Some random photos
Some random photos
This trip hasn’t been much about photography to be thruthful. Of course I did carry my equipment with me and I also overdid it so I had a lot of stuff I didn’t really needed and neither used. Anyway, this is not the point here. The point is that taking pictures during this trip has been much more difficult than I expected.
Difficult in different ways. I can’t honestly point out one a single thing that went wrong because they were many. The cold, to name one. I never liked cold weather but usually I can cope, either because I don’t have to stay outside hours and hours or because I don’t have a photographic camera with me then. In the four “cold cities” I had real problems to actually taking a photograph. I even remember times when my face and my fingers were so numb that I just wanted to be warm again, took some random pictures, put the camera away and walked faster to enter the first building/shop/bar/whatever I found. That’s not a good condition to take pictures, let alone real photographs. All I was thinking about was “warm, and do it fast”.
I did a first edit today and there they were: the sloppy compositions, the bad exposures, the wrong cuts, the badly lit photos. I threw away most of them.
I could blame it all on the cold but I remember other sensations (in addition to poor skills mastery of course) like the lack of will. Sometime I was there and I really didn’t care whether I was going to take that photo or not so I just pushed the button and move one. None of those pictures survived my editing. I didn’t want to shoot those pictures, I knew it was not for me but for other people to show to and there’s no reason to take a picture if you don’t even like taking it. I just didn’t care about having on my SD card this view or that monument or the other museum.
Everybody pushes about wanting to see “a lot of photos”, sorry guys, the trip was for me, my eyes and my head. Not to heal our collective hunger with multitudes of meaningless pictures as we do everyday.
So, lack of will, mastery and utter cold. No wonder why I’m not happy with 90% of the pictures.
At least it won’t be hard to get down to the 25 I wanted to have in the final edit.
An hour until my last flight. The terminal one of Barcelona’s airport is my idea of airport. Huge spaces, everything is made of glasses and with the help of the reflecting floor the sun light coming in makes a wonderful atmosphere. Not cozy, not ill constructed. Mirrors, glasses, reflections, a lot of light. It’s the 24th of December and I’m just wearing a t-shirt. It’s unusual for me. What I can believe because I’ve experienced it was the dipping from toes to knees in the sea. I’ll get to that in a moment.
23rd December. Yesterday was my actual last day in Barcelona so I tried to make the most out of it. I had numerous options but I didn’t want to stay inside. The rain was gone and at noon the sun was bursting with its full power through the clouds. I wanted to stay outside so I did.
Parc Guell. It took me a while to get there because I went in the wrong direction on the wrong lines a couple of times, I was convinced that the stop was on one of the blueish lines but actually was on the green one. So after some back and forth I reached yet another Guadì’s mastermind creation. The park is quite huge and it spans throughout an entire hill in Barcelona. From one of the sightseeing places on the peak you can see the entire city, from hills to the seaside. I got lucky because of the sun, it made my stay at the park even better.
The beach. THE B-E-A-C-H! My second stop was the beach. I craved for it, I wanted to feel the water, no matter what. It was far easier than I expected. There’s even a metro station! From the hills to the sea in less than 30 minutes. This city couldn’t be more awesome. After strolling around a bit I got to the shore and there I waited for the sun down. I took off my shoes and waited for the waves to reach the tip of my toes. Man, the water wasn’t even that cold! My fingers and eyes were functioning by themselves taking some shots of the beach, the shore and the horizon. Then, feeling the sun warming my skin I walked towards the waves. My knees and a bit of my trousers were in. There was no going back for me. Being in the water on the 23rd of December is something I haven’t done in my entire life. Usually December means bad weather and even snow for me and in this trip I did also that but the water washed away all the pain from the cold, all the few bad things about this trip. I was refreshed and recharged.
Fast forward to now.
Now I better catch my flight, not that I really want to anyway but hey, it’s been a crazy month for me. I have to get back to my family and friends, after all today it’s Christmas Eve.
Merry Christmas to you all and if you don’t celebrate Christmas just have a wonderful day tomorrow :-)
This post is from this morning, sorry but I didn’t have any internet connection before.
This post is from this morning, sorry but I didn’t have any internet connection before.
Bye bye Barcelona
My day yesterday started with me going to the Sagrada Familia. It rained pretty much all day :-(
Sagrada Familia. I didn’t go in so I can’t say but from outside it didn’t really make me say “wow”. I stayed around there a bit because I also had to figure out how to go elsewhere by walk. I’m not very good with paper maps. I wanted to walk to the location of Casa Milà, another Gaudì’s creation but it rained too much so after seeing from outside some kind of bulls arena I went underground.
The song “Without You” by Dwele came to mind:
Palm trees, green leaves
colors in the fall
happiness of spring
a sun ray, peaking through a, light rain
Palm trees, check. Green leaves, check (almost). Fall: gone by one day. Sun rays, none. Rain, a lot.
Passeig de Gràcia. It’s a very fancy street in the city with a lot of shops and buildings. At least a couple of them Casa Batlló and Casa Milà came straight out of Gaudì’s mind. I skipped the first one because they asked like 16 euros and I already had my mind set on the second one, the famous “La Pedrera”.
La Pedrera. I can’t even begin to describe this building. It like nothing else I’ve seen in my entire life. I think it’s a work of genius, not that I know anything about designing buildings but it looks so not early 1900 from the outside. When I reached the amazing terrace the Sun showed itself and the rain had already stopped pouring down. I got really lucky. Afterwards it resumed because when I set foot on the ground floor again I had to put away my camera once again. The tour is made of three parts: the terrace, a floor with infos about the building and other Gaudì’s masterpieces and an apartment, a huge apartment.
Arc de Triomf. Been there, done that, didn’t like it. Like Shania sings: “that don’t impress me much”.
Back to the hostel. The never ending rain kind of upset me so I headed back to the hostel. I stayed there hanging out with some people and my room mates, slept a bit and prepared for the night.
Club. I went to a club for free with another two dozens of people from the hostel. They called taxis for us, we arrived there in a jiffy. The club was a bit of a drag to be honest. I signed up because I thought it was more R&B and hip-hop but there it was, the usual shitty commercial house music. Anyway, I had fun because of the nice people I was with.
Fast forward to now. The sun rays are bursting through the window behind me now so I better get ready to get back in this crazy city where on the 23rd of December it’s warm. I love it, I think I’ve never experienced real warm weather around Christmas time :-)
Casa Milà (La Pedrera)
dame un beso @ Plaça de la Universitat
Barcelona - It was the first time that we met
Barcelona - How can I forget
The Queen even wrote a song about this city. It must be great, right?
I’ll skip the part of me trying to get to the city yesterday night after landing at the airport. It’s just a series of moments of me bored to death waiting on the bus.
Hostel. The hostel is very nice. It’s this 12 floor building in Av. Meridiana, not far from the centre. You get your magnetic key (which I had to change already) and you can use it to open the front door, the room door and your locker. Electronics, everywhere. I have three room mates. Some dude from Canada (Ottawa) whom is just chillin’ in the city and excercise with his guitar around the hostel. Then there’s Nicholas, an asian guy from Ontario and there’s Jonze (I’m not sure I got the name right, tomorrow I’ll find out) who’s a professional dancer that decided to stay in Europe after a tour with his dance company in Berlin. He’s straight from NYC, nice guy. The hostel is cheap, like everything else here.
Subway. This morning I woke up and after a normal breakfast (that’s the first thing that reminded me of Italy, no ham and cheese at 8 o’clock!) I took the subway from Clot, destination Jaume (I guess :-P). Let me spend a few words about Barcelona undeground transportation. First and foremost: the coaches are huge, far wider than Milano’s. They have a lot of room and some of them have some special stands behind regular seats where you can just lay your back on and rest a bit. They have a lot of lines too, I just used three today.
Picasso. The Picasso Museum is right in the old city, an endless maze of “calles” and old buildings, beautiful. The problem was the weather, it rained all morning and all afternoon. Very bad to take photos and hang around. So I went in. I actually preferred the temporary exhibition over the regular one, it showed how Picasso was influenced by Degas directly and indirectly. The curator did a wonderful job, showing their creations side to side to make the viewer aware of their artistic paths and endeavors.
Walking around. After that, in the rain with my camera out I did the usual wandering I do in a new city. I also got lost and that’s part of the scouting too. Then soaked I went back to the hostel and fell asleep, I didn’t plan to but luckily I woke up in time to explore the city again, at night.
La Rambla. I love the sound of how “La Rambla” in spanish. It carries strength and decision. Anyway, I had a pretty nice walk starting from “Universitat” to “Catalunya square” and down to La Rambla. There’s a lot of human behaviors you can observe in this long street. Beggars, stands, people trying to give you invitations to this or that club, the police, the tourists, the locals. Everything happens in La Rambla. I even witnessed the police coming in forces in a pub to escort out a very drunk couple. Don’t know why but when I was heading to the street my mind just started humming “If you tolerate this, then your children will be next” by Manic Street Preachers. There’s this part when they say
Holes in your head today
But I’m a pacifist
I’ve walked La Rambla
But not with real intent
Pretty amazing the mind, right?
The sea. Yes, the sea. Yesterday I was at -5°C, tonight it was 10°C. At the end of La Rambla you can see the port and that’s was it. I’m happy, really happy. I just started taking pictures like crazy because it’s not everytime you can go from the snow in Holland to the sea in Spain in a day. There’s a lot we take for granted now that we have so fast transportation systems.
Now I’m in the hostel again. They have some kind of deal with a series of clubs in the city to bring people from the hostel. I passed tonight, I didn’t like the music of tonight’s club. Maybe tomorrow, they say that tomorrow’s club is all r&b and hip-hop music and that definitely rings a bell in my head. And it’s all free, so why not?
I have an infinite number of small things that either happened to me or I had the chance to witness. I don’t keep a list so I’m going to write about them whenever they occur to me, or whatever.
This is recent. Yesterday I was in the queue to check-in at AMS (Amsterdam) airport. Reaching the desk I drew out the passport and the ticket. The hostess checked it all and asked me to produce my EU visa, and I did. We had a little chat because she couldn’t find the date of expiration:
H.: “Sir, I need some paper because this is expired”
Me: “No it’s not, that’s the issue date, it never expires, it’s unlimited”
H.: “Oh. Why the Italians print EU visas in Italian?”
Me: “I know, it’s just dumb”
We smiled at each other and I went towards the security checks.
This post has been written from the airport before my departure. In the meantime the following happened: my flight was delayed by almost three hours, I landed in Barcelona where the weather feels quite heavenly to me and now I’m the hostel.
Writing this from the AMS airport, my flight has been delayed by at least an hour. Hope to make it in time in Barcelona to go out at night, I don’t want to spend the evening in the hostel. “Livin’ la vida loca”, right?
Yesterday evening I went out a little bit to find out what the “red lights district” was really about. Now I know. It’s right there in the center, not far from Dam Square and the Central Station. A never ending flow of women behind windows, dressed just in underwear. I don’t know the full extent of the district but it’s quite huge in size. Wandering around I found myself in an alley wide not more than a meter and half where on both sides women illuminated by red lights were wincing at the people. The strangest thing is that in some of these alleys you can find a “normal pub” or a café or somebody’s house right next to some brothel. I think that you can tell a lot from the state of hypocrisy in a society by the way they relate with sex and prostitution.
This morning I woke up early to walk around the “centrum” and I did, on schedule. The sun was coming up, Amsterdam was just awakening, shop by shop. The businesses on Monday morning are pretty much all closed, even the ones that sell clothes. Come back at noon!
Goodbye Lounge 4 of the AMS airport, goodbye A’dam :-)
Van Gogh Museum and Rijskmuseum
Where was I? Yes, Amsterdam.
I came here yesterday afternoon. I’m not staying long (until the afternoon of the 20th) so I don’t have the chance to see everything.
Rijksmuseum. My hostel is close to Museumplein where you can find the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh’s. I went to the first one after lunch. I’m not sure I liked it, only the Rembrandts and some other paintings. I have to find the piece of paper where I wrote down the names. Anyway, the Rembrandts were worth it, I think.
Exploring. Then I crossed some channel and explored the Centrum. Everything has frozen, there’s just ice and snow on the streets and a lot of people (including me) have trouble moving around. I almost tripped with my backpack, the camera and everything, twice. After seeing too many H&M for such a small city I decided to go back. I was freezing, the usual. I took a tram, you have to validate going on and off, both. On some trams there’s a post for a ticket controller in the middle. Strange system, but efficient. I can’t memorize the routes and the map so I’m just taking random trams hoping they’re heading south (where my hostel is). I did the same today, eh eh.
Couchsurfing meeting. Altough I couldn’t couchsurf in A’dam (and if I won’t be super lucky it will be the same in Barcelona) I decided to go to the saturday meeting. Nice people as usual, it just took me like an hour to go there. Random tram, random route, frozed to death, almost tripped on ice, went in the wrong direction, put on the right track by a Dutch, found the place. I want a thousand year of warmth, I literally hate the cold.
The meeting as I said was nice, a lot of people but I was too tired to stay there all night (remember, I didn’t sleep at all the night before) so I just stayed a couple of hours talking with the people next to me. I had the chance to learn something about Lebanon anyway and heard the story of a Lebanese went from being an architect to a full time writer and film producer. Thanks Rani!
Van Gogh Museum. Fast forward to today. I woke up early, had breakfast with one of my room mates and then I just came back to this “Museumplein” right behind here. I bought the ticket for the Van Gogh combined with the FOMA (photographic museum). The Van Gogh is very nice, it’s not just about him but also about his influences and his relationships with the brother Theo and other paintings. From his early years to the suicide.
FOMA. The FOMA is a photography museum but also a nice magazine. I was lucky because inside I found an interesting monography about W. Eugene Smith covering two floors.
I skipped the Anne Frank Museum, froze to death again, and here I am.
This blog post sucks, I know, I’m looking forward to Barcelona, Amsterdam is fine I guess but I want to go around in a place a little warmer. I’m so tired of not feeling my fingers. I wanted to use the heat strips again.
Tonight I’m going out to the Red Light District, just to see this famous place, with my heat strips and my camera.
Tomorrow I think I’ll go find something for my baby cousins and my sister. Then back to AMS airport.
I just landed, I’m writing this from the Starbucks at “Arrivals 4” in Schlpol Amsterdam airport. The flight from Berlin feels like it never happened. I just remember reading some pages of my book and then sleeping. Amsterdam is covered in white I suppose, because here at the airport everything is.
I didn’t sleep at all last night but I already feel fine. I have to go back one day, in the previous post I only talked about last night.
Bye bye Ethan and Sarah. Yesterday morning I woke up at a proper hour. Sarah and I set our alarms at the same time, no more 2pm on a trip ;-) Our paths that randomly crossed in the past few days had to part again, they were changing couchsurf host in the afternoon and I was headed to a gallery. I already miss them, have fun in Copenhagen and Stockholm!
Berlinische Galerie. My stubborness helped me to try for the third time to see this famous gallery and I did. To be honest the Berlinische and the exhibitions there deserve an entire post for themselves but I can’t stay all day in the airport and I’m writing this without internet connection so I can’t even find the links. Let’s just say that is a two floors gallery: the first floor is pretty much about photography and other interesting projects. Half of it is dedicated to a great exhibition of photos by Nan Goldin. At the end there’s an interesting video about her life, her friends and her work. I think the title is “You’ll be my mirror”, filmed in 1995 but I have to double check. Use the power of the internet in the meantime! I also loved Arno Fischer’s photographs and the project about Guantanamo Bay and the life of the detainees there. Great work America, sometimes you entirely forget you’re supposed to be the the land of freedom, whatever. More about this in a later post, when I find all the notes I wrote at the gallery. A piece of paper and a pen are far better than to go around taking pics of pics from some other photographer. Sometimes I stop to think about that and I think I’m getting dumb, what’s the point of clicking randomly the shutter towards creations of other people, I don’t have to document and classify some work of art!
I don’t think I will ever carry a camera inside a gallery ever again, at least not for myself. The second floor is about some paintings and architecture of “post wall” Berlin but I was already in fast forward mode so don’t ask me anything serious about the second floor :-)
Wandering. Afterwards I got out from the gallery and walked in the snow a lot, I don’t even remember how long. I went to Café Luzia again, I must really like the place. Guess what I did then? Walked in the cold and snow, then moved to the Reichstag only to find it closed (at least for people without a reservation), then I helped some lost italian tourists that approached me in German, luckily they live like 20km from where I grew up :-D
Taschen store. I put my mind on reaching the store of the books edited by Taschen. I think they’re great books, at least the ones I have. In Italy there are no single branded stores from Taschen and since in Copenhagen I heard about the store in Friedrichstrasse I wanted to find it. Let’s not talk about how long Friedrichstrasse is and the fact that I walked for miles in the wrong direction. After *a lot* of time I finally got to the store. Nice, even I expected it to be bigger and monumental. Just a normal store. I couldn’t buy anything because my suitcase can’t take anything more. I think that “Rio De Jainero” by Mario Testino will remain in the shelf for a little longer.
After freezing my ass off again I received a text from Julia but I couldn’t call her back. Not sure about the german voice was telling me on the phone I went in an electronics shop showing my helplessness to the owner and then he took my phone and put some euros in the sim card’s credit. I should have thought it sooner, money are not everlasting.
You pretty much know the rest of the night if you read the previous post. Me and Julia went to feed some cats of a friend of hers, ate dinner, went out with the other italians and had a lot of fun. She stayed awake with me until I headed out to catch the metro (they run all night on the weekend) and then the bus to the airport. I won’t ever forget her niceness and her friends. I hope to go back to Berlin soonish and at the same time I hope I won’t be able to see her there, she has to leave to Iceland to live with those beautiful horses and train them. I command it!
Now it’s 10.20am, I should get going. Amsterdam, here I come.
The summary post about the whole day can wait. I just had a great night. Julia brought me, with Mariella and Daniele, to this hip place called “Monarch” in Kottbusser Tor.
Imagine a place where you have three types of walls: some wooden, some painted red and others with blue wallpaper. Nice old lamps with warm light. A turntable in a corner, the bar in the center, a discoball hanging from the ceiling projecting red and yellow disco lights. Add then some nice, happy people: some dressed dandy, some hipsters and some just plain casual. Everybody dancing music from the 60s from all over the world. The dj and his moustache playing songs ranging from 1960s mexican disco music to classic soul and twists. Cheap drinks, the right music, people smiling to each other and some lovely couples dancing the twist while hugging. I wish I had my camera with me but maybe this way is better. Eyes sometimes are better than a camera.
I started smiling to everyone and these germans were really nice. I even dared to introduce myself to a beautiful girl with short brown hair and a big smile. I was sober you know? I always am. We talked a bit but my timing was definitely bad (I’m leaving, she was too). The strangest thing happend tough, I saw her again on the U-Bahn an hour later. Coincidences of life.
We said hi and then we went in different directions. I was smiling at the air.
Berlin, I’m sorry I doubted you. This city is lovely, it just takes time like with the best things in life.
I want to come back.
My flight for Amsterdam is at 7am, now it’s 3.30am. I don’t think I will even try to sleep. I had such a great time here even if the first two or three days were not that much.
Alex from above