I too, recently read this article by the NY Times and it’s made me think a lot about irony lately. Particularly since I’ve been travelling in so many countries recently where the same sense of irony seemingly doesn’t exist. And it’s kind of refreshing! Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think there is anything wrong with a harkening back to the past. I love vintage clothing, the comeback of the LP etc. Not so sure about Steampunk, though. What I’m more referring to is the unabashed ability of people in other countries to wear what they want, listen to whatever music they want, despite the “cheese” level and be happy with it. If someone is still rockin’ the Scorpions (which, oh my, do they ever in Southeast Asia AND Europe), they aren’t making fun of it. They genuinely LOVE the Scorpions and they don’t care who knows it! Bad example? No, I am not encouraging a Scorpions comeback! And I’m sure there is a different system of conformity in these places. In fact, I know there is.
I find North American culture, increasingly focused on calling each other out, taking everyone and everything down a notch, treating everything as though: “everything has already been done, or that serious commitment to any belief will eventually be subsumed by an opposing belief, rendering the first laughable at best and contemptible at worst.” I can only wonder if this is to be followed by a period where everyone gets extremely REAL; the antithesis of the hipster generation; extreme and unabashed realness. Gone are the ironic t-shirts and choosing what band you like based on a Pitchfork review. I am going to tell you exactly what I think about something, from ME, choose clothing based in extreme ME-ness.
David Foster Wallace talked about this in an essay about TV. He said: “The new rebels might be the ones willing to risk the yawn, the rolled eyes, the cool smile, the nudged ribs, the parody of gifted ironists, the “How banal.” Accusations of sentimentality, melodrama. Credulity. Willingness to be suckered by a world of lurkers and starers who fear gaze and ridicule above imprisonment without law.” (DFW-E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction). One can only hope.


There have been a spate of media flourishes recently on how we are living with the collective malaise of irony.  What is irony? Says Christy Wampole in the New York Times it’s the hipster archetype.  You’ve seen the hipsters, the ones haunting the cool but not slick coffee shop, dressed in the perfectly artsy tee, with that self mocking picture of justin beeber on the front, and a suitably fair trade scarf from a wool coop in Peru around their neck.  There’s the understated nostalgia, the hearkening back to another age that we actually haven’t lived in and a sort of disembodied connection to the present.  Wampole examines the “hipster” further and says that it’s easy to mock especially when you fall in that category yourself, it’s examining ourselves that’s the real work.

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The Netherlands…


We are loving the Netherlands on this trip.  Easily my favourite country I’ve been to in my limited experience in Europe, thus far. We spent 3 days in Amsterdam when we first arrived but they were jet lagged days and just long enough to make us want to stay longer.  So, although we were happy to zip off to London, we agreed that we wanted to spend more time in the Netherlands and decided to go to Rotterdam on the way back.

Rotterdam was lovely.  It was a totally different from Amsterdam, having been completely flattened during the war, and only a few of the old buildings remain.  In their place is a new, modern approach to architecture and while you still have the post war traditional apartments, you also have all sorts of interesting “art pieces” for buildings, all over the city.  With a prominent University, Rotterdam has a young, up and coming vibe and construction is everywhere.  EVERYWHERE.  Modern malls and shopping areas fill the centre.  You have all the same shops in Amsterdam, but they just happen to be in a building from the 1600’s.  We were surprised to find that the H&M we just went to (one of about 10 in the city) used to be a SS Recruitment Office during the war.  This photo was done by an amazing master of Photoshop who juxtaposed modern images of Amsterdam with images during the War and liberation.  I love this photo collection, particularly after walking around these very streets.  On the left of the image you have modern Amsterdam just right of the Dam Square.  On the right of the photo you have what is now the current H&M flagship store:
Ghosts of war - Amsterdam; SS recruitment office Dam Square

Here is another arresting image, with a story of a mass shooting at the end of the war.  The bravery of the resistance during WWII always amazes

me:Ghosts of war - Amsterdam; Young heroes, Dam Square shooting
The historical consultant who created these images is Jo Hedwig Teeuwiss and you can find more here.

So after a week in Rotterdam, and a day trip to beautiful Delft, we decided to return to Amsterdam and that’s where we are now.  We spent our days walking.  About 6 hours a day, we explore different sections of the city and canals, stop for a coffee, tea or beer and some writing in a cafe.  We don’t spend much money as we cook our dinners or buy a falafel.  Sometimes we just sit on a bench on a canal and look at different canal flats that we imagine buying.  For less than the price of a flat back home, we can buy a small apartment in Amsterdam and there are no restrictions on foreigners owning property here.  You don’t get a visa to stay here long-term necessarily, but you can still own a flat.  It’s our dream to live here one day…






We are trying to extend our stay here in Amsterdam by another couple of days and then we’ll probably head into Germany. We have a booking in Berlin from December 3rd, for an apartment which we rented for a month! I’m very excited to become a temporary visitor of a city I love so much and to spend Xmas and New Years in such a festive place! Before we get to Berlin, we may visit Koln/Cologne and Munich! The Christmas Markets are starting and I love them. 

For now, we are enjoying each day as it comes, keeping warm, getting sore feet and getting fat! I seriously have to cut down my consumption of, well, EVERYTHING.  I think I’ve gained 10 pounds since we arrived.  Oliebollen, cheese, stroopwafels, beer.  The list goes on. Ah well, at least we are walking a lot and I’m saving up vices for my New Years’ Resolutions! Until next time!


Travel Update…

Okay, so I haven’t been posting much lately…the trip has literally been a whirlwind so far.  In fact, it hasn’t been until the last week that I’ve finally been able to catch up on some sleep and start moving a bit slower.  Not a bad thing, it’s just that so far, we arrived in Amsterdam on the 29th of October, spent three nights there and took a 13 hour or so bus ride to London, where we spent 11 nights.  The three nights in Amsterdam were running around and sightseeing the whole time, sometimes in the pouring rain and then London was just one big, magnificient blur.  We were outside all day from morning till night, exploring huge areas each day and walking almost all day.  It was great.  We decided to cut back on museums and art galleries for London, despite the fact that there are so many wonderful ones, so we could concentrate more on exploring outdoors.  I love me a good museum but you’re pretty much writing off a big chunk of your day once you go inside one.  That and I knew we would have plenty more opportunity to hit some up on the continent.  We did go to the Tate Modern though and that was great, despite my aversion to a lot of modern art. I realized I am more a classic oil painting kind of gal rather than a twisted metal and wood installation kind.  But I digress.  Here is some of what made up our days in London:

  • IMG_3145
  • Beautiful markets and amazing food: We went to a lot of markets.  Spitalfields, Borough, Greenwich, Columbia flower market, Brick Lane, Camden Lock and more.  I think I loved the markets the best out of all the things I saw in London.  For real! The quality of produce and the displays were so beautiful and full of colour.  Some of the markets were more food oriented and others were a bit of everything, locally handmade goods, t-shirts, and shoes.  Best of all is you can get a really filling huge vegetarian lunch at some of them for under 5 pounds! This is unheard of in our farmers markets back home where you will spend at least $10 CAD.  Crowded and chaotic and kind of insane.  Loved the markets.





  • Parks: The parks in London are also fantastic and a good way to take a break from the crazy crowds some other areas might have.  We went to quite a few but highlights included Hamstead Heath and Highgate Cemetery/Wicklow Park.  Both were so beautiful in that classical British way that makes me think of Jane Austen novels!

Without taking all day, I can’t really post photos of all the places I’ve been, but some of the other things we got up to included:

  • Trafalgar Square
  • Covent Garden and a Jamie Oliver restaurant
  • Shoreditch pubs and lounges
  • Camden High Street Charity Shops and Camden Lock
  • Oxford Street and Soho
  • Animal Collective at the Roundhouse
  • Jack the Ripper Tour
  • Picadilly Circus
  • Portobello Road and Notting Hill
  • Thames Walking
  • Greenwich and Greenwich Park (Greenwich Mean Time)
  • Brixton and a great pizza place with friends
  • lots of pubs, ales and pints of various kinds
  • lots of walking and wandering
  • and more!

Not bad for 10 days.  No wonder we were so tired once we hit Rotterdam.  Which is where we are now! More updates soon, petals!