8 Facts You Might Not Have Known About Newfoundland

Flag of Newfoundland and LabradorAfter a surprisingly pleasant 5 hour ferry ride from North Sydney, Nova Scotia I have arrived on the shores of Newfoundland. It is an interesting place with an interesting history. Here are some facts about Newfoundland you might not know:

1) Newfoundland used to be an independent country. In 1907, Newfoundland was given dominion status by the UK along with New Zealand, Australia and Canada. It remained on an equal status until 1949 when it joined the Canadian confederation.

2) Almost everyone pronounces Newfoundland wrong. On the ferry over we were told by a native Newfie how to pronounce the word. You can know the correct pronunciation by knowing the following simple rhyme: understand Newfoundland. The “land” part is pronounced like “land” not “lund”.
Continue reading “8 Facts You Might Not Have Known About Newfoundland”

Unwelcome to Canada

I crossed the border today from Calais, Maine to St. Stephen, New Brunswick. The border crossing was the second worst border crossing I’ve experienced in my life, second only to when I walked from Jordan to Israel.

I am not kidding.

I was asked almost as many questions as the Israelis asked me, they searched my car and every bag I had with me from top to bottom, and the worst thing was, it wasn’t just me. Most of the non-Maine residents were stopped and had to go through the same procedures.

Given my experience, my previous bad experience crossing into Canada by car, and the stories of other people, I am very reluctant of ever traveling to Canada by car again.

I’m still pissed off even though it happened several hours ago. I thought the US was bad, but I looked over the bridge at the American customs station and didn’t see anything close to what the Canadians were doing. I’m not even sure what the hell they were looking for. They didn’t have drug sniffing dogs, under car mirrors, or bothered to use an X-ray machine. Continue reading “Unwelcome to Canada”

Monticello and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville

UNESCO World Heritage Site #116: Monticello and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville
Monticello and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville: My 116th UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for Monticello and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville:

Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), author of the American Declaration of Independence and third president of the United States, was also a talented architect of neoclassical buildings. He designed Monticello (1769–1809), his plantation home, and his ideal ‘academical village’ (1817–26), which is still the heart of the University of Virginia. Jefferson’s use of an architectural vocabulary based upon classical antiquity symbolizes both the aspirations of the new American republic as the inheritor of European tradition and the cultural experimentation that could be expected as the country matured.

While not the oddest of World Heritage Sites I’ve visited, I’m surprised that it was included for architectural reasons, not historical ones. I’m sure there are many other American buildings from the same time period which are more architecturally significant but weren’t designed by a former president. It sort of shows you the thinking of the UNESCO committees which pick world heritage sites.


Monticello and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville

The Monticello and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the US. It is located in the state of Virginia and was inscribed in 1987. These two sites were recognized as one property by UNESCO for their cultural value.

Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, have close ties with these cultural sites. As an author, philosopher, historian and scientist, Thomas Jefferson helped to write the Declaration of Independence. This was crucial in forming the foundations of self-government and freedom as is known today. Jefferson’s literature and the architecture, which includes the University of Virginia and Montecillo, were crucial for scholars to study how American came to be.


Monticello is Thomas Jefferson’s primary plantation in Virginia. It is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the US, along with the University of Virginia. Jefferson designed and planned Monticello himself at the age of 26 after his father gifted him the land. This 5,000-acre plantation is located in the Piedmont region of Virginia. He then developed this land for the cultivation of mixed crops and tobacco. It has been cited as a National Historic Landmark because of the historic significance and the architecture of the plantation, particularly its main building.

The main house of the plantation depicts a neoclassic architectural style. The name Monticello was derived from an Italian word, which means little mount. When Jefferson died, he was buried at the grounds of this plantation. This part of the plantation is now referred to as the Monticello Cemetery.

University of Virginia

Monticello and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville

The other half of the Monticello and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville UNESCO site is the academic village. This academic institution was established in 1819 and was founded by Thomas Jefferson. This is the first and only academic institution that made it to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, when it was added with Monticello in 1987.

According to the board at UNESCO, this site was inscribed into the list because it exhibits the human creative genius. It also symbolizes Jefferson’s ideals of enlightenment. In fact, Jefferson himself considered the founding of this academic institution as one of his biggest achievements.

Interesting Facts

  • The Monticello is a private residence and a working plantation. There were about 130 slaves that Thomas Jefferson enlisted to tend on the garden and livestock, as well as cultivate the plantation.
  • Thomas Jefferson designed Monticello; however, he based it on the design principles of Andrea Palladio.
  • Since the death of Thomas Jefferson, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation was established in 1923 to manage and operate Monticello.
  • When the University of Virginia was founded in 1819, Thomas Jefferson took over the design, construction, curriculum planning and recruitment of stff.
  • The entire complex that the University of Virginia belongs in is called the academic village. There are buildings for classrooms and dwellings for the students.

View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the United States.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Aug 1, 2017 @ 9:06 pm

Thoughts On My Father

As you may know, my father passed away on July 22, 2010.

I’ve experienced so much in the last week it is difficult to put into words. This post is not about travel. I don’t normally like to stray away from travel related topics, but in addition to being a travel blog, this is MY blog and so I want to use this to talk about a bunch of things which are on my mind. Quite frankly, to not talk about this would sort of be an elephant in the room.

I want to thank everyone for all the support everyone has given me the last few days and months. It has really been overwhelming. All the tweets, Facebook messages and emails has been very touching. I couldn’t believe everyone at TBEX who took the time to ask about my dad. Sometimes, you don’t know if anyone is listening to what you say, and it is nice to know that someone is. If I didn’t reply or acknowledge your condolences, please know that I’ve read everything and I do appreciate it. Continue reading “Thoughts On My Father”