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Air Travel is a Nightmare: Let's Travel Anyway

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The Wall Street Journal reported today that the worst two airports in the world for delayed flights are Toronto and Montreal. I can confirm that Journal's findings are accurate. I was in both airports a few days ago, and the experience was a nightmare.

Due to flight delays, my wife and I spent an unscheduled night in a Toronto Airport hotel and an unplanned-for night in an airport hotel in Atlanta. These delays cost us more than $600, and we weren't reimbursed.

In addition to airline hassles, we found that the cost for almost everything we bought in airports has increased dramatically. At the Montreal airport, two burgers, a beer, and a glass of wine cost us 80 Canadian dollars (not including a tip). The hotel room in Toronto–more than $300 a night.

Despite the hassles and the unanticipated expenses, I'm glad my wife and I visited Quebec and Nova Scotia last week. Why?

First, the Canadians are almost universally courteous and friendly, and it was a pleasure to interact with them. A cab driver warned us that the French-speaking people of Quebec would be rude if we didn't speak their language, but that was not true. We had a lovely visit to a charming city.

Second, Canadian food is delicious, especially the seafood. Nova Scotia's sparkling wines are the best I've ever tasted–much better than French champagnes or the sparkling wines of California.

I have always found international travel stimulating, and my recent trip to Canada was no exception. For example, I learned the Canadians have told the penny to bugger off. They simply don't use pennies. You get charged ten bucks if you buy something for $10.01. If you buy something for $9.99, you don't get change back from your ten.

How sensible! Why don't the Americans adopt the same policy?

I was also moved by the Canadians' public displays of patriotism and remembrance for those who died while performing their duties. At the Halifax wharf, I saw The Last Steps memorial, which includes an old-fashioned gangplank. A nearby sign said that 350,000 Canadian men and women embarked from Halifax for Europe to fight in World War II.

Sixty thousand Canadian soldiers did not return, and those young people took their last steps in their native land in Halifax before walking the gangplank toward war.

Who could not be touched by this simple memorial?

Thus, despite the hassles, the unexpected expenses, and an occasional rude encounter (only in the airports), I was grateful for my visit to Canada, our cheerful, hearty, and gracious neighbor.

The Last Steps Memorial

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