Toronto: Casa Loma 

Toronto Comicon weekend was super busy. However, being the troopers we were, we managed to meet up earlier and skip out on one panel and made our tourist attraction visit to Casa Loma happen. Drew and I had originally planned for a Friday afternoon visit but realized it would be too rushed. Seeing as we did see Beauty and the Beast the night before and it was snowing in the morning when we arrived, it was the perfect memory of the Beast’s castle in real life (although it isn’t the same).

Casa Loma

The entrance for Casa Loma is $27, which might seem a little steep but you will soon realize as we did, that it is pretty worth it, plus this castle was used for quite a few movies as well.

Here is how we visited Casa Loma!

The First Floor

Casa Loma

Casa Loma

Library

Casa Loma

The first floor of Casa Loma highlights the elegance of the building. You walk in to an open high ceiling area. Its something of a reception area. Down the hall are socializing areas. The billiard room was closed but on the other side, there was a beautiful library and a conservatory with a beautiful glass dome. There’s some fun facts about the office which has two secret passages: one that goes to the second floor and the second to the basement. The basement pretty much takes us to a vault. However, these are only two of the supposed three secret passages, however the third hasn’t been found.

Casa Loma

Secret Passage upstairs

The Second Floor: Guest Room

Casa Loma

The secret passage way leads up to a corridor next to the Guest Room which has a Chinese theme which is exactly up my alley, of course. This was an incredibly pretty room and very reminiscent of a lot of Chinese antiques. We only did this room which lead to stairs going up to the 3rd floor. We’ll come back to the second floor later.

Casa Loma

The Third Floor

Casa Loma

Walking up to the third floor was the Queen’s Own Rifle Museum which showed a lot of the history behind the war and military facts. It lined the hallway and leads into the Formation Room. Walking to the other end was the Group of Seven Room and other spaces. The military portion was one that Drew liked a lot whereas I’m not quite into this sort of history. However, the third floor does lead up to the two towers which we could look out the windows and also a lookout on one for a nice vantage point. Plus, it was snowing so it made for some nice scenery.

The Towers

Casa Loma

Casa Loma

Casa Loma

A little eerie at first to walk up those stairs and then decide where to go and then keep going up on these super twirly narrow steps but the view is quite beautiful. It is a gloomy day so while Toronto would make a fantastic backdrop, perhaps the nicest part is capturing a different view of the castle along with its details.

The Second Floor (other half)

Casa Loma

Casa Loma

Casa Loma

Going back down to the other part of the second floor was mostly the suits for the Lady and Sir Pellatt who owned this castle. They had some super elegant bathrooms (which I didn’t show here) and some fantastically charming bedrooms. Just to say, its important to note how far our bathrooms, especially showers have gone since then.

The Tunnel

Casa Loma

Lucky for us, Drew was around and we headed down to the Lower Level where we happened to realize there’s still one really long tunnel with a Castles and Dragons medieval theme with paintings and animations projected on the walls which seemed to tell a story. It was pretty cool to see. This tunnel lead to The Stables which also had an antique car exhibit and carriage room along with the garage and potting shed. The stalls actually had two horses which I didn’t capture any clear enough to add here.

Casa Loma

The Movies

Casa Loma Casa Loma

There’s at least a dozen more films that were shot here but I can’t show them all here. These are some of the pretty popular ones. As I waited for Drew at the gift shop, I ended up watching all the clips of which movies and what rooms were used.

Would you look at all that? The pictures I used are only highlights and my favorite rooms. Plus, I only had my phone and not my DSLR so the pictures aren’t quite as refined. They still turned out alright. Casa Loma was a pleasant surprise with everything it had and we didn’t even watch any of the scheduled performances so if we had more time, there is still more to do, like going in the summer and having a chance to visit the gardens.

Have you visited any castles?

Toronto ComiCon 2017 Recap (with guest: Drew’s Movie Reviews)!

Toronto ComiCon 2017 was from March 17 to 19th at Metro Convention Centre. I headed out to meet up with my awesome blogathon co-host, Drew from Drew’s Movie Reviews who met me over there (just like last year). We stayed for a few days and picked up the weekend pass for ComiCon. Call it our little celebration for a successful blogathon, maybe it’ll turn into a tradition of some sort. Who knows, right? Our highlight was the ComiCon so this post will focus on some Q&A panels and cosplay, etc.

Before we start, what type of person would I be if I didn’t bring Drew into recapping Toronto ComiCon with me! When you see K, that’s for myself in normal font and D will be for his italicized part! 🙂

Day 1

K: First part of getting to Toronto ComiCon is to get there. Of course, I always forget that I can just keep Google Maps open so we didn’t get lost. There’s a huge apology somewhere here that I need to tell Drew how I got us lost a few times. I have a horrible sense of direction, something that I’m sure is super apparent, at this point. However, after a little detour, we did make it there! The first mission is coat check and picking up our tickets/weekend bracelet.

Toronto ComiCon

K: Next was a few hours to scour the Artist’s Alley and other Exhibitors as we wait for 7:30pm to start lining up for Q&A panel for Ray Park. We chatted with some artists and it was super inspiring and cool.

D: Visiting Artist’s Alley early was kind of an impromptu decision. It ended up working out really well because it allowed us to get a good idea of what prints and items we wanted to purchase, which helped us be more focused in the Alley on day 2.

Toronto ComiCon

K: Ray Park’s Q&A panel started a little late because of a delay in the photo ops but they came in with the whole troop (as you can see in the shaky video above). Ray Park was a cool panel. He was pretty insightful and kept it light-hearted as he shared little thoughts on G.I. Joe playing Snake Eyes and Star Wars playing Darth Maul among many questions on the floor. The best part was how he talked about he went into martial arts because he wanted to be in movies.

D: Ray Park’s panel was so much fun! He was such a laid back guy. One of the things he talked about that I really enjoyed was his experience as Darth Maul from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.  Star Wars is a huge passion of mine so getting to listen to his experience on playing one of my favorite characters was exciting.  He also talked about his early experience and how he got involved in martial arts and acting. It was a great start to the convention.

K: Actually, this ended quite in time for us to head back to the hotel, drop off stuff and grab something quick to eat and head out to see Beauty and the Beast for the late showing. Toronto movie viewing experience was definitely eventful. I almost saw a fight break out despite having assigned seating. Anyways, my review of Beauty and the Beast will be out on Thursday. 🙂

Day 2

 K: We started Day 2 with Casa Loma which I’ll share about tomorrow. By noon, we were back at the ComiCon for three panels in a row.

Toronto ComiCon

K: The first was the Gotham panel with David Mazouz (playing Bruce Wayne) and Sean Pertwee (playing Alfred Pennyworth).  This panel was pretty packed and we were sitting further back so the picture isn’t great however the talk itself was. I’m personally a fan of Sean Pertwee. He’s done some great roles and I love his take on Alfred. I haven’t quite caught up with Gotham (halfway through Season 1) but seeing how these two get along and respect each other as actors despite the age difference and experience really shows true professional and bond that spills outside of the show.

D: I have a bit of a confession to make, as much of a comic book and Batman fan as I am, I have yet to watch a single episode of Gotham.  Do not fret, it is very high on my to-watch list. This panel was purely Kim’s idea but it was a good one. After seeing these two at the panel, I am even more excited to watch their show now. They spoke with such respect for each other that is hard not to want to watch and see how that translates onto the screen.

K: Maybe I can bring Drew in to do a TV Binge of Season 1 eventually, if he’d like. 😉

Toronto ComiCon

K: Next up, immediately after the Gotham panel, was a first look at an upcoming web series called Deep Six. These are the cast and  crew. Its written about a story set 250 years in the future where both military and civilians are sent to scout out a planet to live on. Its focus is on the realistic take on the space aspects. I chose this one out of a whim and well, it turns out Drew knew the producer/director and some of the cast that wasn’t there on this show and it turned out to be a very cool choice to go check this out.

D: It sure was! As Kim mentioned, I knew of the producer/director, Davin Lengyel, from my absolute favorite web series, Space Janitors. I kind of lit up and started raving to Kim about how awesome of a series it is (sorry Kim).  However, the best part was I got to meet Davin after the panel and talked with him for a few minutes! The conversation made my day, which Kim didn’t hear the end of (again, sorry Kim).

K: To be fair, Drew had to endure some stupid moments during the night before watching Beauty and the Beast when I fangirled over “Something There” and then made an odd stupid giggle at my phone when I looked at the picture of the new little Animators’ Collection plushies when we were lining up, plus my amped up caffeine non-stop talking…if we’re talking apologies, I think I need to join in also.

Toronto ComiCon

K: After a small 30 minute window to grab a late lunch and take a quick walk, we went to line up for the last panel of the day with Agent of SHIELD’s Brett Dalton who plays Grant Ward. I’m going to be honest that I moved pretty much at the beginning of the series launch of this one and at my new place, I don’t even have bunny ears so no TV and that cuts out a lot if it isn’t even on Netflix so I’m about ten episodes into Season 1 and never had the chance to progress but this panel was Drew’s choice. However, its great that there was a ton of spoilers (in a way) which helped to understand the context but also some fairly entertaining questions like one about which Disney prince Brett Dalton wanted to be and which was his favorite Disney Princess, considering he was wearing a Mickey sweater, I’d say he is a big Disney fan also. Entertaining and fun doesn’t even begin to describe how cool this panel was.

D: Yes, this was my choice.  I am such a huge fan of the show that I couldn’t pass it up. Like Ray Park, Brett Dalton was very chill and easy going.  He answered every question with a mix of humility and humor.  Everything from how he began acting and what he liked best about his character on Agents of SHIELD to whether he was Team Cap or Team Iron Man. I even had the chance to ask a him a question! This was definitely a highlight panel for me.

K: The rest of the day at ComiCon after this was pretty much picking up the stuff we had seen and deciding what we wanted before heading out for dinner. You can check out my haul post HERE. Also, we managed to stop to take some pictures of cosplayers which you can see above. I’m obviously the more knowledgeable Toronto person (although I don’t venture to Downtown Toronto too much) but we ended up going to Asian Legend (which I’ve talked a ton about on the blog before already).

Asian Legend Asian Legend Asian Legend

K: My first actual complete meal over the two days. It was really satisfying plus it was a nice chat after we filled our bellies. We managed to get a few hours to relax at the hotel before heading out again for the Toronto ComiCon Cosplay After Dark party at Brassaii Lounge. It was nice to enjoy some nice music, grab a few drinks and converse in a loud voice. 😉

D: I left the dinner decision to Kim and she really came through! It was my first time eating at Asian Legend and everything was absolutely delicious.  I will be sure to look for one around me because it is definitely a place I would eat at again.  Besides my conversation with Davin Lengyel, the afterparty was another highlight of the trip for me.  We drank, we danced a little, and we had some great conversation as bloggers and friends.

Toronto

D: Our meet-up in Toronto last year was fun but I think this year was even better. I mean, as movie bloggers, we actually went and saw a movie together! The trip was well worth the travel and I thank Kim for being my guide through the city. 🙂

K: Toronto ComiCon was a definite success in my books. It was fun and complete as a blogger meet-up thing. Getting the chance to literally geek out and make friend with the same passions absolutely is one of the best parts of being a blogger over the years . This time was much cooler than last year because we managed to even grab a movie and went to a party other than just going to the main event and doing a touristic attraction.

Hope you enjoyed the recap of Toronto ComiCon. This new take was a cool way to put it together.
Before I wrap this up, I’d like to virtually raise a glass to a successful trip and most importantly, friends!
Okay, I’m getting mushy now…so, remember to drop by tomorrow for the look at our visit to Casa Loma.

Toronto Comicon Weekend Haul!

This past weekend was a fantasticLly awesome one as I headed out to Toronto for Comicon (just like last year). Its been a crazy process getting back and having everything cleaned and put away and getting back on routine so today, I am doing a simple one to talk about my haul.

I will take a few days this week (probably two) to share the Toronto experience because just like last year, as something of a reward or whatnot, I met up with Drew to hangout and visit Toronto and Comicon together. And just like true movie bloggers, we got in a movie as well amd even made it to a party (comicon related) as well as a sightseeing location. Lots of fun and a packed schedule but I think it turned out pretty great. Look for those posts while I get those new segments finalized (something I ran out of time last week for).

Lets check out what I picked up both before and at the Toronto Comicon.

Before the Comicon, I had a little bit of time before Drew arrived so I went out for a little shopping. I had a few stores on my list to hit and they were:

HMV
(because they are closing out of Canada so lots of discounts)

HMV

Disney Store
(never been to the one at Eaton Centre)

Disney Store Eaton Centre

David’s Tea
(spontaneously remembered  was running out at home)

David's Tea

Toronto Comicon was a weekend thing and we bought the weekend pass so we went on Friday to scout out the show and then did most of our shopping on Saturday after all the Q&A panels. Here’s what I picked up:

Movies & Video Games

I got a super sweet deal for Uncharted 4 at Iceman Video Games which was also there last year. I’m pretty happy about it. They had some awesome choices and selection.

However, I really want to talk about Raven Banner where we stopped by to look at horror movies. They were fantastic and we had a great talk about horror indie films in general. Not sure they’ll read this post but that chat was a highlight of the ComiCon for myself. It really defines why we do this movie blogging thing and meeting people who are equally passionate about this. It was a fun and enlightening chat.

Novel and Comics

Toronto Comicon

Let’s look at this from left to right.

  • Toronto Comics‘ Yonge at Heart is a Canadian comic author that sets in Toronto. This is a free preview to get a snippet of their comic for their Kickstarter campaign running right now till beginning of April, I believe. I saw them on Twitter before the trip and really liked the art style and the idea of using a Canadian setting. You can check out the Kickstarter here.
  • Remy’s Dilemma by Andrew Snook is a novel with this plot below from their website. A part of selling your work is being passionate about it. And Andrew does a great job at it. To be honest, his enthusiasm as he told his story and the joy he had recounting the story was so genuine that I could feel the awesomeness in the story. I haven’t started reading it yet but this looks like a fun journey with Remy especially when its set in two provinces in Canada that I’ve visited numerously  and live in.

The world is coming to an end. That’s what Remy believes, anyways. While double-checking his lifelong to-do list to ensure he has led a rich life, he realizes he hasn’t come close to completing his goals. Panicked and short on time, Remy embarks on a chaotic road trip to complete the most important item on his bucket list… – Snook Books

  • Moonshot & Titan from AH Comics: Moonshot is an Indigenous Comics Collection (Volume 1) with various stories from different artists. With the purchase of this one (inspired by my peaked curiosity after my playthrough of Never Alone a few weeks ago), they also gave the gift of their graphic novel Titan: An Alternate History, which is great because then they saved me having to decide on which one to get with my purchase.

Artwork

Foiled Art

Foiled Art makes this beautiful little pop culture pieces. They do a lot with gold or silver (or both for limited edition) but I honestly thought that this galaxy one looks superb. It really brings out the art and pops. This is going right over my work station at home because its so fantastically awesome!

Chasing Artwork

Howl’s Moving Castle by Chasing Artwork

I love love love Miyazaki art and Chasing Artwork is a great artist. There are two comics out currently which I passed up on but these pieces are so atmospheric and creative. I actually stood there pondering which to get. He also has one for Nausicaa which just took my breath away. I’m personally a huge fan of Howl’s Moving Castle so this one is great.

Archie Dan Parent

Betty and Veronica by Dan Parent (with autograph)

For those of you who don’t know (which you might not because I don’t review comics), I love Archie comics and really I haven’t looked much at the newer ones although they do look cool but these traditional ones. I know I have a few volumes sitting in a box after we moved. I just can’t remember where so I couldn’t take it with me but Dan Parent was there who does a ton of these illustrations. I particularly loved this print and look he signed it also. Consider me a little star strucked when I saw him because I wanted to say a ton and just couldn’t.

The haul could have been so much more. There was so many great writers and artists that the choice was hard to make. However, I retain the idea of picking up stuff from the ones that I skipped but has an Etsy shop or other form of online retail. I have to say this was a pretty successful weekend!

What do you think about the haul? Anything that catches your eye?

Hiking: Owl’s Head

More hiking was set for us on that week of staycation we had. With a little research, we found our second location which is rather nearby to Montreal also at a offseason ski resort, Owl’s Head. I’ve only ever heard of it before. Owl’s Head, just like most ski locations but hiking spots in the summer/fall, are really another type of beast. They have some designated paths but mostly, its a free walk uphill. Owl’s Head was no different. In fact, the trek up was pretty intense. it was incredibly steep and pretty tiring for such a short walk. We didn’t make it all the way but we did get almost there except for a winding path that went up to a booth or ski station or something. However, the view along the way opened up over a lake and with the leaves changing colors, it was really breathtaking.

Here are some shots of what we saw. It gives an idea of how steep it was and also the views we saw. On our way down, we actually encountered a cute little fellow and I took a little video of it.

Owl's Head

Owl's Head

Owl's Head

And for our little porcupine encounter. This porcupine is definitely not full grown but then I’m not a porcupine expert. It was adorable as heck as it walked around forward and in circles and forward more and then went up the hill. It was a slightly windy day so sorry about all the windy  noises.

A lovely  little location for a short but challenging hike. It was getting cooler that day and on the hills near where we saw the porcupine, there was frost forming on the grass. Still, we enjoyed it a lot. Sometimes, hiking can really get to us and we want to give up but when we turn around and see all the natural beauty around us, it gets us all pumped up again to go higher and makes it all worth it!

Hiking: Parc Regionale des Sept-Chutes

It has become a tradition to go for a hike on Thanksgiving Day to hopefully catch the last bit of fall colors that October has to offer. This year’s prolonged summer helped the leaves change colors later and stay on the leaves longer. This year, we also took a beautiful staycation to just relax and take care of stuff and spend some time together while also celebrating our first year wedding anniversary. We particularly wanted to do more hiking to bask in the quiet time. Last year this time was tons of fun but it was also crazy busy for last minute wedding preparation. This year is much different and one that we enjoyed a lot. Regardless, the first little trip out was perhaps two hours out of Montreal. It turned out to be quite the hot spot because we almost didn’t have anywhere to park and had to turn around. Luckily, things worked out in the end and after registering at the office, we set off for the hike.

This is actually a pretty challenging trail because its part of climbing up rocks and lots of up and down slopes. There are waterfalls along the way to see and the view at the top is absolutely worth it as you will see. Here is a few shots I thought turned out really nice!

Parc Regional des Sept Chutes

Parc Regional des Sept Chutes

Parc Regional des Sept Chutes

Parc Regional des Sept Chutes

Parc Regional des Sept Chutes

Parc Regional des Sept Chutes

Parc Regional des Sept Chutes

Parc Regional des Sept Chutes

The trail was pretty long. It took us about 3 to 4 hours to go through the entire hike. It actually was a lot of fun as well to have to climb up and down. There are various trails here and we took a little shortcut to make it back down a little faster as we started out on the hike only in early afternoon and we needed to make it back before it got dark. The summit is the shot with all the trees and the road going through it. In the other side, you see the lake from up top. As we go down, we hit another waterfall and lots of water pictures which are my personal faves. Plus, there was that whole area with the yellow trees that was captivating to walk through.

This is really something and definitely a trail I’d want to go back to explore eventually! If you are in the area and enjoy some fun and challenging hikes, this one is a great choice! 🙂

Vancouver & Kelowna: Vancouver Aquarium & Lynn Canyon Park

We’re finally here! The recap of the final day of vacation over on the Canadian West Coast. For this one, we took up our courage and headed to the Vancouver city central towards Stanley Park to go to Vancouver Aquarium and get an indoor activity before heading out to Lynn Canyon Park & Suspension Bridge. We talked with some of the locals there (my mom’s friends) and they told us that Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge is almost as pretty as Capilano Suspension Bridge which charges more and is higher. This is a great choice for it being free and having just a lower canyon but still really  nice to walk through.

Vancouver Aquarium

As you can see, Vancouver Aquarium has all sorts of stuff, its not just fishes and rays and giant turtles and sharks. It also has monkeys and birds, etc. It is a pretty cool experience. Something else I like is that they don’t do a lot of shows with the animals. Only the dolphins are in these shows. The porpoises and belugas up top are actually in a training session which is like the trainer talks about these animals and how they came here and their story while giving them a little workout explaining why certain moves helps them to make sure they are healthy. In other cases, they also talk about the wildlife preservation centre that people can call if they ever believe that a marine animal is in danger and needs their assistance so that they can get them healthy and send them back to the wild. While I haven’t seen the documentary on Blackfish, I like the fact that it may be because of things like that documentary which make aquariums more aware about their transparency on how they are treating the animals with them.

Regardless of that, I like going to aquariums quite a bit and Vancouver Aquarium isn’t exceptionally different but they have their forte and is a rather educational process. They have a few different species of animals. My favorite is always the jellyfish tank and also seeing the porpoises and also going to the touch tank and getting to touch rays.

Lynn Canyon Park

Lynn Canyon Park

Lynn Canyon Park

Lynn Canyon Park

As I mentioned above, we indeed skipped the really well known Capilano suspension bridge. I have been there before when I was around eight years old. However, in my mind, Lynn Canyon Park was really beautiful. It was a rainy day but everything was absolutely lovely just with the rainforest and the tall trees towering over us. It was a great place to go. And a nice way to round up our vacation with a nice light hike around. It didn’t  take too long but was good enough to give us time and energy to head back to the hotel and pack up for our trip home the next day.

Overall, the Vancouver and Kelowna trip was a lot of fun. We had some fantastic scenery and we had an enjoyable time seeing all the relatives. We got to hike and eat some great food and even fangirl over Storybrooke. There are still a ton of activities we didn’t get to do because of time and hopefully we will return again eventually.

This vacation’s post is done now but as we speak I just got back to work this week after a week off for a lovely staycation where did also went out to do some hiking so that will follow for what seems like Vacation Tuesdays here. 😉 We do have some day trips planned before winter hits so hopefully this segment will go on for at least another few weeks.

Vancouver & Kelowna: Hiking in Whistler & Squamish!

How fast does vacation go by, right? We’re looking back at Day 6 of vacation over at Kelowna and Vancouver this year. It is funny because I am on a staycation as this post goes up and just taking it easy. Still, looking back  at this vacation still makes my heart flutter with joy. We went to some amazing places especially Kelowna having some incredible scenery. Day 6 of vacation that we are recapping today is also one of our most emotional and awesome days of the trip. We headed out to Whistler and Squamish but not before forgetting my coat at the breakfast place we went to and realizing an hour or so into the trip. Luckily, we were heading to Whistler village so at least there would be a possibly of finding something to wear if it got chilly and man, did it get chilly!

Whistler Village

After the shopping priority and picking up a North Face Sweater and Eddie Bauer cap to fight the rain and cold, we walked a little more around Whistler Village.

Whister Village

Whistler Village

Whistler Village reminded us heavily of Mont Tremblant village near Montreal.

Lost Lake Park

With that done, we headed off for a hike. Actually Lost Lake Park was more of a walking trail with a little bit of hills here and there. A part of the path was blocked off to preserve wildlife, aka toad migration. So we took a detour, got a little turned around, the rain got heavier and then we finally figured it all out and went back to our car for the next spot.

Lost Lake Park

Lost Lake Park

Sea to Sky Gondola, Squamish

Next stop is heading back towards Vancouver where we pass through Squamish and took the Sea to Sky Gondola. Note to all of you is that my husband is REALLY not comfortable with heights. I am also and gondolas make a little nervous especially at the steepness of this one at the beginning portion so we both picked up all our courage to do this and let us just say that it was extremely worth it even with some heavy rain and fog. Plus, we somewhat got stranded there as they investigated a potential issue which turned out all good thankfully. I like these companies being safe so it didn’t bother me too much when they told us they had to stop it for a while.

Sea to Sky Gondola

Sea to Sky Gondola

Sea to Sky Gondola

Sea to Sky Gondola

Sea to Sky Gondola

Sea to Sky Gondola

Sea to Sky Gondola

Sea to Sky Gondola is so worth it. I didn’t really put a lot of the trail but it is really fun to walk through it and the plants and trees are cool. Plus, there are a few lookout points. We encountered a lot of fog as you saw that came in really thick and dispersed later on but it was still fantastic scenery. I totally recommend it. Its a little pricey but really worth it.

That’s it for Day 6 of vacation!
Check back next week for the last day of vacation in Vancouver! 🙂