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December 23rd 2015
Published: December 24th 2015
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Since moving to New York, going on a trip is considerably more difficult. In Portland we had a great cat sitter in Chad. Now, we have to spend a lot of time finding someone willing to come to Hamilton Heights to look after Tarragon. If we are just going for a long weekend he is pretty good on his own, but anything over 3 days requires a nanny. On our last 2 trips, our friend Christina took care of him. However, this trip she is also out of town for the holiday. Fortunately, Jerry was able to find one of his co-workers to serve as nanny. As Tarragon ages he requires a great deal more attention than the street kitty we adopted several years ago.

Typically, when we are going on a trip we plan out pretty intensive itineraries, Savannah was very detailed right down to all dinner reservations. This trip, we managed to only plan dinner reservation for the holiday meals. The rest of the trip is pretty much playing it by ear.

The Train Ride

In contrast to the train to Savannah (16 hours in a sauna for a great deal of the trip) the train to Montreal was very pleasant. The temperature was well controlled and the seats fairly comfortable, good foot rests and lots of leg room. It was foggy until Albany, but we have been on that section of the trip several times already. The entire trip including border crossing took about 13 hours, but it didn’t seem that long. The scenery was very nice, we traveled along both Lake George and Lake Champlain. I would imagine that during fall foliage the view would be spectacular. Not really much else to comment on, other than for me the train is far better than a plane, since I don’t like flying especially if the plane is going to be small.

Montreal (part 1)

We only spent the night in Montreal as we were off to Quebec City the next day for Christmas and then back to Montreal for the New Year festivities. Our hotel was directly across from the train station (which is in downtown) so it was very convenient for us and our travel plans. We stayed at the Hotel Bonaventure, a boutique hotel on the 11 and 12th floors of what appeared to be an office complex. There was an outdoor pool, but we passed on that. The room was nice, but they could have cleaned the bathroom slightly better. Check in was easy as we booked on As is our policy, we try very hard to speak the language of the country we are in. Montreal being a very French speaking city, this means it is very difficult for me, as I know very little French, no matter how hard I try to learn. The most difficult thing is pronouncing the words, I might know the correct word to say, but certainly cannot say it with the right pronunciation. I basically just say bon jour or soir and then I am done.

Fortunately, Canada is a dual language country and they all speak both French and English. The default is French and they so easily switch between the two, if only my brain worked that way. Jerry requested his customary map of the city so he could get is directional bearings, he is the navigator I just follow. However, with the advent of the iPhone I do use google maps now and then to find the directions to where we are going, but 95%!o(MISSING)f the time, Jerry knows more than google.

We quickly got to our room and headed out for dinner. The city was very quiet and warm, no snow and not the bitter cold we were expecting. We had picked out a place to get something light and not overly expensive, so we went for fish and chips, after all Canada is part of the Common Wealth and the Queen is on their money, so British food is not that farfetched. It turned out to be a perfect choice. It was one of the best fish and chips we had ever had. Jerry had Sole with a sour cream and onion batter (Sole Panure Crème Sure et Oignon) and I had cod (Morue Panure Burgundy) with a burgundy batter. They were cooked perfectly, crispy and the fish was moist. The place was tiny but certainly pumped out quality food. We attempted to order in French, but that soon went by the wayside, could have to do with the fact we were tired after a long journey.

After dinner we had to take a cab back to the hotel, not because it was so far away, but because it was pouring and we did not bring umbrellas, we are prepared for cold and snow not rain. This must have been a foreshadowing of the hell to come.

At & t and their lies

I have had an international data and phone line for years. I have never been charged for texts or international roaming, until now. Earlier when we crossed the border in to Canada, Jerry and I both received texts that we were now using international data roaming, etc., and fees would start accruing. I immediately called the number in the text to see wtf was going on. After 30 minutes of being on hold and 15 minutes of a very circular conversation, it was finally determined that I should ignore the text message as it did not apply as we had an international data plan. I soon forgot about it. Fast-forward to our room after dinner as I am beginning my blog. Not more than five minutes after I turned my mi-fi device on I received a text that my international data roaming (associated with that devices number) exceeded $100 and I should call to get a money saving plan, 6, minutes later, the charges were now over $300. I called the number post haste. It was not a positive experience and stressed me out beyond belief. The stellar customer service of AT&T, NOT!!!! was frustrating and pure hell. I explained 20 times that I had an international plan and should not be charged anything for data roaming no matter where I was in the world. The only response I got was “I don’t see these charges your talking about”. Really?? They could see the text messages I received but not the alleged charges. Not only did I use my lawyer voice to its fullest extent I completely lost it on top of it. During the phone call a text came that my service had now been suspended because of excessive data roaming charges, all within 30 minutes. Even if I should be charged, what kind of rate gets you over $300 in 10 minutes when all you did is turn the thing on. After an hour of getting nowhere I had had enough. They would not help, did not listen, and just tried to sell me another plan, when I already have a perfectly good plan that they seem to be ignoring. They asked if I wanted to be transferred to international customer service, which I did not because it was 11:30 and my first night of vacation was going to hell in a hand basket. I said if they wanted to give me what I am paying for, fine otherwise I am done with them. Supposedly they are calling me back to fix it. We shall see, and pigs will be flying on Christmas Day.

So as to not end on a bad note, other than the phone, everything is going well and we are looking forward to our trip. I am sure it will be wonderful as our trips always end up being. By the way the name of the fish and chips place is Brits & Chips and I highly recommend it. Not to mention it was half the price and 4 times better than anything you can get in New York City.


24th December 2015

You have my sympathy. I accidentally tackled up a $1500 phone bill in Spain & Portugal. I managed to slide that through at work as it was my work phone.

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