Paris 🇫🇷 to Madrid 🇪🇸,

So this is my documentation of the longest 38 hours of my life. It involves delays, deceit, anger, a terrible amount of B/O, free beer, theft and the most refreshing shower I’ve ever had. I’ll say that this day was quite possibly the most stressful day of my year, but there was a lot of laughs that day. So like every day when I was in Paris, I had to get up super early, this time it was so I could catch my flight to Madrid. Getting to the airport was super easy because there’s a bus that goes directly to Orly airport. This is the end of “running smoothly” for the day. I flew with Transavia; I was forced to check in my duffle bag as I wasn’t allowed to bring two bags onto the plane. Finding the place where I needed to check that bag was painstaking, and no one wanted to help me.

Next up, after paying 45 Euros to check the bag, I went to the assigned gate. To my surprise I was not selected for further screening, the woman with the hijab in front of me was. Okay, I’m almost 100% that happened because she had a small child with her and a stroller. I apologise for the cynicism. When I got to the gate, I noticed it had been changed, and I’d have to go downstairs. Once there we were shuttled to another part of the airport, from there we waited about an hour and then began to board the plane. There was PLENTY of room for everyone to bring two bags, but its a budget airline to they have to make money somehow. Here’s where all hell breaks loose, we had to wait an extra 45 minutes for 13 passengers to arrive as they’d missed the shuttle. There were some moaning and groaning but nothing bad. When all passengers were accounted for we began the safety checks and demonstrations. As we were backing up and the engines were about to get going, we lost all power, and the plane stopped, and the lights turned off. It’s only after that I realised that we could’ve been in the air and fell out of the sky. We waited another 45 minutes while they tried to fix it, they couldn’t.

Back to the terminal where we were told to wait until 3:30, I was on holiday so whatever, I could expect. 3:30 comes, we’re told we’ll be fed and taken back to the main terminal, and we’d await further instructions. We were not fed well, and there was a PlayStation in the terminal that I didn’t see, so I sat there like a shmuck reading. By the time we’d gotten fed and were waiting in the terminal, it was already 5 pm. People were pissed off, and some had even left to take the train or book another flight. Around 5:30 I received an email saying they’ve put us all on another plane and it was leaving at 7. When we got to the gate they’d changed that time to 7:45, sorry, “Around 7:45 pm.” I sat there talking to some people, angrily tweeting as I’d begun to … let’s say, expire. I was also a little concerned my hostel wouldn’t hold my reservation, but an email fixed that. When 8:30 there were legitimate yelling fits, and some people had to be held back, there was also no plane in the dock. I had no choice but to sit there and watch Donald Trump videos; it’s a hobby of mine. The guy is such a dumbass; it’s almost hard to believe.

At 9:30 we boarded the plane, so it’s all good right? Wrong. The plane was a lot bigger than the one we were supposed to take, so there were no people in the back. This would affect the way the plane took off, it was to front heavy, and that was dangerous. So began the task to move people around, this caused another delay and some more yelling. I felt horrible for the flight attendants who were just doing their jobs, and I’ll admit they did a great job. At 10:48 we finally left Paris and were treated to complimentary food and drink. The flight attendant gave me five beers, one I drank and 4 I gave to random drunk people on the metro. At the airport I met an older Aussie gentleman named Peter, he was in Madrid for, and I’m quoting him here, “Why the fuck not?” This dude was pretty old, so good for him. I ended up meeting someone else on the metro, and he helped me get to the hostel. We got off at the stop, Sol which is the central hub. There were people everywhere, drinking, dancing and enjoying one another’s company. Madrid, after being there for about an hour I could tell that it was a party town. When I got to the hostel, I smelled like crap and just wanted to shower, that’s exactly what I did. When I woke up I tried to watch the highlights of the Habs game, they suck. I ended falling asleep in front of my laptop, and that’s when someone stole my MacBook. I was on the top bunk, asleep in in front of it and was out for about half an hour and gone! I couldn’t believe it, but hey what can I do? I filed a report and went on my first day in Madrid a little disappointed, but I could’ve had my passport or wallet taken.

Finland Pt. 6 🇫🇮

As mentioned in the previous post, my laptop was stolen, along with some other things. I’m at home in Toronto, showered in a proper shower, slept in my big ass bed and played video games… sort of. I’ve been busy since I came home. Below you’ll find what I had written and saved; you’ll also see the rest of the post. I’d like to wish all the readers and followers a very Merry Christmas, and a joyous holiday season.

QWhile this post is entitled, “Finland Pt. 6” I thought about calling it “Comin’ Home.” Every time I came back home from university, I’d play “Comin’ Home” It’s a song by one of my favourite artist, City and Colour or Dallas Green. I saw him in concert a few summers ago, sang along to every song, and swayed to every slow song. I’ve been a huge fan of his for a long time, and I encourage you to youtube some of his music. In the song ‘Comin Home” he sings about coming home, about being on tour, knowing that it’s a cycle, but he misses home. The song also mentions a girl and the hardship of long-distance dating.  I’d play this song when I came home because it was aptly named and I liked to lean my head against the window and daydream out the window. Now I could relate to the song because long-distance dating is taxing. But now I think I can connect to it even more.

I came to Finland with a plan. Be a better Adel, do well in school, and get the girl. I’ve written about my ex on numerous occasions. A lot of the poetry and early writing is about her. I cannot express it in words but not only did she have a profound effect on me and push me to be better, but I’ve never loved someone more in my life. Even though it’s been a long time since our break up, I think about her, and I still do love and care for her. I needed this adventure more than I let on, not because of my break up, but because I wasn’t where I wanted to be in life. I kept looking ahead, I’d propose to my girlfriend most romantically, we’d move in together, I’d get a career job, we’d live in the city blah blah blah kids, taxes and death. There is nothing wrong with trying to map out your life, but when you set it in stone, the chances of you becoming obsessed with it are pretty good. That’s where I was, and it’s why this break up has been hard for me. I’m not saying it was easy for her, breakups suck.

My plan for being out here went out the window because I hated it. Planning has its perks, but going with the flow and following your gut is pretty good too. I knew this experience would change me, not because everyone told me but because the signs are in a different fucking language! Something was going to change, and I was going to pick up words and customs. I like learning about different cultures and people, and I knew I’d try to learn as much as I could about Finns and Finland. I did that because it’s who I am. I’m a nerd, and I had a list of all these things I needed to see. I knocked down most of them, I saw Old Trafford, I visited the Guinness Brewery, I went to the cliffs of Moher and peered over the edge, I went to Rome alone and saw the Colosseum, I went to Paris apart and saw the Louvre and Eiffel Tower, and I went to Madrid and saw the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. The last three might sound insignificant, but I did those alone. I do come off as confident, but I struggle with it all the time. But the amount of travelling I did alone just showed me that I need to take those risks. It also helped me reclaim my ability to be independant. It stopped being about someone else and just became about me. I didn’t forget, I could never, it just became more imprtant to look after myself. It’s what I’ve taken back from Finland. Personal growth is always something I can be proud of and nothing about the last 5 months have been easy.

Truth be told I miss Finland, I miss being on my own. It truly was the adventure of a lifetime and one that I’ll never forget. That there is the final photo I took in Helsinki. It is at the Christmas Market and I think its where I left my Christmas spirit.

Week By Week 📆

Somehow I’m still alive. I haven’t had a lot of time to blog or do anything other than school work in the last little while. It, however, is starting to pay off. So I’ve been thinking about staying here and doing another year and getting my masters. Then when I woke up this morning, there was an email from an internship that I applied to saying I’d been accepted. I was talking to someone and telling them about my dilemma of wanting to stay and wanting to come home. Strange how things can change in such an instance.

So what’s on the docket? Well, I’m heading to Stockholm this weekend which should be a lot of fun. I’ve always “threatened” that I’d run away to Sweden. In reality, I’ve just always wanted to visit. In December I’m heading to Paris, then Madrid and then meeting up with some friends from Barcelona in Barcelona. So more travel is coming, and I’m really looking forward to it. So Paris? Why Paris? I’m Canadian, and I’ve heard a lot about Paris, it’s almost romanticized. I understand its a beautiful city, but I’ve heard the worst things about the people there. We’ve got a lot of Parians here, and well they’re not the friendliest. I’m not going to let a few bad apples ruin the entire pie, so we’ll see what the people of Paris are like. I do plan on doing all the tourist attractions while there, but I also think it’s important for me to go and visit the Canadian war memorials in France. Vimy Ridge, Neuville-St Vaast Canadian Cemetery are the two that I have in mind and of course Juno Beach. 359 Canadians died taking that beach, they’re all buried behind the beach. I want to visit these sites because I’m a first-generation Canadian. I’m also very proud of being a Canadian and I wouldn’t be a Canadian without the sacrifice that those brave men and women gave.

Now in Spain, well the list is rather long. In all honesty, I don’t know a lot about Spain. I have a list of things to see, for example, Spain was once under Muslim rule in the medieval period. Their rule lasting in some areas more than 700 years. I think it would be amazing to see some of the old mosques. Obviously, football is on a religious level there so I hope I can get to a game while I’m there … Maybe El Classico (Real Madrid vs Barcelona) But we’ll see how much money I have if anyone wants to give me money that would be the kindest gift! I’m just kidding, I’ve actually budgeted reasonably well.

So a few more trips, a couple of things to see and do and then I’m coming home… Oh, I haven’t mentioned, my school back home is on strike, and well I don’t know what’s going to happen. There’s a potential that they lose the entire semester, I hope not, but it’s a very real possibility. It could affect my internship, that’s a little bit of a stressor but we’ll find out soon enough. Sorry for the delays in between posts, there will be photos and posts about Sweden and the upcoming adventure. I’m also working on another short story, but it requires a lot of research.

Now Boarding 💺 Pt. 3

Helsinki to Manchester 

So by this leg of the journey, I’d left my friends in Tallinn. I’d always traveled with someone, my mom, family member or a friend. So do go off on my own was special for me. Manchester is a place I’ve always wanted to visit because I’ve been a Manchester United fan since I was a kid. More on that later.

My passport says I was born in Toronto, my passport doesn’t say that I love Toronto. There have been times where I’ve wished I lived someone else. Well, it looks like I got my wish. Toronto is the most diverse city, I see people from everywhere, I can eat foods from anywhere, and I can blend in. Now I’m not saying that I feel weird in Finland, I don’t really think about it. So, England? I remember sitting in my seat as we landed and this overwhelming feeling of pride, disbelief, and I’d say some sadness washed over me. I almost cried. I’d planned this trip, and here I was. It was nice to read signs in English again, and it was nice to see people that looked like me. I felt like I could blend in again. I’d never thought of it before, but that is one of the best parts of living in Toronto.

I spent the day hanging out with my friend, we walked around Manchester, and it’s easy to forget that England as a whole has been under some pressure. There’s been Brexit, and of course, there’s been a rash of terrorist attacks. A few months ago Manchester was the epicenter of an attack at an Arianna Grande concert. I managed to take this photo on my way to a restaurant. We stand together, such strong sentiments. I took that picture and stood there for a while thinking about how lucky I’ve been to live in Canada. How lucky I am that when I ride the metro, I don’t worry about a bombing. I’m sure these people don’t think that way either, but we’ve never had a severe terrorist attack back home.

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I mentioned I was a Manchester United fan. I’ve dreamed of seeing them play live, I’ve dreamed of visiting the arena, The Theatre of Dreams, Old Trafford. I don’t know how else to explain it but its one of the most important things to me. Well, my friend and I got in an Uber and went to the most famous stadium in the world. We’d tried to get a tour booking online, but they were full. Okay, as long as I got to go. I went, I took a photo outside with  The United Trinity, and I visited the megastore. Of course, I bought a jersey and a scarf. We went to the tour section, and by some miracle, the lady said we’d be able to join the tour. I got to sit in the seats, see their change room, and sit where the players it. It was a dream come true. I took this photo when I was in the stadium. Processed with VSCO with f2 presetSo now every time I watch a game, and I see the players warming up or sitting on the bench I’ll think and know that I got to sit there. 25 years old and I was like a kid in awe of everything. So that was my trip to Manchester. I said my friend lives there, Sarah. She let me stay on her couch, we’d be meeting our friend Brooklynn and Gen in Dublin.

Manchester to Dublin

It was evident when I took the photo of the worker bee that Manchester wouldn’t back down from any threat. In the airport, there are a number of screening processes you’ve got to go through. Here I was, I’d never been to Europe, and in a matter of days I was in Finland, Estonia, England and now I was on my way to Ireland.

I don’t know where the notion of the Irish being a bunch of drunks comes from, but I don’t like it. Dublin has some of the most friendly, hardworking people I’ve ever come across. The city is vibrant, yes there are a number of bars, but they’re not drunks. It’s cultural, it’s not uncommon for people to go out and grab a drink and a bite to eat after work. Dublin is small, but there is something to do on every corner. I was amazed and fell in love with the city immediately. Our first night there was a little nostalgic. Brook, Sarah and I all used to work together. We live about 20 minutes away from one another but hardly see each other, but here we were halfway across the world sitting in a pub drinking together.

If you’re in Dublin and looking for a place to stay, I recommend The Generator Hostel (7 Smithfield Square,, Dublin, Ireland)  It’s right in the middle of the city, close to everything and a fantastic price. Our second day we took in the Guinness Brewery (Naturally) and the Jameson distillery, both are a 5-minute walk from the hostel. So I learned something at the brewery, Arthur Guinness signed a 9000-year lease at St James’s Gate, Ushers, Dublin 8, Ireland. At the top of the brewery, you can have a pint and then sit down and enjoy this 360 view of the city.

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I fell in love with the city. It was this view that did it. Sláinte, Dublin. That means Cheers, Dublin. Our third day and my final day in Ireland we spent on a bus heading to Galway.

Dublin to Galway 

I read this book in school called the Scottish crofters. Crofting is something along the lines of smallscale food production, small farm. There weren’t picture in the book, so I just envisioned what it might look like. So small plots of land with rock walls and these nice white houses. On our way to Galway when looking out the window that’s what I saw. Much of our journey took place along the coast. If you haven’t been let me say something, in Ireland, along the coast when it rains it rains sideways, downwards and I swear to god at one point it was raining upwards. It’ll come out of nowhere too, but it made for the typical Irish weather. Our guide went over the bloody history of Ireland, and well let’s say, hard places breed hard people.

Our first stop, the Cliffs of Moher. I’m afraid of heights, its windy and rainy by the cliffs and theres barely any type of barrier wall. There’s this rock wall that comes up to… well I’m 6ft so to my waist, and there’s about 4ft of space, oh and this is the kicker there is a fence that keeps the cows in their area, and it’s a SHOCK FENSE! There’s electrical current running through it! Rain and electricity, a match made in heaven. Any way you could go along the side without a barrier, but I’m a chicken shit. Oh, I failed to mention the giant sign that says, “In Memorium of all those that have lost their lives on the cliffs” When I asked if this was the sight of some kind of medieval killing ground the guide said no, people get blown off the cliffs all the time. The cliffs are 120 meters high or 390 ft, so you’re dying. There were actually people sitting on the edge of the cliffs. I love my Instagram account, but I’m not dying for it. Anyway, I recommend you seeing the breathtaking cliffs and being safe about it. Heres why I recommend it

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See? Death, but there’s also this,

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If It looks familiar, it was in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. You know the scene where Dumbledore and Harry go to destroy the Horcrux. If I’ve ruined the book or movie for you, then all I’ve got to say is they came out like 10 years ago so shut up.

After this, I had to dry off inside the cafe. So the cool thing about the Cliffs of Moher is that all the litter shops are built into the hill overlooking the cliffs. If you need something warm, which you will I say get a hot chocolate, they’re great there. We then went to Galway where my friends and I had something to eat. McDonagh’s (22 Quay Street, Galway, Ireland) and Fat Freddy’s (15 Quay St, Galway, Ireland) are great options. Sea Food Chowder at Fat Freddys is bad ass.

Ireland was exceptional. It was beautiful, the people were terrific, the food was outstanding, everything about Ireland was great. Yes, even the rain. It had a homey feeling to it. Oh, and its got a thriving gay community,  fantastic art, and architecture. I think that’s what did it, it felt like home, but it wasn’t. Yeah, I’m jonesing to go home, but Ireland would be lovely… because it did, in fact, feel like home.

Part 3 will cover me leaving Ireland and heading to Sweden and then back here to Finland.

Now Boarding 💺Pt. 2

Friday, September 29th, 2017 – Friday, October 6th, 2017 

Jyväskylä-Helsinki-Tallinn-Helsinki-Manchester-Dublin-Galway-Stockholm-Helsinki-Jyväskylä 7,152km 

Jyväskylä to Helsinki- Normally you can take the train and if you ask me you should always take the damn train. We took the bus, which on a Friday can be all kinds of packed. One of the coolest things about the bus is you really get to observe what Finlands like. So lots of trees, lakes and well nature. Its really nice to see the changing of the leaves, all the colours. Whenever you take public transportation, you run the risk of sitting close to an idiot. We had a guy who just watched Youtube videos the entire ride… without headphones.

Helsinki was the first city I got to when coming on, exchange, it’s beautiful. Right on the water with a vibrant culture and teaming with life. If you’ve never been here some advice. Fins are great, but they can be “weird” That is the way they come off. In Finland, the concept of small talk doesn’t exist. Personal space is a must here. Take, for example, when I get on the bus to school no one wants to sit next to each other. You’ll have people stand rather than sit next to someone else. If you don’t believe me check out, @finnishnightmaresofficial or @veryfinnishproblems on Instagram, you’ll get a good laugh out of it, and I can vouch for how accurate it is.

It is rather easy to get them to come out of their shells though.. sorta, beer. Kippis means Cheers in Finnish so if you want to get to know them or talk to them or have them talk to you maybe hold up two beers and say Kippis! I’ve gotten off track, sorry. We didn’t stay long in Helsinki, our ferry to Tallinn left at midnight, and we arrived at around 9:15pm. Just enough time to grab McDonalds and head to the ferry terminal. If you’re one of my North American readers, you’ll know that McDonald’s back home can be …ASS especially if you’re not drunk. Finnish McDonald’s gets the thumbs up from me. I recommend the share box, you get wings… WINGS!! Onion Rings, and Nuggets. Whats not to love? Anyway, at the ferry terminal, one of the members of the group pranced through the gates and security were waiting for him. Just a random search. Naturally, we made fun of him, and it was nice that it wasn’t me being randomly selected. Adel Darwish Mohammed  feels like this,

AasfaAT

 

Helsinki to Tallinn

Sorry, couldn’t resist. The Ferry is awesome and it even has a grocery store/liquor store.

 

Processed with VSCO with m5 presetAlcohol is pretty cheap on the ferry, but in Tallinn, it’s cheaper. Its why Fins go there and exchange students. So Tallinn is basically what Montreal is for Torontonians. Party Hardy beautiful city. Cabs in Tallinn are cheap … just not the ones outside the ferry terminal. Our hostel was close to Old Tallinn and some bars and clubs. I’d recommend Euphoria (Roosikrantsi 4, 10119 Tallinn, Estonia) Its real simple, really chill and a good price. After we settled we went out to a club, Münt (Müürivahe 22, 10140 Tallinn, Estonia.) They had €1-2 drinks, so needless to say there was a lot of people and a lot of security. So what I’ve been noticing is that there are smoking rooms everywhere you go in Europe. In clubs, bars, even the airports. I ended up in one at the club and while I was sitting there with my friend the fucking ashtray exploded.

The next morning was spent recovering from hangovers, I felt great because at some point during the night I switched to tonic water and limes 😉 Why? Drinking is fun, hangovers are the bane of my fucking existence, and I’d rather crawl naked across a kilometer of broken glass. Very descriptive I know. Anyway another recommendation, Kompressor (Rataskaevu 3, 10123 Tallinn, Estonia.) Its a cafe that makes the best god damn pancakes in the world … in Tallinn. Its cheap and the portions are massive. Not traditional North American pancakes, you can get them topped or filled with a variety of different things. I had the cream cheese and chicken 👍🏾

I had this feeling the entire time I was there that I was being watched. Easy to explain, there are churches EVERYWHERE! Like this one, sadly not everyone respects churches or cathedrals. On the side of this one, someone spray painted graffiti. It looked like someone had tried to remove it but they couldn’t. E8B4E146-345D-446E-84B2-ADE526E5510D

So yeah you are being watched… By God! My favourite thing about Tallinn was the variety of food options. So I’m Trinidadian, that means I get a lot of spice in my food. Finland … Does ketchup count as a spice? That night we went to an Indian restaurant, and it hit me. Keep in mind I’ve been away from home for about 3 months. Tallinn was also my first stop of my little holiday, but I sat in this Indian restaurant, and I immediately missed home. Toronto is the most diverse city, I can get food from every part of the world. I’m very fortunate to live there. I’ll elaborate more on this in the last part of this series. Myself Shawn and Jari spent the night out later than the rest of the group, I had a flight to Helsinki at 6:15am then I’d get a connecting flight to Manchester. We went to a hookah bar, Hookah Palace (Roosikrantsi 3, 10119 Tallinn, Estonia) which was across the street from the hostel. €3 Drinks, I recommend the cider and €8 Hookah, great atmosphere. We smoked and drank and had a great time.

At 4:00am I got in a cab and headed to the airport. It cost €8 to get there. Hail a cab don’t get into the ones that are just waiting around! The Tallinn Airport is small, and when I got there, I was a little drunk and tired and had to wait what felt like the most extended hour and a half of my life.

Tallinn to Helsinki

This is the last part of part 2. I got to Helsinki and had to go through customs, the customer officer laughed at me because I’d forgotten to sign my passport. Rookie mistake. The highlight of the Helsinki airport, I found a Starbucks and paid a stupid amount of money for a medium coffee… sorry Grande coffee. It warms my heart to know that Starbucks is expensive everywhere. It’s a healthy relationship to have.

22343979_10155789545547265_211654717_oAlright! Thanks for reading. Part 3 will be up later this week, or tomorrow, depending on how I feel!