Monday, 22 December 2014

Coming home for Christmas on Day XIV (CDG - YUL - YVR)

While today actually is the day that "I'm leaving on a jet-plane", Roissy does not exert such a pull as to warrant playing the John Denver song again. 

But I couldn't help inserting a picture of Seagull again ;-).

Charles de Gaulle Airport is HUGE.  
Just walking walking through Parts A through F of Terminal 2 that are located in a ring around these roads would about 1 hour.

And this is a good fact to know.  When I'm trying to get from 2E to 2A, I find that armed military has blocked passage through terminal 2C.  Seems like some idiot traveller or terrorist left a suitcase standing around the terminal and now it has to be disposed of.

Of course, no one of the airport personnel present can advise anyone on how to get through or around this blockage. They don't even know how long it will take to dispose of the suitcase.

No walking outside the terminal either!
Here is the trick:  Walk back to 2E where the terminal building bifurcates.  Stay on the OTHER side and then walk through a tunnel to get to 2A.  When I get to the Air Canada check-in counter it is empty; apparently not many other people have figured out the way around.
Gotta love Air Canada:  Before they even let you approach the check-in counter, they want to see your passport.  Then they ask "Where did you just come from?". I say "Excuse me?"  She repeats the question.  I say "From a hotel in Paris".  "Where is your luggage?"  I point to my backpack.  On this trip I actually found that I was carrying TOO MUCH luggage. With bi-daily sink laundry 3 of the 6 undies and 2 of the 4 pairs of socks would have been amply sufficient!  I refrain from trying to explain that to the Air Canada luggage-searching lady though ;-)

When going through security, the guy at the metal-detector gate asks me to take my shoes off.  They get X-rayed.  

My shoes on the proper feet again !

When I look for my shoes on the other side, I can't find them.  Then I see that someone else is putting them on.  He already had laced them up again !!!! ( I don't lace them through the uppermost holes, but he had started threading the laces through these holes). Am I the only one who would recognize his shoes and never in a lifetime by accident put on someone else's shoes?

The 7 to 8 hour flight is bearable. Air Canada actually feeds its passengers on this flight.  I manage to sleep  In retrospect I have to give the woman at Immigration & passport control a lot of credit.  While she was asking me the usual required questions about this and that and Ebola, I was fidgeting and finally interrupted her to ask her "Where is the nearest smoking lounge or do I have to go outside the airport".  Somehow in my mind her questioning was over ;-)  But she took in in good spirit and with a great smile and said with a French accent "Yes, you WILL SMOKE!" and told me where to light up.   Bon Fete et tremendous Karma a vous!

  Yes, that is SNOW.  I keep my cigarette breaks short.
While Vancouver airport has a few selected SMOKING outside the terminal building, the zones that are small in number in Montreal are the NON-SMOKING zones.  I see this roughly 70 year old gentleman (very nice old-school coat, hat, and he's smoking his cigarette with a holder) smoking RIGHT BELOW the non-smoking area sign.  But when I gesture to him whether it's OK to take his picture smoking under the sign, he decides to behave more orderly and smokes his cigarette elsewhere.  I decide that it is a bad sign if even the old bow to the countless rules of law and order.

Then it's time to go through security again for the next flight to Vancouver.
Welcome to Canada, where we don't have that many people but we treat them like cattle anyway !

... because cattle can be MILKED !  (BTW: What exactly are they selling here?)
But there are other aspects of Montreal airport that are still refreshingly European.  The Sushi restaurant offers beer but no wine. But the restaurant right next to it has wine. Pas de probleme !  The customer is indeed king ;-)

HUNGRY Airlines

What I can not comprehend:  On the 5 hour flight from Montreal to Vancouver, Air Canada does not provide ANY free food.  Sure, they're willing to give some ugly sandwich or pizza on cardboard to any hungry sucker with a credit card, but if you want to EAT, you gotta PAY!  Murphy's law strikes again as my seat neighbour orders himself a pepperoni pizza (maximum TANTALUS TORTURE for me).  But after having been pleasantly surprised after being served a free lunch with a smile on the dumping-price 1-hour flight with Germanwings from Cologne to Salzburg, I refuse to give a single penny more to Air Canada even if that means I have to go hungry.  

In Vancouver, I stare unbelievingly at the still not operational Compass transit ticket vending machines.   If Paris was acting on pressing matters as quickly as Vancouver, the Parisians would still have raw sewage running through their streets.  Ah well, I shouldn't complain, at least Vancouver has 3 SkyTrain lines now. And they even work sometimes.   

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