Thoughts from the bath – the big 2.6.

James: ‘I know everything for this van will go your way because you’ll be like ‘but on YouTube they did this, on YouTube they did that,’ and I’ll be like ‘I want a hammock.’ ‘No, no, no, no you need a 7 point pin clicking one and a bed at a 7 degree angle that only opens on Tuesday’s if the full moon is out because it saves 2.5cm when you’re shitting.’ That’s what you’ll be like.’

I’ve thrown around the idea of living in a van for a while. Here’s the suggestions from James of what jobs we could do while living on the road ;

  • Pimp and his prostitute
  • man with a van
  • freak show
  • burglars. Specifically cat burglars
  • clean drive ways
  • bandits
  • land pirates

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Satisfaction. This word keeps floating around in my brain and popping up at really inconvenient times. What will satisfy me right now? What will satisfy me in the future? What would satisfy my partner? Now it sounds like we are talking about sex but I’m not, I just don’t know how else I can word that.

I turned 26 yesterday. Age meant nothing to me, notice how I write in the past tense? Since yesterday I’ve had an ‘oh, shit, where has that time gone?!’ moment. I know others have it, one of my best friends is always in shock of her age. I was always pretty chill about it. When my sister was 26, 5 years ago, she seemed so old and so far away. I’m not where I saw her at. Not that it was a goal to be like that, it’s just strange that you reach unreachable goals and you realise it’s all completely different.

I joked all day that I was turning ‘the big 2.6.’ only because it’s not a 21st, it’s not a 30th, it’s 26. Closer to 30 than 20 but still a bit in limbo. And I feel like that’s me to a T. A bit in limbo.

Have I done enough? I don’t know. From my prospective, no, but others may say yes. But at the end of the day it’s a no. Nope. You have a lot more in you. (This is a pep talk, encase you haven’t caught on. I literally only have right this second.)

When I came back from my road trip I tried and still am trying ways to get out of this slump. It’s specifically a slump about not travelling. It put into prospective how much I want to change things in my life. What I want to do to feel how I like to feel. Feelings are important to me, I have a lot of them.. Probably the same amount as you.. Just knocking my ego back down. Unfortunately it’s brought up how much I can’t live how I want or live any life that’s progressed from where I am now without money. You can’t go down any path any more without a lot of money, it’s a dead end. Gone are the days where you could have a ‘normal job’ but still be able to buy a house. You need a lot of money.

Money.

I hate money. I don’t think it’s just people without it that hate it. Let me know?

There’s too much of a system for me. I’m not a system person. It’s fine if you don’t mind it, follow what was set out for us all. Personally though, I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to rent or buy a house. I’m not afraid of hard work to get there, that’s not it. I just want something different. As my Mum said, I live to play. (Which doesn’t mean no work! Writing, blogging, being artistic is play. Work can be play.)

There’s things about being an Adult (notice the capital A. I’ll be an adult – little a) that I don’t like and I’m resentful that you have no choice. Yes that sounds millennial but yes I’m just being honest.

All the time people talk about being mortgage free. Mortgage free everything. That’s the goal for Adults. Mortgage free. The dream. Cool. I don’t want a mortgage or to rent. To me it sounds like rent (and waste your money and have no life outside of that and not enough money to save to buy a place (been there)) or buy (and put a ridiculous amount of money into a property that you’ll be paying off for the rest of your life while watching programs about how to be mortgage free (haven’t been there but sounds yucky and seems impossible with England today)). Then this is the part where my depression likes to jump in like ‘Surprise motherfucker!’ from Dexter.

This is where my thoughts are unconventional. Why not live in a van? Mortgage free. Live on land you can’t build on with it. Don’t follow the same route as others. Someone once told me I couldn’t make my own route, that proper bummed me out. Not because I believed her but because she didn’t believe in me.

All I can conclude as this water is getting cold is that I have to save. That’s all I can do right now. I want a plan of some sort but that’s not possible. You hate money but you need it. Just save.

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Ways I’m trying to combat the holiday blues

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To stop me moping, to stop the phrase ‘a week ago I was in such and such place’ and in all my efforts to stay positive, I’ve written a list for myself to beat the holiday blues. And oh wow they’re hitting me all over at the moment. They’ve got boxing gloves on and aren’t playing fair.

I’ve never really got them before, in the past I was always excited to come home to something. I always missed something. My last two week holiday was without my boyfriend so I missed him and didn’t get the blues when I did return. This time? Nothing, except I missed my little brother and my comfort blanket. I could have kept on going. No offence to any friends or family reading this (and also yes, I have a comfort blanket and I’m not ashamed to say it) (I wouldn’t have missed it if I remembered to pack it, I forgot, I wasn’t being an ‘adult’ and left it behind like my Mum thought.)

I’ve been back less than a week and I am irritable, restless and oh dear my first shift back at work was difficult. I just kept thinking ‘but I just don’t want to do this’ and then another voice in my head was saying ‘but you know you have to’, and the reply was ‘yeah, but I don’t think you understand. I really don’t want to’. Oh, and I am very stubborn, side note. I just know travelling is for me and once you get a taste like I did it’s so difficult to not want more. It’s like an addiction. Like, I’m okay and happy, but if I get a thought about travelling something in my body changes and I get restless sitting at my desk job. Now’s not the time to ponder jobs though.

I’m allowing myself to bask in missing holiday in a positive way. In a way that makes me want to save up for my next one. But for someone who dabbles in depression, I say like it’s enjoyable, I want to help nip this negative feeling in the bud. I also want to prevent going off into my own la la land, day dreaming about my last trip or future trips. I want to snap back to the present.

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Here’s what I’ve been trying/planning to do;

  • continue to style and tidy my bedroom. Woah, well that sounds like the most boring thing a 25 year old could do. Nah, I love being creative with my surroundings.
  • blogging. I need to make sure that when I get an interesting thought I write it down and try to expand on it. I did this for the whole two weeks while I was travelling, which is the most consistent I’ve ever been with this blog, and it felt fucking amazing.
  • listen to music. Really listen. It’s a good way to keep you in the present in general, and it’s uplifting. My mind likes to do something where a thought pops up, let’s say its negative about being back, and rather accept the thought for what it is and move on with my life, I stop… and stare into space… while the feeling and thought consumes me… and I haven’t even realised it.
  • but if the thought’s too strong I have to write it down. No matter what I’m originally doing. Let them go, you know.
  • gym! Exercise! I think a big thing about the holiday blues is that you feel like you’re in limbo. Before the trip it was like everything in your life is building up to that holiday and that’s your focus. You come back with that achieved but with no direction. The thing with regularly exercising is that it puts that stability back. You feel like there’s a goal even though there isn’t a specific goal. So while I’m straightening my brain and looking for my next focus, exercise can pretend to be it.
  • be singular. Be selfish. To a certain extent. I don’t mean be a bitch, fob everyone off, sit in bed and eat chocolate. More like.. You’re feeling low, be careful with yourself. Be best friends with yourself and treat yourself good. And eat chocolate.
  • be social and chill with pals.
  • remember there’s still things to do with the past trip! You haven’t printed the photos yet and I’m sure there’s so many thoughts to come from it. I love a ponder and thought. It’s not completely over.

This is what I’ve figured out so far. Mainly create!! Even if it’s from a negative feeling, like right now with this post. I’ve been doing my bedroom, blogging and listening to music. Haven’t exercised yet but I’m pretty tempted to put my running shoes on right now actually. I just finished work though, and I wake up at 4:15am on work days. I know I’m definitely going to the gym in the week at least. Let’s be realistic now, I just opened a Easter egg.

I’m getting there. I’m hopeful.

 

 

 

14 days, 9 postcards, 4 countries

It’s unknowingly become a tradition to send my Mum the most ridiculous postcards I can find on my travels. It started when I lived in Malta and she came to visit. While she was with me I was secretly finding the worst postcards and sending them to England for when she’s back home. They said silly things like ‘we just went to the pub,’ nothing more, and on the front a picture of stray cats.

Postcards are awful in general, you can find the most weirdest, most wonderful pictures and if you’re really lucky they’ll be bleached by the sun and bending. Just think of how many people have handled it! It’s truly a dying art form.

What makes them even more special is that this whole trip we were in contact with my parents by whatsapp and when you think you can’t get enough of me – 9 postcards come through the door. I’m never leaving you, parents.

In the past you would literally write what you had been up to on holiday, but obviously they already knew through being in contact and my blog. So there was no ‘Hello!!!! I’m having a great time! Yesterday we drove and today we will drive and tomorrow we will probably drive too! Miss you x’. You will see what we actually wrote.

Well, without further deliberation, I present my postcard project! Sent from 4 countries in 14 days.

The postcards

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Where I wrote it

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What I wrote

what I wrote

Posting it

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And they all arrived home.

The locations? In order;

Bruges, Belgium

Liege, Belgium

Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

Frankfurt, Germany

Cologne, Germany

Dusseldorf, Germany

Leeuwarden, The Netherlands

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Maastricht, The Netherlands

Our last few moments in Europe and some random notes

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After it being a bugger to pack all the beer we bought, when they offered us a trolley for our luggage for the ferry we jumped at it. Thank goodness, we had just been on a long road trip and walked miles every day but carrying all our luggage onto the ferry after dropping off our rental car was the biggest work out of all. Oh, what now? It isn’t a trolley to take onto the ferry ourselves, but goes to a separate part of the boat? We watched it zoom away, a bit shocked. Oh. Great. All those beers are going to smash then.

Spoiler alert: none of them smashed, I worried the whole trip for no reason. Luckily my travel sickness pills had kicked in and therefore my anxiety was fought off with drowsiness.
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The English side of passport control had a joke with James, mine was very serious though. James asked if they had been busy and he laughed and said ‘yeah, with French school kids, they’re a threat to English society.’

It wasn’t much of a joke for us though, we were surrounded on the ferry. I literally wrote in my notebook ‘they’re everywhere and they must be breading in the bathroom because when you think that’s it more appear out of no where.’ Hundreds and thousands and millions. We chose to sit near the teenagers rather than the children. They couldn’t sit still though, just imagine a time lapse of James and I sitting on the same sofa for the whole trip and a blur of teenagers buzzing all around us. You know you’re getting old when you just don’t move.

They started to sing Shape Of You by Ed Sheeran, like we didn’t hear that enough on every radio in England, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and The Netherlands. We actually managed to get radio 1 when we were driving around Calais in the morning. We planned to go to a little village half an hour out, somehow ended up 50 minutes away from where we wanted to go, so turned back.

In Germany the host on the radio kept saying ‘Castle On The Grill’ and we couldn’t stop laughing. It’s okay to laugh at it, we probably sounded like we were saying other words when we were saying words in their language.

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I can now talk about something that happened on the very first day. Not even that, 20 minutes into France. We scratched the alloy of our rental car. James was getting used to driving on the other side of the road and clipped the curb. 20 minutes in. The rental company employee said something about any scratch on the alloy would loose our 500 euro deposit. Fuck! This was our start to the trip.

We decided to ignore it, not let it bog us down and I never mentioned it on my blog. It was a big annoyance that pissed us off but had to put it down to a ‘you live and you learn’ experience, otherwise it would have plagued our minds.

We looked into getting it fixed because it’ll be cheaper than 500 euros but that didn’t work out. We also snapped the brand new aerial when we were in Amsterdam, the car park beam was lower than we thought. It got to the point when we would just hysterically laugh about it.

Anyway, getting the full deposit back, baby! The man was like ‘oh, it’s only a little scratch, no problem’ – I said that in a French accent. James said he couldn’t stop shaking the mans hand and practically skipped back to me.

Not much else happened on our last day so I present to you:

Things I Never Wrote In A Blog Post, With No Context At All, In Fact I’m Not Even Sure What Some Of Them Mean.

Emily ‘Have you got the money pouch?’
James ‘I gave it to you! When we were in Barcelona!’
*We never went to Barcelona*

Whenever James sees a shoe buffer in a hotel we stay in he buffs up his trainers.

Smells like holiday.

They still advertise cigarettes in Europe. Also prostitutes? Or strip clubs? Something about 100 girls, 11 till 5. No idea what that’s about.

In the supermarkets it’s always the men stacking shelves and the women at the till.

James ‘So people don’t think we’re lazy taking the lift I’m going to walk out with a limp.’
*Actually walks out with a limp*

*Sitting in our hotel in Dunkirk, looking at what’s nearby on the internet*
James ‘Bruges is nearby. It’s closer than Canterbury.’

Things I’m Bad At

  • turning on strange showers
  • what floor or room number we are
  • helping as passenger driver
  • remembering what car we fired and where we parked it
  • where I’ve put things
  • cities and crowds

Things I’m Good At

  • map reading
  • not getting stressed
  • looking after money
  • at seeing far in the distance
  • at remembering to check we have all our belongings

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Back to normality, back to driving on the left side of the road, back to saving a bird from James’s conservatory as soon as we got back? No, I don’t think it’s ever normal, what I am I thinking.

Arriving back to the beginning of our road trip

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I know I’m dramatic and playful but this doesn’t change the fact that I feel like Harriet The Spy, for reals. It was a joke a few posts ago but I feel like I have embodied her. I have my go to’s with fitting in, I have my distractions, I have my innocence, then BAM I’m writing everything you’re saying, stranger. Yeah, you, in Amsterdam telling your boyfriend he could sleep with a prostitute but you wasn’t going to pay, I was there listening but looking like I was just simply having anxiety in a world of my own (both are true actually). Getting a little dramatic now. Let’s calm it down… and just call me a spy, scrap the Harriet part for the sake of people that haven’t seen that wonderful film.

Fun fact of the day, I wanted to be a spy when I was younger. That was the dream.

Confused? Cool. Here’s me fitting in on our European adventure, when in reality all sorts of wonderful mysteries are going on in my head and notebook.

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Our last long drive started with James driving the wrong side of the road out of a car park and nearly crashing. First time it’s happened this trip. Three hour drive to Dunkirk today, through three countries. The Netherlands, Belgium then into France. Luckily I found my travel sickness bands for this last part and the ferry tomorrow.

We haven’t got anything special planned for today.  Stupid statement seeing as we never have anything planned, what I mean if that it’s a budget hotel kind of night and eating peanut butter sandwiches while watching TV. Way to spend a last night, right? I agree.

This morning we explored Valkenburg a little. I loved the location of the hotel but I couldn’t handle how trippy the floor made me feel. It’s one of two things – it is a haunted hotel and specifically our room was infested with demons, or the floor boards were at an angle. One of the two. Valkenburg has the only castle on a hill in The Netherlands, and it was destroyed by their own King to stop the French from invading it.

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A funny memory just came to me on this drive, of when my family and I drove around America. I’m not sure of my age but I think I was below ten years old. I’m the youngest, then there’s my brother who is two years older and my sister who is five years older. In the front there were three seats which was/is so strange, being used to there being a gear stick instead. So Mum and Dad made it a punishment to sit in between them anytime us kids would fight.

Problem with this plan is that I loved that seat, the gimmick hadn’t worn off for me. So there’s my parents threatening us with essentially a naughty step and while it worked for my siblings I was always all for it! Now, I have a four year old brother and two year old nephew and I can imagine the pain my parents had to go through when I was eager Emily practically begging to sit in between them.

It would work on them though, they would scream bloody murder.

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We’ve arrived at the beginning. We spent our first night in Dunkirk and now our last night. Currently parked up at Dunkirk beach at 3:28pm. Bit different weather to the first time and really Dunkirk isn’t really much without sun. It’s a bank holiday too, which we didn’t know (knew it was for England). So nothing at all is open. I googled it and kept on reading about shopping hours in general and it said that many places don’t open on Monday mornings anyway! Lucky buggers! Remember when England wouldn’t be open on bank holidays, boxing day or new years day and you had to stay in with family? And now we have a choice whether we should stay in with family or go shopping at ASDA.

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In a very reminiscent mood right now. Of this trip and in general. Childhood memories and the last two weeks are flying at me left, right and centre.

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Watching a French family play together in the distance. I feel such a heavy calmness on my chest. It’s probably the beer I cracked open as soon as we parked up to be honest.

Mixed with actual happiness, of course.

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Visiting The Netherlands, not Holland

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I see people walk by with travel guides in their hands, reading up places and on missions to go find them. I once thought I so wanted to be like them. They’re the people who are organised, the ones that have diary’s and calendars and use all the pretty stationary you see in shops. In the past I’ve tried, because they look so well put together. But I’m not. I’m not well put together, for a start I often forget to brush my hair, I loose things (often my mind), I’m a day dreamer and I’m currently wearing a jumper that I tie dyed myself. Not exactly the image you have in your brain of a lady with her diary/travel guide. Secondly, I would forget to pick up the travel guide up because.. I find them boring.. Is that bad?! Have I offended someone? I love travelling and always have, but I don’t really want to know all the details about the place, it doesn’t bother me. Just a little bit of info is cool. I’ll quite happily just walk about and hope for the best.

I think it must be all about what you deem important, because I don’t forget to pick up and write in my travel diary if I have a thought. Maybe it depends on what you’re ‘searching’ for. They want to learn about the place, and I? Probably learn what these places do to me.

This relates to the first title of this road trip – do you free more or less free knowing the world is our oyster? There isn’t a wrong or right way to travel, you can literally do what you want and that includes nothing. You can do nothing. Once that thought is placed on me I find I do more of what I want.

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We finally saw a windmill everyone, finally saw one! Didn’t realise you had to go searching for them, I pictured them being everywhere and hard to dodge. The one we found was right next to where we stayed our first night in The Netherlands, oops. We were going that way to Maastricht anyway. And conclusion after kicking up a fuss (but didn’t actually at all)?… It looked just like windmills from England. It was a windmill. Just in another country. But we did it!

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Nothing quite like having a wee when you’re at bursting point, then celebrating with a beer.

The market stool man was saying how much he likes London and we were saying how much we like The Netherlands – so we are going to swap places. He said ‘I’m going to live in Bromley!’

No one is ever that excited for Bromley.

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Like I was saying yesterday about Amsterdam being larger than life and full of personality, which takes away mine – here I felt complete in who I am, my personality is in full force. Not that I was shoving it in peoples faces. People here are still quirky, it’s not a quiet city, there’s a bookshop in a church, that says it all. I suppose, for me, Amsterdam is like Camden and Maastricht is like Brighton. That’s the best way I can explain it.

Isn’t it a shame that I have to describe places with places I know. The more I’ll travel it might turn into ‘Winklebottom was very much like Gravy Boat Mountain’, not ‘Amsterdam is like Camden, init!’

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Maastricht is a winner, in case you couldn’t tell. I loved it. It’s just one of those places that was perfect, couldn’t find a fault other than it’s an expensive city. Oh and someone working in the church told us not to go through a certain door because ‘you don’t fit’. Now that could have been a translation problem but he did an awkward giggle after, as if he felt bad saying it. Bit weird. If it is what he meant, that’s two days in a row we felt like we didn’t ‘fit in’. A hotel and a church. It didn’t take away our experience, it’s just a shrug of the shoulders and walk away with our beard, backpack and leggings. James wearing the leggings, me wearing a fake beard and one arm each in the backpack, of course. That might be why.

An English couple we met, who moved out 7 months ago, explained that the top part of The Netherlands is called Holland, and that’s the part reclaimed from the sea. The bottom part, which seems posh, is The Netherlands and are apparently against the top of the country? Suppose like northerners and southerners in England. He said they’re meant to be nicer in the south of The Netherlands (where we are). Well, I much preferred it to Amsterdam, if that’s anything to account for?

I haven’t checked whether this is true, just took his word for it.

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We stayed half an hour away from Maastricht in a town called Valkenburg, which again just blew our little minds. I love how many times we have booked places to stay and they’ve been amazing, all by coincidence. And did we fit in? No clue, didn’t check. They have a statue of a modern day, naked lady so surely it’s not a problem that my leggings are see through at the back (didn’t actually know and James didn’t think to tell me till we went to bed, and yet I wore them the next day too) (I’m really not a travel guide/diary lady am I?).

A coach load of older people turned up at our hotel, drove all the way from Manchester – 14 hours it took. So strange to go from not hearing a lot of English in forever to all these northern accents moaning about how many stairs there are. The Europeans love stairs. We learnt this day one, just like they are learning. Then late at night as I was writing my post for yesterday we heard English football chanting. How peculiar, we said to each other and put on our raincoats and hats, popped in our pipe, whipped out our magnifying glass and went out to investigate.

A bunch of English lads were jumping around the street in football kits. They just got off a party bus and were singing ‘Winter Wonderland’. Of course the Mancs were outside watching in disgust. Probably the whole town really, doesn’t seem like a party town – though does have 3 casinos (unless we walked past the same one 3 times – no travel guide see). Brought the biggest grin to James’s face though. We wanted to start jumping around with them, I’m sure they would have accepted it. Then we were discussing how my Nan loves football and would have gone off and joined them and she’ll turn into their Queen.

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James’s quotes of the day;

‘You can tell we are in a rich area – the state on the fashion’
*as someone cycles past in heels*

‘Look! An English flag, lets eat there!’

*Man has his head in the stocks and joking with his family*
Emily: ‘Throw some rotton fruit at him!’
James: ‘Shit on his face!’

Day 11 on the road and we reached Amsterdam

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It’s a city where everyone is larger than life. Everyone is standing out. Everyone is fucked. Everyone is loud and busy and excited. Everyone is radiating light. Everyone is someone.

And it was so too much for me. Jesus Christ, it was insane.

But we will get there in a moment.

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On the out skirts of Amsterdam I saw what I consider a real Mum. She was on a bike, her daughter on the seat behind her and on the front, ladies and gentlemen, in the front basket was her daughters bike sticking out. Round of applause.

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We visited Anne Franks house. It was very moving. I had a heavy heart all the way through and had to fight back tears. It’s a completely immersive experience. No outside world exists other than the importance of that period of time and the people living in that annex. We are taught facts and figures, and yeah it’s still shocking but it never hits home. Visiting somewhere like this makes it real. My generation weren’t directly effected by WWII, it’s almost just a story to us. It’s different when you see it, there was such a weight on me and I don’t know how to explain it better than that.

We got very lucky with tickets, which seems like such a stupid thing to talk about straight after writing that. A lady wanted a refund for hers bought online and only because we were right next to her she offered us first. We walked past later on in the day and there were long queues. Still worth the wait.

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We came outside Anne Franks house and into the hustle and bustle of the crowds, so anxiety was high along with the heaviness on my shoulders. Shuffled along the streets, me barely seeing anything being a short arse, Anne still on my mind, turned a few corners and there they were, the ladies in lingerie in the windows and men barking at them, literally. This is when I had a panic attack. You can see how crazy that is, right? The extremes.

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Call me naive, but.. literally call me naive. You can. You really should. I forgot Amsterdam was a city. You see the photos, you hear the stories, and I imagined a beautiful place. I didn’t imagine how dirty the streets are, how many people there would be, how it’s pretty difficult to get away from the smell of cannabis and how chaotic. It was chaotic. James said it’s never been that busy any time he visited, and I’m just not good in crowds. It’s not only that I get extremely anxious, I kept loosing James, I get paranoid about my belongings being stolen and on top of it all, I get angry. I am the type of person to rudely shout ‘excuse me’ or ‘thank you’, while they’re skipping around loving life all up in my face. I can’t help it though.

It irritates me that I don’t enjoy crowds. I want to, I just can’t. I get overwhelmed and confused and it consumes me.

Some people get a buzz from a crowd and some people get a buzz from nature. I am the latter. I get a thrill from calmness. Big personalities, whether its crowds or a place, don’t bring out my personality. I find it too much pressure to be like everyone else and instead regress.

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Anyway, I read online that there was a lot of Americans and English over for Kings Day, and this was the Saturday after and therefore was mental. Technical term. I can’t write it off though. It can’t always be that littered or busy, if you heard from other people it was like that no one would go. And then it’ll be empty so everyone would go. Then no one would go again. I’m assuming, maybe not. No one has ever said to me, ‘Oh, Amsterdam? Really want to go there? Very busy. You’ll probably see buckets of pickles left on the street.’

I know things bothered me that wouldn’t have if there weren’t crowds. I don’t really care about it smelling like cannabis, I don’t, and people can be loud and crazy, it’s just when things are too much it’s too much, you know? Then everything becomes a problem.

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I didn’t take many photos, and when we left to stay at our hotel an hour away I didn’t take anymore at all. I felt crappy and was just being nice to myself. The hotel was lovely though, very posh, we felt judged for sure but rather try to fit in we just embraced how we looked and I strutted around bra-less rather than folding my arms over myself. Had a relaxing stroll around the grounds in the golden hour (and like I said earlier, I do get a buzz being in nature) and had a quick swim at 10:30 at night. Also learnt I love a sauna.

Only two quotes from James today. There were probably loads but I couldn’t hear him in the noise of Amsterdam.

Me: ‘I was hoping for a bath to relax in.’
James: ‘Well, you’ve got a swimming pool.’

‘I don’t think this is the kind of place where you can walk through the lobby with a pack of biscuits in your hand.’