(Almost) Homeless in Holland

Friday, 16 March 2018

It's seven days since I arrived at Den Haag Centraal, slightly lost and bewildered, weighed down by a backpack stuffed mostly full of English treats, and a rickety suitcase that threatened to burst open and spill my Bridget Jones undergarments across the platform at any given moment.

 What a week it has been.

So, if you weren't aware of the events leading up to my relatively insane decision to travel Europe on my own, let me enlighten you...

It was around January time this year, after fucking up the last of my new year's resolutions, taking drags from a cigarette that I had promised myself only a fortnight previously would never touch my lips again (a tragic symbol of the monotonous cycle of my existence which mostly involves making promises to myself, and instantaneously breaking them) that I decided I needed to stop relying on the world to fix things for me, and do something about my deep-rooted unhappiness myself.

So, that evening I clambered onto the top bunk in the room I was staying in at my parents house and (between countless episodes of Coronation Street) researched the cheapest, and quickest way to make a clean escape. I sort of decided if I was going to be running away from my problems, I may as well do it in an entirely different country.

My sister compared my planned departure to Shaun of the Dead, and suggested that all I was doing was looking for the geographical equivalent of 'The Winchester' where I could sit, have a nice cold pint, and wait for it all to blow over.

She wasn't entirely mistaken.

It was after a few hours that I stumbled across an advertisement for a volunteer placement at a hostel based in The Hague, South Holland, the third largest city in the Netherlands, after Amsterdam and Rotterdam, located on the coast of the North Sea, and approximately 260 miles away from everybody’s bullshit.

Things to consider before you ghost someone.

Monday, 15 January 2018

[Ghosting (noun.) the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication] or, if you prefer, the act of being a total, utter douchebag.

Let me explain...

The first time I heard the term 'ghosting' I envisioned a scene in which a person jumps out at an unsuspecting friend, or lover, wearing a bedsheet over their body and flailing their arms whilst making whooshing noises (do ghosts whoosh?) when I discovered I was wrong, two things came to mind.

1. Millennials really do have an incredible talent for coining words to create maximum drama.

2. People are shit, aren't they?

2 0 1 8 .

Saturday, 13 January 2018

I think most people can agree that 2017 was a monumental year in shaping them into the person they would be entering the new year as, whether that’s through positive experiences, or as a result of life violently and relentlessly throwing endless curve balls at their face over the past twelve months, until there's been no choice but to start throwing that shit back, a million times harder.

Anyway, the balls that hit my face throughout last year (alright, calm down) have undoubtedly turned me into a stronger, more independent, mildy sassy, take-no-bullshit, sort of person who is lightyears away from the anxious, doormat of a girl I was this time last year, but trust me, it wasn't through lack of heartache. 

In January last year, I sat at my computer and typed out an anti-resolutions post, full of big, wonderful statements of how I would be cutting out toxic relationships, not punishing myself for my mistakes, spending more time with my friends and just generally living life to the full - beautiful concepts, but pretty much all impossible, and in hindsight, fucking stupid.

Instead, the reality is that 2017 was the year that broke me, and slowly put me back together. 

Luxembourg 2K17 (The Holiday we don't talk about)

Sunday, 1 October 2017

When I first declared to my sister that I wanted to travel around Europe, her response was this:

"I don't see why, it's just full of castles and cathedrals."

After a passionate speech about how there's so much more to travel than the destination itself; it's about the culture, the way of life, meeting new people and experiencing new things, she rolled her eyes and we agreed to disagree.

So, as we decided on Luxembourg as a spontaneous destination, booked our flights, Air B&B and finally settled down in front of my laptop to browse 'things to do' I reluctantly turned to her...

"It's all fucking cathedrals and castles."

To which she replied: "You really should listen to me more."

If you ever fancy feeling shit scared of your holiday before you even arrive at the airport, grab yourself a lift with my Dad, he has an almost unbelievable talent of being able to list out every possible tragic scenario you could find yourself in - which is a fantastic trait if you are the co-director of Final Destination, not such a great attribute if you are transporting your two young, relatively nervous, daughters to their flight.

"Do NOT drink too much before you board your plane, you want to have your wits about you if there is an emergency"

"If I'm destined to catapult in a ball of flames into the English Channel, I think I would rather be six bottles of Pinot Grigio down, thanks Pa."

With this in mind, we waved him off and headed straight for the bar, a decision that more than likely aided in my newly-discovered confidence when facing security - something that had previously sent me on the edge of a nervous breakdown - turns out being groped by a tall, dark stranger isn't as exciting as the likes of E.L James would have us believe.

48 Hours in Amsterdam: PART TWO

Friday, 28 April 2017

I was a vision of undeniable beauty.

Bin bag wrapped firmly around my left hand, my tram ticket held tightly between my teeth, and my luggage balancing precariously over my right shoulder, I sprinted awkwardly next to my sister, my limbs flailing dramatically as every item on my person threatened to catapult into the air like a live-action version of Buckaroo.

We had exactly seven minutes until the tram would be pulling into the station, and absolutely no clue where we needed to dispose of our rubbish.

In the near distance Merrin caught sight of several sizeable, grey boxes. I spat my tram ticket into my spare hand as we gracelessly threw down our luggage and pressed on towards what appeared to be a graveyard of plastic containers.

"IT'S LIKE FUCKING CRYSTAL MAZE" I bawled as we manically opened bin lid after bin lid in attempt to find one empty enough to shove in our rubbish.

Four minutes.

Missing this tram would mean missing our slot at The Van Gogh Museum, thus wasting €17 each and throwing a monumental spanner in the works for the rest of our day. We had cheese and wine tasting booked for midday, a cocktail masterclass afterwards and a train to Groningen - essentially, missing this tram would initiate a domino effect of lateness that would lead to unavoidable catastrophe.

48 Hours in Amsterdam: PART ONE

Thursday, 27 April 2017

 I stood nervously at the front of the queue. My bag was heavy on my shoulder, my passport was slowly soaking away in a pool of sweat in the palm of my hand. I was attentively analysing everyone ahead of me, watching them meticulously pick apart their luggage, neatly and efficiently dividing their belongings into separate plastic trays.

These seasoned travellers made me nervous, I had already been convinced that anyone involved in security at an airport is simply a bulldog in a suit, and was positive beyond reassurance that any fumbling about would certainly lead to my arrest and permanent confiscation of my passport. Shit.

Cheese & Wine Tasting at Reypenaer, Amsterdam

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

As a person whose ‘kass’ expertise stretches as far as once enjoying an exotically-flavoured Babybel, I was both eager and apprehensive to take part in the cheese and wine tasting workshop at the Reypenaer store in Amsterdam.

We woke up relatively early and enjoyed pastries and coffee together in our Air B&B, before (literally) rushing off to catch the tram to head over to the Van Gogh Museum, before traveling into Dam Square, where the Reypenaer store is located, for our midday slot.

With a cheery welcome, we handed over our tickets and paperwork before being directed to the back of the shop, where we descended a steep staircase to the tasting room. Here, we were greeted by rows of wooden tables, neatly set out like a Victorian Classroom and adorned with wine and port glasses, various cheeses and a guillotine, that prompted me to make a mental note to not excessively piss off my sister within the next hour.

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