Lead fame hit | What is ‘Clout’? – with dialogue

a businessman and his colleagues in the office, resembling the meaning of clout in business, politics, etc.
Yan Krukov

Meanings of Clout

Welcome to another post and yet another word explanation … sort of. Today’s focus is on “clout,” a word that has resurged up into popularity lately. Clout in normal situations has a couple of different meanings already. It can be a hit or a strike, and also some kind of cloth.

But we don’t want to focus on those definitions. If you’re looking this up, you’re likely searching for the most common use for this word in — American English, anyway — which is having strong influence either in business, politics, or some field related to these.

Read more: Clout in the learner’s dictionary

This meaning, though, has slightly changed in recent times. In some casual or slang contexts, usually in music or on social media, clout refers to general fame or recognition. Someone with clout is in control, calls the shots, and makes the decisions. It’s pretty much the same as being popular.

Read: Clout in the Urban Dictionary

Also, having clout on social media is having lots of popularity (on those media platforms), having lots of followers, getting lots of attention, and so on. Sometimes people who are looking to be more popular or chasing after fame and influence are called clout chasers.

Oh, and perhaps you’ve heard of this?

.

Like I said, these meanings are all pretty close to the same thing. Still, informally, clout is more about having fame online or being popular when you go places. The traditional meaning is less about having showy popularity where everybody knows you and more about having real power and leverage to make big changes. This is often in an elite field like politics or business.

Below is a short story featuring the characters from Adventures of Charles. Here, clout is explored with some more or less realistic examples, if you care to see that. Either way, thanks for stopping by. Good luck with your English studies!

‘Lead fame hit’

clout used in sentences

.

What a weird story! I can’t believe you and Jonah saw all of those crystals, though. That must have been amazing. You’ll have to take me on your next trip.

Read previous story: Depth trap dive

Charles looked over at his friend, Sheila, with a smile as she steered the wheel. She had a way of making everything seem exciting. Oh, and she made driving look so cool.

–I know, it was amazing! The crystals were just beyond belief.

I guess Charles was also good at that.

Sheila thought for a moment, then decided to say, –I just don’t know how you guys afford these elaborate vacations. Are you guys, like, secretly rich or something? ‘Cus you need to tell me if you are.

Charles laughed and decided to tell the truth.

–Well, you know, I have nothing to do with it. Jonah is the one with all the connections. I think he has some clout with the airlines because of his cousin, so they let him travel when he wants.

  • He has some influence or leverage with this company, he has a certain amount of power and freedom with them.

–That’s dope! she responded enthusiastically, paying closer attention to the street signs now. Charles watched as the red and green streetlights skimmed over her face. –It must be good to have a friend like that.

–Well, I’m sure you have clout too in the music world. You could probably walk into a club and everybody would know who are. And want to buy a drink for you, too.

  • I’m sure you have influence, I’m sure that you are popular in the music world.

Sheila laughed.

–Hey! I ain’t that famous. Not yet, anyway. But I do wish I could get some of that clout on Instagram or something. My songs aren’t reaching the right audiences yet.

  • Get some popularity, more attention, influence on Instagram.

Charles placed a hand on her shoulder, about to say, “Don’t worry, grasshopper. Your time will come,” or something like that. But before he could shed his words, Sheila jerked her neck and turned to the side, pointing her finger at a dark corner building.

–Oh my God! That’s the old studio, she said.

–Really? Charles replied. –It looks barren.

–I know, huh? Let’s go record something! I bet you they still have all the old equipment.

As he undid his seatbelt, Charles nodded and replied, –Old equipment? Look out! Now you’ll really be famous.

Sheila parked the car at the corner by the dark-looking ruin of a building. Charles then took a deep breath, and they went in.

To be continued …

‘OCD’ – Visual / Audible Poem (‘TOC’ Legenda em português)

A film projector in the dark, representing a short video about the use of the expression "wild"
.

In the video below is a poem. It was inspired by a strange time in my teens when I was struggling with obsessive anxiety. I know some of the words are weird, but I tried to express my reality and my real thoughts from that time. This is not what everybody who experiences OCD feels. This was an artistic take on my personal view of the condition at the time. Okay, hope you enjoy it. You can also read the poem by itself at the link below. Thanks!

.

Have you or someone you know ever dealt with OCD or another psychiatric condition? If you feel up to it, please share about it here. It’s a safe place and it’s you may inspire someone with your testimony. You never know 😉 Thanks for supporting and I appreciate your courage.

You can check out some other videos like this one in the Videos section.

Read on Inkspired

‘Django Unchained’ & American Society- What’s it say about us?

movie poster cover for Django Unchained
.
.

Django Unchained was a 2012 American movie by Quentin Tarantino that shook up so many of its viewers. With references to Spaghetti Westerns, Southern epics, and slavery pieces to name a few, this movie also had a lot to say about American society overall. Down below are a few of the points about our society, past and present, that were referenced in Django Unchained.

That’s Racist

The most obvious thing that Django Unchained tells us about America is slavery and racism. We all know about the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and the nation’s history of African enslavement. In the movie, we see how pseudo-religious and pseudo-scientific concepts were used in those days to justify slavery.

You remember the whole scene where Mr. Candie (DiCaprio’s character) uses one of his former slave’s skulls to demonstrate how black people are anatomically inferior to whites. Or that scene where the slaver uses the Bible to justify his whipping and punishing of the “sub-human” slaves.

The cold part is that this stuff really happened, and a lot. It seems like every five words in Django is the “n-word,” and this is more for a shock effect than anything. I mean, I’m sure white people in those days called black people nigger a lot, but not like every five seconds. Still, the use of this word and other racial slurs in the movie shows us how language has been used throughout our country’s history to uplift certain groups and diminish others. And that goes both ways.

Read more: Are there many interracial couples in America?

Okay, so we saw whips and chains, physical representations of bondage and dominance — not to get freaky. Oh, and we saw a glimpse of a pre-Ku Klux Klan group in one of the funniest scenes of the entire movie. The KKK really formed after abolition as a kind of retaliation against blacks gaining equality. Django (Jamie Foxx) and Dr. Schultz (Cristoph Waltz) later in the movie start to be treated with a bit of respect when they are presumed to have money and status. This shows how even racism can be curbed when there are benefits involved.

Frontier Living

Django Unchained at its heart is a Western, so the usual gun-slinging and street shootouts had to be a part of it. The characters throughout most of the movie are riding horses and carriages across open landscapes, mountains, and everything we associate with the Old West. We even see the classic cowboy stand-offs in the small frontier town, people running to get the sheriff, and a saloon fight.

The Antebellum South is also represented when they get to Mississippi. There we see big plantations and plantation homes being worked by slaves. Besides that, we get a look at some slave quarters, those common oak and poplar trees of the South, and big fields of cotton to be picked. And of course, all around is the sense of white dominance and complacency for being in control of that crazy world they’d created.

Read more: Isn’t America all cold and snowy?

The Outlaw is B(l)ack!

Another thing this movie does is show audiences how black outlaws and bounty hunters did exist in the Old Western days. I feel like this movie opened up in many ways for people to learn about such figures as black cowboys and bounty hunters, a subject that was not really touched on before in movies or TV (at least to this extent).

Django shows in part the presence of these lesser-known historic black figures of that time, informing that they were also a part of the development of the country. There’s also something many people forget, that some slaves were able to buy their freedom and lead interesting lives outside of the establishment.

Read more: Aren’t there a lot of black people in America, like on TV?

Reparations … or Revenge?

Since the times of slavery in America, there has been a sense of black people recovering some kind of dignity, strength, even ranging into dominance. It’s important to remember that not all people in any group will want the same things, which is normal. Still, when Django goes and kills all of the slavers that did him wrong, there’s this sense of “justice served cold” that reverberates off of every gunshot and explosion.

There’s a constant debate in the USA of whether there should be reparations or compensation given to black Americans for the terrible deeds taken against their ancestors. There is this underlying feeling of getting revenge on these racist actions, which is completely exploited in this movie. Let me also remind you that the German’s full name is Dr. “King” Schultz, likely a nod to Dr. Martin Luther King as a kind of liberator and symbol for good.

Through all the killing that Django does, we also get an idea of the violent nature of rebellions in general, especially as it deals with the black-led ones. There was many a violent uprising in America’s past, and this movie plays a bit on such true historic bloodbaths.

And the White Director

So Quentin Tarantino doesn’t look very black, as far as most of us can tell. The fact that a white guy had directed a movie like this did conjure up some backlash for the film. Django Unchained touches on some pretty sensitive subject matter, particularly concerning black Americans. So one might imagine how some people felt uncomfortable with it.

Tarantino movies aren’t for everyone and lots of people are already uneased by the cartoonish violence in them. Put that together with about a thousand “n-bombs” and you’ve got a sure recipe for retaliation. Even though many people thought he had no business making a movie about slavery, there were still those that enjoyed Django Unchained regardless of its crazy subject matter. Q. T. does actually have a cameo in the movie and gets blown up, which shows that even the director wasn’t safe from Django’s vengeful rage.

Boy, I Swear

Another common feature in Tarantino’s movies is the liberal and consistent tendency of his characters to swear. This is just his style, and it comes more so from this culture surrounding Hollywood or Southern California — where almost everyone I know curses. Some are offended by this constant use of bad words, and others could care less.

One thing that’s funny about this, though, is that people back in those times (early-mid 1800s) definitely did not curse as much as in the movie. Sure, there was cursing, but people back in those days were generally pretty conservative and religious by today’s standards. I had this same thought watching The Hateful Eight which had a similar amount of cussing in a time period that people probably didn’t have such dirty mouths.

Read more: The Wolf of Wall Street

This feature of the movie was likely used to connect modern audiences to this past period in time, similar to how the score contained some rap songs. It also reminds audiences that this story is fictional and for entertainment purposes, so don’t be taking it all so seriously.

America, the Beautiful Mixed Baby

In Django Unchained are black people (obviously), Germans, Australians, other Americans, and Mr. Candie who loves French — even though he can’t speak or understand it. Some aspects of the culture, especially on the German side, are explored a bit deeper. With all of this, we get reminded of America’s very mixed heritage.

Germans at a certain point in the U.S. interior were very prevalent and made up a large part of the immigration there. All these different people of varying backgrounds remind us of this uncommon origin we share that turned the U.S. into a land of immigrants. It also reminds us that a large part of the country, like the West, was built by outlaws, runaways, and people seeking the thrill of adventure until turning it into what it is today.

Read more: Aren’t Americans white?

**What did you think of this movie? Are you fond of Tarantino or do you avoid his movies at all costs? If you can, share what else Django Unchained showed us about American or world society. Also, feel free to check out similar posts on At the Movies. Message me at tietewaller@gmail.com for direct contact or to collaborate on something! Thank you for reading and peace to you.

“Day ‘N’ Nite (Nightmare)” by Kid Cudi – Lyrics for English Students

Flag of the United States, home country of rapper Kid Cudi
artist from.

Do you want to know the lyrics to “Day ‘N’ Nite” by Kid Cudi? Great, you’re in the right place! The song was featured on his 2008 album, Man on the Moon: The End of Day, but was also released on a previous mixtape and single. This page is geared toward explaining to English learners some of the expressions, idioms, slang, and cultural points in the song that most native English speakers probably know already.

I suggest reading the song lyrics and explanations first. Then listen to the song with the lyrics to check for comprehension. If you know most of these explanations, then cool. Your language skills are on point! Ready?

Also Listen: Day ‘N’ Nite Remix (Crookers)

Read: for the lyrics without my explanations, Genius

Read more: Lyrics “Explained”

.

Lyrics & Explanations

Day and night

  • Informal Writing: Just a note about the spelling; in the song’s title, “N” is the same as “and” but a popular way to spell it in informal titles or writing. “Nite” is the same as “night” but also an informal alternative spelling. This happens a lot when texting for words that don’t spell like they sound. Ex: Tho (Though), Rite (Right), U (You), 4 (For)

I toss and turn, I keep stressing my mind, mind

  • Expressions: “Tossing and turning” is another way to say that you can’t sleep. It’s a very common expression.

I look for peace, but see, I don’t attain

What I need for keeps, this silly game we play, play

  • Expressions: “For keeps” means something you want to keep or hold on to. It usually means you will win the object you want after playing some game. “Let’s race. Whoever wins gets a new car.” “Are we playing for keeps?”

Now look at this

Madness the magnet keeps attracting me, me

I try to run, but see, I’m not that fast

I think I’m first but surely finish last, last

  • Culture/Literature: This line is reminiscent of a popular fable, “The Tortoise and the Hare.” The two animals race and the hare becomes cocky thinking he will easily beat the tortoise, but the tortoise ends up winning after slowly but steadily staying on track. Maybe Cudi assumes he’s going to win like the hare did, but he gets beat in the end.

‘Cause day and night

  • Informal Speech: *Because day and night …

The lonely stoner seems to free his mind at night

  • Slang: A “stoner” is someone who gets high on drugs, especially cannabis. Similarly, getting “stoned” means getting high on cannabis.

Read more: Stoner

He’s all alone through the day and night

The lonely loner seems to free his mind at night, at, at, at night

  • Other Vocabulary: You might have picked this one up, but a “loner” is someone who spends most of their time alone. They don’t interact much with other people.

Day and night

The lonely stoner seems to free his mind at night

He’s all alone, some things will never change

The lonely loner seems to free his mind at night, at, at, at night

Hold the phone

  • Expressions/Dual Meaning: This one’s pretty obvious, but it can also mean to “wait” in general. This is similar to other expressions like “Hold on,” “Hold up,” and “Hold it.” These all mean to wait. Even though “hold the phone” sounds pretty specific, there are other phrases like this that mean to wait. Ex: “Hold the front door,” and “Hold your horses.” These are a little more silly and informal, though.

The lonely stoner, Mr. Solo Dolo

  • Popular Vocabulary: “Solo” means solitary or alone. I think we got it from Spanish but it’s pretty common to say that you are “solo” or doing something “solo.”
  • Informal/Unusual Expressions: “Dolo” I think is the same as solo. I haven’t heard this expression much, but I guess “solo-dolo” means being alone but feeling relaxed or okay about it.
  • Figurative Speech: Saying “Mr.” before some kind of quality means that the person is full of that quality, as if they were the owner of it. “Okay, Mr. Bossy, you don’t have to order people around all the time.”

He’s on the move, can’t seem to shake the shade

  • Idiom: Being “on the move” is to be active in making plans or moving from place to place.
  • Slang: To “shake” in this sense means to avoid or escape something, like to shake off. “The cops are behind us. I can’t shake them.” Shade here has the sense of something ominous or sad. In slang, “shade” can also be general disrespect or dislike that comes from people who don’t like you. A similar concept is “hating on” someone.

Within his dreams he sees the life he made, made

  • Slang/Possible Dual Meaning: The repeating of “made” here reminds me of another expression. Saying that someone is “made” or they “have it made” is like saying they have everything they dreamed of, they have all the success they could want. They’re living the good life. They “have it made.”

The pain is deep

A silent sleeper, you won’t hear a peep, peep

  • Other Vocabulary: “Peep” is any very small sound. It’s usually said in phrases like “won’t hear a peep” or “don’t make a peep.”

The girl he wants don’t seem to want him too

  • Grammar/Informal Speech: *The girl he wants doesn’t seem to want him either … The way he says it sounds better in this case, though.

It seems the feelings that she had are through, through

  • Common Speech: When something is “through,” it means it is done or over. It has ended.

‘Cause day and night

The lonely stoner seems to free his mind at night

He’s all alone through the day and night

The lonely loner seems to free his mind at night, at, at, at night

Day and night

The lonely stoner seems to free his mind at night

He’s all alone, some things will never change

The lonely loner seems to free his mind at night, at, at, at night

Slow mo’

  • Slang/Casual Expression: “Slow mo” means slow motion. Here, he says it probably to mean slow down or wait.

When the tempo slows up and creates that new, new

  • Foreign/Musical Term: When used in English, “tempo” specifically has to do with the speed of a rhythm, like in music. It has almost become synonymous with speed. I believe it comes from Italian.
  • Slang/Informal Expression: To “slow up” is the same as to slow down or go slower, interestingly enough. It is just another cool way to express this idea. “New new” is a fun concept. It basically means something that is new or hasn’t been experienced before, like an emerging trend. It’s like saying “new thing” but the focus is on the impact of that new thing as opposed to the new thing itself. “You still wear the old brands, but I’ve got that new new. You want to see some?”

Read more: New new

He seems alive though he is feeling blue

  • Slang/Idiom: We probably all know this one, but feeling “blue” is feeling sad.

The sun is shining, man he’s super cool, cool

  • Expressions: “Man” here is just an exclamation, it doesn’t mean anything really.
  • Informal Speech: The way he pronounces “cool” is a very common way to say it in some accents. It also rhymes a lot better with blue.

The lonely nights

They fade away, he slips into his white Nikes

  • Casual Expression: To “slip into” something means to wear it or put it on. “I’m going to slip into a nice dress.”
  • Informal/Alternative Speech: The way he pronounces Nikes (referring to shoes) is an informal way that only certain communities say, though it can also just be an alternative or sarcastic way of pronouncing it. It also rhymes better with nights.

He smokes a clip and then he’s on the way

  • Slang: Smoking a “clip” is smoking the leftovers of a blunt of cannabis.
  • Idiom/Expressions: To be “on the way” means to be arriving somewhere or going somewhere specific.

To free his mind in search of, to free his mind in search of

To free his mind in search of

Day and night

The lonely stoner seems to free his mind at night

He’s all alone through the day and night

The lonely loner seems to free his mind at night, at, at, at night

Day and night

The lonely stoner seems to free his mind at night

He’s all alone, some things will never change

The lonely loner seems to free his mind at night

At, at, at night, night

At, at, at night, night

Na-na-na-na-na-na, Kid Cudi

Cleveland status, grind all day

  • Casual Expressions: Adding “status” after something like a quality or a place means that person is acting like that quality or representing that place. “He’s on Brooklyn status with his Nets jersey and his old Brooklyn Dodger hat.”
  • Slang: To “grind” in this case means to work hard and put in an effort. A similar concept is to be “on your grind.”

Read more: Grind

Then it repeats …

**I hope you enjoyed reading the lyrics to “Day ‘N’ Nite.” Did you understand these pretty well? What part of the lyrics do you still have trouble with? Tell us what your favorite lines are, or what other songs you like by Kid Cudi. You can contact me personally at tietewaller@gmail.com or to collaborate. Read more posts like this one at Lyrics “Explained.” Thank you for coming! Peace.

Why is Toronto Special? – 13 Cool Reasons 🇨🇦

Yonge Dundas Square Midtown Toronto in winter, special place in Toronto
Yonge-Dundas Square – by Kim Kaye

Toronto is a special city not just for Canada, but for the entire world. But what makes this place so unique? Here are 13 sort of clustered reasons why, even though there are many many more. Still, anytime is a good time to appreciate the Earth’s places. Let’s start with some quick geography. Where on the planet is it?

map showing toronto's location in canada and in ontario
.

TORONTO: Quick Geography

As you may know or have read in my post about Southern Ontario, Toronto is not only the capital of Ontario province but is also the biggest (as in most-populous) city in all of Canada. With over 2 million 700 thousand in the city and over 5 million 400 thousand in the urban area, it is one of the biggest cities in North America too. Its land area is about 630 square km (391 sq mi). It’s about 21 km (13 mi) at the max top to bottom and about 43 km (27 mi) across.

Like most of the big cities, it is located in the southern part of Ontario on the northwest edge of Lake Ontario. Originally known as York, Toronto comes from Iroquoian languages meaning “place where trees stand in water” and/or “plenty” or “abundance.” The Iroquoian name was popularized by the name of a passage route in the region. The city has 6 larger districts that got sucked together to form the current city:

  • Old Toronto
  • Etobicoke
  • East York
  • North York
  • York
  • Scarborough

The city has a long coastline with offshore islands that create a protected harbor. Toronto is cut by several rivers and ravines, most notably the Don River, Humber River, and Rouge River. Despite this, the city is generally flat with more hilly terrain as you go inland. Let’s take a little tour.

1. Hoods + Squares – shopping & exploring

the garden car covered in graffiti art on a street in kensington market, Toronto
Garden Car, Kensington Market – By Suwannee.payne

The most popular and most visited part of Toronto is Old Toronto. Coincidently, it is the district that I’ll be focusing the most on, but by no means is it the only important part of town. When traveling to any city, some of the best things one can do is to tour the neighborhoods and buy something to remember the place by.

winter ice rink scene at evening in the nathan phillips square, Toronto
Nathan Phillips Square – By Benson Kua

One of the most popular hoods by far is Kensington Market, an old Jewish area that turned into an overall hip place to visit. There are all sorts of local shops, street art, and diverse food options. It’s famous for being a marketplace and hotspot for the city’s diversity.

Other quirky hoods good for spending that cash are Queen Street West and Yorkville. Chinatown is also very popular, and a great place to find unique items and foods, let alone get immersed into a different culture.

street scene in chinatown toronto
Chinatown – By The Canadian Roadgeek

Toronto is full of other ethnic neighborhoods to explore too. If you like big shopping centers, places like the Toronto Eaton Centre and the Scarborough Civic Centre are right on the mark.

Another big one is Dundas Square, something like Times Square or LA Live in the heart of Old TO. And Nathan Phillips Square is the main square that turns into a big ice rink in the winter. These spots are excellent for feeling the big city vibe.

2. Bricks + Castles – history & art

winter at casa loma castle, Toronto
Casa Loma – By Casa Loma

One really unique place in Toronto is the Casa Loma. This big Gothic Revival-style castle is a really popular place to visit. It’s somewhat of an urban getaway since it’s surrounded by gardens and rests on a hill. The views of the Entertainment District from here are really pretty, and it’s a nice contrast to the main area of the city.

ruin-like structures at Guild Park and Gardens
Guild Park & Gardens – By Jeff Hitchcock

Another neat place is Guild Park and Gardens, a former artists colony set in the woods down in Scarborough. Just off Lake Ontario, there are several relics that were piled together to look like old ruins. It really gives an ancient feel to this New World city.

Speaking of Casa Loma, the bricks used to build it were brought from the Evergreen Brick Works. This is a special site that functioned as a brick factory for about a hundred years. It’s been turned into a park and is now dedicated to promoting environmental sustainability. Now that’s a cool turnaround!

3. Parks + Greens – nature

oaks at high park, toronto
High Park – By Chen Feng (Damn Lee)

Toronto has a ton of parks, and locals are never too far from nature. Probably the most iconic one is High Park, a huge area with lakes, trails, touring trains, and a tranquil atmosphere. The park is especially popular in the spring when tons of cherry blossoms burst into bloom.

fall foliage at the rouge national urban park, Toronto
Rouge National Urban Park – by Jeffrey Eisen

Other notable parks are Riverdale Park East and Trinity Bellwoods Park, the latter being super popular among locals. On the outskirts of town is the Rouge National Urban Park, a massive natural space to just get lost in nature.

creek and waterfall at edwards gardens in toronto's botanical garden
Edwards Gardens – by Toronto Botanical Garden

Nearby is the Toronto Zoo, one of the biggest and best zoos in the Americas. In a similar vein, there are the Edwards Gardens, a beautiful section of the city’s Botanical Gardens to explore and get immersed into TO’s floral side. Urban nature: check.

4. Arts + Museums – culture

royal ontario museum in toronto at night with full yellow moon
Royal Ontario Museum – by Lotus Raphael

So Toronto is stocked with museums and galleries. I mean, just infested with them. The cool thing about several of these is the really flashy, almost futuristic design of the buildings. Two museums in particular that fit this description are the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario. Not just beautifully designed, these two museums are among the biggest and most renowned in North America (ROM is actually the biggest in Canada).

pink curvy exhibit inside art gallery of ontario, toronto
Art Gallery of Ontario – by Tony Reid

One incredible museum dedicated to Islamic and Persian art is the Aga Khan Museum. The site holds a pretty building with gardens and waterways around it. Probably the most unusual is the Bata Shoe Museum. That’s right, a museum dedicated to shoes! It looks a lot more interesting than it sounds, mounting shoes anywhere from ancient Inuits to more recent basketball players.

horse graffiti art in graffiti alley, special place in Toronto
Graffiti Alley – by Dylan McLeod

One special mention goes to Graffiti Alley, a section of the city with tons of street art. This popular part of town can be observed on your own or with a guided tour, but several parts of the city boast their local artistic talent.

5. Eastside Old Town – marketplaces & architecture

crosswalk in east Old Town, Toronto with view of the Gooderham building and more modern buildings in the background
Gooderham Building – by Lotus Raphael

Old Town is Toronto’s historic core and one of the most popular neighborhoods. Of course, owing to an awesome contrast of old and new architecture like the Royal Bank Plaza and Gooderham Building, there’s more to it than that. The most famous and most traditional market is St. Lawrence Market. It’s a nice place to see the traditional side of TO while getting your grub on.

Christmas market and lighted christmas tree in the distillery district, Toronto
Christmas Market, Distillery District – by Jessica Lam

One extremely important place is the Distillery District, a neighborhood considered the biggest collection of Victorian-era brick buildings in North America. It’s full of shops and eateries amidst the historic buildings. It also happens to be an area for holiday magic. The Christmas Market and Light Festival are held here when the streets are all decorated with lights and Christmas trees. The whole thing just looks like a magical place to be.

We also can’t talk about Canada without mentioning hockey, and guess what? The Hockey Hall of Fame is on this side of town! Check out some Stanley Cups and famous jerseys for all the sports lovers.

6. Ontario Place – history & attractions

Ontario Place and the cinesphere on the harbor
Ontario Place Cinesphere – By Raysonho

A unique part of Toronto on its own is Ontario Place. It’s a big complex that houses all kinds of parks, an amphitheater, exhibits, museums, stadiums, and a marina. One could spend a good part of their day just roaming around this waterfront area.

There are also some important historic sites here like the Princes’ Gates, a majestically arched gateway, or Fort York. This place is a fort that was used by the British back in the early 1800s. It still stands there today to show just how awesome Toronto really is.

7. Pubs + Temples – miscellaneous attractions

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Toronto, special Hindu temple
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Toronto – By Ian Muttoo

I also couldn’t mention Toronto without talking about pubs. The city was very popular for its pubs and breweries, such as the Mill Street Brew Pub. The Madison Avenue Pub, or the “Maddy,” is made out of the joining of manors that morphed into a house now popular to the pub-lic.

half house in Toronto, unique place in Ontario
Half House – by Atlas Obscura

Another weird place that has turned into a kind of landmark is the Half House, an old home whose owners on one side refused to let it be demolished. Now it sits as an old relic practically cut “in half” and surrounded by more modern buildings. It’s a pretty wacky feature of the city.

One last random landmark is the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir temple. It’s this really big and beautifully designed Hindu temple dedicated to this specific branch of the religion located out on the edges of Etobicoke. It’s really beautiful inside and out, worth a visit no matter what your faith is.

8. Entertainment District – attractions & landmarks

neon streets at dusk in Toronto entertainment district
Entertainment District – by Elza Kurbanova

Like I said earlier, this is probably the most visited and most popular part of Toronto. It’s the site of the famous CN Tower, after all, the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere. Besides going to the top and taking in the wide views, daredevils can go a bit higher and take a walk around the edges of this lofty tower.

Home to other popular places like the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada and the Rogers Centre, lots of events are held on this side of town. A great place to find entertainment (as the name promises) there are several popular theaters and event halls.

Shiny buildings in Toronto, Roy Thomson Hall in entertainment district
Roy Thomson Hall – By Benson Kua

These include places like the Four Season Centre and Roy Thomson Hall. Some even come with fancy names like the Royal Alexandra Theatre or Princess of Wales Theatre. An important movie theater is the TIFF Lightbox that hosts all kinds of movie events throughout the year, including the International Film Festival.

9. Festivals + Events

fireworks at night over entertainment district in Toronto
Party in Toronto – by Stephen H

The Toronto International Film Festival is a very special local event, by the way. Others include the Taste of Danforth Greek festival, Canada Day, Pride Week, and the Caribbean Carnival. Yeah, enjoy that sun!

caribana caribbean festival in Toronto
Caribana Festival – By Loozrboy

In the dark though is an all-night festival called Nuit Blanche dedicated to artwork and getting people to Scarborough. Another creepy event is the Ghost Walk that happens around Halloween time. People can dress up in costumes and roam around Old Town decorated like a big haunted house. If you’re into that.

10. Bluffs + Waterfronts – coasts & nature

view of downtown Toronto from a park in the Toronto Islands, Ontario
view from Toronto Islands – by Scott Webb

Since Toronto is on a huge lake, you can bet there’s a ton of waterfront to enjoy. Canada’s not particularly famous for having beaches, but Toronto does have a few decent ones. There’s even a neighborhood called The Beaches with a few to lie on.

Closer to Old Town there’s Cherry Beach and the tiny Sugar Beach. It is small but that adds to its unique getaway feel. The umbrellas splayed out on the sand make it seem like a little tropics of the north.

sunny day at Cherry Beach, small beach in Old Toronto, Canada
Cherry Beach – by Ian Kirkland

As far as actual waterfront, there is the Harbourfront area next to the Entertainment District where one can enjoy the harbor, walk around, catch a boat ride, or even ice skate in the winter. Just ahead of that are the Toronto Islands, a set of isles right off the city’s coast. The most popular is Centre Island with its own calm beaches and urban park. Some of the best views of T Dot’s skyscrapers are from these islands.

cliffs and blue waters at the Scarborough Bluffs in Toronto, Ontario
Scarborough Bluffs – by Meri Vasilevski

Next to the harbor is the Music Garden which hosts live classical performances and was designed based on one of Bach’s compositions. Getting a ways out of the busy center, Scarborough has a somewhat isolated area called the Scarborough Bluffs. These are a series of forested hills and cliffs overlooking the lake. The colors are spectacular in summer and the place even shelters a few nice beaches. Didn’t expect that one from Canada.

11. Mississauga – city

iconic Marilyn Monroe buildings in Mississauga, near Toronto
Marilyn Monroe Buildings – by Aaron Ledesma

Toronto’s got a lot of suburbs, but its biggest one is Mississauga. The international airport getting into TO is here, but there’s more to this city than that. Mississauga is coastal just like its larger anchor, so there are some lakeside parks with great views to explore.

Port Credit on the Credit River, Mississauga near Toronto
Port Credit on the Credit River – By Jjj84206

There’s also the Credit River and port which is like a peaceful nature getaway that takes hikers into the woods. First and foremost is Celebration Square. This place is “celebrated” as one of the best squares anywhere and is home to many events year-round.

It’s close to pretty buildings like city hall and the famed Marilyn Monroe Towers. These babies look like giant curvy blob-morphs from another planet and are some of the most striking things you’ll find in the Toronto area.

12. Suburbs – nature & attractions

roller coaster at Canada's Wonderland theme park, fun in the Toronto area
rides at Canada’s Wonderland, Vaughan – By Jeremy Thompson

Continuing that thought, the city is surrounded by ideal suburbs. Whether it’s Brampton or Oakville or Oshawa, these places really add to the appeal of Toronto overall. Filled with conservation areas like Heart Lake Park and hiking trails, most of the suburbs are a great way to explore the more natural, rural side of the urban area.

Heart Lake Conservation Area, Vaughan near Toronto, Canada
Heart Lake, Brampton – By Mykola Swarnyk

Adding to its conservation parks, Vaughan is also special for being home to Canada’s Wonderland, Canada’s largest and earliest major theme park. And of course, Burlington has the enchanted Royal Botanical Gardens with some mountainous scenery around Mt. Nemo. Visitors can get hyped at a theme park and chill out at a heart-shaped lake afterward. What could be more fun?

centerpiece at Canada's Wonderland theme park, Vaughan, Ontario
Canada’s Wonderland – By Jeremy Thompson

13. Culture (+ Closing)

We all know (by now) that Toronto is the biggest city and probably the most diverse in Canada. This city is famed for having open arms to the world’s people and allowing for so many cultures and nationalities to coexist. The city’s people don’t just reside here but are celebrated by the many festivals, events, and exhibits dedicated to them every year.

It’s a massive metropolis that has often been ahead of the pack with its culture, music, film industry, and economic might. Still, in all its growth, Toronto remembers to protect its natural environment and to promote sustainability in a lasting way. This city, like many places in Canada, doesn’t let the cold get to it. Whether it’s ice skating, snowboarding, or hockey, locals know how to make the most of the cold dark months with a face-full of lights … and some good brew.

**Okay world lovers, that’s it for Toronto! I hope you enjoyed this post and learned something about this incredible city. I also hope I showed you part of why Toronto is a special place. Are you from Toronto or ever visited there? Let us know what you would add (or take away) from this little list. I appreciate your readership, and take care of yourselves. Peace.

Are there many interracial couples in America?

Looking at the complex racial history of the United States, one might be set to think that the nation’s many “races” and ethnic groups don’t mix well. If you’ve seen shows like 90 Day Fiancé (or Keeping Up With the Kardashians, really) then you have some notion about this. Here, I want to look at how people mix on more than just a superficial level. What’s the chemistry like for different races in America? How much mixing do these different groups actually do? In many countries (definitely not all) interracial couples are pretty common, or at least aren’t seen as particularly strange. In the U.S., well, it’s a funny story.

Some Inter-Racial History

an old color painting of black slaves awaiting sale in a room with white spectators & auctionees
Slaves waiting for sale – By Eyre Crowe

So yes, interracial couples do exist in the U.S.A. A lot, actually. But, racial mixing in relationships is still taboo in many parts. Why is that? I mean, it’s 2021! There are some good reasons behind this. Historically, mixed-race couples have been highly criticized within the U.S., especially between black and white people. In many ways, this combination is still the most controversial in the States, even though for black men the most common interracial combo is he, black and she, white. Still, what’s all that prejudice about?

an old photo of light-skinned slave girls, mulatto children in the American South during slavery
Mixed-race slave girls – By M.H. Kimball

You might know (or be able to guess) that this stems from times of slavery. Many black women were raped by their white master or his family members, forcing them to have mulatto children. Instead of being given more rights like in some other European colonies, the mulattos were still considered slaves. More often than not, they were treated with the same cruelty too. This is part of why mixed people or “light-skinned-ed” black people are often considered black in the first place. But that’s a different post.

Anyway, due to this complicated history of racial division and mistrust, the family of either partner in a couple may feel discomfort with the relationship. It’s not just between blacks and whites, given the historic tensions:

  • Latinos/Hispanics – mostly for immigration and cultural differences
  • Asians (especially Japanese, Koreans, and Vietnamese) – because of several American wars in the region, Japanese attacks during WW2, cultural prejudice
  • Arabs/Muslims – recent wars, 9/11, cultural and religious differences

Native Americans make up a pretty small portion of interracial couples, but they are also one of the smallest ethnic groups overall. I do get the sense that they are more mixed and integrated into American society than in other American countries like Mexico or Brazil.

One contributing factor to so much prejudice around this topic is that interracial marriage used to be illegal in several states back in the day. Since it was decriminalized in the 1960s, interracial marriages have almost tripled. In all states and almost every county, interracial couples have increased and are continually on the rise. There are some differences though.

And now commencing: Montage of beautiful mixed families

Trends & Perceptions about Intermixing

an interracial family smiling and posing for a photo in front of a house
One big mixed family – by Rajiv Perera

Interracial relationships tend to be more common in urban areas than rural areas. They’re also more common in the West or the Mid-Atlantic. That’s because those regions are more diverse anyway, so it’s a lot more likely you’ll meet someone of a different “race” in the first place, let alone marry them. As far as opinion, black people are more likely to accept intermarriage than white people are. Still, it depends on the combo.

For instance, black family’s would probably be more accepting of intermarriage with a white person than an Asian person. Meanwhile with white families, it might be the opposite. Still, intermarriage between groups like whites with Asians or Hispanics is more common than intermarriage with blacks in general. Most commonly with intermarriage, white people are more likely to get with someone who is white Hispanic. At that point, it’s less a matter of “race” and more of cultural identity.

Attitudes about race, regions where more diverse communities are located, quality of education, and employment opportunities are some factors that help determine the prevalence of interracial couples in any given part of America. All these factors considered, general tendencies with black people contribute to fewer marriage rates overall anyway. That’s stuff like higher incarceration and unemployment rates. Been to jail? Don’t have a job? It’s gonna be hard for her to accept that ring, player.

What’s “Interracial,” Anyway?

two mixed-race American kids with curly hair sitting and laughing together
Some of that pretty mixed-people hair – by Eye for Ebony

A couple of notes about race as it relates to this subject:

So, we all know about the strange American system of declaring who’s who and what’s what. Hispanics are considered an “ethnic group” of people from any Spanish-speaking country (from Mexico to Spain). Latinos are from any Latin-American country (from Mexico to Argentina, Brazil included — places like Haiti usually aren’t included). Asians covers anybody from East, South, or Central Asia (from China to India to Kazakhstan). Arabs considers everyone from an Arabic-speaking nation (from Morocco to Iraq).

Otherwise, there’s a separation between African-American and black since black could be from Africa, the Caribbean, or anywhere else, really. Whites are generally considered those with Anglo-Saxon (e.g. British, German), Slavic (e.g. Russian, Polish), or Mediterranean (e.g. Italian, Greek) backgrounds. This often excludes Indo-Aryans (e.g. Iranians, white Afghans) or whites from the Middle East/North Africa (e.g. white Algerians, white Lebanese).

All of this to say that the way interracial couples are recorded in the U.S. can be tricky. Let’s say Joe with British ancestry marries Susan with Syrian ancestry. Both could be white, but Susan would be considered Arab. Or Susan could have white ancestry from Cuba, but she’d be considered Hispanic/Latina.

Now Joe is black with deep African American ancestry, but now Susan has black ancestry from Cuba. Susan is still considered Hispanic/Latina, and their relationship “interracial.” Or let’s say Joe has Japanese ancestry and Susan has south Indian ancestry. Under the eyes of the census, they wouldn’t be considered interracial since both are from the Asian continent, even though they are ethnically and culturally worlds apart.

With that said, there are probably a lot more “intercultural” marriages and relationships in the U.S. than we might think based on the numbers. That’s why I like to use my eyes.

Use Your “Sense-us”

Based on what I can see, most of my family members are in “interracial & intercultural” relationships, and they live all over the country. I’m from a big city, so I have seen lots of interracial couples all over the place. If they’ve led to marriage, I’m sure is a different story altogether.

Because of recent growth in racial awareness, a lot more interracial couples and families are sympathizing more with each other’s identities. When a white person has a mixed black kid, it’s hard not to pay close attention to the police shootings of young black people. That’s just one example. In the end, I think this will be something that saves our nation and creates more sympathy for other cultures. The country is still pretty segregated compared to lots of Western countries. But I encourage interracial couples, we need them! Without them, I wouldn’t even be here.

**What do you think about interracial/intercultural couples? What about international couples? Have you ever been in a relationship like this? Would you want to? Comment and share your thoughts! Read more Doubts About Americans! And check these links below for more info. Stay safe out there! Peace.

Resources & Further Reading:

Perceptions & Trends of Interracial Couples

U.S. Census Results about Interracial Couples

Interracial Couple Experience

Other Facts about Interracial Couples

“Catch work trap device” – meaning and use of ‘Trap, Trapping’

From “Beez in the Trap” to “Trap Queen“, trapping has become a part of mainstream and popular English slang nowadays. Lots of native speakers are now getting used to this fun little word. But what about all my learners out there? Do you know what a “trap” is? We’ll take a look and explain what this word is and how to use it. To do that, we’ll read some dialogues with our favorite character, Charles. (To find other short stories and dialogues where I explain English expressions, check out Adventures of Charles) All set? Here we go …

The Trap

brown mouse inside mouse trap, representing the slang meaning of "trap"
by ardeshir etemad, Pexels.com

Explain

First of all, the trap can refer to a place. Normally, a “trap” is a situation or device used to trick someone or capture something. Think of a mousetrap used to catch mice. Well in slang, the trap has been used a lot to talk about a place, sometimes an actual house (trap house), where drug deals happened. I know, that’s a little dark. It’s also been used to talk about a place where any illegal activities and transactions happen on a regular basis.

On a similar tone, sometimes it’s used to talk about the “hood” or lower-class neighborhoods in general. That’s probably because these kinds of neighborhoods have usually been where you could find a trap house. Now, the whole block is considered a “trap.” This is also where you get names like trap queen and trap music, now a whole subgenre of hip hop.

Dialogue

One thing had been on Charles’s mind for the longest time: Sheila. But he’d heard some rumors about her that he wanted to clear up. One man knew more about Sheila than anybody else, and Charles was in the neighborhood to find him.

Charles — Okay, I hope this is the right stop. Goodness, what is this place? It’s so dirty and empty. I better find this guy soon … before it gets dark.

A boy from the neighborhood came up to Charles, noticing he was kind of lost.

Local boy — Hey, yo. What’s your name? You looking for the trap or what?

  • Are you looking for the drug house, looking to buy some illegal things?

Charles — Who, me? No. I mean, sorry. I’m not from around here. I’m just looking for somebody.

Local boy — I figured, cuz I ain’t ever seen you around here before. Why you look all scared? You never been to a trap before?

  • Haven’t you ever been to a hood, a ghetto, a poor neighborhood before?

Charles’s nervousness was showing all over his face.

Charles — No, I mean … I don’t know. I didn’t know there were places like this in this city. It’s so different. Just trying to find somebody.

Explain

All illegal activity aside, nowadays a trap can also be a place where one makes their money or just spends their time. It’s a bit more sarcastic used this way though. The idea is still of a place or situation that is hard to get out of. Trap is also used to refer to trap music in general, in the sense of “listening to trap.”

Dialogue

Local boy — I could help you find “somebody.” You know her name? What street is she on?

Charles — Oh, no, it’s a he. I’m looking for this rapper or singer or whatever– He records at the studio on Wilmington Ave.

Local boy — Oh, dang. He doesn’t owe you anything, does he? That boy is so bad at paying people back.

Charles — No, no. I need to talk to him about a girl. Sheila. They record together.

Local boy — Ahh, okay! You’re talking about Lil B Dowry, that old trap rapper from down past the alley.

  • That rapper who makes trap music.

Charles — You know him?

Local boy — Yeah, I know who he is. If he’s not at the trap right now, he’s probably at home. Want me to take you over?

  • If he’s not at work, at the place where he makes money.

He thought for a second. Then Charles gave the boy a nod, and they started walking down the street, around the corner, and past the alley.

To Trap

Explain

This is basically the verb version of the above. Just like how “trap” in regular usage can be a situation/device and an action, “trap” in slang can also be an action. More often than not, people refer to the action as trapping. Trapping is used a lot to talk about making illegal transactions, especially dealing with drugs. But you’re all saintly people, so you won’t need to use it like that 😉

Dialogue

As they got near to Lil B Dowry’s house or hang-out spot — or trap, as the local boy called it — Charles noticed a couple of strange-looking people with tired eyes and smelly clothes wandering around. They looked sick in the face, and they couldn’t stop shuffling around on the floor like they were searching for worms.

Local boy — Ha. You see them? They’re probably coming from Lil B’s place right now.

Charles — Yeah? Does Lil B … trap?

  • Does he sell drugs, make money illegally?

The local boy laughed and shook his head. He then turned to Charles.

Local boy — Well, that’s what people say. Let’s find out.

Explain

Now, trapping doesn’t have to be all bad. In the loosest sense, it’s used to talk about any kind of work that one makes their money from. Some people use it to talk about making money in general, even by legal means. That’s right; even on their legal paying jobs, sometimes people say trapping.

Dialogue

When they arrived at the house, Lil B Dowry was already on the front porch. He put out his cigarette and stood up, ready to encounter two strangers. But he realized they weren’t so strange after all.

Lil B Dowry — Hey, bro! What’s happening with you?

Local boy — You know this guy? He was wandering around the block, lost, looking for you.

Lil B Dowry — Heck yeah, I know this fool. I’ve seen him around at the studio. You know, the one on Wilmington. Come on up, don’t be scared!

The sun was getting low in the sky. The sick people were still shuffling around in the streets.

Local boy — So, I see you’ve been hustling out here. Making hit songs and making deals on these fiends.

Lil B Dowry — Nah, that’s not on me. You know I don’t trap like that.

  • You know I don’t sell drugs, make money illegally like that.

Local boy — You mean, you don’t sell …

Lil B Dowry — All of my trapping is legal, kid. I make my music, and that’s it. Don’t get misconstrued. If anybody is dealing drugs, it’s Charles over there. Probably got ties with the Colombian Cartels, the Haitians. He might even be in the Japanese mafia, for all we know.

  • All of my ways of making money are legal.

They broke out laughing, and Charles realized that the rapper was joking with him. Thank God!

Explain

Just a quick note. Trap can also be a person that is lying or deceitful. It’s especially used towards women or trans people who lie about their identity, but that’s another story. You can read more about that meaning if you want to here.

Dialogue

Charles — Yeah, you all better run from me. I’ll get the mob after you. But for real, I came to ask you about …

Lil B Dowry — Sheila? I know, I remember you liked her. You come to find out if she’s a trap or not. Listen, Sheila’s cool, okay? You don’t have to worry about her. And you can ask her for yourself, she doesn’t hide anything.

  • Find out if she’s a liar, if she’s deceitful, if she’s a fake.

A sigh of relief swept over Charles. Nerves came back when he realized how dark it was.

Local boy — That’s cool you rap at a studio though. You should get me a spot in the booth.

Lil B Dowry — For sure! If you want, I’ll take you down there right now. Sheila’s probably getting done making a song right now, Charlie. I’ll take y’all if you want.

Charles — That’s alright! Where’s your car parked?

Closing

Alright, my learners! I hope this made some sense to you. These aren’t all the possible meanings of “trap,” but this is mostly what you’ll want to know. Since it’s a term that originates from illegal activities, it could be a tricky word to know how to use. If you’re an English learner, I suggest not using it unless you’re around people who use it commonly. If you’re around younger people, you could surprise them with your use of “trap” in the healthy, legal sense.

Whatever you decide, at least you now understand these slang expressions. Use them in your own sentences. Think of songs where you’ve heard these expressions. And whatever you do …! Don’t give up learning. Peace out! And take care.

Why is the Southern Region special? 7 Cool Reasons – 🇮🇸 Iceland

Going down south … in Iceland, that is. This will be the last Earth’s Face post about Iceland, and what a great note to finish on! This region is truly special within this country and in the world. Want to share what you like about the Southern Region or about Iceland, in general? Share it with us below! I’m all about sharing knowledge and enthusiasm for geography, haha. You can read about Iceland’s other regions in the Geography section. But back to the question:

What makes the Southern Region so special? Well, you’ll just have to read on.

The Southern Region (Suðurland) on a map highlighted in red
.

Suðurland: Quick Geography

The trend continues in Iceland. Just like all the other regions, we can tell exactly what part of the country this one is in by its name, Suðurland in Icelandic. Located in the south, it’s actually pretty close to Reykjavík as well, though its capital is at Selfoss. It’s got some interesting geography features too. Even though it’s in the south, several of Iceland’s ice caps and glaciers are actually located here due to altitude.

The nation’s biggest lake, Þórisvatn (Thorisvaten) is here, and the region sits right along a rift valley between the North American and European continental plates. That creates some interesting scenery throughout. Besides that, you also get a group of volcanic islands off the coast called Vestmannaeyjar. Intriguing. Now let’s see those features!

1. Selfoss – town

Since Selfoss is the capital town, that’s naturally where the intro to the region begins. Besides being the biggest town in southern Iceland, it’s also got some interesting cultural features. They have a Bobby Fischer Center dedicated to chess if you’re into that, and there’s a special summer event called Summer in Selfoss. It’s basically this outdoor festival to enjoy the summer which, in the Southern Region, is one of the “hottest” in Iceland.

During the festival, they make elaborate decorations on houses and gardens, and they have a big outdoor gathering/party called a fete. Definitely after the pandemic, you can try to get out there. One of the main features around Selfoss though is its nature. Selfoss is on the Ölfusá River, great for witnessing open space and hilly scenery. Don’t confuse the name with Selfoss, a magnificent waterfall way off in northern Iceland. It’s kind of far but, off topic, really a special sight to see.

A river valley in the Landmannalaugar highlands area, Iceland's Southern Region
Landmannalaugar – by Joshua Sortino

2. Landmannalaugar – mountains

One incredible mountainous region is Landmannalaugar. This place is a vast natural area stocked with lava fields and vividly colored hills. There are reds and yellows and swirling oranges. Add the smoke that constantly seeps out of the rocks and it looks like a winding mountain range on fire. Still relatively safe for exploring, there are huts available for camping out in the heights and even horseback tours.

Canyon in Iceland's Þórsmörk (Thorsmork) region
Þórsmörk – by Robby McCullough

3. Þórsmörk – canyons & waterfalls

Down the road, Þórsmörk (or Thors-moerk, maybe) is a beautiful highlands area, actually named after the god, Thor. That makes enough sense since inside these mountains is a big canyon that looks like Thor smashed his hammer right into the earth! The landscape is beautifully scenic with a snakey river that runs down the bottom of the green cliffsides. Another cool feature here is the Stakkholtsgjá (Stak-holts-gyah) area. It’s a specific part of the canyon that is especially pretty with green cliffs, caves, and more of those spectacular views we’re used to seeing in Iceland.

Special waterfall, Seljalandsfoss, partially covered in ice, Southern Region
Seljalandsfoss – by Robert Bye

In the region around Þórsmörk are some iconic waterfalls. Iceland is known for its many beautiful falls, but the Southern Region may take the cake on that topic. Two particular falls that deserve mention in these parts are Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss, the latter of which flows in a rolling green setting. There is access in a cave behind the falls to watch the water flow down from within. Truly breathtaking, I’m telling you.

Part of Þingvellir (Thingvellir) area, rift valley in Southern Region, Iceland
Þingvellir rift valley – by Harshil Gudka

4. Þingvellir – rift valleys & history

Yet another pretty geological site is Þingvellir (Thing-vel-lir). This is basically a large natural area of rivers, canyons, and thermal sites wrapped all around a continental rift valley. The sight of rivers flowing down into the rift is enough to make you love this place. Tacking onto its natural beauty, it’s also significant to Icelandic history.

The famed Alþingi (Al-thing-y) was one of the first, if not the first, parliament systems in all of Europe. The area of Þingvellir is the place where the parliament used to meet up for hundreds of years before more recently moving to Reykjavík. The history and the scenery together pack a punch to make this place especially unique inside of Iceland.

Misty waters at Gullfoss, powerful waterfall in Southern Region
Gullfoss falls – by Theodor Vasile

5. Gullfoss & Geysir – waterfalls & geysers

We couldn’t talk about the Southern Region without bringing up Gullfoss. These are some of the most powerful and impressive waterfalls in the whole country, ripping over hills and falling into a canyon where they seem to disappear.

Gushing waters at sunrise, the Great Geysir in Iceland
the Great Geysir – by David Köhler

I also have to mention the Great Geysir. This is one of the biggest geysers in the world and is the reason why we call them geysers today, though with a slight spell change. It was reportedly the first geyser to be witnessed by Europeans and probably anyone else. Otherwise, it’s just amazing to watch. Another important geyser is Strokkur, just to give you some options. These are a perfect alternative if you’re in Europe and can’t make it all the way out to Yellowstone.

View of a town and some islands from the red rocks of a volcano, on the islands of Vestmannaeyjar, the Southern Region
Vestmannaeyjar – By Hansueli Krapf (User:Simisa)

6. Vestmannaeyjar – islands & volcanoes

Yet another unique place is the Vestmannaeyjar (Vest-man-nay-yar). These are a group of islands off the coast of the Southern Region known for their consistent volcanic activity. Fear not, these islands are truly breathtaking and offer up some great views of the volcanic hills surrounding their towns and coasts. Small compared to the main island, they still offer up some majestic views juxtaposing the wild sea and rugged land up against each other. They’re not far at all and a close hop from the “mainland.”

7. Culture (Last Thoughts)

Oh, Southern Region. If I were Icelandic, I’d be surely proud of you. Being in the south and with all its valleys and thermal activity, it’s a bit warmer than other parts of the country. That makes it so that people get a little more outdoor time, allowing people to be more active. Vestmannaeyjar is the only offshore island group with any significant population. That makes the lifestyle and culture here unique from the rest of Iceland.

Being reasonably close to the capital, yet still centrally located, this region is a major stopover for travelers and visitors passing through the island. A significant place for the history of Iceland, it’s the site of the first known geysers and one of the first parliaments in Europe. All that aside, Iceland is a waterfall chaser’s dream, and the Southern Region is arguably the best place to see these magnificent forces of nature.

**We did it! Iceland is in the bag. But this isn’t all that makes these regions special. Share what you think is special or just plain cool about Iceland. Know a video or photo that makes these places look awesome? Share a link with us! Keep growing your mind and take care of each other! Peace.

What makes Iceland unique? Part 3 – Northeastern & Northwestern Regions

If you haven’t noticed yet, Iceland has a lot that makes it a unique country in and of itself. Making our way around the island, this post will dwell a bit on the two northern regions. Being so far up there, these are the two parts of the country that reach closest to the Arctic. Here you can read parts one and two of Iceland. It’s a little colder and more remote so far north. But what is it that makes the Northwestern and Northeastern Regions so unique? Let’s start by getting acquainted with this part of Iceland, shall we?

Location of Northeastern Region (Norðurland eystra) on the map
.
Location of Northwestern Region (Norðurland vestra) on the map
.

Quick Geography: Norðurland Vestra & Norðurland Eystra

The names of both of these regions describe exactly where they stand on the map, and that goes for both in Icelandic and English. So, we at least know where they are. Common for subarctic countries, they also have some big fjords (though not quite like the Westfjords).

The capital of Northwestern is Sauðárkrókur (Saudarkrokur), and Akureyri for Northeastern. Both of these regions have pretty extensive coastlines and mountains, though there are some full-blown ice sheets down in the south of them. The northernmost points in both the island and the country of Iceland are in the Northeastern Region, where there are a few isles that reach above the Arctic Circle. Now on to the uniqueness!

Fjord and harbor with a scenic mountainous landscape around the town of Akureyri, capital of the Northeastern Region, Iceland
Public Domain

Features & Places

1. The Capitals

Since we already mentioned them, let’s just start with the capital towns. I know the names might be a little confusing, so I’ll just refer to them here as S-Town and A-Town. Both of these northern regions look to be quite rural and country, even for Iceland standards. Still, this gives these towns even more of a cozy feel within the country.

Not only are these towns surrounded by scenic landscapes like sweeping harbors and snowcapped peaks. Especially with A-Town, there are a couple of other places to see like the Into the Arctic center, Iceland’s Motorcycle Museum for those who like motor grease, and a quiet Botanical Garden for those who like to sit in nature.

2. Northwestern: The Countryside

Of course, there is plenty to see outside of the capitals. In the Northwestern Region, Blönduós and Skagafjörður (Skagafjordur) come to mind out of the many idyllic countrysides here. In the area, there are even more scenes of majestic nature and landscapes stooped with watery valleys. A very cool feature of both these regions is that you can find many of those traditional sod-roof Nordic houses covered in grasses. When the ice has melted away, these homes and cabins are a pretty sight to see.

Panoramic view east across Skagafjörður valley, from Vatnsskarð pass, Northwestern Region
Skagafjörður valley – By Debivort

3. Special Lakes

If you like lakes, this is your place! 😀 Well, there are some interesting bodies of water out here. In Northwestern is a big one called Lake Hóp. Something really cool about it is that there are parts that seem to be shallow where groups of people can ride across the water on horseback!

If that doesn’t spark your interest, then check out this other place called Askja. Now, Askja itself is an active volcano or a series of calderas, really. Besides the feeling of being way out in the central highlands of a country that’s already pretty isolated, there are also a couple of big crater lakes, including the very large Lake Askja herself. Big beautiful bodies of water surrounded by snow-powdered hills and steamy calderas has to make a case for Northeastern Region being a special one.

3. Dettifoss & Vatnajökull

Particularly in Northeastern, you can find a few second-placers of Europe. Two of these would be Dettifoss (considered the second-most powerful waterfall) and the Vatnajökull (second largest glacier). With that said, they are definitely in first place inside of Iceland’s watery borders.

By writing this, you can probably picture for yourself the powerful, roaring waters and vast sheets of rugged ice and frozen caves. The glacier itself does stretch across a few different regions, but the larger part of Vatnajökull National Park is in Northeastern which is exactly where Dettifoss Falls are located. Okay, done with that.

Culture

I noticed doing research that these places seemed to be even more rustic and rural than the other regions of Iceland. It looks like there’s a stronger horse and farm life culture out here, and that’s great for giving some separation from the rest of the country. This area was traditionally (and still is) the least contacted for being so far up top. This has allowed the region to preserve certain aspects of rural and traditional Icelandic life that have fallen away in other parts.

There are still lots of amazing places to see and explore, and I’m sure I’m only scratching the surface. Ride a horse on a lake, catch the 2nd-most powerful waterfall in Europe, and reach the Arctic. All can be done in the wonderful Northeastern and Northwestern regions of beautiful Iceland!

**Thanks again for stopping by! I hope you enjoyed learning more about these regions of Iceland with me. I appreciate your thirst for knowledge and interest in other worlds. Please take care of yourselves and have happy travels!

What Makes Iceland Unique? Part 2 – Western Region, Westfjords

Welcome back to another post about Iceland! We’re going to continue our curious quest to learn what makes different parts of the world stand out from all the rest. Moving on within the nation of Iceland, this post explores how unique the Western Region and Westfjords are. This isn’t really a travel list, more a letter of admiration for these two incredible places. You can read Part 1 about Iceland here. Check the links to discover more, or feel free to research some of these places for yourself. But read this first!

Hornstrandir area, a protruding rock formation on the coast, a unique place in Iceland's Westfjords Region
Hornstrandir – By Steenaire

Okay. What does make the Western Region and the Westfjords so special?

Vesturland

Quick Geography

As far as place-names go in Iceland, this one is about as simple as it gets. The Western Region is named so for being in the west. It sits just north of the Capital Region, with its capital at Borgarnes. It has coastlines, highlands, mountains, and glaciers like all the other regions do. The climate doesn’t differ much either. Okay, moving on.

the Höfrungur AK 91, a shored boat in Akranes, Western Region of Iceland
shored boat in Akranes – by Luke Hodde

Features & Places

Even though Borgarnes is the capital, the biggest town in the region is Akranes. Akranes is a coastal city with several interesting features like a lighthouse that looks spectacular underneath the sunset or aurora lights. There’s this ship from the 1950s called Höfrungur AK 91 that was just left on the shore and turned into a tourist attraction. There’s a sandy beach too, although the water’s a little chilly for diving.

It’s not the biggest, but Borgarnes is still worth the visit. The saving feature of this town is the majestic landscape surrounding it. There are winding peninsulas and harbors with snowy mountains in the backdrop. Like with most of the country, the elevation rises the further inland you go. With this, you can see an impressively tall waterfall called Glymur high above the surrounding canyons and tumbling birds.

Glymur, iconic waterfalls in the Western Region of Iceland
section of Glymur falls – by Alexander Milo

A mention of landscapes couldn’t go without Snæfellsnes. It’s a natural region on a peninsula that happens to be one of the most photographed and iconic parts of Iceland. There are these unbelievable rock formations covered in green pastures alongside roaring white waterfalls. The whole thing is like a fantasy setting. The coast is just as impressive with twisty stones and rugged shores alongside many uniquely shaped rocks. There are natural bridges, arches, and tunnels carved out by the constantly beating waves.

rock formations and a volcano in the background, part of Snæfellsnes area in Iceland's Western Region
Snæfellsnes region – by Martin Brechtl

In this same area is Snæfellsjökull, a big volcano that overlooks beaches and shorelines. It’s a pretty sight considering the glacier sitting on top of it, and even more amazing when the whole area is covered in snow during the winter. Inland you can see even taller mountains and larger glaciers. Isn’t that awesome?!

Vestfirðir

Quick Geography

The Westfjords are named so for being in the northwest of the country (naturally) and being full of fjords. It’s actually the part of Iceland furthest to the west and is the closest to Greenland. Its capital is a town deep inside a fjord called Ísafjörður. Now let’s see what you’ve got.

Dynjandi waterfall, a unique feature of Iceland's Westfjords
Dynjandi Falls – By Diego Delso

Features & Places

Now, the Westfjords or West Fjords — really you can write it either way — is a very pretty area similar somewhat to the Western Region. What makes it stand alone are its complex systems of fjords (imagine that!), cliffs, and very very twisty roads. These kinds of roads are famous and highly memorable for those that have driven them. The winding roads take you past some pretty amazing sights, including the mighty Dynjandi Falls. These suckers cascade over cliffs around the bend of some big road curves. Because of the rugged landscape, summer in these parts becomes really beautiful. As the snow melts, it creates all sorts of streams and waterfalls that run down into the ocean. One of the more interesting places to see this is in Ísafjörður, where the green and the streams really stand out around the edges of the town’s harbor.

Capital town and pretty scenery of the Westfjords region, Isafjordur (Ísafjörður), calm harbor in the summer time
town of Ísafjörður – By Sturlast~iswiki

The highest cliffs on the North Atlantic can be found at Látrabjarg. This place is a refuge for many sea birds like puffins that you can watch and get close to. The feeling of standing over the sea and watching birds fly under you must be an incredible sensation. The region is also full of green meadows that cover the hills and misty clouds that shift in between cliffs and mountains. The best showcasing of this unique beauty is found in Hornstrandir, an area with protruding mountains and cliffs like rhino horns that jut out over the sea. The setting is spectacular!

some high cliffs at Látrabjarg, Westfjords Region
Cliffs at Látrabjarg – by Einar H. Reynis

Culture (AKA Last Thoughts)

It’s easy to imagine why these regions are some of the most photographed and celebrated parts of Iceland. Just look up Iceland on Google Images and you’re bound to see a few locations from these iconic places. It goes to show from their almost unbelievable landscapes pressing right against the sea, their iconic winding roads, seaside volcanoes, and tall grassy cliffs. The Western Region and the Westfjords are definitely important for tourism, being not too far from Reykjavík. Still, they are remote enough to preserve the old customs and lifestyles while being open to welcome in newcomers. Go and check it out!

**Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed learning more about these unique regions of Iceland. I appreciate that you like to learn about the world and have a passion for exploring! Please share with us anything you’d like to add about these regions. What was the most interesting place on this list? Would you ever visit these regions? As always, take care of yourself. And go explore your world 😉