The “big” day of my departure was set to July 7th, which was the day of my 27th birthday. I think it is good to start such important new chapter of life on a birthday.
To my big surprise I slept pretty well and when I woke up I was not really sure, do I continue dreaming or the dream has finally come true, I was going to Canada. It was true.
I had really mixed feelings, joy and sadness. I was happy for making my long-term dream come true, but I was sad for leaving my family behind. Saying goodbye to my mom, dad and sister at the airport was the hardest goodbyes I ever had. I knew that I would miss them a lot. And it will be a while until I see them again. Especially together.
The 737 took off smoothly and headed south. Generally speaking, I hate flying, but I must admit that Turkish Airlines are good at making flight a better experience. The food was really good, fresh Turkish fruits and vegetable, some meat. And I liked that they gave presents to every kid on board. I wish I had present too!
The Istanbul Ataturk Airport is quite big and very busy. It is crowded. But to my surprise, quite easy to get around. I had a layover of 2 hours and 40 minutes. As I noticed, flights to Canada and USA depart from special gates, that allow additional level of security checks.
I found my gate easily, and to my surprise the registration and security checks were about to start 1.30 before departure. So I decided to profit from short lines and pass all the checks early. First there was a guy asking me why am I going to Canada at all and what will I do there. Then the second level of checks, cute Turkish girl in her late 20s asked me exactly same questions and additionally checked my passport of computer. OK, why not. Then I was “lucky” enough to be picked for a body and bag search. Maybe I looked to suspicious to security guys. Or it is my red shirt with Canadiens logo to blame. Maybe the guy was a Bruins fan. Of course they found nothing interesting.
I sat in still almost empty room enjoying pre-flight sensations. Then after about 10 minutes, I think I head something like “gate change”. I paid no attention at first, but then I noticed that no new people were arriving, so I decided to go and ask. And it was true, the gate was changed! I have two questions. Why the hell they changed the gate after some people has already passed the security check, and secondly, why they did not announce it? I guess maybe most local people have an extra sense for gate changes.
So I started running across half of the airport just to find the gate I needed, and it was saying… “New York”! Whaaaatttt????? As it turned out, the flight to Montreal was supposed to depart after flight to New York. But you can imagine the chaos, 300+ people wondering why it says “New York” instead of “Montreal”, and another hundred running late for New York and trying to get through the crowd. Finally, as the flight to the Big Apple left, they started registering and checking passengers bound to Montreal. Same two levels of security checks again, but this time with no body search. Then why they do it at all at the old gate? After all passengers were in, there was a strange pause. 300 people waiting to board a plane in a hot and crowded room for oven an hour. And there was no water, no toilets. It was getting really annoying. AS there was no enough seats for everyone, I sat on the floor in a corner of the room. My legs started to hurt even before getting on board!
Usually I am lucky enough to have small kids sitting next to me, or a drunk guy that you can smell a mile away. I was preparing myself for something similar. But to my surprise my only neightbour was a nice lady. I think she was a teacher.
When the plane started to roll my heart began racing. When two turbofan engines started accelerating the 200 ton iron bird and took it to the sky, I think i was the only person aboard with big smile on a face. I was feeling incredible. I was going to Canada!
If the first flight was like 1.5 hours of joy, this one was more like 10.5 hours of turture. I could not believeit was the same airline. First of all, why did they put seats so close to each other? I am a high person, 194 cm, and there was just no way to fit my legs! And the food was totally oposite to my first flight. Some undercooked pasta, fried vegetables. My stomach was protesting! Despite the fact that it was the most anticipated flight for me for many years, I really wished it to end as soon as possible.
I expected flying over Canada to be interesting – I expected to see some notable local features – lakes, mountains, some citis. But instead I have seen only clouds. It became fun only when the aircraft descended below clouds on its approal to Montreal Pierre-Elliott Trudeau Airport. The approach path is over the city, so if you are on the left side, you can see its famous landmarks – first St. Lawrence river, then the Olympic Stadium, downtown, Mont Royal. I was staring at the window and there was only one thought in my mind: “Damn, it’s real!”.
Canada started to amaze even fore leaving the plane. The plane was parked far from the terminal, so we had to be disembarked into a bus first. But i have never seen a bus like this. It looks like it came straight from steampunk world, and it seels were staying on the ground, while its body was lifted to plane’s doors, Then after passengers got in, the body lowered to ground level. The airport experience was very good, even with time for issuing a work permit, after 30 minutes I was out. Then there was it. CANADA.
I expected it would be cold! Instead, it was hot and humid! I started to doubt if I was at the right place, maybe by chance it was Singapore?
My friend Sergiy met me at the airport and drove me to my temporary apartment. This ride gave me a wierd feeling. A strange feeling that you feel when you can see with your own eyes some things, that you have seen so many times on the Internet and on TV> First, gorgeous trucks, then Via Rail tran, double stack container trains, skyscrapers of Montreal. It did not feel strange to me, I felt like I have been here before. I was impatiently waiting for the next day to begin. The sunrise would bring beginning of my new life.