Flashback: Library Visits in Bergen op Zoom

Whilst living in the Netherlands working as an Au Pair, I spent a lot of time at the library. I would spend hours reading books and sitting in the aisles basking in the smell of knowledge. Used books have a very particular aroma.

It was during this time of my life that my passion for F. Scott Fitzgerald really solidified. I had read some of his works in high school and enjoyed them enough but returning to his works as an adult really opened my eyes. In the last weeks of my stay, I stumbled across The Love of The Last Tycoon and was flabbergasted.

Since returning stateside I have searched every bookstore I find for this book. Nobody carries it. “We can order it for you though.” Call me old fashioned, but I wanted to pick it up with my own two hands and consciously remember buying this book – not have it arrive in the mail.

Since 2011 I have been determined that when I was good and ready to read Fitzgerald’s final book it would appear in my life. Yesterday was that day. I decided to go mosey about after getting my car washed and stumbled into Mojo Books & Records.

The smell of used books knocked my socks off as I opened the door. To the right was a café serving locally roasted coffee and organic teas. Off to my left and beyond ahead was a maze of shelves filled with an eclectic collection of books in all genres.

As I always do, I started in the classics and went hunting for F. It was mostly copies of The Great Gatsby and some chunky compilation books. I was feeling defeated and just about to give up when I noticed a book hidden between two Gatsby novels. I couldn’t read it in the darkness of the shelf but when I pulled it out my heart stopped.

Fitzgerald was at the end of his life when he wrote The Love of The Last Tycoon. He originally named it STAHR / A Romance but he wanted it to sound like a movie title to disguise the true content of the book. He had thought of changing the name weeks before his death in 1940; according to Sheilah Graham, whom sent his work in progress to his editor.

Fitzgerald’s last months, who knows how long, was spent thinking and working on this story of the last frontier – the film industry. How wonderful to be able to combine two of my greatest passions – film and good writing.

Fitzgerald has always been high on my list of inspiring men. It was nice to see that someone of that caliber saw that twinkle the film industry holds. There is so much possibility, and so much deceit. Nothing is as it seems. But we have come a long way since the days he speaks of here. With Independent Film on the rise and cameras so affordable, everybody thinks they are a Spielberg.

From Holland to Florida, three years later but I found my book and it was as glorious as I imagined. I’m sure I’ll be finished with it before I know it. I also bought a book on three African empires called A Glorious Age In Africa and one of those chunky Fitzgerald compilations.

By the time I ever settle down anywhere I will have a room stacked with books for my children to expand their minds. Also on my radar – Graduate school in South Africa? Further my education in a few years and be on the ground floor to help sustain a continent. But more to come on that as my research furthers. For now still working towards Twenty Four Weeks, Twenty Countries, Three Continents. Attached are some pictures from a visit to the library with the children and a dear friend.

xxx Sam

Notice the view of the Library Behind

Notice the view of the Library Behind

Reading to Zena

Reading to Zena

Owen

Owen

Lexa

Lexa

Annelies & Lexa

Annelies & Lexa

Owen

I really enjoyed the floors of the library, you couldn’t help but feel creative!

Reading to the munchkins was my favorite.

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The Things You Do Abroad!

Just a few years ago, before I started traveling, I was very set in my ways. For a human being who still was a child in life it was not surprising to be so naive. I always crossed in crosswalks, and never ate new things. I always ate my pizza starting from the tip, never with the crust. There was always a logical way to do things, never a reason to step out of my box.

As I found myself calling the Netherlands home and yet on vacation in England, I couldn’t help but feel I was out of my comfort zone. Certainly I was able to communicate with the people around me however it was all new. My feet had never touched these stones; my nose never experienced such a spell-bounding fragrance. The sights and the smells were overwhelmingly new and there I was with a giant smile pasted on my face standing in the middle of it all. I knew then that I had to dive in; Its all or nothing and I hadn’t come all this way for nothing.

One day in London, I had scheduled lunch with two girls I met on my internship back in France followed by dinner and drinks with a friend from high school living in the area. I filled in the time between with random wanderings around St. Paul’s Cathedral and Picadilly Circus. I found a beautiful park to sit in and observe what life is like across the pond. I talked to strangers even though my mother always told me not to. Stepping out of my box never felt so good.

When I went up to the office to meet with the girls, they said they planned to take me to a sushi place. Being a vegetarian and quite picky, I had never had sushi in my life but today was about ‘c’est la vie’! Knowing I am a vegetarian, my friends were sure to pick one of everything I could eat on the food escalator. Yes, you read that right. Sushi that comes circling around the room past tables. The color of the dishes its served on determines the price of your meal. I wasn’t fond of everything but I tried every single vegetarian dish this place offered. My taste buds were overwhelmed. It was the most amazing mixture of tastes I had ever experienced.

Realizing I had been missing out on so much by limiting myself, I decided at that moment that risks are a very important part of life. When Amanda asked me if Indian food sounded good I couldn’t let myself chicken out. Spicy is not my thing so I was super nervous about dinner. Getting lost on the way there definitely didn’t help the situation but once I found my friend and we started catching up I found myself with strange food in front of me. It was delicious! There was a kick to it, but the aroma of the restaurant and the yoghurt sauce they gave me for dipping made me forget about the spice after every bite. We had such a wonderful time talking about things past, present and future then took a rainy jog across the River Thames.

I’m so glad that I allowed myself to be so open during my travels because it has carried over into my everyday life. Instead of writing things off right away I am more willing to get to know it better, wether it be food, ideas, or even people. The ability to be open to things unknown is guaranteed to change the way you perceive the world.

 

xxx Sam

Twenty-Four Weeks, Twenty Countries, Three Continents

Now that we have had our introductions, I feel that I can let you in on my extravagant plan. I’m currently working as hard as I can to save a proper amount of money to go on a six month sabbatical where I will walk the Camino De Santiago (30 days) as well as Cinque Terre (12hrs).

On this trip, I plan to continue blogging, write some travel articles, and I also plan on purchasing a GoPro Hero 3+ Black edition camera to film the trip and make a documentary about my travels. Ideally this trip will take off in spring where I will land in Ireland and walk some rolling hills before splitting for England. I’d also like to check out Wales, as my father’s great grandmother originates from there before being banished from her family and falling in love with a Cuban dentist. My goal is to uncover some more information about her and the family my dad really comes from.

After what I foresee as about two weeks, I shall leave the islands for the mainland and visit The Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Croatia, Switzerland, and Italy before tackling the Cinque Terre adventure. After Cinque Terre, I shall head to the south of France where I plan for it to be around May and I can attend the Cannes Film Festival once again. I won’t attend the entire two week festival however I will get a pass for a few days to see some films, say hello to some old friends, and acquire some business meetings about the documentary as well as a few other projects I have in the works.

After Cannes, I will head up to Paris for the first time (insert happy dance) and spend a few days wishing I could transport back to the roaring twenties when Fitzgerald and Hemmingway frequented the block. Hopefully I will get to take a walk in Paris while it rains – I always imagine that to be the most beautiful sight.

After a few days in Paris, I’ll be heading to St. Jean-Pied-de-Port where I will collect my shell and  pilgrims passport to begin my month of walking. I shall not tell you about the time on the camino as I cannot predict what my pilgrimage will bring. I do however predict that the end of the camino will mark the end of the fourth month or the middle of the fifth. At this point, I would like to go to Morocco for a while and enjoy Casablanca, Tangier, Rabat and everything else Morocco has to offer.

After that adventure, I’d like to hop a flight to Cairo and spend a week in Egypt. After Egypt, I can head to Israel for some enlightenment and travel back to the states from there. So there it is, twenty-four weeks, twenty countries and three continents.

**Next week I will break down the trip further to prove how realistic it really is.**

xxx Sam

Twenty-four weeks, twenty countries, two continents.

Introductions Are Necessary!

Hello!

 If you have stumbled here perhaps you have had the good sense to start at the beginning of the journey. I bid you good morrow and good luck on your travels through my adventures.

First a little bit about me: I am a twenty-four year old woman with a passion for exploring, writing, and images both still and moving. As an adolescent I spent my time writing, climbing trees, performing in plays, and playing on the beach. While I attended a magnet program in my high school years for theater, I also pursued a position on the school’s Lacrosse team and a longstanding job at the local movie theater where I fell in love with the moving image and photography.

When first looking at colleges I thought I would be a psych major. I toured a few Florida schools, looking at their programs and still exploring their more artsy sides. When straying off from a guided tour at the University of Tampa, my mother and I stumbled into a tall man wearing a pair of combat boots, a trench coat and a fedora smoking a cigarette. He quickly introduced himself as Tom Garrett and began hypnotizing us with stories about the Film & Media Arts program and how you took classes in filming narratives and even documentaries and experimental film – not that I knew what that was at the ripe age of seventeen. He even mentioned an acquaintance he has in Cannes and how he takes a group of students over to do internships every year.

I remember the most amazing feeling sweeping over me. I knew that I must learn everything I could from this man. He had found a way to do what he loved, travel, and touch the lives of others. One could say he inspired my future in a way he may have never known. Eventually Professor Tom Garrett became my advisor and taught me many things about life, professionalism, and the film industry as well.To this day I treasure the time I was able to spend at the University of Tampa.

I have been abroad twice at this point in my life and visited France, Italy, Belgium, and Great Britain. I spent three months living in Bergen Op Zoom, Netherlands where I was employed as an Au Pair to a lovely family and learned how easily I could live abroad and love every second of it. These experiences have shaped me into the person I am today and I am beyond determined to take many more trips in the future and eventually visit every country in the world.

This blog will take you along on my adventures – past, present, and future – as well as through the planning process of what it takes to be a travel writer and live on the road which has always been a dream of mine.

Dreams are meant to come true, if you see it and you want it bad enough you can make anything happen. Now if you are still with me, perhaps a little about you? I would love if my readers would share a bit about themselves and travels that they have done or wish to do.

xxx Sam