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Cypress Mountain - July 2013

Cypress Mountain – July 2013

Name: Claus F. Gurumeta
DOB: 19 September 1983
Have: BA in Business Admin.
Do: (Wannabe) World Traveler.
Job: Travel Wholesaler.

Born in Mexico City, Mexico. Grew up in Toluca, Mexico (1983-1994), and Veracruz, Mexico (1994-1997) before moving to Vancouver, BC, Canada (1997-2011).
Lived in Sydney, Australia (2011- 2012), back in Vancouver, BC, Canada until Summer 2013, and currently living in London, England.

Want: to spend my life traveling and be an international travel-writer. Someday.

Passions: Travel, Beer, Chocolate, Writing… in no particular order.

Travel.

The more I explore the wonderful world we live in, the more I want to see. I feel an insatiable hunger to explore every nook and cranny – starting with a few of my top travel places, visiting my favorites over again, and eventually experiencing destinations I never even knew existed.

I enjoy visiting a new place, and spending not only enough time to see the top sites, but spending a few days to get a better feel of the culture and the people. Get a deeper glimpse into what life is like at the destinations I visit. Take my time instead of simply running around to see the “top sites;” to sit back and enjoy a cup of coffee or a beer, people watch, or see the setting sun.

Through this blog, I want to share my personal experience of my travels. Having worked in the travel industry for over six years now, I have had the opportunity to take multiple trips a year. One or two big ones, mixed in with one or two small getaways. I can’t imagine a life without travel, and always yearn to get away again after a couple of months home.

Wanting a little change, I decided to take a little time off  in 2011-2012 to explore the South Pacific, immerse myself in Australian culture, visit its cities & enjoy its nature, and travel around the area as much as I could. I lived in Sydney, working once more as a travel agent, after traveling for three weeks in New Zealand and two and a half months around Australia. Living in Sydney gave me a perspective about that wonderful city (and the country as a whole) that I could not have gotten by travelling alone.

I returned to Vancouver for 18 months after Australia, and I couldn’t sit still. I kept the travel bug contained by going on a few trips during that time, but deep down the yearning for a new long-term adventure couldn’t be contained, and so I decided to move to London, England, on a two-year working visa. Living in London has allowed me to take more trips within Europe than I could ever have done from Canada (Due to the low distances and prices). Once again, living in this thriving city is also introducing me to a whole way of living in a way which I could not have even touched by merely visiting.

I keep finding myself getting behind on my posts no matter how hard I try, so you’ll notice that my posts are not necessarily in chronological order; I do however date everything as per my time of travel, so you will know WHEN I was WHERE. In between these posts, I try posting pictures from my previous travels to celebrate special days, or just because I like the pictures!

All the pictures I include in my blog are my own, most taken by me (except of course some of the ones taken of me). If I use a picture taken by one of my friends during our travels together, I will always give credit.

Please feel free to browse through all my travel entries and comment on any post… I love hearing what you think!

And most importantly, enjoy reading.

-Claus Gurumeta

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!

The 15th of January 2014 marks the third anniversary since I got my own domain, specializing my blog into travel-only posts. And what a ride it’s been!

Resting my tired feet in one of the hot spring terraces in Pamukkale, Turkey (September 2013)

Resting my tired feet in one of the hot spring terraces in Pamukkale, Turkey (September 2013)

One year ago I set myself some goals when it came to my blog, with the most ambitious being writing three to four posts per week throughout the year. I started strong, staying true to that goal for the first half of the year (and I did accomplish writing 107 posts in 2013, so not too shabby), but then slowed down a bit, as changes came up.

Which changes, you ask? Well, the most important being my move to London, England, a move that I hope will allow me to travel much more over the next couple of years. With the move across the world, came the stress of finding a place to live, a job, and getting my bearings in a new city. On my way to moving to London, I also went traveling for about two and a half months… and we all know how lazy I get with my writing while I’m on the road!

The good news? I have now visited plenty of new places in six new countries, so I definitely have a LOT more material to write about, and a LOT of photographs to share… so keep tuned!

Thank you again to all my loyal readers and all new visitors, for continuing to follow my blog. It brings me great pleasure to see every time someone visits my blog (and extra pleasure when readers spend a while going through some of my old posts).

Here’s to another year full of travel and adventure! x

I’d like to wish everyone a fantastic 2014. A little late to be writing a New Years post… but hey, better late than never!

Last New Years I reflected on the travel I did in 2012, noting that year had been the one where I had traveled the most in my entire life… so far. It was also then that I came to realize too how important travel has become in my life; perhaps, travel is the one true passion I have.

I’m glad to say, 2013 did not disappoint in terms of travel, and it brought upon a big change: my move to the UK.

The year started a little slower, with my first trip being in April, going down to Playa del Carmen, Mexico, for my brother’s wedding. As much as I love Playa del Carmen, I had been there already (and as recently as one year before), so it seemed 2013 would be less exiting travel-wise.

Thankfully, I made the decision about that time, that maybe I wanted to take on another long-term adventure; since returning to Vancouver from Australia a year prior, my feet had been itching to move on somewhere else yet again. And so, I applied for a work permit to the UK, and was now on my way to a new life.

Figuring a simple move (from work in Canada to work in England) wouldn’t satisfy my urge to travel, I decided to make a bit of a trip before coming to my new life… one thing led to another, and before I knew it I had another extended holiday spanning nearly three months, which included plenty of new cities in new countries I hadn’t visited before: the Netherlands, Belgium, Turkey, England, Wales and Scotland. I also got to visit Rome, Italy, the only European city I’ve re-visited so far, but not since I came to Europe for the first time nearly seven years ago!

A reminder of how much I’ve traveled, yet how little of the world I’ve seen so far, I bought this wall map to inspire me to dream of new adventures every day; the purple stickers mark the places I have visited so far, so I’m hoping to add more and more over the next few years. The map looks at me from the wall opposite my bed in my new flat in London, and I can stare at it for hours on end planning where to go next… oh, and all the travel dreams and plans I have!

My New Map of the World, Showing the Places I Have Visited

My New Map of the World, Showing the Places I Have Visited

So here is to another fantastic year full of travel and adventures, Happy (late) New Years to everyone, and thank you for reading!

-CG xx

Walter Elias “Walt” Disney was born December 5, 1901. An extremely talented director, animator, producer, voice actor and entertainer, Walt is most famous for his creation of Mickey Mouse, and for being the founder (and namesake) of the Walt Disney Company.

To celebrate the life of this icon, here is a picture of a statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse, at the Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California, USA (October 2012).

Statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse, Disneyland California, USA

Statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse, Disneyland California, USA

Happy Halloween, 31st October 2013!

To celebrate this All Hallows Eve, let’s take a look at some beautiful photos of one of the most beautiful cemeteries I’ve seen: The Waverley Cemetery on the sea-view Cliff Walk off of Bronte Beach, in Sydney, Australia.

With gorgeous views of the sea, The Waverley Cemetery has been named the most-scenic resting place in the world… Not a bad place to spend the rest of eternity. You know, like, six feet under.


Yes yes, this place is too beautiful to be my main Halloween post… But think about all the dead people that inhabit this resting place. I had no issue visiting the cemetery during my Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk in January 2012, but I’m not so sure I’d be too comfortable visiting at night!

Happy Alaska Day! 

Welcome to Alaska
This is me with some friends (Ryan, Chantelle, and James) at the Canada (Yukon) / Alaska Border, during our visit to the Last Frontier in August 2012.

Today is the international day appreciating teachers. Let’s face it, whether or not we liked school (what, some of us genuinely did!), we all had a number of teachers who made an impact in our lives. Here is to them!

This is King Ram Khamhaeng the Great, the ruler of the Kingdom of Sukhothai (now Thailand) in the 1200s, who is credited with inventing the Thai alphabet. A knowledgeable scholar, his name is a popular household name in every Thai home.

King Ram k, a Scholar Credited with Inventing the Thai Alphabet.

Family Praying to King Ram Khamhaeng at Sukhothai Historic City

Today, King Ram Khamhaeng continues to be a part of daily Thai life, having achieved a faux god-like status: during exam times, school children (and their mothers) will pray for hours to him, asking for the children to perform well in school, especially when it comes to grammar classes!

The 21st of September is the International Day of Peace.

What better place to showcase the need for peace than the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, a beautiful park in downtown Hiroshima, Japan. Hiroshima has raised from the ashes of destruction to be the world’s number one advocate for world peace.

The Flame of Peace Burns On, with the Peace Memorial Museum in Background

The Flame of Peace Burns On, with the Peace Memorial Museum in Background

Today, the Peace Memorial Park brings beauty and life to a place in which less than 70 years ago, the first Atomic Bomb fell over the city, destroying over half the buildings in the city, killing over 80,000 people instantly, and causing the death of another estimated 70,000 – 100,000 people in the following five years, due to injuries and cancers caused by radiation.

This Popular Park is Beautiful, but Also Carries a Strong Message. One of Peace.

On site at the Peace Memorial Park are the UNESCO heritage listed A-Bomb Dome, as a perpetual reminder of the destruction; the cenotaph with all the names of the known victims; the tear-inducing Children’s Peace Monument; and the Peace Memorial Museum. Most importantly, the Park is also home to the Flame of Peace, a burning flame which Hiroshima city has vowed not to put out until every atomic weapon in the world has been destroyed.

I visited Hiroshima, Japan in April 2010 and I loved it. The Peace Memorial Park is beautiful and touching, and the Museum is so overwhelming I actually (literally) had to walk out of it mid way through, about to burst into tears!

Let’s learn from our mistakes, and try every day to celebrate peace.

After a four-day visit to the Netherlands, I took the train down to Antwerp, Belgium, to visit my friend Timothy, a native Belgian born and raised in this Northern city.

Enjoying Different Waffle Styles with Timothy in Antwerp, Belgium

Enjoying Different Waffle Styles with Timothy in Antwerp, Belgium

I have to confess I knew very little about Belgium before my visit: if asked about it, I’d pretty much only be able to mention chocolate, beer, waffles… and a fountain of a little boy peeing. After spending five days in Belgium with a local, I am blown away by the beauty and the history of this small European country.

Timothy showed me around his hometown, Antwerp, over a few days. Together, we also visited Bruges, a Western medieval town which, as touristy as it may be, is a must visit spot in the country; and Brussels, Belgium’s majestic capital. From incredibly detailed building façades, statues, monuments, parks and open public squares, Belgium’s cities are really a sight to see.

And let’s not forget about the food, which extends much further than chocolate, beer and waffles; Belgian cuisine is something to write home about! Timothy was kind enough to cook me a few homemade traditional dishes: Gentze Waterzooi with chicken and meatballs, tomaat garnaal (grey shrimp and mayo salad stuffed into tomatoes), Meatloaf with Cherries, and a Dame Blanche ice-cream dessert. He also took me to restaurants where I could try more Belgian cuisine: Lapin aux Pruneaux (rabbit with prunes), and Mussels & Frites, with tons of mayonnaise.

Tim introduced me to multiple Belgian treats as well (yes, including different waffle styles and many chocolates). Of course there were also afternoons and evenings spent tasting many of Belgium’s different world-famous beers, at various spots around the three cities we visited.

With a local by my side, I was able to learn about the history, funny / interesting facts about the places we visited, and also got the opportunity to go to out-of-the-way neighbourhoods and visit local restaurant and bars. There is nothing like seeing a country through the eyes of a local, and I could not be any more grateful to Timothy for showing me around his country and helping make my stay here that much more memorable!

I will eventually write about each city visited in Belgium, and due to my love of food, I will dedicate an entire post to Belgian cuisine when I’m no longer on the road… stay posted!

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.

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