Just Wrote My First Buzz Feed Post – Have You Checked It Out?

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Last night I decided it was time to branch out my blogging onto some new platforms, more as a social experiment than anything else.

My question is; If a post is well written and appeals to a very specific audience, will your blog get shared? Or, as I suspect, does it need to be posted on a well known site such as Buzz Feed or The Huffington Post to REALLY  get shared?

This post that I wrote last night has been viewed over 1,000 times in less than 8 hours, so while I’m not 100% sure what the answer to my question is yet, I’m beginning to get a pretty good idea.

My challenge for the next 24 hours is to get my ‘Community Post’ noticed by one of the Buzz Feed editors in the hope it will become a ‘Featured Post’. If I play my cards right, like Matthew Barber did, I might even get a few extra hits back to my blog. Wish me luck!

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How To Get Published on The Huffington Post

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7 published writers, bloggers and photographers give some tips on how to get published on The Huffington Post.

how to get published on huffington post

Bloggers love to blog. We love it, of course we do. But, as much as we love blogging just ‘for the sake of it’, what we really love is getting more readers. We love getting more hits. We love getting more followers. It means so much to bloggers when our posts get read, commented on and even better…shared. As much as we love blogging on our own sites, the opportunity to blog on external sites is very appealing. So many bloggers are creating the most incredible content every day and sadly no one is seeing all these wonderful posts.

Enter The Huffington Post. If you haven’t heard of The Huffington Post, you must be living under a rock. With an Alexa ranking of 93 (meaning it is the 93rd most visited site in the world!), over 1 BILLION unique page views a month and tens of millions of visitors, it really is in a world of its own.If you are looking to share your writing with the world, and you really would be sharing it with the whole world, then The Huffington Post is a site you should be aiming to get published on. Aim hugh, as they say.

So the question is, how on earth does a blogger/writer/rambler like me get published on a site like that? Fear not, for I have done the hard work for you for! I have talked to some incredible bloggers from around the world and they have all kindly offered to share their Huffington Post experiences. Find out how to get published, and what incredible things it will do for you and your blog. 

Amanda Walkins – Blogger at AWalk on the Run

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How did you initially get published on The Huffington Post?
I initially got published on The Huffington Post after reaching out to their new section “The Third Metric” via email. They had a post on their main page for that section seeking new contributors, so I emailed that address directly, rather than a general inbox. I linked to my blog and told them briefly about where I live and what I write about, and told them how my lifestyle was in line with that section’s main concepts. Within about an hour I had access to the backend of the blog to post whenever and whatever I wanted.
How has it helped your blog? 
While I’ve written a few articles for HuffPost, two have gone viral and drawn a ton of attention to my blog. My average article will bring in a handful of new Twitter followers, blog followers, and Facebook adds, but the two that went viral boosted my numbers in a huge way. After the most recent one, I gained more than 50 blog followers within 4 days – which is big for a newer niche blog like mine! I’ve also had a lot of HuffPost readers reach out to me directly with in-depth questions on moving abroad, so it’s prompted me to cover other topics on the blog that I hadn’t thought of before.
It’s been a great experience, and a great way to build my portfolio as a freelance writer as well. I can write about topics on HuffPost that are completely unrelated to my blog’s central theme, which opens up new doors to me. Basically, I love writing for HuffPost in case you couldn’t tell. Except for some of the comments…people can be harsh! Keep that in mind if you write anything that could be at all controversial (or just completely misunderstood in my case). 

Cliff Hsia Blogger/Owner of LiveFamilyTravel

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How did you initially get published on The Huffington Post?
I initially got published after I came back from my half-year cultural sabbatical of world travel. I pitched the editors of the Travel section with a simple message and a link to my blog post, titled “What I Learned From Five Months of Travel”. They liked it and it got published the next week. With a bit of beginner’s luck, the article was featured prominently on the Travel section for almost a whole week and has been one of my most well received articles on HuffPost to date.
I think the key to success is to pitch with one really good post that fits the content style of HuffPost. Good timing, persistence, and bit of luck helps too.
How has it helped your blog?
My blog has two distinct periods: before HuffPost and after HuffPost. With the large readership of HuffPost, my articles have been read by a lot of new readers, which results in a big increase in traffic to Live Family Travel. HuffPost has been the single biggest contributor to my early stage blog growth. Moreover, since most HuffPost articles are picked up by Flipboard, a considerable amount of new readers come from there as well. 

Lizzie Davey  Blogger at WanderfulWorld 

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How did you initially get published on The Huffington Post?
I’d just got back from Romania and was looking for places to pitch articles ideas from my trip, so I sent them a draft of a post I’d written highlighting my personal experiences in Bucharest and how I thought the city was changing rapidly. I initially reached out just to have that post published, but they gave me my own login details and the freedom to write posts and publish them whenever I wanted. 
How has it helped your blog? 
Whenever I publish a blog on the HuffPo I notice a surge in social media followers, subscribers, and views. My destination specific articles on there are the most popular, drawing in lots of visitors from those regions who have strong opinions. I’ve also had a number of brands approach me through my blogs on the HuffPo with press trip opportunities, and it always piques clients’ interest when I mention it in a pitch for new work. 

Aimee ChanEditor of Suitcases and Strollers

aimee chan

How did you initially get published on The Huffington Post?  
I received an email from Arianna Huffington inviting me to submit some posts and hooking me up with the editorial team. I think the key was to ensure that I pitched a story idea that was unique and had a clear point of view. I wrote it in a way so as to ensure that the editors would know exactly what kind of story they would be getting from me.
 
How has it helped your blog?
In the world of online I expected the response in traffic to be instantaneous and direction-changing and it wasn’t at all. At first I was disappointed. But after a couple of months and a lot of diligent plugging away, I have found that now there is definitely a correlation between my website’s traffic and what I publish on Huffington Post. The readers I get from Huffington Post are more interactive and loyal too — they email me personally and want to develop a relationship with me and my website. However, it is not always the stories that you think will be popular that are. The one that has been the most successful for me was the one that had nothing to do with my website at all, so you never can tell what is going to work. 

Ellen Frankel Author at AuthorEllenFrankel

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How did you initially get published on The Huffington Post? 
I was first published on The Huffington Post in December 2012. The blog was called: Five Lessons of Hanukkah to Unwrap. I had been working with a publicist for one of my books that was being released that spring (Revolution of Jewish Spirit) and had written this short piece, which she sent out to various outlets. I did not know that she was planning on sending it to The Huffington Post, but she did, and they published it and then invited me to become a blogger. Since then, I have enjoyed blogging for them and have published 10 posts.
How has it helped your blog?
I used to blog on my website but have done much less blogging since I went back to work (I am a bereavement counselor at a non-profit hospice in the Boston area). I do have 7 books published (actually, the 7th will be out this spring) and hopefully the blogs help book sales or at least get the word out about my books. I have had great feedback from many posts, especially my blog called: The Edge of Grief: A Summer Reflection, which seemed to resonate with a lot of people.

Tom Gill Photographer at TomGillPhotography

tom

 How did you initially get published on The Huffington Post?
A few years back, some of my frozen lighthouse photos were featured in a regional US magazine including the cover.  Shortly after, my images were discovered on my flickr.com photo sharing account by a news publisher in Australia.  The news syndicate ran a feature on the images and included a link to my personal blog.  A few days later, the Huffington Post contacted me and licensed the images for an article and feature on Huffington Post. Many other publishers and sites followed.  The Huffington Post followed up last December and ran a new set of frozen lighthouse images, and at that time, the photo editor asked me to become a photo blogger for Huffington Post.  I agreed to the terms, and they set up an account for me.  Now I can blog about what I wish, when I wish.  So while most of my posts so far have been in the Travel vertical, I’m really not a travel blogger, I’m a photo blogger, and will blog about my experiences where ever they take me.  But they do seem to fit well in travel.
How has it helped your blog?

The exposure from the initial features in Huffington Post (and other media outlets such as the Weather Channel) have increased traffic to my blog, and my photo sharing site.  In fact, after publication my page views on Flickr increased from an average of 3,000 a day, to over 80,000 a day.  Of course, this spikes, then falls a few days later, but it has not gone back as low as 3,000 in many months it averages around 10,000 a day.  My blog traffic also increased, but the numbers aren’t as dramatic, but percentage wise, it has increased 300%.

I don’t actively market my photography as many others do, I’m rather passive, so I rely on publications linking back to my work for additional work and photo sales. In addition to The Huffington Post, and the Weather Channel, my photos have been featured in books, magazines, calendars, news outlets, and countless web pages. I’m hoping to build a following on The Huffington Post.  My first entries received about 30 Facebook likes, but my post about shelf ice received over 10,000 Facebook likes, and hundreds of shares.  It could be the subject, or how it engaged the readers, I really can’t tell.

Carol E Wyer – Writer at Facing 50 With Humour

carol e wyer

How did you initially get published on The Huffington Post?

I was very lucky as The Huffington Post approached me to write for them. I had just finished How Not to Murder Your Grumpy and The Huffington Post requested a copy to read and review from my publishers. After reading it they invited me to write for their Huff50 section and wanted the initial couple of posts to be written in a similar vein to that book.

How has it helped with book sales or your blog?

I can’t really say if writing for The Huffington Post has lifted sales as I have also been involved in a lot of media work and appearances on television and radio also affect sales. However, one post I wrote had a link to my blog and a post I had written about If Men Were More Like Women. The day the Huffington Post article went live, my blog got 850 hits, substantially more than normal. I also saw an increase in number of followers on Twitter and Facebook and was invited by other websites to write for them on the back of posts written for The Huffington Post.

Writing for The Huffington Post has given me opportunities and assisted me hugely as a writer. It tests my writing skills and is very enjoyable.

So what are you waiting for?! Get pitching those articles now! :-)

5 things NOT to do in Portugal

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This is the second guest post of 2015, written by my great friend Gil. Gil is originally from Portugal, but now lives in the ‘metropolis’ of Cork, in the south of Ireland where he spends his day at a fruit factory, and his nights drinking pints and blogging about his travel adventures. Here’s what he has to say on planning a trip to beautiful Portugal.

Are you tired of those lists telling what to do or how to plan your holidays?

If so, this post is for you! If not, this is also for you…I don’t discriminate!

In a nutshell, Portugal is the backyard of Spain. That place where you put all those amazing things you want to keep safe and then you end up forgetting you have them. That’s Portugal, a small country usually overlooked by many, enjoyed by few and that will mesmerize you if you discard all those touristic flyers and programs that tell you things you don’t wanna see or do.

I am Portuguese, and I love my country. I have traveled a bit, and the more I travel the more I love my country, and that’s why I created this small list of things NOT to do in Portugal!

This article should be read with openness to humor and sarcasm. All the tips below should be considered with the right measure..there aren’t two people alike therefore it makes no sense to write a guide how to be in a country or what to do. I wrote this article based on some stereotypes about Portugal and Portuguese people I’ve heard since I started traveling, life is just boring if you can’t have a laugh.

5 – Wear high-heels

In Time-Photocall in Berlin

As the gentlemen I want to think I am, let’s start with the ladies! Please, do yourselves a favor and leave the high-heels at home! You won’t want to wear them in Portugal! Your experience will be way more enjoyable if you use more comfortable shoes.

Why is that, you ask? The traditional Portuguese pavement is basically black and white cubes of basalt and limestone stones placed together, and you’ll see it across the whole country! Still not sure what I’m talking about? Do you know that famous sidewalk in Rio de Janeiro? That one was inspired in the Portuguese pavement in Rossio Square in Lisbon, and it is a hell for those that wear high-heels! Your tiny and sharp heel will certainly get stuck between those stones, and if you’re lucky you might just end up with a broken heel. I’m sure you don’t want to imagine what might happen if you aren’t so lucky…

So ladies, forget about your shiny high-heels!

4 – Count your calories

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This one is for those obsessed about counting calories and burning them. If you’re like that, Portugal isn’t the country for you. Nor Spain, nor Italy, nor any southern country! Mediterranean food is just amazingly tasty. Of course you can find healthier food options, fish in Portugal is unreal and usually a healthy choice.

But our cuisine is also quite rich, so I am sure you won’t be able to avoid trying a few tradicional dishes like the Francesinha, tradicional sandwich dish from Oporto. Francesinha, as I like to describe, is a heart-attack served in a plate. And our sweets…, oh man…, I am already drooling here…

Nope, if you go to Portugal forget about your diets, your calories and make sure you check your cholesterol before you go!

3 – Have a pint

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Why wouldn’t one want to have a pint in Portugal, you may ask? In fairness, if you come from a country like Ireland, Germany, Czech Republic or any other country with a good variety of beers and craft beers, you might find the Portuguese beer a bit disappointing. In Portugal we don’t know what a lagger is, or an ale, or an IPA. We ask for a beer, and we get a beer. Our deal is wines, we’re picky about wines and we are really good at it! Beers not so much. But that’s not the point here, of course you can always find an irish pub somewhere where you can find your delicious badly poured in less than one minute Guinness, the thing is, usually it is hot in Portugal, and a pint will get warm before you even reach half of it. And that’s just disgusting in my opinion! You’ll want a glass, a bit girly I know, but if you want to enjoy your beer that’s what you should go for.

2 – Go to Algarve

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As a Portuguese guy living in Ireland, one of the things that annoys me the most is people saying they’ve been to Portugal, and for them Portugal is “Albufeira” or “Algarve”. Don’t take me wrong, but Algarve is really beautiful, but by far Portugal is way more than that. Algarve is overrated and overpriced comparing with the rest of Portugal, and during Summer it is also overcrowded! Rent a car, and drive a few kilometers North, and go to the Vicentina’s Coast. The water will be colder, that’s the Atlantic coast, but you’ll have kilometers and kilometers of sandy beaches with way less people! I’m sure if you want to go to Algarve, you’re thinking about sandy beaches and relaxation, you’ll hardly find both in Algarve during Summer. The beaches are there, the sand as well, but almost everything is covered by towels of thousands of other sheep-alike tourists.

1 – Speak in Spanish

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This one seems to the be the most obvious one, but it isn’t for a big part of the tourists that visit Portugal. We speak a different language, Portuguese is not a dialect of Spanish, it is a whole different language with Germanic, Celtic, Latin and Arabic influences! If you speak in Spanish to us, most probably we will understand you, but some people might be uneasy to help you or even feel insulted by that. Anywhere in the world, it is always a matter of politeness to ask if the person speaks a certain another language, like Spanish :)

Unlike Spain, in Portugal we don’t dub the movies, everything is subtitled. This means we are familiar with English language, we might not understand everything but we will do our best to help you, just remember to be polite and ask us if we speak English, or Spanish or anything else. The best way to show respect to a native is trying to speak their language, badly pronounced Portuguese is still way better than spotless Spanish when talking to a Portuguese person :) Now, open your favorite air company’s website, and book your ticket to Portugal!

Top 5 Travel Startups To Check Out In 2015

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I have seen a lot of new and interesting travel startups pop up on my various social media feeds over the past few months, many of which I am very excited about trying out. From travel apps that give you the opportunity to to do free accommodation exchanges in cities all over the world, to apps that help you meet locals that will take you on unique adventures with them, these are the Top 5 Travel Startups to check out this year.

5. Nightswapping

Nightswapping

Nightswapping is a new travel app that allows people to travel and sleep for free all over the world. A mix between Couchsurfing and home-swapping, for every night you host people in your own home, you are entitled to a free night in someone else’s house in destinations around the world. From beautiful Chateaus in the French countryside, to stunning town houses in London, Nightswapping enables you to stay for free in accommodation you would otherwise only dream about. WIth over 6,000 hosts in 54 countries, this is definitely one to watch in 2015.

4. Advlo

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Advlo (which stands for ‘Adventure Local’) aims to promote adventurous travel in exciting destinations all over the world. Instead of booking a tour, or an activity online through a large travel agency, Advlo will connect you with adventurous locals that can take you kitesurfing in Ecuador or spearfishing in Hawaii. Users of the site can also create their own adventures and charge people to come along and join the trip. I really hope to join one of their adventures this year.

3. travayl

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travayl is a social travel platform that lets users organize their trip around what matters most to them, focusing on visual content discovery rather than text. You can search the images either by destination or activity, create your bucket lists and actually plan and book your trip all in once place. Users can monetize their travel photos and videos by uploading them on to the site and becoming a partner, making it a great way to make money while traveling.

2. AirHelp

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AirHelp is the answer to all your prayers! If you have been on a delayed or cancelled flight or been denied boarding within the last three years you could be entitled up to $800 from the airline, and AirHelp is here to help you get any compensation owed to you. On the AirHelp website, smartphone app or Facebook page, air passengers can check if they are eligible for compensation. They can then request that AirHelp handles their claim on what the company describes as a ‘No Win, No Fee’ basis. Seems like a win win situation to me!

1. Feastly

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Feastly allows travelers to eat delicious home cooked meals with locals. Often when backpacking it can get very exhausting going out to restaurant after restaurant, night after night, eating virtually the same meals again and again. Feastly enables you not only to eat a home cooked meal in someone else homes, but also potentially helps you to make new friends as you might be eating dinner with a collection of other hungry strangers! Right now this is only available in a few select cities, but I’m hoping that they will expand further in 2015!

Colourful Calcutta – Celebrating Holi

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On my recent, and first ever, trip to India I had the amazing opportunity to celebrate Holi (Festival of Colours) in Calcutta. Attending Holi Festival is something that has always been a dream of mine and was most definitely a top priority item on my never-ending bucket list!!

I guess when I dreamed up my idea of celebrating Holi, it would be on the streets of some big Indian city, surrounded my 1,000’s of strangers, who would all be throwing colour up in the air, shouting and singing and celebrating. My actual experience was quite different. As we were visiting The Hope Foundation’s projects, we were told we would be celebrating Holi in one of HOPE’s protection homes for young girls who have been rescued from the streets. This made the day SO much more special than being in the street with strangers. The girls were so sweet, and as we had spent a few hours playing and dancing with them a few days earlier, the ice had been broken and we were already the best of friends!

At first Pushba, the house-mother in charge of all the girls and their carers, warned them to treat us foreigners ‘delicately’ and not to cover us too much in the dye. We immediately protested this and said “Do what you want! Let them destroy us if they wish…This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for all of us.” When the house-mother translated this to the kids, that they would have a free rein on the dye, they all cheered loudly, their eyes sparkling with excitement.

We were all brought outside the main entrance to the home, music was turned on, trays of coloured dye were distributed, and soon the colourful madness and cries of “HAPPY HOLI” were to be heard up and down the street. All the kids were given water pistols, big buckets of water and ample supply of multi coloured dye, which they proceeded to cover us in, much to our delight and the delight of many onlookers!!

I hope these photos I took do the day justice and really convey the happiness exuded my all; the joy, the delight, the smiles, the laughter and the amazing friendships bound together by this great Hindu Festival of Colour, welcoming Spring and bidding farewell to Summer!

Colour me beautiful!

Colour me beautiful!

Paint, coming at you!!

Paint, coming at you!!

Happy, smiling faces

Happy, smiling faces

A smile that would melt your heart

A smile that would melt your heart

Happy Holi!

Happy Holi!

Volunteer Niamh enjoying Holi

Volunteer Niamh enjoying Holi

All smiles!

All smiles!

Another volunteer enjoying the Holi celebrations!

Another volunteer enjoying the Holi celebrations!

Kasba Girls enjoying Holi

Kasba Girls enjoying Holi

Me and some of the girls from Kasba enjoying Holi celebrations!

Me and some of the girls from Kasba enjoying Holi celebrations!

Nobody escaped - even the poor bus drivers turned green!!

Nobody escaped – even the poor bus drivers turned green!!

Hands in - the aftermath of the red dye!

Hands in – the aftermath of the red dye!

A beautiful smile, a beautiful day!

A beautiful smile, a beautiful day!

Action shot!

Action shot!

Group shot!

Group shot!

15 Best Ways To Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin

intrepidtraveller:

Still have not decided what you are doing for St Patrick’s Day? This might help!

Originally posted on Your Irish Adventure:

15. St Patrick’s Day Parade, O’Connell Street

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The highlight of celebrating St Patrick’s Day in Dublin is without doubt the annual parade through the city centre which attracts hundreds of thousands of people from around Ireland and abroad. Grab a group of friends, or get ready to make some new ones, adorn yourself in green, arm yourself with a giant, inflatable hammer or some cheesy shamrock glasses and enjoy the madness that is the St Patrick’s Day parade!

Cost: Totally FREE.

14. Irish Beer & Whiskey Festival

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Could you honestly think of a better way to spend St Patrick’s Day in Ireland than at a Beer and Whiskey Festival?! Didn’t think so! Running for its fourth year – the Irish Beer and Whiskey Festival, which takes place in Dublin’s RDS, is a true celebration of everything Irish – beer, cider, whiskey, food and of course live entertainment! The festival is totally indoors…

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Your Irish Adventure – New Blog!

Exciting news readers…I have decided to set up a new website all about adventure in Ireland. Don’t worry, I will still be maintaining this as my main site, especially when it comes to my travel adventures.

The new site is aimed at people living in Ireland looking for fun things to do and places to go in Ireland and is aimed at both visitors to Ireland and locals living here. If you think you fall into either of those categories, or you just want to see what sort of fun adventures there are to do in Ireland, head on over to Your Irish Adventure and give it a follow! :-D

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Colorful 大阪 Osaka, Japan

intrepidtraveller:

The photographs in this post are brilliant – they really convey how bright and unique the city of Osaka is. One of my favourite things when I was there were all the vending machines. You can literally but everything and anything from a vending machine in Japan!

Originally posted on Pursuit of Life:

“A journey is like a marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.” John Steinbeck

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Osaka, the thriving primary city of the Kansai region and Japan’s third largest is a mecca for culinary delights and a great jumping off point for regional destinations such as Kyoto and Nara. Strikingly modern, the city is often overlooked for more traditional or picturesque locales in the region. That’s too bad, because Osaka has plenty to offer as well, from big city hustle and bustle to unlimited cuisine sampling.

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My Top 10 Korean Foods

intrepidtraveller:

A post written by a good friend of mine in South Korea. It details some of the best food you will ever see, smell or eat. Not just in Korea, but in the entire world! Goodness I miss Korean food so much!

Originally posted on prim preoccupations:

So, I know that every foreign teacher in Korea and their friend’s sister’s uncle has made one of these posts but in reflecting on my time in Korea it’s probably best for me to start with the easiest thing – and food is definitely it. XP

The whole experience of Korean dining was something completely new for me when I arrived. It’s all about communal eating. A few main dishes are placed in the center of the table (often the cooking of those is finished or even done completely right there at the table), and these are surrounded by an array of side dishes. Everyone then digs in, metal chopsticks in hand, helping themselves to what they’d like of the dishes. It is full of colour, ritual and spectacle.

KOREAN BBQ

Taste-wise, Korean food presented many obstacles for me at first – the main one being that super hot red pepper and…

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Hitchhiking To Detroit – An Adventure Like No Other

You’re hitchhiking to DETROIT?” friends asked of me incredulously. “Are you mad?” they would enquire, ever before I even mentioned that I would also be couchsurfing there. i.e. staying on an absolute stranger’s couch for the weekend.

I never planned to go to Detroit, it all just seemed to fall into place. I was invited to attend the Detroit Couch Crash, a meeting organized by all the wonderful couchsurfers in Michigan to unite people from all over for the US for Memorial Day weekend. It also happened to take place during DEMF (Detroit Electronic Music Festival), an annual event attracting thousands of hard core music fans.

After standing awkwardly on the main highway out of Toronto, with my thumb stuck out and a strained smile on my face, I waited patiently for a kind stranger to pick me up. Many people pulled in, slowed down or stopped, before performing rude hand gestures or shouting obscenities in my direction and subsequently speeding off. The joys of traveling in a country not accustomed to hitchhikers!

Eventually I secured a ride with what seemed to be a very decent man travelling all the way to Windsor, a town on the Canadian/US border. However normal he appeared, his initial greeting once I sat into the car was anything but conventional.

“I hitchhiked myself once”, he said.  “All the way from LA to Montreal about fifteen years ago. Yup, and I got picked up by a mass murderer and all. You just ‘know’ when you have sat into a car with a mass murderer, don’t you.”

Words escaped me, but he continued.

“Lucky back then I was a lot bigger.” He flexes his now deflated ‘guns’. “We were driving through the corn fields of Iowa and BAM I knocked him out and threw him out of the car. You gotta do what you gotta do, right?”

Indeed, I thought, as I contemplated jumping out of the moving vehicle.

The four hour journey continued on a similar note with him telling me about how he asked God to find him a wife – he found one 2 weeks later and they have been married ever since, how he broke his crack cocaine habit in a bar days before ‘finding’ his wife, and of course all about his journey becoming a born again Christian and door-to-door salesman.

If having to listen to this mans slightly scary and equally bizarre life story for four hours wasn’t interesting enough material for a blog post or two, soon my worst nightmare was coming true. We were running out of petrol with not a gas station in sight. Hopping over the border for a weekend break to Detroit was proving to be more hassle than I ever could have anticipated!

Upon finally making it to the American border, alive and well, I was quizzed about where I was from, where I was living, and of course where I was going in a stuffy little immigration office and was once again questioned about my sanity.

How did you get here? the large, stern looking woman asked.

“I hitchhiked from Toronto”. Cue shocked, incredulous looks.

“Where are you staying in Detroit?”, she continued.

“Oh, I’m couchsurfing in Corktown with…”

‘You’re what??’ she interrupted.

‘I’m couchsurfing…it’s a website where you can stay on peoples couches for free all over the world’.

“So it’s (glances at her watch) nearly midnight on a Friday night and you are planning on meeting a total stranger in the ghetto, who you met off the internet and you’re going to sleep on their couch?! Are you crazy woman?!”

I was beginning to think she might have a point, but couldn’t help but laugh. As I get my visa approved and head for the exit, the woman’s colleague calls to me, ‘Have you got a gun with you?

Puzzled and thinking they are trying to catch me out and deport me from the US before I have even taken a step over the border, I immediately (and truthfully) reply ‘Of course not!’ to which the male immigration officer quickly responds,

“I would if I were you. This is Detroit.”

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