Thursday, November 25, 2010

American Village

I thought I would take the opportunity to reflect on my time spent at American Village. At this time I will be able to include visuals as well as reflection after the fact.

La Mazure is pretty much in the middle of nowhere in France. It's country. There is a small town about a 30 minute walk from the site. The small town looks like it came straight from Beauty and the Beast. It was peaceful and quiet.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Fraser Island

After my post graduate diploma in education I started to do a little traveling for my final couple weeks in Australia before I headed home. I did not get a chance to see nearly everything there is to see in Australia, or everything I wanted to see and I do regret that. I am grateful however that I got the opportunity to venture into part of what Australia has to offer.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cheongdo for Bull Fighting

Cheongdo is a town just outside of the city of Daegu, the city I lived in for one year. In April while I was there, they hosted an annual Bull Fighting event.

The setting was very similar to the county fair back home. We paid about 5 bucks to get in and there were a variety of things offered for entertainment. They had rides and things for kids along with different exhibitions to see.

There were also many tents around with different types of food offered.
The main event or attraction was the bullfighting of course. That is what people came for. When you think bullfight, you probably think, like me, of the Spanish dude with the red hanky and the ferocious bull. This was not the same thing. The bulls were not fighting a person, they were fighting each other. Another tidbit, slightly disappointing was these were not fights to the death. They were fights until one bull gave up and ran away.

Basically to win you had to be able to make the other bull give up. The fights reminded me a lot of bambi. When Bambi is no longer a baby he meets with Faline (the girl deer) and then some other deer shoes up and rams Bambi with his horns, and Bambi rams back.

The bulls head butt each other so hard you can hear there heads hit from a distance. Then they push back and forth until one gives up and runs away. Some matches are very short while some go on for several minutes. The most disappointing match was the American bull. He was the biggest one there, but he was too scared to even start the fight.

This bull was getting ready for the intermission 'show.' Basically a parade around the ring while some guys parachuted from the sky.

Just some displays I thought looked pretty cool.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dog Cafe (Seoul)

A post from my Korea blog that I thought might interest people was about the dog cafe I visited when I was Seoul. The post in the Korea blog was not all that good, but I have revised it and added my pictures.

I initially thought this was a cafe where you could order dog as a meal. That is not what I was looking for, I am not sure I would eat dog, but it wouldn't be that strange of an occurence in Korea. There after all was a market in my city of Daegu where you could purchase dog and it was intended to be consumed.

The Cafe was not somewhere for you to eat dog, it was much more dog friendly. Still, it was not your typical cafe at all. When I arrived, there were dogs everywhere. Instead of buying coffee or treats for yourself, you would buy dog biscuits for the dogs. Quite the life these dogs had. All the attention they could ever want, and being constantly fed dog treats.

The dogs lived like kings. Can you imagine people just showing up to feed you sweets? It must not be that healthy for the dogs to be eating dog treats all day, and a lot of them looked pretty lazy. But I am sure they were quite content with their lives. A great place for dog lovers. I'm sure I could have gotten them to do tricks if I knew the commands in Korean.

As you can see you can also get drinks for yourself and sit in the presence of man's best friend. It will be hard to get affection from the dog's without buying the treats though.

See what I mean by lazy?

Sunday, November 14, 2010


I arrived in the beautiful city of Florence in the late afternoon of September the third. It was my 25th birthday and I was feeling rather alone. I never really liked a big deal to be made of my birthday, and now no one I was in contact with had any idea it was my birthday. That is the way I wanted it, or so I thought. It still felt rather odd to not get the greetings of a happy birthday.

I decided to purchase a map to ensure I got to my hostel with little problems. The hostel was nice. I never really talked with anyone at it. Just hellos in passing. I checked my facebook where I saw some birthday wishes from home. I knew it wouldn't be long before I arrived home, so this last night in the hostel would be enjoyable and full of mixed feelings.

I decided to treat myself to a nice dinner at a random restaurant I found. On the walk I saw a ton of statues in different squares along the way. The squares were littered throughout the city in much the same way as the ones in Rome. I did not see a lot of ruins within the city however.

The next day I woke up and did a walk of the city. I climbed up a hill and got to the Piazzale Michelangelo. It is obviously names after Michelangelo, the artist who painted on the ceiling of the Sistine chapel.

There were also replicas of his sculptures in the Piazzale. That includes the statue of David, perhaps his most famous statue. I got there nice and early and beat most of the other tourists there. It is a pretty famous spot to go and different booths were set up at the very top. I got there just after 8 after walking about an hour. People were just setting their booths up.

I went to visit a couple other similar Piazzales. I also tried to find the Baboli Garden. I could not find how to get into the garden however. I walked around it and eventually got turned around. I ended up walking off the map and getting myself lost once again. Luckily I ensured I had plenty of time to make it to the train. I found a nice lady in a little shop who didn't speak very much English. She showed me where I would be on the map if the map was bigger and which way I needed to walk in order to re-find the river.

I finally found my way and took the train to Milan, where I caught my final train to Paris. With that my European trip was over, at least this chapter. I am considering doing the American Village camp again next year, spring or summer, I am undecided. If that is the case I will want to also add some sort of additional adventure to that trip as well, perhaps not as large. It depends what life dictates at the time.

Stay tuned for additional stories from other parts of the world that were either not mentioned in my other 2 blogs or were revised.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Birthday in Pisa

On my 21st birthday, I went with my Dad and brother in law to Detroit for a tigers game. The following year I spent a quiet day just hanging out at my sisters apartment, in London (Ontario, Canada). My 23rd birthday was spent in Korea and my 24th was spent in Australia. After the 24th it became apparent that I had spent every year to that point of my twenties in a different country. 25 was to be no different.

This was the first birthday I spent with no one around to wish me a happy birthday. My friend Kate was in the taxi with me when midnight struck, but I did not tell her it was my birthday. I woke up early and took the train to Pisa for a day trip. I always wanted to see the leaning tower of Pisa, so why not on my birthday?

When I arrived at the train station, I put my luggage in a locker and purchased a map. I was hoping I didn't need to take any public transit and it looked like the city was small enough that I could walk. I didn't have breakfast so I bought a gelato for the walk. It was once again a gorgeous day in Italy.

There was no mistaking the tower when I got to the area. It was pretty cool seeing it. It was basically how I remembered hearing about it. In my hostel in Rome I met a Mexican girl who had the chance to climb it. She was telling me how hard it was to stand at the top. I unfortunately didn't have a lot of time so never had the chance to climb it myself.

Instead I grabbed some lunch and sat on the lawn, enjoyed the sun and watched countless people taking pictures where it looked like they were either holding the tower up, or knocking it over.

This is a picture of some of the supports around the table that help keep it standing. It would be interesting to see how long the tower could last without the supports.

After my day in Pisa I caught a train to Florence in order to check into my final hostel. The hostel in Florence was decent. The city was very quiet and looked beautiful. I decided to have a nice dinner considering it was my birthday. After dinner I walked around a little bit and then headed back to the hostel. I wanted to wake up early to explore the city before I headed back to Paris to catch my plane.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Rome at Night

There are several things about a trip to Rome or Italy you can't really go without doing. Some I have already mentioned in prior posts, like the Colosseum or The Vatican. Others are as simple as having pasta, having pizza and of course having a gelato.

The best of these was the gelato. Just to ensure the first wasn't a fluke I tried several others. They were all good. After visiting The Vatican we found a place just across the street that gave 3 large scoops of three different flavours for a really reasonable price. It was a really hot day as well, so the gelato was a perfect fit.

After the Vatican I went back to my hostel. I needed to change hostels and I also wanted to relax a little as I started the day pretty early. I made plans to meet Kate back at a square later so we could go for dinner and go on a night walk to see a few sites.

If you are me, what is a trip to a city without getting lost in some capacity? I was over an hour late for our meeting because I could not find the square for the life of me. I crumpled and ripped my map a couple times in frustration. None of the streets run in a way that makes much sense, which made it difficult to get to my destination because there were several small streets going in strange directions.

Thankfully Kate was a little late and she didn't have a watch to know exactly how late I was. Neither of us had a cell phone so there was no chance of a forewarning. We would later get even more lost together. We went to a restaurant Kate had found in her travel book. It was said to have great pizza, so we ordered some to try it out. It was pretty good. For dessert we followed the book once more to find more gelato.

On our quest to find this gelato, we passed different picturesque locations. Kate brought a tripod she borrowed from her couch surfing host and turned into the paparazzi. She took several pictures at several different spots. She was very picky because she wanted the perfect pictures. By the end of the night I got a little sick of posing for the camera, but she did get some great shots. This will be me breaking the rule once again and sharing pictures I did not take.

Here I am in front of the Trevi Fountain. I threw my one euro cent coin into the fountain, not because I believed in the luck or anything like that but mostly because I find the coin pretty useless and no longer wanted it taking up room in my pocket.

These are the Spanish steps.

Look at all the pictures with me in them. That is for sure a rarity, especially traveling alone.

After we had enough of all the pictures and our fill of gelato we decided to start waking home or to a bus stop. Things did not go so smoothly, as I mentioned earlier. The buses either didn't stop or weren't going where we needed to go. When we started walking I somehow guided us in the wrong direction. I think I ended up getting pretty grumpy. We finally broke down and took a cab back. That was my only cab ride in Europe. While in the cab it struck midnight, which changed the day to September 3rd, my birthday. I never told Kate it was my birthday, just said my good byes as I was leaving Rome for Pisa and Florence in the morning.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Vatican

The Vatican was the final country on my trip through Europe, although I wasn't done with Rome or a couple other cities in Italy, I did not enter any more additional countries. A main attraction is the Vatican Museum, within the museum is The Sistine Chapel, perhaps the most famous. I already talked about it in my post about Michelangelo, so I will leave that part out now.

The museum had a ton of other paintings, by even more famous painters then Michelangelo. Examples of these are da Vinci and Raphael.

This was on the ceilings of a lot of the halls. That gold coloured design, is real gold. Just goes to show you how much money is within The Vatican and the Museum. I'm sure a lot of those paintings are quite valuable as well.

This is the ceiling of other halls in the museum. They are quite similar to the Sistine chapel in the sense that every inch of the ceiling is covered. They were not painted by Michelangelo however and are not nearly as famous. I did like the bright colours, and how uncrowded the halls were compared to the chapel.

This is an outside view of St. Peter's Basilica. That dome is an iconic image of Rome, and you can see it from quite far away. On the inside, it is massive. I thought other churches were huge before, but they do not compare to this one. Standing below the dome and looking up is quite the site as well, it just seems to go on and on. St. Peter's tomb is right under the alter. He was the very first Bishop of Rome, or Pope.

This is Saint Peter's square. There were a ton of people just outside here. This is where people gather to see the Pope when he addresses people.
There are also a couple fountains just to the right and left.

A different view of the Basilica. They were really enforcing their dress code at this spot. It was a really hot day and my friend had to put her sweater on to get in because her shoulders were showing.