Thursday, January 5, 2017

Happy New Year - Montreal Day 2

Once again, happy belated new year. I have to say that traveling to Montreal was more enjoyable than going to Quebec City, for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the drive - 3 hours through familiar territory. Going to QC requires 6 hours of driving through no-man's land, whereas Montreal is fairly close to the Vermont border. The biggest issue we had was crossing back into the US, which was horribly inefficient, but what are you going to do?

Either way, our second day in Montreal was new year's eve, and we had an entire day and evening to fill before the big end of year send-off. We ate a killer breakfast at the hotel, which was very nice, and we were good to go for the day. As far as entertainment, there were countless options but in many areas our interest's diverged. The girls wanted to go to an art museum, which I wouldn't have minded but N was not thrilled. It just so happened, however, that there was a big hockey tournament going on at the Bell Center, which is where the Candadiens play. It was the World Junior Hockey Championship, which I hadn't really heard about but I think it's a big deal. It involves the young players who are on the cusp of making it into the NHL, so these guys are good. One step away from being pro. The game we were seeing was Sweden vs. Czech Republic, and we ended up getting decent tickets, though they weren't that cheap.

I realize that NHL games cost a fortune, but do you really want to drop the same kind of cash on an international tournament of junior players? I'd almost see a college game instead for a fraction of the price. I think Dartmouth games are $8, whereas online these tickets were going for $70-80. Ridiculous, if you ask me. We walked to the arena and got $35 tickets, which is still high but a lot less than what we saw on the website. This is also a good lesson in investigating all your options and not just accepting what is initially handed to you as your only option. That is, of course, if your goal is to save money. For me it's a not brainer.

Anyway, N and I went to the game and it was fun, though the arena was not full by any means. I would say it was about 2/3 full, and the upper decks were completely empty. We didn't even sit in our assigned seats because with so many vacancies we just grabbed some empty chairs. Even if the rightful owners showed up, all we had to do was move a few rows up or down. The game was fun, these guys were good. I think they mentioned 17 of 25 of them were heading for NHL teams, so it's the real deal. More importantly, we got to eat hot dogs and nachos, which is always a treat.

After the game we headed back outside into the tundra and went back to the hotel. One thing I notice about being in the city is that the wind seems to be unrelenting; I experienced this in New York, as well. Throw in frigid temperatures and icy snow and it can be pretty brutal. We trudged back to the hotel and relaxed a little until mom and A showed up, which was about an hour later. It was nice relaxing in the room. By the time we all reunited it was getting close to supper time and we had to make a decision. Midnight was still 6-7 hours away, and we had to plan wisely in order to make it to the golden hour. We chilled out until around 7:00PM and then did some research and found a couple of restaurants that got good reviews. The only problem was that one of them was closed and the other was booked solid. We sort of forgot that it was New Year's Eve.

We wandered around a bit in search of vittles but it was difficult due to the crowds. Places were either closed, too crowded, or had special New Year's Eve specials going. We could have eaten pizza (fine by me) but that wasn't really an option. Finally we landed in a Chinese restaurant, of all places. It was more of a noodle shop and we all got big bowls of steaming hot noodle soup, which was nice on a cold winter evening. The food was good but not great, sort of like all Chinese food, in my opinion.

After dinner we still had several hours to go, and it was way too cold to spend it all outside, so we went back to the hotel and chilled out. We realized that once we settled in there was the distinct possibility that we were not going to make it back out, which would have been A-okay by me, but that wouldn't have been fair to the kids... I think. I know A was itching to be the thick of the festivities but I'm not completely sure how N feels about it. Either way, around 10:30 we put on multiple layers of warm clothes and made the final trek of 2016 outside.

The city was definitely alive, and there were thousands of people out by the river. Way more people than in Quebec City, but somehow not as festive. Maybe because there is so much going on in Montreal, or they're more cosmopolitan and jaded, but in Quebec City it seems more lively. People in QC are all out in full force as if this was the only game in town, dancing and having a good old time, while in Montreal people were hanging but more subdued. In Montreal I definitely smelled more pot being smoked.

Our timing was good because within about 30 minutes it hit midnight. Everyone was happy, the fireworks were nice (though again, not as nice as QC), and then we headed home. That was it. This could me totally misinterpreting things but I think A was a little disappointed. She's at the age where parents are boring and spoil the festivities, and she would probably have much preferred to be with her friends. I totally get that and I think next year we might do things differently. For now, it's nice to still be able to do things as a family, a situation that is slowly becoming harder to do as the kids get older.

One nice vibe I got was as we were leaving we took a short cut and had to climb a railing that was sort of high. I was all bundled up and it was icy and slippery so I had trouble climbing up the wall. Some stranger reached over and helped me up, and believe me when I tell you he really had to put some muscle into getting me up that wall. I sure was grateful for a little assistance to ring in the new year. For the record, mom and both the kids had no trouble scaling it.

Oh well, nobody said aging is kind to the old. Happy new year to everyone and best wishes for 2017.

And thanks for reading, and thanks to GrrrLZilla for the pic.

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