published!

today origami journal released their summer 2014 issue, and my photos were featured! you can find a small travelogue i did while in berlin this past spring.  give it a look!

 

 

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travelogue: zagreb

zagreb!  hilariously, cruised into croatia riding in an accidental upgrade to first class.   we shared the train compartment with a ukranian familiy, and the first ticket-checkers didn’t notice that both of our groups should have been in second class.  it wasn’t until the ride was almost over, at the croatia border, that one of the stewards informed us of our mistake.  oops. croatian border guards were kind of funny, too, because they checked our passports like three times as we came into the country, and twice as we left! so many superfluous stamps in my passport!

we arrived in zagreb to find a sea of excitement.  croatia had just won a euro cup match, and the streets were full of happy drunks.  we had a delicious dinner, watched the next game, and wandered back to the apartment we rented.

this is exactly what you’d thing. a museum of broken relationships. it was in turns sad, hilarious, poignant.

spent the next day wandering around in the heat. having a mini-breakdown, i ducked impulsively into the museum of broken relationships. i cried and laughed and felt better when i left. it has objects symbolising failed relationships, with a small write-up from the donor. some were really metaphorical, some very straightforward. there were dildos and teddy bears and a little reindeer made of twigs. there was a giant papier-mache nude femals torso, with large breasts and arm straps so it could be worn on the front of one’s body. the write-up said the woman’s husband bought this for her, and made her wear it during sex, because her breasts were not large enough. eventually she left him for this, but evidently not soon enough, because there were spots on the torso where the paint had rubbed away from repeated contact. ewwwww.

because it was so hot while i was in zagreb, i spent lots of time sitting at cafes in the shade, drinking beer or lemonade or espresso. and one day while i was watching soccer, i saw this woman walking her cat. BEST.

maybe it’s just me, but the number of babes in zagreb really knocked me on my ass. and then i was like, why are there so many cute gay girls? and then i was like, OH SHIT THERE IS A PRIDE PARADE AND HOW DID I MISS IT I WAS PROBABLY AT A GRAVEYARD

yeah, that happened. hanging out with dead motherfuckers instead of checking out croation babes.

so, i just spent a couple days wandering around the old town, shopping a bit, eating pastries, drinking coffee, writing in my journal, and lurking in the shade. all in all a really nice little visit! BUT i should tell you about how strange the supermarket was! i took my basket of produce to the checkout, and the cashier sent it all back with a security guard. i was mystified, until the security guard came back with the fruit, which had been weighed/barcoded by a machine. now that is progress (although it completely slowed down the checkout line but i bet that happens fifty times a day so whatever).

catholics are awesomely creepy for keeping around relics and mummies of important folks!

gay pride banners + euro cup celebration = party in the square

i bought so much lavender at this market. sooo much. it was almost ridiculous. BUT for the rest of the trip, my bag smelled heavenly

police lined up before the pride parade. such an important reminder that it is not always safe to be out/show support. i feel very lucky to live in vancouver.

read about the rest of my trip: reykjavik pt 1pt 2, oslo, stockholm, copenhagen, berlin, prague, krakow budapest

travelogue: berlin

cycling home from boxing, we stopped to pose at brandenburg gate

HOLY CATS.  my two weeks in berlin are in the running for the happiest i’ve ever been in my life, ever.  staying with rose was just the best thing.  we were roommates back when (2003-2004 in edmonton), but most of our friendship has been long distance.  visiting rose was one of the main reasons i decided to take a trip to europe, actually, because i really missed her.

so, holy shit. epic whirlwind of fun ensued!  two blissful weeks of laughing ourselves to sleep (in a tree fort, no less!), watching qi and videos of slugs having sex, cooking together, emasculating men, punching things, and generally having all the fun one could expect to have with their platonic life partner.  if only she was gay!! i swear, i would treat her SO GOOD (that is for you, rose, cause i know you will read this)!

we went to schlachtensee, walked around a few lakes, ate ice cream, fed house sparrows from our hands, and then i rowed her around a lake while yelling out lyrics from rifle burs.  then we made a delicious supper together.  best date ever, right?

we played videogames in a double-decker bus that’s also a bar.  we tried to get into spreepark.   we ate metric tonnes of stracciatella yogurt with fruit and wheels of brie.    we stayed out till 4 am, listening to musicians in the ubahn station.  we climbed up to the roof of her building, through the attic, which looked like the set for a horror movie.  we dressed like bombshells.  we cuddled up on the couch and were internet nerds together.  we laid in bed reading together.  rose gave me incredible tours, like taking me to see her favourite statue, and a tree she loves.

rose’s favourite statue. so powerful!!

we had the perfect berlin sunday, which involves a giant brunch, fleamarkets in fredrichshaim and mauerpark, getting lost and asking a goth couple in their 50s for directions, walking through a dust cloud of chicken feathers and glitter, pho for supper, having dudes yell ‘SUP!, drinking caprinhas, then snuggling up on the couch together and being internet nerds.

last summer, when rose and i had a brief meet-up here in vancouver, we talked about happiness.  we were both coming out of really long and unhappy relationships and needed something more.  i’m paraphrasing, of course, but rose said something that really stuck with me:  for even a month of complete bliss, wouldn’t all the shit be worth it?  meaning, all the shit, the sadness and loneliness that can sometimes come with being single when all your friends are in/chasing after relationships.

berlin was a great city.  so bike friendly, full of great food and beautiful murals and really interesting things to do.  and, i should be fair.  i didn’t only spend time with rose: i enoyed the company of others, too.  i met my flickr friend christian, reconnected with my vancouver friend molly, and met a bunch of other wonderful folks!  but god damn,  the overwhelming feeling of bliss was the absolute best part.

catching some rays with christian and rose

back to veganism

several friends have asked me how i could’ve possibly been vegan for the two months i spent in europe.  the answer is simple: i wasn’t!  this was easy because i am not a self-righteous asshole about my diet.

i took a break, because i suspected (rightfully so) that at times it would be difficult to find vegetarian food, let alone vegan fare.   self-catering is possible, but often difficult.  the places i stayed didn’t always have cooking facilities; tofu/other veg*n staples were often difficult to come by; and to top it off, it was completely illogical to carry foodstuffs around when i already had a 35lb backpack and a smallish messenger bag to lug around.

my vegan diet is absolutely a privilege and a luxury.  it’s easy to maintain in vancouver, but was difficult when i was rolling around in strange cities where i didn’t speak the language, have constant internet access, and would sometimes need to eat at odd hours/distant locations when it was most sensible to eat whatever i came across.  because i only fell back to being vegetarian, not eating any meat, there were times when i’d order ‘pasta with veg’ off a menu and would find out that meant a huge pile of pasta with 1/2 c of chopped peppers on top.  ASTOUNDING.

for any of my veg friends who are traveling, here are two resources that are helpful, although only one of which i used.

happy cow, which is a worldwide veg*n restaurant guide

vegan passport – a multilingual guide to what vegans do and don’t eat.

fun coincidence: i went vegan last july 4th, and one year later i am rededicating myself!  LIFE’S FUNNY LIKE THAT

i’m still alive!!

just wanted to check in and tell you guys that everything is going really well! i haven’t had time to do a wrap-up post for berlin (which i left one week ago) or anything since, but it has been so much fun.  greg met me in berlin and we have been in prague, krakow, budapest, and today we are going to zagreb.

this morning i woke up and realised that in three weeks i will be home, and i got a little twinge of sadness!  i have been missing my friends, my cats, and biking on the cool, green, vancouver streets–but traveling is so exciting and when i get home i am going to have to deal with Real Life, like bills and finding a job.

but for now i am wandering around crumbling blocks of old apartment buildings, drinking lattes in quiet cafes, and riding the train around central europe.  life is good.

stockholm

stockholm was so god damn romantic.  not the falling in love sweep me off my feet and let’s get married romance, but this sweet beauty that left me filled with  quiet contentment and happiness.

it started with the train ride.  the route from oslo to stockholm was incredibly bucolic.  after riding through rural areas,  past farms and goats and horses and little lakes my heart started to ache.   i spent a large part of my youth on a farm and  i was sorely missing the long, soft summer evenings when you can hear the frogs and birds and the light is fading ever so slowly, the western sky all pink and the eastern sky pale blue…

after i got over the rush of stockholm central station, i found my way to the place i was staying in gamla stan and rushed out again to meet my travel buddy daniel at the place he chose: on a bridge with golden crowns.

it was nearing 10pm, the sky was still light,  and we wandered into gamla stan, stockholm’s old town.  a few twists and turns and we stumbled into an incredibly romantic plaza. we stopped short and drank in the wonder for a moment. the buildings dated from the late 17th century; lamps were just turning on and glowing against the sky; the sounds of people eating and laughing drifted from the restaurant patios.  it was surprising and breathtaking. neither of us had expected this from stockholm.

imagine this, but with fewer people, more twinkly lights, and romaaaaaance

that night, after having a wonderful patio supper ourselves, daniel and i found not one but two incredible basement bars! the first was like a hobbit-hole; even i had to stoop to get in the door and down the stairs.  the inside was all bare brick and it was a very small, cozy pub.  next was a medieval themed place; it was surprisingly charming!  mostly lit by candlelight with wax drippings everywhere, random people playing guitars & starting giant sing-alongs,  we had a barrel as a table, etc.

by the time i headed home at 3.30, the sky was getting light again…god damn, summer in the northern latitudes is a wonderful thing.

the next day started slowly due to large amounts of beer consumed the night before. yikes.  i made up for it by walking all around the city.  walking one’s hangover off is totally a thing.

 

inside this old church in gamla stan, very ornate

 

tea & cookie break

sat here for half an hour, watching birds and dogs

daniel and i

 

gamla stan, sodermalm (with a little slow dance to some street jazz), downtown, city hall, the observatory, ostermalm (including this park that said something about the ultimate darkness!? what was up with that? sounds like a metal band), and along the waterfront.  in stockholm, there is a lot of waterfront because the city is on a bunch of islands!

what the fuck is this dude about?

we made our way back to gamla stan, where we watched Serious Football Match and i actually picked a team, cheered for it and got ridiculously drunk as well.  that’s how you’re supposed to watch sports, right?

i was cheering for the other team

hangover day two commenced with a leisurely tour bus ride around the city.  it was a good way for my hurtin’ self to feel like i was actually experiencing something of stockholm while having to expend very little energy.  after that, d. & i sat in a park and ate ice cream, had a quick lunch, and then said goodbye as our paths diverged.   i spent the rest of the day wandering around the city,  hanging out in a graveyard, drinking coffee and doing crosswords, etc, before calling it a night.

my last day in stockholm was spent wandering around the city some more; shopping for gifts, reading in a park full of tulips,  stealing last looks at lovely gamla stan, and then hanging out in the train station dealing with some stress that crept up on me.  wished to hide from the world in a cuddlenest with my cats, but just dealt with my shit, got on the train, and gradually felt better.

reykjavik, so far

hoooooly hot dogs! this place is so flippin cute.  the milk cartons say ‘Muu’!!! the electrical outlets look like mamegoma.  i’m gonna lose my shit.

the day i arrived could qualify as the longest of my life.  the flight was overnight but i couldn’t sleep, because they sun didn’t really go down, and it wasn’t night to my bodyclock. i arrived in iceland at 6.30 am, took a short nap when i got to the hostel, and spent the entire day exploring the city.

reykjavik is really cute! it’s not a stunner of a city; i’m not blown away by its beauty, but it’s really charming and kind of quaint!  i never thought i’d find tin siding so attractive, but iceland does it right (not rusty; great colour matching, like mint green & cobalt, purple and white, yellow and red, etc)

maybe this is silly, but i was expecting to feel more culture shock.  sure, some things are very different (the money! it has crabs and dudes in pointy hats!) but the air smells familiar and the city is easy to navigate.  people are friendly and nearly all of them speak english (notable exception: super hairy dude who hung out by me in the thermal pools and kept talking to me even after i said ‘sorry, i only speak english!’).  one main difference is that i have seen a few people blowing their noses into the street. what’s up with that? EWWW.

reykjavik is/feels so small!  i have run into the same people a few times, or seen the same car (this hilarious van that says ‘ford: don’t expect much’).  although the houses are kind of crammed together, shoulders touching, there are no really tall buildings.  the tallest i’ve seen is maybe 4-5 stories.  it gives this place a small-town feeling.

i met up with an internet friend and she took me on a tour of some rad stuff, like a geyser named geysir, thingvellir, gulfloss, etc.   i haven’t spent a tonne of time outside the city, but the bit i’ve seen has been spare and lovely.  there are long vistas uninterrupted by treelines, because what little native forest that existed (at least here in the rek. area)  was used for building material/fuel by the first settlers.

listening to all the icelandic-english accents has been dreamy. i love the way they sound, kind of whispery and full of shhhhs.  people are generally fairly attractive and there are a tonne of bright coppery-redheads and lots of blonds, too.  fashion here is pretty stylish, supertrendy in that 90s revival way.  i think some of my vancouver friends would lose their shit in the shops here!  i haven’t bought a tonne of stuff…a pair of galaxy tights and an icelandic wool sweater.  i nearly caved and purchased some beautiful wool thigh-high socks, and i yet….

vegetarian fare here isn’t super impressive.  there are quite a few restaurants who have offerings that are appealing, but eating out here is fairly expensive (nearing $20 for a meal) so i’ve been self-catering.  i’m going to hit up a vegetarian restaurant tomorrow as a treat, though! looking forward to it.

enough chatter! here are some photos.