Calgary is big enough for better transit

As I’ve said before, I’m no expert. I haven’t been everywhere or done everything. But one thing I have done is paid attention to public transit systems, especially the ones I’ve had to deal with on a daily basis.

Such as the one in Calgary. You already know [[Calgary Transit Sucks|how I feel about our beloved transit system]]. And we’re long overdue to consider how much bigger it should be.

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Je quitte Paris!

The flight left Charles du Gaulle at 11:30. That meant, of course, that I had to be there in sufficient time to check in, get through security, find the flight, and so forth.

Thankfully, I’d gone through the trouble last night of finding the RER station at Chatelet-les-Halles. As is turns out, it’s a weird sort of situation. Chatelet is the Metro station. Les Halles is an ex-market area. Chatelet-les-Halles is a station almost mid-way, pretty much right under my hotel, actually. So there was a fair bit of walking to get there and back. Which was fine, no biggie. It was still cheaper than taking a cab.

Albeit a lot more packed. While my trip in on Monday was blissfully free of people, the train was nearly full leaving Chatelet-les-Halles. When we left Gare du Nord, it was standing room in some places. The only stop after that was the airport. It’s effective public transportation, I’ll give you that! (Canadian airports and cities, please take note!)

No elevators this time to slow me down. Just a really long lineup for Lufthansa. It took nearly 45 minutes to weave my way down to a clerk. I had a bit of a terrific thought as I waited. Technically, my flight is Air Canada. What if I had to go to the Air Canada counter? They’re not even in the same terminal. My only consolation was when I’d verified my flight this morning, the Lufthansa website told me my seat assignment. I could only hope that it also covered my Air Canada seat from Frankfurt to Calgary.

Fears bubbled away as the rather cheery clerk (given the insane volume of people) jokingly suggested that my flight was cancelled and that I had to stay in Paris indefinitely. Admittedly, I was briefly tempted to believe him. But the rest of me quickly kicked in — I wanted to go home. I spent about 1/10th the time at the counter as the previous couple. Bag checked, boarding passes for both flights in-hand, I headed for Satellite 6.

That’s the way Terminal 1 is broken up: a central hub with seven satellite areas for boarding planes. And sadly, that’s about literally all there is at Terminal 1. It’s devoid of almost everything else. It’s probably the dullest terminal I’ve ever had the pleasure of waiting around in for an hour and a half. (I prefer to wait in airport terminals, rather than rushing. Too many variables that could lead to a missed flight.)

I had planned my Euro spending carefully, having only barely enough to pay for a muffin at a small cafe in the waiting lounge. That was fine with me — I didn’t want to go home with extra change. Still, I would have liked a ham and cheese baguette.

Like the train out, the flight out was also full. Although I had an exit row, I was seated next to a woman who clearly did not fit in her chair (or really give her late-teenage son any credit for anything). I think this is partly what led to a rearrangement of seats. She was moved to the front of the plane, and the couple across the aisle were bumped a row up. The staff didn’t say why, but since I was allowed to remain and thinner people were placed in the now-vacant aisle seats next to me, I can only assume it was to ensure that the exit aisles could be cleared quickly.

I passed out from exhaustion moments after the plane left the ground. I awoke only when the attendant happened to rather loudly plunk ice in a plastic cup. I was thankful for this — I got my cheese sandwich on dense German bread and a Coke. That would keep me going until I got my meal on the trans-atlantic flight.

Virtually retracing my steps through Frankfurt to find my next flight (including the 700 metre-long tunnel), I rushed along just in case there was a lot of people at security. Given how heavy the airport traffic was, I didn’t want to risk holding things up. As it stands, I didn’t have to pass through security this time — just passport control. While not the speediest passing through, I was asked no questions. Stamp, done.

Just past passport control was my gate, so I suddenly found myself with almost an hour to kill. Boarding would start soon, but my seat row meant I would be among the last called. Not a big deal, and far more comfortable as I wouldn’t have to listen to a jet engine the entire flight.

My rowmate (I love the outside row — only two seats) was an oil driller from Oman, travelling back to his home around Great Slave Lake or something to visit family. He’d been flying already for about 20 hours. I couldn’t believe that level of stamina. I think I’d lose it after that long, personally. (I want to go to Australia someday, but the flight worries me a little.) He started chatting with me almost barely five minutes after sitting down. So much for a quiet flight.

Actually, that’s not fair. He was an interesting person, having seen a great deal more than I have. And made me feel pretty damned petty about my mere 35 degree woes. Where he worked, it was 55 Celsius, not counting the blowing sand. He slept most of the flight, too, likely due to exhaustion.

The flight was mostly uneventful. Some bouncing around (though we had a nasty approach to Calgary due to strong winds), the movies were there and the food was decent. I plugged away at getting these blog entries caught up. And I slept, even if just a little. While I hadn’t been flying for 20 hours before this one, I was still wiped.

My bag was #155 coming off the carousel at the airport. Typical. Pass through customs, and waited to be picked up. Surprisingly not tired, I fully expect to pass out tonight.

Je suis en Paris, Jour Cinq!

I ate at the hotel this morning. Not a bad little place, really. And it meant I could sleep in a wee bit. Four hours of sleep just isn’t enough. But I brought that on myself.

I was a bit late arriving at Eurosites — about five minutes. This was not due to the aforementioned lack of sleep, though. This was due to the previously mentioned crappy wireless internet connection. I was determined to send out some emails before I left for training, and the connection just wasn’t offering up what I needed. When I finally got it working, I almost ran out the door to get to training on time. Kayo, Loic, and Adam were already there.

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Je suis en Paris, Jour Trois!

No crepes for me this morning. As I’m beginning to discover, the French don’t consider crepes a breakfast thing. At least at the shops near the hotel. But hunger knows no bounds and I was forced to hunt out an alternative. The hotel clerk misdirected me to a boulangerie (that wasn’t there), but I managed to find a small grocery store on the way back to the hotel. A warm baguette and a chunk of a somewhat smelly cheese made for a pretty decent breakfast. The leftovers should cover me for tomorrow as well.

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Je suis en Paris, Jour Deux!

Despite wating up at 4:30 thinking it was daylight (in reality, only the hotel’s light outside my window), I slept pretty well. That didn’t mean that I’d totally licked jet lag — I ended up needing a nap in the afternoon. Hopefully, though, that was the last of it and I’ll be able to carry through without difficulty.

I met Adam in the lobby as I tried to resolve why I couldn’t connect to the internet. There’s something with the wireless connection here, and I think they turn the connection off at night. I can connect to the router, but not a single thing beyond that. Purely a guess, but it seems safe enough. Adam was down there for the same reason.

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Je suis en Paris!

I’m beginning to understand why people hate business trips. You can’t pack what you want (you have to pack for meetings with clients) and you don’t travel necessarily when you want. But at least the locations can be interesting…

The account I work on now is European. They’ve got a massive global presence and are very good to work with. They tend not to hesitate on monetary decisions (unlike most clients), perferring to get the image just right (and understandably so). So when they said that I needed to be present when they were trained with the new RedDot Content Management System, I wasn’t the least bit surprised when they said I had to fly to Paris.

Yes, that Paris. France.

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