If you donâ€™t know, Iâ€™m an avid photographer. Iâ€™ve always been passionate about art (even though I suck at drawing) and I use my dSLR to express myself creatively while experimenting with different photography styles. Iâ€™ve been clicking the shutter button for a little over four years, and every single time I do so, I feel exhilarated.
If youâ€™ve seen most of my work, youâ€™ll know that my photos are heavily edited. I spend an extensive amount of time adding my own unique creative touch. I donâ€™t just take photos, I create my own scene for people to experience. Prior to and during this process, thereâ€™s no planning. Iâ€™ll figure out a general idea of how the final product should look, then Iâ€™ll just mess around and press random buttons on Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. Itâ€™s not strategic at all. Most of the time I end up having to pivot and the final photo looks completely different from what was intended. But at the end of the day, I make sure a beautiful scene is created.
This week started off with me super hyped up to download Ab-Soulâ€™s album, These Days. Even though we spent a good portion of the week relaxing in Rotterdam, I didnâ€™t get a chance to listen to the album in its entirety properly.
But I canâ€™t spend my whole trip just listening to musicâ€” I had to go out and marvel at Rotterdamâ€™s beauty. The serene cityâ€™s skyscrapers stand as architectural wonders that tower among the joyful residents, and its many bridges connect one lush green pasture to the next. There is a countless number of cyclists on the roads, and the city actively promotes alternative transportation methodsâ€” with designated cycling lanes and traffic lights, as well as electric car charging stations, Rotterdam is obviously quite green.
We initially planned to stay in Rotterdam for three nights, but we extended our stay by an additional three nights to truly take in the culture of the city. Our hostel was excellent (Hostel Ani & Haaiken, if youâ€™re ever in town), the people were lovely, the sights were all within walking distance, and the food was cheap so we figured we might as well stay for a bit longer. What really won me over, however, was the people of the city and the relaxing atmosphere. Our hostelâ€™s facility were amazing, and it had a very alterantive/hipster feel to it, with the owners being super accommodating and helpful. Fellow residents of Hostel Ani & Haaiken were easy to talk to and extremely friendly.
We met some great travellers in Rotterdam, including some Canadiansâ€” one from Calgary and another from Vancouver, both spending their summer travelling solo; an Australian who was pursuing freelance wedding photography in Rotterdam; a London native that was cycling from Rotterdam to Brussels (roughly 70km) for a travelling reunion; and a Singaporean student who was backpacking across Europe for his summer vacation. Running into fellow Canadians was great, and we all had good times over Indian food and had a beer at a local Biergarten (where we got a â€œfreeâ€ souvenir).
While in Rotterdam, we checked out the outdoor shopping area, Koopgroot (pronounced â€œkoup groutâ€), which was a pleasure to walk through and was home to many familiar brands, such as Adidas, Foot Locker, etc.; a tasty chip stand part of the local cuisine, Baram Lage, where they sell fries topped with mayo and/or curry and/or ketchup; and a large gnome. We also took multiple daily and nightly strolls to the Erasmus bridge, cube home, and surrounding areas. Oh, and we were lucky enough to find a Canadian flag, so of course a selfie was taken! I also learnt that Sprite in Holland is pronounced Schprite and if you say it the former way, people will not understand you.
As I praise Rotterdam for what it contains, another word of praise must be given to its locationâ€” it is only a 45 minute train (16 euro each way) to Amsterdam. Amsterdam was awesome. We had waffles and donuts.
We all genuinely loved Rotterdam and Amsterdam, but it was time to move on to the next destination. Last night, after enjoying the Biergarten and debating between venturing off to Berlin or Munich, we decided to go to Barcelona for a week. We found the perfect hostel for our stay, and were going to book the train the following morning. Everything was perfectly planned at the last minute. I immediately sent out the above tweet, and played 0 to 100 by Aubrey Graham until I went to sleep.
With all of our bags packed and loaded on our backs, we walked over to the train station. Our eyes were full of excitement, and my camera was ready to photograph everything that Barcelona had to offer. When we walked into Rotterdam Centraal, we were all prepped for our 11 hour tripâ€” but when we asked about reserving seats, the kind lady behind the ticket counter said there were no seats available for the 11 hour trip. Eff. How could this have happened? No reservations available until after June 30th. Wow. Talk about prematurely tweeting. 0 to 100? More like the car stalled. I shamefully deleted my tweet and we sadly sat down on a bench and just aimlessly stared at our planned itinerary.
But, as life has taught me many times, nothing goes according to planâ€¦ even when you donâ€™t have a plan. So we decided to pivot and purchase a ticket to Brussels. The ticket was purchased, the hostel was booked, and the Rotterdam Centraal to Brussel Nord train was boarded all within two hours of being told we couldnâ€™t go from Rotterdam Centraal to Barcelona Sant.
So here I am, in my Brussels hostel, listening to These Days by Ab-Soul. It all started with us wanting to go to Munich or Frankfurt or Berlin (Jermaine Cole was born in Frankfurt, woo #ColeWorld), but a lack of hostel availability made us choose Barcelona. And now, weâ€™re en route to a city where their mascot is publicly urinating. I guess we should have planned much more in advanceâ€” but given that we had no plan, Iâ€™m elated that things turned out this way.
When it comes to art, you can never say youâ€™re good enoughâ€” consistent practice and improvement is required. To me, a peak doesnâ€™t exist. With photography, youâ€™re constantly on a journey being engaged in the art and improving your skill. I wonder how the photos from this leg of the trip will turn out.