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It’s been roughly three years and a half since I got my very own website and officially started my travel blog, and what a ride it’s been. I am honestly surprised that in this time I’ve had over 50,000 individual views on my blog.
So far in my life, I’ve traveled to 23 countries… Very far from the 30 countries I had hoped to travel to before I turn 31 in September, but I have still made incredible memories traveling extensively through these places. My writing is a little behind, so there is still much more to come on travels I’ve already done, plus all the travels I plan on doing in the coming future!
I know it sounds cheesy, but I honestly want to thank each and every one of my readers, who has taken any time out of their life to visit my blog, whether it is to read about my travels, or just browse through my collection of photographs. Whether you are one of my loyal readers who visit often, or you’ve only visited my blog once or twice, you’ve inspired me to keep up with the blog, and continue to share my travel stories.
Thank you very much for visiting; I hope you’ll continue to support my blog in the future. On my part, I will try to be better at updating more often, so you have a reason to come back!
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
PS. I have finally given in and created a Facebook page to go with my blog. Like my page if you want to connect on Facebook!
Last Saturday I headed down to Brighton to go to one of the UK’s most popular pride celebrations, Brighton and Hove Pride. The event, which at a 160,000 attendees surprisingly has about four times more attendees than Pride in London, surpassed my expectations, and my friend Shane and I had a great time.
This was my first visit to Brighton, which is located just south of London, a quick 1-hour train’s journey, on the coast. As we were there only for the pride celebrations, we didn’t get to walk around the city much, but from what I saw, I really want to go back and explore the city a little further. It was also nice being on the coast… I realized I hadn’t been to the sea since my trip to Tenerife in the Canary Islands this past January!
Shane and I wanted to go overnight but due to pride (and our planning last-minute!) most hotels were sold out, and the remaining ones were only available at outrageous prices; however, given the closeness to London, it was easy enough for us to go as a day trip, and still have a great time taking part in the celebrations.
The weather was mostly sunny, with a little bit of cloud cover and about five minutes of heavy rain, but it was pretty warm all throughout, even at night. The crowd was also great, a good mix of people of all ages (including many families), just having fun and enjoying the parade and celebrations.
The Brighton Pride parade itself was a spectacle to behold, and everything I have come to expect from a pride parade. If you read my post on this year’s Pride in London, you will know that I was extremely underwhelmed by the UK’s capital’s pride parade. Happy to say, Brighton more than made up for it, and it’s restored my faith in the ability of the UK to hold world-class pride events that are well worth visiting!
Brighton is a fairly small city, and is easily walkable. The parade itself started near the beach and went across the city itself, culminating at Preston Park, where the official pride fair / market / party was held. While there weren’t that many floats, there were enough to make the parade last a little over an hour, which in my opinion was a perfect length for it.
The one thing I enjoyed most about the parade, is that it felt like a street party more than anything. Unlike Pride in London, which separates the parade from its viewers by an unsightly system of fences, Brighton Pride was open, and I felt, as a viewer, part of the festivities. Brighton Pride reminded me a lot about Vancouver Pride (in the feel of the parade itself, and even a little on the sea-side setting!). I can even say there is one thing I enjoyed more than my multiple visits to Vancouver Pride over the years (a pride parade and festival that I love): in Brighton, I was able to openly have a few beers during the parade due to less-strict alcohol laws!
The floats in the parade were nicely decorated, and all participants seemed to be having a great time, dancing along and interacting with the attendees. The crowds (both in and out of the parade) were mixed, about 50/50 men and women, and included people of all ages, including multiple families (with a large number of non-LGBT families), which was great to see… and of course, Brighton’s “Oldest Gay in the Village,” a local celebrity.
While the parade was light and fun, with lots of rainbow flags, colour, bubbles, and a healthy percentage of drag queens and sexy men in booty shorts, important issues were also addressed. Some of the most shocking included a march with one participant carrying a banner for each of the countries in the world that still criminalize homosexuality: an important reminder that we sometimes forget. Closer to home even, the “End Homophobia in the Commonwealth” group, addressing the fact that, while the Commonwealth Games were being held in Glasgow, Scotland, at the same time as the Brighton Pride parade, about 80% of the Commonwealth nations still criminalize homosexuality based on antiquated British laws.
The Park (Festival at Preston Park)
The Brighton and Hove Pride parade finished at the entrance to Brighton’s Preston Park, which happens to be where the main pride festival / party was held that afternoon and into the evening.
The park was a ticketed event, and by the time Shane and I organized ourselves we ended up paying £20 each for our tickets, but if booking early (memo to self for 2015, if I can make it back) one can get tickets for £10 per person! Tickets at the door were £25.
Preston Park‘s pride celebrations had large open spaces in which attendees could relax in the sunshine. The festival also included a fun-fair area with rides (we were drinking so did not go on any because that probably wouldn’t have been a good move!) and a large expo-style market with tons of booths educating visitors about different LGBTQ organizations, advertising political parties or government bodies, or promoting other LGBT-specific activities, such as the Gay Men’s Chorus. There are also a few others that are simply advertising personal businesses for products that might be interesting to LGBT, but not exclusively for gays and lesbians.
The rest of the park was set up with multiple tents, some which were bars, and some which housed dance floors. The dancing tents were fairly fun, although we soon realized they were all playing pretty much the same music, a techno-house mix that was perhaps a little too early in the day to enjoy. Even though the tents were supposed to appeal to different groups of people (ex. the “Bears and Men’s” Tent), the lack of music variety was probably the festival’s only major downfall. Other than that it was very fun!
The bar tents were surprisingly efficient, with queues going through quite fast, so we never had to wait long before we had another beer. Also, for a festival, a £4.50 charge for a pint of beer was quite reasonable and similar to most bars out in Soho in London. Outhouses and urinals were also numerous and spread out throughout the grounds, with queues sometimes taking a little longer, but never excessively long.
The Main Stage at the festival was probably the centre point of Preston Park, and had day-long singers and performances, which were quite good, including some decently big ones like Blue, Frank Musik, and Katie B. The area in front of the main stage was a big dance floor and everyone seemed to be having a great time, so overall, the celebrations at Preston Park were well worth the admission fee.
I have been waiting until now to go to Brighton, and I can’t wait to go back now.
As mentioned above, because we were there mainly for Pride, we didn’t really get to see much of the city, although we did take a break in between the parade and the festival at Preston Park to go down to the beach and have a few beers. The beach in Brighton is rocky, but still quite scenic, and the city itself has that distinct feeling of a coastal town.
After the beach, as we slowly made our way towards Preston Park, we also stopped at a park that had a food fair going on, to grab a bite to eat, and then stopped at one of the pubs in the city (Brighton Tavern) to grab a pint. After the festival ended, before catching our train back to London, Shane and I returned to the tavern for a couple more beers, to socialize with the locals.
Brighton and Hove Pride 2014 was a great event, and I enjoyed every part of it. Definitely on my list of Pride festivals to go to next year if I am able to… in the meantime, I really need to make a day trip to Brighton happen, to explore the city a little better on a less heavy-packed day!
Happy 4th of July to all my American friends; enjoy the celebrations!
Happy Canada Day 2014!
Happy Pride from London!
Yesterday, London celebrated its annual pride parade and festival, an event I have been looking forward to for a while, as it is the first time I go to a Pride festival outside of Vancouver. After so much building it up, I’m sad to say I was actually underwhelmed by the parade itself, and I ended up leaving about half way through.
Before I sound like I’m complaining too much, let me assure you I actually had a great time in Pride in London. I honestly think that I am a little jaded, after attending Vancouver Pride multiple times over the years, Pride in London just didn’t cut it for me. The reality is that Vancouver Pride is pretty freaking awesome, a parade that is getting bigger and better, and more colourful, year after year. Vancouver Pride is amongst the top most visited prides in the world, and it’s always a really fun time, and the parade does justice to such an event. Pride in London’s parade to me seemed all over the place.
The weather did not want to cooperate; aside from a couple sunny breaks, there was a downpour for most of the afternoon. Had the weather been nicer, I would have definitely stayed for the whole parade, but water was literally seeping through my umbrella, and I just didn’t feel like being there anymore.
Why didn’t I love the parade of Pride in London?
1. The barricades. Not exactly sure why they needed to barricade spectators from the parade, behind fences. I mean, I understand it is to avoid delays from people getting in the way of the parade itself, but seriously, Vancouver Pride is SO MUCH BIGGER, with a lot more attendees, and somehow there is no need to fence out the spectators. Being fenced out really made me feel like I was merely a spectator, rather than part of the event.
2. While we’re on the subject of “being a spectator,” I felt like Pride in London lacked interaction between the parade participants (the people marching / aboard floats) and the people watching the parade. Yes, many of them waved their hands, but I often felt like the participants had great banter going on amongst them, rather than connecting with the people watching. This lack of interaction made me feel even more like I was merely watching a group of people having fun, while I wasn’t really having any. I honestly feel, that the Pride in London parade simply lacked the interaction between participants and watchers, which is what makes a Pride parade fun.
3. Whatever happened to the goodies? One of my favourite part about Vancouver Pride is collecting the bead necklaces… Yes, a little Mardi Gras-wannabe, but it is amazing how much fun it is collecting bead necklaces, or temporary tattoos, or flags, throughout the parade. I enjoy going to the bars afterward and seeing everyone who attended the parade decked out with the colourful beads, and sometimes using that as a platform to begin a conversation with perfect strangers. Pride in London gave nothing away (at least not that I saw, on the part of the parade that I watched).
4. The volunteers and event managers. Yes, this event would not be possible without the time and effort put on by the people who make it happen. These people tried to ensure things would go as smoothly as possible (which didn’t really happen… see point 5 below!), and tried to be cheerful despite the rain. HOWEVER, I honestly felt like they were in the freaking way ALL THE TIME. Bad enough that we were barricaded behind the fence, but at least we had a front row, as we got there early… that was until a group of four of the parade workers decided to stand in front of us, open up their umbrellas, and cover pretty much the entire view. Many of the people around where we were asked politely if they could move a little to avoid being in the way, but the parade workers didn’t move, and seemed more interested in watching the parade themselves with their umbrellas open, so over half of our view, in the front row, was blocked.
5. The parade did not run smoothly. Every float / group of marchers would move a few metres, then stop in a standstill. I am not exactly sure what the delays were, but the portion of the parade that I attended was painful to watch. Meanwhile, the volunteers, event managers, photographers, and others who were working for the parade, had their own over-dramatic show going on. Stewards pushing through the crowd and moving one of the fences to come in and out of the street, continuously. Volunteers and managers yelling at each other from across the street. Workers running from side to side, looking severely frazzled as if whatever was happening was a life or death situation. It was a stressful behind-the-scenes situation, happening right in the spotlight, calling more attention than the parade itself, which for long periods stood still, without music, without dancing, with very few smiling faces.
The weather, as mentioned above, did not collaborate with us, and made the event a little more painful to withstand. This is obviously out of Pride in London’s control, so not something they could have fixed. As the rain started to pour, everyone’s umbrellas got on the way (as I said, even us, being first in row, had our views blocked by the umbrellas of the volunteers). My view on the front row was so bad, I couldn’t even take photos to share with you (and believe me I tried).
And now, on to the good
Alright, so I need to end this on a high note, since after all, despite a disappointing parade, I had a fantastic time at Pride! The parade was a bust, but my friends and I went to a few gay bars throughout the afternoon and into the early hours of the morning, and the Pride atmosphere was great.
To hide from the rain after leaving the parade, we headed over to Retro Bar, which quickly filled up with parade participants and watchers after the parade ended. Afterwards, when the rain subsided, we headed over to Soho, and were able to visit a few bars. The lines were crazy, and everywhere was packed, but the atmosphere was fun and happy. My favourite part about it is that Soho closed many of its streets to traffic, and the area became a huge beer garden of sorts, with everyone enjoying their drinks in the street.
The Pride in London parade could definitely become an incredible event to attend if they change a little the way they do things. The weather couldn’t be helped, but the parade could instantly become better if the procession was more fluid (fewer breaks), the participants were more interactive, and if the crew ran the parade from behind the scenes, rather than in the spotlight, overshadowing the parade itself.
And then there are bead necklaces… is it too much to ask for a little more fun?
Today is the official beginning of Summer, as we celebrate the Summer Solstice. That (usually) means one thing: MORE SUNNY DAYS!
London is incredibly beautiful in the sunshine… here’s a photo I took I took earlier this year in a sunny day. Happy Summer, an enjoy the sun today, everyone!
The 25th of April commemorates ANZAC day, Australia and New Zealand’s most significant war remembrance. Although the day celebrates the lives of the lives of soldiers lost in all wars, its origins go back tot he battles in Gallipoli in World War I, where both nations had the most significant loss of lives.
Last September I got to go to the ANZAC Memorial site in Gallipoli, Turkey. While I have visited many ANZAC memorials in Australian and New Zealand cities, the ones in Gallipoli was especially touching.
Set on the seaside, right where thousands of Allied soldiers lost their lives, multiple remembrance sites commemorate the lives of these soldiers, along with a monument depicting an apology letter from Turkey, to the mothers of the soldiers.
I am not one much for war history, but the visit to Gallipoli is quite touching, and a definite must do for Aussies and Kiwis.
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!
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!
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!
So here is to another fantastic year full of travel and adventures, Happy (late) New Years to everyone, and thank you for reading!
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).
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!
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.
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.
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.