Dan Schaumann

Official site of avid traveller and singer/songwriter, Dan Schaumann. Debut album "A Thousand Days Beneath The Sun" out now on CD and iTunes.

Travel

Dogs, cats & sheep: the many wondrous pet cafes of Seoul

4 Comments »

June 2nd, 2014 Posted 2:59 pm

It was back in May 2012 that I first came across the concept of the pet cafe. I was travelling through Tokyo at the time, and I’d heard about a craze sweeping through the city where cat-loving entrepreneurs were opening tearooms full of kittens, allowing their clientele to play with them, watch them, relax around them and ultimately fulfil their desires for feline affection while sipping on a matcha latte.

I visited one such venue with my friend Shino, a delightful cafe in Shibuya called Hapineko (it translates to ‘happy cat’ – how kawaii!). You can read my TripAdvisor review on it here, but altogether it was a very pleasant way to spend an hour, chilling out in a room with 15 or so cats at our disposal.

I didn’t think too much more into pet cafes after that, until only a few months ago while I was busy researching unique attractions in Seoul. I had a 3-day stopover in South Korea last month on my way from Australia back to Canada and I felt like venturing a little further away from the typical touristy things that my guidebook recommended me to see. Thanks to the kind folk of Reddit, I quickly came to realise there was an area in Seoul which was abundant in pet cafes – there were not only cat cafes, but dogs and even sheep were covered! So I booked myself a room in the university district of Hongdae and happily explored the many wondrous pet cafes of Seoul during my time there.

Bau Haus-7

Read the rest of "Dogs, cats & sheep: the many wondrous pet cafes of Seoul" »

A few things about Canada

10 Comments »

March 17th, 2014 Posted 8:09 pm

Well it’s been nearly 6 months since I first touched down on Canadian soil, and I’m very pleased to report that it’s been a delightful experience. I love this country!

I’m at the stage now where I feel like I’ve passed my probation. Settling in Toronto has given me the fantastic opportunity to get to know first-hand what life is like within the boundaries of the most populous & multicultural city in Canada, and I’ve done enough travelling around the province and south of the border to gain a basic understanding of the North American way of life in general.

So in no particular order, here is a list of a few Canadian quirks, loves, frustrations, tongue-in-cheek observations and comparisons to life in Australia that I’ve come to notice so far during my time here.

Read the rest of "A few things about Canada" »

No McDonalds in Montpelier

24 Comments »

February 9th, 2014 Posted 9:20 pm

Late last year I started planning a weekend getaway to somewhere in Canada or the US in late January or early February. I was tossing up between three or four cities within an affordable travelling distance from Toronto, when I chanced upon this tweet in my timeline:

@OMGFacts: Montpeiler, Vermont is the only US state capital without a McDonald’s.

Montpelier, eh? I’d never even heard of it before. A quick spot of research led me to find that not only was it the sole US capital without a McDonalds, but it was also the smallest American capital city with a population of around 7,800. What’s more, it was only 500km from Toronto, and Porter Airlines had some decent prices on flights to the nearby city of Burlington, about 45 minutes north-west of the capital.

If there’s no McDonalds in Montpelier, I wondered, then what on earth do the locals do for food & entertainment?

That familiar sense of intrigue sparked within me and I knew my next weekend getaway would be to the New England state of Vermont. And so it was that on Friday last week I set upon my first of three days in Montpelier: an absolutely delightful little town that would ultimately take the #1 spot on my list of favourite cities in the United States.

In case you were also wondering what there is to do in and around Montpelier sans-Mickey D’s, I’ve compiled here a list of the beautiful sights, delicious food and inspiring attractions that I was lucky enough to see, eat and visit during my trip!

 

Montpelier Panorama

A Montpelier panorama as seen from Cliff St, on the way down from Hubbard Park

Read the rest of "No McDonalds in Montpelier" »

The world’s tallest filing cabinet

No Comments »

February 3rd, 2014 Posted 10:10 pm

If there was ever a reason to visit the city of Burlington in the picturesque north-eastern US state of Vermont, it’s gotta be for the chance to see the world’s tallest filing cabinet.

Worlds Tallest Filing Cabinet-7

Read the rest of "The world’s tallest filing cabinet" »

Hockey

No Comments »

January 14th, 2014 Posted 11:53 pm

On Sunday evening I went to the Air Canada Centre to see my first ever hockey game. Massive thanks to my brother Adrian for the brilliant Christmas gift idea!

Similarly to my first live baseball experience in NYC a few months ago, I barely knew a thing about the game of hockey and had never even gone as far as watching a match on TV before. I had absolutely no idea what to expect from Canada’s national winter sport.

I took some notes & photos throughout the match, and I present to you here a review in my (sports illiterate) eyes of the Toronto Maple Leafs vs the New Jersey Devils on Sunday 12th January, 2014.

Toronto Hockey-11

Read the rest of "Hockey" »

No pants subway ride

No Comments »

January 13th, 2014 Posted 2:02 am

A few days ago my friend Alan in Montreal let me know about a global event that was to be held today: the 13th annual No Pants Subway Ride!

The tradition began in 2002 by a ‘prank collective’ known as Improv Everywhere. Founded in New York City by Charlie Todd, Improv Everywhere puts together elaborate pranks on the unsuspecting public, recruiting thousands of ‘agents’ over the years who are in on the joke and participate in their events. I’ve stumbled across their immensely popular videos on Youtube before, but it’s only been in the past couple of days that I’ve read up on who they are, leading me to watch the fascinating documentary that details their rise to fame, We Cause Scenes.

The original No Pants Subway Ride was a simple experiment in which a man walked onto to a subway carriage without his pants. A few stops later, a second man walked onto the same carriage sans trousers. Each man was to remain completely blasé about the fact he was in his underpants; neither was to acknowledge one another. The idea was to see what kind of reaction would be evoked by the surrounding people on the carriage, and also to leave the commuters with a smile on their face (not to mention a crazy story to tell at dinner parties). This is the hidden video taken on the day:

Read the rest of "No pants subway ride" »

Minus thirty-nine

5 Comments »

January 7th, 2014 Posted 7:05 pm

Today was cold.

I mean, REALLY FREAKING COLD.

I knew I’d be in for a harsh winter before I moved to Toronto, but even the locals are saying there hasn’t been an icy epidemic as ridiculous as this for many years!

Almost every consecutive week for the past month now I’ve broken my record for the coldest weather I’ve experienced. Prior to leaving for Canada my record remained at -11°C, achieved in Jindabyne, NSW in 2001 (that’s even despite spending 15 months in Europe from 2008-2009). It didn’t take long to reach my -11°C record upon my Canadian arrival, followed quickly by minimums of -14°C, then -18°C, then an ice storm, and on Friday last week exceeding all my expectations at -23°C with a -35°C wind chill.

And then today happened. A blast of air direct from the Arctic made its way over Canada & the US, breaking decades worth of wind chill records. Just before I left home for work this morning, I checked the weather on my phone and found this:

-24 Toronto -39 Toronto

Yep: that’s -24°C with a -39°C wind chill.

Holy moses!

Read the rest of "Minus thirty-nine" »

No streetcars today (the Toronto Ice Storm)

2 Comments »

December 22nd, 2013 Posted 10:30 pm

In the very early hours of the morning I was awoken by strange whirring noises and sharp flashes of light radiating through my bedroom window. At first I thought it was some kind of hallucinogenic dream, but as I regained consciousness and peered behind the curtains I found a streetcar creeping along the tracks at a very slow pace. Each inch it travelled, it would let out a bright electrical spark at the point where the trolley pole touched the overhead electrical line. I assumed it was a faulty tram on its way back to the depot for repairs and I returned to my slumber, completely unaware that Toronto was in the midst of one of the most catastrophic ice storms in recent history.

Toronto Ice Storm-10

Read the rest of "No streetcars today (the Toronto Ice Storm)" »

Can snow clean dirty shoes?

3 Comments »

December 14th, 2013 Posted 7:06 pm

Earlier this week I pulled some Bear Grylls moves through the brambles in order to reach a near-frozen river, which left me with slightly dirty shoes by the end of the day. I hadn’t yet bothered to wash them, but a thought struck me this afternoon while admiring the first proper snowstorm to hit Toronto this winter:

Can a walk through the snow clean dirty shoes?

I donned my filthy footwear, took my camera along for some company, and set through the chilly streets of Kensington Market to find out.

Can Snow Clean Dirty Shoes-6

Read the rest of "Can snow clean dirty shoes?" »

Great Big Sea

7 Comments »

December 2nd, 2013 Posted 9:16 pm

I remember the day clearly. It was the 9th of Februrary, 2012 and I’d recently begun using Last.fm, a music recommendation service that takes note of the songs & artists you listen to and attempts to find other bands you might enjoy based on your listening patterns.

One of the first recommendations offered to me was a band I’d never heard of called Great Big Sea. The blurb on their Last.fm profile declared them to be a “Canadian folk-rock band from Newfoundland and Labrador, best known for performing energetic rock interpretations of traditional Newfoundland folk songs.” Straight away I was intrigued, given that I love the folk-rock genre and that they hailed from such a remote & faraway location you rarely hear about in the music world.

I quickly navigated to Youtube where I clicked through to one of their more recent releases, Nothing But A Song, an original tune from their 2010 album Safe Upon The Shore. It’s rare that a newly-discovered song resonates so well with me: I had a beaming smile on my face by the second bar and from the moment Alan Doyle’s captivating baritone made its passionate entrance, I can honestly say I was hooked.

 

 

Read the rest of "Great Big Sea" »