Day 1: Saturday, September 9

The Journey Begins!

The big day is finally here! We’re off to Portugal…. at last!

Earlier in the day we met in the condo garden with Stephen who took Ollie and Tulip for the 2 weeks we’ll be away.

I had booked the limo from TAL (Toronto Airport Limo) to arrive at 6:00PM (these guys are great by the way; highly recommended). At about 5:50 Vince and I went out to the front of the building to meet the driver. He was not there yet, which was really unusual because TAL always arrives early. The car finally did arrive at 6:12 (the driver said he had been stuck in traffic on the Gardiner Expressway – what a surprise), and we were off to Pearson International Airport to begin our adventure.

We reached Pearson at 7:10PM, paid the driver ($93.10 including tax and tip), and entered the terminal. We checked in at the Air Canada self-serve kiosk, which proved to be quite confusing – one of the Air Canada agents gave us a hand with printing the luggage tags. We had further problems with the self-serve baggage drop as it wouldn’t take my suitcase through the machine. I called the same Air Canada agent over for assistance; apparently my suitcase wouldn’t go through the belt as the barcode on my baggage tag was too faded for the reader to see. The agent printed a new baggage tag and secured it on my suitcase, and it then went through the conveyor and on its way.

We proceeded through Security without a hitch (thank goodness) and began the long, looooooong trek down the halls of Pearson’s Terminal 1. Coming down the escalators to the international boarding gates we encountered the Tilted Spheres sculpture by the artist Richard Serra (if you’d like to view more in-depth information on this sculpture on my TOcityscapes blog, click here). I always get a warm and fuzzy feeling when I see this sculpture; at the site of it I know international travel and adventure are soon to be had via an imminent flight.

Tilted Spheres at the international gates, Toronto Pearson’s Terminal 1

We were quite hungry at this point so, as much as I hate buying the insanely-overpriced food at Pearson International, we had a little something to keep us going. I had a very small wrap ($16.99), a small bag of Crispy Minis and a Vitamin Water, all for the extortion price of $27.95! The food vendors know they have a captive audience when you’re at Pearson (like you’re going to go anywhere else), so they soak you accordingly. We finished eating at 8:15 then just hung around, waiting for the time to pass.

Our flight to Lisbon was scheduled for a 10:55PM departure. We had lost track of time just sitting around daydreaming, but we suddenly noticed that it was 10:22 and our flight had not yet been announced – very odd. Vince went off to the departure monitors to investigate and discovered our flight had had a gate change. Oh great! It was now less than a half hour to departure so we had to hustle down to Gate E79, which felt like miles away.

We got to the boarding gate to find no one there as all the passengers had already boarded. Racing onboard at 10:30 we found our seats, which were the two window seats in a 2-3-2 configuration (I like this configuration as it’s still somewhat private when there’s two people travelling together). Luckily there was still space in the overhead bins for our luggage.

After buckling up we had a good laugh and a head-shake over this – I’ve never cut things this close before and I hope to never repeat the experience! It was only when we reached Lisbon that each of our phones came alive with texts and emails telling us there had been a gate change for the Toronto departure to Lisbon…. you don’t say… geez, thanks Air Canada!

Ironically our hustling to board was all for naught, as the flight was delayed due to an ill passenger who had to deplane. We finally pushed back at 11:38PM, 45 minutes late, and were off!

With the bright lights of Toronto fading away behind us we begin our trans-Atlantic journey into the night…

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