Tuesday, December 22, 2009


so you know all the news youre hearing about the massive delays and cancellations and utter chaos that is going on at all the European airports because of the huge european snowstorm, leaving travelers stranded at the airport and train station for days? yeah, im caught up in all that. i wasnt supposed to be posting again on this travel blog BECAUSE I WAS SUPPOSED TO GO HOME but here i am, in Frankfurt, for whatever reason, and not in Canada.

its pretty amazing how quickly we get used to our lot in life. right now my lot in life is to wait in lines. for hours. wait in one line for three hours, get told to go to another one. i think they do it to keep us busy. things happen, like me needing to use the bathroom, or wanting to drink some water, but we dont want to lose our spot in line. it could be worse for me, i guess. im scheduled to fly out this afternoon - hopefully that will actually happen. other people dont even have a flight re-booked. other people who had only intended to pass through Frankfurt and dont have a visa to enter germany cant even leave the airport and have to spend the night sleeping in the airport. some travelers have been at the airport on standby for days now. i have my Dutch residency card so they put me up at a hotel, which to be fair, was pretty nice because at least i could watch the news on TV and learn about all the other travelers trapped at the airport like me.

i still dont know where my baggage is, so i only have my purse and my backpack with me at the moment. wish i packed some underwear instead of ten CDs. i immediately called up hotel reception and said, 'you see this sign that says if ive forgotten any of the following items (toothpaste, comb, shower cap, etc.), youll bring it up for free? i want one of everything. No, i dont know what i will do with a cotton pad right now but i will just take it.'

gonna head back to the airport now and hope my luck goes better today. wish me luck. Frankfurt is a nice city and i love the Germans, but i do not want to spend Christmas or my 25th birthday here. and i miss my family and my friends. AND KOREAN FOOD.

Friday, December 18, 2009

my last ASG night

last night i checked out the "Undercover Night" party that was happening at Cafe Sappho. Folks from the Amsterdam Songwriters Guild all performed interpretive covers as diverse as Bright Eyes, Joni Mitchell, Roy Orbison, Elliott Smith, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, Death Cab for Cutie, Simon and Garfunkel, and Feist. and also a dutch folk song that the singer assured all of us anglophones that we would not understand. the fun thing about a good cover is if you do it right, you've got the whole bar singing along. i saw a lot of my usual favourites (like Ro, Eoghan, Roger) but got to see a lot of new faces i haven't seen before. so many talented musicians in Amsterdam!

i think that's what i really like about the atmosphere at Cafe Sappho. it's just so cosy and friendly. i've gone enough times now to be familiar with many of the faces there, and it's almost starting to feel like a second home to me now. plus i scored free soup from the bartender! i think i'm going to miss Cafe Sappho, and the Amsterdam Songwriters Guild the most when i move back to Canada. that, and Wok to Walk. looks like i'm really going to have to find an excuse to move back here.

can someone please give me a job at the International Criminal Court in Den Haag, alstublieft?

Ro sings the Boss's "Used Cars", with Luke backing up on piano

bedankt voor uw gastvrijheid, Amsterdam Songwriters Guild and Cafe Sappho.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

ninja adventures through the snow

it's snowing in amsterdam. for reals. the fields and canals look magical. my apartment, however, is not so magical, since my landlord for whatever reason decided to remove my heater.

growing up in the Canadian back woods of the Greenbelt outside Ottawa means that i am pretty good with winter. i know how to build a snow shelter and survive through the night if i have to. i am used to driving sports utility vehicles through dark blizzards. i can sense deer approaching the road before i even see it. i wear pajamas under my jeans and still feel sexy.

what these Canadian winters of my childhood have not equipped me for, however, is surviving Dutch winters. yes, surprisingly, it does snow here, and while it's no "-20 degree, 20 centimetre of snow" ottawa, it is actually still terrifying to bike through snow, especially the dark, unploughed wild terrains that compose the town of Diemen where i live.

i don't bike this time of the year in Canada. i either drive the SUV or resign myself to public transportation. in Holland, however, i've got this little rattly bike that i bought for 50 euros, and i'm not sure if bike snow tires even exist. i watched a girl on a motorcycle wipe out right in front of me tonight and go sprawling across the pavement, which was scary motivation enough for me to bike really slow. but still not slow enough to stay behind the snow ploughs. seriously, they go so slow i pass them on a bicycle.

it's also painfully cold. as i mentioned before, the only way i've been able to get the nerve to bike twenty kilometres a day through the frost is to wrap myself up and cover my face like a ninja, and blast Wu-Tang Clan. it helps me get into the ninja mindset. you never hear about ninjas feeling cold. unfortunately my ninja-biking powers got me pulled over by the cops for biking too stealthily. or rather, i need a better bike light. still, all part of the ninja adventures. tiger style.


every time i visit Germany i get this this feeling that sometime i'm going to go there, get caught up in its awesomeness, and never actually leave.

when i woke up in Köln, the sun was just coming up. there's not a lot of sunlight these days. as i went out for a walk, i saw that the clubs were still going full blast. i guess Christoph was right when he said that Köln is a party town.

visiting james in hamburg was great. it was a cold brisk night, so we kept ourselves warm by drinking gluvine (that ridiculously sweet german wine) and eating these sugar-coated doughy pastries that reminded me of Ottawa's Beavertails. we walked by the harbour, and through Hamburg's seedy red light district where the night clubs sex shops, and strip clubs were. james says he finds straight night clubs weird, and i could see why he doesn't hang around this place much - it sure gives Amsterdam's Red Light District a run for its money. but seen at 2PM on a Monday afternoon gives it a whole new odd light. we also walked through the hipster area for an amazing brunch, and james had to practically tear me away from all the boutique shops that would have been disastrous for my credit card.

and when we woke up the next morning, it had snowed. pictures will come soon, i swear!

Saturday, December 12, 2009


there are many similarities between German and Dutch. this would only help me if i understand Dutch in the first place.

so i decided to take a trip by myself to Germany on a whim. an important lesson: taking trips on a whim is very expensive. backpacking is not what it used to be.
my hostel is located by a bunch of designer boutiques. this is not good news, especially since i spent the day in the Negen Straatjes in Amsterdam yesterday, shopping heaven. must...stay...away...

still there is some fun in spontaneous unprepared trips. i arrived here with no guide book, no friends, no agenda, and also, as mentioned, no understanding of the German language whatsoever. i did find a city guide at the hostel, however, at least i assumed it would tell me about the museums and restaurants to visit. as it turned out, however, over half of the guide is dedicated to information about escort services. i'm not really looking for *that* kind of adventure, but i suppose it is useful to know that i am probably too short to be an escort in Germany - they're all like five foot ten.

made it into Cologne today, or as the locals keep insisting on remind us Anglophones, Köln. i decided to go to this city solely on the Christoph's advice, who told me that it was a great city because it was known to be Germany's gay capital. Not that, he assured me, he believes that i "drink from the furry cup", but a good gay scene is pretty indicative of a fun city. and who am i to disagree with a German? especially a German who used to be my karaoke buddy at Ottawa's best gay bar?

did a bit of exploring today, taking a lovely walk along the Rheine river and checking out the various Christmas markets within the city and feeling in general excited about the holidays. Köln is all decked out in Christmas lights, and in my festive mood, i stole a festive mug from one of the apple cider stands. at least i assume that the 2 euro deposit on the cup was optional. along with my festive apple cider, i had a delicious German sausage along with a German beer.

i also experienced a bit of the joys of watching German dubbed television. "How I Met Your Mother" is, regrettably, still not funny in German, but "Malcolm mittendrin" is just plain gold no matter what language.

Friday, December 11, 2009

starbucks in amsterdam

amsterdam got its first Starbucks about a month ago. actually, other than the one in Schipol Airport, I'm pretty sure it's one of the first Starbucks to open in Holland. it was pretty great to watch. The Dutch people were really excited about it, with lineup extending out the door and wrapping around the store. the newly-trained barristas were nervous, and you could see them silently begging you not to order a complicated drink ("Americano? i can do Americano!"). it was fun to see all the excitement about it.

still...Douglas Coupland calls McDonald the Taint, but i really think Starbucks is "The Taint" in Europe. Europeans generally make good coffee - they don't need a Starbucks. sure, back at home in suburban Canada, i'll willingly drive to the Starbucks and pay five bucks for a fancy espresso drink just for the hip atmosphere and to have a decent cup of coffee, but that's because regular North American coffee sucks and you have to pay the extra to get the reliably good coffee, at Starbucks. In Europe, you can get a damn good cup of coffee even at a bar. there's no need for the Starbucks here, except maybe to promote the North American idea of "coffee to go" (a concept that Europe is still just learning). But i thoroughly disapprove of the Americanization of Europe, even though it might be inevitable. Fight, europe! Fight! Rage, rage against the dying of the light! Do not go gentle into that good night!

McDonalds, on the other hand, are already a dime a dozen around here. My favourite McDonalds snack in Amsterdam? Bitterballen.

music is my radar

apologies for my prolonged absence. after my epic month of traveling, i became bedridden with some very strange stomach bug for a week. well, after watching every single episode of the Big Bang Theory, i feel better now and have been seeing a lot of shows around Amsterdam.

Sunday night, there was the Amsterdam Songwriters Guild Showcase featuring beloved local artists such as Lake Montgomery, Case Mayfield, Max VanRemmerden, Brian Neubauer, the famous DJ Lucky Fonz III, and the band Chin Up:

i was particularly impressed by Chin Up's set, which despite closing up a pretty folk music themed night, ended on quite the rock-and-roll note, with microphone stands hurled off the stage and the guitarist moshing in the crowd on the dancefloor,his glasses flying off and broken guitar strings flailing. i take back my premature remarks about the Dutch not really rocking out and dancing at shows.

Tuesday night was the weekly open mic night held at the cosy Cafe Sappho, reuniting a lot of the ASG folks again. i played a pretty fun set and learned an important lesson: your audience is much more likely to pay attention to your music if you forget to wear a bra on stage. i do NOT have video footage of that, but i did manage to capture Eoghan's lovely Christmas song, with Ro Halfhide and Brian Neubauer spontaneously backing up on vocals.

God bless the Irish, every single one of them.

Thursday night was Lake Montgomery's birthday show at the Jet Lounge. i've only discovered her music recently but absolutely adore her style. i'm usually pretty good at describing what i like about musicians but she just leaves me speechless. she is amazing.

can we somehow convince her to come to Canada? please?

Ro Halfhide is backing her up on drums in this video. i don't know why he pops up in all of my videos. probably because he's the founder of the Amsterdam Songwriters Guild, which is, by the way, one of the best things i've discovered since moving to Amsterdam.

in one day, i head off to germany, on a mini-tour by myself to Cologne and Hamburg. in ten days, i move back to Canada (sob). in fifteen days, i turn 25 (nooooooo....)