TOUCHING DOWN IN AUSTRALIA FOR A GAP YEAR WITH LETZ LIVE
The time is about 1 O’clock on Wednesday 6th July. The bags have been loaded into the discovery which most likely won’t be here when I return in just over a year. The time has come to travel down to Heathrow Terminal 3 to begin the next 27 hours of flying and wandering around airports going through security and waiting at gates looking at the planes go by. About 3 hours later we arrive at a Harvester 10 minutes away from the terminal. The location of my last meal in England for a while. And what a meal it was.
After the meal we travel to Terminal 3. At the check in desk I ask if an upgrade is available with my fingers crossed but all the pleading yielded no upgrade. The next hour or so was spent sat outside the terminal or in WH Smiths buying the usual Haribos and magazine. Eventually the time arrived to say the final goodbyes and head off through security.
At about 8:45 boarding commenced for the 1st leg of the flight from Heathrow to Dubai. My seat 66F is considered unlucky by some as F is the sixth letter of the alphabet so creates the Devils number 666. But it turned out to be a great seat having extra legroom and no one in front to recline their seat and pulverise your knee caps. The flight was about 7 hours long but luckily there was a good selection of films to enjoy and pass the time. Landing in Dubai in the early morning I was glad the air conditioning was on as it was hotter then than it will probably ever reach in England during the summer.
The time arrived to board the 2nd leg of the flight from Dubai to Sydney. This leg is the longest flight I have ever taken at around 14 hours long. Luckily I had the same seat as the last leg so I could stretch my legs out. The same films were on this flight so I had plenty to entertain myself with.
Early Friday morning the plane touched down in Sydney in the rain. After cruising through border control I collected my bags and headed to the domestic terminal to catch flight number 3 to Brisbane. This flight was considerably shorter than the previous two but had better views over the East coast of Australia when taking off from Sydney and landing in Brisbane.
After landing in the domestic terminal at Brisbane I wandered around for half an hour looking for the meeting point until it was pointed out to me that it was in the International terminal down the road so I hoped onto the bus. After a short bus ride I arrived at the international terminal and met the other gap students who were just starting their year away.
We had an hour and half bus journey down the coast to Surfers Paradise where we would be staying for the next two nights. We arrived at our hostel overlooking the marina. We all then headed out for our first lunch in Australia and instead of dining in a nice restaurant we went to the local Macca’s. Then after lunch we went back to the hostel where we got changed into our swimmers and discovered that one of our group had brought a GoPro with them but when we went to turn it on we found out they had forgotten to put it on charge.
We then headed to the bus to head down to the beach to have for many of us our first surfing lesson. The surfing lesson provided many entertaining moments as people attempted to stand up but regularly fell off including myself. Towards the end of the session a group of us abandoned our surf boards on the beach and went and jumped in the waves. When we got back to the hostel we learnt that Taylor Swift was staying in the hotel 100m down the road but we were all too tired and feeling the effects of jet lag to go and find her. That evening was spent playing card games and Jenga in the hostel with a barbecue on the hostel balcony. The evening ended early at around 9 O’clock.
The next day we had our duty of care training in the morning which really opened our eyes as to how the boarding works in Australia. After the training had concluded we headed back towards the beach for lunch and for the afternoon. Of cause being British and by the sea meant we had to have fish and chips. So we headed to the shop which claimed they had the best fish and chips. And comparing them to British fish and chips I must say they were on par if not better mainly due to the fact that the sun was shining and less chips were stolen by the local seagulls.
We arrived back at the hostel with enough time to head into the shopping mall and buy a nice home comfort aka a cup of English breakfast tea with milk and sugar. Which was drunk whilst watching the sun go down over the marina.
That night the we were treated to a meal in the surf club. The evening entertainment that night was a round of Heads Up which yielded some questionable impressions of animals and actions.
It was an early start on Sunday morning to head back to Brisbane airport to go our separate ways with some of us heading further north up to Cairns and the Whitsundays where it rarely gets below 20 degrees during the day. Some didn’t have to take a flight as they were at schools located close to Brisbane. Then there were two of us and we were the lucky ones getting to go down South to Victoria and the town of Ballarat where it had been snowing just a couple weeks before.
We all said our goodbyes to each other and caught our respective flights or buses to our schools. We agreed that we would meet up again during the school holidays.
So much has happened in the first 2 and a bit days after arriving in Australia it shows just how good this forthcoming year is going to be.
Words by Letz Live gappie, Joshua Cook. Follow his travels and stories via his blog.