The Waterfall Capital of The World

If you’re skeptical about traveling I hope that this paragraph will change your mind. After spending time away from home you come back with a new found appreciation of where you are from. You see things in a completely different light. You start to appreciate things from home that they may not have somewhere else. An example of this is the grass. The grass at home is a beautiful deep green and it’s comfortable to sit on. The grass in Queensland is very dry and spiky.

Another incredible way to see your home is through another persons eyes. I was lucky enough to travel back home with my boyfriend who was seeing Ontario for the first time. A different set of eyes finds enjoyment in things you never looked twice at. It really teaches you a lot about your city.

My hometown city Hamilton, is the waterfall capital of the world. There are over 100 waterfalls scattered around the outskirts of the city. SO MUCH EXPLORING TO DO.

Hamilton is on the Niagara Escarpment, which provides perfect conditions for waterfalls.

Most people from Hamilton say it is boring and that there is nothing to do. I thought this before my last visit. That’s part of the reason that I left. I was bored. But coming back I realized that there is so much beauty here; beauty that would not have been appreciated if I didn’t leave in the first place.

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The above picture was taken at Felker’s Falls in Stoney Creek. Felker’s falls is a hidden gem right in the middle of a suburban area. You could get lost in this forest. It is literally across the street from a row of houses. How lucky these people are to have so much beauty directly across the street from them.

We traveled to Canada October 8-18. This is the perfect time of year to visit! All of the trees are yellow, orange and red. It is also still quite warm during the day, making it a great time of year to go for hikes.

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I took this photo walking through the forest. Almost all of the trees in this area were yellow. It was incredible.

We spent another day hiking through Albion Falls in Hamilton. Another must see. And again, a beautiful forest and waterfall walking distance from peoples houses.

We went on a pretty intense hike through Albion, walking all the way along the top part, climbing down to the bottom and walking all the way to the waterfall, where you are able to sit right by the water. The featured image I used on this post was taken walking along the lower part of the pathway walking towards the waterfall.

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We also stopped off at the Devil’s Punch Bowl in Stoney Creek, just before you drive down the mountain. It was formed throughout the years by glacial waters.. The drop is roughly 120 feet. There is of course a trail you can walk along here as well.

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Unfortunately we did not get a chance to see the famous Webster’s falls, in the Spencer Creek area, but that is next on our list.

http://www.waterfalls.hamilton.ca/default.asp?waterfall=13

Above is a link to a website about Hamilton’s waterfalls.

I am really excited for my next visit home and plan to do a lot of exploring.

You really don’t appreciate where you are from until you have been away.

xx

 

Did you know Abu Dhabi gets an average rainfall of only 12cm per year?

What to do with a 15 hour layover in Abu Dhabi?

Much like Dubai, the sights in Abu Dhabi are fairly spread out around the city. In my opinion, the best way to see the city in a day is to take a hop on hop off bus tour.

Unfortunately there is only one tour bus company in Abu Dhabi; Big Bus, and therefore competitive pricing does not exist ahah.

Here is a link to the website that shows pricing as well as a map.

http://eng.bigbustours.com/abudhabi/home.html

The tour for the day was approximately $57 USD. It is quite steep but if you compare it to the cost of your cabs around the city for the day, it makes sense.

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is the closest bus pick up location from the airport. Take a cab from the airport to the Mosque for roughly 40 AED. (The cost is higher leaving the airport as there is a 20 AED airport fee. Therefore it will be 20 AED less on the way back to the airport).

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque offers a free guided tour which is a MUST.

Complimentary ‘walk-in’ guided tours are:

Sunday – Thursday:              10am, 11am and 5pm*
Friday:                                     5pm, 7.30pm**
Saturday:                               10am, 11am, 2pm, 5pm*, 7.30pm**
My suggestion would be to take the 5pm tour. It was amazing seeing the Mosque at sunset. I have never seen anything like it.
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There are two separate bus routes that your ticket enables you to go on. These are:
  • City Tour, which includes all the sights you need to see in and around the city.
  • Yas Island Drive, which gives you the opportunity to see the Formula One Yas Marina Circuit, drag racing centre, Ferrari World, theme park and waterworld park.

The map provides you with first and last bus times at the top left corner. I noticed the map says “Buses every 15 minutes”… more like every hour. Whenever we were dropped at a destination the next bus was set to arrive in approximately an hour.

From the Mosque, the first bus arrives at 9:45am for the City tour and 9am for the Yas Island tour.

On our tour we made stops at:

  • The Etihad Art Gallery: It was a very small gallery. The art was done by mostly young and local artists and it was all for sale. The gallery takes about 15 minutes to go through, and then you’re left with 45 minutes waiting in heat for the next bus. There was a cafe attached to the gallery, we had a quick glance at the menu but the prices were quite high. 20 AED for a coffee. Roughly 8 CAD or AUD. There is a small grocery type store directly across the street from the gallery if you need any drinks or snacks!

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  • WTC Souk: We were expecting to find Souk’s like we saw in Dubai, but found more of a mall with a few Souk shops in the lower level. Everything was fairly overpriced compared to the Dubai Souk’s.
  • Heritage Village: The village was cool to see, but again something that only takes you 15-20 minutes to go through and then you’re stuck waiting for the bus. The village is water front so there are some beautiful views of the city. There are also some great little museums that you can walk through to learn about the culture.

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  • Marina Mall: We decided to walk from the Heritage Village to the mall as we could see it in the distance. Terrible decision. We both ended up with mild heat stroke after this 20 minute walk. The mall again is overpriced but a good way to get out of the heat. **No free Wifi in the food court unless you have an Abu Dhabi phone number.

 

There were many other cool places to visit and many of them are in walking distance of each other, in case you do not want to wait for the bus. The Heritage Village, Corniche Cruise, Marina Mall and Etihad towers are all in close proximity to each other.

We finished the day with a guided tour of the beautiful Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. In order to go into the Mosque you must be dressed appropriately. Men are to have knees and shoulders covered while women must wear Traditional Dress.

 

The staff will tell you which direction to go and you take an elevator to an underground parking lot where you trade your license for an abaya and a card with a number on it.

An abaya is a long black robe with a hijab.

 

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When you are finished the tour you bring the abaya and numbered card back to the parking lot area and they give you your license back.

Cabs back to the airport are very easy to catch from just outside of the Mosque.

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HELPFUL TIPS

Here are a couple of tips that you may find helpful:

  • There is a shower in Abu Dhabi airport in the departures area. They are located between gates 32 and 37. Follow the signs to a stair case that brings you to the men’s and women’s public bathrooms.
  • It is extremely HOT. Carry water with you at all times.
  • Keep in mind appropriate dress wear!!! Girls and guys should cover their shoulders and knees. On our previous layover in Dubai I wore a long sleeve shirt and a light pair of pants. This was too hot! I saw many women wearing dresses or shirts that showed their shoulders off. On the way through Abu Dhabi I opted for a long summer dress with a cardigan. I wore the cardigan in most places but walked around without it occasionally when it got too hot. While you’re not going to get in trouble for it, you will get blown kisses and honked at quite often.
  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • Bring sunglasses.
  • If you are traveling with your significant other be careful of how much physical contact you show when in public. **
  • Premarital sex is illegal. It is very hard to get a hotel room with someone of the opposite sex unless you can prove that you are married. You can go to jail for this.
  • Homosexuality is illegal.
  • Pornography is illegal.
  • No photos of government or military organizations.
  • When traveling to the UAE check if you are traveling during Ramadan as you will not be able to eat during the day!!!
  • The Big Bus staff were very helpful! They have a person waiting at every destination that are more than happy to suggest things to see and how to see them.

Overall, Abu Dhabi was very beautiful. However at this current time there is a lot of construction going on. One of the new builds is the new Abu Dhabi airport (give it a quick google it is incredible).

I have no desire to travel back to Abu Dhabi, but I am glad I got to tick it off of my list. 🙂

The Beauty of Home

It is alright to leave home. Home will always be there. You will always carry your home with you. Home will never be mad at you for leaving, If anything home will be happy you did. For every time you leave home to discover new places, you discover the goodness of your own home. You appreciate where you are from. You will share your home with others and others will share their homes with you. Home is with you wherever you go.

Samantha Eydt

Stop making excuses (some travel tips)

You hear it all the time, “I can’t afford to travel.” “i want to go to Australia, but it is so expensive to fly.”

But that is a MYTH.

I am currently playing with some flights to fly to Australia in November (cheapest month of the year to fly by far from my own research).

I discovered the cheapest route to Australia is to stop in Hawaii… can’t complain right?

I use kayak.com and flighthub.com to search for my flights.

On any given Monday (cheapest day to travel) in November you can fly from Toronto -> Honolulu for roughly $302-340 with decent airlines too! Here’s some examples:

November 17th YYZ-HNL $302 with Westjet (air canada also has a few flights in the low $300 range)

Layover in Vancouver (different prices for different times of flights and shorter or longer layover times)

The less layovers the better of course. Some of the flights have a layover in Edmonton and Vancouver but the cost is exactly the same so in this sense it is obvious to pick the flight with only one layover. Some of the flights have 4 hr layovers (just relax in the airport, have a couple beers) and some of the flights have 20 hour layovers. Pick the one you want based on what you want to do. If you have the time and money, take the longer layover and explore Vancouver for the day. 🙂 Just be back at the airport 3 hrs before your flight!!!

November 27th HNL->SYD $350

Direct flight with Jetstar  (australian airline) I personally flew with jetstar from Brisbane to Sydney and had a great flight. I like the airline.

This is a direct 10hr flight to Sydney.

So basically in November, if you play with the dates and flights properly.. you can fly to Sydney, Australia from Toronto, Canada for $652

Compare this to booking a flight YYZ-SYD. On Monday November 24th, a flight with 1-2 layovers is approximately $1100.

You are saving roughly $400 to spend a few days in Honolulu. WHAT?

Now you might be thinking.. well if I do that I am spending that $400 or more to stay in a hotel in Hawaii.. but that isn’t true.

If you are a daring and trusting traveler like myself, you can couch surf. I play around with this app on my phone all the time. I’ve found a couple cool people who live on Waikiki in Honolulu who will give me a couch or a bed in their house for FREE. Because they want to meet travelers, and show you where they live etc. You could stay with one person the entire time if you are able to, or just for few days and then couch surf at someone elses house.

If you do not feel comfortable doing that, you can rent someones house or a room off http://www.airbnb.com. This is a great website. People will rent you their place in Honolulu at an average of $50-150 per night. With a discounted weekly or monthly rate.

You can also stay at a hostel but they average $30-50 a person per night in Honolulu. (www.hostelworld.com http://www.hostels.com)

Essentially, if you want to get to Australia and you want to save money. You can get there for less than $700. Only spending money on eating and excursions while in HNL. Or if you’ve already been to Hawaii and don’t want that vacation, you can book a flight on the same day or the next day out of HNL to SYD. Because regardless of how many days you stay, you’re saving money by booking two separate flights and getting to Australia with less layovers.

Why am a not a travel agent…? Or perhaps I am a travel agents worse enemy.

Happy Travels 😉

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Travel Websites you NEED to Know

Now I am about to give away some of my travel secrets… please take advantage of them.

Flights:

http://www.kayak.com 

Kayak is a fantastic website that tracks prices of flights on all kinds of airlines. 

http://www.airfarewatchdog.com (very similar)

Google flights also is super helpful and can show you all the prices of flights around the world on a specific day from your specific location. This is useful if you just want to go on a trip but are not sure where to. I found a 400$ flight to Spain in November using this.

Tip: When looking for flights open an incognito window (right click and instead of new tab, click new tab incognito window). These websites track you to see how often you use the website, and increase the prices of flights. You can thank me later. 

Fundraising for Travel:

http://www.gofundme.com 

This is a great website if you want to have friends and family fund you for your traveling. You make a profile and just paste your link where you want it. People then have the ability to donate you money. 

Free Volunteering:

http://www.workaway.info

http://www.volunteersbase.com (this one does not make you pay to register)

These websites allow you to volunteer in different countries for free food and accommodation.

Travel Blogs:

Home

Awesome travel blogger, buy his book on Travel Hacking. It is a great read.

The Solo Female Traveler’s Manifesto

http://www.wanderlust.co.uk/

http://www.budgettravel.com/feature/budget-travel-vacation-ideas-how-to-travel-the-world-for-free,14967/?page=3

10 travel jobs within your reach

Teaching English as a Second Language:

http://www.internationalteflacademy.com

https://oxfordseminars.ca

 

 

Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on deep and permanent, in the ideas of living. 

 

 

So you want to live/work abroad?

I get asked all the time how I went about going to Australia and what the process entails. Majority of countries have the same, if not very similar process as this one so hopefully this helps you out.

The first step is to apply for your visa. You can do this online very easily at the immigration website for the country you are applying to.

Here is the information for applying for an Australian Visa:

http://www.immi.gov.au/Visas/Pages/417.aspx

Now when applying you may ask yourself, “what kind of visa do I want/need?”

Odds are the type of visa you want is a Working Holiday Visa. This visa allows you to work to afford your holiday in that country (pretty self explanatory). You must be outside of the country to apply for the visa, and once accepted the visa does not “start” until you have entered the country. You do not get any paperwork in the mail for this. Visas are automatically linked to your passports so when they are scanned at the airports your visa is on record.

The Australian visa costs 400 AU (aus dollars). You must pay this in full when applying for the visa. Using your credit card is the easiest way. I applied for my visa late at night and when I woke up in the morning I had been granted the ability to work in Australia. It really is that easy. Of course other countries are going to be different, but the process is usually the same.

When arriving in Australia on a working holiday visa, you must have 5000 AU in your bank account at the time of arrival. You must bring with you a bank statement printed no later than a week before you arrived, which proves you have the proper funds to support yourself in case you cannot find a job. (Pay close attention to the time of year you are going to Australia. In Sept-Nov the Australian dollar is usually less than the Canadian dollar, meaning you’ll get more for your buck. However when I went in February, the dollars were at par and I lost money because of bank fees.)

You must also have either a plane ticket out of the country or prove to have the money to support yourself to leave the country after your visa is up. If you do not have a flight purchased they expect you to have roughly 6500 AU in your account. Now the working holiday visa subclass 417 allows you to stay for a year. If you want to stay for a second year you must do three months of agricultural work helping the environment in Australia and then you are eligible to apply for a second year visa. The cost of this one however is upwards of 1500 AU.

I’d just like to point out that I did not have a plane ticket home or enough money to buy it. The man at the border never asked me to prove how much money I had in my account either. This does happen often though. A friend of mine who had arrived in Australia a few months before me was not asked for this information either. I believe being a young women helps in this aspect haha. Also depends on what time of day you are arriving. I arrived at 10am. This means that the person at the border has not been at work for very long, and odds are has not had too stressful of a day just yet. I would not rely on this though. Save your money. Save the 5000 AU. You’ll need your money. You’ll be paying 3-4$ for a bottle of water or coke instead of the 1-2$ you were spending at home. Deodorant can cost you around 10$ as well. A 26er of liquor is upwards of 45$ as well.

When working in another country you must have MEDICAL INSURANCE. I went through Marlin Travel and bought a package for 500$ that granted me insurance coverage for a year abroad. Now the disadvantage with this one is that if you come home after one month, you do not get any money back. There are other insurance deals where you pay more but you get refunded for the days you did not spend abroad. However this cost substantially more.

If you do not know where you are staying permanently while away, PACK LIGHT. I brought a 40L backpack and a duffle bag. If I could go back, I would have left the duffle bag at home and settled for a smaller bag. It is not easy dragging that thing around the airport, trying to put it in our shoulder when your back pack is already there. But if you know where you are staying and you have a place to keep your things I would recommend taking a large suitcase or two, as well as a travel back pack. This way you can keep your suitcases at home and use the backpack when you are traveling around.

Buy an unlocked cellphone. I brought both my unlocked nexus 4 and my iphone 4 when I was abroad. With my nexus I got an Australian phone plan to talk to my friends in Australia, and i used my iphone on wifi to talk to people at home. When you are traveling abroad it is extremely expensive to have a phone unlocked in another country. So the key is either to buy an unlocked phone or have your phone unlocked before you leave.

Research about the country you are heading to. Research, research, research. Do this by reading books, online, asking people etc. I asked a friend of mine from Canada who was in Australia for things I should know that I would not have thought of. For the ladies, in Australia they do not have tampon applicators. Only the tampons and you have to shove those things in there yourself… so with this information I stocked up in Canada before heading over there. I even got to enlighten some of the girls I met on the tampon applicator. LOL.

The process for working in another country is a lot easier than you may think. So stop making excuses for why you cannot do it. You can.

SIDE NOTE: Check your bag before you leave the airport! A strap on my backpack broke during one of my transfer flights and the top opened up. I lost all of my toiletries, my birth control pills, my medicine, expensive perfume and a couple articles of clothing. But because someone put the strap back together I had no idea to check. I did not notice until I got to my friends house and went to have a shower and I had NO toiletries. My insurance could not do a thing for me because I had already left the airport before realizing. SO PLEASE, check your bags.

Flight tip***

When booking a flight, keep in mind other countries by the one you are going to that may save you money if you make a stop there. Eg. If heading to Australia. It is cheaper to fly Toronto->Honolulu (stay in hawaii for a few days, a week etc) and then fly Honolulu->Sydney. At certain times of the year, it costs $300 to fly to Honolulu and then about $500-700 to fly to Sydney. If you were going to fly direct Toronto->Sydney you are looking at $1100-1500. So you’ll end up spending around the same amount of money if you spend a week in Honolulu on the way to Australia. Not too shabby.

Social-Networking

Social Networking

Lately all I seem to hear are complaints about social media, cellphones etc. I am guilty of complaining about it as well. But something you never hear people talk about is the pros of the TOOLS we have around us. Yes, tools.

Our cellphone is a tool, full of other tools that can help us pave our way to where we want to be. I often hear people complain about Facebook, and mention that they have deleted people they do not talk to or have not seen in a while. Have you ever stopped to think that maybe the people you have deleted could have some value to your life in the future?

I have always been one of those people who added just about everyone I have met all around the world on Facebook, because you just never know when you may need to contact that person. Facebook has allowed me to connect with people all over the world. I have contacts on just about every continent. Perhaps one day something comes up where I have to go to South Africa. I have two friends who would be happy to have me crash on their couch if the time ever came.

Besides having places to stay around the world, these are also people in different countries who can spread word for you. For example, if I post a link to my blog on Facebook, people from these different countries may decide to read it, and let one of their friends know, and so forth. A friend of mine that I met in Europe, is an Australian musician. He’s travelled all over the world, and now has contacts that can further his music career. It takes one person to share a post of one of his songs in their country, to have another culture of people listen to it and continue to spread word. Jobs are a big thing with social media as well. I constantly see people asking “who’s hiring?” or people posting that their work is looking to hire people. Without this maybe some of you would not have found your job you have now. Linkedin is great for this. If you do not use Linkedin already you need to get on that if you are into networking.

Networking in person is a huge one as well. It goes along with my last post about being careful who you ignore. When I have a conversation with someone in person, it almost always leads to talking about travelling. That is my passion and I am notorious for talking about it. Every time this topic is brought up, I learn something valuable. This person may have personal experiences, cautions, advice, etc to share with me that will help me in the future. I have heard before that it is believed the more you talk about something the more of it you get. The more you complain about your day, odds are your day is going to continue to get worse. The opposite is true for good things as well. The more I insist on steering the conversation to travel, the more I will get to travel. Maybe one day I will be having a conversation with someone and I tell them that I have been dying to go to Cambodia to work (which I am for anybody reading that can hook me up aha). They tell me their sister runs an orphanage in Phnom Penh (capital city of Cambodia) and he could get me in to do some volunteer work with free accommodation. Had I never mentioned anything about travelling, I never would have been told of this opportunity. Same goes for whatever you may be passionate about.

My entire trip to Australia could not have happened without social media and networking. The first person I stayed with was a friend I met in Europe that gave me a free room in his house for two weeks(all planned through social media). The second person I stayed with is a cousin of a friend of mine at home. I added her on Facebook, told her I was going to Sydney and she picked me up from the airport (first time we met was at the airport haha) and let me stay with her and her family for a week. The third person I stayed with was a friend of a friend of mine from home. My friend got us talking on Facebook and he picked me up at my friends house. Again, just meeting for the first time in the driveway. I ended up staying there rent free for two weeks. I saved so much money living rent free in Australia. I owe that to social media.

I could go on and on about the good and the bad of social media and electronic devices but what does it matter. You have a device and all the tools to get yourself where you want to be in life. We are a generation that has the opportunity to use electronics and the internet for whatever we want. Maybe you see social media as something to pass the time or cure boredom, but it can be used for many other things. You have the tools right in front of you to better yourself. Use them wisely.

a blessed unrest that keeps us marching

There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. … No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.

Martha Graham