Opportunities

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Here we are, the final round of Amsterdam. I almost don’t want to write about it because things that I was excited about turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. But here we are. So hey, to whoever is reading this.

You know how life puts the right people in your life just at the best moments? Yeah well, life did that for me on my third to last day. Friday evening, I was sitting in the lounge area of the hostel where I spent most of the evenings after dark, at the corner table with my tea and notebook in hand drawing and writing. Anyways, for some odd reason, I didn’t have my headphones in like I usually do and ended up catching the end of two girls conversation. They were explaining to another girl how they were on their “gap year” trip. That instantly made me excited, maybe I could actually meet some people my age who have something in common.

Before I knew it they had left before I got the chance to introduce myself, but I couldn’t help but pray I’d run into them again. I continued on with my night, got changed into my sweats and hoodie (the one look I wore pretty much every night this whole trip). Then went the shower room to wash my face and carry on my regular night routine, but just as I was walking out of the room one of the girls were just heading towards the “backyard” space. I knew this was my chance so awkwardly I said hi and mentioned how I overheard they were on a gap trip and mentioned how I was doing the same. In the back of my mind I was praying I didn’t mistake her for someone else, and that she wouldn’t think I was some sort of evesdropper. But to my relief, she was completely friendly and we got to talking and then one of those surreal things happened where we both realized we completely overlapped trips.

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She and her friend were going to Berlin and Prague at the same time as I was, how completely weird and random was that? Out of all places too, Berlin and Prague both being the same destinations we had in common. And the best part of it all was that they spoke English, (trust me it’s nice after not hearing anyone in the hostel speak English for a while especially if you’re the type to get lonely or somewhat homesick). We ended the hallway conversation about how we should meet up at some point that weekend, and we did just that!

Saturday, I sort of kept my day low-key as I wasn’t sure what to do that day, I decided to start off by going to get breakfast from the vendor of baked goods a block away from my hostel but as I got there It seemed to still be closed and the day was much warmer than anticipated so I headed back to the hostel to take off my heavy layers of sweaters and thermal coats, and lighten the load of my backpack and take out a few of the many books I managed to fit in my backpack. I ended up in the common area journaling as always and then ended up getting a message from the two girls inviting me out to go shopping and to a coffee shop with them, without hesitating I said yes. For the rest of the evening was truly one of the most exciting times of the wee. We went through the central shopping district full of stores that I wish Canada had (plenty were the same brands, but a few were really cool stores similar to the style Urban Outfitters and Topshop carries).

Afterward, we went to a coffee shop and sat at the bar and fell right into a conversation I would have never thought to have with 2 girls I had just met. We all ended up being able to talk for a while about life and just really connect which was amazing. Afterward, we decided to head back to the hostel to get change for going out again in the evening. It was already 8pm but the night was nearly beginning. After taking a quick rest at the hostel and getting change, and giving Lucis a quick call before heading out, we went back to the city center where we searched for the best clubs and bars. The first one we ended up in was a karaoke bar full of locals singing old classics with their group of friends, however, it was a much older crowd so after finishing our first beer we headed out still searching for a place that was a younger and livelier crowd. Well, I think about 25 minutes later we found a couple of good suspects and settled on one that had dancing, a bar and what seemed to be a quite fun and young environment. From there we danced, sang and spent hours having fun… that was until we realized we had about 12 minutes to catch the last train. We decided to make a run for it in attempts to catch the train which was not exactly right around the corner.

There was this moment where everything felt so surreal, here I was running down the damp dark streets of Amsterdam, half deaf from the music being played at the club, laughing with these two girls from London that I just so happened to meet and become friends within a foreign city miles and miles away from home. Sure, call me cheesy, but this felt like some scene from one of Elizabeth Gilbert’s books. At that moment, I knew this trip was one of the best decisions I made and was only the beginning of many more memories to be made… or so I hoped. Well, we caught the last train with minutes to spare and I fell asleep so fast that night.

Sunday, the last day before leaving one of the best cities I’ve ever visited. After trying to wake up the next morning and failing and sleeping in longer than anticipated I went to the shopping district again with the two girls where we all picked up some postcards for back home, as well as getting fries in a cone (it’s just something you gotta try when going to Amsterdam). We also went to the Anne Frank House, though we knew we were not going to be able to get in but we did just stand outside of it mesmerized by the history and story that came with that building.

Later that afternoon I got us to a Stroop Waffle house/store where we got freshly made Stroop Waffles dipped in chocolate and covered in toppings like marshmallows, caramel, or cookies. After stopping by a few thrift stores and watching a silent disco happen in the middle of the street we decided it was time to head back where we would make dinner together and watch a movie! It was Canadian Thanksgiving after all and It was tons of fun spending it there at the hostel cooking up veggies, baked apples, pasta with not enough sauce, and a shared bottle of cider. Afterward, we said our goodbyes that weren’t all that sad as we were planning to meet up in Berlin afterward (at least that’s what I thought). I got to packing, and after I minor panic of thinking I’d lost all my money for Prague and calling both my parents and Lucis with red damp eyes, I managed to get everything together and ready for the following morning where I’d get up early and walk to the train station with my suitcase and backpack and head down to central station where I’d catch my train to Germany.

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The following day I got to the train station and onto what seemed to be the right train. Frankly I was disappointed and confused as there were no workers in sight. Everyone just boards the train and shuffles around until they find your seat and then the train just takes off without anyone checking your ticket or any intercom saying where you are going, you just have to hope you got yourself on the right one. Long story short, I did. But halfway through the long train ride a mob of teenagers came on board and blasted music, we’re screaming and crawling over the chairs and starting physical fights in the alley between rows of seats. You’d think I’d be exaggerating this and making it seem more than it was, but it truly was the craziest thing I’ve seen. I don’t take many trains so maybe I just didn’t realize how relaxed they are with the rules. I’m used to planes when it comes to traveling between countries where everyone sits in their seat and is respectful to the ones around them, clearly, this is not what happens on trains.

There was one moment in particular where I couldn’t help but laugh, put at some point either a train assistant or whatever you call them was walking up and down the aisle and my food was on my seat in a crisscross position and the “assistant” just looked at me up and down as if he saw the ugliest creature there was so I laughed and took my foot down and he walked away. Now it was one of those moments you had to see to understand, but the reason I couldn’t help but laugh is the fact that there were kids literally blasting music on their speakers and laying on top of each other over the seats everywhere and I was the one in trouble. This probably sounds either really confusing or over embellished but like I said it was one of those things you just had to see to understand.

In the end, I made it to Berlin, after a taxi driver spent the first 20 minutes driving in circles because they didn’t have proper working GPS system and didn’t know how to get to where I was staying. Eventually, I made it to where I was staying 40 minutes later (though it should have been 20).

I’m going to stop here. For those who even made it this far and read all the way through, thank you and I hope it somewhat made sense. I will write about Berlin in my next entry, which I am pretty sure I’ll be able to fit this whole week into one entry as it was much different than my time in Amsterdam! Love you all!

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expression

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Amsterdam 4 days down, 3 more to go. My few hours spent walking around with the two girls from Oregon reminded me why I wanted to travel alone. their many moments the day before (read last entry) that I would have loved to just pause and took a moment to take it all in or just to look in the little shops we walked past. One place stood out in particular, and it was the Banksy Museum. Once I saw it I knew there was no way I was leaving Amsterdam without going to it.

Friday morning, I said goodbye to the girls who were kind enough to let me walk around with them the day before. This is one of the things about hostels, you will meet people but everyone has a different check-out date, so when the two girls mentioned they were only staying two nights I was disappointed but hopeful that I’d at least meet one more person that I could connect with. And I did just that, but with another two girls, but I’m not there yet I still want to tell you about Friday.

So as I mentioned before getting distracted, I saw the Banksy museum and made it my mission the next day to get back to the same district and get a ticket.  Now I must admit there have been plenty of moments throughout this trip where I just get hit with a wave of tiredness, which makes it much more difficult to get up and go out. I am a fairly lazy person but also just generally always tired that no amount of sleep can fix. But during this trip, I’ve tried really hard to stuff that Hanna away and just spend more time exploring and if I need to chill I will just go to a café a write all day. Which of course I see no problem with whatsoever, you discover some of the greatest moments in a coffee shop. Surrounded by locals, listening to different languages mid-point in conversations, and if you’re lucky they may turn of the English radio station and put on music in Dutch (or whatever language is). Does this make sense?

Anyways, here we are on a late Friday afternoon, one train and one tram later I have arrived at the block full of museums. Let me just paint you a little picture, you walk under a little “tunnel” (aka the Rijks Museum) and here you’ll find a violinist and his crew playing the most beautiful music only to be amplified through the echoes of the building. Once you make it through there will be a mob of tourist trying to get their kids in front of the “I Amsterdam “sign. And then just up ahead are multiple food vendors and the classic Heineken restaurant sitting near the large pool of water kept in a fountain like a cage. Then just up further is the Banksy museum placed right next to the Van Gogh Museum.

 

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@bansky

 

Now that you got that picture in your head, let’s move on with this story. I made my way to the booth after walking around and got a ticket! Now I’m no person to tell you about art or what it means because I think that’s really up to you and your imagination. But I will tell you whether you are a fan of art or not, I highly recommend getting yourself to this museum. Not only will you enjoy it but you’ll be able to see how the messages are so relevant to today’s society especially the special exhibition by Icy and Sot who are brothers and create art as a voice for minorities as well as climate change.

 

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@Banksy

 

If I am to be completely honest, I’m not sure if this museum even asked either of the three artists if they were allowed to create an exhibition to showcase their work. I looked more into Banksy and this message he posted on his Instagram made me even more curious even he even knew about this showcase.

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Now, of course, this could be a little joke or maybe it’s just another form of art on social media if you read into it. The way you can attract power over social media, or it’s simply to show that he hasn’t been made aware of his art being placed in museums. Who knows if he was told or asked to be the artist featured in the Moco Museum. Now, this is just me reading into things so there could be a good chance he does know. Alright well, I think I am going to leave it here for today.

 I do want to note that any photos in this entry are not going to be from the museum, yes you are allowed to take pictures in there but one, I don’t want to spoil it for those who do go. But I will use some of the pictures he’s posted on his Instagram!

I wanted to share this piece in particular although if you follow Banksy or are paying attention as to what’s going on in the art world, Zehra Dohgan, an award-winning journalist and artist was given time of 2 years, 9 months and 22 days for posting a painting to social media after she was acquitted of false charges of Illegal Organization Membership.

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The painting depicts the destruction in the Kurdish town of Nusaybin, an artistic Rendering of a photo taken by state officials. In her painting, she added Turkish flags on destroyed buildings. Banksy’s mural in New York has directed awareness to this particular attack on art and artistic expression.

**I want to note the information is not my words, I used research on this issue.**

I wanted to post about this, even if it only gets a few views I still think It’s important for any individual to be aware of what’s truly going on in the world today. Especially as a young person, it’s easy to separate yourself from the world and be absorbed in your own life and the problems you face as an individual, but who knows what could happen if we all were as up to date with politics, or current issues as we are with new songs and memes.

love you guys, see you tomorrow!!

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first connection

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It’s day two. And after a long night of tears, no sleep, then too much sleep, I can finally say I think I’m starting to feel somewhat “okay.” It’s weird I’ve been so excited to tell people about my trip, and planning it was the best, until the last couple days before my trip I started to get that sinking feeling “Shit, I’m actually doing this.” So, when the time came to get on that plane, I felt knots in my stomach and I was starting to really regret what I’ve gotten myself into (as mentioned in my previous entry).

After two nights of falling asleep rapid fast then waking up at 4am and calling Lucis because I can’t fall back asleep causing me to lay in my bed and let my thoughts run me into a ditch of misery and fear. Although this feeling and process is not new, being in a foreign city across the globe is. I’ve come to realize this is not just a fear of being alone, but I’m hitting that point where I am in the middle of Europe and it’s October, I have no job after going on this trip, and have not applied for any form of educational programs. This is no longer a “what am I going to do here,” it’s a “what am I doing with my life.” I know that I’m eighteen and life is literally sitting in the palm of my hand, but I still feel defeated, confused, and afraid. This could be the sleep deprived Hanna talking, but what if I never truly find what would make me happy enough to study and pursue that dream. If it were up to me I would love to just write and create while traveling and not settling in one place. The idea of settling and staying put makes my head spin. I just don’t feel like it’s possible right now, there is so much I want to do or just to be out on my own and just be. I still have another two months to worry about these sorts of things as after coming home from Europe I head off to New York for a month with Lucis. So yes I have time, I just wonder if it’s enough.

7:49pm, and after sleeping in till 2:30 pm today and waking up confused and dreadfully exhausted, (apparently that sleep in did not make up for the staying up from 4am-8am) I had FINALLY made some “friends” if that’s what you call people after talking to them for less than 30 minutes. But hey, it was the first time someone in my hostel spoke English and seemed relatively in my “generation era” if that’s what you even call it. They are a tad older, and by older at least 10 years I think. Growing up in a home with sisters 5-13 years of an age difference to me has made it so much more comfortable and easy to connect with people a bit older. The two girls invited me out to go around the city with them Thursday (tomorrow) which is probably the most exciting thing that’s happened since I’ve gotten here. I still haven’t been into the depths of the city, and this way the first time Is with others so I have less of a worry about getting lost or staying out later because I’m not alone. This is truly a blessing, and I couldn’t be more excited. I was terrified all the hopes I had about meeting people while staying in a hostel were diminishing, but I mean come on, its day 3 I need to cut this trip some slack.

Anyways I’m here and writing as I eat my Mr. Noodles alone with the Toblerone I got from the grocer today. I am writing this just after I had started my University applications, but as I write them I still wonder to myself if that’s the right path for me, however, there is one school and one course that I would be ecstatic to get into, but the chances are slim which means my hopes are very low.

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It’s Thursday, and the two girls from Portland Oregon brought me along into the city where we decided to walk around and make our goal to hit up the Van Gogh Museum. Oh my, I’m so thankful I did that with others because big museums are not my favourite. I don’t know if it’s the post-grad talking after years of guided tours and having to stop at each frame for 10 minutes to know the entire history about the piece, but I like to walk at a bit of a faster speed and enjoy the pieces from my own interpretation or views.

You learn so much by engaging in the art itself at your own pace, rather than being forced to listen to your guide over a mob of people trying to take a picture of a piece with their ipads. Most of all, I’m happy I got to go through it with the two others, where we could through the place on our own, but still talk about what we were interested in most afterward. Nothing beats talking about art in a foreign city with strangers from your hostel you just so happened to become aquatinted with.

After the art museum, we headed back to the hostel, a train ride and tram away (kudos to Amsterdam for having the best transit I’ve ever experienced). After arriving back at the hostel, I was still eager for more I wasn’t quite done with the day. So, I got on a fresh new outfit and put my hair up in hopes to find a cool retro bar, like the one that I went to the previous day that was half a café and half a bar (“coffee & coconuts”, I highly recommend). But once I arrived at the train station I realized the transit pass would not take me to the area I had hoped to go towards, so I decided why not go to the central station. The one area the liveliness of the city continues to grow past dark. So I hopped on the train, slightly drained from the day and still feeling jet lag, but I knew the week was going by fast and there was only so much time left. So, I continued on.

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Short story short, central isn’t as fun when you’re alone. That’s how I felt personally, you’re in beautiful areas roaring with crowds of people going out for food and drinks, and I felt guilty to even ask for a space at one of the restaurants as they were jammed packed and I didn’t want to take up a table with myself where I’d sit alone. I thought why not just walk around and then head back before the dark settles in. Well, I guess you could say I got to do just that, but a guy who was too far gone, from the help of a few beers, decided to not leave me alone so I cut my night a little shorter. I decided I was too tired for the party and decided to wait in hopes of meeting people back at my hostel to potentially go to bars with. So I told the guy my friends were waiting for me around the corner and I headed back to the station and called it a night.

I’m going to leave it there for now, and tomorrow I will post about the weekend in Amsterdam which was by far one of the best experiences I’ve had on this trip. I hope you’re enjoying my rambling and endless entries. Sorry if my stories seem slightly all over the place as the first few entries have been written when I was still feeling sleep deprived and slightly overwhelmed. I am working on something that goes beyond words for this trip and I will post about when it’s complete, but for now, writing is the way I want to share what’s going on over here. Love you guys, thanks for reading.

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restless

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Hey beautiful, my name is Hanna and I’m the person on the other side of the screen and writing my little heart out for those interested in where I am and travel in general. I’m currently on a trip of a lifetime (I’m sure you haven’t heard that one before, but for this little homebody it really is). 3 countries in four weeks and I’m on week 2. I have been writing throughout the days, including the moments from my first day, when I was jetlag sitting in a café in my sweats, all the way to the present. Just a week and a couple days later as I’m again sitting in a café but deeper into the map of Europe, new city and just overwhelmed with gratitude and curiosity.

I am going to release many variations of posts throughout my time here, but my first one will be my first week of experiences, Amsterdam.

My goodness where do I start, the first place on this beyond incredible trip has already stolen a great big piece of my heart. But here I will begin with my first entry, from the first day and they will continue into my week over the next week.

I have graduated and have grown completely bored of being in the same place for a long period of time. I’ve been getting restless and my Pinterest boards have been nearly exploding. Although this summer has been intensely wonderful as my boyfriend from NY came to Canada where we met for the first time in June. Since then I have spent the summer months together with Lucis, along with plenty of family time, showing them they had nothing to worry about when it came to the mysterious boy that came to Canada to get to know their daughter/sister, (Though within days I could tell they already loved him)!

 Besides the hours out on amazing adventures such as swimming in waterfalls and canyons within the lively forests of Vancouver, and going to poetry slams every Monday and even mustering up enough courage to get up on stage and participate by reading one of my own poems. I also spent a fair number of hours working part-time at my new job, Starbucks. In between learning how to talk to customers who were nothing but eager for a cold drink and not in the best moods, and learning how to make several different Frappuccino, lattes, and other refreshers, I had grown anxious for something beyond where I was. Besides all the incredible moment’s summer brought, I was starting to feel anxious and restless for more. when I was at work I was daydreaming of different cities I could be in, I’d even look through pictures of the mountains in Switzerland or the alleys of Italy and pretend that’s where I was going the next day to feel some form of hope of drive. Not that I felt ungrateful for the days I had through the months, but rather I was curious as to what was out there for me and what the time outside my own comfort could do for me.

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You see I am taking a “gap year,” as is the majority of most graduates from high school who have no idea what they’d like to do with their life or just need a break from the system. I felt stuck, working and still no progress as to what I want to do or where I am going to go to university, that is IF I even want to go to university. I am freaken eighteen and I already thought I was hitting a dead end, talk about dramatic (if you know me, that is a good word some people would use to describe me, or if their close they would use something like “super feeler” I love you mom!). However, I needed to do something, I needed an out. I longed for something I couldn’t find at home (as we all do in some way or form). So one day in a coffee shop, with lucis sitting across from me, I scattered my way through travel pages and writing random ideas on my notebook thinking “this is probably just another thing I’m going to get my hopes up about than last minute change my mind.” Little did I know 1 month later I’d be here sitting in a café, in Amsterdam a block away from the hostel I was staying at where I was just at the starting point of an epic, mind opening, soul-searching trip. Now, are you starting to see a little bit of that dramatic side come through?

Well, here I am. Currently in Amsterdam, a city I’ve dreamt of going to since I was 13. (I know this is sounding pretty cheesy, but hang in there).  My plane arrived at 1:30 am (Canadian time) after a good 2-hour sleep and 6 hours of feeling sick to my stomach convincing myself I had made a mistake, and repeating the words “what have I gotten myself into.”

After arriving at the airport, I must admit I felt a bit more confident. I’ve traveled tons throughout my life, but not alone, not like this. I got myself off the plane and through customs and into the baggage claim area. In the moments in-between convincing myself that my suitcase was not going to show up and telling myself to shut up and look calm, I realized… I am going to have to spend the rest of this trip with myself and only me. I’ll have to listen to the weird yet awkward words slip through my mouth when I try to talk in a different language, I’ll have to put up with the oddest comments I make to myself inside my head, and worst of all, I’ll have to put up with the moods of me. Including anxious Hanna making up horror stories of how this trip will turn out, or constantly putting myself down for being so sad when I am alone, and yes, I am that girl that cries when hugging her boyfriend’s sweater (in my defense after being long distant for so long it hurts more to say goodbye even if it’s just for a little while). What can I say, I’m emotional and intensely sensitive?

Well after spending a good 3 hours laying in my bed at the hostel and rummaging through all my stuff making sure its secure and organized properly, I had convinced myself to get up and go get food, since the last thing I ate was runny airplane eggs (stay tuned to watch me slowly go back to “vegan-ish” throughout this trip). However, the weather is as unpredictable as my mood, and has been pouring rain and then sunny. So I decided with my lack of consciousness due to 0% sleep, and trying to keep myself up so that I don’t wake up in the middle of the night completely bored out of my mind from jetlag, I decided to explore the area I am staying in. At first, I felt like I made a mistake, the area made my stomach flip and felt at first like the opening scene to some drama. It was a very random location but I must say after a little walking around I have discovered I am incredibly close to a train station and around many street vendors who sell yummy sweets and lots of cafes within walking distance (update: the location couldn’t have been more perfect). It is 4:24 pm and I am sitting in a random café I chose to sit in because it had window benches where I could write and eat, So I’m here, with a sandwich next to me with who knows what in it, as the lady at the counter seemed rushed to get in my order, though I had no idea how to communicate what I really wanted. Well my eyes are starting to close and I can barely focus, I wonder if being out half asleep is considered a hazard.

Update: it’s a hazard to my emotional health … to be continued.

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traveling & future locations

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Here we are, day three and the question is simple, “where do you hope to live?” Growing up I have traveled the globe and have explored and experienced other cultures. At an early age, I knew I would not be staying in Canada, there were too many places in the world, for me to just settle in one place.

For a number of years, I have leaned towards living in Europe, preferably southern France in an old cottage placed next to a little village where I could spend my days cooking, writing, reading and living the simple life. Well, I have grown up and times have most definitely changed.

As i am graduating this year and have started to put future plans together, the location of my dreams has shifted to New York. I know I will be a part of the constantly growing city and live in the beautiful chaos. I can’t wait to be a part of a busy environment where I can continue to grow as a writer and performer in the arts. With inspiration all around and the constant movement of the city, it will be the perfect place for me to grow artistically and become the person I know I’m capable of being.

As this was a bit of a shorter response I decided to add a few photos from a couple of the trips I have been over my life. These are just a few locations of my many destinations!

 

 

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