Ohboy are we ready for a wild adventure? Because this whole experience was pretty wild.
This whole trip started off with a funny little gut feeling in the pit of my stomach as we hauled our carry-ons down the three storeys of our apartment building. We were smart this time, packing light and having shipped out the rest of it in the form of two boxes. I had a plan, everything was going to work out smoothly… right?
Our previous trips to TCAF (in 2017 and then in 2019) we’ve taken a train and had a lift. The trip is generally five hours by any form of land-only travel which is very do-able. However this year was our first year jumping back into conventions so (we hoped) splurging a tiny bit on flights this time around might mean we would have a little less exposure to our friendly neighbourhood, the virus. In hindsight and with a better understanding (and a lot less anxiety over this) the flights were very much Not Worth It. We were prompted into it a bit easier because at the time of buying them they were a LOT cheaper than we would normally pay for this kind of trip.
We got to the airport for a flight at 7pm (we arrived about 2-3pm because we’re fools who are just terrified of losing out on a flight so we get there obscenely early in case of traffic, you know how it is). A massive terrifying storm was brewing however. And not too terribly wisened to the situation with most of our transport systems (immensely low numbers of staff in airports, strikes on both flights and train systems, an increase in passengers taking vacations for summer). Our flight was delayed, initially because of the storm, eventually because of the backlog of flights also delayed by the storm. We were corralled back and forth between two gates just about five times before we were finally ushered onto a plane at 12am…. only to sit there waiting on that plane for another hour. The lady sitting beside us absolutely crashed into a nap and startled awake asking if we had arrived yet and we had to tell her that, no, sorry… we um… haven’t even left yet…. (much to her dismay).
We finally departed at 1am, our flight was just about 2 hours so we landed about 3… and the drive from the airport to our hotel was another hour. Luckily back at YUL we had thought to call the hotel to let them know we were arriving quite extremely late so our room was there to greet us when we checked in finally at 4am. Peeling off our travel clothes, we immediately crashed.
And extremely grateful we had elected to fly in a day early.
We spent the next day taking our time, lounging around in the room, emerging to eat and to make our first excursion, to the long anticipated ROM (we had visited the Royal Ontario Museum VERY quickly before catching our train in 2017 and didn’t get a chance to do the entire thing much to our dismay…) We still didn’t get through the enTIRE thing but we tuckered ourselves out after very many hours of walking. Made a couple of very frivolous purchases in the gift shop…
At this point it hadn’t still dawned on me that our hotel that TCAF had booked us in was not quite exactly the one I remembered initially being booked in for 2017. There are uh… two marriotts downtown… it makes a bit of a difference which one we’re in. That walk to and from the ROM was a little longer than our tired bodies bargained for. We ordered in and had our little pit stop….
But that night was TCAF set-up time baby…. let me tell you, a fifteen-minute walk is quite a ways longer than a five-minute one when you’re absolutely wrecked. Especially hauling a heavier suitcase. We reached the library and were lucky to find that all of our boxes were in order, that our set up for our table was smooth sailing. We’re used to the gambit now so our set up and tear-down is quite refined by this point! With our table all sorted out, we made the longest fifteen-minute-treck we’ve felt in our life all the way back to our hotel.
And then we crashed, absolutely wrecked, into bed.
The next morning we were up bright and early for day one … and in true fashion… we absolutely scrambled out of the hotel, fashionably late, scrambling to pick up a breakfast we’d sneak into the library (shh don’t tell) and were greeted with a literal CRATE of canned water (the festival’s sponsor).
I can’t stress this enough, how much a lot of events take for granted the fact that just providing your artists with WATER really severely changes the attitude of the vendors and artists at your event for the better. So far only 3 of the like 7-10 different shows we’ve tried actually offered this. It really needs to become a greater staple. If I’m stuck paying $300-$500 for a table it really sHOULD come with basics, like water (and tbh arguably snacks–or at least the understanding that we CAN bring snacks back to our tables…) but I digress.
The show itself, for day 1 was absolutely insane for us. A lot of the shows we’ve done this year have us busy from the moment we arrive to the moment we leave for the day. I struggled to find moments and time to skedaddle around and shop for myself. I still managed it of course, in small quick bursts I scrambled through the thick of the TCAF crowd and collected zines and books galore. I made an absolute embarrassment of myself at the Nobrow table as usual.. I’m obsessed with the quality of their printing. Its so elusive I’m dying to figure out how they do it. I’m on the precipice of it though I can fEEL IT.
The end of Saturday left us with a…. err… extremely decimated table. We only had a very small select few titles left, a few things completely sold on the table. We were looking to Sunday a little bit nervous (but admittedly extremely excited that we wouldn’t have too terribly much to take home!)
We stopped for dinner at a funky little seafood chain on the way home from the library that happened to be just by our hotel. Lobster poutine sounds like an absolute feral combination, perhaps blasphemy even? Um….. it was pretty good honestly! The sauce was a bit much but it left enough of an impression I crave it on occasion–
We got back to the apartment, like real party animals, we considered going back out to a few meet-and-greets…. uhm… we tried… we really did. We put on Jurassic Park 2 (they were marathoning JP on TV all weekend) and absolutely crashed so hard we decided we needed to sleep more than to party. We tucked in early and absolutely attempted to catch up on the sleep we desperately needed.
Sunday was just as hectic for us. We scrambled off to the con, the crowd of attendees filing in after us at a slower trickle (enough for a few of us to be a bit nervous, wondering if maybe most folks had decided to spend father’s day doing the obvious). But it turns out a lot of folks brought their fathers TO the comics festival which was honestly extremely awesome. We nearly sold out of all our biggest books, with nothing but myth retold left in our midst.
We packed up real easy that day and made our way back to the hotel. I’m sorry we’re truly not that exciting. We absolutely crashed again that evening. Treated ourselves to some dinner, treated ourselves to breakfast/brunch at a little restaurant the next morning.
Treated ourselves to a taxi back to the airport to avoid the stress of public transit.
Luckily this time around we managed to leave relatively on time….
…only to land in Montreal…. and be stuck on the plane for another hour. We landed with no gate to actually debark into. We were taxied around and eventually the captain announced we had to take some sort of bus off this plane (which is absolutely not something I thought was possible?) Essentially they had to debark us on the international side of the airport but seeing as we were a domestic flight and couldn’t necessary go through customs they had to taxi us back to domestic side of the airport and let us back out there.
Needless to say that with all this excitement we were extremely glad we got picked up at the airport and were saved a trip through public transit to get back home.
OVERALL…. TCAF is always a really fun and exciting trip. The vibe for this one was missing a few familiar faces that really make this show for us but we still made the best of it. I’m hoping the next time we get to do it it will be with a few less hiccups and a few more friends to share the adventure with <3