Tag Archives: blog

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.


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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)

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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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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Why You’ll Fall In Love With Japan

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If you’ve been lucky enough to have travelled to Japan, you know that it is a nation full of surprises.

On the surface, Japan is fairly normal. There are large sprawling cities, highly developed infrastructure, and familiar corporate brands not unlike you would find closer to home. This in part, is thanks to the nation’s post-war transition, and subsequent rise to become one of the world’s top economies. (Perhaps a discussion for another time)

But hidden beneath all of those familiarities lies something the Japanese have held onto for dear life: their way of life and unique culture.

One such aspect of this culture is the inherent respect that people have for one another. As a Canadian, we tend to have a global perception of politeness and tolerance in our society and while this is true to some degree, Japan just takes it to an entire other level.

When you arrive at your hotel, the staff handle your passports and credit cards like a newborn baby. Every time you enter a café, restaurant, or store you’re greeted like royalty. The service you receive in Japan is bar-none the best I’ve ever had in all of my travels, and nothing but the best is accepted by those who serve you. In fact, tipping in Japan is seen as rude. The Japanese see it as a pleasure, not an obligation to give you the best experience possible.

Kaminarimon (“Thunder Gate”), Sensō-ji Temple, Tokyo

This inherent respect translates to all areas of life, and are most noticeable in the mega-metropolis of Tokyo. The city streets are spotless despite there being a noticeable small number of garbage cans, the air smells clean and fresh, and in the 17 days I’ve spent in Japan I haven’t heard a single car horn.

Think about that for a second…

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The greater Tokyo area has a population of nearly 40 MILLION people. In any other large city you would be drowning in honking. When I asked a local about this, she was almost offended at the notion that a Japanese person would be as completely irrational as to honk in traffic. Japanese people genuinely care about each other, their environment, and how they can play a part in bettering the world they live in.

The mentality is very much society over the individual.

The best real-world example I can give of the deep rooted cultural tolerance, respect and politeness in Japanese culture is from an encounter I witnessed while waiting for a train in Kyoto in 2018.

Standing on the train platform looking across the tracks, I noticed two businessmen having a conversation. After a couple of minutes, the man on the left motioned to his watch and signaled that he had to leave. The two said goodbye to each other by bowing not once, not twice, not three times or four, but FIVE times back and forth. And these weren’t quick bows; they were slow and meticulous as if they were in the presence of royalty.

The man on the left turned and began to walk away before quickly bouncing back around as if he forgot to mention something. The businessmen talked for a couple of seconds before they began the arduous goodbye process all over again. Just like before they bowed several times, almost as if it was a competition to have the best form. The man on the left turned again and walked away for a short distance before realizing he had gone the wrong direction.

Tokyo, Japan. Not far from Tokyo Station.

He reversed his motion and as he walked past the other man, the two began to bow AGAIN. Each step he took he would stop, plant his feet and bow. It seemed to never end, and not until the two were 10 feet apart did they finally go their separate ways.

This whole goodbye process from start to finish had to have taken 3 or 4 minutes. I didn’t even spend that long saying goodbye to my parents when they dropped me off at University! The level of respect that the Japanese people have for one another and for those visiting their beautiful country is astounding, and quite frankly it opens your eyes to the almost barbaric nature of how we treat each other in North America.

To sum it all up, I could talk and write about everything I love about Japan for hours on end. The culture, the people, the food, and the sights all combine to make the nation somewhere I could return to time and time again. It truly is a special travel destination that never fails to give.

Unfortunately, my words don’t come nearly close enough to articulating just how memorable it is. It’s just something you’ll have to discover for yourself.


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

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About Me

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Places I’ve Been:

For a detailed list, click here.

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

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

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

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

The quest to find Saudades is a long one!

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