A Southerner's Trip to The Great White North

Apr. 5—I can't believe it took the Carolina Hurricanes to play out of the country for me to finally see them.

That was one of the first thoughts I had over the weekend as I packed a bag and made the 62-mile trip with a friend to watch the Habs and Hurricanes play.

For the unaware, I spent 36 of my 38 years in North Carolina.

Not only was it my first NHL game that I would be seeing, but it was also my first time going into Canada.

I've lived in the area for over two years, got my passport three months after moving, and I just decided now to go. To say what I've told others, I just needed a purpose.

Maybe it was a little bit of an adventure too. Why not, right?

I say that because Quebec is almost another world. It didn't take long for me to see signs I couldn't read due to the language barrier.

I mean, I took French in high school so I had some knowledge. But a lot leaves you after 20 years from when you last studied it.

But my eyes were out the window taking it all in. To be honest, it looked just the same as it does when you're traveling from Plattsburgh to Keeseville. If it weren't for the signs in French, or the entire shoulder blocked due to construction, I would've believed we were headed in the wrong direction.

The sight that blew me away was seeing Montreal for the first time. Situated on its own island, it was fascinating as we crossed the Samuel de Champlain bridge into downtown to soak up the sights.

Not to mention it was a beautiful day. If the wind wasn't blowing, you could have put your windows down and just soak everything in.

Now before I begin on the adventure from a restaurant to the Bell Centre, I have to say I was nervous.

Nervous in the sense I don't speak French (even though I know a few key phrases), I just wasn't sure how it would be.

Preconceived notions were tossed out the window when we went into the Burger Bar on Crescent Street.

I found a trick some Montreal residents do. I noticed it with the waitress as she approached, she said "Bonjour, Hi" to see how we would respond. As we used English, she spoke to us in English. It wouldn't be the first time I witnessed it and throughout the night at the game people would do the same thing, or start in French before switching when I spoke.

Trust me, it was something to get used to that I'm still not sure I have the hang of.

As far as food at the restaurant goes, I ordered a Royale with Cheese and an order of poutine. Looking back I should have just ordered the poutine, but both were so delicious and I didn't realize poutine was its own meal.

Poutine was something I never had until I moved to Plattsburgh, and the authentic one in Canada tasted so good.

We got to the Bell Centre with the fans who were starting to move in.

Did I wear anything to represent the Canes? Technically yes, as I wore a Hartford Whalers sweatshirt. But, I did see numerous Hurricane fans as we walked around the arena.

Getting to our seats was easy but it wasn't before we stopped to grab some food. I was implored by numerous people to try a Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwich when I was there.

I tried it. And could really go for another one right about now.

Our seats weren't bad as we were sitting behind the benches, parallel to one of the nets. So we had a nice angle to watch all of the action.

I'm not going to lie, it was not the most exciting game. My friend who is a diehard Canadians fan quipped at how boring it was and how the Habs played poorly.

Final score: Carolina 3, Montreal 0.

I didn't walk away in the same state as he was in, because the Canes won. I was in a happy state of mind for a multitude of reasons. The biggest one being that the team I've rooted for, since they moved to Carolina, won. And I got to see it in person!

The next morning was Easter, so we needed to return early. I didn't get to see all that Montreal has to offer, but I got a significant piece.

A little part of me was relieved to be back in New York. I began noticing familiar signs, saw the exit for Plattsburgh and knew I was home.

I still have $54 Canadian dollars from the trip, that I'll hold onto. Never know when I might make another trip to Quebec, or other parts of Canada.

One thing is for certain, I need to dust up on my French.