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Australia: Day 26 – 07.12.18…………...All good things must come to an end!

We slept well even though we didn’t have the air-conditioning on. Honestly, we’ve gone from one extreme to the other. 36 degree heat outside and like a freezer in the room. The air-con is so cold we had to keep it switched off all night.

We were up at 8am doing our last yoga challenge on Australian soil in the bijou space between the beds, giving us the the much needed energy required for the day ahead, or so we thought. Making our way down to breakfast we hoped there was a bit more selection today. Last time we had breakfast here it was a bit scarce but thankfully there was plenty to choose from, so we ‘stocked up’ on breakfast as we weren’t sure when we’d be eating next. Leaving our cases behind reception we ventured out of the hotel to make our way down to the river for our river cruise. The heat hit us immediately. It was already 36 degrees and it was only 9.30am and to make matters worse it was accompanied by a very hot wind. You can understand how these bushfires spread so rapidly, the heat and the wind is such a dangerous concoction. We take our hat off to the firefighters who have to tackle these awful bushfires wearing all their protective clothing, it must be absolutely stifling.

We’d only walked about five minutes and we were exhausted. I was walking in the cycle lane as the pavements here are so slippy that my sandals weren’t getting a grip and I didn’t want to fall over on our last day. Half an hour later we were at the river, tickets purchased, all we needed to do was wait for the boat. We were far too early and had over an hour to wait so found a shady spot in the outside area of a not yet open bar and watched the world go by. By 10am the temperature had risen to 39 degrees. We were flagging and we’d only walked down the road! Maice was developing a headache and couldn’t stop sneezing and we were both so lethargic by this time we just sat in silence trying to cope with this intense heat.

Watching the pace of life here along the riverbank we’ve realised there’s no sense of urgency here. We sat and watched them cleaning and preparing for action what looked like a ‘party boat’, not a booze cruise but a boat you can hire out. We watched the strange ritual of smashing the ice on the quay. About eight big packets of ice were brought to the boat in a big basket and then flung in the air and onto the ground. A bit like some birds trying to open a nut, these were people were crushing ice! People watching helped pass the time until our bateaux style boat arrived and we sat by the window for some air, and although it was very hot it did provide a bit of much needed breeze. It was actually quite an interesting river cruise, the pilot was sarcastically funny with his commentary.

Here are a few things we cruised past and a few things we learnt;

a) Melbourne has been ranked the worlds most liveable city every year since 2011 by the Economist Intelligence Unit

b) The Eureka Tower, named after the Eureka Stockade, a rebellion during the Victorian Gold Rush in 1854 is the highest in Australia. This has been incorporated into the design, with the building's gold crown representing the gold rush and a red stripe representing the blood spilt during the revolt. The blue glass cladding that covers most of the building represents the blue background of the stockade's flag and the white lines also represent the Eureka Stockade flag

c) the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), also know as ‘The G’ is the 10th largest stadium in the world, the largest in Australia, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere, the largest cricket ground by capacity, and has the tallest light towers of any sporting venue

d) Melbourne was the capital of Australia between 1901 and 1927 before the capital became Canberra

e) Melbourne was going to be called ‘Batmania’ after one of its founding fathers, John Batman.

We disembarked from the boat and walked straight into the bar to a) cool down and b) order a well deserved cold glass of wine to revive us before attempting the walk back to the hotel to collect our luggage. We decided instead to hop on the free tram which thankfully took us three quarters of the way up Swanston Street and even walking the last quarter exhausted us. We left for the airport immediately deciding to change when we got there so we picked up the free skybus link to Central Station where we then picked up the SkyBus to the airport. It was very straightforward. How lovely it was to be at the airport in the air conditioning. We had a coffee and a muesli bar using up the last of our ‘kitty cash’ and could feel ourselves come to life again. Next, and not on the list was a bit of retail therapy. Between us we actually bought quite a bit of stuff, from pictures and boomerangs to chocolates and perfume. All spent up we made our way to our departure gate and waited to board. This was it now, the long flight home was about to begin. Seven hours on the first leg to Singapore, twelve hours on the second leg from Singapore to Heathrow.

The in-flight entertainment was great, lots of movies to watch but the best entertainment came from the other passengers. The guy in front of Maice for some reason upturned his hot food tray spilling it all over himself and the carpet. He proceeded to shovel it off his clothes and the floor and continued to eat it.....gross! I wouldn’t mind, he didn’t even get out of his seat to sort himself out or call cabin crew for assistance. He just sat in his seat, swiping his rice everywhere in his attempt to sort himself out. A little later, the woman in the aisle seat in front of me, who’d obviously fallen asleep suddenly falls over her armrest, her arms and head just flopping into the aisle. She didn’t wake up, so Maice and I wondered if she was in fact asleep or ....something else! I shoved her a few times and she didn’t wake up and on the third shove she came to life, sat upright and continued sleeping. At least she was alive!

Other than that it was a smooth flight, as was the second leg of the journey. I don’t think either of us have watched so many films or TV in any one sitting before but thankfully we did both manage to get some sleep. We arrived at Heathrow on time at 7.15am, grabbed our luggage, collected the car from the Crowne Plaza Hotel, changed into our warm clothing and set off to Dorset. The U.K. weather was 30 degrees lower than yesterday’s temperature but at least the sun was out, the sky was blue and it was a lovely morning. It’s funny, it didn’t feel like we were returning home, more like we were going on another journey somewhere, which I suppose we are. The journey into Christmas. I must say we’re thankful to have missed all the hype of a U.K. run-up to Christmas and we’ve only got two weeks of it so bring on all the Christmas festivities, I think we’re ready for it.

So that’s the end of our incredible holiday, journey, expedition call it what you will, to Australia, via Singapore. It’s far exceeded our expectations, we’ve seen and done some spectacular things and it’s been an absolute privilege. We’re happy to have shared our daily experiences and photos with you and hope you’ve enjoyed your time with us ‘down under’.

This is M&A signing off until the next time..... M&A xxxx

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