Some of you may be followers of Parker’s project this year, combining a polaroid photo and quote for each day of this year. (see here on flickr) I remember a day at the beach well over a year ago when Parker first put a newly acquired Land Camera into use. It was a cold and windy day but the best part of the memory is remembering how that idea became a reality and in the last 6 months has become a success. I love seeing such movements happen, and I’ve even been fortunate enough to be the visual subject of a few small pieces of his project.
The Hasselblad photos below are from that first day, and the polaroids at the bottom are a few of my favorites of Parker’s work on this project so far this year.
Some of the random people and conversations we’ve found on this trip have really been amazing. Not only was our pre-arranged meetings like that with the Burnetts great, but we’ve come across people in the midst of their unique or coincidental lives and we’ve enjoyed so much the interactions we’ve shared, made so much more beautiful by the known fact that soon we’ll go home and life will be back to normal.
Pauline, on the train from Rome to Paris, had intriguing stories and recommendations about Paris as a person who’d lived there and didn’t like it. The Burnetts are Americans living an inspiring life outside of much of what I’m use to seeing day to day at home.
Laura and I spent much of our time the last day in Paris finalizing some gifts and taking some photos with Craig and Lora and thought we might miss the train by the time we finally got to Paris Austerlitz station. On the train to Barcelona it just so happened that two fellows in the compartment next to mine are from Nashville. Tennessee born and raised, a couple pre-med graduates seeing the world before committing to med school. Thankfully we got to share quite a bit of conversation and even game of scrabble with Austin and Andrew during the overnight train ride. It was definitely a good bit of luck because the end of our Paris time had been a bit stressful and it was comforting to share time with more Americans, some who even live in a city we’re so familiar with. Sharing stories and the details we’ve learned about how to get around on the trains or metros or other systems is really great when you come across people to share with. Normally staying in hostels puts you in contact with quite a few who are also traveling, but of course we hadn’t stayed in a hostel throughout all our time in France.
Then we finally arrived in Barcelona and as Laura mentioned, I think Santi has been by far one of our favorite things about the city. I’ve never seen anything like the atmosphere at the Garden Hostel. Typically the the paella + sangría meal they offer at that hostel (for 7€) is suppose to only take place if six people sign up for it, and though it was only Laura and I signed up, Santi still made his phenomenal dish and a pitcher of sangría just for us.
Unfortunately we couldn’t stay a third night at the Garden Hostel (now affectionately referred to as Santi’s Place). We did book one final night there before we fly home since it was several days out and they still had open dorm rooms. That will be the the day we get back from our road trip.
Meanwhile, we also met up with Bryan Decán, a friend of some friends, (who also knows my cousins in Oklahoma, it turns out) who I’d met once before when he visited Portland. Bryan is an Austin, Texas guy who is now studying Spanish and living in Barcelona. He’s been here four months and has accrued a great amount of knowledge about the city and culture, all of which he loved to share. Exploring the city with Bryan, we stopped by Sagrada Familia, we found the shoes Laura’s feet desperately needed (a pair of El Gansos and some leather sandals), some delicious tapas, and quite honestly the absolutely most amazing bar I’ve ever seen in my life, deep in the Gotíc district of Barcelona. Words, photos, memories cannot explain the incredible aesthetic of Bar Marsella. We were all three speechless, its a place worth traveling to Barcelona just in itself.
Before leaving Barcelona we didn’t make quite as complete of a round of monument/museum sight-seeing as we had in Paris. Part of that was due to our less organized plans and the afternoon chocolates, tea, tapas, and wine offered at the hostel. Before leaving for this trip, Ryan Sharp warned me that “that Spanish siesta thing is legit” and he was right. Unfortunately for a couple days by the time I was able to catch up on sleep, writing, and the trip planning, it was around 2 or 3 pm, which is siesta time. There’s a very distinct deadness to many of the streets and shops during the late afternoon but the city certainly comes alive after dark. We were also in the city immediately following what I understood to be some major victories by the Barcelona fútbol team, which, in celebration by the fans in the streets, provided us with some additional novelty and entertainment.
I’m not exactly known to be a shopper but I’ve particularly enjoyed Barcelona because in our short times in the streets I’ve been able to find some items I’m very excited about (to add to the typewriter and other antiques and the brown plaid blanket we kept from the overnight train from Rome to Paris). In Barcelona, a few of the things I found were a Spanish Bible from 1859 in the most amazing little bookstore complete with an old Spanish shopkeeper and a cat, a beautiful pair of leather shoes made in Spain, an assortment of fine cigars (whose origin I won’t mention here) and Dutch pipe tobacco, and, after stumbling into a huge photography gear store on La Rambla, a 1965 Zeiss Icon Contraflex Super B 35mm. The Zeiss is a beautiful machine and I’ve already begun its inaugural roll of film here in España. I think it will make the perfect companion for my Hasselblad 500 c/m which has lately been increasingly lonely for another European camera in my camera bag.
Speaking of the film cameras, we’ve made it through most of the 120mm rolls purchased before this trip but the 35mm is holding out better. I was predicting for a few days in Paris that I’d be out of 120 far too soon, but all attempts to acquire additional rolls of Kodak Portra 400NC have been thwarted. First by holiday closings (ProPhot in Paris) and then by empty shelves (the mega store in Barcelona). I managed to find some rolls of Fujicolor 120 but would prefer to never use them and they’ll serve as last resorts for the rest of this trip.
Onward to Valencia..
A lazy Sunday morning in Paris. Sitting on a balcony with the Eiffel Tower in view, sipping a strong cup of Craig’s coffee, eating a baguette with Nutella and reflecting on the past three days. Paris has been a whirlwind of sights and sounds. Some highlights include: our wonderful accommodations at Craig and Lora Burnett’s flat, their chihuahua, Twig, waking up every morning with a view of the Eiffel Tower, expensive cappuccinos at street cafes with Amos (all the chairs face the street for people watching), shopping for shoes, exploring the streets with a baguette in hand, and sharing all this with Amos. He has been teaching me a lot about photography, a little more each day. I feel so lucky to be able to watch him as he captures the epic scenes of these cities with his Hasselblad and Canon AE-1, cameras that mesmerize me with their beauty. Traveling with such a talented artist is quite amazing.
A quick recap of yesterday, my favorite day in Paris. We were planning on catching a train to Seville, Spain but booked a train too late. Tickets were purchased for a Sunday evening train to Barcelona instead, and we had another two days to spend in Paris. This happened to be the best day yet for me, as we were able to see a more quaint and artistic part of the city. A morning market meal of Nutella and banana crepes and a metro ride to a street filled with antiques. The Burnetts spent the day with us and it was wonderful to share conversation and coffee with them as we discovered treasures together. There were several vendors with items that reflected an aesthetic that both Amos and I share. I love to find these items with him because his eye is attuned to the unique and vintage. He found a French typewriter and we debated for about twenty minutes as to whether we could actually put it in our luggage. Of course the answer was yes, and Amos has yet another typewriter to add to his growing collection. For me, the prized item was a worn leather wallet, found by Amos and desired by me to compete my year-long search for a worthy wallet. The rest of the day was spent in the many amazing shops that sold separate items in each: bread, cheese, meat, fruit, flowers, fish. I adored this way of shopping, stopping in each small store to buy a piece of the meal. I purchased to best brie I have ever tasted and it made the rest of the afternoon euphoric. Amos and I also stopped at a unique sushi restaurant with beautifully photographed menus, something we would like to see more of in America.
Back to the present moment: Amos is sitting across from me writing and Twig is on his lap in the sun. We will set out for Spain in this evening.