Finally, the time is here for the long-haul flight from Italy to Australia, via Singapore.
With flights, accommodation, and buses booked, including giving tenants 5 months’ notice to leave back in September 2019, everything is organised. The long-haul flight back to Australia is for the start of February 2020.
Who would have thought while booking last year that COVID-19 would completely wipe out 2020 global plans?
A little background
The plan is to return to Australia for 6 weeks to renovate.
After renovating the house that my tenants occupied for 14 years, a flight to England for a mid-April wedding is next on the agenda. Following the wedding, a short flight to Italy.
The 50th anniversary of the Glastonbury Festival at the end of June 2020, would take us back to England to volunteer at the festival, before returning to Italy again. The long-haul flight to Australia would follow at the end of 2020.
Although, as many people experienced, this part of life was wiped out in mid-March with COVID-19 cancelling everything. It’s the first time in my life, booking travel plans so far in advance and I know never to do this again.
For now, I’ll share the experience of long-haul travel with you…
Bus from Cosenza to Rome
You probably haven’t heard of Cosenza in southern Italy’s Calabria region. This photo gives you a taste of this lovely underrated city steeped in history, wonderful food, and hospitable friendly locals.
Staying in Cosenza for a while, absorbing the culture and getting comfortably fat, it’s from here, we start the long journey back to Australia.
The 08:00 hrs Simet bus arrives and leaves on time, which is always a bonus when you’re this far south in Italy, and especially for the start a 6-hour journey.
Flat and wintery-dry farming planes back-dropped by the spectacular Apennine Mountain range, follow the highway making our way north.
This imposing mountain range with its smaller chains, soar through south to north of Italy, almost cutting the country in two.
Only one coffee stop on this journey, but it’s enough to obliterate the pins and needles in my feet and legs – exaggerating slightly.
The bus pulls into the very busy hub of Tiburtina Bus station – Rome’s second-largest bus station. Conveniently, Tiburtina is only a stone’s throw from the Rome Termini rail station and Metro services.
Knowing this area well and lugging our heavy backpacks, we make our way along the short bustling walk, to the welcoming staff of comfortable Hotel Milani.
A stroll through the Rome Termini…
…before meeting up with a bunch of good friends from Cosenza, currently in Rome.
Heading out to the fabulous Il Mercato Centrale Roma – opened in 2016 – it’s time to enjoy a quick gathering and delicious well-priced delicacies.
Shame it’s an early night in Rome as our friends are working in the morning and tomorrow’s flight is an early start.
Flight from Rome to Singapore
The cheapest way to travel from Rome Termini train station in central Rome to Fiumicino Airport is by bus and costs €6 for the hour’s trip. Terravision buses leave from the Rome Termini-side of Piazza dei Cinquecento every half-hour, depending on the time of year.
This morning’s 12-hour flight from Rome to Singapore with Singapore Airlines is on time. The Airbus is almost bursting with passengers, so no chance of an upgrade today.
Surprisingly, the food on the flight is tasty, so you won’t go hungry – plenty of good movies on board. The very efficient attendants are friendly, helpful, and chatty, which always helps to make the hours pass faster.
Arriving at the uncivilised hour of 05:45 am at impressive Changi Airport, officials check passenger temperatures before entering the main section of the airport. Singapore is taking COVID-19 seriously.
It’s only a 1.5-hour wait until the connecting flight to Sydney. I’m sharing a few tips to stay sane on a long-haul flight.
Long-haul flight tips
If you’re ever on a long-haul flight from the northern to the southern hemisphere, there are things you can indulge in to make your endless hours in the air dissolve faster:
- Make sure to bring reading material, puzzles of any sort, music or movies of your preference, and/or your laptop. These days, most plane seats come with charging outlets for your mobile devices, so you don’t need to endure the flight’s offerings. Depending on the airline or the class you’re travelling in, this may not apply. But, for cattle-class and low-cost airlines, this definitely applies. Although, you can always find something suitable to watch.
- Eat. Good airlines offer an abundance of food, which is surprisingly palatable. Keep a pack of dried fruit and nuts handy just in case. Eat these before landing in Australia as Customs are tough.
- Try to sleep. I can rarely do this on a flight. And, envy the avid 12-hour snorer beside me that instinctively awakens at mealtimes.
Flight from Singapore to Sydney
Following another check-in at Changi, even though you’re in transit (my pet hate), passengers are briskly ushered onto the smaller Boeing craft.
As we settle into our average-sized seats for the remaining 8 hours, this flight goes without too many disturbances. Choosing to watch a plethora of films while interchanging between Sudoku (paper variety), listening to music, or writing, these are my substitutes for sleep.
Landing in Sydney, there isn’t any temperature checking. Only the question: “have you been to China in the past 14 days?”
Torrential rain awaits and is our welcome home to Australia, after 6 years of travelling. My niece and her husband are kindly waiting to drive us to Newcastle, around 2 hours north of Sydney. This is home for a week, before heading to Brisbane.
Spending a comfortable stay for a week at my sister’s home, catching up with relatives and taking in a few local sights, after a long spell overseas. Also, enduring this cheeky little boy Casper, stealing the limelight.
There’s always time for a leisurely stroll along the extensive picturesque seafront, to eat a few delights…
…before heading off to the small Newcastle Airport in Williamtown for the next leg of this journey.
Flight from Newcastle to Brisbane
The short uneventful flight from Newcastle to Brisbane takes under 1.5 hours.
Collecting a hire car from Europcar, finally, we leave airports and flights behind. It’s great to be back in Brisbane.
One noticeable thing compared to Southern Italy is the driving, which is so orderly in Brisbane. Drivers actually indicate – mostly.
Also, it’s so clean along the roads, without the dumping of rubbish bags that seems to be along many roads in Italy. Although this annoys me immensely, think I became accustomed to seeing this in Italy – sad but true.
The main purpose of returning to Brisbane is to renovate. As the tenants don’t leave for a couple of days, booking the Funky Urban Pad close by, is a convenient choice.
Craig (owner) is extremely accommodating and excellent with his communication. The apartment is self-contained with everything you need for your short stay. And, only around a 10-minute bus ride to Brisbane city.
Re-acquaintance with Brisbane
After almost 4 years since my last visit to Brisbane, it’s time to experience the abundant changes.
Glimpses on the drive from the airport to the city are enough to reveal that Brisbane is expanding. Numerous new high rises, apartment blocks, malls, and restaurants fight for a spot in the city. Gone is the big sleepy country town that I encountered, when first sailing from Sydney in the early 1990s.
Travel is on hold as it’s time to get stuck into renovating, for the next 6 weeks. I’m hoping that the tenants leave a presentable and clean house…