Canada - July/Aug 18 Day 1
Here we go again.
Since the last blog post, I have spent money - real money on the blog site. So hopefully it will now load more quickly. It also now has a proper domain and you can find it using Google. I am still genuinely surprised to the reaction to it.
It had been a very busy few weeks since the last trip. It had been an even busy few days immediately running up to leaving. We had been out the 3 nights before leaving having different cultural experiences on Friday at Laughter in the Park in Chapelfield Gardens, Saturday seeing Leo Sayer performing at Theatre in the Woods in Holt followed on Sunday by Danny Baker at the Theatre Royal. They were all very good although we might have preferred them in a different order as Danny Baker was on stage for over 4 ¼ hours and not finishing until 11.45pm the night before we left.
The day we left I came down with the pre Holiday Blues. I have written before about how I suffer when the boys leave part way through a holiday. This time I was down about actually going away. I'm not expecting sympathy and considering the number of times we go away its all rather bizarre. It was not one thing I could put my finger on that was causing it, rather a combination of many. I knew though that once I got to our destination I would be fine.
We had travelled down to Heathrow the night before and stayed in the Terminal 5 Travelodge. It was just OK. I am still unsure of the benefits of doing so. It did save a very early start, but it does seem as though the travelling to get to our destination takes a day longer.
Check in was easy and straightforward until I was asked if we had our Canadian visa's. Apparently they are needed these days. I thought it was like New Zealand and the previous time we had visited Canada but was wrong. I kept calm and reassured Karen I would sort them out online before we boarded the plane. As our first flight was to Seattle in the USA we would be allowed to at least get that far.
I was far from calm inside and was furious with myself for such a school boy error.
Security was a breeze until my hand luggage was sent down the 'naughty boy' chute for further inspection. I assured them there was no liquid or contraband in there. When they pulled out a bottle of wine that Karen had put in there without telling me I was more than slightly embarrassed. She came over and was most apologetic saying that she had intended to drink it in the Hotel the night before but had forgotten all about it. How we laughed.....
We then proceeded to the Club Aspire Lounge with our free passes we had from a credit card application. It was very nice. The food was hot and good although they were a bit mean in their selection of free alcohol. Although as the time was only 7am we didn't really want to have too much.
I used the time to apply online for our Canadian ETA's. Fortunately they were approved immediately and we were good to go.
The Virgin flight was as usual very good. The food didn't live up to much although there was plenty. We were given a main meal, then later a hot pasty, followed a while later by ice cream and finally a hour before landing afternoon tea. It was all average fare and I was glad for the proper food I had sneaked out of the Lounge before boarding.
The film choice was very good. I watched The Post, Finding Your Feet, and The Florida Project. All very different and very enjoyable. Karen also watched the last one and it provoked us to have a lengthy discussion about it. It was fascinating to see all the familiar sites along the 192 in Kissimmee in a different context. The ending was a bit surreal but we realised it was a metaphor to what had been happening throughout.
The time went by quickly and we were soon off the plane in Seattle. Immigration took almost 2 minutes to get through. There was a much longer wait for our bags. Not that I was bored but Karen's was the 167th bag to arrive and mine was the 192nd. We then checked the bags back in for the next flight but had to wait 25 minutes to go through the connection gate security. It was just as well that we had plenty of time.
We then had plenty of time to kill. So Karen had her caffeine fix, although in the terminal we were in there wasn't a Starbucks. Despite this the caffeine revived her spirits.
After this we then went into a grill bar and both had the Caesar salad, as much to pass the time as to satisfy any hunger. Then we saw that our flight had had a gate change to another terminal. So we caught the train to the B terminal where we walked passed 3 Starbucks stores on our way to the gate.
Whilst boarding we were told we had been upgraded to whatever the next class up was and were given new seats. We couldn't actually see much difference in the seats when got to them other than them being a different colour and near the front.
This was a short flight as it was only 451 miles. We arrived into Calgary at 7pm. The airport is much bigger than Stansted but didn't seem to have any other flights arriving. We seemed to walk miles to get to security where we were greeted warmly and they seemed genuinely interested in our plans for whilst we were in the country.
Our bags came off quickly and we set off on another hike to the Car Rental desk. Pleasingly this was also deserted. We were given quite a hard sell to upgrade every aspect of the car hire to which I politely declined. I calculated if I had taken everything that I was being offered it would have increased the bill by another £800.
The drive to the Hotel took about 20 minutes and we were pleased to receive an upgraded room. It didn't take long to get organised and 25 hours after our alarm had woken us up we were able to lay our heads back down again.