The Long Trip Home.....

Trip Start Aug 28, 2012
Trip End Oct 02, 2012

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Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Tuesday, October 2, 2012

12 October 2 – Tuesday

It's hard to believe that the trip I planned in such detail and anticipated for so long is now coming to an end. It all seems a bit surreal at this point, so I’m not sure what my impressions of the trip are as everything is still a bit of a "blur".

I wasn't able to really sleep well, so was able to easily get up at the appointed time and start getting ready.  I had planned to go to the breakfast room a bit early and either eat quickly or perhaps make up a small lunch to take with me to the airport.  However, that idea didn’t work out too well, as the girl working the breakfast room decided to “sleep in” on that particular morning so there was no breakfast for anyone.  One guest was very upset by that, and told the Desk Clerk “I need my breakfast and I want it NOW”.  The Desk Clerk was able to provide a cup of coffee and a Croissant, but that was hardly adequate.  It seems a bit goofy to rely on one person to provide breakfast for what is essentially two Hotels (they also have a separate annex).  The breakfast girl arrived by bicycle just about the time I was leaving the Hotel.

I left the Hotel at about 06:45 as planned for the trip to the airport.  I was glad that I had done a “rehearsal” of my trip to Track 8 the day before, as it only took about 10 minutes to get there.  There was no train waiting at the time, but it arrived within a short time.  The trip to the airport only took about 11 minutes, and I was impressed by the efficient and well organized transportation system they have!  The Zurich Airport is somewhat like the Rail City complexes, with a multi-level shopping facility and a variety of shops and restaurants, as well as transportation. The airport seemed spotlessly clean and it was somewhat quiet at that time of the morning.

It took me a while to find the correct departure gate for my KLM flight, which was several floors above the rail level.  Swiss Air seemed to have the most preferential location on the first level (of course).   Going through security was relatively straightforward but I was surprised to find that on exiting the security checkpoint, passengers have to walk right through a large duty free shop.

I still had a considerable time to wait until my flight would be boarding, so I thought that would be a good opportunity to get some breakfast.  When I was exploring the various restaurants, I discovered a Marche Restaurant, which is a cafeteria style and somewhat “cook to order”.  This may have been the chain that the Hotel Clerk was referring to.  I happened to notice scrambled eggs on the plate of someone going through the cash desk, which was a good sign.  There were none ready at the time, so the girl cooked a fresh batch for me.  I also had fresh orange juice, bacon and small roasted potatoes.  Before leaving, I also bought another bottle of water but I was a bit confused by the sign stating that they would not accept coins for water purchases.  When I read the sign again, it became clear that they wouldn’t accept coins for UK Pounds, Euros or other currencies.  Since I still had Francs, that wasn’t a problem.

After breakfast I went to wait at the departure gate, which wasn’t hard to find as there was a large silver “flying saucer” inside a glass case at that location.   When the aircraft arrived and passengers were disembarking through the same gate, there was a large group from the Orient that seemed to be fascinated by the device.   They immediately pulled out a variety of Cameras including dSLR’s and proceeded to take numerous flash pictures of it.  They kept looking at their camera displays after taking each picture, with a puzzled look on their faces as the pictures didn’t seem to be what they were expecting.  I was going to point out that it’s probably not a good idea to use flash when shooting through glass, but wasn't sure my suggestions would be welcomed.

The flight boarded and departed on time, and the flight to Amsterdam only took about 1.5 hours.  I figured it would be a good idea to head straight for my next departure gate right away, as there wasn’t a lot of time until the next flight to Calgary.  I initially thought I might avoid going through security again, since it appeared that I was still within a secured area.  However, I was annoyed to find that they had a  security station installed right at the next departure gate, so I had to go through the “security theatre” yet again even though I had been checked less than two hours before.

While I was waiting in the queue, I got talking to a young guy that would also be on the same flight.  He was just returning home after visiting his grandparents in Ploesti, Romania.  As it turned out, he would be sitting beside me on the flight.

The aircraft looked like the same one I had been in on the flight to Europe, complete with the same “dated” entertainment” controllers.  I was in Seat #11A (window seat), rather than 12A which I had requested when I paid for my Economy Comfort seat.  There was an aluminum box under the seat which was a bit of an annoyance.  However, I just left my Daypack on the floor beside my legs for most of the flight, so I was able to stretch my legs and put my feet underneath the seat.

I wasn’t really in the mood to watch movies, but ended up watching To Rome With Love and Safe House, both of which I’ve seen before.  The meals were “standard” airline food and reasonably good quality.  By about the six or seven hour mark, the flight was beginning to wear on me a bit, and I was anxious to arrive in Calgary.

When the plane (finally) arrived, I followed the other passengers to the Border Services checkpoint.  It seemed to be a LONG walk to get there, which took at least 10 minutes.  I don’t remember it being that far on previous times when I’ve arrived in Calgary.  There was a bit of a wait for my main Backpack to appear on the Carousel, but eventually I was through the checkpoints.

Both Air Canada and WestJet have luggage drops right after the CBSA checkpoints, but unfortunately only the Air Canada desk was staffed.  I had to go to the WestJet desks one floor up to re-check my Backpack, which meant that I had to pass through an unsecured area so another security check was inevitable.  I complained to the screener about the ridiculous procedures when he was “swabbing” my hands with a chemical, but he just smiled and said that the process is supposed to provide “redundancy” so this is normal.

I had about a three hour layover, so decided to get a small snack to keep me going until dinner.  A Tim Horton’s Turkey Bacon Club and Coffee seemed like the best choice.  Unfortunately it took a bit of time as the two girls working in the restaurant didn’t provide the most efficient or fast service, especially as there was a queue of 8-12 people at times.

While I was waiting, I noticed that the KLM aircraft was re-stocked and ready to return to Amsterdam with a “fresh” crew, about two hours after my flight arrived.  I eventually found a convenient and well padded easy chair in a corner and just rested while waiting for my flight.  Unfortunately, the aircraft was delayed so my flight to Kelowna was at least half an hour late departing for Kelowna.

The flight to Kelowna seemed to take forever, but in reality it was only about 50 minutes.  I was pleased that my transportation was waiting for me, but it took at least 15 minute for my Backpack to appear on the Carousel.

By this time, I was starting to notice how very tired I was, and when I stopped to think about it, I realized that I had been travelling for about 22 hours!  My day had started at about 05:45 EuDT and it was now about 03:00 EuDT, and the entire day was at this point somewhat of a “blur”.   I was sure glad to get home, drop my bags and have a much needed rest.

Hopefully it won't be too difficult to get over jet lag, although I usually find that to be worse on the way home.  Now it's back to the "daily grind" of my normal life.

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