Oh, Montréal – a Road Warrior Story

I always considered myself a seasoned traveler, one who is not fazed by minor mishaps.

Today I traveled to Montréal from Albany, New York. My flight, get this, went from Albany to Philadelphia, like several hundred miles south, just so I could catch another flight north again, fly right over Albany on my way to Montréal. After waiting around at the airport for a few hours, my first flight was canceled. I was stranded in Albany at 6:00pm, with no way to get there. Since I know it’s “only” 220 miles north, I went over to Avis and rented a car, one way, at a cost similar to what the airline ticket was.

Rather than dozing in cozy airline seats, I found myself on I-87 North driving through the dark Adirondacks in heavy rain. It was not a scenic or relaxing trip.

Americans crossing into Quebec, with limited French skills, are at a disadvantage, and in the age of Trump, I felt that I was interrogated much more vehemently than I remember it being when crossing into Canada in the past. But my story held, and I made it through.

When you drive over that border, there is some level of culture shock. All the signs look strange, and the street names and road numbers are unrecognizable. Distances are now in kilometers. In the dark, in heavy rain, with street markings being alien and the roads pretty crappy, it is outright scary driving into Montréal.

After about 20 kilometers I thought I’d better start figuring out where I needed to go, so I popped out my iPhone and went to Google Maps, as I always do. I asked for the Dorval Airport and it found it. Meanwhile, my phone was texting me like crazy that now I was roaming and it would charge me $2.05 per megabyte unless I answered “Yes” to some text and then it would just be $2 a day. I managed to pull over and do that.

As I got back on the road, I think I waited too long for the proper turnoff, because as I looked down, my map showed this, which had me freeze in panic:

Check this out! There is obviously no left ramp from route 132 onto route 10 outside of Montréal. I got lost, as I progressed following the Google Map directions, pronouncing all the French names, and not finding the turnoffs. It took me some time to figure out what Canadian exit markers looked like, because I kept missing them, making my plight even worse.

Eventually, getting lost at least five times, and getting close to death that many more times, I found the Hilton Garden Inn at the airport. The rain came down in sheets. I found a parking spot. I pulled in. I let out a huge sigh of relief. I stepped out of the car and realized too late that I had parked the car in 6 inches of standing rainwater.

By the time I got to the door of the hotel, my jeans were wet up to the knees and my sneakers were squish-soaked in 38 degree water.

They are now drying on the heater in my room.

Oh, Montréal!

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