Ok so I didn’t start singing the national anthem once I landed in Canada, but I was practically dancing down the terminal suitcase in tow. I was a little disappointed that I had a five hour layover in Montreal (pronounced Mon-tree-all in English) because its is in the small French part of Canada, but once I saw “Welcome to Canada” I was instantly cured of thinking of it as French. It was home. There were even commercials running on the multiple TVs in the airport saying “Welcome home”.
I asked one of the security officer’s if I should pass through security or stay out since I had such a long layover. Of course I asked in English and his response was: “yeah, you could go through and chill there, but there isn’t much in this airport.” Umm YEAH I will chill because that’s what Canadians do. For those readers from warmer climates, we don’t really mean “chill” as in get cold, but to hang out and relax, which is exactly what I did.
I have to say passing through Canadian airport security, I was surprised to discover all the new procedures I had to go though.
1) An airport security officer for Air Canada greeted us in the line before we checked in our baggage and to get our boarding passes in Brussels. After she asked me where I lived, why I was going home and for how long, she put a green sticker on the back of my passport. I passed the first test.
2) When I landed in Montreal and waited at the baggage claim area, an officer was walking around the baggage carousel with a dog that was sniffing each and every bag. It really makes me wonder if they have a lot of drugs or other dangerous goods entering Canada lately or is it for terrorist reasons? I know I had to resist the urge to bend down and say, “come here you. Aren’t you just the cutest thing ever?”
3) When my bags went through the scanner in the Montreal securty, they scanned my laptop twice, they opened by carry-on to check for any sharp items and then they let me pack up.
4) Before I put my jacket on to leave the security area, a man asked me to turn my palms up to swab them. A palm swab?? What is that about? I looked at the guy questioningly and he said “don’t worry its nothing” but refrained from telling me what it was for. Cocaine maybe? Explosive powder? I have no idea what they could have been checking for.
Now it was time to chill. I checked out the gift shop. I wanted to see what Canadian souvenirs they had since I’ve been to all the gift shops in the cities I’ve visited in Europe. First of all I have to say that everything was high quality. There was nothing made in China as far as I could tell and there wasn’t anything plastic in sight. A t-shirt or sweater with “Canada” embroidered on it ranged from 20 to 80 Canadian dollars (or if you wanted to use Canadian slang you would say “bucks”). Everyone was so beautiful I wanted one of each.
All things maple
So in the gift shop there is a whole section dedicated to all things maple. Now living in Western Canada, the only thing maple we have on occasion are the maple Girl Guide cookies that are sold door to door. So maybe they make an appearance twice a year. Other than that there aren’t maple goodies consumed regularly. Unlike Belgians, Canadian’s aren’t big on waffles. They are more of a Sunday morning once a month – but for my family maybe you see pancakes once a year. I don’t like pancakes, and even those who do, I think its safe to say that they aren’t often the first choice for breakfast little alone topped with maple syrup. I think you have to go to a specialty grocery store to find maple syrup or go to a fancy brunch restaurant. Then you can even try maple bacon, which taste pretty good even though you would think that sweet and savory don’t tend to go well together, its worth the try. Anyways, you get the point, we don’t eat maple stuff.
In the maple section I saw: maple syrup of course, maple fudge (YUM), maple chocolates (really?), maple suckers (no, just no), maple nougat (I’d try it), maple nuts (almost bought a bag…might on the way back to Brussels) and maple tea (doesn’t sound like my cup of tea). While browsing thought the clothing, maple section, the sweet section which had a can of “moose droppings” which is actually small round-shaped chocolates, a bar of “Canada” chocolate which I’ve never seen before in my life, there is Christmas music playing in the background. I don’t know what it was, but the Christmas music at home sounded so much happier and they played the right kind of music and the right level so it took everything I had not to start singing in swaying in the store.
I really wanted to buy a little stuffed moose wearing a sweater with “Canada” printed across the front or a Mounty teddy bear (“Mounty” is slang for Royal Mounted Canadian Police – you know the ones who ride the horses – anyways you don’t see them in my city). They are the cutest stuffed animals I’ve seen, they have curly brown hair and their eyes are perfectly aligned, not lopsided and their outfit just made you want to squeal “awwwwe”.
Most of you might be familiar with Starbucks. I have to say that I will not purchase a Starbucks coffee in Europe again – unless I’m in Paris because a Starbucks coffee is often cheaper than a regular coffee, which is actually an espresso in a Parisian café.
Tim Horton’s is a Canadian café and bakery. It’s famous for its wide selection of donuts and “timbits” which are small ball-shaped donuts. I opted for a medium French vanilla cappuccino and a 12-grain bagel with herb cream cheese, all for under the price of $3; yeah, a fancy coffee and a snack for less than a latte at Starbucks. I would have gotten a donut, but the bagel had to last me the rest of the day as I had three hours of waiting time left until my next leg of the flight scheduled for four hours.
I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Montreal airport has Free Wifi so of course I spent the remainder of my waiting time talking to family and friends on Skype – one of the best inventions on the internet. So the long layover wasn’t so bad. The one hour delay in the Ottawa stopover and finally getting home at 2:00am, not so pleasant.
But then I woke up the next morning to this: