… get back here again, but here I am all the same.
And it was really no surprise where I was going, was it? Hands up if you REALLY didn’t guess.
And I’m glad that I’m here because it really was miserable this morning! And I’m not talking about me either. I had a reasonable night’s sleep for a change – just two trips down the corridor, and I ended up awake round about 06:45. But you would never have guessed what time it was – it looked as it if was 04:00 outside – totally dark, grey and miserable. How glad I am to be getting out of this.
No breakfast at the hotel either. It seems to have tightened up considerably on its efficiency from what I saw last night and I reckon that the breakfast cards that I still have from my time as a chauffeur all these years ago might be disallowed these days. But having anticipated this move, I did have some supplies with me – Strawberry Moose hadn’t eaten all of them – and so we had breakfast in my room. The complementary coffee plus the crackers, banana and satsumas out of my suitcase.
After breakfast I had a shower – and the door to the shower cubicle promptly fell off the runners – evidently the previous honeymmoning couple had been far too energetic in the bathroom – and there was no soap in the dispenser in the shower cubicle either. It was clearly not my night in the Comfort Inn, was it?
The shuttle back to the airport was fairly straightforward, although these days they only go to Terminal 2 and you need to take the internal tram-shuttle round to there. And then of course I had to enquire of the direction to the aeroplanes, never having been this way before.
We had all fun and games at the baggage check-in. First of all, my luggage weighed a mere 17.1 kilograms. I’m definitely losing my touch, aren’t I? And then the girl at the check-in dropped my passport into the conveyor. That brought Terminal Three to its knees for a good half an hour. Who needs machine guns and dynamite to paralyse a transport network when Strawberry Moose and Yours Truly are on the loose?
As for the security control, that was the most painless that I have ever encountered. Straight in, straight through and straight out without even a hint of inconvenience and aggression. Quite the reverse in fact – the couple of young people working there actually had a sense of humour and a laugh and joke with the passengers. Other airports and border crossings should take not of this. If every other passage through "Security" was as pleasant as this, every journey would be a pleasure instead of being so stressful.
I’ve complained bitterly about airport security in the past so it’s only correct to give credit when it deserves it;
The aeroplane was late, as you might expect, and we had to be bussed out across the hardstanding because it’s Air Transat again and they can’t afford the full terminal fees. And I know that I said that I would never ever fly Air Transat again but this year, what with my incredibly late booking, the cost of a flagship flight across the Atlantic was well into four figures. With Air Transat it was less than €500 and that’s the cheapest price that I’ve ever had across to Canada in modern times. It might be easier for a lion to swallow his pride than it is for me to do so, but I can do it whenever there’s some of the folding stuff involved.
But Air Transat is going downhill. There wasn’t even a hint of anything on the in-flight entertainment that I wanted to watch, even as a captive viewer. In fact under the heading "Classic Films" there were just three – and they dated from the turn of the century. Hardly what I would call "classic". I ended up listening to music on my phone instead.
The in-flight catering was absolute rubbish too. I’ve never ever eaten so badly on a long-haul flight in all my life. Just a hot wrap of grilled vegetables for lunch and a sort-of pizza slice for tea, and that’s your lot. Mind you, I had been warned about this by someone who actually works for Air Transat, and that was the reason for the extra baguette and butties that I made yesterday.
You may remember – or long term readers of this rubbish my remember – the Air Transat flight from a few years ago with the full-length mirror in the gentleman’s rest-room. And so we had another one on this flight too – which is what looks to be a reasonably-modern Airbus A330 by the way.
There’s clearly a purpose for these mirrors, and I’m sure you come up with your own ideas. For me, all you need is a paintbrush and a pot of varnish and then I can gloss over all of my shortcomings.
And so we headed out well across the Atlantic, our arrival becoming later and later as the headwinds kept pushing us backwards.Our estimatedtimeof arrival, which should have been 13:14 had we taken off on time, became 14:15 aswe left, and ended up at 14:27
Now, reading the notes that I’ve been typing about Air Transat, you might be thinking that I’m pretty well-disillusioned about the airline. But nothing could be further from the truth. Had I had this level of service on a Swissair or Lufthansa flight at €1335, I would have been beyond furious. But just let me remind you that I’ve paid a little more than a third of the price to do the same trip with Air Transat (and that’s not strictly true as Lufthansa wanted me to go via Dusseldorf). Given the situation, I’ve had my money’s worth from Air Transat and I don’t want anyone to think otherwise.
At least it’s not as bad as the legendary Air Fungus flight that set off from Ballyhoo to Montreal – a flight of 2200 miles – and when the pilot discovered after 1800 miles in the air that he didn’t have enough fuel for the remaining 400 miles, he turned round and flew back towards Ballyhoo.
We eventually arrived, and at a real air terminal too, and I was able to take a photo of the aeroplane. It’s not very good, mainly because I was using the phone camera and I had the sun in my eyes, and you can’t see the serial number of the machine either. But it’s the best that was available.
The queue into Canada was nothing like as bad as last time – only about four perpendicular lines, and with 9 immigration staff on duty we were done and dusted inside half an hour. I took advantage of the pause by emptying my rucksack of all prohibited food items – Canada seems to be becoming more and more keen on this sort of thing. But I was clearly observed nibbling on a forbidden orange or somthing because I was quizzed for a few minutes about any food that might be in my possession and a red cross was put on my entry form.
Next stop was the bus ticket machine. I’m here for three days now, having messed up over this Labour Day thing. I was supposed to do all of my errands tomorrow and move on tomorrow night but it’s Labour Day and so everywhere will be closed down. I can’t do anything now until Tuesday and so I’ll need an extra night at the hotel for a start. A three-day ticket costs $18 and that even includes travel from the airport into the city as often as I would like, and if that’s not good value I don’t know what is.
And I shall have to stop talking to myself too. Someone loitering near the ticket machine came over to me. He said that he was glad to hear another English-speaker and could I sort out a ticket for him. Americans are so lost outside their normal environment and so I was glad to help him.
And what goes around comes around too because they have changed all of the hotel shuttles too. The gate has moved to upstairs and you need now to phone up for yourbus – there are no longer any tourneés.This was going to be a problem, as I predicted, because my Canadian phone charger doesn’t work and the battery is flat, but a kind man at the information desk lent me his phone and that was quickly organised.
I didn’t have to wait very long either, and the man who picked me up was the same man who has picked me up a few times now so we had a very interesting chat about old times on the drive down here. It’s good to be amongst friends.
The hotel is only 5 minutes away from the airport and so I was here in no time flat. I booked my room for an extra night, so much for the best-laid plans of mice and men, andin a change to the advertised programme I’ve also booked a room for the night before I leave Canada.
Ordinarily I wouldn’t bother and I’d go straight through off the overnight bus onto the overnight plane, but I have to remember that I’m ill and while I might be okay right now, whatever am I going to be like in five weeks time? This is no time for playing fast and loose with my health.
Having done all of the necessary, I went up to my room, liberated Strawberry Moose from his confinement in the suitcase and had a nice relax for a couple of hours, something which involved a couple of cups of coffee.
And then I hit the town. There’s a bus stop right outside the hotel here and having observed from my window the times of the buses that pass by, I didn’t have long to wait. The 202 bus goes past the hotel every half an hour at about 05 and 35, and there’s a bus stop right outside the building.
This is why you always buy your bus ticket at the airport. The hotels along the Côte de Liesse are quite handy for the public transport, but you need to have a ticket handy when you leap on board.
Ordinarily I’d go down to the Snowdon metro station and chanhe trains for the Côte des Nieges because there’s my little falafel place and even an excellent Indian restaurant but tonight, as it was early, I had a change of plan. I did change trains but I went all the way to the Jean Talon station instead.
Just down the road is the legendary wholesale vegetable market and it’s a stunning place, full of traders and people and the most astonishing vegetables. But everywhere was closing down by the time that I arrived and there were just the private citizens buying up the leftovers. But it’s still a really exciting place to be even at that time of the evening.
From here, I walked down towads the Parc Metro station – the old Canadian Pacific railway terminus that i’ve shown you before. A Metro supermarket came up with a big bottle of epinette, the spruce beer that I love (and I have a fridge in my hotel room too) and I could organise some vegan cheese because it’s Sunday – pizza night.
At the side of the underground station is a pizza place that has always been very good to me in the past. Here I ordered my pizza as well as a bottle of root beer (after all, we are in Canada now) and then I was ready for home. And I didn’t have to wait too long for the bus at DuCollege either which certainly makes a change.
Coming back can be something of an issue because it isn’t easy to reach the hotel – there’s a motorway in between the hotel and the return bus route. However a friendly driver can usually be persuaded to stop at the overpass about 800 metres up the road and although it’s a bit of a walk back, it’s much quicker than doing the circular tour.
I was back here by 20:45 and by 21:15 I was cleaned, showered, clothes washed and in this beautifully comfortable bed. And here I’m staying until my name changes to Rip van Eric.