Thursday, July 03, 2014

Amsterdam The Sequel Vacation Highlight: Roaming and Realizations

Having been to Amsterdam before, I was happy to skip many of the traditional tourist things. All I wanted from this short break was to roam. Roam the streets of a liberal city and enjoy its liberal perks.

So roam I did.

My first night in Amsterdam, I met Arthur, who introduced me to some fantastic Thai food, some great bars with extensive beer selections, and gave me a ride on the back of his bicycle. Fun fact: apparently there are gender norms for riding on the back of a bicycle. When I got on the back, he said "So, you're going to sit like a dude?"


So many beers, so little time.
The next morning I found my way to a coffee shop I had frequented the first time I visited Amsterdam. It's neat to go back to a city, look up and know where you are. Getting to the coffee shop was like muscle memory, no maps required, just my solid sense of direction. (HA!)

I continued my roaming, with the goal of getting to the Indonesian restaurant I had loved so much during my first trip. After telling Arthur the name of the restaurant, he scoffed. Apparently this was not the best Indonesian food Amsterdam had to offer.

Undeterred, I headed for the restaurant, and I have to say, was a bit disappointed.

After the concert, which Arthur joined me for, we headed for Febo and it's fast Dutch food. Croquette sandwich? Yes please. We continued to roam and headed for another beer bar.

The next day was all my own. I roamed the streets, found Amsterdam's oldest croquette place, and ate and ate and ate.

I always forget to take a photo of my food before I devour it.
Props to food bloggers who have the patience to wait. 

As I headed back to Dubai, I realized that while I live in Dubai now, this city will never truly be home. There was a comfort, an ease, a fit about Amsterdam that Dubai doesn't offer. The more I live here, the more it becomes clear, I'll never truly fit this city. I'm too ... off center, too weird, too honest, too pedestrian. That doesn't mean I'm leaving any time soon, there's still too much that I want to accomplish, but it does mean I won't be planting any deep roots here.

So thanks Amsterdam, for being awesome and staying as incredible as I remembered you. Mooie Amsterdam indeed. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Amsterdam The Sequel Vacation Highlight: Best. Show. Ever.

When I moved to Dubai, one of the things I knew was going to frustrate me is the lack of good live music options. If you've been reading this little blog for a while, you may have noticed that I'm a huge fan of music.
In Vancouver, Sarin and I were seeing shows at least once a month, sometimes more.

I was looking for an excuse to escape the desert, and during my regular 'who's on tour' search I came across Nine Inch Nails playing in Amsterdam. While I'm not a super fan, I had read how this tour was pretty amazing, and Amsterdam. I LOVE Amsterdam and will never pass up an excuse to visit the city.

The concert was held at Heineken Music Hall, which I had previously been to for Arcade Fire. The venue was built for music (hence the name, duh) and it was the perfect place to see a show as complex as this.

(image courtesy of Nine Inch Nails' Instagram feed)

The acoustics were perfect. The visuals were amazing. Trent et al were bang on. He said maybe six words to the crowd, and just got to it. I left the concert in awe, and thinking: this was the best show I've ever seen.

Seriously. If you have the chance to see NIN play, go. Just go.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Real vs. Make Believe

One of the hardest things I find about every relocation is deciphering which relationships are real, and which are purely superficial fluff. I'd like to say that in my many moons on this planet (hello 33), I've become a better judge of this, but it seems like that is not the case.

Despite my claims of being a good judge of character (exception: the men I date) I've come to realize that I can't tell which relationships are going to make it through the year, or hell the month, and which are going to fade away.

I'm dealing with that right now. A friendship I thought was real, is now over, despite me thinking it was solid.

I fucked up, I know I did, and I hate that it's on me that this is over. I hate that I can't fix it. I hate that I can't win back this person's trust.

I'm a fixer and well, I can't fix this. I hope in time I can repair this friendship to something recognizable, because right now it's FUBAR.

Here's to starting off the new year in a really frustrating place. Blerg. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Where were you a year ago?

I can tell you exactly where I was - my flight had just landed at Dubai International airport, and I was in the middle of a million emotions.

You see, a year ago, to the hour, I stepped foot in my new home for the first time. It had been an emotional 20-hour journey - leaving home, my family, my friends, the man I was in love with - but I wiped my tears and got off the plane.

To say this has been an enlightening year would be an understatement. Moving to a new city always is, but this wasn't just a new city, it was a new bloody continent, 12 time zones from home.

Most of highlights have come in the form of travel. This year I made it to Singapore, Vancouver, Tunis, Houston, Copenhagen and London. Four continents, one year - not bad.

The work has been challenging and mostly fulfilling. It's been quite the change going from a small agency to a behemoth of a company. I went from working with six of my favorite people in Vancouver to a department of more than 200. I'm still blown away by all of the nationalities the company represents and how much exposure I have to the world outside of Dubai.

The lows have been mostly personal. From the end of my relationship, to the knowledge that life goes on without you, sometimes being away from home and alone really sucks.

Despite everything, I can honestly say that my regrets are few and far between. I'm ok (today), and that's a pretty good feeling.

It blows my mind that it's already been a year, and at the same time, it feels like I've been here forever. Funny how time can play tricks on you, isn't it?

So there you have it, an EXACT 365th-day post from the Middle East. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Copenhagen Vacation Highlight: Copenhagen and Clarity

I fell in love with Copenhagen, and though I did nothing cultural (aside from drinking the local beers), I couldn't have enjoyed a city more.

So very walkable, and easy going, the city was beautiful. See?!

View from the 21st floor. Thanks new phone!

I was lucky enough to find an affordable hotel in central Copenhagen, so nothing was more than a 20-minute walk from me. The air was so fresh and I'll even admit that I missed the rain. The weather was so Vancouver, it was comforting. And though the city was expensive, there were ways to enjoy it without spending a ton of money.
Me and just one of the canals.

And canals! They make everything so pretty.

As I roamed the city streets, I had yet another a-ha moment: This is why I moved. A weekend in Copenhagen would have been unimaginable back in Vancouver, not to mention unaffordable.

The thing I love about travelling solo is it gives you a ton of thinking time. Time that isn't filled with the obligations of daily life. Time that is yours and yours alone. In those thoughts, I realized how lucky I am. How special these moments are, exploring new cities, experiencing new things, seeing everything and nothing. Copenhagen helped remind me that I really like my life, that the choices I've made thus far, though some questionable, have led me to this moment and this place.

Easily one of the best weekends of my life. Easily one of the most memorable trips I've ever taken. Easily of the best cities I've ever visited.

So yeah, to say Copenhagen has moved up my list of cities to move to would be an understatement.