Europe On Film
A 14-day journey though 5 different countries with my favorite travel partner, Eunice. Shot entirely on 35mm film.
Our journey first began at 10:00 am in the bright afternoon of Phoenix, Arizona. Eunice and I somehow managed to pack an entire two weeks worth of clothes and goods into a tiny carry-on sized suitcase. We wanted to be as minimalistic as possible with our luggage because we understand how the fast-paced European cities typically run. And instead of making our way to the PHX airport for our first flight to Reykjavik -- we took an alternative route. The LAX airport. Yeah, an extra 5.5 - 6 hours worth of driving.
BUT GUESS WHAT? It's a hell of a lot cheaper, so we opted for the blow.
Hours of "My Favorite Murder" and a variety of "Hippo Campus" songs later... we finally made it outside the infamously busy LAX airport. Already exhausted from absolutely nothing, we filled up on coffee and tea for the long overnight journey to our first destination: Iceland. WOOT WOOT.
Now, before any of us get excited, Eunice and I only had a thirteen-hour layover on the tiny island; no adventurous road-trip extravaganzas like last time. We wanted to treat ourselves after the many hours of hard travel so desperately, so we opted for a light soak in the BLUE LAGOON! Perhaps one of my most favorite places on the Earth, even when swollen with tourists. How can you not fall in love with the hot, milky waters and free Prosecco?
Our experience at the Blue Lagoon only lasted for a short while, though. We had to grab a $95 15-minute cab ride (yeah, Iceland is fucking expensive) back to the airport's lounge to crash for the night for our 6:00 am flight to Stockholm, Sweden. It indeed wouldn't have been worth it to rent an Air -BnB for 9 hours, so why not take another blow to save a buck? We must've been too slow when arriving back to our gate, as every other overnight passenger swiped all of best chairs. Oh -- and SBARROS WAS CLOSED! WE JUST REALLY WANTED PIZZA. WHY, ICELAND. WHY.
Brushing our teeth in the bathroom sink, washing our face with Shrek toilettes, and using our scarves as blankets.
I'm beyond impressed with Sweden, truly. It's charmed as one of Europe's cleanest cities that so perfectly sits atop Lake Mälaren, looking proudly to the Baltic Sea to the east through the Stockholm archipelago. Her grand public buildings, palaces, rich cultural history and museums tell her 700-year-old history beautifully. It is the capital with an exciting taste for architecture, museums, and castles that date back to the 13th century.
A profound memory Eunice and I share together was roaming the grand Museum of Modern Art; starting for hours upon the glorious works of art and photography masterpieces from some of our favorite artists. Sally Mann, anyone? One piece that struck out to me the most was a 14-minute black and white experimental film entitled, "Meshes of the Afternoon" dated back to the early 40's. I highly encourage my readers to watch this, as it's quite impressive. Creepy, artistic, and wildly strange. My favorite.
Later that evening, we roamed Stockholm's streets for a bite to eat. Our Air-BnB host recommended this fantastic authentic Swedish restaurant just up the road from where we stayed, but the hosts were unnecessarily rude. Many employees made snarky, passive-aggressive remarks about how young we were. A few minutes of being rudely battered was enough -- we left and found an all-American bar with a super "hip" waiter, Simon. Simon loved to talk with his stoic American accent by saying things like "kick-ass" twenty times over. Certainly one of the better places we went to eat on our journey.
Running on little to no sleep, we watched clips of "That's So Raven" before we hit the hay for yet another flight the next morning to Munich. Oh, the good 'ole times.
"First thing we're doing is grabbing a god damn brat and beer," we murmured to ourselves as we groggily get off the plane in Munich. Conversation pieces in German rip through the busy city streets. I was bombarded by the smell of freshly baked pretzels and pigeon shit spotted among the Cathedral sidewalks.
My last visit in Germany was spent crammed inside my auntie's cozy basement in a village neatly tucked in the Bavarian countryside. To be honest, roaming the city feels remarkably different than what I'm generally used to. It's an acquired taste for my heritage, honestly. I much prefer Germany's open range and large mountainscapes. My uncles had always spoken poorly of large metropolitan areas and never took me or my father around such "catastrophic" when we traveled from the U.S to visit. It wasn't until this year that I had been to one of the most populated European cities. My heart longed for my oma's chocolate cake served with tea on her back porch overlooking green pastures. I thought of the days spent sprinting across Uncle Rodiger's vineyard's in France and sipping on red wine while perched his roof. Munich is beautiful but different than the Germany I know. It's like any 'ole modern city you'd see in the U.S. Pretty much what any city is like these days. They're all the same.
Perhaps I'm spoiled?
But BOY OH BOY did we love our hostel. Eunice and I spent quite a few hours in the hipster-esque lounge downstairs sipping on apple ciders while watching re-runs of "New Girl." We'd shamelessly spend our nights hidden in a darkly lit corner to edit wedding photos among the crowded bar scene. Clusters of foreign men would attempt to lure us in for a night at the club, to which we respectfully declined to continue our Netflix endeavors. It was, in essence, the most explicit depiction of an extroverted introvert.
The following day completely rejuvenated my soul. The two of us, including our freshly acquired friend, Anette, road a two-hour train ride from Munich to Bavaria's rural lands. We searched for the infamous Neuschwanstein castle under cloudy, windy skies. After trekking the mountain to view one of the most beautiful architectural wonders in the world, we followed the trail up a rocky cliffside to soak in the views once more -- free from tourists. Some overly populated places are just worth it. And this site is one of them. I first visited this landmark over five years ago with my father and uncle Charles. It still is seemingly magical as it was many moons ago.
Tomorrow, we head to Paris.
Oh, Paris. Where to begin.
For those who don't know me and my abnormal obsession for classic French film and literature, understand that my excitement for Paris reached exponentially high levels. I mean, what's not to love? Richly roasted cappuccinos, freshly baked croissants, wandering the cobblestone streets coated in French song, the bookstores and macaron shops, and the sky-high cathedrals? The magic, love, the romance, and inspiration. Almost every artist in written history explored to the city to become more romanticly attuned. It's what it's most known for, right? Maybe?
I don't know. As soon I took my first step off the metro in the city, I was hit with a smelly wall of piss. Every street as lined with piles of garbage and pet (or human?) feces. Crime rates fueled by multiple facets held complete control over the cities once magical vibe. My expectations were solely based off the overly suggestive romantic films that lure us into thinking that cities are perpetually clean and beautiful. They're not. I loved Paris... and I hated Paris.
Regardless of the cities personality, Eunice and I had the best time. We managed to see Hippo Campus at a sketchy venue one moonlight sundown and ate some of the best french onion soup I've ever put in my mouth. The Lourve was even more fantastical than my dreams could ever wonder, and my stomach dropped when I saw the Eiffel Tower for the first time. I also wore my ever-so Parisian black turtleneck for the occasion.
The two of us girls goofed off at every chance we could. We hardly take ourselves seriously, which is both a blessing and a curse. But, mostly a blessing. We filled our phone's GB space with stupid snapchats and laughter filled the air with every step we took around the city. On a brisk afternoon, while sipping a deliciously crisp cider, we wrote postcards to fellow loved ones back home; reminiscing on our adventures we hardly thought would ever come true.
Ireland is celebrated worldwide. I can hardly muster up the words to tell you how in love I am with this magical country.
This place has always called to me. The sweeping landscapes of vibrant green speckled with whites from happy sheep…music that makes my insides swell with joy! No other place can entirely pacify my soul the way this land can. Ireland feels like a dear old friend…an old friend who greets me with warmth and cheer no matter what the weather is, who serves up the best food and tea ever to cross my lips. An old friend who makes me feel at home so far away from home.
Alas, between the copious amounts of bloody mary shots, oysters, Irish coffee, mugs of Gunniess, and exciting nightlife -- I found myself falling in love by the oceanside. No matter how "touristy" the Cliffs of Moher are, it felt like home & smells like a bit of heaven on earth. Beside the heavy gusts of wind that nearly threw us to the ground, 'round every turn is yet another new reason to smile. I wish I were there right now.
During our hiking expedition through Howth the following day, a delightful tour guide took us through a mear 7-mile trek through the hilly lands of Eastern Ireland. His love for folktale and mythical creatures came in handy, singing a song and telling us the true story of Leprechauns in such desolated fair lands. It was the most prominent cherry-on-top to the end of our European journey.