Newcastle, England – Photo Friday #13

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Welcome back to Photo Friday!

This week’s image was taken in the city of Newcastle, England, during my travels there in 2019.

It’s hard to wrap my head around just how in the world this bridge was allowed to be built so close to these buildings. I imagine this project must have faced huge backlash when it was in it’s early stages, especially from those living directly in its path. I mean, I guess it’s better than demolishing the entire neighbourhood just to put a bridge in. Don’t get me wrong, the bridge makes for an interesting sight, and definitely adds to the charm of one of my favourite cities in England, but I can’t help but think there had to have been a better option.

See you next week!

Newcastle, England. Tyne Bridge.
Newcastle, England (ca. May 2019)

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Canadian Sunset Timelapse – Photo Friday #12

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Welcome back to Photo Video Friday!

I was finally able to make it out to the lake last weekend, thanks to the ice going out earlier than expected. This means a whole bunch of good things, most notable of which is the ability to sit on the dock with a piping hot coffee to watch the sun as it sets below the horizon.

Long before I started this blog, or even made seekingsaudades.com, I created a YouTube channel with the intent of one day posting travel videos. Until now, I’ve never uploaded anything, instead choosing to focus on creating content here. I figured I needed to get the YouTube train rolling at some point, and so today I decided to do just that.

Luckily, time-lapses are technically photos, so I can shamelessly promote my YouTube channel here and still have it loosely connect to the blog. This particular time-lapse was taken on April 17, 2020 in Algonquin Highlands, Ontario.

I would greatly appreciate it if you considered subscribing to my YouTube channel once you’re finished watching the video. While I don’t have any immediate plans to post a bunch of content, I will be making an effort this summer to try and put together some videos of whatever travels I end up doing.

Thanks for all of your support, and see you next week!


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Tokyo Subway Map – Photo Friday #11

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Welcome back to Photo Friday!

This week’s terrible quality iPhone picture comes from the Tokyo metro system from my trip to Japan in February 2020.

One of the biggest learning curves travellers face when coming to Tokyo for the first time is figuring out how to navigate the massive subway system. There is a seemingly endless amount of rail lines, owned and operated by a number of different train companies, and there are countless stations to choose from. It’s a lot to take in, and can definitely be overwhelming to try and figure it out if you’re arriving fresh from the airport, especially if you’re only running on a few hours sleep.

However, once you do figure it out, the Tokyo Subway system reveals itself to be one of the most efficient, effective, and intuitive examples of public transportation infrastructure in the entire world. Seeing as I try to keep these Photo Friday posts short, I’ll refrain from going into the reasons why, but feel free to let me know in the comments below if you want me to write a separate article outlining some of the tips and tricks I’ve learned through good old fashioned trial and error.

If you’re ever in Tokyo, and you find yourself starring blankly at the massive subway map on the wall, DON’T PANIC. It might take a few rides and screw-ups, but you’ll figure it out eventually, and once you do you’ll wish every metro system in the world was just like it.

See you next week!

Tokyo Subway Map, Tokyo Metro Map
Tokyo Subway Map, Tokyo, Japan (ca. February 2020)

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The Top 5 Ontario Travel Destinations in 2021

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For most, 2021 is shaping up to be a really great year to explore what’s in your own backyard. The Province of Ontario has so much to offer, which makes it hard to narrow down the list of things to see and do, and so to help, I put together a shortlist of my top 5 Ontario travel destinations to consider in 2021.

Tl;dr: Manitoulin Island, Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, Pickle Lake, Algonquin Provincial Park, Niagara Falls.


1. Manitoulin Island

In my opinion, Manitoulin Island is one of the most underrated destinations in all of Ontario. I visited Manitoulin Island last year and fell in love with the place almost instantly. Surrounded by Lake Huron, dotted with a number of lakes, and covered by dense forests, the natural beauty of this place is just stunning. I recommend taking the time to hike the Cup & Saucer Trail, which offers a number of lookouts over the island, and navigates a northern section of the Niagara Escarpment.

Aside from the natural beauty, Manitoulin Island is home to around 14,000 people, a good portion of whom belong to the many thriving Indigenous communities on the island. This means if you’re looking to learn more about Indigenous history and culture, Manitoulin Island is the place to be.

To get here, you can take the ferry across from Tobermory, or drive along the north shore of Georgian Bay, west of Sudbury. If you’re doing the latter, I recommend staying at Chutes Provincial Park to break up the trip.

Cup and Saucer Trail, Manitoulin Island. The Top 5 Ontario Travel Destinations in 2021.
Cup & Saucer Trail, Manitoulin Island
2. Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

Sleeping Giant Provincial Park offers some of the most iconic views in the entire province. Located an hour outside Thunder Bay, along the north shore of Lake Superior, Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is one of those destinations I think the majority of Ontarians never get around to seeing, mainly due to its sheer distance from the southern portion of the province.

Sleeping Giant Provincial Park offers over 100 kilometres of hiking trails, car-camping, excellent wildlife viewing opportunities, and of course a number of stunning lookouts and views you just can’t find anywhere else. If you’re willing to make the almost 15-hour drive from Toronto, you won’t be disappointed with what you find here.

Sleeping Giant//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

(Photo Source: Ontario Parks on Flickr)

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3. Pickle Lake

Pickle Lake is my one obligatory oddball destination on this list, and somewhere most people probably haven’t heard of. It’s also one of those places that’s more about the journey to get there, than the destination itself.

See, Pickle Lake is… kind of in the middle of nowhere. It has a population of less than 400 people, and is a staggering 22-hour drive, and 2,000 kilometres away from Toronto. So why would I include this as one of the top 5 destinations in 2021? Well as it turns out, Pickle Lake lies at the end of the northernmost point of the Ontario provincial highway system.

I might be alone on this one, but I just can’t help but think how cool it would be to say that you’ve driven to the most northern drivable point in Ontario. You might want to think about bringing an extra jerry can though.

4. Algonquin Provincial Park

Alright, back to reality with this one.

Algonquin Provincial Park is the oldest provincial park in Canada, and one of the largest in the province as well, covering a staggering 7,600 squared kilometres. The best part? It’s only a 3-hour drive from Toronto; great for those looking to escape for the day or weekend.

Algonquin Park offers activities for everyone, and for all ages. Car camping, backcountry camping, hiking, fishing, guided tours, historical sites, and more. If you’re looking for it, chances are Algonquin Park offers it, which no doubt contributes to it being one of the most visited and popular provincial parks in Ontario, year after year.

If you’re interested in learning more about what Algonquin Park has to offer, make sure to check out some of my Algonquin guides here.

Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail, Algonquin Provincial Park. The Top 5 Ontario Travel Destinations in 2021.
Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail, Algonquin Park
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5. Niagara Falls

Now, I know what you’re thinking with this one: “Niagara Falls? Wow, how original…”

But hear me out, when’s the last time you actually went to Niagara Falls? Those of us who are within driving distance of Niagara Falls tend to take for granted just how lucky we are to live so close to one of the most awe-inspiring natural wonders in the world, something people travel from all over the world to come see. Most of the people I’ve met in my life have been to Niagara Falls at least once, but can’t remember when they went, or who they went with last. Just because you’ve been there before, doesn’t mean it’s not worth going again, especially when it comes to Niagara Falls. It could even make for a good Tim’s Run destination!

I mean, it sure beats sitting on the couch, right?

The Top 5 Ontario Travel Destinations in 2021.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
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What locations would you add to this list? Where are you looking forward to visiting the most this year? Let me know in the comments below!


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What’s the Luckiest You’ve Ever Been While Travelling?

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What is the luckiest you’ve ever been while travelling? I’ll start.

I narrowly missed two typhoons, and dodged an earthquake.

Let me explain:

The year was 2018, and the destination Japan. My brother and I had booked a 2-week long trip which would take us through such cities as Tokyo, Kyoto, and Hiroshima in what would be our first time to Asia. In the weeks leading up to our departure, my Mom began to worry about our safety, as mothers do. In preparation for sending us off on our first international adventure without her, she began watching as much documentaries and travel videos on Japan as possible. The only problem? Those videos generally showcased many of the abundant natural disasters the country is known for.

Tsunamis, earthquakes, typhoons, volcanoes; if there was even the slightest chance of it happening, my Mom made sure we knew about it. I would like to say that her worrying was all for nothing, but in the end it turned out that dealing with these things almost became a reality.

The week before our departure, Japan was hit by Typhoon Jebi, in what would end up being the costliest Typhoon in Japan’s history in terms of insured losses, and the strongest to make landfall since 1993.

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We were extremely lucky that our trip hadn’t started yet. We had picked completely arbitrary dates and it just so happened that we lucked our way into missing a Typhoon. Obviously, this near miss didn’t do any good in reducing my Mom’s anxiety, but that’s not where our dumb luck ends.

We spent 5 days in Tokyo, and much of it was centred around avoiding the residual rain from the Typhoon. During our stay, we gained the habit of coming back to our hotel room around dinner time to feast on FamilyMart fried chicken and watch the Japanese Grand Sumo tournament on TV, which was taking place just across the river from our hotel. In-between matches, there would be the occasional news update, which would often inform us of an earthquake that had happened somewhere else in the country. My brother and I joked that we would be lucky to get out of Japan without experiencing one, not actually thinking we would. As it turned out, we cut it pretty close.

On the sixth day of our trip, we took the Shinkansen (Japanese bullet train) to Kyoto. After arriving, we found the nearest convenience store, stocked up on food, and settled into our new hotel room to watch the night’s sumo matches. It wasn’t long into the broadcast before the television cameras started to violently jolt, and the commentator announced that an earthquake was underway in Tokyo. At the time, it was pretty shocking for us. We were in Tokyo just a few hours prior, and had narrowly missed being in an earthquake. Even though there was no danger, we decided it was best not to tell Mom until after we got home.

Looking back at it now, it wouldn’t have been that big of a deal if we had been in Tokyo anyways. By Japanese standards, this quake was a mere inconvenience and I can’t find a single mention of it anywhere online today, evidence of its insignificance. If I remember correctly, at the time the quake was measured to be somewhere around the magnitude 3.0 – 4.5 range on the Richter scale.

Again, not that impressive in hindsight, but you have to understand that growing up in Southern Ontario, Canada, earthquakes were almost never heard of. I can only remember experiencing one in my life, about 10 years back, and it was so weak that nobody realized that it had happened until we heard about it on the 6 o’clock news later that night. So to have missed an earthquake by a few hours, was a big deal at the time. Looking back at it now, I kind of wish we had been in Tokyo to experience it. Just enough to get a little taste without tempting fate too much.

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After dodging the earthquake, the rest of the trip went by relatively smooth.

We managed to visit Mt. Fuji 5th Station as part of a day tour, (and the volcano didn’t erupt, so that’s good) and eventually made our way to Hiroshima before returning back to Tokyo to catch a flight home. It was during our return to Tokyo that we saw on the news that yet another Typhoon was headed towards Japan. Less than a week after arriving back in Canada, Typhoon Trami hit Japan, and although most of the damage was centred around the island of Okinawa, the storm caused hundreds of train, plane and other public infrastructure delays and cancellations across the country. Not really something you want to deal with on a 2-week holiday.

So, what’s the luckiest you’ve ever been while travelling? I think narrowly missing two typhoons, and dodging an earthquake is definitely top of the list for me. (Although travelling to Thailand in February of 2020 and somehow not getting COVID-19 is up there too)

If our itinerary had been just a few days shifted on either end of the trip, or had we spent a couple of more hours in Tokyo, my time in Japan could have been a much different experience, and one for the worst. I’m definitely glad everything worked out though, because Japan has become one of my favourite countries to travel to.

Even with all those pesky natural disasters.

What’s your luckiest travel story? Let me know in the comments below!


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The First Signs of Spring – Photo Friday #10

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Welcome back to Photo Friday!

It’s finally April, and the first signs of spring are starting to appear in Central Ontario. This image, taken in the Algonquin Highlands, Canada on April 2, 2021 shows that the temperature is rising, the snows are melting, and the lakes are finally thawing. Although it will more than likely be a few weeks until the lakes are fully open, its nice to see the water appearing along the shoreline and the ice retreating.

I’m definitely looking forward to getting back out here once university is all wrapped up for the term, and to do more exploring this summer. Warmer, sunnier days are just around the corner, and more posts documenting them will be sure to follow.

See you next week!

Algonquin Highlands, Ontario, Canada (ca. April 2021)

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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