Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day across Canada

St. Patrick's Day, Guiness
This year, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations will be held across Canada as a time honoured tradition since 1824. Toronto and Montreal hold the largest and longest-running parades and festivals in Canada; as we drink green beer and wear green clothes, have we ever thought about the man behind the namesake holiday and where and how these traditions came to be?

Contrary to popular belief, Saint Patrick was actually an Irish missionary born in Wales, Great Britain. Although he spent much of his early life in Britain, during the Roman Empire no less, he was kidnapped at age 16 by Irish pirates and sold into a 6-year slavery stint in Ireland. After escaping and a short time back at home in Wales, he returned to Ireland as a bishop to expand his teachings about bringing together traditions of the old pagan and new Christian religions. Even though Patrick lived during the 4th and 5th centuries, he didn’t become known as a Saint until about the 7th century, which marked the beginning of his large and celebrated following on the anniversary of his death on March 17th.

Canada’s Irish population predominately lives in the eastern part of Canada as it was difficult for the poor immigrants to travel very far past the coast. The immigrants from Ireland were actually the founders of Irish celebrations in North America, and, thus, were born the origins of the celebrations as we know them today.

St. Patrick's Day, Guiness

Eco-friendly vegetable dye is poured into the Chicago River to turn it emerald green for St. Patrick’s Day.

A few fun facts and how some celebrate the holiday today:

– Canada is home to about 4,544,870 people claiming to have Irish blood.

– In Chicago, about 45 pounds of green vegetable dye has been dumped into the Chicago River for the past 40 years but it only lasts a few hours.

– Guinness, the iconic Irish beer, expects to sell 7.5 million pints on St. Patrick’s Day – almost twice what it sells on a standard day.

– In Rio de Janeiro, Christ the Redeemer is illuminated green.

St. Patrick's Day, Guiness

Best reasons to travel in the fall

shutterstock_115225654Autumn is upon us, but that’s no reason to stop travelling. The fall season is one of the best times to hit the road, and here are a few reasons why.

1. Good weather
Just because the calendar says autumn doesn’t mean the weather automatically turns frosty. This sweater weather means you can bundle up in your favourite scarf or hoodie and enjoy the last few months outside before winter sends us indoors.

2. Festival season 
Many places host fall festivals that often revolve around the harvest, so just think of all the delicious food and wine you could be enjoying.
grape fall harvest

3. Fall colours
Regions like eastern Canada and the Rockies are especially beautiful at this time of year. As the leaves on the trees change colour and create an array of reds, oranges, and yellows, take advantage of nature’s perfect photography backdrop.

4. Crowds are smaller
The lower demand for travel during fall means lines are shorter and you won’t be shoulder to shoulder with other tourists. Children are back to school so the travellers you will meet tend to be couples looking for some peace and quiet. Your boss will also be happy to give you the time off because no one else is travelling.

5. Prices are lower
We saved the best reason for last! Fall is the shoulder season, sitting between the peak summer season and the busy winter season. The slower demand in fall means many airlines, hotels (Sandman included) and attractions charge lower prices in an effort to drum up business.
autumn leaves

See you this autumn!

Genius Travel Tips That Will Change Your Life Forever

Pack this, reserve that. Travelling comes with tips and tricks that don’t always save you time or money. That’s all about to change.

Vacation like an expert with Distractify‘s amazing travel tips.

1. Keep loose chargers and cables organized with a glasses case.

Keep%20loose%20chargers%20and%20cables%20organized%20with%20a%20glasses%20case.
2. Use straws to carry travel-size amounts of skin care products.

Use%20straws%20to%20carry%20travel-size%20amounts%20of%20skin%20care%20products.
3. Put a dryer sheet at the bottom of a suitcase to keep your clothes smelling fresh.

Put%20a%20dryer%20sheet%20at%20the%20bottom%20of%20a%20suitcase%20to%20keep%20your%20clothes%20smelling%20fresh.
4. Use a spring from an old pen to protect chargers from bending and breaking.

Use%20a%20spring%20from%20an%20old%20pen%20to%20protect%20chargers%20from%20bending%20and%20breaking.
5. Skip the long lines for airport bathrooms.
It may seem like common logic, but the first bathroom in the terminal is the most crowded one. Use the next one to skip the long waits and save precious time.
Skip%20the%20long%20lines%20for%20airport%20bathrooms.
6. Use a binder clip to protect the head of shaving razors.

Use%20a%20binder%20clip%20to%20protect%20the%20head%20of%20shaving%20razors.
7. If you forget your wall plug, charge devices through the USB slot on a TV.

If%20you%20forget%20your%20wall%20plug%2C%20charge%20devices%20through%20the%20USB%20slot%20on%20a%20TV.
8. Roll clothes, instead of folding, to save tons of baggage space.

Roll clothes, instead of folding, to save tons of baggage space.
9. If you have clothes that need to be folded, use tissue paper to keep them from wrinkling.

If%20you%20have%20clothes%20that%20need%20to%20be%20folded%2C%20use%20tissue%20paper%20to%20keep%20them%20from%20wrinkling.
10. Use a pill container to keep jewelry organized and untangled.

Use%20a%20pill%20container%20to%20keep%20jewelry%20organized%20and%20untangled.
11. Scan important documents before leaving for your trip.
In the event of theft or misplacement, it comes in really handy to have extra copies of your passport, identification cards and flight itineraries that you can easily access on your smartphone or tablet.
Scan%20important%20documents%20before%20leaving%20for%20your%20trip.
12. Speed Up Going Through Security
When going through security, stuff your small belongings like wallets, keys and phones into your bag before placing it on the conveyor belt. It eliminates the need for separate bins and saves you time.

Speed%20Up%20Going%20Through%20Security%20
13. Tuck your soap and wash cloth together with this easy-to-fold pouch.

Tuck%20your%20soap%20and%20wash%20cloth%20together%20with%20this%20easy-to-fold%20pouch.
14. A shower cap is an easy way to cover the bottoms of shoes.

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15. Put smartphones in airplane mode to save battery and charge faster.

Put%20smartphones%20in%20airplane%20mode%20to%20save%20battery%20and%20charge%20faster.
16. Keep your headphones from tangling by winding them around a binder clip.

Keep your headphones from tangling by winding them around a binder clip.
17. Keep hair clips tidy with an empty Tic Tac container.

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18. Sit in the seats near the wing of the plane for the least turbulence.
The seats along the wings of a plane usually have the least amount of bounce when flying because it has more structural support.

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19. Keep your travel-size containers and refill them, instead of buying new each time.

Keep%20your%20travel-size%20containers%20and%20refill%20them%2C%20instead%20of%20buying%20new%20each%20time.
20. To use Google Maps offline, type “OK Maps,” and the visible area will save for future access.

To%20use%20Google%20Maps%20offline%2C%20type%20%u201COK%20Maps%2C%u201D%20and%20the%20visible%20area%20will%20save%20for%20future%20access.
21. Cram the most into your carry on.
Vacuum sealed bags can save you a ridiculous amount of space in your carry on. Makes the need for checking a bag obsolete.

Cram%20the%20most%20into%20your%20carry%20on.

22. Instead of buying water at the airport, bring an empty bottle along and fill it up after passing security.

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23. When reserving airline seats for two people, get the aisle and window.
If no one takes the middle seat you get a full row, and if someone does, just ask to switch so you can sit next to your travel partner.

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24. Wait to buy airline tickets until 3pm on Tuesdays.
Typically this is when the big Airlines reduce their fares.

Wait%20to%20buy%20airline%20tickets%20until%203%20p.m.%20on%20Tuesdays.%20
25. Certain times are better for using the airplane bathroom.
Since most airlines don’t let you stand in line for the restrooms, the best times to use it are right after the plane has leveled off and 15-20 minutes before landing.

Certain%20times%20are%20better%20for%20using%20the%20airplane%20bathroom.
26. Get the Wi-Fi password for many establishments by checking the comments section of FourSquare.

Get%20the%20WiFi%20password%20for%20many%20establishments%20by%20checking%20the%20comments%20section%20of%20FourSquare.
27. Use your GPS when travelling abroad.
If you’re travelling abroad without an international plan, turn on airplane mode and turn off data to use the GPS without connecting to the Internet. Simply load the Google map of the area before heading out the hotel, and you’ve got a fully functional map to navigate the area.

Use%20your%20GPS%20when%20traveling%20abroad.%20
28. Skip the wait at the baggage claim.
Even if it’s not, marking your bag with a fragile label leads to gentler handling by airport staff. Also they’re often loaded on the top of the other luggage meaning it’s one of the first to come out at the baggage claim.

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29. Remove other tourists from your vacation photos.

Remove%20other%20tourist%20from%20your%20vacation%20photos.
30. Use ATMs instead of airport currency exchanges to save money.
Many ATMs will offer much lower rates than what you can get from the airport currency exchanges.

Use%20ATMs%20instead%20of%20airport%20currency%20exchanges%20to%20save%20money.
31. For bonus points, travel with a power strip and be the airport hero.

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32. As a treat to yourself, send yourself a postcard from each day of your travels. 
It’ll be a nice treat to come home to and make the transition back to reality easier.

As%20a%20treat%20to%20yourself%2C%20send%20yourself%20a%20postcard%20from%20each%20day%20of%20your%20travels

Most importantly… keep travelling!

Written by Distractify, a leading entertainment company in the mobile era. Through an understanding of content creation and social sharing, Distractify publishes some of the most popular content on the Web, exploring culture, lifestyle, human insight, and humor. Since launching in October 2013, Distractify has reached over 200m global readers.

SANDMAN HOTEL GROUP PLANS FOUR-STAR HOTEL IN THE CITY CENTRE OF ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND

Robert Gordon University (RGU) has sold its St Andrews Street building in the heart of Aberdeen city centre to Sandman Hotel Group in a multi-million pound deal which will allow the university to continue with the development of its Garthdee campus.

Sandman will transform RGU’s St Andrews Street building into a four-star premium hotel complex with 220 rooms, including 61 one-bedroom suites, a restaurant, and convention facilities.

Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski, Principal of RGU said, “The sale of St Andrews Street to Sandman Hotel Group will provide major benefits to the city as well as RGU. The capital received will allow us to continue with the development of our teaching and learning facilities, providing our students with an outstanding educational environment. In addition, the city will benefit from a new four-star hotel and a development which will help drive forward the regeneration of Aberdeen’s city centre.”

“We are thrilled to open our first hotel in Scotland and partner with RGU,” said Taj Kassam, President of Sandman Hotel Group and The Sutton Place Hotels. “Our brand of hospitality fits perfectly into the iconic city of Aberdeen. I was educated in Scotland and this is where I began my career, so it gives us a great feeling of pride and excitement to open a property here.”

RGU is currently in the process of building new facilities for the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment as part of the ongoing development of the university’s Riverside East building which opened to students in September 2013.

Professor von Prondzynski added, “Staff and students of the Scott Sutherland School will benefit from working closely with colleagues from other disciplines than has previously been possible. In addition, the development of our campus is allowing us to better engage with our professional and industry partners.”

The new facilities will complement the university’s existing buildings at the east end of the campus in terms of their innovative design and style, while providing an outstanding educational environment for its students.  The campus will retain its park-like ambience and provide a recreational setting for the benefit of staff, students, and the local community.

20 Things You Didn’t Know about Queen Victoria

Victoria, British Columbia

Canada has been celebrating Queen Victoria’s birthday since 1845, but there’s a lot about the woman, to whom we owe the first unofficial long weekend of the summer, that you may not have realized.

Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria

Victoria, born May 24, 1819, was the daughter of Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn and Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. She married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha in 1840, and the union produced four sons and five daughters. She died at 81 years old, on January 22, 1901, and was the longest sitting sovereign in history after a reign of 63 years and 216 days.

But while the day bears her name, here are 20 things you never knew about Queen Victoria or her holiday – or have long since forgotten.

1. Victoria Day is a Canadian tradition and doesn’t actually exist in most of England. But it is celebrated in parts of Scotland, especially Edinburgh, where it remains an official holiday.

2. While the holiday moves around a lot now (falling this year on May 19th), the original rules stated it be celebrated annually on May 24th, regardless of what day that was, unless it was a Sunday – and then the observance would be moved to the 25th.

That changed with an amendment to the Statutes of Canada in 1952, when the government declared Victoria Day would fall on the Monday preceding the 25th of May. It’s been there ever since.

And those of us who appreciate our long weekends are glad they made the change or we’d all be working on Monday – and getting Sunday off.

3. Victoria Day is a legal Canadian stat, which means it’s also observed in Quebec. But the idea of honouring a British monarch doesn’t sit well with many in Le Belle Province, where it’s known it be another name. Up until three years ago, it was called Fête de Dollard after Adam Dollard des Ormeaux a French hero who helped lead a force in what is now Montreal against the Iroquois in 1660.

In 2003, it was renamed National Patriots Day in Quebec, ignoring the Queen reference altogether.

4. When Victoria was just a little girl, she was known by her nickname, Drina.

5. Despite being born in England, Victoria only spoke German up until the age of three.

6. She was the first member of the Royal Family known to suffer from hemophilia, a fact that had many questioning the circumstances of her parentage.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert

7. She married Prince Albert in 1840, although they’d known each other since she was 16. And it really was a family affair.

Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was her first cousin and his father was her mother’s brother!

8. Because she was Queen, she had to propose to Albert, and not vice versa.

9. She took over the throne in 1837, after the death of William IV. She was just 18 years old.

10. Despite the somewhat imposing figure she’s been portrayed as in history, the real Victoria didn’t completely measure up. She stood just 5 feet tall.

11. She was the subject of at least six serious assassination attempts.

In 1840, an 18-year-old named Edward Oxford took two shots at her carriage as she was riding in London. He was accused of high treason but found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Two years later, a man named John Francis fired a gun at her carriage but missed. He was caught, convicted of treason, but avoided the death penalty and was shipped to a penal colony.

Less than two months later, a youngster named John William Bean fired ammo made out of tobacco and paper at the Queen.

And in 1849, it happened again when William Hamilton, who history books describe as an ‘angry Irishman’, fired a pistol at her carriage. He pled guilty and was also exiled to a penal colony.

They say if you stay around in politics long enough, you’re bound to make enemies. Victoria was living proof of that. The Queen was set upon again in 1850, when ex-Army officer Robert Pate hit her with his cane. He pleaded insanity but the courts didn’t buy it, leaving him to the same fate as Hamilton.

Incredibly, in 1882, there was yet another attempt on her life, this time by Roderick Maclean, who also missed her with a bullet from a gun. He was found insane and sent to an asylum for life.

Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria

12. When you see pictures or actresses playing Victoria, she’s almost always wearing black. That’s because when her husband died in December 1861, she went into seclusion and a perpetual state of mourning and never wore any other colour.

It’s long been rumoured she later married her Scottish butler John Brown, but that’s never been proven. She didn’t get back into the public eye until the early 1870′s.

13. She became a grandma at 39 and a great grandmother 20 years later.

14. The mother of nine suffered one of the major drawbacks of such a long life, tragically outliving three of her own children.

15. She was the first Queen of Canada, sitting on the throne when this country was founded in 1867.

16. She liked to drink a concoction called Vin Mariani.

17. It was Victoria who started the tradition of a bride wearing white. Before her wedding, a woman would simply wear her best dress, no matter what colour it was.

18. She was named the 18th greatest Briton in a BBC poll conducted in 2002. Winston Churchill was number one. Victoria was beaten out by, among others, Princess Diana (#3), William Shakespeare (#5), and John Lennon (#8). She was followed on the list by Paul McCartney.

Victoria, British Columbia

19. Victoria, British Columbia is named after her, but so is the capital of Saskatchewan – Regina.

20. She was the only British monarch in modern music history to be honoured by name in the title of a rock and roll song. “Victoria”, by the Kinks, #62 on the Billboard charts in 1970, although the record did understandably better on this side of the border.

Paul McCartney famously wrote his 23-second ditty “Her Majesty” tune for the Beatles’ Abbey Road LP, but it wasn’t put out as a single and it never mentioned the current Queen by name.