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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Travel:Prep and Execution...Goodnight Abu Dhabi....

Yesterday I woke up too early, too hungover and too hot. Not the ideal conditions with which to greet my last day in Dubai before the epic hols but I tried to be positive - since I was up early I might grab a quick nap later and not be shattered whilst waiting for my 2.20am next morning. I always take night flights as I feel I get to start my holiday earlier, and it's a system that works for me, but those couple of hours prior to the flight are always a battle of wills to stay awake, even in the most uncomfortable of airports.
Despite my tiredness in the morning I was super productive, working at twice my usual speed and for once getting positive results from various U.A.E sources that are usually baffling and have downright bad customer service. One of these is National Bank of Abu Dhabi - I *think* they have finally sorted my online banking, after a few quiet words with the branch manager in Dubai Mall. Those of you who know me would probably be surprised to hear that they were quiet words - but it is Ramadan and to be honest I was so worn out from the banking system in the U.A.E that it was more an exasperated plea than anything else. I also managed to procure my E-gate card. This should have been done years ago. Your e-gate card allows you to skip queues to passport control in and out of the U.A.E at the various airports and also ensures your passport isn't stamped again - for many Dubaian's it's an absolute must, and I'm glad to report that it must be the easiest card to get in the U.A.E. Dnata Holiday Centre on Sheik Zayed Road had me in and out in less than ten minutes, bad photo included.
The day passed in a blur, soon I had everything fully packed, didn't need to sit on the suitcase to close it - although Gareth is probably still shaking his head at the size of my case - if I bent over I could fit into it no problem at all - with a bit of breathing room. He plans to take a rucksack. A small one. I loved when he exclaimed "The problem is fitting all my shoes,". Women the world over are nodding in understanding. He doesn't even know how many pairs of shoes I have packed! I did mention that since we're not sharing any baggage and he doesn't have to carry any of it as we're not traveling together that he simply doesn't get a say, but I think he was just trying to be helpful.
The Etihad experience last night was superb to say the least. The minute I was out of a taxi on SZR a porter came to help with my bags, I was checked in at Chelsea Tower (22.9kgs thank you very much - expert packer??) and settled down on the coach to Abu Dhabi airport. I got there at 1am for my 2.20am flight, had a bit of a fiddly moment using the e-gate card for the first time (There's an order to things which I still haven't figured out and the dopey fug of tiredness didn't help) and made it to my gate with no issues. I even helped a few people on the way and had some friendly banter (Flight to Ireland? Terminal 3 - you can follow me if you like,). It was a busy flight but I had secured 41G, an aisle seat with two seats free beside it and just one lady to the far side of that. The only 4 seats in the middle that had two free! Success! Also with the layout of the plane, there were only three seats behind me I could recline in piece without someone banging on the entertainment system at the back of my head. The lovely lady in my row and myself alternated between using the extra two seats for our leisure - perfect. The service was actually excellent too, although the lights were dimmed and I slept through first service, I woke up to my table open with a little snack in a bag in front of me - a nice touch I thought. They also circulated throughout the cabin with water all night and really seemed rather helpful and friendly. I watched "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" a british ensemble piece with Bill Nighy, Judy Dench and Maggie Smith. Lovely charming fodder for my tired mind. Another plus for Etihad - they always seem to land early. Once again we touched Irish soil about 40 mins earlier than planned. Their sky mapping gurus must just have it all figured out.
The relief. It wasn't until that moment of touchdown that the holiday really began for me, I actually felt a little emotional! This isn't common for me, unless I'm coming home for a sad event but this was unapologetic "Green, green grass of home," sentimality.
So, I'm home. I'll leave it there for today - it's all ahead of me.

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