Posted in North America, Travels

Tripping through Montreal, Day 0.5

Long-awaited summer vacation to Montreal, Quebec (I know there’s some accents in there somewhere). The Bestie and I had a FANTASTIC start to the trip as soon as we checked-in at the airport —— we met Brent Burns (The Bestie’s favorite hockey player) and he agreed to pose for a photo with her. First time in the 16 years I’ve known her that she became tongue-tied and stuttered when speaking. I assumed he was on the way to Toronto for the World Cup, so I wished him luck, and my assumptions were confirmed when Joe Thornton showed up some time later.

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Outside the Centre Bell

Anyways, the first thing I learned about landing in the international terminal of Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL) is that there are no bathrooms (at least we couldn’t easily find them) until you pass through customs, so plan accordingly. It’s hard to answer the custom officer’s questions when your bladder is simultaneously screaming at you. We opted to take the 747 shuttle from the airport into the downtown area of Montreal. It does take longer to get to downtown on this shuttle versus in a taxi, and it was even longer this time because of all the construction in the area, but it’s also about half the cost. FYI, if you don’t already have an OPUS card, you can only purchase certain pass options on the machine inside the airport. We couldn’t figure out how to make it give us a weekly pass, so we had to buy that after we got into the city. According to the guy at the train station, the card lasts for 4 years. Why it expires after than, I don’t understand. Oh, and it’s cash only if you pay the person at the booth.

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St. George’s Church

We were exhausted after our flight and the time change made us sleepy (3 hours, OMG), but we still wanted to explore. After a late lunch/early dinner (LINNER), we strolled through the streets surrounding our hotel and I practiced using my hand-me-down Nikon D80 (which I’m horrible at, please help. I swear there’s a new button on this thing every day). Montreal is literally FULL of churches. Outside of our hotel alone were two within crawling distance (if you are so inclined). I hadn’t seen this many since I was in Italy. They’re all beautiful too if you walk inside. Just don’t do it in the middle of a service.

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Les Habitants

Nothing really to do with my travels, but I love hockey. In all honesty, it was the fast pace and sporadic violence that attracted me to it, but I really didn’t know all the rules until I was older. So it was natural that I dragged the Bestie down the street to le Centre Bell (I also don’t really know how to spell in French, so I hope that’s right). While my team resides elsewhere, I definitely tune in to watch the “blue-white-red” when I can. Up until I was about 8 or 9, I thought the Habs were the only Canadian team. My next goal is to come to Canada during hockey season and watch the residents worship in real life.

Anyways, enough about me. The Canadiens have a LONG history (and 24 Stanley Cups to date) and it’s displayed even on the outside of the building. [Side note: The Bell Centre website advertises that they offer tours of the arena, but I couldn’t get anyone to return my emails, sadness.] Plaques and statues detailing historic moments within the franchise and displays of retired jerseys line the quad outside one of the building’s entrances. I read about the greats like Maurice Richard and Guy Lafleur (who both seem to have played before helmets were part of regulation).

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Photos of current players line the sides and the streets leading to the Bell Centre

Like any other home arena, photos of current players are on display. And yes, Shea Weber is already up there, in a spot I can only assume was once occupied by P.K. Subban (sadness). I can’t begin to imagine what this place might be like on game night, but it does sit right above a subway stop, so if you’re lucky enough to stay by one, you could probably avoid exposure to the legendary Canadian winter I was told so much about by the lady behind the front desk of the hotel (we debated between the weather of Montreal and San Francisco as she checked me in).

The Bestie and I decided to call it quits by this time and trekked back to the hotel, where she called me a creeper for turning out all the lights to stare at the downtown scene and practice with some night shots (all of which came out with some blur and left me incredibly frustrated), but surprisingly, my iPhone 5S left me with the best shots. Until next week when I actually do something interesting.

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Downtown Montreal views
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