luggage

That Didn’t End Well!

October – here one minute and gone the next. I can remember sitting here at my keyboard on the first day of October, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready for the Ultimate Blog Challenge. Now I’m sitting here on the last day of October wondering what the heck happened? Where did October go? And all I can say is – well – that didn’t end well. 

It always sounds so easy. Just post a blog each day, for a month. What could go wrong? 

Life!

That’s what could go wrong – and it did! I knew I was in for a busy month; I just didn’t anticipate how busy it would get. The committee I’m on needed attention – a little more than usual – and WordCamp happened. Add to that a sick neighbour who needed assistance and you’ve got a whole lot of too-tired-to-write nights. 

Okay, WordCamp Brisbane 2018 was only one weekend – but it entailed a lot of planning. I live about one-hundred and thirty kms from Brisbane. At the very least it takes about one-and-a-half hours to drive there, but factor in road-works and heavy traffic – and you’ve got a more realistic time of close to two hours. Now that’s a little too far to drive to and from each day, so the first planning that had to be done was finding accommodation. With the first morning being a seven-thirty start, the accommodation was needed for Friday and Saturday nights.

The Options…

I looked at a few options, but because I was driving there, I had to find accommodation for my car as well. Has anyone found car-parking in the city that didn’t necessitate mortgaging the house to pay for it? The options weren’t too exciting:

  • Park on the other side of the river and drag luggage across the bridge (at least the parking is more affordable on the south side) 
  • Park in one of the parking stations in the city and be prepared for the hefty cost at the end of the two days (at least I’d be on the right side of the bridge)
  • Phone the hotel and see if they have parking and would it be affordable (I seriously doubted both)
Photo of Level 4 Row 1 of the Myer Centre Carpark
A photo of the carpark is a good reminder of where I left the car…

The last option won

I chose the Ibis Styles Hotel (right next to the Myer Centre) for two reasons:

  1. I have AccorPlus membership which gives me discounted accommodation; option of using my accumulated points; free WiFi; discounted food in the restaurant; priority check-in; 
  2. Location – the Hotel is: an easy walk to QUT (Queensland University of Technology), the venue for WordCamp; in the heart of the city; oh, and did I mention there is a Starbucks on the corner? Getting my morning coffee is not an option – it is a ‘survival-choice’. 
But first, coffee! 

A call to the Ibis Styles Hotel on Elizabeth Street cemented the deal. I could park in the Myer Centre carpark for $20 a day, as long as I remembered to have my ticket validated at check-out. Bargain!

Then there was the planning of what to pack for the weekend. I usually take three cases when I travel: one in case it is too hot; one in case it is too cold; and one in case it is just right. And then there is my technology bag, which usually weighs more than the other three put together. This time I had to economise. Even though the hotel is next door to the Myer Centre, I still had to drag my luggage from the carpark, through the shopping centre, out onto Elizabeth Street, and up to the door of the hotel. I ended up with one small bag for clothes and my usual large backpack for technology. It worked.

And WordCamp?

Two days of non-stop learning! Even though it meant more than two days away from writing (remember all the planning?), I figure it was a great investment in my blogging. What I learned that weekend will help me work faster and smarter – not harder.

WordCamp is all about using a WordPress website which is great for Blogging
Looking towards the path leading from Z Block at QUT
QUT – Z Block

So even though October has gone and the Ultimate Blog Challenge didn’t end well, I came through relatively unscathed – although exhausted – and a lot better off, knowledge-wise.

Life is a journey, and every moment taken for learning is a giant leap forward. 

Maureen Durney

So until we meet on another Ultimate Blog Challenge – this is me signing off. And now I’ll go back to just ‘blogging’. 

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Posted by Maureen in Blogging, 0 comments
Brisbane to Delhi

Brisbane to Delhi

Travel Day 1
6 am – Wide Awake and ready to start the day and the journey.
Coffee, shower, pack the bathroom items, load the car and ready to go.

Way too early to be at the airport, but plenty of time for a leisurely stroll around DFO, Brisbane Airport style. Another coffee, light lunch, then time to deliver the car to Portside Parking on Curran St Eagle Farm where it will be taken care of until our return in just over two weeks. Park the car, sign the paperwork, and into the waiting mini-van for the trip to Brisbane International Airport. The journey has begun.

Too early to check in, but plenty of time to liaise with the rest of the group who would be my travel buddies through India. Lots of photos taken, helpful travel hints shared, reminders about document requirements (too late now if you don’t have your passport), and then on to check-in. Our group of eleven managed to make it through the queue mostly intact, but somehow some of us ended up at different check-in counters. My utmost praise for Singapore Airlines staff who managed to get us all seated and next to at least one member of the group. The fact that we were scattered throughout the aircraft didn’t really matter; we each had a seat. There were a few funny anecdotes post check-in of two travellers at the same counter, mistakenly taken for ‘a couple’ with the apologetic attendant bending over backwards to try to get them seated together until they explained that they weren’t actually ‘a couple’.

Image from Wikimedia Commons: Credit: Nate Cull

The age of automation has seeped into the travel experience.

Apart from a few attendants ushering travellers to the appropriate line to be in, there is no longer a face in the Customs procedure. No-one stamps your passport with the date and name of the city you are leaving behind in search of foreign shores. Now you wait your turn in a line, proceed to a scanner and place your passport on the slide for self-scanning of the photo page, walk up to a pair of footprints strategically placed on the floor, remove hats and/or glasses, and smile for the camera. The trade-off is a much faster trek through Customs, presumably freeing up our very qualified Customs Officers for the more important task of screening incoming passengers, making sure that our country stays safe and secure. That’s it. Done and dusted. You then exit the Customs area straight into the hands of Duty-Free scalpers who think it’s fair game to ask exorbitant prices for everyday items that can be bought in your local supermarket for a fraction of the cost. Travel isn’t what it used to be.

With check-in safely behind us, the next hurdle to be overcome was Customs.

An hour’s wait – long enough to stock up on snacks for the flight – then boarding at 5 pm. The flight was reasonably full, but boarding was executed quickly and very efficiently. Groups, all six of them, were boarded one group at a time. We were in groups five and six. We seemed to be no sooner settled in our seats than the seatbelt sign illuminated and the plane started pushing back ready for take-off. For an International flight, the departure process seemed incredibly fast.

I’m not sure why, but it seemed to be a very quiet flight. The loud-talkers were missing in action, and even the babies seemed to be reasonably settled, with only the occasional murmur. Perhaps the noisy travellers all turned left on entering the plane (otherwise known as Business Class). The movie selection was reasonable and once the meal was dispensed with, most people kicked back to enjoy their choice of latest release or favourite re-run. It was then time for sleep – for those who find sleep comes naturally at 9.30pm Eastern Standard time in Australia. For the rest of us, there were more movies to watch or blogs to write. The night passed uneventfully.  We landed in the city of the Merlion a little before midnight, Singapore time.

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Posted by Maureen in Travel, 4 comments