Going through Montreal

Under normal beginning-of-vacation circumstances, I would have risen without too much a care about work and prepared for my imminent departure to wherever it is that I’m going. However, things being what they are, I had to work. From home. The joys and detriments of having laptop, a wireless internet connection, and a phone line.

Fortunately, it wasn’t too much work. In fact, the work was a CMS presentation from Interwoven. All I really had to do was watch the LiveMeeting take place, interject with a few words here and there, and answer a few last emails before logging off and going on my merry little way.

I wasn’t doing this out of the kindness of my heart — this is to make sure that we get the right thing done at the right time. We’re in the process of redesigning Rolex.com, a large and complex project that’s going to push boundaries pretty much on every level. Part of this is to select and install a content management system so we can keep track of all the assets used in the site, and handle the multiple languages with the translation vendor.

We’re likely going with RedDot. That was actually decided yesterday. We still had to go through Interwoven’s today for due diligence, but I had a sneaky suspicion going in that it wasn’t necessarily going to change things. Given the positive feedback from the team yesterday, and the desperate instant messages from Martin asking if they could shut the presentation down at 10:00 pretty much sealed the deal.

But for the next couple of weeks, I’m going to try not to worry about it. I’m on vacation!

Our goal is England (well, London, York, and St. Albans), (southern) Scotland, and Ireland. I’ve been to London once before — almost exactly a year ago today — for about a day and a half. Oddly enough, I’m going to be there only mildly longer, but that’s okay. There’s still things to see.

Due to reasons of cost and flight routes, we’ve ended up in Montreal first. Alex’s dad lives here, so we’re stopping over for a couple of days for a visit. We’re also going to see my friends Therese and Stuart, who moved here about two and a half years ago. From here, we’ll hit London and then return direct to Calgary. Going direct was more expensive; even moreso if we’d gone through Toronto.

Leaving the house wasn’t easy. We’d dropped off Asia with friends last night so she’d be with people while we were gone. Then we had to clean a few things up around the house so it wouldn’t be a total disaster area while we were gone. The hot water heaters were turned down, and the furnace programmed much lower. Lights were put on timers, food emptied out of the fridge, garbage taken out, and curtains mostly drawn. Not quite late leaving the house, but a little tighter than I would have liked.

Not too long ago, Air Canada switched over from having check-in desks to having kiosks for printing your boarding pass. Great if that had come along with a faster way to check your bags. As it stands, the new system is almost as slow as the previous version. (And people wonder why I prefer flying WestJet.) We were cutting it close, but we still had enough time to grab Subway for lunch. Air Canada has taken a page from the cut-rate airlines and does not offer in-flight meals in the cattle section.

The flight was boarding when we arrived, so it wasn’t long before we were airborne. After reading my April edition of Wired, I listened to music and tuned out for the rest of the flight. I could already feel myself starting to unwind. It’s a clear sign that I’ve been working a lot harder than I thought, and have been needing this break worse than I imagined. Which makes me wonder how badly some of my co-workers need a break — the ones that I think are working too hard!

Arriving in Montreal, I immediately remembered why I like this city. It’s old, and there isn’t a mass movement to make the entire area modern. Houses that have actually stood for more than 10 years (most are likely older than 50), industry mixed with residential, and buildings actually made of stone.

Alex was antsy. Mostly because she needed to use the toilet, and soon. Being the wise person that I am, I assured her that it wouldn’t be long. I suggested that she try to sit tight as there were 17 rows ahead of us that needed to leave first, which I absent-mindedly indicated with a sloshing half-filled bottle of water. Alex squirmed with each flick of the wrist.

The bags took an unnecessarily long time to appear. I swear the throwers were actually taunting us, putting out only a few bags at a time for the first 20 minutes of waiting, before finally delivering the rest. (In Calgary, by comparison, the bags are usually already on the carousel by the time we get to them.) Allen was waiting for us, and whisked us away to the Isle du Montreal.

Along the way we’d stopped by the house Alex came to after being born. It’s lake-front, which I can only imagine is amazingly expensive. Back then, it wasn’t. Times change. Even if the wacky highway system in this city doesn’t.

A late dinner and an early evening is pretty much all that’s on tap for tonight. Tomorrow, we’ll head out of the city for a maple syrup thing and meet up with Stuart and Therese.