Unintentional Hipster

I just like wearing women's jeans, not eating animal products and writing shit nobody cares about. It was an accident, I swear

Archive for the tag “travel”

A Diary Entry-Lauterbrunne, Switzerland.

So it’s been a fairly long time since I’ve actually sat down and written anything on here, cause for quite a substantial period of time I simply haven’t had access to a computer where I could sit down and write stuff about stuff. I wholly intend upon finishing off all my, ‘What I learnt in…’ blogs, as I’ve been keeping a fairly detailed journal but for now it’s been a bit too hectic for such a thing.

Instead, I’m going to share one of my diary entries that I made whilst sitting on a rock over a freshwater river, in a tiny town in the Swiss Alps called Lauterbrunnen-I liked this entry and I felt that it was worth sharing this, or just that I wanted to share it (even if it wasn’t worth sharing. Unedited except for grammatical errors.

Like I said, this was initially written only for me to read. So it’s not clean and classy or whatever. But maybe you’ll enjoy a little bit of insight into my mindset 🙂

Aight: Go!

 

05/09/2012 – Lauterbrunnen

It’s so strange to be sitting somewhere, looking at something that you’ve only ever seen photographs of. It’s even stranger to try and appreciate the fact that most of thse pictures aren’t just pictures, they’re real things. Does that make sense? In my head it does…

I’m looking at these awesome, snow-capped mountains with their peaks pushing through the bottoms of the clouds with ease and trying to process that they are actually real. This is reality, not a photograph.

Toorrow, for the first time in my life, I will touch snow.

Tomorrow, for the first time in my life, I may just get to touch a cloud.
That’s like touching the sky man…or as close as I may ever come.

One can find it terribly difficult not to be wholly overcome by the sheer beauty of it all.  So why need one even bother trying?

The concept of, “I can’t do this, it’s too hard/too big of a job/too unknown,” seems to become far beyond untrue underneath the grandess of these mountains.
For some reason, I seem to have lost what little poetic touch that I have…Oh well. Man, I’m sitting on a rock, which for all intents and purposes, seems to be simply hovering over a roaring, fresh, springwater river (straight from the peak of the mountains! Should I…Should I drink it?).
In this instance, I feel like eloquence in a journal matters sweet, sweet fuck all.

I think I’m starting to get better now. Not in a just, “I’m not sad all the time anymore,” sort of way, but actually better. Better than I was before the sadness even started.

I’m still terribly confused and befuddled by so, so many things…but I feel okay.
Okay is good…right? Yeah.

It’s been, in truth, a really, really, really fucking long time since I thought so many things were possible for me.
A stable career.
A healthy lifestyle.
Best friends who you genuinely mean “BFFL!” with.
And last, but not least, a lover.

Everything most people could associate with a ‘normal’ life.
And though this mightn’t seem a big deal to most people I know, ever since I was fourteen years old, the concept of having anything that even mildly resembled a normal life seemed alien to me.

I was just too…different, I suppose.
Too everything that isn’t ‘normal.’

Sitting here, what I’ve just realized is that I’m far more different than I ever actually thought I was before.
But that’s cool, baby. I can dig it, y’know?

Cause there’s a lot to dig about being different. Why do you think the word is used to strongly around jazz and more forward-pushing styles of hip-hop and the like?

You dig it because it’s ‘fresh,’ it’s ‘cool.’ But these qualities are only ‘dug’ cause the things that make it fresh and cool reside in difference of it all. Difference is groovy, man.

I spend too much time focused on limitations and what things aren’t. Of course, an apple can’t be an orange and you’re only going to be disappointed if you expect it to be.
Do not, do not, DO NOT even get me started on the staring contests I’ve had with a block of tofu, just begging it to somehow become a sirloin…
…Where’s Dobby when you need him?

A limitation isn’t a bad thing, you know?
Especially the ones that don’t exist. Those are just perfect for what I’m talking about here.

I can only run this fast.
              Right now.
I can only write this well.
              Right now.
I can only love this much.
              Right now.

So much time…so much stuff to do.

But don’t ever forget Toby, my dear sweet boy, that scheduling a little bit of nothing can be a terribly good thing. It’s an important thing to do!

Toby Fredkin

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What I Learned in Lagos: Part 1

Oh my lordy lordy lord.

Oh how I wish I could describe to you all how many different parts of my body are just aching with…let’s for the moment call it love? Not like…pretty woman love, love fo’ Lagos! Ohh it’s pretty there! Oh the girls are pretty! Oh the drinks are cheap!

Ohh my head…

I learned a lot of very, very strange things in Lagos. I call these strange because given the circumstances of where I was combined with what some distilled potatoes did to me shouldn’t really have resulted in me learning much…at all. But I’ve picked up some really valuable stuff in Lagos and I’m trying to put it into words. I’m still pretty yucky from last night, but I want to start whilst it’s fresh!

The first part of what I learned in Lagos is how crazy similar the concepts of confrontation and rejection actually are. Sometimes you are enacting stringent amounts of rejection by embracing confrontation and when you embrace confrontation, you’re rejecting something else.

Okay, I’ll rewind a little bit. I know I repeat myself a little bit but the reason that I’m travelling is to help me overcome some big and little problems, some involving questions of the self and some involving questions of others.

I spent almost my entire time in Lagos confronting one of my huge problems by adamently rejecting it (“The Octopus in the Corner”). I went out, I partied, I danced like a twit, I giggled at nothing, I slept on the beach. I did absolutely nothing and then I went out and went absolutely crazy.

I’m still not really sure if it worked or not. But it addressed a really interesting idea about the psychology or philosophy (probably neither, I just want to sound educated and stuff…) of how we behave in our lives. Everything that really reflects any major importance in our life is either a confrontation or a rejection. But in every confrontation, there is a rejection. I don’t think I’m making sense…

I thought about this because I was thinking over how I need to learn to say, “no.” I desperately need to learn it but I’m not sure that that’s going to be happening anytime soon! But I say yes to these others things to avoid having to confront the initial problem. It’s almost like procrastinating with feelings.

This is just a short blog, just a quick rambling of thoughts. There was a lot more stuff I learned in Lagos-I’m not sure if I’ll write it sooner rather than later but it will be out and about in the not too distant future.

Admittedly, I’ve never been to Ibiza or Prague or Tel Aviv or any other crazy party cities but when you go to Lagos, be prepared. It sneaks up on you and it does not want to let you go.

Toby Fredkin

What I learned in Albufeira

So, in case you haven’t noticed yet, I use my experiences gained travelling through specific little places through Europe as a means of growing and/or bettering myself. Then, I sit down for a little while, think about how these experiences have changed me and try to put them into words.

Just a litle precursor-I put all these things into words because it helps me to better understand it. Maybe I’m just lacking in sufficient enough memory to just think these things straight out in my head. Regardless, writing it helps me make sense of it. And I miss my friends back home so this is a more efficient way of sharing everything, since finding enough time when you’re constantly nine hours apart is very difficult.

So, Albufeira! I wish I had my computer so I could show y’all photos but unfortunately not. I’ve been here for two days and all I’ve done is walk through the most confusing series of country back roads I’ve ever seen (street signs? loljks) and walked along a few cliffs. Oh, and I found a tiny little beach that was essentially completely secluded from the world. Until a family of fifteen French people crashed my party and I left.

I haven’t been into the city (although I’ll pass through quickly on the way to Lagos-that blog is going to be messssssssed up) and only two beaches, but I’ve purposefully tried to keep off of the tourist trail here. Why? Because I don’t feel that most other people are attempting to gain the same things from their travels as I am. Not in a, ‘They’re doing the wrong thing!’ sort of way…I just kind of like being alone. I can’t understand the incessant need to gaggle that accompanies tourism, being silent whilst the waves crash in a cavern hidden between the cliffs is a wonderful thing.

And, whilst sitting on my secluded little beach, uninterrupted in the most part for three hours, I started geting my little lesson from Albufeira. And after waving goodbye to the Dutch couple with unpronouncable names, whom I’ve promised to visit in some unpronouncable Dutch city, I got it. I’m still slightly confused how to put it into words properly but I’ll try :

If you can’t fix it yourself, then find help. It’s okay to do that.

My first day I spent alone and it was a very healing and therapeutic day. I thought a lot, I did a lot of writing and got terribly scratched up trying to find hidden beauties off the beaten track. But I sort of began realizing that, whilst it is all well and good to try and find happiness in ourselves, it’s just as crucial to find happiness with others. I’m not specifically talking about love or any rubbish like that, just the happiness we find in connections with other people.

To say that I possess the capability to solely fix myself is absurd, I thought. And, however true or untrue this may be for other people, it’s the truth for me.

But, through the kindness of strangers, a long walk and a stolen orange, fresh of the tree in a back alley, I understand a bit better that maybe I’m investing too much effort into directly solving these problems alone.

So-the next four days are in Lagos. Which will be heinous. My problems-whichever part of my life or body they are attributed to (I’m talking about the heart or mind, cheeky), are for the next four days the ‘Octopus in the Corner.’

Maybe if I just don’t pay attention to it, it will go away? I’ve heard crazier.

Go to Albufeira my friends. It is just too pretty for words.

Toby Fredkin

What I learned in Faro: The Kindness of Strangers and Peace

I have never, not in my whole life of (admittedly very limited) travels been somewhere as sleepy, gentle and, most notably, peaceful as Faro in my life. Faro has been my first stop in Portugal before I trek around the coast up to Lisbon and Porto (via some shiny beaches, of course) and initially, I wasn’t too sure if I really wanted to come here.

There is next to no tourist influence on this city, even though I have still only met one person in two days who actually speaks Portugese. A few guided tour officials roaming about the place trying to sell boat tours to the beach in the vastest multitude of languages I’ve ever seen before, but that’s really it.

I chose to come and spend two days here because I really wanted to relax somewhere and get my head put on straight. The last few weeks for me have been very tumultous and confusing, a lot of things have changed in a very small period of time for me since Madrid. I guess that”s what we travel for, to help find ourselves somewhere that we are completely lost.

The first thing I learned in Faro actually began at Gatwick Airport, at 1am, trying to find the shuttle from the South terminal to the North terminal. I became wildly lost in what I can only imagine was the staff carpark, looking for this terminal. I met a French girl who was also flying out to Faro. We chatted a little bit, she was a very sweet girl. We finally found our way there in the end and we sat out the front of the airport for about four hours, just chain smoking cigaretes.

We talked about travelling to learn (she was living in London to improve her English so she could work as a stewardess), crazy and intolerant people in the world and some absolute rubbish. But if you talk with a stranger for four straight hours in the freezing cold with nothing but a few packs of cigarettes, some rubbish is bound to come up. She offered me cake and coke (the drink!) and it was nice.

We got to Faro and her parents were picking her up from the airport. I was terribly confused, I had no idea how to get to the hostel from the airport (there were no signs for buses or trains or anything else of the matter). I met her parents, they didn’t speak a word of English  but they were very sweet and bought me orange juice. Then, they drove me to my hostel.

Faith in humanity: very much restored.

Then, after a good nine hours of wandering the terribly beautiful and wonderfully boring streets of Faro, I came back to the hostel and met the owners. We went out to have a look at buying a guitar for the hostel, then for some dinner and wine. Today, they took me for sandwiches and coffee. They are a wonderfully sweet couple and outrageously hospitable. I don’t have any other word to describe how hospitable they are except outrageous, they’ve taken great care of me in the last two days, even offering to help me find gigs in Faro.

Mixed about with a few people in the hostel who have been very generous with their wine and cigarettes, I learned my first lesson of Faro: the kindness of strangers is truly limitless, as long as you show the same kindness back. Without these people I had never met before in my life, I would have had the most miserable two days here. I mean yeah-the sunshine is beautiful but it can only cure so much loneliness in a man. Never again will I take for granted how good people can be. This city has made cynicism seem like a joke.

The next thing I learned was on my very, very long walk through a very, very small town. I had nothing with me, barre a bottle of water and a packet of cigarettes. Nothing but me, a seaside landscape, the sun beating down and my thoughts. It was incredibly peaceful.

There is no way to be in this town, I feel, and to not be instilled with a great sense of peace about the world. Yeah, there’s good. Yeah, there’s bad. But here in Faro, there’s just peace everywhere.

So I soaked it in, and I began to come to peace with something. Now, these little black bubbles of spiritual disconcertion that have been hanging over me have not been come to peace with. But, I became at peace with the fact that I have to face up to them and ‘pop’ these problems. To me, I think accepting and preparing yourself to deal with your problems is as important as dealing with them in itself.

So, I have come to peace with the fact that I have to make peace. And I’m ready to do that now. What’s that, remnant teenage angst of an immature 21 year old? You wanna fight?

Bring it on bro. I’m ready for ya.

Toby Fredkin

What I Learned In Brighton

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Brighton is a wonderfully beautiful little city. There’s just absolutely no way to describe how swiftly and how heavily I fell in love with this place and I really wish I’d invested some more time in being there during my stay in England. Before I planned on traveling about Europe and returning back home, I had the full intention of relocating my life from London to Brighton in search of spiritual greener pastures.

So I’ve only ever spent three days in Brighton and I’m terribly unfamiliar with not only the streets and the nightlife but wholly unfamiliar with the locals. I mean, I’ve met a decent few people from Brighton whilst I’ve been out and about but not people from Brighton in Brighton, if you know what I mean.

Whilst I was in Brighton, I sort of began to develop a sounder understanding of what it is I wanted out of life, there was an atmosphere there that I simply couldn’t put into words. In a manner of speaking, minus the fact that it still has English weather, Brighton was exactly what a city needed to be for me. No more and no less perfectly suited for me.

First of all, it was jam packed full of music, veganism and too numerous to count shops promoting ethical consumerism and manufacturing. Just to stress again, I LOVE MUSIC, ANIMALS, MOTHER EARTH AND HUMAN RIGHTS! AND BRIGHTON LOVES THEM TOO! It’s dreadfully fun to imagine being somewhere where I don’t have to preach anything to anybody who’s curious because everybody knows! As I’m fairly sure people in most every language in the world but English say: Super Cool!!!!! Me and my best friend got lost on a walk from the Pier to Race Hill (where we were staying) and it took us well over an hour to complete a half hour walk, in the most heinous rain I’ve ever been out in in my life. It was a Wednesday night and every single bar and cafe we walked past had live music pumping. Amazing!
So, the obvious little part aside, down to the little things.

The way the city is set up and decorated is beautiful. It’s nothing grand and magnanimous like London or Madrid (my only focal points) but it’s quaint and colourful. It doesn’t scream out, “Hey! Look at me, I’m gorgeous!” because it’s not that sort of place, but you walk through and just think, “Hey…Look at it, it’s gorgeous!” Yet underneath all of this understated beauty was this strange feeling all around me. And I simply couldn’t pick up where it came from…it was just…right. Kind of like when you can’t figure out the next chord in a progression you’re writing, so you just stick your fingers down in random places and push it out and get your answer.

Most of you will know I’ve been going fairly crazy in/on/about life right now and it’s been like that for a while, but every time that I sneak off to Brighton, everything’s just totally fine.

I had 99 problems. Brightoned up, got none.

What I learned in Brighton is very difficult for me to adequately put into words-it’s not like the Madrid or London or Sydney, which I’d find blogging on easier (to verbalize, not to get it right!). Most of what I learned was very internalised, it was very strongly to do with myself and not so much a grander scale of things.

I learned that no matter how crazy I am, there’ll always be a place I’ll fit in, even if it’s for not all the right reasons.

I learned that happiness can be as simple as jumping on a train to the beach.

I learned that no matter how much I learn about and struggle to obtain knowledge of what’s right, and then to practice is, I’ll always be wrong…

…And I learned that being wrong is most often the right thing to do.

And finally, I learned that I’m not as stupid as I’d always thought myself to be. Which was…well, nice.

How did I learn this from three days wondering through shops and a beach? I don’t know. Nor do I particularly care, I’m just glad for the experience!

I feel much better about myself after today. Cheers Brighton, I’ll really miss you! You really do Brighton up my days!

Toby Fredkin

Veganism vs. Health vs. Travel Expenses: A Losing Battle?

So I love animals.

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Through and through. If there’s one thing you know about me that isn’t I like music and I’m Jewish, I absolutely love the bleeding hell out of animals. All of them-even the gigantic spiders in my backyard that terrify me. So much so that I recently converted from being a vegetarian to a vegan. And I’m not going to lie to you, the journey hasn’t been easy on my body. Or exactly my wallet either. And now, in the coming month, as I prepare myself for a few months abroad through Europe-I have to try and decide what my priorities are.

Do my priorities lie within my life choices?
Now, I’ve had some very long discussions with a lot of people over time about what ethics one should live their life by…for the sake of me avoiding offending anybody and time we’re going to leave out religion (things that are specific to religion, not shared by religion and other) and talk about the other stuff. I’m a big fan of Mother Earth in its entirety. I’m also a big fan of animal rights and human rights, especially those of children. And maybe I’m just too accommodated to the life style but I find it completely impossible to live strictly to my love of these three parts of our world. My friend and I discussed this a while ago, there’s a little link to a blog where she talks about it here (these thoughts on ethical labor in here are pretty much exactly the same as mine so I won’t repeat them):
http://www.marleyisranting.wordpress.com/2012/05/29/yayyyyy-having-an-ethical-meltdown-2/

So let’s take me in my current situation: I’m vegan. Because my body isn’t particularly well-suited to this lifestyle, there are extra expenses associated with supplements and also, sometimes but not always, in finding an appropriately filling and healthy meal whilst out. If I was still living back in Sydney with my parents, that would be fine and dandy. I could definitely make enough money to support such a life style choice.

Do my priorities lie in my health?
If you aren’t already aware, by the by, one of the staples of most vegan diets are soy products, like tofu and soy milk. However, in high enough doses, soy can produce such a dramatic amount of estrogen that it makes men become irrationally moody, develop breasts and sometimes even become infertile. But soy isn’t the only viable substitute right?

That’s true, there are plenty of other sources of vegetable protein out there. But, again, my body is about as ectomorphic as it gets-I can put on or lose seven kilos in a week without too much difficulty-and that is in the 50-60kg weight class. So more money has to be spent to be sure I’m eating the proper foods and more than enough of them.

Or do my priorities lie in my experience?
And again, this is more than achievable in a homely setting. But here’s where the concern sinks in:
I want to spend the next three months abroad. I want to keep to a very, very strict budget in terms of my food. And I want to be as healthy as possible so as to be able to enjoy my trip as much as possible.

No matter whichever way I look at it, without turning my life into a heinously wild inconvenience in a country I don’t speak the language in, I can pick two of each of these three choices:
Veganism
Health
Low Travel Expenses.

Where do my priorities lie?
The simplest thing to do is obviously to not be vegan-this would result in optimal health and the ability to save a great deal on my food budget, since I could practically live off of tinned fish, bread and canned vegetables.

But that’s not the simplest thing. I love animals. I love them so much bro, like, you don’t even know! I could travel for a shorter period of time and eat healthy vegan styles! But then I lose out on so much experience. Not only of the food of the nations but also, I won’t be able to travel as far. I’d have to cut a few weeks out of my journey based upon budget.

And there will be very well educated vegans who will tell me that this isn’t the case. And for the majority of people-that’s true. But I’ve been to see a doctor. My body can’t support the lifestyle without having full access to a proper kitchen or finances for proper meals.

The obvious choice seems to be, “Oh, just eat less of the animal products, only eat them when you need to.” I know that I tell this to people who are trying to gradually become vegetarian or vegan all the time. And that’s wonderful that people try to do that-every little bit counts. But for me, I’d personally feel wrong half-assing it. It’s either all or nothing for me and it’s always been that way with everything I do. School, friends, love, ethics and diet-if I go for something I’m either all in or all out.

I think I have to take the logical choice…but I don’t know. Last Monday night, I sat on the steps outside my hostel, at 7am in the morning with my best friend and a pack of cigarettes after what can only be described as a very, very long night out and she held my hand while I cried over how I don’t want to stop being vegan.

First world problems huh?

To all my new followers (all what is so far today forty of you and hopefully more to come soon!), enjoy yourself! Leave as much love as you see fit! Or hate…I’d kind of rather not get the hatred but I’ll deal 🙂

Peace,
Toby Fredkin

What I learned in Madrid

On Monday evening just passed, me and one of my friends from home hopped on a plane from London to Madrid to go and meet other friends from home, who we had(for the most part) not seen in months. Five nights and, by a rough calculation, seventeen hours of sleep later, I was back in sunny ole’ London! (Sarcasm aside, the weather this week is actually amaaazing[for London standards…twenty-seven degrees whoop!)

It’s the sort of place you go to and come home from rethinking-why on Earth have I been living my life this way?

Madrid was the first time in my life I’ve ever been to a place where the dominant language spoken was not English. Although I had briefly holidayed in Fiji when I was younger with the family, Madrid was my first real experience of being in a place that wasn’t strictly under an American/British influence. And really, although I know Madrid doesn’t stand up to other places in the world like India or Brazil, it was the first time that I had ever actually been anywhere so influenced by poverty. And it wasn’t a rampant or sweeping poverty but just hundreds upon hundreds of beggars and buskers lining the street.

In the main plaza, the Puerto de Sol, every day from around eight in the morning until the wee hours of the morning, there would be a group of ten buskers dressed head to toe in thick Sesame Street and Disney outfits. This is how these people made a living-they hung out in the square in these huge costumes all day and had tourists and kids take photos with them in exchange for some loose change. On my last morning, I sat in the plaza, eating breakfast and just soaking in a bit more of the beauty of the city before I left. I was there for about an hour and not a single one of these buskers had any success.
It was around 11am at this point. And, at a rough estimate, I’d say it was thirty-three degrees. Easily that hot.

And I know that almost nobody at home I know would ever, EVER even dream of doing a job like that without any certainty of payment. And these guys were doing it day in, day out, every single night and day I was there, they were there.

Then on the train to the airport, a guy who would have been no older than my brother hops on with an accordion and a little set of speakers and tears into some Ray Charles, Hit the Road Jack. He took a full blasted solo in the middle of it and holy shit, this guy was like Chick Corea on a keytar except he was playing the accordion. And he probably had no job-this was how he made a living. He would’ve made about 4 or 5 euros on that train trip. If anybody even remotely as talented as him was busking on Pitt St Mall, they’d have pulled in hundreds of dollars. It was strange to see, I suppose. I could never imagine putting myself out there like that.
Then again, I guess that’s why I’m not Spanish.

Money aside, there was the most amazing energy! (Except during siesta when everybody slept) Yet the whole place was so calm and relaxed. Energetic, bustling but without stress. And everybody so cheerful and in each others faces, but not in at all of a bad way. When people would come up to you and talk to you, they would be fully in your face but terribly polite about the whole ordeal.

Walking through the streets and parks, listening to the language with the superb backdrop that is the architecture of Madrid, it felt like I was in some sort of musical…or dream. Everything and everyone was just bouncy and charming and ahh!

These locals wondering the streets seemed to be living life in a way that almost nobody I’ve ever met has before: for the sake of living it. I saw it, I soaked it in and I questioned why I hadn’t been following suit.

So now, I’m trying to. A genuine, conceited effort.

I’ve spent so much time in my life fucking about and it’s cause I feel like I don’t know what the meaning of my life is yet, what the fuck am I meant to be doing with myself? Where am I meant to be doing it? Who am I meant to be doing it with? And I’ve spent so much time over so many years trying to figure this out and on that sleepy Saturday morning just before I hopped a train to the airport, it sort of hit me.
“Hey bro, you’ve been doing this shit all wrong.” None of that junk really matters that much. Gotta stop being such a self-entwined little bitch and just enjoy myself. Do things with my life of course-but stop worrying too much over the who, the what and the where and more on the how.

So I’ma try.

Next blog will probably be about how that’s all going. Truly ravishing stuff huh?

Peace out, have a good week everybody!
Toby

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