After my dad died, my mom decided we should all go on a family vacation to somewhere hot and beautiful to make ourselves feel better, so in late May myself, my sister, my mother, my stepdad, my uncle, and our family friend Lindsay wound up in Veradero, Cuba. In classic Sarah fashion, it took me a month to post my travel vlog and photos, but hey, they’re finally here!
My friends and I went to Alberta for a week in April to kick off the summertime. We spent a day in Edmonton (at the Fantasyland Hotel in the West Edmonton Mall) and the rest of our week in Banff (surrounded on all four sides by the absurdly beautiful Canadian Rockies). It was my first time spending more than just a layover in Alberta, and being in the most artificial place in the world for a day and then the most naturally gorgeous place I’ve ever seen in my life for a week was a strange and wonderful juxtaposition. I’m so happy to have done it with such a fun trio by my side– my friends really made this trip the kind of thing I’ll remember forever and tell my future children about when they ask for tales from my rambunctious youth. Spending a week exploring/hiking during the days and dancing/laughing during the nights was such a privilege and just what I needed at the time to get me out of a weird funk I had been in.
I had been sort of, vaguely, kinda, half-assed getting back into photography (something I grew up loving, and had always been into but not taken particularly seriously) since January of this year, but after my father died at the end of March I’ve been really delving into it, mostly just by carrying my camera around with me all the time and snapping portraits of my friends. Art has always been what pulls me through rough times, and I have this constant need to ~*~make stuff~*~ so photography has been offering me that immediate tangibility that I seek, plus it gets me out of the house. I’ve been posting a lot on my Instagram, but I can’t post all the outtakes and extra photos from the past couple months on there, so here they are:
The opposite of dissociation is connection. Late February and March have been a time for connection— or maybe for re-connection— in my life. Re-connecting with myself, re-connecting with my loved ones, re-connecting with my art. I’ve discovered that sometimes, giving up is the only way to make yourself want to keep going. Here are some photos (and above, some footage) from this strange/good time, and the songs I’ve been playing a lot throughout it.
The very last week of my five week trip to Europe in December and January was spent in Paris. The plan was to continue travelling until mid-March, but– and I should really expect this by now– things didn’t go according to plan. I touched on it briefly in an Instagram post, and maybe I’ll talk specifically about it in the near future, but throughout the entirety of my travels I was increasingly overwhelmingly depressed and anxious. It was in Dublin that I made up my mind about going home early to take care of myself, rather than continuing to travel when it was obviously exacerbating pre-existing issues. I found myself both eagerly counting down the days until my flight home, while also trying desperately to get out of my head and just enjoy whatever was right in front of me.
It’s kind of fitting then, I think, that my journey ended (or paused, I suppose) in Paris. It’s overwhelming. It’s gorgeous and lively and full of people and history and art and ridiculous extravagance. “No one does ridiculous extravagance like the French,” became a near-daily comment I made to my sister. On our first full day in the city we explored the Musée d’Orsay, and while it was already a beautiful building filled with beautiful art, we didn’t really expect to turn a nondescript corner and walk into an ornate, gilded ballroom. All my sister and I could do was turn to each other and ask, “what?” It seemed absurd, and unreal.
That feeling of disbelief followed me throughout the week. By our last day there, which we spent at le Château de Versailles, I was about 99% sure I was in a dream and not an actual place. None of this wealth and excess and luxury could possibly be real. The blues and blush of sunset reflected in the windowpanes of le Grand Trianon matched the pink marble of the building itself, like it was a painting, like its colours were chosen specifically for that reason. It didn’t make any sense. Even now I find it really strange to look back on pictures of that day because I have trouble believing it actually happened to me.
It was a strange surreal week of my life, in which I was at almost all times both incredibly sad and incredibly amazed. I debated just posting my video and photographs and not addressing how shitty I felt the whole time (like I did in all my other posts about this trip) but during this week it was just impossible to ignore, impossible to not address. My mental shape is obviously going to deeply affect my perception and experience of anything. I’m not sure I’d be able to write about Paris without also writing about being sad. It’s easy to show off the highlight reel, but the more I do it the more its inherent dishonesty puts a bad taste in my mouth. I’m not really interested in lying to other people or to myself about how I was feeling. But it’s been tough to be honest about it, it’s been tough to talk about travelling with depression or anxiety (or any illness, for that matter) because the general response is “well I haven’t had a vacation in 27.531 years” or “just enjoy it! Live in the moment! CARPE THAT DIEM! NAMASTE!” It took a lot for me to realize that– while of course I want to be enjoying myself– I don’t owe it to anyone to have a good time while travelling, and I don’t have to pretend like I had the time of my life, even though it is a wonderful opportunity and privilege. #firstworldproblems
So, yeah. It was a complicated week. Weirdly enough, despite everything, I think Paris was my favourite place that we visited on our trip. That’s how cool a place it is, even though I was straight up dead inside I still enjoyed being there. So just imagine how great it would be for a real live person to visit! My video sums up what we did on each day, and I have a whole lot of photos to share…
So my sister and I spent a few days in Manchester over Christmastime, and then spent three days there in January a couple weeks later. Three of our very good friends– Cosette, Ilja, and Phoebe– live there, making it a convenient little stopover between cities so that we could take a breather from being constantly surrounded by NEW PLACES and NEW PEOPLE and NEW THINGS.
While we were there the first time I didn’t film or photograph much (my video diary covers Manchester Trip #2) but we did spend one night all hanging out together in a café, and I dressed the boys up in the vintage clothing sold there, and we took model pictures of them and laughed about it for ages.
I also took some portraits of Cosette:
When we came back for Trip #2, we spent one of our days exploring Liverpool– going to the Tate, walking along the boardwalk, and eating yummy vegan food.
Our last night there was spent getting some stress from the day out by dancing to ABBA and drinking wine and having deep talks until waaaay past our bedtimes. When my sister and I flew to Paris early the next morning we were not the happiest we’ve ever been in our lives…
I spent the first week of 2017 exploring Dublin, Ireland with my sister. Here are all the things we did:
Jan. 1st: We flew into Dublin from Glasgow, Scotland, on about 30 minutes of sleep. If you want to read about my ridiculous New Year’s Eve experience you can do so here… Needless to say, we didn’t do much for our first night in Dublin.
Jan. 2nd: We walked over to Kilmainham Gaol– which unfortunately was SOLD OUT FOR THE WHOLE WEEK, like HOW DO YOU SELL OUT A JAIL– but we got to take a look at their museum and see the main jail area, which softened the blow. We then walked around Phoenix Park, and wound up accidentally walking 12km in total that day…
Jan. 3rd: We spent the whole day looking at various museums downtown.
Jan. 4th: We woke up at 6am to hop on a day tour to Galway and the Cliffs of Moher– it was absurdly beautiful and probably my favourite thing we did while in Ireland. So much greenery, so gorgeous even with dreary weather, it reminded me of home in that way. It’s crazy to me that you can just drive across and see the entire country in a few hours.
Jan. 5th: We visited the Irish Museum of Modern Art, and the Little Museum (an aptly-named small museum all about the history of Dublin).
Jan. 6th: For our last full day, we just wandered around aimlessly around the city and along the River Liffey, and checked out a couple museums.
From December 28th until January 1st, my sister and I were in Scotland. To be specific we were in Glasgow from the 28th to 31st, then we spent New Year’s Eve in Edinburgh at their world famous Hogmanay festival. Hogmanay is the Scottish NYE, and they like to go ham with the fireworks. Our night kind of went haywire, but before I get into that, here’s a rundown of the stuff we did:
Dec. 28: Meandered along the River Clyde to the People’s Palace, a museum about Glaswegian history.
Dec. 29: Went to the Glasgow Necropolis and felt very much like Hamlet (I have this thing with cemeteries… There’s a cemetery by my house that I spend a lot of time at), saw the medieval beauty of the Glasgow Cathedral, and went to the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art
Dec. 30: Wandered the University of Glasgow grounds (um… Hogwarts is that you?), went to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery
Dec. 31: Had a TIME AND A HALF at Edinburgh Hogmanay.
Now, let me tell you a little story about Hogmanay…
So we took an hour-long bus ride from Glasgow to Edinburgh and get there in time to drink some wine and wander around before heading into the street party. The street party goes decently– we saw a really incredible Celtic band and kept warm dancing in the crowd. Every hour on the hour, there’s a small fireworks display leading up to the main event at midnight. Eventually it gets to that time of night and we’re treated to a stunning fireworks display right over Edinburgh Castle to ring in the New Year. I really can’t stress enough how absurdly beautiful it was– and I was sober.
After this the night starts going to smithereens. We’re trying to get out of the crowd but everyone is going different directions at once, so this massive crowd comes almost to a complete standstill, and everyone starts shoving each other to get out of the way. It takes 5 minutes to go 5 metres. Slowly, we get out of there! And out of the street party! But we have nowhere to go… Hostels in Edinburgh all jack up the prices significantly around Hogmanay (a bunk in a hostel dorm was ~$100 Canadian for a night), so we decided to be cheapskates and just pull an all-nighter. It didn’t seem like it would be that hard, the city is wide awake and there’s tons of people everywhere, but neither of us wound up really in the mood for it.
But whatever, right, it’s fine! We just need to kill time until 6am when we have a train back to Glasgow, where we’ll be flying to Dublin. We wandered around this beautiful Scottish city we’d never seen before all night, until finally we can go to the train station and wait for our train.
WELL GUESS WHAT. THERE WERE NO TRAINS RUNNING ON NEW YEAR’S DAY. WHICH SCOTRAIL HAD CONVENIENTLY FORGOTTEN TO MENTION WHEN WE BOUGHT THE TICKET FOR 6AM ON NEW YEAR’S DAY. So that was great. We ended up having to run to the bus station to catch a £30 ($48.82, for my Canadian friends) bus to Glasgow so that we would have time to get to the airport before our 11am flight to Dublin, ALL OF WHICH WE DID ON NO SLEEP.
Don’t ask me why I thought this would be a good idea. I’ve learned my lesson and I will never go outside again.
Anyway, to end this, here’s a video of just a few seconds from the midnight fireworks in Edinburgh (that almost made all the hell we went through later worth it)…
A post shared by sarah sloan macleod (@sloanmacleod) on
Happy new year! Next up: Dublin.
*Side note: If you’re wondering why we didn’t just fly to Dublin from Edinburgh, believe me: that was the plan. We booked our flight through GoEuro and it said it was from Edinburgh to Dublin… Later we checked the confirmation email and saw it was actually from Glasgow to Dublin, and they just assumed we had a car and could drive there. LMAO.
It’s 4:00AM on December 12th and I’ve just woken up after about 2 hours of sleep. I have a plane to catch at 6:45AM from Vancouver to Toronto, where I’ll have a 7 hour layover before hopping on a second flight, this time from Toronto to London, England. If everything goes according to plan, I won’t be home until mid-to-late March. London is just the first stop on the tour of Europe my sister and I are embarking on. It’s 4:00AM on December 12th and I am very, very, anxious. But time, relentless as ever, keeps moving. Soon enough It’s 10:00AM London time (2:00AM Vancouver time) and I’ve just landed at Gatwick Airport. Oh fuck. Holy shit. Here we go.
Here is the rundown of the 10 days I spent in London:
WHAT I DID
HOW IT WAS
We were too exhausted after our long flight to do much other than wandering, but walking out of the Tube at Piccadilly Circus and looking up at the bright lights of the city really was something else.
Such high ceilings! So much natural light! And free????? How??? But also... Egypt called, they want their shit back.
-Harry Potter Walking Tour
We saw the IRL Diagon and Knockturn Alley and it was a good time.
-221B Baker Street
-Southbank Christmas Market
"All lives end. All hearts are broken. Caring is not an advantage, Sherlock." -Mycroft Holmes, BBC Sherlock
Being in a room full of Rothkos at the Tate made me really happy.
-National Portrait Gallery
The Wellcome Collection surprised my sister and I by being probably our favourite thing we did in London despite only finding it advertised online as basically a collection of weird shit.
-Hampton Court Palace
-London Bridge Experience
♪DIVORCED BEHEADED AND DIED, DIVORCED BEHEADED SURVIVED, I'M KING HENRY VIII I HAD SIX SORRY WIVES, SOME MIGHT SAY I RUINED THEIR LIVES♫
A little known fact about me: I went through a phase of being REALLY obsessed with the Tudors. Needless to say, I was excited to be in Henry VIII's favourite palace.
-Handel & Hendrix Museum
I didn't realize how many dead people you're surrounded by at Westminster Abbey... It's a place equally as morbid as it is beautiful.
The Handel & Hendrix museum was also really fascinating-- the German composer and American rock musician lived right beside each other 200 years apart, and now their former homes are a museum.
-Tower of London
-Tower Bridge Exhibition
This was the day I annoyed my sister by quoting Hamlet even more often than I usually quote Hamlet.
-Lights of Soho
-Camden Pub Crawl
Lights of Soho is a neon art gallery (which, if you've seen my Instagram, you know is very me). We followed it with a pub crawl-- my first ever!
-Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
I've been wanting to go to Sketch (a crazy London restaurant) for ages-- ever since seeing photos of its crazy bathrooms online. For our last day, our friends came and met us in London before we went to Manchester to stay with them and we got tea and cakes at this absurdly gorgeous place.
And here are all my favourite pictures….
If you’ve made it this far, I appreciate you giving a shit. I’ll be doing my best to keep updating throughout my travels, but if you want to see everything more or less as it happens the best place to do that is my Instagram.