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La Belle Province



Montreal, QC Nov 9-12, 2023


The annual hockey tournament was in the calendar early this year and it usually brings us to a small town or city that has all the parents dreading. To our surprise this year, Montreal was announced and there was a murmur of "ok, not so bad". Actually, we were all thrilled with the decision and as I and a bunch of parents hadn't been to Montreal in ages and the boy hasn't been since he was a youngin. I was excited even though I wasn't sure how I was going to keep my eyes open coming off an epic weekend in Austin. Win win for both boys and dad's where we knew the nights would be long and fun. We hired a bus to takes us on the 5 hr journey, leaving on Thursday afternoon with bucket loads of beer, booze, snacks and extras. The only thing about the bus was going to be the dreaded ride home on Sunday afternoon that we didn't look forward too, but that actually turned out to be "not so bad". The drive was pleasant and relatively quick and arrival to the downtown hotel was about 7PM just in time for check in and a team dinner around the corner at the Baton Rouge - team friendly, cold beer and "not so bad" ribs. No Terry Black's thats for sure. After dinner, got the boys settled at that hotel and off the dad's went to a local around the corner. What was talked about alot was late night poutine. Now, for most of you 'Mericans, poutine is a dish that unfortunately has been associated with the Great White North for a long time and most of you think it is a delicacy and available on every menu across the country. That's a hard NO and it is neither. A sizeable portion of french fries topped with gravy, cheese curds and depending where you are other such toppings as smoked meat, ground beef and chicken are all in play. What it is, is a great late night snack after the consumption of many adult beverages - hardly a delicacy and certainly not on every menu but lucky for us a few great places near our hotel. La Belle Province is an institution, serving late night ridiculousness for decades - the translation to English is "the beautiful province" of which Quebec is. After devouring a plate and needing a defibrillator, we told ourselves this could be the first and last late night as we had many early mornings - after all we were there to support to boys in their hockey pursuits. Weren't we lucky to find ourselves back there for 2 more nights. In between poutine sessions and hockey arena trips, we found ourselves at Schwartz's, a Montreal tradition who have been serving up smoked meat to everyone and all since 1928! We were lucky too to find ourselves at the Bell Centre to see the Canadiens play the Bruins - helluva game - and also walking around Chinatown, vieux (old) Montreal, Mt Royal, Place D'arms and along the St. Lawrence River. Great city - great, great city. It was also awesome to see my niece there and visit her apartment as she attends McGill University. The tournament itself was "not so bad" - third place or 2nd loser as I like to say. There were only 5 teams in our division, so as mentioned not so successful, but kids had a blast and some even had their own late night McDonald's adventures. While sleep wasn't bountiful it needed to happen - so it did and it did delight me!


SET UP


2 x queens in a decent size room. Mini desk and a corner chair for some extra seating that allowed dad's to have a pre game/meal drink in. The room was dry and hot so had to put the AC on in November. You can smell the old room carpet, but it wasn't horrible and for 3 nights with my boy by my side, it was fine. Luckily he had his own bed and be a teenager by himself. Which side of the room? Left side, right side? I sat down on each bed and surprisingly different feel of the mattress. I chose the softer one of course and was pleasantly surprised with the comfort. 3 nights later I was not disappointed. The other dads get a kick out of me when I was in their rooms as I was testing each of their mattresses to see how inconsistent the mattresses were and especially after I called what kind of mattresses they were. I guess I showed my expertise and that felt great!

MATTRESS



It's been a while since I was in a Holiday Inn, but wasn't surprised by their choice of hospitality division when I desheeted the bed and the mattress protector and bed bug cover to find Simmons Beautyrests. Both the boy and I had a pillowtop, but mine was a softer feel and his was a bot on the firmer side. I immediately took a glance at the tag and thought for sure one, mine, was just worn out a bit and manufactured a few years before his. They were made about the same time within in a year, so either they got the wrong order, mine had been slept on and worked in much more or

SLEEP


This was the second weekend in a row where there was little of it, but when it happened, it was sound. Mattress conformed really nicely with my body, an achy one at that. Let's just say that the dad's had as good if not better of a weekend as the boys. Late nights and early morning games. One morning was really difficult, almost missed the bus, not the boy but me.

OVERALL


Montreal rocks! It really is an amazing city that is worth exploring. More of a euro city with it's architecture, rich history and lots of culture. It's one of the oldest cities in Canada and with that comes a more relaxed environment, attitude and places of interest. I have friends who went to McGill University and Concordia and used to visit a lot. I hadn't been back in a while, but always love the joie de vivre here, so much so that I decided to ask the Mrs. to grow old with me here awhile back. We try to get back as often as possible, and when we do it really is special. This time, even though without her, I was sure to show the boy my love of the place. Only a 5 hour drive from Toronto, it is not to be missed by anyone if you are planning to have a visit to Canada. Will make sure to get back sooner than later. 🏒🍟🍻🏒🏒🏒🌭🌭🌭🍻🍻



Above is a selfie, minus the self, in front of the iconic Schwartz's deli, a picture of the house I used to stay in when I went to visit some good pals, the Hotel Nelligan in vieux Montreal which is a great place to stay, and finally a plaque at the Forum for my dad, one of his favs. I will always remember the way my dad talks about him - "Boom Boom" was his nickname "the hardest slapshot in the league!" he would say.


GREAT RELATED LINKS


https://restaurantlabelleprovince.com/ It's in French, so you may not get far


Third place - some were not happy as you can tell.



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