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Unread 10 Sep 17, 04:48 PM  
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#1
CrispyA
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Join Date: Oct 11
Touring Tennessee: Travel Day(s)

Travel day seemed to take ages to come around but at last, on 4 August, it was here.

It started, as is our tradition, with me and Paul going for a run to get rid of some nervous energy. I always get excited and nervous before a big trip and going for a run always relaxes me, so I was hoping to feel a bit more chilled out afterwards.

Then we took Lulu to Cat Hotel, where they were pleased to see her and she was not pleased to be there. She always settles down though, so we didn't feel too bad. Then it was back home and time to hand out the packing spreadsheet and let the packing commence.

Eventually we were all packed and all the pre-holiday jobs were done and we could be off. We headed into the city centre for a meal at Pizza Express, courtesy of Tesco vouchers, before getting the 6.49pm train to St Pancras.

Once there, it was a short walk to the Euston Travelodge and we were quickly checked into our somewhat cosy family room. Then it was out to get some cold beers from Sainsbury's before settling down to watch Mo Farah win gold in the 10000m at the World Championships.

Next morning we were up at a reasonable time and nipped to Sainsbury's for pastries, calling for coffee at Cafe Nero on the way back to the hotel. Then it was time to walk back to St Pancras to get the Thameslink to Gatwick. It was an uneventful journey and the train was clean and comfortable and much cheaper than the Gatwick Express.

Check in was fairly painless, even if the nice Westjet lady had to help us put the baggage labels on as we were struggling! Evan won lightest bag yet again, a competition for which the only prize is the glory of winning. Hannah and Paul won a full pat down at security while me and Evan enjoyed the fact that nobody was getting up close and personal with us.

We were at Gatwick at lunchtime, on a Saturday, and it was much worse than I thought it might be. There were queues of at least half an hour for a table at every restaurant and you could barely move for the crowds. Fortunately, Yo Sushi! didn't have a queue, so we nipped in there. Evan may have started to protest at the thought of sushi but sensibly buttoned it once we have him a "hard stare". It was sushi or starve and nobody wanted to starve.

The food was fine and they do have veggie options, which Hannah could manage. It wouldn't have been anybody's first choice, but it was that, or queue forever and then have to rush and that would have been worse. After the meal, there was just time to call to Boots for meal deals for the plane where, for some reason, there were only 2 people on the tills and a ginormous queue.

The gate was, typically, miles away but we made it in time and were boarded before too long. We had picked our seats at the front of the Economy section, 2 in front and 2 behind, and they were really good seats. We had Big John as head of Cabin Crew and he was superbly camp and funny and kept everyone entertained, reminding all the passengers that it didn't matter which overhead bin their bag went into, as they were all going to Toronto. Later he tried to sell the one remaining premium economy seat by telling us that not only was it far more comfortable, but that they would bring out baskets of puppies for the premium passengers to cuddle.

It was quite a windy day and there had been a few flights with delayed take off due to the weather. This meant that the skies above Gatwick were fairly congested and we were stuck on the tarmac for about an hour and a half before we could take off which wasn't much fun. Eventually, however, we got airborne.

The flight was fine although the Westjet Connect streaming service wasn't working properly and Paul and I struggled to keep a connection on our tablets. We rented tablets for the kids which have films pre-loaded and so they were able to watch films more easily. I did manage to watch Hidden Figures, which is excellent, and the first hour and half of Lion, which was a very frustrating experience! My connection dropped with 20 or so minutes of the film to go and I could never get it restarted. However, I think we were unlucky and it generally works okay.

Once we landed in Toronto, the queue to use the machines at immigration was huge and they didn't seem to be working properly, which was a pain. We tried and a lady did try to help us, but for some reason it loaded a photo of Paul onto the printout for Hannah. The lady said it was fine and ushered us to the next queue but we weren't convinced.

We declared the teabags and Henderson's Relish we had brought for Paul's uncle and the official did notice the fact that Hannah's photo looked nothing like her but let us through.

We had to wait forever for our bags. So long, in fact, that lifelong friendships were formed between passengers. Everyone helped turn the bags over, and lie the sideways ones down and there were teams of people lifting the bags off. It restored our faith in human nature until Evan's bag appeared and it looked as though the baggage handlers had recreated Riverdance on top of it. We did manage to pop the dents out but it wasn't great.

Toronto Airport was heaving and it was a bit confusing to try and find out where to go. We were supposed to phone the hotel to get a shuttle pick up and fortunately, the information desk pointed us to a courtesy phone so I could ring them.

My original plan had been to drop the bags off and then go downtown for a few hours. But I hadn't factored in how long it might take to get off the plane and get bags etc and with a delay in landing as well, there was no time for that.

Arriving at the Hotel Carlingview, we got checked in and then headed out for a snack. There wasn't much nearby so we went to the Marriott next door that they share facilities with and had some bar snacks. Evan joked that our new first night tradition was to have chicken wings in a hotel we were not staying in and we agreed. (Last year, we arrived at our hotel in Denver, ate some wings in the bar at 10.00pm as our room wasn't ready, then found out there was no room for us at all and we got bussed to another hotel for the night. It was not a good start!).

We stayed awake as long as we could, then went back to our hotel and booked our shuttle for the next morning, before collapsing into bed.
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Unread 10 Sep 17, 08:53 PM  
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Melbatb
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Join Date: Dec 13
Great - you have started

What a palaver at both airports! We were through immigration at Montreal in less than a minute - you must have been unlucky! At least this year you didn't have to change hotels on the first night
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Unread 12 Sep 17, 07:49 PM  
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katiebaz
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What a long travel day but hope the 'wings from a hotel you are not staying in' were good!
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Unread 13 Sep 17, 08:48 PM  
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#4
CrispyA
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Join Date: Oct 11
Originally Posted by Melbatb View Post
Great - you have started

What a palaver at both airports! We were through immigration at Montreal in less than a minute - you must have been unlucky! At least this year you didn't have to change hotels on the first night
Thanks! I think we were just unlucky with immigration as it was fine on the way back. And yes, it was a relief to be able to stay in the place we had booked!
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Unread 13 Sep 17, 08:49 PM  
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CrispyA
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Originally Posted by katiebaz View Post
What a long travel day but hope the 'wings from a hotel you are not staying in' were good!
They were indeed!
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Unread 20 Sep 17, 02:22 PM  
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Mortimer Mouse
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I found Toronto airport abit confusing, but we didn't have to wait long to get through immigration. I thought the crew on all the westjet flights we took, were all very entertaining. Basket of puppies - love it.
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Unread 20 Sep 17, 07:54 PM  
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#7
CrispyA
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We were very impressed with Westjet and would definitely fly with them again.
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Unread 20 Sep 17, 11:13 PM  
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Jesslydevie1
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Oh I am so looking forward to this TR it sounds a dream holiday .
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