Awaiting Take-Off

Written in 2002 on Tuesday the 20th of August, just before heading off on a three-month trip to Europe.

Discounting any further impromptu strikes by disgruntled QANTAS employees, less than 12 hours need pass before I am to fly the friendly skies on my journey to Europe. Many of you will have heard me talk incessantly about my upcoming trip and now finally the time has come for me to farewell Melbourne for the next three months. But with the talk of travel coming to an abrupt halt, you will all be granted the pleasure of having your inboxes clogged with irregularly timed updates of my journey from shitty internet cafes with dodgy keyboards and faulty mouses.

I inadvertantly timed my departure from Melbourne to coincide with the first week of the summer shoulder season (which is travel-consultant talk for, I think, the time when prices drop from their previously vertiginous highs), and in my thrifty smugness, I failed to foresee the problems that would arise from the multitude of tight-arsed travellers wanting to get that cheap flight overseas. So without a seat available on a flight that lands somewhere in Europe via Asia, I have had to take the scenic route and purchase a round-the-world ticket that gets me to mainland Europe via the USA and the UK. And to make things even messier, my round-the-world ticket cannot get me to Greece, so the now rather damp and, some would say, flooded city of Vienna is to be my very first mainland European destination. From there, however, I am free to explore the delights of Europe and let whim and the flight of youthful fancy be my guide. Ten bucks says my whim and youthful fancy takes me straight to Greece via Italy.

So after 23 years of feta cheese and souvlaki in the land of the kangaroo, I am to finally visit the land of my wog forebears and stand proudly next to my hairy-chested and virile grecian brethren whose culture has been fused with that of my land of birth to make me the complex and multifaceted first generation migrant child that I am today. I will soon be performing the rite of passage that so many youths of Australia feel the compulsion to do living so far away from anything foreign, but in my particular case with a Greek twist. Instead of traipsing around London in a drunken stupor, I will be running around Athens dodging the puckered hairy lips of my relatives as I am presented to each and every distant relation who my extended family think I will offend if I happen to not visit their over-furnished homes.

And once I disentangle myself from the overzealous embraces of my many relatives in Greece, I plan to visit more countries whose family ties can be just as suffocating as I head west through Italy to Spain (just what is it about the southern Mediterranean and the familial bond?) whilst trying to avoid the dexterous fingers of pick-pocketers whose slick work I begrudgingly admire for its exquisite skill. I hope to improve on the rudimentary Spanish I picked up in Mexico on my last trip and sound even more convincing on my return as I fumble my way through malformed sentences trying to impress the ladies with my, unbeknownst to them, lousy knowledge of what is arguably the language that most strongly races the hearts of fine young maidens the world over.

I suppose I will get drunk and fall over a lot too. But most importantly, when I get back I can crap on about how culturally enriching the whole experience was despite the overall lack of sobriety.

But the time is now past midnight and my flight is at ten in the morning. My bag has yet to be completely packed, so now I must do what I cannot avoid any longer and actually bother to get everything ready.

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