Tag Archives: blog

My Redbubble Shop is Up and Running!

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Happy Tuesday everyone, I hope your week is off to a great start.

This is just a quick little post to let you know that I’ve just added a bunch more items to my new Redbubble store. You’ll find a selection of some photography I’ve taken from my travels, and a seemingly endless number of products to put them on and order!

A screenshot of my redbubble shop

This whole thing started because I wanted to print a photo I took of the Royal Liver Building in Liverpool, England as a keepsake for my time studying abroad at the University of Liverpool. I ordered my photo on the extra small glossy metal print, and hung it up on my wall along with a scarf and my original boarding pass. (A little cheesy, I know.)

I’m incredibly happy with how it turned out:

My order straight out of the box
My order hanging on the wall, paired with a Liverpool F.C. scarf

I’d appreciate you taking the time to stop by and see what there is on offer at my Redbubble store. You’ll find everything from traditional canvas and metal wall art, to stickers, magnets and postcards, and even phone cases, throw pillows, clocks and more! I’ll be continually adding more items to the shop periodically, so if you’re interested keep checking back for a continually growing collection.

Enjoy the rest of your week!


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Columbia Packable Backpack Review (After 1 Year of Use)

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I’ve had the Columbia Lightweight Packable 21 L Backpack for about a year now after purchasing it last January. In case you’re short on time, I highly recommend it.

I was looking for a decently sized, lightweight packable day bag to bring with me to Europe, and something I could pair with my Peak Design Travel Backpack. I was also hoping to use it for university, as I was studying abroad at the University of Liverpool at the time.

Ideally, I was looking for something inexpensive, with a couple of pockets and a laptop sleeve, maybe a spot for my water bottle, comfortable straps, and the ability to shrink it down to a smaller size so I could stuff it in my carry-on bag when it wasn’t being used .

Luckily for me, the Columbia Packable Backpack had almost everything I was looking for. Before I go into detail and give you my thoughts, here’s the specs taken from Columbia’s website:

  • Cost: C$37 (US$28)
  • Capacity: 21 L
  • Weight: 167 g / 5.9 oz
  • Backpack Dimensions:
    • 46 x 32 x 11.9 cm / 18.1″ x 12.6″ x 4.7″

Here are some pictures of the Columbia Packable Backpack, and some items for scale:


A front view of the backpack:

The inside of the backpack:

The inside of the backpack, with a passport holder, a 24 fl oz water bottle, and toiletry bag for scale:

The interior volume of the bag with the same water bottle for scale:

The size of the backpack when folded, with a wallet for scale:

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Finally, here’s the Columbia packable backpack fully loaded with 4 days worth of clothes inside a Peak Design bompression bag, the same toiletry kit from the picture above, all of my documentation and chargers, and a water bottle clipped to the side. There’s still some room left over for small souveniers:

The backpack is made of a water resistant Nylon Ripstop material, and has held up very well considering the amount of use I’ve put it through. I took it with me to class everyday for 5 months in all sorts of weather, on a bunch of day trips all across the UK, and it was my personal item on my Ryanair flights to Denmark, Ireland, and Belgium, as well as my day bag while exploring the Isle of Man. There are no signs of wear and tear, no discolouration, and the zippers all still work smoothly.

The laptop sleeve inside the backpack held my 15-inch laptop comfortably, and the inside pocket was a great place to safely store my passport and other important documents while I was travelling. The exterior pocket also has plenty of room to store whatever else you may have on hand. The straps are basic, but I found they applied an equal pressure to my shoulders which meant they were a lot more comfortable than you might expect.

My only complaint about the bag is that it doesn’t have a pocket for a water bottle. I got around this by either clipping one to the top handle, or simply stuffing it down inside the bag.

If you’re looking for a reliable packable backpack for an inexpensive price, in my opinion the Columbia Lightweight Packable 21 L Backpack is definitely worth a buy. It makes for a great day bag, as well as the perfect sized personal item for use on ultra-low cost budget airlines like Ryanair.

If you have any questions about the Columbia packable backpack, I’d be happy to answer them in the comments down below!

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 content! If you’re looking to connect, make sure to follow me on YouTube, Redbubble, InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest!

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My Honest Ryanair Flight Review (Why it’s My Favourite Airline)

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Okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit, but hear me out.

Obviously flying a traditionally structured full service airline is a far more enjoyable experience and the preferred choice for the majority of travellers, including myself. Compared to Ryanair, flying economy on any other airline feels like your being wined and dined and treated to such luxuries reserved only for the elite of the world.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to love about Ryanair.

Boarding the front of my Ryanair flight to Brussels

To give you some context, I studied abroad at the University of Liverpool for one semester earlier this year. Being Canadian, I’ve always resented how expensive it is to travel in my home country, and how limited the transportation options are, especially with respect to flying. So, I made it my goal to take advantage of being in Europe for as long as I was, for as often as I could. Ryanair was the obvious choice to allow me to do just this, and I flew exclusively with them during my time abroad.

Before I get into my thoughts on Ryanair though, here are the trips I took outside of the United Kingdom during my time across the pond, and their respective costs.

1. Liverpool, U.K. (LPL) —> Copenhagen, Denmark (CPH)

I booked this RETURN flight for a grand total of £16 (C$30). Flight time each way was about 1 hour 50 minutes, and left from Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport and landed at Copenhagen’s International Airport. I spent the weekend exploring Denmark’s capital with some friends back in February and absolutely loved it, but that’s a story for another time.

A view of my Ryanair plane headed for Copenhagen
Crossing the North Sea on the way to Copenhagen
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2. Liverpool, U.K. (LPL) —> Dublin, Ireland (DUB)

The quick hop across the Irish sea cost a total of £24 return (C$40) and was without a doubt the shortest flight of my life. The entire process from gate to gate took just over 40 minutes and I was in Ireland before I had decided which of my downloaded podcasts to listen to. Aside from the distance, I’ll touch on why this entire process was so seamless later on.

The Liverpool skyline and River Mersey shortly after takeoff
Final approach into Dublin Airport (one of the windiest landings I’ve experienced)

3. Liverpool, U.K. (LPL) —> Brussels, Belgium (CRL)

OK, so if you’re really good at memorizing airport codes, you’ll have noticed that CRL isn’t actually in Brussels. In fact, it’s about an hour’s drive away in the city of Charleroi, and far closer to France than it is to the nation’s capital. If this was any other airline, I’d be less than enthused, but Ryanair sold this return ticket for a mere £16 (C$27).

Thanks to the decline of the British Pound against the Canadian Dollar since my flight to Denmark, this meant Ryanair brought me on a 1 hour and 20 minute flight to Belgium and back for less than what Air Canada charged me to select my seat to London Heathrow back in January. Being dropped off an hour outside Brussels was a little inconvenient, and meant we had to catch a bus. I didn’t really mind this however because the bus was pretty inexpensive, and I got the chance to see some of the Belgian countryside.

Pushback at Liverpool John Lennon Airport
Final approach to Brussels South Charleroi Airport

Totals

  • Fights taken: 6
  • Time in the air: 7 hours 40 minutes
  • Distance travelled: 3,700 km
  • Countries visited: 3
  • Total cost: £56 (C$97.00)
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Obviously there are some sacrifices that need to be made when you fly Ryanair, especially at the ultra low prices I did. You don’t get to choose your seat, there’s no meal or drink service onboard, and you’re only allowed to bring a personal item onto the plane. Seeing as all my trips were short haul flights, and a total 3-4 days away maximum, none of this was an issue for me. I was able to stuff plenty enough clothes and toiletries inside my small backpack, and even had enough space to bring back small souveniers. Attach a water bottle to the side of the bag and you even have a container to bring water onto the plane aswell.

Just make sure you remember to empty it before going through security in Dublin or an Irish guard might make you chug the whole bottle in front of the entire terminal in an impromptu drinking competition. (Hilarious, but indeed not my finest moment)

If you can get past all of this, as I mentioned earlier, you’ll find that Ryanair has a lot to love.

For starters, they generally fly at off-peak times, meaning that the airports are quieter, security is smoother, and taxiing is far faster. With no large luggage, you don’t have to scramble to get to the airport early to check your bags, or wait for them at the carousel at your destination. Getting onto your flight is far less painless and very quick aswell because Ryanair does dual boarding, meaning everyone enters the plane from both the front and rear doorsat the same time, depending on where your seat is located within the aircraft.

Every airline should do this!

My alloted personal item

All of this combined means that not a single one of my flights with Ryanair was delayed or late. Always on time, and even sometimes early. Remember, for a fraction of the cost of a traditional airline. They even play a cool jingle on the plane to announce the accomplishment!

If you’re worried about getting stuck in a randomly allocated middle seat, well yeah, that’s going to happen. I mean you paid $15 for the ticket, what did you expect? In all seriousness, I only had to sit in the middle seat twice. Your odds are pretty good at getting either a window or an aisle seat, and there are usually enough open spots you can move around to find something you like anyways. You likely won’t be able to sit next to your friends or family, but I found this was a really unique opportunity to chat with all sorts of new people from around the world.

The Leg room is adequate (I’m 6 ft tall) and the seat width isn’t that bad either. Again, you paid 3 rocks and a flake of dust to be taken across the continent, how much complaining can you really do? You might even get lucky like I was and end up being moved to an emergency row to enjoy the extra leg room, or be asked to move to the first row of the plane for balacing reasons. There’s no inflight entertainment, which is to be expected, and an issue that is easily solved by downloading movies, music and TV shows onto your phone.

In the middle seat Flying to Denmark
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Waiting to board my flight back to Liverpool at Dublin Airport.

I’m back in Canada now, and I legitimately miss Ryanair. It’s not one giant nightmare like the internet and other travellers might have you believe. There’s a good chance you might be pleasently suprised. Sure there are compromises, but Ryanair is a what you see is what you get kind of airline that allowed me the freedom to explore more of Europe at an incredibly low price. It gave me the ability to use more of my money to enjoy the actual destination rather than burning it all just to get there. When it comes down to it, as an exchange student trying to maximize my budget, Ryanair gave me everything I asked for and more, and that’s not something you can say about every airline.

For this reason, and many more, Ryanair has become one of my favourite, if not my favourite airlines.


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 content! If you’re looking to connect, make sure to follow me on YouTube, Redbubble, InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest!

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The Cathedrals of Liverpool (Roman Catholic vs. Anglican)

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1. Liverpool Roman Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral

Quick Facts:

  • Height: 84.86 m (278.41 feet); Diameter: 59.43 m (195.98 feet)
  • Construction began in 1962 and was completed in 1967
  • The cathedral is made of conrete and features an aluminum covered roof
The Steps leading to the main entrance of the Metropolitan Cathedral
The view from the top of the steps (Hey, I can see my residence from here!)

The Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral is the seat of the Roman Catholic church in Liverpool. It’s located in the Knowledge Quater of the city, about a 10 minute walk from Liverpool Central Station. I got to know this cathedral very well as it was directly across the street from my student residence at the University of Liverpool while I was on my international study exchange.

I only ever went inside once, hense the rather limited pictures below, but it served as a beacon to lead me home anywhere I was in the city. Although exactly what you would expect of architecture from the 1960s, the exterior of the building is rather unique for a religous construction of this size, at least in my experience.

The interior of the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral is a massive circle. Your immediate attention is pulled to the height of the ceiling, and the stained glass windows high above your head. There are 13 chapels lining the circumfrence of the main room, and an endless sea of pews leading to the alter at the front.

Inside of the Cathedral
Stained glass windows in the roof of the cathedral

The most memorable part of the cathedral for me were the bells and their ability to disturb my sleep on many mornings over the course of 5 months living across the street from them. While they sounded great, the bells had a tendency to go on for a very long time, and at very inconvenient times in the morning.

Entrance is free, although donations are encouraged. If you’re visiting Liverpool and happen to be in the area, definitely take the time to visit the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral. Otherwise, in my opinion and as you’ll see below, the Liverpool Cathredral is worth more of a visit and your time.

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2. Liverpool Anglican Cathedral

Quick Facts:

  • Construction began in 1904 and didn’t finish until 1978
  • Height: 100.8 m (331 ft); Length: 188.67 m (619 ft)
  • Among a number of records, it is the longest cathedral in the world, and the largest Anglican cathedral in the world. It is also the fifth largest by volume in the world.
Liverpool Catheral as seen from the parking lot

I visited the Liverpool Cathedral 3 times during my time living and study at the University of Liverpool. Once by myself and another 2 times with visiting family and friends. Built in the gothic revival style of architecture, I think it’s fair to say the Liverpool Cathedral is a much more impressive structure than its Roman Catholic counterpart. The sheer scale of the building dominates the surrounding skyline, and the interior of the building is just as grand.

There’s lots to explore inside, including your typical religious artifacts, tombs, ornate stained glass windows and a grand altar. Tucked away within the back corner of the main cathedral is The Lady Chapel, the first part of the structure to be completed. There’s also a cafe with plenty of seating available in the centre of the building, and a small gift shop as well.

The exterior’s impressive gothic arches
The interior of the cathedral. The cafe can be seen in the left of the picture
Looking down the centre of the cathedral towards the altar
The Cathedral features towering stained glass windows
A close up view of the altar
The Lady Chapel, the oldest part of the Cathedral

Outside Liverpool Cathedral you’ll find St. James’ Gardens. Originally used as a cemetary with more than 57,000 burials, it was closed in 1936 when the land was deemed full. It was then converted into a public garden and greenspace in 1972, meaning all the gravestones had to be relocated. Many of these gravestones now line the exterior perimeter of the park and date back to the early 19th century. I found it really interesting reading the inscriptions, the names of the deceased, and when they lived and died. With the backdrop of the massive cathedral looming overhead, it really is a unique place to visit and go for a walk.

Entrance to the Liverpool Cathedral and St. James’ Gardens are free, although donations are encouraged. It is located in the Georgian Quater of the city, and while it is a 17 minute walk from Liverpool Central Station, (a little futher away from the city centre than the Roman Catholic Cathedral) it is most definitely worth the walk to come and see.

A view of St. James’ Gardens with Liverpool Cathedral in the background
Gravestones line the entire exterior boundary of St. James’ Gardens
There is a looped walking path that winds its way around the gardens
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3. Honourable Mentions

No cathedral tour of Liverpool is complete without at least mentioning the hallowed grounds that each of the city’s beloved football teams play in and call home. I’m of course talking about Anfield and Goodison Park, the respective stadium’s of Liverpool F.C. and Everton F.C.

Anfield Stadium, Home of Liverpool F.C.
Goodison Park, Home of Everton F.C.

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Peck Lake Trail Review – Algonquin Provincial Park

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According to AllTrails, Peck Lake Trail is an easy 1.8 km, 30 minute loop that navigates the perimeter of Peck Lake in Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario. When I hiked Peck Lake Trail back in June of 2021, I was able to complete the trail in just over 35 minutes with a distance covered of 2.05 km. My fitness tracker noted a total ascent of 0.26 km and a total descent of 0.31 km.

While there are certainly more adventurous hikes to be found in Algonquin, Peck Lake Trail was a nice change of pace, similar in feel to the Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail. Because of this, I was able to fit in 2 more hikes on this day. First completing the Hardwood Lookout Trail, and then it’s neighbour the Red Spruce Side Trail.

As you’ll see in the pictures below, Peck Lake Trail offered plenty of scenery to look at including forested sections, boardwalks, lakeside paths, boggy areas, and rock outcrops. The trail was easy to follow and well maintained, with plenty of places to stop and take pictures and take in the beauty of the nature. All in all, it was a very enjoyable hike.

The entrance to Peck Lake Trail as seen through my bug stained windshield
Peck Lake Trail parking lot
Peck Lake trailhead
Closeup of the trailhead signpost
The meeting point of the loop, the trail starts right, going counter-clockwise around the lake
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[NEW VIDEO] Lakeside at Lake Louise, Banff National Park

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A short clip from my visit to one of the most photographed place in all of Canada: Lake Louise, Banff National Park. Video taken in September 2021.


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 content! If you’re looking to connect, make sure to follow me on YouTube, InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest, as well as my store on Redbubble for wall art, custom phone cases, stickers and more!

*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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Thailand Travel Journal – Day 1: In Transit

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*This post was originally published on November 14th, 2020, and is being re-published today as the next installments in this series will be coming shortly. I wanted to refresh the memory of those who have already read it, and give some context to everyone else who may be new to Seeking Saudades since it’s original posting date. Thanks for reading, and enjoy!*


In February of 2020, I went on a family vacation to Thailand. As most of you know, this was shortly prior to the global shutdown to limit the spread of COVID-19. Although the virus was on our minds, we were luckily able to experience the beauty of Thailand relatively without issue. Aside from the early implementation of health measures in airports, and a few more people wearing masks out in public, it was pretty much life as usual.

Still in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, and with little signs of global travel returning to normal, I thought it would be a good idea to take a trip down memory lane and recount my 7 days of travel; my first to Thailand, and Southeast Asia.

Day 1: In Transit Toronto, Ontario (YYZ) to Bangkok, Thailand (BKK) via Seoul, South Korea (ICN)

I remember this being a very long travel day. The entire trip would consist of 2 different flights: one 14 hour 20 minute leg from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport to Seoul’s Incheon International Airport, and one 6 hour leg from Seoul to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport. There was one 3 hour layover in-between flights and by the end of the journey a total of 20 hours would be spent in the air.

I arrived at Pearson 3 hours early for my 1:35 p.m. flight. It was my first solo flight, and the longest one of my life at that. This trip was a family vacation that took place during my reading week at University, and unfortunately I had an exam the day our flight was supposed to leave. I couldn’t get my exam moved so we had to push my flight back by a day. My parents decided that they would continue on and make sure our Airbnb didn’t go to waste, and as such I was left to traverse halfway around the world on my lonesome.

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While I had done quite a fair bit of travelling growing up, I always had someone else to rely on to make sure that the correct documents were in order, we got where to we needed to be on time, and that I didn’t forget to pack anything.

So when my brother’s car pulled away from the curb and left me at the departures gate, I had a moment of minor panic. It was brief, but it all started to feel very real to me, and the task of the long day ahead of me really set in.

I checked in for my flight, fumbled with the baggage drop off, and went through security fairly quickly. At this point in the pandemic nothing had really changed in terms of air travel, at least in Canada, so all I really noticed were a few more staff members wearing masks, and a couple more complementary bottles of hand sanitizer than usual. I headed to my gate, sat down, and began the process of killing time. I charged my electronics, watched some TV, bought some snacks, ate lunch, and watched the planes out the window take off and land.

Just before boarding, I changed into my sweatpants and hoodie, took a sleeping pill (which never came even remotely close to working) and messaged my family group chat that I was boarding the plane. This would be the last contact I would have with the outside world until landing in South Korea.

Killing time before my flight at Toronto’s Pearson International

Once on the aircraft, an Air Canada Boeing 787-9, I made my way to my seat. I had booked an exit row about halfway down the cabin, and to my delight the middle seat was empty. That feeling when the doors close, and nobody is sitting next to you is a magical feeling. The gentleman sitting in the far left seat of the row put the tray table down beside us and we used the middle seat as an extra storage area and buffer for the duration of the flight. It was wonderful. Two armrests AND the window? Boy what a day.

We taxied onto the runway and took off right on time. Within a matter of minutes we were flying over the Muskoka region in central Ontario, and were treated to a view of frozen lakes and snow covered forests.

Lakes and forests locked in winter, somewhere over central Ontario
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In no time, we reached cruising altitude and the cabin crew were hastily handing out the in-flight service. I’ve yet to have a delicious meal on an airplane, so all I’ll say is that the ice cream desert was an effective way to clear the palate.

The lights dimmed, the window shades darkened, and I managed to fall asleep for the rest of the flight… Well, at least that’s what I wish I could say. I have quite the love-hate relationship with airplanes; I marvel at their engineering, yet I’m constantly terrified that something is going to go very wrong at any moment. This, in combination with the upright seating position and the noise of the jet engines mean that it’s nearly impossible for me to sleep on a plane.

While if given the choice I prefer to fly long-haul, it doesn’t mean that the experience is necessarily enjoyable for me.

Snow capped mountain ranges, Siberia / Northern China

So how did I spent the next 14 hours you ask?

Several movies, a couple of TV shows, and an unforgivable amount of virtual Poker. Being in the exit row helped though. I was able to stretch my legs all the way out, get up and move around every couple hours, and use the bathroom whenever I wanted. Naturally though, seeing as I woke up around 8 a.m. to make it to the airport on time, and then proceeded to spend 14 hours without sleep on the plane all while jumping through several time zones, I was absolutely mentally, physically, and emotionally destroyed on arrival. I actually felt pretty refreshed when we landed in Seoul, but by the time I boarded my next flight I was disoriented, confused, and ready to pass out.

Before the second leg could begin however, I had a layover to attend to.

A view fresh off the plane of the tarmac at Seoul Incheon International Airport
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Getting off the plane in South Korea came with a wakeup call: COVID-19 was serious, and the Koreans weren’t going to take any chances.

There were temperature sensors, questionnaires, and most jarring of all, the airport staff dressed in head to toe hazmat gear. They would check passports, and funnel arriving Chinese passport holders and travellers into their own respective line with another set of barriers to pass. Up to this point, I hadn’t been wearing a mask, and neither was most of my flight. But the second we saw all this commotion, most of us reached into our carry-ons and pulled out a mask to wear.

It felt like something out of a dystopian novel and quite frankly was kind of scary. Although we know a lot more about this virus now: who it affects, how deadly it is, how transmittable it may be, in February of 2020 it was a mystery still being unraveled in real time. It certainly changed my mindset about the possibility of this going global, however this thinking would be relatively short lived as my time in Thailand would come to give me a false sense of security.

But more on that later.

The moving sidewalks became very helpful in my sleepy daze

It was 4:30 pm when I cleared health inspection and security and besides a trip to the bathroom, my priority was to head to my gate to check up on social media and touch base with my parents. They had been in Bangkok now for almost a full day and were sending pictures of them out and about exploring the city. I was excited to join them, but dreaded the 6 hour flight that would be needed to get me there.

Waiting to board my next flight to Bangkok

It was after this point that most of my time at Seoul Incheon became a haze. I walked around for a little while to pass the time, but spent most of the layover sitting at the gate dozing in and out of sleep hoping I wouldn’t miss the flight. When it was finally time to board, it turned out that there was some sort of problem with my luggage and so I was pulled aside.

Between the language barrier and sleep deprivation I had no idea what was going on, and lucky for me they sorted it out without really needing my help. I figure I must have forgotten to put one of the baggage tracking stickers on my luggage, but I’ll never know.

The flight from Seoul to Bangkok was fairly empty, enough so that the two men sitting beside me got bumped up to first class and I had the row to myself. Finally able to stretch out into a somewhat comfortable position, and at the end of my brain function, I passed out just before take off.

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One of my favourite parts about travelling are those times when you’re fully immersed, and consciously take a moment realize where you are and what you’re doing. I was treated to one of those moments when I awoke from my sleep on the flight from Korea to Thailand.

I looked out my window and saw a point of land sticking out into the darkness of the South China Sea. There were at least a hundred lights dotting the inky blackness below, what could only be fishing boats trawling the open waters. I glanced back towards the plane’s infotainment screen in front of me and realized that I was flying over the city of Da Nang, Vietnam.

To see Vietnam from the air for myself was a huge moment.

I created Seeking Saudades to document my journeys, tell a few stories, and to inspire others to seek out and act on their own feelings of Saudades — the things you long for and yearn to do in your life.

For me, that’s travel.

In the moment that I realized I was flying over Vietnam, and consciously immersed myself in that reality, I felt like I had actually found my Saudades.

Da Nang, Vietnam from the window of my flight

The rest of the flight was relatively routine.

The cabin crew was kind enough to leave me some snacks and water while I slept, and later gave me Thai immigration forms to fill out. This was also a point of stress for me as I had always just copied what my parents had written down, and the last thing I wanted to do was get this far and run into trouble at the immigration booth.

It wasn’t long before we landed in Bangkok, and with a renewed energy I was excited to get off the plane. Unlike South Korea, there was an absence of COVID-19 checkpoints, and health inspection were based primarily on the honour system. Thailand was less serious about the virus at this point, and that would continue to be a theme throughout my time in the country. In hindsight, they probably should have been more vigilant, but I’m kind of glad they weren’t because it would turn out to be the last time life would be “normal” for the foreseeable future, as we would all come to discover

The city lights of Bangkok on approach to BKK
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Walking towards immigration, Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Bangkok Thailand

It was about 1 o’clock a.m. when I got through Thai immigration and met up with the driver that my parents had set up for me.

I was so excited to finally be in Thailand that I forgot to properly read the laminated sign that he was holding up. My brain was distracted, on autopilot, and apparently decided that this guy’s sign looked close enough to my last name so it had to be my driver. He grabbed my luggage and we headed to the parking garage, and it wasn’t until we were on the highway that I had the sudden realization that I screwed up and could be in for trouble. By this point it was too late to do anything about it as the driver didn’t speak a word of English, and the only Thai I could remember was “thank you”.

Other than thinking about how to explain to my parents that I got kidnapped within 5 minutes of being in the country, I couldn’t help but notice the blast of heat hitting my face when I stepped outside the airport for the first time.

It was -13 degrees Celsius (9 F) in Toronto when I left, and it was 27 degrees Celsius (80 F) in Bangkok when I arrived for a total temperature swing of 40 degrees. Talk about a shock to the body.

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Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram to see pictures from my travels!

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After about an hours journey, I was driven into the basement parking garage of a building and dropped off next to an elevator. I grabbed my stuff, said thank you to the driver and watched as he vanished into the night.

There would be no kidnappings tonight.

I went up the elevator, found the right apartment, and was greeted by my parents after an incredibly long day of travel. We exchanged stories, I made some food (Ham & Cheese), toured the apartment, and went up to the roof for my first look at the Bangkok skyline.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit I didn’t really do that much research on Bangkok before I arrived, and so I was surprised by the sheer amount of skyscrapers I saw. The city smelled clean, the noise wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be, and it was far more developed than I originally gave it credit for. The trip was off to a great start.

I was antsy to get out and explore what this metropolis had to offer, but for now , it was time to get some well needed sleep in a proper bed.

Thanks to my exam the day prior, I only had one full day in Bangkok and I wanted to ensure I would be fully rested in order to make the most out of my limited time. And so, I had a quick shower before getting under the covers, and fell asleep almost instantly to the rumbling sound of the overhead air conditioner.

The night time view that greeted me on arrival out the window of our Airbnb

In the next edition of this series, Thailand Travel Journal – Day 2: Bangkok, I explore the city of Bangkok. This day includes a guided tour, a river cruise, multiple Buddhist shrines and temples, and the world famous backpacker hub, Khaosan Road.


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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[Video] Stunning Views from Moraine Lake, Banff National Park

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Happy Wednesday!

I’m just checking in to inform you that I’ve published a new video on my YouTube channel, and if you read my last Photo Friday, you’ll find that this clip is essentially the video version of the picture I showcased in that post.

I just felt I had to share some more of those stunning views from Moraine Lake in beautiful Banff National Park.

Check it out below and enjoy!


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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