Sketches of Life


Radio Canada International and its partners collaborated to bring you soundscapes and images of similar places in each of our countries: Canada, Poland, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Romania.

4th episode: Airports

Montreal – Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport

YUL is the aviation code name for the Montreal – Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, which is connected by direct flights to more than 140 regular and seasonal destinations in Canada, the United States and internationally.

Some 30 airlines use this airport to transport about 16 million passengers every year.

Located in the city of Dorval on the Island of Montreal, about twenty kilometres southwest of Montreal’s downtown, this airport is an important hub of air traffic with Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

YUL is also known for its expertise in snow clearing and de-icing during Canada's harsh winters. In 2008, the airport earned the International Aviation Snow Symposium’s Balchen/Post Award in the "Major Airports" category.

The Montreal – Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport began operations in 1941 and has continued to grow. Formerly known as Montreal – Dorval International Airport, it was renamed on January 1, 2004 in memory of former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

Henri Coanda – Otopeni International Airport, Bucharest, Romania

“Henri Coanda” – Otopeni International Airport, the largest airport in Romania, is located outside Bucharest’s urban area, in the town of Otopeni, and is one of Bucharest’s two airports (the second largest being “Aurel Vlaicu” International Airport in Baneasa district).

During WWII, Otopeni airport was a military base. Until 1965, it was only Baneasa Airport that had operated commercial flights. Later on, a new commercial airport was built on the site of the old military base in Otopeni. The upgraded runway was 3,500m long, being longer than that of Orly Airport in Paris at the time.

The building of a new passenger terminal was included in the upgrading and expansion program. The upgrading continued with the building of a VIP lounge, ahead of the visit to Romania by the U.S. President Richard Nixon, in August 1969. In 1986 a second runway, measuring 3,500 in length, was inaugurated, and a new airfield ground lighting system was implemented. In March 2011, the departure terminal was extended and the number of boarding gates was increased to 24.

In 2018, “Henri Coanda” – Otopeni International Airport registered a record high air traffic movement, of over 13.8 million passengers, and an increase of approximately one million people, as compared to 2017. 57 airlines operate on the airport, taking passengers to and from 128 destinations.

Zurich airport, Switzerland

Airports are a hive of activity as passengers pass through on their way to a different destination. Behind the scenes at Zurich Airport, baggage handlers are working to ensure that passengers’ bags get safely delivered to them. Experience the sights and sounds of this tightly-planned operation, as we take you beyond security and through to a side of airport life most travellers never normally see.

It’s a bright and sunny morning in Zurich. The air is filled with the grinding and whirring of machinery and the roar of aeroplanes cutting through the sky. Between landings and take-offs, the ground crew are in action. They’re preparing for the arrival of Swiss International Air Lines, Airbus 320, from Frankfurt, scheduled for 9.35am.

A so-called ‘Foreign Object Debris’ (FOD) check is carried out by the onsite ramp team. As the plane comes to a halt on the apron – the aircraft parking area - chocks are placed in front of the aircraft wheels and power is connected from the main building. The team, all wearing safety clothing, waits until the engines are switched off and the aircraft is then secured and marked with cones.

To read more CLIC HERE

Only when the supervisor has authorised all the relevant arrival checks can the passengers leave the plane and make their way to their final destination or baggage claim.

Transit baggage, which is stored in large containers in the hold, and the luggage of first class passengers, is placed near the cargo doors so that it can be unloaded quickly when the plane arrives.

The staff work efficiently, never stopping to chat. It’s a well-honed routine. From the warren-like holding bay below ground level, the baggage makes its way on to a long conveyer belt to the carousel above ground, where passengers are waiting.

Loading the plane
The total weight of luggage, cargo, passengers and fuel has an influence on the aircraft trim (keeping the aircraft balanced). Loading has to be in line with airline safety regulations.
Nathalie Berchtold, communications manager at Swissport International AG, told that the weather also plays an important role. At high temperatures, the air is thinner and the aircraft has less lift during take-off and landing. To take off and climb as quickly as possible, the aircraft must therefore be lighter when there are high temperatures. That means less cargo or baggage can be transported on the aircraft for safety reasons, and is why not all luggage is guaranteed to be transported on a set flight and is sometimes sent on later.

Lost luggage
Tens of millions of passengers use Zurich Airport every year, and sometimes, luggage goes missing. Good working practices among baggage handlers and airlines is key to minimising the amount of lost luggage.

In 2018, there were 38,000 missing luggage reports issued at Swissport Zurich. In the same year, they reported four mispaced bags per 1000 passengers. Around 98% of all lost baggage can be located within 24 hours at Swissport Zurich. Since June 2018 IATA (….) has required its member airlines to keep track of every item of luggage from start to finish. Swissport Zurich is already compliant.

Zurich airport: in numbers
• A total of 31,113,488 passengers travelled via Zurich Airport in 2018, a year-on-year increase of 5.8%.
• The number of passengers transferring at Zurich Airport increased by 6.4% to 8.8 million in 2018.

Warsaw's Chopin Airport, in Poland

Warsaw's Chopin Airport is the largest in Poland. Last year it was used by 15.8 million passengers. Poland’s president greenlighted an ambitious plan to build a large new airport in the centre of the country.

The new airport, to be built between the capital Warsaw and the central city of Łódź, is expected to handle up to 100 million passengers a year and be one of the largest hub airports in Europe after it is completed in 2027.

If the new Polish hub is launched, it will be massive competition for the unfinished Willy Brandt Berlin-Brandenburg Airport (BER) near the German capital.

Václav Havel Airport Prague, Czech Republic

Each year 17 million passengers pass through it every year and tens of millions of pieces of luggage checked, while over 400 planes land and take off daily. During its history, which began exactly 90 years ago, Prague’s airport has been through a lot – the rise of the young Czechoslovak state, two occupations, the communist era, the Velvet Revolution…. Today it is a modern structure with first-class infrastructure and is regarded as one of Europe’s safest airports. It provides comfort to passengers at three terminals and can handle even the biggest planes. Last year it was used by 70 carriers and linked Prague to 157 destinations. In the coming years it is due to get a new terminal and runway.

3rd episode: Markets

Jean Talon Market, in Montreal  (Québec, Canada)

The Jean Talon Market, founded in Montreal in 1933 and named in honour of the first governor of New France, is one of the largest markets in North America. It is open during the four seasons. Its visitors - more than 2.5 million in 2018, including tourists - purchase fruits, vegetables, produce, herbs and flowers from local farmers whose farms are generally within 50 km from the market.

Located in the district of Little Italy, this multicultural market is famous for the wealth of organic produce and regional products of the province of Quebec it offers to its visitors.

A market in Bucharest

The “Matache Măcelaru” Market is located within walking distance from North Station, the main train station in Bucharest, at the crossroads of Calea Griviței and Calea Buzești, the favourite place of merchants and tradesmen in the late 19th Century. One of them was butcher Loloescu Matache. He started doing business in the wake of the Romanian War of Independence, around 1879, when he started building the famous Matache hall, which has recently been demolished. Back then, the market was located on the outskirts of Bucharest. In 1948, it became the “Ilie Pintilie” state-owned market, named after a former Romanian communist leader. In the “Drumul Taberei” district in Bucharest, the main market has borne the name of another communist politician, Alexandru Moghioroş, for a long time. Soon after the fall of communism, it was renamed after the famous Romanian conductor Sergiu Celibidache. Going beyond its name, it is still the market of choice for the district dwellers.

A market in Bern, Switzerland

For over 130 years, a weekly market has been held on the Bundesplatz near the historic old town of the Swiss capital Bern. Local farmers offer their specialities directly in front of the parliament building. Not only many people from the population visit the market. It also attracts tourists - and sometimes you even see a minister shopping.



A market in Warsaw, Poland

Hala Mirowska is one of the largest markets in Warsaw. It was constructed in the beginning of the 20th century. The building was bombed during the Warsaw Uprising in 1944. Rebuilt in the 1950s, it was restored to its original function as a market and is now a place where different generations meet. It is also a popular spot for tourists, who come here to look for traditional and regional polish products, like sauerkraut, beetroot, sour cream, mushrooms, honey, fresh herbs, smoked cheese and sausage. The market consists also of a modern and very chic hall, but the real charm can be found only in the old area of the market.

A market in Prague, Czech Republic

A short distance from the city centre, the embankment Rašínovo nábřeží in Prague is filled with lovers of fresh, local products on Saturdays. The atmosphere of farmers’ markets, with their tastings, seating and often music, attracts locals and tourists. In recent years the number of markets has risen steadily and there are now more than 20 each week in the Czech capital alone. This signifies a revival of sales of fresh foods from regional producers, which was forcibly interrupted during the Communist period.

2nd episode: Train stations

Montreal Central Station (Québec, Canada)

Central Station opened in 1943. It is the second-busiest rail station in Canada, after Toronto's Union Station (Ontario, Canada).
The station is adorned with art deco bas-relief friezes on its interior and exterior walls.  The east and west interior walls of the station feature two large bas-reliefs depicting Canadian life, arts and industry. Included in the bas-reliefs are some of the lyrics of Canada's national anthem, O Canada. The lyrics are in French on the east side of the station and in English on the west side.

The North Station in Bucharest, Romania

The North Station in Bucharest is the biggest railway station in Romania. Approximately 300 trains are arriving in and departing from this station every day. The station was built between 1868 and 1872, the building being included on the list of historical monuments in Bucharest. Even if it was not designed to be the main station in Bucharest, it has become the main railway node of the Capital City and of Romania, but it was already too small to accommodate the growing flow of traffic as early as 1880. The communist period saw a spectacular growth in railway transport, but the number of passengers has plummeted all across Romania since 1990. Among other issues, the precarious state of the station also led to the reduction of rail traffic. As early as 1906, when the famous Orient Express train was inaugurated, the North Station in Bucharest was included as a stop on this route. At present, the Orient Express is running twice a year.

Main station in Zurich, Switzerland

Switzerland is known around the world for having a dense and well-organized railway network, where the trains run on time and to all corners of the country. That’s no small feat considering the Alps spread over about 60% of Switzerland’s geographical area. The Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) is the largest railway company and handles the majority of national and international traffic. According to the SBB, there are about 10,600 trains and 1.26 million passengers per day. Furthermore, there are about 800 railway stations and stops in Switzerland. Zurich main station is the largest of these: it has multiple platforms, facilities and shops above and below ground.

Railway station in Warsaw, Poland

Warszawa Centralna is the main railway station in Warsaw, Poland. It construction began in 1972 and was a flagship project during the Communist-era. The station is located in the very center of the city. Some years ago the grey concrete building had a refurbishment and the main hall has more light and a more friendly atmosphere. In 2017 Warszawa Centralna was used by 15,1 Million passengers. Every day nearly 1000 trains run through. You can catch a direct train to capitals like Vienna, Prague, Berlin, Budapest, Kiev or Moscow.

Main railway station in Prague, Czech republic

The main railway station in Prague is the largest passenger railway station in the Czech Republic. The historical building above the railroad is also the largest Art Nouveau monument in the country. Work on it started in 1869 and its present-day appearance is the result of a recent reconstruction made according to the original design by architect Josef Fanta.
The station handles 27 million passengers annually.

1st episode: Churches

Mass at the Shrine of Kateri Tekakwitha in Kahnawake, Quebec, Canada

Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680), a Mohawk woman from Kahnawake − an Indigenous community near Montreal (Quebec, Canada) −, was canonized by the Catholic Church in 2012. On October 21st 2018, a special mass was celebrated for the 6th anniversary of her canonization at the St. Francis Xavier Mission, in Kahnawake, which also houses her shrine. The choir sings in Mohawk and some of the prayers are also in that language.

Churches in Romania

86.5% of the Romanians have declared themselves Orthodox Christians, in the latest census. What's the sound of an Orthodox mass in Romania, in a centuries-old monastery with World Heritage frescoes in the region of Bukovina, in a district church, in the Patriarchal Cathedral in Bucharest or in a small wooden church in Maramures County?

A Church in Arlesheim, Switzerland

The majority of Swiss people are Christians, most of them Roman Catholics. A 2016 report showed that about 70% of Swiss visited a place of worship at most five times a year. The number of believers has dropped in the past few years. In October 2018, Arlesheim Cathedral community welcomed their new pastor Sylvester Ihuoma in a solemn mass. The cathedral was built in the 1680s and is known for its impressive late Baroque architecture.

A church in Warsaw, Poland

About 93% of Poles declare themselves to be Catholics. But even in Poland is the number of church service attendees falling. By 2016, the figure had dropped to 36.7%. Despite the fall, the Sunday mass remains for many Poles a very important part of life.

A church in Prague, Czech Republic

The Czech Republic is one of the most atheistic countries in the world. The number of believers has consistently been dropping and has halved in the course of the last two decades. Only a fifth of Czech citizens claim to belong to a faith. Only a tenth of believers go to church regularly, at least once a month. The Roman Catholic Church has the largest number of followers.

By RCI | Contact me
Sunday 4 November, 2018

Radio Canada International


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One comment on “Sketches of Life
  1. Avatar Nora T Peach says:

    The videos don’t come up for us, just the text.