Hungry and just having arrived in Tampa Bay, the canadiens.com staff decided to make use of a suggestion made by Mathieu Darche to CANADIENS magazine and head down to Bern’s Steakhouse for some eats. At first glance, the sign out front seemed unassuming enough, making the inside of the establishment and the history that came with it all that much more surprising.
If you have over three hours to eat your meal and are looking for an original experience, Bern’s – listed as one of the Top 10 Steakhouses in the U.S. – is probably the place for you. Pretty much everything we ate was made from scratch by the restaurant itself – likely part of the reason that while touring through Bern’s sprawling kitchens we were explained that the preparation and storage areas of the establishment are actually way bigger than the dinning rooms themselves. To put that into perspective, the restaurant can seat nearly 400 people. Every cracker or piece of bread that came with our dinner was baked in-house; every vegetable organically grown by them, either in the restaurant or at the restaurant’s farm. The steaks would have made Queue de Cheval jealous, and the wine cellar is bigger than anything you’ve ever seen.
Comprised of “only” 100,000 bottles ranging from everyday to extremely rare, we were informed that what we were looking at only represented about 15% of the total collection – the other near-million bottles were stored at a warehouse within walking distance. The collection is the biggest of any restaurant in the world, and it definitely felt that way standing in among the never-ending rows of bottles.
Ever asked yourself why you’ve never seen Raphael Diaz get into a fight in his first season in the NHL? Sure, his size and gentlemanly temperament likely have something to do with it… On the other hand, after seeing this sign posted on the streets of Fort Lauderdale, we got a little insight on why the Swiss defenseman avoids dropping the gloves on-ice – his fists may be registered as lethal weapons…
If you find yourself in Florida with a few hours to kill before the puck drops for a Canadiens-Panthers game, why not take advantage of the opportunity to do a little (or a lot) of shopping. Across the street from the Bank Atlantic Center, you’ll find Sawgrass Mills – the sixth largest shopping mall in the United States, and the 36th biggest on the planet. Chances are whatever you’re looking for, one of the complex’s 350 stores should have you covered.
Sometimes referred to as the Venice of America, Fort Lauderdale has more than its share of incredible properties and luxurious mansions. Not only do these houses have some pretty nice cars parked in front, but they also tend to have some amazing yachts parked out back too. This one in particular stuck out considering it was completely jet black and seemingly ready for a midnight stealth mission. We chose to assume we were driving by James Bonds' vacation home.
If you’ve ever found yourself looking for parking on the busy streets of downtown Montreal, you’ve probably come across a sign or two describing parking times and restrictions so complicated that CIA code-breakers would have been left scratching their heads. Apparently Washington has decided to take things a step further. The sign pictured here is but a small taste of what the nation’s capital had to offer when it came to parking restrictions. We also saw a pole with seven (we counted) parking signs stretching from top to bottom. The canadiens.com staff was handed two parking tickets in the time it took to snap this picture.
One of the many legendary sights spread out around the city of Washington, the “refecting pool” separating the Washington monument and Lincoln memorial was one of the first stops on our to-see list. Unfortunately, upon arrival it didn’t take long to realize there wasn’t much of a reflection to be seen. The reconstruction of the pool, which apparently began back in October of 2010, was still well underway. As we walked by, we also couldn’t help but notice that the crane to the right had three parking violations stuck to its window and had been outfitted with a boot.
Since the Habs are going to be visiting Buffalo a whopping three times over the next four weeks, we figured we’d try something a little different for our first On the Road blog entry and venture over to nearby Niagara Falls. So within an hour of arriving in Buffalo and checking into the hotel, we found ourselves on foot, crossing Niagara Falls Rainbow Bridge… right back into Canada.
Some of our younger fans may recall the episode of the Simpsons in which Bart is forced to travel to Australia to receive disciplinary measures for making prank calls – namely, taking a giant Australian boot to the behind. During a trip to the American Embassy, Homer entertains himself by jump back and forth between the line that divides Australian and American soil until a Marine eventually punches him in the face for his shenanigans. As we passed the marker on the Rainbow Bridge officially dividing the U.S. and Canada, one member of the canadiens.com team couldn’t resist leaping back and forth over the sign shouting, “I’m in Canada! I’m in the U.S.! I’m in Canada! I’m in the U.S.!” We felt it only fair to punch him in the face as well. It should be noted that we don’t tolerate that kind of behavior within the Canadiens organization.
With all the lights, sounds and attractions to be seen at “Clifton Hill”, you could almost call it as the Canadian equivalent of the famous Las Vegas Strip. Stress the word could. With a slogan like, “The Street of Fun at the Falls” you expect a good time. Unless like us, you choose to visit the street in question in the middle of February – in which case you might want to make it a point to arrive early. Ninety percent of the street closed at 7 p.m.. Guinness Book of World Records Museum. Closed. Haunted Houses? Closed. Museum of Criminals? Closed. Apparently we’ll need to return when the weather is warmer – or at least the sun is higher in the sky.
Even with a light rain falling and a dense fog seeming to cover the entire town, we figured since we made the trip, it was probably worth our while to try and catch a glimpse of the Falls. We rolled the dice and gave Skylon Tower a go, riding its 160 meter elevator to the top in hopes of looking down at the famed natural attraction. According to the sleepy looking lady that sold us our tickets, visibility at the top was “pretty good”. You be the judge. In hindsight, there was probably a better way we could have spent the $12 per ticket, although we will admit the elevator ride up was decently fun.
Here is the visual feast we were treated to of the Niagara Falls in all their splendour. Enjoy it for yourself, through our eyes.
While touring around the provincial capital, we finally found proof of something Quebecers have known for years: Torontonians secretly love Montreal. How else can you explain the Habs love plastered all over College Station downtown? Well, actually the story behind the "Hockey Knights in Canada" display dates back to 1984 when artist Charles Pachter designed the two murals to be displayed in the TTC station. The Canadiens were on board with the project from the start, but word on the street is that when then-Leafs owner Harold Ballard found out his arch-nemeses would be featured alongside his team, he wasn't happy about sharing the wall space and tried to kill the project. Guess he was still a little steamed about '79. And '78. And '66. And '65...
Our Spidey senses were tingling during our walk through Younge-Dundas Square. Walk down Ste-Catherine street in Montreal on a weekend and you're bound to see a buff, whistling Spiderman entertaining fans just around the corner. Toronto's answer to our web-slinger is a little leaner and a little less musical but we still felt right at home with Toronto's version of the Friendly Neighborhood Spiderman around.
There are a few things we love about Toronto, two of which involve the word “street”: the delicious hot dogs you can buy on almost any corner downtown known as “street meat” and their vintage 1900’s mode of transportation known as the streetcar. Sure, they’re generally unreliable and probably won’t arrive on schedule the way the subway will (sorry TTC), but there’s something fun about feeling like a tourist even on your way to work in the morning.
We’ve seen our share of sports bars in our travels, but Real Sports in Toronto takes the cake. Located literally a stone’s throw from the Air Canada Centre, Real Sports has wall-to-wall screens showing every professional sporting event imaginable and the menu includes staples like “Burkie’s Dog House”, a selection of gourmet hot dogs named after Leafs GM Brian Burke. It’s got everything you want in a sports bar, with just enough “Toronto-y-ness” to remind you exactly what city you’re in while you’re there.
We didn’t think much of it until we started walking around the village and started spotting pineapples everywhere. Paintings, official signage and restaurants all feature the golden island snack and the annual Chamber of Commerce dance is referred to as the Pineapple Ball. So what’s the deal with the pineapples? Apparently, while the official symbol of Garden City remains a lion, about 10 years ago village administrator Robert Schoelle Jr. brought the idea to the city as a symbol of “family, human warmth and good times”. That seemed like a pretty good motto for a sports team, so for the remainder of the trip we’ll be incorporating pineapples into every meal.
Come to the Bell Centre for a game and there’s a good chance the building will be close to packed even in the warmup. While that’s not the case at the Nassau Coliseum, we have to give a shout out to the dedicated Habs fans that made sure to show up early and line the platinum seats to help make Long Island feel a little more like home for the guys.
When the Prudential Center was built back in 2007, the New Jersey Devils apparently wanted to make sure that they really put their stamp on the new arena. They accomplished this by, well… literally putting their stamp on everything in the building whether it made sense or not. In certain cases, the branding seemed appropriate as depicted here on some of the more luxurious seating the arena has to offer.
In other cases, the branding seemed less appropriate as depicted here, on this New Jersey Devils’ engraved toilet fixture. While it certainly seemed excessive at times, whether you’re there for a hockey game, a basketball game or a concert, you’re sure to know which team calls the building home.
Carey and Raphael aren’t the only members of the Habs family on duty during All-Star Weekend. Touring around Ottawa as part of the festivities, Youppi! spent some time in Gatineau, QC on Friday afternoon at Lord Aylmer Elementary School for the All-Star Pep-Rally before hitting the ice to showcase some of his sweet moves before the skills competition on Saturday.
The skills competition and All-Star Game steal the majority of the headlines during All-Star weekend but the Fan Fair downtown at the Ottawa Convention Centre is a pretty good third-billing. We ran into plenty of Habs fans in town taking in the festivities, showing off their sweet dangles – and their ability to shoot it low and hard from the blue line – in the skills booths, before taking some time out to test Ottawa’s version of poutine.
All-Star Weekend: when bitter on-ice rivalries take a back seat to seeing some of the league’s best play with each other for a change. Even the kids in Ottawa were getting in on the action at the Fan Fair, putting aside divisional loyalties to join forces in a game of mini hockey.
Visit the nation’s capital and it won’t take long to notice the giant hockey rink winding through the downtown core. Open every winter in Ottawa, when frozen, the 7.8 km long Rideau Canal becomes the longest skating rink in the world. To kick off All-Star weekend, the canal also (unofficially) became the world’s longest trophy procession, as every major NHL trophy – including the Stanley Cup – made their way down the canal before being set up at the Ottawa Convention Centre for the All-Star Fan Fest.
Nothing says Ottawa in January like hockey jerseys frozen in giant blocks of ice. Lining the Rideau Canal, all 30 NHL teams are represented in this festive display. We know Montreal is colder than pretty much every other NHL city (except maybe Winnipeg), so maybe that explains why the Canadiens logo was covered by a little more frost than the others…
Just before the NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft, Carey Price decided to work the crowd and get to know some of his fellow All-Stars off the ice. We can’t tell if Carey is rocking his Blue Steel pose or if this is just some pre-Draft jitters, but we were happy to see him picked in the seventh round nonetheless. We were a little surprised to see Pricey picked by a Leaf and a Bruin…we can’t believe we’ll be saying this all weekend, but Go Team Chara!
It’s no secret Torontonians take serious pride in their city. With all the attitude that comes with considering themselves the New York of the North, there isn’t much Toronto can do that could surprise discerning Montrealers. But during our morning stroll through the St. Lawrence Market, we discovered they had invented something even we couldn’t believe: Toronto Dollars. Apparently, Toronto is so big it actually needs its own currency. After a little digging, we discovered that Toronto Dollars actually work exactly like regular Canadian money – except you can only use them within a three-block radius. As self-indulgent as it sounds on the surface, this “Community Currency” was actually invented during the SARS epidemic in 2003 to help draw consumers downtown and 10% of each Toronto Dollar purchased gets donated to local non-profit organizations.
We’ll give Torontonians this: they know hockey genius when they see it. Stroll past the Hockey Hall of Fame and you’ll find yourself walking through Sam Pollock Square in honor of the legendary Canadiens general manager who was the architect behind eight of Montreal’s 24 Stanley Cups. The square was inaugurated in July 2007, one month before Pollock passed away.
Toronto may be Leafs Nation, but as we discovered during the 2010 Playoffs, there are plenty of passionate Habs fans living amongst the Blue and White masses here in the provincial capital. Thanks to Kilgour’s Bar Meets Grill in the Annex, ex-pats and visitors alike can watch every Canadiens game – in French on RDS, no less – alongside fellow bleu-blanc-rouge clad fans right in the heart of the city. If you’re lucky, co-founder Peter Kilgour might even let you take in the game from the comfort of his customized seat from the Montreal Forum.
Pittsburgh may be best known as “Steel City” but one visit to the Pennsylvanian hub and you’ll quickly discover why its other nickname is “The City of Bridges”. With 446 bridges around town, finding names for all of them could be a challenge. That’s where the city’s multiple professional sports teams come in. Fans looking to take in a baseball game in the summer need to cross The Roberto Clemente Bridge pictured here, named after the former Pirates Hall-of-Famer. With a new bridge in the works linking downtown Montreal to the South Shore, we’ve heard rumors our own fair city might be dipping into the Canadiens’ roster to find a suitable name. The Maurice Richard Bridge does have a pretty nice ring to it…
If you’re tuning into Friday’s game from the comfort of home, you might notice a sparse crowd directly behind the Penguins’ bench at the start of each period. That has everything to do with this luxury lounge located directly across from Pittsburgh’s dressing room. In addition to 26 seats at ice level, groups renting out Suite 66 for a night also get exclusive access to watch the players head out onto the ice for warm-up and each period from the comfort of this specially-designed Mario Lemieux-themed suite.