WHAT A WEEKEND !
I just came off my cloud of having the best weekend of the year. In fact, my body is back but my head is still there. Here are my thoughts on everything.
First of all, Friday. Calgary.
First thing we did was to find the stadium, and then find the nearest hotel from there. It wasnt hard as most of the inexpensive hotels are right there. Three minutes of walking from McMahon. This kept us from having to find a parking. Then we browsed a bit around the city. People in Calgary have a very strange way of doing business. In front of cars dealers, advertising boards say Â« We buy your car Â». In front of real estate agents offices, it says Â« We buy your home Â». In front of DVD stores, it says Â« We buy your DVDs Â». It seems like people there are more intrested in buying your stuff then selling theirs. Had I knew, I would have brought a full pack of unuseful stuff I have at home and turned it into cash.
For those who have never been there, McMahon Stadium is quite nice. I mean, from inside. The exterior is pretty ordinary, but from your seat, you can see the foot of the rocky landscape leading to the rockies on one side, and on the other side, you see the shadow of city towers.
When we got in there, I thought Â« Hey! Real seats! For once, we wont be seating on metal beams. Â» But I was wrong, because the upper sections are just like in Montreal, and we were three rows too high to deserve real seats. We havent brought pillows to sit on so it was pretty cold on our asses. The game in Calgary was the coldest one of the weekend well, the other two were afternoon games, which kinda helps.
Before the game started, I could spot a guy wearing a Yeast jersey. And yes, he is our Yeast#5. He became the first huddle member I met outside of Montreal. We chit-chatted for a moment and took a picture to immortalize this historical moment. Hes a very easygoing guy. The kind who can make friends with his seat neighbours even though he wears the ennemys jersey.
The game began pretty slowly. Burris made many mistakes because he was rusty. The Ticats made many mistakes because theyre the Ticats. Usually, this would have been a start that would have bored me. But this wasnt anything usual. We decided to cheer like crazy just for the fun of it. By some coincidence, the lady sitting right next to us heard us speak in French at some point and so did she. She was from Chicoutimi, Quebec, and moved a few years back to Calgary to follow her husband there. They have three kids and love the game so much theyll make the family trip to the Grey Cup. Very kind and classy lady. As so were pretty much all the fans we met there, might I add.
At half-time, I met the illustrious RedandWhite and his muse, Mrs. RedandWhite. Great people. Then again, we took a picture of the first ever mods meeting. This is like when two heads of state meet for the first time. Thats exactly like that. Ahem RedandWhite looks like a guy who sincerely care about having fun. He said he started considering coming to Montreal shall the Stampeders cross over and meet the birds (in the East FINAL, might I say). I wish no bad luck to the Stamps, but them finishing fourth now has something fun attached to it.
The second half of the game was pretty much exciting. Burris started getting his grove back, and I was able to applause Copelands catches, a thing I couldnt do when he came to Montreal. And when George White returned a pick for a touchdown, I started picturing myself finishing ahead of RedandWhite in the weekly Fantasy Pool. Harh harh.
After the game, we started looking for a place to end the evening. And thats where we came to one big conclusion about the city : the urbanist who designed it was a madman.
All the streets there are named after numbers. You roll on the 16th, then turn on the 8th, and then on the 17th, and then another 16th? What the? After a few moments of turning in circles trying to figure out why the same numbers were used twice, we noticed, some were streets and some were avenues. That wasnt easy to notice at first under the moonlight. But what became crazier than crazy, is there are many 16th avenues one south-west, one north-west, etc. To help you get completely lost, about 75 % of streets are one ways, most of those that arent are dead-ends, and no one really bother making its civic number visible. No wonder none of the first three locals we asked were not even able to direct us to downtown. And quite strangely, downtown seems to be broken in four or five pieces, here and there.
Noticing how many ladies were walking alone at night, we thought Calgary looked like a pretty safe city. And its clean. You wont see many littering there. Well, those conceptions lasted until we followed the advice of a local guy who gave us directions to Â« a very fun place to end the evening in Calgary Â». It was a creepy bar, surounded by no other opened place, in front of which there was a guy cooking hot-dogs (at midnight? in that empty area?) two guys smoking dope and a prostitute on the street corner. We decided to head back to (a piece of) the real downtown, were we would just pick a bar from our own.
Next morning, it was Edmonton time.
If you ever look for something that has nothing to do with a tourist attraction, try the highway # 2. You will get to see many great things like Pokona County, burned barns, and two llamas. An unforgettable moment.
Unfortunately, we could not stay in Edmonton for a while, because we had to get back to Calgary to get in the plane right after the game. So we havent had time to browse around like we did in Cowtown. But Edmonton seemed nice. And we saw they established a real downtown, with many bars and restaurants all together. 1-0 for Edmonton in the urbanistic department.
When Commonwealth stadium became visible, there was a second of silence in the car, followed by a Â« WoÃ¢. Thats huge. Â» The problem with that place is the parking. If you do not hold a pass, you have to roam until you find something still available. All the streets around the stadium show signs saying Â« No parking when there are major sporting events Â». Duh! THATs when parking is needed.
Anyways, we found parking at 12 :00. So we havent had much time to stop by the End Zone Pub, where we were supposed to find Supertoe. We stayed there for about 15 minutes without seeing him, and then left for the stadium. I also got to his seats but he wasnt there either. Unfortunately, I never was able to find him, so the third meeting planned was a failure. I tried, Supertoe. Next time I guess.
As we made our way to our seats, I was flabbergasted by the number of Green and White jerseys around us. It seemed like 20% of the crowd was from Saskatchewan (or locals cheering for the Riders?).
This set the table for the greatest atmosphere I have ever seen in my life in a sporting event (and I was at the final game when the Habs won their last Stanley Cup in 1993!). There was so much electricity in the air. It was like half the stadium was cheering for each team. On every single play, the crowd would go wild because there would always be tens of thousand people happy about what just happened. Incredible.
Oh! And one thing I forgot to mention that stunned us when we were in Calgary, and which happened again while in Edmonton : National Anthem signing. In Montreal, people just stand in silence when the Anthem is sung. In the West, the whole crowd sings too. Wow! We felt sooo Canadian! I loved it.
I pleasantly report that Rider Priders and Eskimos fans seemed to get along very well anywhere I could see in the stadium. There was a lot of fun poking from each side, but no animosity nor fights. It was all in good fun.
At half-time, I met Saskeskfan. My third encounter with a huddle member. Nice guy. He introduced me to his wife, and we chatted a bit. It did not last long because we were hiding the view of other supporters behind us, but we could take a picture. By the way, I plan on posting all these pictures here, but the film isn't developed yet. Itll come later.
Lionbacker also told me were he was sitting, but it was on the complete opposite side of where I was sitting, so I could not go there without missing about 15 minutes of action. When youre in town only once to see a football game, you dont want to miss a full quarter. However, I believe I saw Lionbacker on the big screen. LB, I saw a guy with a Lions jersey dancing with other fans, including one cowbow all dressed in white. Was that Lions fan you?
The rest of the game was pretty good. We cheered for both teams, so we could enjoy all great plays. The best play of all was Holmes return for a TD. Too bad Donnie Bradys interception was recalled because that would have given me one more edge in the Fantasy Pool.
Then, it was back to Calgary to get the plane. It took us an hour to get out of Commonwealth Stadium area because there were so many fans in cars everywhere, still blowing horns, klaxonning and screaming stuff at one another.
Montreal was the only game of the three where it was raining. Eh well. That did not keep it from being 100% entertaining. And, we sang the national anthem! Yes sir. And well keep on doing it now that we saw what it was like in Alberta when everybody does it.
I met the fourth huddle member of the weekend there : XGamer. Real fan with the bird hat, the horn and all. He planned to go have a drink with players after the game. Unfortunately, we could not join him because our girls were awaiting us to go to the restaurant after the game.
Back to the game. Not only were we delighted to see the weekend topped by this great last second thriller won by the Als, but we had the nicest surprise to be interviewed by RDS about our three games in three days trip. And the french daily le Journal de Montreal also interviewed us about the reasons why two guys would make such a trip. Yesterday, when I bought the Journal, I was looking for a brief text on us THERE WAS A FULL PAGE ON US ! lol. Yesterday, everyone at the office said Â« Hey, heres the new star. Â», Â« Hey, thats the guy from the paper. Â» funny.
In all, it was one hell of an experience, and I hope all of you will eventually get to do such a football-blitz. Long live the CFL and its fans.