Amsterdam | canals + confusion

June 5 +6, Amsterdam, canon 5d
I have read a few posts scattered over the blogosphere about how trite it sounds to complain about travel. After all, even when something goes wrong...what is there to complain about, really? You're not at home or working- rather, you're exploring a whole new city, eating delicious food and shopping. There are far worse things you could be doing. But I also want to be completely truthful on this blog, about my travels. Because, let's be honest-nothing is ever just a walk in a park, all the time. You aren't always happy and enthusiastic and full of life; sometimes you're tired and dazed and overwhelmed and worried about things at the time, and it takes a little while for it to all sink in. Everyone has off days-and when you only have two days in a city, that off day can change the color of an entire trip. Which, to a degree, is exactly what happened in Amsterdam.

The first morning had shown great promise. I had arrived early that morning, after-surprise!-an overnight bus ride. Somehow I wandered my way into a quiet residential area off to the side of the more touristic area, and, for the next few hours, enjoyed the tranquility. I drew the canal houses and drank a smoothie on a bench and got hit on by a middle-aged Iranian man in the park; I thought and wondered and was still. However, as the day went on, exhaustion set in. It was one of the hottest days I had seen in Europe so far, in the 80's; Amsterdam was absolutely packed, partially as it was the first "real" weekend of tourist season, but mostly because there was a massive football//soccer game being played between two very important teams. I was carrying four days of cameras + clothes on my back, and I had gotten extremely, extremely lost on the way to the train station. I wasn't exactly happy at that point of the day-I was sore and a little light-headed and dazed.

I remember sitting at the metro at 10pm, trying to get to the hostel with Erin and Laura, completely catatonic. All three of us were wiped; Erin and I had learned that Dutch sounded simultaneously like English and German-both of which we spoke to various degrees-but of course it's not either, so we had no idea what was going on. The metro had been closed, but it was open again, but one of the trains wasn't coming? We were miserable, and Erin wondered aloud if this trip had been a good idea, or if we were burned out.

To this day, I oftentimes look back at those two days in wonder, because the trip was a complete blur. I feel like I experienced Amsterdam after I actually was in Amsterdam, as I really wasn't, at that point, processing anything. there were plenty of incredible, incredible experiences that I saw, experienced, partook in-but it was hazy at the time (and believe me, not for the reasons that most don't remember Amsterdam....), one long, run-on, rush of experiences that I seemingly sleptwalked through. I fulfilled an adolescent dream and sketched the canals//canal homes from observation; drank iced-tea from a carton and ate stroopwaffels on a metro platform against one of the most beautiful sunsets I've ever seen. We went to the Van Gogh museum and I learned about one of my favorite all-time artists-listening to his letters being read and meeting his family. There were bagels consumed in a park, metro rides and those waffles! Oh man, those waffles; they really deserve a post on their own. And to top it off, I finished my trip by waiting for a bus to London (!) in a near deserted parking lot, huge blue skies overhead.

So don't get me wrong-I understand how lucky I am to have gone to Amsterdam. The city was beautiful, and I enjoyed it. And I also understand that it sounds whiney of me, to be complaining about hot weather and being too full of amazing experiences to process a "new European city".  Amsterdam was a dream-one of scattered experiences, a confusing maze of canals and bicycles and tottering brick houses-but a dream nonetheless. And I learned that it's okay-it's okay to be overwhelmed by everything when you travel-it's okay to be in a bad mood, sad or tired or confused. You're only human, after all. Being on a trip doesn't really change that.

I'm going  to go back to Amsterdam-to the Netherlands, actually-someday. I will go in the fall, when it's a little dreary and grey {because, in my head, that's how amsterdam looks}, and stay in an airbnb, and eat dozens of waffles and see the Rijksmuseum and every single inch of the city. For now, a taste of that dreamy daze is just fine.

thanks for reading//guide coming soon.

New England | Ossipee, NH & Lake Living

august, ossipee, canon 5d

from a few days at the lake earlier this month.

Europe | ich bin nicht ein Berliner {not yet, anyways}

may 9-11//berlin, germany//canon 5d

I had been told two things by everyone, before Berlin-number one was that the city would "break" us {"you go up against Berlin and you lose," my friend remarked once}, but number two was that I was going to love it. Whenever people talked about Berlin, they seemed to struggle, trying to explain what exactly it was about the city that was so special-it just was something that no one seemed to know how to put into words. Needless to say, I was excited to visit {albeit a little nervous re; being "broken"}

I got my first taste of Berlin on the U-Bahn on a Friday morning, after arriving at the outskirts of the city with Kate. It was early-8, maybe-but the train car was full of all walks of life. In the corner sat a dark-haired boy with articulate fingers, bent intently over a drawing; next to him was a muslim woman with a baby in a stroller, a drag queen, and an older woman clutching a german workbook tightly. All were vastly different, lost in their own worlds, sitting side by side-no one else seemed terribly interested or taken back by the interesting mashup of people, however. It was normal here.

Kate and I spent our first day in Berlin cautiously checking out our territory, careful not to do anything too important, as our friends were due to arrive the next day and would want to see the sights. We did, however, check out the East Side Gallery, kiss the ground outside the Dunks, and got lost looking for a park that had previously been an airplane hangar. And we walked-Berlin is huge, guys. This isn't Prague or Luxembourg- you walk and you walk and you walk, and you've only made it to the next U-Bahn station.

We stayed in Kreuzberg, Berlin's own Williamsburg. That first night was dusky; restaurant facades were ablaze, lights strung up on colorful awnings. Hipsters of (literally) every shape, size and sub-genre rode by on bicycles and met with friends, and the yellow U-bahn rumbled and rattled on the tracks above. Kate and I's eyes were alight; we headed back to our hostel and made conversation with people from all over the world, all called to Berlin for different reasons, those same things my friends had tried to put into words.

Travel confusion and bad luck combined led to only Erin arriving early Saturday morning-we picked her up, filled her with coffee, and promptly whisked her away for the next two days. We tracked down markets all around the city; wandered through Friedrichshain, where some men offered to sell us weed, and…make us mac + cheese; and stopped for a cookie + reading in Shakespeare + Sons. We spent a while walking through the famed, the amazing, the coolest Mauerpark, a weekend market full of local artisans and antiques. After that, we made a pitstop at the Brandenburg gate//Holocaust Memorial, taking a breather at Tiergarten; we climbed rocks and erin stood on the top of one, arms outstretched in the rain. We also took a sobering free tour around the Mitte area of the city, which filled in some of the history, as well as visiting the holocaust memorial museum, where I read a poem written mere hours before the poet's death, and marveled at the artist's need to create, no matter the circumstances.

The concept of a city divided is fascinating, mind-boggling, mystifying. We would drift from one side to the other, vaguely aware thanks to differing architectural styles and the "Amplemann" crosswalk figures, but it was still incredible to think that a mere 25 years ago, that we wouldn't be walking down this street or that one. It's strange to think that some of the Berliners that we walked by had lived in those times, had seen the cultures clashing-strange to think, once again, that when my parents were my age, there was so much of Europe they were unable to see. And then there's the concept of the Wall itself-cutting a city in half, people living insanely different lives on each side, families separated by merely a concrete wall.

That night, we returned to Kreuzberg and ate burgers outside what had once been an elaborate public bathroom. It was warm, and we watched the people walk by, small and large groups speaking all sorts of languages. And I didn't just start dreaming-I started thinking, logistically-How could i come back? How could i make a life here, in Berlin? in Kreuzberg?

Did Berlin break us? Yeah, a little. One of our goals was to check out one of Berlin's cool themed clubs (specifically suicide circus, which is in an abandoned train station), and we were so exhausted at the end of all three nights that we collapsed into bed. We almost missed our bus home-we're talking a mad dash ala Home Alone through the bus station-we got lost several times and spent WAY too much money at dunkin donuts. But I don't think we broke completely.{maybe just a little cracked}  And while I tried several times to understand just exactly what it was about Berlin that everyone loved, I never quite put my finger on what exactly it was either. The closest I came to understanding it, the only way I could try to explain it, is that Berlin bleeds, screams art, vibrance, culture, youth. The city is truly alive; every inch of it is covered in graffiti, murals and tags, layers upon layers upon layers of art. Nothing is permanent here-everything is constantly being built upon, changed, approved. Blink, and you might miss something; but don't worry too much, because something new will come along in the next five seconds. It's big and it's loud and dirty and colorful and I am absolutely, completely, utterly in love with it.

I'm not a Berliner yet, but mark my words; i will be soon.

{travel guide coming soon!}

bavaria | schwangau

O.K, so I know that Neuschwanstein is amazing + awesome + everything, but can we talk about Schwangau for a second? Because oh my God, this tiny little town-famous for the aforementioned castle, which perches high up on a hill-has some of the most amazing scenery I've seen.The A-Frame houses, the farms-and the Alps, the Alps! I'm an east coast girl raised close to the ocean-mountains never fail to knock me back on my heels, and the Alps may be the tallest mountains I've ever seen. They seemed to loom over the miniscule little homes, making even the castle look small.

On our last night, we went for a post-dinner walk to digest the spatzle + schnitzel. On the way back to our hostel, we meandered around this huge lake {above}, which was empty and dry- it fills up in the summer when the ice melts from the top of the mountains. It was eery and strange, the clouds floating amongst the peaks-unreal. it still doesn't seem real, even 3 odd months later, one of those things that I look back in awe now later, you know? I went there, and I saw that. I stood in a field in the middle of Bavaria and craned my head to look at the Alps, I toured the (arguably) most famous castle in the world, I visited this tiny town that puts on a passion play every 10 years, which I had learned about in some religion class years ago-I was there. I lived and breathed and experienced the most amazing things that I never, in a million years thought I would do.

travel is weird, guys.

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