As the play-by-play voice of the B.C. Lions, a question that I get asked quite a bit is “What is your favorite CFL city to visit?”
It’s a tough question to answer depending on the benchmarks but I’m going to take a run it anyway using my own criteria. The rankings are going to be based on what the city has to offer and the game experience.
This one is a slam dunk. The history of the city and its architecture are amazing as you almost feel like you are in Europe. The restaurants in Montreal are exquisite (our favorite being Moretti’s in Griffintown) and a visit to Crescent Street for its nightlife is a must. Make sure to visit Schwartz’s Deli for their world-famous smoked meat. As for the game experience, the stadium is antiquated but the views of the city are spectacular.
Our nation’s capital is underrated. You’re within walking distance of the Parliament Buildings and The Market District, which has a great choice of patios to enjoy dinner and drinks. TD Place Stadium has a good atmosphere – and it would be even better if the Red Blacks could manage some wins.
The highlight of this trip is dinner at Mama Caravatta’s. As someone who lost his mom a while ago, it’s so nice to see the interaction between our colour analyst Giulio Caravatta and his mom. As for the six-course home-made meal, it’s legendary. Everything is made from scratch and eating the food is like having angels dancing on your tongue. Throw in a Leafs game if you’re lucky and you’re set.
We usually stay in the Eau Claire District, which is a nice part of downtown. You’d expect a more vibrant downtown core but given the vacancy rates in the office buildings in Calgary, it’s understandable why it’s kind of quiet. We always make sure to visit the Vintage Chophouse and Tavern which happens to be one of the best restaurants on the circuit, and of course Spolumbo’s Deli. Don’t expect too much from a game at McMahon Stadium though. It desperately needs to be replaced.
I know what you’re thinking - Regina? Are you nuts? Maybe it’s the smoked old fashioneds at the Hotel Saskatchewan. Maybe it’s because you know you’re in Riderville as soon as you step off the plane. Or maybe because it’s the best stadium atmosphere in the league, but Regina gets a thumbs up from me.
Hamilton is greasy but a blue-collar greasy with some great character. It’s a tough town but it has so much character it makes a stay enjoyable and a game at Tim Horton’s Field a memorable one.
I think the 50-minute bus ride from the airport to downtown kind of sets the tone for the trip. To me, Edmonton is a step above Winnipeg but it just seems so dreary no matter what time of year you visit. And a clash at the cavernous Commonwealth Stadium doesn’t lend itself to the best game experience.
One of the better stadium experiences in the league. As for the rest, if you don’t have anything nice to say about someone or something, don’t say anything at all.
Veteran B.C. sports personality Bob “the Moj” Marjanovich writes twice weekly for Black Press Media. And check out his weekly podcast every Monday at Today in B.C. or your local Black Press Media website.