We met in the lobby as requested last night, and had to move around the corner to the area we first met at the start of the tour. Some were a bit late getting there but finally all arrived.
Tania handed out a gift to each person who had previously travelled on a Trafalgar Tour – some as many as five times – and Russ received a key damascene key chain and I received a damascene locket to place on a chain. They are lovely small gifts (very important when you are trying to cram everything you purchased into the same suitcase you arrived with) and had also bought some small item of memorabilia for those few who were on their first tour, which was a very nice thought on her behalf.
Tania also handed out the survey forms to everyone. She has one for each person, not just one per couple, which can be either good or bad depending on how you want to handle it. Russ was more than happy to take his, and we bother decided we would fill it out tomorrow after breakfast, but Tania encouraged everyone to do it now and get it done so she could collect the envelopes.
Sharon took out the prize for the person who guessed closest to the number of kilometres we had travelled, and Michael (Linda’s husband, not Yadira’s husband) took out second prize.
We then boarded the coach and were taken to a Spanish restaurant where we had our Farewell Dinner. We had been given a menu earlier in the day yesterday and asked to choose what we wanted for our meal.
For appetizer the only thing I could think to have that wouldn’t offend my palate was a garlic and egg soup – very bad choice. It was extremely oily (you could see it floating on top of the bowl) and they had filled it with bread, which was even oiler, and after one taste I decided it was in my best interest to forgo the soup. The maitre’d asked if I wanted something else and I just said not for me, but thanks.
The next course I had ordered the mixed paella, and Russ had the steak. He thoroughly enjoyed his steak, and I ate all my paella, but it was nothing to write home about. I thought the paella in Barcelona was much better, and so was the one in Toledo. We followed that up with Baked Alaska, and they should have stuck with a Spanish dessert as it was not up to scratch, but eatable (apart from the frozen fruit stuck to the bottom).
We sat near the end of one table with Charles and Evelyn and Linda and Michael opposite. I can’t remember who sat on the other side of Russ. We had both left our phones behind in our room, but everyone else took the opportunity to go around the tables and take pics of people enjoying themselves. Charles took a lovely shot of Russ and I and I asked him to email it to me. I hope he remembers.
We were served with a half glass of champagne but a toast of any sort never eventuated, so most of it got left on the tables when we left. We did get serenaded by three Spanish gentlemen with guitars, dressed as troubadours, and they were very good. They also sang Waltzing Matilda and everyone sang it with them. One of the guys (Canada or US) said they actually learnt the song at school as part of their curriculum. Their CD was available for 15 euros.
When we were leaving the restaurant and walking back to the coach I was talking with Kath and we realised that we would be on the same flight to Dubai tomorrow. We told Russ and Rex and they said they were already aware of it.
We arrived back at the hotel around 10:00pm and I was so glad that Russ had had a very good rest during the afternoon. We laid out our clothes ready for tomorrow and went to sleep. As we are leaving on the second coach to go to the airport we were able to sleep in until 8:00am, and set the alarm accordingly. Many others will need to get up early to catch the first coach to the airport as their flights are well before our, which will not depart Madrid airport until 3:25pm.
We decided that 9:00am was a good time to go down to breakfast, and while Russ was showering the phone rang with the wake-up call, and then rang again. When I answered it I spoke with Tania who was worried that we had not been down to breakfast yet, and was asking if everything was alright. I assured her it was and that we would be down in about ten to fifteen minutes. She remarked that she needed to speak with us to arrange a refund on the two optional extra excursions that we had not been able to take. A very nice surprise indeed.
The breakfast room was very deserted with only those catching the second shuttle, and a few others who were staying an extra day or two in Madrid. Ken and Peggy said they would enjoy some time to wander at their leisure and to see places in more detail than was available with the group. Peggy assured us that they were waiting for it to rain so they wouldn’t feel strange while wandering.
We ate a quick breakfast – Russ not wanting a great deal in order to work best with his stomach so as not to feel queasy. We found Tania in the Reception area and she quickly came into the lounge section to sit with us.
Tania’s husband arrived into Madrid yesterday afternoon and picked up all her luggage as she will have to take a taxi home today once her duties are concluded. She only gets a week off this time before she takes on her next group tour.
The refund of our money was a speedy transaction, and we spoke to Tania in much more detail about Anxiety Disorder and how it can affect all levels of your existence. I also told her that Russell had been battling through the effects for 14 years, and that we had learned when enough was sometimes too much.
We then went back to our room and filled out the survey forms, enclosed them in the envelope and collected our gear to go down for the coach. We handed off our survey envelope to Tania and proceeded out to the coach. Tania is not coming to the airport with us, but will be at the hotel for the late departures which will use taxi or private transfer deals. ON the coach with us was Richard (with a very British accent) and some of his group as it is stupid to use two coaches when even one of them is not full. As it was our coach, George was our driver.
I sat behind Kath for the trip to the airport. We are needing to get to Terminal 4S (Satellite) so will be dropped off at the Emirates section of Terminal 4 first. Kath injured her knee just before the trip and thought it would get better with time. It hasn’t. Early in the trip she had emailed home and asked a friend to make her an appointment as early as possible after they arrived back in Australia to see the specialist. It may be that she will need an operation.
I asked her how long her stopover in Dubai was and she said only one and a half hours, which wouldn’t give them much time to move from one terminal to the other. I asked her how she was going to cope with a rapid walk after sitting for over seven hours in the plane and she said she was not sure, but it would hurt.
I remarked to her that she would be best able to ask for a courtesy transfer cart to meet them and get them there on time, and to explain to the operator that she had injured her knee and didn’t think she could walk the distance in time. Kath hadn’t realised this was available and said it was a good idea, and she had nothing to lose by asking.
When we offloaded at Terminal 4 the four of us moved into the building and headed for the Emirates check-in area. Kath and Rex had already picked their seats on line but Russ and I hadn’t. The boarding gates were not opened as yet and we did not expect them to be much before lunch time, so we headed around the corner to the seating area and chatted while we waited.
Kath headed to the duty free shop to spend her remaining euros, and I went the other way to the snack bar while Rex and Russ stayed with the luggage. I got some water, some muesli bars, and a Magnum for each of us – Russ and I, and Kath returned soon after with her spoils.
Finally, the boarding gates opened and we lined up. Russ and I got a very nice gentleman who said Russ could have an Exit row seat if he would like it, to which he promptly replied, Muchos Gracious, and we were issued our tickets. Our suitcases are still under the 30kg limit, but I have to confess that mine has added some weight, and Russ has added very little.
Kath and Rex joined us very quickly and Kath said the lady had arranged for their transfer buggy from the arrivals terminal to their next departure terminal when they landed at Dubai. The lady had also asked them if they would like to change their seat allocation as she could give them three seats in a row so Kath could stretch out her leg as and when required.
We then went to the restrooms, and then parted company as Kath needed to register her tax free purchase so she could get her refund before leaving the country. Russ and I headed for the shuttle service to get to terminal 4s. We had to go down, down and down before we arrived at the station platform. It wasn’t long before the train arrived (driverless) and we entered the tunnel under the runway to get to our satellite terminal.
We passed through customs without incident and went to find our departure gate – number 29 – and then wandered to find a place to eat. It was a up mode tapas bar and not a lot to choose from. I chose a fluffy omelette (you would think you couldn’t stuff that, hey??) and Russ picked up a ham and cheese roll. They had to be heated, which was good, except that the omelette was potato and cold!! Russ enjoyed his anyway.
By the time we had finished eating Kath and Rex appeared and sat down too. Kath had emptied her water bottles earlier before the scanning area, and now went to refill them from the water dispenser. We sat at the table for a while and then moved back to the area for boarding. As we will be travelling on an A380 we were to be separated for boarding. Russ and I were in Group F and Kath and Rex were in Group E. We didn’t sight them again, but hope they had no problems with the flight or their connections.
Russ and I sat opposite Jeannie (the head Emirates hostie) and nattered while we took off from Madrid. Jeannie is from Kenya and will be retiring from her job soon to go home and find out where she wants to be for the future, and what she wants to do. She was a lovely lady and during the landing phase advised Russ that his best seat for the next leg of our journey would be 67 or 80 if he could get them. We thanked her very much.
The flight was uneventful and Russ enjoyed all the leg room. The meals with Emirates are excellent, and the service is awesome. We were provided with drinks during the flight, a meal soon after take-off, and ice-cream just before we landed. All in all, it was a long 7 and a half hours though.
When we arrived in Dubai at 12:05am (Dubai time, but 10:30 Madrid time) is was still 25 degrees outside, but it wasn’t raining. Tomorrow is expected to reach over 40 before lunchtime. We headed to the lifts which took us downstairs, and then we meandered our way to the shuttle service which takes us to the Luggage Reclaim area.
We had to go through Immigration before we could collect our baggage, and did so without any problems. It is still a very male-dominated society, but we are beginning to see females in some of the roles.
Then we headed to the Baggage Reclaim area and waited, as per usual. We finally grabbed our bags off the carousel and headed to the Exit and Arabian Adventures for our car transfer to the Four Points Sheraton Hotel where we are already booked. It was a ten-minute wait for our driver to arrive, and then we handled our baggage out across the roadway and on to where the car was waiting for us.
It was a fifteen-minute drive through fairly quiet traffic to the hotel. The skyline of Dubai at night is very pretty. It has a very active night life, but you only see males in public, probably very different in the real tourist areas.
We finally made it to our room (upgraded to a junior suite by Ahmed who said he apologised for the amount of time we had to wait for Reception service as there were two people in front of us when we got there) and we thanked him very much. Oh, the pain………. There is a washing machine and dryer in our junior suite of rooms. I’m far too tired to take advantage of it.
We finally fell into bed at 1:30am and did not bother to put on our alarm. And considering we did bugger all for most of the day it is a very long entry in the blog.