|On the road to Montreal|
By Chad Smart
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After a fun two days in Ottawa, it was time to cross the Ontario border and head to the Quebec city of Montreal. While it was intended to be a relatively short two-hour trip, the lack of scenery made it feel more like a five-hour trek.
Our first stop in Montreal was a break for lunch. Mike had found a place online that looked appealing…or is that a-peel-ing? The Montreal institution known as the Orange Julep would serve as our welcome to the city.
If you read the Ottawa blog, you may remember I said we left on March 17 in hopes of avoiding St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. Apparently in Montreal, calendars are merely suggestions. Getting off the freeway at an exit a short half-mile to the Airbnb location, we quickly found out we had landed in the middle of a huge St. Paddy’s Day parade route and could not use the road we intended to use. Instead, we had to go about three miles out of the way to get around the closed off sections of town and find our way back to the townhouse. Normally, a slight detour wouldn’t be much of a problem. However, when you’re in a country where cell phone usage is out due to international roaming charges and all the street signs are in a foreign language, it can be a bit daunting.
Once we got to the location and unpacked the car, it was time to hit the city. One positive I can give Montreal is the subway system is pretty simple to figure out and easy to use. We took the subway up to Olympic Park. The site of the 1976 Summer Olympics has been retrofitted to house a biodome, insectariums and the building used for the swimming events is now a fitness center. Sadly, Olympic Stadium, the former home of the Montreal Expos, now stands empty for the most part.
After taking in the sites in Olympic Park, it was time to head back downtown to the Bell Center to watch the Canadiens de Montreal battle the Calgary Flames. I say battle, but really it was a continuation of the poor performance we saw the night before with the Canadians vs. Senators. At least this time the Canadians did manage to score a goal. Unfortunately, Calgary scored 4 to win the game and the home crowd booed their team off the ice. Sadly for me is I failed to realize I was in a building where wrestling history will never (as much as it should by this point) be forgotten. I was in the same arena where the infamous Montreal Screw Job happened. That fateful night in November 1997 where Bret Hart screwed Bret Hart, or Vince McMahon screwed Bret, or Earl Hebner screwed Bret. Maybe it was Sunny. No matter who it was, this was the arena that changed the battleground of the Monday Night Wars and I almost left Montreal without realizing it.
With the disappointing game and atmosphere still echoing in our minds, we needed something to erase the funk. On the walk back to the Airbnb, we decided to stop off at a barcade called Foonzo. If you’re ever in Montreal, I highly recommend stopping at Foonzo. Unlike most barcades that have different video game cabinets in the building, Foonzo has different tables set up with old school video game consoles. Everything from the classic NES to X-Box are waiting to be played. As long as you’re a customer, the games are free. Mike and I relieved the glory days of college with some N64 Goldeneye and Mario Kart. Having not played these games in 15-16 years, it was fun to look at them now and instead of seeing state of the art graphics, realizing they’re really blocky looking. A few games later it was time to call it night.
The second day in Montreal was spent walking around Old Montreal, the base of Mount Royal and Parc Jean-Drapeau to see the Montreal Biosphere. While it was a nice day of site seeing, I have to say that there wasn’t much that I saw that would justify highly recommending a visit to Montreal to someone. Plus, the people of Montreal lived up to every horrible preconceived opinion I had about New Yorkers. That’s unfair to New Yorkers because they didn’t adhere to any bad opinions. Montrealers though were either rude or totally indifferent to anything we said to them.
With four days in Canada behind us, it’s now time to cross the border back into America and “Feel the Bern” with a stop in Vermont.
TO BE CONTINUED...