Crash Course in Awesome

Trip Start Aug 02, 2010
Trip End Dec 06, 2010

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Flag of Spain  , Catalonia,
Thursday, August 26, 2010

There is a saying that the best things in life are free, which presumably they mean memories, or a welcome beer at a hostel after walking up a hill for an hour to try and find the place. You don't fully understand the saying until you travel, in my opinion.

I think most of you who know me can agree that my attention span sometimes matches that of a 2 year old.  However when you travel in a foreign country where you can't read or speak the language, your focus has to be at it's highest if you want to be able to avoid missing a flight, getting on a train to the wrong city, or getting on a subway/bus in the opposite direction of where you intended. Surprisingly we've managed not to do any of those things! Ok, ok, just once we got on a subway in the wrong direction, but we quickly realized it and fixed our mistake.

I admit it was a bit of a learning curve, as Parkes will no doubt tell you. I've left my camera on the bus after being in Iceland for only half an hour, only to have him spot it and pick it up. I dropped my ferry ticket on the ground, again only to have him spot it and pick up, lost my subway pass, and a few shampoo bottles along the way, but I have gotten better I swear...

Being forced to be so aware of your surroundings has given me a greater appreciation of moments in the trip that are truly memorable, and free, and a much stronger ability to find the good in any bad situation.

The days following the tomato fight weren't exactly the most comfortable, but they will be one of the highlights of my trip.

After catching some rays on the beach in Valentia following Tomatina, we decided that we would do some laundry, grab a bite to eat, find a spot on the beach and sleep there that night. Sounded simple enough, but rarely to things turn out the way you envision when your travelling somewhere you've never been before. After an hour of driving around trying to catch some wifi to
find a laundry mat, and then finding one on google maps and being unable to figure out how to get there, we wound up at the corner of some random street, and decided to hell with it, we'll try in the morning, and needed a bite to eat.

After our first encounter with “tapas”, which we were left confused as to what exactly they were, we headed to the beach to find a parking spot for the night. We drove around a few parking lots trying to find one that was the least shady, apparently people in Spain like to hit up the beach for their funny business, we decided on a spot that had a few RV's parked for the night. It was hot, muggy, and extremely uncomfortable laying across the backseat of an economy car with my legs bent the entire time. To top it all off, we had no idea what kind of area of the city it was
at night, so we left the windows up with a crack at the top to ensure that we wouldn't be waking up to someone reaching at us from the outside.

We woke up the next morning thankful to be alive and well, and set off to find the laundromat for the second time, and hit up a beach somewhere along the coast between Valentia and Barcelona. After roughly 2 hours of driving around Valentia, we finally found it! It only took us about three and a half hours of driving in total between two days, but god it felt good to find the

After that was done, we set off for Tarragona, which I read about online as having a great stretch of sandy beaches and that was all we needed to hear. We jumped on the highway and followed the coast for a bit until the roughly 4 hours of sleep and all that driving in the past three days caught up to Damian and Parkes, so I threw my hat in the ring to drive, even though I never drove standard, except for in a parking lot in North Bay with my sister patiently trying to teach me the inner workings of it a few years ago.

Here we are, in the parking lot of a gas station along the coast, with the ocean to my right, and two guys trying to teach me how to shift gears, and downshift when slowing down, and what to do when you stall. I did about 4 or 5 laps in the parking lot until a confused Spaniard came out of the station and signaled for us to get the hell off his property.

Here I was, thrown into the fire, driving standard for the first time on a highway in Spain along the Mediterranean ocean with two guys barking orders at me over what to do during the countless roundabouts we went through. It was definitely a great experience, and it's amazing at how both of the guys were wide awake while I was driving...

For those of you wondering I only stalled 4 or 5 times...

We arrived at Tarragona a little later than we had hoped, and it was past beach time, so we drove into the city to do some sightseeing. It ended up being an awesome city with tonnes of history, and I found myself a little disappointed that we wouldn't have more time to explore it, but I'll definitely go back there at some point in the future. We had supper in a 500 year old castle and checked out a Roman Amphitheatre, and then set off to find a parking spot on a beach somewhere just outside of town.

We found a spot that was pretty well right on the beach, and next to a car filled with a couple of
Australian girls who had just done pretty well the same trek as we did. We spent the night,  which was a better sleep than the previous ones, more than likely because I was so tired I could have slept on a rock and not woken up all night. That morning we got up to the sight of the beautiful blue Mediterranean Sea and the sounds of waves crashing against the beach, which was pretty amazing in itself, and went swimming in the biggest waves I've ever swam in.

It's moments like that in your trip that you really remember and will never forget, and really make the whole thing worthwhile, and the bad moments, or tough moments, just become funny stories to tell. This trip has truly taught me that the best things in life are free, you just have to be aware enough to notice them.
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Matt on

Hey... If I am going to live vicariously through you I need more updates!!

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