As a few of you may have seen in the video in my prior post, I ran into a little speed bump during my trip out to Europe this past month.
But before we talk about that, let’s go alllllllll the way back to the beginning of the trip to give you a little background, shall we?
Back in February of this year, I decided to jot down my bucket-list so I have something to keep fresh in my mind about what I want to accomplish in life. I don’t look at it thinking that “oh I need to do *this* before I die or I’ll feel like my life was a waste” – these are just things I actively want to DO and EXPERIENCE in life. (I hope this makes sense) The way I see it, we’re only young once and it’s the most prime time to see the world and do the crazy things we always dream about. So make it happen while you can, and make it good.
Which brings me to the start of this journey. I posted on facebook about my bucketlist back in February, and extended an open offer to friends to come and join in on priority #1 – running with the bulls. Several people told me they were “in”, but Ryan and Jason were the ones that really made it happen. I like having people who are in it for themselves rather than going because they were invited – and I could tell this was something they were both eager about from the get-go.
It was going to be a great trip.
Fast-forward to July, we head out on our 16 hour flight to Madrid from San Diego. We get into Madrid, and I stop by my old office at Adconion to say hello to old friends. Made plans to meet with them after the workday was over, but for now we had to get on it as we made our trip to Toledo – just a half hour south of Madrid.
Toledo is filled with cobblestone streets and old-style architecture, so naturally it’s a photographer’s playground. We hiked around town a bit and made our way back to Madrid for the night.
Partied in Madrid until about 4 am. Had a blast. Woke up to some pretty bummer news. Our stuff was stolen.
My buddies had their laptops, credit cards, and Ryan’s passport taken from our room while we slept. As for me, my Canon 5d mk ii – 16-35mm lens, and 50mm 1.2 were taken along with. Picture the feeling of nails on a chalkboard hearing that kind of news. SUCKED.
We spent the day filing the police report, figuring out where Ryan needed to go to get set up with a passport to go back to the states, etc. While I was pretty bummed about all that happened, I was more concerned with getting back on track and having a good time on this trip. We set out to Pamplona at 7:30 PM to stay the night prior to running with the bulls.
As a bonus from my creative live workshop, a handful (okay a hundredful) of photographers got in touch with me over facebook, blog, etc. I was lucky enough to get in touch with Adina Noel – who has some really strong stuff! We’ve talked over the past few months about the difference in industry between Spain and the US (she lives in northern Spain) and a few creative product ideas. Once I announced I was going to be in town for the running of the bulls, she mentioned meeting up while we were there.
I had NO IDEA how crucial Adina was going to be during this trip, and am so glad her mind was in a risk-taking setting, because we were definitely 3 lucky guys. (Ironic saying that after losing about $10k of stuff, right?) The point is, while trying to get everything figured for the police report and passport all day, we hadn’t confirmed with Adina that we’d be getting into Pamplona later on that night. She took a chance, and as luck had it – we met up once we stepped off the train.
A few minutes after we got into town, the town was LIT UP with fireworks. If you ask any Spaniard, they’ll tell you how much effort goes into these displays than the standard American stuff. And they’re right – the show was off the hook!
We woke up at about 6 Am to make our way to the track to run. Not sure why, but the feeling of running from 2000 lb animals just hadn’t set in for me, and I felt like it was just another day.
We get to the part of town where they’re holding the festival, and the streets are FILLED with people partying from the night before. Everyone is dressed in white & red and had wine bottles in hand – shouting chants and local songs. Can’t really do justice with words to describe the scene – you just had to be there. Walking through that kind of atmosphere, I can’t help but want to go back and party for an entire week there. (On the agenda for the next few years)
We get to the streets, and we start goofing around with my GoPro making video of us “just before” the running of the bulls. After a minute or so, I hear a “beep beep beep” and see that it says “FULL” on the front screen. (Those of you that know – you can’t delete on a GoPro, you have to do it from a computer) It was about 10 minutes until we were to start running, and I was trying to think of a way to fix the problem. The cam takes SD cards, so I figured there would be someone else nearby that had a camera we could quickly use to clear the memory. I tried getting some girls attention that had one, but I think they thought I was trying to “holler” at them and just walked off. Finally we found a few guys from New York that were able to help out, and we cleared the card.
Good to go.
When the 1st bull is released, they fire off a first firework and people start jogging. When the last bull leaves the pen, they fire off a second firework and people start SPRINTING. If you’ve ever seen the movie independence day or any natural disaster movie at that – you get the idea of what it looks like when you see people running for their lives. I *instantly* regretted bringing the GoPro as it wasn’t something I should have been messing around with, having 2000 lb animals charging down narrow streets and trampling people. Remember how I said earlier that the feeling didn’t sink in? Well, now it was.
While it *is* dangerous to be running along with all these bulls, another big danger to think about is all the people. A lot of people trip and fall, and they say that if you do – you’re supposed to just “stay down”. Chya right! There was no way I was going down. If you see in the video below, I had to jump over several people throughout the run, and at some points I thought I might get tripped up too. Thankfully, I didn’t.
After the last bull makes it into the arena, the officials close the gate so that it doesn’t become too crowded. I barely made it in just as the gate was closing. Once in the arena, the bulls get herded into a pen across from the entrance, and everyone that made it in is just celebrating. I figured that I’d definitely want a photo after completing this kind of feat, so I took the memory card out of the GoPro (it takes bad photos) and asked someone nearby that had a camera. He took the photo (below), and just as soon as he finished – a BULL CHARGED INTO THE ARENA. Everyone scattered, including the dude with my memory card. In the midst of all the chaos around me, I tried to keep one eye on the bull and one eye on the guy with my camera. It took a few minutes, but I finally managed to get the card back and return to running around with the rampant bull.
One of the things I *really* wanted to do was to run by and touch a bull, so I joined the circle of people surrounding the animal deciding when would be the *right* moment. I saw a few people run by and smack it on the back no harm no foul, but then I saw a guy that *wasn’t* so lucky. The bull caught him just as he approached and managed to get a horn lodged in his stomach. With him impaled, the bull shook his head from side to side lodging the horn deeper inside the guy’s body. After a minute, the bull dropped the guy on the ground like a sack of potatoes and I watched him get dragged off the floor by 2 other guys. That same thing happened again, and that helped me decide that the juice just was not worth the squeeze this time around.
I left the arena and met up with the others to head out to San Sebastian.
While I could go into great detail about this place, I’ll just say that it has a gorgeous beach and one of the most “majestic” views one could ever see. Spent the afternoon & night in this town, and while it wasn’t the busiest place on earth, it sure was pretty relaxing.
Come morning, we headed out to Barcelona. While this is a beautiful city and I definitely recommend spending a few days here, we only had the afternoon and the majority was spent getting Ryan’s passport all taken care of. We *did* have a half hour to make it over to La Sagrada Familia, which is one of the coolest cathedrals you will ever see.
Come 7, Ryan and I parted ways with Jason and made our way to Berlin. Now, to be perfectly honest – I was expecting that I wouldn’t really like Germany. I had this impression that it was going to be boring & bland, and the people would be cold towards me. ENTIRELY THE OPPOSITE. Everyone was really friendly and spoke english! Woo!
German is probably one of the most fun languages to try to learn how to speak, and over the couple days I was there with Ryan – we had a blast. Berlin is one of the most creative cities I’ve come across and I was amazed by how hipster it was. (If you know me, you know I have always had a secret desire to be a hipster.)
The fashion, the artwork, the stores, the style, the food – everything was hipster to a T. If Berlin wasn’t invented by a hipster, I’m pretty sure Berlin *invented* the hipster. Hipster mecca.
Since our cameras were stolen in Madrid, and there was no possible way to travel Berlin without a camera, we looked up some info on renting a camera in Berlin. We found a cool spot that had a 60D and a 28mm 1.8 lens for only 50 euro for a day. We took it out and had a blast – covering in 1 day what most might spend in 4.
Early the next morning, we headed out to catch our flight – and long story short, we missed it by 10 minutes. While a lot of people might trip over something like this, Ryan and I decided to make the best of it and get in some more sights in the time that we had. We went out and partied until 7 am the next morning, having a blast at one of the Electro clubs in the downtown Berlin area. It…was…AWESOME.
Aside from the club, one of the most rewarding “surprises” from missing our flight was getting to check out the local farmers market. Continuing along with the idea that I’m fascinated with hipster culture – everything here was “hipstered-out” to the max. Vintage everything. Suitcases, sunglasses, scarfs, artwork, bicycles…I could go on & on.
Ever since my friend Ashley Goodwin raved about her friend Josh’s film work, and how I feel like it’s a right of passage for every photographer to try their hand at shooting film. I’ve always been hesitant because I felt like film was for the past, but I figured if I were to ever give it a shot – doing it in Berlin would be the time to do so. And if I sucked, at least I’d have a nice little decoration piece to put above the fireplace.
Although I probably wont do too much of it in the future, I feel like film teaches a great lesson in terms of getting the right shot on your first shot, and trusting in your own capabilities rather than reverting to that instant gratification you get through the LCD on DSLRs.
Once developed, I’ll include a photowalk post on the blog.
After hanging out a few hours in Berlin & finding one of the coolest abandoned lots you could imagine, Ryan & I set out for our 2nd attempt to Amsterdam.
[For the sake of professionalism, I'm going to leave out what went on here.]
After having an awesome time in Amsterdam, Ryan set out to head back to the US and I set forth to move on to my final city – Brussels, Belgium.
While in Brussels, I had been told that I needed to do the following things:
1. Eat some specialty chocolate
2. Eat local waffles
3. Check out the red light district
We’ll start of with the first item. I looked into things beforehand, and came to the conclusion that the ONLY place to go to get the best Belgium chocolate was Pierre Marcolini. If you don’t know about Pierre Marcolini, he entered into the chocolate scene in ’95, and in his FIRST YEAR he became world champion chocolate maker.
Talk about bragging rights!
So I checked out the shop & variety of his select items – blew my mind. The experience was like buying a ring at Tiffany’s. The shop was decorated like a diamond store and they didn’t allow photos/video of any kind. The chocolate was so good I was expecting to see some homeless women with signs that say “will work for chocolate”.
The waffles were good, can’t really say much about them as waffles can only be “so good” – ya know?
The red light district! AKA the “hooker district”. This was an interesting experience – compared to Amsterdam, the women were a lot more lazy. The girls in Amsterdam were tapping on windows, opening the door for guys to come in, and flaunting their stuff right where you could see. In Belgium, however – it seemed like they just.didn’t.care. Depressing, really. The girls were sitting down chatting on their cell phones, eating food, and generally just looking rather un-appealing. They were all behind glass of course, but there just wasn’t any “showmanship” that was so common in Holland.
After seeing a few additional “touristy” spots, I headed in to wake up early for my flight in the morning. Trip well spent, Tim=happy.
True, it is definitely a bummer that all that equipment was stolen from us, but there’s just no sense in being in a bad mood about it all.
If it weren’t for the guys I was with on this trip, I think the attitude would have been a whole lot different. We all had an awesome time, and more fun trips are in the works for the near future.