Well, it’s been about two months that I am home already, back from Winnipeg. But I arrived in a weekend and the Monday following on this weekend, I started my summer job. After working 23 business days, I started my ‘holiday’. I have also been busy working for free for the band The SLoT and finished their international website August 23rd, the day their first international album was released. I also did something else for them, but I can’t say what this was. Throw in some family and friend visits, moving back to The Netherlands and I think you can see my real holiday only started this week and I finally found some time to wrap up my blog.
I am going to cover my trip back to Belgium here. Better take some time if you want to read this, because it is going to be long … For the part I am covering the events in Montréal-Trudeau airport, you better open up a new tab/window containing the map I am providing below, you are going to need it.
During my trip towards Winnipeg, I missed my connection in Montréal, although I did my best to get it. I then concluded that a transfer time of under two hours is just too short. But now I also had about 1.5 hours transfer time in Montréal, so I already was fearing that I would miss my connection again. Upon arriving at the Winnipeg airport, I found out my flight towards Montréal had a delay of 1 hour. GOD NO! This would mean I will miss my connection a second time, grmbl.
On the flight, I heard some good news. The international flights would wait for the passengers that were on this plane. Cool, so I would be able to catch my flight. I heard one of the air hostesses announce the gate numbers. Wait, what was that number? Didn’t understand it in English. Ah well, they would announce it again in French. Ok, understood the gate number, gate 59, no problem.
Montréal-Trudeau Airport (around 20.00 – 8.00 p.m.)
I had no idea where gate 59 was compared with the gate I was arriving. Now go to START on the airport map I provided. I walked as fast as I could towards gate 59. I was not going to run, as this would damage my speed if I would run out of breath. I also had my laptop on my back and I damaged my first laptop because of running with it in a backpack, so I had no intention to do this to my current laptop. Looking for gate 59 … Ok, that way. Walking, walking, walking. Damn, how far is this gate? :s When I finally arrived at the gate (A), happy I made it, the gate was saying: London. WHAT?! I heard the wrong gate. You got to be kidding me! So I asked the person at the gate if he could look up my correct gate number. Very slowly he started typing on his computer to get the correct gate number, while I was full of adrenaline to be able to catch my flight. He then told me I had to be at gate 50. DAMNIT, I passed it already and it’s freaking going back half of the terminal.
When I arrived at gate 50 (B), a couple of ladies was standing there and saying they had broadcasted my name. But I didn’t hear this at all. I was so focused on getting to the gate I assumed being correct, I didn’t listen to the broadcasts. Also, English people butcher my both names, first and last, so a big change I wouldn’t have understood that it was my name. The plane was still there, I could see it standing at the gate. A bit irritated, one of the ladies tried to get in touch with people at the plane. It took probably about three minutes until she finally got in touch with someone. It appeared I couldn’t board the plane anymore … NOOooo… I was told to go to customer service so they could book me a new flight.
Upon arriving at customer service (C), there was no one there. I waited half an hour until I was fed up with standing around there. The closest gate, gate 52, was wrapping up their passengers, so I was going to ask them where the people of customer service where. They told me I could go to gate 60 as one of the persons I needed to speak would be there.
I went to gate 60 (D). Upon arrival: no one was there. WTF!!! I went to gate 61 (E) asking if they knew where that person was. They phoned around trying to get in touch with people who knew, but without success. They told me the best thing I could do was going through customs and go to the customer service at that side of the airport. They gave me a piece of paper that would allow me through customs. One of the kind ladies let me go into the arrivals zone through a couple of back doors.
When I went through customs upon going to Winnipeg, it was a quick process. When I arrived this evening at customs (F) it was packed as hell! Almost the entire set up for the waiting lines was filled. I asked one of the girls who was leading the people into the lines if I also needed to go stand in this waiting line. Yes. Aw … It took me at least 30 minutes to get through this line. I thought I was going to have to do some explanation when I arrived at the customs desk. But they heard I missed my plane, saw my paper and I could just walk through. The first time in my life I had to wait 30 minutes to do something that only took 5 – 10 seconds -.-
From customs, I went to the baggage claim (G). I knew my plane would not be indicated anymore, so I had to ask one of the employees there where I could find my baggage.
She redirected me to the people that handle with the ‘special cases’ (H). The guy there did a very good job at trying to figure out where my baggage went. He then asked me “How did you end up in the international arrivals if you came from Winnipeg?” Ow, damn, that’s true. I am in the international arrivals baggage claim. He succeeded in getting my baggage transferred to this baggage claim. So I picked it up (I) and went to the check in desks (J).
At the check in desks, they told me I needed to be somewhere else. So I finally arrived at the desk I needed to be (K). I think around 22.45 (10.45 p.m.) and it closed at 23.00 (11.00 p.m.). Close call! Don’t know what I would have done if I wouldn’t have made it … The guy had some trouble patching together a new flight trip for me. The direct flights to Belgium were all full. He told me I wasn’t going to leave this day anymore. No surprise for me … He eventually got my itinerary: Montréal – Halifax – London – Brussels … Ah well, at least I am getting home. When everything was fixed, I was surprised to get a free overnight stay and got three vouchers for meals. I needed to go to one of the stops to catch a bus to the Hilton Garden Inn. Wait, what? Did he just say ‘Hilton’? Classy 🙂
Now to find the bus I needed. I went as far as (M), only to find out it wasn’t there. Fed up by the whole running around thing, I just went to the closest bus driver and asked him if he knew where the number was I needed to be. He told me I needed to be on a platform that was lying in the middle of the street. How the hell was I supposed to know that >.<
So after at least three hours of running around Montréal Trudeau, I could get some shut eye.
Hilton Garden Inn – Montréal
When we arrived at the hotel, it appeared the hotel was being overrun by people who didn’t get their flight. While waiting to check inn, I even encountered the guy that sat next to me during the flight from Winnipeg to Montréal. It appeared his flight was canceled. At the check inn, we were informed that the kitchen didn’t serve food anymore at this hour. But we could get something from the pantry or go out to a restaurant. I was tired, so I didn’t want to go running around Montréal in the middle of the night to find some food. I got something from the pantry. It turned out the stuff I had chosen was a bit more than the voucher I was given, but the guy at the desk said it was ok, as I already had missed my flight tonight. When I arrived at the room, I ate when I was setting up my computer, as I had to inform my parent about what happened. The last they knew was that I missed my flight and they didn’t know yet when I would be back. When I was done talking to them, it was about 1.00 (p.m.).
The next morning, I went to have some lunch and got me a French toast. It was however American style: too greasy for my taste. I finished everything, but my body did refuse a couple of times during the last bites. I had to catch my flight around 13.00 (1.00 p.m.), so I had some time to kill until I went to the airport. I decided to walk around the area of the hotel a bit. I didn’t know how far I was from the centre of the city, but I wanted to be safe and only walk around the hotel, so I would not have to depend on public transport. It was mainly an industrial area, so not much interesting to see. I did however, see the strange traffic lights they have in Montréal:
Montréal Traffic Lights
I walked for about an hour and decided to return to the hotel. But before this, I first got me a hot chocolate at Tim Hortons that was across the street of the hotel. I said to myself I had to try to speak French, as I knew this is Quebec and it is the first language. When I tried to ask for an explanation about something, I was so struggling to get the right words, I automatically switched to English again.
I went waiting in the lobby of the hotel about 30 minutes before my transport would arrive. The people at the desk told me I could get an earlier ride if I would want to. Ok, I’ll take it!
When I got at the gate to go to Halifax, I realized this was the same place I filmed when I got through this airport the first time. So I took a picture to compare the winter and summer of this spot.
Go check out my first movie to compare.
On my flight towards Halifax, I was given a seat in business class. Seat A1. This is the first and probably the last time I will ever sit in this spot 😀
In Halifax, I needed to wait 6 hours until the flight towards London. I didn’t want to miss this flight, so I was not going to leave the airport. I stayed at the gates the whole time. Luckily, they had a special table where I could set up my computer and work in peace onmy computer, turned away from the crowd.
My temporary working spot
Two hours before the plane was going to leave, I went to the gate. Everytime they broadcasted a name, I was sitting there, staring very concentrated at the people behind the desk and listening very carefully to the names they pronounced.
When I arrived at the gate to get to the plane, it appeared they were searching for me. They didn’t make any fuss about it, but if they have broadcasted my name, they must have messed up the pronunciation so badly, that I didn’t understand it, because I was listening very carefully to every name they were saying.
On the flight to London, I was given a seat at the wings, which on the big planes, are at emergency exits, so more leg room than other people. But you have the responsibility to open the doors if the plane would get into trouble. When they were serving meals, it appeared the guy who rebooked my flight did not mention on the tickets that I was a vegetarian. Of course, why am I not surprised of this? Luckily, it turned out there was one vegetarian meal left of someone who hadn’t claimed it.
A good thing this was an overnight flight, because the guy behind me was constantly poking in my back with his knees.
Arriving at Heathrow, I went as fast as I could through the terminals to get to my next flight. I had to transfer here from building to building. I was just in time to catch the bus that was riding between the two different terminals. Arriving at the notice board of the European flights, the gate number was still not revealed for my flight to Brussels. I had been told it would only be announced 30 minutes before departure. You can imagine the adrenaline was rushing like crazy through my body. I was not going to miss this last connection! When the gate number appeared, I started walking like crazy to get to the gate. Turned out the gate was at some obscure corner from this terminal, so it was quite a distance to get there with a lot of twists and turns. I was the second to arrive at the gate. Score!
After some time, more people had shown up. Just when they would let people go into the plane, it appeared there were technical problems. They did not know when and if this would be solved. Sure. After this whole trip, I was not surprised at all this happened. It had been a bumpy ride and I needed a good bump at the end, right? One hour later, they fixed the problem. I could leave!
We were informed that the technical problem was a valve that would not open. Pretty critical considering it was the valve to fuel the plane.
The plane to Brussels was from Brussels Airlines. I laughed when I found out the seats still had ash trays in it. This shows how old the plane must be. But I thought this was typical Belgian. It turned out I was also placed in business class here, so I could have some lunch. But of course, they didn’t know I was vegetarian because it was not mentioned during the rebooking. I couldn’t care less at this point. I was tired and was happy that I was on the final stretch of this whole round trip.
One thing that got me really ecstatic, was that although I didn’t get the sandwich, I did get the Côte d’Or Bouchée. After eating crappy chocolate (sorry North-Americans, but this is so true, your chocolate is crap) for a bit more than four months now, I was so happy to be served chocolate from my favorite brand. Together with the view (this plane flew pretty low), it was the first moment of relaxation during this hectic trip.
Once at Brussels Airport, everything went fast and smooth. I didn’t have to wait at the long lines to get to my baggage, as I was a European citizen and the lines were packed at the non European desks. My baggage appeared quickly. And then I was at the arrivals zone, were my parents were waiting for me. Relieved to see me again after this trip to Winnipeg and probably also that I have been able to get back :p
Because I didn’t have lunch on the plane, I got me a sandwich. Ow, how it was tasty after four months and a bit eating Canadian bread! They may say what they want, their European bread is NO European bread.
And thus I had arrived back in Belgium. A day later than originally was planned, but I was back home.