27-Hour Travel Day (Arriving in the United Kingdom)

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Travel days tend to turn into one giant blur, filled with excitment, confusion, and exhaustion; my journey from Toronto to London was no exception.

It all started with a 10:30 a.m. wake up call to do the last of the laundry and packing, as well as to get all of the necessary documents and affairs in order needed when leaving for a 5-month trip abroad. A ride to the airport, a starbucks coffee, and a few emotional goodbyes later and I found myself sitting in front of gate E70 at Pearson International Airport waiting to board my Air Canada Boeing 787-9 to London Heathrow at 8:30 p.m. Of course, the one time I decided to be a responsible adult and not buy overpriced snacks for the plane, there was a problem with the aircraft’s auxillary power unit meaning the pilots were unable to get the engines started. As a result of this misfortune, I sat in snackless agony for almost 2 hours while mechanics assessed the situation and fixed the problem.

Air Canada Boeing 787-9
Sitting at the gate, Pearson International Airport
Sunsrise over the Atlantic Ocean

Fortunately, I had an entire row to myself which allowed me to sprall out and get comfy. While I never managed to get some sleep, this was the first time I’d been able to lie flat on an airplane, and lord was it glorious. After just over 6 hours in the air, the flight touched down in England at 10 a.m. local time. While the delay was a tad frustrating, in the end it worked out for the better as we arrived inbetween peak arrival times, meaning customs and immigration took a mere 10 minutes from deplaning to luggage collection.

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This meant plenty of time to activate my sim card, buy train tickets into the city centre, and even get a Covid test at the airport. (I tested negative) The downside? I wasn’t due to check into my Airbnb until 2 p.m. so I had a lot of time to kill. I decided to take the short walk from London Paddington Station to Hyde Park, and spent the late morning and early afternoon people watching and hanging out in nature.

London Paddington Station
London Paddington Station
Streets of London
Hyde Park
Hyde Park

Hours later, after checking in and taking a much needed hot shower and a quick rest I made the 45 minute walk to Buckingham Palace. I’ve been twice before, and both times were in peak season with large crowds of people so it was an interesting contrast seeing this major tourist destination relatively free of crowds.

Aside from a quick stop for groceries and dinner, the trek back consisted of my body screaming in full revolt after just over 21 km of walking on little to no sleep in the past 27 hours. I’m looking forward to getting some rest, but excited for the next few days spent in London before journeying elsewhere in the week before I begin my studies in Liverpool later this month.

Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace
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Queen Victoria Memorial
Queen Victoria Memorial
Kensington Gardens
Kensington Gardens
Wellington Arch
Wellington Arch

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*This blog was originally posted on seekingsaudades.com*

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What to Expect in 2022 (University Exchange Update)

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Last year, I announced that I was going on a student exchange to Melbourne, Australia for the 2022 winter term. Unfortunately, this is no longer happening. Local travel restrictions, varying vaccination rollouts, and most importantly the increasing case counts due to the rise of the Omicron variant have squashed any hopes of studying in Australia.

While I’m disappointed, it’s not all bad news because a shift in travel plans and applications means that at the end of January, I will instead be moving to the United Kingdom to study at the University of Liverpool for 5 months! While the plans are concrete now, this wasn’t always a guarrantee. After I was informed that my university was cancelling my exchange to Australia, I was offered to apply to a new host school. After some deliberation, I decided that my best chance to study abroad would be in the U.K. Of course, this was before the Omicron variant was discovered which threw everything into jeopardy.

Gatwick International Airport (ca. 2019)

In part due to my own university’s pandemic policy and the Government of Canada’s official travel reccomendations, my exchange with the University of Liverpool has been cancelled and reinstated almost 3 times. Thankfully, after some deliberation I was given the opportunity to continue with my semester abroad as long as I gave the powers at be my informed consent and proved that my health insurance would cover any possible complications due to Covid-19.

And so, after a couple months of planning I’ve found myself in the final few weeks before setting off for England. Flights are booked, accomodation is lined up, courses are chosen, and new travel accessories have been purchased. (Several of which I will be making a review of)

While the main focus of this adventure will be on completing courses required to obtain my degree, I’m obviously going to be doing as much travelling and cultural immersion as possible. As the pandemic still leaves a cloud of uncertainty, the amount I will be able to do remains to be seen but I’m hopeful I’ll be able to make the most of this experience. (and write about it!) If you have any reccomendation for things to do, or places to see in the U.K. or the rest of Europe for that matter, please leave a comment below and let me know!

Durham, England (ca. 2019)
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Now, I realize that many people who have had the chance to study abroad tend to pick non-english speaking countries or distant exotic locations. I considered this, but chose England for a few reasons. First, the United Kingdom is one of my favourite countries. I’ve been twice before: once in 2006, which to be fair I don’t remember too well, and then again in 2019 when my family did a whirlwind tour of the country from the northern tip of England diagonally across the midlands before finishing in London. The pubs, the architecture, the football, and more all strike a chord with me.

Secondly, in order to obtain my university degree my program presents the opportunity to partake in a 8-month work term in a developing nation as part of my final year. This means I’ll have the opportunity to immerse myself in a more foreign culutre and lanuage down the road. Studying in England allows me to live abroad and experience a different country, but in a more or less familiar setting to Canada. This exchange semsester will serve as a way to ease into life away from home in preparation for what’s to come.

Finally, I chose the United Kingdom because of the uncertainty of the pandemic. Aside from being somewhere that’s still accepting foreign students, the U.K. has a strong healthcare system, speaks the same language, and the British and Canadian governments have a close relationship. All of this is in place in the event that I get sick. (Fun fact, it’s written in every Canadian passport to visit a British embassy/consulate in the event you need help somewhere a Canadian embassy isn’t available) While health considerations aren’t the driving reason for studying in England, it’s nice to have that peace of mind.

Alnwick Castle, England (ca. 2019)

I’m both incredibly excited and very anxious to get started, and happy that after all the uncertainty my exchange term is actually happening. I’ll be writing about my time in the Liverpool as regularly as I can so keep checking in to follow along.

In terms of the second half of 2022, my plans remain wide open. I’d like to return to work in Algonquin Park for the third straight year, and I’ve started to throw around the idea of working in western Canada this summer, but some things need to fall in place before either of those happen. Regardless, I’m excited to get back out there and continue exploring the wilderness, go camping and do lots more hiking. My goals for Seeking Saudades include posting here at least once a week and creating new content for my YouTube channel. I’m excited for 2022 and I hope you’ll follow along with me!


Thanks for reading! 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! If you’re looking to connect, make sure to follow me on YouTube, InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest!

*This blog was originally posted on seekingsaudades.com*

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2021: Year In Review

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Despite constantly evolving regional and international pandemic restrictions, 2021 was a satisfying year for both my travels and for Seeking Saudades. To mark the start of a new year, I put together a brief overview of 2021: what I did, where I went, my top posts, and the overall statistics of the website and blog. You’ll also find a list of my favourite YouTube channels and creators of the year, and links to their respective pages. As always, thanks for taking the time to stop by.


| Travel Recap

2021 was marked by driving, and a lot of it. I worked in Algonquin Provincial Park again this summer, and spent a large amount of time commuting back and forth, as well as doing a little exploring on the side. I also went on a western Canadian road-trip which involved an incredible amount of time and distance behind the wheel. Here’s to more flying, and less driving in 2022!

1. Western Canada Road-Trip

In Septemeber, my friend Sam and I went on a 9-day road trip through 5 provinces to western Canada. There’s a lot to unpack on this journey, and as such I’ve procrastinated actually writing about it. However to summarize, it was a long, yet rewarding journey full of stunning landscapes, good company, and expensive auto-repair bills. Stay tuned for a full write-up in the future, but for now here’s some highlights of the journey:

Hwy 17, Lake Superior, ON
Kakabeka Falls, ON
Manitoba Welcome Sign
The Badlands, Alberta
Banff National Park
Lake Louise, Banff National Park
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2. Algonquin Provincial Park

2021 was my second year working in Algonquin park which meant plenty of time for hiking, camping, seeing wildlife, and photography. I managed to walk every trail in the park except 1 this summer, which means lots of trail guides incoming. Algonquin Park has become a special place to me, and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to explore so much of it again this year, and yet I’ve only scratched the surface. Among the many highlights were the 52 moose I encountered. Further into this post you’ll find a YouTube video of one of these encounters.

Centennial Ridges Trail
Lake of Two Rivers
Booth’s Rock Trail
Track and Tower Trail
3. Niagara Falls

I listed Niagara Falls as one of my must see travel destinations in 2021 and I stayed true to my own advise, visiting twice over the course of the year. One of the highlights this time around was the Journey Behind the Falls experience, where I was able to walk the tunnels behind the Canadian Horseshoe falls, and stand within a stones throw of the water crashing down below. I’ve still yet to explore the American side of Niagara Falls, so maybe next year I’ll change things up a little and finally cross over.

Canadian Horsehoe Falls
The Niagara River
Journey Behind the Falls Tour
Below Niagara Falls
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4. BMO Field, Toronto, Ontario
Outside BMO Field

Home of Major League Soccer’s Toronto F.C. and the unofficial national stadium for Canada’s men’s national soccer team, BMO Field was the lifegiving force for me this year. Pandemic restrictions in Ontario were finally eased in July, meaning for the first time in almost 2 years we were all able to gather to watch live sports again. The first Toronto F.C. game back was special and although the team was absolutely awful this year I was happy to have the chance to finally voice my displeasure in person again.

Canada’s national soccer team was also in the midst of attempting to qualify for our first World Cup since 1986, and I was lucky enough to attend their qualifying match against Panama. Behind a near-capacity crowd, Canada rallied to a 4-1 win, strengthing our chance at finally making back to a World Cup. The highlight of the night was an Alphonso Davies wondergoal, which I’ve included a clip of below. The roar of the crowd and the energy that night was extremely theraputic and a semblance of normalcy finally begining to return.

Canadian Supporters
Toronto FC Pregame
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| Overall Website Statistics

As I will dicuss later, search engine optimization was definitely my friend this year. A large percentage of the views came from just a select few posts and contributed to a more than tripling of total views, almost 5x the unique visitors and a doubling of followers as compared to 2020. While I’m very grateful and happy for these numbers, I know that with more commitment to creating content and regular posting, 2022 can be even more successful.


Where You’re Reading:

In 2021, Seeking Saudades was viewed in 76 countries and territories from around the world. This just blows my mind, and it’s amazing to see the kind of reach the content on here has had over the last year. Here is a map and list of where you’re all from, and a breakdown of each location’s total views.

1. Breakdown by Map
Shaded countries represent where Seeking Saudades was viewed
2. Breakdown by List
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Most Viewed Post:
The Kayak’s Maiden Voyage (Evoke Algonquin Kayak Review)

This post was by far the most viewed of the year, gaining a lot of attention from being highly ranked in Google search results. It’s a concise kayak review, but it also includes some pictures from a short paddle around the lake on a spring day.

Most Liked Post:
What’s the Luckiest You’ve Ever Been While Travelling?

In this post I recall the incredibly lucky fortune my brother and I had on a trip to Japan in September of 2019 which involved narrowly missing an earthquake, and dodging 2 typhoons.

Personal Favourite Post:
Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower – Kitchener, Ontario

This post was one of the first of 2021, and took the most amount of time and effort to write. In it, I explore the Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower in Kitchener, Ontario and discuss the landmark’s significance and history. This article is a good example of the type of writing I’d like to do more of on this blog, so check it out and let me know what you think!


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| YouTube Statistics

I only posted 3 videos to YouTube this year, and while they’re obviously not going to be up for any Streamy Awards, I was happy to get the ball rolling on setting things up. Video creation is definitely an avenue I’d like to pursue so I have big hopes for my YouTube channel in the future. Here’s 2 of the videos I posted this year:

Stunning Views from Moraine Lake, Banff National Park
Algonquin Park Moose Encounter
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| Favourite Travel Channels

1. Kara and Nate

Kara and Nate are from Tennessee, USA, but have spent very little time in their home state over the course of the last 6 years as they’ve been travelling almost non-stop to 100 countries around the world. What started off as a 1 year break from regular life, quickly turned into one of the most successful travel channels on YouTube. I basically spent the last year binge-watching over 4 years of their travel videos and highly recommend checking them out if you haven’t already. Here’s their 100th country documentary which outlines all of their travels to 100 countries from 2016-2020:

2. Gabriel Traveler

I’ve been watching Gabriel’s videos for a while now, and for good reason: his videos are authentic, raw and generally show the sides of travel that other, more highly-produced YouTubers like to gloss over. Gabriel has been travelling the world since the 90s but has been vlogging his experiences since 2009. As mentioned, his videos aren’t very flashy; it’s just a man and his action-camera. However, I feel that this makes his content very relateable and gives you the feeling of being on the journey with him, rather than watching a highlight reel of someone’s vacation. I especially enjoy his Himalayan trekking videos:

3. Eamon and Bec

While Eamon and Bec are generally known as vanlife YouTubers, I discovered their channel through their Canadian cabin renovation series which they began during the height of the pandemic. Eamon and Bec are incredibly down to earth and positive people, and in my opinion that directly translates to what makes their content so enjoyable. Recently, they’ve gotten back into international travel and have been touring around Morroco in a converted sprinter van. Here’s their final cabin renovation tour:

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| Looking to 2022

While there was growth, I fell short of my own goals and expectations in 2021. This year, I am recommiting and as such there are big plans in place that I intend to capitalize on. Stay tuned for next week’s post which will outline my travel plans, overall goals for Seeking Saudades and what you can expect to see from me in 2022.

I appreciate all those who have taken the time to read and watch, and thank all of you for the support in 2021. Happy new year, and cheers to a successful, happy, and healthy 2022!


Thank you 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 content! And don’t forget to follow me on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest!

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