[tor-meeting] FAQ - Montreal Meeting 2017

David Goulet dgoulet at torproject.org
Mon Sep 18 18:18:55 UTC 2017

Hello everyone!

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

- Language

  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

- Money

  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.

- Tipping

  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.

- Alcohol

  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 :).

- Customs

  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
  looking for."

  "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".

- Tourism

  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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