Europe 18.06.16

Saturday the 18th

I feel as though my parents and I have earned the right to a theme song considering the increasing frequency at which we embark on holidays! It can play at the opening instalment of every journal entry as DE FAMILIE OPSTAP* pans across the title screen.

I imagine dad is quietly relieved he is not jet-setting to Europe with mum and I today. A standard international flight requires its passengers to arrive at the airport three hours prior to departure time, or two hours for those apt at online check-in. This period is reserved for customs, baggage deposit and of course DUTY FREE SHOPPING. If I don’t get to Victoria’s Secret in time expect an unpleasant flight – mum, you have been warned!

Barely thirty minutes has passed since our departure, yet I feel as though I have been sitting here for hours. Taking into consideration the time spent boarding, weighted against my limited patience, this time transpired seems more realistic. The traffic on route to the airport was fairly bearable. Upon arrival and completion of the standard pre-flight procedures, we entered the shopping area. We purchased a gift set of chocolate-coated macadamia koalas for our friends and family in Belgium and the Netherlands, and I bought myself a sneaky mini-bottle of Bombay Sapphire Gin and Red Label Whiskey. Thereafter, it was finally the long-awaited time to go to Victoria’s Secret! BUT NO! ITS GONE! Recent renovation to the Sydney Heinemann Airport relocated my favourite underwear store to the Domestic Terminal. (This counts for something of a problem considering that I only packed so many in anticipation of duty free shopping). Barely thirty minutes have passed since our departure, yet there has already been a substantial amount of turbulence. Could it be due to the rainy climate from which we departed today? This first fifteen hour instalment of our flight to Belgium has begun at a slow pace.

The past few weeks I can best describe as frantic! My first semester studying a new course at a new university is complete and I am proud of my commitment and effort dedicated to the workload. The theoretical basis of the social sciences has introduced me to unfamiliar studying techniques yet I have enjoyed learning about a field which I wish to pursue as a career. This half year has been so potent, for lack of a better word, I can recount the whole semester backwards. Last week, I sat a number of comprehensive exams to conclude the last two of my four courses. The week prior was reserved for STUVAC. The week before, I caught up on a month’s worth of lectures and tutorials and sat a multiple choice in-class exam. Weeks twelve, eleven and ten I spent incredibly sick in bed to the extent that I missed my own birthday somewhere therein. Week nine I worked for more than fifty hours on top of university and other commitments which triggered my illness for the subsequent period. The previous, a two thousand word essay. The previous, another two thousand word essay. Then counting backwards from Groovin the Moo, Sticky Fingers, mid-semester break, and finally the fourth, third, second and first weeks of semester one of 2016.

We were almost, what one might consider, “late” to book our holiday. It was only a month prior to departure that we booked the flights and begun planning as we had to await the release of my university exam schedule. Although a potential bracket is provided in the term outline, I am the kind of person to enhance every available minute of my time. Whilst mum would have rather had another day or even week to organise and pack, I would rather spend more time at my destination. After all, I do not go on holidays with the purpose of putting things in a suitcase! Heck, I could very well go without a suitcase and purchase all the necessities overseas! I can go shopping and do my packing whenever and wherever, but an adventure overseas does not happen quite as easily.

My haste to depart for Europe cost me the sacrifice of any social events which are to take place throughout the following five week stretch – two of which I am missing this very moment as I sit and type away somewhere over Indonesia. Two birthdays, one with all my high school friends and the other with my work crew, are unhappy misses, although worth the trade-in as it’s not every day I get to go exploring in Brussels! Or shopping in Antwerp. Or sightseeing in Amsterdam! These activities will take place in the first week together with mum, planned before dad’s arrival as to avoid inconveniencing him. The second and third weeks will be a game of ping-pong between Belgium and The Netherlands as we aim to visit as many people as possible! Maybe not in the most efficient way… Three weeks is just enough for mum and two weeks is plenty for dad, so my parents will be returning at this benchmark whilst I continue my travels through Spain, Morocco and Portugal with Contiki.

Unlike my unnamed companion (this is a fifteen hour flight, should I have made his acquaintance?) on my left or my mum on my other side, I am not capable of sleeping on a plane. Our estimated arrival time in Abu Dhabi is 5:00am home time and it be another ten hours before we reach daylight in Belgium. My last few sleeps have been short and restless. They have been disturbed by stress for tests and holiday excitement so I don’t believe I will be the most comfortable (or tolerable) over the next few days. I can only imagine the tolling effect of the long consecutive shifts for the flight attendants! I would say I have no clue how they do it – but mum found their sleeping secret. As we were exercising our stiff legs near the rear of the plane, a grey panel disguised into the walls of the craft swung open! To our surprise, three flight attendants marched out of the closet down stairs that rose into an overhead compartment! From what I know, this isn’t a two story plane but a sleeping compartment does sound like a convenient way into the mile high club.

At this transitionary stage of the journey, I am unsure as to how to date my documentation. Finishing the first fifteen hour instalment on the way to Brussels, it is 4:00am on the 19th in Sydney but still 10:00pm local time on the 18th in Abu Dhabi. Then again… we only arrive in Belgium early on Sunday morning! And I haven’t slept more than four hours in the past fourty-eight. I’m hoping for a better try at shut-eye on the next flight.

*De Familie Opstap, literally the Family on the Go, was a cartoon featured in the monthly instalments of my favourite childhood subscription magazine, Pompoen.

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