Great Canadian Adventure, Eh (Part 1)
Hey, I'm finally getting around to journal my great adventure in Canada. What a great an exciting time it was. I wish I did this sooner because the memories, while not faded, are surely a bit hazy. Anyway, this one ended up a lot longer than I thought; I'm not sure how I'll break down the other days of the trip, but I'll try to keep the total number of entries to a minimum. Thanks for reading (if you did).
Day 0—Friday, January 13, 2017
Even though it was a scary date, it was also very exciting. This was going to be my first international journey. I guess it's a little less nerve-wracking going to a country that is so similar. Anyway, travel day!
I don't have extensive flying experience. Pretty much all of my flights out of SD have been out of Terminal 1. A while ago, I dropped my sister and her family off at Terminal 2, and it seemed so fancy with it's two-tier drop-off and pick-up area. I was not let down when I finally got to go inside Terminal 2. It seemed so spacious! Maybe because there weren't a lot of people. Or because it's so giant. Or both!
I forget how early we showed up. Our flight was at 12pm, so we were probably there around 9:30am or so. Check in was a breeze. Virtually no line to get through TSA. Even though it wasn't busy, it was still very stressful. We sit around for a bit, and when it gets closer to boarding, we search out for food. We walked down to the other side of the terminal, and I really got a feel for how giant it is. At some point, I also bought some water at a shop, and they had discounted Chargers gear. (This would have been right after they announced their move.) Anyway, plane boarding time.
Surprisingly, not a lot of people on the plane. I had a whole two-seat row to myself. The neatest part of this plane was that they had power outlets. I think I mostly slept and played games on my phone. I think was was five-hour flight to our stop in Calgary. I snapped a couple of photos out the window. There were quite a few snowy landscapes as we got further north. The geotagging on my images says I got pictures over Utah and Idaho.
We land in Calgary, and they have a gigantic airport. I forget exactly what distance the direction signs said, but it was a good 15ish minute walk to get to our gate. It was a trip to see snow on the ground outside. The flight to Edmonton is a short one, so we would be taking a small commuter plane. Which meant a short jaunt in the elements to get to the plane.
I guess I should breakdown what I wore that day to travel. If I recall correctly, on top, I had a long-sleeve thermal top with a t-shirt over it. I wore just jeans, normal underwear. I did wear thick wool socks under my slip-ons. Didn't fit really well, but it worked. So, before we got on our connecting flight, I broke out the heavy jacket. I also had a beanie, but I don't think I wore it now. Anyway, it's time to walk outside for a bit to board. I definitely don't mean to downplay the coldness. It was certainly a shocking cold chill, but I don't think it was terrible. I think the my feet got the worst of it. The shoe/sock combo was not optimal.
This flight was not surprisingly more packed, but it was a short flight. We reached our destination without a hitch. Edmonton's airport, delightfully identified as YEG, seemed less giant, but we probably just had a shorter distance to travel. We get our luggage and bundle up a bit more. We also exchanged some boring American money for fancy Candian money. Time to get the rental car.
This part was the one I worried about the most. I've never driven in cold, icy conditions, or in another country for that matter. Luckily, it wasn't snowing, though there was snow on the ground. I had previously downloaded an area map on Google Maps, so that helped with navigation. We got a nice something (I forget what exactly), a compact something equipped with winter tires (also a stress reliever). The drive to the hotel was a straight shot up the freeway.
Strangely enough, driving in Canada is very similar to driving in America. Except everything is in kilometers (kilometres?) instead of miles. I never quite got used to driving 100km/h, which felt fast because it's a big number, but it's really only 60mph or so, which I would consider slow here. Some notes about driving in Canada:
- The freeways are very well-lit. It was very nice. I want that here.
- When lanes on the freeway end, the lines go straight into the line on the shoulder.
- Hopefully, turning right on red is legal there, because I did that many times.
- I really like how most left- and right-turn lanes were forked off from straight traffic.
We get to the hotel and settle in a bit. It's dinnertime, so we decide to search for food. After some Yelping, we end up at a place called Original Joe's. Seemed like your typical restaurant/bar place. Sadly, the local townsfolk did not have very noticable accents. That's besides the point. We ordered a burger of some sort and, of course, had poutine. This place also brought out a caddy of condiments to go along with the poutine. Ketchup, soy sauce, hot sauce, malt vinegar, and a couple other ones I can't remember. The poutine is pretty good on its own (delicious gravy!), but I liked the ketchup addition. Another weird thing about Canada is that when you pay with a credit card, they make you swipe it. Seems much more secure, but to be honest, it wasn't something I considered before.
And that was our first night in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. It was a long day of travel, but it was an exciting adventure, and it was just beginning.