We decided to leave the neighbourhood in style and so rented a brand new Mercedes. This would be no ordinary farewell, but a head turner. Wrong! Apart from making a fool of myself out in the street fighting with the onboard security system, just to get the thing to start, I discovered, surprise, surprise, that although the car is huge, the boot is micro small – enough space only for four German executives’ lunch packs. So it was back to the rental company for a Focus Estate and then a question of sneaking out under the cover of darkness.
The journey to the airport made, and the flight almost over, we circled Halifax, Nova Scotia’s capital city, not knowing what to expect. But then, coming into land, as far as we could see, trees and lakes, lakes and trees, miles of them, plus the odd homestead here and there. Awesome.
The International Airport is very small compared with those of London, and Customs and Immigration clearance plus collecting baggage took around two hours. The officials gave us a thorough interview, pointing out that whilst we, as Brits, can stay in Canada for up to six months at a time (without a visa), it is a privilege and not a right, and the official at that juncture has the power to state what length you can remain. If you are going to do this, make sure that you have a clear and concise plan of your intentions, why you wish to remain the amount of time you do and have support material available (return flight tickets, bank statements of funds available and accommodation arrangements etc). You will find on the whole, the Immigration Officials, like the rest of the Canadians, are really nice and helpful people, but no fools. You must be honest and well prepared.
Emerging from the terminal at 8.30 in the evening, I had expected the icy winds to blow up my trouser legs. No way. I thought we’d landed at the wrong place and had to be restrained from climbing back on the plane. It was balmy and hot, just like Portugal. Here we were, these crazy Brits, togged up to the nines in winter gear with the Canadians milling around in shorts and sunglasses!
Due to the problem with car rental and credit cards, we stayed overnight in a local hotel on the outskirts of Halifax. Fortuitously these were also sub rental agents for one of the large vehicle hire operations who were quite happy to accept my debit visa card as payment, providing I laid a deposit to be held against the hiring. If you follow us in this journey, make sure that you fit yourself up with a credit card way in advance. There are plenty of options on the Internet, if you are having difficulty in obtaining one.
© 2002 Klondike Pete