our hockeymoon was AHHHH-MAZZZING. there are things we never want to forget. things we'd definitely do again. however, there are also things we'd change. and some things we'd never want to relive. so this is my hockeymoon in review, a review of ALL FOUR CITIES. the best of, the worst of, what we'd change and what we'd keep the same. i'll try to keep it short and sweet, but take all that you want from it. you know, for when you are planning your next hockeymoon ;)
the best of...
hotel: we were split. we loved both affinia and aka. affinia had that manhattan feel to it. you walked up and there was that "wow!" factor. plus we got free champagne and wine. the hotel staff was phenomenal. our room was pure luxury. and the hotel restaurant/bar was also amazing. only negative: we had a balcony that we could not access.
aka was also very luxurious. and plus it was bigger. it designed for the business traveler who might stay for weeks at a time. so our room had a full kitchen. plus the wine + cheese + roses gig did earn the hotel a few points ;) only negative: hotel restaurant was very pretentious. definitely not our style.
game: hands down carolina v. montreal. and no, not because it was a 'canes game! this was the most competitive game start to finish. it was a good game to watch, beginning to end.
arena atmosphere: this one would have been difficult to choose if philly fans weren't such assholes. but MSG took the cake. the fans were having a great time, no matter what was happening on the ice. and there was also plenty of on-ice entertainment as well.
subway system: montreal wins because they had a small system that was easy to navigate with no technological assistance. it is a color system, much like boston. however, NYC and PHI both have subway apps for the iPhone, which made getting around both of those cities easy as pie.
friendliness: toronto was by far the friendliest city. toronto is a huge melting pot, so they were accepting of everyone. probably because you really have no idea of who actually lives there. we never once felt like outsiders.
city atmosphere: toronto basically has it all. it's laid back. there is tons to do. it's walkable. it's on the lake. it has an underground walkway system. what more could you ask for?!
arena: i am beginning to sound like a drum here, but toronto had the best arena. it had the "wow!" factor. it was new, fresh, in-your-face, over-the-top, over-stimulating...it was awesome. plus, they served free samples of alcohol, who doesn't like that?
i will give philly an honorable mention here because their arena felt so much like "home" to us. so we really liked it and felt comfortable there. except when we were being cursed at, of course.
snow village: so this is a little bias considering montreal is the only city that had a snow village. but it was so awesome that it is definitely worth giving a "best of" award to. and if you ever go to montreal, in the dead of winter...you must go to the snow village!
food: toronto. and this may be a little bias only because we ate food for 4 days in toronto. so we got to find stuff that we really liked. however, we did notice that most everything we ate in toronto was fresher, less processed food. and we were down with that.
and NYC gets an honorable mention here too. because how can famous NYC pizza not!?
underground walkway: you guessed it...toronto. and no, it wasn't the only city with one. montreal has one and i would be willing to argue that nyc has one. kind of. but again, we utilized toronto's the most. we couldn't figure montreal's and really had no need to explore nyc underground. so, there you have it.
THE BEST CITY... so, after all of those categories, we picked our favorite city. obviously, NYC is already near and dear to my heart. however, there is a new king in town. toronto really stole our hearts on this trip. as i mentioned in my toronto blog, there are many reasons we now love this city. so much, in fact, we tried to book our first anniversary trip there. too bad airplane tickets now cost your inheritance.
luckily we don't have too many categories to discuss as being the "worst of"
fans: philadelphia. these fans were the worst. they cried about everything. the score. being "late" to the game. or nothing at all. one flyer's fan passed by a penguin's fan on the concourse and yelled "fuck you asshole" at him. for no reason. what gives philly?
helpfulness: this means there was a lack of helpfulness. in which case that would be montreal. if you don't speak fluent french, in the local dialect, the locals are not interested in talking to you, much less helping you.
which ties into montreal is the worst city to get lost in if you don't speak french.
arena: it was a tough call. but i guess someone has to be the worst, so montreal it's your arena. it's old and out-of-date. but MSG, don't breathe a sigh of relief, you were a very close 2nd.
game: montreal vs. toronto. montreal won 5-0. it was a total ass kicking. it was embarrassing. and not worth the price of admission. ok, that's not true. everything else was amazing. except for the game.
what we'd do differently....
traveling through to 4 new cities across 10 days, you are bound to hit some snags. after this trip, i can say...there isn't too much we'd change. if we were awesome enough to do it all over again.
less bags. we carried TWO 50+lb bags, one backpack, a rolling carry-on, and my purse. it was wayyyy too much shit to keep up with. i would suggest each person gets one rolling bag and one backpack. AT THE VERY MOST.
spend at least 3 days in each city. we spent 4 days in toronto and 2 days everywhere else. well, the other three cities, we basically got one day there, which was the day of the hockey game. so i recommend at least three days. one day for the game and one day for touristy shit and one day for travel.
Be prepared when you arrive at each city. basically, know how to get from point A (where you are) to point B (where you need to be). don't assume it's going to be as easy as it looks OR as easy as it was in a previous city. DO YOUR HOMEWORK. hailing a cab isn't the worst thing in the world either.
Before you go: review and find local neighborhood bars/restaurants. we enjoyed the walkability of the cities we were in. so we definitely should have used that to our advantage a little more and researched what was in the neighborhoods we stayed in. so that we could have enjoyed what the locals enjoy. you silly.
and last but not least...what we would never change...
the way we traveled. we flew to toronto and then traveled by train to all the other cities. and utilized public transit within each city. OHMIGOSH was it stress free. we didn't have to worry about parking. or where to park. or how much it costs to park. or driving. it was awesome.
which leads into...being in a walkable city. we loved being able to just walk out of our hotel rooms and just GO! we could walk to a deli or bar. or head to the subway station to get across town. the world was at our finger tips. in all four cities. it truly was remarkable.
exploring as much as we could. even though we slept in, a lot (hey, it was our honeymoon!)...we tried to see and do as much as time would allow us to. we have no idea when/if we'll ever be able to do something like this again. so we had to soak it all in!
taking too many pictures. even though we can't get them off the camera. we have over 1000 pictures of our trip. and they will be lasting memories of all that we did and saw. and for now, we know they are in a safe place :)
the games. just doing a multi-city road trip in and of itself would be amazing, but hockey is who we are. it's us. so we could never have imagined doing this trip, or another one like it, without the hockey. we loved every minute of going to new arenas and learning new hockey cultures. it was once in a lifetime. and we hope to do it all over again. in 4 new cities. some day soon.
we loved our hockeymoon. we miss it as much as our wedding. it is another storybook of wonderful memories we will cherish for our lifetime.