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I know you’re all probably thinking that this is a post about the trip itself and all the food, wine, sites, and wonderful weather that was had. Well, that’s not what this post is about. No, we had to try and get to our destination first. And by try, I mean, battle it out against Mother Nature, time zones, Air Canada, and a possible gremlin. Here is our story:
3:54 p.m. AT: We arrive at Halifax International Airport as light snow begins to fall. Having checked in electronically online the night before, we simply pass our bags in to an Air Canada attendant and head over to the departures section.
4:01 p.m.: With limited options we decide to have dinner at the Molson Ale House. Perhaps as a bon voyage reminder of the good food to come, we are promptly served the most mediocre bar food we’ve ever tasted alongside a glass of beer that is the size of my dachshund.
4:52 p.m.: We are screened through security by the friendliest people in Halifax. I immediately suspect something is up. In the departure lounge, we watch snow accumulate on the wings of our plane. Cokebaby develops a sudden headache and self-medicates with coffee. It does not help.
5:45 p.m.: We board the plane. On board, the stress accumulates at a rate that grows exponentially in relation to the amount of snow that is falling. Although our original direct flight to London would not have left for another several hours, that flight was cancelled and we were forced to take this earlier flight in order to make a connection in Montreal. The connection time upon arrival there is a mere 50 minutes. With every moment we are delayed, we are eating into that connection time.
6:10 p.m.: The captain announces we will be slightly delayed due to waiting for passengers on a connecting flight from Sydney. We quietly curse them.
6:20 p.m.: Five minutes late from departure time, the delayed passengers finally board the plane which is sent to de-ice for what seems like an eternity.
6:35 p.m.: We finally depart. Our stress does not.
7:15 p.m. ET: We land safely in Montreal but our connection is scheduled to leave in 25 minutes. A flight attendant assures us that connections “usually wait” for passengers. That does not sound reassuring.
7:17 p.m.: The chief steward announces that passengers with connections to Fort Lauderdale, Paris, and London (us) should deplane first. Everyone and their sister piles into the aisles. By this point, Cokebaby’s head is about to explode.
7:21 p.m.: We are guided to gate by an Air Canada employee and make it to the plane with 10 minutes to spare.
On board we don’t even care about the snarky Francophone staff who are inexplicably rude to Anglophones considering the flight is going to London (England) where the primary language is, well, English. We’re just glad that we’re finally on our way to Europe.
9:57 p.m.: At least that’s what time I think it is because by this point we’re probably flying over Halifax again where the time would now be 1-hour ahead of Montreal.
As promised, approximately an hour and a half into the flight, we are served a small meal. This is the part of the flight I always look forward to because I’ve listed myself as requiring an Asian vegetarian meal. In the past I’ve had things like couscous salads, hummus sandwiches (I’m honestly not sure how that’s Asian either but it was tasty), and Channa Masala. So, I cannot tell you how disappointed I was when the flight attendant rolled over with her little cart and had to explain to me that not only did my special meal not make it to the plane but that in the future I should call ahead at least 24 hours.
Excuse me? You mean I should pick up the phone while on vacation to stay on hold for who knows how long just so I can say, what? “Hello. Yeah, I’m just calling to confirm that you’re going to do your job in the next day or so?”
The following choices are then offered to me: chicken or beef. Seriously. Thankfully she had the good sense to say she’d check in first class to see if there is a vegetarian option. There is. And it was a spicy roasted vegetable pasta dish with chewy globs of half-melted cheese. Did I mention this is what they were serving in first class? It was even served on a real plate.
The time is now…What time is it over the Atlantic? Atlantic time?
Having lost track of time, the rest of the voyage is spent dozing in and out of sleep. A much needed sleep. At one point, I look out into the pitch black of night. The plane’s wing by my window seat is only briefly lit by a blinking red light.
For future reference, this scenario is not the time to be thinking of the episode of Twilight Zone with the gremlin. As a child, that episode scared the bejesus out of me. However, I think back and believe that William Shatner was in that episode so that makes it more funny than scary. But then I second guess myself. Or was it Charleton Heston in which case it makes it the reverse?
7-ish a.m. GMT: Breakfast is a cold muffin with a side of bitter caffeine and aspertane-filled yogurt. I note that the Dairyland creamer is labelled “creamo.” This point becomes inexplicably funny to me as I imagine a cartoon character named “El Creamo.” Clearly, the crazy from lack of sleep is starting to set in.
Time?: In London we play the waiting game. We have arrived with something like five hours before we board our connection. At this point I’m so tired I feel sick. But we have to wait it out for at least two hours before checking in to the departures section. We have coffee at Costa Coffee (basically a British Starbucks). The wi-fi connectivity confounds us.
Some time later Cokebaby forces a couple sips of some energy drink down my gullet. Rocker or Superstar or some other marketing genius offered up by Big Guarana. As a result, I almost spew the contents of the last 12+ (?) hours.
When we finally check in we wade our way through the high end shops and find a place called Giraffe Restaurant. Think Disney Theme Park restaurant integrating The Lion King with Putumayo World Music in real life. Had a veggie breakfast including sausages that tasted like they were made out of stuffing.
12:20 p.m.: We board the plane to Nice.
3-ish p.m. CET: We check in to our hotel where I promptly try to take a bath in the world’s smallest bath tub. Failing this task, I shower and manage to get sprayed in eye by a malfunctioning shower head.
4-ish p.m.: We stroll the main strip and pick up a picnic dinner from the local Monoprix including olives, cheese, sliced meat, bread, and champagne.
6-ish p.m.: Censored. Hey, we were there to celebrate our 10 year anniversary.
1-ish a.m.: I wake up to the sounds of people seemingly rather close at hand and realize that the walls are paper thin.
[Next up this week: find out whether or not we enjoyed the rest of our trip.]
(Spoiler alert: we totally did.)
Today marks the 10th year Cokebaby and I tied the knot on a sandy beach in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. Recently when I’ve mentioned the impending date, it’s been greeted with surprise. I’m not sure if it’s because of our age or the length of the marriage.
We’re both still under 35 but we weren’t THAT young when we got married. And the divorce rate in Canada is around 37% which isn’t as bad as some countries where more people are likely to divorce than stay married.
In any case, the conversation usually also turns around to what’s the secret behind staying committed to the relationship. And really, I don’t think I have a magic answer. All I can say is that, like every couple, we’ve had our ups and downs. I think it mostly comes down to: don’t sweat the small stuff because when the big things come along you’ll need the strength to work it out.
To celebrate (or as an excuse to travel) we’ll be taking an anniversary trip at the end of the month to the south of France. That is, if Air Canada doesn’t screw around with us too badly; they just informed us that they’ve redirected our flight through Toronto (instead of direct to London) which means we have to make changes to our connecting flight and add several excruciating hours to our travel time. But that’s for another post. Tonight, it’s dinner at one of our favourite fine dining establishments in the city: Seven Wine Bar.