Last week I’ve had one of those travel weeks where I accumulate many working hours already by flying and having layovers and delays at lovely airports. Plus of course, I work in addition and deliver full-day workshops. And see customers. Still, I won’t complain as I like my job a lot. Especially meeting with customers and discussing various upgrade and migration topics can be really challenging sometimes. And I can confess, Canada rocks – and is really cold in winter. Seriously …
One of these weeks …
When you travel to Canada in winter, especially in a January, you can expect severe and cold weather conditions. I was prepared. And the trip started with a lovely delay of just 2 hours in Toronto on my way to Victoria, BC. Such things happen – and life goes on. Victoria is a nice place – and it almost never snows there (somebody told me). Well, on Monday morning, there was snow. Unusually plenty of snow. Luckily Shannon, my colleague from Oracle Canada who took care on me had a decent German rental car with all-wheel drive. We made it to the workshop a few kilometers outside the center. And almost all people who signed up also showed up, too. We did a full-day upgrade workshop with hands-on.
By the way, did I mention how much I love that Canada is using the metric system? Kilometers, writing the dates in the correct order, using Celsius. Life can be so simple.
Anyhow, a good day – and on Tuesday we could walk to the first customer meeting. When we had a coffee together at the 5th floor of the building, Shannon looked outside and said: “There’s more snow coming.” Well, he was right. More snow came. Big flakes. Many. The afternoon meeting needed to be canceled as the customer’s DBAs needed to head home early because of the heavy snowfall. And Air Canada sent me a message: “Your flight is canceled”. Oh …
And it never snows in Vancouver …
At the airport the helpful lady from Air Canada put me onto the next possible flight within 2 minutes from Victoria to Vancouver. That’s an 11 minute trip actually. But our flight got delayed and further delayed.
Apparently there were two flights taking off with 1.5 hours delay for this short trip. Interestingly, my suitcase was in the first one whereas I was traveling in the 2nd flight. Good thing: When I arrived at the baggage belt at Vancouver International, my travel buddy was already taking some rounds on the carousel.
In the evening the streets were covered with a bit of snow. This can happen, locals insured. But it really doesn’t snow very much in Vancouver.
I woke up twice that night by the sound of a snow plough – and when I opened the blinds in my room in the morning at 6:30h I was a bit surprised. 30 centimeters of snow over night in a beautiful city where it usually doesn’t snow. This will become an interesting day, I thought to myself.
No chance for a taxi – but walking in the snow is nice, too.
And in the Oracle office we were 4 customers for the workshop at the beginning. But people kept coming despite the severe weather conditions with all public schools and universities being closed. I was very excited when we had just a few no-shows. And I’d like to thank everybody for coming – it was so much fun and I enjoyed the day a lot.
Still Shannon and I had to go to the airport later to catch our evening flight to Regina, SK. By this time, I knew already what type of weather conditions I’d have to expect in Regina. And I was really scared.
Canada rocks – and is really cold in winter
At first, I have to confess: I didn’t know exactly where Regina is. I had to look it up and realize, it’s 2.5 flight hours from Vancouver towards the East. Still in Western Canada. Canada of course is huge. But I wasn’t aware how different the conditions will be. It’s open plains where the wind flows down from the arctic and blows over the land. Friends send me messages about how to prepare and protect myself under such conditions.
I wouldn’t have minded to stay in a cozy hotel room in Vancouver instead enjoying the city having fun with snow. But our plane took off that night. With a massive delay. The plane was there already for hours but no crew to operate it.
But we flew. And when we attempted to land, the pilot announced the local temperature at Regina International at -37°C. Holy Moly. I never experienced such cold before. I’m used to cold temperatures in winter. Munich, where I live can get -15°C in the winter. On some rare days even a bit below. And when I go skiing in January it can be also in the range of -15°C to -20°C. I know how this feels. But when the flight attendant opened the plane’s door at 2:30h in the dark Regina morning, a frosty air stream entered the plane – and I’d wished I brought long underwear. It’s really very hard to describe how this feels. But when wind is coming up, it feels like -47°C easily on the skin. I learned that I have to protect my skin. And even the locals mentioned that you don’t spend more than a few minutes outside.
I also realized that parking spaces have power plugs. You plug in your car not to recharge it but instead to make sure it does restart afterwards again. I wonder how one of these electric cars behave under such conditions.
Anyhow, Shannon had warmed the car already when I stepped out of the airport with an extra shirt under my business shirt, my scarf wrapped around my head, my cap almost over my eyes. And I was lucky when I realized that my hotel room had a working heating systems.
Still, it was a very short night. And when we arrived at the customer’s venue hosting the full-day workshop, it was warm and cozy inside – but brutally cold outside. It turned out to be another great workshop – we had more people showing up than registered. Which is great but caused a challenge to find enough chairs and tables.
We’ve had a very good steak afterwards – and Shannon took me to a coffee place where they served decent coffee. And they played one of my favorite bands over the loudspeakers: Rush. Canada really rocks!
When I told Shannon that I collect vinyl records, straight away he took me to a cool used records store in downtown Regina. Paradise for me at -37°C. And I found some great stuff!
The next day it was hot when I took off back to Toronto, and then on to Munich. Lovely -27°C in the morning. Hah …!
Where do you get the slides?
You can download the slide deck as PDF from the Slides page of this blog. It is the first presentation in the Comprehensive section:
And of course you can get more slides, for instance the one with more details about incremental backups with Transportable Tablespaces, and many others. I will check later if the new Hands-On Lab has now been uploaded and blog about it, too.
Let me say THANKS A LOT again for a great week with very unusual weather. I survived and enjoyed it. And I like places a lot where they play Rush in the local stores. Canada rocks!
Plus: I’d like to come back to Regina – but the next time I’d prefer Spring or Fall 🙂