Friday, 22 August 2008

Trip to Iqaluit in Pictures

I'm gonna try and get everyone in on learning some Inuktitut with me... so today's word is "Ai" which means hello.
Today's high: 10C, low: 4C
Sunrise: 04:52 Sunset: 20:21

I'll try writing my trip from Winnipeg to Iqaluit out mainly in pictures... I left Winnipeg on Thursday the 21st of August. The sky was overcast, which meant flying through the clouds and some pretty rough turbulance. I actually took gravol to help calm my stomach. (I almost never take gravol on the plane.) I also had a headache. Perhaps I was a little more stressed about leaving than I thought I was.

I hadn't eaten much of anything for lunch, and to be honest wasn't feeling up to a proper meal, but when the stewardess came by with the cart of food (you know, the stuff they make you pay for?), the package of cookies looked good. I asked how much they were, she checked my name on a list, and said that I could pick a few more things because my food had been pre-paid. Bonus! So I asked for the apple wedges with dipping sauce.

I figured with a 2 1/2 hour flight it might be nice to watch a movie on the touch screen. I navigated through the screens, watched a few previews and picked a movie.... and the screen went blank. All the screens around me had done the same thing, so I restarted, and once again was about to pick a movie... and everything went blank again. I decided I probably wasn't supposed to be watching a movie and instead I pulled out some reading and my ipod.

Once in Ottawa, I was able to leave most of my bags in storage overnight, which meant I only had to deal with my backpack, purse and one suitcase. Unfortunately, that suitcase didn't have great wheels, and so it had to be carried everywhere. And I ended up at the far end of the hotel (see previous post). I was craving soup, so I went for a walk around the neighborhood with some tips from the guy at the front desk of the hotel. I couldn't find anything I was interested in, and only succeeded in becoming hungrier. So I returned to the hotel and went to the restaurant in the hotel. I ordered the soup of the day and the calamari. They brought me the salad of the day instead of soup... and I was so hungry, I didn't say a word and instead scarfed down both salad and calamari. lol. Seriously. All that was left of the salad was two large slices of tomato and a small slice of cucumber. Oh, and they also brought me fresh, hot buns. That makes up for anything! And when the waiter listed off the desserts, the cheesecake sounded too good to pass up. :D

The next morning I was at the airport shortly after 7am. I picked up all my luggage and the guy at the storage area took pity on me and helped me take it all upstairs to the check-in desks. When I checked in I was told the flight was really full, so none of the excess baggage would make it on the flight. I picked my two priority bags and took all the totes to the other end of the row of check in desks so they could go with the special handling bags. Both in Winnipeg and in Ottawa they chose one tote to open and dig through. This meant cutting through the tape and digging through my carefully packed items. I had to repack and retape both times. Oh, and the receipt they wrote out from Air Canada for the excess baggage I paid for... First Air accepted that as payment. But only after I went back to the AirCanada desk and made them rewrite the receipt so it said I was going to Iqaluit (they had written Rankin Inlet!?!), and then went through the now incredibly long line-up at First Air all over again so I could re-claim my documents that they were holding hostage to make sure I'd pay them for the excess baggage.
I treated myself to a smoothie once that was all done... downed it so fast my head hurt... made it through security and bought a coffee at Second Cup to warm myself back up before getting on the plane. Once on the plane and in flight... they served breakfast. I picked the warm breakfast, which was some egg-type thing with who knows what beside it. The who-knows-what reminded me of the inside of a cabbage roll. But different. Tasted good anyways.

We landed in Iqaluit, no issues. I stepped off the plane and breathed a sigh of relief. Finally I wasn't overheating! 30C in Winnipeg, 9C in Iqaluit. No jacket needed, just... ahhhhh! Perfect weather, bright sunny skies. Once in the terminal I looked for the person who was supposed to pick me up, but couldn't see anyone with a sign or who appeared unable to find someone. The airport is about half the size of the one in Abbotsford. The luggage belt is 30ft long and ends in a ramp for the luggage to pile up in the corner, where a guy stands and throws it into a pile until the pile gets too big and he yells at people to pick up their luggage and he turns off the conveyor belt until people comply and the pile gets smaller. We had 2 or 3 planes all land within 10 minutes of each other, so it was really chaotic at that end of the building. At least 100 people got off each flight, plus the people there to pick them up. On the other side of the room were the line-ups for going through security and the lineups for checking in. I stood in the midst of the piles of people and did my best to locate my luggage. During the chaos, they made a few announcements overhead. I heard them call a few different people to the counter, never heard my name. After I found my luggage, I waited a bit as the room cleared out. Still I didn't see who was supposed to be picking me up. So I pulled out the phone number for the lady who arranged everything for me, called her on the payphones, and she described the guy I should be looking for. I found him about 5 mins later. He said my name had been called and he waited for me by the counter. Huh... They should have tried more than once, cause I never heard it!

After loading my stuff into the van, we made a circle through the main roads in town and I got a brief lesson in the important buildings in town. We then went to the hotel to check in but they weren't done cleaning rooms, so we put my baggage in the luggage storage room and went over to the hospital. Claudia (my relocation coordinator) has her office in the old hospital building (see picture of building below). I met her and she gave me a brief tour of the new hospital building, some reading material for the weekend, and taxi vouchers to get my excess baggage when it arrived by freighter later in the day.

I left the hospital and took this picture from the parking lot: On the far left is a government building and the cinema, then comes the hotel entrance, the "6-story", the "8-story" and the "brown building" (creative names, don't you think?). They're all connected on the inside. And they are all considered to be across the road from the hospital. Note the short cut through the ditch.

Partway down the shortcut I was able to turn around and get this shot of the new hospital (which is connected to the old hospital). It's the tall building on the right with the earth-mover in front of it. Now count the lampposts. The second lamppost from the right is in front of a cream-colored building with black balconies. That is where I'll most likely get an apartment. It's also "across the street" from the hospital, but the ditch is much deeper and more perilous-looking than the one between the hospital and the hotel. Never-the-less, it's a shortcut I'll probably use! The building is also a ways uphill from the hospital, though hard to tell from this picture.

I still had a bunch of time to waste until I could check in at the hotel, so I explored and found that there's a way out the back of the hotel, right next to the pharmacy. I took this door and discovered a very steep rocky hill, and went down it in search of more interesting things. I walked all the way down to the bay, where the visitor's centre/museum/library was. I went in, got a map of the city and got a library card. I also shot off an email, because I didn't know how good the internet connection would be from the hotel. I explored a little more and ended up at Arctic Ventures, one of the large multi-purpose stores in town (the other main one is NorthMart). In Arctic Ventures, there is a radio shack, a video shack (rental videos), bookstore, clothing, toys, appliances, boats, bikes, food, etc. They even have a tiny oven (slightly larger than the toaster ovens that sit on your kitchen counter) for baking fresh pies and cookies. I found a good deal of fresh produce, not sure yet of the quality, but this stuff didn't look too bad.

Take a good look at the next picture... any idea what it is? This is not a trick question. Because the cashier didn't know what it was! Considering the fact that it wasn't packaged in any way, I thought it was fairly obvious. Especially since she picked it up... I would think the fuzzy outside would be a dead give-away. But that's just me! I also found a box of cereal that looked like someone had sat on it, for half price. A small box of Golden Grahams for 4.99$ (Instead of the regular 10$, looks like cereal really is pretty expensive here)

Once I was done at the grocery store, I went back to the hotel and checked in. I found the trolley's for moving luggage, and used that for what I had left in the storage room. Once I had things settled in my room, and collapsed on my bed for a bit, I went downstairs and called a cab to the airport. All my excess luggage had arrived as I had been told, and I got another cab to bring me home, and paid him in taxi vouchers. Getting everything up to my room on my own once again require the aid of the trolley. Those things really refuse to turn when they're weighed down!

Once everything was safely stored in my room it was time to find some supper. There's a bar & grill attached to the building where my hotel is, so I figured that was an easy answer for supper. I walked in, scanned the place, and walked out. Too chicken. I thought through my options, steeled up my nerves, and walked in a second time. There are three definite "areas" in the restaurant. I walked into the end with stools at tall tables, pool tables, air hockey and slots... you go down the stairs and end up in an area with a massive (6 feet wide) tv screen with a lot of tables lined up in front of it. Then a bar with stools all around it separates this section from a homier part with a large tv screen surrounded by comfy chairs, and a few family-sized tables and a more cozy atmosphere (you can't see this part from where I walked in). I went to this far corner and sat down beneath a mounted musk-ox head. The chandeliers were made of Elk antlers. And on the wall near me were two polar bear skins!

At the end of the day, I'd say it all went well... even if I did end up with a minor blister. I'll have to get used to all this walking!

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