"You Won't Believe This!
I'm taking the trip of a lifetime! Six months of travel that includes two continents and ten countries. Traveling alone with just two suitcases and my camera bag. I'm excited to finally see countries I've dreamed of visiting: Australia, New Zealand, Italy, and Austria. Enticing cities including Sydney, Auckland, Florence, Prague and Vienna. Hiking in Australia's Blue Mountains, snorkeling in the Mediterranean, getting that tattoo in New Zealand. Oh, and salsa dancing in every city I visit! There are two judging assignments and Aussie workshops in the mix, so I'll meet Aussie fanciers where I go."
I flew from Valencia, Spain, to Madrid; Madrid to Dubai; Dubai to Sydney, Australia. I had a dog show judging assignment in Sydney, I explored that city for several days, and then headed to New Zealand for more adventures! After New Zealand I flew back to Europe to explore many countries there.
Day 1: Valencia, Spain, to Madrid, then Madrid to Dubai
It was a loooooong flight. Twenty-two hours in an aluminum tube flying at 40,000 feet. First leg: Valencia to Madrid. I stayed up late the night before to hang out with friends, then repacked my luggage. Who needs sleep anyway, right? Got up early, grabbed a taxi to the airport, and my need for speed was interrupted by a shockingly long queue at the terminal. It looked like the entire city of Valencia was waiting to go through airport security! (Note to self: ALWAYS allow more than enough time because there will be unexpected delays.) But I made it through the queue. The flight from Valencia to Madrid took only an hour, and when I landed I was hungry. At the restaurant near my gate, I ordered a tortilla de patata plato (something like egg and potato quiche) and zumo de naranja (fresh squeezed orange juice). The tortilla was accompanied by pan (bread) drizzled with olive oil and spread with traditional tomato salsa. Delicioso!
We departed Dubai just after midnight. That leg of the trip was 13 hours long. I was completely confused about which day and time it was because we had flown through so many time zones. I was exhausted, what with getting only three hours of sleep the night before. I had a window seat, but even better, there were no other people in my row. Bliss! I stretched out on all three seats, put on my sleep mask, and conked out. We arrived in Sydney at 10:30 p.m. Australian time.
I needed to catch a cab to my lodging, but didn’t have any Australian dollars to pay the driver. However, my American debit card allowed me to withdraw cash from an ATM in the airport. Problem solved.*
My lodging In Sydney was an AirBnB flat, and my host graciously waited for me to arrive, even though it was nearly midnight in Australia. I unpacked the necessities, stayed up long enough to post my adventures on Facebook, then gave in to jet lag and went to bed.
* Practical note for future travelers: There are “currency exchange” kiosks in airports. Avoid them because you will pay a substantial fee in addition to the unavoidable international exchange rate (for example 1 US dollar equals .81 Euros right now, so your dollar doesn’t buy as much). The best option for me is to make sure my bank knows I’m traveling internationally, then use my debit card in an ATM to withdraw cash. I can’t avoid the exchange rate conversion, but I can avoid additional fees. Using a credit card to withdraw cash (rather than debit card) could also result in additional fees.