A (bad) day in the life of a wine writer


A (bad) day in the life of a wine writer

I’m currently in Canada. I’ve just spent four wonderful days in the Okanagan Valley, but when it came time to leave, things didn’t go so well. Maybe I should have just stayed there?

The day began with an alarm set for 0450.

  • 0510: get into my hire car and head to Penticton Airport, for my 0625 Westjet flight to Toronto via Calgary.
  • 0525: arrive at the airport. Penticton is a tiny airport. One of the smallest I’ve flown through, and this is important for later in the story. It has no facilities: just two vending machines and a further two airside. There’s a seating area either side of security. That’s it.
  • 0530: drop the car keys into the National after-hours return box (they don’t open until late).
  • 0535: go through security, where I realize that I don’t have my passport. Panic! I remember putting it into my pocket. I travel so often and so I always put things into the same pockets. I have dropped it somewhere.
  • 0536: retrace all my steps, which doesn’t take long in a tiny airport. No sign.
  • 0537: retrace my steps again. Same result. Peer into the now locked rental car to see if I can see it (keys now out of reach in the return box).
  • 0540: realize with a sinking feeling that I’m going to miss my flight. Call taxi to go back to the Lakeside hotel to see if I dropped it in the car park, or my room.
  • 0600: arrive at Lakeside and do a thorough search. Realise with a sinking feeling in my stomach that I could be in a logistical hell of my own making. Sit in reception and google ‘lost passport.’ Realise that an emergency passport is not going to work with my coming itinerary (Toronto-New York State-Toronto-Victoria-Portland-McMinville-Victoria-London). And how do I get to a consulate without a passport? Will a driving licence work on domestic flights?
  • 0625: leave a message with the National office at Penticton. Could the passport be in the car still? Would they have a look?
  • 0700: I get a call. They looked, and they found it!! Disaster averted, slightly. Now to the airport again. But how am I going to get to Toronto? Penticton has hardly any flights. But I find that there is an Air Canada flight via Vancouver at 0815. It could be problem solved.
  • 0715: Get to the airport, and buy a new ticket. CA$712. Ouch. But at least I’ll get to Toronto more-or-less on time. Big wave of relief.
  • 0800: On board flight. Engines start and run for 10 minutes (turbo prop: this is a Bombardier 400). Then switch off. Repeat. Mechanical problem.
  • 0830: Deplane. Head to the departure lounge again.
  • 0900: Realize I’ve missed my connection. Air Canada book me onto another flight.
  • 1000: My app tells me the new departure time is 2030. That’s not going to work. Would be stranded overnight in Vancouver.
  • 1030: We have to leave airside. Queue up and get a new flight out, leaving 1245. I’m beginning to feel tired. Also a bit hungry. Don’t have coins for vending machines, and my cards don’t work in them, so no chance of anything to eat.
  • 1315: After another delay we actually leave from Penticton for the 45 minute flight to Vancouver. I’m now on board the Toronto flight which left late from Vancouver.

I think I have been guilty of being a bit arrogant about how well travelled I am, and how good I am at travel. Today has been a self-inflicted, but also partly airline-inflicted hell. It’s a good humbling experience, and it’s also a good lesson in patience, and being accepting of things that you have no control over.

I’ll go to bed (when I finally get there) grateful that I didn’t actually lose my passport, because that would have led to astonishingly difficult situations, and would have probably ended this trip early. And I’ll also go to bed a bit humbler, which has to be a good thing, eh?

[Postscript: I got to White Oaks in Niagara at 0008. My chums were still up drinking so I joined them. A nice end to the day.]

3 Comments on A (bad) day in the life of a wine writer
wine journalist and flavour obsessive

3 thoughts on “A (bad) day in the life of a wine writer

  1. Man, I had anxiety attacks just reading that. I guess, it doesn’t always make you stronger. sometimes, what doesn’t kill you leaves you stranded in a remote Canadian airport weakened by lack of sustenance.
    Glad it worked out.

  2. My partner lost her passport in Auckland (it also turned up in the hire car, but we had gone by then) and the GB Consulate issued her a temporary one more or less straightaway.

  3. Sue and I are so glad that everything worked out OK in the end. We also had a sinking feeling when you appeared at the hotel lobby as we were checking out. Best wishes for better luck in your upcoming journeys!

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