From a Temple to the Moon

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

He Hua Temple – Fo Guang Shan

We found ourselves in a place we didn’t expect to find in Amsterdam.

Located in Chinatown, the He Hua Temple is a hidden gem among the skinny streets that pretty much all look the same.

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Established in 2000

We only went in for about ten minutes – ten peaceful minutes. The incense relaxed our minds as we soaked up information like the reasons why this temple was built in the Netherlands:

  • To spread the Buddhist concepts, also by means of cultural exchanges and activities;
  • To help to develop talents, skills and good qualities of people by means of good education;
  • To stimulate positive developments in society by means of charity projects;
  • To purify heart and soul of all people by giving them the opportunity of learning to practice Buddhism.
Cited from http://ibps.nl/he-hua-temple/

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Amsterdam Noord

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To get to Amsterdam Noord (North), one must take a free ferry by Central Station to cross the itty-bit of water that rests between the two land masses. Why is there no bridge? According to Anthony Bourdain’s tour guide in the Amsterdam episode of The Layover, he thinks “they” used to ship the crazy people and criminals over there hundreds of years ago. I guess they didn’t want them coming back…who knows. I admit the change in transportation was quite refreshing and welcomed by our aching feet.

By now I’ve read many blogs and tourist sites – only some of which mention Amsterdam Noord. Though we’ve only experienced two of its main attractions, I already recommend taking a day trip to see what it has to offer.

A’DAM Lookout

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In order to get to the top of the Lookout, the price of regular admission is‎ €12.50. I promise it’s well worth it if you like a gorgeous view. Included in your ticket is a free photo, like this one:

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The building features a sky deck, Europe’s tallest swing on the sky deck, and an indoor lookout spot which doubles as a bar. Oh yeah, there’s a Gibson throne, too 🎸👑

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Here’s some pics from the sky deck:

More shots from the indoors where it was warm:

Nestled on the opposite side of the bar were TVs and headphones full of info about Amsterdam. Here’s what I found to be the coolest tidbits:

Fun facts about Amsterdam & The Netherlands

  • There are more bikes than people.
  • 10,000 bikes are fished out of the canals a year.
  • As one of the most diverse cities in the world, it’s home to over 175 nationalities.
  • Holland was the first nation to legalize gay marriage, abortion, and euthanasia.

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Perhaps the most incredible part of the city is the way the sun sets over it.

Eye Film Museum

When the sky grew dark, we headed over to the A’DAM Lookout’s next-door neighbor, the Eye Film Museum. There was no exhibition at the time, but we were able to experience the bottom level for a few hours where we indulged ourselves with some fun facts about – you guessed it – film!

Flipbook

You can make your own if you want to pay like €6 for it – we didn’t.

Artifacts

The artifacts on display represent the evolution of film – from stereoscopy to a zoetrope to a Mitchell to an iPhone 3 (which was the first smartphone to be able to record a quality video) and all that’s in-between.

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Fun fact: George Lucas used a Mitchell VistaVision High Speed #1 to film Star Wars.

360°

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This is blurry but whatevs.

I was really hoping to see some 360 videos in here, but instead found a bunch of clips from monumental films that showcased the development of genres and styles of different cultures. Still cool.

Speaking of 360, I will have a VR video for you folks soon 😉

Private, Comfy Pods

There are little nooks where you can sit down and watch some of the most famous Dutch films of all time, which range from 10 minutes to an hour in length. We chose Zoo by Bert Haanstra (1962) – a silent film that still managed to make us giggle through a subtle string of events.

The Green Screen

Last but not least, there was a green screen that we had waaay too much fun with. See for yourself!

We used the green screen until the museum closed at 7 pm because that’s how much fun we were having.

After heading home, we slumped in our seats and didn’t move for seven hours. There’s no better way to end an adventurous day than brain-dumping it into a blog post until 3 am!

✌🏼


Are there any views that leave you in awe? Movies that move you more than others? Comment below to share them with us! We’re always looking for recommendations 🙂

Ok, Sooooo…

It’s been a few days since I’ve posted and there’s been a weird reason why.

I know it’s only week #1, but I’ve been homesick! Kind of. Well, I’m physically sick with a sore throat, and I’ve been confused as hell over what I came here to do.

Not sure how many of you guys are into astrological signs…

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I’m a Taurus (if you disregard that new weird sign that’s popped up over the past year). According to astrology-zodiac-signs.com (which I’ve never used, but the definition is consistent with all other resources I’ve used), here’s how to describe my sign:

“They love everything that is good and beautiful, and they are often surrounded by material pleasures. People born under the Taurus sign are very sensual and tactile. Touch is extremely important for them, both in business and in romance. Stable and conservative, Taurus is among the most reliable signs of the zodiac.”

Check out those keywords I’ve so graciously bolded for you. Those are the characteristics I identify with that are making me feel extremely out of my comfort zone. I crave security, my support system, and a strong sense of purpose. Neither of those things are with me today in Amsterdam, but I’m learning to accept that I don’t need them.

I’ve had to ask myself a few questions:

  • By coming here, what did I expect to do?
  • How will this impact my life?
  • What do I desire to change?
  • How can I improve myself?
  • Who do I want to become?
  • What do I want to go back with?

I didn’t come here to party. I didn’t come here to feel homesick. I came here to give myself a fair shot at becoming a better person by having the space to do it, and that’s what I intend to do.

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Yeah, I’m still sort of freaking out about my future a bit because I know how difficult it can be to get a job. I’ve fumbled through ideas of grad school and going back to where I was working before I came here, but those thoughts are premature and impeding my ability to be present in the moment – right here, right now.

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So, that that mushy stuff being said, let me update you on what we’ve been up to 😁

Stay tuned,

✌🏼

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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The Grind Started When We Hit The Ground

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

Day 2 started at 2 pm because that’s when we woke up.

We messed up a bit and didn’t set our alarms to adjust to the time change. But like, we were 30 hours deep without sleep so I think we allowed ourselves some catching up.

It’s already getting dark and we haven’t left the apartment. My eager self wants to go back into the sparkling city streets and check out all of the wonderful reasons we chose this city, but my adult self is creating and organizing our social media pages and content while looking for a place to live in February. Here’s what we’ve been told about getting an apartment:

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🙃

The city is so tiny and crowded that even Netherland natives have a hard time finding a place to live, let alone an outsider looking for a 2-month gig. It can take months to find what you’re looking for and have someone give you a chance.

Let’s go back to that concept of “figuring it out” for a minute.

“Figuring it out” is code word for “someone helping us” from now on. Here are our current leads on apartments and other important things we need in order to get settled, thanks to the people looking out for us:

Apartments

We’re included in a group on Facebook that is for buying/selling apartments and rooms for rent, which is a popular way to nail something down. This is a place where you’ve got to know people in order to make it. Friendliness has gone a long way so far.

Our leads:

We’ve messaged one seller so far about a private room near Westerpark and had a friend send along the contact info of a landlord her friend used not too long ago. We’ve got our eyes on other prospects, too!

Side note: The apartment we’re staying in now is conveniently placed by Rembrandt Square but it’s too expensive to continue on with. Also, I saw a fucking mouse scurry across the floor and I’m going to lose my mind and this owner’s future business if it doesn’t get resolved ASAP.

Places to eat

I will definitely be sharing these as we visit them, but here’s the first one we’ve gone to so far:

Cannibale Royale cannibale-royale

It apparently has the best ribs in the city, which is all I needed to know before we went. Google led us to this location, and a message from a friend solidified our it as our choice of a first meal.

We walked into the dimly lit restaurant/bar, sort of like what you’d see at Bar Taco on a Tuesday night. The place was decently packed, the music was bumping, and the menus were barely legible – which is the true mark of a happenin’ hipster joint. The walls were covered with modest cannibal-esque items: vintage weaponry, tribal masks, and other interesting themed decor. Did I mention this is right next to Dampkring, one of the most famous coffee shops in the city?

Our waitress was incredibly friendly and helpful – not to mention beautiful, which is something we’re beginning to notice. Everyone here is so hot! 🔥  We’re hoping assimilation works on physiques (or lack of), too. Which brings us to the next thing…

A reliable bike shop

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It welcomes repairs for up to two months after purchase, and we’re going there tomorrow. 🚲  We’re coming for you, Bike is Ready!

And more!

This is only Day 2 and I think we’re doing a LOT better than we were before. In between “figuring it out” and actually trying to settle, we’ve been enjoying the true beauty this city has to offer. We already feel like we’re home. It’s so easy to walk around here like you belong while exploring the squares and trying new things.

Here’s a pic of Shan in the middle of the memoriam at Rembrandtplein aka Rembrandt Square:

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When we have some stories of our daytime adventures, we’ll be sure to post ’em here. Stay tuned for more!

✌🏼

$100,000 Goes to Whoever Wants to Take Half of My Luggage Off My Hands

I’m sitting on our grey L-shaped couch of the AirBnB slobbering up one of the 100 Grand candy bars that managed to make it all the way to Amsterdam with us…the rest of the snacks didn’t have a chance. THANK GOD this chocolate is with me right now because if I didn’t have these…so help me God.

I need a minute to indulge as I recuperate from the past eyebrow-twitch-worthy 24 hours we endured from the moment we left the United States. I have not slept, I’ve eaten garbage that’s tasted like garbage, and I need a shower and a nap.

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It all started when we checked our bags in at Newark, NJ around 2:30 pm. I was the lucky gal to discover the hidden fees of this stupid little airline called WOW (I’m sure it’s because of all the fun surprise charges!) and paid $120 for how freakin’ heavy my bag was. I’ll admit I overpacked…but should I pay $20/kg for this horrible mistake I’m still dealing with? I don’t think so…because wait until you hear what else these kilograms made me deal with.

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The first flight was cool – we boarded at 6 pm and sat next to a cop from Brooklyn and another cop and a pilot. We had great conversations, exchanged weird stories you’d only tell someone you’d never see again, and landed in Iceland in time to transfer to our flight to Amsterdam. I watched a Bob Marley documentary and I didn’t sleep a wink.

The flight to Amsterdam consisted of a crying baby and someone listening to Beyoncé too loudly. I didn’t sleep on that flight either, and we flew into the sunrise of 5-degree weather of the Netherlands sleepy and unprepared for what was next.

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When we landed, we talked with the woman next to us who was in the middle of an extravagant holiday. The guy across the aisle made conversation with her, and so we met Aidan.

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I’m pretty sure Aidan is synonym for Angel because this guy was sent from above. He’s from Washington, D.C., and he got us from the airport to the Central Station to the metro to Rembrandtplein, which is right near our temporary home. I know I summarized all of those things into one sentence, but that would’ve taken us ALL fucking DAY if it weren’t for this guy. Aidan, if you ever read this…good karma is going to bring you some reallllly good shit.

“You guys don’t travel often, do you?” – Aidan

He chose to spend his day helping the two clueless tourists who brought one 50 lb luggage too many – each – and patiently waited for our huffing-puffing selves to make it across the platforms and the escalators and everywhere else we traveled this morning. AND he offered to help us find bartending jobs at one of his regular spots! We friended him on Facebook and plan to meet up with him later on tonight when we look and feel like normal human beings.

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Is this real life?

When we found our apartment, a nice young man helped us carry our 50 lb bags up two steep-ass flights of stairs. Generous me only had like €2 in my pocket after spending the €20 from Steph’s cute card on transportation, so I gave the poor guy a $10 bill that is absolutely useless to him. If you thought Shan and I would be smart enough to have gone to the ATM or converted some currency before this point, guess again!!!

I think the way today unfolded is one of those circumstances people allude to when they say “you’ll figure it out” without actually knowing how. Shannon and I didn’t know how we were going to figure it out, and we were fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time with a generous stranger and an easygoing kid. I wonder how many times that’s going to work until our luck runs out, but add that to the list of things we’ll “figure out“.

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To the friends and family reading this rant – I hope the worst of it is over. Typing this now already makes it into a funny story, so at least something good came out of it.

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Next Steps?

Our objectives are to:

  1. Find a place for February.
  2. Get a job. (Maybe that will be solved tonight when we meet back up with Angel? I mean Aidan 😉)
  3. Ship some of these kilos home or straight up get rid of them – because I am NOT going through the same sweaty struggle it took to get where I am right now. My arms are currently jello.

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Until then, ✌🏼

Decisions, Decisions

I’ve received yet another offer from work attempting to make me stay, and I’ve got to be honest, it’s a friggin’ tempting one. They want me to do the same things I’ve been doing, somewhere else, and I don’t want what they have to give me anymore. (Someone told me it’s like dating a man – you want him when you can’t have him. Then when he wants you, you’re over it.)

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I’ve already made my decision about what I’m going to do in 2017 and I made it a long time ago. I’m just scared to make it real…to make it known. Well, part of me’s afraid, the other thinks it’s no big deal after the mental and emotional shit I’ve already been through. This is the easy part – I haven’t even left yet!

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Yes, the self-journey has begun, and people say starting something is usually the hardest part, but I’m holding my tongue until I’m actually en route to my destination. I’ll have left my life behind on the ground that I’m staring at out the plane window. But how about we start with quitting my job first.

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I try not to let worry bother me because there’s no point. A little paranoia is healthy, but questioning things that have already been answered so many times in your head is like a sickness. If there were ever a time to get rid of any doubt, now is it.

Like the things I respond to and move on from in life, I must learn to accept my own decisions.

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This here’s the first biggie, and there are thousands – millions, even – to follow. I have to begin depending on my own skill and intuition in this new era. Those things have always been with me, they’ve just never been acted on…never been in control…never dictated any outcomes.

Why do I want to believe that trusting myself will be a mess when every other super successful person in the world became great by doing the same?

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✌🏼

Letting Out That Something

Ever feel like there’s a burst of energy within you waiting to be recognized?

Sometimes it’s stagnant – surreptitiously savored by the subconscious while shallow encounters steal your focus. Other times it’s ignited – bouncing around your insides waiting to burst off the tip of your tongue or fingers.

The bouncing one – that’s what I’ve been feeling lately. When I really sit down to let myself in, I feel this intense need to release this soft, glowing burn that craves attention by the rest of the world.

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Sometimes it can be relinquished by a song, or any type of art for that matter. It does the trick for me when the buzz I’m feeling feels simple enough to be extinguished through audio. Lately, that isn’t the case. Songs and pictures from someone else’s page don’t describe what I’m trying to say.

The energy within me is taking on a course of it’s own, growing more complicated and harder to tame…harder to explain…

I’m no longer identifying with what used to help me express myself. There is a true need for my own voice to be broadcasted and heard by the others who can’t quite hit the spot with superficial shit. To misrepresent what one is feeling inside is a sacrifice nobody should make. We live in an era of multimedia and increasing transparency…might as well be honest. Identifying with any piece of expression other than what you feel is bullshit that is dictating your life by causing you to settle for something other than truth.

Time to start taking my own advice. I’m not settling for shit.

✌🏼

Mid-Week Motivation: Remembering You’re in Control

Individuals, society, corporations…they all want to take advantage of how gullible we can be. They tell us that they are in control of our decisions and our fate, and we almost always agree because we don’t know what else to do. This is what we’ve been taught and so shall it be.

Acknowledging that we are in control is powerful and it is fueled by imagination. Imagine where you want to be and accept only that. From there, imagine your immediate next step, which is all anyone needs to move forward toward his or her dream.

Whispers of doubt and the temptation to relinquish control are constantly knocking on our doors. It’s up to us to guard that door, to protect ourselves, and to leave the fucking building altogether.

Abandon the fabricated delusions. Life’s too short to give up on what you believe you truly deserve.

✌🏼️