WordPress decided to publish my blank draft last week when I tried to delete it, therefore I apologize for the tease! If you are a subscriber, you gotta sneak peek of the post title and I’m sure you’ve been mulling over the mystery of it: “Black Leather Jacket.” What does it mean?! Well, you’ll soon find out. As you may have noticed, I’ve been M.I.A. for more than a couple weeks now. Life has been kinda hectic: traveling, recovering, surgery, and recovering.. AGAIN! Haha.. Alright, let’s get to it!
This was my first time across the pond to London and Amsterdam! My boyfriend, Jaimie, and I had a grand time! One of our first stops was at Green Park. We popped a squat in one of their lawn chairs under a tree and watched people walk, jog, congregate, read, etc. This gentleman below to the right was reading and smoking, which seemed odd, however I did notice quite a few smokers in Europe. We did find out at dusk, at a different park, that these chairs are “rentals,” however didn’t see any signage. So, you’ve been warned!
Weather was perfect. ‘Twas so peaceful!
Parks, parks, and more parks! Nature everywhere…
We discovered an interesting tree along the walk path so we decided to explore it!
Sir James Barrie Peter Pan statue in the Italian Gardens
On our way to our Air BnB in Kensington, I noticed a row of Doctor Strange-esque buildings, better known as the Sanctums. Not really, but I’m sure these could’ve been inspirational architecture pieces for the comics and/or films. A lot of buildings are shotgun style with multiple levels as different residences. I did occasionally peer down into people’s makeshift patios, which were quite cute with AstroTurf, hammocks, potty pads for their pets.
I saw a poster that read: “H-Town & Friends,” which reminded me of my hometown because the locals have given it the nickname: “H-Town,” so I felt right at home. Come to find out this poster was promoting an upcoming concert for an R&B band called H-Town. They’re from the States. Houston, Texas to be exact, so now we know what the “H” stands for. Haha! Guess my hometown isn’t so original. Just like Cin City. Cincinnati didn’t get the memo about Vegas.
I’ve always found the European red telephone booth the ultimate Kodak moment as a tourist, however in this day of age with mobile phones and telephone booths becoming obsolete aka non-functional, but still around for nostalgic purposes. I found it humorous that the phone booth that we passed regularly to catch the Tube (the subway to you bloody Yanks) was literally inoperable because the receiver was missing and there were exposed wires just dangling about.
Perspective has multiple meanings: literally and figuratively. The European architecture was something to be in awe of with each step we took around the city. I truly believe travel enriches your character, cleanses your soul, and opens your heart for new opportunities and adventures! It feels nice, yet terrifying, to be reminded that we are yet a speck in the universe.
Unfortunately, Big Ben was under construction so.. I was pretty bummed because I specifically wore my red, white, blue and black cut film t-shirt of Big Ben just for this outing! Oh well.. Things happen. Jaimie and I enjoyed strolling across the London bridge (unsure if this is the “official” London Bridge or just a random London Bridge, haha). We decided to have lunch at a burger joint Jaimie had eaten at a couple years ago during his first trip to London. It did not disappoint! It was nicely shaded, ideal for people watching, and with a waterfront view to boot!
The Eye was massive! It rotated/moved like molasses. We did not go up on it because it seemed overpriced to wait in a wicked long line and slowly go around. It was an interesting piece in the London skyline because it could be seen all around at different sights. If you look closely, in the last photo in the Buckingham Palace collage, you can see The Eye, vaguely, in the background behind the trees!
The Natural History Museum was classically grand! The exhibits were spread out, which helped move along traffic because every museum we went to was packed! Jaimie told me later that all the London museums were free, so it made sense. We ducked into a museum whenever it started raining for a couple hours. It worked out. If you have cable and the Travel Channel, I highly recommend checking out the show called Mysteries at the Museum. It’s one of my favorite educational shows! I could watch it for hours, they do have marathons on the weekends, which is amazing!
Oh! I just had to get a photo with the Easter Island head sculpture at the British Museum (or better known as the Moai) because I love the movie Night at the Museum. The scene where the Moai calls Ben Stiller’s character a Dum Dum and requests he bring him some Gum Gum, cracks me up!
Besides museums, another must for Jaimie is to go to as many comic shops as possible. We went to Gosh Comics multiple times, highly recommend! At Forbidden Planet, we noticed a Stranger Things “Visions from the Upside Down” Art Book signing poster as we were descending the stairs to the lower level. This was such a coincidence because Jaimie is one of the 200 artists featured in the book! If we had only known, we could’ve planned our trip better and he could’ve signed some copies while we were there! Feel free to follow Jaimie on Instagram here, purchase some of his bad-ass art here, and listen to his comic book podcast called Comics Rule Everything Around Me (C.R.E.A.M.) here.
This Barber Shop definitely caught my attention with their rad neon light: “You’re so f*cking Soho.” I mean, I would get my ears lowered here! There were multiple signs that sparkled, which I initially thought were digital screens flashing, however.. they were simple circular sequins pinned to a board moving in the breeze! Clever, inexpensive, and effective advertising design. Jaimie and I shared a celebratory kiss on a Double Decker bus because I happily checked riding in one off my Bucket List. We sat up top, in the front row! I was worried that maybe riding in a double decker was going to be overrated like it was when we rode in a San Franciscan trolley last year, but it wasn’t! I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the sights and traveling at the same time. Luckily, the Oyster card can be used for both the tube and the bus. Aw, look at us.. Sweetly snogging at Snog dessert parlor. I don’t scream for ice cream.. I swing for ice cream!
The moment you’ve been waiting for! I’ve kept you in anticipation long enough.. The meaning behind this post’s title: “Black Leather Jacket” is because every other European I saw wore a.. Black leather jacket! It became a game to me, similar to when I see a dog in public, I stop mid-sentence and say: “Dog!” But during this trip, I changed it up and whispered: “Leather jacket” to Jaimie every two seconds. When we saw this Leather Garments shop, I just had to take a photo of it and share it with y’all.
Camden Market is partially underground, it was originally a set of horse stalls; now turned market shops. Oh! The public toilets in London.. Fun fact: you gotta pay approximately 40 pence to use, no change given, so I recommend collecting all the change ya can for such pit stops.
We had lunch at a very busy, happenin’, and delicious joint called: Dirty Vegan. We lucked out and got a high top table in the middle of the open restaurant so we were able to watch people outside walking by. At one of the many shops, I snapped a photo of some Punky Brewster style apparel that reminded me of something I would totally wear when I was a kid.
Jaimie’s favorite photo of me.. thus far, haha.. I felt one with the people.. finally.. I just had to represent my love of Elton John in London with my RocketMan t-shirt (highly recommend the movie, by the way). This was the first time during the entire trip that I felt appropriately dressed (considering other places we went, the locals wore plain or patterned clothing). I’m sure I felt more comfortable there because the people were mostly tourists and they had graphic tees on too. I like to think some Europeans like graphic tees too! Maybe? Who knows.. If any readers are European, please comment and let me know! I just gotta know..
We ate lunch on the second floor of Ichibuns overlooking rainy Chinatown in Soho London. Packaged magazines covered the walls in a detailed, stylized pattern. Anime figurines lined the top shelves around the dining room. My go to Asian menu items are: edamame, sushi, and hot (temperature, not spicy) sake. It was lovely to feel a gentle, misty, cool breeze through the open windows while sipping some steaming sake on a rainy day.
I noticed the lanterns align almost perfectly across the first and second photos after I arranged them in the tiled gallery style. How cool is that?! “We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.” -Bob Ross. You’re so right, Bob, thank you for your creative wisdom!
Next stop: Amsterdam! We decided to fly instead of taking a train simply because time was of the essence (1hr flight vs a several hour train ride) and the cost was pretty much the same. The Amsterdam Schiphol airport had these cool bicycle booths sprinkled throughout their food court. I did find something odd; right smack dab in the middle of the food court was a.. Yotel. It does makes sense to be close to food for immediate room service. Maybe it’s simply take-away. Uber Eats? Door Dash? Haha..
Fun fact: no balloons allowed in the airport or tube. I’m sure there’s an interesting story behind how this rule came about. Maybe a clown ruined IT for the rest of us? “We all float down here” eerily echos from the tube stairwell.
I found the tube in Amsterdam to be slower paced than the busy, bustling city of London (I have multiple theories, haha, as I’m sure you do too). I noticed a lot of interesting and creative details while we waited. The metallic insect cut outs crawling along the wall and ceiling. Oh, how the sunlight shone on and through them! The outdoor semi-domed skylight was a nice touch for admiring clouds, sun, birds flying, planes soaring, etc while being sheltered from the elements. I was surprised it was so clean and not speckled with bird poop. Oh! The fold-able bicycle. This blew my mind! But.. it makes sense because the Dutch do love their bicycles, which leads me to the last photo: the phallic and bulging bicycle seat.
The Albert Cuyp Market is the largest open air market in Europe! Highly recommend! We just had to get an XXL stroopwafel because they’re a Dutch delicacy! Oh, yes, just trust me on this one, place one over your hot coffee cup (tea or chocolate); let the hot beverage warm the stroopwafel, flip it and eat it. You’ll thank me later. Check out these fashionable bum bags! You can’t say f*nny packs here, it’s a naughty word. Yep, click here to find out why. Adorable little botanical jellyfish. Adorably dope, Italian, sweepeh kitteh on a bench. I mean.. c’mon! Too adorable.
We had the best lunch at Sonny’s Falafel and Vlaamse Frites! Highly recommend. Cute little mom and pop joint where the staff gives ya a hard time with a smile. Makes ya feel just like family. I tried my best to read and speak Dutch when I ordered. The lady stifled a laugh, I asked if I pronounced word(s) incorrectly, she quickly said: “Close enough.” We both chuckled. Jaimie was sitting at a table nearby watching our backpacks. When our orders were ready, the lady shouted at Jaimie to come and fix his falafel because he needed to work too. She winked at me. He was apprehensive because he didn’t want to leave our stuff unattended. She shook her head at him and confidently said with a wave: “Your stuff is fine, come fix your food.” Fun fact: the Dutch serve mayonnaise with their chips (fries to you Yanks)! There was a mother and young son having lunch at the table next to us. He was about seven or eight years old. After they finished eating, he decided to sit on his mom’s lap. The lady who served us shouted: “Aww, wittle baby on his mummy’s lap!” So precious. I enjoyed their sense of humor and banter.
The National Flower of the Netherlands is the Tulip. The National Footwear of the Netherlands is the Clog. Not really, haha..
We stayed in a little, quiet, quaint city called Weesp (pronounced Veesp). Cute little shops along the water, bicyclists everywhere, and the friendliest vibes. The best I can describe Weesp is like a European Mayberry. Our Air BnB was unbelievably breathtaking! I would live there in a heartbeat. It was above a flower shop with a gorgeous floor to ceiling window, but I don’t know if I’d call it a “window” per se. Just admire the view. Oh, how I miss it!
Museumplein Park near Van Gogh Museum, paint brush chandelier, the Smartest car, interesting angles, skylights, staircases, and a fancy tunnel
We visited the Red Light District! I didn’t know much about the Red Light District before we went, which is usually how I prefer to go into things, haha.. How Jaimie and I mutually described it in one word: B-A-N-A-N-A-S! I highly suggest clicking on the hyperlink to learn more about the RLD, simply because you’ll understand why I’m being incredibly vague and why there aren’t a lot of photos.. even though this was my favorite part of the trip!
In the fourth photo, top middle open window, you can see a pair of barefeet dangling out. I’m sure that person is higher than the third story! What do you think? I’ll bet ol’ Mary Jane had too many brownies.
We did manage to squeeze in some museum time.. at a naughty yet natural themed: Sex Museum. I only took one photo because I thought it’d be funny if I had dish platters like these; I would serve them at a party, as my guests devoured the food and revealed the illustrations, I’d find their reactions priceless and giggle like a school girl!
Jaimie and I discovered a tour group.. in the Red Light District.. (yeah, I know), which we found extremely odd, so of course it peaked our interest and we just had to stop and listen for a minute. The tour guide was speaking in front of a barber shop. A plump cat sat in the open doorway. The tour guide stated that feral cats are treated very well in Amsterdam because they help exterminate river rats, which is why they’re so fat and well fed. Store owners welcome them into their businesses. Kind of a quid pro quo deal. As she was speaking, she leaned down to pet the cat and it angrily smacked her hand several times. She quickly withdrew her hand and laughed it off in front of her tour group. I asked: “Did it scratch ya?!” She replied: “Oh, no!” But I noticed she quickly put her hand in her pocket, so I’m sure it did get her. That smug cat confidently stalked out of that barber shop, into the street, and down an alley like it owned the Red Light District. Man, that alley cat had style! I knew I had to get an alley photo in here somewhere! An alley cat in an alley, oh, yes! Score.
I hope the next time you’re planning a trip, especially international, that you’ll take some extra time and effort to learn, appreciate and adapt to their customs! Who knows? Maybe you’ll pick up how to speak Dutch easily and be fluent in no time! Please follow me on Instagram or Facebook to see more photos and videos of our trip! I’d love to hear about any/all of your international travels! I’m sure the other readers would too!