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Diary of a travel writer: Confusion In the belly of an airbus

THURSDAY: I have had more stressful times. I am floating in the water at Shoal Bay, two hours north of Sydney and seven south of Brisbane. The sea is like a lake, there is real fresh fish and beer in Aussie Bob's nearby, the sun is warm and people are gaping at me because it is winter. Winter? Not where I come from.

FRIDAY: My sister's dog, Arnie, has come for a walk on Bateau Bay, with its telltale line of coal boats on the seascape waiting to get into Newcastle Harbour. He dives into the sea when I go underwater, only to turn around and paddle back when he sees my head re-emerge over the surface. I feel cared for and protected. Just as we are bonding, there is a series of angry yelps from fishermen who realise that Arnie has eaten their bait. He's not my dog any more.

SATURDAY: My giant airbus flight home, QF31, is full, I am told. I don't even get stressed by these situations any more, and they ferret out a seat for me while I am still in check-in. A seat on the A380 is of more than passing interest, it is way more comfortable than its 747-400 counterpart.

Flying baron that I am, I am accustomed to turning left for my business-class seat but to get to business class on the A380 you turn right -- confusing after a few red wines.

Qantas have an onboard lounge for business-class passengers to fraternise, but it is too small to be effective. The hostess tells us that it is illegal for more than 20 people to congregate on a plane entering US airspace, so the upstairs lounge on the A380 is unusable.

Another surprise. As the lady in the adjoining seat goes to the toilet, she leaves her handbag in the sink. The water automatically comes on. Soaked handbag, soaked contents. Memo to readers: when travelling business class on the A380 don't leave your handbag in the sink.

SUNDAY: Heathrow and a wait for the EI157. It is amazing how many people you meet in London's biggest airport, in the tin shed they call a waiting area for the Irish passengers. A bit like the 67 bus in the old days. The bus conductor didn't look as fetching as the Aer Lingus hostesses, but you have to make allowances.

MONDAY: Is that my bed?

TUESDAY: I am officially going nowhere. The news from NCL's new ship, the Norwegian Epic, is that there are propulsion problems.

WEDNESDAY: Indeed we are afloat. Epic is beautiful, sleek and innovative and very different from the other cruise ships that are launching this year. With 2,500 travel agents tucking into the free drink, the recession seems very far away indeed.

Savvy Traveller by Eoghan Corry has just been published by Londubh, price €15


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