Weather Gods – Bad; Travel Gods – acceptable; Luggage Gods – Rock my world!

Waiting patiently to travel

Waiting patiently to travel

Here I sit in the Toronto airport. I’m not supposed to be here. I should be home snuggling up in my bed, or at least relaxing in front of my PC instead of typing this on my laptop. Thank you Travel Gods for free WiFi at the Toronto Airport.

I’m not religious but I do have a few superstitions when it comes to travel. And anyway, griping about the Luggage Gods is better than whining and it makes people smile when you’re waiting for your bag to come sailing around the conveyor belt. They understand. And up to now, a quick prayer to the Luggage Gods en route and again while waiting for the luggage has always done me in good stead.

Let me back track a bit to this morning. We had to get up at 4:30 a.m. to get to Manchester airport for a 7:20 British Airways flight to Heathrow where I would then catch my Air Canada connection to Halifax. The weather in the UK over the past week has been a bit precarious with snow clogging up a few of the airports and causing havoc at Heathrow and Gatwick over the weekend before I left. Manchester had barely a few flakes. We were worried all week while I was here because the forecast kept changing and Friday was the Corrie event, which I’ve blogged about previously here. The weather gods were complacent and everyone got to the city for it, a good time was had by all.

Would the law of averages hold or sink? Well, you wouldn’t think it from looking at the rather limp wristed snow that was falling in Manchester this morning,  limp wristed by Canadian standards anyway. No, it shouldn’t be a problem. Except it was.

We boarded before 7 and already there were delays because we were in a queue to be de-iced. That sounds reasonable no matter what. It’s winter and it’s cold and frosty. An hour later we were headed to the runway. We’re leaving, Oh, Yes, We Are! The Weather Gods kicked us all in the collective nuts and cackled “Oh, No, You’re Not!”

The wings had to be inspected before takeoff and the snow was still caking them a bit which was unacceptable so we had to go back to the terminal and to the back of the de-icing queue. It took a while to get a spot at the terminal but when we got there, about 10 minutes later, the bad news was broadcast. The airport was being shut down for 90 minutes!!! Looking out the window and seeing what little snow was coming down would ordinarily make me scoff but here, they don’t have the equipment or personell to deal with it like we do in Canada. It’s a safe bet I won’t make my connection now.

During the course of the next hour, they got permission for anyone that wanted to, to be able to leave the plane. This mostly covered people that were heading to London for the day for work or meetings but a few others took the opportunity as well. That caused a further delay. By this time, the snow had stopped and the temperature had gone up a little. It took care of the snow melting off the plane but now we had to wait for the luggage to be rooted out of the holds to accompany their owners. By the time the plane finally got off the ground, we’d been sitting in it for 5 hours!

Here’s where the Travel Gods smoothed things over a bit. It was a relatively easy transfer to Terminal 3 once in London Heathrow and the Air Canada ticket staff got me rebooked on a flight to Toronto at 3:00. The time just then was a little past 1:30. They already had a gate assigned and there really wasn’t time to peruse the duty free shops so it saved me money at least. I walked to the gate and even got my seat changed to one with an empty beside me.

The flight to Toronto was comfortable enough. I may have dozed off a little after watching an old classic movie. (One had nothing to do with the other)  We landed in Toronto about 5:30 local time, that’s about 10:30 p.m. my body clock time. Yeesh! Now comes the part that always stresses me. Well, not a huge stress but you know what kind of a pain in the ass it is when your luggage doesn’t arrive with you? Actually, I don’t. So far, the luggage gods have been on my side. Will they continue with their stellar reputation where my bags are concnerned? I didn’t even need to check my bag as it is a rolling carry on but I thought it would be more aggravation dragging it around. I only had the tote bag I had the laptop in plus my handbag (purse) while the carry on case was checked.

The immigration queue went quickly and off I trotted to the baggage carrousels. I waited. And waited. It’s amazing how many bags go round and round with nobody claiming them yet there are always some people still waiting and some bags never show up. I was becoming convinced mine had not made the flight when there it was! Hoo Yuss! Thank you Luggage Gods!

Even though my bags were supposed to be checked through to Halifax, I still have to take them off the flight to go through customs in case they want to inspect them and you’re supposed to then put them back on a ramp to be re-checked into the baggage holds. I decided to ask to see if I had to re-check them because it would take less time if I arrived in Halifax and had it all with me. The man, he say YES so I just had to go to the connections staff so they could change the system. They would have been expecting a checked bag and security would probably have a hissy fit if it wasn’t where it was supposed to be.

Through security and down to the gate which was already on the board. A decaf latte and free wifi. The onward flight to Halifax is at 9 o’clock, boarding at 8:20. By the time I get home it will be past midnight local time with my body hitting the 24 hours awake mark. I don’t expect to get home until after 1 and I’m not messing around, I’m taking a taxi.

I wonder if the trip cancellation and interruption insurance I bought will cover it?

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Memories of Copenhagen – Day 5 and 6

Botanic Gardens, Copenhagen

Continuing on, our last day and a half in Copenhagen…

Day five is again overcast and cool. This is getting boring! We had the Sunday brunch at Bankerat today and that was very good. They had an English style one with beans and bacon and sausage that Graham had and I had one with cold meats, cheese, yogurt, eggs and bacon. I’ve given up trying to get a decent cup of tea and am sticking with coffee for the duration.

Rather than take another bus tour, we walked through the Botanic Gardens and then over to Rosenborg Castle. That was really good! There are a couple of floors of rooms chock full of antiques and art and collections that took ages. There was a lot to see there including the crown jewels in the vaults. It’s a 17th century brick castle built as a summer home for Christian IV but only used as a residence for about 100 years. The Royal Collections have been housed here and open to the public from the middle of the 19th century. The treasury and jewels are dazzling. I particularly liked the ivory collection with some exquisite carvings and there was a collection of gold toy soldiers that was something to see as well. And yes, the jewels and crowns and jewelled books were stunning, too. This was definitely an interesting place to visit.

We went over to Tivoli Gardens where we’re meeting the others later on. Tivoli was founded in 1843 and is one of the world’s oldest amusement parks. There are gardens, a little lake with boating, a pavilion, a concert hall, a pantomime theatre and an outdoor stage. There are lots of rides for kids and adults, one or two that looked terrifying and which, judging from the screams coming from them, certainly had that effect on some of the people! There are arcade and game booths, a fish tank with some small sharks and a stingray and lots of other fish. One area is done up in a Chinese theme and other seems very like you walked into a storybook. We saw a parade of the Tivoli Boys’ band looking like red toy soldiers and at the end of the parade were two children in a horse drawn carriage.

Pantomime in Tivoli gardens

Naturally there are lots of restaurants as well for fine dining right down to general family friendly places. The down side is that it is a bit on the expensive side. In addition to the lofty entrance fee you pay, you also have to pay extra for the rides. None of us did that aside from one that Dave’s little “nipper” wanted to go on. The others weren’t planning to eat there so we stayed on ourselves and walked around some more and saw the end of a pantomime though couldn’t understand it as it was in Danish! We ate in a Viking theme place which was a bit touristy but the food wasn’t bad. We decided not to stay until it got dark to see if there were fireworks because it was still a few hours until the sun went down and we’d seen everything we wanted to and it looked like rain. Indeed as we went back for the bus it did rain a bit but it didn’t come down too hard until overnight.

On our last day in Copenhagen THE SUN CAME OUT!!!! Doesn’t that just figure? After breakfast back at Klimt, we realized we wouldn’t have time to go through the Copenhagen city museum if we were meeting Dave at 12:30 so we just walked through the city centre and went to Trille’s shop to wait for Dave and Matt. The four of us wandered the sunny squares and streets and just enjoyed the sunshine and scenery. I found a little private courtyard lined with some ofthe oldest wooden buildings in the city. It was something I’d seen on a Rick Steves Travel show so I was glad I’d found it! The old quarter is so much prettier under a blue sky! Pity we didn’t have more time to lounge on a sidewalk cafe or explore more.

View to the Round Tower and BLUE SKY!

We had to grab sandwiches for lunch and we’d booked a taxi to the airport mid afternoon. With a little last minute shopping at the duty free stores, we boarded a plane and landed back in Manchester which was…. grey and gloomy as per usual. Nothing new there, then.

We have a rental car for the next week so we can do some driving around. We spent one day up in the Lake District, in Grasmere and Keswick and visited the Castlerigg Stone Circle. We also went to the Trentham estate near Stoke and saw some lovely gardens and a macaque monkey sanctuary. Our weekend in Manchester was a group get together with a lot of Coronation Street fans, gathered to celebrate the iconic tv show’s 50th birthday this year (2010). With a visit to the television studios, and a few get togethers, a good time was had by all!