Welcome to Winnipeg

Once again it was time to depart on yet another long-awaited holiday – not a cruise this time for a change! 🙂  Instead, we were flying out to Canada; ultimately to Churchill, Manitoba for an expedition onto the subarctic tundra in search of polar bears.

Today would prove to be a long day, consisting of waiting around at airports a lot in between our three flights.

We started off by dropping the car off at Newcastle Airport a little after 7.30am and then proceeding to the British Airways desk to check in for the first leg of our journey to London Heathrow.  It was a fairly mild day for the end of October but we knew it would be much, much colder where we were going, so we had packed plenty of winter woollies and I had my trusty warm Ugg boots on my feet.

Our flight to London was fairly routine and uneventful and we arrived at Heathrow around 10.15am.  We had to get the train from Terminal 5 to Terminal 3 in order to check in for our Air Canada flight.  We had quite a wait ahead of us as our flight wasn’t until 15.10 but we weren’t too bothered  – once we’d looked around the duty free shops it meant we had a good couple of hours in the Executive Lounge.  🙂

We have Priority Pass permits into the VIP lounges at airports worldwide, and they really are worth it.  Trevor gets four free passes a year as a ‘perk’ with our bank account, and each visit costs me £15.00 (so it works out at £7.50 each).  This is much cheaper than having to buy food and drink in the normal airport restaurants and bars, in which the prices are often exorbitant due to the captive audience.  Also, the exec lounges are much more comfortable and quieter and aren’t full of screaming kids.

So we enjoyed fresh orange juice with prodigal measures of Smirnoff vodka tipped into them, some canapés and snacks and hot soup and olives, then I spotted the chilled bottles of cava whilst Trevor enjoyed a few bottles of Stella.  The time passed quickly and then it was time to go to our departure gate for the longest leg of the journey, the flight to Toronto.

Once our flight commenced boarding, we joined the queue and proceeded onto the aircraft.  At this point I went through the same little ritual that I go through on every single flight – give the ‘plane a little pat and ask it to get us there safely.  🙂  I know it sounds really daft, but it’s something that I’ve just got to do; I’d feel it was tempting fate a bit if I didn’t. :-p

We had the best part of an eight hour flight ahead of us so it was just a case of reading, playing on my Nintendo DS, watching the in-flight entertainment (I sat through two very early episodes of Men Behaving Badly), napping (with the aid of my new inflatable neck pillow) and eating an drinking the complimentary in-flight booze.

Eventually we touched down in Toronto airport; we had about an hour and a half to wait for our domestic connection to Winnipeg.  By that time I was feeling very tired and wanted a lie down; there were no seats fit for the purpose so I just lay down on the floor, using my coat as a pillow and covering myself with Trevor’s coat.  It wasn’t the most comfortable position, but it was sufficient to have half an hour’s power nap.  🙂

Finally we were boarding yet another aircraft; this one was our final flight for the night and would last for two and a half hours.

We were somewhat surprised to find that on this particular flight, the in-flight food and drink had to be paid for.  Most unusual for a scheduled flight.  But we weren’t too bothered as we’d had plenty to eat and drink for the day.

The flight was fairly uneventful and soon we were on our final descent into James Armstrong Richardson Airport, Winnipeg.  We were quite tired as the time there is six hours behind British time.  It didn’t take long for our cases to arrive as it’s a fairly small airport; once we collected our luggage we went in search of the Travelsphere rep who directed us to the bus stop outside.

We were booked to stay the night in the Hilton Suites Hotel which wasn’t fair from the airport at all.  Just as well really, because the hotel’s two minibuses they sent for us couldn’t accommodate our party of 35, so we had to wait for the buses to drop them off at the hotel, then come back for us.  It was fairly cold standing at the bus stop and we were tired.

Eventually the buses returned and we loaded our bags and ourselves into them.  The hotel literally was just around the corner.  We checked in and made our way to our room on the sixth floor.  When I say “room” however, it was more like a one-bedroomed apartment!  It’s not called the suites hotel for nothing.  There was a lounge area with a settee, chair, table, 42″ inch flat screen TV, sink, fridge and coffee maker.  Next door was our bedroom with a massive king-size bed, another TV and walk-in closet, as well as a large bathroom with a good array of toiletries.

Much as it was tempting to undress and go to bed immediately, we knew that if we did that we’d end up waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to get to sleep.  So, after dumping our cases, we went back downstairs to the bar for a nightcap.

We each had a drink and watched the TV in a desultory manner, where they were showing a baseball game.

Then it was back up to our room, where we thankfully got into bed for our first night in Canada.

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