Another year is over and so here’s another update, this time for Q4 2016. As I mentioned in my last quarterly update I was jamming all of my trips into the last half of this year, so we’ll say I was on vacation…even though I probably wasn’t.
I’ll do a quick brag about my trips to start this off and get it out of the way. Read more
7 ways to spend your tax return
In case you haven’t heard all the radio ads about how scary your income tax is SUPPOSED to be(it isn’t) in order to scare you into paying money to have someone file your taxes, you may not have realized that it’s tax season. An exciting season for a lot of people because it’s the one time of year they get “paid” from the government. Unfortunately, your tax return isn’t getting paid from the government but only getting your money back that you’ve loaned them interest free.
If you’re like the majority of the population you’re probably getting some money back in the next few weeks and I’m going to share with you some ways how to spend your tax return. Some of these will be great for future you, others are going to be instant gratification for present you. It will be all your choice; I can only pass along the ideas. Read more
In February 2014 I spent a few days in Hanoi, Vietnam. It was the first stop of many on a South East Asia trip with some friends of mine.
For those of you who don’t know, Hanoi is the Capital of Vietnam and it is the second most populated area in the country. Hanoi served as the capital of French Indochina from 1902 to 1954 and then as the capital of North Vietnam until the end of the Vietnam war in 1976 where it became the capital of a newly united Vietnam.
February is actually one of the colder months in Hanoi but the average low is still 14C and the average highs are 21C. So we were expecting nice weather, especially compared to the freezing cold of February in Canada that we were used to. Unfortunately I don’t think it came above 15C at the peak of the day for most of the time we were in the city.
Other than the less than stellar weather, Hanoi was an incredible change from the usual vacations I’m used to. As soon as we were on the shuttle from the airport to the city center, it was an incredible eye opener. I haven’t spent much time outside of North America and the trips that I had gone on were in Europe which is highly developed and prosperous. Vietnam is not highly developed, the conditions people lived in on the route from the airport will make you very thankful for the opportunities you have in life.
The streets of Hanoi
The first day in Hanoi we signed up for a walking tour, which I’d recommend in any city you’re visiting. You’ll get a tour of the area in which you’re staying so you’ll be more familiar with getting around and hopefully won’t get lost trying to get back. You also have a chance to ask as many questions as you want with a local or at least someone who is very familiar with the way things work in that city.
In Hanoi, we were lucky to have a local guide show us around. Probably the most important thing we learned on the walking tour was how to cross the roads. Now I know that sounds like a very dumb thing to learn, but if you’ve ever been to a city where the traffic is 95% scooters, you’ll know what I mean. The streets of Hanoi are packed all day with scooters. There was every type of scooter and combination of people and cargo on them; from one person on a scooter to a whole family or a cargo load that was meant for a truck. Those pictures you see online aren’t one time occurrences; they’re everyday life somewhere else.
Now that the 2015 edition of the Calgary Stampede has come to a close, I’m going to recap how I can help you get the most entertainment for you dollars.
For those of you who don’t know, the Calgary Stampede is a 10 day summer festival held in early July in Calgary, Alberta Canada. Most towns and cities have summer festivals that honor a prominent member of their community that helped shape it into what you see today. The Calgary Stampede is just like that, only honoring everything that could be related to cowboys/ranching; which were the foundation of life in Alberta. Although I’m sure stampede started off as mostly a rodeo and agricultural event, it has since swelled to encompass almost every facet of life. The Stampede now includes the rodeo events, x-games type events, a market place for selling mostly as seen on TV type products, a showcase for local Alberta visual artists, a talent search competition, several different musical performances at every level from beginning to professionals and a giant midway with rides, games and the largest variety of food you’ll ever see including for some reason the world’s most expensive hotdog and scorpion pizza…I know right, it got a little lost from its cowboy roots.
With over a 1.2 million attendees over the 10 days and dozens of concerts, and millions of dollars in rodeo prize money the cost of attending isn’t like most summertime festivals. Downtown hotels which are closest to the Stampede grounds have an average nightly rate close to 300 dollars which is a 69% premium over the usual pricing according to Trivago.com. A bottle of water or a pop at most vendors on the grounds will cost 4 dollars. Needless to say food is also grossly inflated.
Basically the “Greatest outdoors show on earth” can also one of the most expensive outdoor shows on earth. But don’t worry! I’m here to help!
If you haven’t read my first two posts on Historic things to do in London and Artistic things to do in London, then please check them out if you’re planning a trip. This post will basically cover the activities I know of that don’t quite fit under history or arts and culture, just other forms of entertainment in London.
If you’re planning a trip to London that doesn’t revolve around a specific event, I’d highly recommend checking out what is going on at the O2 arena. Not only is it a large 20,000 seat arena that can host anything from concerts to sporting events, but it’s also one of the largest tents in the world. It’s actually the tent that was built for the millennial celebrations and once it was over they cleared out the tent and built this stadium inside. The cool part is that the tent is much larger than the stadium, so the “outside” of the stadium is built to look like different buildings. Each of these buildings houses a different restaurant or bar, so if you find an event at the O2 while you’re in London, you can spend the entire evening there. Go early and get some food before your main event and stay late at the bars for their live entertainment.
Now if you’ve read my last post on Historic attractions in London you already know I think there is an unbelievable amount of attractions in London, England. In this second part of my three part series on attractions in London I’m going to touch on places and activities that are more artsy and cultural. So let’s begin shall we?
I guess if you were going to start anywhere on arts and culture in London it would be in the West End. London’s West End is famous for its arts scene. It’s comparable to Broadway in New York City. From classic musicals like Les Miserables, or Phantom of the Opera to the new hits like Book of Mormon; there are around 40 theatres in the West end that house plays, musicals and comedies. I’d recommend seeing at least one performance here, they’re all on the high end of the budget scale, but this is basically one of two best spots in the world to see this much talent on stage.
Ever been to Las Vegas?
Indeed I have! It’s one of my favorite destinations for a short weekend trip or something without too much planning. Las Vegas is a great time because it has so much for every type of person. It can be a trip filled with luxuries or it can be a pretty frugal trip with tons of free and cheap entertainment.
So what would you recommend if I’m going to do Las Vegas on a budget?
If you’re looking for a fun time in Las Vegas on a budget I’d suggest a few options like these: If you want to stay on the strip, in my opinion the Linq or Flamingo are probably the best values in terms of location. They’re both older hotels that have had some pretty nice renovations (especially the Linq). They’re both located right in the middle of the strip and boarder a new area called “The Linq” which has the High Roller Ferris wheel that has amazing views of the city and several bars and restaurants they imported from all over the world. If you don’t mind the travel time, there’s plenty of cheaper alternatives up on Freemont Street and off of the Strip.
In July 2014 while I was in London with my girlfriend we made a morning trip to a place called the Chislehurst caves. This wasn’t something I had planned on doing on this trip; I didn’t even know about it until she found it on some travel website. Once she showed it to me, we added it to the list. I have gone on cave tours before; ones that required some gear and a guide and others that were set up for walking groups like these ones. Both were great times and really interesting.
At £6 each for a walking tour that lasted about an hour lit by old paraffin lanterns, how could you not want to go?
The Chislehurst caves are limestone tunnels that network over 35 kilometers (22 miles for my American friends) of tunnels with thousands of years of history. People believe they date back over 2000 years before the Romans were even in England. One of the things that really intrigue me is that the caves were almost in continuous use for this entire period so there weren’t a lot of artifacts to be found. These tunnels weren’t closed off for a long period of time to be rediscovered like the pyramids or other tombs.