Black Panther Experience

If you’re downtown at Winterlude this weekend, be sure to check out The Black Panther Experience in Confederation park! You can get your photo taken with Black Panther, see the inside of a vibranium mine, and check out the Wall of Heroes.

If you’re in Toronto later on this month, the truck will be there as well. Check out the dates:

Image from the Facebook post.

Are you interested in a stay-cation or visiting Toronto? You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through AJ Travel. jenniferd@ajtravel.ca

Nargle 9K

If you’re interested in running a virtual race, and like Harry Potter, the Nargle 9K is for you!

Registration is available NOW until February 11, and you go out and run 9 kilometres on February 13, Luna Lovegood’s birthday.

You can read more about the Hogwarts Running Club, the host of this event, here.

While you might not want to go outside if you live where I live, you can run this race on a treadmill or another day. Or you can dress warmly and brace yourself for the Nargle 9K in the snow!

Image from events.com

Are you interested in travelling to get away from the snow? You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through AJ Travel. jenniferd@ajtravel.ca

Disney Dining Plan Update

Disney World has added the option, if you’re over 21 years of age, to get an alcoholic beverage with your meal. You can also get a specialty non-alcoholic beverage, like artisanal milkshakes, smoothies, premium hot chocolate, soda, coffee, or tea.

In the past, you were able to get a dessert and a basic drink (milk, soda, coffee, tea). Upgrading to a specialty drink means you get the dessert in the drink, I guess?

Image taken from the Disney website, able to be viewed by travel consultants only, so I won’t bother linking. 😉

Are you interested in travelling to Disney? You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through AJ Travel. jenniferd@ajtravel.ca

Berlin

I’d like to start 2018 off on a solemn and thoughtful note, and what is more fitting than a memorial? Specifically, a Book Burning Memorial.

The Library art installation at Bebelplatz, in Berlin. Image from the Atlas Obscura.

I can’t imagine what it must have been like, that day so long ago, when over 20,000 books were burnt to ash. Hopefully I never have to find out. The Nazis didn’t only burn books, they torched knowledge, science, and objectivity.

The books that were targeted includes those by August Bebel, Sigmund Freud, Ernst Glaeser, Heinrich Heine, Erich Kästner, Rosa Luxemburg, Heinrich and Klaus Mann, Karl Marx, Bertha von Suttner, and Stefan Zweig, and possibly even more importantly, the entire contents of the library at the Institute of Sexology, headed by Dr Magnus Hirschfeld. This library contained rare books and papers on sex and gender.

The art installation, by Micha Ullman, is underground, and its empty shelves have space for all the books that were destroyed that night in 1933. There is a plaque with a line by a German Jewish playwright:

“That was but a prelude;
where they burn books,
they will ultimately burn people as well.”
Heinrich Heine 1820


Are you interested in travelling to Berlin? You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through AJ Travel. jenniferd@ajtravel.ca


References

https://www.visitberlin.de/en/book-burning-memorial-bebelplatz

https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/the-bebelplatz

http://hmd.org.uk/content/06051933-looting-institute-sexology

https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/pa26351

Having a theft-free vacation

Telling people you’re planning on travelling comes with all sorts of advice and warnings. One of the most persistent and scary is the threat of theft. Being away from home and having your ID, money, clothes, and/or belongings stolen is the opposite of fun.

The best way to avoid armed robbery or other extremely traumatic experiences is to talk to your travel agent and check advisories.

For smaller thefts, it seems that Pickpockets have gotten a near mystical reputation. Hollywood would have you believe that one bump and the thief will have your underwear. Thankfully they’re not quite that good.

Pickpockets are still a big issue, especially in big cities.

What can you do?

There are a few tips and tricks for you to keep your valuables safe.

1. Don’t carry everything.

A thief can’t pickpocket something you don’t have with you.

2. Don’t flaunt it.

Try to avoid traveling with unnecessary valuables. Try not to have too much cash.

If you have to have the valuables try not to flash them around like you’re a bigshot. Try to only take out a little bit of cash and not a whole wad.

3. Hide your stuff

Wear a money belt or some other form of hidden pocket. And don’t put everything at the same place. That way, if they do get one hiding spot, you still have something.

4. Zippers!

A zippered bag or purse is much more secure than one that has just an opening. One that has a lockable zipper is even better.

5. Watch your stuff

This seems obvious, but the easiest target is one that isn’t paying attention. If your bag isn’t attached to you or something solid, it’s an easy target. Same with one shouldered bags. Wear them crossbody to avoid a quick snatchings.

Don’t put your cell or laptop on the table after you’re done with it. It should stay in your hand, your secure bag, or your pocket.

6. Avoid distractions

The number one way to lose your stuff is to be distracted. This is the oldest trick in the book. Someone gets your attention and someone else frees your stuff. Still enjoy the busker, but make sure you keep an eye on your things.

Also don’t accept things from random strangers. I mean if it’s Mardi Gras or you’re landing in Hawaii then expect something, but otherwise be wary of gifts. They could be distractions or they could come with a hidden cost.

7. Don’t go anywhere with a stranger

At the risk of sounding like your parents; don’t get into a vehicle with a random stranger or follow them to less crowded areas.

If someone needs help, call the authorities or wave down someone who works in the area.

8. Don’t risk your life

If someone is robbing you and they have a weapon, it’s best to just give them what they want. Your things are not worth your life. Be safe.

9. Wear your bag on your front

If you are worried about people slashing or getting into your bag, wear it on your front and hug it. That way you’ll know if someone comes for it.

If you carry a cell or wallet, consider wearing in the front pocket of your pants. It’s a harder target.

10. Buy an antitheft bag

If after all this you’re still worried, go ahead and buy yourself an anti-theft bag.

There are all kinds out there from $30 on Amazon to $500. They all have different features and ways of preventing theft. You can also buy a mesh cage for your current travel bag.

The most important features are a slash proof bag, locked or hidden zippers, and hidden pockets.

The three best companies that I’ve found for bags are:

Great features of both the Nomatic and Bobby are that they are also crush-proof, meaning your laptop or tablet won’t get destroyed by over-zealous baggage handlers or if you sit on them.

What about RFID blocking?

RFID means Radio-frequency identification. You may know it as Tap or Interact Flash. Your credit cards, phones, bus passes, work passes, passports, and a ton of other things work with this technology.

A lot of people have been worried about RFID theft or cloning. There’s been demonstrations and hackers have shown that it is possible.

But according to The Identity Theft Centre: “There are far better behaviors you could adopt if you want to keep your information and your funds safe[.]”

There have been no known thefts from this method and it shouldn’t be on the top of your list of worries. It’s easier to steal the card than it is the RFID information and then use it. Even if they get your RFID data that doesn’t include your three digit security code on the back or your PIN.

As for your passport, all they can get from the RFID is your name and basic information. So unless you’re pretending to be someone else, you should be fine.

If it makes you feel better, however, there is no harm.

Any other safety precautions we missed?


References

Rick Steve’s Europe: Outsmarting Pickpockets and Thieves

USA Today: Lessons from the Louvre: How to avoid pickpockets

The Savvy Backpaker: How to avoid pickpockets in Europe — Tips for outsmarting the thieves

Wirecutter: Dear Wirecutter: Are RFID-Blocking Wallets Necessary?

Slate: The Skimming Scam

Global News: Reality check: You don’t need RFID protection in your wallet


Are you interested in travelling? You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through AJ Travel. jenniferd@ajtravel.ca

Disneyland; Hong Kong vs Shanghai

If you are heading to the other side of the world, visiting China, and are a major Disney fan, there are two potential parks that you will want to visit.

China’s Disneyland parks. Image from geekdad.com

See this comparison breakdown of the parks.

tl;dr: Hong Kong is the winner.


Are you interested in travelling to China? You can contact me Jennifer Desmarais through AJ Travel. jenniferd@ajtravel.ca

Nagoya, Japan

Aichi Perfecture Memorial Park in Nagoya, Japan is going to be the location of a very special project, set to be completed in 2020. Studio Ghibli Park!

This is a concept sketch of what the park might look like. Image from sobadsogood.com

The park already has Sutsuki and Mei’s house, a water park, a swimming pool, a skating rink, a ferris wheel, and lots of green space. The verbal plan seems to be to leave the green space alone as much as possible, but the concept sketch doesn’t look like it agrees with that idea – it looks a lot more like a Disney park. There hasn’t been any more information released since early June 2017, so hopefully they’ll release a tidbit soon.

You can read more here.


Are you interested in travelling to Nagoya, Japan? You can contact me Jennifer Desmarais through AJ Travel. jenniferd@ajtravel.ca

Madison, Wisconsin

A small town in Wisconsin has come across my radar, because every Labour Day, they screen the 2001 movie Shrek in James Madison Park. It has become quite the event over the past four years, with 2018 being the fifth year. People dress up as characters from the movies, take part in the costume contest and the onion eating contest, eat yummy Shrek-themed snacks, and watch the first Shrek movie with tons of other fans. They note that bug spray is needed – so don’t forget that!

Here is the link to their website – prepare yourself for a garish lime green monstrosity!

Image from the video on Shrekfest’s main page.

Are you interested in travelling to Madison, Wisconsin? You can contact me Jennifer Desmarais through AJ Travel. jenniferd@ajtravel.ca

Northern Ireland

I’ve already written a general post about Ireland here, but I didn’t go into much detail about the Game of Thrones tours that are available.

Tourism Ireland offers several on their page, as does Winterfell Tours. There are tons of tours offered through Viator and Expedia as well.

Banner image from www.ireland.com

While visiting Ireland, you should definitely check out at least one of these tours!


Are you interested in travelling to Northern Ireland? You can contact me Jennifer Desmarais through AJ Travel. jenniferd@ajtravel.ca

Chaudière Falls

As part of Canada’s 150th celebrations, Chaudière Falls is going to have a sound and light show honouring the Algonquin people who used to live in Ottawa.

“Mìwàte is a tribute to Indigenous people, created in collaboration with the Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn First Nation. Representatives from local Métis and Inuit communities were also consulted.”

Artist’s representation of the Chaudière Falls light show. Image from www.ottawa2017.ca

The experience starts just north of the Canadian War Museum, with panels that represent the history of the area. Then, continuing on foot on the new viewing platform, you travel towards the falls.

“The 10- to 15-minute production will repeat in a loop. The entire experience, including viewing the panels and walking to the viewing platform, will take 30 to 40 minutes […].

When & where: Oct. 6 to Nov. 5 at Chaudière Falls, 3 Booth St., just north of the Canadian War Museum

Show times: 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. from Oct. 6 to 22; 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. from Oct. 23 to Nov. 5”


Are you interested in travelling to Ottawa? You can contact me Jennifer Desmarais through AJ Travel. jenniferd@ajtravel.ca