My plan at the Melbourne Airport was to get into the Qantas Lounge early and gorge myself so I slept so soundly on the plane that I could be mistaken for a dead man. Unfortunately the bag drop/passport check for my flight didn’t open for two hours so I filled in the time the best I could, sitting on an airport coffee for an hour while both the phone and I recharged.
When I cleared security I went to the lounge for what I thought was going to be a corpiconia of food and adult beverages. In reality it was disappointing, however Qantas were too lazy to have a standard bar/bartender, opting for a help yourself arrangement that I had no qualms in embracing. Have responsible serving of alcohol regulations have been thrown out the window?
On the food front there weren’t too many options and most of these had been shown as much love as a man with back hair. Bulk food for the masses masquerading as high end cuisine. Options were restricted, mirroring the Qantas’ carry on luggage policy. However I had to try each one because otherwise you can’t pass judgement and I hadn’t eaten in seven hours.
Sandwiches were my first assignment – sure they weren’t as fresh as they could be but a quick torch in the neighbouring sandwich press and it will return to life.
Can we just take a minute to point out how good sundried tomatoes are? Let’s move on shall we?
There was an Italian pasta salad which would have had an Nonna reaching for her rolling pin and then hunting down whoever was responsible for the crime against Italian cuisine. I was having difficulty forcing this one down.
Sure they were savoury options staring back at me but it was time for dessert because it looked tempting. One was an apple tart with a thin layer of clear jelly. It’s stablemate was a chocolate ganache tart. Both were enjoyable and I would have gone back for seconds if they replenished them before the plane was called.
Ebony and ivory. Nobody can call me racist.
Lastly a coconut and carrot Asian style soup. Without sounding like a wanky judge on one of those cooking shows, it needed some animal to die for the cause to give it some bulk or at least some tofu/more vegetables. A sprinkling of deep fried shallots and a spoonful of some rice which I swear had been sitting there since John Stamos was relevant. In the quest for better quality photos I plucked an apple and pear from the nearby fruit bowl.
Compared to others around the country the Melbourne lounge was fairly inept but the unrestricted liquor helped. Shouldn’t complain I suppose but it doesn’t inspire me to fork out a king’s ransom to join fulltime. The lounge was only a minutes walk from our plane which negated the need for a last minute scramble, meaning I could enjoy one for the tarmac.
On the plane I was allocated a favoured aisle seat – I’d rather get bumped every now and then by the food trolley than be stuck against the window thinking how am I going to get to toilet and not wake the rest of my row. Thankfully there was a vacant seat next to me which made things more manageable then they otherwise could have been. The guy against the window had a bladder the size of Sydney Harbour, he did not move for the entire 14 hour flight to Dubai.
The flight with Emirates was Emirates-like, friendly and professional. Kicked off with Rod Stewart (when he had street cred) followed by Mission Impossible: Fallout. Predictable Tom Cruise fare but the world was saved at the end of the day and he didn’t get on his Scientology soapbox, a relief on both fronts. One day they are going to make a realistic action movie and it will be a highpoint of cinema. The movie was forced to go into intermission when dinner service rolled on by. Chicken with rice and veg joined by a smoked salmon salad. For good measure there was also a date loaf, cheese and crackers and the omnipresent breadroll.
Things were going swimmingly until the salmon salad entered my digestive tract. From there the only thing that was bumpier than the turbulence the A380 encountered was the goings on in my large intestine. Maybe a coincidence, maybe it was the Qantas pasta or the countless other things I had but for the next 12 hours a rumbling in my belly was the only constant. A few trips to the back of the plane’s toilet gave no respite. T’was only at Dubai after landing did I feel better. For an airport that cost 4.5 billion dollars they can surely lash out for more than single ply toilet paper? It was also here they my deodorant was confiscated, leaving me smelling like a Christmas ham which had been left out of the fridge for a week.
With a hour to kill I decided to apply to be a contestant on my favourite show, Hard Quiz, the show hosted by the ABC’s Tom Gleeson. For those who haven’t come across this gem, contestants have an “expert subject” and between questions the host just lays into the contestants. The online application process is long winded, I finally settled on an expert subject of You Am I (Australian band) and they wanted a secondary one so Rugby League State of Origin made the list.
They ask about previous TV experience (I played the disgruntled neighbour and was outed as a shocking gardener on Channel 9’s Backyard Blitz), as well as criminal and medical records. Some excerpts from the application – you need to stand out from the crowd:
I was required to provide the phone numbers of people who could vouch for my eligibility, so expect a call.
The flight to Budapest was event free. It was Valentines Day so the crew went around and took romantic photos of couple who wanted to capture that moment of loved up couples. Me, not having showered for thirty hours and sitting next to an elderly Hungarian couple, opted out of the glamour shots. Hungarian men take their deep vein thrombosis seriously – the guy in front of me stood for the majority of the flight. He found it more comfortable to stand in his seat facing the back of the plane, leaning into his seat. So for three hours this stocky balding man stared in my general direction impatiently as if he was waiting for me to clear an old debt. Once I saw his countrymen copy his pose I went back to my movie (Papillon), no longer fearing for my welfare.
Budapest greeted me with 8C temperatures and clear skies, a far cry from the rain, wind and snow from a year earlier. The apartment is great, located not directly in the heart of Budapest, more like it’s left lung.
I have the entire apartment to myself. The internet connection is hit and miss (more miss) but this is offset by a super comfortable bed and one of those rain showers. It’s owned by an artistic couple so paintings adorn all walls. A steal for $40 a night. The television nor any of the paintings hang square, maybe they both have one leg longer than the other or just a lousy eye for detail?
Time to pay off my sleep debt and wrestle with Budapest in the morning, but not before getting reaquainted with an old love, Turo Rudi, given it’s Valentines Day and all.
Flight behind you Brad. Have a great time & enjoy sampling those foods. ??