A Travellerspoint blog

Spain

Barcelona;

"I am Thomas and these are my 'Body Shots.' "

sunny 24 °C
View My Gap Years :) on clancy_of_'s travel map.

The streets are filled, the beaches packed, hostels overbooked and a complete vibe of insanity is about. With a road trip down Mexico on the agenda for next year, and my Spanish being almost as bad as my Indonesian I made the slightly rash decision to set myself up in this tourist run metropolis. Work for a month or two, improve my Spanish and then have enough cash to laze away some Moroccan sunsets after a surf and Tajine, before trotting off to Ireland. The work came fairly easy; an Aussie bar called Hogan's on the Rambla. Good hours, half price drinks and 8 screens constantly playing the Rugby World Cup, what more could a guy ask for?

The best thing about Barcelona is that there is always something happening, wether it be a man dressed in plastic bottles pointing a gun at you;

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A street Protest for Catalan Day;

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Luminous girafes and elephants powered on gas trotting down The Rambla or the International Breakdance Group putting on a street concert.

Anyone that has been to Barcelona will tell you over the street performers that line The Rambla, dressed up as anything from Incredible Hulk, to the Grudge. When work is over, and shopping needs to be done, whats the point in going home to get changed when the supermarket is just across the road? So don't be surprised to see the Incredible Hulk in the Cold Meats section of the Monoprix supermarket just off The Rambla.

In search of a postcard for 'the sis' I wondered into a small boutique just off The Rambla and overheard these two girls speaking English at the counter. Having no plans for that afternoon and thinking to myself, what's there to loose, I asked them if they knew of a good place for coffee. Lucky enough they were just heading to get some and invited me to come, sweet as. It turned out the girls were from Finland and Sweden, work for European modelling agencies and had just been flown into Barcelona for a month to do some shoots. We spent the entire afternoon in a little restaurant by the port talking about life, travels and Barcelona. Then Steph asked me what I was doing that night, I said nothing and she asked would I like to, go to a restaurant/club called Buddha Bar for a free three course meal, beer, wine, champagne and music.
Would i like like to? I'd love to!
The only catch was I had to say my name was Thomas, I was a model for Sweden and was working for the agency L'Arencia in Barcelona. With the Year 8 Drama award under my belt, I was sure I could pull it off.

At 9:30pm we met near the restaraunt, ran over the details and walked in. We were immediatley greeted by a very happy and very gay Spanish man;
"Ah! 'ere are ze beautiful girlz and boy, welcome to Modelz Night." (Proceeding to kiss both the girls on the cheek and look me up and down and shake my hand.)
"Ze bar is open, ze uther models 'ave not arrived yet, proceed." Walking down the steps towards the bar all I could think about how good this was; the place was amazing. Small couches and tables surrounded the dimly lit bar; with Buddhas filling in the spaces, there was even a heavily cushioned 'lounge swing' that slowly rocked back and forth.
We hit the bar, and it was damn lucky the drinks were free, or I would have been out of cash after the first beer.
Then from behind us came a;
"Oh I am sorry could I get your names to cross off ze list." The girls replied and he turned to me.
With my free $14 Heiniken in hand and a small smile across my face,
"Thomas." I replied, and I was in.

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We spent half an hour sitting amongst cushions, our feet on poofs, drinking away, until we were invited to the table. There were 8 of us and it turned out that I had come with the only girls who came that night, from the moment I sat down at the table I felt like I was in 'Zoolander'. There were 5 'other' male models at the table, two from Senegal, living in Paris, one from Belgium, one from Holland and an American. We wined and dined; on easily the best food I have eaten on this trip, and our table's personal waiter was always ready to fill up my wine glass or get another beer.

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The highlight however was when the American leaned over Steph to talk to me;
"So how long have you been modelling for?"
"A year now, first time in Barcelona though." I took a deep breath, it felt like it was going well.
"So do you do body shots?" Unsure as to what the hell body shots were, and hoping it didn't mean complete nudity I said,
"Yeh, just body shots."
Then suddenly, the strongly built 21 year old American began to break down in front of me;
"Really? Like how do you stay in shape? Do you eat well? Like your drinking lots of beer, is that going to affect you? Like, I go to the gym a lot, and go running. My agency wants me to do body shots, but I'm still new at all this stuff. See the other guys they have it easy, they just do face shots, I don't know, it's kind of stressing me."
I sat there, staring at this guy, and all I could hear was this voice in my head saying;
"You have GOT to be kidding me!" Whilst he looked at me, waiting for my response.
Trying to keep myself from laughing I replied;
"Yeh well it's tough, but you'll get there. Just make sure your eating well, it's a lot harder in a foreign country where your unsure about which foods are good for you. So just keep up the sport, there are lots of gyms and pools around, I usually just head down for a swim each morning."
Nodding, the American leant back into his chair, obviously reflecting on my 'words of wisdom'.
Steph just looked at me shaking her head, and laughed.

The night was spent talking 'modelling' and I just spent my time, sitting back drinking my free wine, listening as they talked about shoots, stars, Paris, Milan, Hong Kong, Vogue and anything else in between and honestly the general conversation was pretty boring, with awkward silences being the theme.

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Lucky I had Steph next to me and we just chatted about her life in Sweden, and my planned trip to Tunisia. We even recieved some live entertainement from a couple of breakdancers, that danced around the restaurant.

An amazing night, mainly because it was a world so different to the little surf town I grew up in, in country Western Australia.

I've spent the past 4 days just organising work, packing my bag for Tunisia and wandering the lively streets and palm tree courtyards of Barcelona with Steph,

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Garrett in Barcelona;

Posted by clancy_of_ 02:29 Archived in Spain Tagged round_the_world Comments (3)

Run those bulls;

Pamplona; Spain

sunny 36 °C

Coming in after Rio and Oktoberfest; the Running of the Bulls festival in Pamplona, Spain, is the world's third biggest festival, and after my Pamplona experience over the past sleepless 36 hours, I can understand why. Not knowing what to expect we boarded the train in Biarritz and caught the train to San Sebastian at 8am on Saturday morning, we were soon to learn that spotting the tourists in Pamplona is an easy thing to do. They are the only ones not dressed in red and white, bottle of Sangria in hand.

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As we jumped off the bus in Pamplona and looked around at the hundreds of thousands of people wearing the wine stained outfits, we made a quick dash to the market and got ourselves decked out for a handsom 15 euro. As you slip into the white cotton pants, pull on the white t-shirt, tie the red pamplona belt round your waist, place the red headband around your head and mix up your first vodka red bull, it hits you that you are now ready.

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Ready for 24 hours, or if be it, 7 days, of running round the streets of Old town Pamplona, jumping up and down like crazy singing "Ole!...Ole! Ole! Ole!", filling your mouth with Sangria and spraying it on the nearest white outfit, slurring your best Spanish at passers by, and of course, making your way to the arena at 5am to get a seat for....the bulls!Everywhere you turn people are partying, drummers and instruments of all sorts roam the streets followed by thousands jumping up and down like crazy. Nationalities mean nothing here, and for 7 days everyone becomes best mates, you become a member of the 'red and white people', whose sole purpose is to FIESTA;

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And fiesta you do, day and night;

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I had been told to never under estimate the Spanish girls ability to party, and whilst this is true, the first Mexican girls I have ever met seemed to go that one step further. Sweet latin dancing in the old town square, running round spraying sangria in all directions and a smile that just says 'I am stoked'; I had found my crew.

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We danced the streets with the Spaniards, filling our stomach's with Tapas in an attempt to counteract the effects of the warm 2 euro Sangria, and took the occasional break to catch our breath. The Spanish call this break 'siesta', and at Pamplona, it can occur anytime, anywhere;

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There are a lot of things that make the fiesta at Pamplona so incredible. One is its size, the party takes up the whole old town and swarms of people roam through the streets following the drums and cheers, singing Spanish festival songs that I had translated as;
"We have come to party and drink, and drink and party we will." As an Australian with extremely poor Spanish you just sing as loud making sounds that sound similar and dependent on the state of people around you, it usually works;

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The second is where the party takes place, there are few police and people climb the surrounding buildings, megaphones in hand hyping up the crowd. The energy that flows through these small Spanish streets is something that has to be experienced;

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Usually around 3am your legs begin to tire from the constant jumping, your on the verge of loosing your voice from all the 'Ole' chants and your covered in Sangria from head to toe, a nice warm bed begins to sound appealing;

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But just the thought that in 4 hours time, through the same streets that you are currently partying, 15 or so bulls will be charging on a path of destruction through a crowd of red and white; gives you the motivation to keep going for the next 5 hours. It was around that moment that the decision had to be made, to run or not to run? Three days earlier I was certain that I would, but since the Australian got speared in the arse; and my told lack of both sleep and soberness I had started to contemplate giving it a miss this year. We had met a lot of locals and they to advised both for their safety and my own to just get down to the arena and prepare to watch the event chanting with the thousands of Spaniards who fill the arena. Every year someone gets killed and it's usually because tourists who have no idea what they are doing fall over, then everyone ends up tripping over the fallen tourists. It's for this reason the locals are frustrated with the amount of tourists attempting the run.

We had heard that it was best to get to the Arena as early as possible, so at 5am Sophia and I were lead by some random Spaniard through the streets to the ticketing booth. It wasn't opening for another hour but there were already hundreds of people beginning to line up. By this stage we were so tired that we just sat down towards the front of one of the lines, put our head in our hands and fell asleep until an 'Ole' chant not to far away sprung us back into action.

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At 6am we were one of the first into the arena. Over the next two hours the arena began to fill until it was just a red and white blur.

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Then, after a gunshot and an intense flow of red and white into the arena, came the bulls!..

An amazing 36 hours! All I have left to say is, YOU HAVE TO GO!

Garrett in Pamplona; Spain.

Posted by clancy_of_ 06:58 Archived in Spain Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Day Time San Seb;

San Sebastian; Spain

semi-overcast 20 °C

After a big night on the town in Biarritz we were awoken by something that had remained somewhat absent over the past few days; the sun. We decided to make the most of the warmer weather and Gryllz's last day before heading to Frankfurt, by making a day trip to San Sebastian. Waiting for train rides, chatting with Australians, climbing hills, kicking the footy and eating tapas were to be the order of the day.

We arrived in San Sebastian around 3pm and headed to the beach with two aussies we had met on the train who were just beggining a two week European backpack trip. The sun was out and so to were the sunbathers, whilst we soaked in some of the 'San Seb' sites.

The picturesque main bay of San Sebastian is always worth a visit;

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We both decided that we should make the trek up to Castillo de la Santa Cruz de la Mota; the statue seen in this photo;

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The trek is one that opened our eyes to something that we didn't know existed so close to the bustling San Sebastian streets, nature.

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Jungle like canopies line the path that leads to the 'Castillo' and make you feel as though your in a world of your own, a cross between the jungles of Indonesia and the ruins of South America.

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A final stone tunnel,

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opens out into the centre of a fallen fort. Cannons line the walls and at the very centre stands the amazing, Castillo de la Santa Cruz de la Mota.

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We spent an hour or so touring the top of Mount Urgull and taking in some of the amazing views of the Atlantic ocean to the north and those of the bay of San Sebastian.

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These views from the top of Mount Urgull have an amazing presence about them, wether it is the history behind the fallen ruins, the raging Atlantic ocean that extends from its shores or the amazing landscape that makes up the region, it is one of the most amazing places I am yet to visit.

We made our way back down Mount Urgull and cruised around San Sebastian's 'old town' in search of some cheap and tasty tapas. Not a hard task with the number of bars that line it's narrow streets.

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The 'old town' is filled with some incredible architecture, and none more so than this church at the base of Mount Urgull;

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The 'Tapas system' works in an interesting way;


  1. 1. Go into the bar you fancy, based upon to dishes lining the counter.

  2. 2. Search through the large variety of dishes, testing your taste buds with everything from crab pureè to camembert and sundried tomatoes.

  3. 3. Practice your Spanish with a few of the indulging locals.

  4. 4. Tell the barmen how many you ate.

  5. 5. Pay. (Usually about 1.50 Euro a piece)

  6. 6. Move to the next bar.

After leaving the tapas bars, the weather started to change and we thought it would be better to head back to Biarritz and have an early night so Gryllz had at least a little bit of energy for his plane trip the next day. 'San Seb' is well worth the trip and I'll definitely be heading back over summer.

Garrett in San Sebastian;

Posted by clancy_of_ 08:27 Archived in Spain Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Jaga Beats; On the streets of;

San Sebastian; Spain

overcast 19 °C

What better way to make the most of a weekend off work than heading into Spain, to the coastal town of San Sebastian. Gryllz and I spent the day cruising round Biarritz, surfing in the arvo at the 'Grand Plage' as the 3m swell battered the coast, and pumping a bit of French coffee into ourselves, mainly to help Gryllz overcome his jet lagged body clock in preparation for a night of Spanish partying.

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San Sebastian is undoubtedly one of the Basque Country's most amazing cities. From its incredible beaches and rows of Tapas bars, to the nightlife that makes you wonder if the town ever sleeps. Riddled with tourists from around the globe, your best bet for cheap and good tapas is just outside of the buzzing 'Old Ville', as many of the Tapas bars won't hesitate to overcharge upon hearing an English or French accent. We managed to find a sweet little Tapas joint; calamari, calamari, calamari;

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Last night I had the biggest "it's a small world" moment I have ever experienced. As we were walking along the foreshore in search of some tasty Tapa's, a woman walks in front of us stops points her finger at me,
"Oh my Lord!" It was an Australian couple with whom I had been hanging with in Essaouira in Morocco almost two months earlier. We stopped and chatted about what everyone had been doing. They had made there way up through Morocco, Portugal and across Northern Spain and were speding a couple of nights in San Sebastian before heading to Paris. Where as I had flown to Marseille, stayed in Provence for a month, moved to Biarritz 2 weeks earlier and had decided to come to Spain for the night, and now here we stood at the intersection of two small Spanish streets. What a small world.

Yann, Gryllzy (pronounced Gryzzly, by the French) and I decided to hit up the bars after our little Tapas crawl and made our way to the 'old ville' where bars and churches line the streets;

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We also found out that despite Red Bull being sold in Spain, noone had ever heard of Jagabombs. We spent the next hour cruising from bar to bar in search of the elusive Jagermeister and decided to give up and just go into the next bar and grab a beer; when this appeared;

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The next couple of hours was spent indulging in Jagabombs much to the confusion and delight of the French and Spanish crowds, some of whom joined in with us and had a few bombs themselves.

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Our only way of communicating with the hundreds of Spanish girls wearing F.M.Boots was through Yann and his Spanish or to just try to make the most of their limited English or French; however this didn't hold Gryllzy back. Who had swarms of girls around him trying their best to talk to the; "Australian Surfer Boy".

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Bits of rain began to fall and we made a quick trip to the San Sebastian beach front; stared out into the picturesque bay,
lit up by some sizey chandeliers;

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We said goodbye to our new Spanish mates; and headed back to the car to cross the border and back into France.

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It's an amazing town with an amazing vibe, it's crazy to think that just 15 minutes west of Biarritz is a culture so incredibly different. And whilst most of the Spanish girls are just incredibly hot, you do find the occasional odd one;

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Here's a little incite into our night;

Garrett in San Sebastian;

Posted by clancy_of_ 03:45 Archived in Spain Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

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