72 Hours: Montreal

I’m Alive is a series about traveling to 14 cities to film a two-and-a-half minute YouTube video. We spent 72 hours in each city. Montreal was our sixth stop, and we showed up during the Grand Prix.

We arrived in Montreal around 7PM on the Friday night of the Grand Prix, which is one of the absolute biggest events of the year. Since we’d been so overwhelmed and busy with all the prior stops on our 14-City Adventure, we weren’t even aware that it was going on and definitely weren’t able to get media passes on such short notice. No worries. The city itself was where all the interesting stuff actually happened, anyway. It seemed just as important to have a citywide party and close down the streets for crazy parading as it was to have the race itself. No one had prepared us or told us what it might be like to show up on this particular weekend of all weekends.

We stayed with the sister of my friend Nikki, who is a Canadian I’d met in Southern California a few months earlier. We really couldn’t have asked for a better person to stay with. Since it was hard to get a Car2Go at the airport, we took a cab to her place. Driving through the streets alone was mesmerizing and exciting. The city is beautiful; the people are beautiful. It’s a wonderful place to be, and we surely felt it. Little did we know, our friend lived on Rue Clark, just adjacent to Boul St-Laurent. This just so happened to be the sight of one of the main Grand Prix parties. The streets were blocked off, vendors of the most amazing food lined the streets, and people were everywhere. After getting dropped off and ready for some exploration, we ventured a half block over to St-Laurent where we encountered a Car2Go tent. We had no idea they would be there, much less a half block from where we were staying. (They had no idea we were there either.) After taking in some of the mayhem, beautiful people, and general debauchery, we made friends with our local Car2Go allies. They were a great team with a lot of excitement about the city and the company there. We made plans to organize a film shoot for the next day and talk about Montreal.

Shortly after leaving the tent, we ran into a couple of guys shooting film on a Black Magic camera. Within an hour, these guys were completely stoked to show us around the city. After a short stop at their apartment, they took us out in their car to explain what all was going on in Montreal and where we should go to find it. From the absolute best cold cut sandwiches to whitewater rafting recommendations, they were really excited to help our adventure. The night out with these wonderful people was certainly one to remember.

Of course, we obliged. Whitewater rafting had been on our want-list of activities since the beginning; we just didn’t know it would be in Montreal of all places. So, we called up Rafting Montreal to schedule our same-day adventure. After pleading our adventure-travel-video case as per usual, they were more than excited to help us out. They were super friendly and welcomed us to come film and take a ride in the afternoon. Located on the Fleuve St-Laurent, this place was a haven for urban whitewater.

We teamed up with a boatload (literally) of other tourists and locals who were all equally perplexed about whitewater rafting in Montreal. Nic rallied all six boats for some crunk-paddle-dancing for the camera, and then we headed off. Frankly, it was cold as shit, and the waves were terrifyingly huge. On the biggest wave, we watched the boat in front of us disappear completely into a dip of water and then shoot vertically out of the wave spilling everyone on-board, including the guide. We were next. Our guide screamed, “PADDLE! PADDLE! PADDLE!” to catch the same wave. Our attempt wasn’t quite as err–graceful, but per their prior instruction, they told us all to “jump out and grab onto the side of the boat anyway.” So we did, and it was awesome! Flipping backwards off the boat at the top of a wave was a definitive way to keep it interesting. We nearly lost the GoPro on that one. Obviously, the rafting shots made the final cut in the video.

The rest of our time in Montreal was scattered with visits to just about everywhere:

To wrap things up, we had the full experience of a night out on the town in Montreal and centered at a three-story bar/hangout with an indoor skatepark. We’re pretty sure it was called TRH Bar.

A clip from within:

After making it back in during the early morning hours, we got a few hours of sleep before our 8:30am train. We boarded at exactly 8:29AM to begin a 12-hour train ride from Montreal to New York City for a couple days of “rest”.

We continued our adventure in Washington, D.C., where Nic crashed his Segway on a city tour going full speed.