for a last taste of Scottish beer, and from there it was onto the plane, a Boeing 787.

I think I’ll cut this post off here.  I’m thinking if I tried to do the whole trip in one blog post it could get a bit War & Peace-ish, so come back soon for the next bit of my tale, where I’ll talk about the flight to Doha, Doha airport and the flight to Perth.

This entry was written by NeiloMac, posted on September 10, 2016 at 5:20 pm, filed under travel. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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