Thursday 29th September 2022 (cont) – SO HERE I AM

strawberry moose suitcase place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022And here he is too. I’m sure you didn’t need me to tell you who is travelling wiht me, do you?

When the alarm went off this morning I’d already been in and out of the shower. This is usually what happens when I’m setting off to go somewhere, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall. In fact I’d been awake for a lot longer than that. I would have said that I hadn’t actually gone to sleep at all except that there’s something on the dictaphone. And I know that without looking because I remember having to leave my stinking pit to change the batteries in it.

I can’t remember very much about this because of the batteries. It was to do with a person whom I know from University who is in a wheelchair trying to find someone to look after his cat, his old black and white cat before he went off on holiday. There was also a question about a dog as well so we were making jokes about Boudicca, having the dog tied to his wheelchair to pull him along. There was something else in this as well about food. He was looking for someone who had some extra food for some reason that he could take but I don’t really remember all that much about this.

Just by way of a change I’d paid for a breakfast. I don’t normally eat a breakfast but it’s going to be a very long day and the availability of food is not going to be guaranteed. There are supplies in my backpack because I’ve been caught out like this before but nevertheless it’s always best to be as prepared as they can.

They sent a minibus to pick me up and to my embarrassment and shame I couldn’t get into it. I ended up falling into it and I’ve repeated the damage to my right knee. This is certainly not the time and place to be doing that and I shall regret that, I reckon.

At the airport (because of course I’m going by air) it was a long walk down to the check-in and I felt every inch of the way. At the check-in desk there were just four other people. We had been told to be there at least four hours before check-in so we were there on time but the staff didn’t turn up until much later. And one of them, the guy who set out the lanes for the queues, is someone whom I shall remember for a very long time.

automatic passport check paris charles de gaulle airport France Eric Hall photo September 2022After having checked in I then had to go through passport control.

That’s all automated these days. You set into some kind of little cubicle that checks your passport and photographs you. I was thinking that if you and your passport were rejected, the floor would slide open and you’d fall into a pit lined with sharpened sticks.

Mine was okay and I passed through for a physical check. Luckily, my carte de séjour was to hand so they didn’t stamp my passport.

Security was surprisingly painless. They confiscated my little bottle of water. I was half-inclined to ask him about how he felt working right next to a crateful of stuff that he believed to be dangerous or explosive but I decided that gratuitous confrontation was probably not a good idea.

But I sailed through without the slightest problem and that really was quite extraordinary.

air canada c-fnnq Boeing 777-300ER 2013 paris charles de gaulle airport France Eric Hall photo September 2022This is our trusty steed.

She’s C-FNNQ and the fact that her registration begins with C tells us of course that here in Paris she’s likely to be owned by Air-Canada. And when I say that she’s a Boeing 777-300ER, you have probably worked out where I’m going.

Being as early as I was, there was quite a long wait before we could board. I sat quietly and listened to some music on the computer. Many more power points in the airport than ever there used to be. Currently, the “album of the moment” is of a live acoustic concert by Steve Harley and Nick Pynn and if ever you get to hear “Riding The Waves” from this concert, it contains probably one of the best acoustic guitar/dulcimer solos of all time.

air canada c-fnnq Boeing 777-300ER 2013 dorval pierre trudeau airport montreal canada Eric Hall photo September 2022Here’s a better view of my ‘plane, taken at – you guessed it – Pierre L Trudeau Airport at Montreal.

She was built in 2013 and her claim to fame is that on 26th September 2014 she lost all her navigation connections on a flight over the Atlantic. Luckily they were restored soon after and most of the … gulp … 465 people on board knew very little about it.

They would have known much more about it if they hadn’t managed to re-connect the system

We were packed in like sardines and having luckily checked in on line last night I had an aisle seat. I spent the flight either asleep, listening to more music and watching my neighbour playing solitaire – not very well.

The on-board meals were really what you would expect – quite correct as far as airline food goes so my supplies stayed holed up in my backpack.

crowds arrival lounge dorval pierre trudeau airport montreal canada Eric Hall photo September 2022And here we are fighting our way through immigration in Canada.

Queues for miles and most things automated. But when I finally saw the Immigration officers I was waved through with the most minimal enquiries. Obviously the events of a little over three years ago and which have been preying on my mind a little for all this time were really all for nothing. I suppose that i can go ahead and add those missing few days.

Queueing then for the luggage, queueing to buy a bus ticket, queueing for the bus, and then queueing in the traffic for a demonstration that was taking place in the streets. And a guy who spent much of the bus ride asking me questions ended up missing his coach connection at the bus station because of all of the delays.

Finding my hotel was another thing. It’s a new place apparently, so new that they haven’t even put up the signs for it and I was wandering up and down the street. And then I had to find the check-in instructions, sent by e-mail that of course I hadn’t received previously with being on the road and there being no public internet connection. Walking down to a Tim Horton’s for a free connection isn’t possible at the moment.

In the end, more by luck than judgement, I found what I needed.. I’d asked for a ground-floor room which they had given me, but they didn’t say that you had to walk up one flight of steps to the front door and then down another one inside to my floor.

However, once down here, the room is very nice, even with a little kitchenette and had it not been for the mobility issues I would have been delighted with this place.

outdoor table tennis place emilie gamelin Montreal Canada Eric Hall photo September 2022Having had a little … errr … relax for half an hour or so I wet to the shops for supplies.

On the way I went past the Place Emilie Gamelin where there was an outdoor table tennis game taking place. It wasn’t the game that interested me as much as the antics of the car that’s in the lower left corner. The driver pulled up, dropped someone off, looked around ready to move off, saw me waiting with my camera, put the handbrake on, took a drink and started to eat a snack.

Fed up of waiting, I walked up the hill 5 yards, took the photo from there and as I moved away, she drove away.

My original plan was to walk down to the river but I decided not to push my luck that far as I’m not very steady on my feet right now. So I decided to go and buy some food instead.

Took me 10 minutes in the IGA to choose the stuff for breakfast, and then about an hour to pay in one of the longest supermarket queues I’ve ever seen

outdoor theatre place emilie gamelin montreal canada Eric Hall photo September 2022On the way home again I stopped at the Place Emilie Gamelin again.

This time it was the outdoor theatre that excited my attention. Nothing much happening there but there seems to be much more going on in general than ever there used to be.

Going back up the steps with my shopping was too much and I fell down the stairs. Some poor girl tried to pick me up but failed miserably as I was of no help. In the end I dragged myself over to the steps and sitting on one step after another I managed eventually to pull myself upright.

When I finally made it back to my room I had to wash the shopping bag to get rid of the orange juice stains. What a mess that was!

After a long rest I took my life into my hands and headed for the metro. Luckily there are lifts and escalators here at Berri-UQAM and so getting to the platform wasn’t much of a problem although I didn’t enjoy the walk one bit.

On the orange line to the terminus at Cote-Vertu where there are also passenger lifts, and then another slow walk across a dangerous road junction (not the place to fall over at all) to the shopping mall.

And why is shopping in North America so boring? Well, when you’ve seen one bunch of shops you’ve seen a mall

I’ll get my coat.

At the back is the best Indian restaurant in the whole of North America. It’s still here and even better, it’s been enlarged so there’s plenty of room. The vegetable biryani was excellent although the garlic naam wasn’t as good as it might have been

Like most places in North America the portions are definitely man-sized … “PERSON-sized” – ed … and I asked for a doggy-bag on leaving. Guess what I’m having for breakfast tomorrow?

Luckily the metro station has its lift as that was the only way I could make it back. And at Berri-UQAM it was a long, slow crawl home. Now I’m off to bed even though it’s not quite 22:00. But in real time that’s 04:00 tomorrow and that means my day has been almost 24 hours with just a cat-nap in between.

It just goes to show – I really CAN do it when I try.

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