Saturday, 16 July 2011
Canada Part 1 - Are We There Yet?
We had a convoluted trip to Montreal due to there being no direct flights there from northern England or Scotland, only London, with (good and cheap) Air Transat. So it was either fly from London - a long way for me - or go to Montreal via Toronto, we chose the last option. Due to the time of our flight Julie and I had to stay overnight in Manchester previous to the flight, we got a good deal at the airport Hilton which was great value for money. We also had an over night stay in Toronto, yet it was all still easier and cheaper than using another company or going to London.
Our flight was delayed by a couple of hours and then we had the seven hour flight to Toronto, it actually passed over quite quickly and we were coming into Toronto, Lake Ontario and the CN Tower glinting in the sunshine. That's when things got hairy. The plane was banking a lot, and moving in an unusual way. As we were descending, there were short, but severe drops that made your stomach turn. A man said loudly, "Is this normal?" No one answered, but we knew it wasn't, a little girl cried out every time the plane "dropped". The runway appeared below us but it was a while before we touched down, very heavily. The brakes screamed and again, I've never experienced brakes being used so strongly, We were pushed forward in our seats, I gripped the seat arms and Julie put her hands onto the back of the seat in front. I thought the plane was going to run out of runway. Luckily it didn't, and people broke out into applause and sighs of relief as the plane slowed right down. I've never, ever experienced a landing like that, maybe it was the pilot's first landing, God knows, but it wasn't pleasant and hasn't helped my underlying fear of flying!
The heat hit us as we left the airport, in the taxi on the way to our hotel I saw a temperature reading of 31 degrees centigrade, yikes! Out hotel was the Sandman Signature, and it was lovely, excellent service and posh, quality rooms of above average size, very, very good value for money.
We went for a meal in Moxie's Grill, in the hotel. We were served by a guy called Colin who recited a huge list of side dishes and specials in one breath! The meal was lovely and we washed it down with a glass of red wine. We had an early night as our flight to Montreal next day was at 9am. I was beginning to wonder whether getting to Montreal this way was a good idea, it seemed we were never going to get there!
The flight to Montreal took just an hour, and we took a taxi to our rented apartment. The journey wasn't very scenic, lots of shabby and derelict areas, but the street in the Petite Patrie district where our apartment was situated was lovely. Most of the street was apartments and the stairs to the upper ones were on the outside of the buildings, very unusual to us. Our host, Marie-Anne, was there to greet us and we left our cases - we weren't able to take over the place for another four hours, we did already know this - so, not quite fully arrived yet!
We went to do some food shopping. There were lots of shops nearby and the Beaubien Metro was a five minute walk. It was very, very hot, a bit much for me and I think that along with all the travelling it made us feel quite weary. By then I thought we should have flown direct from London! In the end we parked ourselves in a MacDonalds and had a long, slow, cold drink until we could return to the apartment.
At 4pm, with huge sighs of relief, we flopped down on the couch and kicked off our shoes, at last, we had ARRIVED! The place was lovely, three large bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a big kitchen/diner, throughout it had beautiful, real wood floors. Outside, we had a small garden area with a table and chairs.
The third member of our group, Dianne, was due to arrive around midnight, but at 9pm I heard from her by text - she was stranded overnight in Minneapolis because her plane was "broken!" She would now be arriving around noon the next day, oh dear. Time for an early night and we'll be raring to go tomorrow!