Icelandic Travels 2021

Iceland, being a long awaited trip for both my nephew and I, we were excited to explores this island of glaciers, lava fields and hot springs.

We travelled by rental car once there and we highly recommend paying extra for the GPS system as in some areas your phone might not get a signal and you will be unable to use it for navigation.

Thank you to Europcar. They had us ready to go in no time with some tips and a promotional Icelandic booklet with some great info.

As we were travelling during December 2021 we had limited sunlight during the day (5-6 hours approx)This caused an almost constant sunrise and sunset that had us admiring Icelands beautiful landscapes.

TIP Roundabouts are very normal in Iceland. We encountered over 50! So practice at home before you go.

If not going the rental car way here is a great link for adventure tours in Iceland.

As check in at the hotel wasn’t until 4 pm we set out for adventure in our rental car. First we stopped at Blaskogabyggo to see the Gullfoss falls (Golden Falls translated) and a few gorgeous landscapes along the way.

We continued onto the Haukadalur Geothermal Field. With the biting cold wind we patiently waited and witnessed a Geyser in action.

Geysir, Southern Icleand

A quick warm trip into the souvenir shop and off we continued on our adventure to checking into the 201 Hotel in Kópavogur, Iceland.

TIP: We chose hotels that included a continental breakfast to save on expenses. Hit the local grocery store for cheap snacks and bottled water. We even visited a Costco for the $3 hot dog and pop deal… and yes, even a Canadian Costco membership is accepted in Iceland.

After some inexpensive pepperoni pizza (Less than $25 Canadian for a Medium) and a great 12 hour nap we were ready to start our next day of adventures.

Our next stop was the Kerid Crater at Grimsness. There’s a great walk way all around so you can get a great view from any angle.

Kerid Crater, Reykjanes Penninsula Iceland

In need of some down time after more driving we finished off our day at the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa. Warm water surrounds you as you float around. Face masks are available as well as refreshments at the swim up bar. Inside there are fresh, dry towels available. For an extra cost you may purchase the use of a housecoat and slippers that you can hang outside.

Next day , after a wonderful ham and cheese croissant breakfast we ventured off into the city of Reykyavik for a day of souvenir shopping, tours and great food. So of course before light we found a great free parking spot for the day. On foot we came across a free walking tour of the city. Funded by donations only and approximately 1.5 to 2 hours long.

From the oldest building to the tallest tree we walked and listened to our friendly tour guide, Martin. We viewed famous buildings and statues, learned about Icelandic history and got tips on what to see and where to shop and dine in the city.

The last stop was the Phallological museum. In its new location, we notice that now you can also grab a bite to eat while there. Many specimens in jars from animals to yes, even a donated human penis is available for viewing.

We finshed our night at a recommended restaurant and feasted on delicious Icelandic fish. The meal was as delicious as it looks.

TIP Lunch can run you anywhere from $10 to $20 (Canadian) per person. Dinner – anywhere from $25 to $70 per person. Local stores like BONUS (the logo is a little pink pig), are great for snacks and affordable lunch items.

Icelandic Plokkfiskur

The second last day we started our drive north to Snaefellsjokull once again were surrounded by breathtaking beauty and finally to our delight wild life.

Last stop. Kirkjufell Mountain seen in Game of Thrones and the Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall.

We arrived at our last hotel Langaholt and were so happy with everything. Beautiful rooms, gorgeous view, restaurant on site and very peaceful (no televisions in the rooms). Once we made our dinner and breakfast reservations we settled in our room admiring the view from our private patio hoping to view the northern lights on our final night.

Waking up at 1:30 am and finally seeing the northern lights was the icing on the cake. No picture to prove it as it was faint. We stood there and took it in for almost half an hour until it faded.

NOTE: another reason to go back to Iceland. Get pictures of stronger norther lights.

I hope you enjoyed the pictures of our long awaited trip to Iceland. We highly recommend you visit. Everyone in super friendly and almost all speak excellent English and a few European languages. You will feel right at home as we did. It was difficult to leave such a beautiful country.

I will leave you with an uplifting adorable Icelandic song.



Get the facts about your travel options and learn how to protect yourself if you must travel.

  • Maintain a distance of 6 feet (2 meters) between you and others as much as possible.
  • Avoid contact with anyone who is sick
  • Limit contact with frequently touched surfaces, such as handrails, elevator buttons and kiosks. If you must touch these surfaces, use hand sanitizer or wash your hands afterward.
  • Wear a cloth face mask.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Clean your hands often. It’s especially important after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 30 seconds.
  • If soap and water aren’t available, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Air travel

Because of air circulation on airplanes being filtered, most viruses won’t spread easily. But were there is overcrowding, there is also difficulty in social distancing. There are lots of lines to wait in that can bring you too close to others.

Most major airlines require that crews and passengers wear cloth face coverings. See the websites below to see the specific airports and their guidlines.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has increased cleaning and disinfecting equipment and surfaces at screening checkpoints. If you haven’t flown in a while, since the pandemic began, you will see these changes:

  • TSA officers wearing masks and gloves, and practicing social distancing.
  • TSA officers changing gloves after each pat-down.
  • Plastic shields at document checking podium, bag search and drop off locations.
  • Fewer travelers and, as a result, fewer open screening lanes.

Also there are changes to the screening process.

  • Travelers may wear masks during screening. You may be asked to adjust your mask for identification purposes.
  • Instead of handing your boarding passes to TSA officers, travelers are asked to place it directly on the scanner and hold up for their inspection.
  • Each traveler is allowed one, up to 12 oz., container of hand sanitizer in a carry-on bag.
  • Food should be kept in a plastic bag and placed in a bin for screening. Keep food out of carry-on to speed up screening and lessen chances of having your bags opened.
  • To reduce handling of personal items such as keys, wallets and phones place them in your carry-on bags instead of bins.

Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 30 seconds (or two Happy Birthday songs) before and after going through screening.

Car travel

If you may prefer to drive and have more control over your environment still keep in mind safety along your stops.

Here are some tips for your journey:

  • As few stops as possible unless you feel dizzy or tired.
  • Bring lots of face masks, sanitizer and disinfectant wipes and keep in an easy to reach spot in the car.
  • Bring your own food and water. This smart plan ahead reduces stops and contact with others. If you do need to stop for food opt for drive thru options.
  • Remember to wipe the handles and buttons at gas stations. Wash hands for 30 seconds with soap when you get to your stop.

Other ground transportation

If your preference is bus or train, be aware of the longer period of sitting or standing close to others which can put you at a higher risk. Follow the Automobile travel tips for a safer journey.

If you do fly and need to rent a car research which car rental companies have disinfection policies. Shuttle service is also another option to get from the airport to your hotel.

If taking a taxi or ride share of any kind sit in the back and handle your own bags at pick up and drop off. Wipe surfaces with disinfectant wipes before touching them. Remember to wear your mask, social distance and wash your hands when you reach your destination.

Hotels and other lodging

The hotel industry is contributing to taking care of traveler’s safety. Major chains have websites with information on how they are protecting you and their staff against coronavirus. If you want to be extra safe you can request a room that has been vacant for at least 24 hours.

Hotels make your stay safer by:

  • Enhanced cleaning of public areas, elevators, guest rooms, as well as food preparation and laundry areas
  • Social distancing measures in the lobby, at the front desk and in parking areas
  • Masking of staff and guests
  • Contactless payment
  • Focused employee training in the following:
    • Hand-washing procedures
    • Cleaning and disinfecting protocols
    • Use of personal protective equipment
  • Protocol in the event that a guest becomes ill, which should include temporarily closing the guest’s room for cleaning and disinfecting

Vacation rental locations are doing the same to keep travellers safe. Their websites highlight the following of public health guidelines, such as using masks and gloves when cleaning. You will also notice staggered check in times to social distance people.

For your own safety you can also touch up your room with disinfectant wipes once you arrive (doorknobs, light switches, countertops, tables, desks, phones, remote controls and faucets). Wash plates, glasses, cups and silverware (other than prewrapped plastic items) before using.

Make a packing list

When it’s time to pack for your trip, grab any medicines you may need on your trip and these essential safe-travel supplies:

  • Cloth face masks
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol)
  • Disinfectant wipes (at least 70% alcohol) for surfaces
  • Thermometer

Considerations for people at increased risk

Anyone can get very ill from the virus that causes COVID-19, but older adults and people of any age with certain underlying medical conditions are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Conditions that increase your risk include cancer, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, serious heart problems, sickle cell disease, type 2 diabetes and a weakened immune system.

Travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. If you must travel, talk with your doctor and ask about any additional precautions you may need to take.

Remember safety first

Even the best plans may need to be set aside when illness strikes. If you feel sick before your planned travel, stay home except to get medical care.





Destination Canada is committed to providing accurate information for travellers to Canada and in Canada. We have consolidated links to sites about COVID-19 below, so you can easily access the resources you need to make informed travel decisions.

Government of Canada and WHO information

The Canada/U.S. border is closed to all non-essential travel, but remains open for the shipment of goods and key supplies. The latest border information is here.

  • The latest Government of Canada information for travel is here
  • The latest World Health Organization (WHO) information is here.

Prevention and Planning

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is actively monitoring the current outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus). You can find preventative information here on the PHAC’s website or call the Health Canada COVID-19 information line at 1-833-784-4397 with further questions.

Travel Advisory

Travellers to Canada and in Canada are encouraged to read the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) travel health notices here.

For the latest official government of Canada updates on travel restrictions, please visit the PHAC website.

Flights and Border Services

Effective April 20, 2020, all air passengers departing or arriving via any Canadian airport will be required to have a non-medical mask or face covering to cover their mouth and nose during travel. Learn more on the Transport Canada website.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) are working together to facilitate and implement health-screening measures at airports.

  • Information about procedures at the Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is here.
  • Information about procedures at the Calgary International Airport (YYC) is here.
  • Information about procedures at Toronto’s Pearson airport (YYZ) is here.
  • Information about procedures at Montreal’s Trudeau airport (YUL) is here.


  • Air Canada (and Air Canada Rouge) has issued a response to COVID-19 here.
  • WestJet has issued a response to COVID-19 here.
  • Air Transat has issued a response to COVID-19 here.
  • Swoop has issued a response to COVID-19 here.
  • Porter has issued a response to COVID-19 here.

Cruise Lines

As a response to COVID-19, the Government of Canada will defer the start of the cruise ship season in Canada to July 1, 2020, at the earliest. This deferral will apply to cruise ships capable of carrying more than 12 passengers. You can find more information here.

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has announced updated guidelines for cruise passengers and crew in response to COVID-19. Read about the enhanced screening measures here.

If you are travelling to Canada as a part of a cruise, we urge you to contact your cruise line for the latest information on cancellations, changes, or other relevant information.


VIA Rail Canada is monitoring the situation and is posting their latest information here.

Rocky Mountaineer is monitoring the situation and is posting their latest information here.

Hotel Association

The Hotel Association of Canada is updating their information here.

Events and Conferences

If you’re travelling to Canada for an upcoming conference or event, we recommend contacting your event organizer and host venue for the most up-to-date details.

Further information for our Business Events industry partners can be found here.

How to Stay Healthy

The World Health Organization recommends that individuals:

  • Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever and cough
  • Anyone concerned that they may have been exposed to, or are experiencing symptoms of the novel coronavirus, should contact their primary care provider, local public health office, or for non-emergency situations only, call 8-1-1, or for 7-1-1 for the deaf or hard of hearing.
  • The Public Health Agency of Canada has a COVID-19 information line at: 1-833-784-4397.

Stay Informed


Is Turkey a Great Travel Destination?


Turkey is a country rich in history, hospitality, gorgeous backdrops and beautiful beaches. It is home to some of the oldest cultures and civilizations in the world.

Beautiful Sunshine

Visiting this Eastern Europe country will allow you to enjoy as much sunshine as you want. The sun shines in Turkey almost every day of the year. This kind of environment allows both locals and tourists to enjoy basking on the sandy beaches. It also provides a playground for water sports like parasailing, windsurfing, snorkelling and windsurfing.


Friendly People

When traveling, you want to feel comfortable and safe. Also, you may want to interact with the locals to learn more about your destination. The Turkish people offer hospitality to visitors. You won’t have to worry about finding directions because the majority of people in Turkey are always willing to offer help to tourists.

Good Shopping Experience

If you enjoy shopping, you might want to consider Turkey as your next travel destination. The country has multiple shopping malls and workshops that sell high-quality items. Turkish leather and carpets are world renowned for their durability and design.


Amazing Geography

Turkey also has a diverse landscape that makes it a great place for outdoor activities like parachuting, hot air ballooning, camping, hiking and sightseeing. If you enjoy going on adventures, there’s no doubt that Turkey is the place for you.


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Old Montreal

Want the charm of Europe but close to home? If you live in Ontario then you are but a short train ride to Old Montreal.

For a girl’s three day getaway for my birthday we ventured off to Old Montreal in search of rest, shopping, great food, drink and lots of laughter. We definitely succeeded in accomplishing all. This beautiful place was more than I expected. With it ‘s European feel and French charm it found a little place in my heart. Great crepes, street music, quaint shops and a lovely evening horse and carriage ride. I knew I would be back again. Here are a few photos from our adventure. Merci beaucoup Montreal! by Adelka Molcan

Bangkok Holiday

architecture art beautiful buddhism

Thailand is a predominantly Buddhist country with about 90% of population subscribing to Buddhism. Their faith and the love for their King may be the reasons why Thais are generally honest, kind and disciplined.

Bangkok is like a big marketplace where you can buy almost anything. Their street economy provides employment to hundreds, if not thousands, of vendors. The advantage of Bangkok is the cost of living which is comparatively much cheaper than other Asian countries.

When going to Bangkok, it is recommended to book in a hotel located near the Baiyoke Tower because that is the most convenient area for a tourist. The streets are abuzz from morning until night with vendors and their wares ranging from food and drinks, clothing and footwear to souvenir items.

In the early morning, Buddhist monks from distant monasteries are roaming the area in search of food. Donors are not lacking because most of the faithful offer something to those barefooted monks. In return, donors receive prayers from the monks who are dressed in saffron robes.

Thai food is kind of unique. You can sample the dishes with noodles or fried rice that goes with beef or chicken. Just be warned that Thai food is usually spicy so be ready with a bottle of cold water.

The streets are full with all kinds of fruits in season, from dragon fruit to maprang, a yellow fruit that is a cross between mango and plum. A favourite is durian which is ready to eat in packs covered with cellophane. All fruits in Bangkok are of high quality and naturally sweet.

Thailand street food

At night, you can snack on their street food or challenge yourself to sample the fried insects sold in carts and know the taste of a scorpion or a beetle. Before bedtime, a good Thai massage can relax your tired body. Surely there’s a massage parlor near your hotel.

In going to tourist spots outside of Bangkok, it is best to arrange a packaged tour with the hotel concierge. The distance of most tourist spots from Bangkok requires a taxi which is very expensive as transportation.

Safari Zoo
Quite expensive entrance ticket, but it’s worth the visit to Kanchanaburi Safari Park Open Zoo. The van goes inside the open zoo where you see the multitude of birds and animals close up (you are not allowed to get out of the van though). Definitely your camera will be satisfied with the showcase of fauna.

A real theme park, the zoo also has some shows to offer. Catch the humour of the boxing orangutans that is rated H for hilarious. There’s also the cowboy show which is a live drama that is full of action like what you see in the movies. Do not miss the giraffe feeding area where you can buy plantain for those hungry long-necked creatures.


Not to be missed is the elephant show in Samphran Elephant Ground and Zoo. It is a live show with many elephants in participation to tell a bit of Thailand’s history.

In another section of the zoo is the crocodile show where 2 caretakers wrestle with live crocodiles. Undeniably thrilling, but surely dangerous particularly when one caretaker puts his head inside the open mouth of a crocodile. The performers earn not only applause but also tokens in cash from the audience.

The buffet lunch in Samphran is filling so take a little rest before proceeding to the elephant camp for the desired elephant ride. Just take note that the short elephant ride is a bit expensive but the once in a lifetime experience is worth cost.

For a cultural walk, you can visit the temples starting with Wat Pho to see the giant reclining Buddha that is made of brass. A long walk will bring you to a boat ride to reach Wat Arun, another Buddhist temple with antique displays. If you have the budget, you can buy a ticket entrance to the Grand Palace which is magnificent.


Floating Market
There are several floating markets and you can just let your tour guide pick the best place for you. The floating market looks like a flooded road with a scattering of small boats that sell food and other flea market items. It is another unique experience so do not miss this.

Bangkok is a city that comes complete with everything. An enjoyable stay is guaranteed!




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5 Important Things to Know Before Your Next Vacation

The best bonding time for family and friends is during a vacation. It is all about quality of life and finding a happy balance between work, friends and family. We all have that vacation itch to take a break from our everyday lives. The checklist below outlines what to do before your next getaway.

flight sky clouds aircraft

1. Transport

Book your travel in advance to avoid last minute havoc. Be it a taxi to the airport or a flight to your chosen destination. The advantage of booking earlier is that the price is always low.

2. Travel vaccines

Once you are sure of where you want to spend your vacation, book an appointment with your doctor to discuss vaccines. Each country has its recommended injections depending on the area you are going to stay. Health is wealth, so do not risk your health on a fantastic trip.

person holding blue ballpoint pen writing in notebook

3. Packing list

Self-organization saves time. Write down a packing list of everything that you would need. Starting from clothes, shoes, toiletries, accessories to medication. Don’t forget your chargers and adapter plugs. By making a list you are certain that you have every important item you will require.

4. Documents

Save yourself from unnecessary headaches over travel documents. It is very confusing to start sifting through your email inbox at the check-in counter. Arrange all important documents in one folder. Better yet, get an app called Trip-It. It will gather all your travel information and compile it into a single itinerary.

woman walking on pathway while strolling luggage

5. Confirm your reservations

Double-check your reservations: The hotel, flight, taxi and any other services you had booked in advance. Last minute surprises can ruin your holiday good mood so stay prepared and re-confirm.



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Three useful apps that will help you learn a foreign language for free!



Most of us would love to learn a new language. It opens the possibility of meeting a lot of new people learning a new culture. Perhaps we would like to get in touch with our roots, or better understand a friend or loved one. Regardless of the reason, learning a new language can be a daunting task.

Back in the day, options were limited to language classes and self-study books. The chance of finding a native speaker with whom to practice was usually low, and more so if your desired language had a small number of speakers. But in this information age options abound, and we are only limited by our own determination.
The following apps can be used in iOS or Android, and while they may offer premium services for a fee, their most useful features can be accessed free of charge.



One of the first hurdles when starting out in a new language is the lack of vocabulary. You have so much to say, but you just don’t know any words!

Duolingo contains a broad set of exercises designed to help you learn new words based on different categories, such as clothing, people, traveling, etc. Some of these ask you to associate spoken words to their corresponding written form, while others may ask you to translate a sentence. All the exercises come in bite-sized collections, a crucial characteristic when you can only dedicate five or ten minutes at a time to studying.

To keep you motivated, Duolingo sports an XP system, which you can use to compete in leaderboards against other users. There is an XP goal for each day, usually achieved by completing two sets of exercises, and every day you reach it your current streak grows. If you fail your goal in a day, you lose your streak. It may not sound like much, but you can be surprised at how these incentives keep you coming back.



Practicing by yourself is fine, but to truly learn a foreign language, it’s almost necessary to interact with native speakers. Whether it’s by text messages or by phone call, being exposed directly to your target language in a casual setting will take you to the next level.
Tandem is a simple but powerful tool that allows you to locate people who are fluent in the language you’re learning, while at the same time being students of the language that you speak. This language exchange is enabled by a messaging system, complete with translation and transliteration tools, and voice and video chat options.

If you do have extra cash to spare, Tandem also features professional tutors, who will help you in your language of choice for a set hourly fee. These fees range from $10 to $20+ USD.



HelloTalk shares many features with Tandem but adds one important piece of functionality. Not only can you engage other users directly, but you can also post ‘Moments,’ similar to Facebook’s status feed. Here you can try your skills in your target language by sharing your thoughts with the community, complete with text, audio recordings, and pictures. Other members may then comment on your post and even correct your mistakes with a handy correction tool.

This option is quite handy for people who are too shy to engage in one-on-one communication, or when time zone differences make real-time contact difficult.

As with any language exchange program, you must be careful in your interactions with other people. As with any other place on the internet, divulging personal information is risky. While most users are there to learn a new language, some are lonely people who will demand constant attention. These people are a reality of the medium, and they shouldn’t deter you from using these apps. The block button is your friend in this case, and you shouldn’t feel bad for using it.


There you have it, three wonderful apps that’ll get you talking in a new language sooner than you think. Along the way, you’ll make some new friends, learn about other cultures and hopefully have a ton of fun!

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Spis castle on a hill with fog surrounding below in Slovakia

7 Beautiful Castles in Slovakia

Did you know Slovakia has more than 300 castles? Although a lot of them are ruins there are many still intact. These historic castles have survived heroic battles and raids and are some of the best places to visit in Slovakia.

Katedrála sv. Martina v Spišskej Kapitule Spišský hrad

Spiš Castle

This medieval castle was built in 12th century and is situated above the town of Spišské Podhradie and the village of Žehra. Covering about 41 thousand square meters it belongs to the biggest castles in Europe. Movies such as Dragonheart, The Lion in Winter and The Last Legion were shot right here. 


Orava Castle

Orava Castle

One the most beautiful and largest castles in Slovakia, in the northern Orava region, Orava Castle is situated on a high rock above Orava river. Your journey through the castle will take you hundreds of years back with historical exhibitions such as furnished rooms, large courtyards, torture rooms and weapon collections.


Bojnice Castle

Bojnice Castle

Bojnice, the oldest spa town in Slovakia, is home to the country’s oldest zoo and its most visited fairy-tale castle. Bojnice Castle was for many years owned by kings and aristocrats. The reconstruction in the 17th century brought the castle its romantic appearance. Now it is one of the most visited castles in Slovakia. 


Nitra Castle

Nitra Castle

This castle right above the old city Nitra dates from 11th Century and consists of four parts – the cathedral, the Bishop’s palace, the outbuildings and the well-preserved outer fortification walls with bastions. Today the Castle serves as the seat of the Bishop and the Archaeological Institution of the Slovak Science Academy. Walking along the Castle you can have a look at the courtyard and see a beautiful view of the city. The Cathedral is the place of regular church services, and because it is so beautiful, many young couples decide to say their “I do’s” there.


Bratislava Castle

Bratislava Castle

This massive rectangular building with four towers stands on a strategic place – right above the Danube river in the capital city of Slovakia. Known as the symbol of Bratislava, the castle is undoubtedly the most popular sight in the city. The castle was completely ruined by a fire in 1811 and reconstructed in 1960’s to become a national cultural monument.


Devin Castle

Devin Castle

Close to Bratislava this castle, declared to be a national monument of Slovakia is worth the 10km trip. Since it is situated on a high cliff over the Morava and Danube rivers, and standing on the frontier between Slovakia and Austria, it offers beautiful panoramic views and is a very popular place to visit. 



Lietava Castle

Not far away from Rajecké Teplice & south of Žilina are the ruins of the Lietava Castle. Accessible only by foot (about 30 minute hike), it is the second largest castle in Slovakia.  It has played an important role in the history of the north-western Slovakia. The castle was built to command movement along the Amber Road, the ancient trade route for the transfer of amber between Europe and Asia.

Information sources:


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