Thurs, Sept 29, 2005
Reading through the newspaper (another luxury of civilization we haven't seen for 10 days), we discover why it was so dang hard to get a taxi yesterday: seems that both the Queen Mary 2 and the Carnival Triumph docked here yesterday, dumping more than 7,000 passengers on the city, none of them with cars.
We're glad that we had a reservation at the outstanding Quality Inn (which provides free newspapers, too!).
We get the same cab guy as yesterday, which is reassuring, as he's pretty familiar by now with our luggage (this is the third time he's loaded it into his cab).
Laura wanted to show up two hours before our flight. The cab driver said we could show up 15 minutes before our flight. They compromise on one hour before the flight, which is about 45 minutes too long, frankly.
The Sydney Airport is about the same size as the Pocatello, Idaho airport. They have two gates: 1 and 2. Gate 1 is for incoming flights, Gate 2 is for outgoing. Kinda simplifies everything, eh?
Robert discovers that Canadian pinball is still only 25 cents for 3 balls, so he's busy whacking away at the "Street Fighter" pinball game.
We go through the weenie Canadian security. All they check you for is guns and bombs, they're not the alert TSA agents the USA has, who are diligently confiscating small scissors and pocket knives.
When confronted with Laura's ankle boot, all they do is look at it, say, "Hope dat heals up soon, yeah?" The TSA folks spent 10 minutes wanding all around it, in case there was an AK-47 hidden in there.
This has got to be the smallest goddamn airplane in the entire civilized world. It's a Beechcraft 1900Z, which is only slightly larger than a Nissan 300Z. The flight attendant is also the co-pilot, and after running through the same old boring particulars, he says, "If you have any questions, just come on up and tap me on the shoulder, eh, and I'll do my best to answer them."
Robert thinks it's pretty cool that he can look at all the little dials in the cockpit (we're in the first "row" which consists of one seat on either side of the "aisle"). He's disappointed that they close the cockpit door for take-off and landing, though.
We're coming into Halifax, which has quite a bit of turbulence. Ten days ago, we might have been concerned, but now we just shrug and say, "Not as bad as the boat, eh?" and go back to our reading.
We're on the plane from Halifax to Toronto in our Executive Class seats (which is pretty much the same as first class, except maybe they mix the drinks stronger for first class folks). We've got real-sized seats, and more free newspapers. Robert complains that the seats don't vibrate like the ones on the trip east...
We get pizza for lunch! It's a weird pizza, probably French-influenced, with dried tomato and feta cheese on it, but it doesn't come wrapped in foil.
We have made it to Toronto, whose motto seems to be "Hope you enjoy walking, eh?" We have walked about a mile to what we thought was our terminal, but turns out to be a shuttle bus that takes us back to where we started and then goes beyond it.
We seem to be the only ones who notice that the recorded announcements on the shuttle bus sound exactly like Max Headroom ("Please-se-se-se-se be-be-be-be seated-ed-ed-ed") even when repeated in French ("S'il-il-il-il-il vous-vous-vous-vous plait").
Now we're walking a couple of miles in a completely different terminal, but we finally catch a ride in one of the electric carts (because technically, Laura still has a broken leg and hiking five miles isn't on her doctor's list of recommended activities).
The cart driver explains that the terminal we're in now is 3/4 shut down, but they can't shut it all the way down because the Americans refuse to move out to the newer terminal, for reasons that aren't very clear.
Passing through US customs, the agent asks us if we have anything to declare.
Robert says, "I declare that Canada has the worst coffee in the world!"
Customs guy: "Oh yeah, not to mention high taxes and those stupid beer stores!"
"Yeah, Canada's really weird!"
"You said it, I can't wait to get back to Vermont in a couple of weeks."
So, going through customs consisted of bitching about Canada. Our suitcases could have been packed with illegal salt cod and we would have gotten away with it.
We are still sitting around the US part of the Toronto airport. Seems that there are high winds and only one of the runways is open, which has backed up a lot of flights.
We are finally on our plane, but the engines won't start (we can hear 'em trying to turn over). So, they bring out a special cart to give us a jump start (really).
Ah, a hot meal served on china with linens and fresh-baked cookies and ice cream again.
2:00 am (10:00 pm Seattle Time)
We are really (really) glad we hired a driver to pick us up and take us home. We're so cross-eyed with fatigue we can barely walk straight, much less drive.
We notice that it's raining fairly heavily. We hope that the volcanoes aren't erupting today.
We stagger in our front door, where the cats look at us, thinking, "Gone? You were gone?"
We ignore the two-week stack of catalogs and junk mail and tumble into our non-rocking, full-size bed in a bedroom with windows that open.
This is the last trip log (because we're now home and back to our regular boring lives). We hope you've enjoyed them and now have many Newfoundland- and Labrador-related tidbits to drop in conversation to impress your friends at cocktail parties. (Does anyone still do cocktail parties?)
Because email was considerably less reliable on this trip (despite the very best efforts of our "remailers," Pam and Karen), you might have missed one or more days. Please let us know which ones you did not receive and we'll send them to you so you, too, can have a complete set. The complete trip with pictures will be at our web site soon.
We have about 10 unused barf bags if anybody wants one ("Can't have too many barf bags!" says Robert).
Robert & Laura