Spain: 4 days to go

Today, it is all about the Euro. Many of you liked yesterdays post so I thought it would make sense to let you all in on my next few days worth of plans (or lack of), before boarding that plane to the Mediterranean.

For the record I am not taking much money to Spain. Roughly…hold up, where is the Euro symbol on my keyboard?!

*does a quick Google*

*Alt+E doesn’t work, grabs iPhone*

Roughly €500. €400 of that will be on a Travel Card, the rest you can see in cash. Now, back to the laptop.

I will probably take the least amount of money out of my friends, I don’t feel I will need as much money this time around. It is only for a week and it won’t be involving many costly activities or travel outside of the resort. I will buy cheap food, drink and the occasional taxi to and from popular districts. I also need to save £3000 for Australian customs later in the year, I have been warned that not having this amount in my bank account is enough for them to turn me away, and I don’t want to travel for 35 hours to be turned away.

It seems this isn’t often checked but that is not a risk I want to take. Sometimes in life risks are the best things we ever do, other times they are just plain silly and if anything, hinder any opportunities awaiting us. Can you imagine the awkwardness of a 35 hour flight back? I hate being rejected from a bar for being too drunk let alone an entire country.

rejected

I have found Travel Cards to be very useful. Mine is operated by MasterCard and therefore can be used anywhere (in certain countries only) for up to three years. Any bars, restaurants, ATM’s. I was warned there would be a (grabs iPhone) €2 charge at ATM’s but with no charge for using the card directly anywhere this won’t be a problem. I would much prefer to lose a card and be able to cancel it instantly than lose a whole wad of notes with colours almost as bright as the sun. The kind of notes Hubble would be able to detect on the surface of Mars… whilst it was observing Jupiter.

Are you one to take plenty of money on a trip, or does it depend on where you are heading? I have never been one to take extortionate amounts, then again any long term travel I have done was paid for by working out there, thankfully I was paid by my current job half way through my months travel in Brazil last year. It has been a long time since I went on the typical week or two week holiday, in fact it is the first ‘lads’ holiday I have taken in my life, tradition for males in their 20’s.

27 isn’t too late, right?

The people in our pictures

People we have never met still contribute to our memories. The strangers in our photo albums, frozen timelessly into each picture. These people will never age. They will always be wearing that dress, those sunglasses. They will always be holding hands with that partner, laughing with that friend. Where are they now?

cded

I wonder how many people making up this crowd are still in South America today, maybe in Rio itself. Living a life that I only managed a glimpse of whilst travelling around Brazil for four weeks. I love this about travelling, that first time experience whether it be eating a forkful of new food or sipping a local traditional drink. What is new to us is all that some people may have ever known. Knowing this is true for tourists to my region has made me want to venture out as much as I can. Life is far too short to only sample our own neighbourhood, especially considering our location is purely down to chance.

What lives did the other attendees travel back to? The 78,000+ capacity stadium is three times larger than my hometown, and my hometown had plenty of stories. Many would have married and possibly had children since I snapped this crowd shot. How many people have not made it to see the day this post has went online. Even if they did not make it, their footprints did and this presence has contributed to my memories. I thank them for that.

456217

It is wonderful to consider the thousands of people we have preserved in time through photographs. All the emotions and behaviours present that very second… I bet there are some incredible stories hidden behind the anonymity. It is hard to see these individuals as anything but extras, obviously this couldn’t be less true. We simply don’t have the time or opportunity to hear them all. Maybe one of these people are following my blog, I could well be following them.

Even though we did not realise they brushed shoulders with us somewhere in the world, they did. Some of these people may walk right by us again someday, somewhere. How would we know? How would they know? It may take 50 years before we look at that photo again, too late to ever knowingly brush shoulders once more.

Their boat may sail before we can watch it depart, this doesn’t mean we cannot read the story they left behind for us.

vb

Relaxing is pretty easy 

It has taken great effort to get to a point in which we can sit and have a coffee in relative safety. To gaze across the beautiful blue waters and distant hills without looking for an immediate threat behind us. It is something I try not to take for granted. Some of the worlds most beautiful landscapes are no-go areas for so many reasons, for how long is anyone’s guess.

cxdsx

This could be due to war, secret government operations, radiation levels. I took this photograph in Rio shortly before my lunch arrived, in the same area as the featured image in this post posted earlier this month. I snapped the image as the person in front of me was using his phone, I don’t know what it is but it seems to add something. It is as if he was oblivious to the view he had in font of him, although I am sure he has seen it a thousand times before.

Thanks to the implementation of police and armed forces we can enjoy time that isn’t spent evading evil. An iced coffee by the sea or drifting in and out of sleep in a hammock. It doesn’t mean danger is never there. Someone holding an umbrella for you doesn’t mean it isn’t raining, even if you are doing little to prevent getting wet. For that I am incredibly grateful. This doesn’t mean that it will stay this way forever.

I was debating with a friend yesterday about what it is to be on the ‘left’. I consider myself a centrist, I have tried speaking to both the left and the right and on both occasions feel like I have been pushed into the centre. The left have been overly trigger happy when it comes to using labels such as bigot and racist and the right have been, well, too bigoted and racist. Where is the middle ground? How can being on either end of the spectrum give us a better overview?

I gave the following analogy, you can of course let me know your thoughts.

A serial killer has successfully escaped jail. Dark, I know but of course a reality. He is walking down a street of a dozen houses. He takes his time knocking on each door, waiting for an answer. Let’s say each resident has one of three views; far left, far right or central. On his first knock, a far right resident answers and kills the killer. There was little time to find out about the man knocking and no time was spared. You can probably tell already that depending on each outcome we have to rewind the clock to the killer walking down the street again, groundhog day style. So here we go again.

He is walking down the street again, on this occasion a far left resident answers. The resident has sympathy for the killer asking for shelter in the rain, invites him in for tea and is killed. Again, little time for discussion. In such a scenario, what is wrong with using the peep hole? Speaking through the door or upper floor window asking why he was knocking at the door at this specific time? If I had any bad feelings about this man, which neighbour would I warn? The right winger that will probably go on his own killing spree, hunting down people of a similar appearance or the left wing one that will accuse me of bigotry or a lack of compassion by refraining to fully commit? I feel the most productive decision would be to speak to other centrists. I know that I have decided to speak only of extremists on both sides, however even the apparent moderate-left have made it difficult to talk to.

Our minds are a wonderful thing, they can seek out irrational behaviour and allow us to calculate whether or not we should be concerned during an encounter. I certainly want to be able to use such an amazing human system, there is nothing wrong with a little unease. We have evolved to take everything with a pinch of salt and treat everything as a possible threat. It is natural and can be life saving. There are plenty of people out there with a strong desire to take this away from us given the chance and if anyone is willing to have conversation, I will make time for conversation. Opinions that contradict our values aren’t the threat, it is the unwillingness to sit down with someone and have that conversation. A lack of desire to understand the thoughts of someone that has a completely different mindset. I know some of my views may offend someone that has a different view, my duty is to realise this and listen, not accuse and evade.

I truly do hope that in the next few months of travelling I meet like minded individuals that will sit down with me and talk, regardless of differences. It seems like this world is increasingly shoot first, talk later.

The travel stories sound great but… did you tan?

I was with three German friends yesterday, they were travelling from Stuttgart to Newcastle for a weekend break. They underestimated the Scottish sunshine as I watched them come back from a day trip to Edinburgh. It’s there and craves attention from time to time. One of them came back more red than a Stuttgart away shirt.

r456

Of course, the featured image isn’t northern Europe. It is Belém, Portuguese for Bethlehem. I loved this city and the regions around it, if I was in danger of sunburn it was this place. It is a shame, I used to tan so well. Maybe it was the parental guidance as a child and my clear lack of self reliance to apply enough sunscreen. I am fine with this though, it isn’t the main focus of my holiday.

It seems to be the main focus for so many people. When I arrive home after a trip, more often than not my skin colour will be the topic of conversation. Whether I tanned or not, I have to go through the cliche who-has-the-browner-skin competition.

skin-colour-350x232

I have five right arms. Great for carrying groceries, terrible for balance.

For many Brits, holidays abroad are simply for the sunshine. To be able to sit down outside with a beer and do nothing. To get a great tan and show everyone back home. It seems like this is what is perceived of my reasons to travel too. Not the stories of what I did or where I went, what food I tried and how much of the language I learned. Just how hard I tried to sit still to get brown enough to prove I went away in the first place.

I do often come back with a little colour, but this shouldn’t be the only evidence that any journey was worth it. If anything the lack of tan may prove I was busy doing other things, venturing away from the hotel pool from time to time. If I go all that way I want to make it worth it. I want to take this opportunity to do what I cannot back home and sample a new experience that my great grandparents were not able to.

I wonder if I went back in time and visited my great grandparents, would they take any interest in my change of skin colour at all, considering the huge amount of curiosity they must have gathered knowing I had travelled overseas? Or would they spend the whole day sitting down with me asking what such an experience was like? The smells from the restaurants, the appearance of the natives, the warmth of the rain and the height of the mountains.

The tan fades. Experiences don’t.

On top of the world

Blogging is great therapy. My daily routine has changed completely since deciding to write every day and with that, my motivation to do so much outside of blogging. It is like obtaining a master key but not to enter a room, to escape one. A dark room that left little desire to spread a message, one that I wouldn’t want to spread without a healthy frame of mind.

vbfgry

That master key thankfully works to unlock so much more. I get out of bed earlier. I have breakfast. I will do twenty push-ups if I know I won’t be able to go to the gym today. I spend the day looking around for motivation for my next post instead of looking for a clock telling me when I will be able to go back to bed. I have more reason to get out of bed and more meaning to my days between sleeping.

Healthy eating is another, I don’t need to seek as much happiness from junk food. I have never been a very unhealthy eater but I am still seeing benefits. There is less boredom in my day, less desire to find excitement in areas that don’t benefit my body and mind. If my mind is constantly stimulated I have less time to rest my head on that pillow of procrastination. It is simple but effective. I used to be Indiana running away from work ethic, I prefer to be the ball of motivation chasing my doubts and pessimism away. Once it is rolling, it is much harder to slow down.

legojones

I enjoy being the ball.

I am saving money as I am not spending it trying to pass time. Saving for greater things to blog about. You will see where it takes me in the next few months, providing I don’t lose my passport before then. Ah! There is another positive. I don’t hate waiting for fun things I have planned later in the year as I am having fun today. They say good things come to those who wait. Why wait, and why not have fun everyday? It is possible. There is a huge wasted opportunity when living for something you have planned later in the year. All attention is on that calendar date and crossing the boxes until it arrives. What happens to the days that have been crossed off? Were they just seen as stepping stones? Each one consists of 24 hours, that is a huge chunk of time to let slip by. After a few of these it isn’t days but life that is slipping by. Don’t make that mistake.

calendar

The more I aim to do the worse I feel when I do not keep busy. As long as this busy consists of things that I enjoy, I feel good. It has been said that one of the biggest regrets from people on their death bed is working too hard. I believe that if work is your ambition and consisting of things you enjoy, it won’t be work. Our aim is to find work that we want to do, not that we need to do to keep going.

If I can live a life mostly consisting of what I enjoy, I will feel good. The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best day is today. There is no quicker way to get to where you want than to start right now, and hopefully I will not have to ride so many cable cars to feel like I am on top of the world.

zxz

Good willed insults

I was buying a last minute birthday present on the weekend, shortly before heading to the birthday BBQ that I posted about on Saturday/Sunday. 

‘Don’t forget it’s fathers day soon!’ the girl at the checkout told me. I started blogging about it as I like to write when something is fresh in my mind, I just didn’t get round to posting. I don’t forget Fathers Day but I do get a different feeling when I see advertisements for it in stores. Times change and with that, our perception of so many things.

bvgyth

She didn’t know my dad died a few years back, I think as I am still in my twenties there is the assumption that I still have both parents. Sadly this isn’t the case for so many people. Does this mean she shouldn’t have said that to me? I don’t think I would say that. As sad as it was to agree that fathers day was coming up and that I should need a reminder, it was a lot better for me to play along. She was being nice, engaging in conversation and for that I have respect. I respect anyone that is trying to be kind, even if that kindness doesn’t have the desired effect. Was I wrong for lying to her? I don’t think so, it would have been inappropriate to make the situation awkward considering how little of my day was taken up by the quick chat.

I guess I could have helped her realise that the reminder may not be relevant for everyone that walks into the store. It is easier for me to realise and be conscious of what I say to people, to learn from these encounters. How often do I say something similar? More often than I would like, I’m sure. I feel it is my duty to take it in good faith and take the goodness out of such a situation instead of poisoning it. 

I wouldn’t ask anyone to stop celebrating it or be too overly cautious of offending by talking about it. Too many people are personally offended and ask for others to work around their personal issues. This happens daily and if we just a little bit better at controlling the inevitable emotions that are triggered everyday, society would be a little more tolerable. Religion has a duty in my opinion to do so with ever more multi-cultural societies.

Like an old cannon looking out to a sea for an army that is no longer a threat, things change and with that, the purpose or meaning. What was once a weapon is now an attraction. What was once a pleasure is now a painful reminder. Our perception of what we see changes and we need to adapt!

Dreams

After waking up today I looked for this photo. I have no idea what was in the mind of the street artist during this piece but it is one I remember more than most. Whether or not there is method to the apparent madness, I may never know.

32567

I woke up, wide awake at 3am this morning and realised how many dreams I was having. My mind was incredibly active despite the fact that I have now forgotten most of what I was dreaming. It felt like a conveyor belt of different scenarios, a roller-coaster taking me through new scenes that my mind is conjuring up on the spot. Did you ever play video games in the 90’s/ early 00’s? The way city landscapes only appeared/ generated as you got closer to them? I guess we never know what we are getting into until we arrive.

I also felt like I discovered a whole new level of this thought machine we know so little about, like looking under a plank of wood and seeing a whole army of ants doing their own thing without our acknowledgement. When I woke it felt like I remembered something that I shouldn’t, like kids caught playing when they should be in bed. My brain was just farting out all kinds of weird, wacky, colorful situations that I have no option but to watch as I restore my energy. Although it has almost completely vanished from memory, I know it happened. Sometimes this reality terrifies me, other days it astounds me.

It is hard to believe that I am using my brain to analyse my brain and come to the conclusion that I do not know everything about it. Despite the fact that it is still me. It is pretty incredible that this is our reality.

Do you get so deep in thought about your own life experiences? I guess we all do to an extent. Maybe the art above is just a direct copy of what the artist was thinking just before his or her morning coffee. What is seemingly nonsensical during the day may make complete sense every night, we just forget about it most of the time.