Travel To Montreal

Now, all you frequent fliers are going to laugh your asses off at me, but when have I been the one to sugar coat my own failings and mistakes?

I am currently in Montreal, CA (Not to be confused with Montreal, WI or Montreal, MO) for the Extreme XML Conference 2007. There are several XML conferences during the year…one in Europe, one in Boston, and one here. This one is the least vendor centric and the most forward thinking. This is where the people travel for academic-like discussion. It also seems a little less uptight, but that’s just my first impression.

Anyway, this post is about travel. I got to PHL by Septa yesterday. overall not a bad ride in the middle of the morning. I’d hate to do it at rush hour though. I got to the US Airways ticket counter and handed over my materials. I confused the ticket counter person with the print out of the passport application…13 weeks and counting since we applied. I am sure all the passports will arrive as soon as we get back. Wifey sees this as a good reason for international travel. I agree…but the next place is an English speaking country (or I take a semester of French first).

So while the counter person is figuring all this out I put my suitcase on the scale. It weighed 49.5 lbs at home. It gained weight on Septa, somehow. It is now 56.9 lbs. So what did I do? I took the most dense item in the bag, my toiletry bag, out and put it in my laptop carry on. (Most of you can see where this is going.) I got all my paperwork and headed to the TSA line. Once there I realized what I had done….and asked a line agent for help. They suggest putting your toiletries (under 3oz in liquids and nothing 4″ or over in sharp objects) in a ziplock bag. I don’t understand that at all. But who the hell carries a ziplock bag?

Well according to the line agent the skycaps might. According to the skycaps the line agents, or maybe the counter persons might. You can see where this is going. I finally gave up, removed my laptop and book (Bible Stories for Adults) and checked the rest.

After that everything went swimmingly. Until the plane was delayed 1.5 hours. And the guy was in my seat (his ticket said ’19′ not ’9′) and the man who ended up sitting beside me was forced to sit separately from his wife (wouldn’t change seats with me).

So I arrive in Montreal…and the walk from the terminal to customs is like a 1/2 mile. It just felt like I would never get there…two moving walkways and all. The customs area was huge! It was like walking onto a football field with Disney world-style lines.  But no one was there.  There were at least 20 customs persons there handling the people coming in…I was processed through in under 5 minutes.  They asked if I was bringing anything in for business use and I noted my laptop.  I think the customs person actually laughed at me.

Then off to the normal gathering of the luggage.  Both bags came through fine and I lost nothing…very lucky.  I then walked out following the striped blue line.  I doubled back to exchange my cash.  Not cheap but I had no money and I needed to get on the bus for the hotel.  I made it there just as the bus driver was climbing on to drive away.  I told them to take me to the Sheraton downtown.  I’m staying at the Hotel Europa where the conference is happening, but I was told the bus doesn’t go directly there.  The Sheraton is 1.5 blocks away from the Europa.  Great advice and one that I hope helps someone else in the future.

I arrived at the hotel and actually saw a couple people I recognized from XML 2003 and XML 2004.  So at least I knew I was in the right place.  The hotel room is big and clean and what more can you really ask?

Overall I can see why people enjoy traveling and I can see why people like jobs that require them to travel.  I myself could do this a couple times a year without complaining much…but I can’t imagine doing this a couple times a month.  I was stressed most of the day and didn’t calm down enough to sleep until early in the morning.  I sure hope the travel is worth it.  So far it has been and not just for the sessions.

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