MALMÖ

Before going to Malmö, I knew two things about the city: it is very close to Copenhagen and two of my beautiful friends live there! Seeing Emma and Filippa again after our exchange in France felt like no time has passed in two years. They know my heart so well, taking me to get ice cream and going to cute coffee shops. A bit of France followed us wherever we went: the first thing I ate was a charcuterie board with wine, we played Petanque (which is basically French curling), I looked down at a cider I was having and it just so happened to be French. There was a bit of nostalgia, but I also loved that we could all catch up with the here and now.

The best thing about my short stay in Malmö wasn’t the shopping or lovely cafes or dining at the top of fancy hotels – it was spending a weekend with my friends as if I wasn’t travelling to spend a weekend with my friends. We made tacos at home, sat on the couch and watched Eurovision and Beyoncé videos, and had a candy-filled girls’ sleepover. Filippa kept saying, “Oh it’s so great to see you in my home! It’s so great to see you eating at my table!” and I feel like that captures what the best thing was about it all. Togetherness is inviting each other into our homes and into the normal things in our lives, and more than adventure and small luxuries, those are often the things that matter the most.

See you soon, my darlings!

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LONDON

A huge contrast from the empty roads and high sheep-to-people ratio of Iceland, London was dense and occasionally curt. I had forgotten how much I thrived on the hustle: skirting between a maze of people in the tube, picking up speed, getting wrapped up in underground heat. London moves quick and romances you with the draw of royalty and history, often leaving you with tired feet. We saw theatre (Wicked was absolutely spectacular!!), chatted for hours over high tea, ate scotch eggs at Borough Market, and had more pub food than I have in my entire life, but even more, we found little pieces of home in the rain and in bright gardens. I’ve always loved botanical gardens, the way everything feels close and rises above your head, leaning in close, like a roof whispering a secret in your ear.

One thing that I’ve been so grateful for is the unexpected amount of people that I knew in London. It’s just a small handful, but it was the best having people who work hard to make sure you have a good time. Thank you friends, for making this trip so great!

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ICELAND

thursday: jet-lagged eyes make their way into a small café. we fill our plates with salt. we drive forward, dipping our hands into the earth along the way. the land is always in transition here; constantly becoming and unbecoming. a waterfall greets me from afar.

friday: a haven by the lake; half kitschy, mostly home. we watch the glaciers meeting the ocean, introducing one another like a ceremonial song. i count how many ways water can look: 1. falling from above 2. bigger than the horizon 3. floating patiently 4. abandoned on the shore. i lose count.

saturday: after eating scallops on a patio, we go to a place that made me think i was seeing light for the first time. it looks like an indoor sunset, the visual version of wind chimes, a mirror for someone’s heart. i take note that nobody here plays music just to fill the silence.

sunday: our skin is caked with the sea. i give up trying to describe the colour “blue,” letting the word rise up in steam for a while. we have butter, croissants, and a latte with our backs against a window.

monday: we try to beat the sun, but it wins 18-6. the world is overexposed.

 

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solstice

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1. When people say, “Others will find healing in your suffering,” you can either take it as a cop-out answer to what you are going through or you can believe it. But I promise you that if you choose the latter – bigger, more powerful things will come of it.

Remember, if you ever feel like you’re backtracking, it’s not true, because everyday is a choice and some days are harder to choose what is good than others.

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2. It makes sense that I met you in a time where everything is blooming. It makes sense that I met someone who understands that the past has made me who I am, but doesn’t make me who I am. Someone once looked at us and said to me, “This makes sense.” This makes sense.

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3. We used to throw a backyard BBQ every summer solstice, and we would celebrate the longest day of the year laying in the grass; everything smelling like sunscreen and smokey meat and everything tasting like watermelon. The word solstice has always been one of my favourites, because it means the highest point and also the lowest point. Some solstices are shucking oysters by the sea and swimming pool chlorine, and some solstices are Christmas lights and seeing the stars before dinnertime, but all solstices have a way to be celebrated.

SEATTLE

Seattle is a place that looks like home and feels like something new, so we did all my favourite things that I would do at home. We went to bookstores, drank yummy coffee, perused record stores, ate our way through downtown, touched way too many vintage dresses, and stopped at the flower markets (although Grace never lets me buy anything because she says it makes her sad when the flowers die). Felicia said, “Sometimes you don’t know whether you need to get out of your city or if you just need to get out of the city,” and I’ve been taking the time lately to do a bit of both. I’ve always been frustrated in not knowing what it is I really need or having others unable to articulate what they need, but I’ve been learning over and over again that figuring out what we really need is a worthwhile, timely process. If we really knew what we needed, we wouldn’t need anything or anyone else, ya feel?

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Amsterdam

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1. I took my first real solo trip to Amsterdam over the weekend, and it was frustrating, but I also think it was a necessary and important experience for me to have. My luggage didn’t make it with me on the plane, so I had to go a few days with only the things I had in my backpack. I could only buy the bare necessities, because my credit card wasn’t working and I left a majority of my cash in my luggage (super smart, I know), so it was a very minimalistic weekend. Regardless, it was good for me to be alone for a few days. I could take everything in at my own pace. I could process everything on my own time. I’m a lot more emotional when I’m on my own, and I think everyone needs to have the space to feel what they need to feel and stop when they feel overwhelmed. It was annoying dealing with the luggage situation without any help and scary taking on a completely new city without someone by my side, but at the same time, it was also nice to adventure without the pressure of filling time or going to the “must-see” things.

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2. The main reason I chose to come to Amsterdam this particular weekend was so I could see one of my favourite artists, Owen Pallett, perform live. He’s been on the top of my list for the past 4 years, and the show was definitely the highlight of my trip. I couldn’t believe how incredible the venue was. The concert was in a small lounge area at the top of the Muziekgebouw aan’t IJ, which is a glass contemporary music space that overlooks the canals of Amsterdam. It was intimate, with couches and hanging lights in the background, and it was probably one of the most beautiful venues I’ve ever been in. I was blown away by how Owen Pallett live loops, swooned by the gentleness and dissonance of his violin fingers, and surprised by his dry sarcasm. The night was cosmic and ethereal, and I’ve never cried at a concert before this, but it happened (like I said, I am much more emotional when I am alone, haha).

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3. I was really impressed by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, not because there were a bunch of famous paintings, but because it gave a really a visceral perspective on his life. I love the way he paints as if people were made of earth, the way he compared himself to a monk or a nun in his dedication to art, and the way he believed that hands were the most expressive part of the body. My favourite part of the museum was where you could listen to letters that were written between Vincent and his brother Theo, who was his most trusted confidant. You could tell how much he loved his brother, because he spent time picking his words the same way he mixes his paint colours until they are just right.

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4. The Amsterdam floating flower market is one of the dreamiest places I’ve ever been to. The first thing I saw were these huge pink floral clouds hanging from the ceilings and I couldn’t believe it was real. Everything smells so fresh, and you can buy just about everything flower- and plant-related… including a Grow-Your-Own-Weed starter kit, ha.

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5. I spent most of my time wandering aimlessly through the streets, bridges and canals of the city. Amsterdam is really just a great place to walk through, because every building is so unique, but somehow they all fit together. There are plenty of cafes around to duck into if you’re tired or cold, and I think it’s been the best city I’ve been too aesthetically. You literally can’t go 30 seconds without seeing a bike or something on a bike, which makes everything even cuter, but also more dangerous as a pedestrian, because instead of watching for 2 lanes of car traffic, you have to watch for 4 and sometimes 6, because of the bike lanes and tram lines.

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6. The last thing I did in the city was go to the Anne Frank House. It was an incredibly sombering experience, and there was one video of her best friend talking about her experiences with Anne at Auschwitz that really broke my heart. I liked that at the end of it all, there was hope for better things to come – for healing and for things to be different. My favourite quote I heard was this:

“Her would-haves can be our reality. Her would-haves are our opportunities.”

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7. The first thing the receptionist said to me when I arrived was, “Be careful of the stairs! They’re dutch!” All the stairs were very steep and narrow, and for the most part, they’re like that in all the buildings in Amsterdam. It makes sense, because all the houses are also very tall and narrow. And when I thought about it a bit more, maybe that’s why the Netherlands have the tallest people in the world (the average for a man is 6 ft!). It’s like how fish grow bigger when they are put in bigger bowls, so I guess this might be true for humans too (but don’t ask me to back up my theory with scientific facts, haha). Maybe if I stayed there a little longer, I would grow taller as well.

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LISBON

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1. We arrived in Lisbon without many expectations, because truth be told, we didn’t do much research before arriving. But I definitely fell in love with this beautiful city! Lisbon feels like a tight-knit community with a big city vibe. So much of it reminded me of Barcelona – how laid-back everyone is, the tapa bars everywhere, and a growing art scene. And at the same time, San Francisco comes to mind, because of the trolleys and how everything is built on waves of slopes and stairs. This is a photo of the street we stayed on!

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2. We only had a day and a half in the city, so knowing that it would be impossible to see all of it in such a short span of time, we took the trolley from one end to the other to get an overview. It was wonderful to see all the pastel buildings, catch glimpses of the ocean as we rolled along, and then wander back to where we started.

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3. Lisbon is definitely not an easy city to walk through. Because of all the hills and unpredictable pathways, we stopped often, but luckily there are so many viewpoints around that there’s always a good place to rest. It seems like as long as you’ve climbed upwards even just a bit, you’ll find a place where you can see the ocean and look at how every brown-orange rooftop has been kissed by the sun. It seemed like most people around us had the same idea and were just hanging out in the sunshine, playing music, and looking out at the horizon (because how can you not when it’s warm enough in December to not need a jacket?!)

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4. One thing we noticed while we were wandering through the city was that people would point us in the right direction even when we didn’t ask for help. We were walking down the street, and an old man stopped us and tried to show us something, but he couldn’t speak any English so he kept speaking to us in Portuguese. I loved that even though he knew we couldn’t understand him, he kept trying. Most people give up easily when it’s hard to communicate what they want to say, but I think there is something important about trying anyways.

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5. The last night in Lisbon, we had the most delicious dinner, and it was a perfect way to end the trip. I know the starters were just french fries and eggs, but there was something in the sauce that was incredible, and I swear I’m going to come back just to eat those frieds again. I’m so thankful that I had the most beautiful company this week! These girls are some of the most understanding people I have ever met, and it’s so great to find travel companions who are okay with just chilling, but also say, “Yes,” to adventure (and who love food as much as I do!). Thanks for the lovely time!