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I write to you today from the back of a bus in Vancouver, Canada! It’s 7h20 in the morning here, although my clock and body are telling it is 17h26. This is the first of two busses and a train I am currently using to get to the Microsoft offices. This is a far cry from my usual sitting in Johannesburg, South Africa traffic! What is going on?
Last year I joined the Rangers projects and as part of that (an unexpected and enjoyable part) is a three week trip to Vancouver, Canada and Redmond, USA. The purpose of this trip was to finish, polish and deliver the TFS Integration Platform adapters I have been working on. At the same time this gave me the opportunity to see what life is like at Microsoft and more broadly in North America!
I had never heard of the shoe bomber before this trip, but this ass has ruined flying to America for the rest of the world. That is my belief after going through airport security. While at OR Tambo Airport (or Johannesburg International), I have never had to take my shoes or belt off for any flights to the countries in Africa I have been. However being an American inbound flight there was an additional check before the flight which was the first of the very many times I would take my shoes off.
The trip itself was from Jo’burg to Atlanta, USA (red line below) then a connecting flight from their to Seattle, USA (blue line) and then finally a bus to Vancouver, Canada (yellow line).
Map from http://www.oera.net/How2/TextureMaps2.htm and pins and lines added by me (not accurately)
The first flight was interesting mostly for the in-flight entertainment which was brilliant where I was able to watch a bunch of classic movies on the flight! Post the Christmas bomb scare there has been a heightened security which meant I missed my connecting flight to Seattle. This gave me the first chance I got to experience the service driven culture that many people leave South Africa for. Delta Airlines were great and got me on the next flight!
This flight to Seattle was interesting as it was the first time I could try American style Coke, aka Coke with corn syrup in place of sugar, that the cast of Major Nelson’s Podcast have spoken about before. I completely understand now why they are sneaking Coke over the borders because it really is just too sweet.
Later, at SeaTac airport, I was able grab a Cherry Coke which we do not get in South Africa, and that was much better!
However the most interesting part for me was the bus ride from Seattle to Vancouver. During this ride I got to see the Space Needle which thought would be bigger and also saw the huge harbour that is Seattle. For some reason I had never thought of Seattle as harbour town because it is inland a bit, but the fjords and rivers that run in this part of the world allow it to be a very impressive one. This was also the first chance I got to check my email in over a day as the bus had free WiFi!
Oddly enough crossing into Canada didn’t require my shoes to come off, so I guess it’s only America that is at war with the people who conceal bombs in shoes and underwear. Finally after 28 hours of travelling (16 hr, Flight to Atlanta; 3 hr, Getting through customs and waiting for flight; 5 hr, Flight to Seattle; 4 hr, Bus to Vancouver) I finally met Willy-Peter at the bus stop in a very rainy Vancouver!