Monday, April 20, 2015
"I wake before my alarm goes off but decide to sleep a little longer. After a nice shower and feeling positive while packing up my things, I call a local radio station called VOCM. To my surprise I end up being in the live broadcast. Good for English, shall we say. It feels quite strange that I am actually being broadcast live! I talk about what I have been doing so far and why I unfortunaly have to stop and that I am flying to Montreal today to continue from there. The announcer asks great questions and also gives me the opportunity to thank everyone who has helped me so far. He seems very appreciative of that and he wishes me luck and encourages the listeners to follow me on my website. The interview is over and the connection is broken off instantly. That was really great because it seems clear that most of the people of Newfoundland listen to this early morning radio show.
I walk over to reception. Don wishes me a good morning and apologizes about David: “He did put you in the system the first night; he is not the sharpest tool in the shed", he says. This makes me chuckle. I realized that, but he is a good guy. I settle my bill with Don, but he gives me the first night for free. I am very grateful, because I know this is a tough time for them financially. Bad spring weather does not attract many tourists. Don orders a taxi for me at 11:00 am which arrives nicely on time. With some sadness I say goodbye to Don. It touches me, because he reminds me of my Canadian uncle.
At the airport I have to manouvre my big box through too many small doors and paths. I check in with Porter Airlines who will fly me to Montreal this afternoon at 3:45 pm. I am way too early, but I did that deliberately because I am not fully confident that my bike will be able to make it on the trip so easily. The ladies at the desk ask me all kinds of questions, check things over but look troubled. It is just that I am too early and they can’t help me: “Come back at 1:00 pm." I am disappointed. Not great customer service, in my opinion.
I have a coffee at Tim Horton’s with a cookie. At 1:00pm I go back to the check in desk… there is no one there. OK, now what. Security tells me they will be right back. At 1:55 a lady appears. It is all going a bit slow. Again I walk with all my stuff through a maze to get to the desk and weigh my bags. Oops, 27.5 kilograms instead of 8.5! No wonder the cycling is so streneous! My bike also appears to weigh 27 kilos in the box. I have to pay $180 in extra fees but what can I do? I have no choice. I pay for the fees and am surprised that I am not allowed to check in the largest of my bags and my bike here but that they have to the 'special luggage' area. You guessed, I have to go back through the maze which is full of travellers at the moment. Everyone is friendly and there are some laughs. It does look somewhat awkward and tricky.
I fly in a turbo prop airplane, first to Halifax and then on to Montreal. The first flight goes very well and I can now see how snowy and white Newfoundland is. A little later, when I think to spot Nova Scotia, the man besides me laughs and says: “No that is the frozen ocean! They are keeping it open with ice breakers to let the ships through.”
At Halifax aiport I eat my sandwich, but still feel hungry and also order a pizza. In all of Canada, I have not yet seen such a small pizza! It better be good because it cost $10. What a rip off. The pizza does taste good though.
The flight to Montreal is a little different. I am seated next to a man of about 30 who seems to act strangely. I sense there is something wrong, but don’t know what. Fear of flying? Just before take off, I notice that he is trying hard to keep his tics under control. I wonder if he might have Tourette’s syndrome. I try to engage him in conversation, but he does not respond. Maybe he is French speaking. Although he does appear to speak in English with the flight attendant but his words don’t flow easily. To make matters worse we are flying through some turbulence which does not make me any more relaxed either. I try to concentrate on a book I am reading but the letters appear to be dancing in front of me. The man beside me can hardly sit still and I am glad this flight is only 2 hours.
We land safely in Montreal and when I go to the 'special luggage' area, my luggage arrives first, including my bike! Hooray, it is not all bad! Although, the hockey bag in which I had all my bike bags is broken. I walk outside to catch a taxi. I have some trouble walking on the busy sidewalks with the luggage to the taxi area. When I arrive with much difficulty, I am told in a friendly way that I have to go around to the other side. When I finally get to the right spot they order a big taxi and things move quickly.
After a short taxi ride I arrive at the hotel that I booked online for $60. When I open my room it appears to be an entire appartment! Tired, I unpack my things and start writing my blogs for Han, so that you all can read about my nerve racking days.
I look forward to cycling again!"
Han Schomakers, editor
Translation by Sytske van der Veen