Day 2: The traveller’s log edition
International air travel will never stop being amazing for me. You get in a chair, have a nap, and wake up in a different country (in this case, 9 hours into the past. How’s the future looking team?). It’s also a remarkable set of design circumstances as you’re stacking a café, cinema, boarding school dorm and cloakroom into a large flying metal tube. It’s all a bit rather amazing when you step back and think about the design choices under the hood of the performance – both technical and people-centric.
Day 1 and Day 2 were a good case of how my life is not about doing things by half. I left my house, walked into work, finalised the last phases of the pre-tour, and then taught three tutorials for MKTG2023. Walk out of ANU, grab a burger, and proceed to start the jump to the other side of the world for nearly 30 hours of combined travel time.
Locations of Note along the way:
Canberra Airport: You know that phrase it’ll be nice when it’s finished? It’s finished, and it’s quite pleasant. It’s still a domestic airport with an International check-in counter, but that’s an improvement. It’s also the last point where there wasn’t construction at a major transit hub.
Meanwhile, exactly next door… Melbourne International Airport (airside) was like a multi-generational rave. Lights, colour, activity and everything open and ticking along. Once you crossed the Immigration line, the place was still under construction. Seriously, Sydney was under construction, Melbourne is under construction. Has anyone got a working airport yet?
QANTAS Seat 64H. I try to select the aisle seat nearest back of the plane or the bathrooms. Sure, that means foot traffic. It also means that you’re very close to one of the few void spaces on a plane, so you can stand and stretch. On the A380, a nice big wall beside my seat means something to lean against to stretch. I swear that helped me get out of this travel so well this round.
Dubai Airport: That is a cavernous mass of open space. It’s huge, intimidatingly huge with a side of LARGE.
As I had a 90-minute stopover, it was the Qantas Club Traveller tradition to hit the showers and raid the snack bar. By snack bar, Dubai means a fully catered restaurant and unlimited drinks. Which also led to this moment. I had to abandon my half drunk plastic bottle of water at Security between exiting my flight and the Emirates Lounge. Departing the Lounge? I picked up a 1-litre glass bottle of Voss as my on-plane drink. Go figure.
Dubai’s Emirate’s Club has the genuinely clever design of an airbridge dock straight to gate. You check into the club, you do your traveller thing, and when called to the gate, there’s a passport and ticket check within the club. It’s very convenient. It did mean skipping the duty-free shopping, but I am headed there on the way back.
The fastest time I’ve clocked on clearing Heathrow. Arrive a bit before 2 pm, on the Heathrow Express at 3.20. Never had anything so smooth, so props to LHR for having their A++ game on that day. Heathrow is fascinating because I don’t have much cause to have a really good memory for place. Yet it feels like a really familiar set of surroundings
I decided the extra couple of quid (pounds, dollars) for business class was worth the investment, and it’s a bit of a carry-on when you look at it, since, well, it’s 15 minutes of travel. Very OTTP, but when you’ve bet on having a flat mobile phone battery (it wasn’t) post flight, those little chargers would be a life saver
The station is getting a tribute post later. it’s quite the venue. Still, it’s actually under a refit (is anything fully fitted out at the moment?), so it’s limping a little compared to the full flavoured Paddington Experience. It’s got a distinctive temple feel as people queue beneath the announcement boards. Bow their heads to their phone to check the time. Look to the boards for word of travel delay. Is it a yes? A No? A maybe? A please hold? Bow back to the phones to check the time to see how long they have until go time. Rinse and repeat multiple times, and it’s a visually impressive performance piece.
The Queensway Hotel (Basecamp 1)
I picked the hotel for proximity to the station, and it’s so close, it’s an approximate. A block and a half to the Paddington station entrance is a plus. The downside is that I think my backpacks for work are larger than the hotel. It’s also amazingly funny that this row of converted terrace houses are all different hotels.
The room is small, I’m on the fourth floor, with a room that was once a cupboard in a loft. The lift only goes to three, and the staircase is slightly wider than a laptop bag). It’s everything I want for the tour’s first stop. Small, compact, proximate and designed to discourage me from acquiring stuff.
That stairway though. It’s really small.
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