Two weeks ago, I started telling the story of my multi-legged trip across the globe. After Bucharest from where I posted that update, things got a little sticky. You see, when I checked in for my flight in Athens, I discovered that I actually needed a visa to go to Australia. It had never even occurred to me to check. I was told to go to the travel agents in Athens airport and see if I could get one. Apparently these things are possible to get online for travel agents. But the system was down, or it didn't like my name, or it perceived me as some form of existential threat to the nation. Like a cane toad or something. So having called ahead to the Australian travel agents who booked my ticket, I was advised to persuade Emirates to let me board the flight as far as Dubai, and from there we would sort it out. This I managed to do. In Dubai, I then spent hours (3+) online attempting to get my visa sorted, and eventually got an email saying that my application had been received and was a valid application (not that it had been accepted, just that I had filled everything in correctly). My Australia contact told me to assume it would be and see if they would let me board the plane. For some reason they did, and I took off for Brisbane, without knowing whether I'd actually get through immigration at the other end (once I reached Brisbane I would have been travelling for 42 hours, so the idea of being turned away and sent back was not really one I wanted to dwell on that much).
Obviously, I made it. Checking my email account later on revealed that the authorisation had come through about 5 hours into the trip, probably somewhere over Sri Lanka.
However, just to cap off the whole marathon experience, I then got busted for inadvertently attempting to bring an apple into Australia. I had forgotten it was in my bag, and a dog wandered up and sat there looking smug next to the suitcase. I was asked to open it up and there it was, a solitary, fairly wizened little apple. I was given a written warning, and told to be much more careful in future, as next time I would get fined, or something.
It was all worth it though, as I had a great time in the antipodes. I am writing this on the way home, back in Dubai airport, with only about 16 more hours to go before I make it back to my family, who I haven't seen for over 3 weeks now...
Podcast 132: Sending A Postcard To Keith Hackett
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