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Fan Expo Canada: I Have Returned.

  • Aaron F.

    Well, I have to admit,  this most recent trip to a comic convention was a lot better then the last.  Also, the overall experience in Toronto, Canada was more enjoyable as well.  Up until this point, I never really had a great time in Toronto.  Don’t get me wrong, I am far from saying that I “love” this city, in fact, I barely like it, but this time around was quite pleasant.

    We didn’t get a hotel, as these days, you can get a way better room for a fraction of the cost using Airbnb.  If you are unfamiliar with this site, its basically people that rent out their apartments or other properties they own.  In this case, we rented an apartment on the 34th floor of the Tiff on Widmer St. right in the heart of downtown Toronto. It was a one bedroom apartment overlooking the city with a nice balcony.  A pretty awesome deal.

View off the balcony.

View off the balcony at night.

    When we arrived, we unpacked our gear and head out to the streets in search for some food.  We were right near King Street which was loaded with places to eat/drink.  We didn’t put much effort in to researching for this particular meal as we were both pretty hungry from being stuck in shitty Canadian traffic for way longer than we should have.  We choose a restaurant called “Hush” which advertised a rooftop patio.  It didn’t really feel like a rooftop patio.  It just felt like a patio, mainly because it actually wasn’t on the roof of the building.  False advertising.  The drink menu was slim with only a few beer choices and some mixed drinks.  We went with some hard ciders called, “Somersby.”  I got the regular and my friend Pat got the blackberry.  I should have figured they were going to be horrendous when the waitress asked if we wanted them on the rocks.  She said they were “meant to be on ice.”  I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but if you brew something that tastes the best when you dilute it with ice, its probably terrible.  We opted out of the ice.  And we were right.  Terrible.

    We ordered burgers for dinner where we were reminded the hard way that you really don’t get to choose your temperature in Toronto when ordering a burger.  They just bring you a well done patty.  Thankfully it somehow was still juicy, but I will probably never order a burger in Canada again.  I did other research online about this topic, and this is apparently just how things are there.

    When cashing out, I was reminded of another really obnoxious Canadian thing that we actually encountered a lot when we were in Montreal.  The dreaded credit card machine.  Here in the states, you order your meal, they bring the check, you give them your card, they take your card, the bring it back for you to sign in privacy were you pay your bill and calculate whatever tip you want to leave.  In Canada, they give you a device that’s about the size of a Zack Morris phone, they swipe your card, and then hand the machine over to you to cash yourself out and enter your tip.  The entire time you awkwardly do this, they stand over you.  It is awful.  I jokingly mocked the device at the table with our waitress who told us that the US is “behind” on this restaurant technology.  I am going to disagree.

    After dinner we headed outside and noticed a ton of people in Blue Jays gear heading to the stadium.  It was a really nice night and we didn’t really have plans to do anything specific, so we said “why not?”  Off to the Rogers Centre , off we went for a random baseball game where it happened to be against the NY Yankees.  I really don’t care about baseball anymore, although I did when I was a kid.  This made the game a bit cooler to see, especially because I got to see Derek Jeter play before he retires.  It was kind of cool.

    A few awkward things about Blue Jays baseball.  First, the drinking age in Canada is 19.  Second, the marketing for Blue Jays gear is based around the slogan, “I Love BJ’s.”  Third, the $17.50 seats are a nice bargain, but its pretty much the section of the stadium that’s just packed with 18-19 year old kids.  So basically your sitting in a section full of 18-19 year old girls, all drinking heavily, all wearing shirts that say “I love BJ’s.”

   The excitement of the game only lasted until the 7th inning, then we were ready to get the hell out of there and go find a craft beer place.  Upon doing some research, we settled on “Bar Hop” which touted 30 taps, over 100 bottles, and 2 casks.  That was enough for me to make my decision.  We headed down to this place, which was walking distance from the stadium.  This is were Canada falls short with their beer.  The entire list was 5% ABV beers, all from Canada.  There was on 7% Imperial IPA from North Island which I started off with.  It was actually pretty decent.  We then had a wild cider on cask which sort of smelled like urine, but tasted better then it smelled.  The overall experience at this place was pretty good.  Nice vibe, great beer selection (probably the best your going to see being in Canada), and a nice crowd.  After our beers, it was time to head back and get some rest before FanExpo!

   We got to FanExpo around 11 after having some breakfast.  The line was gigantic to get in, but moved quickly and we were inside in less the a half hour.  We were pretty shocked at how fast it was.  Once inside, it was nerd insanity (with a lingering scent of B.O.) 

   With my only prior experience of one of these things being the Niagara Falls Con, I was blown away at the size of this.  People from all over wearing their favorite costumes and merchandise for everything nerdy imaginable.  Celebrities line up along the outer perimeter signing autographs for ridiculous prices, some with lines of people, some with no line or people at all. 

    The second section of the convention center was the best.  It was the section with all of the comic book artists and other random artisans from all over.  People selling custom shirts, artwork, cosplay weapons, etc.  It was very cool and we spent the most time here.  I was trying hard to find my daughter a Tardis Dress, but was unable to.  Actually there was hardly anything there for babies/toddlers.  It really made me think about looking into a vendor slot for next years show, but I’ll probably pass.

    Overall this trip was decent.  I would definitely go to FanExpo next year, and although I still sort of hate Canada, this recent trip to Toronto was decent.