March Break: Staying connected while abroad

It’s that time of year again—March Break is here and many people are traveling abroad for vacation.  Here are my five tech gadgets to help you stay connected to your loved ones no matter where you are.

Samsung WB800F:

This camera has built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, and will allow you connect to your hotel’s Wi-Fi network and upload photos to your favourite online social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

GoPro HERO3:

This is a mountable, full high-definition video camera that’ll record hours of footage for upload to friends and family.  Whether you are skydiving or skiing, you can mount the camera on your helmet, chest, or even on the side of a car, and record footage using the built-in wide-angle lens—great for people with an active lifestyle.

Philips In.Sight:

If you are traveling abroad for any length of time, chance are you want to make sure your home and the contents in it are safe and secure.  This camera from Philips is wireless, and paired with an app on your smartphone, you can check in on your house no matter where you are.

BlackBerry Z10:

BlackBerry, known for their BBM service, will help you cut down on long distance calling bills when you are traveling abroad.  BBM’s new feature, BBM Voice, will allow you to make free calls to other BlackBerry users using this service—all using the wireless connection in your hotel or Internet café.

Avocado app for iOS and Android:

If you decide to go on a girls-only vacation trip and leave your partner at home, this app will keep you connected at all times.  This free couples-only app gives you the capability to send messages and photos, and even allows you to do things like virtually kiss and hug your partner all the way from another continent.

Products courtesy of Future Shop

Intro to Geocaching – Cityline

Intro to Geocaching as seen on Cityline – June 19, 2012

As always, you can re-watch previous episodes of Cityline on, or via the Citytv Video iPad/iPhone app!  Cityline airs 9am/4pm EST on Citytv in Toronto.  Check for air times in your city.

Show Notes:

Day 10: Homeward Bound – Europe 2012

And the vacation comes to an end!  As I am writing this blog, I am once again flying over the Atlantic Ocean heading back to North America – Philadelphia to be exact – where we’ll be taking a connecting flight back to Toronto.

I am actually quite irritated right now, as the lady sitting in front of me – quite the ignorant one, might I add – has decided to recline the seat all the way back, jump in and out of her seat, rustle paper wrap, crush soda cans, and anything that will cause noise and/or discomfort to anyone around her.  All I am thinking about right now is five hours left until landing.  Clearly, I’ve blessed.  Did you catch my sarcasm?

I am saddened to be leaving Europe as it was quite the enjoyable “Amazing Race,” but I am also extremely thrilled to return home to my life, my friends, family, dogs, and work.  There, I said it – work.  I am, however, not excited to return home to the slew of emails sitting in my inbox.  All seven-hundred-and-thirty of them in my account alone.

Europe was a great experience for me personally.  As I have not been, I was able to learn quite a few things about European culture – something very different from the North American counterpart.

For example, Europeans love to live a relaxed lifestyle.  I mean, I know North Americans  do too, but Europeans know how to do it well!  I love the fact that most cities take Sundays as a day off – something I wish we as Torontonians would do more often.  We live in such a rushed society, we rarely get a moment to take a step back, reflect on our daily lives, and to count our blessings.  Europeans know how to have fun (*cough* eat *cough*), and make room for family.

Family brings me to my next point of information.  I found the people in Europe to be very proud of their country’s culture, traditions and heritage.  Now it may sound very cliche – and a great opportunity for the souvenir industry – but in all honesty, I love that a country is able to wear themselves proudly.  For example, Paris is proud of their arts and culture; Holland is proud of their countryside windmills/cheese making; and Germany is known for their love of beer.  Again they all sound very cliché, but it just shows the true power of tradition and heritage, as well as how it can be presented to visiting tourists.

I also really enjoyed the fact that Europe has a sense of unity.  The European Union brings together dozens of countries and bonds them together.  It creates a community that unites the continent into one.  Living in Toronto, it is not uncommon to see people speak other languages like Tamil, Urdu, Cantonese, Mandarin, and the list goes on.  What you rarely see is people speaking our other official language – French.  It amazed me that people in Europe are familiar with the multiple official languages of the country, and are able to communicate effectively with other locals.

I can go on and on about how much I enjoyed being a witness to European culture, and I’m also sure there’s a lot I’ve yet to learn.  I definitely plan on returning in the future on another journey, exploring a few other new countries, in addition to sharing them with you lovely readers once again.  The travel bug has bit me, and I look forward to my next adventure!

Thanks for coming along with me on my March-2012 journey through Europe!

Day 9: Trier, Koblenz, Frankfurt – Europe 2012

Ever since I’ve been on vacation, I’ve lost track of the day of the week.  I woke up realizing it is Sunday, and that stores aren’t open!  What were we going to do?  I’m so used to being in Toronto, where we can get anything we want, whenever we want, so our touring continued today throughout Germany in what looked like a ghost town.

We left our hotel in Luxembourg, and made our way towards Trier – one of the oldest towns in Germany.  We walked around the Ghost-town – acting like “Peeping Toms” in store windows – and visiting some of their landmarks including the Porta Nigra.  It was a cloudy and rainy day, so that put a damper on some of our exploration plans.

After, we transferred over to Koblenz, between Bonn and Frankfurt.  We walked along the dockside, and visited the remnants of the Berlin Wall.  I had a desire to explore some of their local food, so we stopped into a local restaurant where we had their speciality – Braised pig shank over sautéed sauerkraut and mashed potatoes.  Included with a pint of beer, the meal was only 10,50€.  A steal in my opinion.

The rest of the day was spent driving back to Frankfurt, where we spent some time in their old town, grabbing some good eats and browsing their cafes, before heading back to the Sheraton.

We head back to Frankfurt-Hahn Airport tomorrow afternoon for our flight back to Toronto, connecting through Philadelphia; and marks the end of my vacation!  It was a blast, and I plan on doing some reflecting on my 12-HOUR journey home tomorrow.  Sigh.  Stay tuned for the blog post!

For now, I’m turning in for the evening for a long day ahead.  Ciao for now!

Day 8: Reims, Luxembourg – Europe 2012

Paris is history!  Today wasn’t as busy as the last two days; we drove from Paris to Reims, France, where we took a tour of their Champagne country.

Reims (play/ˈrmz/; also spelt Rheims; French: [ʁɛ̃s]), a city in the Champagne-Ardenneregion of France, lies 129 km (80 mi) east-northeast of Paris. Founded by the Gauls, it became a major city during the period of the Roman Empire.

Reims played a prominent ceremonial role in French monarchical history as the traditional site of the crowning of the kings of France. The Cathedral of Reims (damaged by the Germans during the First World War but restored since) played the same role in France as Westminster Abbey has in the United Kingdom. It housed the Holy Ampulla (Sainte Ampoule) containing the Saint Chrême (chrism), allegedly brought by a white dove (the Holy Spirit) at the baptism of Clovis in 496. It was used for the anointing, the most important part of the coronation of French kings. – Wikipedia

They are also well known for the creation of the sparkling wine, rightly named “Champagne,” after their province.

The name Champagne comes from the Latincampania and referred to the similarities between the rolling hills of the province and the Italian countryside of Campania located south of Rome.

In the High Middle Ages, the province was famous for the Champagne Fairs.


From Reims, we drove the rest of the day to Luxembourg – the country bordered by France, Germany and Belgium – where we toured many of their Roman Catholic churches.  It is also our last stop before returning to Germany to transfer back to Canada.

One will notice that much of their land is below sea level.  One would find houses under bridges where typically there would be a running river.  If you’re interested in visiting Luxembourg, prepare to do a lot of climbing!

Tomorrow, we will spend the rest of the day in Luxembourg visiting some more of their national monuments.  Luxembourg is very much a multicultural country as they speak German, French, and “Luxembourgish.”  We’ll also be packing up as we prepare to journey back to Canada on Monday.

Europe has so much to offer tourists, and I definitely recommend it to anyone who’s up for an adventure.  I am also ready to go home and fall back into my regular routine!  I hate to admit it, but I’m starting to miss work!  We’ll see what tomorrow has in store, but for now, bon soir!