Travel Diary: Spain: 5 days to go

I don’t often go clothes shopping, usually it is shortly before a holiday. So when I walked into the store yesterday to the smell of brand new clothing, my senses were like ‘Hey! I know this smell… We are about to go somewhere!’

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I am only away for a week, so I bought cheap. Items that I won’t worry will get ruined during this period. In my experience, the further I travel the less I worry about what I wear. There isn’t that fashion expectation seen at home. I feel like I should care more about what I wear on my way to work or the grocery store more than what I do when I leave my countries borders. It sounds so strange to say out loud.*

Is it because I am travelling I feel less worry about what I wear? There is no need to overcompensate with designer clothing to stand out, all eyes are on us when we are away thanks to social media. Why try to keep up with the people that are walking to work in the rain whilst I am at the swimming pool? For these seven days, I’m winning!

Maybe it is because I am relaxed on holiday. I am away from my ‘normal’ life, the uncomfortable work shoes are left at home, I probably won’t wear a belt either. This is going to be a week of pure comfort. £80 jeans don’t guarantee that but £6 swimming shorts certainly will.

Also we are of course, anonymous. Apart from my six friends I won’t run into a boss or ex girlfriend. No one has any previous knowledge of me and the anonymity is great. Saying that I have bumped into a friend in the middle of New York City, which was incredibly strange to say the least. Trusting my friends to not post a picture online of me wearing some ridiculous outfit for my birthday (I turn 28 whilst I am away and I wouldn’t put this past them), I can relax knowing the embarrassing things I do will be in the minds of people I will probably never see again. There is beauty in such a seemingly sad reality.

One thing I am terrible for is packing. If I had as much ambition to pack as I would to travel I wouldn’t need to use movie images to portray the joy I feel walking through an airport terminal. I always forget something and that something always seems to be the thing I want to wear the most. Clue- it isn’t the captains hat. I steal that as I am departing the plane.

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I think I will pack more for my week in Spain that I will for my year in Australia starting September. This was the case during my year in the States, too. My 6 am flight was taken after an all nighter in a local pub followed by a drunken 3am bag pack. If you are away for so long, why not get most of the things whilst you are out there? I have spent an afternoon taking smashed glass and clothes soaked with vodka out of my luggage after a holiday. It wasn’t pretty. Some things aren’t built for air travel yet.

Where are you packing to go this year?

 

*Saying this, I was once approached by security walking through the metal detectors at an airport. He said there was nothing to worry about, he just loved my Superman long sleeved jumper I had on at the time. Sometimes the clothes you care the least about bring the compliments.

Our normal needs more crazy

I don’t think this horse has a name, just a legacy. It is a recent addition to this street and has heads turning every single time. Why wouldn’t it? It is a horse on roller skates for crying out loud!

Then again, that is all it is. A horse and roller skates. Two very normal things combined to completely throw us off guard. Add some bright colours into the mix to truly go off the rails.

Normal+Normal=Crazy.

Something so simple is very effective at grabbing attention, it is that easy to stand out. Our everyday is very repetitive, our work patterns and dress codes, our watercooler conversations and elevator silences. A dog rocking pink shoes at the beach is like an oasis in the desert for our under-stimulated eyes and boy, did he like the attention.

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There is a reason we weren’t satisfied with black and white television. There is a reason colouring books exist. Colour adds so much more to our lives. Nothing compliments a sunny day like a burst of colour. Nothing gives hope to a cloudy day like a brightly painted house or bright yellow camper van. We need colour to stay sane and these bright blessings aren’t given enough chance.

My flatmate never wears black socks with his suits. He insists that avoiding them makes him happier and more motivated for the day ahead. I insisted that my fathers funeral was a colourful one. Even the darkest days need light, you could say they need them the most. Can you imagine if we all decided to wear greens, yellows and pinks everyday? It wouldn’t seem attention seeking or over the top if it was the new normal.

We set the standard for what is normal, why not raise the bar a little? There would be an even greater appreciation for those that go beyond that.

To infinity!

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Remembering home

Your next destination has a reason to thank the place you currently call home and I love that. As contradictory as it probably seems, one of my biggest delights whilst travelling is to see something that reminds me of home. For me, it is new found pride. It is realising the world shrinks the further we travel and how often I am reminded of the place I was raised.

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No matter where you are, there will be some kind of influence from back home. In food, in entertainment, in sports or in language, I love knowing that when I start to get sick of the same four walls and travel somewhere new, I will regain pride in the place that I left. I do this all the time and have felt this everywhere I have been.

Some people feel that leaving a hometown is to lose love for that place. This could well be the reason, it may not. I have always wanted to leave my hometown and if anything, it makes going back so much more special. I look forward to driving by that welcome sign, probably more than the current residents that drive by this sign each day. Surely there is beauty in leaving a hometown behind if it helps to build new appreciation.

My family have always been this way. Whenever I tell people where I am from, the usual response is ‘Oh really? Whats your last name?’. Our identity is strongly associated by the last name in my hometown, boringly I have to tell people that my parents moved there months before I was born and that my family doesn’t date back generations in this one place. A conversation killer but again, a great excitement arises when I travel to visit my family far and wide.

Some aspects remind me why I left, for this travel has done me good. If we stick to one community, how open minded can we be? You could argue that the internet has helps us escape this from our living rooms, we can now grow up in one place with all the associated cultures and beliefs and read about a thousand others, speak to anyone anywhere and make new decisions. I very much doubt this will make anyone lose the desire to travel and neither should it. If anything it is a great advertisement to the complete shifts in opinion and understanding that can come from popping the bubble and stepping outside.

I met a famous person yesterday

She was really nice. I am always hearing stories of certain names being a little snobby or rude, I have not experienced it personally. I have met a few purely because I live and work in a city, I learned a couple of things from my encounter.

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I will warn you, if you are under the age of 25 you may not know who this is. I realised this yesterday with so many people asking who she was. I knew her thanks to my parents as they were/are fans.

Chaka Kahn, anyone?

She asked if I was going to her gig which is today, I said I couldn’t unfortunately but I was able to get my mum a ticket. She told me to say hello and that she hopes to perform well for her. I haven’t been able to get hold of my mum to tell her as of yet. From my experience, most famous people I have met have been very welcoming and are happy to engage in a little conversation. Even if they didn’t give much time to do so, I am sure I would understand. I guess the reason they are famous is that they are very busy catering for a huge amount of people. If anything that makes me appreciate them more when they make time for small talk. Something I struggle to do at times without the millions of fans expecting me to deliver.

Things I learned yesterday:

  • You can still be busy without sacrificing kindness.
  • Americans love Nandos in the UK, if the group I met yesterday were an accurate reflection of 320 million people.
  • The city that I am proud of is just another place for some people. All the lives here, all the history… just another dot on the map for someone on tour. Not that I am offended, every place is like that for someone.
  • I need to slow down when I speak to people from overseas, although my accent is much easier to understand compared to some natives. Good luck getting in a conversation with a taxi driver here, I am slowly becoming bilingual in that respect.

I love city living for this reason, I never got this in the small town I grew up in. No big groups coming to town, little tourism from overseas, every day being very similar. I need difference on the daily or I go insane.

 

Trust

I have another confession. I read in-flight magazines. They help me to forget that I am about to be launched 30,000ft at 600mph, especially with adverts like this one.

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I would hate to read this and think ‘you know what? I might have to get this.’, please don’t be in that kind of relationship. It isn’t healthy. Not that you should take advice from a single guy, that is up to you.

Trust is a beautiful thing, if implemented with the right person and a disaster if given to the wrong person. I hate that I cannot give 100% love and trust to everyone. If I did, how long would it work out? How long before something terrible happens to be, benefiting the trusted person?

I was rudely awakened the other day by a man banging on my door despite it still being morning. I couldn’t hide the fact that I was barely awake despite trying my best. He said:

‘Excuse me mate, sorry to bother you but I have just taken a tablet and its lodged in my throat. Can I get a glass of water?’

For him to knock on my door he had to know the security code, he was also wearing overalls dotted in white paint. I said of course. He downed it, thanked me and walked on by.

Now, was I in the wrong for having a little internal debate with myself whether or not to do it? What if he had a knife or gun and now, access to my flat? My flatmate was away on business, something he often posts on social media. What if the guy at my door was just checking to see if the flat was empty all together?

If I was vulnerable, I probably wouldn’t have opened the door. If it was late at night, I might not have either. I don’t think it is ignorant of people to seem cautious with strangers, they aren’t the ones ruining society. It is the ones that show trust can let us down and does regularly.

A confession

The truth always comes out. I have lied about things in the past, hiding from reality is exhausting. That is not the only reason I value the truth, I want to be the best person that I can. So with this in mind, a little confession.

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I am going to Benidorm this month. There, I said it. I hope you’re all happy now. It feels so good to just say it and get it over with, as if the weight has been lifted. An 18-30’s holiday with seven lads, this isn’t going to be a holiday to learn about the local culture or to find ourselves. I am going to hopefully spend my time not being tied to a lamppost and having more full-english breakfasts in a week than I have here in England.

I will, as I always do, try to speak a little of the language and learn about the people. It is just a little difficult when the locals are British, although certain accents can fool me into believing they are from a different country. Our accents are fascinating like that.

I am reminded of a funny joke Scottish comedian Frankie Boyle made on a panel show, talking about the time a Scotsman had a fight with a terrorist after he tried to blow up Glasgow Airport. That isn’t the joke. That actually happened.

‘Apparently the man saved hundreds of Scottish people from getting badly burned by attacking the terrorist… How? These Glaswegians were flying to Malaga!’

During this period I will try my hardest to take interesting photographs and keep questioning life without the obvious influence of alcohol. I am confident there is more to Spanish resorts than sunshine and British people.

Photo credit: Ran Berkovich– Unsplash 

Destination: Sydney

Time: 00.00

Check online banking. Payday is finally here.

Time: 00.05

I head to the Australian government website and apply for the Working Holiday visa.

Time: 00.35

Online form completed, I eagerly await it being authorised and sent to my inbox.

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In fact, as I wake up this morning it seems to have already been granted. Can that really be the case so soon? Not that I am complaining, I remember how long it took to get my J1 Visa in the United States.

A bunch of forms printed, filled in and sent back, an arranged interview at the embassy down in London, train tickets purchased, a day in the embassy, security checks and all belongings taken away from me and finally, a stamp in the passport. Not that I am complaining here either. It was worth it in the end. This wasn’t so straight forward for a friend as he lost one page of his documents on route. He had to wait outside for us and come down another day. Immigration have no time for that.

Their visa was a little different. I had to work for one company for 12 months. With my Aussie visa I can work wherever the work is, as long as it is no longer than 6 months with any employer. Sounds like a good deal to fuel my years holiday. Of course if any company decides to sponsor me I can extend my stay. If I do farm work for three months I will be able to extend for another year. What I find exciting on this trip is that I have no idea where I will be heading in the next few years. Will I head back to Europe? What if I find that special someone and build a family in Australia? Being a single guy in his late twenties is a little strange like that.

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I feel everyone has some kind of advantage. If you are in a relationship, awesome. I assume the relationship is one in which both people have similar interests and can feed off each other in terms of inspiration and funds to travel. If you are single you have a free pass to do what you want , when you want with little impact to anyone. Take a week or a year out, it’s up to you. If you are reliant or have someone rely on you, blog about it, tell your story and build a following, your unique perspective of what it is like to travel will be picked up by curious ears I am sure.

This may be the last year I blog from the UK. Thankfully I have a couple of years left of my twenties to blog with as much content as I can, I will make the most of it.

It is amazing that we have the option to follow people as they travel and document their lives through blogs, vlogs and social media. I am sitting here reading about lives in lands that historical populations did not even know existed, wishing I was there as this summers day is so dark I need my standing light on despite being early afternoon. If that doesn’t motivate me to get up and go I don’t know what will.

I will see you all on the other side, I will be here until then if you want me.

First image: Liam Pozz– Unsplash

Second image: Josh Wip– Unsplash

Discovery

Hang on, was I on Route 66? Looking through my Texas pics I noticed the signs below the giant cowboy, even if they didn’t catch my attention at the time.

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Apparently not. Well, kind of. I asked google the question and the website route66news was kind in response.

‘Yes. It sits on an obscure and short-lived alignment of Route 66 from the 1920s.’

That’s enough for me to brag about!

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The author adds:

Although the Big Texan no longer sits on Route 66, it began on Amarillo Boulevard (aka Route 66) in 1960 and often shows its Mother Road roots in the gift shop and decor. It moved to Interstate 40 during the early 1970s after Route 66 was bypassed.

Then an input from West Texas A&M University marketing professor and Route 66 researcher Nick Gerlich:

‘A solid argument can be made that the current Big Texan sits on or adjacent to the 1926-1928 alignment, which followed 18th Ave SE in from Washburn. The current freeway obscures much of that now, but the BT is one of few businesses to be able to say it has sat on two different alignments.’

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Have any readers been? I miss that place. 

Even if I haven’t been on it I have visited a venue that has contributed to its legacy, I wouldn’t be researching the historical route right now. I guess that’s just as good as being on the route and not realising at all. 

Glass half full and all that.