Before my 2010 journey over to Europe, the longest my trips had ever been by plane was 3 hours and that was flying to New Zealand. Three trips in three years meant I would slowly get used to travelling and learn what not to take. This was unlike my first trip I took on my own when I went to work in the Whitsundays, where I had on me at least 4 bags one big bag and three small ones. I have learnt since then to travel lighter each time I go somewhere new.
Flying around the country wasn’t my only travel experience as a younger person I went on trips with my parents by road to places like Mackay, Albury, Maryborough and Griffith all to do with racing jet sprint boats or going on bus trips over the school holidays to help some friends out in their caravan park in Bermagui, which meant I was on the road for nearly two days. This did also mean around a 2 hour stop in Sydney. The only real delays that came jumped up while travelling with family and friends were the wheel bearings went on a boat trailer outside of Sydney or on our way to Mackay at night and watching a friend’s boat trailer sparking along at night. The tyre had been stripped and the only thing that was noticed was the sparks.
Travelling through New Zealand meant I would not experience significant delays and every place on my itinerary was planned day by day. The only day I had a delay was getting to my hostel in Christchurch on election night as the rail line decided it had a train that never showed up. If something came up, I had plenty of time to visit a place I had planned to go, and then I could change that and go on a different day. Sometimes there was the inconvenience of meeting some people who screwed your plans up as you wanted to be somewhere else but that was part of being flexible as those plans could be swapped around. The only delay I did get was on the flight from Auckland to the Gold Coast a couple of days after the air new Zealand flight had crashed into the ocean. I wasn’t worried and they had to move people around especially since it was only a problem with the locker for the safety equipment had to be taped down. People were asking if we were going to crash and we were asked to move seats so we could balance the plane out.
With travelling to and from Australia, you tend to think you have to fill in a passenger card for every country you enter, especially since I had flown from Malaysia and England. Both countries I had to fill in a card upon entry and when something like that is totally different then all hell breaks loose. When I had to fly to Copenhagen I thought I had to fill in a card even though I was never given one and landing at the airport I was getting a little worried about not having anything to get into the country. I was really nervous especially when I was looking at other passports for passenger cards and also for Aussie ones too which would give me an answer. The big guy who stamps passports, when I got to the front of the line just stamped my passport and sent me on my way. I was still worried especially when I had collected my bag that the security guy with the dog was after food and since I had vegemite on me I stopped and asked if it was alright and he said yes it was and I think he was more after money than anything else.
The Copenhagen airport was like any other airport although when I entered it after I got off the plane I thought I would have someone I was meeting up with who had said he would meet me. At the time I didn’t know I had been sent a message telling me the person wouldn’t make it and would meet up while I was in town. I think I spent around an hour waiting for the person to turn up although I did ask two people that had a similar look and no they weren’t the person I was after. Since I hadn’t done any research into getting to my accommodation from the airport, I had to get a map from the book shop and then ask at the help desk the best way to get to the central station. Having no idea about going to the hostel either, I figured out where to go on the map. One thing I was thinking about was would I understand the language. I did walk the wrong way at first them I found my way although I was wondering why everyone was holding the various protesting stuff like banners. I did find the hostel and it was a pretty easy find and the city of Copenhagen was an eye opener especially since everything looked old. The fact the bike paths were better than what I had seen back home made me proud of the country.
The Copenhagen airport wasn’t the only one that confused me on my long trip and it wasn’t the only one I had small problems with. The LCCT in Kuala Lumpur caught me the first time especially when I was tired and had to fill out a passenger card at the airport after landing as they had none on the plane. I had to fill it out three times as I had marked the wrong thing. I put this down to being tired but I did get it and go through the gate. After getting out I was basically bombarded by the natives wanting me to go on their bus into the city. At the time I didn’t like this sort of pressure as I knew which bus I was after and also I never had a map of the city either although I actually found where I had to stay with no problems as I was undercover and stepped out of the KL Sentral bus terminal.
The next day I had problems as I had arrived at the airport early and thought I had to fly from what I thought was international since Hong Kong is international along with other places. I waited for my London Journey to open up while watching crowds flow to the check in area. I think I had spent around two hours waiting before realising I was in the wrong area. Luckily the checkin for London wasn’t open yet and a couple of people I did ask could not speak English even when they are white people. I was getting frustrated as there was nothing to say where I had to check in even though a security guard lady told me where to go, but I found a group of people who I did ask and they were going to England so I had the right place. The desk opened up two hours before we flew out and then the problems keep on going as the bag carrier belt wasn’t working and the people were trying to get it to work and one of the computers had problems as well. In the end it was actually funny and yes I did make my flight in enough time.
A similar problem did pop up when I was trying to exit the Paris airport Charles de Gaulle terminal as I had a vehicle to catch and I pressed the wrong floor, when I had to actually go down in the lift and the two ladies I met told me they couldn’t speak English yet they could speak other languages like Spanish but they did show me where to go and it was down. They were extremely helpful and I did thank them too for their help. Not really an airport, but I was looking for where I could get my ticket for the Euro rail in the Du Nord station in Paris. At the time I was unaware which place I was supposed to collect my ticket as I was looking for a sign to tell me where to go. Since everything was in French I stopped at where I thought I had to go, I asked one guy who was writing out his luggage tag and he told me to go away as he was busy. I wasn’t happy and thought he was an asshole and that was exactly what I said to a lady who asked me the same question and the guy did hear me but never said anything. The lady at the counter told me I could use the machines and I explained to her that I wasn’t sure I was at the right place. I did find out that arriving early does not actually work out, when trying to board the Euro rail train to London as you can only board at a certain time like within half hour of it leaving and you still have to fill out a passenger card for the immigration at the station before leaving and not as I thought it would be on the London side at St Pancras.
When ordering foreign currency at the airport, it would be wise not to assume that all of Europe has the Euro as I thought Denmark has it. Denmark’s currency is actually the Krone. It was lucky the currency guys at Heathrow set me straight or else I would have had problems once I had landed.
People did try and con me out of money at various places especially the guys selling the towers for 1 euro around the Eiffel tower. I did not know what anyone would do with four towers for 1 euro and my thoughts were to support the legit businesses in Paris, so I ignored them. While waiting in line a Gypsy girl asked me if I spoke English and handed me a note. I read the note as it asked me if I had money as the girl was unemployed. I handed the money back saying I have no money. I did see the same people hanging around The Louvre and Notre Dame. All I power walked away from especially when the information around the Notre Dame warns about pickpockets while in the cathedral. A lady approached me while I was sitting down at Copenhagen town hall square to eat a chocolate donut and a Pepsi. She was after money and when I told her no money she kept on saying money, money, money. This went on for around 5 mins before she eventually walked off with no money from me. After seeing a show in London I was waiting for my train on the tube and taking pictures of the station sign, a man approached thinking I was taking pictures of him and he was after some money since I was dressed up nicely. I told him I was a tourist and had no money as I was on a tour with a group. He understood what I meant and walked off. In Kuala Lumpur at the Sentral station’s McDonalds, two people approached me with the same yellow card asking for money and that they were deaf. This was within half hour of each other. Being in a strange country I did not want to get more surrounding me and end up taking off with my wallet.
Travelling is exciting as you end up with new experiences about countries and places you visit and the bad parts is always part of that experience as it teaches the traveller about what they can do. Getting lost is always interesting as the traveller can find things that the average person misses out on the experience. The destination does not always count as getting to the destination, but is part of the adventure. A map does help as well especially when you follow the directions. A rainy day in Copenhagen, while trying to find the Laundromat can be a big adventure as you can read the names of the streets. That was around a 1km walk but in the end my clothes were washed on a day I would not have travelled around in.