Buda Palace at night
Photography, Travel

My UNESCO World Heritage Sites

After seeing Wandering Mee’s own list of UNESCO World Heritage sites, I became curious about the ones I’ve visited myself. A tally from the official website shows that I’ve visited 26 25* out of the 981!

Check out my list below, along with some of my photos.

Austria

  • Historic Centre of the City of Salzburg
  • Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn
  • Historic Centre of Vienna

Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna

Bosnia and Herzegovina

  • Old Bridge Area of the Old City of Mostar
Mostar Old Bridge

The old bridge at Mostar

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gracias
Reflections, Travel

Mi casa es su casa: Building a Home of Hope

This spring Reading Week, I travelled with a group of 35 other engineering students to build a home for a family in Tijuana, Mexico. This trip is organized twice a year by the University via YWAM, a Christian missionary group. While not all us who went were Christian, the YWAM team were welcoming and made us feel at home.

More importantly, however, is that in only three days, we had provided a family with a new home. I don’t think I will never forget this experience.

Day 1
Borders

We spent the first day travelling from Calgary, through San Francisco airport, to San Diego. We crossed the Mexican border via San Diego/Tijuana, the busiest land-border crossing in the world.

Crossing borders always brings mixed feelings: the excitement of going to a new place, and the uneasiness that comes with it. In this case, it was hard to believe that people could be born only miles from one another yet live completely different lives. This was evident as our bus drove along the border: litter was strewn everywhere, the homeless and addicted slept along the streets, and the walls along the border amassed a security system that I can only imagine is reminiscent of the Berlin Wall. Apparently, families living on either side often meet to have picnics along the border, separated by concrete and chain-link.

Borders are necessary in many ways, yes, but in the end, they break families apart and divide us as people.

US-Mexico border
The USA-Mexico border (courtesy Wikipedia)

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Stanley Park
Canada, Everyday, Photography

Biking around Calgary

One of my favourite things about Europe in general is the fact that one can bike almost anywhere. After coming back to Calgary, I realized that while I can probably live without things like bakeries at every corner and constantly watching for dog poop (Dresden Neustadt, I’m looking at you), puttering around on a bike on a daily basis was something I wasn’t willing to give up.

The bike I used getting around Dresden - there was no front brake and the basket was held on by rubber bands! Oh the days....

The bike I used getting around Dresden. There was no front brake and the basket was held on by rubber bands!

Now, a little about Calgary. It is great for recreational biking because there are about 700 km of bike paths in the city, mostly in our numerous parks and along the rivers. What the city is not too great for, however, is commuter biking – i.e. biking to get groceries, biking to get to work, biking to your friend’s place, etc., because there are virtually no practical bike paths and most drivers have little experience dealing with bicycles on the road.

Calgary has some great pathways!

Calgary has great recreational pathways!

Since biking around Calgary takes more planning than just getting on a bike, I decided to take an urban cycling skills course. Basically, it teaches you how to not get killed biking city streets. Actually, it’s safer than one actually realizes!

The following video, albeit made in the US, is a pretty good overview of what we did in the course:

Anyway, after all this, I’ve explored a lot more of Calgary that I realized I would, and determined I’m still pretty good at not getting lost (generally – hint: Google Maps!). It’s fun, it’s free exercise, and most of the time I’m not going too far (though it’s 20 km to the University – sometimes I split it up by taking the train in between!).

Here’s some Instagram shots I’ve taken getting to the University – it’s such a nice way to start the day!

Now, I’ll see how it goes in the winter….

Happy cycling!

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