Some video I shot from my extended spring break last year: Madrid, Barcelona, Istanbul, and Dublin.
Posts tagged madrid
Exactly one year ago today I returned home from the most powerful trip I have ever taken. I spent 2 weeks traveling through Madrid, Barcelona, London, Istanbul, and Dublin. I was fortunate to be able to share parts of this experience with some friends and family, but ultimately I was on my own. I met people I will never forget, learned things that changed my life, and had adventures I could have never dreamt. I will remember this trip for the rest of my life for three reasons:
1. The unbelievable generosity and interest of complete strangers. I met some amazing people, one of which I am hoping to go spend the summer with in Madrid.
2. Being places and doing things that I never believed were attainable. A small town Pennsylvania kid, cruising down the Bosphorus as the sun sets over the hills of Istanbul was one of the most powerful images I’ve ever witnessed. Yes, because it was extraordinarily beautiful but more so because I was in another world, somewhere that a lot people I knew didn’t even know the location of.
3. The most significant part of this whole trip was the way each location challenged me, in unique yet complementary ways.
Spain challenged me to take control of my destiny, to be active in my own life and search out the things I wanted to see, the things I wanted to do, and to not just be a passenger on this trip.
London challenged me to make the most of brief encounters with people. I only spent one night in London and it was as a layover between flights. I arrived to my hostel around 8pm and left at 4am, but I met 3 people that night that made a big enough impression on me to be remembered in detail a year later. I only ended up sleeping for 2 hours because we stayed up talking for half the night, on the back of 3 days with a combined total of 5 hours sleep. These people are going to alter your life, you can always sleep later.
Istanbul was the biggest challenge, it forced me to leave my cultural backpack at the door. I had no experience to draw on, nothing to relate things to, and, because of my ignorance, no prejudices to be influenced by. Each event, no matter how small, was taken with the awe and wonder of a child. It’s a feeling you can only truly understand by entering an environment with a different alphabet.
Dublin was the most surprising challenge. St. Patrick’s day in Dublin was so over run by tourists, that it really caused me to reflect on the results of the rest of my trip. While I had absorbed so much from each place I visited, in my own small way, I to had been absorbed by the people I encountered in those cultures. I brought to them something new, something outside of what they were used to. While this exchange is what is beautiful about travel, there is a darker side to it. When things are reversed and the visitors become the dominant influence, it can have disastrous effects on the indigenous culture. To an extent it becomes a reverse cultural colonization, amplifying the globalized commonalities across the world, creating places that are beginning to lose their uniqueness. On the particular days that I was in those cities, Dublin and Istanbul were astounding antitheses of the globalized city.