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Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been telling a few people my so-called BIG NEWS, and here it is, time to come out publicly with what the next chapter in my life will be, coming up only two months from today.

Well, it happens that my two-year working visa for the UK is coming to an end, and after much deliberation (as I was exploring options to maybe extend my stay through a work sponsorship), I’ve decided to take the “easy” road and return to Canada in mid September.

Yep, I'm Moving Back to Canada on the 15th of September 2015!

Yep, I’m Moving Back to Canada on the 15th of September 2015!

I can’t believe that after making a life in London over the last couple of years, just as I was starting to plant some roots, it is time for me to leave. I have grown to love this city so much, so, although I am happy to be returning to Vancouver and being close to family and friends, I have a bittersweet feeling about this move.

HOWEVER, If you’ve followed my blog over the last few years, you’ll know that I don’t just “move” places. En-route to moving, I take the long way around, and get some travel under my belt while I am free from any responsibilities. Moving to Australia meant I got to travel for three weeks in New Zealand and 3 months in Australia itself, before settling down to work in Sydney. When I moved to the UK, I took 10 days to travel the Netherlands and Belgium, followed by three weeks in Turkey and a month traveling around to various cities in the UK, before I started work in London.

So, in true Clausito’s Footprints fashion, before I settle down in Vancouver again, I will be doing an epic six-week trip around Central America this Autumn, visiting all seven countries which make this sub-continent.

My Rough Guide to Central America, Because, Life

My Rough Guide to Central America, Because, Life

This trip will not only help me tick a whole lot of new countries, cities, towns, beaches and archaeological sites off my bucket list, but it will also mean I will have FINALLY reached my goal of visiting as many countries as the years I’ve lived (that will be 32 countries visited, just past my 32nd birthday!).

And there’s more BIG NEWS!… but I can’t go into that just yet…

Stay tuned as I finish up my two-years living in Europe in style over the next two months, followed up with many new adventures throughout the rest of 2015, and in the years to come.

Happy Canada Day 2015!

To celebrate this Canada Day, celebrated the 1st of July every year, here are some Canada Geese, hanging out by Burnaby Lake in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Canada Geese at Burnaby Lake, BC, Canada

Canada Geese at Burnaby Lake, BC, Canada

I took this photo about two years ago now, as I went around the city with my friend Ryan trying to find new secluded places to hike and walk around the greater Vancouver area, before moving to the UK.

Happy Canada Day!!

June is here, and with it, the beginning of pride season, as pride festivals and events begin to pop up all over the world (mainly the northern hemisphere). No, this blog post is not about songs, despite the festive title (although singing to my favourite gay anthems shall happen this summer), but if you read through, you’ll understand the name of the post!

Pride festivals are meant to increase the visibility of LGBT people in our communities, and stand for gay+ acceptance and equality in rights. These pride celebrations have their share of fans (and a number of not-so-fans) in both the straight and gay communities, and to me they are an important part of gay culture and a way for everyone to have fun in a non-judgemental, colourful way. No, a pride parade is not everyday life for every gay and lesbian, but I see nothing wrong with a little celebration now and then!

The Ghost of Prides Past
Until two years ago, I had surprisingly only ever gone to one pride (albeit many times). This might come as a surprise to some of my friends, who perceive me as ‘very gay,’ hopping from one bar to another on any given Saturday night (which does happen, but not as often as it seems!).

With my Friend Sammy at Vancouver Pride, August 2012

With my Friend Sammy at Vancouver Pride, August 2012

For me, until 2013, it was all about the Vancouver Pride Festival, a week-long celebration that happens every year in the last week of July, culminating with a fabulous parade on the first Sunday of August (which happens to be a long weekend). To date, I have gone to Vancouver Pride six years so far (I skipped a few in between!), and being the great celebration that it is, I never even considered traveling anywhere to witness other cities’ pride celebrations. When I moved to the UK nearly two years ago, I decided I’d branch out. It was not that I didn’t want to see other pride festivals. It was simply that I didn’t feel the need to go out of my way to go to other prides, when a great one already happened at home every year. But this was a new beginning, and a new opportunity to try new things.

Pride in London #mygaypride

Pride in London #mygaypride

My first pride experience out of Vancouver was Pride in London 2014, a parade that to me, just wasn’t as good as it could’ve been. I wanted so badly to have a good time, but it was a combination of things seem to have conspired to make me not enjoy the event as I was hoping: I may have over-built the excitement of seeing a new pride parade too much; I may have compared Pride in London to Vancouver Pride just a little too much… like, through the entire thing; or maybe it was the fact that it rained buckets that day! – In any case, London’s pride just didn’t meet my expectations, and left me wanting a lot more. With the rain as a complete damper, my friends and I ended up skipping most f the parade and the post-parade festival at Trafalgar Square, and opting for pub drinks instead.

Brighton Pride Dancers

Brighton Pride Dancers

A month later, I headed over to my second pride festival in the UK, in the coastal town of Brighton. To put it bluntly, Brighton & Hove Pride 2014 blew Pride in London out of the water, and it surpassed my expectations a gizillion times. The atmosphere of the parade and the excitement of the people was so vibrant you could almost feel it in the air. The Brighton & Hove Pride is the UK’s biggest pride festivals and it’s definitely worth checking out, with an interactive parade that reminded me of Vancouver (both in the way it was well-organized and the geographical setting itself), and the post-parade festival at Preston Park, which was great fun with good music and loads of stalls to keep us entertained.

Pride Welsh Flag, Cymru Pride, August 2014

Pride Welsh Flag, Cymru Pride, August 2014

Lastly, I headed to my third pride festival of 2014 at Pride Cymru 2014, the official pride for Wales held in its capital, Cardiff. Pride Cymru is much smaller than Brighton, but it held the same fun atmosphere, although in a much smaller scale. The group of friends I went with (all Welsh) were great company through the entire day, watching the mini parade (twice, actually!), and dancing the day and night away in the post-parade festival Main Event at Coopers Field. Aside from a little incident in which I got punched in the jaw and lost part of a tooth for trying to stop a fight between two pride goers (welcome to Wales!), I had a great night!

The Ghost of Non-Prides
No, not an official ghost, but in between last year and now, I have attended two gay-heavy events that, although not official pride events, could easily compete with some of the best.

The first happened by pure un-planned accident in November 2014 as I happened to be in Cape Town, South Africa, on the weekend of Gay Day in Cape Town, a street party that works as a teaser to Cape Town’s official Pride, which happens in the middle of February. Gay Day was so much fun, with various streets around the gay area closed to traffic and turned into a huge street party, in which drag queens performed, and a combination of live music and disco tunes alternated between two stages. The atmosphere was fantastic, and the only sad part about the day was that I had to leave early-ish, as the place started to really fill up, because I was leaving Cape Town that evening!

The second event happened only a few weeks ago in May 2015, at the gay-inundated European music contest Eurovision, which Eamonn and I went to in Vienna, Austria. This is not an official pride, nor a gay event even, but with a large gay attendance, the party was full of rainbow flags waving about, literally and figuratively!

The Ghost of Prides Yet to Come
This summer I will once again be gaying it up by visiting three prides. I am also once again being an ambassador for #mygaypride, an initiative set up last summer by one of my favourite travel blogger duo Two Bad Tourists.

The initiative #mygaypride, started up last year by Two Bad Tourists, is back again this year and will see a bunch of real travel bloggers (not wannabes, like me), gay website Gay Star News, and many more ‘ambassadors’ (that’s me!) spread the hashtag #mygaypride on social media, as we visit a multitude of Pride events this summer, all over the world. The hashtag is a way of uniting gay and gay-friendly individuals world-wide as we celebrate diversity and promote equality everywhere through sharing our experiences in and out of pride events.

#mygaypride - Me in June 2014.

#mygaypride – Me in June 2014.

To start up my 2015 pride season, I will be giving Pride in London a second chance, and I promise I will go with a clean slate and no preconceptions. I am hoping this year’s parade and celebrations will completely blow me away and I will have nothing but good things to say about it. My boyfriend Eamonn will also be walking the parade with his company, so I also have him to look forward to!

Secondly, I will once again return to Brighton & Hove Pride on the first weekend of August. A small group of friends will be going with me this year, and I know that I’ll have a great time making the mini-trek (aka the gay pilgrimage) down to Brighton in the morning, and enjoying what has become one of my favourite places in the UK, pride style! Brighton & Hove Pride is celebrating their 25th anniversary this year, and to add to the excitement, the after party at Preston Park has a fantastic line-up of artists and DJs, including Fatboy Slim, Hercules & Love Affair, Freemasons, and Bright Light Bright Light, so it’s sure to be a fantastic festival as a whole!

To end 2015’s pride celebrations in style, this year I will be heading over to pride in no other place than…. Reykjavik! That is right, my boyfriend Eamonn, two friends and I will be visiting Iceland for a few days, staying in Reykjavik and exploring some of the island from there. We planned to go over the pride weekend so we could experience the pride atmosphere as well as the country’s natural beauty. I am very excited to see pride in a country that, although quite small and fairly secluded, has been historically very strongly gay-friendly – can’t wait!

***

I hope all my LGBT and gay-friendly readers are looking forward to the summer pride season, and maybe you’ll be enjoying some of these festivals yourself… if so, please let me know, I’d love to hear! And don’t forget to tag all your photos under #mygaypride to keep connected!

What is the favourite pride festival you’ve been to?

A few months ago, my good friend Erik Carlson, a real estate agent in Vancouver, interviewed me about my experience living in London England, vs my life in Vancouver Canada as part of his quarterly newsletter.

It’s a pretty nifty interview if I do say so myself, so I figured I’d share it with you!

If you’re interested in looking at real estate in Vancouver, you can follow Erik on twitter at @ErikLists or visit his page at vancouverdowntownproperty.com.

Name: Claus Gurumeta

Where I Live Now: London, England, UK

What Took Me Here: Mostly adventure; a yearn for change! (But I do work.)

My ‘Must-Do’ List: 
  1. London has an impressive array of museums to satisfy everyone’s interests: from art (classic, modern, contemporary), to natural history, to historical jewels, weaponry, and fashion, you’ll find a museum in London. Most impressively, most museums are free of charge!
  2. Explore one of London’s many markets, whether it is the weekend markets in Brick Lane, or the daily markets of Brixton or Camden, they are a must-do!
  3. London’s pub-culture is impressive, with a multitude of different pubs anywhere you look. Definitely try out a few, and taste the local room-temperature ales for a change!

Insider Tips: If you plan to catch a musical in the West End, pre-buy your tickets to get the seats you want! Yes, you can sometimes buy discounted tickets on the day of the show, but you’ll end up with the worst seats in the house, and still pay for it. Also, don’t be afraid to walk off the main tourist areas and try a local pub for lunch (or for beers); there are so many great options around the city that there is no reason to stick to the tourist traps. If you see a recommendation in your Lonely Planet guidebook, do yourself a favour and skip it!

My Biggest Struggle Here: Shopping for specialty groceries. It is impressive, despite being such similar cultures, how hard it is to find certain ingredients which are easily found at home!

What Surprised Me: Being a foodie, I’m pleasantly surprised to find out cuisine in London is not as bad / unimaginative / tasteless as its reputation holds. There are plenty of amazing ethnic restaurants all over the city, and even pub meals (especially Sunday roasts!) are quite satisfying. Another pleasant surprise is finding out that many things are cheaper than Vancouver, including groceries and clothes, so shop away.

In Vancouver I Lived In: North Vancouver

If Money Were No Object, I Would Live in _____ In Vancouver: I really like the West End in downtown Vancouver. The area is close to everything, but still feels secluded and peaceful at night, and you have Stanley Park for bike rides or runs at your door step.

What I Miss Most About Vancouver: 
Sushi! Other than Japan, every other destination I’ve ever lived in / visited disappoints when it comes to matching Vancouver’s amazing sushi.


Favorite Place(s) To Wine, And To Dine, In Vancouver: 
I really like Italian Kitchen on Alberni St for a nice dinner, but mostly you’d find me chowing down on cheap eats and some beers at The Fountainhead Pub on Davie St. On a summer day, nothing beats the patio at the Cactus Club on English Bay.

If I Could Live Anywhere In The World, It Would Be: I’m liking London at the moment, great city with lots to do and explore…think I’ll be happy here for a while!

 *****

Where would YOU live if you had the opportunity to move abroad?

Happy Canada Day 2014!

White Rock Pier, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Canada Flag Flying Proudly in White Rock, Vancouver, BC, Canada (March 2013)

I still hold the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics as one of my favourite memories of Living in Vancouver. I still remember the excitement circulating in the city during the entire two weeks of the Olympics. Most dramatic was Canada’s winning the Gold medal on the hockey game over the USA. The excitement!

Me back in the Vancouver 2010 Winter olympics, outside of Canada House.

Me back in the Vancouver 2010 Winter olympics, outside of Canada House.

As Canada prepares to battle for gold again, four years later, at the Sochi Olympics, I am rooting for my country from the UK. Go Canada!

Last week my friend Samantha and I went on our first helicopter tour. The ride took us around Burrard Inlet, all the way along the coast of the North shore, before turning around and going all the way to UBC, and Jericho Beach., before flying over False Creek, circling the downtown core.

Me and my Friend Samantha, by our Helicopter

Me and my Friend Samantha, by our Helicopter

The experience was unbelievable, and the views of the city and the mountains on a clear summer day were outstanding! Here are some photos I took during the helicopter ride!

My Ride... Yea!

My Ride… Yea!

The Coastline

The Coastline

Jericho Beach

Jericho Beach

Stanley Park and Downtown, with North Shore in Background

Stanley Park and Downtown, with North Shore in Background

Vancouver's False Creek

Vancouver’s False Creek

The Very Scenic False Creek

The Very Scenic False Creek

Downtown Vancouver View

Downtown Vancouver View

Helijet tours start at CDN$99 per person for the 10-minute tour, based on how many people are in your group. Standard for a couple is CDN$300 for both.

The Pacific National Exhibition fair is back in Vancouver at its usual home, in the grounds of Playland in East Vancouver.

Welcome to the PNE!

Welcome to the PNE!

The fair experienced some cut backs this year (the one I was most sad about wad the Pyrotechnic Spectacular nightly show, which was worth the entry price alone!). With these cutbacks, the fair is able to provide goers a 20% discount over last year’s prices, so you can now visit the fair for only CDN$16 (CDN$14 if you pre-buy online!).

PNE Superdogs Show

PNE Superdogs Show

The usual attractions are still intact, including the popular Superdogs, the hilarious pig races, as well as the breath-taking Peking Acrobats. The summer night concerts have a number of popular singers gracing the stage at night, and tribute bands also play at night.

You can also walk around the agricultural stages and take a look at the horses, cows, pigs and sheep (yes, that sort of stuff is interesting to city folk like myself!).

New this year is the Sportacular musical / sports show, which was very cool (especially the motorcycle tricks!), and the short but sweet 80’s Forever dance show. These shows combined don’t add up to the canceled Pyrotechnic Spectacular, but they are a great time.

The rotating exhibit this year is about Mongolia’s historic leader Genghis Khan; admission to the exhibit is CDN$3 per person. I found the exhibit to be quite interesting, showcasing a collection of artifacts and weapons that are centuries old.

If you want to go on the rides be prepared to spend extra as the rides are not included in this ticket (you can either pay for a few rides or get an all-in pass). Also, be prepared to spend quite a bit on food, as the usual suspects (wiggle chips, mini donuts, sno-cones, kettle corn, and cotton candy) can get a little pricey. Tip: Make sure to bring a water bottle to refill along the day, as even water costs CDN$4 at the park!

Ryan and Me at the PNE

Ryan and Me at the PNE

Check out the official website of the PNE to see what shows are playing when, so you can plan your trip to the PNE. Also, note that the park will be closed using both Mondays of the run of the PNE, to aid in the cost cutting.

The Sea to Sky Highway, which connects Vancouver to the resort town of Whistler, is one of the most scenic highways I’ve ever traveled.

The ride takes just over one hour since it was renovated for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, but there are plenty of view points that will allow drivers to stop and really take in all the scenery in.

A couple of the stops look out into the ocean and the gulf Islands, but my favourite stops include Shannon Falls, near the town of Squamish, and Brandywine Falls, which my friend Ryan and I only just discovered on our latest drive up!

 

One of Vancouver’s coolest summer theatre experiences is the annual Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS), which is held at Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park every summer. Two different musicals are played on alternating nights for a period of a month and a half (totalling about 22 of each musical).

I only discovered TUTS last year, when I went with my friend Ryan to see Titanic: The Musical. This year I got the opportunity to see both of the shows, and really enjoyed both of them.

Theatre Under the Stars 2013 Programme

Theatre Under the Stars 2013 Programme

The first show is “Legally Blonde: The Musical.” This show is based on the movie (and novel) by the same name, and follows pretty much the exact storyline, with a few tweaks to the story. The musical is very clever, with little unsung dialogue, meaning that most of the story is portrayed through the songs. The set and costumes are very pink, the songs have a lot of “Oh My God” in them, and the choreography is overly campy, but the musical is fun and left me with a big smile on my face.

The second show, is the 1960’s “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” I actually got to see this show twice and really liked it. Set in a corporate environment in the 60’s, the storyline of the musical is surprisingly still relevant to today’s society (anyone who works or has worked for a big corporation can relate to it!). The set for this musical is a bit more simple than Legally Blonde, but still very cool, and it suits the story. The choreography is great, and the script contains quite a few really funny moments. The final song “Brotherhood of Man” is outstanding in both vocals and choreography, and really gets the crowd going.

There are still two shows of Legally Blonde left, and one more chance to catch How to Succeed, so get on it before the season is over! You can buy your tickets at the theatre entrance, or by visiting tuts.ca

Tip: The gorgeous Vancouver summer we’ve had seems to have ended with the first rains; ask for a poncho at the ticket office or bring your own; remember the theatre experience is outside, so seating is completely uncovered!

Stanley Park 125th Birthday

Stanley Park’s 125th Birthday

Vancouver’s iconic urban Stanley Park turns 125 years. An oasis of calm bordering the downtown of the city, Stanley Park is bigger in area than New York City’s famous Central Park, and is one of Vancouver’s most popular attractions, with over eight million visitors per year!

Stanley Park is surrounded by a large portion of Vancouver’s famous Seawall. The park is also home to other popular attractions in Vancouver, including the Vancouver Aquarium; the summer outdoor theatre series Theatre Under the Stars; horse-drawn carriage tours, the Stanley Park Train (which hosts the Christmas Bright Nights and the Halloween Ghost Train), and the summer outdoor movie series Fresh Air Cinema.

The park also boasts three beaches and a public swimming pool, as well as plenty of gardens, open spaces, picnic spots, and trails.

Last weekend, Vancouver dressed up in rainbows to celebrate LGBT Pride once again. Vancouver’s Pride celebrated their 35th anniversary in the city, and this was by far the most incredible Pride I’ve ever been to. From the events leading up to the parade (my favourite being Picnic in the Park, the weekend prior), to the amazing 2013 parade, Vancouver Pride did not disappoint.

Here are some photos of the Pride parade itself, the Pride Marketplace and beer garden party at the end of the parade, as well as random displays of pride around Vancouver’s West End.

Dykes on Bikes Kick off the Parade!

Dykes on Bikes Kick off the Parade!

Love in All its Shades

Love in All its Shades

Pink Feathers

Pink Feathers

Rainbow Flags Aplenty

Rainbow Flags Aplenty

Colourful Flower Costumes

Colourful Flower Costumes

We Stand With Russia

We Stand With Russia

One of the Many Colourful Floats

One of the Many Colourful Floats

Another HUGE Rainbow Flag

HUGE Rainbow Flag

The Pride "Marketplace" and Beer Garden Party

The Pride “Marketplace” and Beer Garden Party

Flags at English Bay

Flags at English Bay

The Iconic 'AMAZE-ing Laughter' Statues Dressed up in Drag for Pride

The Iconic ‘AMAZE-ing Laughter’ Statues Dressed up in Drag for Pride

West End Building Dressed Up for Pride 2013

West End Building Dressed Up for Pride 2013

Davie Street, Vancouver

Davie Street, Vancouver

Davie Village Rainbow Crosswalk

Davie Village Rainbow Crosswalk

Davie Village Rainbow Crosswalk

Davie Village Rainbow Crosswalk

 

The 5th of August 2013 is  British Columbia Day, a celebration of the province I live in. It really is simply an excuse to have a holiday (there are no special celebrations for the day). However, how about I share some photographs I’ve taken of the beautiful scenery from around my province?!

VICTORIA

 

VANCOUVER

 

TOFINO

 

WHISTLER

 

OKANAGAN

Sunset at English Bay

Sunset at English Bay – 19th of July 2013

We’ve had beautiful sunsets all week long in Vancouver. One of my favourite sunset-watching spots is at English Bay, in downtown’s West End.

Yesterday I couldn’t resist the beauty of it, and ended up jumping in the water with my friend Steve. First time I swim in English Bay in YEARS… and it was amazing!

Spring is one of my favourite parts of the year, whether I am home or away. This year, Vancouver treated us to a dry, sunny and warm Spring that was very unseasonal (it has now started raining and gotten chillier, after two weeks of blissful weather).

During my breaks at work, I sometimes like going around for a walk around downtown Vancouver’s West End, and was able to get some beautiful shots of the area with cherry blossoms in full bloom!

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