Having A Coke With You

"is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne
or being sick to my stomach on the Travesera de Gracia in Barcelona
partly because in your orange shirt you look like a better happier St. Sebastian
partly because of the fluorescent orange tulips around the birches
partly because of the secrecy our smiles take on before people and statuary"

- Frank O'Hara


If there's one thing I've learned while traveling, it's that who you travel with is just as important (if not even more so) as where you go and what you see. It makes all the difference in the world to be traveling around with someone who shares your travel style, who can withstand your "quirks", who's interested in seeing the same things you are and who revels in the same simple pleasures as you do...or even better, somebody who can teach you to open your eyes and heart to something new. Basically, go find yourself a friend like Sylwia to travel with and you'll be good to go ;)

Forever Young

Briefly back in Toronto. Can't believe that the past month has come and gone and I did all the things that I did. 3 countries, 11 cities in the past four weeks and countless of new friends made along the way. How do I even begin to put into words all that I've seen, done, and felt? I need to capture all those little moments that put me at my most vulnerable and, on the flip side, that made me feel like I was invincible. I don't want any of it to escape my memory.

It feels like a dream...just a couple of days ago I was wandering the graffiti-filled streets of Berlin, drinking bier while watching the sunrise on a rooftop...

 Without a wrinkle in today
Cuz there is no tomorrow
Just some picture perfect day
To last a whole lifetime

And it never ends
Cuz all we have to do is hit rewind
So lets just stay in the moment, smoke some weed,
Drink some wine,
Reminisce, talk some shit
Forever young is in your mind.

21 jahre mauerfall

I should be writing an essay right now but then I just tuned into the news for a quick second and realized that today is the 21st anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and as usual, it took me back to the time that I visited that oh-so-historic wall two summers ago. I wrote a blog post about this last year as well and here I am writing about it again. There's something about this moment in history that gets at me every time. Any time I visit a museum, watch TV, or browse a newspaper, if there's something about the Berlin Wall, you can bet that I'll spend time visiting that exhibit, watching that show, or reading that article. There's something infinitely alluring about the history behind it...maybe it's my disbelief in the incredible scope and depth of oppression experienced in East Germany at the time...or the story of the triumph of the human spirit against that very oppression...or perhaps it's that electrifying collective effervescence felt around the world the night and days after the wall fell, and that even I can still feel just by watching videos from that time....

Whatever it is, I'm drawn to this particular moment in history like a magnet...but I won't linger and write more. Last year's post captured my feelings exactly...


20 jahre mauerfall

As the world celebrates the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, that momentous event in history that spurred the collapse of communism and the demise of the Cold War, I can't help but reminisce on the few days that I spent in Berlin during this summer. I've been staring at my photos all day...

Walking around the Brandenburg Gate, the East Side Gallery, or Checkpoint Charlie, I remember trying to imagine what it must have felt like to live during those times. Picturing this massive wall just running all throughout the was surreal and as hard as I tried, I just couldn't fathom it.

A couple of my friends and I took a trip down to the Checkpoint Charlie Museum and we spent half the day just reading all these clippings and staring at these old artifacts and photos depicting the times and how people tried so hard to escape. I'll never forget this one plan where a West German man attached two or three suitcases together in which his East German girlfriend would hide as he tried to smuggle her across the border. I remember standing there thinking, "are you for real?!" think that someone would even have to think of something like that  is just beyond me.

Then there was the time we were walking on the East German side of the Brandenburg Gate and there was this little area.. I forget what it's called now, but it was a little kind of memorial for the many people who tried to cross the borders but failed. A bunch of white crosses lined up one after another with the names of so many ill-fated young East Germans.

At the East Side Gallery, Sylwia (who you see below) and I walked the 1.3 km strip of the remaining wall staring at the artwork of the many artists who painted it after it had fallen. So many symbols of peace and hope and change. So much color and life and optimism...I couldn't help but think, "how many people died here? this very spot where a rosy painting of the world lies? Who was shot here? What guard stood in the way of his fellow man?". I remember being overtaken by this overwhelming  feeling of disbelief that I was standing in front of the Iron Curtain...unable to fully know or even understand what went on during that time but still incredibly moved by it all...

I was born in October 1989, a month before the fall. I grew up in Canada for the majority of my life, the True North strong and free. I've never known communism or division or oppression. I've never had to go through the struggles and sufferings of that day. I've never known fear...never had so great a longing to escape something or somewhere. And so I look at these photos of the people who have lived through it all and I listen to their stories, I'm just filled with so much awe and I'm simply moved by all that they have endured...

Brandenburg Gate Berlin Wall's East Side Gallery