[tor-meeting] FAQ - Montreal Meeting 2017
dgoulet at torproject.org
Mon Sep 18 18:18:55 UTC 2017
The Montreal meeting is a bit less than a month so I wanted to send some
helpful tips about the city so you can have a more informed experience and
hopefully a pleasant one!
It's a rather large email so I've created sections so you can pick and choose
what you want to know. You *CAN* safely ignore this email but if you complain
about anything below, I will be able to say: "I told you so" :P ;).
- Airport travel.
You have a nice Google "The Overload" Map link there on how to get to the
hotel with the bus shuttle.
- Weather. What to expect in mid October here. It's NOT summer but not yet
winter so be advised:
- Hotel + Venue
The meeting venue happens to be in the hotel, on the second floor. There is a
pool, spa, sauna and gym on the 15th floor which, as a guest in the hotel,
you have access from 05:00 to 23:00 so bring a swimsuit! And it is nice!
The hotel is 60 seconds from Lucien-L'Allier metro station on the Orange line
so this is very convenient. It is also one block away from the Bell Center
which is where the Montreal Canadiens hockey team plays. I *DOUBT* you'll be
able to get tickets at this time of year but if you want to experience a
"Canadian hockey fever", you can go hang around the place before and after
the game ;). There will be one on Tuesday 10th from 19:30 to usually 23:00
and one on Saturday 14th from 19:00 to 22:30 against Toronto Maple Leaf which
turns out "TOR" is used for "Toronto". Coincidence? :O
It turns out that Canada has *two* official languages: French and English.
The French spoken here is a different French from France, mostly in the
accent. The biggest French part of Canada is here in the province of Québec
where Montreal is the main city. The capital of Québec is Québec City.
Some parts of Montreal are almost only English, some only French and in the
middle of it you have a glorious mix. You can use English *everywhere*
usually without any problems. It is possible the person might have trouble if
you are in a very French speaking part of the city, but it will turn out OK
usually. In rare occasions, you can encounter people that will not be happy
to speak English (Québec has this history of independence ;) but usually they
quickly realize you are a "tourist" and it should be fine or else you just
thank them and walk away.
Here is a rule of thumb to remember: If you speak first in French with
something like "Bonjour", you will get a response in French leading to maybe
some confusion on your part if you do not know the language. So, I recommend
you just go for English at first which will avoid this confusing start and
everything will be great.
It is pretty common sense, if you speak one language, the other person
responds in that one. Just that here, you have a choice between two official
No, you cannot use USD while here, you are not in the US. You have to use
Canadian money (CAD). Canada has fun plastic bills that you should not put in
the dryer, or microwave or under the sun. They have pictures of hockey and
the queen on them. Also there are coins and they are used regularly. There is
a $1 coin which is called the loonie (because there is a picture of a Loon on
it) and $2 coin with a polar bear on it called the toonie (just because).
You can quickly accumulate a large amount of CAD in coins if you fail to use
them. There are no more one cent coins.
Ok... this part can be confusing to many europeans, but here it is. In
Montreal, it is like the US, you tip *but* at 15%. If you do not, you are
going to be reminded and it will be uncomfortable, we know it would be so
much better if that stupid system didn't exist, but you are not going to
change it by refusing to tip, you just end up hurting the people who are paid
poorly and look like a jerk. You usually tip in bars ($1/drink is fine), even
if you do not drink any alcohol, at a restaurant where they bring the food to
you (self-serve, don't bother), taxi, or any kind of *service* you get from
someone doing more than staying behind a counter ;).
It is also OK to ask them what is the norm and if your waiter stays next to
you waiting after you've paid, that is a big cue ;).
Q: Should you tip a delivery person? A: Yes!
Q: Do I need to tip for every drink? A: Yes!
Q: This is stupid. A: That was not a question.
Here in Québec, alcohol is controlled by the state. Thus, all liquor stores
are called SAQ (Société des Alcool du Québec) and you can find them pretty
much everywhere in the city: https://www.saq.com. Hard liquor and wine will
be at SAQ with a small selection of beer.
HOWEVER, you can find a much larger variety of beer and a little bit of wine
in any grocery store or corner store (called a "Dépanneur" or more easily for
English speakers: "Dep" for short) around the city. Actually, for beer, I
*strongly* recommend those instead of SAQ, you'll get a much better
Quick note on public drinking. It is NOT legal to have an open container of
alcohol in public. You can drink in parks but you NEED to have food with it.
It has to be a "picnic in the park", even just a bag of potato chips will be
fine. All parks usually close at 23:00, which means that after the police can
come and literally give you a fine. However, you can walk through one at any
time no problem.
- Public Transport
Montreal has a metro system. Both metro and buses are managed by the city.
The website for more information: https://www.stm.info/en
If you plan to use the metro/buses more than 6 times, I strongly recommend
you buy the "Weekly pass" which is, and be ADVISED, good from Monday to
Sunday. So if you buy it on Tuesday, it's still only good until Sunday ;). Do
not make the mistake of thinking it is a 7 day pass. Because the meeting
starts on Wednesday 11th, most of you will arrive around the 10th so a Weekly
pass makes sense, it will be good until Sunday 15th, 23:59. It costs
Otherwise, you can get unlimited weekend for 13.75$CAD or individual trips
which cost 3.25$ regardless of where you go in the system. If you buy
multiple individual trips, you can save a little bit, but not much. You will
likely spend more money trying to figure out how to save money than it is
worth. For each trip, you can transfer to any other transportation (other
metro, or bus) within a reasonable amount of time, without paying more.
However, you cannot use that transfer to go back on the same transport. You
do not need to punch out when you exit, but don't throw away your card in
case there is a control check (rare, but it happens and actually being
challenged as illegal).
The bus from the airport is called the 747, it runs 24/7 between the airport
and downtown, with pre-determined stops. During busy hours it leaves the
airport once every seven minutes. You need to buy a ticket before you board
the bus, it is easy to do so. Just after exiting boarder control, you will
exit into the public area, walk forward until you see a mostly orange, with
blue ticket machine. Individual tickets cost $10, a week pass (remember
valid only Monday to Sunday), which includes the 747 is $25, but the catch is
that to get a week pass you have to get a chip card (called OPUS) from the
machine, which costs $6. Depending on how long you stay, the $11 CAD
difference may be worth it. Once you buy a ticket, simply follow the overhead
747 bus signs out of the terminal, look for signs showing you the way to the
747 and wait for it to arrive. There is free wifi on board, but weirdly
restricted. The airport has less restricted free-wifi.
If you arrive after midnight, you can still take the bus, but if you were
planning on taking the bus, and then transferring to the metro, you may miss
the last metro train (usually ~00:30 top on week days). If that happens, get
out at the stop closest to your destination, and take a taxi.
Finally, shared bikes exist in the city, they are called Bixi. More
information here: https://montreal.bixi.com/en. They are in operation in mid
October *but* be careful biking at 5-10C if you aren't used to it :).
I won't say much here especially in terms of legality *but* a couple of tips
for you all. First, you should avoid mentioning that you are coming here to
"work". You are *not* so it's not a lie. You are here for a "work meeting" or
"work conference" or "conference", it is different in the sense that if you
say you are here to work, they will ask for a work visa ;). For instance,
responding with "going to an event" is a BAD idea.
Second, when they ask you what you do in your life, no need to mention Tor at
all. Be as vague as you can be but be thruthful. For instance, if you go with
"security researcher" then you might end up explaining "what kind of
security" and then it's a slippery slope of delays and questionning. Avoid
"Tor developer" ;). "I'm a programmer" or even "I work with computers" have
been used as a functional equivalent to "These are not the droids you are
"How do you know the people at the conference?" and answering "I met them on
the Internet" is a VERY BAD idea, it's been tried ;).
There is a list of countries for which Canada will require you to give
biometrics. Please check it out here if your country qualifies for that:
Agents have God power at the border and they often think they are one so no
need to piss them off, be thruthful but don't volunteer information that you
were not asked for, be vague but not obtusely vague and it will be a very
nice "Welcome to Unicorn land".
You can figure it out. I live here so I know _nothing_ ;).
For way too much extra information: http://wikitravel.org/en/Montreal
Ok, that's it for me. Don't hesitate to ask questions if you have any! Just
remember that this mailing list is public ;).
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