Stories of Kindness: Friends on the Tokyo Metro

Stories of Kindness From Around the World: Friends on the Tokyo Metro

Friends on the Tokyo Metro

Two summers ago, my family left the states for our first ever backpacking trip, to Japan. Our first stop was an incredible few days in Tokyo, where we explored the marvels of a modern city unlike one I’d ever seen before. The sushi was, of course, delicious, as were the 7-11 dumplings and bubble tea. So far Japan was proving itself to be even better than what I expected.

Our last day in Tokyo rolled around too soon, and we found ourselves (and our six backpacks) crammed in a subway car in rush hour metro traffic. Have you ever seen that picture in downtown Tokyo where the metro attendants literally have to squish everyone into the subway car? We lived it. Fifty or so Japanese commuters wearing hello kitty and other themed face masks, standing shoulder to shoulder, and us. We pushed our way to the back of the car, where we met a group of Japanese backpackers en route to the mountains. Initially, we laughed together about our big backpacks and the cramped train, and soon shared a few words about where we were headed. All of a sudden, they started emptying stuff out their backpacks and pulling out plastic bags of chocolate and candy and handing them to me and my sisters.

As someone who lives out of their backpack, I know that the few things you carry are usually packed for a purpose…and important. Sharing their carefully packed items with us was such a simple gesture of friendship, and a very unexpected and kind one from people we had known for no more than a few minutes. We gave them some buffalo jerky from Colorado, and exchanged words of good luck in our different languages before they left the train. When I remember Tokyo, before the city lights and sushi, I remember the kindness of our Japanese backpacker friends because people always leave the strongest impression of a place.


Hello! This is the first post from a new series about kindness on the road. I was inspired by Jessie Voigts of Wanderingeducators.com to create something positive by highlighting stories of great people and genuine kindness I’ve experienced while travelling. More coming soon 🙂

Back in Spain

Spain was a dream, and a much needed rest after three months in Morocco.

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After a short ferry ride over the straight of Gibraltar, we found ourselves in the windy city of Tarifa. Maybe it was the re-entry buzz, but I found Tarifa to be no less magical than Santiago’s description in The Alchemist.

“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting, he thought, as he looked again at the position of the sun, and he hurried his pace. He had suddenly remembered that, in Tarifa, there was an old woman who interpreted dreams.” -The Alchemist

The air smelled of sea breeze and fresh laundry, wind-surfers dotted the crystal blue water with a rainbow of kites, and Spanish kindness and culture assured us that everything was right in the world again.

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Like Santiago, I walked the quaint streets and viewed Africa in the distance from atop the ancient city walls.

A week passed in what seemed like an instant, and we traveled up to Sierra Elviera, Grenada for anther workaway experience.

We volunteered at a community called the Fundación Escuela de Solidaridad for two weeks, living in a community house with volunteers from Argentina, France, Italy, Spain, and the States. The Fundación is home to struggling families and single parents, and helps them get back on their feet. The best part were the volunteers we befriended, and how the majority of people spoke only Spanish or just a little English so it great to get out of my comfort zone and have to speak Spanish everyday.

Finally, we settled at last for a month in Almuñécar, a beautiful city on the Costa Del Sol. We rested, walked, caught up on school and work, visited the beach, and just enjoyed all the simple joys of life in Spain. Next, Italy. 🙂

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Kat on the beach

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hiking on the coast

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Santa Semana processions under our flat

What we Did in Denmark

Denmark was the first stop along our travels through Europe this year. We stayed for a week in Tolne, which is a tiny train station town in the northernmost part of Denmark.

We arrived at Tolne Gjaestgivergaard, a pottery studio which attracts most of the visitors to the town.

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Life in a pottery studio/ house

We discovered this place on Workaway, and despite not being all that artistically inclined we found plenty do at their annual international ceramic arts conference.

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In the kitchen

For a week we helped with cooking and cleaning in exchange for lodging in the middle of a beautiful forest, and delicious Danish food everyday. Even better, we were able to make friends with a ton of amazing potters and ceramic artists! The studio is well-known for its resident artist programs, where artists from all over the world come to live and learn full-time at the studio. And they are always hosting many volunteers from workaway,  so there was always someone to talk to.

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New friend Lea in Skagen

On one day all the volunteers and some artists went to visit Skagen, a larger city on the northern tip of Jutland, Denmark. Skagen is one of the most visited places in Denmark . The city has some historical background as being a very popular gathering place for artists in the summers of the 1800’s and 1900’s. Many Scandinavian artists came to paint the beautiful scenery and lighting. Much of the art has been preserved and can be seen at the Skagen museum.

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The famous art of Skagen

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Yellow streets of Skagen, Denmark

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Kathryn eating a Danish danish

After the museum we visited famous Grenen Beach, the place where the North and Baltic seas meet. Supposedly, during the summer on a clear day you can’t tell where water ends and sky begins; the whole place looks like a huge blue dome. The day we went was rainy and grey, but dramatic and beautiful nonetheless.

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Grenen beach, the northern most part of Denmark. In the distance you can see the North and Baltic seas meeting in forever clashing waves

Our time in Tolne was probably the most authentic Denmark experience possible. Everyone was extremely nice and welcoming, and we felt like a part of the family almost instantly. I’m sure we will be back next time we are in Denmark, but until then I won’t forget the amazing people and memories made here.

Thanks for reading and happy travels! XX -Izzy

(P.S. if you want to learn more about Tolne Gjaestgivergaard and possible stay in their inn yourself you can click here. And if you want to learn about and donate to their resident artists project you can click here)

 

 

 

In the Wake of Recent Events

In the Wake of Recent Events

Many people have been saying many things about the outcomes of this  election, and I know my little article will be lost in a pool of thousands of mournful articles far superior to it. But that doesn’t matter to me. I write what I feel, and this is what I feel so here we are.


 I have not been in the USA for almost a year now. I witnessed this election from the outside as most of the world did, mocking the idiocy of Donald Trump from afar. I thought, who in their right mind would vote for him?? It will never happen! I woke Wednesday to a different outcome. I woke to the fact that 60 million Americans voted in favor of a man who its racist, sexist, homophobic, and at the very least, utterly unqualified to be the president of the United States. I may not be in the US right now, but this is no time to be a silent bystander.

First and foremost, I am a human being. I am also a woman, strong-minded and out spoken. I have dreams and ambitions just like you. I am the child of an immigrant, an American,  member of the LGBT+ community, pro-earth, pro-choice, pro-gun control, and an atheist. I am also still a child, I’m only sixteen, missing my vote in this election by a solid two years. It stings. Because despite what I think I know about politics and the world, I didn’t get a say in this election. The outcome that was not my choice, but will greatly affect my future. My generation is doing walk outs at schools, my generation is protesting, my generation is educated, and we don’t get listened to. And I’m scared.

I’m scared for a world where equality is put on the back-burner. Where the color of your skin or religion defines you. Where the act of a few people leads to hatred for and fear of an entire population. I’m scared for all the strong women I know and don’t know who have been sexually assaulted, molested, raped and will never have their voices heard. A world where myself, and my friends, and my sisters, and my future children need to feel scared about who they love.

How is this the freedom that has attracted so many people to this county? Have we forgotten our roots? Are we not all immigrants on this land? Land that wasn’t even ours for taking, but violently shaken out of the hands and blood of the Native Americans, still to this day. And yet, we call ourselves free.

I fear a world where future generations may not get a chance to breathe the air I breathe today, or visit brilliant forests and natural wonders that I am able to. Because yes, climate change is real. Will they cover their mouths and noses with masks to protect themselves from the fumes of the factories near their houses, because those are the jobs we need in America?

And finally I’m terrified for the millions who voted for Trump.  For their ignorance, and lack of education required for them to absorb the nonsense in our next presidents words. I’ve lived among and befriended the warm-hearted, welcoming, and open-minded citizens of Mexico in which Trump wants to wall out of my country. They are the hardest working people, whose values we would greatly benefit from having in our society. After that, I lived in dominantly Muslim Malaysia. I didn’t raise an eyebrow, there was nothing to be afraid of.  In fact, I have found no negative stereotype about any group of people to be true in any place I have traveled so far. People are people everywhere. A month from now I will live in Morocco, but now I worry about the unconscious bias that my family will face as Americans in a dominantly Muslim country.

Without education there is fear, but that will not be my generation. Today we fear, but tomorrow we are strong. My generation may be silent in this election, but not at its outcome. We will use our words and our heads, not our fists, to be heard. Because we know love is far stronger than fear will ever be.

March 5: Starting fresh(ish)

 

Today marks just about two months since leaving my home in colorful Colorado, to embark on an incredible journey of  full time slow travel with my family around the world. I originally started this blog to share interesting stories and experiences, and to give tips to other teens, travelers or anyone really. However, I don’t feel I have accomplished any of these things. I took a month long break from blogging because I needed time to think, accept, and adjust to my new life, which are things I have really struggled with in the recent past. I have been putting a lot of pressure on myself to appear as my life is perfect and I have been afraid to take this whole traveling-the-world thing seriously because it just didn’t feel real yet.

The title of my blog is Amateur World Travelr because yes, I am still figuring things out. I don’t know how to be a blogger or a traveler or an adult for that matter which is something I thought that first time travelers would be able to relate too, or that people would find interesting. Being a teenager in this type of lifestyle brings on a whole new set of challenges I hope to write about in the future.

So basically I wanted to start fresh. I want to use this blog as both a creative outlet and social tool. I hope I can share both positive and negative experiences. And most of all I hope that my experiences, hardships, stories, tips, and amateur-ness can inspire others to get out of their comfort zone, do something different, and learn new things too.

Thanks for reading, expect new things to come. 🙂 -Izzy