Monday, 23 November 2009

Travelling to Grenada

Well after weeks of organizing, sorting and packing we managed to squeeze all the things we had acquired to take to the boat into 10 bags to be checked and a couple carry-ons each. Only 2 of the bags were overweight. Kate Douglas and her son Robert kindly gave our luggage and some of us a ride to the airport. The rest of us got a ride with Grandma (Ladora). The checking in process was very easy, Westjet took our word on the weights of the bags so we didn’t have to worry about the accuracy of the bathroom scales we had been using. Grandma treated us to dinner at the Milestones at YVR, thanks again. Going through security we discovered we had broken a few rules. I had a tube of toothpaste that was a large tube that had a very little amount in it and Gary had mistakenly left a knife in his backpack. We shuffled some stuff around and Gary went to check one more bag. This cost us some money but lightened all of our carry on bags. It wasn’t long before we were settled into our seats on the plane, we were all very excited but new this would one of our only chances to sleep in the next 20 hours. The plane took off at 11pm. Now why do people keep their lights on and read during an entire night flight? Isn’t the point of a night flight to sleep while you travel? Wouldn’t you look around and see every other person on the plane is snuggled in to sleep and think “ wow maybe my light is bothering all these people trying to sleep”. OK that is enough ranting. I don’t think any of us slept very well. We arrived in Toronto at 6am EST (3am PST) bleary eyed but still excited. We grabbed breakfast while we waited for the next flight. We watched our luggage get loaded onto our Westjet flight to St Lucia and were relieved to see all 11 pieces! We hadn’t reserved seats on this flight so we ended up at the back of the plane, but were all able to sit together. The flight went well with just a bit of turbulence to keep it interesting. All of us but Bradley were able to grab pieces of sleep. Once we got down over the Caribbean Islands it was fun to try and recognize the islands by their geographic characteristics. Monserat was the easiest as it was smoking. We landed in St Lucia at 2:10pm, immediately after walking out the door of the plane that warm tropical air envelopes you. Oh it felt and smelt so good! Our flight arrived at the same time as a 747 from Europe, so the customs line up was really long. Fortunately a nice customs officer sent us to the “family” booth with no lineup as we were travelling with children. This is something we have experienced often while travelling with kids. Canada customs should take note. If you have never been to St Lucia, I should explain, St Lucia has an international airport and a domestic airport and they built them at opposite ends of the country. Economically it makes sense as a taxi must be hired to drive people from one airport to the other. This deposits about $100.00US into the local economy. It also allows the traveler to see some of St Lucia and possibly stop for a drink or a bite to eat along the way depositing more into the local economy. The problem with this system is you need to have enough time between your flight connections to allow for the hour and half taxi ride. Fortunately we had time for both the taxi ride and a stop for a cold drink. We had pre arranged for our taxi before leaving Vancouver and made sure he had a vehicle large enough to accommodate all 11 of our bags. This went amazingly well. Upon reaching the domestic airport we had to check all our bags which was a bit expensive. Liat airlines only allows 1 bag per person and charges a hefty fee for extra bags. We knew this was the case but it was still the cheapest way to get all the gear to the boat. Liat couldn’t guarantee all our bags would make it on to our flight but said that they would get there some time. What can you do but smile and hope for the best? It was a 30 min flight to St Vincent where we waited for 2 ½ hour for our flight to Grenada. I was nervous about this flight actually happening as Liat is well known for planes not arriving when they are supposed to. We had now been traveling for 20 hours with very little sleep and not much food since breakfast in Toronto. In our family the potential for people to start falling apart at this point is huge. I am happy to report that everyone held up incredibly well. As parents we couldn’t have been more proud of our kids, they are hardy seasoned travelers. Our flight showed up at 9pm and took 30 min to reach Grenada…our final destination by air! A miracle occurred! All our bags arrived with us! Customs was a little sticky but they let us go with a small donation to the local economy. We grabbed a cab to get to the hotel and picked up some dinner to go on the way. I had booked the hotel rooms on a site called skyauction. I had never used this site before and was nervous if it would actually work. I am happy to report that it all went smoothly our rooms were ready and waiting for us with killer views of the best beach in Genada. Or at least as good as the view can be at 10:30pm but the tree frogs sounded awesome. We had now been traveling for 2 4 hours and were ready to collapse.

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