My intentions of starting out 2020 was to take risks. To invest in myself. And that's exactly how 2020 started out. I rang in the New Year on a flight to Barcelona, toasting in mid-air with my friends: Ali and Amanda. We were on our way to a two-week-long photo trip and being partially paid to do it.
Follow our journey below:
New York City
When looking up international flights, we found that flights out of the NYC airport were significantly cheaper than flying out of the Cleveland airport. So in an effort of being budget friendly, we took a 10 hour Amtrak from Cleveland to NYC, leaving a few hours to spare in the big city.
After finishing a remote interview for the Fan Finder Podcast (you can listen to the episode here ), Amanda and I jumped at the chance to explore the city, while Ali stayed back to finish up some remote work. Amanda and I decided to metro to Chinatown in search of coffee. We ended up at Sawada Coffee, which was the perfect first coffee spot of the trip. It was down an alley, with that feeling of you have to be an "in-the-know" local to go to this spot. Once inside, it had a grudge-y underground tone. And on their menu included an orange peel mocha, which of course I had to try.
Not pictured: us RUSHING to the airport and cutting our flights real close.
After hours on the plane, WE MADE IT! And let me tell you, Barcelona is beautiful (in case you didn't know). This is a photo from our airbnb's window - a little place within the Gothic Quarters.
Barcelona is one of the most beautiful places I’ve visited and I think a lot of it has to do with the way they thought out their streets. They’re comprised of zigzaggy alleys made of stone set between tall gothic buildings. You never know what you’ll find when you turn a corner - a moped leaning picturesque against a wall, a cutesy cafe or an outdoor flea market, like the one I'm in below.
Photo Guide to Barcelona:
Parc Guëll is a beautiful public park composed of gardens and architectural elements designed by Gaudí. If I were to go again, I would definitely pay to have access to the park's viewpoint, and I'd buy those tickets ahead of time because they were sold out when we went. Learn from my mistakes people!
La Estrella Herida
This first photo below was something I’d planned on taking for months. I found this sculpture when I was researching travel in Barcelona and knew I had to capture it in this way at sunrise. The sculpture is by Rebecca Horn.
La Catedral De Barcelona
This was walking distance to our airbnb. It tended to be hecka crowded with people during the day, so these photos were captured in the quiet of sunrise. I'm not one to make the point to see cathedral's or church's, but this one is so enchanting.
After a few days in Barcelona, we took the Bla Bla Bus to Paris. We almost missed the bus, which would become a continuous trend for us throughout the trip - almost missing our transportation.
In Paris we slowed down. We were able to stay with Ali's friend, Deniz in his Parisian flat. In that flat, we found routine, and we comfort in the little things. Each night we went to the Boulangerie to grab our fresh baguette for dinner, the Boucherie for chicken, and of course the Patissiere for dessert. And each day the people working at each of those places heard slight improvements in our French.
The Flat was walking distant to Le Pavillon Des Canaux, which would come to be our cafe in Paris and quickly became part of our routine. Ali and I would edit photos, Amanda would draw, we would all ogle over the different aesthetics of each room. Plus they made a mean mocha. This place definitely has a little piece of my café-lovin heart.
We did happen to hit some classic touristy spots in Paris, shared below. Spots that need no introduction, but were beautiful none-the-less.
After almost a week in Paris, we got a train to Zürich, Switzerland. Getting to Zürich was a JOURNEY. Our train was departing in the morning from Paris. We packed up our things and made our way to the metro to metro over to the train station. As we were rushing down the metro stairs we realized we were running late and there was a good chance we’d miss our train. One metro comes and it’s too full for any of us to join. Another comes and it’s our chance to rush on. The strikes in Paris made every metro ride the most crowded experience, I’m talking sardines y’all. I saw one go by where a girl’s ponytail was caught in the door but hey she made it on so she let it go. This one in particular was so crowded that the man’s beanie in front of me kept brushing up against my lips. Imagine being in shear panic of missing your train while continuously blowing beanie out of your mouth. Those 15 minutes felt so long. Fast forward: We make it to the train station to find that the train already left. And we were being so radical with our shared luggage from rushing that the handle wouldn’t go back in. By the time we actually got a new train we had to do something about the handle. It was sticking out dangerously in the narrow aisles. I look over at Ali and snap the handle out of the luggage socket and we rush to find our seats. “Well deal with it when we finally get there”. During this long, terrible and anxiety filled day, our suitcase struggles had us laughing through it all.
After checking into our airbnb, it was pretty late. It was so late, that nearly everything was closed but we scoped out the perfect place for morning coffee, called Wonder Waffel & Coffee. It was love at first neon sign.
Zürich felt like a small town, it didn't feel like a city. There wasn't the hustle and bustle of people going places and getting things done. Even the metro system didn't seem to carry that hurried kind of attitude. In fact, we were SURE a subway station we went in was shut down because of the lack of people waiting down there. It was night and day from the chaotic Paris metro we had just experienced. Zürich to us was calm, it was laid back, and it was lovely. See for yourself below.
Photo Guide to Zürich:
This is just a short, and scenic metro away from the heart of Zürich. Uetliberg is a gorgeous mountainous area, with a couple lookout points. One of the lookout points is a few francs to go up, but very much worth the view.
In Zürich, one side of the water is the "new" side and the other side is the "old" side. The Fraumunster Church is on the old side. We saw a lot of clock towers in the area, but the unique color this one, really stood out to us.
Zürich was the most expensive location of our whole trip, so we ended up just staying two days before taking a train back to Barcelona. WE WERE ROCKING A TIGHT BUDGET PEOPLE! I gotta say though, the thing to do in Switzerland is definitely to take a train or bus ride through the mountains. I remember being so tired on the ride but said to myself, “I’ll sleep after the sun sets”. I wanted to soak in the views for as long as possible.
BACK TO BARCELONA
We were messaging with our original Barcelona airbnb host throughout our trip, and were planning on staying there again when we returned to Barcelona. But at last minute, ended up staying in a different part of the city which was the right move for us. We had a new area to explore for our final day. This time we were right by Arco de Triunfo de Barcelona and La Sagrada Familia. And our room had a balcony, which was a MEGA plus.
La Sagrada Familia
This church is another famous piece designed by Gaudí. I would recommend coming here at sunrise, to avoid people. We went at a really busy time so I shot these at extreme angles to try to get people out of the images.
This trip taught me so much about myself. Mostly that anything you can dream of, you can act on. All the best things in the world are an investment and a risk. There's a quote I like by Cheryl Strayed that goes, “Are you going to decide to let fear rule your life or are you going to decide to let courage rule it”. Our minds are crazy powerful. Think about the times you’ve said things like “I wish” or “if things were different” or “maybe someday”. All of those mindsets are run by fear. Why are you wishing for “that thing”? What’s stopping you from making strides towards “that thing”? Is it money? Time? Maybe it’s that you don’t know where to start. Either way, when you get down to the reason for the fear you can start shifting your mind to be run by courage instead. And courage changes the whole game.
Thanks for following our journey!