Not Exactly How I Pictured It

I’d like to start this post by saying that I am not as mad or complainy as the rest of my words may suggest. I was tired, aggravated, and trying to channel my inner gonzo after reading Hunter S. Thompson’s “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved”. Trust me, I understand every hiccup is part of the adventure 😁 Now I hope you enjoy this mess from the comfort of your own, fully-functioning home.

Feb 9th – 7 pm

“Ehh…we have a slight problem.”

I stood there rubbing my eyes with my fists because I woke up sixty seconds earlier from a sleep coma caused by the purest form of laziness. I had my hood pulled over my bed head and an annoyed look on my face. Staring back at me was the guy in charge of management who was wearing a blue vest – the same one who checked us into our disaster of an Airbnb just 6 days prior. What could be so big of a problem that we needed to be disturbed at 19:00?

“Yes?” I croaked.

“Your keetchen water has been leaking into the apartment downstairs and we have to move you tonight. I am so veddy sorry”

My puffy eyes glared back at him. “Like, right now? Is that what yesterday’s obnoxious 8 am construction was for?”

“Ehh yes I am so sorry about this. Eet is a problem that is out of our control.”

Shannon caught wind of the conversation and leaped from her comfy setup of being buried under her laptop and Giants blanket.

“Wai-hey-hey-t. We have to pack up all of our shit and get out of here right now. To where, exactly?” I think she thought it was a joke at first.

“We can go with your theengs or we can check it out first, huh?” he proposed. Our current place was barely functional, let alone comfortable, so we weren’t opposed to an upgrade if we were in store for one.

I locked the dead bolts behind me. I didn’t bother throwing on a jacket because the house of condominiums was only so big, so I figured we weren’t going very far. Of course I was wrong. Number one rule of travel is don’t expect ANYTHING, unless you’re at a 3-star hotel or more. Because when you’re paying only 20-something Euro a night to stay in the “up-and-coming” neighborhood of Rome, you have very little to fight back with when shit doesn’t go your way.

We followed Blue Vest who took us out the gate of our building and down the dimly lit, siren-echoing street. He said the place was not much further and an upgrade in his opinion. Smaller but nicer, apparently.

We turned the corner and headed up a hill, every step further from the tram station that was our portal to the Rome that we came here to experience. Behind another gate was the door to our new place.

“You have a terrace and a garden,” he said with pep in his voice. It’s February. When the sun doesn’t shine, it’s freakin’ cold. I could care less about dead plants outside my bedroom. Shannon was a few glasses of wine deep so she was buying everything he said. I wasn’t. I couldn’t. Something about the 8 am construction we weren’t warned about made me question the management here.

With a key and a strong push, Blue Vest popped the door open to a loft that was definitely rented out to couples. How do I know that? 1. It was tiny as shit and 2. There was only one bed! Oh yeah, did I mention our first place was a 2-bedroom with only one clean queen-sized bed? It was assumed we were sharing a room even though our Airbnb request blatantly said BEST FRIENDS. Here we were again with one bed and a saggy couch covered in horses with a view of Marilyn Monroe posing on another couch. Awesome.

We looked at it and left – there’s not much to see in a loft. We walked back, now cold AF, and faced the fact that our next twenty minutes would comprise of us shoving all of our belongings and then some into our suitcases to haul them back to the loft we walked from.

“Does it have a washer?” Shannon asked. Cleaning your clothes is a major concern when you only have three outfits to rotate between. Plus our last place had one.

“Ehh no but I can wash your clothes for you.” I’m sorry but the image of Blue Vest handling my Victoria’s Secret panties was not something I felt comfortable with. I’d rather have a garbage bag full of my dirty shit to take to Florence with me than risk having my clean stuff handled by this guy who was breaking this terrible news to us. No grazie.

Regardless of the washer we weren’t going to have, we packed our shit. Another man joined Blue Vest to help us with our things and they reassured us it was okay because they had a car for us to transport us and our things. That changes everything!

“Eets only for two nights until this problem ees fixed,” said Blue Vest. I cringed at the thought of moving again.

When we got back to the loft, they unloaded our things from the car, filled the toilet bowl with water, and began to dust. This place hadn’t been used in a long while and you definitely could tell.

“What’s the WiFi password?” Shannon asked because that is our literal lifeline to the rest of the world. It’s how I’m sharing this story with you now. Without it I am completely isolated aside from the person who’s been by my side for the past month, who is practically an extension of me.

The two men exchanged some words in Italian. Blue Vest made a phone call to find the answer. He said he would go back to the management office to get the keys to the place next door to find out. While he did this, Shannon and I sat on the couch refreshing our WiFi waiting for something to show up. Nothing did. There is no WiFi here…great.

When he got back, we discovered it worked out on the terrace. It’s currently 50-degrees Fahrenheit outside. I’m pretty fucking pissed at this point. We got the password and he left before we could bitch any more (I don’t blame him).

“Byeeee ladies!”

So, I’m writing this from the saggy horse couch while Shannon sits on her laptop at the rickety table on our 10×10 patio. The door is open and she’s drunk and singing “Rock the Casbah” while she makes the best of a bad situation. To follow suit and flip my mind from being stuck on negative, I walked to the kitchen sink to pour myself a glass of water and take a calm-the-fuck-down sip. To my surprise, there was water all over the ground trickling into the cracks of the tiles. I don’t think we had even used the sink yet but the cabinet below it was leaking everywhere. Oh, and we have no paper towels. Shannon is sending Blue Vest a video of the proof while I’m sit here steaming mad, not sure what to do about the current situation.

A hotel sounds extremely sexy right now. I’d go almost anywhere in the city – at any cost – so I didn’t have to be here anymore. But, my best friend is drunk and laughing it off, and finding another place would require me to join her on the freezing terrace to hook up to the WiFi. I don’t know what I’m going to do, but I can guarantee you I’m not dealing with this shit at the moment. Blue Vest is on his way back so let’s see what he proposes to be done.

*A whole bunch of bullshit later* – Feb 10 – 10:17 pm

We were told we had to stay in this new place for ten more days which is not fucking happening so we found a new place we’re moving into tomorrow. We were invited out on this Friday night by Blue Vest (out of pity I’m sure) but can’t take him up on it because we have no hot water in the shower and I went on a run today for the first time in months!!!!! Oy.

We’re able to check into our new apartmentat 1 pm, but first, we have to go back to the management office to collect the money we paid for the tourist tax. Whether or not we get the rest of our money we paid for the nights we won’t stay here is TBD – we have yet to hear back from the guy who owns the property via Airbnb. Blue Vest told us he’s in the hospital for a heart problem…yikes. Not good news when three of your properties are experiencing major issues. Luckily my friend Chris got me the email of one of Airbnb’s executives – shoutout to you, Chris – so we will get our money back eventually…somehow.

To fill you in on what we’ve been doing outside of our apartment…

That post and video are still coming soon. Shitty WiFi means problems uploading pictures and videos, so we’ll have those for you when we can work out of an Airbnb that sticks to its promises (knock on wood). Until then, I hope you enjoyed the rant I recorded on Shan’s iPad from the comfort of our second place in Rome. Time to hit send from the terrace – ciao!

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Learn Something New, Why Dontcha?

Peep the video, then read the post…or do it the other way around. Whatever.

Feeling tired of our concrete surroundings, we were happy and relieved to finally see what Vondelpark is all about.

A Vondelightful Walk In the Park

I needed this fresh air away from the stink of cigarettes and greasy food. It was chilly, but that’s something you learn to brave through quickly. Bundle up, shut up, and explore.

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Peep the Rijksmuseum in the background!

We Van Went to the Van Gogh Museum

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I really enjoyed this museum. It made me feel stupid for not having known more about one of the most famous artists of all time. Am I the only one who was unclear about the whole cutting-off-ear-and-dying-two-years later thing? Let me break some things down for you.

Vincent’s Thug Life

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Here’s how the major events went down:

  • 1880Age 27: Decided to ditch mining to become an artist.
  • 1888 – Age 35: Started to go crazy and cut his ear off.
  • 1890Age 37: Shot himself in the chest with a pistol. Died two days later.

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If you’re like me, you’re probably shocked at how quickly his fate turned from hopeful to hopeless. Like…wait a minute. I thought he was so eager for life and success, right? So what made him go from motivated painter to someone medicated by the paint brush in just 10 years?

The Letters

Aside from the progression of his work, his letters allow you to peek inside his brain and feel what he was experiencing throughout his life. His attitude reads like a somber appreciation for the simple things – he communicated his preference for bare branches and mute meadows over the complex city life. And when he began to feel threatened by his uncontrollable thoughts, we grieved the demise of his self-control as if he were our friend.

The Truth Behind How He Became Successful

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Theo van Gogh

I want to include a few other things that shocked me that I didn’t know before:

  • Vincent lived off a monthly allowance from his brother, Theo – an art dealer – for the 10 years he was an artist.
  • Vincent died before he flourished.
  • Theo was determined to honor Vincent when he died, but Theo died 6 months after Vincent.
  • Theo’s wife Jo and son Willem are responsible Vincent becoming mega-famous.

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Heavy Hearts and Hungry Tummies

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The museum left an impression on us as we walked back to our apartment. We were flustered and therefore missed an opportunity to experiment with Dutch cuisine. We chose the barestaurant down the street from our apartment, and we were disappointed to find it had mostly American food as well as endless amounts of American sport’s decor.

I caved and ordered chicken wings. Sorry guys, no pix of them beeeecause what a terrible choice that was! I mean, they weren’t bad…they just weren’t J. Timothy’s 😫💔😢💭🍗

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So, I solemnly swear to order something Dutch the next time we eat something other than the groceries we already bought. Btw, let me give a shoutout to arguably the BEST chocolate milk I might ever have in my lifetime, Chocomel 👏🏼  Screw you and thank you for being so addicting.

I’ll catch you guys up on the next museum and adventurous activity in the next post.

For now,

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Ever been to the Van Gogh Museum? Have a favorite art piece you’d like to share with us? Tell us by commenting below!

We Had a Supperb Weekend

Peep the video, then read the post…or do it the other way around. Whatever.

We’re covering more and more of the city each day.

It’s been a few days since we’ve done these things so I promise to be better about keeping up with this blog. These pictures below will do a lot of the talking for me, so feel free to skip the sap, scroll through them, and then head onto the next post.

The Rijksmuseum

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Look at this thing! This giant wonderland was founded in 1800 and is rich with art and history – because the two go hand in hand (duh). I was in awe with the size of the museum and its collection, and here I’ll share with you some pieces that caught my eye.

A Few of My Favorijks Things

The main attraction:
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The Night Watch, Rembrandt, 1642

Three fun facts about The Night Watch:

  • The artist – Rembrandt – is a famous Dutch artist and this is his most popular painting.
  • The figures in Rembrandt Square were created in memory of his 400th birthday.
  • It’s the centerpiece of the Rijksmuseum.
The biggest painting in the museum:
Ironically, I don’t know how to get this video to shrink.
Jan Willem Pieneman, The Battle of Waterloo, 1824
A pretty outdoorsy landscape:
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Italian Landscape with Umbrella Pines, Henrik Voogd, 1807
Ugh…I found Herbert (our mouse, who we saw yesterday):
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Mouse with a Candle Stump and a Nut, Joris Hoefnagel, 1594
And here’s the most beautiful thing I saw in the entire museum…my reflection: 😉
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Selfie in a Mirror, Shannon McCormick, 2017

I’m extremely glad we checked this place out first. Through the magnificent storytelling of visuals and guides, I’m beginning to further understand this place we chose to venture off to and the history that made it what it is today.

After seeing the attempts to capture Holland’s beautiful violet skies, it was cool to get a glimpse of the magic that night:
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Every canal is picture-worthy.

Right behind the Rijksmuseum is the ever-so-famous I amsterdam sign. Would we have really gone to Amsterdam if we didn’t take this tourist pic?

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The Irish girl who took this could’ve zoomed in a bit.

Dinner in Style

To round out our productive day, Shan and experienced a lovely, chic wine-and-dine thanks to one of our dearest friends, Frank (@frankroche, not the kitty Frank 🐱) – it’s called Supperclub, where we ate and partied (and looked good) in bed.

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When we first got there, the hostess covered our phone cameras with stickers and warned us not to use our phones at all. There were even characters crawling around with flashlights making sure we were following the rule. Funny enough, we met some really cool people on both sides of our setup and enjoyed the company around us. Europeans are so interesting, hah. We lived large with the cuisine and cocktails, and we enjoyed entertainment that was meticulously bursting with unsaid messages. Our dinner turned into dancing and the night disappeared before we knew it. Thank you Frank!

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Needless to say we spent the next day recovering – until Monday when we went back to the Museum Quarter for more.

Stay tuned to see which museums we hit up next!

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Any suggestions on what Shan and I should do next? We’re interested in your recommendations! While you’re at it, feel free to share some of your own experiences by leaving a comment. 🙂  Subscribe to get notified the next time a post is published!

Now That It’s Been a Few Days…

Peep the video, then read the post…or do it the other way around. Whatever.

…I can write a post about how it’s been adjusting to being in the city. I’m not gonna lie, I’ve already had a few waves of homesickness.

We’ve had our fair share of the nightlife thus far. When you’re six hours off from what you’re used to, you wake up late in the morning – or early afternoon in our case. I think we deserved ourselves a bit of fun to kick our adventure off right.

Night #2 started at the bar across the street.

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Inside was a drunk man named Kevin who insisted he was gay but proceeded to hit on us and try to kiss our cheeks. He may or may not have stuck his tongue out at us, and it wasn’t in a childish way. Don’t worry, it wasn’t just us. He did it to everyone in the bar…including the owner who was drunk off his ass on a Wednesday night. The other folks inside the bar included the bartender, another bar employee, and a man gambling his money away at a machine that was not being very nice to him.

Though I don’t remember their names, I remember everything about them.

First, I spoke with the other bar employee who has a brown ponytail and beard. I could barely hear him over the Dutch music reverberating off of the shiny foil-looking walls, but he told me he was from Romania and had lived in Amsterdam for 11 years. Apparently he came for a week’s visit with his friends and never went back. I’ve always wanted to meet someone who said “fuck it” that way, especially since this transition hasn’t been an easy one for me. I admire the way of the nomad – free to go wherever they’re drawn to rather than being stunted by the attachment to one place. It’s currently something I’m trying to master.

He pointed me toward the corner where another employee was curled up asleep in bed. This guy’s job was to be ridiculously cute.

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Okay, so the cat lady in me got out before I could stop her. This little nugget had piercing blue eyes and a thing for walking on the bar, and he almost fell asleep in my arms! My Romanian friend pictured above on the left told me he likes to call him “Friend”…which I misheard, so I called him Frank (shoutout to you, Frank!)

While I was drooling over kitty Frank, Shannon was making friends with the bartender. She only bartends two nights a week, and for the rest of the time she’s an office manager and is running her own business of being a stylist. She told us that Shannon’s color is coral, and that I’m a bottle-green or cherry. “It’s all about the subtle accents,” she said. Nails, lips, jewelry…all of these things go with a white blouse and black pants or jeans. I asked her where she was when I packed all of the other unnecessary shit in my suitcase.

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Because we were wide awake at midnight, we ventured into the Square again.

We walked around a few blocks to get to know the area and look for an ATM. Neither things happened, but we did find a cool McDonald’s where you pay on an LCD menu screen you’re ordering on. We also ran into two guys from Texas who said “y’all” many times. They had come to Amsterdam to indulge in the greenery.

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We found a bar that was open late named Woody’s, which we quickly discovered was a gay bar. The bartender poured us fireball shots that tasted like jaeger while putting his entire mouth around his glass of beer and knocking it back. People were dressed up in togas and singing Whitney Houston. All of it reminded me of college.

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I’m totally watching this show right now (The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt).

Our last and final stop was a tourist bar, Prime. Not gonna lie, I loved the familiar music that I could understand and dance to, but the best part about it was the free drinks we got from our new friends from the U.K.

All in all, we stayed up too late and missed half of another day because of it. Yesterday we wandered around aimlessly and visited the Red Light District before 10 pm, which we may go back to tonight to see it in its true late-night form. More to come on that one and the Rijksmuseum we visited today 😁

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7 Characteristics of A Great Personal Advocate

Journeys are rarely faced alone.

No matter how physically isolated you are, other people are with you in spirit (unless you’ve really cut off all ties and no one knows where you are).

The ones who are with you are the ones who sent you off with a smile, curious about your next move and how you’re going to handle it. They have faith in you and can actually face the reality of your whereabouts – they ask for details about where you are in life and what it’s like rather than refusing to acknowledge that the person they know is gone.

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These are our advocates, and they are the absolute game changer to any dream.

An advocate is someone…

  1. You respect whose eyes widened with joy when you told them you were embarking on an adventure.
  2. Who encourages and assures you regularly because they know you need that little boost from someone.
  3. Who believes you are making the right decision for yourself, regardless of what others say.
  4. Who puts your personal well-being before anything else, in every scenario.
  5. Who has attained a level of success in the same context that you wish to achieve.
  6. Who suggests solutions to potential problems and helps diminish reasons to be afraid.
  7. Who either wishes you well or begins the first leg with you.

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Got any characteristics or names of advocates that you’d like to share? Comment below and shout out a few! Or share this article with an advocate you want to recognize!

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