I'm pretty jacked. Usually the word is used by a jock wearing a SnapBack, or a lacrosse player, or the type of person who yells loudly at a bar when their team scores a winning goal. I used to be up with the lingo, but I've since fallen away from a dedicated following of sports, and am now the one that yells, "YEAH, SPORTS" when others cheer. Now back to my original point. Jacked. A term of prolific excitement. I'm jacked to go back to Amsterdam.
Some of my most fond memories, as well as nightmares began there. Spending the day on an elaborate date with a breathtaking girl from Milan, as we traversed the canals and kissed on a ferry: Fond Memory. Having nearly $5000 of camera equipment stolen, as well as purchasing my first and only pack of cigarettes (I still have it, and one remains.): nightmare. So many emotions are wrapped up in one city, so many friends I had to leave that felt as if I had known them for years. These are the joys of traveling alone. You are forced to create new experiences, and you're drawn so far out of your comfort zone that it terrifies even the most extroverted of travelers.
Im on my flight to Minneapolis from Fargo. There's about 25 of us evenly spread throughout a 50 seater Delta CRJ-200. The flight attendant both poorly imitated a British accent, and occasionally sung the words to his air safety spiel. I like writing in the air. It's something about the combination of sleep deprevstion and looking out the window that brings better adjectives to mind.
I'll soon be boarding the A330 for what my Delta App says will be a 10hr20min flight. I'm stocked with a bottle of sleeping pills, a few granola bars, and some mandarin oranges...courtesy of the Delra IROP cart, with the exception of the pills. This is the third flight I've tried boarding today, and apparently it is a 'charm'. The other two filled up with passengers who actually pay for flights, so they certainly are prioritized. I woke up this morning whole-heartedly planning on going to Santiago, Chile. But not getting out of Fargo early meant not making it to MSP, and then Atlanta.
I really don't care where I end up. I have 4 days off, and even my outgoing self needs a break from Fargo occasionally, as much as I adore the city. To twist up this adventure from the last, I hope to take a train a couple hours South to a city on the coast of Belgium. I saw gorgeous pictures on the interwebs, and I really hope I can find two trees in a park to lounge in my new hammock. Literally, that's a main goal of this trip. If I can lay in my hammock and read, it will have been successful for me.
Also, if you like blogs like this, please, please tell me so. It's a creative outlet for me whether you enjoy it or not, but I would write more if anyone cares for my musings.
I'm cleaning out my Mac to find untold stories in the form of raw camera images.
Travel nostalgia often leaves my mind lost. It's probably the most bitter-sweet feeling in my existence. I feel directionless, yet content with such an ambiguous longing. The paradox of 'I wouldn't trade this experience for the world.' and 'I gravely wish I could be there right now.' is often overwhelming.
Amsterdam is on the brain today. I miss the friends I bonded with in a matter of a couple of short days. Most are still there, and I must visit again soon if at all possible. I found a few photos that brought a reminder of a story I hadn't told anyone, which I would have forgotten, if it weren't for the pictures.
To set the stage, I hadn't slept much the night before I flew out of Fargo at 5am. I was the last coach seat on the 3:00pm AMS flight out of MSP. I couldn't sleep much on the flight, and arrived in at 5am AMS time. I couldn't check in to my hostel until 1:30pm, so I was forced to stay up for quite a long time. I was half-asleep wandering through a gloomy alley on the way to the hostel, when I met a man standing outside his door. Severely lacking sleep meant severely lacking judgment, and I accepted his invite inside for breakfast and coffee. He was a kind soul and served me the best sugar coated bread I've ever had, as well as some top notch coffee. I chatted with a few travelers who stopped by, as well, but understanding their English was difficult. I sat there intrigued, while listening to the dutch language - trying to comprehend any possible word I could. I ended up falling asleep sitting upright in the chair and woke up in time to check into my hostel. Waking up was embarrassing, as they looked at me as if I was a cute puppy who cocked his head to the side. I thanked them for the food and conversation, and I was on my way - this time even more disoriented than an hour prior. I'm not sure how I made it to the hostel, because I don't really remember the walk, but a few hours later I woke up in my bunk to 6 german guys laughing loudly from their respective bunks. I'm assuming they weren't laughing at me.
The old man on the street brought light to a rather gloomy morning in Amsterdam and I'm thankful for them. I can still taste coffee and bread in my mind. I don't remember where their place was, but when I go back, I will find them again to say hello. I have this photograph of the street.
Such independence cannot be found in Fargo like it can in another foreign place. I'm so fortunate to have experienced this story, but I miss it all the same. I'm itching to travel again, and I'm hoping next weekend will bring me somewhere new, or even somewhere old to curb the nostalgia for a little while longer.
There is something peculiar, yet beautiful about the ability to bond with a stranger. Two people vacationing alone from two opposing cultures, to meet in a third.
It was 2am when she walked through the door as I sat at a lonely coffee shop table inside the hostel I'd lived in for two days. She flaunted a large grey scarf, a slim black peacoat, and a black hat covering the non-blonde roots where her hair was growing black. She appeared shy, yet frustrated as she spoke on the phone with just a subtle enough accent to determine she wasn't an American.
I had to say hello.
Nearly all European women are attractive, but she was a unique, strikingly beautiful sort of attractive that I hadn't seen thus far - ever. I discovered she was from Milan, Italy: the fashion capital of the world - hence her clothing choices. We chatted for a couple of hours before deciding to get some rest, but planned to spend some time together the following evening.
By that night, my camera had already been stolen, so I seriously regret my inability to capture her with anything but my iphone. Our adventure through the city was incredibly spontaneous. We ate at a fine burger joint, pretended to negotiated a sale with a coke dealer, and walked aimlessly in the rain. I also purchased my first pack of cigarettes that we smoked together, since it's apparently the European thing to do. Side note: It's incredible the vast difference between the smoking culture in the states versus Europe. There appears to be a wall of judgement cast upon smokers in the US. Societal constructs allow you to smoke with and around others who are comfortable with you, as long as you accept the idea that certain folk from particular classes will view you as some variety of scum for it. Europe: a large portion of the people, including very beautiful women, smoke consistently around complete strangers. I apologize for the tangent, but that detour is to briefly explain the motivation behind my cigarette purchase. And she wanted them, so there's that, too.
It was quite dreary in a peaceful sort of fashion that evening - a light misty rain, and a calm feeling in the air. We visited a few local pubs for a couple of drinks and I found she shares my affinity for fine scotch. I rarely run into anyone who enjoys the Laphroig 10 Year like I do, which essentially makes her the very best. We also were able to secure to-go cups for our beer when an individual pub closed, which is an allowance that should (but really probably shouldn't) be adopted elsewhere. We departed to one of the canals and dangled our feet between the railings of a staircase, while overlooking the crowded night life. This is about the time we met a homeless man who began with, "Hi, my name Frankie. What can I do to make you happy?" He had the most genuine smile that I'll not soon forget. We also met an English street musician, and a few other interesting characters.
At this point it was about 3:30am and our adventure brought us to a nearby club where we sat near the wall and observed people's interactions. We were the only sober ones in the establishment, and I'm certainly glad she loves people watching as much as I do, if not more.
This is the part of the story where it becomes difficult to accurately recount our adventure in a way that offers the same emotions to the reader. Any words I use will fall drastically short of the truly wonderful time it was.
I left the restaurant just shy of 4:00am to walk her to the ferry she would take to her hotel. Her favorite artist, very appropriately, is John Mayer, and we both agree "In Your Atmosphere" is one of our favorites. I played the song on repeat as we walked hand-in-hand down the empty canals of Amsterdam. By empty, I mean, it was soothingly silent, outside of the way the music echoed down the canal. We were literally the only two on the misted-over cobblestone street that would normally be occupied by hundreds. We linked arms and approached a bridge overlooking the still, and ever-silent canal. We were content. But far more than content, the moment was right, and wasn't actually as cliche as it sounds. The desire for the 'romantically-spontaneous-date' scene is something that dwells in my heart continually, but is rarely something I am able to actualize. It was right, and therefore why I will call it the utmost of contentedness, although content is usually used in a "meh-alight" fashion, but this is not how I mean it here.
We kept walking toward the ferry while making jokes about things we had experienced that day. We stopped to share a quick bite to eat before her ferry departed, and then came that mutual moment we hadn't really thought about prior. It was time for farewell. She grabbed my hand and led me out to the docked ferry where we stood facing each other for a while. We shared a kiss, and the ferry departed into the brisk, foggy, yet wonderfully still night. The 'bitter-sweet' emotion could not have been further polarized. It's much easier to connect with someone in a foreign place, knowing that you may not see them for a long time, or maybe ever again. Maybe it's the assumed lack of future commitment that makes people act this way? I'm so thankful for last night, as it was the best date I've ever had, and I never would have imagined such an evening when she walked in as I sat at that lonely table where it started. Returning to that night will be fairly easy, as I just have to close my eyes and play that John Mayer tune. It's funny how music has the ability to hold memories between its notes.
Until next time, Joyce.