I Spent an Unexpected Extra Day in Barcelona, Spain

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Sagrada Familia
La Sagrada Familia, and the Barcelona skyline (Stock Photo)

The year was 2013 and the destination was Barcelona, Spain. My family and I (recently turned 14 years old) had just gotten off the 8.5 hour red-eye flight from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.

We made it through customs at around lunch time. After a short cab ride to the hotel, we discovered that we couldn’t check-in until sometime after 3 p.m. Not a big issue, we left our bags with the concierge and started to explore the nearby streets of Catalonia’s capital. We grabbed some food and basic groceries, visited some tourist sites, and enjoyed the warm Spanish summer sun.

Now I don’t know about you, but for me it is impossible to sleep on an airplane. I’ve tried everything from not sleeping for 2 days leading up to the flight, to bringing my own full sized pillow and blanket, to practically overdosing on sleeping pills. Nothing works, and I’ve just accepted that I will have to suffer through every second of every flight I will ever go on. (But if you have tips, I’d love to hear them in the comments)

So as you could imagine, when we finally made it back to the hotel to check in after touring for the afternoon on zero sleep, to say I was ready for bed would be an understatement. We climbed the stairs to our apartment-style accommodations and finally had the opportunity to rest. I threw my luggage on the ground, and b-lined for the bedroom. I pulled down the black-out shades, climbed under the covers in my sweaty clothes and passed out almost immediately.

When I woke up, my phone was dead. The kind of light shining through the cracks in the window shade told me that it must be dawn, but I wasn’t sure. Had I really slept through to the next day? I opened the bedroom door and as I walked towards the living room, I heard the shower running in the bathroom. A few steps further and I noticed my dad sitting on the balcony drinking his morning coffee. When I got to the living room, my brother was sitting on the couch watching TV. He had a bowl of cereal in his hands and was wearing a new set of clothes.

All the clues were telling me that it was the next morning.


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My initial reaction was confusion, but it quickly turned to anger. How was it possible for a human to sleep for more than 14 hours, and why in the world didn’t my parents wake me up for dinner last night? I shrugged it off; maybe they slept through dinner too. Either way, I was hungry. I went to the fridge but nothing really seemed appetizing. I needed real sustenance and there was just some sliced bread and a block of cheese to be found.

It was at this time that my mom walked into the kitchen.

“What are we going to do for breakfast?” I asked.

My mom paused and seem puzzled.

“Are we going out to eat, or should I make do with what we have here?” I continued.

Suddenly my mom’s confusion turned into an ear to ear grin across her face before she said while chuckling:

“What day do you think it is? We’re about to leave for dinner…”

I was shocked. I checked the time on the microwave clock, and realized I had only been asleep for a few hours. Suddenly it all clicked. My mom was just showering to freshen up, my dad just wanted to taste test the Spanish coffee, and my brother is just weird and eats cereal at 4:30 in the afternoon.

I collected myself and got ready to venture onto the streets of Barcelona for dinner. The rest of the night was a haze, and I couldn’t help but feel like I was living on borrowed time. We finished up, got back to the apartment around 9 p.m., and I went to bed for the night… for the second time that is.


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3 Binge-Worthy Travel Shows to Watch While You’re Stuck at Home

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Andre Dupuis (Cinematographer and co-creator), Justin Lukach (co-host), and Scott Wilson (co-host and co-creator) of Departures.

By now, all of us are getting pretty sick and tired of this whole self-isolation thing. The world is out there, calling to us, practically dragging us out the front door with our passports in hand. Unfortunately, it might be some time before we’ll actually be able to go anywhere except the grocery store.

So in the meantime, I’ve put together a list of my favourite binge-worthy travel shows. Grab your popcorn, take a seat on the couch, and get ready to explore the world in the comfort of your own home.

1. Departures

Available for free on YouTube or on Amazon Prime, Departures is a down-to-earth documentary travel series that follows three lifelong Canadian friends, Andre Dupuis (Cinematographer and co-creator), Justin Lukach (co-host), and Scott Wilson (co-host and co-creator) as they drop everything and take a year off from their everyday lives in search of new adventure, unique destinations, and self-discovery while travelling around the globe.

Departures, Scott Wilson, Justin Lukach, Andre Dupuis
A still from Departures‘ opening credits

Departures isn’t afraid to chronicle the reality of travel, and all of the emotional highs and lows that comes with it. It is perhaps the most relatable travel series ever created, and that is one of the many reasons why it is my personal favourite, and I can’t recommend it enough.

Some of the show’s must-see episodes include North Korea: The Other Side (S3-E12), India: Sacred Ground (S1-E3), and Ascension Island (S1-E5).

The show originally aired from 2009-2010, spanning 3 seasons and 42 episodes. Departures boasts a 9.0/10 on IMDb and has been nominated for several Gemini Awards, including two wins.

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2. James May: Our Man in Japan

Available on Amazon Prime, James May: Our Man in Japan is a highly produced travel series that follows the comedic journey of television presenter James May (Top Gear and The Grand Tour) as he explores the length of Japan and discovers the quirks and hidden gems of the sometimes mysterious nation.

James May: Our Man in Japan
Presenter James May, and his robot sidekick Robohon

I’ll admit that I have a soft spot for anything Japan related, but nonetheless James May: Our Man in Japan does a fantastic job of showcasing a multitude of differing aspects of Japanese culture. From creating his own subway jingle, to controlling life-sized transformers, to simply trying his best to order a bowl of noodles, James May: Our Man in Japan does it all while keeping you laughing the entire time.

Here is the trailer for the show, and one of my personal favourite moments involving that of James’ love-hate relationship with small robot named Robohon.

James May: Our Man in Japan spans 1 season including 6 episodes and well deserves the 8.5/10 rating it has on IMDb. It is a show you won’t regret watching.

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3. Around the Next Bend

Also available on Amazon Prime, Around the Next Bend is raw documentary travel series that chronicles the reckless adventure of two friends from Canada, Adrian Traquair and Dustin Corkery, as they voyage on a journey of self discovery in their attempt to paddle a mind-boggling 2,500+ km long stretch of the Ganges River in a raft.

Around the Next Bend, Adrian Traquair, Dustin Corkery
Adventurers Adrian Traquair and Dustin Corkery paddling on the Ganges River

From the moment they arrive in India it becomes clear that they are woefully unprepared for the monumental task that is ahead of them. Their time on the river is full of hardship, surprises and a whole lot of laughs.

Much like Departures, Around the Next Bend is a very down-to-earth show. If you can get past the relatively low production value, you will see parts of India, and moments of human connection rarely traversed or witnessed by your everyday traveller.

Around the Next Bend has 1 season, including 12 episodes and received a 8.6/10 rating on IMDb. It is a breath of fresh air in contrast to some of the more conventional travel shows shown on TV.

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Thank you so much for reading, and if you’ve made it this far please consider liking the post, sharing it with your friends, and hitting the follow button so you don’t miss any of my upcoming material! And don’t forget to follow me on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest!

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What is Saudades, and Why Am I Trying to Find It?

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SAU·DA·DES (NOUN):

a Portuguese term that describes the feeling of yearning, melancholy, or nostalgia towards something or someone.

If you’re like me, the mundane nine-to-five lifestyle fills every square-inch of your body with dread. You wake up, get dressed, go to work, slave away, go home, eat, sleep, repeat. People can go their entire lives doing the same things over and over again like a broken record before one day waking up to reality and realizing that they wasted it all doing something they didn’t even like doing.

We try to escape this grim reality though, even if for a moment. For some, this means watching your favourite sports team, or going on a date with that girl you’ve always liked. It means learning to play the guitar, or binging a new show on Netflix. For far too many it means buying a whole bunch of useless things to try and fill the void in your life with stuff.

Travelling is a great method by which a lot of us choose to escape, including myself. Not only are you mentally removed from the stress of life, but you are often literal oceans and continents away. Nothing beats exploring the ancient city streets of Rome, or wandering through medieval castles in the English countryside. Or seeing the lights of Tokyo gleaming down on you like Blade Runner, or laying on the white sandy beaches in the hot beating sun of Thailand. There is something wondrous and freeing about being in total control of what you do, where you go, and how you choose to schedule your day.

The problem is that no matter how much we try to escape, or compensate for the discontent in our lives, the reminder of our harsh reality is always there lurking in the background. You still have to be back at work on Monday, you still have those bills to pay, and you still need to get the oil changed in the car.

            When you’re back in the mundane nine-to-five nature of life, you might find yourself daydreaming, longing, or yearning for those brief moments of escape, repeatedly playing them back like a movie in your head, wishing that you could live in them forever.

That feeling of longing, yearning, and nostalgia is Saudades.

A word only found in the Portuguese language, Saudades can best be captured by Fado music, which is known for its melancholic and expressive nature. Musicians will often sing about the struggles of life, and the helplessness in facing the seemingly uncontrollable nature of existence.

Although while emotional, Fado music isn’t necessarily meant to be sad, and can in fact be inspiring. It is about accepting the hand you were dealt, acknowledging the realities of life, and making the effort to better yourself and your situation.

Seeking Saudades is the quest to make those brief moments of escape a permanent fixture in your life; to break out of the mold and pursue your passions. To control the one and only life you have to live. Nothing in life comes easy, and only you can be the master of your own destiny.

So, what are you waiting for?


Thank you so much for reading, and if you’ve made it this far please consider liking the post, sharing it with your friends, and hitting the follow button so you don’t miss any of my upcoming material! And don’t forget to follow me on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest!

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About Me

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Places I’ve Been:

For a detailed list, click here.

Hi, my name is Dillon. I’m a 21 year old travel enthusiast from Canada who is constantly yearning to explore the world.

I’m currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree of Environmental Studies in International Development.

When I’m not studying I like to play guitar, hang out at the cottage, and day dream about all the places I haven’t yet been to.

Join me as I navigate my way through life, attempt to travel around the globe, and tell a few tales along the way.

The quest to find Saudades is a long one!

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Coffee Run: Niagara Falls

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Have you ever been so bored that you decided to go on an impromptu coffee run to Niagara Falls at 10 o’clock at night?


Well I have.


Welcome to life in boring southern Ontario. It’s not uncommon for myself, and my friends Sam and Devon to go and get coffee late at night. In fact, it had become a daily tradition ever since the beginning of our grade 12 year of high school. Just old enough to drive, yet still too young to drink. That meant the bar was out of the question, so off to Tim Horton’s we went.


The order of choice? Well an extra-large double-double of course, and occasionally a sour cream glazed donut. We would sit in the booth and talk among ourselves whilst browsing Reddit for hours. At about midnight, we would head out, cram into the back of a mid 2000’s Toyota Highlander, and drive 5 minutes down the road to the next Tim Horton’s where we would hangout until either our mothers got worried, or we got kicked out because the 24 hour restaurant was “closing”; whichever came first.


As you can imagine, over the course of 8 months this began to resemble something like Groundhog Day. The solution: visit neighbouring cities and see what their Tim Horton’s were like! Night by night, coffee by coffee we managed to drink our way through pretty much every location in the region. When we realized we had nowhere new left to go, we realized we had reached a defining moment. Would we simply admit defeat, go home, and play video games like a normal group of teenage boys? No! We had to persevere! Surely there were more Tim Horton’s to discover!


Now, here is where I will admit that this expedition to Niagara Falls was not of my planning. It had been mentioned in passing on several coffee runs as a joke, but it was my friend Sam who decided to actually put it all together. (Mainly because he was the only one with a car) I got a text from him at around 9 o’clock on a late August night, reading the ever so familiar question: “Tim’s?”. I agreed but knew something was up when after picking up our buddy Devon from work, and upon arriving at the Tim Horton’s closest to our houses, we did something completely unheard of: we went through the drive thru.


I questioned the night’s plan but received no answer. We got our drinks, headed for the highway, and pulled onto the Q.E.W. This wasn’t too unusual as there are plenty of coffee spots on this route, but with drinks already in hand I watched as we took an exit and passed under the road sign that confirmed my suspicions. We were headed to Niagara Falls. My first instinct was to panic. By this time I was getting ready to move away to university. The last thing I needed was for my parents to find a reason to cut me off, forcing me to live in a cardboard box in Dundas square. On top of that, the very next day Sam was due to come up to the cottage with me and my parents for the weekend. If his, or my parents found out we were headed to the falls, you could throw those plans right out the window.


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Did I mention that we didn’t tell our parents where we were going? Like, as in not just on this trip, but throughout the entire history of Tim’s runs. This whole time they thought we were just down the road safe and sound within arms reach. To venture and hour and a half down the highway without their knowledge was asking for trouble.


It was about midnight when we arrived. We parked the car and walked down to the river where we got our first glimpse of one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Niagara Falls. Millions of people from all over the world have travelled, and paid a pretty penny to see this waterfall, and here we were just on the quest for some sub-par caffeinated beverages. Of course, we took some obligatory photos, but then made our way to the gift shops and arcades where we blew all of the loose change we had to win a collection of cheap plastic toys.The ironic part in all of this was that we had actually lost track of time, and Tim Horton’s closed for the night before we could get there. So, we decided to settle for Wendy’s instead.


It was here, waiting in line for chicken nuggets at 2 in the morning when we discovered what genuine fear for our lives felt like. Out of the blue, Sam’s phone went off. It was a text from his mother that simply read:

“Get home. Now.”

Had she figured out where we were? Was she watching us? Did someone rat us out? By now did she mean now now, or like whenever it suits you now? Either way, we were screwed. We were supposed to be a 2-minute drive from his house, not a 2-minute drive from the United States of America.


We grabbed our orders, hurried back to the car, and put the pedal to metal. How we made it back home in the time we did is one of the top 10 questions science still can’t answer. Regardless, we had made it back. Sam dropped Devon and I off at our houses and headed back to his to face the wrath of God.


I crept into a quiet house, making sure not to wake the dog. I made it to my room and laid awake in bed awaiting the e-vite to Sam’s funeral. But to my surprise, it never came. Darkness turned to light, and a new day was upon us. We had all managed to successfully sneak into our homes and submit the usual cover story to our parents as to where we had gone the night before. We had all given the same, simple yet effective answer: “We were at Tim’s.”


And so concluded our first annual coffee run to Niagara Falls. Was it pointless? Yes. Was it stupid? You bet. Would we eventually decide to venture to seemingly every Tim Horton’s within a 200 km radius of our homes? Without a doubt. But for the time being we had found a way to ease our boredom, if only for the night, and came away with a story to tell. There was only one question left to ask: where to next?


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Pics or it didn’t happen, right?

Thank you so much for reading, and if you’ve made it this far please consider liking the post, sharing it with your friends, and hitting the follow button so you don’t miss any of my upcoming material! And don’t forget to follow me on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest!

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