Sunday, March 4, 2012

hockeymoon stop deux.

very early monday, february 13th we awoke in sleepy toronto. after all, it was 6am. the sun was just beginning to rise. we were catching an early train to montreal so that we could enjoy at least an extra half of a day there.

so we said goodbye to toronto just as the sun was coming up and a new day of hustle and bustle was beginning. we could only hope our time in montreal was as good as toronto.
we had a five hour train ride ahead of us. no problem. we had breakfast. took a nap. enjoyed the canadian country side views from our windows.

we arrived in montreal around lunchtime. before i tell you ANYTHING about montreal, it is important to note that montreal is a primarily french speaking city. but most people are bilingual and can speak english as well. however, the locals are very proud of their french dialect. if you do not speak the same french dialect as them, or if you speak no french at all, expect a not so favorable response.

so anyway...we were excited to get to our hotel, drop off our bags and explore the city before game time. our second hockey game was monday night. the train arrived in the gare centrale or in english, central station. we had mapped out the route to get to our next train. it was only a block or so away. however, dragging two 50+ pound bags, two blocks feels like two miles. we got to the station with ease. buying two train tickets was a little bit more of a challenge. there was a kiosk. and we were able to navigate the kiosk, by changing the language to english and choosing the tickets we think we need. we get through the ENTIRE process and try to pay. the damn machine only takes canadian money. cash and credit. WHAT?
so we go to the ticket counter. i speak to the lady who barely understand my english. again, she cannot take my american credit card. which i don't get. credit is credit...right? luckily she will take my american cash. so we are able to by two day passes. whew!
after all of this, we only have to ride the damn train up to the next stop. so we get off at the next stop. and start walking through the train station, like we know where we are supposed to exit. if you've ever been to a subway typically has many exit points. since it is at an intersection. or you can walk underground to the next point to surface...which may put you out a few blocks from where the train dropped you off. so, it is important to know where to exit. we just knew the stop we were supposed to get off at. and knew that the hotel was not far from that stop. which is true...if you exit at the right street. in fact the hotel is TWO blocks from the train station.
so we just started walking. the stop we got off at will exit you to the street or lead you to place des arts. which is a theater center. well, we walked in the direction of place des arts. which was the wrong fucking direction. once we finally got outside, we had no idea where we were. and why should we'd ever been to montreal before. so we started looking at street signs to see if any seemed familiar. again, why would they? keith finally, was like let me just ask someone where 'avenue de parc' is, which was the street we needed to find. he saw a lady who came out of an office building who appeared to be on a smoke break. great! she must live here. he went and asked her, she claimed that she didn't know where it was. keith attempted to ask two other guys, but they both chose to ignore him.
we were the epitome of stupid, lost american tourists. i was exhausted. keith was fuming. 
since we were in canada we had limited access to data on our phones, which would allow us to use the map function. since we were sooo lost with no help, we said screw it and used our very helpful iPhone to guide our way. thank you for saving the day iPhone. we were very turned around and very far away from our hotel. it was at least a 20 minute walk. uphill. all the way. and oh yeah, we are still dragging our freaking bags. i am so tired that i can barely walk. keith is so pissed that he is hauling ass. it was a rough start to montreal. and we brought it all on ourselves.
we finally arrived to our hotel. and we had to climb a flight of stairs to get inside. i was like "kill me now." luckily the hotel clerk was kind enough to help us carry our bags upstairs. and the hotel clerk was very helpful with checking us in early and telling us of a market and some restaurants nearby.
once we got settled in our room. we both we so tired and so hungry, we didn't know what to do first, eat or sleep. during our discussion of what to do with the afternoon, our bodies decided for us...we PASSED OUT. so much for enjoying that extra half-day in montreal.

after our nap, we got some food. and figured out how to use the metro. that really made our life easier. we could get around town without looking like lost idiots.
then headed onto to our second hockey game. hurricanes v. canadians at the bell centre.
i was really excited to see the hurricanes and to see them in a different arena. the bell centre provided some of the same glitz and glam as the ACC, but it mostly is a piece of shit arena. it definitely was the crappiest arena we went to.
with that said, the fans LOVE the montreal canadians. this team is borderline a religion. seriously. there was an article in the paper about it. and they definitely had the best pregame. the played awesome music to pump the fans up. the lights were great. i was ready to jump out of my seat before the game started.
the view from our seats.
montreal canadians on ice logos.

pre-game on ice lights. we loved this.

US. :)
because this game included an american and a canadian team, they sang both national anthems. and the fans sang their hearts out to both. it gave me chills.
this was definitely the best game. it was competitive the entire game. the 'canes only were able to put it away at the end. and the 'canes won! 5-3 yay!
and it was very tough not to cheer like i wanted to for our boys.

final score. 'CANES WIN!!!!

staal was the first star of the game. whoop.

the next day, february 14th, we slept in. kind of a theme of our trip, eh? but man, we were exhausted after our adventurous day of travel. our hotel room was like a mini-apartment. so we had a fridge and stove and sink. so the day before we had bought stuff for breakfast at the market the hotel clerk had told us about. so it was nice to lounge around, eat breakfast and make our plans for the day.

the first thing we did was go to old montreal. it is beautiful. it is full of museums, chapels, and old architecture. while we were there, we visited notre dame. i wish we had our pictures to share. it was amazing. now, we all know that i am not really a church person, but i don't think you have to be a church person to appreciate the beauty and history behind this place.

we then headed over to jean-drapeau parc to see the snow village. now montreal was much colder than toronto. the air was bitter and crisp. oh and the ground was ice. so we as made this venture to jean-drapeau parc, we were navigating through a frozen tundra. and were sliding everywhere. it got to the point that i was walking flat-footed and grasped onto keith for dear life. i had almost fallen too many times. i did not want to go down. we were almost to the snow village and keith had found a less frozen space to walk on, for some reason i did not want to follow keith and continued down the sheet of ice i was on, slipping and sliding. and guess what happened? I FELL DOWN. on my hands and knees. i sliced up my left paw and bruised up my left knee pretty good. guess that's what i get for acting like i know how to walk across ice. well, as i learned, i definitely cannot walk well on ice. as i think is the case for most.
so, we finally arrive to the snow village. and...OHMIGOSH. the entire village is made out of snow and ice. there were four main sections: the hotel, with rooms where you can spend the night. large igloos where groups can stay together, the chapel, and the bar/restaurant.
the rooms in the hotel each had different themes. our favorite was the stanley cup room, of course!
huggin' the iced stanley cup.

iced montreal canadian. our favorite kind.

this room even had bleacher chairs!

keith liked the cup so much, he ralphed in it.

the chapel.
inside the chapel.

the montreal skyline from the snow village.

horse-drawn carriage ride? why not.
and we couldn't leave without having a drink or two at the ice bar, amarula. we tried to get dinner at the restaurant, because how cool would that have been?! but it was valentine's day and they were booked solid. bummer. but, the hostess was handing out roses to all the ladies and i got one :)

us at the ice bar, amarula.

v-day rose.
snow village + montreal skyline at night.
so, since it was dinner time and we were hungry, and we obviously weren't eating at the ice restaurant we headed back toward our hotel. we were kind of unsure where to get dinner being that it was valentine's day and that everything probably was going to be booked up. so we found this cute little local diner, alto. and it was delish! we got poutine, as an appetizer, of course. and at the end of the meal, i got more flowers from our waitress. montreal is sweet on valentine's day!

even though we had a very rough start to montreal, which was totally our fault, we ended up having a great time on our second day. it was a very quick trip. we did as much as we could in 2 days. we left wednesday, february 15th to catch our train to NYC. and yes, we took a cab to the train station. no way in hell were we dragging our bags all over montreal. AGAIN.

sooo...after being in canada, here are some things we learned.

toronto and montreal: not the same.

most canadians are not fat. this may seem like a weird comment or thing to notice. but with the american obesity epidemic, i found it refreshing to be around people who weren't bursting at the seams.

canadians recycle a lot. torontonians more so than montrealers. but nonetheless, they both do it more than we do.

canadians lack personal space awareness and constantly run into other people. torontonians will then constantly apologize for doing so. montrealers will look at you like "why the fuck were you in my way."

food restaurants seem more natural and local. there were very few fast food restaurants. but don't worry, mcdonalds was still there.

canadians live, eat, sleep hockey. they LOVE it. hockey lives everywhere.

torontonians are friendly. in montreal, those who work in the service industry are friendly, all others, it really was the luck of the draw.

TSN = ESPN. TSN = hockey. hockey is always on this channel. it was awesome. and they call it sportscentre.

washrooms = bathrooms

our opinion of each city:
toronto feels new, vibrant and happening!
montreal reminded keith of "old" nyc, litter in the streets, dirty, homeless everywhere, and looks rundown. however, there are pieces that are beautiful and that we loved. 

we loved canada. and will definitely be back, eh?


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