Amsterdam was the perfect city to start my year of traveling Europe. I landed on January 15th, 2018, almost exactly 10 years to the day from the first time I arrived in the city for my study abroad program. It felt right to begin here again. A nice easing in to my year of new places and experiences.
The first day it poured. I was still recovering from the flu and I was jet-lagged. Excellent combination right? But my trip was finally beginning! So running on a little adrenaline I still went out to explore and get my bearings, sans-camera though. The city glistened under the rain, and was just as magical as I remembered. After getting Asian food (because it was close to my hostel and I was so tired), I managed to keep myself up until 9pm and then promptly fell asleep.
Luck was on my side the second day and it was beautifully blue skied. I spent the day wandering the winding streets, crossing canal bridges, avoiding getting run over by bicycles and, of course, taking pictures. As the afternoon crept towards evening and I was thinking that I should head to my one chosen museum of the day, my camera battery died. It was the perfect reminder to always have my backup batteries on me, and a great excuse to finally visit the Rembrandt House Museum.
As a history and art lover I really enjoyed the museum. To be able to walk in the spaces that the artist lived and worked in was such a cool experience. It gave some insight to the artist himself and the society that he was a part of. I also really loved seeing how a seventeenth century kitchen was stocked and laid out. That's the food history nerd in me showing through there.
After stopping at my hostel for a new battery, I headed out to re-find a bar I had passed earlier that day. It was the only place I had seen a sign for Brand beer. That was the kind of beer on tap at the local bar in Well, the Netherlands, where I had studied abroad. I succeeded in finding the bar and proceeded to have a tomato soup and a delicious Sylvester Brand beer. During my study abroad we knew the 2 available beers only as "the dark" or "the light" beer, so I was happy to finally put an actual name to the dark beer. It did not disappoint my memory, and it was the best way to end my little stay in the city I had loved a decade ago.
The next day I walked to the train station and said goodbye to Amsterdam. Over the next 6 hours I slowly watched the Dutch countryside turn into the German countryside and prepared for the first new city of my trip.
Next up: Berlin. Stay tuned.
On January 14th of this year I boarded a plane bound for Europe, carrying nothing but my camera bag, a small suitcase and no return ticket. Just over a month before I had packed up my life and moved out of DC where I had been living for the past 4 years. I'm so glad I got to spend the time I did in DC but it was time for a new city and a new direction. Before that happens though my things will stay in storage while I travel for a year.
I am spending time getting to know places, their cultures and the people who call those places home. I will be staying for long stretches in each country I choose, and getting the chance to work on some self-assigned photography projects at the same time. Pushing my storytelling, my aesthetics and my craft as a whole.
The beginning of the trip, though, was 2 weeks of purely sightseeing. After landing in the familiar city of Amsterdam I headed to Germany, somewhere new for me, to explore the cities of Berlin, Wittenberg, Hannover, Frankfurt, and Heidelberg. From there it was on to Oslo to start the Norway leg of my trip. I will be spending 2 months here in Norway documenting the people that I meet, the landscapes, the architecture, and the food. After that I will continue on to the UK, Ireland, and the Czech Republic before heading back to the States just in time for Christmas.
So stay tuned for lots of new posts as I document my adventures this year!
Bye bye DC! Last picture as I left town.
My send off at the airport from Mom and Dad.
To say the least, 2016 has been a rough year for the world on many fronts. Throughout this crazy year though, I was lucky enough to be witness to a lot of love. Five different friends, from all different parts of my life got married this year. As 2016 comes to a close, I want to look back on the good as I prepare for a new year.
Happy New Year everyone, and here's to love.
My sister got engaged! Almost 2 years ago, haha. I'm a little slow with my posts, I know. She and her fiancé will be married on January 21, 2017. So before they are no longer engaged, and are actually married, I wanted to post the engagement pictures I took of them last fall. Matt was loving enough to put up with Kristine and me with our photography antics. Here is the result!
And now for everyone's entertainment, some bloopers!
The day after the close of the Democratic National Convention, which had left me tired and feeling more pessimistic than usual, I learned that Hillary was having a rally fairly close to where I was staying with my sister. So I hopped on the train and went. It was a great experience. Here were the supporters I had been missing during the convention. Here was a real cross section of the US. And also, here was lots of hopeful, positive energy. I needed it.
Other than the fact that I had my knitting in my purse and the security guards would not let them in, which I don't blame them for (I left my knitting with organizers just outside the door), I had no trouble getting in. I most enjoyed the people-watching. There was such a diverse turnout. So many women, lots of young girls. People of all religions, colors, orientations and backgrounds. The melting pot of America, I loved it. I took as many pictures of the audience as I could, finding wonderful subjects. It was also a neat experience to get to see Hillary and Tim, and hear them speak.
While in Philly for the DNC I turned my lens on the city and it's people. There was yoga on the lawn in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and guys singing on the street. There was a reading of the Declaration of Independence. The interpreter who read the Declaration was great, got the small crowd involved and gave context. Plus it was free, everyone should go and hear it. Philly was in the middle of an impressive heat wave and so there were a lot of people, both young and old, finding relief in different fountains.
I chased the light and the perfect moment.
After the RNC in Cleveland I thought the DNC in Philly would be a breeze. It turned out to be much harder on me than the RNC though. A breeze would have been nice for a start. It was amazingly hot and more importantly incredibly humid. Just stepping outside got beads of sweat rolling down your temples, let alone trying to walk around the city and photograph. The weather drained any energy you might have had.
Then there were the protesters. In Cleveland there had been a variety, from left and right and everything in between. There seemed to be only one kind in Philly: Bernie or Bust folks. And they were spewing just as much hate towards Hillary as the right had in Cleveland. Most were advocating for Bernie or another third party candidate. It was even harder to be around this than even the Trump supporters in Cleveland, when these protesters in Philly generally shared similar world views as me, or were in other words liberally minded as well.
I know they are angry with a broken system, which is amazingly valid, but they seemed to be forgetting every US History class that covered an election. Since, for all intents and purposes, we do have a two party system, any time a third party candidate has played a part it has undermined the side of the political spectrum they fall on. You can't fix a flawed system from the top down, and definitely not in one or two election cycles. I wish these people would take their passion to the local, then state, then federal level. Electing officials from the ground up. Voting for a third party candidate this presidential election, or by simply not voting at all, will hand this election to Trump. And that quite frankly terrifies me. I'm not even saying Hillary is the "lesser of two evils" as so many have. I think she is a hugely qualified public servant, who has always worked for women's rights which I hold quite dear, and I think her world views are similar to mine. Whereas Trump could not be further away from those views.
I had meant to simply document the convention, and not give much of my personal political views, but I felt this gave context to my photos. That is all my opinions are there for, context, not to start a debate. By the end of the convention I had turned my camera on the city of Philly instead of the protesters, because I simply didn't have the energy, both physical and mental, to deal with them. My next post will be those photos of the city and it's people.
The RNC came to Cleveland, so I went home to document. I was fearful, along with the majority of Cleveland and perhaps the nation, that this could turn disastrous and violent. With the history of violence at Trump rallies, and the ever more heated battle of this election cycle it seemed too easy for a spark to ignite in Cleveland. I am happy to report though that Cleveland still stands and the protests there were, on the whole, peaceful.
Experiencing a convention in my hometown was fascinating. I loved seeing people being able to voice their opinions and grievances, and it seemed that protesters hailed from all parts of the political spectrum. There were Trump supporters, gun supporters, women's rights groups, Muslim activists, anarchists, anti-Trump protesters, anti-police brutality protesters, pro-capitalist supports, even satirical protesters with signs like "God Hates Signs." There were people from all walks of life, and they all converged on Public Square.
Also with a hugely significant presence were the media, and law enforcement. Of all the people out in downtown Cleveland, about a third were protesters and the general public, and then easily a third were the media, and the last third was law enforcement.
Overall, while there was a lot of anger from all different sides, there seemed to be more calls for love, understanding and acceptance than anything else. While there were a lot of protests, there was also a lot of great human things going on. People playing ping pong on Public Square. A man making bubbles which turned adults into smiling wide-eyed children-at-heart. A band playing on the side of the street. A woman hugging police officers. A dance troupe which performed on the grass with huge bird puppets flying in the wind.
I came away from the week feeling surprisingly positive. I had seen our first amendment rights in action, and it had been peaceful. I felt proud of Cleveland and all the people who protested, especially for those who took a stand for love.
Last month the Republican National Convention was held in my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. This election cycle has been so extreme, polarizing and heated that I didn't feel I could pass up the opportunity to go and document the convention. So home I went.
There, on the first day of the convention, I met another woman who had traveled back to her hometown of Cleveland, the wonderful Rose Hamid. Rose was one of the first to speak on the Speakers Platform in Public Square. I wish that everyone could listen to her and what she has to say. She is eloquent, articulate, calm and optimistic. She has a glowing smile, an easy laugh, and even while discussing difficult topics she sees the good in humanity. Rose is a Muslim woman who grew up in Cleveland and now lives in North Carolina. She is an advocate for creating personal connections across all parts of society; across party affiliations, across religions, across backgrounds. Her hope is that through these connections we can work together, that we must see the humanity in everyone.
In the two weeks that I spent documenting the Republican and Democratic national conventions, I felt that Rose had the best and most helpful approach and message. There is a lot of hate and anger right now. I am infinitely grateful that I live in a country that allows people to openly protest, and by exercising this right people are being truly and deeply American. Protests and public demonstrations are hugely important to bring issues to the forefront and help to bring about change. That change requires personal connections, and for people from all sides to come together to do a great deal of work to figure out a way forward. Only by being able to talk, debate, and listen will we be able to move forward.
Rose did just this. She spent both weeks seeking to speak one-on-one to people. To break the ice and present an offering of goodwill she handed out thousands of rose pens that read her message: "Salam, I come in Peace."
To read her take on the conventions please check out her blog here: http://www.mrsrosehamid.com/huffington-post-whats-a-muslim-to-do-after-attending-the-rnc-and-dnc/
You can also see a bit of her talking to reporters after her speech here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/politics-government/article90279662.html
During the final game of the NBA Championship this year I was on an airplane to DC on my way back from a wedding, so I couldn't watch what was going on. (My dad texted me commentary of the last few minutes once I landed.) I'm not sure I would have been able to sit and watch it anyway, the stakes were so high and I was so nervous.
Now, basketball is not my sport. I'm a baseball fan (Go Tribe!) and enjoy soccer and tennis. But that doesn't matter because I am a Clevelander. And any Cleveland team is my team. And any win by a Cleveland team is a win for my city.
After going 52 years without any championships the city literally swelled with pride, and jubilation. I know that I was among many Clevelanders spread out over the country who hopped in their cars, or caught trains and planes to get back to our city for the celebration of a lifetime. Over a million people showed up for the Victory Parade in downtown Cleveland. It was an incredible sight, and such an amazing thing to be a part of. People of every age, skin color, religion and background, smiles on every face, Cavs and Cleveland apparel on every person, and people climbing on anything in sight to get a view of the players who finally brought us a trophy. I cannot express enough how amazing it was to be surrounded by such an outpouring of positive energy. I am beyond happy that I got to be a part of it.
kaitlin k walsh
Adventurer armed with a camera.