Change Makers 1: Amanda

Hey Crew,

Welcome to our fist installment of Change Makers, where we spotlight those in the community finding unique ways to spread positivity. Today, I had the pleasure of meeting Amanda Crick and learning about her connection with the BlackburnCenter.


Amanda WAS getting married on October 13th. Don’t worry, it is still congratulations to the happy bride to have been! Due to unforeseen circumstances, Amanda had to cancel her wedding but decided to re-purpose it into a new beginning for herself, family, and friends. It will also be a special event benefiting the BlackburnCenter as a way of saying “Thank you” to them for all of their help to herself and others.

1 in 3 Woman and 1 in 4 Men are Victims of Violence by an Intimate Partner.
— NCADV.org

Amanda has been using the services of the BlackburnCenter recently to help her through some difficult times and is seeing amazing progress through all the services that they offer and she has chosen to take advantage of. This support system has enabled her to be vocal about what she had been through. Her courage to come forward has inspired others to do the same, and seek help for their situation, while realizing they are not alone.

The BlackburnCenter has been providing services to victims of domestic and sexual violence since 1976. Based in Greensburg, they primarily service the area of Westmoreland County providing multiple different types of service at No Cost to all women, children, and men.

  • 24 Hour Hotline

  • Counseling and Therapy

  • Accompaniment to Trials and Emergency Room

  • A Shelter

On top of the multiple services offered directly to their clients, they also provide education in the community by using school partnerships, professional training, and community events. BlackburnCenter believes in making a difference through social transformation with a focus on the root cause of gender violence using primary prevention efforts.

There are multiple ways to support BlackburnCenter.

ATV Toronto

I spent the weekend up in Toronto with another member of Spare Change, Jared. It was a quick, up and back, trip but it was definitely worth the time spent in the car. Jared made it out easy since I drove both ways. 

This was the first time I had a camera person for an ATV Episode and it was a totally different experience. I was not worried about filming the entire time so was able to focus a bit more on what I was doing and Jared has a lot of nifty gadgets to complement the filming process. He is also an artist with his phone. This ATV will have smooth time lapses and scenes thanks to his gimble and will also feature some really great drone shots, which I am never able to provide despite how much Red Bull I may drink. 

What did we get into though?

We set out Friday afternoon and arrived by 21h00. We stopped by the Phi Gamma Delta- Fiji, House at the University of Toronto. My friend Alex is a brother and ex-president of the Chapter so we had a place to park while we were in the city and I knew a few of the other brothers. We were greeted by Muhammad who took us to The Madison, a bar up the street situated in a massive house.  

Burgers and beers were definitely needed after the 6 hour drive up! We spent the evening explaining Spare Change, catching up with Muhammad and enjoying a few pints of Molson.

Afterwards we headed to our Hotel where there was no parking on site without the valet. I naturally asked where to go park and was directed to the "Green P two minutes down the road on the right." This was extremely confusing but I decided I was just going to give it a try. As I was driving looking for a sign that said "Green Pea" or something close. I saw something that gave me an epiphany about a minute later. It was a giant green parking sign with a P in it.

It was almost too simple to have made sense. We turned in for the night and started out the next day with breakfast at the hotel. Standard arrangement of some hot food, cereal, coffee, yogurt, bagels, fruit. It hit the spot and set us up for success to take on the day which was full of adventure.

We decided that we would do the CityPass. The CityPass is a booklet of tickets to top attractions in a city for a discounted price and is available in multiple cities in America as well as Toronto. I highly recommend that people traveling look at their website to see if a CityPass is offered in the city you are visiting. 

The first stop for us was Casa Loma where we purchased the City Pass and entered. It happened to be a Family Day Weekend and there were tons of different activities throughout the Castle for us to watch or participate in while we explored. We watched an aerialist, played life size connect 4, and made our way downstairs to go see the antique car exhibit in the old stable. What we did not expect was the stable to be filled with tons of blow up games for Family Day Weekend. They had basketball, hockey puck shooting, and corn hole to name a few. We had a good time trying everything out and the coolest part was the underground tunnel that we had to walk to get there (pictured below)

We headed out for our second stop at the Royal Ontario Museum which is quite similar to the Carnegie Museum at home in Pittsburgh but with a few different exhibits. They boasted an impressive Chinese and Vikings exhibit as well as had a group of African Drummers performing in the foyer. 

We had worked up quite an appetite by this point and needed to stop for some of that all you can eat sushi that is found in so many places through out Toronto. We ate probably 7 or 8 rolls between the two of us. 

We flew the drone around Fiji and scored an awesome shot of the Toronto skyline and then braved the subway to go see Ripleys Aquarium and the CN Tower. The Aquarium was massive and as you get to the bottom there is a moving walkway that takes you through a tunnel underneath multiple different fish, also sharks, which lasts about 10 minutes! We headed next door to the CN Tower after we were done walking through the Aquarium. 

The CN Tower offered an amazing view of the city and we fortunately did not have a very long wait to get up or down from the observation deck. The sun was just setting while we were up top and watching the traffic start to light up was relaxing to watch. At this point we had more than enough footage and had been filming for nearly 12 hours at this point. 

We called it quits and headed back to Fiji, on the wrong train. Sorry Jared, my mistake. It took us about an hour but I rectified the situation and got us back. We spent the night having Irish car bombs, eating wings, and listening to live Reggae music.

That was not enough for us though as we enjoyed wine and pizza in the hotel room before sleeping in and heading home through Niagara Falls. Thanks for reading and watching (in the future) from Jared and I! 

 

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ATV Wales
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Day 1

I will spare you guys the aching about my train ride yesterday to get here. It was just awfully boring and I spent most the day on the train. However, once I arrived Claire and Geoff were immediately there to whisk me away to their house where we enjoyed tea, beer, and cake. Which is quite the triad. After some chit-chat and figuring out how their accent affected some sayings… such as “have a lunch” sounded convincingly like “see an avalanche”. We were off to bed for quite the county tour today. After a light breakfast these two took me on a whirlwind of a tour along the coast seeing different beaches, filling me in on different historical lessons as well as local history. The stones from Stone Henge came from this area and no one knows how they were moved to where Stone Henge is located. In 2000, a group was awarded a grant to try and move a comparable stone from here to Stone Henge. They rolled it 15 miles to a beach, then attempted to load it on a raft to float up the coast. While they left the stone on the beach overnight, many local farmers came with their tractors and hid the stone for a few days!

 

The local history did not stop here. The French had attempted an invasion nearby in the late 1700’s and there were loads of other things to learn. While hopping around to the different beaches, forts, chapels, cathedrals, and towns. We had plenty of good laughs and near collisions on the narrow country roads. Geoff and Claire are super friendly and chatted with everyone we encountered today. We stopped by a chocolate shop and the lady who owned it recognized Geoff from grade school! We were given a few free pieces of chocolate to enjoy later. I had only gone in there to buy a chocolate bar because Claire had said she didn’t like Hershey’s, which was very sac-religious to say after we had just finished at St. David’s Cathedral. We stopped for lunch at the Sloop Inn near a harbor for the old brick works. I had a traditional Welsh Dish called Lamb Cawl, essentially lamb stew. It was delicious. Afterwards we headed to the Gwaun Valley Brewery, had a few pints on my client who set me up with Claire and Geoff and even brought a few bottles home!

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Day 2

We tackled the other half of the coast today. We started in Milford Haven which was an old port town and has gone quite downhill since its hay day. However it has a beautiful view of the river and town! Pembroke dock was our next stop. We crossed a bridge that replaced the old way of crossing the river. That method was a 10 car ferry. During construction part the bridge collapsed onto the houses below and into the river. Thankfully, that was not a problem today. We continued on to Pembroke Town where Pembroke Castle is located. It is the birthplace of King Henry the VII, the first English claim in Wales, and we took a guided tour of the castle. The tour made the castle experience 200 times better than I could have experienced it alone. Our tour guide was a retired history teacher and was extremely passionate. He was extremely knowledgeable and kept everyone entertained and engaged for an hour and a half. To top off the tour the castle boasted a few exploratory options such as a cave underneath, the dungeon tower, and the keep. The view from the keep was amazing and you could see all of Pembroke Town. I would highly recommend this experience to anyone travelling in Wales.

 

We continued on to St. Gavons Chapel. It was tucked away in a cliff face. It was built in the side of a cliff to hide its location from pirates so that they would not plunder it. The legend of this chapel was that St. Gavon was being chased by pirates and he hid in a cut in the rocks. The rocks closed around him and hid him until the pirates passed. There were rib cage marks in the wall that I could see. The legend states he built his chapel there immediately after. Access to the chapel is not guaranteed as the only road there is in the middle of a military tank range. If the tanks are firing then the road is closed and people cannot access the chapel. We went to see Geoffs old town and school after this. We saw where his family was buried and the school he went to at first before he had to move. A refinery had been built at the top of the hill and they paid everyone in the town to move out as there were major fears of explosions from the refinery. 4 families refused to be paid and still live there today. We wrapped up the day enjoying the beers we got last night courtesy of Lorrie and Kenny with dinner made by Claire. We have done so much so far and tomorrow is looking to be a more relaxed day to ease me back into travelling home and getting straight back to work.

Day 3

I woke up sickish today so I slept in a little later. After I made it out of bed we went to a nearby keep that was built in strange fashion. It is called a Motte and Bailey. The keep is placed on the top of a hill, the motte, while the top of the hill/inside is referred to as the bailey. It was a simple thing, located in a field that used to be the English/Welsh Border back in the day. After this we went down into an old estate where multiple rivers meet. It was beautiful. We came back to the house then had lunch. It was left over’s from last night but it was so good. We went to dinner at a local Indian restaurant so that I could treat them to dinner after how amazingly hospitable they had been with me these past few days. The evening wrapped up with Claires sister and neice coming to visit. We drank tea and had Christmas cake. Don’t worry, I have had enough English tea to hold me over until my next trip. Tomorrow I will be spending a lot of time on the train and a night in the airport so I can get home to film Episode 11.  

 

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ATV Manchester

Day 1

I slept in, I really needed that. Karen and I went to walk the dog at a nearby lake while Chloe was getting her eyelashes done. The lake was massive and apparently there is a village underneath that they had just filled in. We chatted about life and her daughters Louise and Chloe, and also Max. It was a good change of pace because I didn’t have to go through all the repetitive steps of getting to know a new person. Once we got back to the house Chloe and I went into downtown Manchester to explore. It was pretty great. The Christmas Market was open and it was the biggest I have ever seen. This market spanned multiple streets and plazas. I stopped to enjoy some German Gluhwein, which is just warm red wine but so delicious. I saw the local plazas, monuments, and shopping centers. Lots of people were out and we were also able to take the tram back to her house before we went on a local pub crawl.

Our first stop was a family friends house, Tom, it was his 18th birthday and we went over for a drink. I chatted with his grandparents who have been quite a few places that I have been this trip. They had fond memories of Temple Bar in Dublin. After that we went to John Milne which is a restaurant and pub that Chloe and Tom work at. We had a few pints and I even snuck Max a bit. You can actually drink with the meal at 16 here though, so it wasn’t an egregious crime. We moved across the street to Free Trade Tavern, it was a total local’s bar. Everyone knew each other. Max and I kind of hungout and played darts while everyone else was socializing. We got bored and went down the road to the next tavern to try and play pool. No kids after 21h00 though, so we just walked home and played video games. Don’t tell Karen.

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Day 2

What is half of Manchester? Chester! That is where Chloe, Max, and I went today. Lead by her dad Gary! Chester is actually an hour away from Manchester and that joke was really lame. Anyways, we got to Chester and stopped by President Nixons favorite diner 49 Watergate. We had a light bite to eat and some coffee and headed on with the exploration. It was mostly window shopping throughout different stores. However, there were quite a few things that I wish I had room to take home with me. There were some Star Wars themed things that were really enticing. I actually ended up buying a new xbox game though since it was so ridiculously cheap here for Black Friday. The “old town” of Chester is contained by an old roman wall. We walked up to the Cathedral and mounted the wall to get an elevated view of all the shoppers below. That was probably my favorite part! Gary was a great guy and I enjoyed the interactions that we had. It was extremely nice of him to bring me along and take me to see a different town.

Once we got back to Manchester, we all hung out and killed time. The family had to go to a friend’s house for dinner so I got the place to myself. What better way to do that then kill a large bottle of beer and devour an entire Indian meal. It was a nice night in and a much needed wind down.

 

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ATV Edinburgh
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Day 1

Today was spent mostly travelling to Edinburgh. I ate plenty of pastries in Charles De Gaulle. Once I got to Scotland I was pretty content on just turning in early and sleeping an extra long amount. However, my one roommate is French so we immediately hit it off. His name is Aymen and he is in Edinburgh before hiking the highlands for 10 days. We grabbed a beer in the Hostel bar and then his friend Alexia arrived, whom he had met on a travel site. We all went out to dinner at Deacon Brodies Tavern, which had strong inspiration for the book Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde. I had a traditional Scottish meal of Haggis which is like lamb stomach or something. It tasted fine and not disgusting. I actually enjoyed it. We moved from there to a place J.K. Rowling frequented for writing, thinking it was a bar. It was actually a café called the Elephant Room. So we decided to come back one morning, we changed direction to the White Hart Inn, one of the oldest bars in the city. We did some whiskey tasting and there was live music by my favorite Jamie Scott, whom I just met. The night turned out extremely well and we enjoyed our time together exploring, drinking, and chatting. It was much better than just going to bed.

Day 2

Whiskey! That was easily the theme of today. I went on a coach to 2 different distilleries, Glengoyne and Deanston. I used the company Rabbies and they drove us straight to each distillery as well as a small town in Lochness National Park for lunch. I really didn’t know much about how to properly enjoy whisky before this. Especially since the night before I just took it as a shot and didn’t sit there and enjoy it. The biggest take away’s from all this were that Whiskey is distilled from beer with 3 simple ingredients: Sugar, Barley, and Water. As well as how to properly enjoy it: swish it in the glass, let it sit a few seconds, smell it, then on your first sip swish it in your mouth for as many years as it was left to ferment, the second simply enjoy, and the third add a few drops of water to break up the oils and enhance the tastes. Besides all this there were the intricacies of all of the processes and how there were specific guidelines in order for whiskey to be considered scotch. Each tour began with a tasting of the distilleries 12 year and ended with a tasting of their 18 year. I preferred Glengoyne to Deanston.

Once I got back I metup with Aymen, we went out for fish and chips with Alexia and a new girl Flora. She was also from France. The entire night was non-stop laughs because Flora was so surprised at how quickly I eat and would always get wide eyed each time she looked at my plate and how much more was gone. We would stopped at local bars the Scotsman Lounge and The Devils Advocate, each had live entertainment. The Devils Advocate’s live entertainment was their bartenders dancing to every song on the stereo. At the end we went our separate ways as Aymen and Alexia leave for the Highlands tomorrow.

Day 3

I woke-up with Aymen so we could go grab a coffee and chat before he left for the highlands with Alexia today. I really enjoyed spending so much time with the two of them while I was in Edinburgh. After I saw them off at the tram I began exploring the town a bit. I walked along the park underneath the Castle and continued on to a hill that overlooked the city. It was beautiful; Resembling Sacre Coeure. I continued walking around but took frequent breaks back at the hostel to draw the day out. Aymen had recommended a tour at a place called Mary Kings Close. I happily went and was able to get on one of their tours that they run every 15 minutes. This was an amazing tour. This tour takes people through the way Scots used to live in the 17th century. You feel underground but you are technically not underground, just under building level. This is because all the houses were built on a hill so some go further down than others. We saw real and rebuilt rooms and received explanations of who would live here, how many lived here, and more fun, sometime disgusting, facts about life for these people. Prominent figures and events were also discussed. Unfortunately no photography was allowed but I highly recommend the tour!

I wrapped up, had dinner, and headed for the train station after a few pints to head to Manchester. The train ride went well, except it unexplainably terminated a stop early. Everyone continuing on had to transfer trains. It sucked but the people I met were pretty cool to talk to on the second train. I don’t know their names but one was there on vacation from America and another was a student on her daily commute! Once I got to Manchester Chloe and her mom, Karen, were waiting for me and we headed to their house for me to get settled in before we went into the city the next day! I was rooming with the only other boy in the house Max, he is 14 but we got scolded for staying up and talking about video games too late on a school night.

 

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ATV Ireland
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Day 1

Spent the last night in Horley near London Gatwick Airport. Found a quaint place called the Masslink Guest House for 40 pound and enjoyed a bed, coffe, tea, and breakfast instead of an airport chair. I also ventured up the road and ended up at a pub called The Tavern. I had a few ciders and their home brewed beer and was feeling great. Drinks are cheap in Horley! I headed to my flight with Easyjet. They only allow one bag to be carried on, unless you are a Plus member or pay to have an exit row seat. It is $1 cheaper to have an exit row seat than to check the bag when you book online. I however had already checked in online so had to pay the $15.99 to check my larger bag. Just a pro-tip for you readers. I arrived at Belfast International Airport, strangely similar to Allegheny County Airport. So, the wifi was extremely hard to access because it wanted you to input a UK postal code on the login screen but the airport postal code wasn’t accepted. I asked two different people for their phones to call my friend through Facebook because I wanted him to know I was there and then again because I couldn’t find him outside. After roaming the entire parking lot and calling him again it was determined he was at the other airport. Which became even funnier because I did not know there was another airport and I had described the one I was at, Belfast International, as the small airport. It was in fact the larger of the two! Regardless, Tony made it to me and I was extremely happy to see him.

We had met two years ago in California and bonded over a trip to a strip club and Huntingdon Beach. Great guy and we hit it off extremely well. He is in the Legion and met me here during his permission to show me around. Today he did not disappoint. After stopping by his parent’s house to settle things we got in the car for a whirlwind tour. Tony knows a whole lot about the troubles. A time in Irish history where there were armed conflicts between the Protestants (Loyalists) and Catholics (Republicans). It was essentially a civil war with the Loyalists wanting to remain a part of Britain and ultimately lead to the occupation of North Ireland by British soldiers. The aftermath of the troubles is still extremely prevalent in the architecture in Belfast. There are walls on either sides of road ways that help to block the view and access between Loyalist and Republican neighborhoods and many of these walls have gates that still close at night. Many murals dot each neighborhood that show support for their given paramilitary organization the IRA (Republican) and the UVF (Loyalist). Police stations look like fortresses, you cannot see inside them because the walls were built so high to block any RPG’s from being fired over them. It was and still somewhat resembles a war zone. Loyalist neighborhoods paint their sidewalk curbs the colors of Britain. Where neighborhoods intersect are called “Interfaces”. Many Interfaces now have commercial shopping built on the borders to encourage both sides to interact in a meaningful and positive way.

After having such an eye opening showing of Belfast and chatting with Tony about the legion a bit. We made our way out to find burritos, stopped for desert at his favorite place called Café Maud and he slapped my cake by accident while taking off his jacket! We ended the evening seeing the new movie No Stone Unturned. It was about a massacre in Loughinisland during the Ireland vs Italy qualifier game for the World Cup. The documentary was quite eye opening and I recognized many places that I had seen today that Tony had taken me too.

I wonder had he not pointed all this out if I would have noticed how militarized and blockaded the city was?

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Day 2

Tony made breakfast today! He did an awesome job on the bagels. As well as everything else. We had a slow start this morning, well I had a slow start this morning. I finished my laundry and was wrapping up some stuff as he got back from the gym and made us breakfast. We get on really well. I was more solo today than anything. He had to go visit his aunt so he dropped me off at the Irish Republican History Museum so that I could watch some documentaries on the Troubles and get some footage of the place. The museum was founded by an Eileen Hickey who had been a prisoner and wanted to use this as a place to educate future generations. Unfortunately, Eileen died a year before the museum opened due to cancer. The museum was tucked away and somewhat small as far as museums go but was packed with loads of goodies. It featured a full prison cell mock-up, memorial to women killed during the troubles, small dioramas of prison camps, mannequins in different uniforms, weapons used, books of art works, painted Irish Burin drums, as well as a full library dedicated and free for people to use to learn about the Republican movement. I spent 2 hours there and the owner was extremely friendly although we did not interact very much, he gave me a DVD on the troubles to take home with me. It became quite busy as it got closer to closing time. The museum is free and open to the public Tuesdays-Saturday 1000-1400. It is voluntary and runs strictly off donations.

Afterwards, I wanted a beer. I walked into town and let Tony know to meet me at the bar called Kellys Cellar. His favorite bar, although he does not drink. I was having a Guinness when a man, Keith, started chatting with me. Keith was with his wife, George (?) on holiday in Belfast. They were extremely interesting, they have been coming to Belfast on holiday for decades, even throughout the Troubles. They had many stories to tell, some serious and some very funny! After that the day was pretty much wrapped up. I jawed with Tony and his mum and we are turning in early to go catch the sunrise tomorrow!

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Day 3

It was storming when we wokeup to go to the sunrise this morning, unfortunately. I was excited for it but didn’t want to waste the trip since it wouldn’t have been a decent view. I went back to bed and wokeup when Tony got back from the gym. He made his mom, him and me breakfast. It was the poached eggs, bacon, and Belfast bread at affordable prices (BAP) as well as tea. Belfast Bap is legendary and essentially a large spherical loaf of bread. Tony could not poach eggs to save his life. Thank goodness his mom was there, she poached them well! It was extremely gracious of her to open her home to me for the few days I was there. I greatly appreciated it. We were really cutting it close to making my 11 A.M. bus so our goodbyes were rushed but I hope to host Tony and maybe even his mom in Pittsburgh sometime soon! I caught my bus to Dublin and immediately made my way to the hostel, Abigails Hostel, and got my game plan together. I spent the afternoon walking to the Glasnevin Cemetery and the National Botanical Garden. The amount of large headstones was quite astounding and the cemetery was quite well maincured until you got deeper into it. The garden was impeccable though. There were multiple outdoor areas and 2 large green houses. They offer tours and education for people who want to learn about the different plants. I was on a speed run since I was getting there an hour before they closed. I stopped by Kung Fu Chinese buffet, which was not bad at all, and the Beer House on my way back to the city center, which had loads of Irish craft beers.

I made contact with my hostel roommates and then headed to the Temple Bar. As soon as I got inside these ladies pulled me aside like they knew me, which I knew they didn’t but they were super nice and we ended up talking the rest of their time there. The one girl Anna gave me a list of things to see in Estonia. When they left they invited me with them but I declined. It was girl’s night and one drunk Irish guy had already been harassing us! Wonderful group of ladies and I hope they enjoyed the rest of their night. I moved on to Merchants Arch for live music and waited for Marie from the hostel to come. While I was enjoying the cider and music a lady from Canada came up and chatted with me about ATV and Spare Change. She had been asking everyone at the bar where they were from. Super friendly lady from Alberta! I hope she is reading this in the future, sorry I did not get your name!

Once Marie arrived we moved to the back and chatted about loads of different things. She is a last year student in Germany. Quiet yet very friendly and contributed well to the conversation, I talk a lot too so…. She lives in Essen, which means food in German. We ended up having quite a bit in common. We each play the same nerdy card games and what not. She works part time with mentally ill patients which I thought was pretty cool since she is studying social work. I was also surprised to learn that she was a fan of American Football! For all you Oakland Raider fans out there, Marie is your girl! She then explained how the league system worked for German Football (soccer). You have local, city, regional, and national teams. I thought it was very cool and encouraged competition because teams can move up or down in which league they play. It is a huge deal in Germany if your team moves down a league! I’m all wrapped up now and headed to bed for a long day of adventure tomorrow.

 

 

Day 4

Today was great! The tour to the Cliffs of Moher was quite amazing! We stopped at a small service station on the way called Barack Obama Plaza because President Obama had stopped here years ago since he had traced his heritage to that small village area. We made it to the cliffs around 12:45 with a little over an hour to explore. They are very strict about staying on the correct side of the barrier until you are out of visitor center limits. Then you have the choice of walking along the cliff or an electric fence! Plenty of room for people to walk side by side but still kind of harrowing if it’s busy! Everyone on the tour was around my age and super friendly. I met two fellow Pennsylvanians named Molly and Bobby. They are both here on a month off after graduating from College. We did a quick interview about their time and they asked me about how Sparechange works and how I got involved. Great people to chat with!

The tour continued into a small town called Dullin, which is the templte for a village in the game Folklore. I had a quasi-Thanks Giving day meal there and a nice pint of beer before we continued on to a natural rock formation, castle, and eventually back to Dublin. Once I got back to Dublin I headed for the National Leprechaun Museum for their Darkland 18+ tour. IT WAS AMAZING. Offered on Friday and Saturday nights at 19:30 or 20:30. YOU NEED TO GO. The host was hilarious and the stories were riveting. We moved through multiple themed and interactive rooms, magic tunnels, etc. We even got a chance to climb and sit on massive pieces of furniture. I also got to chat with a couple from Helsinki whom gave me a massive list of things to do since I am headed there tomorrow. All around an amazing day and finished the night chatting with all my hostel mates whom are all headed out tomorrow as well.

 

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ATV Oslo
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Day 1

Spent the night in CDG and it was kind of horrible but I survived. I passed the time half sleeping and trying to access my Verizon account for 3 hours but I couldn’t because it doesn’t allow foreign IP addresses access. Once I got to Norway I headed into Oslo on the train and met a girl named Rachel from London. She was nice and we hit it off immediately. We walked up to the Royal Palace where they happened to be doing the changing of the guard. We chatted for an hour, then I made my way to the Airbnb. Mark was heavily delayed on the bus so I spent the time just hanging out and booking the rest of my hostels and train tickets for the rest of my trip. Once Mark arrived we went to a restaurant called burger joint and it was as good if not better than most American joints that I go to. Later that night we went to a bar/club called Hagens and saw his friend DJ, chatted with some locals and I learned about how the bars work in Oslo when I went to get more beers and the bar was closed. Oslo requires their bars to stop serving alcohol at different intervals due to not having enough police officers to maintain bar breaks. We were not very far from the city center but far enough that they were required to stop serving a whole hour and a half before the bar was to close. Regardless, Oslo is a very safe city and the lack of police for bar break doesn’t mean that they are busy with more important crimes.

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Day 2

We slept in until noon. Despite the delayed start we were able to get out and see most of what I wanted to see today. We went to Akershus Fortress and Castle after getting breakfast at the corner store. The fortress was simple and the walk there took us along the docks and their waterfront shopping and eating areas. Extremely beautiful and quite busy! While at the fortress we went up a walking path that was not actually a walking path and were scolded by one of the military guards, rookie mistake. Also in the Fortress was the Norwegian Resistance Museum. It detailed the resistance movement in World War 2 in an extremely easy to understand and entertaining way. There were many little scenes recreated with models and art pieces from local artists. One of them was multiple German rifles made into the form of a swastika. After roaming around we headed to a Norwegian restaurant but it was super expensive so we ended up at the next best thing. Dominoes Pizza. It was pretty good. Later, we stopped by Magic Ice Bar Oslo and spent 20 minutes checking it out and having a drink. The rest of the night was low-key and uneventful.

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Day 3

Today is my last full day in Oslo. It has been a really good time so far and today we wrapped up my to-see list by going to Frogner Park. It was massive and filled with a variety of sculptures lining a bridge, which led to a larger “tower” which was just multiple human sculptures in a tower shape. It was all quite impressive. All the sculptures were different in a way while still sharing the same features. The most famous sculpture in the garden was a stomping baby. I got a good picture of that. It was really chilly so we had decided to take the street car back to the Airbnb since it was a kilometer away.

The line for the ticket machine was long and we waited until one of the trolleys came then we decided to just hop on and pay cash. Well, you can’t do that here. We were immediately stopped and asked where our tickets were and I said I was going to pay cash. The lady said this is not possible, so I said I will get off at the next stop and buy a ticket. The machine was very busy at this stop and I thought I could pay cash like I could back where I was from. The lady was not having it, then Mark spoke to her in Norsk to try to explain what had happened. She became furious. She thought he knew better and was trying to get a free ride, he can pay on his phone in the west of Norway, and then she was convinced that I was actually Norwegian and was trying to deceive her. She didn’t speak English to me the rest of the time. I was given a $100 fine. Not going to pay. We cooled off after that encounter with some spicy Indian food then I went to film the sunset before we turned in for the night. The night was uneventful. We had both blown through our budgets on Friday night so were content staying in.

I left for the airport the next morning, it was great seeing Mark and exploring the city with him. When I got to passport control I did the usual banter with the customs agent and she accidentally said “keep in touch” instead of have a safe trip. We each got a good laugh out of that.

 

Check out panoramic shots here

 

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Episode 10 Day 2
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Hey Crew,

 

We wrapped up filming this weekend of episode 10! A fun weekend was had by all raising money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) of Western Pennsylvania. We used Greensburg Craft Beer Week as a wonderful launching pad for our fund-raising this week-end. We started on Saturday evening by attending the bar crawl hosted by the Rotary of Westmoreland County. This is a Halloween style bar crawl and the costumes did not disappoint. There was a duo that dressed up as change, which fit very well with our style of spare change. The crawl stopped at multiple bars in the immediate vicinity, including one of our sponsors Oliver's Pourhouse. Oliver's has a wonderful selection of craft beers, a variety of food options, as well as live music on certain nights. The band played as patrons gathered for the bar crawl and we got back to our roots by playing on the street and raising money for JDRF. From busking alone, we raised $94 for JDRF. We started the next day by doing yoga at Yellow Bridge Brewing hosted by Sarah Petro of Moonglow yoga. Watching Taylor try to do some of them yoga poses was quite a site. Afterwards, we headed to our sponsor Robokyo Japanese Steakhouse in Greensburg. The steakhouse is placed in a home that was built in the year 1790. Robokyo Specializes Hibachi, Sushi, and various noodle bowls. We all had sushi and a little bit of Sake, everything was delicious and fairly priced. The outdoor patio was an amazing spot to relax while chowing down. The inside was spacious, well designed, and not too loud. Jon Reese met us there to receive the funds that we had raised the night before and that morning for JDRF. He was extremely appreciative of our efforts and all the donations that came from our business sponsors as well as strangers on the street. The crew finished the day at Tapped Brick Oven & Pour House for beer and cigar pairings from Dirty Dog Cigar Shoppe. It was nice to get a chance to relax, turn off the cameras, and enjoy the company of each other. Once again special thanks to Jess Hickey of BIA Creative on behalf of the Downtown Greensburg Project for being such a great resource and organizing our ability to fundraise at so many of the events this week. Stay tuned for episode 10 on November 1st!

Episode 10 Day 1
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Hey Crew!

 

Today we went out and started filming our 10th Episode of Spare Change. The weather was perfect and was also the first truly fall morning we had this year. We successfully filmed half of the Episode today focusing on our charity throughout the morning at the University of Pittsburgh Greensburg Campus. The University hosted a walk for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) which focuses on finding a cure for type I diabetes. There was a huge turnout from local families there to support the JDRF and their children diagnosed with type I diabetes. Josh's friend Jon Reese was there and highly acknowledged by the organization for his time and dedication to the cause. His daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and his daughters team for the walk was the largest there! There were also tons of volunteers from the college. The community really came together to provide food and drink to the people attending the walk. Afterwards we headed into the city to get some footage of the Greensburg Courthouse and stop for lunch at Hugo's Taproom where we enjoyed their gourmet hot dogs complimented by their always changing craft beer selection. We enjoyed a nice team meeting, officiated by Cookie the bull dog whom is a staple at Hugo's Taproom and finished the afternoon with a quick bike ride. The Flat Tire Co. Bike Shop lent us wheels and we took to the trail for a brisk ride as the day began to warm up. Special thanks to Jessica Hickey whom owns BIA Creative which organizes Greensburg Craft Beer Week through the Downtown Greensburg Project. Jessica arranged our outreach with local businesses who are helping the JDRF through sponsoring Episode 10 with T-shirt Sales to support JDRF donations! In two weeks we will be partaking in the festivities and taking out the Spare Change bucket to raise money for JDRF the old-fashioned way!

 

 

ATV Paris
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Day 1

Spent most of the day on the airplane and getting situated. Blake, Jared and I left yesterday evening from Pittsburgh then went our separate ways for the day. That did not stop us from enjoying a round of beers at my parents and dinner at the airport. We were on the same flight to Iceland but from there they went to Berlin and I went straight to Paris. I slept horribly on the flights except the last 2 hours of my second flight. I powered through because I was not able to check-in to the hostel before 16h00. I easily navigated the trains after my past experiences and will be doing the same again tomorrow to retrieve Blake and Jared from the airport so they do not get lost. The “Oops” Hostel is not right in the center of Paris but it is in a calm area with some nifty bars. The hostel itself is on the Avenue of Goblins and I ended up at this bar near the hostel near called The Gob and it is super nerdy and alternative with a bunch of Starwars and marvel decorations, punk rock music, and even a “deadpool” list that has celebrities’ names they think are going to die soon. Hugh Heffner made the list and was crossed out with the date of his death next to his name.

I then went to the small park at the metro stop called Place D’Italie to get some footage then moved on to the Sacre Coeur which overlooks the city. I spent an hour there capturing the sunset, listening to live music, and subsequently watching the police break the band up. The guy was playing and then stopped and said, “That’s all, because the police are here.” The officers just laughed and everyone went on their way. I returned to the hostel to relax, get footage off my phone, and get ready for the next day. I went out with my hostel mate Sergio also, it is his 22nd birthday tomorrow. He is travelling after finishing his hotel internship in Spain. Nice guy, loves soccer, and was very keen to point out that the US was not invited to the world cup this time around. I’d get that dig in every chance I get.

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Day 2

Blake and Jared missed their flight today. Was not surprised, they are currently on an overnight bus and will be arriving in Paris at 7:30 AM tomorrow. I spent the day wandering around to different sites such as the Pantheon, Notre Dame Cathedral, Arc De Triomphe and some other notable places in Paris. The weather was perfect and I did so much walking.

The Champs Elysee Avenue was way longer than I thought but there was also a lot of people on it shopping so that was cool to see. I had decided I was going to have a beer at the bigger notable locations but I had forgotten a bottle opener so my new thing will be pretending to have beers at all these notable locations. I found kebab for lunch so I was thrilled, as well as a bottle opener after I got back to the Hostel. Overall, a relaxed and easy day. Tomorrow will be filled with some more fun hopefully.

 

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Day 3

Today did not disappoint. Once I got to the bus station and retrieved Blake and Jared the jokes were in full swing. We got back to the hostel just in time for breakfast. It turned out my watch was an hour behind the entire time I have been here so that was a good thing to learn today and not tomorrow when I would have been missing my flight. We got settled and realized that the local high school was right across from our window. I proceeded to climb over the railing and hang for a few seconds. I distracted some kids who then got scolded by their teacher. We found this extremely funny for no apparent reason. We messed with them a little more then headed off to get wine and beer to take site seeing with us. We went to the catacombs and were not allowed in due to having alcohol. So do not bring alcohol opened or closed to tourist sites that you are planning to enter. We then went to Notre Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, and Louvre. Yes, we saw the Mona Lisa. We went back to the Eiffel Tower at night to go to the second floor which was cool. Make sure to reserve your tickets online for the Eiffel Tower before you go, the wait is horrible if you don’t.  Throughout the day we were hopping off and on subways, exploring everything we wanted to see, and eating kebab. We rounded everything out with beer, cigars, and kebab before I headed off to spend the night in the airport for an early morning flight to Norway!

 

Check out the panoramic shots here

 

Full video: stay tuned

 

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