Overseas November 2015

I'm only a year and a half late in blogging these personal photos, but at least I'm doing it! Nov 2015 I met my parents over in Copenhagen, Denmark. From there we had a family holiday in Tromso Norway and then visited Amsterdam, Netherlands. After this short family holiday, my bother and I flew to London, England and went on a western European Contiki Tour. From there we visited Amsterdam (again), Berlin Germany, Prague Czech Republic, and Vienna Austria.

This trip was really special to me as I was so lucky enough to see the Aurora Borealis. The Northern Lights... what can I say? Seeing this magic with my own eyes was always at the top of my bucket list. Anyone who knows me knows I've been obsessed with this phenomenon for years, always looking up National Geographic or NASA videos on youtube, admiring it from afar on a computer screen. Whether it's the Aurora Borealis or Aurora Australis, let's be honest, everyone is amazed by it.

I'm having trouble putting it into words, but we were really lucky to see the lights the night we did. Most of the nights we stayed in Norway were cloudy or snowing, and the one night we organised to find the lights, we got 'em. The sun set at 2.30pm and everything was pitch black by 3pm in Norway. On the car drive home from visiting the arctic animals at the Polar Park, my mum (who was sitting next to me in the back seat) pinched my arm and silently pointed out her window. There was a very, very faint streak in the sky, hardly any colour, which looked a bit like smoke. Not wanting to speak too soon or get too excited, I got my camera out and slowed the shutter to see if I could capture it clearer on my camera. Sure enough it was a streak of green, which couldn't be seen all too well with the naked eye, but captured by a camera it couldn't be more obvious. I jumped from window to window tilting my head in uncomfortable positions just to get glimpses of it from the car. I accidentally made a few noises from excitement because I had so much joy bursting out of me.

We were booked in for a tour of the Northern Lights that night, and that's when I got 5 hours to take photographs of this once in a lifetime experience. At our second location we set up at at a fjord, (google it if you don't what that is). At one point, while my family lay down on the snow looking up at the lights dancing, and while I was taking photos, our guide interrupted us to ask the group, "did you hear that?" We all paused for a moment and heard a blowing noise every now and then. He told us it was whales, most probably orcas, coming up for air making noises with their blowholes. I couldn't believe it could get any better than that. Northern lights, fjords, snow capped mountains and killer whales. How?!?!!?

The trip was also really special to me as I was able to visit Holland for the first time. The maternal side of my family is dutch, so I was so excited to see the Netherlands and the country where so much of my family is from. I wrote this little note in my phone while I was over there;


My Opa was from a small village in Holland called Vught. He joined the Dutch merchant navy when he was 14, and lived in Holland until he was around 19 when WW2 began. The ship he was working on was made into a hospital ship at this time.

Because of the conquest of Nazi Germany in the Netherlands during WWII, the dutch navy was based in allied countries, including Australia. Because of this, my Opa met Oma at the Rocks in Sydney during the war. He'd go away and come back for periods of time, and they eventually married in 1942, while the war was still happening and he was still a working sailor. After the war finished, my Opa and Oma lived in Holland for around 2 years. They moved back to Australia and lived in an immigration camp in Sydney for many years, eventually moving to Brisbane.

I can't remember absolutely everything about my Opa because I was 12 when he passed away, and like almost everyone my memories fade despite my absolute desperation in clinging to them. However, my family says he used to cry every time he spoke about The Netherlands, his home country.

I do remember his thick Dutch accent, and how he would tell stories about absolutely everything, despite me not being able to understand most of the things he said.

I remember how he would keep stale bacon flavoured Shapes in the cookie jar next to his chair in front of the tv.

I remember his big ears.

I remember the "I'll be back in 25 minutes" note he left in his house just before he died.

I remember his car. His garden gnomes. How his handwriting was always in capital letters. How we would play this game where I would sneak up on him and he would tickle me as soon as I got near.

I remember his shallow breathing before he died. I remember a lipgloss I once had that smelled exactly like the dishwashing detergent in his house. I remember how he would feed our horses too much when he came to visit. I remember sleeping in his single bed with my mum the night he died, and waking up the next day with a sinking feeling in my chest.

I'm such a nostalgic person and maybe that's why I love photography so much. Losing memories scares me. I write down so many notes in this phone in hopes that I don't forget a particular moment or day. Photographs provoke memory, and is one of the reasons why it's so important."

That crappy photo above means so much to me despite it's bad quality. I've gone off on a bit of a tangent, but photography is just so important, especially when those we love are no longer with us and all we have left are the photos and memories.

Have a look at my favourite photos from the trip, and watch the video I made from my time overseas below.