My name is Ismaël Auray.

Recently, I've decided to relocate with my family to pursue my career outside of my home country: Canada. I'll share the highlights of this experience with you here. 

Pack your bags!

It's been a while since my last post, but there was and there is still a lot to do to settle in Amsterdam. In the last post, I mentioned something about packing. So here is a simple solution that a couple of people shared with me before we left Quebec City and I thought I should share it with you because it might help some of you guys.

To pack like a pro you need : The SPACE BAG!

I'm not sponsored by Ziploc, but, this thing works like magic if you need to make room in your luggages.

I'm not sponsored by Ziploc, but, this thing works like magic if you need to make room in your luggages.

And a vacuum (make sure you don't sell your vacuum before using the space bags... :s).
Yes, in my so well prepared master plan of selling all of our stuff, I made the slight miscalculation of selling our vacuum before packing. Yup, that happened... So we ended up  sending a distress signal to our friends in Quebec to borrow vacuum to pack our bags and one of our friends, Simon Asselin came to the rescue with a very powerful industrial vacuum that allowed us to use our space bags in no time.

That being said, all of our belonging were able to fit in a few luggages. :P 

I was joking with people that we needed that amount of luggage for a 4 days trip to Rome. 

I was joking with people that we needed that amount of luggage for a 4 days trip to Rome. 

The next thing you need to look for is the regulations about the luggage of your airline. We were travelling with KLM, the thing you want to look for is the "free online membership" that they have on almost every major airlines. For KLM/Air France/Delta, it's called "Flying Blue" membership. If you get this membership, and you book your extra luggage in advance, you can save a lot, because of the online discount. 

We were able to book extra luggage (max of 10) for every tickets. 

I hope that this post will be useful for you if you ever plan to move to a different country, or if you need to bring a lot of stuff with you on a trip.

In the meantime, a little hello from me and my daughter Emma here in Amsterdam. We arrived safely last week in our temporary housing.

Me and Emma on our first walk together in Amsterdam! In the background there is the interior courtyard of our temporary place.

Me and Emma on our first walk together in Amsterdam! In the background there is the interior courtyard of our temporary place.

On the next post, I'll let you know more about the beginning of our trip.

All That Remains

That’s it! Everything we own fits in one van! Bye bye la ville de Québec!  #expatlife  #quebeccity  Ref :

That’s it! Everything we own fits in one van! Bye bye la ville de Québec! #expatlife#quebeccity Ref :

I heard a lot of time that it's good to get out of your comfort zone once in a while. Well, I'm about as far as I can be of my comfort zone right now, and it's... interesting. Your perspective on things shifts when the material part of your life fits into three carry-on, five suitcases and three duffle bags.

You have to let go. Not only materialistically, but also mentally. You will gain and loose. Ain't that what life is all about? We are all trying our best in most situations. Knowledge and experience combined together can lead to wisdom, but even the wise will make mistakes. 

It's not an easy decision to make, and I'm glad that Éléna, our two kids and I made this decision together, as a family. In the end, we all had to let go on different levels. Achieving this process in less then two months is very peculiar.

To be honest, it's not an easy road. But, I can tell you one thing, in the end it is mostly very liberating and positive.

When you let go of almost everything in your possession, you realize a couple of things:

  1. How much stuff you keep and carry around for no good reason. 
  2. How much stuff you don't use that is still worth something. It's just money sitting around the corner.
  3. How much we surround ourselves with things... too many unimportant things...
  4. That you need to be more selective.
  5. That Facebook Marketplace is one of the best tool to sell things quickly online.

About a month ago, when I sold my first item: a TV, it felt weird. A big part of our living room space was gone. It's comforting to see a big 60 inches TV in your living room. Isn't it? But, it's only when this huge hypnotizing screen is gone that you can realize you have a lot more time then you think to accomplish something else... Something more meaningful?

No more TV in the living room!

No more TV in the living room!

Truth be told, I really needed to gain more time on my schedule. In retrospect, I'm glad it was one of the first things that left our place.

And as simple as it may sound, when something leave your space, it gives room for something else. I found my old Ukulele and played a lot since, and it helped me and my daughters to have some quality time together. When I play some songs for them I feel more present.

Will we have a new TV in our new place? I can't say for sure, but I don't think so for now. So much projects to do, so many new things to see. 

What is the one thing you wish would leave your space? Are you sorting your things once in a while to define what's essential?  If so, how often do you do so?

I haven't told you guys yet where we will be moving. Here is our destination: the Netherlands in the City of Amsterdam. 

In my next post I'll share some tips about flying with a ton of extra luggage and the beginning of our journey in Amsterdam.  

Tot ziens!

I Amsterdam Sign - Photo taken last January.

I Amsterdam Sign - Photo taken last January.

Europe 2005

October 18th 2005 

October 18th 2005 

To move forward in the story, I think we need to take a step back.

Let me introduce you to the 19 years old me! You might be wondering: "Why are you showing us this picture of yourself with some strange markings in french all over your arm?" I think it's an honest question, and I'll get to the point of this picture really soon. But first, let me add a bit more context to this. 

The story goes back to 2005. The era when a 5.6 oz, click wheel iPod was an awesome thing to carry around with you. 

Ipod 20gb - Click Wheel 4th Gen - Grey screen 

Ipod 20gb - Click Wheel 4th Gen - Grey screen 

When I was 19, I left home for about 2 months to go around Europe with a backpack, a guitar, and a huge Europe Lonely Planet Europe travel guide. At that time, Google Maps didn't exist. You had to figure out your location by comparing landmarks, streets and maps. 

During this trip, I went to France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland and the Netherlands. 

It was a profound experience for me. I think I could write a lot more material about this, but lets now go back to the picture of my "handwritten inked" arm. This picture was taken in Como, Italy. And this is when cinema started to emerge as a predominant subject in my mind.

Lago di Como, Italy.

Lago di Como, Italy.

Have you ever had an unexpected, iconic, weird moment that would define a big part of your life? If yes, please share some of your experiences in the comments section below!

For me, one of these moment is linked to a good story. 

On October 14th 2005, I spent the night awake at a youth hostel, under really weird circumstances.

At this place, there was €1 cheap glass of wine and €4 pastas so it was a pretty decent place to be if you were traveling on a budget. At night, I was playing guitar so the owners were filling my cup for free during most of the evening.


The menu for that particular evening was seafood pasta. I don't know who thought serving cheap wine and seafood pasta was a good idea... Personally, I didn't order it... But, other people did.

Reference :

Reference :

And that is the interesting part! I was sleeping in an open dormitory. To be honest, you rarely sleep well in a youth hostel. But even when I slept on a rooftop in Cadiz (Spain) it was still a better experience than this. At least on a rooftop, there's some fresh air!

It was about two AM in the morning. I can't remember whose face it was, but I remember the smell!

Seafood poisoning mixed with cheap wine makes a mix colors and odors that will never leave your memory. It's a bit like being hit on the nose really hard. At first you have tears in your eyes, and you don't understand what hit you. Then your vision gets clearer, you come back to your senses and "Ta-da" the image appears! And it's like a second blow to your face. 

So this was a really unpleasant and drastic way of getting out of bed. But then, I was awake and there was no way I was going to get back in this dormitory. They changed me to another dorm.

I had no paper, no light, just a pen and my arm and that's where I had my first concept for a short film. I wrote the key ideas on my arm to pick it back again in the morning.

This is the moment and place where I found a sense of purpose in life. On this day, I found meaning and motivation. On this day, I told myself: "I want to be a filmmaker."

2010 - Cabaret de la dernière chance - Short Film Corner - Cannes Film Festival Crédit Photo: Martin Gros  Infographie: Bernard Jean

2010 - Cabaret de la dernière chance - Short Film Corner - Cannes Film Festival
Crédit Photo: Martin Gros  Infographie: Bernard Jean

Not all who wander are lost

My younger self asking you and me to go on an adventure! 

My younger self asking you and me to go on an adventure! 

Hello, my name is Ismaël!

I've always wanted to start a blog.

I have almost done it in the past under different alias, but I've never done it really seriously. By "seriously", I mean to post on a regular basis. I don't mean that I'll be "serious", and bore you to death.

To be completely honest, I guess I was a bit frighten about opening up to strangers. Aren't we all? But hey! Here it is. I am currently doing a lot of things to get out of my comfort zone. So, why not!?

You might be wondering what things? Cliffhanger! I'll write more on that specific subject matter soon.

If you follow this blog, I'll try to entertain you and bring you with me on an adventure. I'll try to be as authentic as possible, and I would ask you to do the same if you want. 

I don't want to make these posts all about myself, so I'll try to make this blog interactive as much as possible. There will be a section of comments, where you can ask questions or suggest subjects for other posts or discussions. Feel free to leave comments. I'll try to answer them as soon as I am able to. 

If you follow this blog, my hope is that we will get a chance to interact together. There will be some incredible pictures of things that will catch my imagination, some insights about interesting things that I will discover along the way. There might be some videos at some point. There might even be an homemade CRAZY song inspired by the Drama Llamma. (see below)

Drama Llama 

Drama Llama 

I haven't told you but, yes! I really enjoy GIFs! I think it's one of the best media format that can be used in the entire Internet!

So I'll leave you with the wise words of Tolkien, and the patch that I will sew on my backpack for my next adventure.

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes, a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king
— J. R. R. Tolkien - The Lord of the Rings