My #TIFF14 Experience

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is a film festival that happens every year and takes over King St. West in Toronto. Many short films are screened and premiered during this week and there are also many, many celebrity appearances.

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Although I didn’t get to attend any of those screenings (by the time I found out about it, the ones I wanted to see were sold out or were during my work hours – BOOHOO), I was able to walk around and experience the festival through the events and activities happening around the screenings.

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For the first week of TIFF, King St. West was closed off to allow for red carpet premieres, press, sponsor booths, and other events to take over. I knew that TIFF was going to happen soon, but I didn’t know exactly when it was starting. So when I was taking my usual streetcar route to work down King St. West and the driver announced that we were detouring because of a closure, I knew that for the next 2 weeks, Toronto will be buzzing with entertainment. How exciting!

The night before, most of the night events were already set up. I’ve just finished up with another event that I attended and had to go by King St. West to get home. VISA had a sponsor booth and a red carpet backdrop going on, so I took advantage of that (like a typical tourist) and forced my friend to snap a photo of me so I could feel ~important~.

VISA was a sponsor and did a red carpet which I walked.

VISA was a sponsor and had a red carpet, which I walked.

After I finished work the next day, it was day 1 of TIFF and I decided to hit the streets and see what the buzz was about. King St. West was closed alllllll the way from Spadina to University, which is a pretty huge stretch. There were TIFF logos and people everywhere – I couldn’t tell which one out-numbered the other. Many restaurants along the street expanded their patios so it flowed into the middle of the street, which was awesome because walking makes people hungry and no one wants to wait in line for food – good thinking.

TIFF Bell Lightbox - the headquarters.

TIFF Bell Lightbox – the headquarters.

As I was walking past the Royal Alexandra Theatre, I noticed that people were starting to gather in front of the barriers. Being the short person I am, I couldn’t see what was going on, so I asked the security guard nearby. He told me that a film was being premiered here in an hour that starred Tom Hardy (aka Bane from the Batman movie).

After that, I somehow managed to squeeze myself alll the way to the barrier where the red carpet was happening. It wasn’t the most pleasant smelling (because I’m so small, I’m up to peoples’ armpits. Combine that with humid weather and the fact that it was around 5:30pm, well.. it wasn’t great) but I had a good view of what was going on.

The crowd waiting for Tom Hardy.

The crowd waiting for Tom Hardy.

Every time you heard a scream, it was most likely that a celebrity has appeared on the red carpet (like a wild Pokemon). After about 30 minutes of waiting, Tom Hardy shows up. It was probably one of the scariest moments in my life. When a celebrity appears, people turn into… different people. Everyone around me started pushing and shoving to get a glimpse of Tom Hardy. Talk about desperation. Phones and cameras were being shoved as close as possible to the barrier (where I was) so I pretty much got a face full of electronics.

The press shooting Tom Hardy.

The press shooting Tom Hardy.

As Tom Hardy approached my section of the barrier, the crowd around me went wilder. “TOM, TOM! TAKE A SELFIE WITH ME!” “CAN YOU SIGN THIS?” – those are just a few of the many things that were being shouted at him. I think he saw my struggle to stay alive in the roaring crowd, so when he came up to me, he said this – I kid you not.

“You’re a cute height.”

At this moment, I understood why people were so crazy. Although people say celebrities are just people like us, being acknowledged by the one person that everyone is screaming at made me feel pretty freakin’ special. I didn’t get a selfie with him because he was moving down the line of people so fast, but I managed to snag this picture of his handsome face:

Hellooo, Tom Hardy.

Hellooo, Tom Hardy.

I didn’t care who I was pushing into, I just wanted to get out of the crowd after this. Tom Hardy called me out in front of the hundreds of people shouting at him. I was on cloud 9.

I stumbled across another red carpet event that was happening across the street, but I couldn’t use my magic to get to the barrier like I did before. Again, I asked a security guard nearby about this crowd of people and he said that Dustin Hoffman would be arriving on the red carpet shortly. I didn’t want to put myself in the same stinky armpit situation as before, so I passed on this red carpet event. L’Oreal was a sponsor, as you could see from the picture.

Dustin Hoffman was behind this crowd but I'm really short sooo...

Dustin Hoffman was behind this crowd but I’m really short sooo…

I was pretty exhausted by this point, but I managed to stumble across a red carpet event that was happening to promote the fall season line up for CBC. They invited me in and I accepted. The entire place was decked out in red and white – typical Canadian colours. There was an interview being televised in a section of the space and caesars were being served to guests. Again, being the Toronto tourist that I am, I walked the red carpet for CBC and posed for a photographer to snap my photo. It honestly felt like I held a celebrity status.

#FALLforCBC

#FALLforCBC

Walking the red carpet at a CBC event! #FALLforCBC

Walking the red carpet at a CBC event! #FALLforCBC

The weather was looking a bit gloomy, so after all these festivities, I decided to head home. If I were to come back next year, I would most definitely check out some screenings. I was a bit disappointed this year because I found out extremely late, but hey, there’s always next year.

Maybe I’ll run into Tom Hardy again and he can tell me how cute I am. IMG_3915

Bier Markt

To celebrate finishing our first week of work on August 29th, Shawn and I headed to Bier Markt along The Esplanade in downtown Toronto for dinner and drinks!

Approaching Bier Markt from The Esplanade.

Approaching Bier Markt from The Esplanade.

From Union Station, it’s about a 15 minute walk to the restaurant. The construction around the station and on the streets made it extremely difficult to navigate some of the streets, but we got there eventually. When is Toronto ever not under some sort of construction… Am I right?

For a Friday evening, we didn’t have to wait too long for the wait staff to seat us (which is really good because I was starving). We wanted to milk the last of what summer had to offer, so we chose to sit outside on the patio. The patio was crowded with chairs, tables and umbrellas which were all colour-coordinated to fit with their colour scheme.

Our seats out on the patio.

Our seats out on the patio.

On Fridays from 4pm-5pm at work, we have what we like to call “beer o’clock” where we order cases of beer and other alcoholic beverages for the entire office to enjoy after a hard week. I had a beer before coming for dinner so I didn’t want to order a heavy beer.

My choice, Fruli.

My choice, Fruli.

Shawn's choice.

Shawn’s choice.

Instead, I went with the lighter option of a Fruli (strawberry-flavoured beer). It still sorta counts, right? Bier Markt believes that “Bier is art — an expression of passion and dedication.” If I come back, I’ll order a legitimate one. Shawn got the special that they had that day, but I can’t quite remember the name. All I remember was that I wasn’t a huge fan of his choice, but I loved the Fruli.

For dinner I ordered a vegetarian risotto. I have had risotto once in the past when I went on a cruise to Mexico and it was delicious. I also used to be a fan of Hell’s Kitchen where in almost every episode, risotto was a part of the dinner service menu. So you can say that I had high hopes that this dish was going to meet every single expectation I had. In my honest opinion, after I had a few bites, it definitely wasn’t what I’d hoped for. The risotto was a bit tough to chew and it was really salty, but I was extremely hungry. Food is food; I’ll eat anything when I reach that state.

Finishing off the first week of work at Bier Markt!

Finishing off the first week of work at Bier Markt!

Shawn!

Shawn!

Shawn ordered a poutine, which came out smaller than what we expected. I think our overall consensus was that this place is great if you want to order some drinks (preferably beer) and chill out on the patio, but you might want to take more time looking into the food menu depending on how hungry you are.

Bier Markt was a great experience and it was a good end to the first week of working in Toronto. I’m looking forward to seeing what else Toronto restaurants have to offer! If you have any recommendations on places to go, feel free to let me know!