Episode Six: Motorcycles, Depression and Google Maps

Episode Six: Motorcycles, Depression and Google Maps

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In an exciting sixth episode of The Small World Podcast, I spoke with Jack Harmon about his experience motorcycling through South America to raise money for depression awareness and suicide prevention. As you’ll soon find out, Google Maps worked 90% of the time! For that last 10% though, we find out quickly how inaccurate Google Maps can be.

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Episode Five: Love, Travel and Beer

Posted by D'Tanga in Podcast Episode
Episode Five: Love, Travel and Beer

Episode Five: Love, Travel and Beer

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Note: This has been remastered and released again after previous technical difficulties. This episode originally took place on February 14th.

In episode five of The Small World Podcast, I talk with Julian Legrand, a very close friend of mine. We shared similar experiences during our time abroad, mostly around the topic of romance and relationships while travelling. In this no-holds-barred Valentine’s day conversation, we talk about everything from why we’re more romantic when we’re abroad, how we date when at home and why public drinking should be legalized in Canada.

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iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-small-world-podcast/id1182718899
Google Play – https://play.google.com/music/listen?u=0#/ps/Ixbafspjdknk2kbbbhf23txoeii

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Listen to the previous episode below

http://www.thesmall.world/2017/05/30/episode-four-dance-china-vibes/

Posted by D'Tanga in Podcast Episode
From 0 to 10 – Where Lisbon, Portugal ranks

From 0 to 10 – Where Lisbon, Portugal ranks

Reading Time: 7 minutes


Welcome to the first edition of The Small World’s city review. In this review, we revisit Lisbon, Portugal. Bordering the Atlantic ocean, Portugal is a country that is often underrated because it’s not a popular tourist destination. This places Portugal’s capital city of Lisbon at an inherent advantage of being calm because of a lack of tourists. Let’s jump in!

Date visited: June 14, 2014 & December 21, 2015

I first went to Lisbon as a cheap way to fly back to Toronto. In early June, I was staying in Madrid, Spain, scouring SkyScanner.ca for tickets back to Toronto. At the time, all the tickets to fly back to Madrid were around $300 more, compared to a small, nondescript city in Portugal called Lisbon. Laying in my hostel bed with my netbook (remember those?) on my pillow, I did a few calculations and realized that I could save half of the $300 by taking a bus to Lisbon, staying in a hostel for a few nights and then flying back to Toronto from there. Besides, this was the 10th country I had visited while in Europe. What better way to finish my trip than with a final hurrah?

Sights

One of the many charms of Lisbon is the lack of overt tourism. Unlike other major European cities like Paris, Barcelona and Amsterdam, Lisbon keeps its cards close to its chest. Are you a touristy kind of person? I’ll say it now: If you are looking for a toursity destination where you’re just another product, Lisbon is not for you. If you’re like me and you enjoy getting lost in local niceties, then Lisbon is perfect for you.

Now don’t get me wrong: Not being a popular tourist destination doesn’t mean that there’s nothing good to see. Close to the city, you can find Sintra. A one-hour drive away from Lisbon’s city centre, this area of Portugal can be placed at the top of the beautiful spectacles list. Riddled with ancient architecture inspired and crafted by the Moors. One of the views that stands out the most is The Castle of the Moors (Portuguese: Castelo dos Mouros), a gorgeous, multi-coloured castle which stands upon a hilltop.

The Castle of the Moors. Credit: https://pixabay.com/en/palace-sintra-landscape-green-1453029/

Coming back to Lisbon, you are not short of in-city sights like Belém Tower, São Jorge Castle and Praça do Comércio. To be honest though, visiting the tourist spots in Lisbon should be a formality, more than a main attraction. They are beautiful but don’t contain the essence of what makes Lisbon – or any other city for that matter – great. I have a approach to this.

Eats

Growing up in Toronto, I was surrounded by Portuguese food. Restaurants and cafes were not hard to come by, so I had this idea in my mind that this was the limit of Portuguese cuisine. I was flat out wrong. It’s not that the Portuguese bakers and chefs who immigrated to Canada were bad at cooking, it was that you simply don’t have access to all of the fresh ingredients that make Portuguese cuisine so good. That’s actually the case for many types of foreign cuisine but that’s a talk for another day.

Instead, let’s talk about Lisbon’s delicious food. Being located next to the Pacific Ocean does wonders for this town-like city. Fresh saltwater fish and a climate that promotes year-round crop growth only accentuate what is already a breadth of tantalizing recipes. My first exposure to the food in Lisbon was from the hostel I first stayed in, called Home Lisbon Hostel. I should’ve known that I was in for a treat when I saw the hostel selling their own recipe book. During a fanciful dinner with a majority of the Hostel’s guests, we were treated to basics like chicken noodle soup that was chock full of chicken breast and Caldo Verde, a soup filled with potatoes, kale, olive oil and sea salt. It was a nice way to prepare us for the main courses, like my Bacalao com Natas (creamed cod with potatoes).

By Fpenteado – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13830998

Forget the recipes for a second, and consider the ingredients I was talking about before: freshly caught cod that hasn’t seen the inside of a freezer. Potatoes grown locally and transported over small distances. Cream made from cows are farmed in small towns next next to Lisbon. Not to mention the herbs, spices and oils that are used in these dishes, or Port Wine which is created from grapes grown in neighbouring towns and bottled in those same places. All in all, you are not only short on delicious food but you also have easy access to freshly baked desserts with all of the advantages laid out above. A personal favourite of mine is Pastel de Nata, an egg custard tart with a sweet cream in the middle and a crispy, yet chewy exterior.

Pastel de nata

Claude Truong-Ngoc / Wikimedia Commons – cc-by-sa-3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

I don’t think I’ve gained weight more quickly in any other country than Portugal, but Portugal is wonderful in doses so it’s okay to go all out for a week or so. I could write an entire article on Portuguese food – and I actually might – but I’ll rest here for now. If you’re into sweet, savoury and heartwarming food that reminds you of home cooking, then look no further than Lisbon.

Cost

Let’s not beat around the bush. Travelling costs money and not all of us have it in abundance. It’s okay. This is why cities like Lisbon exist. On a European standard, the prices are comparable to the prices of Eastern Europe. The best example I can give is of a 3-course meal I ate while I stayed at Home Lisbon Hostel. Costing a total of 10 Euro, the meal included a starting soup, a main course, a dessert and some Portuguese wine. While this is a bit lower than the standard costs of food, you can certainly find similar options for prices that are much lower than large Western European cities like Paris, London and Barcelona.

This extends beyond the cost of food as well. Public transit is a bit pricier than normal, costing around 1.90 euro for a ticket on the Metro. In fact, I would say that this is the most expensive part of Lisbon. The good news is that Lisbon is a city where amenities and entertainment can be found within walking distance of where you’re staying, assuming you’re staying close to the centre. When I stayed there, I used the metro twice – once to go to a restaurant and once to come back from said restaurant. Talking and seeing the architecture is also highly recommended so I don’t even consider transportation a cost you’ll have to consider for the most part.

Finally, lodging is also on the cheaper side. Rewinding back in time a bit to my time in Home Lisbon Hostel, it cost me a total of 12 euro a night to stay there. Keep in mind that this hostel was located very close to the centre of the city and the beds were definitely more comfortable than other hostels I’ve been to. If you’re not much of a hostel person, Airbnb is another great option because the internal

Vibe

I include this category as a catch-all feeling of a city. The vibe of a city is hard to describe, but it’s also quite necessary to include. Why go to a city if you don’t feel comfortable there? In Episode Four of the podcast, I touched a bit on this. There are some places that I’ve been to where I absolutely did not feel comfortable walking around by myself. In other places, like beach cities in Mexico, there is a vibe of complete and total relaxation. My home city of Toronto gives off a very busy vibe in the downtown core and it can sometimes make you feel rushed. You can decide on a lot just from the feeling a city gives you – it influences how you’ll spend your time in the city. Will you make friends easily like in Budapest or is it more of a slow burn like Stockholm? Will you dance in a nightclub until 6AM like in Berlin? Or will you relax in a hammock in Playa Del Carmen? Vibe is all encompassing, and it influences the kind of person you will be when you’re there.

Lisbon immediately gave me a vibe of “home.” Looking back, there were a number of characteristics that made me feel like this. The first was the pace of the people. In Lisbon, it feels like not one person is in a rush to get to their destination. The walking speed is quite leisurely, partially because of the lack of “hurry,” and partially because of the infrastructure. Portuguese pavement forced me to walk a tad bit slower to ensure that I didn’t slip.

Portuguese pavement in Lisbons city center

With a European-based architecture containing exactly zero skyscrapers, the city itself doesn’t feel overwhelming in any sense of the word. It’s also quite quiet for a capital city. Not deafeningly so, but enough that if you’re from a large capital city, it will be a nice change.

The people in the city are some of the friendliest that I’ve ever met. My personal experience interacting with locals mainly included asking for directions, talking with locals at bars and speaking with business owners. Connecting directly to the non-rush culture I mentioned above, every person I met took time to not only help me with what I was asking for, but also asked me about my life, my history, and why I was there. Completely unprompted, they even invited me to events to hang out with them at nights. Unfortunately I was only there for 5 days the first time and I didn’t get the opportunity to take them up on their request, but the notion of kindness was not lost on me.

The climate also helps with this. It makes it much easier for you to go out and meet people, because everything is within a sane distance by public transit and the consistent warmth means that going out is much less a chore. This all ties into the overall social fabric of Lisbon, and the ease at which you can become acclimated to the culture is nothing short of outstanding. It’s enough that if you are mainly introverted, you won’t be pushed to be social, but you’ll also know that the option is always there. A social butterfly like myself thrives here. There is no shortage of friends that you can make in Lisbon, and no shortage of activities.

Ends

I chose Lisbon as my first city to talk about because it’s simply my favourite city in Europe and one of my favourite cities in the world. What I’ve mentioned here doesn’t begin to explain the nuances of Lisbon. The small, family owned cafes sprawled throughout the city. The endless pastry shops that will make you gain more than a few pounds. The gorgeous architecture is designed to be subtle and non-intrusive. Things are easy to find, yet there is no overt pressure to visit shops, unlike other major tourist cities. With people who are kind and not overbearing, Lisbon is a great city whether you’re looking to relax like me in 2014, or whether you’re looking to meet new people like me in 2015. I highly recommend visiting Lisbon. It’s a little out of the way, but it’s worth the detour.

 

Posted by D'Tanga in City Review, Featured
Episode Four: Dance, China and Vibes

Episode Four: Dance, China and Vibes

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In episode four of The Small World Podcast, I speak with Detric Kovu Frizell, a dance artist and a Dance Ambassador for the performing arts. We hit on topics like his time as a performer in China, how travel influences his artistry and his time auditioning for So You Think You Can Dance in Atlanta. He is currently representing and running The Genesis Project, a dance intensive program designed to heal through the performing arts and foster cultural exchange between nations.

Learn more about Detric below

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/KovuTheOne/
YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/iamonlyparthuman
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/iamkovutheanomaly/

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iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-small-world-podcast/id1182718899
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Listen to the previous episode below

http://www.thesmall.world/2017/05/16/episode-three-asia-england-canada/

Posted by D'Tanga in Podcast Episode
Episode Three: Asia, England and Canada

Episode Three: Asia, England and Canada

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In episode three of The Small World Podcast, I speak with Carl Casis, a salesman, entrepreneur and an avid traveller who found much of his meaning through living in other countries. Born and raised in England, he was able to get exposure to business practices in Singapore, in addition to other harsh realities that came with the territory. We speak about his life in London, his time in Singapore and why he chose to move to Toronto.

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Episode Two: 43 Countries

Posted by D'Tanga in Podcast Episode
Episode Two: 43 Countries

Episode Two: 43 Countries

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For the second episode of The Small World, I speak with Claudia Gross, an international process facilitator, management trainer and organization consultant. This job brought her to 43 different countries and we discuss her first experience abroad, her most memorable experience and why she chose to move from Germany to Egypt.

Learn more about Claudia’s latest initiative below

Website – http://www.speak-green.com

Subscribe to The Small World Podcast

iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-small-world-podcast/id1182718899
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Listen to the previous episode below:

http://www.thesmall.world/2016/12/03/episode-one-power-language-small-world-podcast/

Posted by D'Tanga in Podcast Episode
Episode One: The Power of Language

Episode One: The Power of Language

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For the premiere episode of The Small World Podcast, I interview Mihalis Eleftheriou, the founder of LanguageTransfer.org – a non-profit project dedicated to teaching people languages using the unique Thinking Method. Nothing goes out of bounds in this interview as we talk about the power of language, the complications of human identity and the rise of racism in the West.

Learn more about Mihalis’ initiative below

Website – http://www.languagetransfer.org/
Patreon – https://www.patreon.com/languagetransfer

Subscribe to The Small World Podcast

iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-small-world-podcast/id1182718899
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Posted by D'Tanga in Podcast Episode
A Tribute to Brussels

A Tribute to Brussels

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It was December 11th, 2014 when I arrived to Brussels. On my very first day arriving, I met a Belgian who worked at the hostel I stayed at. He told me something that rang true by the time of my departure and afterward: “You hate coming to Brussels, you hate living here, and then you hate leaving.”

I had no impression of what Brussels would be. When I accepted my job offer, the only thing I knew was that it was the Capital of the European Union. It was my second time in Europe and the first time had given me reason to come back, so where better than EU Central? What I was telling myself was more of a wish than a fact, and I was hoping the former would become the latter:

“I love Europe, so I’ll love the Capital of Europe.”

Oh how innocent I was. As you probably guessed already, my first month was horrible. I had few friends, I was apartment-less and I was broke. It wasn’t anyone’s fault but mine for not preparing enough. The problem was that I needed money to rent a place, but I needed to have a place in order to have a residence permit. Also, I needed a residence permit in order to get paid for work. It was confusing – and navigating through a bureaucratic system parlayed in French and Dutch didn’t help me either.

Eventually, I got it all figured out. I had my bank account open and I found an apartment, moving in with a couple that made my life easier. This was the beginning of an upward trend in my time there. I started renting my new place on the day before Christmas and they made me a Christmas dinner as a welcoming gift. Relief wasnt enough to describe it. It was as if a weight was lifted off of my shoulders and heart.  From that day forward, I knew that  Belgium’s clouds could be weathered by the people who lived there.

But the actual place I was renting was terrible. I recall not having hot water for upwards of two weeks. Some of the weakest wifi I have ever had. To top things off, my room eventually was infested with flies. Five months into my contract, I decided to move. I had already become acquainted with the city and I knew the good areas. I could finally find a place more fitting for me.

When I moved, I found a wonderful place in the better part the city that was close to amazing bars, fritkots and the European Parliament. To add to the beauty, summer had finally come. Anyone who knows me knows that I love summer and it was simply wonderful. Hanging out with new interns at the EU Headquarters, drinking beer by St. Catharine, eating at Mama Roma’s pizza place, going hiking every weekend while travelling on others. It took seven months for Brussels to feel like home.

When I finished my work contract, I didn’t realize what I was going to miss. I knew I wasn’t going to miss the bureaucracy and navigating it a language I didn’t know. What I did end up missing was everything else. Brussels is weird. There’s no arguing that. But I learned to love it, like you learn to love that ghetto bar close by. It’s not the cleanest and it may not even have the nicest people, but it’s honest – and that honesty is undeniably comforting.

After I got over the shock of the airport bombings on that took place two days ago, I can safely say that it will recover because of the people there. As much as they complain about the city – and as much as I did – there is an undeniable love there.

It will recover because Belgium always recovers – even if it’s in the most inefficient way possible.

Posted by D'Tanga in Featured, Travel Story
Being a Traveller: At Home

Being a Traveller: At Home

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The cold brings the quiet. The clouds bring a certain calm. It’s a familiar feeling, comforting even. Exactly one month ago, I returned to Toronto. I wasn’t sure of how I would feel when I returned, considering that the last time I returned, I fell into a phase that could only be called PTSD: Post Travelling Stress Disorder. When I returned from Sweden, it was accompanied by the fact that it was my first time leaving North America and truly living on my own. The adventures that I had there are still fresh in my mind even today, so when I returned to Toronto last year, I was emotionally drained. I wanted to get the hell out; not because Toronto is a bad city, and not because I didn’t have any friends, but because I wanted to see more.

Well, I saw more. I had some downs, but mostly ups. The second time living abroad matured me. I learned of some crushing realities about living alone in a different country, learned more about culture, learned a new language, and learned not to take everything so damn seriously. It was after this time that I felt I could finally return to my home and not feel so lost. As much as I liked my time in Belgium, Spain and Peru, I was excited to return to Toronto.

That excitement though, like the spark of a budding relationship, is starting to fade. But just like any mature relationship, that spark is turning into a subtle appreciation and comfort. I’m settling back in, with a new head on my shoulders. I’m here to finish the job and I’m excited.

A question I get asked frequently is if the travel bug is gone.

The answer is: not really.

It doesn’t help that my Facebook newsfeed is filled with deals from Toronto to Vancouver for $350 or New York to Colombia for $300. It doesn’t help that I still keep in contact with many of the friends I made abroad. It doesn’t help that every time I look at old photos from my time abroad, I start to get a bit emotional. None of that helps with the travel bug, but why would you want to be helped from it? The travel bug pushed me into a new realm of thought and self-acceptance, not to mention some crazy stories.

All-in-all, I am home. On one side, I feel that subtle appreciation and comfort, despite the timidly cold winter. On the other side, I am already planning my next trip. It could be next month, it could be next year, but I’m planning it, even if my mind doesn’t know it.

Posted by D'Tanga in Featured, On My Mind
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