Up until now I have not gotten to the heart of a cities nightlife as well as I did in Barcelona

Going out with a group of people is a different experience than with a small one.  If its a smaller group or a duo, a quieter more relaxed atmosphere is ideal, with a bunch of people, the louder the better!

So meeting a fantastic international group of people on St Patrick’s day set the tone for the rest of the month Barcelona. Also I was detoxing from my self-inflicted Museum Overload in Madrid Syndrome (or MOMS).

It was time to cut loose.and get my drink on.

The Irish bars on that day were a blur. We started out in Barceloneta Fastnet bar at midday. Continued hilarity ensued at my expense, by ordering my beers in my carefully spoken, NZ accented Spanish to the obviously Irish bar-staff.

On to the next Irish bar our group was caught in the middle of a gathering of English that were in town to see the next days football match and some of the native Irish at the bar getting their St Paddy’s on.

The combat was limited to bawdy drinking songs, meters from a children’s playground. Which was more of a curiosity to both the children and their parents. Many pulling out their mobiles to record it.

And right in-between was our table. Covered in embarrassed grins. Pulling our St Paddy’s hats low, caught in the crossfire. Sooner or later it will be on youtube somewhere I’m sure of it.

It turned into a rag-tag UN later in the day. So a Group of Finn’s, Polish, a German, Portuguese, and a New Zealander walk into a bar sounds like a set up to a very convoluted joke.

It was no laughing matter however when on the way to our fourth bar of the evening one of the Finn’s had her purse pick-pocketed right out of her handbag which was then zipped up again. Anywhere else you might be able to blame the alcohol as giving them a cape of invisibility. But no, in Barcelona these guys can pick your pocket in broad daylight, while you are absolutely sober without you knowing until you go to pay for your meal.

I also had a near miss with being pick-pocketed, well it was more of a direct hit but that story deserves its own post.

There were several other bars which were apparently normally dead but had long queues just because it was St Patrick’s day and everyone wanted to drink like an Irishman.

We settled on a bar nearby which was full but had enough room for us to squeeze in. One of the ladies at the bar, already full of Irish spirit, latched onto me and the Polish guy. We exchanged terrified smiles as we were groped accordingly for the next several hours every time we ran the gauntlet to have a cigarette outside. Discretion proved to be the better part of valor dealing with the situation. While our group was leaving and the grabby lady was stalking us, Poland and I both hid behind a recycling point until the coast was clear.

Several more bars awaited but none were as eventful. More pints were consumed, more cigarettes were smoked, more fun was had.

Somehow I stumbled into a taxi and back home at 4am.

Mission accomplished!

To list but a few of the places the people I met during my time in Barcelona shared with me.

 

Fastnet Irish pub in Barceloneta

Situated in the sprawling waterfront area of Barcelona, it is a fantastic place to taken in the sun, the marina and a few pints. Friendly staff and some pretty epic portions of food to soak up the alcohol. Seriously you need mountain climbing equipment and a friend to take on their nachos.

 

 

Can Paixano ( La Xampanyria )

A tiny but heavily trafficked Cava (Spanish Champagne) Bar near Barceloneta. This place had a fast-moving queue to get in and is a tight standing room only Bar and eatery. You can buy Cava by the glass  for a couple of Euro and a plate of mixed sausages to share with it. Its cramped, boisterous and fantastic.

 

 

Polaroid in Bario Gotico

An 80’s throwback bar, covered in memorabilia from the era with a soundtrack to match. You can get a bucket of 5 beers for 10 Euro, or choose from one of the many aptly named cocktails, like the Sarah Conner, the Delorean and the Han Solo, drink enough  of them and you might time travel to the next day.

 

Barcelona Pipa Club in Plaza Reial

This establishment is like a secret speakeasy hidden in plain view within the bustling Plaza Reial. You buzz the doorman via the intercom to what is seemingly the entrance to an old apartment building. Up the stairs and inside it does nothing to convince you haven’t stepped back in time. When I was there, a live band was playing Swing/Jazz with one of the rooms set up as a stage area. A place where you can sit back and enjoy the ambiance.

 

The Bollocks

Our German friends favorite haunt. This is a dive bar you would not be surprised meeting the Barcelona chapter of Sons of Anarchy at. This bar was figuratively made of metal. The clientele and staff are genial enough. The hanging motorcycles, metal band posters, and decor make it a good place to get a Jack Daniels and plan your next tattoo. I also randomly met a fellow kiwi traveler who actually identified me by my accent. Later my German friend recounted “I met her too and she was telling me how strange it was she met someone from New Zealand here. She was amazed when I told her ‘ Yeah I know that guy, hes like the only other one in Barcelona.”

 

Absenta in Barceloneta

Tucked away from the main drag in Barceloneta but situated between it and the beach Absenta is a curio filled Absinthe Bar, which for reasons unfathomable to me now I ordered beer at. Im told they offer a wide selection of the spirit and I will be back to try their best (or worst) absinthe on the menu. Unsure if they will set it on fire for me first because I want to retain some liver function for future outings. The decor of this place is shabby chic, very worn in and comfortable, just like you will be after a few of their Absinthe’s.

 

Bocca Chica in Passatge de la Concepcio

This is a place you might want to don a nice shirt or your best party dress for. Trust me its worth it. Decorated in a mind-bending hunting lodge meets 1920’s atmosphere, Bocca Chica has to be seen to be believed. Situated next to the Bocca Grande restaurant it’s spread over 3 levels, (including the toilets) there is a main bar area, a second bar with terrace and the jewel in the throne room, the toilets. When I was told I just *Had* to check out the toilets my reaction was skeptical at best. But they are indeed a sight to behold, covered in artwork, mirrors and funky Harry Potter basins with music piped from the DJ upstairs, couches and tables. You couldn’t be blamed for having your own party there.

 

 

Barcelona is a place that has a magnetic personality but one where you need to watch your wallet, if not for the pickpockets, then for the endless 5euro pints you will no doubt consume. But regardless of where you go or what you do Barcelona has an unbeatable atmosphere, insane architecture and the happiest people.

Firstly there is no right way or wrong way to travel (with a caveat on travel safety of course).
That said however this is my personal travel doctrine viewed through my unique lens. Other than passing on useful information, entertaining you with my writing and travel philosophy, I really wanted to share the core concept behind what I am doing.

I get asked two questions the most;

#sunset #fadinglight #Madrid #Spain

“Your money or your life?”

Why would I spend longer than a week at most in any city, let alone a month and how on earth can I afford to travel like this?

The answer to both? It’s less stressful and its cheaper.

Living for a month in another country should not cost more than an average month in your home city.

“But the airline ticket costs more than that!”

This is true, the ticket is the largest single cost incurred, next to hotel accommodation.

The only way to get around this is to travel longer. It may seem counter intuitive but once the urgency is removed, your travel costs decrease.

My last 5 months in Portugal and Spain in total, is on parity with what I spent traveling through Italy for 3 weeks in 2013.

Let that sink in for a second.

The way I am traveling currently is not for everyone, there is no one size fits all. Much like everything else in life, it depends greatly on your disposition, your commitments and priorities and most of all, if it works for you.

If you are setting out on an OE, a Career break, or just some extended leave this article may hold something for you.

#StreetArt #Graffiti #Madrid #Spain #urban Money kills my dreams

Money doesn’t kills dreams, apathy does

 

My brief was simple.

I wanted to travel for a long time. 

I wanted to see many things.

I wanted to meet locals and other travelers and learn about them and their cities.

I wanted to be able to change my plans as needed.

I wanted to live in a home where-ever I stayed.

I identified with it as Decompressed Travel.

I’m not sure if through internet osmosis or my own fevered imagination coined the term Decompressed Travel. Probably the infinite legion of monkeys bashing at typewriters (called the internet) has already trademarked it, written a Wikipedia page and has the T-Shirt rights. Much like my site, I don’t care as long as it’s beautiful.

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Hungry Bear licks giant Broccoli

 

This is my take on Decompressed Travel.

To me my previous travel experiences were compressed.
Before, I always had a timeframe. How much leave do I have, How many nights can I afford that hotel. How many things can I see before I have to go to the next location. What flight is the most direct?

And the cost, most of all why does it have to cost so much?
I found if you are committed to traveling, it really doesn’t have to cost much and still live a comfortable life on your journey.

The somewhat irony is, once I removed the restrictions of time on travel by resigning from my job, the primary obstacle of travel spend reduced too.

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As illustrated in this diagram, wait, thats not right..

 

Some of the highlights so far are:

Freedom from time constraints (other than Visa limits)

Ability to make changes in direction spontaneously.

Getting to know a city well enough you can navigate it on foot by recognising streets and discovering new ones. It’s something that has saved me when my phone runs out of battery.

Being able to cook with local ingredients and prepare fresh foods at least 4 nights a week as much for my own enjoyment than budget. You could survive pretty well on 5 euro kebab combos, but that gets old pretty quick.

Learing enough of the language to get by and then some. I am not conversational in Portuguese, Spanish or Italian by any stretch but I could probably give most native speaking toddlers a run for their applesauce.

As you can see here this is, nope, wrong diagram..

As you can see here this is, nope, wrong diagram..

Discounts by renting at monthly/weekly rates. Hostels are the go to for the budget traveler, for weekly rates in a dorm you might get a good deal and there is the social aspect of meeting other travelers.

For longer term travel however the comfort and convenience of living in an AirBnb home is more attractive and cost-effective to me. Not worrying about forming a long queue for kitchens or bathrooms, having easy access to the comforts of a home environment and most importantly local knowledge from local people has made AirBnB a fantastic experience so far.

Keeping a daily budget diary, just to record your spend, even if to the nearest Euro. Much like how calorie counting becomes second nature to dieters so does budgeting to travelers.  Looking for savings where you can, Menu’s of the day when you are hungry and want a good deal while avoiding the tourist trap prices by walking to the next street from the nearby attractions.

Annnd, Shit.. Never mind close enough, money, time, blah blah blah

Annnd, Shit.. Never mind close enough, money, time, blah blah blah

Being budget conscious and budget beholden are 2 different things. I would not risk my health, safety or sanity trying to save a buck. I realised this when almost booking a flight to Porto that would have required the Heathrow/Gatwick transfer to save a few hundred dollars. The direct flight to Lisbon later dropped in price to the same cost and rail travel in Portugal was very inexpensive if you book early and take advantage of the specials.

The longer the travel timeframe the longer of an average you will have to work with. I know France is likely to be expensive and to spike up my costs considerably, it still won’t dissuade me from traveling there, I know I will have a couple cheap months further down the line somewhere to even it out.

I realize to many the option to not work for an extended period of time just to travel is a situation of privilege.

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Pictured: Not my hotel

 

“You are so lucky!” Is a common response when I mention what I am doing. Luck had very little to do with it in my case, just working and saving with some planning and foresight.

There seems to be a myth associated with travel you either need to be a homeless gypsy or a millionaire. “If I had no obligations or responsibilities, I could go anywhere.”  “If I won the lottery I would travel the world.” Everyone has had those daydreams at least once in their lives.

But the part of that myth being you have to be a carefree on the road nomad by choice or a millionaire James Bond type is romantically out of touch with reality.

On my current projected travel budget I can travel per year for only slightly more than most people spend on just existing back home. Factoring in rent, food, expenses and entertainment it was nearly on par, except I could be in any country or city that I feel like.

I know my decision to go nomad is a luxury not everyone shares, but it is attainable to those that want it.

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Plaza Mayor, home of the 7 Euro, media means 1 litre beer

 

It was years of hard work and saving to have that led me here. At the time I didn’t even know what I was saving for, maybe a business or a house. But when I examined the prospect of doubling down for a deposit on a 20 year mortgage, for a house I would someday completely own in my 60’s, while I daydreamed about far off places I would perhaps never see, taking a leap into the unknown felt more compelling.

Perhaps if I had jumped onto the property ladder in my early 20’s before the rampant housing speculation exploded in my hometown of Auckland, things now may well have gone a different way. No better or worse, just different. But probably more location dependant.

#statues #sculpture #moody #Madrid #Spain

“Takee meee with youuuuuuuu”

I found myself at a point in life where I was metaphorically traveling light. I am single with no dependents and felt I could take a risk with my finances in return for an enriching experience.

Longterm travel is one of the most important things I have committed to in my life, of this I am certain.

I was hardly sleepwalking through my existence before, but at times it sure felt like it.

Prior to my current adventures as a writer and traveler I have been a Music producer and performer, an animator trained by Warner Bros, artist and illustrator, a Video Games designer and Telecommunications Manager in a large corporation.

Now, with only the contents of my backpack and a new city at my doorstep each month do I feel more at home with myself.

It is strangely zen when the person with nothing is seen as privileged by those with everything.

 

I discover the live fusion of Django Reinhardt, bluegrass and Fado at the El Sol Jazz Club in Sevilla’s Alameda De Hercules.

El Sol is a tiny jazz club just at the beginning of the Alameda De Hercules District, filled with Tapas restaurants, bars and clubs.

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I immediately noticed the guitarist and double bassist on setting foot in the club. They were playing that quick-fire type of Jazz that I associated with the theme of the Ren and Stimpy cartoon. They were really good. So I had no choice but to grab a beer, pull up a seat at the front and settle in.

The duo was then joined by a Violinist and alternated between a young but talented guitarist and an old veteran in his 60s, announced as one of the respected local greats.

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Normally I would get overly descriptive with the experience but in this case I will shut up and let the music speak for itself.
I recorded it with the voice memo app on my Iphone 6 plus, surprising me with how well it turned out.

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The Voice memo app I will never use again however as it is so proprietary with its file transfer options making sharing large files next to impossible without trimming to multiple files.
I did have to run it through Fruity Loops mobile to add back in some of the frequencies that were lost. But all in all I’m glad I have something to share and something to remember of the experience.

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After the end of their set I was a devoted fan of Swing music and intend to try seek out Jazz clubs in every city I visit.
By this stage I was in the swing of being a Sevillian.

I thought I knew what to expect from Flamenco.

Very quickly I had to forget my preconceptions. Being fed on a steady diet of stereotypes from Tv and Movies led me to expect some foot tapping, castanets, fancy fretboard finger work and some dusky vocals. Within moments the intensity of the vocalist and the fury of the guitarist had me pinned back into my seat.

The vocals were evocative of the Muslim call to prayer, the guitar notes were leaning more towards the Arabic scale and seemed to be inspiration for every metal riff ever.

The dancing had not yet started.

I will just pause there and rewind for a moment as to how I came to be there. My AirBnb host Maribel is an internationally performing and teaching flamenco dancer. If I was to see flamenco in Seville, who better to see. When I arrived I did wonder if the show I was going to see would be one geared towards tourists as many are in Seville that are. It was intensified was a large contingent of Asian tourists in the audience. I was beginning to have some apprehension about it being a paint by numbers show. If I was in any doubt by the time the dancers hit the stage it was expelled with force.

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In her flamenco costume and makeup Maribel had transformed. Appearing fiercely severe and stern-faced, she strutted onto the stage answering the singers mournful uttering with contempt in her form and steps. Maribel’s movements were expressive and explosive sending hair combs flying, this was interpretive dance far from, any by-the-numbers dancing I might have expected.

No translation was needed in the story unfolding, you could hear the singer’s heart breaking and the dancer was beyond pissed off. The male dancer at this point, still seated, was adding to the Flamenco dancers percussion with his own foot stamping, hand clapping and finger clicking. Together, the effect created was an intricately interconnected rolling rhythm.

 

I could see these performers were enjoying each others flourishes as much as the audience was, with calls of “Olé” to each other. It was clear this was a jam session of professionals.

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After the first performance finished and the applause had died down I was acutely aware of my pulse rate which had been furiously trying to match the tempo, Flamenco is literally not for the faint of heart.

I assumed these performers simpatico was from countless shows together. I was surprised to learn from Maribel this was the first time they had performed together and that this was a common occurrence. I thought of top session musicians brought together and told  “You are playing 12 bar blues, in D#’ watch for the changes.”

The next act started the male flamenco now showed his footwork as Maribel returned after a muy rapido costume change, filling his seated rhythmical accompaniment role from earlier.

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Possibly it was from noticing the enthralled Japanese tourists, I thought about flamenco’s similarities with Kabuki and Noh theater. Although slower and more ritualistic Kabuki shares the same levels of intricacy and intensity as Flamenco in my opinion.

Maribel who has toured globally, confirmed that Flamenco was indeed popular there with Japanese girls studying dance.

The last act was more free form with all of the performers having a moment in the spotlight and much to the tourists delight (and I admit, my own) the prohibition on photography was lifted. The show wrapped to much “Olé” and applause.

This is a form of music that to be fully appreciated should be seen live. I cannot attest to the authenticity and passion of every Flamenco show in Seville but the one I saw at Casa de la Memoria (rated #1 on Yelp) was fantastic.

The experience had redefined my expectations of Flamenco and given me a musical history lesson spanning thousands of years. I feel I have a much richer appreciation of Andalusian Spain as a result and I will be adding a few flamenco tracks to my playlist when exploring from now on.

One way tickets are booked for Lisbon in Portugal and 19 days to go.

As I am on the verge of hitting the road it made sense to do the same thing for Don’t Care Where as a site.

I have moved it to self hosted which should allow a bit more flexibility on the road and the way I deliver content to it.

The biggest change is moving to a .Club domain, it made sense in a jaunty explorers club way to have this as a domain. I never saw this as just being about my experiences, the whole reason I’m going travelling is to better connect with the World, people, cultures and most importantly with myself, but if it wasn’t for the inspiration from others like Rick StevesNomadic Matt, What’s Dave Doing? I wouldn’t have come as far as I have. It is this sense of community from people so far flung that resonated with me. A club of people that don’t care where in the world it is, just as long as its fulfilling them on some level. So .Club it is.

My travel plans are long form through Portugal and Spain, I will be spending a month in Lisbon, a month in Porto and down to the Algarve for Christmas and the New Year before crossing into Spain into Seville and progressing through the Andalucia. I want to be able to soak in enough of the surroundings before moving on, So I am keeping my itinerary very loose.

If any readers out there have highlights of Portugal I can’t miss then please share those experiences!

So I hope everyone gets used to our new travelling home here.

Please update any bookmarks or notifications to the new address and keep sending me tips and sharing experiences for everyone’s knowledge and enjoyment.