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Explaining the Unexplainable at Devil's Night

Escape Manor in Regina, Saskatchewan celebrates Halloween a little differently than most places. While some people embrace Halloween, most don't try to actively contact spirits. But, Escape Manor, alongside Jeff Richards of APTN's The Other Side, does just that.

Every October 30th Escape Manor and Jeff Richards host Devil's Night, a night dedicated to solving escape rooms and contacting the deceased.

I wrote a lot about ghosts and ghouls on my blog, but I have never seen a ghost. Like how I've never seen a kangaroo, I believe they exist although I have never verified it personally. Jeff made an excellent point when discussing this during Devil's Night. The human brain will try to piece together the unexplainable with rational thoughts. Why did the bell ring? Where did the voices come from? Why was there a strange shadow? We will try to rationalise any paranormal event until it makes sense, even if it doesn't.

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5 Spooky Stories from Around the World

Who doesn't love a good ghost story? Over the past few years I've visited some spooky and unusual places around the world and I've heard my fair share of ghost stories. Every culture has their own stories and it's interesting – and terrifying – to hear them. I don't claim to be an expert in the paranormal, but some people consider me their "go-to guy" for anything spooky.

Because of this, the folks over at invaluable.com sent me their article about 15 Chilling Folktales, Traditions, and Objects from Around the World to take a look at. I absolutely loved it, so I thought I would expand on some of their stories and reprint a handful of them here.  

Some of their stories I've heard before, like the Headless Horseman or the Terracotta Army, but some I have not. I tried to pick some lesser known ones for this article, but you may know some of them anyway. Let me know in the comments how many you knew.

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Journey to Spookytown

Imagine a town full of zombies, ghouls, ghosts and spooks, all living in harmony. It's tough to wrap your head around (unless your name is Linda Blair) but that's exactly what you'll find in Spookytown – a miniature Halloween village, created by Jessica Nuttall.

Spookytown began in 2004 with the purchase of Castle Blackstone. This towering fortress began a 14+ year passion to build a community for the living, dead and undead to coexist together. After Castle Blackstone came the construction of the cemetery, the business district and then the "spooky" end of town, which holds the magnificent Victorian Mansion. The town includes hotels, cathedrals, restaurants, cafes, museums and a grain elevator. The town is like any other small town during the day – quiet, peaceful and relatively pleasant, but once night falls, Spookytown becomes a creepy village full of flashing lights, blood curdling screams and eerie music.

When asked about the population of Spookytown, Nuttall answered "Dead or alive?", followed by a mischievous smile. A quick headcount found about 75 spooks hidden among the village's dozen buildings, but that might not include the ones living in the buildings or sleeping within their coffins.

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Jack Keaton's Review: Spend Your Time Somewhere Else

I rarely give a bad review of a restaurant. I try my best to always give companies and restaurants the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes things don't happen exactly as they should in the kitchen, and as somebody who is culinary challenged, I totally understand this.

But, a restaurant isn't just about food. It's also about class.

And that's what Jack Keaton's BBQ and Bar doesn't have.

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Fort Fright: Canada's Scariest Haunted House

A few years ago, my girlfriend and I travelled to Milestone, Saskatchewan, a small town about an hour south of Regina. Out of all the buildings in Milestone, the largest is the historic Milestone Homestead, which is a former hotel that now operates as a bar. That year the community had come together and transformed the upper levels of the hotel into a spooky haunted house. Although it was a volunteer community project, it was fairly well done – at least from what I saw. Most of my time in the house was spent cowering behind Jessica with my eyes closed as she led the way. But, after we got out, and Jessica told me it was safe to open my eyes, I admitted it wasn't that scary at all.

Then I asked if we could go home and never do it again.

One year later I travelled to Kingston, Ontario to take in one of the scariest Halloween attractions in Canada. Not only is Kingston a lively and beautiful city, it's also plagued by the supernatural. From haunted bars to alleyways, hotels to houses and cemeteries to penitentiaries, there are plenty of creepy stories to go around.

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Blogger Interview: Dates in the States

Earlier this year I was featured on Dates In the States, an American-based travel blog. They interview various different bloggers to share their travel stories so I was really excited when they approached me. It was a pleasure to work with Crystal and Shane and I love their work, so I thought I would return the favour and interview them back.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself, your blog and how it all got started.

My name is Crystal and I am the writer and creator of Dates in the States. Shane, my boyfriend, is the brains and helps me come up with the content and ideas. Without him, Dates in the States wouldn't be where it is now! We've recently grown our social media exponentially, created an online course, and a Patreon Membership for our followers.

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A Paranormal Investigation into Boards n Beans

As much I love travelling the world, my absolute favourite thing is all the creepy, spooky stories that come along with it. If there is a dark story, I'm always keen to write about it. But, to be honest, although I've travelled to many of the world's most disturbing places, I've never had a ghostly encounter. I've never taken a picture of a ghost, I've never seen one, I've never heard one, nothing at all.

But, that doesn't mean I don't believe in ghosts. I would absolutely love to catch evidence of a ghost sometime. So, when Alyson Ford, Matt Lay and Cory Nagy of Paranormal and Supernatural Team Saskatchewan (PAST) reached out to see if I wanted to join them for an investigation I immediately jumped at the chance. We would also be joined by Justin Henry, a new member to the organization. I've chatted with PAST a few times over the past year, so I was excited to spend a night with them. For this investigation they would spend a night at one of Regina's most popular board game cafes, Boards n Beans, on 1840 Rose Street.

PAST's philosophy is to not only document hauntings, but also help the people that are being affected. Often hauntings can be caused by either bringing in negative spiritual energy, or by having underlying issues like anxiety, insomnia, depression or addiction. External elements can cause supposed hauntings too, like an over exposure to Wi-Fi or electricity.  PAST goes into to prove hauntings, but also to bring solace to those who want to know what's really going on around them.

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What to See and Do in Riding Mountain National Park

There is a change in the air. T-shirts are being replaced by bunny hugs and coffees are being replaced by pumpkin spice lattes. For a few weeks, the air is crisp, the skies are blue, and the trees are on fire with orange, red and yellow leaves. Autumn has finally arrived to the prairies.

To celebrate this, I recently attended a trip to Riding Mountain National Park (RMNP) alongside Tim Johnson of Tim Johnson Travels and Marc Smith of Marc My Travels. It was made possible by our tireless organizers Guy Theriault and Megan Dudeck of Parks Canada and Reba Lewis of Travel Manitoba.

This was my first time to ever spend a night in a national park, so I was very excited to try out an oTENTik. For those who have never stayed in one before, oTENTik are a glamping enthusiast's dream. The "missing link" between a tent and cottage, these fully electric cloth buildings have a built-in heater and one third of them have a stove. The weather was still warm when we were in the park, so we opted not to use the stove, but we were told that in the winter – yes, you can glamp in the winter! – these make the tents nice and cosy.

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Five Things Not to Miss in Lethbridge

Written by Paula Worthington.

It's hard to pick just five great attractions in a city made for exploring. For too long, Lethbridge has been seen as a "drive through" city, but in recent years, it has confidently put itself on the map as a destination in its own right.

Here are five not-to-miss attractions on your next visit to Lethbridge:

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Where to Golf in Lethbridge, Alberta

I'll be the first to admit I'm not a good golfer. I don't know my putters very well, I don't know my own driving strength and for some reason I tend to always hit the ball into the water, the sand pit or a tree. But, just because I'm not very good at it doesn't mean I don't enjoy it.

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to visit two golf courses while in Lethbridge. One was Evergreen Golf Centre, a family-friendly golf course, and the other was Paradise Canyon Golf Resort, a picturesque course sitting in the edge of Oldman River.

Looking for a golfing getaway? Lethbridge is your perfect place to stay and play!

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My Review of a Cricket Poutine

If this wasn't a travel blog, it would probably be a food blog. I love visiting restaurants, reviewing food and sharing my experience with others. I'm also very picky about food, so I won't say that good food is bad, or bad food is good.

That being said, I love to try new food. I don't always like it, but I love growing my culinary palate. While travelling the world I've had some strange food encounters, like raw horse (yum), ox tongue (yum), boiled eggplant (yum, unless you mistook it as a chocolate cupcake, in which case not yum) and, the one I am most known for, dog duck (very yum).

But, throughout all my travels, the one thing I've always wanted to try was bugs. By bugs I don't mean raw earthworms pulled from my parent's garden. Those are gross and have chunky dirt inside them and they don't taste very good. Instead, I mean prepared bugs. Bugs that have been fried or baked or turned into paste and put onto crackers. Think "Grasshopper and Strawberry Jam" bugs; that kind of thing.

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Should We Tear Down Statues?

About a year and a half ago I visited Kyiv, Ukraine. As I walked down the millennium old streets and gawked at the towering cathedrals, I saw the beginnings of a new country, one that was slowly rebuilding from a much darker time. The process of what I was seeing had a name. It was called decommunization.

Decommunization is the process of removing all symbols of Communism from countries once under Soviet control. This is happening in Germany, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus and even in places like Kazakhstan, where the capital city was moved and rebuilt.

Decommunization includes renaming architecture, changing laws and protocols, and even tearing down monuments. People's Friendship Arch in Kyiv, for example, which symbolised the friendship between the Communist East and the Capitalist West, was torn down. Some statues, like war memorials, are exempt, but there is still talk of making modifications to them. Anywhere you go throughout the former Soviet Union, the hammer and sickle are being removed – not from history, but from modern society.

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Saskatchewan's Largest Urbex Playground

There is only one rule when it comes to visiting abandoned places: don't tell anybody where you went. This rule isn't well known by people outside of the urbex community, but it's universal within it. The less people that visit an abandoned location, the more natural the state of decay, and the less chance of it being burnt down by thrill seekers.

Due to the status of this building, however, I feel safe to break that rule.

La Colle Falls Hydroelectric Dam is about 45 minutes east of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. I feel comfortable telling you this because this dam is a well-known, century-old, multi-million-dollar failure. The purpose of the dam was to use the roaring North Saskatchewan River to power the then young city of Prince Albert and lead it into the 20th Century. The city was expected to expand astronomically in the next few years, but due to the dam failing, the city nearly fell into bankruptcy.

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First Nations Heritage Sites in Alberta

Ever since visiting the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg last summer, I've wanted to include more about First Nations culture on my blog. Being of European descent, I often feel I am culturally blind to First Nations culture, and I noticed a severe lack of it in my writing. In fact, I feel in past articles a lot of my focus has been on European history in the New World, with only a side note regarding First Nations history. Now, I am trying for there to be more equal representation in my blog.

To finish off my #BucketlistAB series, I thought this article would be the perfect place to flip the tables, and instead focus on First Nations culture, with a European side note. Sometimes it is impossible to talk about one without the other, but I tried to focus more on the First Nations people and their story in this article. Please let me know what you think in the comments below.

Stay a Night & See a Sight. Build your #BucketlistAB.

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Where to Experience Alberta's Wild West Heritage

Just over a year ago I wrote an article about the glockenspiel that once stood in downtown Regina. I had fond memories of the glockenspiel as a child and was sad when they took it down to renovate the park. I was even more sad when they didn't put it back up, and I was angry when I discovered it was sitting in a junkyard (sorry, outdoor "storage facility") for the past ten years. That article got a lot of attention, from both the public, the city and the press. Today, efforts are being made to restore the bell back to its original location.

I'm telling you this because preserving heritage – may it be a 25-year-old bell, or a fourth century building – is important. Without heritage, we lose who we are. Often, the desire to move society forward steps over the heritage and causes it to get lost. As impressive as tall glass buildings might be, nothing is better than a smoky red brick structure.

 Saskatchewan is beginning to realize how important this is – and thankfully it's happening now and not in a few decades after everything is gone. But, our neighbours have been on the heritage preservation band train for several years now, especially in Alberta.

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Six Attractions You Must Visit in Southern Alberta

If you're visiting Alberta this summer, you probably have your heart set on visiting the mountains. After all, places like Lake Louise, Banff, Waterton and now Castle Provincial Park are some of the most beautiful sites in Canada, and they're always a hit on Instagram (if you're into that kind of thing). But, between Regina and the mountains is a whole province with plenty of sights to explore.

Last year I took more trips than I could count to southern Alberta, but most of them ended near Medicine Hat. Had I gone a bit further, I would have found myself in a myriad of attractions to see, from historical museums to sites of natural disasters and just about everything in-between.

For those looking to make a few stops on their way to the Rocky Mountains, or for those who are just looking for an Alberta road trip, here are six attractions you must visit while in southern Alberta.

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Five Historic Alberta Highlights

If you follow my blog, you know I love history. History is what makes us who we are today. It defines our accomplishments and highlights our failures. Most importantly, it helps us move forward as a society.

A lot of my focus is Saskatchewan's history, but there's plenty of amazing history to be told in our neighbour province of Alberta too. From First Nations culture, through to early pioneers, the oil boom and the legacy the province today, there is always something to learn about when visiting Alberta.

Stay a Night & See a Sight, build your #BucketlistAB.

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Where to Embrace Nature in Alberta

After a long, dark, frigid winter, Canadians love the few months of summer we get every year. Once the snow melts and the mud dries, we are out hiking, picnicking, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, climbing and exploring this wonderful country of ours.

Of all the provinces to explore, Alberta ranks at the top of many adventurers' list. From hoodoos to waterfalls, mountains to valleys, deserts to tundra and everything in-between, Alberta offers any outdoorsman the perfect place to embrace nature.

To stay a night & see a sight, here is help to live out your next #BucketlistAB adventure.

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Four Places to Escape the Heat in Southern Alberta

For many of us in Saskatchewan, summer means it's time for an Alberta road trip. Although the endless stretches of prairie have their appeal, there is nothing quite like seeing the mountains rising over the horizon.

One challenge that comes with taking a summer road trip is the heat. Much like on this side of the border, it isn't uncommon for summer temperatures to get to the extreme. I know a few people who have had car problems in the heat, and my family is one of them. Nothing ruins a trip more than an unexpected visit to the mechanic.  

Thankfully, Alberta has a myriad of places to go swimming, kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding or fishing. This not only gives your vehicle time to cool off, but also gives you a chance to escape the heat as well.

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Planning Your Alberta Bucketlist Biking Adventure

Most people know how to ride a bicycle. They learned sometime as a child and never forgot. I am not one of those people. I tried learning when I was a child, a teenager and an adult, and I have never mastered the two-wheel contraption. Whenever I see a child zip past me on a bike, I get a little jealous inside. I've always wanted to learn, but it's just something I've never been able to do. 

On my recent trip to Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, Alberta, I explored several of the many biking paths that wind through the area. The paths are also hikable, so I walked them instead. Although I've visited Cypress Hills several times, I never get used to the hills and lakes throughout the area. With dozens of kilometres of trails, you can spend a weekend there and never do the same thing twice. Although hiking around the park was incredible, I imagine it would be a lot more fun, and a lot easier, to bike it instead.

Beyond biking, there's plenty of other things to see in Cypress Hills too, like canoeing, stand-up paddle boarding, disc golfing, and comfort camping.

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8 Easy Steps to Start Your Own Blog

When I started my blog, I wanted a place to tell stories. I wanted a place where I could keep memories and show them off for people later. My earliest entries on my blog are from 2011 (published in 2014), right after my trip to Europe. They're messy, they lack detail, and they are full of inaccuracies. Not the mention the wretched photography.

So, there's only been a slight improvement since then. Hahahahaha.

Four years later, my blog has become my hobby, my joy, my escape and my work. I spend hours writing content for my blog. I spend hours editing pictures, researching details, and adjusting content for SEO (search engine optimization). It's a full-time gig, and just the other day I published my 200th article. After 200 times of doing something, you'd think the articles would get easier, but they really don't. Each one is unique unto itself, and each one is a special time in my life that I shared with my readers.

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Exploring Historic Roche Percée

Summer has finally arrived, and with that comes my favourite thing: impromptu Saskatchewan road trips!

The first place on my list to visit this summer was Roche Percée. I first heard of Roche Percée on Instagram where I saw a picture of unique rock formations. Normally rock formations like this are in Alberta, closer to Drumheller, so I was surprised to find them in my own backyard. I did a quick search online to see where they were, and I learned they were only about 2 hours south of Regina, just past Estevan.

"Roche Percée" is French for "pierced rock" and is named after these unique rock formations. Upon visiting them, you can see the rocks very much do look like they've been pierced by some divine entity. Due to their appearance, these rocks were regarded by local First Nation tribes as being sacred, and they often carved symbols into the malleable sandstone.

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Quebec Highlights - My Ford EcoSport Adventure

The sun had long set when we crossed the border into Quebec. While we didn't see the official border crossing sign, once the bilingual road signs switched to French, we knew we had entered the final leg of our journey.

This is the third time I've been to Quebec, so I'm used to French signage. In fact, non-English signs are something I've grown accustomed to over the years. I've gotten plenty lost down streets with German, Italian, Austrian, Dutch, Japanese and Chinese names, so French wasn't anything different. For Krystal though, this was a whole new experience. She found the signs disconcerting and often googled what the translated version of them might be. Suddenly even commonplace words like "road" or "stop" were foreign to her.

When we arrived in Riviere-du-Loup it was 1:30 AM Quebec time, so it felt like 2:30 AM New Brunswick time. I'm used to late nights, but Krystal lives with two children and has a full-time job so staying up this late is something she wasn't used to. When we arrived at our hotel, Auberge de la Pointe, Krystal was ecstatic to find our room was not only spacious but also had heat. After two cold nights in PEI and New Brunswick, having a warm room to spend the night was a luxury we didn't know we needed.

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New Brunswick Highlights - My Ford EcoSport Adventure

When we finally arrived in New Brunswick, the sun had started to set. Within in an hour, the skies darkened and it began to rain. The clock on our dash said it was close to 11 PM, and we still had over an hour left to drive.

Back in 2010 my mother and I went to New Brunswick for a quick visit before hopping back to Nova Scotia. We were running short on time – kind of like I would be eight years later – so we just took a picture near the New Brunswick sign and turned around. This time, under the cloak of darkness and rain, we didn't even do that.

Driving at night and during the day are completely different. In the day you can see where you are going, and somewhat place yourself in the vastness of an area. At night you're a single glowing aura in a sea of darkness.

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Prince Edward Island Highlights - My Ford EcoSport Adventure

My recent trip to Prince Edward Island was more-or-less a return trip to Canada's smallest province. Back in 2010, instead of going to Grade 12 Graduation, I asked my parents if we could go on a trip to the East Coast instead. While in PEI we visited Cavendish, Green Gables, Avonlea and West Point Lighthouse, along with a lot of other quirky spots along the way. It was a fantastic experience, and one we talk about to this day. 

Fast forward eight years and I found myself in PEI again, but this time with my sister. When I visited the island in 2010, we took a ferry across from Nova Scotia, but this time we flew right into Charlottetown. We were picked up by Denis, our Ford Canada representative, and were shown our sparkling new Ford EcoSport.

(For those who want to read more about the Ford EcoSport, check out my earlier article.)

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Charlottetown to Quebec City - My Ford EcoSport Adventure

Last week Ford Canada flew my sister Krystal and I out to Prince Edward Island to take part in their Cross-Canada #FordEcoSport Tour. We were only the fifth of fifteen groups that will take part in the tour, so be sure to follow the hashtag to see what everybody is getting up to as well.

Our section of the tour was probably one of the longest in the program, as we had to drive from Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island to Saint John, New Brunswick, then to Rivière-du-Loup, Quebec and ending in Quebec City. The whole distance is about 1,020 kilometres, which is about 10 hours of driving, assuming we didn't stop to see anything along the way.

But, naturally, we stopped plenty.

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How to Save Money and Travel the World

One of the most frequent questions I get asked – after "When is your next big trip?" – is how I can afford to travel so often. It can be tough to make ends meet, even with a fixed income. For a lot of people, the idea of saving up for a trip means making lifestyle sacrifices. It means going out for supper less, going to less movies, and spending less time out on the town.

For other people – especially younger people who are already struggling financially – this isn't even an option. They already make sacrifices to make ends meet. For a lot of today's youth, buying weekly groceries simply isn't possible. Telling them to spend less on luxury items isn't going to help them, since they already can't afford basic necessities. Not buying a $5 coffee every day isn't going to solve their problems, since they can't afford a $5 coffee to begin with.

I know this because I'm one of these people. I struggle to make ends meet, but I'm doing a lot better now than when I was fully employed. I can afford rent, go out for food once or twice a week, and I have a little bit extra to spend at the end of the month. This article isn't meant to tell people how if they just stop buying avocados they can afford a house in five years. This is a legitimate article about how to save money to travel the world. So, how do you do it?

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Shopping Trip to Moose Jaw

A few weeks ago Jessica and I decided to go on a shopping trip to Moose Jaw. Now that the snow is gone and the roads aren't so messy, I plan to get back on the road more often. I also took this opportunity to try out some video creation. After seeing some of the awesome content people like The Saskatchewanderer are putting out, I decided to try it out for myself.

Moose Jaw is about 45 minutes west of Regina, and is famous in Saskatchewan for its old brick architecture, small-town vibe and myriad of underground tunnels. Two tunnels tours exist in Moose Jaw. One is based around the famous gangster Al Caopne (whose cell I visited while in Eastern State Penitentiary) and the other is about Chinese immigrants who were forced underground by the Canadian government's "head-tax". Both tours are fascinating and I've done both several times. While we visited them on this trip, we didn't actually go on any the tours.

Although Regina is a larger city that Moose Jaw, downtown Regina lacks the quirky mom-and-pop shops you'll find in Moose Jaw. For the past few decades, much of downtown Regina has been transformed into either banks or big box stores, all which pushed the smaller boutique shops away. The past few years have seen a resurgence of them, but there isn't nearly as many as there used to be. Moose Jaw, on the other hand, has very few big box stores in its downtown area and still has scores of quirky boutique shops and restaurants.

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Meet Your 2018 Saskatchewanderer

Every year Tourism Saskatchewan hires somebody new for their "Saskatchewanderer" position. This individual will visit the far corners of our province, exploring caves, lakes, hills, cliffs, deserts, coves, prairies and even the skies above us. Every year I also reach out to the Saskatchewanderer and learn a bit about them.

Just like how Tourism Saskatchewan likes to mix up where the Saskatchewanderer visits each year, they also like to mix up the person they hire. A few years back they hired Ashlyn George, a teacher turned travel-blogger who has since visited every continent in the world. After that they hired Neil Fisher, a tech expert who worked at the Vancouver Aquarium. Last year they chose Andrew Hiltz, a Saskatchewan-born and raised bartender who had returned from Vancouver. This year they chose somebody different, who's love for Saskatchewan comes from a desire to see what's beyond the city limits. He's a casual traveller who decided to explore the province on weekends and ended up with the best job in the world.

I would like to introduce you to your 2018 Saskatchewanderer, Kevin Dunn.

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Has My Opinion on Innsbruck Changed?

Long before I started my blog, many, many years ago, I visited Innsbruck, Austria. I was on a Contiki trip through Europe and visited a plethora of locations such as Rome, Paris, Amsterdam, Venice, Lucerne and Innsbruck, just to name a few. It was an incredible experience and one that I think was a transformative moment in my life.

Off the record (or, on the record now, I guess), of all the places I visited, the only one I didn't like was Innsbruck. I couldn't get into it. We visited it in late March, so the weather wasn't the best. The trees didn't have any leaves on them, the grass was brown, and everything had a post-winter grey look to it. After visiting Munich and spending the night in St. Goar, my mind wasn't thinking about Innsbruck at all. Instead, I was more excited to go to Venice the next day, and the Vatican the day after that. My time in Innsbruck was uneventful, and all I wanted was to get back on the road.

That was in 2011, and now it's 2018. Has my opinion on Innsbruck changed? I would say yes. I'm more mature now and if I went back, I would better appreciate what I was seeing. As I've gotten older, I've been less impressed by the massive buildings and more enthralled by the history that created them.

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The Curse of Mexico City

If you've been following my blog for anytime now, you know I'm attracted to the strangest of places. Radioactive wastelands, concentration camps, nuclear bomb sites, haunted doll islands, abandoned houses; the list of depressing places goes on. There are many reasons why I visit these places, but it's primarily because I find the history behind them fascinating.

Normally I know these places are "unique" before I visit them.

This wasn't the case with Mexico City.

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100+ Things to do in Regina

A few summers ago I put out a list of 20 things to do in Regina. I thought it was a pretty good list and it got some positive reviews. It came on the heels of a few other similar, smaller lists of places people should visit in Regina and was meant as "grand finale" of lists.

That article is old, but it's still fairly popular. Normally I wouldn't pay much attention to it, but a few months ago somebody commented on it and informed me that my list, and my blog in general, "sucked". Ouch.

It took me a bit to think about how I should respond to this person, so in rebuttal I have complied my longest list ever, consisting of over 100 things to do in Regina. I spoke to people at Tourism Regina, The Regina Downtown Business Improvement District and the The Warehouse District Business Improvement District to help put this list together.

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Journey to Castle Butte & Stonehenge

Stonehenge, Saskatchewan, is just a little over two hours southwest of Regina, just past the town of Assiniboia. I've explored this area of the province before on previous trips, but I've never been to Stonehenge. In fact, my journey started out as a trip to Castle Butte, but after seeing a nearby marker for Stonehenge on a map, that quickly became my primary destination.

I've driven this area a few times looking for abandoned buildings. Normally I'd keep an eye out for them, but I knew most of them were a little further south. Before I got that far, I took the turn off to Ogema.

From Ogema I drove down Highway 13 and turned right before the ghost of Horizon. I took the train through this area a few summers back with Jessica, but it looked substantially different being covered in ice and now.  

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Escaping Winter With a 2018 Ford Escape

Although I try my best to embrace winter, this winter has been difficult. First it was extremely cold for weeks on end, and then we have been hit by blizzard after blizzard. My Dodge Avenger handles snow about as good as Spiderman handles Thanos, so I've had my fair share of snow-bank sleepovers, tow truck pickups and early morning public transit excursions. I don't mind the snow, but I mind it when it gets in the way of my car.  

When I was asked to test drive a 2018 Ford Escape Titamium, I was relieved to give my little Dodge a break. The weather forecast predicted the "storm of the year" to be approaching, so it gave me the chance to see how a new vehicle handles storms compared to my current one, and maybe actually not get snowed in for the weekend.

If I was to compare last year's Ford Explorer to this year's Ford Escape, the biggest difference would be the size. The Explorer was large and bulky, and I felt like I was driving a Megazord. The Escape is a little smaller, a little more compact and a lot friendlier. I can sneak around vehicles more easily, instead of sitting behind cars like a giant, red mammoth waiting for them to move.

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Creating a Better Regina with Tactical Urbanism

Last autumn I visited Kingston, Ontario for the first time in about seven years, and while I mentioned I had been there before, I never explained why.

Several years ago I travelled to Kingston to represent Southern Saskatchewan at the NEXT Generation Leaders Forum. The purpose of this international forum was to discuss urban planning in the mega-cities of tomorrow. We had to think outside the box and solve problems like housing, garbage collection, employment, energy and transportation. When the forum was complete, and we submitted our ideas to a panel of judges, my group won the "Global Vision" award for our ideas on improving housing for the future.

For seven years that award and my time in Kingston sat on my bedroom shelf collecting dust, and while the experience was memorable, it never amounted to anything.  

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What Makes Downtown Regina So Cool

Throughout the past few months I've been sharing a lot about downtown Regina, and there's a reason for that. Downtown Regina's urban centre has undergone a massive revitalization the past few years, and since I love Regina, I felt it was important for me to talk about this. For those who don't travel downtown regularly, you'd be surprised to find out it is no longer the downtown of the 1990s. A lot has changed, is changing, or has been completely transformed.

Scores of people had to come together to make this happen, but one of the driving forces behind this transformation is the Regina Downtown Business Improvement District (RDBID). This organisation was established in 1981 under the belief that entrepreneurs, diversity and creativity should thrive in the hub of the city. It may have taken time, but after decades of work their efforts are finally being rewarded. Today, downtown Regina is the epicentre of festivals, vendors, concerts, movies, art displays, and outdoor activities. This winter the RDBID lit the Christmas tree downtown, has been operating the skating rink twice a day everyday, and helped to arrange the crokicurl rink – the new sport that is sweeping the nation. 

In the summer the list gets even longer – thanks to many partners and sponsors – with the Regina Farmers Market, Market Under the Stars, Cinema Under the Stars, AfroFest, Doors Open, Yoga in the Park, art {outside}, Parkin(ing) Day, Pop Up Downtown and dozens of other events and festivals.

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Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump

Written by: Joanne Elves.

Just like the buffalo from thousands of years ago, you'll be hard-pressed to see Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump World Heritage Site until you are on the doorstep. For you, its because the award-winning building is tucked under the cliff. For the buffalo, it was a sad fate, but that same cliff was what the First Nations people depended on for survival. A visit to Head Smashed In is another must-do on your #BucketListAB adventures.

In Blackfoot the centre is called "Estpah-skikikini-kots" but to make it easy we'll just say Head Smashed In. The history behind the name dates back thousands of years to when a young Blackfoot wanted to watch the buffalo plunge off the cliff. He hid below the cliff not thinking about what could be the outcome of his decision. He was found crushed under the pile of buffalo.

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Waterton Lakes Solo Or For The Romantic

Written by: Joanne Elves.

Wouldn't it be nice to be surrounded by beautiful mountains, frozen waterfalls and wildlife? But without the crowds? Waterton Lakes National Park in southwest Alberta is the unplugged uncrowded mountain town to do all that. Most of the businesses shutter up for winter but there is just enough open to keep anyone looking for a quiet #BucketlistAB adventure happy.

Even though the park suffered severe fire damage during the summer of 2017, the town was saved and is welcoming visitors. Much of the backcountry trails and campsites have to be inspected for safety but that doesn't mean you can't visit. This is your chance to see just how mother nature uses fire to start fresh. The spring flowers of 2018 will be outstanding.

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Secrets for Visiting the Remington Carriage Museum

Written by: Karen Ung, Play Outside Guide.

The Remington Carriage Museum in Cardston, Alberta boasts North America's largest carriage collection, interactive displays, a working restoration shop, gift shop, concession, and beautiful parklike grounds. With 270 carriages in 64,000 square feet, how do you begin to explore "The Best Indoor Attraction in Canada"? (source: Attractions Canada)

Learn more at SnowSeekers.ca: Discover our motoring past at Remington Carriage Museum

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Up And Coming Medicine Hat's Must Sees

Written by: Karen Ung, Play Outside Guide.

"Have you ever been to Medicine Hat?" Abby Czibere from the Visitor Centre asks. I feel bad when I tell her no, unless you count stopping to fill up and grab fast food. In short order, I realize that's a big mistake as there's a vibrant food and arts scene and beautiful riverside parks to explore in this city of 65,000 people.

The Hat (the city's nickname; its residents are Hatters) has experienced a renaissance in recent years thanks to innovative entrepreneurs. Trendy eateries, indie coffee shops, and craft breweries have opened, attracting like-minded businesses, while enticing young people to stick around after college. Even the museums add to the up and coming feeling with their unique exhibits and events. Smell the smells of war at Esplanade Arts and Heritage Centre, or attend a concert in a massive kiln at MedAlta Potteries (Tongue on the Post Music Festival).

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Ice Skating in Downtown Regina

When I was younger, I really loved winter. I loved sledding, snowball fights and building snowmen. One of my favourite pastimes was visiting a little outdoor ice rink a few blocks from my house. Every winter my friends and I would climb over the walls of the rink and goof around on the ice. When we weren't falling over our feet, we'd play hockey with whatever snow chunks we could find. As these events became more frequent, we often talked about playing real hockey on the rink. Eventually, we would end up playing hockey, but we'd settle for the street in front of our houses instead.

Beyond childhood, the only other time I went skating was in high school. Everybody else's ice skating skills had improved with age, but mine were still that of a fourth grader. I remember standing in the rink, struggling to shoot while holding my balance, only to have a classmate swoop in and steal my puck! Ever since then, I've stuck to floor hockey.

As I got older, my love for winter dwindled. Now I find it cold, icy, dark and sometimes miserable. My blog usually slows down in the winter for this very reason. I've been trying to get out and enjoy our longest season of the year, but it's hard. Most days I just want to stay inside.

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150 Facts About Canada

Although the hot summer days of July are long behind us, 2017 is still Canada's 150th year. In honour of Canada's sesquicentennial birthday, I decided to put together a list of 150 things about Canada. This list talks about our quirkiness, our strengths, our weakness, and our legacy, for better and for worse. There are some sad facts, some odd facts and some facts that will probably make you open another tab to look into for yourself.

Hope you enjoy this list, and I hope you all had a great 2017!

1. Canada's two official languages are French and English, but only 20.6% of Canadians speak French.

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Fun & Food, Friends & Floating in Downtown Regina

Last year I made a blog resolution to write more about Regina, but as you have probably noticed, I haven't been doing that. This has been a super busy year for me and I didn't get that many adventures done around the Queen City. To remedy this problem, I teamed up with the Regina Downtown Business Improvement District to explore some of the coolest places in the Downtown Regina.

The last few years has seen a massive change in Downtown Regina. What for many decades was a cold, stark, banking-core of the city, is now cool again. From quirky restaurants to knickknack stores to fun hangout spots, there's plenty to do downtown any time of the year. While this article is Christmas-oriented (sorry, but have you checked the calendar?) you can explore these places any time of the year.

One of the coolest hangout places in Regina right now is Boards & Beans. This board game cafe opened just over a year ago and is packed full of hundreds of board games for you to enjoy. From simple games to complicated sagas, Boards & Beans claims to have a board game for everybody.

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Inside Eastern State Penitentiary

Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania shut its doors in 1970. A year later, in 1971, it would briefly reopen and house inmates from Holmesburg Prison after a devastating riot. After the prisoners were returned to Holmesburg, Eastern State would sit empty for over two decades. It would rot, decay and collapse. Trees and shrubs would grow into the structure and a clowder of cats would take residence. These hallowed halls would sit empty, the only noise being the chatter of startled birds and the trotter of feline paws.

The following decades would see various discussions of what to do with the building. Eventually, it was decided to preserve it and turn it into a tourist attraction. Although it officially opened for tours in 1994, attendants would have to sign a waiver and wear hardhats before entering until 2008. They had 10,000 visitors the opening year, a number of tourists not seen in the prison since 1858.

From 1829 to 1970, Eastern State Penitentiary underwent a variety of changes and transformations. This massive, sprawling, 11-acre complex was founded under the belief that solitary confinement was the cure needed to prevent criminals from committing future crimes. It was believed criminals who served in solitary confinement would turn to a higher power to reconcile with themselves for their crimes – hence feeling "penitent". To assist in this process, each cell was equipped with a slit window on the ceiling nicknamed "The Eye of God". It would be the only light source available to the inmate.

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What To Do in Historic Philadelphia

A few months ago I entered a contest for a trip for two to visit Philadelphia on Two Bad Tourists. Normally contests like this are limited to United States residents so when I saw this one was open to Canadians I jumped at the chance. I've never won something like this before, so I actually forgot about it until I got the emailing saying I had won. Two Bad Tourists then worked alongside Visit Philly to organise the trip for me and my mother to explore Philadelphia for three days. Visit Philly paid for our flights, hotels and gave us a VIP Pass to experience the city to our heart's content. It is thanks to them that this trip is possible.

Several movies and television shows have tried to capture the essence of Philadelphia over the years – from the boxing Blockbuster Rocky, to the paranormal thriller The Sixth Sense, to It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and even Boy Meets World – but each described the city differently. There is no easy way to approach a city as dynamic as The City of Brotherly Love. With countless layers of art, history, religion and the paranormal, Philadelphia is a city unlike any other throughout the United States. 

One thing that surprised me the most about Philadelphia was the history. The city was founded and designed by William Penn, who is also the state of Pennsylvania's namesake. Born in London, England in 1644 he lived through The Great Fire of 1666 and The Great Plague of London from 1665-1666. Both events shaped Penn's life so he designed the city to be strictly stone buildings (to stop fires from spreading) and to have plenty of space between the buildings (as to prevent illness from spreading). This led to the older areas of the city to have winding corridors between old stone walls.

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Where to Eat, Play & Stay in Kingston

At over 175 years old, Kingston is a thriving city of entertainment, history, food and culture. Located on the crossroads of Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, Kingston has aspects of each city woven into its cobblestone streets. Home to scores of national celebrities, towering limestone architecture and an impeccable food scene, Kingston is easily one of the top destinations you'll want to visit in Canada.  

While this article explores many aspects of Kingston, there's also a lot I wasn't able to cover. If you visit, don't be afraid to explore the city and make your own adventures too!

Downtown Kingston has everything a foodie could want, from global food chains to locally sourced pubs. It's impossible for me to list all the places you'll want to visit but, thanks to the folks over at Kingston Food Tour, I have several recommendations.

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Exploring Canada's Most Haunted City

As I stood in the courtyard of Fort Henry, I heard screams emanating from within. Fort Henry was constructed to protect the Kingston Royal Dockyard from the invading American forces during the War of 1812. The threat was so real that the capital of Canada – which was then Kingston – was moved to Quebec to protect it. The docks are all that stood between the United States and the St. Lawrence River and both countries were all too familiar with how easily it would turn the tides of battle.

As the screams from inside Fort Henry faded, I turned to the man beside me. He had come with his family. We got talking, trying to calm our nerves as bloodied clowns and undead mimes began wandering out from inside the fort.

"What brings you to Kingston?" he asked.

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Exploring the British Columbian Sunshine Coast

Several months ago Ford Canada approached me to review their 2017 Ford Explorer. I wanted to see how it handled grid roads, so I took it to a variety of ghost towns, abandoned houses and empty villages around Saskatchewan. I had a lot of fun with the article, and I guess Ford liked it too because a few months later they invited me to go out to the Sunshine Coast to try out a few other vehicles.

There were a few differences between this trip and the one I did around Saskatchewan. The first difference was that this was in the wooded forests of British Columbia and not the flat prairie of Saskatchewan. Instead of having the vehicle for a week, this would be a 2-day trip from Vancouver to the Painted Boat Resort and back again. Also, instead of traveling solo, I'd be travelling with several lifestyle and travel bloggers from across Western Canada – including the 2015 Saskatchewanderer Ashlyn George from The Lost Girl's Guide to Finding the World.

The vehicle we got on the way up to the resort was the same red Ford Explorer I tried out earlier this year. This worked out great for me as I was already very familiar with the vehicle and its quirks. On the way back Ashlyn drove a white 2017 Ford Edge.

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6 Saskatchewan Cemeteries to Visit This October

Cemeteries are a place of solace. All people, regardless of wealth, status, religion or creed are equals within a cemetery. It's a place of remembrance, respect and reconciliation. If you visit a cemetery, you are visiting the graves of lost loved ones. These may be children, pioneers, rebels or everyday people. Every grave has a story, and all are longing to be told.

Because of this, cemeteries are a library of knowledge. They hold the lessons of our past, and the wisdom of our future. As the leaves change and the days get shorter, cemeteries attract a much different crowd than that of just historians and family members. With autumn crisp in the air, cemeteries fill with thrill-seekers and paranormal believers. There is a fine line between what is and isn't acceptable within a cemetery and those who dabble into the affairs of the afterlife know this all too well. Few people go into cemeteries looking to disrespect the graves; instead, most are just hoping they can answer their own questions about life after death. 

Not all cemeteries are haunted, but each holds their own stories. Keep this in mind while you read this article. If you end up visiting any of these sites, remember to step softly, speak quietly and respect the surrounding graves. You might not be as alone as you think.

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10 Tips for Exploring Abandoned Places

When I visited Chernobyl last year I ran into a young woman from Wales that had been planning the trip for years. While chatting with her, she kept throwing around the word "urbexing". For those unfamiliar with the term, urbexing, or "urban exploring", is the act of going into abandoned locations and taking pictures inside them.

And apparently there's a whole subculture based around it.

For years I have had an interest in abandoned locations, even before I went looking for the old smallpox hospital in New York. As early as my teens I have been going into abandoned locations, and I got caught a few times. Because of this, my mom has plenty of stories about the phone calls she got following these misadventures, and I don't blame them for calling her.

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Exploring Leader & The Great Southwest

When it comes to Saskatchewan, your next adventure can be around any corner. As you venture off the main highways, signage is scarce and directions such as "if you've passed the gate with the buffalo skulls, you've gone too far" are all too common. Communities grow smaller, people grow warmer and the list of things on your Saskatchewan Bucket List seems to only get longer.

My adventure to Leader started a few months ago when Christine over at Cruisin' Christine shared a list of Leader bus tours on Facebook. Some of the tours were in June, but one was in September. The September tour caught my eye because it was a two-day tour and I had to ask myself what we would do for two days in Leader. Leader has a three digit population, so I was perplexed on what the tour would comprise.

I was so perplexed that I decided contacted Leader Tourism and booked the tour to find out.

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100 Facts About Winnipeg

I have been told my entire life that Winnipeg was just like Regina, but slightly larger. This gave the impression that there wasn't much to see in Winnipeg and that it, along with Regina, were more-or-less "fly over destinations". Since starting my blog, I've learned Regina is an absolutely incredible city so I imagined Winnipeg was the same. I then proceeded to contact Tourism Winnipeg and Travel Manitoba to find out the true Winnipeg, and ended up going on a multi-day excursion of their city.

Since a lot of my readers are from Regina and they almost all know somebody heading there for the Banjo Bowl in a couple of days, I thought I'd put this list together. There's a lot more to see there than just Investors Group Field, and the city's history is incredibly fascinating, so I hope you enjoy this list of 100 things about "Canada's Gateway to the West".

Several of these facts are taken from Frank Albo's tour of the Manitoba Legislative Building, but there are many I didn't mention. If you enjoyed them, I encourage buying his book: "The Hermetic Code"

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How to Spend 24 Hours in Medicine Hat

If you've ever passed through Medicine Hat, or you're spending a few days in the area, you've probably wondered what to do there. To most people outside the city, Medicine Hat might seem like a sleepy little prairie town in the Canadian Badlands; but for those who live in Hell's Basement, they'll tell you that this city is one of the most exciting places you can explore in all of Alberta.

I've gone to Medicine Hat three times in the past two years, and while I'm no expert on this thriving city, I know where the hidden gems are. If someone I know is passing through the area, I tell them they need to visit Medicine Hat. To help explain why, I put an article together for anyone else interested in visiting the Hat.

If you're spending 24 hours in Medicine Hat, you'll need somewhere to sleep. Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park is a little under an hour away and a great place to camp. Camping in Cypress gives you the choice to explore the park, the city, and everywhere in between.

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My Alberta Sturgeon Fishing Adventure

Last summer my family and I tried fishing up in Northern Saskatchewan. We had a great weekend, but we caught nothing. I wasn't too disappointed though, as I have never actually caught a fish. After 25 years of fishing and failing, I have officially given up on the sport.

That is until I was invited to visit Medicine Hat, Alberta and go sturgeon fishing on the South Saskatchewan River. I was hesitant, but I said yes. I really didn't want to spend eight hours out on the water just to come home empty-handed, but I figured to give it one more shot.

My guide for the day, Brent Thorimbert, picked me up at my hotel around 8:30 a.m. and drove us to a valley located just outside of Medicine Hat. We got out on the water about 9 a.m. and arrived at our fishing spot twenty minutes later. Brent explained that sturgeon fish are "bottom feeders" so they swim along the bottom of the riverbed and eat up bugs and small fish. Our fishing lines were weighted for this very reason. The bait should sit on the riverbed and would get sucked up by an unsuspecting sturgeon.

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Why The World Probably Won't End Tomorrow

If you haven't been following the news (or you chose to tune it out – in which case, I don't blame you) you may have missed the recent rhetoric between North Korea and the United States about possibly starting a nuclear war.

For those new to the story, after many years of research and development, North Korea has finally created an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that has the capability of striking the entire United States. They have also been able to scale their nuclear warheads down to fit inside their ICBMs. This potentially gives them the ability to nuke any location between Tokyo and New York City.

I have very little knowledge in geopolitics nor the ability to read the minds of Kim Jong-un or Donald Trump (thank God for that) but I do have an interest in atomic bombs and have been to the sites of various nuclear disasters. With the limited knowledge I have, I will explain why, even with the possibility of nuclear war on the horizon, the world probably won't end tomorrow.

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Exploring the 2017 Ford Explorer

I recently had the opportunity to test drive a 2017 Ford Explorer. I grew up learning how to drive a Ford Windstar so I figured an Explorer shouldn't be that much different. Sure, one is an SUV the other is a van, but a Ford's a Ford, right? Well, not exactly. From the moment I sat down, I knew it would be a very different experience from what I was used to.

There were things about the Explorer I liked, and some that I didn't, but it was overall a very nice vehicle. It drove smoothly, turned nicely and handled grid roads very well. I found the brakes to be a little touchy, but by the time the week ended, I mastered how to brake without awkwardly lurching myself forward.

Beyond the learning curve with the brakes, here are my positive and negative experiences with the 2017 Ford Explorer:

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Up, Up & Away at the Windscape Kite Festival

As this was my first time flying a kite, I'm proud to say I only crashed it about thirty times. Thankfully, my instructor said, the kite wasn't too expensive and was made for crash landings. After one particular sharp nose-dive, however, he came over to show me what I was doing wrong. After a few minor adjustments, I kicked the kite back into the air and managed to do my first loop.

The field we were in was empty that day. Within 24 hours, however, the field would be full of kite enthusiasts from across the world. Many of the kite flyers were from Canada and the United States, but some even came as far away as London, Germany and New Zealand. At only 13 years old, the SaskPower Windscape Kite Festival has become internationally renowned to kite flyers around the world.

When people think of kites, they might think of the classic diamond shaped kite of Charlie Brown. However, these days there are many different kinds of kites, and each with their own unique design and purpose.

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Your Great Escape to Cypress Hills

Were you planning a road trip to Banff, but plans bottomed out? Or were you looking to camp somewhere that isn't Sherwood Forest? Just a few hours west of Regina is a little-known place called Cypress Hills, and it's the great escape you didn't know you needed.

Although this is the second year I've visited Cypress Hills, I still loved every minute. Built from a geological phenomenon, Cypress Hills has one of the oldest and unique landscapes in Western Canada – and the highest point in Canada between the Rockies and the Newfoundland Peninsula.

As you can see from my piece on ZenSeekers.com, there's plenty to see and do in Cypress Hills such as biking to hiking to kayaking the beautiful Elkwater Lake. The nearby townsite also has an incredible museum, a restaurant and offers access to a variety of sporting and beach equipment. If you want to go on the water, on the beach, on the disc golf course or anywhere else, they have you covered.

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Learning to Chalk at the Sunshine Chalk Art Festival

Kristine Ens started with a simple black rectangle. When asked, she said the black helped brighter colours pop, and the base allowed for a smoother chalking surface. As I knew nothing about chalking, I nodded my head and let her work. In just over sixty minutes, Ens transformed that black box into a blue-eyed crow and surrounded it with an earthly green light.

I was very impressed, to say the least.

Ens has been chalking for three years and debuted in the first ever Medicine Hat Sunshine Chalk Art Festival in 2014. Since it began, 100 artists from across North America have made their annual pilgrimage to the festival which runs this year from August 11th – 13th.

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Regina's Night of Horror

Originally printed in The Morning Leader, July 1st, 1912

Cyclone drops to earth at south and of Smith and Lorne Street and clears houses, buildings and all obstacles to the north end – Early details probably exaggerated, but loss to city worst in Canadian history – Best buildings in city, Churches, Y.W.C.A, Y.M.C.A, Library, Phone Exchange, all destroyed – Hundreds of houses as flat as a board – Details.

"A Thousand Flags were flying where the Sky and City Meet"

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How to be a Cowboy at the Medicine Hat Stampede

I want to start this off by saying that I am in no way, shape or form a cowboy. Being a cowboy takes decades of experience and requires a special bond with your horse. Cowboys are mysterious, romantic and the inspiration behind countless films throughout history, from The Night Rider to The Last Gunslinger. Every lady wants to be scooped up by a cowboy, and every man wants to ride like one.

A few weeks ago I was able to experience what it was like to be a cowboy at the Medicine Hat Stampede and Exhibition chuck wagon races. While many think of the Wild West as being a world away, you can find plenty of chuck wagon racing, barrel racing and horse competitions just a few hours west of Regina. Although I only spent one night at the races, I still met The Medicine Hat Rodeo Queen and Princess, could pet some horses, caught chuck wagon racing and made some new friends.

One of the best things about the Medicine Hat Exhibition and Stampede is the welcoming atmosphere surrounding it. Upon arriving, I knew nothing about chuck wagons and horses, so I walked up to one of the 5,000 tireless volunteers and just asked. From there I hit the tracks and saw the races for myself – although I may have gotten a little too close.

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Experience Mosaic From Your Home

For about the third year in a row, I missed out on Regina's annual multicultural festival, Mosaic. To try and come to terms with the fact that I have failed to go for three years, I decided to throw my own little Mosaic with my girlfriend. While many people only shop at their favorite food stores, there are actually a variety of stores around Regina where you can buy unique, authentic cultural food. After all, just because Mosaic was over doesn't mean the food vanishes!

However, because I am a picky eater, and so is Jess, things didn't go exactly as planned.

Kenton: I had no idea what this was when I bought it, and I wouldn't ever buy it again. It tasted like disappointment. There wasn't much taste to it and it had some kind of strange pulp in it. I think it was coconut or a very pale fruit. Either way, I didn't care for this drink.

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15 Best Small Towns to Visit in Canada

As you know, I love Canada. I love the people, the culture, the history and everything that comes with it (except mosquitoes). Canada is an extremely diverse country that stretches from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean. It is also the second largest country in the world, featuring a plethora of different terrain.

Canada’s ten provinces and three territories are all completely different, with each having something different to offer. Lakes, mountains, valleys, waterfalls and countryside are just a few of the different things offered throughout the country. It also happens to have the longest coastline in the world.

There are many places to visit in Canada, from large vibrant cities to small mountain villages. It was hard narrow it down to just 15 places, so I got the help from Lisa over at The Crazy Tourist to help me out. Here are the 15 Best Small Towns to Visit In Canada. 

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Regina Spanish Flu Memorial Fund

While the newspapers screamed of war overseas, the real war was just beginning back home.

After four long years of grueling trench warfare, thousands of Canadian soldiers left Europe in 1918 to return home. As they disembarked from trains across the country, they unknowingly helped spread the Spanish Flu, the deadliest flu to ever occur in human history.

From 1918 to 1920, the Spanish Flu reached every corner of the globe. In the north it wiped out complete Inuit communities, and in the South Pacific whole countries were infected. Worldwide, the Spanish Flu killed between 20 and 100 million people. Canada was fortunate, but we still lost between 30,000 and 50,000 people, a number only slightly lower than that of the war.

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Why Doesn't Regina Have A “Main Street”?

More often than not, a city or town has a "Main Street" somewhere in it. Moose Jaw has one, Saskatoon has one, Calgary has one and Disneyland has one, but Regina doesn't. Many people probably have never thought about it, or just accept that Albert Street is our version of a main street, but still the question remains.

The answer lies back to the earliest days of Regina's history. Prior to the railway arriving in Regina in 1882, Regina was a splatter of houses north of the then much-less developed Wascana Creek.  The Canadian Pacific Railway laid the groundwork for their railway system, and marked their new station to be near Wascana Creek, which was far from the current capital of the Northwest Territories, Battleford. Since the train wouldn't be travelling that far north, Sir John A. MacDonald instructed the CPR to pick the location for the new capital. They chose the area that is now Regina.

Lieutenant-Governor Edgar Dewdney owned land near the proposed railway station and grew a community around it. Rapidly, the area around his property grew and had several stores, saloons and stables. This increased the wealth of the property and made it much more attractive for the CPR to use for their new station.

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One Year After Visiting Auschwitz

This week marks one year since I visited Auschwitz. Since then, I have told scores of people what I saw and how it impacted me. I found that the more people I shared my story with, the more people I meet who have had similar experiences. While we all saw different things, we all agreed that it was a trip that changed our lives.

The passage of time has a way of turning fact into fiction. Time seems to erode the legitimacy of history, either by inflating it to incomprehensible sizes or by dumbing it down so that it is impossible to relate to. This can be said for any part of our world's history, from minor political squabbles to major world changing events. As the years pass, people rely more and more on these stories to piece together the world that once was. Auschwitz, and the legitimacy of what happened here, is one of these victims.

My flight to Europe last year had been delayed. There was an issue on the plane coming from Warsaw to Toronto and the plane had to turn around. While I was trying to get my flights figured out, I started chatting with an older woman beside me. She was heading home to see her family in Ukraine for Orthodox Easter. As we talked about our upcoming trips, I told her my plans to visit Auschwitz. When I mentioned it, the lady waved her hand at me and told me not to expect too much. Over the years, she said, they had cleaned it up so much that it isn't even worth visiting. She told me that when she went there in the 1960s, the smell of burnt flesh clung to the walls of the buildings. But now, many years later, it has become so desensitised that there was nothing there worth seeing.

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Meet Your 2017 Saskatchewanderer

It's probably a little baised to say, but Saskatchewan is my favourite province. The people, the culture, the atmosphere and the weather help make this province unlike any other place in Canada. But, being as Saskatchewan is so big and so beautiful, it can be a challenge to know what to go see and do.

Enter the 2017 Saskatchewanderer.

Since I started my blog, I've tried to interview the Saskatchewanderer every year. I couldn't last year due to the provincial election putting a temporary freeze on the program, but this year I could. Last March I called up Andrew Hiltz, the 2017 Saskatchewanderer, and learned about him, his thoughts of the program and his experiences so far.

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Regina's Glockenspiel and the Loss of Our Heritage

Progress is often considered a good thing. Progression is good for personal growth, for relationships and for society. Even the smallest bit of progress – another two minutes at the gym or a few hundred words on an essay – is better than no progress at all.

(Editor's Note: WOW! I didn't expect to get so much feedback for this article. I was featured in both the Regina Leader-Post and on CJTR's Queen City Improvement Bureau! Thank you for all the support, everybody!)

(Editor's Note #2: Looks like the city is going to reevaluate the cost and find a more reasonable alternative. What awesome news!)

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What to Expect at a Mexican Wedding

I had a wonderful trip to Mexico, and I saw and learned more than I expected. While most of my trip was full of creepy, strange and downright bizarre locations, the trip's actual purpose was for a much more normal, although still very magical, reason: the wedding of my two friends, Mari and Luis.

I met the bride, Mari, in Japan several years ago. Since I've met many people in my travels I've never seen again, I assumed the Facebook wedding invitation I received must have been by accident. A quick email later and I realised it was in fact deliberate. Since it's not every day one gets invited to a wedding in a different country, especially a tropical country in the dead of winter, I said yes.

I also learned that another friend I had met in Japan, Katarina, would be coming to the wedding too. Katarina is from Australia, so she did a trip through the United States before the wedding. It was great to catch up over the years and swap stories about our travels since Japan.

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Puebla Mexico: A Photo Essay

My past few articles have covered some pretty heavy subjects, ranging from eating dog tacos, to an island full of haunted dolls and to the ruins of one of Mesoamerica's greatest cities. To lighten the mood a little, I decided to put together a photo essay of the beautiful city of Puebla.

Puebla is much smaller than Mexico City so it isn't as noisy, it isn't as rushed and it's much more walkable. While there are still 1.4 million people living here, it doesn't feel that way. To be honest, if I was to choose between Mexico City or Pubela to revisit, I would probably choose Puebla.

Puebla is known worldwide for its colourful buildings, narrow streets and hundreds upon hundreds of churches. I was told by one gentlemen that there are 365 churches in the city – one for each day of the year – but when I told another gentlemen that, he looked at me surprised and asked "Is that all?"

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Teotihuacan: Where Men Become Gods

Forty kilometers northwest of Mexico City is Teotihuacan, one of the most important locations in Mesoamerican history. The existence of Teotihuacan was so influential that its rise and fall even has its own name: The Classical Period.

Teotihuacan began in the 1st Century BCE as a small hamlet. As the population within the nearby Valley of Mexico grew, so did that of Teotihuacan. With a growing workforce, the city could take control of the nearby mines and natural resources. This lead to the city being the birthplace of an economy never before achieved in this region of the world. Soon, its influence expanded far beyond the Valley of Mexico and reached the Mayan regions (current Yucatán Peninsula, Belize, and Guatemala) and the Gulf of Mexico. Within a century and a half, Teotihuacan transformed from a small hamlet to a city of over 125,000 people. These people were called the Teotihuacano.

Prior to Teotihuacan's existence, Mesoamerica was like Central Europe before the Roman Empire. It existed, but it existed independently. The Greeks referred to non-Greek Europeans as "barbarians", and the Romans referred to the Britons as "rude, scattered and warlike people". The same can somewhat be said for the people of Mesoamerica before the rise of Teotihuacan. Once Teotihuacan rose to power, their influence transformed language, religion, culture and economics throughout the subcontinent which can still be seen today.

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Xochimilco and The Island of the Dolls

The Island of the Dolls is in Xochimilco, a borough south of Mexico City. While it would be faster to take a car from Mexico City to Xochimilco, the traffic is dense and the roads are very congested. Instead, if you're going there, I'd recommend taking metro, which is easy and the cheapest in the world. What you gain in comfort, however, you lose in speed, as the train ride takes about 2 hours.

Mexico City and Xochimilco both sit in the Valley of Mexico. Until about a millennium ago, the whole region around Mexico City was surrounded by a massive body of water. Over the centuries due to both climate change and interference by humans, most of this water has dried up, for the exception of Xochimilco. With networks of canals crisscrossing the borough, car transportation is difficult and water transportation is essential. I'm sure there were motorized boats somewhere in the waters of Xochimilco, but I never saw any. Instead, canoes and rafts are common on the water. However, the most popular vessel is a trajinera – a colourful gonadal-like boat that is pushed along the water with a wooden pole.

Xochimilco is known worldwide for their Floating Gardens market, which are essentially canoes floating down the canals, selling wares to tourists on trajineras. These include things like food, drinks, silver rings, trinkets, ponchos and sombreros. Occasionally other trajineras full of Mariachi bands will approach tourists and offer to play beside them on the water.

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Did I Really Eat Dog in Mexico?

They say "When in Rome do as the Romans do", so the same logic should also apply to Mexico, right?

That was what I was thinking when I sat down in a classy Mexican restaurant a few weeks ago. The following morning would be the wedding -- the main reason I went to Mexico -- so this meal was to get acquainted with traditional Mexican drinks and dishes. As I was pouring over the menu trying to decipher it, the man beside me pointed out the "Tacos" section. I knew what a taco was, so it seemed like a safe place to order from. He then ran through the types of tacos on the menu. One was beef, one was shrimp and the other was dog.

I had to stop him. "Dog? Really?" Yes. It was three dog tacos. I decided then that if dog was what was commonly served in Mexico, then it's something I should try. When in Rome, right?

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Birmingham's Vodka and Ale House Food Review

Although Regina celebrated its annual "Restaurant Week" last week, I missed it while I was travelling through the jungles and deserts of Mexico. Luckily for me, the wonderful culinary dishes of Regina's finest restaurants don't stop getting served just because "Restaurant Week" was over, so I didn't miss out on some quality local food. Only a few hours after landing back in Canada, I visited one of these local restaurants and had an excellent meal.

Or should I say, it visited me.

The day after arriving back home, I opened up my fridge only to discover it was empty, as were my cupboards. I could have made something quick like a Pizza Pop, but after a week of tortillas, burritos, guacamole and tequila, I wanted something a little richer and a little less microwaveable. I then asked Twitter what I should order for lunch, and immediately my brother-in-law tweeted me back and recommended Birmingham's Vodka and Ale House.

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Curious Klondike

This is the fifth of five articles about trips to take across Canada. I was inspired to do this series after I was disappointed by what Canadian tours G Adventures offered on their website.

Earlier this year I put out a survey to hear from my readers and learn what they wanted to read more about in 2017. "More Canada!" was one thing my readers said, "More in-depth articles!" was another, and "More great pictures!" was a third. One comment stuck with me, however, and that was to stop writing about places I haven't been to. I confess, I have done that upon occasion, such as when I write about Christmas traditions around the world or spooky places in Canada. I took this piece of advice to heart so I've tried to talk more about places I've been, and only touch on places I've read about.

This article goes against all that.

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Saskatchewan Highlights

This is the fourth of five articles about trips to take across Canada. I was inspired to do this series after I was disappointed by what Canadian tours G Adventures offered on their website.

Since I am Saskatchewan born and raised, it always bothered me when people said there's nothing to do in my home province. If you're looking for culture, history, food, beer, sporting events, community or a touch of quirkiness, Saskatchewan is the best place to visit!  

If you've been following my blog for awhile now, you'll know I could write a whole article about places to visit in Saskatchewan (actually, I have written it). For sake of brevity, I handpicked some of my favourite places, but there are many that I left out. Are there any places you'd add to this list? Let me know in the comments below.

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There's No Canada Like French Canada

This is the third of five articles about trips to take across Canada. I was inspired to do this series after I was disappointed by what Canadian tours G Adventures offered on their website.

Love poutine, Justin Trudeau and just about everything Québécois? G Adventures had the right idea including Montréal in two of their Canadian tours, but Montréal isn't the only noteworthy place to visit in Québec. Now, this tour doesn't give Québec the justice it deserves either, but hopefully it inspires you to take your time to explore the wonders it has to offer. Québec is a beautiful province with a long history, stretching back over four centuries, so this tour is dedicated to the incredible history and culture of French Canada.

Our fictional tour starts in Montréal. If you've read my Five Historic Canadian Cities article last week, you already know Montréal is one of Canada's most lively cities. Packed with some of Canada's most impressive scientific museums, Montréal is also home to an archeological and historical museum, Pointe-à-Callière. Inside one of the most unique buildings in Old Montréal, this museum ventures deep into the history of the city and explores its foundation, its struggles and its changes. With 375 years of history, to uncover this museum starts off with the discovery of Hochelaga and showcases various sections of the original sewer system. The museum also has several illustrations showing the plagues and fires that once decimated the early city. The museum also has an interactive section about the pirates that once terrorized the St. Lawrence River. This museum is one of my absolute favorites, so if you love museums as much as I, you'll want to check it out.

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Five Historic Canadian Cities

This is the second of five articles about trips to take across Canada. I was inspired to do this series after I was disappointed by what Canadian tours G Adventures offered on their website.

Canada's 150th birthday cannot be complete without visiting the country's capital city... but which one should you visit? While Ottawa is the current capital of Canada, there have been four other capital cities, and it has changed seven times. It started in Kingston (1841 – 1844) and then moved to Montréal (1844 – 1849), believing it to be safer from the Americans. After the citizens of Montréal burnt it down, it rotated between Toronto (1849 – 1852 and 1856 – 1858) and Québec City (1852 – 1856 and 1859 – 1866). Finally, it was placed right on the border between the two provinces in Ottawa (1866 to present day). This tour ventures into each of these five cities and explores what makes them so unique.

Since the capital flip-flopped location seven times, it would be much more convenient to go through the cities geographically then historically. If we started in the West, we would start in Toronto, Ontario, Canada's biggest city. While G Adventures only mentions the CN Tower and Kensington Market, there is much more to see in this city. You could visit the 18th century Casa Loma Castle, stroll through the artistic Graffiti Alley, visit Ripley's Aquatic Aquarium, or go drink and dine in the Distillery District. Looking for more outdoorsy stuff? Check out the Toronto Islands, the famous High Park or the Toronto Zoo. You can even take a boat out onto Lake Ontario and see the city's iconic skyline!

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A Canadian Atlantic Adventure

This is the first of five articles about trips to take across Canada. I was inspired to do this series after I was disappointed by what Canadian tours G Adventures offered on their website.

Last week I put together a list of five Canadian adventures to take in 2017. Since I haven't been out to Atlantic Canada for nearly a decade, I thought it would be a great trip down memory lane to write about it first. While this tour covers several destinations in Canada's most eastern provinces, it doesn't even scratch the surface of places worth visiting. Please use this guide as a reference, but remember to book your own side trips as well!

A cultural mix of French and English, Atlantic Canada embraces a more modest approach to Canada that replaces roaring highways with roaring oceans and light pollution with lighthouses. Known for its seafood, friendliness and small town vibe, Atlantic Canada is one of our country's most hidden gems.

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Five Canadian Adventures to Take in 2017

150 years ago, Canada became a country, albeit a much smaller one. Since then, Canada has grown much in size, reputation and as a favorite for travellers from around the world. Lonely Planet recognized these accomplishments last year and ranked Canada as the #1 travel destination in 2017. With the addition of free National Parks all year long, 2017 is the perfect time to visit the Great White North!

I am always interested in Canadian adventures, so I thought I'd check out G Adventure's website to see what tours they have planned this year. Since G Adventures is a Canadian based travel company, I figured they would have something going on this year to celebrate our sesquicentennial. Instead, all I saw were the same eight tours as last year, and the year before. Thinking maybe there was some big announcement coming for 2017, I emailed G Adventures asking about it, hoping, praying, that maybe there was something, something, anything at all… but I received no response.

Now, don't get me wrong. G Adventures has eight great Canadian tours, and they all look really awesome, but they only show off a small sliver of what Canada has to offer. In fact, four of the tours are almost exactly the same:

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Eight Christmas Traditions From Around The World

Christmas is approaching, but not everybody celebrates it the same way. Over the years, people have made a wide variety of different Christmas traditions, involving prayer, food or celebrations. As there are so many traditions out there, I decided to put together a short list of some of the ones I found the most interesting. Let me know in the comments if you have heard of any others.

During the Victorian Era, Great Britain had a fascination with the macabre. During this time, people enjoyed finding unique and terrifying ways to bring the paranormal into everyday lives. Although many of these traditions were common during Halloween, Christmas was no exception and ghost story telling became a popular pastime. One of the most well-known instances of this can be seen in the novel "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens. To many, this terrifying story about a rich businessman being haunted by three spirits seems out of place in modern Christmas traditions. However, this spooky story is only one of the many that came out of the Victorian Era.

While this tradition in Great Britain passed on with Queen Victoria, it has caught on stateside with Christmasy-horror films such as The Nightmare Before Christmas, Gremlins and several Krampus adaptations. These also include slasher flicks such as Black Christmas, Santa Claws and Silent Night, Bloody Night. For some people, Christmas-based horror movies are just as appealing as the ghost stories of Christmas past.

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My 2016 Adventures in Review

Unless something major happens within the next two weeks, it's probably safe to assume my travels for the year are over. At the beginning of the year the only adventure I had planned was a trip to Eastern Europe, but as the year went on I ended up going on several more adventures too.

Because so much has happened this year, I thought it would be a good idea to write it all down. I'm hoping 2017 will take me on even more adventures, as it will be Canada's 150th anniversary, but before we talk about 2017, let's go over what happened in 2016.

Although I arrived in Krakow first, my only full day in Poland was put aside for Auschwitz. It was pouring rain the whole way to the death camp, and the tour was packed full of students, teachers and tourists. While it was great that so many people still visiting the camp, there were almost too many people and it seemed to lessen the experience.

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Behind the Scenes of Big Dog 92.7

Ninety percent of people listen to the radio every day, either at home, on their way to work, at work, or at a restaurant. Radio has become such a common part of our everyday life you may listen to it without even knowing it. Some people even use the radio as white noise to block out other noise. Although radio is all around us, and the technology has been around for over a century, I have absolutely no idea how it works. To unravel this mystery, I asked Lindsay May of Big Dog 92.7 if I could drop by their station to learn about it.

The first thing I learned at the station was how companies advertise on the radio. One form of radio advertising is called a "hot call". Hot calls are when clients come into the station with things they want to talk about - and the station arranges an announcer to chat with them about their product while recording. This form of advertising sounds more natural, like they're having a conversation. Other ads are recorded in studio with clients or announcers, and edited with sound effects or music overtop. Another form of advertising I learned about was pre-recorded advertisements, which is when the radio station gets a recording from the company and plays that instead.

While advertisements aren't everybody's most favorite part of listening to the radio, they are the only way stations can stay up and running. Other countries pay their stations via a "radio tax" to keep the station advertisement free, but this is a trend that never caught on in North America.

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Kids Christmas Shopping in Regina

December has finally arrived, and with it is the season of gift giving. Personally, I always find Christmas shopping – or shopping for any reason – very difficult and very frustrating. Maybe it's because I'm a guy, but there just seems to be so many stores and so many sales that I always get pretty overwhelmed, especially when it comes to shopping for children. In an attempt to ease the pain of holiday shopping, I have reached out to three local businesses around Regina to tell me a little about who they are and what they have going on this holiday season. Have you ever visited these locations? Let me know about it in the comments below!  

Located in the south end of Regina, Kids Trading Company has been a part of the Regina community for the past 15 years. Here you can find a mixture of new and gently used children's clothing, shoes, toys and accessories.

Enjoy shopping in a local store where the friendly staff knows the products and can help you find what you need, like warm winter boots from Kamik or waterproof mittens and fleecy hats. Brands like Desigual, Hatley, Yogini, Billabong and Mexx will give you lots of options for great quality clothes in the latest styles. Need a baby gift? Shop their baby section for the cutest sleepers and practical accessories like Amber teething necklaces and muslin blankets.

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50 Images That Showcase Regina - 2016 Edition

Last year I put together 50 Images That Showcase Regina, and it was very successful. However, I did that article early into the year and missed out on some pictures I would take later, so I decided to do it again this year. These pictures were all taken either in late 2015 or in 2016.

If you guys enjoy this article as much as you liked the last one, I might start making this an annual thing.

Some of you may recognize a few of these pictures from earlier in the year, but there should be a few here that none of you have ever seen before.

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5 Tips To Make Your Posts Go Viral

Having started my blog just under two years ago, I've had several posts go viral – which, in this sense, means they had over 1,000 shares on social media. There could be plenty of reasons to why these articles got so much traffic, so I decided to take a look and see if I could replicate it. It took about dozen posts, but I slowly began to notice a pattern. I then decided I would share my findings with my readers since a lot of you are also bloggers or content creators.

While this article is about a travel blog, the same tips can be applied for any other form of writing or advertising.

If you want your post to go viral, you'll want to know who you're writing for. Before writing the article, you'll want to know who is already a faithful reader and who is following you on social media. For this example, I will use data from my website and social media from September 4th to November 13th, 2016.

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How Travel Helped Me Appreciate Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day is approaching, and with it comes a barrage of Facebook posts, the white poppy debate and Terry Kelly's "A Pittance of Time". But what do these posts, poppies and songs really mean?

For many, the war stories of selfless sacrifices and those of human triumph are just that; stories. If you haven't met a veteran, chances are you feel no difference between the Napoleonic Wars, the Boer Wars or the World Wars. These overseas wars are just like other war stories; ancient and taking place a world away. For many of today's youth, there is no difference between these events except for their chapter in a history textbook.

As a young adult, I too struggle with this. I know the events happened, and I can watch footage of them on television, but I have trouble relating to them. While ignorance to the reality of war is a blessing, it makes it impossible to relate to stories of somebody younger than myself storming into Berlin, or of firing a flamethrower at Japanese soldiers, or even watching a friend die in the dirt of a battlefield. These are things I will never understand because I have never related to them.

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5 Spooky European Stories

Although Halloween is officially over, it's never too late for some spooky stories. With a continent as old as Europe, there are plenty of spooky stories in every city. If you know of any others, tell me about them in the comments below!

The Man in the Iron Mask

The Man in the Iron Mask is the name given to an individual who was arrested and imprisoned in either 1669 or 1670 in France. The identity of this man was kept a secret by an iron mask, although some claim it to be made of cloth, that covered his entire face. He would remain in prison for the rest of his life until he died in 1673. The day after he died, he was buried, his possessions were destroyed and any metal in his cell was melted down.

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Bump in the Night at Government House

Strange things have been happening at Government House.

Six years ago, two adventurous ten-year-old girls arrived at Government House to begin their own personal investigation. Flashing bonafide "Ghost Detective" badges, Sam and J.J., interviewed the staff, explored the rooms and won the hearts of guests as they uncovered many of the secrets the house has to offer.

Their adventures inspired Canadian author Judith Silverthorne to write her book Ghosts of Government House, a tale about the two girls and their encounter with four ghosts – a monkey named Jocko, a little boy named Ben, a World War II veteran named Sheldon and a former cook named Cheun Lee, also commonly referred to as "Howie". Her book would become a favorite for children and, a year after its release, would be incorporated into Government House's Halloween special "Bump in the Night".

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12 Things You Didn't Know About Helsinki

The following article was written by Patti Haus from I Heart Regina. Be sure to follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more awesome destinations!

We visited Helsinki the summer of 2015 for a week of friendly people, excellent food and tons of sunshine. Helsinki is the capital of Finland, which is the home of Santa Claus, reindeer, Nokia, and Angry Birds.

Here are 12 things I bet you didn't know about Helsinki Finland:

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Why You Should Visit Depressing Places

I was out for supper with some friends the other night when my blog came up in discussion. Somebody who wasn't familiar with my blog asked me if I only write about depressing places, and I had to laugh. Later that night I got thinking about what she asked and I figured I would write about why I visit, and why you should visit, depressing places too.

They Define Who We Are

Contrary to popular belief, the world is the safest it has ever been. There is no war in the Western Hemisphere, with every country from Canada to Chile working together in relative harmony. There are problems, but we solve them through non-violent measures. The story is the same around the world – minus a few pockets of chaos. This is a huge step forward and one that humanity has never seen before. It is so impressive that it even has its own name: The Long Peace.

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Is it Safe to Visit Ukraine?

Several months ago I visited Ukraine for the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster. I spent a few days in Kyiv and learned about Ukrainian culture, their heritage, their history and their place in the world. It also happened to be Orthodox Easter Sunday when I was there, so I took part in some of the festivities.

While in Kyiv I also saw plenty of soldiers, many coming and going from the subway station, while others were patrolling the streets.  There was also plenty of anti-Russian propaganda. Although there is no war in Kyiv, there is in Donbass, in Eastern Ukraine. Since 2014 pro-Russian forces have been shelling Donbass. Death tolls on both sides of the conflict are approaching 10,000, with over 22,000 people wounded and almost two million displaced.

This conflict is often skimmed over by the media but many sections of Donbass have limited water, food and electricity. Buildings are shelled out and abandoned apartment complexes are used as military bunkers. There are also reports of prisoner of war camps where prisoners are being tortured by the rebels.

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Five Canadian Fall Food Festivals

Autumn has officially begun, and with it comes plenty of crunchy leaves, wool toques, cool nights and freshly harvested food. It doesn't matter if you live near the icy shores of the Atlantic, in a bustling metropolis like Toronto, among the rolling plains of Alberta or in the towering mountains of British Columbia; the whole country is in the midst of harvest. While I have already written about the Savour the Southeast Festival in Medicine Hat, there are plenty of other food festivals going on across Canada for you to enjoy.

Fall Flavours, Prince Edward Island
(Sept. 2 - Oct. 2)

While the Fall Flavours is nearing its completion, the food served out on the East Coast is so unique that it is worth visiting any time of the year. PEI is famous for its large yield of potatoes, and the abundance of lobster, mussels, and scallops allows for an unmatched culinary treat. Their website also mentions several family friendly events like potato picking, lobster catching, and oyster harvesting for participants to take part in.

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Walking The Graves at The Regina Cemetery

Among the tombstones of the Regina Cemetery are little blue and white flags. In 1993 the Regina Ethnic Pioneers Cemetery Walking Tour put together their first tour, which focused on the city's founding fathers. In 1999 they then put together the second tour, which focused on the diversity of immigrants that live within the city. The blue flags mark the path of the first tour and the white flags mark those of the second.

The walking tours are self-guided, and can be purchased at the Riverside Memorial Park Cemetery for $2. Together, they offer over eighty different locations to visit.

For this project I teamed up with Patti Haus from I Heart Regina. She's another local blogger that has just broken into the scene and blogs about food, drinks and things to see around the Queen City. You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  She provided many of the pictures for this article.

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Exploring Medicine Hat and Cypress Hills

A complete version of this article can be found on FestivalSeekers.com.

Known primarily for its abundant natural gas, Medicine Hat also takes pride in their locally grown food, flavorful coffee and booming art scene. To showcase this lesser-known side of the community, Medicine Hat annually hosts the Savour the Southeast festival. This festival offers a variety of different foods, flavours and treats for young and old alike. This year it takes place from September 25th to October 1st.

Just an hour outside of Medicine Hat is Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, home to the highest point in Canada east of the Rocky Mountains. The park is full of over 400 camp sites, bike trails, hiking trails, lakes, rivers, hills and a thick wooded ecosystem found nowhere else in Canada. One of the few places in North America left untouched during the last Ice Age, some of the most dynamic and breathtaking views in Canada exist in this park. The park is open yearlong and offers a variety of winter activities, such as ice skating, sledding and cross-country skiing.

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Unrooming The Delta Bessborough

The Delta Bessborough Hotel is Saskatoon's most picturesque landmark. It was constructed during the Great Depression and was one of the many projects that helped save Saskatoon's struggling downtown area. The hotel is a premium destination for work functions, receptions, weddings or just weekend trips to the Paris of the Prairies. Supposedly haunted – although the receptionist claims the only spirits in the hotel are the ones served at the bar – they also have ghost tours in October in anticipation for Halloween.

It would come to no surprise then that when Hotels.com approached me to "unroom" a suite of any hotel of my choosing, I immediately chose the Bessborough. For those who don't know, "unrooming" is similar to "unboxing", which is when a person records their first impressions and reactions when opening something for the first time, may it be a new iPhone or a television. Instead of unboxing a product however, this time I was unrooming a room.

Check out my video and pictures below to see what's in store for you if you plan to stay at the hotel!

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A Trip Through Time in Boomtown

As I stepped out the doors of the Boomtown Hotel, I walked into the year 1910.

Dozens of wooden shops lined the street before me, each identifiable by the signs that hung outside the door or by the words painted on their façade. Horses stood throughout the street, and a couple motorcars parked between them. A sharp, blue 1916 McLaughlin Buick was to my immediate left – a car that wouldn't be built for at least another half decade.

Boomtown is, unfortunately, a fictional town. Created by century old artifacts, Boomtown makes up the primary exhibit in the Western Development Museum in Saskatoon. Similar to the Deep South Pioneer Museum in Ogema, Boomtown's purpose is to recreate a time and place that occurred over a century ago.

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A Weekend Getaway to Ogema

A few articles ago I listed Ogema as one of the top destinations to visit in Saskatchewan. Immediately after I wrote the article, I put my money where my mouth was and booked a weekend trip to Ogema for my girlfriend and me. I figured it wouldn't be fair to my readers to recommend a place for them to visit without actually visiting it myself, and after getting my new Galaxy S7 from TELUS I figured I needed a reason to test it out.

Earlier this year I took my Galaxy S6 to La Ronge, and had very little coverage. I wanted to use Facebook's new Live Video option, but I couldn't get enough service to even send a text message. I was pretty disappointed by the coverage with that provider, so I was interested to see how TELUS' network was in Ogema.

The result was pretty darn good!  We streamed Spotify all the way there, were able to do a Live Video from the Deep South Pioneer Museum and took some really great pictures and videos of the trip. It also helped to have a reliable network when I got lost driving there (don't ask me how!). TELUS has invested over $29 billion into their network since 2000 and it has really paid off. It's a great feeling knowing that no matter where you travel, you can rely on TELUS to keep you connected.

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Regina's West Germantown

Located east of Regina's booming downtown is the former Germantown. The boundaries of this historic neighborhood have fluctuated much over the past century, but it constantly sits between Broad and Park Street, and South Railway Street and 13th Avenue. Winnipeg Street unofficially splits the neighborhood into two sections: West and East Germantown.

Unlike the rest of Regina, Germantown was populated with non-British immigrants, such as Ukrainians, Romanians, Poles, Greeks, Serbians and Germans (hence the name "Germantown"). It would later also be home to Japanese, Chinese and Korean families, and today is home to many Middle Eastern families, particularity the recent Syrian refugees.  

While Saskatchewan is very Conservative in their political policies, Germantown has always been Liberal, always supporting more immigration and more social services, especially for new arrivals. This makes Germantown very unique, and thus very different, than the rest of Regina.

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5 Weekend Destinations In Saskatchewan

The past few weeks have been really busy for me, with a lot more time at the office and a lot less time travelling. Thankfully, the weekend is just around the corner and with it comes the possibility of a two day vacation. Having traveled to Lac La Ronge earlier this month, I've been thinking more and more about these short trips and how rejuvenating they can be.

Unfortunately, I haven't done as much travelling around Saskatchewan as I'd like, so I wasn't sure what the best places to visit were. There were of course the obvious choices such as Regina, Saskatoon and Moose Jaw, but I wanted someplace remote, yet somewhat close. For this project I approached some of my fellow travel bloggers and I got some ideas of what to go do and see for a weekend. I went through their ideas and came up with this short list of 5 weekend destinations in Saskatchewan.

Thanks to TELUS' incredible network, sections of Saskatchewan that once never had coverage can now be fully explored while still being connected to your mobile device. No matter where you travel in Saskatchewan -- or even in Canada -- this summer, you can rely on TELUS' mobile network to keep you connected.

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Camping, Hiking and Fishing at Lac La Ronge

Ten years ago a member of my family, Andy Clark, was killed in a plane crash just outside the La Ronge airport. This past winter we learned that a few weeks after the funeral, the local community created a gazebo and memorial in remembrance of him at the crash site. We decided this past Canada Day long weekend was the perfect time to see it.

La Ronge is about six hours north of Regina, so the trek took us two days, having us stopover in Prince Albert for the night. While the southern half of Saskatchewan is prairie, the northern half is full of rolling hills, sparkling lakes and thick dense forest. Part of the Precambrian Shield, northern Saskatchewan has some of the oldest stones and hills in the world, dating back 2.5 to 4.2 billion years. The area's hills were once volcanoes, now dormant and flattened with erosion. This is one of the last few places in the world left untouched by modern man.

We arrived at La Ronge and set up a campsite at Nut Point, right on the edge of the lake. While we picked a campsite no electricity, we had the best spot in the campground. Just check out that view!

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20 Things To Do in Regina in the Summer

It took a while, but summer has finally arrived! With any city, these three precious months of summer bring their fair share of activities, and Regina is no different.  There is a lot to do in Regina so let me know in the comments if I missed anything!

This should be obvious for anybody living in Regina, but for tourists Wascana Park offers a plethora of activities. From fireworks on Canada Day to festivals to just enjoying a quiet stroll, there are countless things to do in the park. Being three times larger than Central Park in New York, the park is full of pathways, bridges, tunnels and islands for you to explore. Self-guiding walking tours are also available, which showcase the monuments, statues, architecture, history and natural flora and fauna that is in the region. Sections of the park are protected for wildlife so you may see foxes, rabbits, raccoons, weasels, beavers, turtles and, if you're lucky, goats.  There's also a swimming pool, bird sanctuary, a habitat conservation area and marina. Speaking of the Marina…

Wascana Park is beautiful from the land, but it is even more gorgeous from the water. Imagine floating in the heart of the city, surrounded by nothing but the silence of water. Motor boats aren't commonly found on the lake, so renting a canoe with a loved one can be a personal and private experience. If you're more of a physical person you can also rent a kayak or try stand-up paddle boarding, which recently opened up thanks to Queen City Sup. The marina is also home to the Willow on Wascana, a beautiful outdoor lakeside restaurant. If you're into brunches or wine tasting, or just enjoying eating outdoors, this is a place you must visit!

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My First Hostel

When I was planning my trip to Poland and Ukraine I wanted to make everything as cheap as possible. I picked the cheapest flight, I went on the cheapest tours and I picked the cheapest places to sleep. I have read about other people staying in hostels, and that they can be much cheaper than hotels or even AirBnb, so I figured I would give it a try.

My first hostel was Kiev Central Station Hostel, located about a 6 minute drive or a 21 minute walk away from Central Railway Station. If you visit this hostel I would recommend either getting a ride from a bonafide taxi driver or just walking the distance.

One of the problems with Kyiv is the number of unofficial taxi drivers in the city. They hang around the airport and train stations like buzzards, charge ridiculous rates and, at least in my experience, speak zero English and deliberately get lost. I was warned about the taxi drivers at the airport but not the ones at the train station, so I took a chance and got burned. My driver took me as far south as the Central Bus Station and then back north again, which cost me 1,900 Hryvnia, or about $100, when it should have only been a 6 minute drive. For a less experienced traveler the experience would have been harrowing, especially when the taxi driver refused to respond to my requests to "Stop and let me out" after driving me around for over half an hour.

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Easter Sunday in Kyiv

I had the pleasure of spending Easter Sunday in Kyiv on my last day in Europe. This was an unexpected surprise as I had celebrated Easter back in March and had forgotten Easter was a different day in Ukraine. For those who don't know, countries that follow the Eastern Orthodox Church still follow the old Julian calendar, at least when it comes to religious holidays. This moves religious holidays later into the year, such as Ukrainian Christmas which is January 7th.

This year Easter Sunday also happened to be on May Day, which is an annual celebration of spring and for honoring workers. Think of it like Labor Day but with pink ribbons, booming music, dancing, carousels and, this time, with giant hand-painted Easter eggs.

Being as it was both a national holiday and religious holiday, I gave up on my idea of visiting some of the museums and instead headed towards the churches and religion monuments. Everywhere I went there were crowds, but the whole city had a buzzing, celebratory atmosphere to it, so I didn't mind it that much.

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Into the Exclusion Zone - Part 2

"The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water— the name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter.

"The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss. When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss. And out of the smoke locusts came down on the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads."

Revelations 8:10 – 11, Revelations 9: 1 - 4

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Into the Exclusion Zone - Part 1

As I examined the floor, I had no idea what I was looking at. For three decades debris on the floor had rotted and molded; paper, books, mud, leaves, peeled paint, glass, and a lone teddy bear had become a dark, grey mass. The floor was completely covered. I took one step forward, and then another. Suddenly, my foot fell through the floor. I cursed, leaped forward and landed safely inside the next room.

The guy ahead of me turned around, gestured to an unseen room around the corner and shook his head. Although there was a language barrier between us, the look on his face said it all: the floor in that room wasn't much better either.

Down the hallway I found a small dining room, with cups, plates and dishes still waiting for a long cold supper to begin. The family must have been sitting down to eat when the military arrived and forced them to evacuate. They were probably told they would return within a few days, but thirty years later the houses stand empty – the ones that can still stand, that is.

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Night Tour of Krakow Old Town

When I announced a few months ago that I was traveling to Poland, a lot of people messaged me about the trip. While many of them were very excited for me, one message in particular stood out. It was from a Polish Instagrammer who told me to make sure that while I was in Poland I saw more than just the death camps.

While Poland is mostly known in the West for the death camps, the culture and nationality of Poland actually dates back over a thousand years, with Krakow itself being established in the 7th Century. Aside from the Holocaust, Krakow has seen the Mongol invasion, the collapse of the Roman Empire, the Dark Ages, the Renaissance, the Polish-Ottoman War, the three Partitions of Poland, the Napoleonic Wars, the two World Wars, the invasion of the Soviet Union and their final independence from Communism in the 1990s.

Knowing there was much more to Poland than just Auschwitz, I made sure to book a walking tour with SeeKrakow, a tourism company within the city. Since I was already using that company to travel to Auschwitz, I figured I would use them to explore the city as well. However, because the Auschwitz tour went so late, I had to organize a private walking tour of the city instead. It would cost me 360 Polish Zloty, which is $92 American or $120 Canadian, and would last three hours.

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Visiting Auschwitz

They say hope was the last thing to die in Auschwitz.

It's been just over 70 years since the Allies liberated the death camp and the horrors of the "Final Solution" were revealed to the world. Prior to their arrival, Auschwitz was the most effective death camp ever created, having taken the lives of over 1.1 million Jews.

Block 4 of Auschwitz holds the museum, explaining the best it can about what happened seven decades past. The museum explains what Auschwitz was originally built for – a camp for Polish prisoners of war – and how it became key to the Nazi's "Final Solution". The museum goes over the construction of Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II (Birkenau) and Auschwitz III (Monowitz), the increased sizes and effectiveness of gas chambers and the factories of death that stood and smoked over the camp during its operation.

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Eastern Europe Itinerary

In just over a week I'll be heading to Eastern Europe for a trip I've always wanted to go on. It's a short trip for traveling so far away, but it'll be worth it as it is something I have wanted to do for over five years.

This trip is going to cover some pretty emotionally heavy locations, some which are possibly dangerous to my health, and some locations in which millions of people died. I know it's going to be a challenge for me as I found it hard enough to go to the Anne Frank Huis in Amsterdam and the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York, and this will be thousands of times more emotional, so I hope I can convey my experiences to you when I get back (or as I live them, assuming I can get my long distance cell coverage figured out).

Here is my day-by-day schedule of where I will be and what I'll be doing. It would be really exciting if I could meet up with some of you while I'm traveling.

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Quebec City Travel Guide

Had history been different, this article would probably be written in French. New France, the birth child of French colonialism, once spanned the majority of eastern North America, dipping feet in both Hudson’s Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. It was only after the British captured the city in 1759 and opened the port of the St. Lawrence River did the once promising dynasty of New France cease to exist.

Although New France is long forgotten throughout most of the continent, Quebec City still embraces the same French language, culture and identity as it did nearly four hundred years ago. Visiting this city will bring you back in time to an earlier Canada – one of cobblestone streets, narrow houses, clanging church bells and horse drawn wagons. Quebec City is a unique location unlike anywhere else in Canada, being a slice of Europe seemingly untouched by the modern world. It is for these reasons and more that Expedia.ca asked me to write about this incredible city.

There are many ways to get to Quebec City, such as by plane, train, bus, car, bike or boat.

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Travel Guide to Hong Kong

Imagine the bustling streets of New York, then times it by ten. Add a dash of Chinese culture, a wallop of nature and half dozen fish balls that don’t actually contain any fish, and you have the beautiful city that is Hong Kong.

At 7.2 million people, Hong Kong is a dynamic city with an incredible history, towering skyscrapers and a unique mix of English and Chinese that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. While Hong Kong has existed for a millennium, it was officially founded in 1842 to solidify a truce between Great Britain and the Qing dynasty of China during the First Opium War. A decade after the British took control of Hong Kong, the Black Death swept into China, killing hundreds of thousands of people. It would remain part of Hong Kong’s life for a century.

During World War II, Hong Kong was captured by the Japanese. For three years and eight months the British-Chinese culture of the city was destroyed, replaced with Japanese text, language and art. The booming city of 1.6 million people was slashed to only 600,000. Japanese occupation was incredibly harsh for the Hongkongese, being the darkest part of their history. Japan ceased occupation on August 6th, 1945, in response to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. For forty-two more years, Hong Kong was controlled by the British, with the reunification between Hong Kong and mainland China finally occurring in 1997.

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Why You Should Move to Canada

In case you haven't heard, Super Tuesday was last Tuesday and everybody's most disliked presidential candidate, Donald Trump, did very well. He didn't do as well as predicted, but he did well enough that he is now officially taken the lead for the Republican nomination. While the Republicans struggle to find some way of stopping Mr. Trump, many Americans worry about the future of their country. As a result, many Americans have been thinking about moving to Canada.

While similar statements were made when marijuana and gay marriage was legalized, "How to move to Canada" spiked 1000% on Google after last Super Tuesday. In fact, the Nova Scotia tourism website got more traffic in a single day then it did all last year and the Canadian immigration website was having difficulties handling all the traffic, so it seems that a lot of people are wondering if they should move to Canada.

As a Canadian I feel it is my duty to highlight some of the reasons why somebody – particularly an American – should consider moving to Canada.

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8 Places to Visit in Montreal

Nestled between the impressive Mount Royal and the majestic St. Lawrence River is Montreal, a city known for its festivals, abstract art, history and mosaic of countless cultures. Montreal is the second largest city in Canada, with a population floating around four million people. While the city is a dynamic mix of Canada's two primary cultures – French and English – there are areas of the city that are culturally specific, such as Little Italy, Greektown and Chinatown. Known for its artistic and liberal mindedness, Montreal also boasts the largest community of homosexuals in North America in their very own "Gay Village".

Being nearly 375 years old, Montreal was pivotal to the creation of New France and Canada and at a time held control over every waterway from the St. Lawrence down to the Gulf of Mexico. Having such incredible influence over the western part of the New World, Montreal hosted the "Great Peace of Montreal" in 1701, which started sixteen years of peace between the French and over 40 different First Nation tribes in North America.

Since its early days, Montreal has been one of the most influential cities in Canada.  Montreal housed "internment camps" during World War I, became an ideal location for Americans looking for alcohol during Prohibition, and was the official residence of the Luxembourg royal family during World War II. Montreal held host to the incredible Expo 67, showcasing some of the most incredible architecture of that decade.  The seventies saw serious political reformation in Montreal, with many Americans arriving, fleeing the Vietnam Draft. The late seventies paralyzed the city as a terrorist organization, the Front de libération du Québec, detonated explosives throughout the city and kidnapped and killed political figures. These actions forced the Prime Minster to enact the "War Measures Act" and deploy the military into the city to apprehend the terrorists. The eighties and nineties saw two referendums in the province of Quebec to separate from Canada, with Montreal playing a major role in both decisions. The last referendum in 1995 ended with 51% percent of Quebecers wanting to remain part of Canada and 49% wanting to separate.

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Six Tips to Survive Travelling Without Your Sweetheart

If you've been following my blog at all, you've probably noticed the little blurb I have at the bottom of each article reminding my girlfriend that I love her. I have been dating Jessica for over five incredible years now and I wouldn't have it any other way.  She's a blessing to my life, and I miss her every day I'm not with her.

However, me missing her now is nothing compared to how I feel when I'm travelling the world and she's back at home. She might think I'm having a wonderful time without her, but the opposite is true: she's all I think about when I travel, and I always wonder what she would say or think if we were experiencing places together. It is especially difficult to travel somewhere romantic without her, like New York's Central Park, the Eiffel Tower in Paris or Quebec City.

I'm sure I'm not the only person who has this struggle, so I compiled a list of tips to survive travelling without your sweetheart. I'm no expert on love, but Jessica hasn't left me yet, so I must be doing something right!

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My 2016 Bucket List

Just over a month ago I announced my plans on Facebook that I was to begin another adventure. After a month of questions asking where exactly I was going, I decided I would just write this instead. Below are five items on my bucket list that I plan to visit sometime in 2016. The first two of these five locations already have their plane tickets booked, so 2016 is already shaping up to be a pretty awesome year!

When I wrote my bucket list last year, I included these destinations on it. It has been a dream of mine for almost half a decade to travel to Chernobyl, and when I learned this year was the 30th anniversary of the disaster I knew I just had to go. I approached Chernobylwel.com and told them about me and my blog, and they were so impressed they offered to give me 50% discount to take their tour and write about my experience with them. How could I say no?

For those who aren't familiar with Chernobyl, here's a brief history lesson: The year was 1986 and the world was seriously considering nuclear power as an alternative to fossil fuels. The Soviet Union was one of the leading pioneers in nuclear technology and even had several dozen nuclear powered cities within their borders. One of these was Pripyat, a city of just over 49,000 people. On Saturday, April 26th, 1986, Reactor 4 of the nearby Chernobyl power plant exploded, tossing the roof off the reactor and spewing hot radioactive steam into the sky. The newly formed steam would float over Pripyat and for two days the citizens lived, worked and breathed in the radioactivity. The Soviet Union evacuated the city on April 28th, bringing in hundreds of school buses and giving the people only mere minutes to collect their belongings. They were promised they could return to their homes within a few days. They never did.

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100 Facts About Regina

In my December newsletter I said I wasn't going to write about Regina as much anymore and focus more on international locations, but after a friend of mine told me there was no "interesting history" in my city, I decided I had to write this just to prove them wrong!

Let me know in the comments if you know something I don't, or if I got something wrong! Historical facts seem to change overtime, after all!

I'm happy to present to you, on the 113 year of its existence, 100 Facts About Regina!

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Top 5 Canadian X-Files

Fox and Scully are back! After 13 long years, Special Agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) have returned in Season 10 of X-Files!

For those unfamiliar with the hit 1990s-2000s science fiction show, X-Files portrayed the paranormal cases Fox and Scully investigated in search of "The Truth" , which is about what happened to Fox's sister when he was twelve years old (possible spoiler: aliens might be involved).

With X-Files' Season 10 finally premiering, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to present five events in Canadian history that have some "paranormal" elements to them. It would be interesting to see if the current six-part series covers any of these locations, but if they don't, I'm sure the truth is still out there.

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5 Incredible G Adventures Tours

Today is Blue Monday. For those who don't know what Blue Monday is, it's the third Monday in January after the holidays; or the most depressing day of the year. It's the day when all the Christmas baking runs out, all the presents start gathering dust, all the lights have been taken down and you come to the revelation that you are in the same unhappy situation you were one month ago, only this time there's no Santa Claus at the end of the month.

I was hit with the Blue Monday blues once too, a few years ago. I had been fired from one job I really enjoyed, and started working for somebody else who I just wasn't compatible with. There was a mounting personality conflict between me and my employer and after one Friday night phone call telling me I had to come back to the office and do more work, I decided I had had enough. I finished my project, filed my reports and left a note on my employer's desk that simply said "I quit". The following Monday I changed my phone number, blocked him on social media and walked away from that situation forever. A week later I had a new job at a place I liked, and life carried on.

So, when I say Blue Monday sucks, I mean it.

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Madrid Food Tour

The following is a guest article by Sally Elbassir, the owner and food taster of Passport and Plates, originally titled "The Tapas, Taverns and History of Madrid: A Food Tour". Be sure to drop by her blog for culinary treats from around the world!

I've always been a foodie. Long before the term "foodie" ever existed, I was that kid who was always eager to try something new.

Things haven't changed much in the last couple of decades. My palate has expanded, and I discovered that my dream job does exist; it just happens to be occupied by Anthony Bourdain. Now I satisfy my foodie obsession by writing on Yelp, and on my blog... there's plenty more where that came from.

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8 Places to Visit in Quebec City

I was recently asked if I preferred my time in Montreal or Quebec City more, and while Montreal is a gorgeous city, decorated with thousands of green copper spires, hosts incredible festivals, has some of the most fantastic food I have ever tasted, and is spotted with beautiful parks, there was just something about Quebec City that spoke to me. Being over four hundred years old, Quebec City is one of the last remaining "walled cities" in North America, and is the only one north of Mexico.  Quebec City was the location of some of the greatest conflicts in Canadian history, including the Siege of Quebec by the British.

Belonging to three very different countries (France, England, and Canada) in its four hundred year existence, Quebec City is a mixing pot of old traditions, new ideas, cobblestone streets and modern architecture. Since there is so much to see in Quebec City, I figured I would narrow it down to a couple and let you discover the rest! Here is "8 Places to Visit in Quebec City".

(Looking for more things to do in Quebec City? Check out Lonely Planet's guide to Quebec City and Montreal!)

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16 Travel Bloggers to Follow in 2016

It's been just over a year since I started my travel blog, and I've met many travelers along the way. Some travel full time, others travel part time and some travel on weekends only. Some live in Australia, some live in Canada and others have no designated home. With the New Year just around the corner, I thought I'd give a shout-out to some of the bloggers I draw the most inspiration from. These are my 16 Travel Bloggers to Follow in 2016!

http://travelandhappiness.com

Jenn is my biggest inspiration when it comes to travel blogging. She is the reason I write for Tourism Regina and is why I continue to write today. She's been that person to turn to for advice when I sometimes feel overwhelmed with my blog (yes, that happens!) and has been a guide in helping me push forward not only my blog but also my writing career. It helps that she lives right here in Regina too!

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How Does a Buddhist Celebrate Christmas?

With the holiday season upon us, many people have begun asking me if and how I plan to celebrate Christmas. This is a good question, and I completely understand the confusion since Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus as the human embodiment of God and since Buddhists do not believe in God, Christ's birth should have very little importance.

However, surprisingly, many Buddhists still celebrate Christmas. Buddhists believe Christ's teachings not only compliment those of Buddha, but that Jesus is a "Bodhisattva", which is one who forgoes their own benefit to help others and has compassion, kindness and love for all beings. Because of these reasons, many Buddhists see Jesus as a blessing to the earth and have no problems celebrating his birth. This differs from Christian belief as Buddhists recognize the Jesus as a man and teacher, but not the Messiah.

Buddhists also have their own holiday on December 8th, which celebrates the day Buddha achieved enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree. This holiday, "Bodhi Day", is celebrated by eating cookies (preferable heart shaped – which matches the leaves of fig, or Bodhi, tree) and rice, drinking milk and decorating trees with bright lights. In Asia, Buddhists decorate fig trees, but since Western climate can be harsh and these trees cannot survive, many Western Buddhists instead decorate evergreen trees. Buddhists decorate these trees with multi-coloured lights which represent the many different paths to achieve enlightenment. 

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Top 10 Read Blogs of 2015

Inspired by The Saskatchewanderer's "Top 10 Most Read Blogs of 2015", I decided to showcase my top 10 as well! Some of my readers have been wondering why I've been writing about Regina, Saskatchewan and Canada lately and not some of the other locations I've visited (Hong Kong, Italy, Germany, etc), but I'll let my most read blogs below explain why.

Out of my 100 (this is number 100!!) articles, these are my top 10!

How many have you read?

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Regina's Roaring Revival

Just over a hundred years ago, Regina boomed. The population exploded, the city expanded, and Saskatchewan was one of the most prosperous places in Canada. Regina's downtown was quickly covered in theatres; all complete with balconies and twelve piece orchestras. These theatres – the Lux, the Grand, the Princess, the Broadway, the Roxy and the Capitol, among many more – transformed Regina's downtown into a theatrical hub. As the city grew, the auto industry moved in and the GMC assembly line opened, employing nearly a thousand people. The arrival of GMC kickstarted the dream of Regina becoming a "Detroit of the West", with many believing Regina would continue to lead Canada in economics and trade for years to come.

The 1930s shattered that belief. The Great Depression paralyzed the auto industry, forcing the GMC plant to close. Drought and severe dust storms raced across the prairies, and "black blizzards" rocked cities, decreasing visibility down to less than a meter. The storms covered the majority of North America, spanning from Canada to Texas and as far east as New York. The Great Depression along with the "Dirty Thirties" stalled the growth of Regina. Programs were put in place to create sustainable work, but farmers were still frustrated and a riot broke out downtown, killing two people. This riot punctuated just how far Western Canada had fallen in a matter of years.

Regina, along with the rest of Canada, entered World War II in 1939. The former GMC assembly plant became a munitions factory, and air hangers were built to defend against Japanese fire bombs. From 1939 to 1945 the city was a war machine.

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8 More Places to Visit in Regina

My article "8 Places to Visit in Regina" is by far my most popular article, being read over 7,000 times in the past 6 months.  In honour of the anniversary of my blog (and because 1 of the 8 locations mentioned before is now closed), I decided to do a sequel and talk about 8 more places to visit in Regina. This was really easy as Regina is growing at an extraordinary rate and new, incredible places are opening almost every week.

After the Regina Cyclone huffed and puffed and blew down the majority of houses across the city in 1912, Annie Darke asked her beloved Francis Darke to build her a house that could withstand even the worse things Saskatchewan could blow at it. Being one of the richest and most influential men in Regina’s history, Francis Darke took up the challenge and began to create his wife their very own stone castle.

This massive fortress served as their dwelling for the remainder of their days, until Francis Darke passed away in 1940 and his widowed wife passed away in the very house he had built her, twelve years later. 

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My Seven Biggest Blogging Mistakes

I can't believe I'm saying this, but the anniversary of my blog is just around the corner. It's hard to believe it's been a year since I sat down and finally started blogging and it's been a wild ride along the way. When I first started blogging, I had my first car, I lived at my parents and I worked at the old office. Now, a year later, I have my own place, a new car and a new office.

Not to mention a decently successful blog and the best readers in the world (that's you!), so thank you!

Never in my wildest dreams would I think a blog would help me meet the people I've met, or seen the places I've seen. Thanks to my blog, I've made lifelong memories, lifelong friends and learned more about who I am.

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6 Places to Embrace Canadian Winter

Rob and Chris Taylor from 2 Travel Dads wrote a similar version of this article on their blog, focusing on the Ottawa's Winterlude, one of the cities mentioned below. Their article A Family Guide to Winterlude: the ultimate winterfest in Canada's Capital offers an in-depth look at at the celebrations in Ottawa. If you're looking for more information about Winterlude, be sure to check out their blog!

A Family Guide to Winterlude: the ultimate winterfest in Canada's Capital

The snow has begun to fall, and I had to dust off my winter jacket for the first time today. Winter in Saskatchewan is cringe worthy. Minus fifty Celsius winds, snow drifts against the door, those persistent drafts, pushing out stuck cars, frozen engines, slippery roads, tongues stuck to metal poles... the list goes on. Winter sucks.

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Canada's Refugee Dilemma

I didn't want to write this article. I wanted to write something fluffy like "5 Places to Visit in Canada in the Winter" or something interesting like "7 Lesser Known Religions". I wanted to write an article that would take people's minds away from the shootings and bombings in Paris, Beirut and Baghdad. I wanted to talk about something other than the long failed "War on Terror" and the Syrian refugee crisis. Out of everything I had planned to write this week, I didn't want to write this.

But I had to.

The world is reeling from the attacks around the globe, and people are pointing fingers at the Syrian refugees that are making their way through Europe via the Schengen Area. The attacks in Paris were committed by Daesh (frequently called Islamic State), a radical extremist group born in the lawless void of Syria and Iraq. It is this barbaric group of 7th Century ideology that is sending millions fleeing into Turkey, filtering through the Balkans and into the Schengen. Because many of the Syrians are Muslim, and the perpetrators were Islamic extremists, many around the world are afraid that there could be terrorists inside the refugees looking to feed off the kindness of other countries and commit more attacks.

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Soaring Saskatchewan Skies

My girlfriend Jessica's birthday is just around the corner, so I wanted to do something special for her this year. After a bit of thinking, I decided that there is no better way to celebrate a birthday than to fly around Southern Saskatchewan!

During my cross-Canada Instagram challenge, I was followed by Instagramer flyingmachines_, a pilot here in Regina. Once I saw what he did for a living, I asked him about it. After switching some dates around, we picked the perfect day: Saturday, November 7th, 2015, me and my girlfriend's 58th month together. After dropping hints the days leading up to it, I eventually told Jess what I had planned. She was excited, but also very nervous. Neither of us had ever been in a small airplane before!

On Saturday we met our pilot, Jamie Fitzel, for the first time. It was here that I first learned about his incredible flying documentary "Journey to Yellowstone" he made this past July. His story is incredible, and although I only skimmed the 5 part series, you can tell he has a definite love for flying! I highly recommend you checking it out!

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Are You The Next Saskatchewanderer?

When people ask me what there is to see in Saskatchewan, I don't know what to tell them. This isn't because there's nothing to see in Saskatchewan, but because I'm not sure where to start. Although I've lived here for over 20 years, I've only seen a small fraction of it. Thankfully, that's why we have the Saskatchewanderer.

In an earlier blog I introduced Ashlyn George, Saskatchewan's fourth Saskatchewanderer. The past year Ashlyn has been driving around the prairies going on a plethora of adventures both above ground, below ground, in the water, and in the air. From mining underground for potash in Vanscoy to raising the dead in Indian Head, Ashlyn is on her way to breaking over 38,000 kilometers driven by years end.

Although she's done just about everything, from snow kiting to wind surfing to air gliding to pizza growing, Ashlyn's favorite adventure hasn't been the scheduled time, but the unscheduled time – the time when she had the "freedom to wander".

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Instagramming Canada - Newfoundland and Labrador

"Where the skies are oyster grey and houses resemble flavored jellybeans" is how one Instagrammer described Newfoundland and Labrador, and it's easy to see why. While the skies above are often grey and foreboding with the threat of the imminent winter, the houses are a "anarchy of colour", ranging from reds to yellows to greens and blues. This colour scheme seems to be very popular in this area of the world, as it is also done in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI, Nunavut, Greenland and Iceland and I personally love it!

Newfoundland and Labrador is almost unanimously agreed to be the first place Europeans touched North American soil around the year 1000 CE. They believe Lief Erikson, the famous Norse Viking, touched down in three places: Helluland (Baffin Island), Markland (Labrador) and Vinland (Newfoundland). There are other unconfirmed reports of earlier European contact, but Erikson's arrival was the first semi-permanent settlement made by Europeans.

When Europeans finally arrived in the 1496, they soon discovered the area had the best cod fishing in the North Atlantic. The British, French and Spanish clashed several times in this area fighting for the cod, which quickly became a prized commodity in the Old World.

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Instagramming Canada - Prince Edward Island

Part 12 of my cross Canada series takes us to the smallest province in Canada, Prince Edward Island. However, don't let the name confuse you: PEI is actually 232 islands!

PEI also happens to have smallest population of any province in Canada, with only 146,300 people as of 2014. This means this province has less people than my hometown Regina!

Being so small, however, it was difficult to find images on Instagram. That isn't to say there's nothing there worth seeing! Quiet the quandary, actually. PEI has a few very unique locations that drive their tourism. One of them is the gorgeous themed village of Avonlea, named after the village in the hit novel "Anne of Green Gables" published in 1908. This story, and the subsequent stories, follows Anne, a red-haired "fiery" orphan who grows up on PEI. The story is an international bestseller, and is strangely very popular in Japan (or so I've been told)!

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Instagramming Canada - Nova Scotia

Approaching the end of Grade 12, I told my mother I didn't want to go to graduation. Instead, I said, I wanted to go to the Canadian Maritimes. I had been to BC, Alberta, AND Manitoba and soon would be going to Ontario, but I had never been to Atlantic Canada. So, instead of having a big grad party, my mother and I took an unforgettable trip to the East Coast.

After a long flight (that's a story for another time) we arrived in Halifax and drove down to Peggy's Cove. On our way there I realized I wasn't in Saskatchewan anymore! The ground was red and fertile, the grass was a powerful emerald, and the Atlantic shoreline was the purest white. Halifax was beautiful, and so historical that I even wrote an article all about it. In that article I talked about the incredible history of this area, from things such as the devastating Halifax Explosion that flattened the city, the tragedy of Swissair Flight 111 and the final resting place of hundreds of victims of the RMS Titanic.

But Halifax, and Nova Scotia, isn't all doom and gloom. It has the Cabot Trail, Canada's most scenic highway (weather pending), the isolated horse island of Sable Island, many quirky, colorful houses, gorgeous universities and an small town charm that is unforgettable. Blessed with some of the best lobster in the country (the first time I ever saw a McLobster was in Nova Scotia), and brimming with scores of fish, crabs and oysters, this province is the complete opposite of the place I call home... and I loved every bit of it!

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Instagramming Canada - New Brunswick

In 2010 my mother and I took a trek out to the Maritimes to see the Eastern Canada. We started in Nova Scotia, went up to PEI and then wanted to go to New Brunswick. Unfortunately, we ran out of time and were only able to take a few pictures at the border before heading back to Halifax. We were both really disappointed as we really wanted to see more of New Brunswick.

Of the 13 provinces and territories, New Brunswick is the 11th smallest while its neighbor to the West, Quebec, is the 2nd bigger. The two provinces are drastically different in many ways, but share one common trait: French is spoken fluently in both of them. In fact, New Brunswick is the only official bilingual province in Canada which made searching for pictures on Instagram that much more complicated.

Europeans possibly touched New Brunswick over a thousand years ago when the Norse Vikings were exploring Canada's coastline, but the first permanent European visitor arrived in 1534. The area has been inhabited ever since! To put that in perspective, Queen Elizabeth I was one year old, and Anne Boleyn had yet to be executed. Canada itself wouldn't become a country for another 333 years!

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Instagramming Canada - Quebec

I had the incredible opportunity of visiting Quebec for the first time this summer, and it stole my heart away. I've seen many of the provinces and territories across Canada, but there's just something special about Quebec.

To me, Quebec is a province locked in time. Montreal is futuristic, with expansive bridges, modern art, postmodern architecture and has the title of being where John Lennon and Yoko Ono staged their "Bed In For Peace". Quebec City, on the other hand, is old fashioned, remarkably European with French styled architecture, has old cobblestone roads and a massive murals. The contrast between the two cities is so incredible that I actually considered splitting this article into two sections, one about Montreal and one about Quebec.

However, I decided to just remind my dear readers that if they want to read more about my time in Quebec, I have an article about Montreal's 1000 Steeples and one about the gorgeously haunted city of Quebec.

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Instagramming Canada - Ontario

Ontario doesn't need an introduction. Internationally, it's known for the Great Lakes, Niagara Falls and the CN Tower. Nationally, it is known for its politics. It's home to Canada's largest city (Toronto) and Canada's capital city (Ottawa).

However, Ontario's role on the national and international stage stretches much further back than Confederation in 1867. A century before, in 1788, Ontario was under control of the Province of Quebec and was split into four sections. The divisions continued over the next fifty years, and by 1838 Ontario was divided into twenty sections! In 1867, when Canada first became a country, Ontario's borders with the newly acquired "Rupert's Land" came into question. Over the next 40 years there would be many adjustments due to the creation and expansions of new provinces (Manitoba, Quebec) and the adjusting of borders because of conflicts (the Red River Rebellion).

Today, Ontario is split unofficially into two sections: southern Ontario and northern Ontario. The reason for this division is because of the vast geographical differences between the the two. The Great Lakes in southern Ontario help keep the area warm in the winter and are responsible for its summer growing season. Northern Ontario has much less water, and is thus much dryer, creating very long, very cold winters. The majority of Ontario's population lives around the Great Lakes, while a very small minority of people live in northern Ontario.

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Instagramming Canada - Manitoba

Welcome to Manitoba, and the second half of our Instagram trip across Canada! How have you enjoyed it so far? I've loved seeing the different corners of every province and territory. Speaking of, I've been to Manitoba a few times, but I've never had the chance to really explore it. I've really enjoyed putting this article together to showcase the province, so please go through the images and give their respected photographers some love!

Manitoba is known for its rivers (and how they like to overflow), their nature and their unique culture. Manitoba's history began with the Red River Rebellion during the founding days of Canada, and the scars from that battle are still evident over a hundred years later. Nevertheless, Manitoba is growing and is changing into a shining icon of multiculturalism and human rights. The capital city, Winnipeg, is even home to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, which you can see in my cover phone (image courtesy of Travel Manitoba!) and throughout this article.

I introduce you Part 7 of 13, "Instagramming Canada - Manitoba"! Be sure to share this one and spread the word about this gorgeous province!

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Instagramming Canada - Nunavut

I want to begin this entry by talking a little bit about the sheer size of Nunavut. As I have said in other articles, Canada is the second largest country in the world. However, what I didn't know until writing this article was that because Nunavut is also so large, it is the center of Canada! Nunavut is so big that it is the size of British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan combined. If you're not Canadian and that doesn't mean much to you, Nunavut is the size of the UK, France, Spain, Germany, Italy and Poland combined.

And it is only inhabited by 32,000 people. That's right, only 32 thousand people!

Being that far north, parts of Nunavut have six months of straight daylight, and six (very long, very cold) months of straight night. The communities are very small, and abandoned towns are sadly very frequent. There are also ships frozen in the waters, ranging from Swedish viking ships to modern tankers. The thick ice is impossible to pass, even with climate change. As you can see in the pictures below, people can cross the ice from Baffin Island to Greenland (which often made it difficult for me to figure out where exactly the picture was taken).

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Instagramming Canada - Saskatchewan

We're nearing the half-way point of this cross Canada journey, and today I bring to you my home province of Saskatchewan.

To many, Saskatchewan is boring: it's difficult to spell, easy to draw and plain to look at. In reality however, Saskatchewan is beautiful. It's covered in thousands of lakes, rolling hills, sand dunes, lush forests and sprawling cities. It's a plethora of cultures and a mosaic of people. It's my home, and freezing winter aside, I love it.

Being from southern Saskatchewan, I don't get up north very often so I don't even get to see the things in this article. To be honest, I've lived here for 23 years and I've never been to my neighboring city of Saskatoon. That's right: I've been to Rome and I've been to Hong Kong, but I've never been to Saskatoon. Seeing that city via Instagram was a treat, and I hope to make my way up there soon. Because of this, I shared a lot more Saskatoon pictures than I did Regina pictures. If you're interested in seeing more about Regina, I did a whole article about it.

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Instagramming Canada - Northwest Territories

When I started this post, I had the same question as you: "What is there worth seeing in the Northwest Territories?" I expected snow, ice, permafrost and igloos. I wasn't wrong, but I was far from the truth. While learning about this stunning territory, I found out all sorts of things. I won't bore you with them, but there are two interesting places worth mentioning.

The first is the Giant Mine, a gold mine that entered production in 1948. It ran until 2004 and produced 7 million ounces of gold. In 1992, during the height of a labor dispute about the mine, an explosion ripped through it, killing nine people. It was discovered this explosion was caused by a bomb set by Roger Warren, and he was convicted for nine counts of second-degree murder. He claimed the union had "dehumanized" the strikebreakers (somebody who refuses to go on strike during a labor dispute) and had the union, security or the company listened to the strikers, he wouldn't have done it.

After the mine closed, it was discovered the land was poisoned with around 17,000 tons of arsenic and asbestos. This includes nearby lakes, rivers, forests and houses. The company said it was the responsibility of the Canadian and Northwest Territorial government to clean up. The containment is lethal, even in small doses, and the cleanup effort is being called the "greatest challenge associated with the remediation of Giant Mine". In 2014 the Canadian government put forward $900 million to a billion dollars to clean up the area through freezing the contaminants and transporting them somewhere safe. Once completed, it is expected that the Northwest Territories' first mining museum is to be built on the property, although there is no set date.

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Instagramming Canada - Alberta

Today in my Instagramming Canada series I am featuring the gorgeous province of Alberta! This time around I decided to use more architecture/city images instead of just nature just to see how it goes over. Alberta is known for rocky mountains, pristine lakes and eerie badlands, but just to try something new, I stuck in some city life too! Let me know what you think!

Without further adieu, I present to you: "Instagramming Canada - Alberta".

And a huge thank-you once again to José Luis Echeverría-Hayes for this awesome cover picture! Be sure to follow him on Instagram!

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Instagramming Canada - Yukon

After British Columbia earlier this week, I decided to go up north for the second part of my thirteen part series, "Instagramming Canada - Yukon". For those who don't know, or who are just tuning in, for the next 6 weeks I'll be focusing on a different province or territory in Canada, and I'll be showcasing some Instagram images taken of it by photographers just like you!

Be sure to "like" the images below and give these guys a follow! Some of these pictures are breathtaking!

The next place I'm doing is Alberta on September 21st! Be sure to send me your pictures to get featured just like these!

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Instagramming Canada - British Columbia

I am happy to introduce the first part of my thirteen part series, "Instagramming Canada - British Columbia". If you read my September 10th blog, you'll know what this is. If not, that's okay too! For the next 7 weeks, twice a week, I'll be posting Instagram pictures taken from tourism companies, professional photographers, and you (!) to showcase one of Canada's brilliant provinces, and if you haven't guessed it, today is beautiful British Columbia!

Be sure to "like" and follow the Instagrammers below!

The next place I'm doing is the Yukon, on September 17th! Be sure to send me your pictures to get featured just like these!

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September 10 Update

Hey everyone! It's that time of the month again!

This month I managed to put out 4 new articles, with the first being a booming success! The others just fizzled, but weren't travel related, so I wasn't surprised that they didn't do too well.

This month, my most popular article was 50 Images that Showcase Regina, which was written in anticipation of the Instameet later in August. That article was read 211 times last month, which was about 7 times a day! Not bad at all!

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Remembering Seneca Village

Seen as an urban oasis, Central Park has been featured in countless films, television shows, music videos and novels. It has been praised by thousands and is visited by millions every year. It has gone through several declines and revivals since it was created in 1857, but the park has nevertheless persevered, and is a personification of the determination and strength of New Yorkers.

The park has brought the city together in times of need, with the most memorable time being after the destruction of the World Trade Center in 2001. With the city torn, an influx of sympathetic volunteers arrived from around the world to assist with the cleanup, forming a miniature community in Central Park. Families seeking lost loved ones came into this community and hung posters by the thousands, looking for the three thousand plus missing people that were victims of the terrorist attack. This community brought safety, unity and reassurance to a city that needed it.

However, Central Park hasn't always brought people together, and in the 1850s it was responsible for driving away thousands in what is considered one of the most tragic events in early New York City history.

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My Airbnb Experience

Although Airbnb has become a traveler's best friend when it comes to inexpensive - or expensive - lodging since 2008, I had never considered using it until my trip to Quebec earlier this year. I'm one of those people who like to spend a lot of money on expensive hotels that I hardly spend any time inside. While I'm not a luxury traveler by any means, I still like comfort. I also like to save money. This is where Airbnb comes in, as it offers a cheap, affordable alternative to a hotel.

Airbnb is a service that transforms everyday houses into bed and breakfasts. These lodgings are run by people who are looking to make some extra money, or who are also traveling and are in need of somebody to take care of their place while they are away. I did some casual browsing online and found some places as cheap as $30 a night, to almost $800 a night. Keep in mind; this can vary from one bedroom in a small house to an entire three-story bungalow.

The idea of renting out a house may seem daunting, but in some cases it would make sense. For example, a friend of mine takes annual trips down to Dallas, Texas, with a dozen of his friends for the FunFunFun Festival. He normally spends a week down there, and they rent out a house for a fairly reasonable rate. Even if it costs $200 a night, they are still saving a fortune compared to the cost of a six hotel rooms for a week.

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The Bombing of Saskatchewan

Two-hundred forty-three people currently live in Stony Rapids, Saskatchewan, which is exactly the same number of words in the whole Wikipedia article about the community. Stony Rapids is so isolated that it doesn't even have a road connecting it to the rest of the province. In fact, the only way to enter it is by private aircraft, so it would seem strange that the events in this hamlet would involve a continental-wide search and destroy mission that would bring World War II to the heart of the Canadian Prairies.

Details of the events in Stony Rapids are minimal, with several news agencies calling the Canadian military records "maddeningly brief". Fortunately, the events in Stony Rapids had several precursors, and by the time the people of Stony Rapids saw something in the sky above them, the military already knew what it was.

The first recorded sighting was on December 4th, 1944 in Thermopolis, Wyoming. Two men were standing outside on that crisp night and heard a strange hissing sound coming from above them in the distance. Looking up, they witnessed a large explosion and a "white disk" floating away from the area. The men couldn't see what had happened where the explosion occurred, so they jumped into their truck and chased the disk. Within ten minutes they lost it in the darkness, so they returned to where the explosion was. There, they found a small crater and metallic shrapnel. This was the remains of one of the 10,000 balloon bombs launched by the Japanese to turn the tide of war against America. It was also the first ever intercontinental weapon.

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August 10 Update

Hey everyone! Time for another update!

July was another busy month for the blog. Unlike June, where I only put out 3 articles, in July I put out 5!

The first one I wrote, What Is Islam?, looks at the foundings of Islam, the history of Mohammad, his teachings and what it has become today due to the Ottoman Empire. I wrote this one because I felt a lot of people have a negative stigma towards Islam so I wanted to educate people on what the religion really is. Like most religions, what it is and how the people practice it are two totally different things.

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The Statues of Piazza della Signoria

I'll never forget the first book I read by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. This novel, Brimstone, focuses on several businessmen who supposedly sold their soul to the devil to gain wealth and power. Things take a turn for the worst, however, when the businessmen begin to be killed off by some kind of demonic force. This thrilling mystery novel takes the heroes to Florence, Italy where they uncover something as dark as hell itself: the human soul.

I hadn't realized it while reading Brimstone, but Preston was actually writing two novels while living in Florence. While one was about a fictional devil, the other was about a real devil, "The Monster of Florence". The Monster killed for 17 years, and had almost twenty victims. He would kill lovers, mutilate the females and occasionally send pieces of them to the police. The Monster was never caught.

While living in Florence, Preston teamed up with Florencian journalist Mario Spezi, a man who had followed the killings since the beginning and knew more than anybody else about the Monster.  Together, the two journalists uncovered vast amounts of shady police work, missing evidence, unreliable witnesses, false testimonies, blatant accusations, innocent imprisonments, corrupted politics and Satanic rituals.

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10 Things To Do in Venice

I don't often take blog requests, but a friend approached me recently and asked about Venice. He's traveling to Italy for a wedding this summer and is stopping in Venice for few days. He asked me if I knew what he could do in the Floating City, so I racked up a list of ten things for him to see.

Feel free to leave a comment and let me know if I missed anything, what your favorite thing to see in Venice was, or if you plan to go visit Venice after reading this!

You're not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

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Should Terrorism Stop You from Traveling?

"I tell Western tourists, come to Tunisia, the first democracy in the Arab world, to share this historic moment and support a democratic transition and also enjoy its sun, beaches, desert and culture." said Tunisian tourism minister Amel Karboul on February 26th, 2014.

Just over a year later, in June 2015, British Prime Minster David Cameron urged all British tourists to immediately vacate Tunisia after a terrorist massacred tourists, leaving 30 Britons dead.

The statements of Amel Karboul and David Cameron show two very different sides of the world we live in, one that is seemingly balanced between tranquility and chaos. This unknown variable has led many people to wonder if terrorism should stop you from seeing the world, or if the world is just far too dangerous to explore. The answer, of course, is no.

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Quebec City

"July 12th -
"First bombing of the city. At 9 p.m., at the moment of the final blessing of the church, the English begin firing their cannons and bombarding the city using five mortars and four large cannons. The mortars and cannons were fired for about twenty-five minutes, around every twenty-five minutes until noon on the thirteenth without interruption. The attack filled the city with terror, and in fact considerably damaged several homes and churches, especially the Cathedral, the Jesuits and the Congregation. Our rectory was breached by two 32-lb cannon balls.

"July 23rd –
"Before the siege, we had retrieved from the church the four tabernacles, two statues of the Blessed Virgin and of St. Louis, the high alter, two small paintings, four reliquaries, four beautiful crystal crosses that were in the sanctuary, the altar frontals and all the ornaments, silverware and linens.

"All the rest was burned."

- Fr. Jean-Felix Recher, pastor of Notre Dame Cathedral, 1759

As I stood on the balcony above Notre Dame Cathedral in Quebec City, I had a hard time fathoming the horror the city once experienced. Pictures show the devastation the building was in when the siege concluded. The cathedral was destroyed, with its columns scorched, the pews turned to ash, and the roof obliterated. It would take years to rebuild. The destruction of this church – the first Catholic parish north of Mexico – and the defeat of Quebec a month later would fragment New France, an area spanning Hudson's Bay to the Gulf of Florida. This war would change history, and transform North America into a British colony.

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What Is Islam?

A few months ago I wrote a post about Buddhism, explaining who Buddha was, how Buddhism came to be and what Buddhists believe. I didn't write it with the idea of converting anybody or selling anybody on the religion; I simply wrote it to inform people. Today I am doing the same thing, but this time about a religion that carries some negative stigma: Islam.

We are living in an exciting time in history where religions are mingling together at an extraordinary pace. However, with the arrival of anything "new" (although Islam is actually over 1,400 years old), people are weary of it. This is particularly true when that "new" thing introduced itself to the West by crashing airplanes into the World Trade Center. Since that fateful day in 2001 many people began asking questions: 'What is Islam? Who is Muhammad? What do Muslims believe in? What do they want?'

To begin, we need to familiarize ourselves with some words used when talking about Islam.

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July 10 Update

Welcome to another monthly recap!

June was a slow month for my blog. I only managed to push out three articles all last month: Destination: Halifax, an article about this beautiful Nova Scotian city; The Saskatchewan Military Museum and its incredible collection of war relics, weapons and medals; and Montreal's Thousand Steeples, an article about the many secrets found throughout the streets of Montreal.

While there are many reasons for my lack of articles this month (including my recent addiction to Game of Thrones -- is winter ever going to arrive!?), the most prominent reason is because I took a vacation. I wanted to go somewhere new, but wanted to go somewhere that wouldn't be too expensive. Montreal, New Orleans and Rio de Janeiro were all options, but once I saw the beautiful Notre Dame in Montreal, my decision was made.

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Montreal's Thousand Steeples

For each steeple in Montreal there is a different side to the city. Some say there is a hundred steeples, other say there is a thousand, but to me the story lies not on the rooftops, but in the streets.

At almost 375 years old, Montreal has seen a lot of change. Belonging to the countries of France, Britain and Canada during its existence, Montreal has had to adapt to an ever changing view of the world.

Quebec in general is known across Canada as being "that province"; the one that doesn't want to change, the one that doesn't like anybody, and the one that wants to separate. However, this stigma is incorrect and Montreal is an example of this. It isn't that Montreal despises Anglophones, but instead it prides itself on being Francophone. Montreal embraces the idea of a united Canada, and has always tried to find unity through similarities rather than division through differences. In turn, Montreal welcomes people from all over the world, French, English or otherwise. They accept people from all walks of life because, to them, they are from the "other" walk of life.

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The Saskatchewan Military Museum

"What is this regiment of which we are so proud? It was born in bastardy. Legitimized, lived a brief exciting life, and was laid to rest in 1945.
But its spirit lives on in this association."

— Lt. Col. C.D. Williams, CD, QC.
Victoria, B.C., 1985

Situated in room 112 of the Regina Armories is a museum of unprecedented value. Packed with hundreds of uniforms, thousands of war medals, a plethora of guns, swords, grenades and inactive military shells, the Saskatchewan Military Museum covers Canadian conflicts as early as the South African Boer War.

Officially opened on March 1st, 1984, the Saskatchewan Military Museum was the private collection of retired Major C. Keith Inches. Having exponentially grown in the years leading up to its foundation, Major Inches decided it was time to find a permanent place for his collection and was granted room 112 in the Regina Armories in 1991. Once the museum was founded however, the growth only hastened. Today, the collection includes things such as World War I wooden crosses, assault boats, paintings, personal letters, horse saddles, memorial plaques, build-your-own bomb-shelter booklets and even radioactive material. The collection is so large, in fact, room 112 doesn't even hold a quarter of it -- probably not even an eighth. The museum has storage in a half dozen rooms spanning the entire armory, from the depths of the basement to its highest towers.

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Destination: Halifax

With graduation around the corner and vacation only a few short weeks away, many people are looking for some place to kick back, relax and enjoy the summer heat. Some might head down to the lake, some might go up to the mountains, and others might just hang out in their backyard. It was of one of these summers that my mom and I decided instead of going camping, we would go someplace we have never been: the Canadian Maritimes.

Our first destination was Halifax, a city I have only read about in history class. My knowledge of the city, its beauty and its incredible legacy was unknown to me. It was only years later, while looking through old pictures and reliving past memories, that I realized just how incredible that trip was.

In honor of the anniversary of my trip to the Maritimes, I bring you: Destination: Halifax, and a short list of things to do in this incredible city.

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June 10 Update

Hey everyone! Time for another update!

Last month started off slow, and although I did a piece on Tourism Reigna and I wrote about the RCMP Heritage Center, I didn't see a whole lot of extra traffic. That disappointed me as I had expected some extra leads to come from those two posts.

As May ended, I looked at my traffic compared to April and saw I was down by several hundreds page views. Frustrated, I decided to write a piece I've been working on since March, and although it was 12 points shorter than what I had originally planned, I wrote "8 Places to Visit in Regina" on May 31st. On June 1st I joined a blogging community on Facebook. Then I watched in amazement at what happened next:

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5 Things To See in St. Petersburg

If you're a fan of the sun, beach, palm trees, or the National Hockey League, you'll probably be eyeing up Tampa, Florida in the next few weeks (assuming the Tampa Bay Lighting will win the series). But, just south of the metropolis is another, much smaller, but very beautiful city of St. Petersburg.

Named after the city in Russia, St. Petersburg is a bustling community of history, culture and art. Having its name chosen by a coin flip, "St. Pete" was founded in 1892 with a population of only 300 people. Situated on the Tampa Bay peninsula, fishing was a very important part of the city's history, and the deepening of the shipping channel from 1906 to 1908, and again during the 1910s, allowed for larger boats to gain access the city's port. Twenty years after being founded, the population had boomed to over 4,000 people.

In 1914, St. Pete made history when Tony Jannus flew the first ever commercial airplane out of the city and across Tampa Bay. In the 1980s St. Pete once again made international attention as it was chosen to house the greatest collection of works by Salvador Dali outside of Europe.

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8 Places to Visit in Regina

When I first started this project, I didn't know what would come of it.

During my interview with the Saskatchewanderer, she recommended I approach Tourism Regina and see if I could write for them. Tourism Regina agreed and published my article, but due to it's size restrictions, I wasn't able to talk about as many places as I wanted to.

Since beginning this project, I have sent over three dozen emails to many organizations and businesses around the city. Once I was done my initial research, I had more questions than answers, some of which I don't think I'll ever know. Once realizing the vast amount of information out there, I decided to cut this project down substantially. But, although it ended up different then I thought it would, I am happy to finally present to you, "8 Places to Visit in Regina".

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Regina: A Century of Change

At 112 years old, Regina has seen its fair share of changes.

While exploring the city for my piece on Tourism Regina and my 8 Places to Visit in Regina, I stumbled upon the Civic Museum of Regina. The CMR will be featured in my upcoming blog where I will talk about its many fascinating treasures from our city's past, but in this article I will discuss one very unique artifact I found in their museum: an old map of the original plan of Regina.

While I don't have a date for this map, I estimate it to be created somewhere between the 1900s and 1910s, which means it was probably created early into the city's history. The map shows what the city was proposed to look like, and while they are some locations that remained the same, much of the map has changed.

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The Heritage of the RCMP

"Why did you join the RCMP?" I asked retired officer Ken Fader, who served from 1959 to 1986.

Fader worked as a highway patrol officer in Saskatchewan during that time, minus a half dozen years when he worked in Ontario. When he wasn't patrolling the highways, he was serving the First Nation reserves that dot the province, focusing mainly on crime prevention and enforcing peace. Fader now works as a guide at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Heritage Center in Regina, Saskatchewan.

His reasoning for joining is universal, and a variation of it can probably be used for every officer that has ever joined the force.

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Why I Love Hong Kong

One of the greatest things about traveling the world is that you never experience the same thing twice. A city might have the same name, the same culture, or the same food, but there are no two locations on earth exactly the same. And that's where my love for Hong Kong begins.

Hong Kong is part London, part Beijing and very much not part Tokyo. The culture is both proudly Chinese, proudly British and proudly not Japanese, with multicultural street names like Nathan Street and Shan Tung Street crisscrossing the city. The markets are dotted with both traditional fish ball kiosks and MacDonald Big Macs. The streets are full of bicycles and Fords, and the waterways are full of junk ships and recreational powerboats. Using chopsticks in Hong Kong is applauded equally as much as English. Hong Kong isn't just a city: it's a city between two very different worlds. Hong Kong is the gateway to the East.

Being said, I had no idea what Hong Kong would be like when I first arrived. Would it be like Kyoto and it's temples, or like London and it's Gothic architecture? Or would it be like New York, a finely oiled machine? With my mind open to possibilities, I was in awe when my train first came above ground on the island of Tsing Yi. I have seen skyscrapers before, but these were different. Hong Kong is a forest of skyscrapers! Their apartment complexes dwarf the tallest buildings in my home town! Built between the ocean and the mountains, this concrete jungle spanned the entire city, creating a beautiful canopy of brown, grey, black and green.

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The Liebster Award

I would like to thank According to Zascha for nominating me for the Liebster Award! I've never been nominated for something, so this is really exciting! For those who don't know, the Liebster Award is an award for bloggers to become better known. Blogging requires a lot of hard work and dedication, so it's nice to get some kind of recognition

How this works is that the person who nominated you asks 11 questions, and then you pick 5 bloggers and ask them another 11 questions. It's pretty simple, so let's get to it!

My parents often took me traveling when I was young, and it was common to go camping once or twice a year. We would always try to go somewhere different too, like to a different lake or a different national park. I started traveling by myself after high-school when I took a trip to Kingston, Ontario for the NEXT Generation Leaders conference. Here I met people from all over the world, and I was inspired to visit all of their countries like they had visited mine.

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May 10 Update

Hello once again, avid readers!

On every 10th of the month I like to re-cap last month and discuss what's to come in the following month. April was a unique month for Kenton de Jong Travel. Instead of writing about specific locations I chose more general locations like Japan or Canada. I also compared two travel companies, Contiki and G Adventures, and looked at pricing differences, locations available and my experiences with both. I discussed religion and money-making, and I had the incredible opportunity to interview Saskatchewan's official blogger, the Saskatchewanderer.

I also formally announced what my "secret project" for the past few months has been. Although severely delayed (sorry!), my article about my hometown of Regina has gained unprecedented attention and I had no choice but to reveal it. The reason for the reveal was because Regina Tourism caught wind of what I was doing, and told me they would love to feature my article on their blog. Apparently their blogger is a fan of mine, and has been following me for some time. This is such an incredible opportunity for me, and I'm really excited and thankful for it! It will officially be launched the week of May 18th.

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How to Monetize Your Blog

I am no expert in monetization, but after having my Google Adsense account disabled, I have had to do a fair bit of research into generating at least some profit from my website. Although this is technically a travel blog, and monetization techniques have nothing to do with traveling, it may help some other bloggers in generating better revenue for their blog.

This is the first question you have to ask yourself before monetizing your blog or website. Do you have enough traffic that monetization is worth the hassle? If you're only getting peanuts for traffic then slapping ads on your site won't do anything. In April 2015, I had 2054 page-views. This is a little above average for me. In this month, using my AdClickMedia / Spoutable combination, I generated a total of $3.40. If you use this as a benchmark, you'll see that to get good revenue, you have to get around 10,000 views a month.

But, keep in mind, the revenue generation does vary between advertising companies. In February I used Google Adsense, and in that month alone I made $8.56. AdClickMedia pays you about 5 cents for every click their ad gets, while Google Adsense pays you anywhere from 2 to 80 cents. It depends on the company, who they're advertising for and how much money is going towards their advertising campaign. In theory, you could make $300 a click, if you get the right ad to the right person.

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Meet the Saskatchewanderer

In 2011, Saskatchewan's Ministries of Parks Culture and Sport started the Saskatchewanderer program. The purpose of the program was to hire a Saskatchewan resident full-time for one year to explore the far corners of the province, and become "Saskatchewan's official adventurer, explorer and storyteller". This program is used to highlight all the well-known and lesser-known wonders of this beautifully rectangular province.

I had the wonderful opportunity to meet the fourth official Saskatchewanderer, Ashlyn George. Ashlyn is a "27 and a half"-year-old adventure blogger who had a childhood dream of being either a ballerina or a doctor. Being born in Leslie, Saskatchewan, she moved to Saskatoon and got both an Education and English degree. While in university, she traveled to Guatemala for an incredible educational experience, solidifying her current love for Central America. After graduation she spent six months traveling through Oceania, meeting many other travelers and learning about other corners of the world. Although she found teaching to be fun and rewarding, it wasn't her passion. Instead, as she soon discovered, travelling was.

"Once you start traveling, you don't cross things off the list..." she said. "You actually start adding things to your list"

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7 Things You Didn't Know About Canada

I'm proudly Canadian, and I accept the fact that a lot of people know very little about my country. A lot of people also seem to think cities like Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver "define" Canada. Just to set it straight, while these are beautiful cities, they don't represent the whole of Canada.

Being such a quiet country, we often keep our secrets to ourselves... and often from ourselves. This is a list of 7 things you -- and maybe other Canadians -- don't know about Canada.

Located southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia is a small island where the average citizen are not allowed. This island is called Sable Island, and is a fragile ecological environment home to the unique Sable Island Horse. Over 400 horses live on this island, with only 5 humans there to watch over them.

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Contiki vs G Adventures

Due to the popularity of my Why Traveling Solo Is The Worst blog post, I decided to write a continuation of it. A lot of people prefer to travel solo because it helps them "find themselves", however I am a klutz who makes too many mistakes to be trusted to travel alone. Although an adult, I still require adult supervision, and I am probably not the only one. On my trips to Europe and Japan I used the tour groups Contiki and G Adventures, respectively. But what's the difference between the two, and who would I use again?

(It should be noted that while there are Contiki ads on my site, they are powered through Commission Junction and not actually Contiki. I have applied for G Adventures ads as well; twice actually, but they have yet to be accepted. While neither company sponsors me, it would be cool if they did! :)

I traveled with Contiki in 2011, and went on the "European Discovery" tour. We visited 8 countries (England, Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Italy, Vatican City, Switzerland and France) and 11 cities (London, Amsterdam, St. Goar, Munich, Innsbruck, Venice, Rome, Florence, Vatican City, Lucerne and Paris) in 13 days. This tour costs $2,303 CAD.

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Buddhism and the West

I don't often hesitate to write blog posts. I just grab a pen, jot down some ideas and whittle away until I have something semi-coherent. But I was hesitant to write this entry. I wanted to write it, but I was worried about backlash. My blog has been, for the most part, very neutral on sensitive topics. I wanted to approach this in the same way but because I am Buddhist, I didn't want to preach the religion; I only wanted to explain it. If this entry offends anybody, I am sorry; that is, and never was, my intention.

Of the 6 major religions of the world, Buddhism sits in about the middle with roughly 376 million followers world-wide -- or about the population of the United States and Canada combined. There are about 3 times as many Hindus, 4 times as many Islamic and 7 times as many Christians as there are Buddhists. Being a very small religion, Buddhism is often very foreign to the West.

The largest difference between Buddhism and the Abrahamic religions is that Buddhism doesn't have a god. However, Buddhists have no problem with their followers being both Buddhist and Christian. The two religions have many similarities, and Buddhists feel they can coexist together in harmony. The same goes for Islamics, Hindus and Sikhs mixing their religion with Buddhism. Often times, however, these religions have trouble accepting their followers to be duel-religious because Buddhism is non-theistic. To Buddhists, God may or may not exist, and offers no advantage or disadvantage in being so. Buddhists strive to achieve "enlightenment", which is an over-all understanding of the workings of the universe. If God can help somebody achieve this, than great; but God is not needed. This is because they believe all the answers are inside themselves, waiting to be unlocked.

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7 Awesome Things About Japan

Japan is a beautiful country, one of temples and shrines, Shintoism and Buddhism, samurai warriors and kamikaze pilots, Pikachu and Godzilla, Hiroshima and Fukushima. Not only is its history colourful, it also stretches back tens of thousands of years.

Japan was long untouched by the West and was stuck in their traditions until as late as the 1860s when Western weapons were first introduced. It was at this time when the Japanese samurai realized they either had to change their traditions or become obsolete, so the shogun hung-up their swords and handed the power of the country over to the government. A mere 60 years later, Japan would become a world power and invade China and bomb Pearl Harbour, conquering much of the Far East in an attempt to form the "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere". After surrendering to the United States at the end of World War II, Japan changed what they represented again, and became a symbol of global peace. Although surrounded by the chaos of the Korean and Vietnam War, and today being close to the economic boomings of China and the nonsensical ramblings of a nuclear North Korea, Japan has kept the peace around the world. However, this may again change, especially after the beheadings of Haruna Yukawa and Kenji Goto by the Islamic State January, 2015. Prime Minister Shinzō Abe believes Japan should be able to declare war on countries as it seems fit, and is thought that he will use these senseless killings as reasoning to make Japan into a more offensive country.

I traveled to this beautiful island country last summer, and I saw things there I have never seen in the Western world. The list would be massive as Japan is such a unique country, but here at seven awesome things about Japan.

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April 10 Update

Hello again! Time for another monthly update!

March ended with a lot of uncertainties, especially when it came to advertising and the direction my blog was going since I'm not traveling and since I've run out of places to talk about (40 posts went by faster than I expected!). I also said a big project was coming up, but didn't say much. I'll give more hints about that in this entry, as well as what to expect this month.

First of all, as you may have noticed I have ads on my site again. There are six ads: one at the top before the content, one below the content and four at the bottom. These ads are generated via AdClickMedia. If you read my last update, I mentioned RevenueHits, which is apparently the best alternative to Google Adsense. AdClickMedia is similar to RevenueHits, but I feel their ads are better and they are more relevant. Some are still sometimes "out there", like weight loss pills, but nothing misleading that I've seen, so far.

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9 ½ Things To See in Paris

Of all the cities I visited in Europe, I was the least excited for Paris. Perhaps this was due to my ignorance of French culture, due to the cultural English/French division in Canada, or perhaps because I was just naive. Now that I'm older, however, I would go back to Paris in a heartbeat, and these are the 9 ½ things I'd make sure I saw!

"We, writers, painters, sculptors, architects and passionate devotees of the hitherto untouched beauty of Paris, protest with all our strength, with all our indignation in the name of slighted French taste, against the erection [...] of this useless and monstrous Eiffel Tower."

Those are some of the nicer words spoken about the initial concept, design and construction of the Eiffel Tower. Artists around Paris and France united against the construction of it, believing it to be hideous, grotesque and an ugly boil in the otherwise flawless city. Guy de Maupassant, a novelist and father of modern short stories, ate lunch inside the Eiffel Tower everyday after it's construction, not because he liked it, but because it was the only place in the city where he couldn't see it.

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Why Traveling Solo Is The Worst!

Traveling the world is great. You can see exotic places, make fantastic memories, tell incredible stories, eat new food, learn new things and meet wonderful people. Traveling is one of the most amazing things one can do with ones life. Nobody has ever said they regretting traveling. Not only this, but it also help you understand how this crazy world around us works and operates.

But traveling solo is one of the worst things you can ever do.

I suppose there are worse things you can do, like commit murder, but when it comes to seeing the world, doing it solo is lonely, awkward and dangerous.

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10 Things To See in Rome

Spanning a history of over two and a half thousand years, Rome is known as the birthplace of Western civilization. Rome is responsible for many things we have today, such as sanitation, medicine, education, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health. Rome is responsible for much more than that, such establishing Christianity, the stabilization of Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East, and is one of the major centers of the Italian Renaissance.

From the Roman Forum to the ancient Pantheon, Rome's architecture spans several religions, several empires and countless wars, but still somehow remained enact and is still used to this day. Listing all the "must see" locations in Rome would be impossible, as the entire city is a massive museum locked in time, but I will do my best to give you an idea of what to expect in the Eternal City.

If there's an icon building in Rome, it's the Colosseum. Construction on the Colosseum began in 70 CE with spoils used from the Sacking of Jerusalem. The building would grow to become the largest amphitheater in the world. Being able to hold between 50,000 to 80,000 people at a time, the Colosseum is even comparable in size to todays stadiums.

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My Travel Bucket List

We all have those magical vacation ideas. It may be vacationing on the beaches in Cuba, climbing the mountains to Machu Picchu or kayaking the Rhine, but we all have those places we long to see before we die.

I also have a list, but mine is probably a little different than what most people would pick. Because I am currently sitting, dreaming about faraway places until I have enough money saved up to take another, life altering trip, I thought I would share my travel bucket list. Maybe somebody who reads this could even help me cross some of these off!

On its 16th birthday, the city of Pripyat had a population of almost 50,000 people. Two months later the city would be abandoned.

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10 Things To See in London

Once the capital of the largest country in the history of the world, London is the inspiration behind countless novels, movies and television shows. From Harry Potter to Sherlock Holmes, James Bond to William Shakespeare, Big Brother to Dracula, London has inspired and intrigued the minds of people around the world for a millennium. But what is it about this city torn between it's rich history and utopian future that has people so mesmerized by it? Today is my fourth anniversary of visiting London, and while this list could be much longer, here are 10 Things to See In London:

A strong first place is the heart of London, and of the United Kingdom as a whole; St. Paul's Cathedral.

St. Paul's history is shrouded in mystery. The number of churches, cathedrals or temples that have been built on or around the present location is somewhere between three or four (possibly belonging to the Pagans or Romans), before a more permanent structure was built in 962 CE after a fire would destroy the 7th Century one. The fire of 1087 would destroy this church, and then another fire would halt progress in repairing it in 1136. It was enlarged in 1256, but was not completed until 1314. The building stood for the next 200 years and gradually decayed. The spire was destroyed by lightening in 1561, and eventually the whole building was destroyed in 1666 during the Great Fire of London. In 1669 the old church was gutted, and the current one was completed on Christmas Day, 1711.

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March 10 Update

My first monthly update got some pretty good reviews and everybody seemed to enjoy it, so I thought I would do another one. A lot has changed this past month, and there's a lot of changes yet to come.

First of all, we officially reached 10,000 likes on Facebook! Whoo-hoo! This is unbelievable! Compared to some Facebook pages, 10,000 doesn't seem like that much, but knowing that that many people care about my travels and read my posts mean the world to me. When my account was jammed up around 60 likes back in December I was getting pretty bummed out. Here I was, every other day pumping out long, detailed travel entries, knowing the only people who were going to read them were my close family and friends. It was frustrating because I was putting so much work into my posts, and so few people seemed to care. Now thousands care. It's unbelievable! When I go at weeks end and see that my blog was been red 600 times, I am ecstatic! There's nothing better in this world than knowing people are going out of their way to read your blog posts. So, once again, thank you everybody for your support.

The second big thing that happened, happened on March 1st. That was the day I took possession of my apartment and I didn't even realize it happened: for some reason Google disabled my Adsense account. I appealed to them to reenable it but it was denied it. They didn't have to tell me why my account is disabled, and they chose not to. I'm left assuming it was because I advertised on Facebook which brought traffic to my site, which in turn artificially inflated the money I earned via advertising. If anybody cares, in the whole month of February I made $7.87, which is $92 shy of the lowest limit Google will pay.

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Welcome To Canada

When people think about North America, they often think of the United States of America.

When people think about vacationing in North America, they often think of Florida, Jamaica, Cuba or Mexico. Often times, Canada is forgotten, both by tourists and the international community. Which to me is very odd.

Canada is the 2nd largest country in the world, covering almost 10 million square kilometers. It is larger than Europe, if you don't count Russia. Although it's large in size, the population is actually very low. 41 United Kingdoms can fit in Canada, but Canada only has half the population of the United Kingdom. With 33 million Canadians, each person can have about 1/3 of a squared kilometer all to themselves.

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10 Things To See in NYC

I had three rushed days in NYC, but I fit in as much as I possibly could. I didn't get to see some of the most famous sights of the city, like the Statue of Liberty (thanks Sandy), but I did get to see a city unlike any other. Many people say to me "What's there to do in New York City?", and so I complied this list:

Lights, cameras and action! New York City is full of artisans trying to make it big. At any given time there's over two dozens plays to go see in the city. In the need for a romantic play to get your mind off your broken heart? How about a mystery drama that will leave you thinking long after it's over? Or a toe-tapping play about rock and roll? Or a dramatization about war? New York has it all, and it's not that terribly expensive either!

I had the majority of a blog post dedicated to the Museum, but I unfortunately never made it to the memorial and the the memory pools that sit in the footprints of those two goliathan towers. Entering the 21st Century, and off the high of the 1990s, nobody could have been prepared for the the events of September 11th, 2001. It's a day forever stamped in our minds, and a day that plunged the United States into a decade long war, as well as reignited a religious struggle around the world. This is Ground Zero. This is where the towers fell, this is where the innocent died, this is where missing posters clung desperately on any flat surface, and this is where a city, divided by wealth, race, color and creed, was unified.

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February 10 Update

I've decided to keep ongoing updates just so people can follow along and see what's happening with me and my blog. This is the first of those updates, so I hope it isn't too boring.

Today at midnight our very first Facebook contest ended. I have yet to go through 44 posts to see who won, but I've been keeping a rough count and I think I know the top five winners. When I started the contest, I had just under 300 likes. Ending the contest, I have 6 and a half thousand. The past two weeks have seen incredible growth in my blog and in the support for it, and I only hope I can continue to offer somewhat interesting articles for you to read.

Moving on, lately I have been trying to improve the usability of my website. I'm getting anywhere from 50 to 200 hits on it a day, so I want to make sure it's as user friendly as possible. One of the big issues I've encountered are the large images. Some people love them, some hate them. I tried implementing a button on my site to hide and show said images, but nobody really understood it and it was confusing so I took it out. I have noticed my site isn't doing very good on mobile because of the heavy bandwidth due to the images, so I may scale them back, or I may find some new solution. I'm still thinking on that.

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Best Travel Tips

When I first started my journal entries of Europe, I started a halfhearted attempt at writing travel tips. I think I got about one or two in before before I forgot about it. Having time to reflect on that trip, and the many more since then, I have compiled the following list as advice for fellow travelers:

This may seem a little strange, but these can actually be very helpful. Imagine this: you're halfway across the world, alone, and you don't speak the language. You've just had a long day shopping, eating and exploring and now, exhausted, you somehow managed to hail a cab. But the taxi driver doesn't speak English, and you don't speak their language. You can't describe your hotel, and you probably don't remember the name of it. What do you do? You hand them the hotel's business card. Not only can the taxi driver see what your hotel is called, but he can see the address of it.

In many parts of the world, restaurants advertise their food outside, either on posters or in display cases. Some of it might even look appetizing! But how do you tell the people inside that you want the strange food item you saw outside? Simple. You take out your camera, take a picture of it, and when you go to take your order you show them the picture. They probably already know you're a foreigner, and it's probably best you don't try to explain what you want to eat it to them (because that's painful for all parties involved). If you have a picture of the item, they know exactly what you want, and you'll get exactly what you ordered... which brings us to our next point:

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Sayonara Asia

I would like to say I had trouble sleeping last night, but I didn't. The trip through Asia has been incredible; I have seen so many places, met so many inspirational people, learned so much, and tried so many new things, but my heart missed my friends and family back home.

People say Canadians are friendly, but that's true about Japanese and Hong Kong people as well. Everywhere I went, from Osaka (where a man helped me find my hotel in the rain by showing me his iPhone) to Kyoto(where a stranger gave me a ride to Nintendo HQ) to all the many people in Hong Kong who helped me find my way through the dizzying streets, the people were kind and friendly, and never let language boundaries get in their way.

Sitting on the plane, being just below Alaska and heading to Vancouver, I can't help but think about all the different things I did. There are so many things I forgot to mention! There's so many things I will forget, but also so many things I already forgot. I wonder where all my travel mates are now. I wonder what they're doing, what they're thinking. I wonder what Steve and Alison are doing. I wonder what our tour guide is doing. I wonder what my family is doing...

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Tsuen Wan

After my blunder yesterday, I only had one plan for today: travel to Tsuen Wan and meet my pen-pal Iris.

As a result, from about the time I got up at 9 AM until 2 PM, I did nothing in my hotel. After traveling to so many different cities the past few weeks, I needed a day. I unpacked my clothing, repacked it neatly, organized all my papers and souvenirs by city, checked on my wax hand to make sure it didn't break (it hadn't, thankfully) and got ready. Because we were meeting later in the day I wasn't as worried about the heat, but I knew it was still going to be another muggy day.

Two o'clock came, and armed with my gifts and tablet, I left my hotel and headed towards Olympic Stadium. I went North like yesterday, switched trains at the Lai King station, and headed West to Tsuen Wan. The whole trip took about a half hour.

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Launtua Island

Today is my last free day in Hong Kong. One of the reasons I came to Hong Kong was to meet my pen-pal Iris. I met Iris through a friend online a few years back, and after exchanging gifts and talking for years, I figured it was time I flew down to meet her. That's one of the reasons.

The other reason is the 1,000 year old fishing village of Tai O. Tai O was formed around a fresh water river that feeds into the ocean. As a result, it was a great spot for fishing and for salt gathering. That was, of course, 1,000 years ago. Now salt production is too expensive to do here, and fishing has become more of a way of survival than to make money thanks to globalization. As a result, Tai O's population has fallen, it's infrastructure has decayed and it is now known as Hong Kong's saddest, yet most popular, tourist destination. It is so famous that the village has a nickname: "The Venice of the Orient".

I left my hotel again and headed back towards Olympic Stadium. Instead of riding it South like I have been the past few days, I headed North, back to the airport. I got off at Tung Chung station, and had to cross a plaza on my way to the cable car. Hong Kong has been full of surprises, but I was not expecting what I in the plaza: elephants!

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Hong Kong Island

I had another another late morning in Hong Kong today, but that's because I only had one location in mind: The Peak on Hong Kong Island.

Last night on my way home I had bought a bottle of Aquarius Water. It's a wonderful beverage I first discovered in Japan. It's like the Gatorade of the Orient. No matter where I went in Japan I bought a bottle of it, and last night I bought a liter of it at a nearby 7-11. I took a swing of it for breakfast, brushed up and left for the day.

I walked West back to Olympic Station. It was difficult for me to find my way out of the station last night last night, but it was much easier in the daylight. Olympic Station is a huge station, that is several football fields long and multiple stories hight. It was also attached to a shopping mall, which is why it was so large. I also here learned that the reason it was named "Olympic Station" was in honor of several Hong Kong athletes winning gold in the 1996 Summer Olympics.

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Farewell Europe

I woke up at 4 AM today and was brushing my teeth around 4:30 when my hotel phone started to ring. It was my mom! She was calling to make sure I was awake. It was really nice of her to call, even though it was an ungodly hour. I think she really misses me.

I checked out of the hotel and went down the Russell Station. The station wasn't open yet so I had to wait for about 10 minutes for it to open up. It was then I realized that this was the same station where the 2005 London subway bombings took place.

There were a bunch of us waiting for the station to open and there was a group of people from America there, that wouldn't stop talking about how they "couldn't wait to get back to good ol' America". I wonder what it's like to travel across Europe with a group of friends...

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London Day 4

I woke up at 6:30 today. I had no reason to and my alarm wasn't going to go off for another 2 and half hours. I guess the past 12 days had set my biological clock for me. And so, I rolled over and fell back asleep.

I woke up at 9 and by 10:30 I was walking out of my hotel. I walked to Pret A Manger again, and had exactly what I had last time I was in London -- a ham and egg bloomer, a bowl of fruit and a can or sparkling orange juice ("With Absolutely No Nasties"). It seems almost unreal how much has changed since I last ate here -- how much I saw, and did and learned, and the people I met and lived with for 2 weeks. It seems like it was all a dream. It almost seems like it never even happened.

Once my breakfast was over I took out my map and saw that I was just a 30 minute walk from St. Paul's Cathedral. Since last time I was in London I was unable to go to St. Paul's because two stupid flower ladies got £40 off me "for the children", I was going to make sure I got there today. As well, because I didn't get inside the "most beautiful church in Europe" while in Rome, I was more determined than ever to go to the 2nd most beautiful church!

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Return to London

It was a long drive to the ferry station. I ended up sleeping when we drove through the Somme, but I was awake when we drove past the Vimy Ridge Memorial. Although it was on the horizon when we drove past it, I still tried to take a picture of it -- and it didn't turn out half bad!

We had to go through security again to get onto the ferry, much like we did when we first entered mainland Europe. On the ferry I had a few bloomers and watched the remaining Japanese tour members try fish-and-chips for the first time. After, I went onto the deck and took some pictures of the Cliffs of Dover, something I tried to do the first time but failed because of the fog.

We arrived in London and all decided to go out for supper together around 7. It was Flip's idea, actually, although she won't be joining us. We learned at this time that her real name wasn't Flip either: it was Jannelle. And Muffin? Roan.

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Kowloon

I enjoyed sleeping in today. I think I woke up sometime around 10. I was completely exhausted from my trip in Japan, but today was going to be another busy day.

My focus today was Kowloon, the mainland section of Hong Kong. Hong Kong is broken into many separate islands, with Kowloon being the only part attached to the mainland, besides the New Territories. Kowloon is an area more known for it's shops, street vendors, fish markets and the "Walled City", which had the highest population density on the planet -- or twice that of Manhattan, whichever is easier to comprehend. Although I never got there, pictures of that part of the city are phenomenal. Think your living quarters are cramped? The pictures make me feel claustrophobic.

Taken from "City of Darkness: Life in Kowloon Walled City Paperback – Oct 1993" by Ian Lambot

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Tokyo & Hong Kong

It wasn't even 4 o'clock when my alarm went off. I had packed everything the night before, so it was a quick shower, and quick goodbye to a sleepy Steve, and I was out the door by 5.

Alison, who throughout the trip was always two doors down from us, had also just left. I met up with her in the hallway and we walked down the main floor together. After yesterday, we both knew how to get around Tokyo, but nevertheless, waiting for us in the lobby was our tour guide. She came over and gave us a hug, and her business card. I never realized how hard it must be for tour guides, who travel and meet people from all over the world, then say goodbye and never meet them again. Siako said she teaches English when she's not touring, so I wonder if she's doing that now.

She told us how to get to the subway system, and we parted ways for the last time. Alison and I walked a few blocks to the station, and waited. It was the first train of the day, and there were hardly anybody else there.

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Tokyo

I woke up expecting bug bites, but happily had none. Neither did Steve. Some of the girls had found other insects in their rooms last night, but not any more cockroaches. Steve thinks they were large water-beetles, but regardless, I didn't want to share a bed with them.

Editor's Note: Thank you SO MUCH to Alison Snelgrove for letting me use her picture of Tokyo from the top of the Shinagawa Prince Hotel.

We had a quick, nervous breakfast and left in cabs back to the train station. It was too far to walk, and there was no bus running this early either. Several individual cab trips later, and after a bit of confusion as to where we were supposed to meet, we all found each other and took the train to Tokyo.

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Paris Day 2

This morning's weather conditions played a major role in how enjoyable my stay in Paris was. Unlike the rain in Venice, this weather phenomenon was man-made: it was a thick blanket of smog.

We had a quick breakfast and I met up with Dia. He told me he was leaving today to go back to Japan. I told him I had to go prepare for my day around Paris but I would say goodbye later in the day. I didn't understand that he, and many of the other Japanese tour members, were leaving to the airport this morning. I never got to say goodbye to them. As I write this, they are probably home by now.

Our day began with an optional stop at the Fragonard perfumery in Paris. We were given a tour of the perfumery, taught the history of perfume, were shown the different equipment to make it and got to go to the store and shop around. We were given samples of their promotional perfume -- Orange Blossom. I didn't really want any perfume, because I'm a guy, so later that day I just threw it out. (My mom and girlfriend wanted to kill me when they found out I did that.)

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Paris Day 1

Stereotypically, the French are short-tempered, rude and stink like cheese. As silly as it may sound, Paris was the place I was the least excited to go to on our tour. It is also the place our tour ends in. In a few days I will be going back to London, but for now, I have to withstand its French counter-part; Paris.

Those were my thoughts as we made the 9-hour drive from Lucerne to Paris. As I watch the hour-hand on my watch go to 12 AM, however, I wonder to myself how I could be so ignorant of the true City of Lights; the City of Love; Viva la Paris!

Not only is Paris the home to architectural phenomenon such as the Notre Dame and the Opera Theatre, but it also has beautiful bridges, churches, universities, art galleries, everything anybody would want to see. There was actually so much to see in Paris that I had to put a few things on my "Next Trip to Paris" list -- such as visiting the Catacombs.

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Lucerne

I am writing this from a jail-cell in Lucerne, Switzerland.

But don't worry; I'm not in trouble or anything. Tonight we get to sleep in the Jailhotel. Jailhotel is a hotel that was made out of an old jail (if you hadn't already guessed that). The rooms are small, cramped and have wooden, creaky floors. The only furniture in the room is two beds, a sink, and a single wooden chair. Behind me is a small barred window, high up on the wall. My writing light is one single lone bulb hanging from the ceiling. The illusion of sleeping in a jail cell would be complete, except for the portable bathroom over in the corner, with white towels, a shower and a toilet. Ignore that, however, and you feel like you're actually in jail.

We left the Flower City at quarter to 8 this morning. Flip told us to sit in the front of the coach if we wanted a good view as we entered the Swiss Alps. It wouldn't have really mattered though, because an hour into the drive everybody on the coach was fast asleep -- including me.

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Florence

As I get deeper and deeper into the history of Italy, not only do I learn about the evolution of the modern world, but also the cause-and-effects that allowed such advancements to occur.

We left Rome this morning and back-tracked on the same highway we took to get to Rome. After we stopped at the AutoGrill -- which is like any North American gas station -- we changed directions and headed north-west. Within 2-and-a-half hours, we reached Florence.

When we arrived in Florence, we drove up a very steep hill and arrived on top to see and exquisite view of the city, the mountains and the far-away glaciers. It was here that we took our group picture. It was incredibly windy up there, as it was all day, so I doubt the picture came out as crisp and pristine as it could have been. But, we'll find out in time I guess.

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Rome

There is no simple way to describe Rome. Perhaps saying it's the world's greatest metropolitan museum is a start. Maybe calling it the City That Made History would be better or maybe even The City of the Gods.

Rome is massive; modern and ancient at the same time. You can take the state-of-the-art subway system -- far superior to that of London's -- to 3,000 year-old statues, structures and relics in a flash.

To say Rome is "just" Vatican City, or it's "just" the Coliseum is a vast understatement. The history, the power, the determination, the poverty, the intentions, the battles, the heroes, the gods, the beginnings of Christendom, the destruction of the city, and even history itself was stitched into the very streets of Rome. Rome is indescribable. It isn't as beautiful as Venice, but the energy and feel of Rome was just indescribable.

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Black Eggs, Cockroaches and Hakone

Our baggage is being shipped once again, this time for Tokyo. With my laptop bag full of clothes, we headed to the train station at 6 in the morning. We rode it, switched trains, and within a few hours we had arrived in Hakone.

Hakone is a small mountain town, which is a big difference from larger cities like Kyoto and Hiroshima. We stopped for lunch before boarding the boat to cross Lake Ashi, the nearby lake. I wasn't hungry, so I waited in the meeting spot, enjoying the long awaited nice weather, especially after the mess that yesterday was. The lake was full of large and small boats alike, and we were going to take one of the largest ones they had -- one that looked very much like a pirate ship.

To get there, we had a bit of a walk ahead of us. After lunch we headed into the nearby woods and walked a very short, but very old road. This, our tour guide said, was the old highway connecting Kyoto and Tokyo. At a time, it was over 100 kilometers long and was used by Samurai either on pilgrimages or reporting for duty to the old shogun temples.

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Vatican City

Today has been a long, yet eventful day. I got up at 4 AM, ate breakfast at 6 and was on the road to Rome by 6:45 AM. We drove for 3 hours, had a "lunch break" around 10, drove for 2 more hours, had a "pee break" and by 1 PM I began seeing the signs for Rome.

The country-side between Venice and Rome is spectacular. There are mountains, rivers, orchards, swamps, forests and villages. You can never guess what you'll see next! A few times I moved and sat at the front of the coach just to watch the scenery in awe.

One village we passed was built on and around a plateaued mountain. Flip said it used to be a fortress long ago and could easily hold back enemy siege. It would be amazing (and rather frightening) to open the windows of a house perched on the edge of the mountain and see a sixty-foot drop below.

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New York City Day 3

I woke up today in pain, but with a mission: to visit the smallpox hospital, no matter what. Today was my last day in New York and I had a massive list of places I wanted to see before the day was over, including a show on Broadway that I booked after last night's entry.

I used the communal shower, brushed up, grabbed a bite to eat and headed out the same way I went last night. I walked past that awful burger joint, walked down several blocks, back onto the tram, across the East River and to Roosevelt Island. But then I paused, not because I wanted to, but because my breath was stolen by the daytime beauty of Manhattan Island.

I took some pictures and then headed south down the island. I passed near a modern hospital for mentally challenged patients, and saw them sitting outside enjoying the day. I thought how nice it must be, to just spend all day sitting in the sun and watching the boats travel up and down the river.

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Kyoto - The Storm

I was able to sleep in today, and woke up at 8am. I quickly showered, ignored the hotel's "bring an umbrella" warning, and began my first free day out on the town. My first stop on my trip was one I happened to discover before I came to Japan; the Headquarter's of the video-game giant Nintendo.

I didn't know how to get there from my hotel, so I asked the lady at the front desk. Although she had decent English, she had no idea what I was asking. I wrote it down and she googled it, and came back with a map. She explained what subway to get onto, how many stops to take, and how to get from the subway to the HQ and back. I thanked her, and left.

Leaving the subway station, it didn't take me long to see the top of the building from afar. However, it was much more difficult navigating the winding streets to get to it. Add to that, the sky was overcast and there was a very distant rumble coming from the clouds. It was either because I misunderstood the seriousness of the thundering clouds, or because it was obvious I had no idea where I was going, but a Japanese man who's English was comparable to my Japanese buzzed his car over, ran up to me and asked if I needed help. I showed him my map and he gestured to his little Japanese car to get in; he would take me there. My mother told me to never get into vehicles with strangers, but I sized up the small man who I was about a foot taller and about 100 pounds heavier than he, so I got in his car.

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New York City Day 2

Of course, I had forgotten all about the children's hospital.

I woke up, used the community washroom, and headed out towards the skyscrapers of New York City. I had a map with specific locations marked on it: Grand Central Station, The Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, Times Square, Central Park, and the American Museum of Natural History.

Although Manhattan is huge, my hotel was close to the center of it and it didn't take me long before I saw the towering shapes of the Chrysler Building. Now of course, that wasn't my first destination but it did help me navigate which direction I was looking as I got twisted and turned around the many streets of New York.

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Venice

We were given a good breakfast at the Hotel Dollinger that included salami, ham, cereal, toast and yogurt, and then we loaded the bus once again. It was raining in Innsbruck today and a thick fog had rolled through the valley.

Flip told us that if it was raining in Venice, the gondola ride would be cancelled, however, the mountain range between Venice and Innsbruck often changes the weather.

We got a map of Venice and were told that the city was an "engine-free" city, meaning there are no cars in it at all. The reason, Flip said, was because the main form of transportation was boats and foot-power. Venice was built on 170 islands and was built out of wood, so any motor that could cause a fire is forbidden because the city would instantly burn to the ground. After the Roman Empire split into the Holy Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire (after Constantinople/Instanbul was renamed the capital), Venice became the trade center of the Western world. There is even a giant bridge that spans the Grand Canal in Venice, and we're going shopping on it later today.

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Innsbruck

We finally reached Innsbruck and got a small tour of it. We got to see the Golden Roof, along with many other wonders of the city.

I went into a few churches, and wanted to go into some of the museums but didn't feel I would have enough time to fully enjoy the museums and the actual city in only two hours, so instead I went to the Hofgarten (yes, the same name as the park in Munich. I don't name them, I'm sorry!).

It was here that I got to watch a very interesting game of chess with two-feet high chess-pieces. I kind of felt like I was in a Harry Potter novel, only the pieces weren't killing each other.

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Munich Day 2

It seems unreal that I have already been in Europe for a week! In the last entry, my roommate Josh had yet to come home from the Munich nightlife. He finally arrived home, sometime around 3 AM and fell asleep like a log. I slept in too, but only by a half-hour. I have to stop doing that; especially after the recent developments.

My day began with another very good breakfast of salami, cinnamon rolls, eggs, toast and vanilla yogurt. Then we got to explore Munich!

After we got into town, I hurried to the hair-product store I had seen last night. They had everything -- gels, perfumes, shampoos, hairspray, more shampoo -- everything, that is, except hair straighteners. I was crushed!

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Kyoto - The Calm Before

When we arrived in Kyoto, we had a few hours before check-in. We decided then to go to a nearby shogun palace.

This palace was used to be where Japanese samurai lived and reported to. Inside were beautiful golden paintings on the walls, hand drawn centuries before. Photography of them are prohibited so not to damage the artwork, but I took many pictures of the grounds and the courtyard.

In one such room, we witnessed wax statues of a famous samurai meeting. The topic of this meeting was the dissolution of the samurai dynasty during the 1880s. At this time, Western ships were common around Asia, and trade was no longer a rare occurrence but a way of life. And with trade came new weaponry, and no longer where the centuries old armor and swords of the samurai efficient in battle. To prevent from falling any further behind in technology, and for the sake of their country, the samurai decided then to give up their old ways and adopt a new, modern approach. To end it, the samurai sold this palace to the government where it was converted into an office, thus ending the samurai forever.

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Munich

I forgot to report something in yesterday's entry. After we left Amsterdam there were murmurs on the coach of someone missing -- a couple, actually. I wasn't sure about it so I didn't write it down. Turns out it was true! We had lost two group members back in Amsterdam! When I went down stairs for a breakfast of salami, ham, toast, cereal and later, eggs, I heard more talking about this couple, but this time because they had been found!

Much like myself, the couple had forgotten to change their clocks when we left the U.K., they had walked around Amsterdam an hour longer than they were supposed to. Once they realized they missed the coach, they had to take 3 separate trains to get to St. Goar. I guess one of those *whooshes!* from the train last night was them.

Before we left for Munich we stopped at a Beer Stein store and saw steins that were made specifically for our tour group. The steins were very nice, but they were €88 each, which is a little bit too much for something I don't really need. I keep thinking I don't have enough euros as it is anyway, so I didn't buy it. I did however buy an "I love Germany" t-shirt. Just down the street from that store was also the world's biggest free-hanging cuckoo clock, which, oddly enough, wasn't all that big at all.

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Miyajima

We took the train from the restaurant in Hiroshima about a half hour outside of the city to a port, and then crossed on a ferry to Miyajima island.

Most temples in Japan are structures, but Miyajima is different. In this case, the whole island is considered a temple. There's a temple on the island too, but in this case the island is the temple, as is the water surrounding it, so all must be treated with care (but we can, thankfully, wear our own shoes while in this temple!).

Another interesting thing about this island is it's paper-eating inhabitants: deer. Very friendly, very adorable, very aggressive deer. Arriving on the island, each person is given a map of the island. Occasionally people drop these maps and the deer will eat them. In fact, the deer will often go after the maps while people are still holding them!

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Hiroshima

Hiroshima did not disappoint.

(Editor's Note: If you wish to sign a petition to help make the future nuclear free, please check out The Atom Project. Thank you.)

After a quick, non-complimentary breakfast, we boarded the train from our hotel and rode it for about 20 minutes, arriving at the A-Bomb (as in Atomic Bomb) Dome. It was so incredible to see. Back in 1945, the building was a landmark of the city. It was a famous dance hall, where performances and shows would often take place. Now it's a landmark for a completely different reason. Now there are no cries of joys or folk music coming from the structure. There is nothing but a haunting quiet that hangs around the burnt, dilapidated stone structure. The structure demanded silence; as if speaking too loud would cause it to finally collapse.

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Himeji

Today I woke up, and skipped the shower. I normally don't do that, but the lodge didn't have any warm water, except for the bath water from last night which, but that had long been drained.

I brushed up, did my hair and went down to the morning meditation service. During the service, each member of the group would ring an iron cauldron with a metal hammer. Then each person sprinkled some scented dust into the smoldering incense and asked Buddha for enlightenment.

After the service, we excited the lodge and walked a building down the street and participated in the fire ceremony. Unlike the calm chanting of the first service, this one involved an ever growing fire, with much louder chanting. But like the first service, we participated in this one as well. Each member of the group was given a piece of wood and we were to write one thing we wanted to improve on in our lives on it. We then handed it to the monks, and they burned them all together, sending our wishes into the universe.

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St. Goar

We have arrived in Germany and St. Goar! Flip told us that German's have the lowest cultural pride in the world -- and I believe this. However, in my opinion, Germany is kind of like that weird kid at school that gets picked on for doing nothing (World War I and the Treaty of Versailles) and finally snaps (World War II), but is still found responsible for his actions.

Flip also told us how and why Hitler came to power, what happened to Berlin after the war, why the wall was built and why it fell in 1989. I learned all about this in history class and I know the majority of people lived through the falling of the Berlin Wall, so I don't think another history lesson is needed. After yesterday's rant, I don't think you'll want another lesson for a while.

Flip went over what we were doing the next few days in St. Goar, Munich and Innsbruck, Austria. We also got a copy of all he optional tours. The website didn't say anything about the group photo in Venice, nor the Venetian dinner we can have. We can also get our own t-shirts!

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Amsterdam

We changed time-zones when we came to Amsterdam and I forgot to re-set the clock on my MP3 player, so I woke up at 6:10 this morning instead of my planned 5:10. I also have to remember that Daylight Savings Time is coming up soon too and that will really throw me off! I was a bit rushed when I first got up, but things got better.

We went back to Amsterdam for the morning today. I ended up winding up and down the beautiful yet very confusing streets and canals and, after getting briefly lost, I ended up in the Red Light District again. All the hooligans and workers of the night had gone home, so I took a stroll and examined the mess from the weekend before.

I then found a street of windows where the "women of the night" worked the night before. The women had closed the blinds and turned off their lights and gone home hours ago, so I took the opportunity to take a few pictures.

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The Mountain Village of Koyasan

I awoke at 5 this morning and hustled to the subway station. From there we took a commercial train an hour and a half outside of the city. Then we took a rail car half an hour up a mountain. Then we took a bus for 45 minutes. And then we walked for 10 more minutes.

During this excursion, we had lots of time to view the Japanese landscape. We saw misty mountains, farms, with lakes and forests, and everything in between. I even saw a deer from the rail car, casually watching us roll past it. I'm almost embarrassed to admit this, but growing up I always thought Japan was coast-to-coast cities, with no nature remaining, let alone with fully inhabited forests! Words cannot explain the lush waterfalls, the greenery or the plant life. It was like a rain-forest!

Arriving in Koyasan, we went to our Buddhist Lodge. It's exactly what you imaged a lodge would be like: rice screen doors, waterfalls next to the rooms, trees, nature inches away. A very earthy, yet clean, experience. And best of all, no mosquitoes!

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Dover & Amsterdam's Erotic Casa Rosso

Today we left for Amsterdam and we should arrive there in a few hours from writing this. We took the coach to Dover and got on the ferry there. Dover is where, you guessed it, the famous White Cliffs of Dover are.

Once we got across the English Channel we arrived in Calais, in Northern France. We then hopped back on the coach and drove through Belgium. Flip told us there were two optional tours while in Amsterdam: the first was a canal ride and the second, which wasn't on the website, was a trip to the local sex-threatre.

In Amsterdam, sex-shows, prostitution and marijuana are all legal and socially acceptable. I don't feel right smoking weed or buying a prostitute -- which are two things my mother and girlfriend wouldn't be happy with me for doing, respectively -- so I just decided to go to the sex-theatre. But, since it's illegal to take pictures in the Red Light District and during the sex-show, to respect people's privacy, you'll just have to take my word on it that I actually went.

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London Day 3

Lady Luck is finally on my side! I slept-in today and after my shower, I had a burst of intelligence. I could use my in-room blow dryer to heat my hair and comb it into place. (I wouldn't dare use the blow-dryer I brought with me. I could blow a fuse again!) It didn't work out perfectly as planned, but at least I don't look like a curly Albert Einstein.

Also, I finally caught up with the tour group representative. She was very friendly and told me the closure of the underground meeting place and relocation to the inside of the Royal National Hotel had caused a lot of confusion. (Yay! I'm not alone!) She then told me that we were meeting tonight at 6 PM and we leave for Amsterdam tomorrow morning.

On my way back I stopped at Pret A Manger again and had exactly the same thing I had yesterday. It was still equally as good.

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Welcome to Osaka!

The next morning I got up, Skyped home, and got ready for my first full day in the land of the Rising Sun.

I had a bit of a plan made up today, and it involved checking out some of the nearby temples, as well as just exploring Osaka in the daylight. Because my room was being switched, I had to checkout for the day and store my luggage at the front desk until that afternoon. It only cost me ¥1080 ($10.80). I then went down for breakfast.

While in the continental, buffet style cafeteria, I ran into a young woman named Freya. She's 19 years old and is from England, with this being her first ever solo international trip. I remembered my first time abroad so I helped her and kept her company during breakfast. It turns out she's also on the same tour as me! She had no idea what to do in Osaka, so at 9:30 we left together to go find some temples.

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London Day 2

While getting ready for my excursion around town, I thought I would straighten my hair again. Bad idea. While I was doing my hair, I suddenly heard a loud pop! sound and a whole bunch of smoke emitted from my power converter. I changed the fuse in it, but the whole thing has a very strange, almost burnt smell to it. I hope the fuse is the only thing that blew! I'm only 1/6th done my trip and I don't want to lose my camera again!

I may try the power converter out somewhere else when I come back to see if I can still charge my camera. Maybe. The last thing I want to do is wreck it any further or have my camera burst into smoke also!

I'll write more later. The sun is up and I'm going to hit the town -- with my semi-straightened hair.

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Welcome to London!

I lost my pen! I knew I should have brought 2 with me. Oh well, now I have a new one anyway; and it says "The British Museum" on it! That’s right, I safely arrived in London and found my way to my hotel (and the museum, which is just down the street), but not without some trouble, of course.

Here's a travelers tip for you: always listen to you mom. Mom told me that once I got my luggage – after having to fill out a form twice because I was overtired and wasn't totally sure what it meant by "Where did you come from?" Sure, it sounds simple now, but if you're jet-legged and exhausted it wasn't very simple at all! – I had to make my way to the London Underground. I was to take a train from Gatwick Airport straight to the Victoria line, and then to Piccadilly Circus and I should be a half block from my hotel. Instead of listening to my mom, however, I asked the Information Booth worker for directions. He told me to take the Belfast train to another train station and it'll get me there in "no time". Well, as you can tell, I forgot what the name of the first stop was and I ended up having a lovely 2-hour tour around London!

Or, it should have been lovely. I believe I went straight through the slums of the city for the majority of the train ride for I have never seen houses in such ruin! The houses all appeared to be collapsing, with slanted foundations and mold covering the rooftops. Many buildings had broken walls, looking as if they had been in disrepair since the Blitz. Tarps covered some of the broken walls like curtains and broken furniture lay sporadically in the yards. Then, the train took a turn and I saw something completely bizarre. I saw a huge clearing with trees on the far side and dozens if not scores of lean-to shelters. Some were made of wood, while others look liked scrap metal. I couldn't believe my eyes! Was this really London – the once grandest city in the world?

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Starting My Asian Adventure

The flight from Regina to Osaka was both incredibly boring, and incredibly interesting.

I sat with three different women from three different walks of life, on the three planes I took to get there. The first was a new mother, who was heading to Newfoundland for her sister's wedding. Her daughter was only a few months old, and didn't cry until we began to land in Toronto. The second woman was an American who was heading to meet up with her boyfriend in Kyoto during a confrence regarding heat transfer in skyscrapers and urban cities. The third was an old, tired woman, who has seen many things, and learned many more, but just longed to return home to Osaka to rest.

Besides the company, the flights themselves were very plain. I traveled from Regina to Toronto, Toronto to Tokyo and Tokyo to Osaka. We flew North from Toronto, up above Churchill, past Yellowknife, Whitehorse and Alaska. It was here I saw hundreds of miles of ice sheets covering the north Pacific Ocean -- although it was the middle of August! We then flew over the tail of Russia and down into Japan.

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Welcome To New York City!

According to Wikipedia, there are 2,562 songs written about New York City. And after traveling there, I can understand why.

Being a small city boy who has only ever seen New York in movies and in books, traveling to it was very unlike London or Osaka. New York is a beautiful, and incredible city, and they know it. Walking through the airport terminal, I stopped at a shuttle station and asked for some help getting around. I said, "I have never been to New York before, and I have no idea where to go."

The man looked at me and said, "Well, in that case: Welcome to New York, the Greatest City on Earth!"

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European Discovery

While getting ready for my excursion around town, I thought I would straighten my hair again. Bad idea. While I was doing my hair, I suddenly heard a loud pop! sound and a whole bunch of smoke emitted from my power converter. I changed the fuse in it, but the whole thing has a very strange, almost burnt smell to it. I hope the fuse is the only thing that blew! I'm only 1/6th done my trip and I don't want to lose my camera again!

I may try the power converter out somewhere else when I come back to see if I can still charge my camera. Maybe. The last thing I want to do is wreck it any further or have my camera burst into smoke also!

I'll write more later. The sun is up and I'm going to hit the town -- with my semi-straightened hair.

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