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Canada Travel news and blog articles from The Huffington Post

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    If you've never considered a trip to Gates of the Arctic National Park, that's about to change.

    Located in North Slope, Alaska, the national park is the second largest in all of the United States. Despite it's almost 34,400 sq. km sprawl, it sees few visitors partially due to its lack of roads and trails, according to the National Park Service, allowing it to "remain virtually unchanged except by the forces of nature."

    As a result, it's home to caribou, musk oxen, and more than 145 species of birds, National Geographic reports — and not to mention stunning views collected by web designer Paxson Woelber.

    Since last July, the Anchorage, Alaska native has pieced together photos and footage of the national park from a 2013 expedition to create a stunning video titled "The World Beyond The World."

    Rather than a time-lapse, Woelber overlayed the images with text from Robert Marshalls' Alaska Wilderness: Exploring the Brooks Range, a field guide for conversationalist, written by a forest activist who explored Alaska's mountains between 1929 to 1939.

    According to Woelber, the film's premise is simple: "celebrate that most ancient and sublime of human pleasures: moving through a mysterious, beautiful, and unknown landscape," he wrote on the video's Vimeo page.

    The final result? A marriage of old and new with sense-tingling narration that could put Morgan Freeman in "March Of The Penguins" to shame. But don't take our word for it, watch the video in full above.

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    First, there were landscaped picnic areas and giant bean bag chairs. What's next for an iconic block of downtown Vancouver's Robson Street?

    Every year from Canada Day to the Labour Day long weekend, the 800-block of Robson Street is closed to vehicle traffic and opened up as a public pedestrian plaza.

    The Robson Redux competition, part of the City of Vancouver's VIVA Vancouver program, invites emerging and established designers to submit design proposals for a public installation. Each design has to incorporate the theme, "connection," as it relates to people and the space around them.

    In total, 78 architects, urban designers, and landscape architects from around the world, including Canada, Japan, Spain, and the United States, submitted their ideas.

    The designs (see slideshow below) were revealed Thursday at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

    A jury will select the winner.

    The public also has until April 13 to vote for the People's Choice award. Winners will be announced on April 15.

    Which one is your favourite?

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    A B.C. university student who fell and was stuck in a tree well for more than seven hours is expected to make a full recovery, thanks to a fortuitous chain of events that saved her life.

    Christine "Tink" Newman, 24, was unconscious and hypothermic when she was found on the morning of April 1 in Garibaldi Park near Whistler, reported Pique Newsmagazine.

    Newman was apparently heard leaving the Wax at Elfin Lakes shelter around 2 a.m. and other guests thought she was going to use the bathroom, Squamish Search and Rescue manager John Howe told Pique.

    Newman's parents, John and Ernestine, told Global News that she was discovered only because her backpack had fallen near the tree well. Her friends, who were snowshoeing the next morning, spotted it and pulled her out.

    Her rescuers included a retired paramedic and a nurse who were able to start CPR right away, Howe told the Whistler news outlet. They rotated every five minutes until search and rescue arrived. Those members continued CPR for another hour, meaning Newman received four continuous hours of CPR.

    “As far as I know, this is the longest duration of CPR ever performed in North America for this condition, probably any condition, with a good outcome,” Dr. Doug Brown, an ER doctor who has researched accidental hypothermia, told Global News.

    Brown is also a volunteer with Squamish Search and Rescue. He was able to direct Newman to the Vancouver General Hospital, which has a special device called an ECMO that helped raise her body temperature, said Global.

    Newman is a former skeleton athlete who is studying interactive arts and technology, and business entrepreneurship at Simon Fraser University, according to several online profiles. She's also CEO of a startup called Foodavinci, a food website.

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    (Relaxnews) - English speakers in Japan will find it easier to navigate their way around the country now that the transport ministry has mandated that street signs be translated into English.

    In response to visitor complaints of poor, inconsistent or the complete absence of translations, the Japanese government has made it mandatory for signs to include English words for important reference points.

    Words like station, airport, city hall, hospital and river, for example, will be written out in English, reports The Japan Times.

    Likewise, instead of relying on the catch-all phrase ‘dori,’ streets will be identified as avenue, street or boulevard for clarification.

    The exception to the rule will be the word ‘onsen,’ the Japanese word for hot springs, which will remain unchanged as the Japanese government figures it’s a universal word understood by all.

    Translations in multiple languages are also being considered for museums, parks, tourist sites and public transportation.

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    There's a lot of attention around Quebec right now thanks to a provincial election set for Monday, April 7. Over the last few months, talks about a referendum and the possibility of Quebec separating from the country have had some wondering what would happen to Canadian tourism if the province seceded. More importantly, where would locals and visitors go for authentic poutine?

    When it comes to Quebec, there's nothing in Canada that can hold a candle to it's culture, cuisine and character. The province has what the French might call a certain je ne sais quoi. Quebec is special, but it's tough to pin down a single reason why and that's part of what keeps tourists coming back.

    As with any frequently visited tourist destination, the more you come back, the more likely you'll pick up on certain quirks and quarks. They're the small details that one-time visitors wouldn't notice and the fun facts only veteran tourists can point out, like these 16 signs:

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    A B.C. student, who spent hours buried in snow and is alive partly due to hours of CPR, is making a promising recovery, said doctors.

    Christine "Tink" Newman, 24, is alert and talking, but not quite able to walk yet, Dr. Vinjay Dhingra told reporters at the Vancouver General Hospital on Sunday.

    "Her only complaints right now are really about her fingers and her toes. She's got some numbness and some tingling in there," said Dhingra, according to CBC News.

    Newman, a former skeleton athlete from Calgary, is being hailed as a medical miracle after she was found with no signs of life in Garibaldi Park near Squamish on April 1.

    Her return day hike had taken longer than she planned, so she stopped at a warming hut where a group of experienced skiers and snowshoers convinced her to stay overnight, reported The Province.

    At 2 a.m. she went in search of an outhouse and fell into a tree well, a hollow created around the base of a tree that's covered by deep snow. Newman lost consciousness in the seven hours she was stuck, with her body temperature falling to 18 degrees C, said Global News. The typical body temperature is 37 degrees C.

    A series of fortunate events unfolded next that led to Newman's astonishing rescue. The group from the warming hut, who assumed their new friend had left early, spotted Newman's backpack lying in the snow, said CBC. It was challenging to pull her from the 1.3-metre deep hole without getting trapped in the snow themselves.

    Story continues after slideshow:

    Her rescuers included a retired paramedic and a nurse who were able to start performing CPR right away, Squamish Search and Rescue manager John Howe told Pique.

    For two hours, they took turns giving Newman CPR, with one taking off his shirt to give her body heat through skin contact, and another two giving mouth-to-mouth air, according to the CBC.

    "Once you commit to CPR, you kind of have to stick with it," Eric Urban, one of the rescuers, told CBC.

    Once a search and rescue crew reached Newman, they continued CPR for another two hours, meaning she received a total of four hours of continuous CPR — a North American record, according to an ER doctor who has researched accidental hypothermia, said Global.

    A helicopter transported Newman to the VGH, where she received special treatment for severe hypothermia.

    “They ran the marathon,” said John Newman about his daughter's heroes, reported The Province. “If I had six gold medals to give out, these are the six people I would give them to.”

    Newman is studying interactive arts and technology and business entrepreneurship at Simon Fraser University, according to several online profiles. She's also CEO of a startup called Foodavinci, a food website.

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    It's not often you come across a parade where the main attraction is a pink penis statue.

    That is unless you're attending Kanamara Matsuri or, Japan's Penis Festival, as it's more commonly known as by tourists.

    For the uninitiated, the idea of a festival dedicated to all things phallic can be a bit of a visual overload. So to help, we've broken things down to a few tips to understand that behind giant penis statues, there's a good cause and a strong cultural following that's kept things going since the 16th century.

    So, if you find yourself in the Kawasaki, Japan and you're wondering what's going on, know these things:

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    The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are on another royal tour but this trip is starting to have the makings of a family vacation.

    Kate Middleton and Prince William are already Down Under but they'll be joined with their son, nine-month-old Prince George, for the first time ever. Their entire trip is expected to last 20 days before the royal family is set to return to the U.K. But before that, they'll make stops to New Zealand and Australia's major cities and tourist attractions to take in the sights and sounds in between bouts of ceremonies and processions.

    It'll be the Duchess' first trip to both countries and based on the royal itinerary, it looks like she'll have plenty to scratch off her bucket list once the trip wraps up.

    Here's a breakdown of where the royal couple will be heading over the next few days for any travellers wishing to recreate their schedule for a future trip to New Zealand.

    Stay tune to next week where we roll out the red carpet for the Royal Couple when they arrive in Australia.

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    TORONTO - Le Baluchon, a cheese from Quebec, has been named cheese of the year in the inaugural Canadian Cheese Awards.

    The cheese, from Fromagerie FX Pichet in Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade, Que., won in the competition, which featured 76 producers from across the country submitting 291 cheeses for judging.

    Le Baluchon was also named best in the semi-soft cheese and organic categories.

    The awards were handed out Monday at the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto.

    It is the first cheese competition in Canada open to all milks used in cheesemaking — cow, goat, sheep and water buffalo — with only pure natural cheese accepted for judging.

    No artificial colours, flavours, preservatives or modified milk ingredients were permitted to be used.

    Arthur Hill, chair and professor in food science and an internationally recognized authority in cheese technology, headed the judging, which took place at the University of Guelph's department of food science.

    The awards were produced by the annual artisan cheese show the Great Canadian Cheese Festival, held annually in June in Ontario's Prince Edward County near Belleville. Georgs Kolesnikovs, the festival's founder and director, is awards chairman.

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    LEGO may have started in Denmark but give a few bricks to Jeff Friesen and the results will be undoubtedly Canadian.

    By now, you're probably familiar with the Halifax photographer after his first set of Canadian models went viral but Friesen couldn't stop there. Canada is the world's second largest land mass and so it's tough to capture the essence of an entire province or territory in a single model, says Friesen.

    "There were some funny ideas left over from the original round of pictures. My goal is to have around five LEGO scenes for every province," he told The Huffington Post Canada in an email, adding that some provinces with larger populations will most likely end up with more models.

    Jeff Friesen's The Great LEGO North. Story continues after the gallery

    The project continues to blend Friesen's love for Canadian travel and the time he spends with his daughter during the winter.

    "The new scenes were completed off and on over the long winter. It's a good indoor project."

    And while the models were constructed inside, their inspirations are drawn from his time outdoors.

    "I'm lucky enough to have visited every province, and I've lived on both coasts and the Prairies, so most of the inspiration comes from actual life experience. The new Alberta scene is basically a remake of something my family witnessed on the Icefields Parkway a couple of summers ago."

    As a photographer, Friesen's past projects, like "The Canadian: Ghost Train Cross Canada", have taken him across the country, though he's yet to visit the Northwest Territories which is leaving him stumped for future ideas. When Friesen can't do a modern-day recreation, he takes a few artistic liberties.

    "Even fictionalized scenes, such as the Vikings in Newfoundland, are drawn from reality. The landscape in that picture is pretty much how it looked at L'Anse Aux Meadows when I visited, with icebergs looming on the horizon. I'm also fascinated by the different shades of brown in Newfoundland cuisine, so it's wonderful that their home-grown restaurant chain is called Mary Brown's."

    Friesen says the ultimate goal is to turn the project into a book. Despite making backgrounds more detailed and breakthroughs in LEGO-Mountie modelling, he's still working out the kinks.

    "Hockey has not been featured yet... it's hard to decide which province should get it."

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    (Relaxnews) - Istanbul has emerged as the top destination in a ranking that serves as a barometer of the most popular travel hotspots trending around the world in 2014.

    The largest city in Turkey has pulled off an impressive feat in the sixth edition of TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Destinations 2014 report, leapfrogging 11 places from last year and knocking Paris off its perch.

    In fact, not only did Paris lose its standing as the top travel destination this year, but the City of Light fell a punishing six spots to seventh position after a year of bad publicity. Last year, an incident in which a group of Chinese tourists were robbed right after landing in Paris received international media attention, spurring the city to boost security measures and distribute etiquette manuals to restaurateurs, taxi drivers and sales staff in an effort to shed their ‘rude’ image.

    Another big mover this year is Beijing, which moved up 17 positions to catapult its way into fourth spot. The jump is part of a larger trend among TripAdvisor users, who gave six of the top 25 spots to Asian cities.

    Hanoi, Vietnam likewise made a noteworthy entry, debuting in eighth position.

    Rounding out the top five destinations after Istanbul are Rome, London, Beijing and Prague.

    The final ranking is compiled using an algorithm that combs through millions of reviews and takes into account the quantity and quality of ratings for hotels, attractions, restaurants and destinations around the world over a 12-month period.

    Meanwhile, though Paris may have fallen out of favor among TripAdvisor users, the French capital maintains it was the world’s top tourist destination last year, attracting 32.3 million tourists based on hotel occupancies.

    When it comes to foreign visitors, the city also drew 15.5 million tourists last year, up 8.2 percent compared to 2012.

    London, meanwhile, also lay claims to attracting a record-setting 16 million overseas visitors in 2013, stoking an old rivalry with their French counterpart.

    Here are the top 10 destinations in 2014 according to TripAdvisor:

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    (Relaxnews) - Free Wi-Fi and complimentary breakfast have emerged as the most important hotel amenities among guests in a new survey.

    When 1,000 travellers from around the world were asked in a poll to rank 33 different amenities in order of importance, the ability to stay connected was deemed the most important in-room amenity, while free breakfast was the most sought-after overall hotel service.

    After free connectivity, guests also ranked a bathroom with a shower and room size as priorities when it comes to in-room amenities.

    Meanwhile, as free Wi-Fi has become increasingly standardized in response to consumer demand, hotels are trying to woo guests with other premium services, says, including high-end coffee machines and concierge iPad services.

    This year’s results differ little from last year’s survey, in which free Wi-Fi emerged as the most important priority for 34 percent of the 8,600 respondents -- the largest consensus.

    That figure spiked to 56 percent among business travellers.

    Meanwhile, a recently released report from TripAdvisor found that parents are likely to give preference to hotels that offer free breakfasts when planning their family vacations.

    Here are the top overall hotel amenities:
    1. Complimentary breakfast
    2. Restaurant
    3. Internet/Free wifi
    4. Free parking
    5. 24-hour front desk
    6. Smoke-free hotel
    7. Swimming pool
    8. Bar
    9. Air conditioning
    10. Coffee, tea lobby

    Top in-room hotel amenities
    1. Free wifi
    2. Bathroom with shower
    3. Room size
    4. TV system
    5. Air conditioning
    6. Coffee, tea
    7. Non-smoking rooms
    8. Premium bedding
    9. Daily housekeeping
    10. Mattress type

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    Travellers looking to stay connected to the cloud while flying among the clouds now have one more option: Air Canada.

    The Canadian carrier announced on Wednesday it will roll out in-flight Wi-Fi for passengers aboard some of its narrow-body planes come May. The move makes Air Canada the first Canadian carrier to launch in-flight wireless connectivity, trumping its competitor WestJet in the wireless race.

    "In today's connected world, our customers want to access email, mobile device applications and the internet wherever they are, both to increase their work productivity and expand their leisure options," said Benjamin Smith, Air Canada's executive vice-president and chief commercial officer.

    Wi-Fi will come courtesy of Gogo, a service provider who's worked with American airlines like U.S. Airways, United and Delta, according to the company's site. For now, the service will be limited to just flights within North America, though Air Canada says it plans to bring Wi-Fi to its international flights in the future.

    Gogo currently offers time-based passes ranging from $5.00 to $49.95 and are compatible for tablets, laptops and smartphones. Air Canada says it'll "offer variations on pricing, such as single use for one flight or a package for a number of flights," according to an email from Air Canada spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick.

    Fitzpatrick adds that the carrier expects to deploy new packages based on customer's response. In terms of speeds, the airline says it's comparable to mobile broadband services available on the ground, though passengers won't be able to use the data of VOIP calls.

    The Montreal-based airline already has two Airbus 319 aircrafts equipped with Wi-Fi operating in Canada and the U.S. The new partnership with Gogo however would see 29 more planes outfitted with air-to-ground Wi-Fi ready for use by December 2015.

    Last year, WestJet was poised to become Canada's first carrier to offer in-flight Wi-Fi. In February, it announced it would include Wi-Fi as part of its new entertainment system which would allow passengers to stream live TV or movies from tablets.

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    (LOS ANGELES-AFP) - Riding high on the global success of "Despicable Me," the films' makers have teamed up with theme park engineers to produce a tourist ride designed to immerse visitors in "Minion Mayhem."

    The Minions -- cute little yellow characters who speak amusing gibberish -- have emerged as stars in their own right from the two movies, which have earned $1.5 billion worldwide.

    To prove it, Paris studio Illumination Entertainment is giving them their own film, "The Minions," due out in July 2015, before a third "Despicable Me" instalment in 2017.

    Since 2012 the Minions, a huge source of related products, have had a ride dedicated to them at Universal's theme park in Orlando, Florida.

    And this coming weekend they will get the Tinseltown treatment in Hollywood itself, with a special "yellow carpet" presentation for a ride twice as big as the Florida one, and equipped with the latest cutting-edge technology.

    The idea came from Steve Burke, the head of NBCUniversal, after the success of the first "Despicable Me" film in 2010.

    "It was not something we had thought about," Chris Meledandri, the head of Illumination Entertainment, told AFP.

    "But of all the extensions of 'Despicable Me,' I think that modelizing these characters with a theme park attraction may be the most exciting for us beyond doing the movie," he added, ahead of the first day of "Despicable Me Minion Mayhem" on Saturday.

    Nearly 20 minutes of new animated footage were created for the attraction, in which visitors are transformed into Minions themselves, by the magic of 3D video simulation.

    "It was very important that we honoured the characters and also have the same sense of humour that you see in the movies, the same tone," said Meledandri, who also made sure the voices of other characters -- Steve Carrell as super-villain Gru, in particular -- were the same as in the film.

    The Hollywood version of the ride is on a grander scale: it takes 192 people at a time and, while the Orlando version only has Gru's house, the West Coast one recreates his whole neighbourhood.

    And as well as "Minion Mayhem" itself visitors can also make a splash in "Super Silly Fun Land," a water-play area -- the park's first dedicated to under-8s -- inspired by the funfair in the first "Despicable Me" film.

    The ride features the latest in video technology, allowing visitors to be "minionized" in a car which moves in synch with a film on a giant 3D screen. The projectors use the same custom lenses as those designed for NASA's space telescope.

    "It's been (projected) at 60 frames per second, 4K resolution and so it looks better than anything you've ever seen out there," the ride's producer Jon Corfino told AFP.

    The hydraulic suspension is the most sophisticated Universal has ever used in a theme park.

    "It's more articulated, it provides us a higher level of accuracy when we try to recreate very precise motions along with the screen," said Corfino.

    While Illumination Entertainment is now working on next year's "The Minions," which will reveal where the funny little men come from, Meledandri admits their success still makes him wonder.

    "We knew audience would love them because 300 people were liking them through the making of the film. But we had no idea that they would go on to become as popular as they are," he said.

    The fact that they speak an incomprehensible language does not seem to be a handicap -- in fact it might make them more universal.

    "I just can't remember a movie where your three main characters speak a language that you actually can't literally understand but somehow, you know everything that they're saying.

    "It's a lot of fun," said Meledandri.

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    Relaxnews) - Following the premiere of its fourth season, "Game of Thrones" is as popular as ever, giving the show's filming locations a prime opportunity to boost tourism. After hosting the cast and crew of the fantasy series, Croatia, Iceland and Northern Ireland are taking advantage of the hype to promote their tourist attractions.

    The fourth season of "Game of Thrones" (GOT) is finally on the air, and fans aren't the only ones celebrating. Tourism agencies in Croatia, where parts of the show have been filmed since season two, are seizing the opportunity to attract visitors to some of the sites seen on the small screen.


    The walled city of Dubrovnik, for example, stands in for King's Landing, the capital of the Seven Kingdoms. Fans of the show can also visit Split, where several action scenes were filmed. Viator has even created travel packages that allow visitors to follow in the footsteps of the characters created by George R.R. Martin, author of the "A Song of Ice and Fire" novels. Fans can take a four-hour guided tour of Dubrovnik (from $93) and even explore shooting locations throughout the region on a four-day expedition (from $420). The latter tour includes a visit to the impressive Fort Lovrijenac, built 37 meters above the sea.


    Tour operators in Northern Ireland, one of the main shooting locations for the HBO series since its first season, are also enjoying the extra attention. Antrim, Londonberry and Down are among the counties that have served as the backdrop for GOT's distinctive fantasy world. The Caves of Cushendun, located in a small coastal village, set the scene for the scene in which Lady Melisandre gives birth to a mysterious shadow. A site known as the Dark Hedges, with its curving beech trees, stands in for the dangerous King's Road in the series.

    game of thrones ireland

    Shillanavogy Valley is the site of the show's Dothraki Camp. The country's tourist board is going out of its way to attract GOT fans, even offering a guide of must-see locations on its website. From June 11 to 15, Belfast is even hosting a free "Game of Thrones" exhibition, where attendees can get an up-close look at the show's costumes and weapons.

    Information: www.gotexhibitionbelfast/gotexhibition

    Iceland, where the northern scenes of the show were filmed, is also becoming a tourist hot spot. The country's Official Film Board website quotes HBO Producer Janet Graham Borba: "For the Far Northern locations of 'Game of Thrones,' we wanted something shatteringly beautiful, barren and brutal. In Iceland, we found all of that, as well as a highly professional production crew." The "Game of Thrones" shooting locations are found primarily in the north.

    game of thrones iceland

    Fans can visit Gooafoss, the site of one of Iceland's most spectacular waterfalls, or Dimmuborgir, a region known for its stunning volcanic caves and rock formations. There is also the famous Thingvellir National Park, a site of great historic, cultural and geological significance to Icelanders. Popular with tourists, the region is also the site where the tectonic plates of North America and Europe meet.

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    CALGARY - WestJet (TSX:WJA) chief executive Gregg Saretsky earned nearly $3.2 million last year, down slightly from the nearly $3.5 million he earned in 2012, as the size of his bonus shrunk.

    According to regulatory documents filed ahead of airline's annual meeting, WestJet said Saretsky earned a salary of $567,700, share-based awards totalling more than $1.2 million, $454,160 in option-based awards, a cash bonus of $791,000 and $113,540 in other compensation for 2013.

    That compared with a salary of $567,700, $1.1 million in share-based awards, $454,160 in option-based awards, a cash bonus of more than $1.2 million and $113,540 in other compensation for 2012.

    WestJet earned $268.7 million or $2.03 per share on $3.66 billion in revenue in 2013.

    That compared with a profit of $242.4 million or $1.78 per share on $3.43 billion in revenue in 2012.

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    Who out there collects stamps? While the question brings forth visions of either that of a bumbling grandfather, or of an extremely wealthy grande dame, I've taken a closer look and there might just be a travel trend on the rise.


    A friend, and fan of philately, recently clued me into the fact that he hits the road frequently to get that rare or special stamp, while other enthusiasts simply collect postage stamps to document their travels. I see his point of going to the source on this one. It's all too easy to get screwed on the internet, but if you are there in person you can make the call as to whether the dealer is legit.

    I was intrigued. And then I got word (via my trusty Time Out guide) that the postal museum here in Prague was something to see. So I dragged my man there on a Saturday afternoon. I think we were both surprised by what is an absolutely remarkable collection, housed in a petit 17th-century chalet along the riverside. Meticulously maintained and curated by country and year, it was easy to browse through and admire the intricate artwork -- those Russian stamps from late 1800s to early 1900s being my favourite. What became clear to me was that these are not just teeny tiny multi-coloured pictures, but treasured pieces of world history.

    I could totally get into this.


    But how does one start?
    After three decades in the biz, David Coogle is North America's preeminent expert on postal history and stamp collection. His four criteria for amassing a collection of value are demand, age, condition and origin. The latter is quite important when buying abroad as, for example "Chinese stamps sell for a better price in Hong Kong or Mainland China than in the United States." Since stamps are a British invention, it's those iconic stamps form the 1840s that are the most sought-after in Asia.

    Coogle concurs that the most valuable stamps tend to be from the earliest days of modern postage in the 19th century, and that outright forgeries are rare. Too difficult to produce fakes. But if you are taking notes: "Untouched backing gum is valued," he says. Also note that there is an offspring industry in repairing the gum.

    Where will you find the next gem?
    There are many local and national events, but the Canadian Stamp Dealer Association's annual mega-event will take place in April in Toronto.

    The World Stamp Expo brings together dealers, traders and collectors from over 30 countries. This took place in Melbourne last May and will head to Singapore in 2015.

    For those that are closer to (my) home, these are the European highlights:
    The Carré Marigny ("Marigny Square"), in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, is the site of an open-air market where postage stamps are bought and sold every Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Since 1887, dealers, hobbyist and serious collectors have been trading near the Elysee Palace.
    There is also Salon Planète Timbres Paris - a biennial stamp exhibition. June 14-22, 2014.

    SPAIN/Barcelona, Seville & Madrid
    Every Sunday from 9am to 2pm, you will find old stamps and coins from all over the world at the market on Barcelona's Plaça Reial. On the same day, in Seville, check out the goods in Cabildo Square, which is just off of Avenida de la Constitucion.
    Starting at 10am in Madrid, the Plaza de Mayor hosts a lively Sunday market. The city's main post office is merely steps away, and this grand building houses the Postal and Telegraphic Museum (not open on Sundays).

    ITALY/Rome & Vatican City sites The Post and Telecommunications Museum in Rome as a real treasure. Same goes for the Vatican's Philatelic and Numismatic Museum. The latter is located in the Palazzo della Borgia. When in Rome, make your way to Viale Europa in the Eur district.

    Every Wednesday and Saturday, a small market for stamp and coin collectors sets up shop on the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal. There are also a few small specialty shops on the Rosmarijnsteeg, just behind the market.

    The birthplace of stamps and stamp collecting (the Royal Family started it all!) naturally boasts "The Stamping Grounds", otherwise known as the Charing Cross Stamp Fair. This goes down every Saturday from 8am to 4pm at the corner of Northumberland Avenue and Embankment Place.
    There is also the Jubliee Market at Covent Garden that opens every Monday from 5am to 4pm.

    The General Post Office houses a museum, but still operates on O'Connell Street, the city's main thoroughfare. It's one of Ireland's most famous buildings, and was the last of the great Georgian public buildings erected in the capital.
    This would be just the kind of place to start at. Buying new stamps, at your destination's local post office, is one way to lay the foundation for an enviable collection.

    Thinking about getting started? Click here for more information.

    If you've been collecting stamps, and know of any markets worth visiting, please post a comment below!

    The Adventurer Stamp Album image courtesy of

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    Halifax weather doesn't just bring hurricane-force pressure and cravings for "stormchips."

    Sometimes, it's strong enough to blow a WestJet 737 plane off its gate at the airport.

    An 11-minute video posted to YouTube on April 3 shows the plane slowly drifting away from an airport gate as it prepared to fly to Toronto amid a snowstorm that closed the facility for four hours, said a description.

    A ground staffer can be seen trying to push the plane as it moves to the left. He remains with the plane until he receives some assistance.

    WestJet confirmed the incident in a comment on the video:

    "This is truly a rare occurrence and even more rare to catch it on video. You really were at the right place at the right time! We are very happy with how our ground crew and TechOps AME (Aircraft Maintenance Engineer) handled this situation. Our AME (in the blue vest) was at the aircraft within 10 seconds and our ramp crews (yellow/orange vests) had all ground service equipment away from the aircraft within 40 seconds, which prevented any damage to the aircraft and kept our crews and guests safe while they secured the aircraft with a tug and tow bar. This video is a great reminder of the power of Mother Nature!"

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    OTTAWA - The Conservative government would like to know how air passengers feel about their checked luggage being broken into — by airport security screeners.

    Transport Canada is seeking feedback on a plan to give security screeners the power to break a padlock or seal — such as plastic shrink wrap — off a bag when an X-ray flags a concern.

    The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority screens all checked baggage before it is placed on a plane.

    The agency's screeners may open unlocked luggage to examine contents, and in such cases will place a notification card inside the travellers' bag to let them know it has been inspected.

    However, screeners cannot force open a locked bag. They must inform the airline, which in turn tries to locate the relevant passenger. If the traveller cannot be found, an airline employee may break the lock so a screener can inspect the bag, or the luggage will be held at the airport and not put on the plane.

    Transport Canada, which is soliciting public comment until next Monday, says air industry experts expect passenger volumes in Canada to continue increasing each year — meaning more inspections.

    "As the numbers increase, it will be more difficult and time-consuming for airlines to locate passengers, or if not, break the lock or seal," says the consultation notice. "A process that was once manageable could become more inefficient and use up more airline resources."

    The "most effective and efficient solution" is to have the air security screeners, rather than an airline representative, break the lock or seal when a bag requires fuller inspection, Transport Canada says.

    Marc-Andre O'Rourke of the National Airlines Council of Canada, which represents several of the country's largest carriers, had no immediate comment on the proposal.

    The consultation notice says that if the air security authority gets the new power, it "might not reimburse passengers for the cost of a broken lock."

    If the screening authority were to cut plastic shrink-wrap off a bag to conduct a search, it would not rewrap the luggage, the notice adds.

    In the United States, the Transportation Security Administration screening agency is permitted to break a lock to inspect a bag.

    However, the agency says it has worked with several companies to develop locks that can be opened by security officers using universal master keys so that they may not have to be cut. The locks are sold at airports and travel stores.

    Comments on the Transport Canada proposal can be made at

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    VANCOUVER - The Vancouver Aquarium is defending itself after the city's mayor expressed his personal beliefs against keeping whales and dolphins in captivity.

    A statement issued by the aquarium Wednesday said Gregor Robertson may have personal feelings on the issue, but he might not understand the vital role belugas and dolphins play in its conservation efforts.

    "Dolphins and belugas at Vancouver Aquarium play a direct and vital role in engaging people in key ocean issues," the aquarium states.

    "In addition, with rapid environmental changes in the arctic where belugas live, continued research, much of which must be done in marine science centres like the Vancouver Aquarium, is critical to their future."

    The aquarium also states that it's the only facility in Canada that can rescue, rehabilitate and provide a long-term home to marine animals that can't be released back into the wild.

    The statement was issued amidst a renewed debate on keeping whales and dolphins in captivity. Critics are arguing the aquarium should stop displaying large animals and release them to the wild.

    In fact, Aaron Jasper, the chairman of the city's park board, has announced that he'll ask staff at the next meeting for a public report on keeping the animals in captivity. He said the report will include best practices from around the world on marine-mammal rehabilitation.

    Robertson has joined the debate on the side of the critics.

    "My personal view is that the Vancouver Aquarium should begin to phase out the holding of whales and dolphins in captivity," he said in a statement.

    Robertson said he's hopeful the aquarium and the board can work collaboratively and come to an agreement on how to phase out the current captivity program with a review that will be informed, thoughtful and inclusive.

    The aquarium first opened in 1956, operating out of an 830 square metre facility and employing a staff of seven. It now operates from a 9,000 square metre facility and has 400 employees.

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