Tag Archives: Photography

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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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!


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*This blog was originally posted on seekingsaudades.com*

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Moraine Lake, Banff National Park – Photo Friday #17

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Welcome back to Photo Friday!

Earlier this month, I had the absolute pleasure of visiting one of the most beautiful places in the world: Moraine Lake, located in stunning Banff National Park, Alberta.

This visit was part of a cross-Canada road trip that spanned 9-days, 5 provinces, 7100 kilometres, and 75 hours worth of driving from my home province of Ontario to British Columbia. Looking back on this photo, and others from my time in the country’s oldest national Park, it’s still hard to believe that this was a real place.

The mountains seemed like they were CGI’d into the background, the water looked as though it was scooped up and delivered straight from the Bahamas, and the trees seemed to go on for eternity. I was only able to spend 24-hours in Banff before having to turn around and begin the long drive home, but it was worth every single second and penny that it took to get there…

…including the $1,300 emergency brake job I had to get in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, but that’s a story for another time.

See you next week!

Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada (ca. Sept. 2021)

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Algonquin Park Moose Encounter – Photo Friday #16

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Welcome back to Photo Friday!

This week, I’m sharing a video I took of one of the many (46 thus far!) moose encounters I’ve had in Algonquin Provincial Park this summer.

Taken in June 2021, I was lucky enough to have spotted a cow and her calf munching on some leaves for a midday snack. From where I was standing, the moose couldn’t have been more than 25 feet away, one of the closest encounters I’ve had to date.

Of course, moose can be extremely dangerous, especially if they feel threatened or are protecting their young. However, I was calmed by knowing that this particular mother had been raising her calves in the busy campgrounds of Algonquin Park for years, and had become relatively unbothered by humans in her presence.

While they may seen like elusive animals, spotting a moose in Algonquin Park is far easier than it may seem. I’ve encountered upwards of 70 in the past 2 summers! If you’re looking to see some moose of your own, be sure to keep an eye out for my Algonquin Park moose spotting guide here in the near future!


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Track and Tower Trail, Algonquin Park – Photo Friday #15

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Welcome back to Photo Friday!

This week’s picture was taken at the lookout on the Track and Tower Trail, located in Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada last month in June 2021.

The longest hike I’ve done this year, and certainly the most interesting, the Track and Tower Trail had a wide variety of historical stops, wooded paths, river crossings, and scenic lookouts. Keep an eye out for a full trail report here on seekingsaudades.com in the coming future.

In un-related news, I’ve finally received my second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, which means I’m fully vaccinated, Canada is closer to completely reopening, and international travel isn’t too far away either.

Exciting times ahead!

Track and Tower Trail, Algonquin Park, Ontario, Canada
Track and Tower Trail, Algonquin Park, Ontario, Canada (ca. June 2021)

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Phang Nga Bay, Thailand – Photo Friday #14

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Welcome back to Photo Friday!

One of the most memorable places I’ve been throughout my travels is Phang Nga Bay, Thailand. I visited here in February 2020 as part of a boat tour operated by a company called John Gray’s Sea Canoe, more specifically their Hong By Starlight experience. I’m definitely going to dedicate an entire post to this boat tour, because it’s one of those trips that sticks with you forever, but all you need to know for now was that it was absolutely incredible, and a must-do for anyone visiting Phuket.

For those unfamiliar with Phang Nga Bay, I like to think of it as Thailand’s version of the world famous Ha Long Bay, found in Vietnam. Stunning rock islands, sweeping ocean views, and amazing sunsets are all on the features list. It’s a magical place, and the scenery there is about as far away from what I’m used to seeing here in Canada, in the best way possible.

I can’t wait to go back someday.

See you next week!

Phang Nga Bay, Thailand
Phang Nga Bay, Thailand (ca. February 2020)

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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!


Thank you 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!

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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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