Lots of you have been asking me about my Christmas break, where I went on my honeymoon to Canada. It didn’t quite go to plan, and I feel the skills I have gained from running my business, through a pandemic, and now through a recession, massively helped us make the best out of everything that happened. So here’s what we got up to in case you wanted to know…
We flew to Toronto, Canada, on Saturday 17th December, and arrived in the evening. The next day we had a fantastic day-trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Whirlpool, and Niagara Falls. The following day was spent exploring Toronto: we went for a run along Don River; saw city views from the CN Tower; sampled BeaverTails; went to the Christmas markets; and gave ice skating a go! I made a few little videos I’ve shared on my Instagram of each part of our trip. You can watch my Niagara trip video here, and my Toronto video here.
We headed to the airport on Tuesday 20th December, for a 12pm flight to Vancouver, and shortly after arriving were told our flight was delayed until 3pm due to a maintenance issue with the plane. This time kept being pushed back, and got moved to 5:30pm, before being cancelled. We were told the cancellation was due to the storm in Vancouver, and that because the reason for cancellation was an act of God, there was no help from the airline. We were told to stand in a queue at the airport to use the cancellation phones to call Air Canada and rebook ourselves onto the next available flight to Vancouver.
We stood in the queue to use the flight cancellation phones (who knew they were a thing?!) until 10:30pm, and once getting onto a phone we were on hold for over an hour before getting through to someone. The earliest availability the airline had was an evening flight on Friday 23rd December, with an overnight layover in Regina, so we would arrive in Vancouver on Saturday 24th December. We were gutted because this meant we would miss our first day of skiing in Whistler, plus all of our time in Vancouver, but the airline said this was the best they could do, and so we accepted this flight. The airline moved our return flight to Heathrow back by 2 days from 29th December to 31st December so that we would still be able to have our time in Vancouver, but after our skiing, instead of before, as originally planned.
We booked a hotel near the airport that night and came up with a plan for the next few days. I found a spa hotel with hot springs, an amazing restaurant, and woodland walks about an hour north of the city, so we booked ourselves in here for a day and night. We then came back to Toronto and went to watch the Maple Leafs in an ice hockey game, which I really enjoyed and got very into! The next day, the weather turned as the storm arrived in Toronto. We had until the evening before our flight, so we went to St Lawrence food market and some coffee shops to keep warm. You can see my video of what we got up to over these days here.
We then made our way back to the airport, and found our flight was delayed by 1 hour. We waited until the last moment to check in our luggage, before finding out our flight had been cancelled for a second time, this time due to the storm being in Toronto. In fact no planes flew out of the airport at all that evening because the weather was so bad. Because of our experience on 20th December, we decided to rebook our flight to Vancouver online ourselves, rather than waiting in the queue to use the phones again, and before too many other flights got booked up. However, due to the storm affecting so much of Canada and America already, there being so many cancelled flights, such a backlog of stranded people, the fact it was Christmas, and that many planes were now in the wrong place, we had trouble finding a flight. The earliest availability was 29th December, 9 days later than we had originally planned to leave Toronto, and this meant that we would now miss all of our skiing holiday in Whistler.
Feeling gutted once again, we went to collect our luggage before heading to yet another airport hotel for the night. However, when we went to baggage reclaim, our bags weren’t there to pick up! Nor were thousands of other people’s luggage! We stood in a queue to speak to someone at customer services until 5:30am to find out where our bags were (they were still at the airport), and how to get them back. We were told they would meet us at our final destination (as in London, Heathrow, on 1st January), so we filled in a form to request they were returned to baggage reclaim at Toronto airport for us to pick up. We were told when the day staff came on shift at 8am they would be bringing bags back up to baggage reclaim, so we should return then.
We finally got to the airport hotel just after 6am (it felt like it hadn’t been worth booking a room for the night at this point!), and got a few hours sleep before heading back to the airport, to find our luggage still wasn’t there. Bearing in mind it was now 1pm on Christmas eve, we had no possessions, nowhere to stay, and the shops were shutting at 4pm, we quickly headed to a shopping mall for a couple of changes of clothes, some toiletries and a swimsuit to get us through the next few days.
We checked into a hotel in the city centre with a pool and spa so we would at least be staying somewhere nice for Christmas, even though it wasn’t what we planned! We spoke to lots of people at this hotel and out of everyone we talked to, we found just one person who was meant to be there. Everyone else was stuck there, just like us, and had also lost their luggage! One family we spoke to had a connecting flight in Toronto which had not taken off. They had 3 young children and their Christmas presents were in their lost suitcases. They had explained Santa had delivered their presents to the wrong place as he didn’t realise they would get stuck in Toronto, which they had taken well, until they saw Santa walking round the hotel wishing everyone merry Christmas! We were very pleased we did not have children with us as we went through this experience!
We spent Christmas day at the hotel in Toronto city centre, and on Boxing Day returned to the airport to find out if our luggage had been found, but no luck.
We then tried to implement our Plan B (or should that be Plan C by now…?!). This was to find somewhere to ski near Toronto now that the road conditions had improved enough for us to drive. However, there was another problem with this… it turns out we weren’t the only people stuck in Toronto who had decided to hire a car! All the car hire places at the airport had run out of cars, so we had to do some research to find somewhere open on Boxing Day with a car available.
Eventually, we found somewhere (rated 1.7 stars out of 5 on Google…), and booked a car online. Once we got to the hire place, they were so busy that it took us over 2 hours to get our vehicle, and they insisted we hadn’t paid for insurance (which we had) so made us pay an additional $200 for pay-on-day insurance… but we eventually got a car, although it was dark by this point!
We then made a B-line for Decathlon before it shut for the night, where we bought skiing essentials, and treated ourselves to a suitcase too so we looked slightly less like homeless people carrying all our belongings round in carrier bags.
We drove for about an hour out of the city to a town called Barrie, and stayed here overnight, where we booked ski hire and lift passes for Blue Mountain Ski Resort for the next 2 days. The next morning we drove to Blue Mountain (which was about another hour further out of Toronto), and had 2 glorious days skiing there. It wasn’t Whistler, but it was still skiing, and we had a lovely time! I’ve made a video of this part of our trip which you can watch here.
We then headed back to the city on 29th, dropped the car off, and finally caught our flight, 3rd time lucky, to Vancouver! In Vancouver we had a trip exploring the city, where we went to Stanley Park, Vancouver Lookout, Granville Island, and Capilano Suspension Bridge (quite scary but apparently it’s very safe…!). We went out for sushi in the evening, and the next day took the seabus so we could explore West Vancouver, before going back to the airport and heading back to Heathrow. You can take a look at what we got up to here. At Heathrow, I was reunited with my luggage (hooray!) but sadly Jonathan’s is still missing.
I really hope your Christmas went more to plan than ours did! Saying all this, we still managed to have a brilliant time between dealing with the mishaps of our trip, and at the end of the day we are safe and healthy.
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