Switzerland!

Hi there!

I hope you have all had a wonderful week, and are enjoying the warmer weather! As you all know, I have an incurable travel bug (I’m sure some of you have it too!), but in the times of my life where I am unable to actually travel, I substitute that by going on adventures close to home. This is of course easier to do when the weather is warmer! This winter has felt extremely long and rainy, so I truly cannot wait to head into summer.

In light of my desire to adventure, today we are headed to Switzerland, where there are some amazing places to go!

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The Swiss Alps (pictured above) are some of the world’s most renowned mountains for skiing. People flock from all over the world to experience the perfect powdery snow and the extensive series of slopes and resorts that pepper the mountains. However, I have been warned that only experienced skiers should attempt these slopes, because the overall level of skill is much higher. Additionally, the culture of skiing is much different, and beginners are somewhat shunned and frowned upon.

These wonderful mountains also have many opportunities and places to hike and take backpacking trips.There are mountain refuges that are first-come-first-serve shelters throughout the mountain range, and these make backpacking significantly easier. Without having to carry a heavy tent, more space and weight can be used to bring food and water along on your trip.

Overall, Switzerland is one of the best places in the world to head out on an outdoor adventure!

Have a great week!

Las Vegas!

Hi guys!!

I hope you all have had a wonderful spring break, and we’re able to spend it somewhere fun. One week is not a huge amount of time to be able to fully explore a new place, but it can give you a sense of whether you want to come back to that place for a fuller trip.

Another point that I haven’t talked about very much (mainly because it has not happened to me with any kind of frequency) is that not all travelers have to enjoy all the places they travel to. It is a great skill to have to be able to enjoy the place you are in and live in the moment, but it is also completely okay to reflect on your trip and realize that wherever you were was not your favorite place.

This was my experience in Las Vegas.

Although it was pretty awesome to get away from the long, rainy winter of Seattle and enjoy the heat of Vegas, I was, as a whole, non-plussed. To be fair to the Sin City, I am not yet 21 and as such cannot participate in the nightlife of Vegas, which is the main appeal for most people. The combination of slightly sketchy people and endless expanses of casinos ended up wearing me down until I was exhausted and fairly sick of the whole trip.

By explaining all of this, I do not mean to seem ungrateful for my wonderful family taking me to Las Vegas, I simply want people to understand that not every trip is the picture perfect experience advertised in brochures, and that even if they are not, you can learn something from them.

South Africa!

Hi there!

I hope you have all had a good week so far, it has been pretty hectic for me lately. Thankfully, dreams of future foreign adventures are always a great way to relieve stress and put everything happening in our personal lives in perspective!

Today we’re going to explore the southern-most country in Africa: South Africa (go figure!).

South Africa has a huge diversity of cultures in a relatively small geographic space. This multicultural nature is reflected by the 11 languages that the government has recognized as official languages, although there are hundreds of dialects throughout the country. The country has been developing quickly, and its citizens enjoy a relatively high standard of living compared to its poorer African neighbors.

Since the country is surrounded on three sides by ocean, its temperature is relatively moderate, especially around the coast. In the northern center of the country, the climate is much more arid, almost desert-like, which makes it a more difficult climate to live in.

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Above is an aerial view of Cape Town, which is one of the largest cities in the country. The parliament of South Africa is located in Cape Town, which makes it politically one of the more important cities as well. The city itself is as culturally diverse as the country surrounding it, with various different neighborhoods reflecting a huge variety of cultures.

As always, thank you all for reading, I love exploring all that this amazing planet has to offer and I hope you all have an great week!

San Luis Obispo, California

Hey all!

As some of you may already know, I am a senior in high school this year. As such, I have spent the last few months applying to schools and anxiously awaiting their responses. Thankfully, I have mostly had my choice of schools, with the California Polytechnic State Institute as my number one. I am interested in studying architecture and CalPoly is one of the most renowned architecture schools in the country. When choosing a school, it is obviously important to pick one that will suit your personality in terms of size, programs offered, and cost, but it is almost equally as important to choose a school that is in a location you will thrive in. For example, if you are someone who hates the cold and who becomes unproductive whenever it snows out, a school in Minnesota would probably not be your best choice. So in order to investigate a little more about my current top-choice school, I am going to write about the weather in San Luis Obispo: Home of the CalPoly Mustangs.

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San Luis Obispo enjoys fairly mild temperatures year-round, with significantly fewer inches of rain per year. This will be a welcome change, because although I love how green and lush Washington is, the long and rainy winters can become disheartening sometimes. Additionally the town of San Luis Obispo is a small college town with many local businesses. Indie coffee shops and bookstores are commonplace, and provide great places for college students to study.

Overall, I’d say this town is a great place to go to school, and I am so excited for fall!

France! (3/3)

Hello all!

We are going to France today for some good food and even better views! I am fairly familiar with the French language and culture, because I grew up going to the French Immersion School that is in my town. 90% of our school week was spent speaking only French so all throughout my time in elementary school and middle school, I was speaking French almost as much as English. Unfortunately, when I went to Spain I forgot almost all of my oral french, so now I can comprehend and read well, but speaking is much harder. Anyways, onto an exploration of this beautiful country and its many sights.

Outside of Paris, France has many amazing cities with beautiful sights. Aix-en-Provence, for example, is a gorgeous city in the south of France. With moderate temperature year-round and close access to several rivers, Aix is the perfect tourist destination for those who desire a trip that is a little off the beaten path.

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Another beautiful part of the city are the tree-lined avenues. While many streets in Europe are narrower than those in the United States, simply as a result of the time periods in which they were constructed, in each town there are one or more large, main boulevards that are often elegantly decorated. In the picture above, one of the biggest, most famous streets in Aix has been decorated for a festival. The trees are painted at various times throughout the year to celebrate different local or national holidays.

Thank you as always for reading, I’ll see you next week!

Canada!

Hello Fellow Travelers!

Since I have been focusing a lot on local places lately, I thought we could explore our friendly neighbors to the north this week. Canada is known for its friendly citizens, the bilingual city of Quebec, and some of the most beatiful, untamed wilderness in the world.

As one of the most famous cities in Canada, Vancouver B.C. offers a multitude of cultural and natural ways to explore the world. For the travelers among us who are intruiged by the sciences, Vancouver’s “Science World” museum has interactive exhibits and shows for travelers of all ages, so the whole family can enjoy the trip. There are also tourist boat trips to Granville Island, which is one of the foremost destinations for fun or fine dining and cultural experiences. The boats are multicolored and the ride is as much of an experience as the destination!

In addition to the vibrant city culture in Vancouver, some phenomenal natural wonders lay just outside the city limits. The Capilano Suspension Bridge is an 140-meter-long simple suspension bridge nestled among the trees over a river. The picturesque setting is known for its outstanding beauty, and has even been featured in several TV shows (including Psych, which is one of my favorites!). It has been a goal of mine to visit this bridge ever since seeing it on TV, so hopefully I will be posting my own pictures some time soon!!

For now though we will have to settle for professional pictures of this amazing locale, I’m sure you can see the attraction of it.

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That’s all for now folks, I will see you next week!

The Washington Coast!

Hello Fellow Travelers!

I am going to share with you another one of my recent trips, this time to the Ocean! I have always loved the water and I had the crazy luck to be born so close to the Pacific Ocean, so I have to take advantage of that luck every chance I get.

This trip, my family and some close family friends and I stayed at a small resort that is right on the water. The beach there is gorgeous and the three days we spent their all happened to be sunny, blue-sky days. Of course it was still January on the ocean, so it was far from warm, but with the sunshine on our backs, we were able to spend hours upon hours wandering the beaches and playing in the waves.

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That is the cliff that is overlooking the waves, with some of the cabins from the resort amongst the trees. The constant gales from the ocean have blown the trees into a permanently bent position, which gives the whole scene a sort of frozen-action look about it, which I greatly enjoyed.

One of the people in our group is a phenomenal photographer, and I wish I had been able to get my hands on some of the amazing pictures he took, but they are still on his computer. It was intriguing to see an artists’ take on such a beautiful place, it definitely enhanced my trip. When traveling to a new place it is critical to try and see it from as many view points as possible to fully live the experience.

Thank you all for reading, I’ll see you next week!

 

Holiday Travels!

Hello all!

I hope you had a wonderful holiday season full of happiness and cheer! I myself was not able to do much traveling over the break, but I did have some great new experiences close to home. One of the best days of my break was spent cross-country skiing on a nearby mountain with my dad. We are not experienced cross-country skiers, but we somehow ended up on a trail that was fairly steep. On the way up the mountain, of course, that made for a long, somewhat arduous trek, but the way down was very fun!

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Here we are after about an hour in our almost-matching coats!

Although I was not able to travel much over my break, I have a few fun trips coming up, which I am very excited about!

My first is this weekend: I am headed to Portland!

My family is going to see the NBA game that is happening there on Saturday evening, but I am just tagging along because I love Portland. It hits the city sweet-spot in so many ways. For one, the size is large enough to feel like a city, but small enough to not feel overwhelming. It is a smaller, friendlier version of Seattle. Additionally, Portland is very weird. So weird, in fact, that one of their city slogans is “Keep Portland Weird”. I love it!

Next on the agenda is the Washington coast. There is a small beachfront property that has a tiny resort on it, called Iron Springs. My family has been going there since I was little, and this time we have invited some family friends. It should be fun!

I will keep you all updated with pictures of my travels. As always, thanks for reading!

 

Albania!

Hi guys!

We briefly visited Europe in a previous post, but the western and eastern parts of the continent have very different cultures and sights to see. Today we are going to explore Albania, a relatively new country that came into being as it is today after WWII.

Even if the country is relatively new, the Albanian culture has been around for centuries and as such there are many, many cultural sights to be seen. For example, the Rozafa Castle is one of the oldest in the country. Historians believe it dates back to before the Roman Empire. For those travelers who are fascinated by ancient history, this is the perfect opportunity to glimpse a piece of another era.

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The outside wall of the castle is pictured above.

For those of us more inclined to modern history, the National Historical Museum of Albania in Tirana is the country’s largest museum and boasts 27,000 square meters of exhibition space. The museum displays art and historical artifacts from eras dating from antiquity to modern day. The diverse and rich history of the Albanian culture is well-displayed throughout the museum.

Additionally, Albania is filled with beautiful mountains and valleys that are riddled with walking and hiking trails. If the mountains are not your scene, Albania’s miles upon miles of golden coasts with sandy beaches may be more your style. The Mediterranean Sea is much saltier than the larger oceans, which makes swimming in it a unique experience that shouldn’t be missed!

If you ever find yourself on the eastern part of Europe, make sure to head to Albania to see all of the amazing sights!

Japan!

Hi Everyone!

We are going to explore a part of the world we haven’t been to yet: Asia. Asia is a massive continent, with lots of cultural variety and innumerable sights for seeing. In and of itself, it is not a feasible travel destination, unless you are planning an extended trip. For those of us who are only looking for a shorter vacation, choosing just one Asian countries to visit at a time is the perfect solution.

Today, we will look at Japan, and all of the wonderful cultural and natural experiences to be had as a tourist.

One of the most famous mountains in the world lies in the heart of the island. Mount Fuji is famous for its distinctly conical and snowy peak, which is the highest in Japan.

It is a very common subject and inspiration for Japanese art, and has become a symbol of the natural landscape of the country.

For those outdoors-y travelers among us, thousands of people climb Mount Fuji each year, and you can be one of them. Climbers typically go during the summer months to avoid hypothermia and other hardships the winter brings, and during the busy months there are manned huts that provide shelter and resources for climbers.

Besides its beautiful landscape, Japan has a vibrant culture and city life. Tokyo is the capitol and largest city, with over 13 million residents. There are many sightseeing and cultural opportunities in Tokyo, such as the Meiji Shrine, and other gardens, temples, and museums.

Regardless of your interests, Japan has something for you!

Seattle!

Hello all and a Happy Thanksgiving to you!

As the holiday season truly kicks off, it is time to look inwards, and to be close to home with those nearest and dearest to us. This week, we will take a look at the Seattle area, and all of its wonders we are grateful for year-round.

Just a short 40-minute drive from Downtown Seattle we have the beautiful Cascade Mountains. There are great skiing destinations and resorts, as well as hiking opportunities galore. One such place is PooPoo Point, right here in Issaquah. While it is quite a steep trail, it is fairly short, and the view cannot be beat. On nice days you can catch paragliders jumping off the mountain and drifting gracefully to the ground.

Snoqualmie Pass is one of the most popular places to ski here as well. During the snowy months the mountains flood with skiiers, beginning and advanced, who will either take day trips from Seattle, or overnight from across the western seaboard. While Seattle proper may be more wet than snowy, that certainly is not true of our high-altitude neighbors, who receive nice powdery snow for months.

One of the main attractions that Seattle has to offer is the Space Needle. Built for the 1962 World Fair, the relatively short tower (605 feet) towers above all building around it. It is kept separate from the much taller skyscrapers downtown to maintain this illusion. At the top of the Needle, there is an observation deck with a phenomenal view of the city, and a rotating restaurant where diners get a full 360-view of all of Seattle’s many diverse neighborhoods.

That’s all for now, have a wonderful start to your holidays!

Egypt!

Hello!

One are of the world that we have not yet explored is Africa. Many people have been hesitant to travel to Africa in the last few years due to the political uprisings (the Arab Springs) that have happened in several North African countries. While it is good to check the political/social situation of any country you are considering spending time in, do not let irrational fear deter you from experiencing the world and cultures that could vastly expand your horizons.

On that note, let’s talk about Egypt!

Egypt was one of the world’s very first nations. People have been there since prehistoric times, and its history is truly unrivaled. Some of the most famous examples of this, of course, are the pyramids of Giza. These ancient monuments are thought to have been built around 2500BC (almost five thousand years ago!). They were created as tombs to honor pharaohs after they died.

The Great Pyramid (above) is the one that remains in the best condition, and is one of the seven wonders of the world. It was the tallest manmade structure in the world for over 3000 years.

Besides its amazing history, however, Egypt also has a vibrant modern life as well. It is considered on of the superpowers of the middle east, and it has a huge influence on the oil industry.

From its unique cuisine, to its booming cinematic industry, Egypt masterfully welds old and new influences together to create a country well worth a visit on your next trip around the world!

Ireland!

Hello Fellow Travelers!

I am excited to take you this week to a country famous not just for leprechauns and a good brew, but also for its amazing natural beauty and deep-rooted history and culture. Let’s take a closer look.

Ireland’s weather is fairly consistent throughout the year, making it a superb place to visit year-round. While it may be a bit rainy for some peoples’ taste (it can get up to 225in of rain per year in some places) that humidity allows the flora of Ireland to flourish. Much of the island country is covered in lush green pastures and forest, and its emerald rolling hills have made it famous world-wide. It also boasts an amazing coastline, with some beaches and some incredible cliffs overlooking the sea. Whatever weather they may be experiencing, these sights are not to be missed!

Another perk that Ireland has to offer is the castles. Europe has a vastly longer history than the Americas, simply because of how long people have been living there. For example, the oldest building still standing in Seattle was built in 1882, whereas in Ireland, castles date back to before 1100. The history that these buildings have as a result is a huge draw for tourists, espeicially Americans, who don’t have that kind of history at home.

This is one of Ireland’s most famous castles, and it is a good example of the kind of architecture and beauty that draws so many thousands of people to this country every year.

Overall, Ireland is one of the world’s gems that many people over look for its “flashier” European neighbors, so don’t forget it in your next vacation plan!

 

Australia!

Happy Friday!

This week we’re headed down under to where Christmas falls in the middle of the summer (’cause who wouldn’t love a surfboarding Santa?). That’s right…. Australia! People from all over the globe have bunches of (sometimes unfounded) ideas about Australians, from their sun-kissed skin to spending all their time having ‘barbies’. Let’s see what the real scoop is!

There is something of a stereotype of Australia that everything there is poisonous. While it is true that some of the most poisonous spiders in the world reside in Australia, and their 60,000 kilometers of coastline make them particularly vulnerable to shark attacks, deaths from Australian fauna are fairly low. If travelers do their research and take proper precautions to stay safe, there is no reason why people and nature cannot interact peacefully.

This island nation also boasts some of the worlds most beautiful underwater views of reefs and sea-life.

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This is part of the Great Barrier Reef, which is one of the most famous naturally-occurring sights in the world. This particular sight is dubbed “The Heart Reef”, and has been filmed many times for uses in movies and is quite well-known.

Another one of Australia’s main attractions is the Sydney Opera House. The huge building shows off fin-like architecture and makes the Sydney skyline unique and beautiful. Travelers can participate in a wide variety of activities and see many different kinds of shows at this bustling performing arts center.

Overall, Australia is an incredible travel destination that may even surpass its own reputation for beauty and splendor.