All the Little Differences ... Contrasts Between Qatar and Canada

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.''

Weather You Like ME or Not ...

The shift in the weather has been sudden this year in the ME.  

 No, this isn't Doha.  This is a pic from my friend's living room window in Northern New Brunswick on April 1, 2014.  APRIL FIRST!!!!!!  Those are telephone and power lines in the background.  Having gone from that extreme to the harsh desert, I'm hopeful that some future assignment might see us halfway weather wise, maybe on the French Riviera or something!

No, this isn't Doha.  This is a pic from my friend's living room window in Northern New Brunswick on April 1, 2014.  APRIL FIRST!!!!!!  Those are telephone and power lines in the background.  Having gone from that extreme to the harsh desert, I'm hopeful that some future assignment might see us halfway weather wise, maybe on the French Riviera or something!

After surprisingly cool and pleasant temperatures extending from December to the beginning of April, we were greeted on Sunday with a steadily rising barometer, reaching up into the low 40s by mid-week (that's Celsius, in case there was any doubt).

 No escaping it, summer is here.

No escaping it, summer is here.

Something tells me it's going to be a long, hot, humid summer in the ME.  Doha skies like the ones below, a welcome sight in March, are likely a thing best forgotten for the next seven months or so.

 Rare Doha skies in winter, slightly reminiscent of Atlantic Canadian summer skies.

Rare Doha skies in winter, slightly reminiscent of Atlantic Canadian summer skies.

We are fast approaching the months where it's too HOT to swim, ride a bike, ride a motorcycle, play tag or even walk outdoors.

 Almost time to put these babies away ... (not my wheels BTW ... I don't ride)

Almost time to put these babies away ... (not my wheels BTW ... I don't ride)

Within a few months, the only respite we'll have from the heat will be the air conditioned indoors and memories of cooler climates.

It's those very 'heated' Doha moments that make me feel like 'cool' is more than just a generation away, and that make me so very happy not all our trips are "beachy".  

Like our most recent trip to London for Spring Break.

It's nice to have a not-so-distant memory of cool, damp and stormy.  

 Smilin' Vic and Kiddo strolling in London in early April ...

Smilin' Vic and Kiddo strolling in London in early April ...

 My sister and her hubby joined us from Canada on rainy strolls through the streets of London.

My sister and her hubby joined us from Canada on rainy strolls through the streets of London.

So nice to have recent memories of enjoying the "toasty-warm" of indoors.  

 Does anyone else feel like singing "Hallelluiah!" when they look at this pic?  A nice glass of red really warms the insides on a damp and cold spring day.  (@ Cheshire Cheese, London, England)

Does anyone else feel like singing "Hallelluiah!" when they look at this pic?  A nice glass of red really warms the insides on a damp and cold spring day.  (@ Cheshire Cheese, London, England)

 Or perhaps this is more heart-warming to some?  (@ Cheshire Cheese, London, England)

Or perhaps this is more heart-warming to some?  (@ Cheshire Cheese, London, England)

I dare say the hot days of summer are here.  Slow, lethargic days.  Weather we like it or not, summer is here in the ME.

So I'll leave you with a few more pics of our trip ... (note that not ALL days were damp and gloomy).

 Landing in London ...

Landing in London ...

 Just out for a leisurely patrol ...

Just out for a leisurely patrol ...

 Intriguing contrast ...

Intriguing contrast ...

 View of St. Paul's Cathedral from Fleet St.

View of St. Paul's Cathedral from Fleet St.

 Lighting a candle for my dad, God rest his soul.

Lighting a candle for my dad, God rest his soul.

 Sacrifice commemorated ...

Sacrifice commemorated ...

 ....

....

 Mandatory sight-seeing break ...

Mandatory sight-seeing break ...

 Ye Olde Pub Time ...

Ye Olde Pub Time ...

 I love this place ... La Floridita has a real '50's gangster vibe.

I love this place ... La Floridita has a real '50's gangster vibe.

 Yup!  We stayed here on our last night in London!  How does a desert dwelling Atlantic Canadian say "High Tea"?  Sounds something like "SOCIAL!!!!!"

Yup!  We stayed here on our last night in London!  How does a desert dwelling Atlantic Canadian say "High Tea"?  Sounds something like "SOCIAL!!!!!"

 Directions from the Waldorf to "Matilda".

Directions from the Waldorf to "Matilda".

 Afternoon matinee :-)

Afternoon matinee :-)

 A 'Frank' you'll never forget ...

A 'Frank' you'll never forget ...

 Christ Church in Oxford.

Christ Church in Oxford.

 Oxford.

Oxford.

 Oxford

Oxford

 Oxford

Oxford

 View from our flat in the evening. 

View from our flat in the evening.