Airport lounges

I seem to be spending a lot of time in airports lately. And with a few delays already this year, a lot of that time in lounges (luckily enough).

Right now, I am in the new Maple Leaf lounge at Ottawa Airport.This is the third incarnation of the Maple Leaf lounge I have experienced thus far in this airport. It is located in the new part of the new terminal all the way up on the roof. I don’t know why I keep referring to this being the new terminal, the old one is pretty much gone by now, with the last vestiges being torn down as I write this.

Anyway, being on the roof, it enjoys a nice 270 degrees (around that…) view of the airport with lots of big windows, making it a very bright lounge. This is all nice, until you try to work on a laptop… To top it off, the business area is located on the South side of the lounge, thereby getting most of the light. I am sure the architects thought it was a great idea – and it does make the lounge seem more airy than the previous one – but it makes working a bit more difficult.

Oh well! I guess I’ll just have to relax a bit for a change.

Sitting at the airport…

So yesterday, I checked early to make sure I could still fly home only to discover that all flights from Washington, D.C., to Ottawa (and Montréal and Toronto) have been cancelled. No problem, I caught this early so I called the travel agent and rebooked for the next flight the following (this) morning at 09:10. I also rebooked the hotel and extended the car. All, I thought, was fine.

I also made sure to subscribe to the new flight so I would get an SMS if the flight was changed.

In the morning, I checked the Air Canada web site and discovered that the flight was on time. So I made my way to the airport and, as I was checking, I was told that the flight was delayed by almost 5 hours – now leaving at 13:55. Wait, didn’t I sign up for notification?!? Ah! There was the sweet sound of an incoming message as I got my boarding pass. A bit too late, but the system sort of worked…

So, I am at the airport with nothing much to do. Watched an emergency video I had on the computer, went through some emails, had lunch, and went to the gate, only to discover that flight was canceled! And not a single Air Canada agent in sight! So I went to the United Red Carpet Club lounge (I have status to get in) and the helpful United agents managed to rebook me on the next flight at 21:55. The big surprise, however, was to learn that I had been on standby for the 09:10/13:55 flight! And no one had bothered telling me! So now I am wondering whether I should believe I will be going home tonight…

Of course, all these delays meant that I have time to write an entry in this blog…

So, what will I do for the next 6 hours???

Added at 21:00
Well, I discovered that Dulles airport has a massage spot and a video rental place in the B terminal. There is also a good sushi place there with a knowledgeable chef – and they have cold premium sake! It turned out I was the only adventurous one there. There is also a wine bar highlighting Virginia wines in terminal C. Asides from that, it’s pretty much the usual airport stuff…

What happened?!?

There I was, doing so well, blogging from RSDC…and then nothing…

Well, my laptop’s video died! It started having nice, multi-colour bars all over the screen. This basically meant that I was SOL for the rest of the conference. OK. I could have use the terminals that were provided to the attendees – if they had not been taken down!

So what happened during these few days incommunicado? For one thing, I was attacked by a bird. And not even a big bird. I took a walk in the evening and must have strolled close to a nest because this bird suddenly started bombing dives, hitting me with its wings. It was an interesting adventure.

I also managed to get a bit of shopping done at Downtown Disney – I can’t be away from home for a week and not bring back some “souvenirs” (although I saw nothing of Disney World)! My only complaint were the prices! They must be making a huge profit on merchandising! But then, the smiles on the kids was worth it!

On the plus side of the laptop failure is that I got to enjoy the flight home without feeling like I had to do some work.

Traveling on vacation

I’ve been on vacation for a week now…kinda…

We decided that it was time for the kids to meet my spouse’s extended family, which meant a trip to Turkey (Istanbul to be precise). We have been planning this for close to a year, using airline points to pay for the travel. On the way in, we have experienced, in order, weather delay (Ottawa to Toronto), equipment problems causing a 2 hours delay (Toronto), a kid with air sickness (Toronto to Frankfurt), a missed flight because of earlier delays (Frankfurt), a still sick child (Frankfurt to Istanbul), and one piece of delayed luggage out of four (Istanbul). Of course, with the delays, the youngest’s nap time no longer lined up, so she was very cranky… And finally, we did not manage to reach my father in law in time so he waited for close to five hours at the airport. All in all a good trip…

The other interesting thing was that, as Canadian, I needed to pay a US$60 visa to enter Turkey. I haven’t had to pay for a visa in ages (I think Kuwait was the last one…)! And it is, by far, the most expensive visa to enter Turkey! I wonder, why does Turkey not want Canadian visitors? We are not traditionally dangerous…

I am writing this as I sit in Ankara’s airport. I came here for a day to talk to customers – I get to play evangelist and I get one more day of vacation later. And, most importantly, I get to help our Turkish team with the message that IBM Rational is back in the systems space. However, the account team may not be so sure about my visit, it seems I have brought the bad weather (rain) to Istanbul and that I have done the same to Ankara (snow). I may get a reputation with this…

And that is why I am actually able to create this post: no family obligation and no one to tell me to get off the computer!

Back from Sweden

I’m back from almost two weeks in Sweden visiting a customer. The trip was nice. I got lucky on the way over, getting to sit in a newly reconfigured B-767-300 with the lie-flat mini-cabins in business class. There is a picture here, although it may disappear in the future… It was a bit strange to be sitting at an angle, but then each seat has a fairly large LCD screen! Unfortunately, most of the programming for the personal video system had not been completed. And then again, I typically sleep on the way over to Europe (sometimes even before we reach cruising altitude), so I would not really had a chance to enjoy it. Maybe I’ll get lucky again in the future! But it did not happen on the way back.

I have been asked by Kelly to provide pictures. So, I have created a Flickr account and made a picture set from Stockholm. The pictures aren’t great because I have an old digital camera and there were snow flurries that day. I should pull out the old pictures, from seven years ago, and post them too.

What to do in Stockholm?

As I stated previously, I am in Stockholm and after a few meetings held at GMT-5 time (i.e., late in the evening here), I am wondering what to do…

Would anyone out there who have experienced in the Stockholm restaurant/tourist scene like to send suggestions my way?

Thanks in advance!

Four o’clock, nightime, and the weekend

I am currently in Stockholm, Sweden. And here, at 16:00, it is almost night. Stockholm is much farther North than where I normally live: 60° vs. 45° North. This means much shorter days…

I have to stay in Stockholm over the weekend. I was hoping not to have to travel on weekends this year, so that I can spend time with my family, but my first trip of the year gave me meetings on both sides of a weekend. At least, I like Stockholm. It is a nice city and I look forward to visit it again (I was last here in 1999 – things have changed a bit – especially in the suburbs). I have been told that the renovation of the Vasa has finally been completed. The Vasa is a ship that was raised from the lake in Stockholm and it was still being renovated the last time I saw it, seven years ago, I wonder how it looks now. I may very well go and have another look!

One thing for sure, I will try to bag a few geocaches over the next couple of days!

Back from St. Louis

Well, I was actually back last Thursday – but just barely…

The flight from STL to YYZ (Toronto Pearson Airport), where I (unfortunately) had to change planes was a few minutes late. This resulted in a lack of ground crew, which meant we had to wait on the tarmack. Luckily, it is not a good thing to have a plane just sitting there, in the way, so we got a crew to direct us in within 20 minutes. Not great, but not too bad… And then, the fun started. Since that crew had to be diverted from another flight, they had to get back to it to finish unloading, before being allowed to come back to us. Well, that meant another 45 minutes waiting for the sky check luggage to come through (CRJs just don’t have enough storage space for the laptop bag and my overnight bag). I can only imagine how the people who checked luggage must have felt… Now, of course, that meant that the bus that would normally take us from the satellite terminal to the main terminal was no longer waiting (it took the passengers that had checked luggage), so we had to wait for a new one to be dispatched (another 15 minutes). At that point, I had to go through customs (luckily, and unusually, very quick) and make my way from terminal 2 to terminal 1…which means getting out of the secure zone and through security again!!!

Well, I made it. I was probably the last person to board the flight back home, but I made it. I should mention again that I do not like YYZ as an airport. It just seems stuck in a century past (perhaps the century of the fruitbat – with apology to Terry Pratchett).

All this, and I was locked up in a meeting room for three days in St. Louis and did not get a chance to see the sights… I’ll have to try and go see the Arch the next time I’m over there (in a few weeks).

Off to St. Louis

I’m off to St. Louis tomorrow. Not a pleasure trip, a business one where I will collaborate on an internal project. It looks like it’ll be three intensive (and long) days. If all goes well, I may be able to talk about it in a couple of months (after it is announced to the world at large – or at least to some people…).

I like traveling. It allows me to see new places and maybe bag a couple more geocaches. The down side to this trip is that there aren’t many flights from home to St. Louis, and none direct. This makes my transit fairly long (6 hours or so each way). It’s almost faster to fly to Europe (direct to London, UK). And, I have a terminal change at Toronto’s Pearson – one of the worse airports to have to go through a terminal change…