Photo Of The Day: Summertime Exploring

Boundary Waters
Adam Baker, Flickr

Warm days, balmy nights and time off. Summer is prime time for getting outdoors and exploring. Backpacking, kayaking, canoeing, walking, running; whatever your sport of choice, this is the season to be doing it.

Need some inspiration? This photo taken on a canoe trip in the Boundary Waters by Flickr user Adam Baker should do it. Sunset on still water from your seat in a boat – what could be better?

Have a photo you want featured on Photo of the Day? Submit it to the Gadling Flickr Pool to be considered.

Croatia Joins EU, Keeps Pretty Money

Karl Baron/Flickr

Travel to Croatia is increasing, up nearly 20 percent over last year just counting visitors from North America. Showcased by the popular HBO series “Game of Thrones,” Croatia has seen a surge in tourism, one that they hope to continue by joining the European Union.

Last year, visitors from the United States and Canada reached 237,826, up 17.8 percent over 2011. Recovering from a multi-year recession, Croatia believes being part of the EU will give tourism an additional boost but will be a member on their own terms.

Croatia, the home of Dalmatian dogs, will not be a member of the Schengen area that allows members easy access in and out of the country. Instead they will continue checking passports of all entering or exiting the country.Known for its lovely islands and beautiful people, Croatia will not adopt the euro as national currency, choosing instead to keep the colorful Kuna as legal tender.

Croatia Becomes 28th EU Member Nation

These Are A Few Of Canada’s Favorite Things

In honor (or should we say ‘honour’) of Canada Day today, we’re taking a look at the top 10 things that make Canada Canada. Hint: it’s not just hockey and maple syrup – though those are on the list. Watch this video roundup of the country’s most iconic symbols and raise a Molson to the Great White North, eh?

Top 10 Symbols of Canada

Be Here Now: What Planes Have Taught Me About Arriving

Khairil Zhafri, Flickr

I shrug off my rucksack, collapse onto the bed and wait to arrive. At some point I doze off.

When I awake, it’s late afternoon. Toronto is hot – freakishly so, my host later tells me – and when I step outside, I have to learn to breathe again. My frail English constitution is confused – should I start sweating, or just save time by dying on the spot? I wander through the baking heat in search of a Starbucks. This is my first time in Canada – or it will be, when I finally get here.

I hate flying for so many reasons. If you want to break the ice with the average Brit, ask them for their views on membership of the European Union and prepare to have your ears blown off. I’m like that with flying. I used to have a paralyzing fear of takeoff – these days, it has receded to a level of terror I can medicate myself through. But beyond the bottomless abyss of dread that flying hurls me into, I have philosophical issues with it as well. Flying is a technological marvel, and the modern world couldn’t run without it – but it also feels … wrong.

Let’s talk about Morocco for a second. I’ve never been, and I have a romantic fantasy about arriving there for the first time. I’ll be on a ferry, it’ll be dawn and the dim, rose-fingered line of the horizon ahead will be broken, raggedly shadowed as the light gets stronger. Land ho! Over the next hour, Africa will emerge, unveiled and climbing into the light. By the time we dock at Tangiers, I’ll have been staring at African mountains for hours. My brain – always sleep-deprived when I travel, always overloaded with sights and sounds, and probably jittery from too much coffee – will have grown accustomed to the simply insane notion that I’m approaching another continent. This thought process (“Seriously?” “Yes – look.“) would have had time to sink deep enough to change my mind, allowing my thoughts to catch up with reality.

My first impression of Toronto, after being magically shot across the Atlantic in a colossal tube of metal called a 787 is that Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit” is a lot better than I’d been told. As I stagger into a taxi, I’m still remembering staring fixedly at dwarves on the inflight entertainment screen in an attempt to blot out air turbulence. I’m still doing it as the taxi leaves Pearson Airport and the driver, hearing I write about travel, starts selling Toronto to me. His conversation and my thoughts get mixed: Bilbo Baggins suddenly lives in a condo; Saruman lives up the CN Tower. Upon reaching the door to my apartment, I realize I haven’t eaten for hours and get lost in the memory of chasing a tiny microwaved sausage around my airline meal plate – until I come to, standing there motionless with the key in the door. My thoughts are mired in another time zone. I get indoors and lie on the bed, and nothing feels real.

Imagine how Nilson Tuwe Huni Kui must have felt. He’s the son of the chief of the Huni Kiu Kaxinawa tribes in Brazil, and in March of this year he traveled from an Amazonian village of 600 people to the concrete jungle of New York, to promote his people’s interests and study documentary film-making. His first challenge? Arriving.

“First you arrive physically. But only after a while, your soul gets here too.”

Is it as simple as culture shock? Perhaps for Nilson Tuwe Huni Kui that might be true – but not for me, surely. Canada isn’t so different to the UK. Barring the scale of the architecture and the blue sky overhead, differences seem superficial. I’m charmed by the way police cars look like the ones in “Due South.” I spot a building I’m certain was in “Battlestar Galactica.” But squint and this could be an English city (perhaps one preparing for a bid to be a City of Culture, because everything here is curiously litter-free). This isn’t culture shock, and I’m not Crocodile Dundee.

Then, the most confusing feeling of all – guilt. As if I’m here under false pretenses. In some pseudo-puritanical sense, I feel like I haven’t earned this. I’ve skipped straight to dessert without eating my greens. I’ve cheated. This is of course ludicrous. Should I have tried to cross the Atlantic in a canoe, perhaps, or maybe on a pedalo? Should I swim it with Ben Fogle? It’s absurd – but the feeling lingers, and I think I know the root of it. If I fly somewhere, I’ve missed all the fun of getting there. I’ve cheated myself out of that adventure. However impractical the alternatives, planes are just too fast for my sense of what constitutes “travel.” It seems I’m one of those Slow Movement people, which must explain why I’m so unfit these days.

I doze, wake up, step out into the stifling heat, grab a coffee to go and head towards Downtown. It’s a good hour before the single-story shops of Yonge Street have grown into skyscrapers around me, and that process is gradual, less observed than felt. There no sense of cheating here, no desirable experience dodged. I’m moving at the right speed to arrive, and I do so comfortably. It’s an odd feeling, because here I am, fully present in the middle of Toronto, but still feeling like I haven’t arrived in Canada yet.

It’s only a few days later, staring out of a high-rise window at storm clouds rolling over the city, that I feel a sense of arrival thump within me. My first thought is Ahuh, so they have crappy weather here too – and my second is Ahuh – “here too.” My inner time zones synchronize, and all thoughts of hobbits and sausages leave my mind. I’m finally here, and it’s time to go exploring.

Stranded Travelers In The Arctic Receive Emergency Supplies From Canadian Military

Earlier today the Canadian military conducted an operation to deliver emergency supplies to a group of stranded travelers that are adrift on an ice floe in the Arctic Ocean. The supplies were dropped onto the ice via a C-130 Hercules cargo plane and included life-rafts and other survival gear to help keep the castaways safe until further assistance can arrive on the scene.

The nearly two dozen travelers were exploring remote Baffin Island on a tour offered by a company called Arctic Kingdoms. Late Monday evening or early Tuesday morning, the 30-mile long ice floe on which they had made camp broke away from land and began to drift out to sea. With no way to get back onto Baffin, the travelers are at the mercy of the ocean currents while they wait for someone to come rescue them. Canadian authorities say that they are currently about 12 kilometers (7.8 miles) off shore.

Arctic Kingdoms provides adventurous travelers with an opportunity to go on wildlife spotting excursions in the Arctic. The tourists on this particular trip were hoping to encounter polar bears, seals and other animals unique to the region, but now they are getting a bit more of an adventure than they bargained for. According to a post to the company’s website however, everyone is in good health and spirits.

Due to the remote nature of Baffin Island, it is taking some time to scramble helicopters from Newfoundland that can mount a rescue operation. Those helicopters were expected to be onsite later today at which time search and rescue teams hope to begin evacuating the travelers.