Lost in Bilbao

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I’m tempted to not write anything about Bilbao; I can’t do it justice. For the first time in a long time I’ve felt lost lost. No one in Bilbao speaks English, and no one cares for it. Prague felt foreign, but Bilbao is rural. It has that small town glue that binds the locals together.dog-spring
Nursing one of the sorest heads I’ve ever had, I crawled out of bed with vague recollections of my first night in Bilbao. I remember pinchos, oversized gins, cobbled streets packed full of eating and drinking Spaniards, dancing with a blow up elmo doll, and a disjointed georgraphy conversation with two helpful foreign students on a bridge.Let’s just say itwas Bilbao 1 Lostboys 0 when I went to bed.stairs

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Avoiding the main city I just walked up. Bilbao is a bowl, with the center of town at the bottom. It was mid-afternoon, and I walked slowly, with no intention of stopping. I twisted and turned on mesmerizing backstreets for a while. Hundreds of people stood in the street and ate, so I did the same. I stood and ate a prosciutto roll in the Saturday afternoon sun, it was better than any KFC remedy I’ve had. It was like a saline drip.

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With a newfound exuberance I left the bottom of the basin and climbed a set of stairs off a side street. Old town Bilbao transformed into suburban Bilbao and the people stared at me and my camera. A drugged up teen chased me through a park, chanting Spanish at me and pointing to my camera. ‘Amigo…. Something… Amigo, amigo.’ I ran – no brainer. *The bag of smack and dark glasses were a dead giveaway. (NB: Pretty quick on the old pins, so no real danger) By the time my heart rate returned to a respectable pace I was lost, so I kept walking. But I couldn’t stop. Every time I decided I’d had enough and I’d take on one more block, I’d round a corner and the camera would be back in my face. It was an ancient looking church balanced dangerously on a cliff’s edge or an old stone archway, or a scampering set of stairs that drove the cogs in my legs to keep walking. By the time I finally gave in the light was gone, and I just let myself trickle down the side streets and back into the city.

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My time in Bilbao is definitely the highlight of my trip. The food is to die for, the people I met are already close friends, and the city is intoxicating. It sucks you in, and traps you in small, stunning pools of activity, but then changes and traps you again before you’re even aware you’d moved.

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It’s definitely the most fun place to get lost with a camera, and should be noted in remedial books as a great hangover cure.

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Czech Yourself

It was refreshing driving to Prague from Berlin. Air travel is like being boxed, wrapped and squeezed into a cylinder that cannons you to your destination, but driving the four hours really gave me time to chill, adjust and take stock. There wasn’t the stress of the cattle call. I used to travel from Sydney to Brisbane a lot during a tough stage in my life, and I always found that when I decided to drive instead of fly I’d arrive far more balanced and relaxed. The unfamiliar landscape rolling by out the window was therapeutic and gave me a chance to remould.

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Prague is stunning, it’s postcard Europe. I dragged my gear up cobblestone streets, passed ancient moss tinged churches and over rivers dotted with white swans. It’s an age away from the packed, raging streets of Manhattan. It’s been good to just sit on the street and enjoy not understanding the conversations happening around me – it’s been a solace.

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And always, just when I’d had enough of my own head, some friendly inquisitive Czech, or tourist, or camera enthusiast, or *paper-bagger would stop and ask what it is I’m doing, and just like pulp-fiction I’d have a single serving friend. Sometimes I’d take their photo if they were really memorable, sometimes I’d get their Instagram, but most of the time we’d just chat for a while and they’d move on.

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At one stage I was waiting for day to turn to night opposite the Dancing House. As the most beautiful red sun burned orange behind the sandstone buildings the temperature dropped with it. I was fresh off a plane from sunny Berlin and was wearing Havaianas. Rookie. I found a haphazardly packed sock in the front of my camera bag, and had another one housing my GoPro. As I was slippingthe odd pair onto my freezing feet I heard this wicked cackling laugh over my shoulder. I looked up into a haggard bearded face. The wrinkles that linked the corners of his eyes with the corners of his mouth danced as he barked Czech at me and pointed to my feet. In one hand he had a bottle in a brown bag, and in the other a trolley bag with what seemed like all his belongings.

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‘I’m sorry, English.’ Is all I could say through my bewilderment.

He managed, ‘You… Feet… Cold.’  And then he laughed at me, thick and heartily.

I smiled at him, ‘Yep, freezing as a…’

He interrupted and pointed to his bare feet, ‘My feet, Heat.’ And then he laughed again and turned around to leave.

I smiled and adjusted my cap on my head.

He turned back around and mumbled in Czech as he fished for an English word,   ‘weak, weak… weak.’ He finally declared in unison with his gesturing hand, more proud of himself that he’d figured out how to explain himself than insulting.

Before I had time to answer he released his grip on the trolley and knuckled me endearingly on the shoulder, ‘Soon my feet, your feet. Same.’

And then he left.

Favourite single serving friend yet

*Brown-bagger is anyone who’s drunk (Usually carrying a bottle in a brown bag – usually homeless)

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Lost in Berlin

      ‘As the warmth of the sun leaves my back,
and these bruise coloured skies turn to black,
none of these faces look the same,
and not one knows my name.
I am a long way from home.
-Radical Face

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Thank you Radical Face, I couldn’t better describe the feeling of losing myself in the streets of Berlin today. It’s an eerie isolation being in such a remarkably visual city, but having no familiarity with where you are and no understanding of the language. The strokes of the street change ten times within the space of just as many blocks. Old is butted hauntingly against new. I found myself searching the faces of older men and women for a hint that they may have been in Berlin during the war. The city itself hides none of its past and is beautiful as a result.
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I managed to stop and take a few photos, despite my fascination. I’ll leave it with that, as some serious jet lag is pulling me towards the comfiest hotel bed I’ve ever seen! Thank you work – Regent Berlin rocks!
Best,
Timmy
Instagram: @the_lostboys
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The Manhattan Grit

I’ve spent the past four days on the streets of New York. I’ve sat in gutters for hours waiting for time to pass. I’ve watched the city move and moved with the city. If a city’s streets are the veins distributing blood to the body, Manhattan is constantly sprinting. When they move, the people are impatient and agitated. They wait for no one, because no one will wait for them – they yell and beep and push as they pump as one.

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It’s a grit that I’ve never experienced before.It’s like a grit that running for a long time produces. It’s a toughness, an endurance, and I love it. With the few encounters I’ve had, I love the people the city attracts, and the people it doesn’t break.

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I hired a bike today and took on the streets. *No helmet might I add, but I figure the guy sitting on the back of a garbage truck smoking as it bounces down 7th Ave at 60 km/h isn’t wearing a seatbelt, so why would I need a helmet? At first I was a liability, and stuck to the bike lanes. But before I knew it I was tailing a local as he weaved and dinged his bell, and slapped taxi bonnets all the way down Broadway. By the time he pealed off to SoHo I feltlike I could fake the ‘attitude’ and survive. It was a frenzy of lane changing, squeezing between cars, dodging, cursing and peddling, but I felt like I was an infinitesimally small drop of blood in the system.

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At one stage a fifty-year-old man in a brown plaid suit pulled out of one of the avenues onto a surprisingly clear Broadway. He was upright and pedalling his fixie effortlessly up the middle of the road in front of me. It was this point that I wish I had been able to stop my bike, (*sudden stopping almost certainly means sudden death) and snap him as he disappeared into the maze of yellow, because that’s the image i’ll see in my mind when I talk about New York.

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It’s been a blur of unfamiliarity that’s slowly diluting to hints of understanding. It’s been just that, a maze of taxis, subways, bridges, basement bars ten floors underground and hidden brick music venues. I watched the sun come up from underneath the Brooklyn bridge, and the sun go down from the 92nd floor penthouse of Spencer St.

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My only regret is I didn’t take enough photos, but for the first time I really did just get lost with no intention of missing anything by stopping. I also have a funny feeling it won’t be long before I’m back.

imstagram: @the_lostboys

Lost in NYC

Chicago is behind us, and we leave with blurry but revelrous memories of Hugo’s Frog Bar. *It’s next to Gibson’s famous steakhouse – and serves the same great steaks as Gibson’s but has amazing seafood as well – no brainer. I may or may not have played their piano! No one seemed to care.

See: http://youtu.be/KBAmLcoDjco

I knew I would love New York. I loved it from the second I woke up hazy on the plane and gawked over two people to catch a glimpse of the Manhattan skyline out the window. I’m always mindful of how the anticipation of going somewhere new can ruin your experience, but I just knew that I was safe to assume NYC was going to blow my mind.wlkin

It’s true, the place is in a hurry. Even the way the buildings scatter and stack the sky gives the impression that they would up and rush if they could. There is no balance to the city as there was in Chicago.

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I met a local barista at the Blue Spoon who recognised I was Aussie and she made me a flat white coffee. It was out of control good, and I actually danced with excitement  in her empty cafe.

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I’ve been here for five hours and I’m hooked on the buzz of the faces in the streets. There are film trucks on every second corner. For the first time on this trip it is actually hard to take photos, because I’m anxious that I’ll miss seeing something else by affording time to a shot. If Sydney could be the LA of Australia, then first impressions of NYC definitely remind me of Melbourne (on some serious peptides) *No Essendon joke intended.ny

I’ve got the next four days to get completely lost in one of the world’s biggest cities. Let’s see who sleeps first!

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Lost in Chicago

It’s the heightening of the senses that makes travel exciting for me. It’s the constant analysis of the world I’m used to vs. the world I’m immersed in. In short, I take notice instead of cruising on autopilot.

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That as it is, I think every traveler is searching for that ‘unique’ experience that affirms their adventure is different to anyone else’s. It’s the same feeling you get when you hear your favourite lead singer tell you that your town rocked way harder than any other on tour.

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I’ve heard people say, ‘A city is a city, seen one seen em’ all.’ But some cities have a soul, or an anxiety,or a pulse.  I’ve spent the last few days in Chicago, with the prospect of a day off today. There has been an anxious hype pulsing through the crew ever since we arrived. It’s the 4pm sunlight reflecting off mirrored glass buildings, raking through black fire escape stairs. It’s the sound of trains roaring overhead on twisted rusting metal arches, transporting people to somewhere that I’m anxious to be missing out on seeing.  The city is intoxicating, it draws you in, and strums at your excitement  every time you discover another one of its secrets.

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Even now writing this in the hotel, I have a nervous pang that I’m missing something somewhere outside that I couldn’t experience anywhere else in the world. So I’ll leave it at that!

instagram: @the_lostboys

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Bye Cali

After five days of the most perfect weather (post 11:30am fog burn off) in Califonia, it’s time to say goodbye.

If we weren’t riding bikes down Venice beach in the Cali sun, we were shooting a timelapse from the helipad on the roof of a downtown LA dance school. It really is hard to call a trip work when you’re squeezing in movie launches in Hollywood, or climbing all over the walls (and trees) at Google HQ.

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Izzy, our local LA correspondent was amazing at getting us around, finding us amazing margarita+mexican digs, and literally passing the time with.

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Frank Gehry, our subject for the documentary was a little under the weather when we picked up a few sequences with him in his office. Soundbite of the day, Frank: Get this fucking microphone off me. There is no doubt however, that his buildings are genius.

Google have a games room in their office that puts Toys R’ Us to shame! Should have been a web designer.

The Thompson Hotel in Beverley Hills kicks ass. It takes five minutes for your eyes to adjust to the ‘mood lighting’ they’ve got going on in there, but the free wifi in the lobby helps with that. The staff are all so friendly. I feel like employing someone to sit at my house and just say to me,’Welcome home Mr Small’ every time I return.

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LA definitely lived up to expectations, and although sleep has been sparse, it’s rocked.

Next stop, Chicago.

instagram: @the_lostboys

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