Thursday, December 20, 2012

Bonjour, Montreal!

I don't really have time to do this post considering all the things I need to do for Christmas, but since my belly is a little sore and I'm just not feeling fantastic tonight (lack of decent nutrients today?), I'm taking that as a sign that I need to sit down and chill for a bit.  It's been a crazy busy week.  Evenings have been non-stop and I'm pretty tired, but no rest for the weary right now.  But the crazy week started with Montreal, so let's go there...
 
We got a bit of a late start on Friday after the Knighthawks made a major trade that was announced first thing in the morning.  Craig had a lot of work to do, and we had a couple errands to run before we got on the road.  It was a long drive up, but Jacob did well--two movies, a nap, and some time on the iPod...not to mention about 30 questions about whether we were in Montreal yet...but he did well.  We got there sometime after 6pm, and decided to head out to grab dinner at the old Montreal Forum, former home of the Montreal Canadiens.  It was a 10-15 minute walk from our hotel, and seemed like a good thing to get out of the way that night.  After the Canadiens moved to their current arena, they gutted the whole arena and created an entertainment complex--movie theater, restaurant, stores, and a giant atrium that pays homage to the former tenant.  It's a far cry from what it once was, but hey, at least it's something.  We walked around and checked out the photos and history displayed on the second floor, then headed up to the restaurant.  After dinner I took a few photos:
The boys with a "fan" in a section of original seats from the Forum

Jacob and me in some original seats, which are scattered around the building as benches!
In the center of the main atrium, center ice had been recreated.  Unfortunately, a set of breakdancers was monopolizing it the whole time we were there, and Jacob was no happy.  Before we left, we waited for a brief break in the action so Jacob could run to center ice and pretend he was playing for a second...

The next morning we woke up and checked out the view from our room.  We could see this milk bottle water tower (from a former milk processing facility), which I had actually randomly read about last week...

And in the other direction was the Bell Centre, current home of the Canadiens and the main attraction of our trip to Montreal since the Knighthawks were playing there later that night...

We headed over to the arena fairly early for the team shootaround.  We watched Toronto's shootaround before the Knighthawks took to the field.  Jacob waited not-so-patiently because he desperately wanted to play on the field.  In the end he only got to go out for a few minutes, which frustrated him even though he was a lucky little boy to get that opportunity.  That sort of set off his nasty behavior for the rest of the weekend...ugh.

It was pretty surreal being in that building since I remember watching my favorite hockey player ever, Pierre Turgeon, help open that arena, which was then called the Molson Centre.  He was the captain of the Canadiens at the time and was instrumental in the big "torch passing" ceremony that moved the team from the old arena to the new one.  I've been in a replica Canadiens' locker room (from the Forum era) a couple times at the Hockey Hall of Fame, but we actually got to go on a tour of the real thing at the Bell Centre, which was pretty stinkin' awesome.  Here's a picture of the famous quote on the locker room wall, from the poem "In Flanders Fields"...

And here's Jacob taking a seat on the bench...

We tried unsuccessfully to have Jacob take a nap that afternoon, and I took a little walk to pick up new batteries for my camera since my rechargeables were all dead and I forgot my charger.  We headed back over to the arena around dinnertime and eventually settled into our seats for the game while Craig sat high above in the press box. 
 
The one bummer about the arena was that the Canadiens' championship banners were rolled up out of sight and none of the Canadiens-specific things in the concourse were up and running.  All of the advertising in the arena is digital, so there really wasn't anything Canadiens-branded to make the arena unique to them.  They also curtained off the upper decks and the far end, so it felt like something was lacking.  It's a huge arena, though, and I'd love to be there for a hockey game.  It has to be electric with over 20,000 people cheering!  It was cool hearing and seeing the French, though I'm not sure how I'd do if I had to live in bilingual land.  It's sort of awkward at times. 

Jacob and I took a self-portrait during the game...
Not a great angle for me, but I like the silly shot anyway...

...and by the end of the night we were eager to get back to the hotel and get Jacob in bed.  It had been a long day!  He went down late and woke up relatively early, but what can you do?

Sunday was extra cold (so was Saturday, but Sunday had wind) with the bonus of snow showers.  I was a little worried because we had to walk to get some breakfast (Tim Hortons) and I wanted to stroll around Old Montreal a bit before we headed out of town.  And it was COLD.  In the teens...with wind.  Our walks to and from breakfast were almost intolerable.  Even still, we managed to make Old Montreal work, with walks in and out of shops.  It's such a cute little area.  I was very excited to see this square, Place Jacques-Cartier, because I've seen this exact view via a webcam for years.

The Bonsecours Market was in a beautiful building...

And City Hall was amazing...

We visited some shops and should have eaten there (but we didn't--long story of why that stunk, but I won't bother discussing it here), but we headed out and started working our way back to the Bell Centre to visit the Canadiens' Hall of Fame.  However...Jacob fell asleep in the car so we took a detour up to Mount Royal to see if we could find a view I remember seeing 13 years ago when I was last there.  Unfortunately, we didn't, but we did get a nice view of the Olympic Stadium.  By then it was snowing pretty steadily, and it was so blustery cold that I didn't even want to get out of the car.  Jacob woke up on our way back down the mountain, so we headed to the arena.

When we got there, the Hall of Fame was very quiet.  For all we know, we were the only ones there that day!  Jacob was happy to see this center ice circle after not being able to enjoy the one at the Forum on Friday night...

Here's a giant captain's "C"...

And the awesome view as you walk into the hall...a recreation of the outside of the Forum, mannequins simulating a Canadiens' goal celebration (including current captain and Rochester native Brian Gionta), and a fake scoreboard.  It was a pretty awesome view!

The hall of fame featured lots of hockey cards, artifacts, and a Canadiens' locker room from the 70s...

There was also a picture of Pierre Turgeon holding the torch from the arena ceremonies, along with a real torch for a photo op...

Jacob enjoyed a video trivia game, and there was also an old school train car, as well.  It wasn't huge, but it was pretty impressive.  We also got to see a 15-minute video about the Canadiens' history, which was done on a large panoramic screen.  Considering we're not real Canadiens' fans (despite my brief fandom when Turgeon played there), we do respect the team's history and we enjoyed the video and hall of fame a lot. 

By the time we headed out of town, it was after 4pm, considerably later than we had originally wanted to leave.  Still, it had been a great day and I'm glad we did what we did.  On our way out, the snow was picking up and we got stuck in traffic behind tandem plows.  It took forever to get out of town, and the snow was pretty miserable for quite a while.  However, by the time we got to Ontario, the snow had slowed down and the temperature rose into the 20s.  We stopped for dinner somewhere in Ontario, and by the time we hit New York (and eternity later) it was rainy and in the 30s.  The drive seemed to take forever, and we narrowly missed a deer somewhere in New York around Syracuse, I think.  We arrived back in Rochester around 11:30, very tired, happy to be home, and relieved to find temperatures in the 40s!  Quite a change!  Jacob fell asleep around 9:30 and transferred into the house pretty well, so at least he got some rest.  We were up late trying to get settled and ready for Monday.  I was up until after 1am on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, mostly just trying to knock more items off my Christmas to do list--including Christmas cards and wrapping.  Last night wasn't much better, and tonight is earlier but not much better either, however we're getting there.  Hopefully we can knock more off our list tomorrow night and perhaps we'll be ready for Christmas by the end of the weekend.  Fingers crossed!  Still some decisions to make and gifts to buy, and more to wrap, of course.  Then there's packing and tearing apart two bedrooms prior to getting new carpeting next Thursday.  YIKES.  We'll get there--we always do--but it's a challenge.  Just taking it day by day and hoping the baby (and my body) cooperates.  Stay tuned...

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