The Fifth Leg (Sydney – Adelaide)

QANTAS were, as I mentioned, very good about getting me on the next available flight. Well, you’d hope so, considering they have flights between Sydney and Adelaide going every forty-five minutes or so. Yes, there’s quite an upside to airline alliances and code-sharing. I got on the 9:45 flight, which arrived in Adelaide at 11:20.

I had enough time in the QANTAS domestic terminal to ring home and buy a donut (Krispy Kreme), so that was good.

I couldn’t tell you much about the flight – I was pretty out of it. I didn’t sleep, but I’m not sure I was entirely conscious. That was all right, though. You know how they leave the back row of the ‘plane free for last-minute passengers? Well, the entire back row (with the exception of one UM) had just come off the delayed flight from Heathrow. So, there you have it, an entire flight of happily awake, correctly time-zoned individuals from Sydney who’d slept in to the normal hour before going to the airport — and the back row of bag-eyed, largely unresponsive, somewhat fed-up transfers from the other side of the world. Yep, most of the back row slept the whole way to Adelaide.

I must say, however, I do like Adelaide. It’s so nice to fly into Adelaide and see the lovely green-ness of the city (a nice contrast from all the other cities I’ve flown into, which are largely rooftops). And then you get to the airport, and it’s so tiny that it’s easy to navigate and impossible to get lost in… Yeah, Adelaide’s got to be right up there on my list of favourite places to fly into (or out of).

So, there you have it: the much-delayed finale to my adventures in Spain.

The Fourth Leg (Singapore – Sydney)

Well, I finally talked to the guy I’d been sitting next to for the past twelve hours. Turns out he was from Valencia, and had been on the same flight as me from Madrid.

I tried to sleep some more on the flight – I was quite tired – but wasn’t able to, due in no small part to the pair of middle-aged Sydneysiders in the row behind me. They were very loud, and by the end of the flight, also rather drunk. Sleep simply can’t happen when you’ve got a pair of somewhat intoxicated individuals requesting another bottle of wine (or something) every half hour in their frustrating syllables and gratingly nasal voices. (Okay, so I’m not the biggest fan of the Sydney accent, but this couple were some of the strongest I’ve heard.) Not to mention that Mr. Sydneysider felt that the (rather sensitive, actually) touchscreen wouldn’t work unless he pounded the living daylights out of it. At least, that’s what it felt like to me, given that the screen was behind my head.

I eventually gave up and drank coffee. And I don’t really like coffee, either.

I also found out from the guy to my other side that the same flight (technically London-Sydney), which only goes once a day, had been cancelled the day before (Friday) – that’s the one he was meant to be on. Apparently, they’d sat on the tarmac for about four hours before being told that they weren’t flying. I’ve since heard stories of fires, which may well have been that flight. Anyway, he’d ended up catching a Fin-Air flight to Singapore and joined us there.

Thanks, British Airways. I didn’t like you to start with, but I won’t be flying with you again.

Surprisingly, we made excellent time to Sydney and arrived at about 6:50. However, we arrived at the same time as several other large inter-continental flights – one from Japan and one from LA, although I believe there was another as well. So customs was crowded. Baggage claim was crowded. Quarantine was crowded. Transfers was crowded.

Actually, baggage claim was the worst of it. Customs I got through in about fifteen minutes – both the A/NZ nationals queue and the foreign nationals queue were ridiculously long – actually, both were spilling out of the customs area and almost out of the duty-free shopping area – but since I am both over fifteen and in possession of an e-passport smart chip thing, I just stuck my passport in a machine, got a ticket, stood in a queue with a bunch of cabin crew, stared at a machine, and got through remarkably quickly (which was good, since last time I tried to use the e-passport, it rejected me).

But baggage claim… There were three flights assigned to our carousel. I waited for about forty-five minutes, before they announced that our flight number was being shifted to another carousel. I waited another fifteen minutes for the bags to actually start coming out. Then there was a queue which circled three-quarters of the way around the baggage claim area just to get through to the actual queuing section for quarantine. I declared that I’d been on a farm in the past thirty days, so once I actually got to the front of the queue, that was pretty quick.

They were very good about putting me on the next available flight, though, but that’s a story for another post.

A Note on the Sydney Transfer

Well, I’ve just spoken to the ground staff here, and here’s what’s happening:

The flight is currently due to arrive in Sydney at 7:50am.

My flight for Adelaide is due to depart from Sydney at 7:10am.

I will be met by ground staff in Sydney who will give me information about my transfer.

That’s all I know so far. At least when I get to Sydney they’ll speak English as their first language…

The Third Leg (Heathrow – Singapore)

Chaos. Absolute chaos, I tell you.

When we arrived in Heathrow, we were told the flight was delayed by an hour. When we got to the gate, there was an announcement which said that one of the doors had broken and they had to remove 60 people from rows 37 through 50!

Long story short, all of the others in my group got transferred off, we finally boarded the 2015h flight at about 2330h, and due to trouble locating all the baggage of the people who had been removed, we didn’t leave until 0115! Yes, I continued on without the others. It doesn’t make much difference during the flight, and to be honest, I think the transfer and stopover periods will be easier without having to stick with a bunch of largely clueless, very disorganised, and extremely overtired Australian teenagers.

But after all that, the crew were very helpful and apologetic and things seem to be running reasonably smoothly, so it’s no terrible loss. I was struggling to stay awake for dinner (served at about 3am London time, 4am Salamanca time), mostly because I was hungry, so by the time I actually got to sleep, I’d been awake for almost 24 hours, and that was after only about 4 hours of sleep. Needless to say, I slept like a log for about 6 hours… Hoping to get some more sleep on the next leg.

So this is just a short note to say I’ve arrived in Singapore, but I think I missed the transfers information desk when I came through – now I’m off to go and find it and ask about the transfer in Sydney. Four hours late… not going to be making the flight to Adelaide, I only had 90 mins stopover time… Let’s go and see what can be done.

The Second Leg (Madrid – Heathrow)

My row. It was a very empty flight.

My row. It was a very empty flight.

Tea - BLT wrap, tea, and Sprite.

Tea – BLT wrap, tea, and Sprite.

The Isle of Wight and Lymington.

The Isle of Wight and Lymington.

A disturbingly dry-looking England.

A disturbingly dry-looking England.

The outskirts of London.

The outskirts of London.

The Thames.

The Thames.

The camera is almost out of battery, so there may not be very many more pictures – plus we’ve got night-flights from now on, and it’s very difficult to take pictures from an aeroplane when it’s dark.

Our next flight’s been delayed, so we’re at Heathrow for an extra hour.

The Twelfth Day

Let’s not dwell on the (many) bad points about my last day in Spain, and focus on the fact that I finally got out in Salamanca with a functioning camera and an SD card.

 

Me (centre), with Rosa (the secretary), and "Xili", short for Maria Auxiliadora (the owner).

Me (centre), with Rosa (the secretary), and “Xili”, short for Maria Auxiliadora (the owner).

 

The Gothic cathedral.

The Gothic cathedral.

The dome on the Gothic cathedral.

The dome on the Gothic cathedral.

The front doors of the Gothic cathedral.

The front doors of the Gothic cathedral.

A close up of above the front door.

A close up of above the front door.

Above a doorway somewhere in central Salamanca.

Above a doorway somewhere in central Salamanca.

The side of the Romanesque (10th-12th century) cathedral.

The side of the Romanesque (10th-12th century) cathedral. The two girls in the picture are Clara, the Brasilian who was staying with me, and her sister Fabi, who lives in Galicia.

Casa de Conchas.

Casa de Conchas.

The stalk's nest.

The stalk’s nest.

The Plaza Mayor.

The Plaza Mayor – at 10pm.

 

The Eleventh Day

So, yesterday was terrible. Well, it ended terribly, anyway. So I was just going to go to bed, try to forget about all the terrible things – my shoes breaking, my bed breaking, the door being shut in my face when I went to ask for help because my bed broke, the Korean chicos talking (and burping) very loudly on the other side of the very thin wall both before and after shutting the door in my face, the second lesson devolving into an exchange of terms for impolite parts of the human anatomy, being abandoned by the other Australians in the backstreets of Salamanca and wandering around for half an hour, completely lost – and face today with good expectations.

That lasted about fifteen minutes – just long enough for me to get dressed and out to breakfast, where my host mother cornered me with accusations about leaving stains on the floor, a rant about how much it would cost to clean, and a command to wear shoes at all times in the house. At least, that what I think she said, in a much-abridged version. Unfortunately, my Spanish isn’t quite bad enough to pretend not to understand.

Okay, so admittedly, I have been applying Neosporin to my feet several times a day. I’m reasonably certain one of the open blisters managed to get infected anyway – it now feels like there’s a small pebble in the bottom of my foot pressing against my nerves every time I take a step. And I don’t have any Neosporin left. But, antibiotic gel application or not, I have been very careful not to let me feet touch the floor when there’s Neosporin on them, and I’ve been wearing socks around the house to make absolutely sure, despite the fact that it’s about 40 degrees inside the house and any sane person would be going barefoot.

I don’t think completely forgetting about cena last night helped, either.

I didn’t end up doing yesterday’s homework because of the cooking class, but I left really early this morning – not staying at home for any longer than necessary! – and did it at a park near the school. Then I found out that I’d actually done the wrong homework. And Cristina’s lesson was just as vulgar and uncontrolled as it was yesterday. Maria says she’s going to skip Cristina’s lesson tomorrow and I’m of more than half a mind to join her. She wasn’t at school today, so I had to sit through that lesson with four gutter-minded boys (because there’s no way I’m giving them the respect of referring to them as “men”, even if the youngest is 22 and the oldest in his 30s) and a teacher who only encouraged them. If only I weren’t such a wimp, I’d have walked out.

The sign at the bridge we sat by.

The sign at the bridge we sat by.

Anyway, I did meet up with Maria after school and we went down to the river. That was nice, although four hours did disappear without a trace.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I can’t wait to get back to Australia. Actually, I think I just want to get back to somewhere where I can communicate. I’d even take Germany, right now!

I can only hope it’s just fatigue talking here, because that above comment is seriously unlike me. I mean, only a few days ago I was hoping that I could stay in Spain for longer!

The Tenth Day

My old zapatillos - €3,90

My old zapatillos – €3,90

Well, the highlight of the morning was my shoes breaking during pausa (recess). I managed to fix them with celo (sticky tape) long enough to last half-way up the street the chino (cheap shop) is on after school, where I bought some new ones.

My new zapatillos - €4,10

My new zapatillos – €4,10

I’m not particularly bothered. They were very cheap, anyway, and in their eight days of life, they’ve probably seen more walking than I would usually do in a month or three, what with going to Toledo as well as getting lost in Salamanca a couple of times.

While the new ones are of the same squidgy plastic stuff as the old ones, they’re a different style. These buckle-closure things look like they’ll hold up better than the old ones. Not that it really matters, with on a handful of days left in Salamanca.

… Then again, they probably would have lasted longer if I hadn’t had a spinny-chair race with French-American Gabriel (because there are two Gabriels) in the coffee room during pausa. His excuse was that he’s fifteen. My excuse was that there was chocolate.

Anyway, this evening I went out and cooked paella. I was meant to do it at the school tomorrow night, but some places opened up at Salamanca School of Hospitality for three people to go to classes there tonight. We put our names on a bit of paper and Xili pulled them out of a hat. I won.

Here are the pics. My group made vegetarian paella. You’ll see at the end that it doesn’t look as paella-y as everyone else’s.

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The four paellas

The four paellas

The cooking class.

The cooking class.

After eating.

After eating.