Sifting Through Sh*T

Some days, I feel like I’m wading my way through steaming piles of manure.

Is it my face? My naive look? My willingness to try to see the good in the terrible? How is it possible for someone who looks like a calm, kind and reasonable person to look me in the eyes and tell me something they know is complete and utter shite?

I know how it’s possible and I can’t act like I don’t BS people myself but lately, I feel people are trying to try me (yes, I said it). haha

In the adulting world, people lie without giving it a second thought. They lie about age, salary, the rules, work, who they are, etc. It can be difficult to know what really is truth. Because of this known fact, I find myself overcompensating and analyzing every face, word, tone and body movement to get to the meat of what someone is really telling me.

Does this work? Meh.

There are times when I meet people who aren’t telling me BS and are actually doing them, that’s fine. I welcome that BUT with the amount of people who do lie to me, I sometimes confuse those honest truth tellers with those shady people trying to get one up on me.

I wish I could easily decipher what’s going on. Like, there should be a little alarm that goes off and tells me “Alert, alert, liar approaching. They are spinning a work of fiction, a motion picture, right in front of you.” There is some sort of alarm. I think that’s intuition (relating back to my old post about gut instinct) but then sometimes, I think “No, they aren’t lying to me. What reason could they have?” Half the time I’m right and the person is truly good and honest and simple and then other times, SH*T.

I wish sh*t didn’t exist but I guess that’s what makes the world go round?

This might be an American thing. Maybe in other cultures, people are brutal. They don’t tiptoe around a subject, just call things as they see them. I may or may not like this approach.

Why I wouldn’t like this – if it’s negative of course, they go at you with what seems like a bat. Beating you down with hard facts and harsh truths. If it’s positive, then no guessing games need to be played and your mind is saved from the workout it’s often put through when thinking “what do you really mean?”

I want to remain myself though. I like trying to find the best in someone and thinking that that liar is someone’s child so I shouldn’t be so cold. But I know killers are someone’s child too (not that liars and killers are in the same league) so maybe I am a bit naive? Or maybe I haven’t truly felt that earth shattering burn whip me into a volcano, leaving me with a feeling of sheer pain and ruin? I could have only experienced baby burns that heal and don’t leave wounds deep enough for me to realize the lies of today. But no, that isn’t true. I’ve been burned. Not volcano burned but I do have tiny aches and pains that flair up as a result of a past liar.

So shite. Yes, there’s lots of it in the world. Spewing forth from the mouths of leaders, friends and enemies. You can smell it some of the time but other times, you barely know it’s there. Wade your way through it though. Know when to identify it and you should be fine. I know I’m working on it. And don’t worry honest but real people, I still give everyone the benefit of the doubt and will hopefully know you for who you really are. haha Trust me, if I really don’t want to bother with you, I won’t at all.

 

Me And My Mortality

**I promise you I’m a relatively happy person. I enjoy life and I’m not a goth.haha**

Death. I’ve always been greatly aware of it. I can’t recall a time when I was shielded from what happened to pets, old family members or people in the neighborhood. No one tried to sugar coat anything, they would simply answer any questions my young mind conjured with something along the lines of “they’re dead or they’ve passed on.”

Why am I talking about death? Am I a grim person with a grim outlook on life? I don’t think so. Actually, I find that I often try to look for the positive or magic in life as realities (especially the ones I encountered once I entered the post college world) are quite harsh, rough and uncomfortable. I extremely dislike that feeling. The feeling of being uncomfortable and living in a world where positives and hope for the best are squashed by self serving rude people who want to take everything you have and leave you alone, somewhere in a dark place wondering where you went wrong.

But I digress, death and the fact that I one day will meet my maker has always been looming somewhere in the back of my mind. It’s not exactly a comforting fact. It’s important to be mindful of this as I think it does help to motivate in ways people may not have even bothered to attempt to live life but for me, it produces a level of anxiety.

Why anxiety? It’s that time factor.

I only have so many years on this earth and I don’t know when it will all end. That sounds morbid but it’s true. I want to make an impact. It doesn’t have to be something for the whole world to see but I want to be proud of what I do. I want to know that I used my time wisely and did everything I could to live a happy and fulfilled life because, what else can I do?

For me, in order to do this it means achieving certain goals I set for myself no matter how trivial or deep. I want to be my best self (but doesn’t everybody). I don’t want to have regrets (or too many of them) and I want to know that I tried my best and if I looked stupid, felt awkward or embarrassed, at least it was for something I thought was worth it. My mortality makes me want to do these things and forces me to shoot for the stars but it also gives me that anxiety.

Maybe it’s a millennial problem but I feel as if I only have so much time to make it all (all being my goals or some variation of it) happen. I’m a broken record. I think millennials were brought into a world obsessed with death. Not intentionally though.

We’re surrounded by news that tells us about people flipping their lid and killing others over hate. Everyday there is more news about it. We were around when 9/11 happened and things never quite seemed the same. We were here to see the rise of tech and fads that all have their quick moment and end before you even really had a chance to understand it. Everything seems so temporary and I’m not a fan of temporary. I enjoy good moments and know things can’t last forever but I’m also traditional – I like to have things for a bit.

I make no sense.

This is kind of a diary entry but my mortality motivates me and makes me anxious. I’m not afraid of dying (I don’t think), I’m just afraid I can’t accomplish what I want in time. Well, at least I tried.

 

 

 

When to Call It Quits?

I don’t mean for this to be a demotivating post nor do I want anyone to read into it but I felt it was a topic I needed to tackle. When do you call it quits?

I was taught that I shouldn’t give up on things, even when they seemed hard or nearly impossible. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. But is it possible to be completely naive to when enough is enough? When you’ve given it all you’ve got but it still isn’t working out. I think so.

I may not look like it at first glance but I don’t like to back down from a challenge, even if that challenge doesn’t interest me. I aliken this to Marty McFly in Back to the Future. He’s a decent sensible guy but when someone dares him to do something and calls him chicken, he CAN’T back down. Drag race, stealing, fighting, you name it! The word chicken sends him into a spiral where he cannot refuse the challenge in front of him. Now I don’t greet challenges such as jumping off bridges or robbing stores but I do like to stay in something I’m presented with for the long haul.

I want to give the opportunity or person a fair shake and sometimes that means putting in more time and energy just to come to the same conclusion you had at the beginning. That it isn’t going to work. Some would call this gut instinct.

I was chatting with my sister about this to get her point of view. Although she is a year younger than me, I enjoy hearing what she and others have to say. I don’t take there word as gospel but for me, a new perspective helps me sort things out and figure out what’s next. What she basically told me is she’s living her life with the Murtaugh rule as seen in How I Met Your Mother.

When she feels her chain being yanked by boys, superiors or family, she thinks to herself “I’m too old for this stuff.” Why waste my time and my life on something I already know isn’t good for me. I’m too old and value myself too much to go through all this waste for not. I’m not getting anything but a pain in my side. I’m giving all of my effort to something that isn’t going to payout the way I want. Boy Bai.

It made sense. I am too old for this stuff. If it takes me looking at myself as an elder than so be it, as long as I know when and where to devote my effort. I’ll call it quits when I feel like I’m too old for this. Gut instinct does exist. You can have a vibe about something or someone and no matter how much you don’t want it to be true, it tends to fall out just as you had hoped that it wouldn’t. What I think is important to remember however when placing value in your gut or Murtaugh rule is actually knowing when to listen.

For me that moment comes after a month. This isn’t a science or widely tested hypothesis but the way I feel about something a month in is generally how I will continue to feel. If I think a guy seems interesting but sense he has an issue that probably won’t workout in the long haul, I’m right. The optimist in me wants to give you a chance and I often do but in the end, I should have just squashed it before I got squashed. Or the case of a job, if I’m feeling bored or unappreciated and I’ve done everything in my power to show I AM a person to watch but I’m still being ignored, then it’s time to go.

There are always things that pop up that aren’t exactly rule. Like my first apartment. I think I hated it for the first three months and by the time it was over, I was sad to leave. I wanted to call it quits on that place but I didn’t and I’m glad I stayed.

Life is so hard to navigate and knowing when things are worth giving up with would make it so much better. I guess at the end of the day, life is suppose to be mysterious like that. You aren’t really supposed to know, you just do and hope you’re making the right decision. At the end of the day, you learn to live with what you did, take those lessons to heart and apply them to your next opportunity to help you move into quitting or staying put territory.

I Got My Hair Wet! #Help Malta Diving

Malta. I was inspired to check out this sunny European city after seeing one of my favorite vloggers on YouTube head there in a past video. With expectations of fun times, sun, sand and a chance to find a real beach this summer while staying in London, I made my way down to the island.

Unsure of what to do as this was one of my many solo trips, I decided to check out one activity that seems to be HOT on the island, diving.

After a bit of research into local facilities and places within walking distance of my hostel, I came across Divewise.

Divewise is located right next to party central on St. Julians, Paceville. The facilities are clean, easy to spot and the staff are quite friendly.

As a person who has never dived before and had no idea what to expect, I was pretty nervous about going through with it. The thought of chickening out did pass through my mind but within a moment’s notice, my instructor showed up at my hostel to pick me up for my morning lesson. Nice one! A personal valet for a diving lesson? Definitely threw some more cool points Divewise’s way.

My instructor, Lee, was very friendly. He chatted with me in the car about the island, the diving course and gave me some insight on what to expect but when we arrived at the facility, things got real.

Tanks, fins, masks – my belief in my ability to swim and not drown started to wain. I wasn’t confident about everything that was about to go down but then my instructor Lee reassured me with the help of a pamphlet and a diving skills overview.

When the other two students from my intro to diving class arrived (the class was only three people including myself, making it perfect to have a one on one skills session), Lee went over the four basics we needed to know while diving. He familiarized us with all the equipment, showed us how they functioned and then had us do a mini test to make sure we were fit to dive and were paying attention.

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He then came by and checked with us our sizing information and gave us wetsuits, boots, fins and even fitted us for swimming masks.

Let me just say, wetsuits are tight! It’s more than just trying to squeeze into a pair of jeans. It’s really hard to get into them but you can do it if you try. I eventually managed to do it successfully and then Lee came by to help fit us with our diving tank backpack.

IMG_2760.jpgWhen we were all ready, it was time to go into the sea to run through skills. Practicing clearing our masks of water, reinserting our breathing tubes, leveling our pressure, etc, we were doing everything possible to ensure a safe dive.

I must admit that for some reason, my brain had a hard time figuring out how to clear my mask of water but Lee made sure each us mastered it before we even attempted diving. I felt very well watched and taken care of, alleviating any fear of drowning.

When we were all set, it was time to go on a dive! We followed Lee, swimming through the sea and watching all the fish pass by. It was truly an amazing one of a kind experience. Seeing everything so close up and doing something I had never done before, it really was and is thrilling!

Again, I also felt super taken care of as during the dive, Lee kept checking with each of us to make sure we were ok. He helped us get our balance, clear our masks, and even added weight to my belt while in the water as I kept floating around and was unable to stay low to the sea floor.IMG_2735

Now there are a ton of diving shops on Malta but I must say that my experience with Divewise was excellent. They were super attentive and even offered to drop me off at my hostel once the dive was finished. If you’re looking to try your hand at diving or just try a fun water sport with great people (the staff are beyond friendly), then please go to Divewise. You won’t regret it nor will you mind getting your hair wet!

 

 

Traveling While Black

I feel like my title might be controversial but this is a topic that has popped into my head whilst I’ve been traveling about Europe and living a life that always seemed like something that could NEVER really happen.

A few days ago, I was coming back from my recent trip to Malta. My flight left late so I arrived later than planned. Not a fan. I make a mad dash to the border control because I didn’t want to wait forever and the trains in London stop running after 12, which would have forced me to take cab when I didn’t want to nor did I budget to do so.

After running for what seemed like 10 minutes, I arrive dat the border to see a massive line that was about two hours long. TWO HOURS! How in gods green earth that was the case, I don’t know. Maybe it was because I was at Heathrow? Any who, I tried to be patient, letting out a few moans, sighs and chats with myself about how ridiculous the line was to finally get to an agent.

I presented my passport and landing card and out of nowhere, I found myself questioned about my travels. I’ve been in London for about 6 weeks and while here, I’ve been to Amsterdam, Manchester and Malta (with a layover in Vienna). The woman/agent started questioning my travel. Asking me where else I was going and how long I would be in London. I explain that I’m traveling for the summer and visiting family among other things. The answer didn’t satisfy her.

She then started to ask about how much money I had, if I was still employed, requested to see my tickets for my other trips and probed into how I was related to my sister. This all seemed extra to me as I know plenty of people and friends of the non color persuasion who have traveled Europe for the summer without any problems. Have you heard of the young millennial backpacker for heavens sakes?

I produced everything she asked for and then she seemed satisfied enough to let me through. Just in time as the last tube into London city center was about to take off in 2 minutes.

Why did she question me so hard? Were my movements really that suspicious or was it that me, a young black female couldn’t possibly travel Europe for the summer without trying to do some shady immigration thing? Could I be digging? Could the woman just have been doing her job? Perhaps, but it was odd.

It was odd because when I do vacation, it is rare to see other brown people traveling and relaxing. There aren’t many of “me” around, only people who live locally and most likely happen to be lower class. I saw it in Malta, I saw it when I went to Mexico, I saw it when I went to Stockholm, I usually always see it.

Then there’s also the case of my friend hand her boyfriend. Her boyfriend just got back from spending a month traveling around Europe for work. He is also brown. Upon returning to NYC, he was detained in a “brown people line” while his white co-workers were able to breeze through. They did the same traveling but why did he get the third degree?

This is just a rant but it is sad that I can’t travel around without it looking odd. Does my last name being Obama as an explanation and would that even be enough?

Don’t Fall In! Paddle Board Yoga in Malta

For the pursuit of new experiences, pushing myself beyond my boundaries and just for the fun of it all, I decided to try SUP Yoga while on a trip to Malta (more details and stories about this trip to come).

Trying my hand at paddle boarding.

SUP Yoga is an extremely fun workout that combines your love of water or paddle boarding with a passion for yoga. Taught by the founder Rosita, the class is about an hour long and goes through the yoga basics all while forcing you to really concentrate and use your core in order to keep yourself from flopping off the board and into the water. I admittedly don’t have a passion for yoga but have done it a few times and consider myself to be quite flexible. I also find myself to have relatively good balance or grace so if I do fall, it isn’t a sight. I thought, why not, I should be pretty good at this.

As you can see from my face in the photo above, terror was a REAL emotion.

Rosita starts you off giving a run through about the class, how to get on the board and ways to maintain balance. She is pretty thorough and makes sure you feel comfortable and assured that this is something you can do. I was somewhat convinced in my own abilities but knowing that there was a possibility that I might lose my balance and go face first into the open waters made things more intense. So much so, I opted for a life jacket just because it’s been a while since I last swam and I didn’t want to look foolish falling overboard and following it up with screams because I thought I might drown.

Even with all these thoughts running around, I got on the board. That was relatively easy. Also easy, paddling out to the spot where we were to setup and tether ourselves to a line so we wouldn’t go floating about the sea while doing our downward facing dogs. What wasn’t easy for me as a newbie was tying myself down to the line. I hadn’t realized to put my line on the back of the board where I could easily grab it and instead let it drag behind me. This proved difficult as one of my biggest fears was falling over and trying to get that line at the back of the board might have been a way to lose your balance. Lucky for me, there was an experienced girl in the class who tied me on. Following that, the instructor came by and made sure everyone was secure and that we had enough space for our boards to float about while doing yoga.

Once we were all secure, it was time for class. Rosita had us doing some deep breathing, bridges, stretches, happy baby, and more. All of these moves were items I had done before in yoga classes back in NYC but what made this more difficult was the fact that we had to really use our core to make sure our balance was engaged. One false move and it isn’t “uh oh, I slipped but let me reset.” It’s more like “oh god, I’m in the water. Let me get back on the board and reset with my wet hands and feet making things more slippery and increasing my chances to fall over again.” However I did like that we did have to concentrate so hard on our moves or rather, our balance.

As Rosita pointed out to me after the class, because we are on the water, we have to really leave all our thoughts on the dock. We can’t bring any baggage with us or let our minds wander on to stresses and worries because one, you aren’t suppose to do that in yoga and two, it’s nearly impossible to do when you’re consumed with nailing the moves and not falling over. I certainly am a firm believer of this because I do currently have something that has caused me to think a bit harder than I need to on it and that yoga class literally wiped it clean from my brain until I got on shore.

At the very end of the class, I had a chance to chat with Rosita who has been doing SUP Yoga for over 3 years in Malta (St. Julians). She’s told me that she really has been seeing the enthusiasm for the program  pick up out here because not only is it a fun workout but it really builds your core and helps out with balance. She’s trained athletes here in Malta and has also expanded the business to add on a number of new employees. All in all, people are truly digging the class and I am one of them.

I definitely had a great time learning more about SUP Yoga and also having the ability to workout while on vacation but not feel like I was working out. The class is a ton of fun and best of all, Rosita gives you a few minutes after class to just paddle on the boards for fun! This really made my Malta trip one of kind and I highly recommend if you’re looking for something affordable and fun to do.

 

That Time I Was Older Than Some People

I’ve just got back from a trip to Manchester (more on that to come in another blog post) but I felt the need to write about a recent thing I’ve been noticing on my travels and interactions with people. I’m no longer the youngest person around.

Me, I’ve never been a fan of my birthday. For many reasons, one of which being it is right on top of the Christmas holiday, but also because it means I’m growing older. I don’t despise getting older as that means I’m still living/alive but I don’t like being an adult. I don’t feel like adult and my appearance makes people less inclined to treat me as such (I’ve been told I look young so I’m glad for that).

Being an adult means responsibilities and new pressures I was naively unaware of until they fell in my lap. Fairy tale stories on how things should and would be aren’t really happening in the way I expected. These are things I find hard to swallow. I’m still in my twenties but there are things I have yet to accomplish or even experience and that puts me on edge.

But back to the point at hand, adulting. Recently I’ve noticed that whenever I gather with groups of people that I think are my age, I come to find that I’m three or four years older. I didn’t know what to do with this at first. I felt betrayed by my birth if that makes any sense.haha Should I be embarrassed? Should I act like I know it all? The answer was there was no real way to behave but I’ve started to feel less “upset” by the fact that I’m older.

I’m more aware of myself and what I want (though I still have not a clue what that is) and I do feel more capable of giving my opinion and feeling confident in it. I know that I’ve dealt with characters that have informed how I approach new situations in my life and it feels good to be more assured in this respect. Again, I’m still clueless about how my life will play out and if what I’m doing is really right but I do know that I can make a decision and follow through as there is nothing to lose.

What am I talking about really? Nothing and everything. Life is hard but you can figure it out. And don’t feel bad about being a little older than most, you’ve met more people that can help you deal with new experiences down the line.

St James Park + Fish & Chips Mate!

I’m coming up on my month in London. How crazy is that? How have I been here for nearly a month?

It really doesn’t feel like it but it is really has been a month. I’ve done so much and not enough (according to my personality type). A trip to Amsterdam, a short filmmaking course, weekend excursions and trips exploring the city – that just makes up a bit of what I’ve been doing.

Has all this activity caught up with me? Yes and no. The newness of everything has me pumped with a natural adrenaline that allows me to get a natural high, propelling me through every activity I’d normally be too tired for. There are moments when I just need to lay my head down and barricade myself from everyone and everything. Not because I’m antisocial, but me personally, I need a break to decompress. Gather my thoughts, you know!

Some activity I wanted to share with you includes my trip to the city yesterday. I was headed to a Meet Up that kind of fizzled (due to me not finding the group) so instead of wasting the day, I ran about the city. Hitting up the monuments I’m very familiar with but haven’t seen since nearly a month of being in the city.

Since I was already in St James Park I started there, taking photos of nature and the beauty within in the park. I tried to be artsy and capture some original shots as seen below.

As you can see from my superb skills, nature was out in full force. Loads of beautiful greens, manicured lawns, ornate flowers, etc. It really is a picturesque park good for any date or day to hang with friends, catch some rays and play some games.

Next I went to check out Buckingham Palace because, why not?

After running around the park and doing a bit of walking, I decided I needed to have my first classic British meal, Fish & Chips. I was scared to get something in the area I was because that location is notoriously touristy which means, dumb tourists will pay. I didn’t want subpar fish and chips or pay a million quid (I’m speaking the lingo not to be annoying but because it’s more beneficial) so I pulled out Google (that can be hit or miss itself).

Five minutes later, I found a spot that was noted as being 20 minutes away via walking. I figured, if I’m about to eat some battered fried fish and chips followed by dessert, I could walk for it. I set out for Golden Union. It wasn’t cheap (especially since they charge you a fee to sit down and eat but every place does that) but boy was it filling. The portions were huge! I know there are probably better spots that aren’t so pricey but I still recommend.

Barely having finished digesting my meal, I went to get some dessert in the form of gelato. On my way to find gelato though, I ran into Chipotle! I don’t know why but that made me so happy. A small taste of home. haha But yeah, I got my signature Stracciatella gelato cone. Yum at SnowFlake!

Last up on my todo list for the day, I wandered around near Oxford Circus and Trafalgar Square. There, I saw a floating Yoda and the outside of the National Portrait Gallery. I’ll go to the museum again at some point.

That’s what I was up to but stay tuned, I’ll tell you more about my life here and some fun upcoming trips.

Things so far in London

Disclaimer: I’m still a huge London stan right now. I really am loving my time here and enjoying myself. Do I miss my friends, my apartment/personal space, and general working knowledge of how NYC operates? Yeah sure. But I’m really liking the people I’ve met (interesting range of characters) as well as the city itself. However, I must give you my unbiased opinion of London so far.

Trains

This might be a long one because it encompasses price, etiquette and general poop.

They run when and where they want. One moment you’re waiting for a train scheduled to depart in 5 minutes, the next thing you know the schedule says its 10 minutes a way, followed by delayed, followed by cancelled.

I get really annoyed when this happens. Not only is my plan or schedule to get somewhere (or just home) on time thrown off, but I’m left struggling trying to piece together a new way home or wherever based on my limited (but slowly expanding knowledge of the city).

Another thing that grinds my gears, they are so expensive! You can buy a monthly pass but they are all priced depending on what zone you’re in. The city is separated by zones! Let’s just say a monthly from Zone 1 to Zone 6 (living out there) is upwards of $300 US dollars. And then, even when you think you’ve covered yourself, even if your train runs through a zone that you don’t even get off in, you still have to pay for it so watch out.

Last train gripe. Etiquette of the people on it is surprisingly terrible. People don’t say excuse me or tap you to move out of the way, they push pass you, swipe by you and even somewhat knock you over without as much as “I’m sorry.” I was really caught off guard by this because I expected a certain level of manners but I was mistaken. Shoveling myself into a rush our overground train, I soon learned. A man got so mad at me for trying to squeeze myself in. I apologized (unlike usual etiquette) and said I was trying to make it somewhere on time and he was sort of taken aback. Maybe it was my apology or my accent but I think he got it.

My Chip Though

So I prepped and got myself a travel credit card (great for avoiding those international fees) but for some reason, even though I have my chip in my card and everything, I am forced to feel like an outsider when making a purchase.

My card is accepted most places (Thank DA LORD) but I have to sign every receipt. Like every other EU person gets to tap and go or swipe and go but I get made to feel less than by signing a paper. Ok. Maybe I’m a drama queen but still. I feel awkward because no one ever has a pen behind the register and I have to dig around for one in my bag and stuff.

SUN, Where you Be?!!

I thought coming in summer would mean more exposure to sun in London. I mean, I know the city is prime for rain. I was expecting it and was fully prepared but man, I’ve been to London during the summer many of times and the weather I’m getting is meh.

Not awful but like I could use a day where the sun is out all day and we get close to 80 F (or 30 C for your brits). I want to wear my shorts and dresses! I’m still going to wear them though, I just need to be extra prepared.

So yeah, those are a few things about London so far. I still love you and the random things you throw at me but make those small tweaks and I’ll lust for you. jk

Adventure in Amsterdam: Only 1 Day?!

I’m planning to take quite a few European excursions while staying in the UK. The first excursion on that list was a trip to Amsterdam.

Amsterdam – home of the legal weed and endless canals!haha

Both statements are true. Canals are EVERYWHERE and so are Coffee Shops where you can purchase and smoke weed. I went inside one out of curiosity and let me just say, I’ve never seen so many flavors/knew there were so many flavors of weed. It reminded me of the back of a Jelly Belly box.

That wasn’t my first stop though. My first trip was to my hostel after a hellish flight just to get into the country (see previous blog). I was staying at the Generator – right behind Oosterpark.

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Classic closed eyes while smiling pic.

After a pleasant stroll through the park (there were ducks, little bridges, greenery, etc), I came upon my hostel building. It was large and the outside gave me the feel that it might have an old vibe to it.

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As I got closer however, I realized I was wrong. It was really modern on the inside. So modern, I couldn’t even figure out how to press the button for the elevator and instead walked the extra four flights to my room.

I originally wanted to cut down on my stay and get a bed in a shared room but due to the nature of my booking, went with what was free – a private twin room. It was great. My own space, my own bathroom, my own air! It was nice change of space after going from living on my own to staying with relatives while abroad (privacy is a beloved thing).

With literally one full day to tear through Amsterdam before my 7 AM flight, I started off by taking a two hour power nap in my room (partay animal). haha

10:30 AM – Get in my belly!

I’m starving. The last thing I ate was a bag of crisps and a bottle of fanta at around 1 AM during my awful airport experience. I needed a real meal. I pulled out my Google Maps (dude, I’d be LITERALLY lost without it) and looked for some places to sit and eat. I had croissant on the brain so was ideally looking for something in that alley but after a long and arduous eight minute search I said, forget this, let me just walk to the streets with all the shops and try my luck.

I wasn’t staying in city center, so I was clear of the tourist traps. I figured I could find something. I did, it was Maxwell Cafe.

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The space was beyond cute and they had a nice little selection on the menu at a reasonable price. The only draw back? The menu was completely in Dutch. However I did have enough brain power to figure out what some of the dishes were like Tosti’s (basically panini) or used Google to translate for me. In the end, I went with something I thought was traditional which was Garnalenkroketten – shrimp croquettes. The aioli drew me in but the whole dish was quite tasty!

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Highly recommend coming here if you’re near Oosterpark. The staff was very nice and the food was great. The only thing was after awhile, I wanted the check but it never came. I soon realized you had to go confront someone at the counter if you wanted to leave. Wish I had figured that out 15 minutes earlier.

1 PM – Weed Muffin Anyone?

Ran out to explore the neighborhood and look for a coffee shop that sold weed in edible form. Was curious on the offering as well as price. I also stopped in this cute chocolate shop called Van Veleze and got two chocolate lollipops. Tasty! Again, the staff was really nice and they had a slew of other desserts I wish my stomach could have handled. haha

3 PM- Time to get into city center and ride a bike!

It’s clear upon arrival into the city that biking is key. It’s no joke. There are actual biking paths just for bikes and tiny slivers of sidewalk for people. Biking is key and pedestrians must jump out of the way for them. With that in mind, I too had to explore Amsterdam by bike and ring my bells to make tourist hearts quiver with fear.

I rented a bike from this guy who told me that they take non EU visitor’s passports as collateral just because we look like easy targets for bike thieves. He also said we tend to get in more accidents. Nice boost in confidence guy. Any way, he shows me how to use the bike and I set off to check out the city.

During this ride I encounter the Heineken Factory, Endless Canals, A Mock Fifth Avenue, and more!

Later, I continue to stroll and find the Banksy exhibition, Ruk Museum, Van Gough Museum, etc. Everything was so perfectly manicured and maintained – the picture of perfection.

Eventually I ended my day with the items that were on my mind at the top of it – croissants – and chilled out at the hostel to check out some of the late night events happening there.

All in all, it was a fantastic trip filled with unexpected adventures and people watching. I definitely recommend you visit Amsterdam!