A 13-hour flight saw us landing in Montreal, Canada yesterday. Not quite as simple as click your heels three times and repeat 'there's no place like home', but quite impressive all the same that you can wake up on one side of the globe and go to sleep on the other all in the same day.
Our journey wasn't done though, and we had no sooner landed than it was time to rent a car and carry the journey forward another 2.5 hours to Ottawa, where we'll be staying for the next few days in anticipation of our nephew's wedding.
We had started our day with a 4 a.m. (Doha time) wake-up call to make it to the airport on time for our 8:30 a.m. flight, and by the time all had been said and done, we would have been awake for 23 hours by the time our heads would finally hit the pillow exhausted at 9:00 p.m. (Ottawa time). There's no mistake in my math: the 7-hour time shift is always the very first difference we encounter on landing in our homeland.
The second is the presence of a Tim Horton's outlet around virtually EVERY corner. Case in point, it was our first stop at the airport after making it through Customs.
The weather is always a shock. Going sleeveless indoors where it's warm and toasty and stepping out into cool, crisp Autumn weather throws you for a loop for the first day or so.
The driving pace is radically different in Canada. Even making our way out of Montreal at rush hour didn't see us get side-swiped or cut off a single time. When people use their left signal flasher, they actually follow up by turning left! Red lights actually get cars to stop. It's eerie, almost, at how chaos is replaced by ''flow''. Even pedestrian walkways are marked to keep things moving smoothly.
Our apartment for the week comes not only with a garbage bin, but also with a series of recycling bins under the kitchen sink. I'm intimidated. I haven't sorted in years. I'm not sure I remember how.
The TV has a 24-hour weather channel. When I look at the 24-hour forecast, it shows me a range of temps from 11C to 21C, with everything from fog to cloud to shining blue skies to rain. Canadian weather: ''if you're not happy with it, just wait 5 minutes''.
It's 6:30 a.m. and sunrise is still at least 30 minutes away. In Qatar, if we don't make it home from our morning walk by 5:30 a.m. we risk melting in the heat of that blazing orb.
I'm sitting out here quietly blogging in the dark, as the city only begins to awaken. Thinking to myself ''Darn, it's good to be home.''