Travels, Adventures, & Life in general.

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