Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Montreal part 1

I do enjoy travelling. At least, I enjoy going to places I've never been before. If I think about it, I'm not sure I enjoy the actual act of moving large distances anymore. I enjoy the anticipation as an emotion whilst moving. The excitement of not really knowing what to expect. Of course, what ever you try to expect, the realisation is always quite different when you get there. But, now I think about it, travelling itself is a real pain in the butt.

I'm sat in a hotel room right now, resting after a couple of days of beer judging. I was asked to skip over to Montreal for the Mondial de la Biere, which is a rather large beer festival in Canada. We've also sent beer here, although I hasten to add, we didn't enter any into the competition I just judged.

When asked if I'd do it, with hotel and flights paid for, I didn't really have to think too hard about if I was going or not. Plucking up the courage to ask Ann if it was OK for me to do it took a little longer. But, flights and hotel paid for in return for tasting a few beers? No brainer, I think.

As it happens, we decided to pay for Ann to fly out too, I thought it only fair, and after all, I'm rubbish at packing suitcases.

Travelling in the name of beer never ceases to fill me with new ideas, changed perspectives and inspiration and sometimes just a little bit of frustration at the inertia I feel we sometimes exhibit in the UK. As more and more people experience world beer culture so we see this culture influence the UK beer scene. In turn we also see a widening gap between those who are open minded and have travelled, and those that cling to tradition like it's the only thing that is important.

There is a down side of our ever increasing global travel. There is the fact that London will soon be under many feet of sea water when the poles melt and that soon the oil will all run out and the planes will fall out of the sky. But that's not the down side I refer to. The real problem I'm finding is the increased difficulty in traveling.

I want to touch on this because I feel beer travel is a great way to widen horizons for any committed beer geek. Air travel has never been cheaper in real terms I'm sure. But it's become a right ball-ache.

I could be wrong, and I'll stand corrected if I am, but I'm sure once-upon-a-time transit through another country was a breeze. Provided you were travelling with the same carrier all the way through you check your luggage and go through security once. You didn't need to clear customs if you are in transit through another country and you just move on the secure side of the airport to your connection. Oh, and for sure, you did't need to claim your bags and re-check them in.

We travelled through Philadelphia to get here from Manchester. Apparently the tickets were cheaper than transferring at Heathrow. If you read this blog and take away one piece of useful information it would be that Philadelphia airport is a real nightmare. We stood in line for boarder control for a whole hour. We had to pick up our hold luggage and then re-check it having cleared customs. We then had to stand in line again for about 45 minutes to clear airport security again. I would have loved a coffee, or  beer and a relax and sit down before our next flight. However, a 2 1/2 hour stop over left us no time at all, only catching our plane with minutes to go.

It seems as more and more people engage in global travel it becomes more and more arduous in terms of security, especially when connecting in a country other than your origin or final destination.

But still, we are here, and Montreal is fantastic. It really doesn't feel like North America, and I hope I'm not insulting the fantastic people here by saying it has a brilliant European feel. It's only the cars, trucks and some of the architecture that reminds you that it's really the Northern American Continent.

I'll have more later on the festival and my experiences of the judging. Meanwhile I'll leave you with a link to a live TV interview I did this morning.

Righty, off to drink beer!


Ted Blair said...

You lucky devils!

We visited Montreal about 18 years ago for a wedding - and I was overjoyed to find on arrival that we were there at the same time as the Chambourcy (sp?) beer festival - which may be the forerunner of the one there today.

A great city, very European both in terms of building and the bars. And a very friendly vibe.

We keep saying we must go back - just need to get the timing right once again.

Look forward to hearing more from your visit...

Brewers Union Local 180 said...

Philadelphia's got nothing on Heathrow.

Ben Viveur said...

One good thing about changing planes in Philadelphia is that you get to eat an authentic Philly cheese Steak - a culinary experience not to be passed up.

Unknown said...

The problems you experienced in Philly would have been similar no matter where your plane landed in the US. Not every country is so concerned with security.

Therefore, next time you come to Montréal, make sure you don't transit in the US... :o)

I'm glad, however, you went through all of this. Had you not, I wouldn't have had the chance to chat with you and Ann.

Unknown said...

Interestingly, regarding transit airports, Tom from Storm and Anchor flew from Switzerland through Heathrow and found it a breeze.

Coming back through Philadelphia we cleared US customs in Montreal and our bags went right through to Manchester (including the one with the ballast - thanks Eric) - we had a 3 hour plus stopover in Phil and found some Dechutes White IPA. Most pleasant.

On arrival in Manchester they announced that all those passengers who were in transit didn't need to clear customs and didn't need to claim baggage and re-check.

So yes, in summary, best avoid transit through USA when traveling from Europe.