Friday, July 29, 2011

Back in America

I can't believe I haven't updated in nearly 2 months. I last blogged after my return from Melbourne, and the rest of my time in Australia was really just spending quality time with the friends I made there. I had just under a month left in Perth, so nightly gatherings at my house were expected. We would cook dinner, hang out, watch a movie and all fall asleep on my lovely purple couches. Doing nothing all together were some of my best memories of all of Australia. Almost every Shabbat we would all go to Chabad together, which ended up being a really nice way to spend Friday nightl. It was such a small gathering that it felt like a family dinner.

My last month in Perth was very rainy, which is the norm in the winter there. It isn't too cold during the day, but the nights are really chilly. I didn't do anything too thrilling in my last few weeks. One day my friends and I walked to Heirisson Island to see the Western Grey Kangaroos that live there. There are 6 kangaroos and you can walk right up to them. We, of course, got caught in the rain, and ended up walking nearly 5 miles in it! It was a really fun day though. Other than that, I really just worked and hung out with friends.

My last week was basically spent having good bye parties. One night was with a group of girls I was friends with, one night was "Dana's last shabbat" at Zai Zai's, and a bunch were just my usual group of closest friends. My last night, which was a Saturday, the family decided to throw a huge Australian themed party for me. They had all Australian themed foods (homemade meat pies, hot chips, pavlova, etc). It was so nice and a great chance for me to say goodbye to my Australian "family" and friends. They gifted me these beautiful blue sapphire earrings and gave a toast to me. It was so hard to say goodbye to the little girls, and obviously I cried a lot.

After that, a few of my friends headed back to my house to do final packing and goodbyes. Of course, my bags were way too heavy, so I just started throwing stuff out of the bags. Eventually we loaded into the new nanny's car (she moved into my house 3 weeks before I left) and drove to the airport. I think I cried the whole ride there. When we got to the airport, I was told that I could only bring one bag with me (I was carrying two). It also turned out that I was not scheduled to be on my flight from Kuala Lumpur to Abu Dhabi. I was freaking out, but we were able to work out the flight at least. My friends ended up taking my second bag home (I luckily had packed a Europe bag and a home bag, so I didn't have to do too much transfering). After a very tearfilled goodbye, I boarded my plane to Kuala Lumpur.

I got to Kuala Lumpur at 7am and expected to be able to check in and go to a lounge. Instead, I had to get my huge bag from the baggiage carousel and then wait in an hour long customs line. Then, I was told I couldn't check in yet because Etihad counter doesn't open until 5:30pm. This meant that my THIRTEEN hour layover was spent dragging my bags around. I also couldn't connect to the free wifi on my laptop. After a few hours of wandering and checking out things to do (fyi: NOTHING-though I did see some funny signs-chicken porridge, anyone??), I spotted a computer in the Burger King downstairs. I quickly converted some money and paid for internet. I was able to half-skype with my parents and a few friends (I can see and hear them, but they can't see or hear me, so I have to type my responses). 6 hours and lots of Malay dollars later, I was able to check in. The next flight was uneventful and Etihad turned out to be a pretty nice airline.

I got to Abu Dhabi for my 9 hour layover at midnight, which obviously meant I couldn't leave the airport. I thought I'd be able to sit in a lounge again, but they were so expensive and you could only sit in it for 4 hours. Since I had 9 hours, I figured it just wasn't worth it. Instead I sat in this ornate terminal and was able to use these free computers. They were ancient and hard to use, but at least I was able to pass a lot of time that way. The next flight was also uneventful and I was anxious to get to Paris to meet Lauren.

I arrived in Paris and practically flew off the plane to the baggiage area. I had one hour to meet Lauren off her bus, and had no clue where I was going, so I wanted to rush through the airport. I got directions to the bus terminal and got there with 15 minutes to spare. I waited and waited and no bus arrived. I called Lauren with one of my only Euro coins ( I forgot to activate my Euro credit card) and she told me the bus was running a few hours late. I grabbed a baguette and sat to wait. I got bored, so I walked around to see if I could find a free internet. I couldn't, but I bought a few minutes on a computer and was able to activate my card. I then bought a converter so I could plug in my laptop and buy some internet credit. I was able to skype with a friend in Australia while I waited, and then noticed that I had a dozen emails from my parents saying that Lauren was lost and in the center of Paris. It took a lot of miscommunication and a few hours, but eventually I found Lauren sobbing in the center of the airport. We reunited and took a cab to our hotel, which was pretty far from the center of Paris. We were just so happy to be together and be in Paris that all the stress of the past few hours/days were semi-forgotten. I was just so happy to be able to put my heavy bags down! We found a hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese restaurant (had excellent Pho!) and then crashed bag in our hotel, despite it being super bright out at 11pm.

I will continue the Europe tales in another post!