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By: Marc Ziman

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Thursday, 14-Feb-2008 09:14 Email | Share | | Bookmark

The journey from Heathrow to Melbourne was long, but not as unpleasant as I anticipated. Its pretty strange flying through so many time zones. Dinner is served on the plane, then breakfast, then dinner again. I guess skipping lunch is how they account for the sudden leap forward in time.

When I arrived at the airport I was surprised by the vigilance of customs and immigration. A cute liddle puppy came round to the baggage carousel sniffing for contraband fruit. Apparently rouge bananas play host to all sorts of bugs and mites. Then, once you collect your baggage it all gets screened again. Although I had no problems with my baggage (the only imported foodstuffs I'd brought with me were chocolate buttons), passport control seemed pretty interested in me. I think it stemmed from the fact that I hadn't filled in my local address on my arrival card. This was because I didn't know where I would be staying. And because I didn't really think anyone actually read those cards. However, the passport control guy picked up on it and demanded to know where I was staying. I told him I didn't know, and that I wouldn't find out until I met my girlfriend the other side of immigration. He said he'd just write Melbourne as my local address. He gave me my passport back. As I walked through his colleague approached me and asked if she might ask me a few questions. The questions all seemed to revolve around the fact I had come to Australia to meet my girlfriend. How long was I traveling for, where did my girlfriend live, how long had we been together. I realised that they thought I was visiting my Australian girlfriend and was not planning upon leaving the country. They took some convincing otherwise, as it was deemed particularly unusual that we had not arrived together, but after some persuasion using a combination of cold hard facts and my winning smile, I was free to enter the country.

We're staying with Rachael and Paul and their two kids, Maeve and Orla, friend's of Tara's. They have a big house in the Brunswick area of Melbourne. Once we'd arrived and dumped my luggage we went to a cafe for breakfast. Melburnians pride themselves on serving great coffee, and after nearly 24 hours on a plane it was well received. After breakfast we went back to the house, Tara and Rachael had a trip to a psychic hocus pocus lady planned. It was an hour and a half drive away and I really didn't fancy any more travel, especially just to have my palm/cards/thoughts read. So I decided to get out and explore Melbourne. I spent a few hours walking around town, popping in to cafes and orienting myself.

By the time I got back to the house I was starting to feel pretty tired, but was determined to stay up until 9pm. This was facilitated by a trip to the pub for a bottle of wine and a bite to eat, which being valentines day I thought was a very romantic gesture. Back in the house I went straight to bed and slept the long deep sleep of the jet lagged.


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