The beach near Monastery of Saint Nahum, North Macedonia.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Pogradec, Albania .

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Gjyrokaster, Albania on October 6th.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Amsterdam to Montreal

We didn't sleep very well on the houseboat. It was set up like a hostel, so there were too many people coming and going, and the doors to the rooms were noisy, so every time someone got up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night you'd get woken up. And with all 8 rooms full, it seemed like there was someone getting up every twenty minutes throughout the night. 

Oh well, it was only one night. We could sleep on the plane.

We walked back to Amsterdam Central Train Station at like 6:00am to catch the train to the airport. What an efficient system. The train leaves every 15 minutes or so. We bought our tickets online and they cost about €4.50 each for the twenty minute journey.

Our flight wasn't until 1:00pm, but they said that Amsterdam was one of the worst airports so we figured we would arrive as early as possible. What they don't tell you, is that there is such a thing as arriving too early. It turns out that they don't even allow you on the departures level unless you're within 4 hours of your flight time. And even then, they didn't open our check in counter until three and a half hours before.

Yep, it's busy that's for sure!

We had checked in online, and we had no bags to check. Carry on only is the way to go in these times, yet it appeared that the vast majority of people were still checking bags. Even with our online check in, the system wouldn't supply boarding passes so we were forced to wait in the check in line. Eventually, we made it as far as a lady who checked our ArriveCan app (the stupid system the Canadian government won't let go of) and once she confirmed that we had no baggage to check she walked us past about a hundred other people and got us our boarding passes. She grabbed one other girl who only had carry on and put her right behind us. Yes, carry on only is definitely the way to go.

KLM is the national Dutch airline.
I'm even wearing KLM colors.

No, we're not flying KLM though. We are on Air Transat, a small Canadian airline. The tickets for the two of us were almost $1,500 CAD and included Amsterdam to Montreal, Montreal to Calgary, and Montreal back to Amsterdam in September. And, I had enough credit card points to pay for those flights. So they are essentially free.

Line up at the Air Transat checkin.

It took us exactly two hours to get from the Air Transat checkin, through security, through exit immigration, and into the Premium Lounge. Yes, it was really busy, but things moved along fairly smoothly. You didn't really feel like you were standing in any one place for very long.

Relaxing in the premium lounge.
It was also busy, but not totally full.

There are no mask rules in Netherlands, so maybe less than 1% of people wearing masks. So it was kind of ridiculous that they make you wear a mask on the Canadian based airline because of Canadian federal rules that they just won't let go of. No logic at all.

There's our plane.

We were about twenty minutes late boarding, and about an hour late by the time we actually got in the air.

And we're off!



Heading out over the ocean.

It was an uneventful flight, but we watched a few movies and had some uninspiring airline food. They gave us one small glass of wine with the meal, but otherwise you had to pay for any alcohol. Oh how we miss flying with Qatar Airlines!


The St. Lawrence Seaway near Montreal.

So we get off the plane and are herded into the immigration area. They are using every one of the available border agents, but they still say it's going to take 40 minutes to get through. They make you go to a self serve electronic customs declaration thing and there are maybe 100 of them. We go to two or three different ones, but none of the machines will scan our passports properly. We notice other people having the same problem, and then we realized that the whole system was crashing. Almost every machine was flashing a red error light, and there's hundreds of people trying to use the machines. What a circus! Welcome to Canada!

So they had to hand out the old paper style reports. When we got up to the border officer, she was really pleasant and hardly looked at us. Didn't ask about Covid, didn't want to see our ArriveCan app, and didn't ask about vaccination. She stamped our passport and that was that.

Then we had a twenty minute walk to our Airbnb. Fortunately there was a "depanneur" (a Quebec corner convenience store) along the way, and we bought a couple of beers and a bottle of wine. At least they are civilized in this regard in Quebec.

Our room.

It was a shared house with three different rented out rooms. For $70 CAD a night, quite all right.

We ordered takeout butter chicken and rice using Uber Eats and because it was our first order, we saved 70%! The total order including everything was $20. We will probably never use them again, but it worked for this meal! From the time I ordered it to the time it arrived at the door was 45 minutes. Not bad.

Slept okay, and this morning we are back at the airport getting ready for our flight to Calgary.

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And in Canada...

6 comments:

  1. What a zoo at the airports. I keep reading how this summer is full of travel headaches (prices, overbooking, cancelled flights, etc.), since so many people are traveling for the first time since the COVID restrictions began, airlines are short-staffed, and prices are up. Even though I did finally get my passport renewed just this past month, I'm waiting until things calm down to a more normal level. I just have no interest in mingling with that many people at the moment, especially since Omicron is still spreading pretty rampantly, at least here in the US. The last time we flew was back to the US from Mexico in March 2020, and the Miami International Airport was deserted due to COVID just being declared a pandemic, same with our hotel there. Best travel experience ever! Enjoy your time in Canada and be safe.

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    1. Yep, the airports were definitely pretty busy, especially after the last couple of years, where we saw almost empty airports during our travels in the fall/winter of 2020-21. They say that part of the problem is due to being understaffed but on a number of occasions we saw all the check-in booths, the security and immigration all working with what looked like a full staff so we aren't totally sold on that excuse. We think that it is just an abnormal amount of people traveling at the moment and as you said, things should get back to a more normal level soon enough. We have definitely seen a big increase in the prices though, car rentals in general are really high compared to normal and we have heard that accommodation rates are a lot higher as well. We are glad that most of our travels over the last 11 months was in Max because that made things much more reasonable. I hope that you won't have to wait too long before things get back to a more normal level and you can start traveling again. Any idea where you will head for your first trip away from the US?

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    2. No, we are taking a wait-and-see approach. Budget constraints are a biggie right now as we moved to our new house in March and had to purchase a lot of furniture, yard equipment, etc. We would love to go visit our best friend in Merida, but given everything, that is on the back burner for now. We'd been traveling for long enough that we don't mind being home- and garden-bodies for awhile!

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    3. Yep, a new house and all that it entails definitely puts a curb to the spending. We are glad that you are happy to be home bodies for a while. :-)

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  2. Canada is the only country using anything like the ArriveCan app. It also affects cross border shoppers. So ridiculous!
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

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    1. We believe that you are correct, that Canada is one of the last country holding on to this entry requirement. Yes, it must be a bit of a hassle for those crossing at the busy Canadian/US borders with the people that go down for a couple of days of shopping or sometimes even just the day and then head back! Eventually they are going to have to give up on this but who knows how long that will take?!

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