Mid-Atlantic Misfit

Mid-Atlantic Misfit

Life between cultures

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Canada day 1 – Bienvenue

6 October 2013 , , , , , , , , ,

Having been totally spoilt with business class on the Emirates A380 to and from my business trip to Dubai, it was with lowered expectations that I boarded the British Airways 777-200 and headed to seat 2J.  Talk about a tale of two business classes!  It started on a lower note, with no limo to or from the airport as you get with Emirates.  Whereas the Emirates experience was one of luxury, light, formal but attentive service, BA was well… beige or perhaps grey.  The whole cabin is so incredibly bland and that perfectly sums up the entire experience.  I’d say I had only half as much room as I did on the flights to and from the U.A.E.  Gone was the extra storage, little minibar, tablet to control the seat, the HD screen, seat vibration, in fact most senses of luxury… poof, gone!   Also gone was the bar.  The service was very friendly, but also very unpolished, with staff spending most of their time in the galley, not looking after their passengers.  That has always been my experience on BA.  This is in stark contrast to Emirates, who were very attentive and professional, albeit quite distant.  So in short, there’s business class and then there’s Emirates business class.

I now write this to you from my room at the Novotel à l’aéroport de Montréal.  Alors, oui je suis au Canada!

First a few words on the hotel.  It was very difficult to find, having to wind your way through ‘les autoroutes’ and all the service roads here in Montreal.  It didn’t help that shortly after setting off from the airport my phone died and with it my Tom Tom sat nav.  However, I got fairly close and pulled over at a petrol station to recharge the phone and then within a few minutes arrived at the hotel.  My friend Chris here wisely advised me to rest after my long journey rather than make the near six hour drive to North Bay immediately off my flight.

The hotel seemed quite full as I struggled to find a parking spot.  Once reaching reception I was greeted with a friendly ‘bon soir’.  As I’m in Quebec, I thought it polite and wise to use my French.  The receptionist therefore proceeded to speak French to me.  Amazingly enough I got about 80% of what she said, only needing one ‘pardon’.  Thinking her a native speaker, I was quite pleased with myself, but as I walked away, her colleague turned to her and said in perfect English, “Come here, you’ve got to see this, it’s so funny.”   ‘Bienvenue au Canada!’

I reach room 302 after quite a long walk with my two suit cases, camera and lap top bags, open the door and was greeted with an expansive room, in fact oddly spacious.  It’s clearly a very new hotel and everything has that just completed smell.  When I went into the bathroom, all became clear.  The hotel was full and I’d been given the disabled room, as the bathroom was a wet room with a fold down seat in the shower.

However, the thing I appreciate most while travelling is free and reasonably fast hotel WiFi.  Thankfully this is becoming more the norm, especially in North America.

It’s now 6.30 a.m. and time to “yawn and stretch and try to come to life.”  Jumpin’ in the shower, sample the hotel breakfast and then hop in my hire car for the trip, a black Ford Explorer with all mod cons.  It’s a big beast.  Quite high up and wide.  It’ll take a bit of getting used to, but it’s perfect for exploring eastern Canada.  Allons-y!

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