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Birthdays while travelling

Four years. Four birthdays. Four celebrations.

Of my 28 birthdays, I’ve spent four abroad and it’s been great. It’s interesting to celebrate in other countries, with new friends and in foreign languages.

Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Italy have all hosted my birthday celebrations (Italy twice) and they been as different as you could expect.
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The San Francisco treats: Mission District and Castro District

A weekend in San Francisco can be full of surprises.

I spent a week in San Francisco when I was in Junior High for a school field trip and we visited Alcatraz and Ghiridelli Square (we had to learn just enough for it to be supported by the school, of course).

In High School, I went to California twice for Spring Break music trips.

In 2007 I stopped in San Francisco while moving from Virginia to Washington State and visited a friend.

Each trip was very different.

Recently, I visited another friend in San Francisco and saw two neighbourhoods that had been left out of my previous trips.

Mission District and Casto District are very distinct and different neighbourhoods, but both hit the spot and left me happy and satisfied.
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Sing your heart out, Europe: the Eurovision Song Contest

Every year, European countries get together to show off their country’s musical skills through the Eurovision Song Competition.

All of Europe votes for any country except their own, and the winner takes all. Eurovision is a way of uniting Europe all the way from Iceland to Israel and Norway to Malta each year.
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Switzerland’s Glacier Express

Switzerland is well known for it’s trains. Efficient, punctual and comfortable, the only thing to not like is the price! For just an hour and a half InterRegio train direct from Berne to Zurich, it will cost 47 Swiss Francs (€37 or US$52)! Most things in Switzerland are expensive so if you want to travel in Switzerland on a budget, you have to look out for the deals.
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Travelling through food in Vancouver

I recently returned from a 4-day trip to Vancouver, British Columbia. For a $13 Amtrak ticket, it couldn’t be passed up. Once I decided to go, I discovered my Dutch CouchSurfing host from Amsterdam last year had just moved there, a Chinese surfer I met in Bellingham could host me and there were a few CouchSurfing meetings organized for the Cherry Blossom Festival and Vancouver’s 125th Birthday Celebrations! I knew the four days would be packed with CouchSurfing activities, but in the end, the focus was all on food.
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Book review – Hokkaido Highway Blues: Hitchhiking Japan by Will Ferguson

A few months ago I read Hokkaido Highway Blues: Hitchhiking Japan (also under the title Hitching Rides With Buddha) by Will Ferguson and it’s recently been on my mind. Between Japan being hit with an earthquake and tsunami, the sakura zensen (cherry blossom front) passing the country and my current week-long trip to Vancouver where I’m attending a Cherry Blossom event, it feels very applicable today. While it didn’t completely enthrall me like a really good book would, it was still a book I couldn’t put down because I knew it was teaching me really interesting and culturally important stuff.
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There’s more to Ireland than Guinness

Beer drinkers are crazy about St. Patrick’s Day. The holiday has, over time, lost it’s religious meaning and has been replaced with an incredible party tradition. While the color green historically represented the shamrock St. Patrick used to explain the Holy Trinity to the Celts, it is now the color that is worn and that beer, rivers and even food are dyed. While excited celebrators often reach for the well-known Guinness, I’m here to enlighten you to the fact that there are other stouts that give you a more authentic Irish drinking experience.
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