Christmas Tales Around the World

St. nicholas, Krampus, Salzburg

St. nicholas, Krampus, Salzburg

Christmas is a popular holiday for many countries around the world, but it doesn’t mean that we all like to celebrate it the same way. In the Ukraine there’s a magic spider who spins golden webs onto the Christmas tree; Italy has a witch who hands out presents via flying broomstick; in Austria lives a hairy, horned hellion who whips naughty children with birch branches. If you think that’s weird, imagine what they think of our North American myth, with our toy-making elves, neon-nosed reindeer and a Coca-Cola Santa Claus. The craziest legends come to life during the Christmas season, some we’ve come to accept and some we know nothing about! So open your mind, let your imagination flow and pretend you’re a child again as we recount Christmas tales from around the world, starting with our very own Old Saint Nick.

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Romanian Myths, Monsters, and Heroes

Carpathian Giant, Pietrele Doamnei , Romania

Carpathian Giant, Pietrele Doamnei , Romania

The epitome of dark myths and legends began deep within the wide forests of Romania, a country that was once harsh and full of mystery. Natural disasters, disease, wild animals, and war always felt too close to home and threatened to decimate the lives of the Romanian folk. Seemingly powerless against these terrible forces, the Romanian people created tales of monsters and heroes to give them hope and understanding. Earthquakes occurred only because your lack of faith erodes the Pillars that hold up the world. It was a vicious Pricolici that killed your cattle and a blood-sucking Strigoi that caused your mother to grow ill. Long ago, these superstitions were what helped the Romanian people deal with the harshness of life, as well as providing entertainment around a fire on a cold, winter’s night. All things begin and end with a story.

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A Crash Course in British Castles

Caernarfon Castle, Wales

Before coming to Britain, even before embarking on our European journey, I would often sit and dream of treading through stone passageways, patrolling the length of rocky defences, and keeping watch from the tallest turrets on a windy night. Castles were raised by the ruling powers through the blood and sweat of their toiling subjects; impenetrable fortresses of carved stone blocks atop rocky crags, castles are truly an awesome sight to behold. They were, at many times, scenes of bloodshed: from sword clashing medieval battles to the assassination of nobles. They were once the seat of lords and kings, protecting, as well as dominating, the countryside. They have stood for hundreds of years and will hopefully continue to stand for centuries more (partially thanks to the National Trust).

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Volunteer Abroad: Workaway, HelpX, WWOOF

Makvaerket Kitchen, Knabstrup, Denmark

Are you looking to get a first-hand experience of local culture? Get some help in your home or business? Learn a few new things? Meet some people? Then welcome to the wonderful world of workaway! The idea behind these organizations (HelpX, WWOOF, Workaway, etc) is to facilitate an exchange between a host and a volunteer. Volunteering through these organizations has been one of the most fulfilling experiences during our travels.

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Managing your Budget

Jesper, Nathanael, Ashleigh, Budva, Montenegro

The serious business of beer-tasting.

One aspect of travelling that a lot of people find intimidating is facing the fact that you are going to be spending money, quite possibly a lot of it. Don’t let that thought deter you! Instead, use your concern to your advantage. Anxiety is easy to overcome with a little preparation and planning, and being a little concerned will hopefully ensure you go above and beyond when it comes to planning your budget. This page will be dedicated to sharing advice on budget planning and our own experiences with actually following the plan.

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Icelandic Myths and Creatures

Iceland landscape

Iceland landscape

Iceland was settled by the Scandinavians in 874 AD by adventurous people fleeing civil strife and over-population of the home states. With no native population, and no large predators, it seemed that the untamed elements were the only thing settlers would have to war against. But as time when on it became clear that amongst the black rocks and deep caves of this island lay ancient magic, and mystical people who had lived there since the giant ogre named Ymir appeared out of the thawing drops of a new, and fierce, world.

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