Friday, June 26, 2009

Cruise Day 8: Coming Home

When we booked our first cruise, it was about a month in advance. We were able to get direct flights both ways, and for the flight home we went standby and were actually able to get on an afternoon flight and get home early. This time we had about two months to book, but trying to get flights was dreadful! They were changing hourly! As written earlier, we had to fly down the afternoon before (which relieved some of Rob's anxiety, but created other issues to freak about, LOL). We were dreading the trip home though.

The ship docks very early, and if you want, you can disembark early and carry your luggage through security. No thanks. Based upon your flight departure time, Royal puts you into time slots to disembark. Our flight was 7:35pm. Yup. About 13 hours after docking. And, we were NOT in the last time slot! When we got down to the waiting area, they were about 45 minutes behind in disembarking...which is 3 time slots. They made up time quickly, but it wasn't well organized and there was some confusion and upset when two lines merged on the staircase.

We got into the terminal, and Rob immediately says our luggage isn't there and it's lost. They were still unloading the time slot before us! Finally it arrives...there was some panic because some of it came together, but one piece was missing...just like when we got on the ship and Rob had to wear sandals to dinner the first night. We got a taxi and headed to the airport.

We went to the United area because our tickets said "United Flight 1234". There was one clerk and the self-check in computer. People would use it, but then have to wait for the clerk to be free to weigh the suitcases and give the tags. Stupid. The people ahead of us were not English and were so confused. They tried the computer, but had trouble so they had to wait. Finally another clerk came out and told us to use the computer. We wanted a human! Unfortunately, we got him, and I'm not sure how human he was. Sorry to be stereotypical, but he was a typical swishy short gay man. Nothing against that, but it was just hard to keep a straight face.

We said we had a 7:35pm flight to Toronto and wanted to know if we could switch to an earlier flight. He said they're not flying to Toronto today. Yup. We show him the ticket. He says "That's not us". Yup. I ask "Well, what other airline is called United? and why does our ticket say this?" and perhaps a few other things. He steps back, swishes his hand under his chin, and says "I know where we're going and we're not going there". Yup. My first thought was he thought I was about to get American-Bitchy and I almost freaked, but then realized he actually meant, "we're not going to Toronto". He said he could fly us to Washington State, or Denver. Or, try Air Canada.

Huh? Our flight down had been an Air Canada/Ted by United combo, but it clearly said that on the ticket. Slightly enthused by the prospect of talking to Canadians, we trudged down to the very end of the terminal (actually, United and AC were fairly close) and got in the Air Canada line. What a difference. There were two or three humans, with smiles, the line moved quickly, the lady was nice and said "Yes, it's an Air Canada flight" and "No, the earlier flight is all booked; you can try stand-by, but I wouldn't". We asked if we could check our luggage yet, and she said not until 3 hours before the flight. There was a little shop down in E (or D?) section that stored luggage for a fee. Fine. We headed down there.

I'm standing looking at the shops, wondering which it was, when I realized it was just a little walk-up counter. I got a bit closer to read the pricing signs. I was trying to figure it out when I heard a little commotion behind me. Suddenly, someone grabbed my elbow!!

An old man turned me to him and said "The queue is back there, miss". People in the line were shouting at me to get to the end of the line! I yelled back "I'm just reading the sign!". They kept yelling at me as I tried to read the sign! I yelled back "I'll get at the back of the line AFTER I read to the sign to decide if I want to leave my luggage!". They kept yelling at me! So, we stepped aside. Now, truly, I hadn't even realized there was a line. We were standing off to the side behind the people at the counter. The line started about 10ft back from the counter, so that people were still walking along the concourse in front of the line. I had no intentions of jumping the line, and would have clued in as soon as the next person went ahead. While appreciative of the quiet way the old man let me know, I did not appreciate being grabbed. And the yelling! What was the point of that?!

We did go to the back of the line after a few minutes (we didn't want to give them the satisfaction of us going directly to the end of the line, LOL). The line barely moved. We waited. And waited, then decided maybe to just take our luggage. We started walking, not knowing where we were going to go, or what we were going to do. After a few minutes, we realized this was stupid and went back to the storage place. The line moved faster and we checked our luggage. You had to let them copy your passport and take your picture!

We headed outside and tried looking for a taxi. There were none. Somehow we realized we would have to go back downstairs to arrivals. There, the pseudo-cop flagged one down and asked where we wanted to go. We didn't know exactly, just a large mall, LOL. He told us we could take a shuttle for cheaper, to a particular mall. We just had to go back upstairs and down the way again....So much walking, and it wasn't even 10am. We got out to the shuttle stop and enjoyed the fresh air (as fresh as it can be outside an airport!). And guess who shows up---the yellers!! Apparently, they were NOT American!

We all got in the shuttle and were taken to a mall (don't remember it now). The door we went in was around the back sort of, and labelled "Tourist Entrance"! It was a standard mall. We walked around and got bored. Rob hates shopping. Our feet hurt. We were hungry. We went to the food court but it was mostly names we didn't know. We picked a fresh sub place (a tip jar on the counter? Never in Canada!) and it was okay. We picked up a couple things for the kids, and spent some time in a music store. Then we headed out the front into the outdoor cafe area and into Indigo Books. We browsed the big magazine section.

Suddenly, I needed to know the time. Shock! We had 5 minutes to run back through the mall to the other end and get the bus! We raced back and had a couple minutes to spare. The Yellers were also on the bus. Back at the airport, we headed back to the luggage storage. The Yellers were in front of us. What a big group! I saw them later waiting for a flight to Brussels.

We trudged all the way back to the Air Canada counter and checked our luggage, then headed for security. Slow moving. You end up in the food court, but nothing spoke to us. We wondered down the hall to our terminal and there was still nothing. Back the other way...nothing....back again, and we finally ended up at Quiznos. It was lovely. We were exhausted and still had 1 1/2 hours!!

We headed down to our gate and found some seats. It was really busy. We watched an elderly, high-class couple get wheeled in in wheelchairs. The boys left, and the couple promptly got up and walked to the bathroom, etc. The lady talked on the phone for a bit; useless social chit chat. Her lips were obviously fake. So was much of her attitude, LOL. Once in Toronto, they got the wheelchair treatment again.

We were so exhausted, it could have been midnight--once it's dark out, your brain thinks it's time for sleep. We finally boarded the flight and took off. It was neat to see Florida from the air at night. We had the seats with the little personal screens in front, so we could watch what we wanted. I would have loved a GPS channel so I could see what towns we were looking at. I took pictures, but really, they're not worth the time to download.

We arrived in Toronto around 11:30 and headed for our luggage. We thought it was already in, but turned out to be an earlier flight's luggage that had been delayed and the owners had all left before it came in. It took FOREVER for the luggage to start coming. Finally we got it all and headed for customs. We gave our passports to the young man, and he says "Lisa Marie...that's near Hansen Blvd? Near Lewis St and the park?" OMG. So nice to be home, LOL! He had a friend that lived on Lewis Street in our neighbourhood! We hopped on a shuttle to the parking, got the truck loaded, and headed north.

We had just come through Caledon, it was about 1:30am, and I noticed white on some things. Then, there was more, and more. We realized it was SNOW! By the time we got to Highway 9, everything was covered in several inches of heavy, wet snow! It was only Nov. 16 (or so, LOL). I hadn't gotten all the snow gear organized before we left! There was a basket of hats/mitts, but not boots or pants! We came in the house and Rob's mom was asleep on the couch, all their luggage packed, and Cooper asleep in front of her. He got up, came forward, and growled!!! We were shocked!!

We stayed up chatting for a bit, then went to bed and got up with the kids in the morning and sent them to school. Rob's parents went home, and it was back to reality!

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