Unglamorous Travel: Vancouver Edition

Seems I struck a chord with my recent post on the unglamorous side of travel, so I figured I would write one based on the trip I’m just got back from. This trip brought me to Vancouver (actually the nearby but much less interesting suburb of Richmond, but who’s counting?). The conference was fine but I have to say that it was one of the more boring venues I’ve been to, other issues aside.

My “unglamorous” experiences on this trip weren’t traumatizing like my last trip, so I’m not complaining at all. Nonetheless, it still falls decidedly short of the sort of travel experiences that typically make it to social media. All the more reason to share, I guess.

I had to fly out on Mother’s Day so I got to spend my “special day” alone schlepping myself to the airport and traveling all day. Speaking of which…

It takes a ridiculously long time to get from Florida to the west coast of Canada, and once you add in my commute to the airport, flights, layovers, and commute to the hotel, by the time I got to my hotel, I had been traveling for 11 hours and I was still in the same continent. Yeah, like I said, ridiculous. 😉

I’m waiting for technology to advance to the point where we can dispense with planes, trains, and automobiles and just beam ourselves where we need to go.

The conference was at a hotel not far from the airport, which is often a sign that you don’t want to stay there. Yet that’s where we stayed for convenience. This place wasn’t bad though it’s clearly an older hotel and the rooms are a bit dated and could use a refresh. The soothing sounds of jet engines overhead at all hours added to the ambiance.

Once I got to my room, I had 20 minutes to freshen up before meeting colleagues for dinner and the first thing I noticed when I entered the room was that it was very warm and stuffy. I checked the thermostat and noticed someone turned the AC off (who does that?) so I figured, easy-peasy. Just turn it on and problem solved. The room didn’t get any cooler before I left but I wasn’t in it long so I didn’t worry about it.

However, when I came back several hours later, it will still the same temperature so I called the front desk. I planned on asking them to send someone the next day since it was now past 11PM and I was tired but they said they could send maintenance up immediately. I figured why not – maybe they can fix it with something quick and simple, so I said OK.

An hour later, the maintenance lady was still in my room after trying several things to no avail. At this point, I was in real danger of dozing off while sitting up waiting for her to finish. I had been awake for 20 hours and was exhausted so I finally gave up and called it quits for the night. It was gonna take more than an uncomfortably warm room to keep me awake at that point. She was very nice and agreed to work on it the next day.

I fell into a deep sleep pretty quickly after she left, only to be woken up 5 hours later by a phone call. I keep my phone on vibrate so normally a call isn’t enough to wake me up but this person was persistent. They called several times, which finally woke me up. I reluctantly picked up my phone and saw the call was an international number. Between that and the number of times they had called, I figured it was important so I answered. Turns out, it was one of the vendors I work with letting me know they had inadvertently shared my company’s account log in credentials with a different customer of theirs so they needed me to reset our passwords as soon as possible. Yep, important.

I filed that call solidly under “Ways I do not want to be woken out of a sound sleep”. The only mitigating factor was that the person calling me was from Ireland and had quite a lovely Irish accent (one of my favorites). It’s so hard to be grumpy at someone when their accent sounds like music and they are just so darn nice. I was so groggy that I didn’t catch his name, but I’ve taken to calling him Seamus. Seamus was so bright and chipper that normally I would have been even more annoyed but #Irishaccent #swoon #everythingsoundslovely.

At that point, there was no getting back to sleep again, so I started my day 2+ hours earlier than I planned. Nothing like a series of back to back meetings for 9 hours on short sleep to bring out the best in a person. Yes, that was #sarcasm.

Like I said, not the worst thing by far but definitely not glamorous. I will say that the hotel at least does really nice poached eggs for breakfast, something I never make for myself because I am an egg poaching failure, so while I didn’t get a restful sleep that first night, at least I had a nice breakfast. I should have taken a photo of those eggs to post to social media. 🙂

I capped the trip off with my final flight home on a plane that was older than I am. Well ok, maybe it’s not quite that old but it had to be close. It was an MD-80 – I thought all of those had been put out to pasture by all major carriers, but nope. The interior looked straight outta 1985 except that there was no leg room.

It should therefore not have surprised me that as soon as boarding was complete, the captain announced a maintenance delay. That makes two trips in a row with American Airlines with maintenance delays. At least this one was mercifully short (20-30 minutes), but I have to say that the prospect of flying on a geriatric aircraft with a maintenance issue was not comforting. My aerospace engineer son commenting in our family chat that maintenance issues were to be expected because “aluminum experiences fatigue under any cyclical stress unlike many other metals” did not help (which I let him know).

Thankfully, the MD-80 and I made it back home with no further misadventure. Let’s hope I break this maintenance delay streak on my next trip to Panama in a few weeks.

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