Take Me to the World https://www.takemetotheworld.com Travel. Theatre. Life. Sat, 07 Dec 2019 01:26:51 -0700 en-CA hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3 Goodbye to the Decade – My 2011 Trip to Vancouver and Why Repeat Visits Are Good https://www.takemetotheworld.com/my-2011-vancouver-trip/ https://www.takemetotheworld.com/my-2011-vancouver-trip/#respond Tue, 03 Dec 2019 00:36:46 +0000 https://www.takemetotheworld.com/?p=27770 This is post is from TakeMeToTheWorld.com

I love visiting new places, but there's something to be said for visiting the same place several times. This is why I went to Vancouver in 2011.

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This post is part of my 10 week retrospective looking back at a specific trip from each year of the 2010s. Read more about the series here. Today I’m talking about my June 2011 trip to Vancouver. Read about my 2010 trip to Toronto here.

I like visiting Vancouver, British Columbia (I haven’t been to Vancouver, Washington yet). I’ve been to Vancouver enough times that I’ve seen most of the major tourist attractions, so I don’t feel pressured to try and cram in a bunch of stuff when I’m there. Still I haven’t been so often that I feel like, “I’ve done Vancouver.” It’s a nice balance.

In 2011 I went to Vancouver for a travel blogging conference. This was the third or fourth year of the conference, but my first time attending. I was excited to check to go and check it out. Vancouver is only a 90 minute flight from where I live. The city is by the ocean. There are mountains. There’s great food. There’s lots to see and do there. And the weather is pretty temperate year round (something that makes it pretty tempting to go there when the winters are unbearable here in Edmonton).

View of the Vancouver, British Columbia skyline from the seabus to North Vancouver.

View of the Vancouver, British Columbia skyline from the Seabus to North Vancouver. It was pretty grey during my trip, but not rainy, which is always a bonus in Vancouver.

Side note: when I was living in Ireland and people found out I was Canadian I received one of two comments.

    1. My niece’s friend’s second cousin’s classmate just moved to Toronto (or some variation of that) or
    2. I really want to go to Vancouver.

And I can’t blame people for wanting to visit Vancouver because the city is gorgeous. Part of my trip was inside a conference centre attending talks about blogging, SEO, writing, marketing, etc. I’m sure that’s not so exciting to many people, but I found it interesting and got to meet some bloggers (though I’m an introvert and not really great at networking).

The conference had worked with the Vancouver tourism board and had some complimentary attraction passes and tours for attendees. I got to go up to the Vancouver Lookout, which is a nice lookout point in the city at Harbour Centre. I took a food tour at the Public Market at Granville Island. That tour broke what was supposed to be a year without chocolate (a resolution I’d make at New Years; chocolate is too delicious don’t give it up unless you’re allergic or diabetic or something like that). I also took hop on/off trolley tour, which was the weirdest tour ever. I like hop on/off tours all right. If you’re short on time it’s a good way to see the sites, get your bearings, and learn about the city you’re visiting. But the live tour guide I had on this particular tour just kept talking about the coffeeshops in the area, and how there was a Starbucks on every corner. Yeah, I get it Starbucks is everywhere, but like I don’t need you to point out that there’s another Starbucks down the block from us. I can understand hearing about Starbucks on a tour in Seattle (you know where the company started), but not in Vancouver. Since there was a live guide I’m sure other guides on the same tour would have been different, and not just talk about coffeeshops.

One thing that was unique about this trip was that it took place while The Vancouver Canucks were in the playoffs for The 2011 Stanley Cup. I wasn’t there when they lost and the riots were going on (something that’s just awful, but I’m not gonna get on my high horse and point fingers; I know Edmonton has had riots after The Oiler’s lost in 2006…some people get stupid over sports). However I was there when The Canuck’s won their last game in that series against The Boston Bruins in that series. I’m not a huge sports person (I mean I cheer for my local sports teams, but I’m not super invested in games). However I gotta say energy in the air was electric as there was tons of people watching the game on giant outdoor screens downtown. I also happened to be wearing blue and green (Canuck team colours) that day, so I had a lot of people (likely very drunk people) giving me high fives. If you’re visiting a city when their local sports team is a finals/playoff game wear the team’s colours and you’ll be greeted with a lot of enthusiasm.

A crowd of Vancouver Canuck Fans in front of the CBC Building in Downtown Vancouver.

A crowd of Vancouver Canuck Fans in front of the CBC Building in Downtown Vancouver.

I’ve written before that I like to have a quest, but it isn’t always super big. I do like to have something to look forward to when I travel. I’m a planner, so I always try to find something I want to see or do at destination; in Vancouver it was visiting the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Gardens. The gardens are quite beautiful, and like the name says they’re designed in a classical Chinese style (for gardens I guess). I was there in June so there lots of plants and flowers in bloom. This was something I hadn’t been able to do on my previous visits to Vancouver, so I’m glad I got to go there on this trip.

Beautiful plants at a pond at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sun Classical Chinese Gardens.

Beautiful plants at a pond at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Gardens.

And best of all I got to see my friend (the same one I went to Toronto with) as she had moved to Vancouver earlier in the year. We went out for lunch and had a great time like we always do when we get together. Having a friend live in a place you’re visiting is always nice because they know how to get around and knows where to go. It makes for a less stressful trip.

My friend still in Vancouver, and that’s a good enough excuse for me to fly out for a visit every so often. I was there in 2015 and this past June, and I’ll definitely be back again at some point. Vancouver is too close, and too awesome for me not to visit over and over.

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Goodbye to the Decade – My 2010 Trip to Toronto and Why I Love a Quest https://www.takemetotheworld.com/my-2010-trip-toronto/ https://www.takemetotheworld.com/my-2010-trip-toronto/#respond Mon, 25 Nov 2019 14:22:23 +0000 https://www.takemetotheworld.com/?p=27748 This is post is from TakeMeToTheWorld.com

The first post in my retrospective on the past decade of travel is about my January 2010 trip to Toronto, and my friend and I were there for one purpose...

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This post is part of my 10 week retrospective looking back at a specific trip from each year of the 2010s. Read more about the series here. Today I’m talking about my January 2010 trip to Toronto.

A quest

I love spontaneous adventures, but there is something to be said about a trip with a quest, a mission, a purpose.

Likely I would have visited Toronto at some point in my life (and indeed I returned again in 2013, and had a short layover on my flight home Dublin in 2018), but my first visit to Toronto was in January 2010. My first travels of the new decade. The first time I’d visit the largest city in Canada. The first time I’d travelled somewhere in January (although Toronto in January is still cold, this was no tropical getaway).

And more importantly my first trip with a quest.

I went to Toronto with a friend and we went for one reason only. The musical Rent was having a national final Broadway tour with some of the original cast members (Anthony Rapp as Mark, Adam Pascal as Roger and Gwen Stewart in the Ensemble). Being huge fans of Rent (a.k.a Rentheads) my friend and I decided to go to Toronto to see this show (which we’d seen other touring productions of) in the only Canadian stop the tour had.

We were not there for the C.N. Tower. Or to try to spot Drake. Or anything else. Of course we did other things than see Rent. We were there for 6 days. We did go up to the C.N. Tower. We stayed downtown at a hotel for cheap, because I was working for the parent company and got an insane rate of $50/night (no longer working for that company, but I do miss the cheap hotel deals I could get). We went to the Art Gallery of Ontario, Casa Loma, the Ontario Science Center. We went into the TV museum at the Canadian Broadcast Corporations tower and saw Mr. Dressup’s Tickle Trunk (classic iconography in Canadian kids TV). We navigated the TTC. We wandered through Dundas Square.


A collage of three photos from Toronto. The C.N. Tower downtown lit up in red and blue at night, an aerial view of Toronto from atop the C.N. Tower, and a marquee of the Canon Theatre (now the Ed Mirvish Theatre) where my friend and I saw the musical Rent in January 2010.

Many blurry photos from that trip to Toronto in January 2010, so here a little collage. Left The C.N. Towers in Toronto lit up at night, top view of Toronto from the C.N. Tower during the day, and bottom a marquee of the Canon Theatre (now the Ed Mirvish Theatre) in Toronto.

But those weren’t the reasons we went to Toronto in the cold month of January 2010. It was all Rent. We had purchased tickets, got seats at the front of the balcony. Watched our favourite musical with some of the original cast. Bawled. Had goosebumps though the show.

I’ve wanted to talk about Rent on my musical theatre podcast, what it’s meant to me, how I fell in love with it after watching a cast performance of “Seasons of Love” on the Rosie O’Donnell Show as an angsty teen. Talk about the triumphs of the show, the devastating loss of its creator Jonathan Larson (who collapsed during the show’s first off-Broadway preview, and soon passed away from an undiagnosed genetic condition called Marfan Syndrome). How I obsessed over Rent after seeing this musical and listened to nothing but its Original Broadway Cast Recording for 6 months straight. Nothing else just Rent.

But I can’t start talking about Rent without crying, even though I understand its criticisms and why people don’t love this musical. It’s a show that is the product of a person who is no longer with us. And I have other musicals that I may see as being technically better and more cohesive (honestly my favourite musical list is a probably a ten-way tie), but Rent just holds a special place in my heart and will always be there. I’ve gotten to see some of the original cast in other shows, but getting to see even a fraction of the original Broadway cast of Rent was amazing. We stood in line at the stage door after the show and got autographs. I’m not an autograph person, not obsessed with meeting celebrities,  but this was something we had to do. I probably sounded like a blubbering fool, but it was worth it.

But backtracking a bit before that show friend and I started talking to the lady sitting behind us in the theatre. She asked us if we were going to try for the lottery. And we never thought of that. Musicals (most commonly big productions on Broadway in New York, the West End in London, and some big national tours) have what is called the lottery and it all started with Rent. The story of Rent is a retelling of the Puccini Opera La Boheme, but set in late 1980’s New York with the HIV/Aids crisis replacing the plague of consumption (tuberculosis) that was deadly in the La Boheme’s 19th century Paris. Rent has strong themes of friendship, love, loss, art, and living like “No Day But Today.”

Producers of Rent realized that people who wanted or even should see the show were probably not always able to afford the $100+ tickets for this show. During its time Rent had the same kind of buzz that Hamilton has now. It was a hot ticket to see. A rock opera like no other. So a lottery was started. Before the show you could line up, put your name in a draw and win the chance to buy greatly reduced tickets for $20 for front row seats.

Nowadays shows have all sorts of lotteries, and some you can enter by just downloading an app and filling out a form. In Toronto they did the lottery tickets old school. My friend and I queued with other Rentheads, freezing cold, singing songs from the show, talking about the characters, our favourite moments, why we loved Rent.

And we didn’t win. Such is life. The experience was so positive, and there were some back of the balcony tickets left, at a pretty good rate, so of course we bought some because why would we turn down a chance to see Rent again? That’s a rhetorical question; we woudn’t.

On the last day we thought we’d try for the lottery again. Our flight wasn’t until later in the afternoon and we’d have enough time to get to the airport if we won. And again we stood in line, in the cold, excitement building, talking to people. An usher from the theatre came out and excitedly announced they were going to draw the lottery winners. And they called name after name and we saw people jump up and down and hug and cry and then they said a blur of syllables.

My friend’s name. Omigod they said my friend’s name. They didn’t pronounce her last name correctly, which is why it took us a second to realize what was happening.

We Fucking Won The Lottery!

Now you might say whatever, but this was like the best thing that could ever happen, at least for huge Rentheads like us. It’s like going to a Comic Con and getting to ask Robert Downey Jr. a question at a Marvel Panel when you’re obsessed with Marvel and have loved every Iron Man movie ever made and every Iron Man appearance in the Marvel Universe. Or you know pick an analogy for your life. Meeting your favourite musician/sportsperson, etc.

When a lottery winner is chosen they are usually given up to two tickets. They have to be purchased in cash right away. As it was just my friend and I on this trip we both got to see Rent again by winning the lottery.

And when I say front row seats I mean front row. They literally had two fronts of folding chairs in front of the regular seats (which probably went for $175 or more easy). And my friend and I got front and center tickets.

This isn’t to say I regret the previous viewings we’d seen of Rent. They were all great, but that lottery win was something else entirely. I could see details in the set and costumes that I couldn’t before. In musicals the acting and singing is often large and exaggerated, to make sure the people in the back of the theatre can tell what’s happening in the show. But up close I could see choreography and facial expressions I couldn’t before.

Of course theatre is live and an ever changing art form. Had we won the lottery before we would have seen the same, yet a totally different show. I’m sure it would have been amazing, but nothing was like that experience. Winning the lottery (or I guess more technically being friends with a lottery winner) and getting to see Rent is one of my favourite experiences in theatre and in travel. When I think back on my life, and moments of pure joy this one is in the top 5 for sure.

On the plane home I had a notepad and tried to scribble down everything I could remember from the show. Trying to preserve it in my mind. I couldn’t think of everything then, and I can’t find that notepad now, but I do remember that feeling. That wonderful joyous feeling when my friends name was called, and the excitement sitting in those front row seats watching a show we’ve loved for years in the best way possible.

January 23, 2010 was the day we won that lottery. I love Rent, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to see it again live because I know nothing could ever top that feeling. That’s unfair perhaps, and I’ll likely see Rent again at some point in the future (there was a national tour that came to Edmonton a few months ago). Until then I’ll always fondly remember my time in Toronto when we went on a quest to see Rent once, and ended up seeing it three times.

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Goodbye to the Decade – A 2010s Travel Retrospective https://www.takemetotheworld.com/2010s-travel-retrospective/ https://www.takemetotheworld.com/2010s-travel-retrospective/#respond Sun, 24 Nov 2019 22:43:04 +0000 https://www.takemetotheworld.com/?p=27737 This is post is from TakeMeToTheWorld.com

As the 2010s come to a close I am looking back. Each week I'll pick a place I've visited starting in 2010 and going to 2019 and write about that place.

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I’ve been finding it hard to write. There are about 6 post drafts from past trips I’ve taken in my editor, and I have plenty of ideas for my musical theatre podcast episodes (which I try to write out some notes for ahead of time), but I’m having a hard time writing. Sometimes I feel too overwhelmed or I am not even sure where to start, but the decade is coming to a close and I figure that I should address that in some way. Hence why I’m starting this series Goodbye to the Decade – A 2010s Travel Retrospective.

I spent my mid twenties to mid thirties in the past decade. Travel-wise this was a decade of a lot of firsts for me, and a decade of a lot of seconds (and repeat visits). Looking back and writing about all of the places I’ve been to in the past 10 years would take way too long. I’ve counted approximately 70 trips in the past decade I’ve taken, some far and some near. I’m probably missing a few repeat trips to Calgary or visiting family in Saskatchewan, but 70 seems like enough to choose from.

The number of trips I’ve taken in the 2010s is likely more than some people, but less than others. This isn’t a “let me brag about all the places I’ve been to” series. This isn’t a “time to check off a bucket list” kind of series either. Instead I’m going to randomly select one trip I’ve taken each year of the past decade, starting with 2010 and ending in 2019 and write about that trip. I’m not going to repeat any cities or countries if I can help it (except Canada and the US just because I didn’t travel much outside those countries until 2015).

An open road

An open road seems to be a good image for the 2010s travel retrospective I’ll be doing over the next ten weeks. Road trips may or may not be featured in this retrospective (but likely will cause I’ve done a lot of road trips in the past ten years).

It may seem strange to randomly select a trip to write about, but really this is for the best. If I tried to put on a qualifier like choosing the most life changing trip or my favourite place ever or the trip that taught me the most about myself or the trip that taught me the most about the world and other people or the trip that challenged me but I am forever grateful for it then I would be stuck choosing between several trips. And all of the places I’ve visited have elements of these things, so picking “the best” will leave me feeling deflated because I’ll want to write about all the places I’ve visited in the 2010s. And at some point maybe I’ll write about all of these trips, but it’s too overwhelming to do in a retrospective like this.

I’m planning to make this a weekly series with the first post about a 2010 trip going up tomorrow. If I’d been thinking ahead I would have started this a few weeks back making this series coincide with the last week of 2019, but I didn’t so this series will go into January 2020. I don’t know how this will go. This might be a super long narrative series, it might be a stream of consciousness exercise,  or a quick short fact based listicle of the Top 10 things to do in this place (likely not that exact). It may change week to week. Some of these places and trips I may have featured on Take Me to the World already, and if so I’ll try to focus on a different aspect I didn’t cover before. These will likely include my  biased opinions, perspectives and personal stories, you know because this is a personal blog.

Anyway I hope you’ll join me in my look back through a specific trip each year in the 2010s. I hope this series might inspire you to look back on the places you’ve visited the last ten years, whether they were near or far. And maybe this will inspire you to visit some of these places for yourself in the next decade.


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Musical Theatre Podcast Episode 7 – The I Want Song https://www.takemetotheworld.com/musical-theatre-podcast-episode-7/ https://www.takemetotheworld.com/musical-theatre-podcast-episode-7/#respond Thu, 24 Oct 2019 18:53:12 +0000 https://www.takemetotheworld.com/?p=27717 This is post is from TakeMeToTheWorld.com

On Episode 7 of the Take Me to the World Musical Theatre Podcast I discuss one of my favourite types of songs in musicals, the I want song.

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On episode 7 of the Take Me to the World Musical Theatre Podcast I talk about The I Want Song; one of my favourite types of song in musical theatre. I go into what the I want song is, why is used, and a few different types of the I want song.

Where to Listen to Episode 7?

If you haven’t heard it yet you can listen to Episode 7 on Podcasts.com

You can also listen and subscribe to the Take Me to the World Musical Theatre Podcast on your favourite podcast app or website below.


Google Play 

Tune In


Albums (On Spotify) For The Shows I Mention in This Episode

Company (2006 Broadway Revival).

Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording).

Disney’s The Little Mermaid (Movie Soundtrack). There is also The Original Broadway Cast Recording of The Little Mermaid (which I haven’t listened to.

Little Shop of Horrors (New Broadway Cast).

Disney’s The Lion King (Movie Soundtrack). There is also The Original Broadway Cast Recording of The Lion King.

Next to Normal (Original Broadway Cast).

Disney’s Pocahontas (Movie Soundtrack).

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Original Broadway Cast).

The Wizard of Oz (Movie Soundtrack).

Wicked (Original Broadway Cast).

Don’t forget about my playlist It’s Broadway, Bitch! A playlist that has over 2000 songs from stage musicals (adult language is used in some songs so nsfw).

Resources – Videos

These are links on Just Watch for the following movie versions of the musicals I talked about in this episode. Just Watch will have links to where you can watch these movies on various online and streaming sites.

Disney’s The Little Mermaid (1989 Movie).

Little Shop of Horrors (1986 Movie).

Disney’s The Lion King (1994 Movie).

Disney’s Pocahontas (1995 Movie).

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007 Movie).

The Wizard of Oz (1939 Movie).

Resources – Websites and Apps

Company. There is an upcoming Broadway run of Company (similar to the West End production a couple years ago). In this version the role of Bobby will be played by a woman, and I also believe they’re making one of the married couples a same-sex couple. I love the fact this musical is getting a modern update like this.

Disney’s The Lion King on Broadway.

Hamilton Musical the official website where to get tickets for all current/upcoming productions of Hamilton.

Little Shop of Horrors.There is currently an Off-Broadway production of this musical starring Jonathan Groff, Tammy Blanchard and Christian Borle. Tickets are available until January 2020, but I really hope this production will head to Broadway.

Wicked. This classic musical has been running on Broadway since 2003 and is always fantastic. There is also the London production for Wicked.

Reddit Musical Thread.This is a great place to go if you want to talk about musicals, or get recommendations on shows to check out.

Broadway Musical Home. This is an amazing website for any musical lover. They have an alphabetical list of over 300 musicals, and you can look up musicals by different categories like “based on a book” and “based on real life.” For anyone or any theatre company looking to put on a musicals you can check out the Rights page, where you can find where to get the rights to put on a variety of musicals.

Playbill has listing for shows (musicals and plays) in New York, London and National Tours.

Today Tix is an App for both iOS and Android. You can use the app to buy cheap, same day tickets for shows in cities like New York, London, Toronto, Chicago, and more. I used this app with great success in London and highly recommend it. Please note: Hamilton is not on TodayTix. The only way to win Hamilton lottery tickets is through the official Hamilton website or App.

Use the Code JGZYL to save £10 (or $10) on your first order with Today Tix.

Had you head of The I Want song before? What’s your favourite I Want Song from a musical. 

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The San Francisco Cable Car is for Tourists and That’s 100% Okay https://www.takemetotheworld.com/san-francisco-cable-car/ https://www.takemetotheworld.com/san-francisco-cable-car/#respond Thu, 03 Oct 2019 05:09:19 +0000 https://www.takemetotheworld.com/?p=27608 This is post is from TakeMeToTheWorld.com

Reasons why you should ride the cable in San Francisco, even though it's one of the most touristy things you can do.

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When my friends and I were in San Francisco for a few days we did some touristy things. We went to Alcatraz. We wandered around Fisherman’s Wharf. We saw the sea lions at Pier 39. We walked through Chinatown. We went on a double decker bus tour. We went across The Golden Gate Bridge and then took photos on the other side. We even had lunch at a Hard Rock Cafe and Boudin Bakery (which was where sourdough bread was first popularized in San Francisco).

The one other tourist thing we really wanted to do in San Francisco was to ride the cable car. You know the one. It’s featured in pretty much every movie or TV show set in San Francisco. The first two days we were there we had a hop on/off bus pass and used that to get around the city. The next two days my friends and I got a Clipper Card, which is a transit pass. We used it on the bus, the tram, the BART (subway), and on the cable cars.

San Francisco Cable Car.

One of the famous cable cars in San Francisco. The city is the last one in the world to have manually operated cable cars.

Powell-Hyde Cable Car Turnaround

For our first attempt to take the cable car we went to the Powell-Hyde turnaround. There are three different cable car lines in San Francisco. On the Powell-Hyde and Powell-Mason lines the cable cars only operate from one end. So when they get to the end of the line the operators get out and turn the cable car (like physically turn it; not a metaphor). Here’s a video.


The Powell-Hyde turn around is right by Ghirardelli Square, and the Hyde Street Pier. These are pretty busy and touristy areas of the city, and so there will likely always be a queue of people here. The first time we here we only waited about 10 minutes. When we got to the car, we were hoping we’d get the seats on the side (the ones facing out to the street). Since it was busy we had to sit inside, in the middle of the car. Still we got to ride the cable car.

During our time in San Francisco they were doing work on the Powell-Hyde line. This meant that we could only ride the cable car partway on this particular line. After that we had to take a free shuttle bus for the rest of the line. Turns out this work was going to finish a couple days after we left, but it did kinda suck for our trip. It also meant that the cable car turnaround at the other end of the line (the one by our hostel) wasn’t in operation. Oh well, c’est la vie, right?

San Francisco Cable Car Museum

One thing we did do was wander inside the free San Francisco Cable Car Museum. It shows the history of the cable car, and has lots of information about how cable cars work. The cable cars themselves don’t have any kind of motor or engine in them. Instead they are moved by a cable that runs underneath a track on the road. On the cable cars themselves is a lever that operates as a braking system. At the museum you can watch the now electrical powered motors drive the large wheels that pull the cables under the ground to move these cable cars. If you’re outside by a cable car track you can hear the cable moving underneath. It was interesting to see this and to learn about the history of the cable car. This is a neat museum to spend a little bit of time in if you’re in the area.

This explains the difference between a cable car and a street car.

Final Day

The last day we went back to the turn-around for the Powell-Hyde line and the queue was insane. We waited for about 90 minutes to get on the cable car. Depending on your circumstance you might just give up and walk. But looking up at the massive we decided to wait it out, rather than to walk it. While I was in line I couldn’t help but think to myself, “yep the cable in San Francisco is 100% for tourists. There’s no way a local is waiting in this giant line to go to work or to the grocery store.” Perhaps back in the day when the cable car was one of the only forms of public transit locals would take it, but I doubt they would now. Not with the other forms of public transit in San Francisco that are quicker and go to more places.

We finally got on the cable car (again had to sit inside), and went up toward Lombard Street. We decided it’d be easier to walk down Lombard than up. It’s worth knowing that the cable cars don’t have a way to indicate a stop inside the car (there’s no buttons to push, or strings to pull). Instead you need to tell the driver where you want to get off. Outside there are cable car stops along the routes, so if you’re waiting at a stop the cable car will stop there. Anyway after walking down Lombard (on the sidewalks; you can’t walk down the crooked road) we caught the shuttle to the end of the line. Then we walked over to where the California Line cable cars operate.

Car driving down Lombard Street in San Francisco, California.

We decided to walk down from Lombard Street to California Street to take another cable car. Going down is much easier than going up. It’s important to know if you’re walking down Lombard Street you need to stay on the sidewalk. There are city employees (I believe they’d work for the city) there to make no tourist is walking onto the road. Be safe people.

The California Line

The California line runs along California Street (hence the name) from Polk Gulch to the Financial district. Unlike the cable cars on the other two lines (Powell-Hyde and Powell-Mason) the cable cars on the California line can be operated from either end of the car. That means there isn’t a turnaround spot for people (tourists mostly) to take photos and videos. Instead the cars on this line have a lever on both ends of the car. So when it’s time to move from one direction to another, the operator just moves to the other side of the car. Then the car moves in the other direction.

View from a cable car.

One thing about San Francisco being on several hills is that at some point you’ll be at the top of one and you’ll get a pretty nice view. Of course it’s hard to stand on the side of a cable car and snap a photo while the car is stopped at a red light, but you do what you can.

The real reason we went to the California line is because we figured it wouldn’t be as busy as the other two. And it wasn’t. We ended up getting seats on the side of the car, like we wanted to originally. And then I decided, since I was here, I should stand up on the platform outside. You know the photos of the people standing on the cable car and riding it up/down the steep hills of San Francisco? Yep, that was me. Also I was totally singing “The Trolley Song” from the musical Meet Me in St. Louis in my head, despite the fact we were on a cable car, and not in St. Louis.

Locals waving

We had some friendly locals wave to all of us tourists on the cable car. Pretty sure that’s not happening if you’re a local just taking the bus. Note: I cannot make any guarantees friendly locals will wave to you if you ride the cable car in San Francisco, but it’s still fun.

Standing on the cable car is a lot of fun, and one of my friends remarked, “I didn’t realize this was a childhood dream until now.” The cable cars only go about 9 miles an hour, so this isn’t a roller coaster type of experience. Then again I don’t know any other time I’ve been able to stand on the outside of a moving vehicle (in safe and legal way). Riding the cable car like this was a lot of fun. I took a short video of riding the cable car below.

Sometimes you go to a place and there’s a touristy things to do. and. Some people might be, “oh no it’s too touristy.” If that’s you, then cool. I definitely understand some tourist attractions are overrated, but I also understand that some things are tourist attractions because there’s something unique about them. When it comes to travel, you do you (provided you’re not doing anything unsafe, illegal or culturally inappropriate). So if you want to skip out on taking the cable car in San Francisco then go ahead I guess. But for me I’m happy I did this thing that is 100% this for tourists. And I’ll hop on a cable car next time I’m in San Francisco as well.

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Musical Theatre Podcast Episode 6 – Opening Numbers https://www.takemetotheworld.com/musical-theatre-podcast-episode-6/ https://www.takemetotheworld.com/musical-theatre-podcast-episode-6/#respond Wed, 25 Sep 2019 03:05:01 +0000 https://www.takemetotheworld.com/?p=27695 This is post is from TakeMeToTheWorld.com

On this episode of the Take Me to the World Musical Theatre Podcast I talk about opening numbers in musicals including overtures, prologues, and preludes.

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Episode 6 of the Take Me to the World Musical Theatre Podcast is all about the opening numbers in musicals. I talk about overtures, prologues, preludes, and other opening numbers in musicals.

Where to Listen to Episode 6?

If you haven’t heard it yet you can listen to Episode 6 on Podcasts.com

You can also listen and subscribe to the Take Me to the World Musical Theatre Podcast on your favourite podcast app or website below.


Google Play 

Tune In


Albums (On Spotify) For The Shows I Mention in This Episode

The Phantom of the Opera (Original London Cast).
Spamalot (Original Broadway Cast).
Next to Normal (Original Broadway Cast).
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Original Broadway Cast).
Into the Woods (Original Broadway Cast).
Natasha, Pierre, and The Great Comet of 1812 (Original Broadway Cast).
Rent (The Best of Rent from The Original Broadway Cast)
– Spotify doesn’t have the full Original Broadway Cast recording of this show, which is the only one I’ll listen to, and the “Tune Ups” were cut from the film adaptation.
Hairspray (Original Broadway Cast).
Fela! (Original Broadway Cast).
Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast).
Jesus Christ Superstar (The Original Studio Cast).
The Last Five Years (Original Off-Broadway Cast).
Cabaret New Broadway Cast Recording).
A Chorus Line (New Broadway Cast Recording).

Don’t forget about my playlist It’s Broadway, Bitch! A playlist that has over 2000 songs from stage musicals (adult language is used in some songs so nsfw).

Resources – Videos

Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway. Since this is a filmed stage version it has the original Tune Up #1 song.

Jesus Christ Superstar (1973 movie)

Hairspray (2007 musical adaptation).

Into the Woods (1991 Live Filmed version).

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007 Movie Adaptation). This is the movie version that cuts out the original Prologue opening song from the musical, but the story still makes sense.

Resources – Websites and Apps

Hamilton Musical the official website where to get tickets for all current/upcoming productions of Hamilton.

The Phantom of the Opera the official website where to get tickets for all current/upcoming productions of The Phantom of the Opera.

Those two shows are the only ones I’ve mentioned with major productions/tours happening as of this episode release. Definitely look out for local productions of the other shows. They’re all great if you get a chance to see them.

Reddit Musical Thread.This is a great place to go if you want to talk about musicals, or get recommendations on shows to check out.

Broadway Musical Home. This is an amazing website for any musical lover. They have an alphabetical list of over 300 musicals, and you can look up musicals by different categories like “based on a book” and “based on real life.” For anyone or any theatre company looking to put on a musicals you can check out the Rights page, where you can find where to get the rights to put on a variety of musicals.

Playbill has listing for shows (musicals and plays) in New York, London and National Tours.

Today Tix is an App for both iOS and Android. You can use the app to buy cheap, same day tickets for shows in cities like New York, London, Toronto, Chicago, and more. I used this app with great success in London and highly recommend it. Please note: Hamilton is not on TodayTix. The only way to win Hamilton lottery tickets is through the official Hamilton website or App.

Use the Code JGZYL to save £10 (or $10) on your first order with Today Tix.

What do you think about Opening Numbers? What’s your favourite opening number from a musical?

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Focus on Festivals | The Edmonton Heritage Festival in Edmonton, Canada https://www.takemetotheworld.com/edmonton-heritage-festival/ https://www.takemetotheworld.com/edmonton-heritage-festival/#respond Sat, 03 Aug 2019 16:18:54 +0000 https://www.takemetotheworld.com/?p=27666 This is post is from TakeMeToTheWorld.com

The Edmonton Heritage Festival takes place on the August long-weekend, and it celebrates the multiculturalism of the people of Edmonton.

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Edmonton has a lot of festivals in the summer. One festival I try to go to each year is The Edmonton Heritage Festival (sometimes referred locally as Heritage Days). It’s held on the August long weekend (which in Alberta is known as Heritage weekend, hence the festival name). This is the first Saturday, Sunday and Monday in August. For 2019 that’s August 3-5.

What Is The Edmonton Heritage Festival?

The Edmonton Heritage Festival takes place at Hawrelak Park located in the North Saskatchewan River Valley. It celebrates the various cultures of the people who live in Edmonton. 2019 is the 46th year of the festival. There are 71 pavilions representing over 100 different countries from around the world. The Edmonton Heritage Festival has food and drinks that you buy with a ticket system (like Taste of Edmonton). There are goods and arts and crafts at each pavilion that you can buy as well. Some countries even have cultural performances (like dancing, live music, etc.) too.

Heritage Days at Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Dance performance at The Edmonton Heritage Festival.

And it’s not just foreign countries. The Edmonton Heritage Festival has an Indigenous pavilion where you can learn about the Indigenous Peoples of Canada. And new for this year is a Nashville pavilion, since Nashville and Edmonton are sister cities. The US hasn’t been at The Edmonton Heritage Festival before, so that’s pretty cool.

Planning Your Visit

The Edmonton Heritage Festival runs from 10am to 9pm on the Saturday and Sunday, and from 10am to 8pm on the Monday. It’s free to visit, though you’ll want to bring some cash to buy food and drink tickets. You can also buy these in advance online or at any Servus Credit Union around Edmonton. Unlike Taste of Edmonton (where you only get a few bites of food), dishes at The Edmonton Heritage Festival can be full size meals. Items range from 1 ticket (for something small like a cookie) to 15 tickets for a combo meal. Food tickets are a $1 each and come in a minimum sheet of 20. If you’re going with other people you can always split dishes to try more food. You can see a full menu of the food options available here. You may also want cash to buy any goods or treats. This year I’m gonna stop by the Ireland pavilion and get some bags of cheese and onion Taytos.

The Edmonton Heritage Festival is also a major fundraiser for the Edmonton Food Bank. Make sure to bring along some non-perishable items or a cash donation. After your visit to the festival you can also donate any leftover food tickets you may have. The festival itself is free to enter (it’s completely up to you on what you want to buy like food and drink tickets), so the Food Bank donation is instead of a paid admission. I know aside from some fundraisers in December for the holidays, this is one of biggest fundraisers for the Edmonton Food Bank (which does not receive any government funding; they operate by donations and volunteers).

What to Bring

This is an outdoor festival, and Hawrelak Park is quite big so you need to be prepared. Here’s a map of the festival. Make sure you are wearing good walking shoes. Bring a bag or backpack with sunscreen, bug spray, and a full water bottle. You can buy water at the festival, but bring your own saves money and the environment. There are also places to refill your water bottle onsite. It’s also a good idea to have an raincoat and/or umbrella on hand (it’s been very rainy this summer). An umbrella is also great if it’s hot out because it’ll give you some sun protection. While there is shade inside the pavilions there is no air conditioning, so if it’s hot outside it’ll be hot inside.

Crowds of people at The Edmonton Heritage Festival. Arrive early and avoid the lines for food (and less chance of places running out of food, cause that happens).

Getting to The Edmonton Heritage Festival

An important thing to know about The Edmonton Heritage Festival is there is no parking on site at Hawrelak Park. Instead there are Park and Ride buses around the city (cost is $6 round-trip). You can also take the Light Rail Transit (LRT) to Health/Sciences station or South Campus station and do park and ride from there. You can see a map of the Park and Ride locations here. Some of these places have allotted parking for vehicles, and some do not. If you need to drive to a park and ride location make sure it is one that has parking for vehicles. Transit (like the LRT or bus) that you may need to take to a Park and Ride location is not free. Cash fare on ETS is $3.50 for a single ride, or you can buy booklets of ten tickets for $26.25. There’s also a day pass for $9.75, but that’s only worth it if you’re using transit more than three times. Regular ETS tickets (including cash fare and the day pass) is not valid for park and ride. 

If you’re staying or live close to Hawrelak Park you could always walk or bike down, or take a taxi. And apparently this year there’s a boat dock, so you could canoe into the festival. For most people however, it’ll be easiest to Park and Ride to the festival. The Park and Ride line ups can be quite long, particularly around noon and later. It’s best to plan to get to the festival when it first opens. Plus then it’s not as hot or crowded as later on in the day.

Arriving At The Edmonton Heritage Festival

When you arrive to The Edmonton Heritage Festival make a note of the Park and Ride bus locations, and which one you’ll need to take to get back home. You don’t want to be heading to Meadowlark if you need to get to Lewis Estates (they’re opposite ends of the city).

As well be sure to stop by The Edmonton Food Bank hampers to drop off your non-perishable food donations. There are also volunteers to take the cash donations too. At the entrance you’ll also be able to buy food tickets (if you haven’t pre-bought them), and get a festival map.

For 2019 there are 73 Pavilions in total, but the countries are not in any kind of alphabetical or geographical order. For example pavilion 1 is Jamaica, 2 is Palestine, and 3 is the Ukraine. These countries aren’t anywhere near each other geographically or alphabetically. It’s also worth noting the entrance for the festival is by pavilions 34 and 35. You might not be starting pavilion 1, but as long as you have a few hours you should be able to visit all the pavilions.

Viking boat at the Scandinavian pavilion at the Edmonton Heritage Festival.

Viking boat at the Scandinavian pavilion at the Edmonton Heritage Festival. I know this pavilion includes Finland, even though it’s technically not Scandinavian (it is a Nordic country, but was never in the Kingdom of Scandinavia, which Scandinavian refers to). Anyway apparently this year there’s also an exhibit about Vikings here too. Yay!

Tips for The Edmonton Heritage Festival

Aside from arriving when the festival first opens, wearing good walking shoes and sharing tickets it’s also worth checking out the food menu in advance. You may find there are some food items and dishes common in several pavilions, and some will cost more than others. One thing several pavilions feature are green onion cakes. This is a staple festival food in Edmonton. It’s a savoury pancake with green onions, and it’s fried and delicious. There’s an interesting history about how green onion cakes got so popular in Edmonton here. Anyway if you look at the tickets in advance you can make sure your not overpaying for your green onion cakes (or roti, or watermelon or baklava, etc.).

Lines can also be long, which is why it’s good to bring a buddy or two. That way one person can be in Hong Kong getting some green onion cakes and the other can be next door at the Ecuador/El Salvador pavilion getting empanadas.

What I Dislike About The Edmonton Heritage Festival

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. One thing I dislike about The Edmonton Heritage Festival is it’s not long enough. Since it’s only on a long weekend the festival is only 3 days. There are some years where I’m working the whole long weekend and can’t go. This year I was lucky enough to get the Monday off, but I wish this festival was 5 or even 7 days long. Even if it was an extra day it would help, because 3 days is not enough. Also visiting all the pavilions makes me wish that they had a contest where you could win a trip to one of the countries featured at The Edmonton Heritage Festival. But I could always use more contests in my life.

What I Like About The Edmonton Heritage Festival

As someone who loves to travel and learn about the world The Edmonton Heritage Festival is one of my favourite festivals. It gets me excited to travel and visit new places. Walking around I start thinking I should book a trip to Thailand or Greece. Or I should go back to The Netherlands or Japan….. As much as I love to travel, I don’t get to travel all the time (stupid needing money to travel). There are places I might not get to visit anytime soon (maybe even ever). Will I get to visit Somalia anytime soon? Or Eritrea? Or even somewhere like Australia (which can be expensive to visit)? Hopefully, one day, but if I can’t go to these places right away (for whatever reason) I get to learn about them at The Edmonton Heritage Festival.

Fruit carving at the Thailand pavilion at The Edmonton Heritage Festival.

Beautiful fruit carvings at the Thailand pavilion. Is all fruit served like this in Thailand? I don’t, but I probably should go there to find out.

Plus if you’re meeting people at Heritage Days it’s fun to say/text things like, “I’m in Japan right now, but I can meet you in Iran in 20 minutes.”

In general I love The Edmonton Heritage Festival. If I have one of the days off during the festival (or even part of a day off) I’ll try to make it down. It’s one of my favourite Edmonton summer festivals. If you’re in Edmonton on the August long weekend I highly encourage you to check out The Edmonton Heritage Festival.

Things You Should Know
The Edmonton Heritage Festivals takes place on the August long weekend (first Saturday, Sunday and Monday in August). It’s held at Sir William Hawrelak Park. There is no on site parking so be sure to plan how to get to the festival in advance.
If you are visiting Edmonton and looking for a hotel you can book one here.

Have You Been To The Edmonton Heritage Festival? What Pavilion Would You Want To Visit The Most? Let Me Know In The Comments Below.

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Focus on Festivals | Ultra Music in Split, Croatia https://www.takemetotheworld.com/focus-on-festivals-ultra-music/ https://www.takemetotheworld.com/focus-on-festivals-ultra-music/#respond Wed, 19 Jun 2019 21:16:46 +0000 https://www.takemetotheworld.com/?p=27624 This is post is from TakeMeToTheWorld.com

For the latest post in the Focus on Festival Series Anca from One Day Itinerary, shares her experience with the Ultra Music Festival in Split, Croatia.

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Some posts on Take Me to the World contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links I may receive a small commission. This is at no extra cost to you. Making a purchase through these links helps keep Take Me to the World running. Thanks for your support.

I haven’t been to Croatia yet, but the country is high on my travel wish list. For this post in the Focus on Festival Series Anca from One Day Itinerary, shares her experience with the Ultra Music Festival in Split, Croatia.

Ultra Music Festival is one of the biggest and most famous festivals of its kind in the world. For several years now, its European version is held in the Croatian city of Split every summer. Honestly, it’s just as good as the Miami event. Spectacular line-ups, awesome parties and pristine Adriatic Sea are the main highlights of these incredible few days. If you’re planning on visiting, here’s a short guide on everything you need to know about Ultra Europe and the city hosting it.

Ultra Europe basics

Ultra Europe is a festival of electronic music, a spin-off of the original Ultra Music Festival first held in Miami in 1999. Today Ultra festivals are held all over the world, with the most popular performers of this type of music in the world regularly attending them. As mentioned, Ultra Europe is held in Split a city on the Adriatic coast and the second largest city in Croatia. The date is usually set somewhere in mid-July, and young people from all over Europe (and world) flock to this event.

An Excellent Location

Split is a beautiful city whose origins date back to the end of the third century AD. Its core is a massive Roman palace complex, so there’s plenty of sightseeing to do. On top of that, it is very well connected with the islands in its vicinity which hide some of the most spectacular beaches you’ll ever see. Staying here a few days before/after the festival is a great vacation idea because you have plenty to do and enjoy.

Getting there

The city is located on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea and has a very well connected airport, so it would be smart to check for flights that would suit you. If you can’t find any, you can land in Zagreb, Croatia’s capital, and then easily find a bus to Split (the drive takes at least four and a half hours, though, although with a car that drops below 4 hours). Zadar is also a nice destination (much closer than Zagreb) to book a flight to if you can find one that lands there and not in Split.

Expect Big Crowds

Ultra Europe is a big festival and Split is a booming city when it comes to tourism. Given that the festival coincides with peak season, you will find people from quite literally all over the world here, especially in the city centre, and a LOT of them, too. Additionally, this is the time of year when prices peak, so plan ahead because the hotels will probably be full. However, there’s an elegant solution to that.

Rent an Apartment

Many locals will leave the city and go to the country or some of the neighbouring islands during this period. Check out websites like AirBnB or Booking.com or something like that and you are bound to find loads of apartments available for rent during those few days. Much more spacious than a hotel room, especially if there’s several people in your group, and a great place to start partying even before you hit the stadium.

The Venue is Awesome

Yes, stadium. The main event takes place on the stadium belonging to the local football (soccer) club, and it is a beautiful edifice with about 35000 seats. However, I mention this number just to give you an idea of its size – the crowd is actually down on the pitch (although you can climb up to get a better view) with several bars down there pouring drinks. And the whole thing becomes even more impressive when the fireworks start. Oh yes, they have those, too!

Ultra Music Festival (UMF) in Split  Croatia. Photo by Global Stomping. Source, Flickr

Ultra Music Festival (UMF) in Split  Croatia. Photo by Global Stomping. Source, Flickr

The Line-ups Never Fail

Every year, some of the most renowned artists in the world of electronic music appear on the stage. Think of the likes of Carl Cox, David Guetta, Afrojack, Armin van Buuren and many, many others, all crème de la crème. Therefore, if you like this kind of music, these three days in Split will be heaven for you. You simply can’t afford to miss out on this!

Head to the Islands Next

Remember the islands I mentioned earlier? Well, once Ultra Europe in Split finishes, parties continue there, most notably on Hvar and Vis. The beauty of these places cannot be overstated, and you can reach them easily from Split. You might want to avoid ferries, though, since they are the slowest. Catamarans are much faster, but you may also be lucky enough to hop on a party boat!

Chill Out and Enjoy the City

After all that partying, you could probably use a bit of rest, so why not spend a couple of days exploring the city? Like I said, there are plenty of sights here, plus the city has a whole lot of excellent restaurants and great bars. you can make a day trip to some of the islands you missed or explore the surrounding towns (Trogir is particularly beautiful). Or simply hit one of the beaches and soak in the sun.

Final word

Ultra Europe is something every fan of electronic music should experience. It provides loads of fun, parties and fantastic music, all in a beautiful Mediterranean city of Split. The festival’s itinerary will take you to the neighbouring islands too, so you will get to know this part of the Adriatic quite well. You’ll see for yourself why it’s growing in popularity every single year. I do recommend a stay of at least a week, especially if you want to explore the amazing Roman architecture here. Besides, you will need to recuperate after all that intense partying. In any case, coming to Ultra Europe Festival in Split is an excellent way to spend your vacation. You will love every minute of it!

About the Author
Anca is a travel writer and the founder of One Day Itinerary – the biggest collection of travel itineraries for people limited by time. In her travel guides she aims to inspire people to travel whenever they have a spare day (or two).

Do you love music festivals? Have you been to Ultra Music Festial in Split? 

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Falling in Love with Montreal https://www.takemetotheworld.com/love-montreal/ https://www.takemetotheworld.com/love-montreal/#respond Fri, 07 Jun 2019 19:34:15 +0000 https://www.takemetotheworld.com/?p=27592 This is post is from TakeMeToTheWorld.com

I love to travel and I've fallen in love with many places I've visited. Here is the story of how I fell in love with Montreal, Quebec.

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There are some places you go to that you click with right away. I’ve felt that way about several cities I’ve visited, including Montreal.

The first time I was in Montreal was seven years ago. I had been at blogging conference in Toronto. I had driven there by myself from Calgary to nearby Richmond Hill. The trip took about a week. I spent time with family in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan  and Richmond Hill, Ontario. I also saw family friends in Tiverton, Ontario. When I got to Toronto I took a trip out to Niagara Falls. After the conference was over I took the train to Ottawa for a few days, and then to Montreal.

Travel burnout is real. I was exhausted from the travel I was doing. The conference (while fun) was also tiring. I was also taking a university class online, so I was doing that at the same time as this trip. By the time I got to Montreal I was done. Going to Montreal was a pretty impromptu decision for me. There was a train I could take to get there, it wasn’t  expensive to go (to me at least), why not?

I didn’t realize I had booked my train trip to Montreal at the same time as the Montreal Grand Prix. At the time of this trip (back in the olden days of 2013) I did not have a smart phone. I had an old iPod touch with wifi only capabilities and GPS that I took for the road trip part of my trip. While in my hostel in Ottawa I tried to find a hostel (in my budget) in Montreal with some availability. Everything seemed to be sold out, but I finally found a room. I booked it and the train ticket and went on my way.

I got really lost in Ottawa (turns of the Canadian Museum of History is not in Ottawa, but in Gatineau, which is in a different province…whoops). When I got to Montreal and found my way from the train station to my hostel without getting lost. And when I got to my hostel in the Latin Quarter I checked into my 4 bed dorm. And there was only someone in the room with me one night out of four, which was a bonus. Then I stayed in and watched several episodes of Arrested Development. That show is hilarious, but more importantly I needed a break.

And good thing I did because if I’d tried to runaround Montreal right away I would have been tired and confused and upset, even more than I was when I first got there. When I finally left hostel and went for a walk the sun was out. I saw lots of street art. There were people enjoying dining outside on restaurant patios. There were people riding around on bikes. I even saw a lady (who was probably about 60) on a kick scooter, and I thought yes. There were parks, and green spaces, and banners going up for different festivals that were happening soon. At one point I stopped into a cafe to get a coffee and everyone in the cafe was singing and dancing (well except me, because I didn’t know the song). There was a lively energy in Montreal.

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Wandering around in Montreal. This was on a quieter morning.

So what tipped me from “yeah Montreal seems okay” to “holy hell I’m in love.” Was it the street art? The architecture? The pink balloons hanging about the street in the Gay Village? The food (poutine yes!)? The atmosphere? The nice weather? Was it the fact that Mac’s Convenience stores (RIP) in Quebec were called Couche-Tard, and that childish thing made me laugh when I saw it? Was it because some of my rudimentary school French was coming back, so I understood the cashier at the drug store was asking if I’d like a bag for my purchase? (And I got to say “non, merci” so nine years of French class paid off).

Yes, to all of that, but also I saw people reading books, like everywhere. I even saw a lady reading a book while crossing the street (like Belle from Beauty and the Beast). And at some point, while wandering around the city, I said under my breath, “Holy shit, Montreal is awesome.” Dear readers, I was in love.

Of course this makes no sense, but it’s not supposed to. Falling in love with a place, like falling in love with a person, isn’t based on hard cold facts. It’s based on feelings and I felt Montreal was awesome. I know what I saw and experienced in Montreal could be allowed to many other cities. Montreal isn’t the only place with street art, or people dining outside in the summer, or possible even 60-year old ladies on kick scooters. If I lived in Montreal I’d find things I didn’t like (because no place is perfect). And I know people who’ve visited Montreal and didn’t fall in love with city. But I did.

Quebec Flag and the Canada

Flags of Quebec and Canada in Montreal.

I spent the next few days wondering around Montreal, mesmerized by the architecture. I ate poutine and bagels and smoked meat sandwiches. I met up with some travel bloggers for Vietnamese food. I went inside to Notre Dame Basilica and staring at the gorgeous altars inside. I walk through the Mont Royal Park and listened to a drum circle. I walked the cobblestone streets in Old Montreal and thought how it reminded me of Europe (I’d only been to Europe once before at this point in time).

It’s been seven years since that short trip to Montreal, and I’m about to go back for an even shorter trip, two nights, but I have no complaints because I won a trip there. And if you’re wondering how I won a trip to Montreal I’d like to point you to this post here.  I’m bringing my mom and we’ll be there for a couple days of the Montreal International Jazz Festival (one of many festivals Montreal has in the summer). We’re even going to get to go on a hot air balloon ride over the city. She’s never been to Montreal or to Quebec. I won’t get to see everything while I’m there. I likely won’t see a 60 year-old lady on a kick scooter, or see someone cross the street while reading a book, or watch everyone in a cafe sing and dance to a song.

I hope, however, that I will have that moment where I can once again say, “holy shit Montreal is awesome.”

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Budget Breakdown – San Francisco https://www.takemetotheworld.com/budget-breakdown-san-francisco/ https://www.takemetotheworld.com/budget-breakdown-san-francisco/#comments Thu, 30 May 2019 03:40:26 +0000 https://www.takemetotheworld.com/?p=27550 This is post is from TakeMeToTheWorld.com

I went to San Francisco for a few days with some friends. Here is a complete budget breakdown of everything I spent for my trip to San Francisco.

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For the past few trips I’ve taken I’ve been keeping track of my travel expenses, via an excel spreadsheet (cool, right?). Last year I shared a budget breakdown for Oslo, Norway. Today I’m sharing my budget breakdown for San Francisco. I went with two friends to celebrate our collective 35th birthdays. We landed in San Francisco on the afternoon of May 5, and left early the afternoon of May 10. San Francisco has become one of the most expensive cities (to live) in the US. Does this translate to a pricey trip? Let’s find out.

Note: Prices in this budget are in Canadian dollars, unless otherwise noted. You can visit xe.com to see prices in your local currency.

Pre-trip Costs

I booked my flight with WestJet for $326.87. I had a short layover in Vancouver on the way down and a longer layover in Calgary on the way back. I booked the super economy fare, which meant I could only take carry-on luggage. The super economy fare also means I was assigned a seat for my flights. I could have picked my own seats for an extra cost, but I didn’t.

We decided to stay a hostel close to downtown. We booked a 4 bed dorm with an ensuite (only taking 3 beds of course). We each paid $37.64 for the deposit to hold our beds.

My one friend convinced us to buy an Explorer Pass from Costco. This let us pick four different attractions to visit for $100 Canadian. We used it for a 2-day hop on/off tour with Big Bus ($67), a Bridge 2 Bridge Cruise ($60), the California Academy of Sciences ($41), and The Walt Disney Family Museum ($33). Without this pass those attractions would have cost over $200, so it was a great deal. We also decided to pre-buy tickets for Alcatraz, which cost $54.30 per person.

I bought travel insurance for $20 (always get travel insurance), and a US simcard for my phone for $10.45. I also purchased a data plan for the simcard with Roam Mobility for $21.95. Unfortunately, during our trip the plan did not work, but customer service refunded me the $21.95. I’d bought the simcard from a gas station and they offered to send a replacement one if I wanted. By that point in the trip it was too late.

Return flights: $326.87
Hostel Deposit: $37.64
San Francisco Explorer Pass: $100.00
Alcatraz Ticket: $54.30
Travel Insurance: $20.00
Simcard: $10.45
Phone Plan: $21.95, but it got refunded due to it not working.

Total Pre-trip Cost: $549.26

Day 1 – May 5

I got dropped off at the airport, and got a drink and breakfast sandwich from Starbucks. I redeemed some stars making it cheaper than normal. When we got to Vancouver’s Airport I picked up a bottle of water and some chickpea snacks for lunch.

Flying over Vancouver, British Columbia.

Flying over Vancouver.

After we landed in SFO we took the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) train to Powell Street Station, close to our hostel. I put $13.48 ($10US) on my ticket not realizing the trip would only cost $9.65. I kept the ticket to reload for the end of the trip.

We had to pay for our balance for the hostel at check in, which came to $221.46. After dropping off our bags it was time for supper, so we wandered over to an Irish pub (Johnny Foley’s). I got a glass of cider and fish and chips for $48.51. Then we went to Trader Joe’s mostly because we don’t have that in Canada and I wanted to check it out. I got some snacks, spices (the everything but the bagel mix) and coconut milk for my coffee. I spent $14.50 at Trader Joe’s.

Starbucks drink and breakfast sandwich at YEG: $4.99
Bottle Water and Chickpea snack at YVR: $9.30
BART from SFO to Powell Street: $13.48
Balance for 4-bed Hostel Dorm: $221.46
Dinner and drinks at Johnny Foley’s Irish Pub: $48.51
Groceries from Trader Joe’s: $14.50

Total Cost Day 1: $312.24

Day 2 – May 6

Our hostel had a complimentary breakfast, so I grabbed some coffee and toast to start the day. We wanted to do the Hop On/Off Bus Tour on our first day (this was in the Explorer Pass we’d bought). We thought it was a one day tour with a bonus stop on the second day. Turns out it was for 2 days, so we used the hop on/off bus as our transportation the first two days.

We rode around and listened to the audio tour. Some of the tours had live guides, but the first bus we went on didn’t. We got off at Pier 39 to wander around. My friend likes to go to Hard Rock Cafes when she travels and she collects their drinking glasses, so we went there for lunch. I got a patty melt on sourdough and a coke for $37.70.

Sea lions at Pier 39 in San Francisco, California.

We also stopped to see the sea lions at Pier 39. There were several free platforms, but the sea lions were fighting over the few crowded ones in the back. They were kinda amusing to watch, but also sea lions stink (like literally). Anyway if you’re at Pier 39 you can’t miss them.

After we wandered around some souvenir shops. I got a pressed penny. It was from the Left-Hand shop (I’m a lefty) that says “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” It cost $1.36 (or $1.01 US).

My other expenses included getting a towel from the hostel ($1.34), and buying some snacks from Walgreens ($5.84). We also had dinner at Chipotle. My burrito bowl and drink cost $16.11, and was quite filling. We spent the evening playing cards at the hostel because that’s what you do when you’re old.

Hard Rock Cafe Lunch: $37.70
Pressed Penny Souvenir: $1.36
Chipotle Dinner: $16.11
Candy from Walgreens: $5.84
Towel from Hostel: $1.34

Total Cost Day 2: $62.35

Day 3 – May 7

Breakfast again was at the hostel for free. We used our Hop On/Off bus fare to get around the city today. We stopped off to take pictures of the famous Victorian houses (The Painted Ladies) at Alamo Square. We then went to the California Academy of Sciences, which was included in our pass. This was a great Natural History Museum. At their cafe I got a coffee $4.17.

Lookout at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California.

After the museum we got back on the bus and went across the Golden Gate Bridge to the lookout spot for pictures. It was quite windy, but we got some nice photos from the lookout spot.

Then we went back into the city and wandered around Fisherman’s Wharf, and then went to Chinatown. We stopped at The Golden Gate Cookie Factory (where fortune cookies were first made) and got to try one. My friends also bought a few flavoured ones to try. We had dinner at Slurp Ramen, where I had the delicious shio tonkotsu ramen and a coke ($23.50). After dinner we went stopped at a gelato shop and I got sorbet (lychee and lime and basil) $9.31. Then we went back to hostel and played cards because old.

Coffee at the California Academy of Sciences: $4.17
Chasu Pork Ramen from Slurp Ramen: $23.50
Sorbet: $9.31

Day 3 Total: $37.28

Day 4 – May 8

We woke up early for the free hostel breakfast, because we were going to Alcatraz and our ferry left at 9am. After breakfast we stopped at a ticket kiosk outside Powell Station to get a Clipper Card. This is a card that’s valid for transit around the Bay Area (some exceptions apply). You can load it with funds and pay per ride, or load it with a pass. We put on a day pass, so we wouldn’t need to worry about having enough money for whatever transit we’d need. The Clipper Card and day pass was $20.73

We took F-Line Tram down to Pier 33, where the Alcatraz Ferry leaves from. The ferry ride was about 10 minutes, and we spent a couple of hours at Alcatraz. After Alcatraz we went for lunch at Boudin Bakery. It’s said this is where sourdough bread was first made. I got a crab melt (on sourdough of course) and a coke for $24.85. Then we spent a few minutes at Musée Mechanique, which is an arcade with a bunch of games from early 1900’s to now. It’s free to enter and most games cost 25 cents (quarters only) to play. I did 3 games for $1.04 (75 cents US).

That afternoon we went on the Bridge2Bridge Cruise, which was included in our pass. We went out to the Golden Gate Bridge, and then to the Oakland Bridge. It was a 90-minute tour and pretty interesting, although I did get a bit of sunburn on my hands and forehead. Remember put sunscreen on your hands too, and don’t scratch the sunscreen off your forehead.

San Francisco Skyline

San Francisco skyline from the Bridge to Bridge Harbour Cruise. One of the coolest things I learned on the cruise was both the Golden Gate and Oakland Bay Bridge have someone painting it at all times. When we went under the Golden Gate Bridge the worker saw us and waved.

After we decided to ride one of the famous San Francisco cable cars. We got in line at the Powell/Hyde Turnaround and it took about 45 minutes to board. The cable car is 100% for tourists. It’s $7US one-way, so having day pass for $15US was a good choice. If you ride the cable car twice in a day, then you’ve pretty much paid for your pass. We rode it up to the free Cable Car Museum, or tried to. Turns out they were doing work on the Powell/Hyde line, so part of our cable car journey included a free bus shuttle. The cable car museum is free and really interesting. I emptied out the spare change I had on me into a donation bin (only about 41 cents).

Then we took a bus back to downtown and went to Mel’s Diner for supper. I got a burger and coke ($31.79). We also stopped at Target and I got some Ghirardelli Chocolates because chocolate ($10.96). Then we partied hard. Just kidding went to the hostel and pretty much passed out from being exhausted.

Playing 3 Games at Musee Mechanique: $1.04
Cable Car Museum Donation: $0.41
Burger and Coke at Mel’s Diner: $31.79
Ghirardelli Chocolates from Target: $10.96

Day 4 Total:$89.78

Day 5 – May 9

This was our last full day in San Francisco, and after breakfast we decided to go to The Walt Disney Family Museum. We went to Powell Street to put another day pass on our Clipper Card ($16.19). We spent a good couples hours at this museum, which is in The Presidio (a massive park and former military fort). It’s an interesting museum, and I could have spent more time there. If we had more time in San Francisco I would have loved to see more of The Presidio as well.

We took a bus back to Ghirardelli Square, close to the Powell/Hyde Street Cable Car Turnaround. We went to the San Francisco Brewing Company for lunch. I got the Alcatraz Amber Ale, and a fried chicken sandwich for $41.95. I was pretty stuffed, but not too full to get a free Ghirardelli chocolate from the Ghirardelli Store. If you want the free chocolate make sure to go to the one on the 2nd level, not the ice cream shop on the ground floor.

My friends decided to wander and check out the Hyde Street Pier. It’s free to wander on the pier, but you have to pay to get onto the ships. My friends went, and I stayed back because my feet were killing me. Instead I watched some crazy swimmers in the water (it was so cold I was wearing mittens and a scarf). After we waited in line to get back on the cable car and ride it toward Lombard Street. We all agreed driving down Lombard Street would be insane. You can walk down the street and take some photos that way.

Car driving down Lombard Street in San Francisco, California.

Car driving down Lombard Street in San Francisco, California. We walked from the top of Lombard down to the bottom.

After we took the bus toward one of the other cable car lines. Since the Powell/Hyde line was being worked on and had a bus shuttle for part of it’s service. We decided to go on the California line, which was fully operational all the way. Plus the couple of cable rides we’d been on we got put in the centre seats. We wanted to try to get a side seat facing out to the street. Turns out that was a good plan. The California Line isn’t as busy as the Powell/Hyde line, and we got to sit on the seats facing out. And then I decided to stand on the platform and that is the funnest thing ever. Touristy as all heck, but fun.

We got off on the one end and walked over to Bob’s Donuts, which is a famous 24 hour donut shop in San Francisco. The donuts here are pretty delicious. I got a couple, but took one back for later (total cost $6.15). We then rode the cable car back to the other end (and took lots of photos and videos on the way). Also the one trolley operator we had for our ride was hilarious. Good times.

We wandered back toward our hostel. My one friend was starting to get hungry so we found a casual Mexican restaurant (Taqueria El Sol). I got a fish taco and a hibiscus drink. I didn’t realize how much food there would be here. It was delicious, but I ate way too much. Dinner was $19.28. And once again after we went back to the hostel and hung out (and started packing to leave tomorrow).

Day Pass on Clipper Card: $16.19
Chicken Sandwich and Coke at San Francisco Brewing Company: $41.95
Apple Fritter and Glazed Donut from Bob’s Donuts: $6.15
Supper at Taqueria El Sol: $19.28

Day 5 Total:$83.57

Day 6 – May 10

This was the day we were all heading back home, so there isn’t too much excitement to report here. I had breakfast at the hostel, and a leftover donut from the day before. When we had checked into our hostel we each paid $5 for a key deposit, so we got that back when we checked out. My one friend was heading home to Vancouver so we said goodbye in San Francisco. My other friend and I were heading back to Edmonton, via Calgary.

I put money on my one train ticket from day one (that had a small balance on it). It cost $12.85 to get to the airport. I got a pack of gum and a candy bar at SFO, and using the $5 I got back this only cost me $0.39 (this cost had been included in the hostel balance I paid on Day 1). The only other expense I had this day was having dinner when we got to Calgary Airport. We went to Chili’s and I got some chicken fingers and a drink for $24.16. Aside from our flight from Calgary to Edmonton being delayed slightly everything went well.

Train Ticket to SFO: $12.85
Gum and candy bar: $0.39
Supper at Chilli’s in Calgary Airport: $24.16

Day 6 Total:$37.40

Grand Total for the whole trip: $1171.88

Takeaways on My San Francisco Budget

San Francisco was a bit pricey, but nearly as bad as I thought (I think going to cities like Oslo and Copenhagen last year and in 2017  put things in perspective). My biggest expenses were transportation (which cost $390.12), food and drinks ($333.76), and accommodation ($259.10). With the Canadian dollar being much lower than the US dollar I knew my $30 lunches would be a bit more pricey for me, but I think I did pretty well. We could have saved money by eating in the hostel kitchen, but we were usually out and about and rushing back to cook some spaghetti or another cheap hostel dish didn’t seem worth it.

One thing that did help me was using a bank card that allowed me free withdrawals at Bank of America. Obviously I had to pay whatever the conversion rate was at the time, but with my Tangerine bank card I didn’t have to pay any extra fees. Same with my credit card. I used my Home Trust Visa, which has no foreign conversion fees, you just pay whatever the exchange rate is.

I am also very glad my friend convinced us to get that Explorer Pass. I’m usually hesitant when buying travel/attraction passes because often there are restrictions that make it not worthwhile. Or in order to get your money’s worth you have to rush around and try to cram in a whole bunch of stuff making for a stressful trip. This Explorer Pass was a really good deal, and we got our money’s worth. There were about 20 or so different attractions we could have chosen, but I’m happy with what we did.

Finally, getting a Clipper Card for the last couple of days was a good deal. As I mentioned before if you take the cable car it’s $7 (US) one-way, and the card is $3 (US) with $12 (US) for the day pass. If you ride the cable twice in a day, and even take the bus, or tram, or subway at any point then you’ve got your money’s worth.

If we had another day or two I would have wanted to spend some more time in The Presidio, or wander around the shops in Haight-Asbury (which we saw from the hop on/off bus). All things considered I got to see and visit most of the stuff I wanted in San Francisco. I really enjoyed my trip here and I’d definitely visit again.

Things You Should Know
While in San Francisco my friends and I stayed at the Orange Village Hostel in a 4-bed dorm that had a small ensuite bathroom. The hostel is close the Powell Street Station, has the BART to SFO. You can book your stay at the Orange Village Hostel here.
Of course there are plenty of accommodation options if you don’t want to to the budget route. Book your hotel in San Francisco here.

Have you been to San Francisco? What would you do there?

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