vrijdag 10 november 2017

Day 42: Toronto / Niagara Falls


πŸ“ Location: Toronto, Ontario, CA

My four days in Toronto have been a blast. In general, my time in Canada has been a blast. After Montreal it was hard to believe that it would be that great anywhere else, but luckily in Toronto there was Jasper from Germany. I read somewhere that chance encounters are what keep us going. And by traveling I found out that I couldn’t agree more. We were staying in the same room in the hostel and got along very well immediately, so we’ve spend the days in Toronto together. Breakfasts at Wanda’s Pie in the Sky, then walking/biking around the city a little bit and in the evening going out to eat ramen, Persian food or lots of sushi before we went to a bar to get some drinks.

We also did a trip together to the Niagara Falls. We drove up there in Jasper’s rental car, wearing stupid touristic shirts, singing along the songs from the playlist that we’d put together and eating out of the bag filled with snacks. After a 90 minute drive we arrived at the waterfalls - they’re beautiful but to be honest a bit overrated - and I drove us back home. It was a good day. I can only hope that my upcoming adventures will be as good as this one.

So yeah, my time in Canada has been filled with good memories. I’ve really began to love this country. And compared to New Yorkers with whom I have surrounded myself for four weeks, the Canadians seem almost from another planet.

Good example: when I went doing my laundry in New York a few weeks ago, I forgot to correctly put the cap on the detergent which caused a full bottle of laundry detergent to empty in my bag.. I know, i know, how clumsy can you possibly be? There was soap everywhere. My phone and wallet were literally swimming in a puddle of soap.

And no one seemed to think: hmm well, that girl and all of her stuff are covered in soap now, maybe she could use a hand. No, don’t count on it. Nobody cares in New York. When I asked the guy who worked there for a paper towel to clean up my stuff, he looked at me and literally gave me one paper towel. Just one. What a dick. Yes, thanks for the help. That will help me to clean up two liters worth of soap. Make sure that you’re not doing too much in this world. No good karma points for you there man.

And then there’s Canada. The people are so nice, so friendly, so generous. The people with whom I stayed with Couchsurfing in Montreal and Ottawa represent the Canadian spirit for me. I literally had to pinch myself when someone held a door for me, when I entered a store and the cashier greeted me instead of giving me a withering gaze, when I asked directions to someone and they pulled out their phone in the pouring rain and made sure that I would arrive at my destination.

What a nice country. And the minimum drinking age is 18+ instead of 21+, which makes me love Canada even more. Hopefully I can surround myself with these kinds of people again soon.

maandag 6 november 2017

Day 38: Montreal 2.0


πŸ“ Location: Highway between Ottawa and Montreal, Quebec, CA

It’s hard to leave a place where you finally feel at home, even though you are 5000 km away from your actual home. Montreal stole my heart. The people I met in Montreal stole my heart.

It’s tempting to stay. One time I couldn’t resist already and came back to spend a few more days in this city. Great decision. It was a weekend that consisted of chilling in cool coffee shops and discovering more hidden places during the day and then partying all night long. Only good and fun times.

And in only three more days I grew even closer to the few good friends I already made there. It’s fascinating that certain people, with whom you can feel such a special connection right away, can cross your path for such a brief and sudden moment. Because what are the chances that you have met each other. One decision differently made and you wouldn’t even know about their existence. It’s a shame that you don’t get to spend more time with them. Being sad for a moment is fine, but after that you have to forget about it and be only thankful that at least your paths have crossed.

But as much as I would want to stay, I have to move on. I know that I’m a stubborn person, and once I have something in my head I have to do it. And I want to stick to the route that I had planned to take. I know that if I would decide to stay in Montreal, I would be having an amazing time without any doubt. But that would not be the journey which I had in mind. And I think that after a while I would begin to regret this decision. Almost as if I chickened out on the whole road trip and the idea of traveling from place to place as soon as I felt comfortable somewhere. And being comfortable is not the aim. So I choose to leave Montreal behind and move on for now. I hope it is the right decision.

Mateo, Charlotte and Max, thank you for making my week in Montreal an unforgettable one. One to always remember. To take the time to show me around in your city, take me to amazing places and parties and being the incredible and good persons that you are. I’m thankful that I got to meet you guys. You will always be part of an amazing story. Hopefully our paths will cross again, one day. And if you ever find yourself in Holland, you know where to go.

vrijdag 3 november 2017

Day 35: Ottawa


πŸ“ Location: Ottawa, Ontario, CA

So I forgot my jacket in Montreal. I walked straight past it when I walked with all of my stuff out the door. I found out just before I got on the train towards Ottawa. I know I know, how stupid can you be. But yeah, I didn’t want to miss the train and to change all of my plans just for a jacket. Max could just send the coat to Toronto and then we would be reunited within five days. So I set foot in the vessel and went on yet another spectacular adventure.

It turned out that the coat was a bigger need than I initially thought. Because when I arrived, it was five degrees with a lot of rain and strong winds. A jacket comes in handy then. So here’s the plan: in stead of traveling further to Toronto today, I’m going back to Montreal for the weekend. Party and chill with my friends for a few days more. And then Monday my jacket and I will finally leave Montreal for good and go to Toronto. So I recommend forgetting your jacket because it can bring you a lot of happiness and joy.

With Couchsurfing I’d also found a place in Ottawa where I could stay for free for two nights. I stayed with Gregory, a super nice Canadian who takes the whole Couchsurfing thing to the next level. For my arrival he had put a little Dutch flag on the table to make me feel at home (later he said that he actually went to a flag store to get that), bought some Heineken beers and practiced a little Dutch the days before I came. He actually told me that he had been hosting different couchsurfers for already two months non-stop, just because he likes to meet people from different countries. And it’s not that he just offers a place to sleep besides that does his own thing. He actually spends a lot of time with his couchsurfers. For example, he took me and another girl that stayed at his place to his work at the radio station, to a bar to watch a baseball game, he cooked his special Hungarian dish for me in the evening and he took us to a Couchsurfing meetup.

The last thing was kind of interesting, because I found out that there’s a whole community behind Couchsurfing with lots of people who are super passionate about the whole thing. They weekly hang out with each other, exchange cultures and share travel stories. A little bit too much for me to be honest - I’m literally a couch surfer - but I can appreciate their enthusiasm.

So in a few hours I’m going back to Montreal. By car this time, because I’ve booked a ride online at some kind of carpooling site. Kangaride it’s called. Everyone here uses it. I think this is going to be my main mode of transportation, because it’s super cheap and it comes the closes to my original plan, which was driving a car myself during the whole road trip. Long story, but that was not a possibility anymore unfortunately. So now I’m going to let the driver - called Justine I saw - drive for me. Hopefully Justine can drive a little bit.

woensdag 1 november 2017

Day 33: Montreal


πŸ“ Location: Mont Royal, Montreal, Quebec, CA

My time in Montreal was freaking amazing. I’ve been there for four days and would love to stay a little bit longer. Of course I could (since I haven’t booked anything yet) and I’ve doubted for a long time if I’d not just stay. But part of me says that I should move on. Still have a long way to go with lots of places to see and cool people to meet. So we must carry on.

I stayed in Montreal on the couch in the house of Max and his two roommates. I’d found him on Couchsurfing and I couldn’t have wished for a better place. It’s weird to imagine how different these days would have been if I hadn’t chosen for him. Not as amazing, that’s for sure.

Because the timing was actually perfect. Max was throwing a Halloween party the night that I arrived there, so I immediately met all of his friends. I seriously can’t thank him enough for being so generous and open by inviting me to his party (and of course for letting me stay on his couch). Because therefore I made some friends right away with whom I could hang out the rest of the days and who could take me to cool places and party’s.

During the days I usually biked on my own through the city. Yes, biking! Finally! Hadn’t realized how much I missed that since I rode on one again. (Apparently I’m still a real dutchie after more than one month abroad :)). For only $14 (approx. €10) you can rent a bike for 3 days. Super nice! Highly recommended.

Although the look of the city is of course not as impressive and spectacular as New York, Montreal is maybe just as cool because of its many small coffee shops and hidden bars and shops everywhere around the city. Hidden because they don’t do big hysterical signs - often there isn’t even a sign at all. You just have to know where they are. And the students and young, cool and creative people - who basically own this city - will know how to find them.

The nights consisted of partying. Halloween parties, singing karaoke in a student bar (Canadians love karaoke!) and one night Max took me to one of those hidden spots. L’Escalier it’s called. Such an insanely cool place. It’s a kind of bar/hangout spot/apartment. Every night of the week there’s live music, starting at 5 PM. Mostly jazz, but Sunday night is the latino night. And this one is famous in Montreal. The tables are pushed to the side and as soon as the band starts playing, everybody starts dancing. Seriously one of the best nights so far. (As a young girl you do have to make sure that you don’t feel too sorry to break some hearts though, because there are some weird old guys who badly want to dance with you. Just say no.)

Now I’m in the train to Ottawa. With still the traces of last nights halloween party - vague wipes of fake blood - all over my face, neck and arms. I can’t get it off and now it looks like I have some kind of nasty rash. I already noticed some eyes staring at me. Well, sorry guys, not much I can do about it. Anyway, Ottawa is the capital of Canada. And according to a lot of people who I’ve met here, there’s not a lot to do there unless you’re a business man or the prime minister. So I’m only spending one day there before I’m going to the biggest city of Canada: Toronto.

zaterdag 28 oktober 2017

Day 29: Off to Montreal


πŸ“ Location: Albany, New York, USA
(Bus stop somewhere in between New York and Montreal)

Here we go. The road trip has now officially begun. Next stop: Montreal, Canada! I’m writing this while sitting in the Greyhound-bus, where I’ll be for the next 9 hours. Departure time: 8:30 AM, arrival time: 6 PM. But it’s not too bad, because so far it’s comfortable. I have a window seat, I can charge my phone and I’m sitting next to a guy who’s bingwatching Riverdale right now and has no need to ask me weird questions or to play Truth or Dare (unlike the airplane guy). Now just wait and see if he might snore in his sleep, but otherwise he is completely approved. Fingers crossed.

And a miracle happened, because I arrived on time. Even ten minutes early. Quite an achievement. What helped is that I’d packed all my stuff yesterday already. Because it was pretty clear that my suitcase was not going to close if I’d put everything inside - I probably have doubled the amount of clothes that I brought during my stay in New York (#ThreatYoSelf) - I had to say goodbye to some old clothes. I couldn’t just put them in the trashcan, so I’m going to ship those back home. I also didn’t want to take the risk to buy some breakfast / lunch along the way from my house to the bus station (close to Central Park). So now I have to live for the coming 9 hours on a cucumber and water. But at least I made it!

By the way: often people ask me why I’ve decided that I want to do this trip by myself and not together with a friend for example. Well, of course it would be so much fun to travel with someone. You’ll make amazing memories together and have a blast for sure. And sometimes I do miss it. But I know that that’s not the only thing what I’m looking for right now. I want to achieve more with this trip than just making fun and having a laugh.

I want to travel alone because I want to develop and get to know myself. I want to challenge myself. Can I manage to travel for three months alone on the other side of the world? Totally independent and with a great responsibility. I want to know how I will react in certain situations. Will I feel lonely very fast if I’m not surrounded by people all the time? I also don’t want to have to adjust myself to other people. Just following my own plan, visiting the places where I want to go to and hanging out with people that I like.

Simply said: a big part of this trip is about me getting to know myself. It may all sound very serious, but I think that’s one of the most important things in life. Because after all you’re on your own. So make sure you know with whom you’re dealing with.

So yeah, when I’ll arrive in Montreal, I’ll enter a party right away because my host is throwing a Halloween party! Very exciting. So I have about 6 hours more to get some sleep.

donderdag 26 oktober 2017

Dag 27: What's next?


πŸ“ Location: Central Park, New York, USA

Hello again. Since I’m in the new house, it’s kind of hard to keep up with the blog. I’m now always surrounded by really nice people and it’s difficult to sometimes take a moment for yourself. But I think that’s a good sign.

My time in New York is almost over. It’s insane how fast it went by. It feels only like a few days ago that I set foot in this amazing and incredible city for the first time. On the one hand I’m super excited for my next adventure. It’s going to be something totally different. But on the other hand I don’t really feel like leaving yet, because I finally know how everything works in this place and it started to feel like home. I also got to meet a few very cool and inspiring people - mainly in this house - and it kind of sucks to part ways so fast. But that’s life. Like the traces of airplanes that cross each other in the sky before they’re going in different directions once and for all.

But what’s next? Within three days my road trip through the States and Canada will officially start. Super exciting! On the picture below you can see the route I’m planning to take. But I haven’t made anything definite yet, because it’ll probably change a bit along the way. The only thing that I know for sure is that I want to arrive in my final destination Vancouver during Christmas and New Year’s Eve. For the rest everything is still open.

So, next stop: MontrΓ©al! I’m going there by bus this Saturday - it’s going to be a 9 hour drive, pfff - and I’m staying for 3 days with some local guy that I found on Couchsurfing. Don’t worry, I’m 100% sure he’s not a creep. And otherwise I will find out soon enough. He already invited me to a Halloween party the night that I’ll arrive. Super nice! I think that Canada will be a nice change from the States actually. Because of the ‘21+ rule’ it can feel sometimes a little bit limited here, while I will be able to do anything in Canada with my eighteen years. So I’m sure it’s going to be fun there.

maandag 16 oktober 2017

Day 17: The new place


πŸ“ Location: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA

Yesterday was moving day. The room where I stayed for the past two weeks was going under construction so I couldn't stay there anymore. But that turned out to be a very good thing, because my new apartment is way better!

A few days ago I asked the guy who rents the apartment to me - Ola is his name - if I could stay there until the end of October. I had rented the place for only 14 days, because then I could always change places in case it would be a gross, disgusting, haunted house with fungus dripping of the walls etc. Well, the room turned out to be fine - for only €18 you have to be okay with the fact that there isn’t much luxury and that you have to share a bathroom with people with whom you rather not even share a conversation with.

Ola said that I could move into another apartment of his for the same price. Which is insanely cheap if you look at the place! And the timing was actually perfect because the mice situation got worse. On my last day there I saw one crawling - not only on the ground - but on the table as well. And that means that they can get everywhere. Even in your bed. So I needed to get out of that place.

The new place is in the same neighborhood, only five minutes away from the old apartment. It has a kitchen, two bathrooms, a bigger bedroom and is filled with very nice people instead of mice. (The picture shown above is a snapshot of our living room. Pretty fancy, am I right?). I don’t know exactly how many people there are, because every time that I’m in the house I see new faces. But I guess around 16. The people who I’ve met so far were like-minded people, also traveling and around my age. Last night everyone was just hanging around in the kitchen, cooking food for each other and sharing their stories. The vibe is really nice. Happy to call this place my home for the next two weeks.

~

I've visited the MET today. Really proud of myself that I've been to a museum voluntarily. I'm such a grown-up right now. Did I liked it? Some parts, yes. For example, the architecture of the place is amazing. And I liked the rooftop with the view of the skyline. And some pieces in the museum of course. It was also kind of fascinating to watch other people like me - people who don't have a clue what's going on because it rarely happens that they set foot in a museum - looking with the biggest scowl to the most uninteresting stuff like little clay pots, just trying to look smart and sophisticated. Well, fake it until you make it.