The day arrived overcast and gloomy but still hot. We had most of the day to get ready. More cleaning, a trip to the Sallies, a couple of phone calls, the sold car collected, returning borrowed goods to our wonderful neighbours with hugs and goodbyes, a final visit from friends.
Later in the afternoon lovely family arrived to take us to the airport. A final look around our house and street, and we were off. Check-in was fairly straightforward, and then it was time for the last goodbyes to my sis-in-law, niece and bro-in-law. Through customs we went, a phone call from a friend and we had barely sat down before the final boarding call was announced... what the?! Where did the ample two hours go?
Off we sprinted to the gate which naturally seemed like the furthest one away. All that running for nothing as we were there in plenty of time! But cripes - we weren't about to undo all that effort to be ready by missing the flight!
Onto the plane we piled. First leg to Melbourne was about 4 hours. The girls were beside themselves with excitement and the hostesses enamoured by their charms. It went really quickly which was a good thing as we still had two more big legs ahead of us.
The stop in Melbourne was pretty short - off the plane, wait for about 30 mins, on the plane. And the girls got to stretch their legs and burn off some tired energy as it was pretty much 11pm NZ time at that stage.
Next leg to Dubai was 14 hours. A big one. All of us eventually fell asleep for a few hours. The poor girls were so tired but so excited and enjoying themselves so much, though in the end succumbed to sleep too. L had tired tears streaming down her face (not crying, but her eyes clearly tired), but did not sleep until she couldn't fight it anymore. At least she was happy through it all!
We arrived at Dubai airport about 5.30am in their morning. The airport was amazing and absolutely huge! We spent most of the 2.5 hours between flights here travelling from the gate we disembarked at to the boarding gate for the next flight. Walking, train, then a short facilities stop, before more walking and catching a bus to the plane.
And then we were off on the final leg of the trip. Dubai to Birmingham - 8 hours. The big girls didn't sleep on this leg, but L very quietly nodded off. She slept for most of the flight and she barely woke as we changed her clothes while descending. We all got changed into warmer clothes in preparation for weather that was most definitely not summery.
Monday, 2 February 2015, 12pm UK time. Before we knew it, we had landed. Between the movies (I highly recommend Big Hero 6 that I watched at least twice :) ), the meals, the transfers, watching the girls and the little sleep we got, 30 hours of travel had ended. We practically strolled out of the airport and collected the rental car. We walked out the doors and were terribly grateful to have all our winter woollies on!
We found the car, fitted the car seats, figured out indicators from wipers and how to operate the GPS. A couple of tense moments later we were on the road and making our way to the hotel. Without incident! Poor H fell asleep in the car, and then struggled to stay awake for the rest of the afternoon. Whereas the other two were bouncing off the walls. We had one moment as we landed with A who was disappointed to tears by the lack of snow upon arrival. Was it winter in the UK or what? Although we had stressed the likely possibility of no snow, she had made her mind up. She recovered when we reminded her it had only snowed the week before so there was hope ;)
The girls were fantastic on the trip. A basically took care of herself the entire time and loved every moment of deciding on her meals and movies etc. H chatted up every single host and hostess and was a joy. And L, she loved having her own space and freedom to do what she wanted, and watch what she wanted...and to be able to ask for and get all the juice she wanted! They all coped so very well with the lack of sleep and the adrenalin/excitement highs. D's employer arranged the tickets and we were tremendously fortunate to have business class seats for the trip. So good and so spoilt!
A little while later we found and checked in to the hotel. The rest of the afternoon was spent just being, chatting and trying not to fall asleep. A very early room service dinner and bed by 6pm for us all. Blissful sound sleep.
We had arrived.