Travels, Adventures, & Life in general.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Time Flies in Berlin

Wow. So we head to Denmark on Friday and it's hard to believe. Unfortunately, I didn't get to know Berlin as well as Barcelona (not that I knew Barca quite well, either), partially because the city is so large and partially because we were a lot busier.

BUT I have gotten some cool photos. I went to a skate competition (my first ever) at this youth center called M-Street.

I'm putting together a photo book for the trip. Still haven't decided whether or not I'll make it available to purchase. Of course I'll be posting once it's finished!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Jüterbog and Werder

SO I am now in Berlin, Germany. Hurrah! Already it feels quite massive compared to Barcelona. We had Saturday and Sunday free, so on Saturday evening a friend and I decided to venture to a little town about 65km outside of Berlin.
We took the train to Jüterbog, and were going to hike the 5km to Werder (a population of around 100).

Bicycle, Shadows
It was beautiful outside and I thoroughly enjoyed the fresh air. And colors. And shadows.

We ended up running into the woman we were staying with, so only ended up walking about 1km rather than the full 5. Werder is a tiny town with literally one road running through it.

There's the road!

The people of Werder had a giant bonfire to celebrate May Day--- they burnt an effigy of a witch. Witch hunts, etc. Still not entirely sure about the history behind it, but something to do with burning witches. And Lutheranism. And paganism. Or something.

Standing by the Fire

Anyway, it was a really great trip and you should check out the photos

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Things I Learned #3 - Prague

1. Grass??? (Barcelona didn't have much of that. Doesn't rain much and all).
2. There are only three metro lines in the whole city. THREE. Also, the escalators leading to/from the tunnels are terrifyingly steep.

Metro, Prague
That's looking down.

3. Pilsner = cheap and delicious.
4. Just because your hostel is right next to a strip club (hilariously titled "Sexy Club 666) does not make it bad.
5. The skaters here laugh, affectionately, I hope, at you if A) ask to take their picture B) aren't lugging around an enormous camera bag and C) are a girl. Lamesauce.
6. Converting US dollars into the Czech crown is HORRIBLE. $1 = 17Kč
7. WO IST DER SCHLECKER?? Oh, it's right down the street from me.
8. Czech is crazy hard to pronounce.
9. The colors in Prague are fantastic.


And that's the end of my lazy Prague blog post.

Friday, April 22, 2011

BCN Skateboarding: The Final Day.

FIRST OFF: I wanted this post to capture the gratitude I have towards everyone I've met in the past four weeks. I want to thank them for skating (Rufus reference!) and giving me a renewed interest in my photography and a project that I never had considered before. You are some of the coolest people I've met and I genuinely hope to keep in contact!

Keep skating; I'll keep photographing.


The day I arrived in Barcelona, I remember sitting on the metro across from two boys holding skateboards. I noted this to my friends but didn't think much more of it. Now, four weeks later, it seems appropriate that the first people I distinguished in Barcelona were part of a culture I spent so much time around.

Barcelona is, at least in the skateboarding community, widely regarded as the "skate capital of the world." No matter in which area of the city you are, there's bound to be a great skate spot (ledges, rails, stairs, banks, etc.). The Mecca of these spots? Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA). To a non-skater, MACBA seems just like any other square. Search MACBA online, however, and you will come across a throng of skate videos filmed there. Apparently, whatever stone the tiles are made of is perfect for tricks. It simply has more pop. Hang out at MACBA on any given day and there's bound to be plenty of skateboarders. Unfortunately, there's also bound to be plenty of cops.


Skateboarding and police seem to go hand-in-hand. Well, maybe fist against fist. Skateboarding is technically illegal in BCN. Skateboarding carries a fine of up to 1500 euro and the cops and confiscate your board. While I've never witnessed anyone getting cited for skateboarding, I know that it happens. I'm still confused as to why it carries such a heavy penalty. Barca attracts skaters from across the world (I've met individuals from the US, France, Portugal, Sweden, Norway, England, and Ireland, to name a few). In my mind, the city should be promoting skateboarding. Not only does it attract tourism, but it's a fantastic sport. And it truly is a demanding sport. Before coming here, I figured skateboarding was more of a hobby for most people. I never really understood how much time goes into perfecting skills and landing tricks.

For example, I watched a British skater try to land a trick for three hours. In the middle, he fell face flat to the ground. He quickly got up, feeling his teeth to make sure that they were all there. He asked his friends and, assured that no teeth were missing, got back up and tried the trick again. To some, that may be a sign of insanity. To me, it's sheer dedication.


I've met some amazing people in this city. At first, I was worried about being "that weird girl that's always hanging around the spots with a giant backpack." While I may have been that girl (or maybe still am), I've felt extremely welcome in the community. Skateboarders tend to have a bad rep, which for the most part couldn't be further from the truth. Someone was always willing to point me in the direction of a new spot, or to smile for the camera, or work on a trick and let me snap some photos.

I would strongly encourage you to watch some skate videos, or to pay attention the next time you see someone practicing skateboarding, and just stop for a moment to admire the work and time that goes into it. If you REALLY want to appreciate it, try getting on a skateboard yourself. Trust me, it's a lot harder than it looks.

If you would like to see my full skate photo set, please visit my flickr.

Sean SmithJamie Palmore

Semana Santa, Palm Sunday

I realize that this post is greatly overdue, but better late than never!

Last Sunday marked the start of Semana Santa, or Holy Week. It runs the week before Easter until Easter day. While Barcelona doesn't have as large of processions as cities like Seville or Madrid, it still has some.

I went to a little suburb called L'Hospitalet de Llobregat to watch the Palm Sunday (Domingo de Ramos) procession. I'm pretty sure I was the only English speaker there--it was definitely an experience. At first, all I saw was a small marching band and group of individuals dressed like Romans.


Soon after, however, they started walking and I followed. I turned a corner, and suddenly there were people everywhere, lining the streets. A group of people were standing in front of a large warehouse door. I was told (in Spanish) to stand right in front of it. So I did!

Now, I know what you're thinking. And yes, the KKK did take their costumes from traditional processional garb. But let's try to get over that and realize that just because one horrible group appropriates something, it shouldn't detract from the significance of the original.

Jesus Float!

People were carrying a float with a statue of Jesus on top of it. They swayed back and forth as they moved, which made it look like Jesus himself was walking. Every so often, they would stop, and someone would sing. Then everyone started clapping wildly.

People watched from balconies.

It was a very enjoyable experience--I'm happy I went.

I leave Barcelona tomorrow. I'm not ready! I like this city.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Jurassic (Joan Miro) Park

I meant to say... Joan Miro park reminds me of Jurassic Park. I think it's the palm trees/metal fences, but it definitely looks like the velociraptor cage. I am happy to report that I was not eaten, nor did I see any maimed cow-holsters.

Barcelona Amusements

So, while I pretty much have been concentrating my efforts on photographing skateboarding around Barcelona, I have done some other things as well.
Case in point:

I saw a giant pillow fight.

Pillow Fight 2

Pillow Fight!

I semi-participated in that... it was slightly difficult while carrying a camera around, pillowless. I did have my camera thwacked into the bridge of my nose a few times. That was lovely. BUT it was an enjoyable experience overall.

I also witnessed some lovely swing dancing. It was particularly lovely because it was in a non-touristy area of the city (the best part of a city!). Sunday Morning Swing.

Sunday Morning Swing

Red and Yellow

While I was taking some skate photos, a group of boys were playing cricket behind a while covered in graffiti. I was able to get this shot, and am very happy I did:


There! Now you (sort of) know what I've been up to.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


I'm really behind on blog posts/ updating Flickr. I have lots of photos, just not the time or energy to edit! IT WILL HAPPEN SOON.

Monday, April 4, 2011

BCN Skateboarding: A Work in Progress.

Unbeknownst to many (including myself before arriving), Barcelona is widely regarded as the "skateboarding capital of the world." A mecca for skaters, BCN draws groups and individuals from around the world. For example, in my first few days I have already heard Spanish, British, Irish, American, and French dialects.

Skateboarding has a culture of its own. Nowhere else have I seen so many people greet each other with so much respect and friendliness. In the short time that I've spent watching, rivalries seem nonexistent. People clap when its deserved. Everyone is a participant; even those just watching. The most popular skateboarding location in BCN is Plaça dels Angels, right in front of the MACBA museum. Plaça dels Angels is not just a place to skate, it's a place to watch, to learn, to support.

Like most public venues, attempting to skate in the Plaça is not without its challenges. In the three hours I spent there one day, the police arrived three separate times. This is problematic. As soon as the police arrive, the skating stops.

I've decided to pursue a series of photos that will hopefully provide a glimpse into the skateboarding culture of Barcelona: the individuals, the tricks, the wipeouts, the relationships that all make BCN so much more than just "the skateboarding capital." The culture goes much deeper than that.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Girona/ Figueres.

So today was a little exciting excursion to the cities of Girona and Figueres, north of Barcelona. Girona is absolutely beautiful--there are some beautiful old fortifications and other old buildings (old buildings in Europe, what?!?) and it was nice to get out of Barcelona. While Girona is a popular tourist destination, it seemed a bit quieter than Barca.

Tall Trees, Girona
An awesome park. With awesome trees.


Pétanque 2

The only time we spent in Figueres was to see the Salvador Dali museum. It was interesting, none of the works by which I know him were displayed. I think a lot of those are elsewhere in the world (I know I've seen a few in the Art Institute of Chicago).

@ the Dali Museum

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Today I Learned #2 - At the Park

1) Pepsi > Coke (I'm actually all for Coke, but I saw some people filming what looked to be a Pepsi ad).
2) Young boys are already wearing skinny jeans and v-neck t-shirts. What happened to the awkward years?? No one should be that fashionable at age ten.
3) Benches are good for napping.
3.5) As is the grass.


4) People smoke weed relatively publicly in parks. More often than one would think.
5) PDA is perfectly ok in public parks. Scratch that--Barcelona in general.
7) All of the signs depicting that said dogs must be on leash at all times mean NOTHING.

Here are some images from my walk around the park today.
Creative Sunblock

Drying Clothes

Today I Learned #1 - Generally

I've kept a little notebook with me as I've traveled. Mostly, I've just jotted random things I've seen/want to research/ find amusing, interesting, sad, etc. So, I'm going to be posting a few today, and a few as the term progresses. This post is just a general list of things I've learned so far in Barcelona!

1) You can spot American "bros" (and Americans in general) from miles away.
2) No matter what time of day, gelato ALWAYS looks appetizing.
3) Some vintage stores in Barcelona sell Minnesota Vikings jerseys?

This one was short, but maybe I'll add to it later.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

New Media 2011

The study abroad program has officially started!
I don't know how my posts will work from now on.

Also, I am officially a Cinema and Media Studies major. Or rather, declared to become one!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Parc de la Ciutadella

I. have found. my Barcelona hang out spot.

Barcelona's central park, Parc de la Ciutadella, is absolutely BEAUTIFUL. As today is the last official day of spring break, we went there to relax before classes start. The sun was shining (despite a forecast for rain), couples were making out, and vendors were quietly attempting to sell visitors beer cans kept in plastic bags. Ok, it' s actually a lot classier than I just made that sound.

Yesterday we visited Parc Güell, which was designed by Gaudi. It was also really beautiful, but a bit crowded. Part of the park overlooks the entire city. The map I have doesn't really convey how expansive Barcelona is, so it was really cool (and a tad overwhelming) to see the city from above.

Anyway. Tomorrow we move into student housing! Hopefully it's as awesome as their website claims.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


And so we reach Barcelona, the first long stay (until April 23rd) of our trip. We haven't done much yet; just walked down La Rambla and to the coast and stopped in the Gothic Cathedral (not to be confused with La Sagrada Familia--that visit comes tomorrow). The cathedral was gorgeous, but there was a lot of construction so we couldn't see much.

So far, Barcelona has a really interesting feel. Maybe it's because we've only been on the main, touristy drag, maybe it's because I don't speak the language, but I do really miss Paris and Barcelona seems a bit less exciting in comparison. Perhaps Paris has just been so romanticized...Barcelona, on the other hand, I hardly know much about. I'll have to read up on the city's history.

Anyway, I didn't take many photos today. It was more of a relaxed/shopping day. [THERE WERE 3 H&Ms WITHIN 3 BLOCKS OF ONE ANOTHER]

Here's a photo taken at the Gothic Cathedral.

Camera Prayer
I found this man's pose really captivating. While this was in the cloisters rather than the actual cathedral itself, it just seemed like an interesting way to capture tourism in holy places.

Monday, March 21, 2011


Parisian Sunset

Well, we've been in Paris since Saturday afternoon but today has been the first absolutely gorgeous day of the, well, whole trip really.
Yesterday we visited the Louvre (gah! So overwhelming!) and walked the entirety of the Champs Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe. I climbed to the top and it was quite lovely. I can now officially say I've used the loo near the top of the Arc de Triomphe--that's pretty exciting!
I'm contemplating putting a photo essay together called "Tourists," or something of the like; I really enjoy taking photos of tourists interacting at all of these incredibly historic sites. It's interesting 1) Because I am also one of them 2) Because they're all from different places yet have very similar ways of interacting with the environment 3) Because it's far more interesting than just taking photos of buildings over and over again [though don't get me wrong, I love architecture].

"La Jaconde" (Mona Lisa)

This past Saturday we decided to just walk around Paris, enjoying the sites. The park in front of Notre Dame was by far one of the highlights of the trip so far. A woman and an old man had a bag of bird seed and were feeding the pigeons and handing the seed out for free to the various visitors as well. Pigeons roosting on your arms/shoulders/head is a very odd feeling. They're a lot heavier than one would think. The old man came up to us and asked where we were from, when we told him "America," he pointed to a pin on his collar and said that he loves America and that he fought in WWII. He still carries around his war identification card (for the life of me I can't remember which division he fought under) and showed it to us. He spoke very limited English and even had a strange accent while speaking French, I'm pretty sure he was from Germany. Later, he told us, "Without the help of America, I never would have been able to return home to Germany." The translation is not exact and I can't remember the exact phrasing, but it was close to that. It was amazing how powerful just one sentence can be.

Our Friend with Sparrows

I've loved Paris more and more each day that we've spent here. Today we visited the Eiffel Tower but didn't go up (too crowded, too pricey), l'Hôtel des Invalides, and Sacre Coeur/Montmartre. I think Montmartre is my favorite place we've visited so far. A service started in Sacre Coeur while we were admiring its interior, and it was absolutely breathtaking. The nuns were singing and playing music and it was just a really relaxing place to be despite the tourists. The contrast between the inside and outside of the basilica was absurd. Even the contrast in environment between the front (where all the steps are) and the back (where there's a small park) is absurd. I was shocked by how few people seemed to realize that Sacre Coeur looks beautiful from all sides...

Sacre Coeur, View from the Park

Door and Shadow

You can see the rest of the photos here.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

London [pics]

From top to bottom:
Venison and rabbits, Borough Market
Dusk, Random park whose name I can't remember
The clock room, British Museum
Lamb carcasses, Borough Market

I haven't had time to edit much yet, so sorry that the middle two are a little dark. Paris photos will be on display shortly!

Friday, March 18, 2011


So, London has been awesome.
Like I knew I would, I've been a terrible blogger. It will probably only continue as we don't have WiFi at our next stop (Paris).

In any case, I've thoroughly enjoyed this leg of the trip. I've met interesting people (including 2 members of the 4th gen. of the British tele show "Skins"), sipped on delicious cider, seen dead game rabbits, conquered 7-year-old-self fears, and found my way home using a bus line at 3am.

I'm terribly sorry but blogger is being silly at the moment and therefore is not letting me upload photos. I promised I'll do so in Barcelona!

Monday, March 14, 2011


Goodbye Watson 603! We had a nice run together, you and I.
I'm almost entirely packed for the trip and only stressing out a little bit.
Oh, here's the rundown on where I'll be going (in chronological order):

  • London
  • Paris
  • Barcelona
  • Prague
  • Berlin
  • Copenhagen

On another departure note, I had to say goodbye to Scoville (the building where the Carleton CAMS department is currently located. The department is moving here next year). While the Weitz Center for Creativity is bound to be awesome, it'll be hard to match Scoville's coziness.

Goodbye Scoville! I lurb you!

Ah, well.

Adventure awaits!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Easy Goodbye

Murder! Mystery! Rihanna!

Here's our final for Digital Foundations... hope you enjoy.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Photo Website

Not only can you follow this site, but I will also be continuing work on my photography website.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Oh look! My full closet!

I'm trying to get into the habit of blogging so that when Adventure Time comes, I'll be used to posting. Therefore, here are some less-than-artsy photos of my room before everything is packed.

Hooray for habits!

Ooo, aaaah