Cue Phil Collins on the Drums

Yeeeaah you know which breakdown I’m talkin’ ’bout.

OK – I think this is when the little kid inside of me acknowledged that I’m on a kick-ass vacation. I realized that I’m now used to the ringing of bicycle bells…the convenience of culture at my fingertips. Every European accent catches my eye and ignites me with inspiration. Every day ends with a violet sunset over the canals, just like the famous Dutch artists painted. I’m beginning to feel what they felt.

We Went to the Zoo

My excitement went through the roof the day we went to the zoo. The Artis Zoo has a giraffe, baby monkeys, and Shan’s favorite – a sloth! We were grinning with glee all day long.

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This next one goes out to the McCormick ladies, Shaun O’Connor, and everyone else who knows how important this video is.

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Though I did get some decent shots of these magnificent animals, I couldn’t help but kick myself for realizing I left the magnified lens at home. Regardless of how close-up these shots are, I hope you enjoy a scenic route through the animal kingdom with us:

The Artis Zoo is Amsterdam’s oldest city park, the oldest zoo in the Netherlands, and one of the oldest zoos of mainland Europe. It also contains an aquarium and planetarium! What a lovely place to be present in the moment.

Weirdly enough, the memory that sticks out the most in my mind from this entire day is one I have of a grandmother playing hide-and-go-seek with her two grandkids. She was hiding behind a tree, and they were pretending not to know where she was. I shook my head with disbelief at the sight because it was organic and it belonged in a movie scene.

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“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” – Buddha 🙏🏼🌺

Classic A’dam Pic

Like every single perfect day here in Amsterdam, we found a canal to watch the sun set over the water among the boats and city lights.

Our Eat Pray Love-esque day wouldn’t be complete without pizza and wine, so we got pizza and wine. The pizza was aight and the wine was eh. It sparked an idea to visit Italy for a bit…maybe…

It also “inspired” us to grab a €6 bottle of wine from Albert Heijn (the grocery store) because we’re Cla$$y! I fell asleep the earliest I have since we’ve been here – 11:30 pm (23:30) on a weekend night because that’s how you really do it here in Amsterdam.

✌🏼

A Moment of Mindfulness

Here’s your moment of mindfulness while I reflect on mine:

(It’s a 360 video)

I’m starting to connect the dots between the moving parts in my life.

I used to try to think that everything was connected, and that everything happens for a reason. I’ve read books, exhausted mantras, and begged for signs. Little did I know the energy was aligning itself around me this whole time.

What sparked this sudden appreciation for the universe? Awareness…”duh” moments.

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I got a message from my friend David this evening. A simple “sup man” spiraled me into word-vomit typing fueled by inspiration. A puzzle piece found its home in my brain. Another synapse secured.

David makes music, and he’s been at it for about a year now. By making a conscious effort to refine his talent, and learning how to translate from beats his head to the world, he’s gotten so freakin’ good at it. I’m so happy nothing has stopped him from getting better at what he loves to do.

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Shoutout to Molly Dupont

The “duh” moment came when I recalled a scenario from earlier today. Shan tasked me with picking songs for one of our ever-so-fun YouTube videos and I tried my best to choose ones that made sense. Music is the most important complement to the visuals – it’s not easy to find a song that communicates the vibe we feel we’re while in awe. It’s calm and exciting all at the same time, like a bath bomb. I don’t know anyone who can capture that essence better than David. I can’t wait to share our new mixture of media with you.

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All in all, the more energy you spend on making your dreams come true, the stronger your dreams will be attracted to you.

✌🏼

The 411

I woke up this morning and practiced meditation for the first time in a long time. Rather than chasing sporadic ideas of what I should do next, I want to let the true answer materialize once I’m ready to listen.

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I got some mail from my cousin Jill (whaddup Jilly Cat!) who was inquiring about some of the things mentioned in a post last week that are due for some updates, like:

  • The apartment search
  • Job search
  • Other travel plans

I will try my best to answer those questions!

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Gulp

Truth is, Shannon and I haven’t figured out what we’re doing yet. We’re in an AirBnB that is up on January 29th and haven’t secured anything beyond that point. Stupid? Maybe…

The thing is – I like not having a plan. Last week I almost had a heart attack thinking about the job I left and the security it brought me. I wanted to get on the next flight home and beg for my cubicle back because I didn’t know what the hell I was doing out here. Though I may not know exactly what the plan is for tomorrow or next week, I’ve begun to surrender into my big, comfortable chair of not knowing.

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The more I discover about this city, the more I love it. Amsterdam emits eccentricity, acceptance, and love; which vibrates off its towering buildings and into the hearts of its inhabitants…not to mention everyone we meet encourages us to stay here to find happiness like they did. We’re making friends and content…what could be better? Oh right…making money would be nice!

Knowing very well this will hinder our bank accounts, we’re going to turn our adventure into a Eurotrip. Not the kind where you stay two days to go snap pictures of famous buildings and hop on the next train, but something similar to what we’re already doing. We’ll plop ourselves in a city of our choice for an extended period of time and really get to know our surroundings. Why? We’re growing fond of this place we’re temporarily calling home. I want to ride this feeling as long as I can, wherever I can.

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A Lingering Possibility

Another interesting tidbit we learned from our favorite bartender, Lucas (owner of our favorite bar – Café het Dwarsliggertje, aka Always Opposite), is that we are eligible for a Working Holiday visa in Australia which lasts up to a year. I could go there, potentially get a job in social media/marketing, and keep this adventure moving full speed ahead while developing the skills I wish to perfect.

For now, I’m enjoying today – we’re going to the zoo! I promise to check in with more info on our decision-making process once we have updates on progress or factors influencing our choices.

Letting go and living in the moment feels good.

Thank you for reading our blog and traveling this journey with us. Your support means everything, and it is a solid staple in our success.

So I put my hands up
They’re playing my song, the butterflies fly away
I’m noddin’ my head like, ‘yeah’
I’m movin’ my hips like, ‘yeah’
I got my hands up, they’re playing my song
I know I’m gonna be okay
Yeah, it’s a party in the A’DA(M)

-Miley Cyrus, kind of

✌🏼


Have you done a Eurotrip and have any suggestions of places we should visit? Stories you want to share? Maybe we’re waiting from a sign from you! Comment below and share your experiences with us 🙂

We Made a 360 Video

We’ve mentioned Rembrandt Square/Rembrandtplein plenty of times since we’ve been here. It’s a beautiful bustling area 30 seconds from our apartment.

One of our favorite things to do is to see the square at night. It’s got history, pubs, restaurants, and gay clubs! Have a look at the area for yourself.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with 360 vids: When you’re watching the video, use your mouse to click and scroll around 360 degrees in any direction. That way, you can view what we’re seeing first hand!

For those of you who are VR savvy: Pop your phone into your goggles and come meet us in Amsterdam! What are you waiting for?

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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!

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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!

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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 🙂

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,

✌🏼


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

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!

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$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, ✌🏼

The One Way Ticket

We all have it…the fantasy of getting up and leaving. To go somewhere…anywhere. It’s our most delicious daydream we unwrap alongside our lunch during the thirty minutes we get between meetings. The classic recipe for adventure: one suitcase stuffed to the brim, precious belongings secured in storage, and of course, the one way ticket.

You see that horrible picture of me with my hands and my phone on my head? Well, that was my face after Shannon texted me a picture of our one way tickets (I was too chicken to buy my own). Leaving EWR January 9th, landing in Amsterdam January 10th.

It’s really happening.

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Side note: that’s really me – working from home…bouncing between two laptops…stressed AF. Taken by Britt.

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