Thursday, February 27, 2014

Not Again ?!?!?!?

Every trip has to come to an end even the short ones and as usual i woke up feeling a bit of sadness as my good friends Khalid and Adil have went beyond all barriers to make sure i had a good time in Montreal . Guys i have said it more then once ... you are both world class hosts ! Thank you :) It was great to meet both of your families , i still can't believe how well behaved all of your children are ... seriously ! All great kids i hope to see them all become hockey players for the Moroccan National Team :) 

So we dropped Khalid's children off at school and went on a minor adventure trying to find St.Viature Bagel so i can buy a dozen to take with me home . There are more then 1 location on the same street LOL and we were meeting Adil at one of them .... i figured it was the one that seemed to look familiar and it was , i picked up 3 sesame seed , 3 poppy , 3 plain  and 3 cinnamon raisin for Kathleen . Most are gone already and i have only been home for 3 days hahahaha... they are like candy mmmmm!!!! So we meet Adil and i transfer my bag from Khalid's car to Adil's and we say our good-byes ... Khalid i will see you in July in Rabat :) 

Adil thanks for the ride to and from the airport and everything in between ! Great weekend . The airport was quiet i get to baggage drop they didn't even weigh my bag :P clear security with no problem ( still have the beard ) and i even had time to hit up the Air Canada Lounge to eat , fill my bag with pretzels and drink Cola ...not in the mood for beer for some reason . I had 1 Lounge pass left so when i left the lounge i looked for a lonely traveller and found one ... this guy was a big guy !!! i approached said hi and asked if his connection flight was anytime soon , he somberly said no . I said are you flying Air Canada ( he needs to have a ticket to show in lounge to get in ) he somberly said yes , he sounded American . I reached in my bag and told him it was his lucky day , he gave me an odd look like should i be ready to punch this guy or what is he going to do to me as i shuffled through my backpack . When i pull out the pass i explain to him you can go to the lounge for free and eat and drink as much as you want , i handed the pass to him .... his face lit up like a Christmas tree on Christmas Eve . He was very thankful , it was good to do something nice for someone and get a good reaction . The guy in Toronto wasn't so excited thus not as satisfying . 

I boarded flight , some confusion with who was sitting where with some other passengers which i settled for everyone and settled in for flight .... entertainment screen is not functioning for first bit but comes up and i get to finish watching Gravity which was a pretty good flick . When we land i go to get my luggage and notice that there is no line at the baggage counter so i go to see if i can get an email to write to someone about my lost luggage on my last trip .... this is crazy .... while i am standing there time flies and next thing there are people from my flight asking where their luggage was ???? Not again , you gotta be kidding me right . I tell the guy helping me that i guess my luggage is lost ? we go for a walk and it has not arrived either , this time my sticks and my gear missing .... mass confusion ensues over the walkies looking for all this luggage from flight 415 from Montreal . Even the guy serving me can't believe luggage is lost on a direct flight LOL he thinks it will show on next flight but all of a sudden over the walkie i hear them say that they found a luggage canister left behind out near the plane ???? Really ! So we all went to the carousel and waited , it took 1.5 hours for my bag to finally arrive after my flight had landed . But at least my bag showed up .... 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Proud To Be Canadian

Woke up at Khalid's place in Montreal , bright and early to watch Canada play Sweden in the Gold Medal Game at the Olympics . Wow what a treat , couldn't have started the day any better . It is definitely going down as one of those where were you when this happened questions ! Well .... when Canada DOMINATED in the Gold Medal game at the Olympics in 2014 i was watching it with the President of the Moroccan Ice Hockey Federation in Montreal :) we did a lot of jumping up and down , high fiving , also broke my iphone's case .... yeah the one i paid 25 pounds for in Birmingham :( whatever it was so worth it !

After the big win Khalids kids had the urge to go skating so we drove out to Wal-Mart . This seems very odd right ? Well believe it or not Wal-Mart built a natural ice rink for people to use at absolutely no cost ! The ice was pretty rough , to the point where i can say i have seen better ice in some tropical countries ... they had a trailer for people to put their skates on . There were a couple of musicians playing folk music with a fiddle and some spoons , it was pretty cool actually .... the kids had a great time flopping around on the ice while Khalid and i chilled out on the chairs they had set out :)

We went for a bite to eat at Jarry's Deli ... of course i had another smoked meat sandwich which was pretty good but i still say Schwartz's is better . Next time i will have to try Main which i was told trumps both of the other places i went to . After we ate the kids wanted to go back for another skate , well they only have 2 pairs of skates for the 4 kids to share so i guess they planned it that way . When we got back Adil met us and swept me off on a tour of the city which started with a stop for a quick photo of the Bell Center where the Montreal Canadiens try to play hockey :P after that we drove by Momesso's which is owned by former player Sergio Momesso . Adil asked if i wanted to go in and i thought it wasn't gonna be much to go in to see , unfortunately from what i have seen online i should have gone in !!! My big regret for the weekend ... After we drove by there we continued to Ed Meagher Arena where the Concordia Stingers play . Adil thought there was a hockey game against McGill , when we arrived the parking around rink was full so we parked went inside grabbed tickets because there was a game on and when we got in we realized it was a woman's game . Now it wasn't bad but we really went because Adil wanted me to meet one of his Moroccan team mates . So he called him to find out that they already played their game on Friday and lost . Well we are here anyways might as well enjoy the game .... then security comes over to tell us that our car is running ?!?!?!?! Adil hops up and bolts , he has an auto starter that seems to have a mind of its own lately . When he got back the game was almost over and Concordia's women's team had their ass' handed to them with a 10-2 loss to McGill ... yikes !

After the game Adil and i went to his place to drink a couple beers then he dropped me off at Khalid's for dinner . We went out to a Chinese buffet ... i am telling you all these guys are trying to fatten me up LOL . I can't keep up with these Moroccan power eaters , they are eating machines ! Food was great but i think we were all pretty tuckered out from the long day we experienced so when we got to Khalids after we all kinda crashed out . I have to fly home tomorrow and i am gonna miss these guys .... the thought of Canada's Gold Medal makes everything feel better though :) 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Montreal 2014

Saturday morning i flew out to Montreal for a hockey weekend with my friends from Morocco .The day started off on an interesting note when i stopped in to Rabba (convenience store ) and the guy behind the counter greeted me as though i was a Muslim . I guess it is my beard and it made me smile as it seemed to be a sign , i mean i am going to visit my Moroccan friends who are Muslims .When i arrived at the airport in Toronto there was the most ridiculous lineup to get to the check in counter , there were hundreds of people and to be honest i still don't know why . When i got to the actual labyrinth entrance right before the counter i was asked when my flight was and where i was flying ....then i was told to go to another line , with less people working the check in . I went to the airport early hoping to get into the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge (VIP) as i had 3 passes and they were about to expire , you would think over 2 hours would be enough but not with a day like this .

As i said i am rocking a beard and when i got to security i found out what looking like a Muslim meant :( The first security person i approached in the lineup tested my hands , belt and jacket for bomb residue with his magic wand ... i jokingly told him it must be my beard , he said its random . Then i get to the security counter remove my belt, sweater , toque and empty my wallet and go through the scanner ... i was then chosen to be randomly patted down ???? my bags were on the conveyor and you guessed it , they were searched for mysterious materials ... no i am not joking , and yeah i kept my cool even though with every passing security check i am knowing my VIP pass will not be used and i am kinda hungry too . I passed all the tests but the whole time it makes me wonder if it is always this bad for my beard wearing friends or if it is because my olive skin and my beard makes me look like a Muslim ? By the time i reach the gate we are boarding :( so i quickly went for a wander to find a weary traveller and i found some guy half asleep by himself and offered him a lounge pass , he took it but looked very confused when i walked away LOL .... i hope he used it , and hopefully this brings me some good karma .

The flight was great , i watched Gravity and when i arrived i met Adil El Farj ( finally) ... we have been in contact for a few years , my trip to Morocco is all because he had invited me to go over there and it is because of him that i met Khalid who is also in Montreal this weekend . Before you know it i am already sitting in Schwartz's deli ... for those of you that know your smoked meat , this is the shit ! oh how i love it there ... Montreal is very well known for its amazing food and my Moroccan buddies are well known for their ability to eat :) Moroccans love their food ! So i was bound to get stuffed eating everything you can imagine is Quebecois . This was going to be a pure hockey weekend and Adil made sure it was stopping me at the Maurice Richard arena which is not for hockey ???? We also went to play some shinny at CEPSUM Arena after meeting up with Khalid ... can't forget meeting both of their lovely families which was really my pleasure ! When we met Khalid we all went to the rink where Adil and i finally got to strap the pads on and hit the ice together .

The rink was really nice and smooth the guys were all given different colored CEPSUM jerseys for shinny and some of them were pretty good , some were kinda weak but it was a good mix . The rink itself had small dressing rooms that were oddly shaped with giant butcher block tables in the middle ... it was an old rink . The ceiling above the ice had some art installation ? i am not sure it had white squares hanging from it and i can't understand or explain why to be honest it was a bit of a distraction when i was on the ice . There was a guy on the other team that could dangle , he potted a few on me but i fed him the glove on one of his many breakaways . It was a lot of fun ... whenever i made a save Adil would cheer me on from the other end and i did the same when he robbed someone ,which he did quite often .

After our skate we went for some beers at Dieu du Ciel which is a very trendy bar , it was rammed in there and the beer was AMAZING . I chugged 2 pints , wish i had more or checked to see if they sold cans or even bottles to bring home . We then took off and went to Complexe Bell where the Montreal Canadiens practice , beautiful building with a few ice pads in very good condition . There are a couple indoor soccer pitches and a really nice bar upstairs . Its too bad its wasted on the Habs LOL ! had to do it guys being a Leafs fan and all :P We had booked ourselves to skate at another shinny ice time for 10:30 pm at Les 4 Glaces so we went over there and checked out the competition .... there were only 6 skaters so we decided to skip it , not really worth dressing for 6 guys to shoot at us on a Saturday night . So instead we went for poutine at some place called Lafayette in the east end , it was good and HUGE but i gobbled it all and made plans to meet an old friend . Vince Fazio ! I met Vince in Cortina at a tourney , we drove over to Chislers Bar which is not far from Adil or Khalid which made things way easier ! Just had a quick beer but it was great seeing Vince , we all had to wake up early the next morning to watch the big game .... Canada vs. Sweden for the Gold Medal . Vince , buddy i wish we had spent more time chatting and got on the ice together maybe next time eh ?

We ended the night when Adil dropped me off at Khalids' place . He was also excited about the big game the next morning so we just chilled out and talked for a bit and went to bed around 1 am , with only 6 hours to the big game it was time to get some sleep :)


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Visiting Friends

Usually once or twice a year i like to make a small trip here and there ... small trip meaning somewhere not too far away and at a reasonably cheap cost . My good friend from Morocco is in Montreal and has been there for some time ... i like going to Montreal , he is there so why not make a trip of it ? Yeah :) Khalid has been there for a few weeks now and is probably leaving soon so this is the best time to head out there . Hoping to kill a few birds with this stone as i will be meeting Adil ( finally!) and i am really hoping to see my buddy Vince who i met way back in 2010 in Cortina , Italy ... Vince you better show up for that skate , don't be a wussy LOL !

Oh yeah and of course i am taking my gear , this will be a hockey filled weekend which i am sure will be amazing . It will be extra special if i have to wake up at 6 am on Sunday to watch Canada hopefully win the Gold Medal . For me the Olympics is the ultimate hockey , this makes Stanley Cup look like a minor hockey event :) Apparently i am on the ice twice , possibly 3 times over the weekend ... yeah i love it , just not sure when or where ... Adil has been going crazy booking different ice times . I do know i will be skating at the Bell Complex which is where the Montreal Canadiens practise on Saturday (night?) and its an open skate so if any of you Montrealers wanna come test the Travelling Goalie then step into my office hahahaha !!!! The more the merrier , my friends already asked which beer i prefer to have on arrival ... St. Ambroise Blonde please . My girlfriend is questioning if i am going to any strip joints there ... my reply was HELL YEAH ! , if i get the chance i will LOL . Montreal is known for its rippers hehehe... Club Super Sex is very well known in hockey circles , those of you that have been there for hockey tourneys have more then likely ended up there . With all honesty i am not sure if that will happen though as it seems between hockey and hockey i don't have enough time for anything aside from eating poutine and Montreal smoked meat sandwiches .... which is a high priority :)

Ahh la belle province . It has been a while since i have been there but always a pleasure . I am really excited to see Khalid . If you are wondering Mr. Khalid Mrini is the President of the Moroccan Ice Hockey Federation . I still have to write a story solely about this man and his adventure ... it is quite the road he has travelled to get to where he is . Tons of passion for the game but can't stand on a pair of skates :) Khalid i know you are reading this ... i want to see you on the ice either in Montreal OR when i come back to Rabat . I have made a few promises to you , now its your turn .

I will try to post a couple stories of my ongoings in Montreal this weekend if i have time , if not i will write about it next week when i come out of my haze :) Either or GO CANADA . this is gonna be a special weekend ... i got a feeling ! 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Montreal Bound ?

My good friend from Morocco is in Montreal . Mr Khalid Mrini , the president of the Moroccan Ice Hockey Federation ! I really am trying to put a trip together to go visit him and finally meet Adil El Farj , obviously i want to get on the ice when i am there and would love to meet up with some other old friends . From the looks of it i will plan to head out there on Saturday Feb. 22 early in the morning . I can't leave Friday as i have a game that night ... i mean i could head out after the game but with all possibility it would be a waste of a day as my game is at 10 pm meaning it would end at 11 and i would get out of the room by 11:30 and on the road for something between 5-6 hours so i would arrive around 6 am and would basically have to go to sleep wasting a day :( probably better to drive out in the morning .

I am looking at ideas of renting a mini van to drive there and possibly collecting any equipment i can to donate to my friends in Morocco . They could use some equipment and i think they have collected some stuff already to send out there ... the more the merrier . I am not officially doing this yet ... if i fly i won't be able to take extra gear with me because of extra baggage, weight,etc .... i always like to help out however i can .

If i do end up going i will try to stay until the Monday morning so that leaves me with time constraints .... play hockey , eat poutine , drink Maudite , and visit the depeneur aka drunken owl LOL . I know a few friends out there that will want to meet up and i hope i can co-ordinate meeting everyone but with so little time it might be hard ... unless you all come to play hockey ? As i mentioned earlier this is all in the works right now and if all goes as planned i will figure out when i can get on the ice , if its with a team or open shinny or a game ! Most importantly i wanna chill out with my Moroccan buddies and watch Team Canada win the GOLD MEDAL :) yeah that is Feb 23 ... that would make for a very special weekend + i won't be arguing so much with them about how the Leafs are a better club then the Habs LOL .

For some reason Schwartz's deli just popped into my mind .... mmmm!!!!!

Have a great weekend :)