Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Well, I’m back in Germany, and Pam is in Colorado Springs with Mollie and Max. We had a great Christmas vacation although like all others, it went by far too quickly.

We had what we thought was a pretty good deal on tickets back to Denver from Air Canada. The $300 savings made the 3 hour layover in Toronto seem like it would be well worth it….wrong! The itinerary should have read:

“Depart Frankfurt 12:30 P.M.; Arrive Purgatory 3:00 P.M.; Depart 7th Circle of Hell 5:00 P.M. (if you’re extremely fortunate, fluent in French, English, and German, and can sprint the 1500 meter in under 4 minutes), Arrive Denver 7 P.M. (if you are truly blessed)”

If you are making an international connection to the US in Toronto, keep in mind that the plane first lands at the international terminal. When you disembark here you will stand in line to get through Canadian Immigration. When they are convinced that you are not bringing any fruit flies or Mad Cow laden beef into their country you will have the urge to sprint down the long empty corridor in front of you to find your gate. Resist that urge, you will just be burning energy that you will need later. The corridor doesn’t lead anywhere but the bus which will wait for you. In fact, it will wait for so many people that it will be packed beyond the capacity of a Times Square subway on New Years Eve before it begins it’s laborious trek to an undisclosed mystery location at the most distant geographical point that still remains on Toronto airport property across active taxiways (and I think via Ottowa, Montreal, and Vancouver). Once the bus releases you, again resist the temptation to run or even move quickly, it will only lead to another line, this one for cuntoms. Once you're cleared through here, which they are glad to do for Americans once you tell them you’re not staying, you get to go to a luggage carousel and collect your bags which may arrive shortly before you are eligible for social security.

This is a little “3-Stooges-Finger-in-the-Eye” trick. You put all your bags on a cart and push them to another customs point, this one US, where there will conveniently be no one to point you in the proper direction. Irritate enough people here until someone tells you that there is no need to stand in line and you can just place you bags on another luggage belt. This is retribution for irritating people. Normally when you put bags on a belt that disappears into the wall, they are heading for your plane. Not in Toronto. They are headed to the terminal you are departing from. Again resist the urge to sprint down the empty hallway, you are just running to another bus that will wait for you and everyone else in Canada before it departs for your terminal. When you reach your terminal, you follow blue flashing lights to the “7th Circle of Hell” carousel where you wait for you bags that are only coming from the terminal you just left. This is where you sit anxiously waiting for your bags to come down the chute as you watch moods of all the people around you plummet as one-by-one they miss their connecting flights. This is also where they will tell you that if you were in a hurry, you should have just carried your bags onto the overstuffed mini-bus rather than put them on the belt where you were directed by the irritated person in the other terminal.

Now, just for fun, because I’m sure they are watching all of this on security cameras and placing bets, your bags will arrive one-by-one, mere minutes before your boarding time. Pay the $2 for the luggage cart (there won’t be any free ones laying around unless you brought that with you as well from the last terminal on the mini-bus) you’ll need it. You can sprint now if you still feel like it, it will be a good warm up, but you are only going to US customs and security. Customs will be easy enough to get through on the second try because you won’t be told that you need to fill out a form until you are at the front of the line and the forms are at the back of the line. Security looks like a real security point with the exception that the metal detectors aren’t real, they are just little archways that beep whenever someone walks through to let the security guard know there is someone else to be wand searched after their shoes are removed.

When you’re finally clear of this point, feel free to sprint, the odds against you making your flight have been steadily going up with the security camera people, but since you saved you energy, you can just make it with a 3 hour layover.

As it turns out, this was only a warm-up for the return trip