Around The World

Amsterdam (Part 2)

January 9, 2017

Alrighty – Here is the second and final ones from Amsterdam. It’s been really fun revisiting these. I have added some captions for you too!

Hope you enjoy!

Next up, Paris photos.. I have 638 photos to ideally narrow down to 80.. haha. We will see..

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Amsterdam (Part 1)

January 7, 2017

Alrighty! Here is the first batch of Amsterdam photos. I still can not get over the architecture in this city. One of the coolest I’ve seen. You will notice that each building has a hook on the top, that is so they can hoist furniture up with a rope and through the windows as the stairways inside are extremely narrow and steep! In addition, the buildings also lean outwards in the direction of the hook so when you hoist the furniture up it doesn’t hit the exterior walls! It makes for a trippy landscape of seemingly dancing buildings scattered along! Some lean out more than others, it’s really cool to see and I have written in the captions on the photos below that show the leaning the most! Besides the buildings, everyone knows that weed is legal in Amsterdam and it has a huge weed tourism sector. The majority of the city centre smells like the finest of cannabis. The places where you buy it are called “Coffee shops” which, to no surprise, also sell coffee! The majority of the regular bars are free to smoke as you wish as well. It’s a trip! In addition, besides the buildings and weed, the third thing that stood out about Amsterdam was the Red Light District. It is unlike any place on Earth and I still couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw it! Prostitution is legal in Amsterdam and there is a large section of the city centre called the Red Light District where the majority of the prostitution takes place. It has an overwhelming about of “red” lights and signs that can’t be missed. The streets and alleys are filled with glass doors with women standing in them available for their services. They stand behind the glass doors and when they get a client, they pull a curtain over the window and that’s how you know their place is “in use.” Therefore, the alleys are lined with half “in use” and half “open for business” rooms. Basically, as you walk by the girls eye f*ck you and tap on the window to get your attention. As seedy as it seems as I write this, it doesn’t feel too dodgy when walking through the streets of the Red Light District. The area itself is incredibly famous, quite clean and it’s extremely busy. So you have families and couples walking around to see this famous, unique area who aren’t actually there for sex. I would say the vast majority of people are there just to have a look around. It is quite a sight to see and in most things of life, I have no judgements on anyone involved. It extremely quite cordial and is gonna happen no matter what so may as well be in a way that the girls are safe. And as always, to each their own 😀 I just should have probably worn a rainbow flag or something so they wouldn’t waste their breathe on me 😀 haha I have a couple photos of this area which I’ll put in the next photo album. Also, something that is undeniable about Amsterdam is the array of food. Ironic that there is epic munchie food in a place that has legal weed? I think not. 😀 You can find any type of food scattered along the city. I would love to go back and just eat my way though this city! haha And lastly, the number one thing that I would say that stands out when I think of Amsterdam are the amount of bikes on the road. Holland in general is extremely flat which makes biking a great option when trying to get around from place to place. Out of all the places we went, Amsterdam was the place where I constantly kept nearly getting hit by.. no not a car.. a bike! Coming from all directions at all times, there are tons of bikes constantly zipping past. I mean hundreds.. I still don’t know how people manage to find their bikes when they park them. There even are places which have multistory bike parking “garages.” I have a photo below but there are literally thousands of bikes parked in these structures at any given time. It’s incredible.

Anyway’s, all in all, Amsterdam is such a unique place. The Dutch are some of the nicest people I met on the road and it was reflected in the people I met here as well. The place is chaotic but so peaceful at the same time. I would love to go back one day and recommend it to anyone heading to Europe!

Below are the photos I have gone through so far.. I have been spending tons of time learning Lightroom and probably spend about 8 hours just on these photos alone. Whenever I wanted to do something and I didn’t know how, I would YouTube Lightroom tutorials. I’ve been taking courses online in attempt to start freelancing photo editing for some extra cash on the side. Still a long way to go, but it’s a start!

Anyway’s, again, I have wrote a novel when I intended to briefly write a caption. Speaking of captions, I wrote some on select photos so have a look

Cheers!

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Hong Kong!

January 2, 2017

Alright! Now that the holidays are over I can start to focus again and pump out some photos from our trip in Nov. Here is the first stop.. HONG KONG! I have never experienced a city quite like this one.. It has such a cool vibe and out of all the places I went, this is near the top of the list as one I want to return to!

I hope you enjoy guys 😀

November 1, 2016

No words can describe the feeling I felt to be back in Asia. Asia sparks a flame not able to be sparked in other parts of the world. Its so unique. I fell further in love with Hong Kong yesterday after we left the peak and headed across the river towards Mong Kok. As we zig zagged through the city we stumbled upon two more elaborate, green inner city parks. I’ve said this numerous times, but cities that really attract me are the ones scattered with little (and big) parks throughout. This was my experience of Hong Kong in a nutshell. Not to mention the entire city is surrounded by tree covered mountains. As we loaded down into the subway I really started to realize just how densely populated this city really is. It’s obvious from the extensive skyscrapers that there are a lot of people.. but in my experience, the subway was the first time that really settled in just how many people there are (plus it was rush hour). Now I love subways, so this alone made me really excited. As we reached the other side of the island, I joked on Snapchat how I was told this part of Hong Kong is supposed to remind us of “the movies.” Well, right as I left the subway terminal I felt like I was in numerous films I watched while growing up.. the signs hanging over head, the lights, the markets, the noise, the congestion, the crosswalks, the billboards, the organized chaos.. it was incredible. I get goosebumps thinking of it now. We walked around, my eyes wide eyed, until we found the Ladies Market.. Now, contrary to its name, it’s basically a market suitable for all of the sexes, not just for ladies. 😂 It’s basically a market, a market with a Hong Kong twist. The market is nestled in small lane ways between towering skyscrapers. Now, it’s been a while since I have been to an Asian market and at first I forgot how its’s often customary to negotiate and barter prices down from the initial offer. To be honest, is quite exhausting and nothing I have ever been too fond of. However, it’s part of the culture and expected – so when in Rome.. We were on the hunt for a new backpack and some belts. Seems like, a simple task ya? Well, haha actually in hindsight it was quite simple but we did have to go through a couple “barter and walk aways” in order to get people down to their final price before deciding whether or not it was worth it. For example, the first place initially wanted three times the amount for the same backpack. With that in mind, we continued the hunt. Eventually, we found a really good backpack, one that can fit my camera plus other stuff, for a decent (ok, cheap) price. We found some belts and some tacky (but awesome) Hong Kong tshirts too. Afterwards we were making way and ran into an “H&M.” Now, I know this may not sound like much to my friends at home, but this was a goldmine. Back in Queenstown, it’s so damn expensive that you’re looking at a minimum $30 for a below average T-shirt. It’s a small town and there are no decent clothing shops. Here, we picked up probably $500NZD of clothes for $100NZD. Jackpot. Finally, a some new decent clothing. We then quickly ran (literally) to the subway and towards the waterfront because Hong Kong has a nightly laser and light show on its buildings. When I didn’t think I could be more impressed, I walked up to the waterfront overlooking Hong Kong Island at night. I have honestly never been so impressed with a city skyline in my life. The extensive skyline lights up, most of them with a unique color pattern for as long as the eye can see. Huge LED screens sit on top of a handful of buildings and throw marketing in your face. Lasers at the top of the highest buildings shine green lights that flutter across the sky. Neon colored boats sail through the river packed with tourists itching for a closer look at the light show. The city once again, is alive; It has a pulse, I’m certain. After one final moment of awe, it was time head to the airport. We had arrived that morning around 600AM and our flight was to depart at 1150PM. Yet again, another restless night sleeping on an airplane.. but this time.. to Europe.. a place I’ve never been. Not only Europe.. but we’re starting out in Amsterdam! I’m excited to see what’s next because Hong Kong has already left such a wonderful impression and memory that will never fade away.

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Hello, Lightroom!

December 6, 2016

Started taking tutorials on how to use Lightroom for post processing on my photos.. This is my first attempt here on one from Central Park.. I have a LOT of learning to do but I am happy with take number one! I posted the original in the comments so you can compare and contrast.. Hope you like it!

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Before.. Now I understand why everyone says to always shoot in .RAW

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Made it Back to New Zealand

December 3, 2016

We made it back to New Zealand..! After settling in, overcoming the jet lag, and finally catching the cold I have been avoiding for over a week, we’re back. This past month has been nothing short of incredible. I am so honored for the opportunity to say that we have literally flown around the world. I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who was part of this trip and who made it so special.

Starting in Hong Kong was a treat. So much character and life buzzing through those streets. I could easily spend a couple years living there. It was incredible. Amsterdam was amazing too and special thanks to Emma for flying from Greece to surprise me. Besides the obvious, my favorite part of Amsterdam was the beautiful arciteture. Paris stole my heart (and taste buds) while London was as iconic as I ever imagined. There is such history in England; It was incredible. Sheffield was a real fun place to visit and see where Andy went to college and meet some of his #mates. However, nothing could prepare me for visiting his loving family in his quaint hometown of Ticton/Beverley. I want to extend a special thank you to his father, mother L Suzanne Millar and sister Claire. Thank you so much for welcoming me with open arms.. it meant the world to me 🙂 It was so nice to see where Andy grew up. He came from such a loving family and I can see where he gets his good traits. Thanks again for being such incredible and enthusiastic tour guides.. From Beverley to our day trip in York, I appreciate everything you all did for us while in England.. and if that wasn’t enough, you took us all the way up to Scotland! I had such a nice time seeing the culture up there and meeting Andy’s extended family. They’re a fun group of people and I can’t wait to visit one day again! Thank you all again for making my time in the UK so special.

After Scotland, Manchester was a unique place in a sense it had a mixture of modern yet the old style England I had previously seen. I think Manchester is the place I could see myself living if I ever ended up in England (::awaits the banter from people who don’t live in Manchester::) haha – Oh, and backtracking a little, it was nice to see you too George(IE) while in York. All in all, Europe was everything I had expected and more. It was a great introduction to this part of the world and I can’t wait to explore it further.

As for the States.. I still really can not describe in words how it felt. I have never been so overwhelmed with love in my entire life. It is crazy to think that only a year and a half ago I was trembling in my pants to utter the words “I’m gay” to everyone and now I have returned home with someone I love deeply only to be welcomed with open arms by everyone. I could cry thinking about it. Thank you everyone for accepting the person I have always been. It is nice to finally close the door on that difficult yet rewarding time in my life. The way I can describe my time home is summed up by immense love being thrown at my direction in every turn I made. I can’t describe the feeling.. it is something that will live in me forever. Starting in NYC with our escapades with Alley, Catherine and Chelsea.. how much fun was that? You three mean the world to me and thanks for making our time there so incredible. NYC has always been and always will be one of my favorites. Special shout out to RaeRae who couldn’t make it in the end but I want her to know she was still there with us in our hearts. After exploring NYC (and walking over 25 miles) we flew due West to the colorful Colorado. Our time in Colorado was indescribable. Time after time, whenever I return I am reminded by what a unique, loving group of friends we have. I remember when I landed the hardest part was deciding who to contact first because I love everyone there the same. It is like having 40 best friends.. Thank you all for welcoming Andy with open arms and making our time there unforgettable. Andy has since said too that the meal at Arcana was potentially the best meal he has ever had. Thanks to everyone who was able to make it that night in Boulder. If that wasn’t enough.. the following day of Friendsgiving was the icing on the cake. To see all of those shining faces in the same room is a feeling I can not explain.. and the best part is that everyone felt the same way. We all were so happy to be reunited. We are such a lucky group of people to have been in each others lives for over a decade and still have undying love for each other. No matter the time or distance apart, you all will always be my number one (along with my Texas family haha). Thanks to the countless offers of a place to crash while we were there. I think I would have to stay for weeks to stay one night with each person who extended their home to us. Thank you again – we felt the love and its still radiates.

When I thought that Hong Kong, Europe, NYC and Colorado were enough.. I returned to my hometown of Dallas, TX. First off.. my family.. Thank you all for having my back and being such a great support group. I owe everything to you guys, from my amazing childhood to my now. My mother Debbie has a heart of gold and shows her love for me in every action. My father Hector is right there with her, loving me and bending over backwards to make sure I am happy and comfortable. Thank you guys so much. My Mima and Papa (Ray Fran) are the same as well. Mima, you are as goofy as ever. 🙂Thanks to Papa for putting up with her silly antics while remaining the calm and collected one in the family. We all love you both deeply which I know you already know. Special thanks too my aunt Sherri and cousins Kyle and Katlyn who have always been so prevalent in my life and for being more like brothers and sisters rather than cousins. Thanks to Art and Tina Yvette who made it to Six Flags even though roller coasters aren’t your favorite. As for my Texas friends, you guys have known me the longest; either since highschool or as far back as elementary. I am not going to tag my friends because just like in Colorado, it would take hours to do so. Just know I feel the love from each one of you and all that I hope if that you feel it in return. It was so good to see each and every one of you.

While I was at home my family threw me a welcome home party where faces appeared from all different periods of my childhood. Again, a loss for words with the amount of love I felt coming out of one room. Thanks to EVERYONE who came out to see me and to welcome Andy to Texas. That was such an incredible day and I can not express enough gratitude to everyone who came to visit. Thanks to my mom who spend countless hours and nights preparing the perfect welcoming home party. I know you spilled your heart and soul into making this a special day for me. Thank you, it was a complete success.

After Dallas we spent one night in Austin. Here I got to see my grandpa who I haven’t been able to see in quite some time. He is as adorable as ever and he was so excited to show us his new truck. I love you grandpa and promise never to take any wooden nickels.. Thanks to Lizzy who met up with us for dinner. I miss you tons. Austin would not be complete if it weren’t for spending the night with Megan, Connor and Aiden. You three mean the world to me.. not to mention little baby Georgia who I have not met yet but who is constantly on my mind and who I already love with all of my heart. May she continue to grow and remain strong.. I can’t wait to meet her one day 🙂 She’s perfect.

Last but not least, I want to publicly thank Andy for being such a positive addition in my life since the day I met him. I had so much FUN with you this trip.. you’re my best friend here and I am thankful for each and everyday I am able to be by your side.

Anyway’s, I think that is it.. sorry (not sorry) for being such a softie but I had to get it out there what an incredible experience this past month has been. Although I am sad it is over.. I have to remember something my second mom Anne told me as a child.. She told me that it is better to leave a place when you’re not ready.. that way you always have fond memories of your time there. This continuously comes up in my life. Although I was not ready for any part of this trip to end, I am glad I left when I wasn’t ready because the memories and longing to return remain bright in my heart.

Thanks to everyone in my life. I appreciate you and love you more than words.. Until next time..

(Photo taken in front of the Louvre Museum in Paris)

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