July 18th- San Sebastian, Spain
I really don’t want this travel blog to become one of those “and then i did this and then i did this” type things so for now i thought instead of writing just about what i’d seen, i’d write about how what i’d seen made me feel.
Just before i left dad told me something very important. He said “Don’t get sucked in by other people’s anxieties.” When you’re travelling, you understand this more than ever.
Most of the people i’ve met have left behind others anxieties. Solo travellers especially seem to be moving along, doing their own thing.
Friendship dramas and boyfriend problems seem so small when you’ve seen the swiss alps or travelled the trans siberian railway.
I’ve seen such breathtaking things. In the space of one weekend i saw live music i thought i’d never see- The Cure, Radiohead, as well as some of the most incredible art at the Guggenheim.
I walked a huge gallery filled with rusted ellipses encased within circles, spirals that lean inwards and outwards, hugging you tight then releasing you into a breathtaking, uplifting empty space. Perceptions are lost, you’re confused, disoriented, and come out feeling like art is so much more than you ever thought it could be.
The enveloping brightness and color of hockney’s landscapes. Or a small room filled with anonymous photos, lit simply by hanging incandescent lightbulbs. The black and white faces peering at you from every inch of the wall feel so familiar and intimate, like a private tribute to all these people you never knew, at the same time strange and alienating. You are overwhelmed all at once with the sense that everyone is individual and important, whilst also totally recognizing your complete insignificance in the scheme of these millions of faces
But, it hasn’t all been enlightening. I slept down the side of a mountain, where everything you put into your tent including your own body ended up curled in the one horrific, beer drenched corner. Waking up in the morning and managing to pull myself out of that tent literally felt like being born again and having to drag myself out of my own womb. Still- it could have been worse. The festival was terrifically oversold so people were pitching their tents behind barbed wire fences.An interesting obstacle to navigate at any time, let alone blind drunk at 6am.
As for the bathrooms, i’ll leave it to your imagination what can happen when 80,000 people use squat toilets for 3 days straight that DON’T HAVE LIGHTS IN THEM AT NIGHT TIME. People unfamiliar with squat toilets that is, because actually as a general rule Spain uses normal toilets except of course, in the instance when they decide to play some sort of cruel joke on festival goers. Let’s just say there was a lot of near misses. A lot.
But more than the breathtaking scenery, the beautiful sights or the desperate lows, the thing that stands out to me the most is the people. My perceptions of people have totally changed in less than a week. I had the most incredible discussion about Dostoevsky with a labourer from Queensland, who’s sister is a beautician. Need i say more
I stayed at an apartment in San Sebastian where a german guy lets you sleep for 5 euro a night, cooks for you and takes you out, just because he enjoys having people from around the world surround him, and he wants to facilitate international conversations. He definitely did that. I had a 6 hour conversation with a 23 year old guy from Germany, on the beach, at night, in San Sebastian, where he gave me the best in depth,intelligent analysis on the political situation in every single country in Europe that for a second i thought i should ditch my plans to study in Denmark and just follow him around for another week. It was late, the sand was brittle and i lost my shoes, but i’ll never forget him explaining how direct democracy could work in a country as politically apathetic as Australia- “If you let a dog laze around and sleep all day, it will only be able to do that. But if you give it something to do, it can grow to what you teach it. People are even more so like that, they achieve what you let them achieve.They grow to what is expected of them.”
His enthusiasm was infectious, he reeled off the history of countries like tales from his childhood. He said he didn’t want to be a politician, but everyone says that because the sort of people who are politicians now. And he wants to start to
change that, so that being a politician is something people who have morals will aspire to be. Sadly i had to leave him as I’m Portugal bound, but not without a pile of books and recommended reading to follow up on.
Portugal and then the south of Spain. Why? Who knows,before I left I didn’t even know where Portugal was ( a source of much amusement for my bed fellows at the hostels) but that’s the thrill of travelling alone, you can go wherever you feel like- and in Europe it’s only an hour away to a completely new country, culture and group of friends.
Hasta la vista!