Toronto Raptors NBA Championship Parade – Photo Friday #9

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Welcome back to Photo Friday!

This week’s photo was taken in Downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada during the Toronto Raptors’ 2019 NBA Championship Parade.

There’s a lot I can say about this day: the sheer number of people, the complete disorganization, the 5-hour time delay, the heatwave. In a city that had been so starved for a winning team in one of North America’s “big four” leagues (NBA, NHL, NFL, MLB), we sure did go all in for the celebration. Some estimates have some 1.5 million plus people taking part in at least some of the festivities that day, and in a city that only has a population of around 3 million.

I have a ton of pictures and stories I can show and tell from my experience at the Raptors’ Championship Parade, so I’ll write a separate post that goes into further detail sometime in the near future. For now, here’s a little sneak peek.

See you next week!

Toronto Raptors Championship Parade, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Toronto Raptors Championship Parade, Toronto, Ontario, Canada (ca. June 2019)

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Where Have I Travelled?

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If you’ve done some exploring around seekingsaudades.com, then you’ll know I have an entire page dedicated to where I’ve travelled in my life. However, seeing as many of my followers receive my content directly from the built in reader on wordpress.com, I realize that many of you may not have ever seen exactly where I’ve been, and when I’ve been there. So, I decided to convert that page into a stand alone article, which you are reading now.

Below you’ll find a shaded map which outlines all of the places I’ve travelled, as of February 2021. I’ve also included a more detailed list of the specific destinations I’ve visited in each individual country further down. (If I’ve written an article in one of these destinations, I’ll link it below as well)

Obviously, I hope to extend this list to as many places as life will take me. (I’m looking at you, Australia) But for now, I’m just glad to have received the opportunities to have been where I’ve been, and to have seen all the wonderful things they have to offer.

How many of these countries have you been to? Do you want to hear stories from any of these particular destinations? Where do you recommend I go next? Let me know in the comments below!


WHERE HAVE I TRAVELLED?

Total Countries Visited: 12

Blue areas represent places I’ve been.
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NORTH AMERICA

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EUROPE

  • ENGLAND
    • London (2006, 2019)
    • Newcastle-upon-Tyne (2019)
    • Durham (2019)
    • York (2019)
    • Alnwick (2019)
    • Bamburgh (2019)
    • Warwick (2019)
    • Windsor (2019)
    • Bath (2019)
    • Stratford-upon-Avon (2019)
  • FRANCE
    • Paris (2006)
    • Versailles (2006)
  • ITALY
    • Rome (2010)
    • Florence (2010)
    • Venice (2010)
  • PORTUGAL
    • Azores
      • Sao Miguel (2017)
    • Lisbon (2017)
    • Sintra (2017)
    • Albufeira (2017)
    • Sagres (2017)
  • SCOTLAND
  • SPAIN
  • VATICAN CITY (2010)

ASIA

  • JAPAN
    • Tokyo (2018, 2020)
    • Mt. Fuji (2018)
    • Osaka (2018)
    • Kyoto (2018)
    • Hiroshima (2018)
    • Miyajima (2018)
  • THAILAND
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Bangkok’s Golden Buddhas (Wat Pho Temple) – Photo Friday #8

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Welcome back to Photo Friday!

Today’s travel photo comes from Wat Pho Temple in amazing Bangkok, Thailand.

This week marked the 1 year anniversary of my trip to Thailand in February of 2020. It seems hard to believe it’s been this long, and yet felt so short since my first time visiting Southeast Asia. If you read my post from a couple months ago, Thailand Travel Diary – Day 1: In Transit, you will recall that I was only able to spend one full day in the magical city of Bangkok before jetting off to the beaches of Phuket.

But you better believe that one full day was a full day well spent.

One of the destinations on the whirlwind city tour was Wat Pho Temple, better known as the home of the Reclining Buddha, where I caught a picture of a series of golden Buddhas sitting in a row. Just one amazing example of what Bangkok and Thailand has to offer!

See you next week!

Golden Buddhas, Wat Pho Temple, Bangkok, Thailand (ca. February 2020)

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A Detour to the Scottish Border

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Scotland-England Border
The view across the A1 towards the Scottish border marker

In May of 2019, I was in the middle of a whirlwind week-long tour of England, crammed in the back of a light blue Hyundai hatchback with my family. We had just picked up our car rental in the town of Durham, England, before beginning the journey north. Along the way, we would stop in Newcastle to watch a Liverpool F.C. vs. Newcastle United F.C. football match at a local pub, and then in Alnwick to rest for the night and to visit the spectacular Alnwick Castle.

Newcastle United, St. James' Park
St. James’ Park, home of Newcastle United F.C.
Alnwick Castle, England
Alnwick Castle, England

Our final destination on the journey north was to be Bamburgh Castle; one that was entirely inspired by our time watching the BBC/Netflix show, The Last Kingdom. Bamburgh Castle is spectacular, and was well worth the visit. After spending a few hours exploring, it was time to get back on the road.

While this should have been the time to turn around and begin driving south to the city of York, I had a different itinerary in mind, one that I had been pushing for from the moment we booked our flights: Scotland.

Bamburgh Castle, England
Bamburgh Castle, England
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If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that once I get my mind set on something, I’m hard pressed to let it go. And so when I saw that the Scottish-English border was a mere 37 kilometres (23 mi) away from Bamburgh Castle, I just had to try and and get there. When would I ever be back to this part of England? Would we ever get the chance to drive across the Scottish border again? I think some things should never be left to chance.

It took some convincing, but eventually my family agreed to take the 1-hour detour towards Scotland. I’m glad we did too, because the drive along the North Sea coastline made for some stunning views.

Scotland-England Border
The North Sea
Scotland-England Border
Farmland straddling the border

On arrival at the border, there was a short spillway off of the highway, and some limited parking available. We got out, and headed towards the stone marker and flag which denoted the exact boundary line between the two countries. Of course, we had to take pictures to prove our Scottish adventure.

Scotland-England Border
The spillway leading to the border
Scotland-England Border
The “Welcome to Scotland” sign
Scotland-England Border
Scottish stone border marker and flag posts
Scotland-England Border
One last look before turning around to head back to England

While we were only there for a grand total of 5 minutes, I’m glad we took the time to make this stop. I knew that if we hadn’t made this trip, I would have regretted it. I mean, technically it’s one more country to add to the list.

When we had seen everything that was to be seen, we got back on to the highway, and after a quick stop on the English side of the border, we headed back down the A1 towards the medieval city of York, where we would be staying for the next 3 days.


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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Thank You For 1000+ Unique Visitors!

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Happy Tuesday everyone!

I thought I would break the usual schedule for today to take the opportunity to thank the 1000+ unique visitors who have taken the time out of their day to visit seekingsaudades.com in countries all over the world! As always, I am incredibly grateful for your support. I really enjoy creating content for the blog and website, and for all of you.

In the internet (and COVID-19) age, I think it’s difficult to appreciate just how many people 1000 visitors actually is. I do know I definitely wouldn’t want to give a speech in front of a room full of them! Luckily, the internet is good for finding the answers to pointless questions, and so to illustrate what 1000 people in one place looks like, we turn to one of my favourite YouTube videos below in which 1000 musicians play the Foo Fighters’ song Learn to Fly.

Once again, thank you for visiting, and be sure to stay tuned for an all new travel article coming this Wednesday morning! Enjoy.


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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Student Exchange in Melbourne, Australia

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Finally, some actual travel plans!

I am incredibly excited to say that I am in the middle of applying for an international student exchange in the beautiful city of Melbourne, Australia for the winter semester starting next year in February of 2022.

Now I know what you’re thinking: what about the pandemic?

You’re right. This whole thing is reliant on both Canada and Australia having low COVID-19 case numbers, vaccinating their respective citizens, and opening up the borders for international travellers. If I were try and do this today, I would be very much out of luck.

So I’m placing a bet that by this time next year the pandemic will be behind us, and the world will be on the path back to some sense of normalcy. If I’m wrong, well then at least I had something travel related to look forward to for a short while!

So far, I’ve been matched with a host institution, and that’s about as far as progress will go as of right now. In the coming months, I’ll have to confirm my spot, apply for a student visa, sort out accommodations, book flights, and most importantly do a whole heck of a lot of research on Melbourne and Australia themselves. (If you have some tips, leave me a comment below!) What I can say right now is that I’m already looking forward to leaving the frigid Canadian winter behind to go bask in the Southern Hemisphere’s warm summer sun!

Hopefully when all is said and done, I’ll be in the land down under in 2022. Until then, I’ll be sure to keep you updated.


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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Warwick Castle, England – Photo Friday #7

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Welcome back to Photo Friday!

This week takes us to Warwick Castle, England during my visit in May of 2019.

While my family was researching whether or not this destination was worth the visit on our road trip across England, a lot of the online reviewers cautioned Warwick Castle as “the Disneyland of English Castles”. While I can certainly see why some people would think this, it’s not as bad as it sounds. In fact, I think that’s what makes it such a worthwhile place to visit!

Warwick Castle has the typical historical elements and museum pieces, things you’d expect, but it also has a series of well-done attractions. When I was there in May of 2019, these included a haunted tour, a birds of prey show, a trebuchet demonstration, and more. To a history buff, I can see why this might seem tacky and misplaced, but personally I thought it was a great way to mesh the old with the new, and in an engaging, exciting, and refreshing way; one that people of all ages can enjoy.

I highly recommend adding this to your list of must-see English destinations, and if you’re interested in learning more about what Warwick Castle has to offer, visit warwick-castle.com.

See you next week!

Warwick Castle, England
Warwick Castle, England (ca. May 2019)

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An Impulse Road Trip to the Province of Québec (Isle-aux-Allumettes)

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Back in August of 2020, I woke up one morning and decided I was up for an adventure.

I had just spent the night in Ontario’s Algonquin Provincial Park, where I had been working for the past couple months for a summer job. My shift on this particular day started at 1:15 p.m., so I had some time to kill on my hands. I thought about hiking one of the park’s many hiking trails, but the trails I still had left to do were either too short, or too long. Seeing as I didn’t really feel like waiting around for half a day before work, or showing up hours late, I decided to steer my gaze elsewhere.

See, except for Whitney, Ontario, which lies just outside Algonquin’s borders, I had never really ventured past the Park’s East Gate. And so, I set my initial sights on Barry’s Bay, and hit the road just after 7:30 a.m. When I got there, I filled up on gas, and grabbed a coffee. With still so much time left before work, I checked Google Maps to see where else I could go.

This is when I noticed my relative proximity to the Province of Québec. From Barry’s Bay, it was only a 1-hour, 93 km drive. I checked the clock and calculated that I would have just enough time to get there, turn around, make the 2-hour return drive, and get back to Algonquin just before work started. I only had a small window of time to get moving, and so without hesitating, I got in my car and headed towards the border.

Now, if you’ve ever been to this portion of Ontario, you’ll know the struggle that is the radio. My only two choices were CBC talk radio, or the local country station. I chose the country station as the lesser of two evils. I could have listened to my own playlists, but I was in one of those weird phases where you skip every song that comes on.

Thankfully, the radio wasn’t that important as the scenery was just absolutely stunning. The topography ranged from lakes, rocks, and forests, to large rolling hills, to open fields of farmland, and then back to forests again. The best way to describe it would be if the length of southern Ontario from Windsor to Sudbury was compressed into a 1-hour drive.

Naturally, due to the time crunch, I didn’t stop to take many pictures on the way there. It was only when I got to the Ontario-Québec border that I decided I should make an attempt to document the trip, and that is where the following photo’s pick up.

Crossing the bridge from Pembroke, Ontario to L’Isle-aux-Allumettes, Québec.
Bienvenue au Québec! Entering Canada’s French Speaking Province.
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When I got across the bridge, and onto the Isle-aux-Allumettes, my only real plan was to find somewhere to pull off the road and see the Ottawa River. I ended up turning down a series of random roads that I figured led towards the water. After about 10 minutes of searching, I found a boat launch, parked my car, and got out to take a look.

I took a bunch of pictures, and sent them to my family group chat and a few friends with the message: “Bienvenue au Québec”. I kept waiting for them to be surprised that I had somehow magically appeared in another province on the same day that I was supposed to be working, but those messages never came. When I asked about why nobody responded to me a few days later, I was told that nobody actually clued in to the fact that I was actually in Québec. They figured that I had just sent them some random pictures from the internet, or that I was just trying practice my French. I had to show them my phone’s camera roll before anyone finally believed me!

L'Isle-aux-Allumettes, Quebec, Canada
My first impression of the Ottawa River was it’s sheer size. It felt more like a lake than a river!
L'Isle-aux-Allumettes, Quebec, Canada
There was a long pier that jetted out into the middle of the river, as well as a small lighthouse close to the water.
L'Isle-aux-Allumettes, Quebec, Canada
Turning to look back towards the shore, there was a small barn, and some riverfront homes peering out from the trees.
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L'Isle-aux-Allumettes, Quebec, Canada
Looking across the river, you could see the skyline of Pembroke, Ontario.
L'Isle-aux-Allumettes, Quebec, Canada
Along with the lighthouse, there was a boat launch at the end of the pier.
L'Isle-aux-Allumettes, Quebec, Canada
(You might have seen this picture on Photo Friday)

By the time I got to the end of the Pier, it was time to turn around and head back to Algonquin Provincial Park for work. I drove 2 and a half hours straight back, bobbing my head along to the sounds of my new found forced-love of country music. It was close, but I managed to arrive about 10 minutes before the start of my shift.

In hindsight, this impulse trip was quite possibly the dumbest thing I could have chosen to do that day. I could have easily been late for work, and my legs were absolutely dead from all the driving; not exactly helpful when you’re job requires you to be on your feet for 8-hours straight.

However, at the same time it was the best thing I could have done because when I think back to 2020, this trip to Québec was one of the more memorable parts of the summer. In a year when there wasn’t much travelling going on, this was a welcomed change of pace and a brief return to some sense of normalcy.

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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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The Ottawa River – Photo Friday #6

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Welcome back to Photo Friday!

This week’s photo was taken on the Québec side of the Ottawa River, just across from Pembroke, Ontario, Canada in August 2020.

This picture was the result of a spur of the moment 4-hour road-trip I decided to take one early morning before work. (A story for another time) I’ve always known that the Ottawa River was wide, but when I arrived I was still surprised to find out just how big it actually was; it felt more like I was on the edge of a lake than on the banks of a river! While I only stayed for a few minutes before turning around to head back, it made for a nice day trip, and a good distraction from work for the time being.

See you next week!

Ottawa River, Quebec, Canada
The Ottawa River, Québec, Canada (ca. August 2020)

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Beaver Pond Trail Guide – Algonquin Provincial Park

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Quick Look:

Name: Beaver Pond Trail

Location: Km marker 45.2, Highway 60, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

Length: 2.0 km (1.2 mi)

Difficulty: Moderate

Features & Points of Interest: Beaver ponds, lodges & dams; scenic lookout.

Beaver Pond Trail Map, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada
Beaver Pond Trail Map – Algonquin Provincial Park (Source: alltrails.com)

Overview:

The Beaver Pond Trail is a 2.0 km (1.2 mi) hiking loop located in Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada. The moderate-difficulty route features an array of beaver activity such as ponds, dams, and lodges, and navigates through several terrains including a bog, a forest, and a scenic rocky lookout. The Beaver Pond Trail is perfect for those looking to explore multiple ecosystems within a relatively short distance, and learn about the impact beavers have on this stunning environment; all while still working up a good sweat.

Beaver Pond Trail, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada
The Beaver Pond Trail begins with a walk across a bog on a well-maintained boardwalk.
Beaver Pond Trail, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada
The contrasting wetland and forest environments are showcased throughout the hike.
Beaver Pond Trail, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada
There is a helpful guidebook at the trailhead which explains how the beavers work to shape their surroundings.
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What do you need to know?:

I highly recommend picking up a Beaver Pond Trail guidebook when you arrive at the trailhead. You can purchase one by leaving the correct change in the honour box below the trail map sign, or you can simply borrow it for free by returning it at the end of your hike. This guidebook provides insight into the dual history this area, and the beavers who live in it, and discusses the processes by which they have created and molded this environment to suit their survival needs. Just be on the lookout for the corresponding numbered fenceposts along the path, and refer to guidebook as you go.

On arrival, there is a sizeable parking lot available just off of highway 60. While crowds on this trail are generally less in number compared to other hikes such as The Lookout Trail, it is always worth keeping in mind the time of year you’re visiting (fall colours season will be busy) in order to enjoy the best experience. If you’re looking for another activity to pair with this hike, the Beaver Pond Trail is only 2 km (1.2 mi) away from the Algonquin Park Visitors Centre.

If you’re thinking of hiking the Beaver Pond Trail, be sure to check the weather forecast in advance as the path is known to become a slush of mud after a good rainfall. If you find that the trail is in an unusable condition when you arrive, consider hiking the nearby Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail to stay out of the muck and to keep your socks dry.

Beaver Pond Trail, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada
This beaver dam is an impressive example of the influence the beavers have.
Beaver Pond Trail, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada
There are lots of opportunities to stop, take photos, and admire nature.
Beaver Pond Trail, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada
The pinnacle of this hike is the scenic rock outcrop which overlooks one of the two beaver ponds.
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How to get here:

  • From Toronto:
    • Hwy 400 –> Hwy 11 –> Hwy 60 –> Algonquin Park West Gate –> Km marker 45.2

*Be sure to stop in at the West Gate first to pick up your day pass*


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