Christmas in Montreal – glorious (part 1)

Up, up and away
The trip is seamless. I go by coach from the new-look glamour-filled Birmingham coach station, officially opened by Fabio Capello on this very day. Unfortunately some time after my prompt departure.

Unfortunate too that the depot, designed successfully to look more like an airport has a dreaded Star – bucks. I make do without coffee and amuse myself with the view of what is now being termed the ‘Irish Quarter’ (more Americanisms); you can take the coach station out of Digbeth but you can’t take the sex shops out of the Irish Quarter.

I arrive effortlessly at Heathrow T5, BA’s exclusive terminal. Not being a fan of BA but not wanting to pay over £200+ more for Air Canada, especially as this trip is sooo expensive anyway, I’m still fairly impressed by T5 although get the distinct impression they are trying to be upmarket with the lack of McDonalds, Burger King etc.

What’s not particularly impressive is the service on board. We the passengers are mightily pleased to be taking off, given the snow and threat of strike but the staff, I feel are saddened not to have 12 days off over Christmas once the strike is called off.

Sure they provide the usual friendly service but there’s absolutely no going the extra mile. The Montrealean next to me asks three times for extra food and not only is he refused even a packet of nuts point blank, he’s not offered an alternative such as being able to buy some duty free snacks. Quite frankly a cold drink once airborne and one meal followed by coffee is not really enough even for my small palate. You get ice cream with Virgin which makes up for pretty much anything. What happened to 2 bite sized snacks AND a meal when flying transatlantic?

At the other end, immigrations and luggage collection were as painless as two months ago and I was on the hotel shuttle within about thirty minutes of walking off the plane.
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Canada (Lonely Planet Country Guide)


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