Tails of a Travelling Cat
The Canada Edition
Hello all! I’m currently at Toronto Pearson airport awaiting my connecting flight to Halifax, so now seems a good time to catch you up on my adventures so far. As all these trips seem to, this one started early, leaving the house at 6:45am with Mum once again being my taxi. Seeing as my car broke down on Sunday she’s been my taxi quite a lot recently. So after four hours' sleep, having only finished my last shift at 1am, we were on the road to Gatwick. Although stuck in a bit of traffic, we arrived in plenty of time to check in my giant hiking bag because this trip isn’t one I can just do with hand luggage, and get through security, setting the scanner off because I foolishly wore jeans with zips on the pockets (probably). Still, there was plenty of time for breakfast at Wagas, the full vegan naturally and then it was on to the gate. We were quickly onto the plane and although we were all set to take off early, we then got stuck on the runway and ended up taking off fifteen minutes late. The plane was the largest I’ve been on since I flew to Florida, which would make sense as that was the last time I flew long haul. And that was long before the start of Tails. This plane had two aisles and seven seats although an odd naming convention which missed out G, I and J meant that I was in seat K, the seventh seat. At least I was next to the window.
Anyway, we finally took off and although my plan had been to sleep through the majority of the seven and a half hour flight, I woke up after only an hour and consigned myself to spending the rest of the flight awake. I set my watch (well, tablet clock) to Halifax time (Atlantic time, four hours behind the UK) and tried to reset my body clock. Hopefully having worked nights for the last six months means I won’t be too badly affected by jet lag.
WestJet, a company I’d never heard of before this trip but who are apparently Canada's number one airline according to Trip Advisor, gave us complimentary coffee, Lotus biscuits and pretzels. OK, so they weren’t free but were included in the price of the ticket. Either way, I wasn’t saying no to food. The flight passed reasonably quickly and as WestJet had allowed eight and a half hours for the flight, we technically landed half an hour early, but by the time we were allowed off, it was more like quarter of an hour.
After that it was on to customs, a process much more long winded than my usual travels into Europe. First I had to answer some questions- how long was I staying, was I bringing in illicit goods etc – and have my passport scanned by a machine which in return gave me a mostly incomprehensible slip of paper. After walking through a reasonably fast moving queue, I had to show this paper to a customs official. After that I was free to enter Canada. Although as I’m connecting to Halifax I’ve yet to actually step outside in Canada. WestJet very helpfully transfer bags from Gatwick so I didn’t have to worry about collecting my bag and then checking it back in. Instead I headed upstairs to go through security all over again.
From leaving the Gatwick-Toronto plane at 2:50pm Eastern time, I had over three and a half hours until my Toronto-Halifax flight. After security it was two and a half hours. So I’ve started to write up today’s Tail, whilst wearing my funky avocado socks, a leaving present from the Cattery. I also took the opportunity for a first selfie in Canada, although as I’m in the airport, it’s not the most inspiring of places. Never mind, I’m wearing my Stetson so everything is fine! Maybe the jet lag is affecting me more than I thought as I was convinced my camera had somehow made a mirror image of my world tattoo. It wasn’t until I realised the writing on my t-shirt was the right way round that I worked out Canada wasn’t reversed...
Anyway I’ve now got two hours until my flight so I’m going to have a walk around the airport (sitting still for long periods of time as has been mentioned in previous Editions is not my strong point). I’ll catch you up on my journey to Halifax once I’ve arrived there and will actually have set foot on the Canadian soil of Nova Scotia. I’ll be back in Toronto in a few days but until then the airport's nice!
Well, as it turns out, there wasn’t actually very far to walk before I ended up back at security so I checked out the Canadian tourist shops instead. Here you can buy a medium sized moose for $50 (£30) or a large maple leaf shaped bottle of maple syrup for about the same price. In the great debate over whether Canadians speak British or American English or have their own Canadian English (something I’ve still not got round to researching), I’ve discovered public toilets are called washrooms and travelators are called moving sidewalks. In my mind that puts them closer to American. And speaking of washrooms, in the airport, Canadian cubicles copy Americans and have walls starting a foot above the ground and doors with such a big gap around the edge you can definitely see out if not see in. Is this a money saving initiative?
Anyway, I returned to the gate to discover my flight had been delayed. Ah, this is more like the flights I’m used to. At this point I wasn’t too worried about the delay, I was reading my Canada travel guide book. Finally the cabin crew had cleared customs (the previous flight had just come in from Orlando) and we were allowed to board. The plane took off nearly an hour late which I wasn’t too happy about as by this point I had definitely missed the bus which would take me from the airport into the city. I’d have to get the 11:15 instead of the 10:15 bus meaning I wouldn’t get to the hostel until after midnight. Because of time difference, I’d be awake for over twenty four hours.
But at least I had another bus, the more pressing issue was the forty odd passengers who had a connecting flight and all seemed to be sitting near me. At the time, I thought they were going to St John's, Newfoundland but I’ve since learnt there’s a St John, New Brunswick so it could have been either. Their connecting flight, wherever it was going was delayed too. I don’t know if they made their flight, but after what seemed like a very quick one hour forty five minute flight, I had definitely missed my bus. The flight landed at 9:50pm and although there was no security (internal flight), it was after 10:15 before the bags started to come off the carousel. Seemingly everyone else’s bag came off the carousel until only a few people were left waiting. Couple this with the fact I hadn’t seen my bag since Gatwick this morning, this lead to an anxious wait. What if it hadn’t been transferred from Toronto?
Finally, and genuinely one of the last to be released, my bag appeared through those rubber curtain things that are probably made of plastic. It meant I’d well and truly missed the 10:15 bus. By the time I had made it to the bus stop, I had forty minutes to wait. As it was slightly snowing, I headed back inside and ate my dinner. I hadn’t realised my bag would be transferred for me and so I hadn’t packed my boil in the bag meal in my hand luggage. Good thing I had lots of snacks and more pretzels on the plane.
The 320 bus arrived and departed right on time (good) and I was soon on my way to Dartmouth where I would change to get the number 1 bus. I kept falling asleep (twenty four hours since I woke up this morning) but I didn’t miss my stop, the bus was early and I ended up getting an earlier number 1 than Google maps said I should. Unfortunately the ticket machine didn’t give change, the ticket was $2.50 and only having $1.50 in change, I had to sacrifice a $5 note (or bill as I suspect they might be called here). This bus was also on time and I arrived at the hostel only five minutes after the reception closed at midnight. This might have been a problem, but one of the staff members came back and although being off duty and slightly drunk kindly checked me in. By the time I had got sorted and let several people know I had arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia being a responsible traveller, it was after 1am when I could finally sleep. I was exhausted! Anyway, I’ll be exploring Halifax tomorrow and then I’ll the on to Miramichi.
Until then, folks