Barcelona, Spain

Plaça Reial - Barcelona Spain

On July 2, 2013 a friend and I traveled to Europe for two weeks. Six countries, five languages, seven flights, five buses, four trains, multiple boats and two taxis, one bag. Too see my gear please visit How to Travel Light. On this trip we stopped in Barcelona Spain for one day.

We arrived in Barcelona Spain after a six hour bus ride from Pamplona Spain on July 9, 2013. This was my first time on a Double-Decker bus. We arrived in Barcelona at the bus terminal Barcelona-Sants. Once we got off the bus we went to McDonald’s which was located in Barcelona-Sants. Best McDonald’s I’ve ever been too. It was actually called McCafé. They had free wi-fi and you could order your food and drinks from a touch screen monitor. I always go to McDonald’s and order something that we do not have here in the United States. I ordered the 1955 and my friend ordered the CBO (chicken, bacon, onion). I know, McDonald’s in Spain, I’m stupid right? We had to eat, and eat fast, this was our only option. This was the only time in the entire trip where we didn’t eat at local traditional restaurants.

From McDonald’s we walked to our hotel, AC Hotel Victoria Suites. It was about a two mile walk from Barcelona-Sants to AC Hotel Victoria Suites, which isn’t far, if you aren’t carrying a twenty pound backpack. Once we got settled into the hotel, recharged phones, unpack our clothes, we took a proper shower and headed to Las Ramblas.

 

In order to get to Las Ramblas, we decided to take the subway. We bought a one way pass. While in the subway, we saw the biggest vending machine ever called Yatoo Supermercado Rapido. It can be seen in the pictures above.

When we arrived at Las Ramblas we first saw Columbus Monument. The Columbus Monument is located in the center of the Plaça de la Porta de Pau (Square of the Gate of Peace). The monument is made of a cast iron column set on a stone pedestal and topped by a statue of Christopher Columbus. This statue was completed in 1888. We then walked down the pier and had dinner at Tapa Tapa. We had Hamburger Cooked in Duck Fat, Cheese Fries with Eggs, Tomato and Olive Oil Bread, Fried Cheese Balls, Muscles and French Fries, Pasta Salad and a pitcher of sangria.

By this time, it had been a long day. We bought a few beers on the street on Las Ramblas. On Las Ramblas, you can buy anything you want, literally. We got a taxi back to the hotel and called it a night. We had to catch a flight early the next morning. The next morning we got up at 8:00 am, took a 30 minute bus ride to the Barcelona-El Prat airport.

Next Stop

To see the next leg of the journey, please see, Venice Italy.

Pamplona, Spain

Monumento al Encerierro - Pamplona Spain

Monumento al Encerierro - Pamplona Spain

On July 2, 2013 a friend and I traveled to Europe for two weeks. Six countries, five languages, seven flights, five buses, four trains, multiple boats and two taxis, one bag. Too see my gear please visit How to Travel Light. On this trip we had two layovers in London England.The main purpose of this trip was for the San Fermin Festival in Pamplona Spain.

Our bus arrived early in the morning on July 5, 2013 in Pamplona Spain at approximately 7 am. We checked in with the campground, Camping Ezcaba, where we got a blue wristband. This told the campground how long we would be staying and allowed us to enter the campground. PPTravel advised that we lock up all of our valuables with them. They provided sealed envelopes where we could keep our passports and other valuables. I stored my passport and cell phone and they kept the envelopes in a safe place. We found out that our last day at the campground was not free, it would cost 27 euros. We unpacked our gear in our tent and met a few guys that had tents next to ours.

Went back into town with our new friends. Ate at a restaurant in the town square called Cafe Bearin. I got BBQ chicken and Travis got seafood Paella.

We walked the bull run. Luckly one pf the guys we met spoke Spanish and was able to translate for us. Went shopping. Bought red sashes and pants. Bought bagged sangria, 11% ABV. Went back to camp. Hanging out our tent. I chilled and watched the campground band. Found a random dude passed out in our tent. Travis woke him up, I patted him down. Travis passed out. Travis got up. I went to bed.

Opening Ceremony

Woke up at 9:00 am the next day for opening ceremony. All white everything. Went to town square. Drank sangria and wandered around. Watched the opening ceremony at Cafe Iruina. Cafe Iruna was Hemingway’s favorite hangout and is in the heart of the city and is still a local and tourist favorite. We ordered a few beers and watched the opening ceremony.

The opening ceremony was delayed for the first time in history. Danced, drank, kept it moving. Got water dumped on us. Found Case Puntos. Got 40s of Ambar for 3 euros. Went to dance bar, where they were playing Gypsy Kings. Found someone from our campground and she was with a local Pamplonian dude. We asked that he take us to a “local” hangout. He took us to a department store/mall. What a tool. We kept it moving. Went back to camp. Drank Jim Beam with some of our tent mates. Had dance party where we eat breakfast, went to bed at around 3:30. Didn’t fall asleep until almost 4. Woke up at 5 am to run with the bulls. The PPTravel coach would travel to Pamplona at 5:30 am.


 

First Day of The Running of the Bulls – Sunday, July 7, 2013

The day we ran, we checked out the bell cows in the pen. Walked to the starting position. The run would start at exactly 8:00 am. We very close to the beginning of the run but got pushed up up to Town Hall. The hour we waited, I was anxious, nervous, excited and semi nauseous. When the first rocket sounded, that all disappeared. At that instant, I realized I was all by myself. All of the people around me were only concerned with their own safety, and if I was in their way, they would push, shove and hit me to get to safety. Consequently, I did what I needed to do to get through safe. I ran, I shoved and stood my ground. Travis disappeared within seconds. We were just before La Curva when the first rocket sounded. The first rocket signifies the start of the run. The second signifies that all of the bulls have left the pen. It was so hectic that I didn’t hear anything other than the first rocket. I almost got into the stadium also known as Plaza de Toros. If I were to estimate, I think I got within fifty yards of the stadium before the gate closed. Keep in mind, my adrenaline was maxed out, I was scared and happy all at the same time, so my judgement is probably off. I think I made it here. I had to jump the barrier to get out of the bull run course. Travis got a little further than I did, not totally sure where. We scheduled a meeting point after the race at Monumento al Encerierro at 9:00 am. We headed back to the campground. Legs were surprising sore from the short run.

Had breakfast when we got back. Legs were pretty tired from the running and pushing. I guess I was exerting more energy than I thought I was and didn’t realize it because of the adrenaline rush. We tried to nap. Didn’t really work out. The Spanish sun was beaming down, and there was very little shade.That night I couldn’t sleep. People were outside of the tent beating a drum at 4 am.

Second Day of The Running of the Bulls – Monday, July 8, 2013

I was at ease, because I knew I wouldn’t run that morning. Travis was going to run. I went to the stadium to watch. That morning when walking to the run, I split up with Travis and the group and went to the stadium. The line into the stadium was crazy. I opted to go into the stadium free. This was how most of the locals went in, while most of the tourists paid to go to the safe, less hectic upper level. Arms trapped at my sides, I was pushed and shoved into the stadium entrance. I sat on the first level. All locals. Crazy. Lady dropped a bottle of vodka next to my foot. Got a minor cut on my ankle. Three fights broke out. Even though I wasnt running, I was anxious nearly the entire time. The bulls came into stadium and I found Travis in the mass of people shortly there after. I saw him jump the wall to get out off the bull ring. He watched for a minute or two, then I saw him walk toward the exit. That’s when I hit the road. Again, we met at Monumento al Encerierro.

Travis is in the center of the camera . . . somewhere.

We walked back to bus. Chilled at campground. Packed up our gear. Charged phones most of the day. Got into the pool. Drank beer and orange juice. Went into town.

Heading to town, we pretty much decided that we would not be staying at the campground that night. 27 euro per night for a tent? Really? All PPTravel coaches to Pamplona would stop that evening. So . . . We pretty much had no place to stay. We were lucky that the Fanatics coach hadn’t left and they let us hitch a ride into town. When we got to town we locked up our bags in lockers at the bus station so that we wouldn’t have to carry them around. We had a few drinks . . . by a few I mean too many. We bar hopped, joined in on some drum playing and dancing in the street, not sure what the purpose was, but it was fun. The night started to come to an end around 3 am. Then we started to plan where we should stay, aka, mistake. Nightfall, in a foreign city with no place to sleep, not a good idea.

Plan A

We walked to the downtown area where they had benches and thought this might be a good place to rest our eyes. Turns out, there were a bunch of drunk teenage Pamplonias there. Had we fallen asleep, I think we would have been the victims of a YouTube prank.

Plan B

We walked to the bus station. It would be a safe place to wait for our bus in the morning . . . ummmm . . . no . . . It was closed.

Plan C

Walk to the bottom floor of the bus station and wait for the bus anyway. Security guards at the entrance should have been a red flag, we snuck by anyway. We sat down in a complete dark, underground bus terminal. Unmentionable events transpired. Security proceeded to yell at us in Spanish, pointed to a camera, said “muy mal”. We vacated the premises.

Plan D

At the bus terminal on the main level was a field where people congregated waiting for buses. Every inch of the field was covered in trash and reeked of urine. This was essentially our only option. We moved to the back of the field, picked a spot and again tried to rest our eyes. A bum watched me for ten to fifteen minutes, Travis slept. Some other bums searched the field of trash for anything they could find with flashlights. I was convinced that security had radioed for the police, and we were on the run like Jason Bourne.

Plan E

There was a park on the left hand side of the urine field that had less traffic, fewer bums and a few people sleeping on air mattresses. We slept on a bench, resting our eyes, and opening them again when drunkards passed.

The bus terminal opened at around 6 am. We saw the lights come on. We walked that way. We unlocked our baggage. Travis slept in the waiting area on a seat, I slept on the floor using my bag as a pillow. We survived through the night. Thank God.

At 8:00 am our bus would depart for Barcelona Spain, a 6 hour bus ride. Travis bought breakfast, best eggs I’ve ever had in my life.

Next Stop

To see the next leg of the journey, please see, Barcelona, Spain.

London, England

Westminster Abbey - London England

Buckingham Palace - London England

On July 2, 2013 a friend and I traveled to Europe for two weeks. Six countries, five languages, seven flights, five buses, four trains, multiple boats and two taxis, one bag. Too see my gear please visit How to Travel Light. On this trip we had two layovers in London England.

First Visit – July 3, 2013

We arrived in London England after an eight hour flight from Washington DC to Copenhagen Denmark, a four hour layover in Denmark, and a two hour flight to London England.

Tired and dirty we had no place to go. We devised a plan. We went directly to the London tube (subway) and bought an Oyster card, mind the gap. The Oyster card is a rechargeable card that you can use to travel anywhere in the city. We put 10 pounds ($15) on the Oyster card, got on the blue line at Heathrow Terminal three and rode it east to Charing Cross (Trafalgar Square). The Tube is ridiculously easy to navigate, DC Metro, take notes. Charing Cross had a left luggage, 9 pounds ($14), so we locked up our bags so we could explore the city.

First, we wanted to be familiar with the area that we would catch the PPTravel coach to Pamplona Spain the next morning, so we walked to Victoria Embankment. From Victoria Embankment we walked across the Hungerford Bridge, passing the London Eye to the Queen Elizabeth Hall Terrace, they had food and free wi-fi, why not? I ordered kerns cheddar & tomato toastie, seasonal coleslaw and a lager for 10 pounds ($15) and Travis got a ham and kerns cheddar toastie, seasonal coleslaw and a lager $10 pounds ($15).

From here we walked around and found a Hostel, Hyde Park Hostel. We withdrew 50 pounds, $76 for the hostel because they only accepted cash. The cost of the hostel was actually 27 pounds, $41. Paid for the room, 6 bed, shared male dorm. Put sheets on our bed.

Walked around Hyde park. Randomly rented two bikes from Barclays Cycle Hire. Rode the bikes all the way through Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park to Buckingham Palace. Went back to return bikes. All of the slots to return the bikes had been taken. Rode to another bike drop off. All taken. Finally found two openings. Returned the bikes.

Exhausted, we went to a convenience store. I bought water and Ibuprofen, Travis bought purple drink (ribena) and a bag of chips. Then we had dinner at The Pizza Factory, it was cheap, quick and we were starving.

Got back to the room and crashed. Two dudes checked into our room late. Sun came up early, also early morning construction woke us up. Went downstairs, had prison breakfast consisting of a mystery juice, corn flakes, and slices of bread. Coffee was terrible. Tea was good.

Walked back to Charing Cross, got our bags from left luggage. Walked to the Victoria Embankment and chilled at the Queen Elizabeth Hall Terrace again until it was time to catch the bus to Pamplona Spain.

Next Stop

To see the next leg of the journey, please see, Pamplona, Spain.

Second Visit – July 15, 2013

Return to London from Düsseldorf Germany, we didnt have much time to work with. Our plane landed at 7 am and our flight to Copenhagen Denmark left at 2 pm. So we had less than 5 hours to make a few last minute stops.

We didn’t realize that our flight was to Stansted Airport, which is just outside of London. So we boarded a bus for 10 pounds each which stopped at Victoria Coach Station. The bus ride took around hour and a half.

We walked from Victoria Coach Station to Westminster Abby. In the distance we could see Big Ben and the Winston Churchill Statue.

After we took a couple of pictures, we had no time left, so we headed to the Westminster Tube Station. I checked the balance of my Oyster card and didn’t have enough money on it to get back to Heathrow. Travis lost his and had to get a new one. We had to add about four pounds to get back to Heathrow terminal three.

How to Travel Light

Packing Light

Ezcaba Campground - Pamplona SpainI just returned from a trip to Europe. I visited 6 countries in two weeks: Copenhagen, Denmark, London, England, Calais, France, Pamplona, Spain, Barcelona, Spain, Venice, Italy, Dusseldorf, Germany, Cologne, Germany, and Mönchengladbach, Germany. I did it with one bag, I didnt check any bags at the airport. I don’t think I’ll check a bag ever again. No long lines, no stress about luggage, etc. My bag ended up weighing 18 pounds at its heaviest.

Here are some of the items that I will take along with me.

SnugPak Jungle Bag


The SnugPak Jungle bag is a lightweight tropical sleeping bag. It is just under 2 pounds, just over 6 feet long and just under 2 feet wide, a perfect size to carry in the summer. It features a mosquito net on the hood and comes in both right handed and left handed zip up bags. The sleeping bag also completely unzips allowing you to use the bag as a blanket. The material is an anti-microbial material that slows the growth of fungus and bacteria. There is also a convenient pocket on the inside of the chest area of the bag. The bag is rated down to 45 degrees.

Klymit Inertia X Frame Camping Mattress


The Klymit Inertia X Frame utilizes loft pockets and body mapping technology. This offers thermal and weight benefits because the X Frame can fit inside your sleeping bag allowing body heat to be trapped between the pockets and provides support in areas where your body most needs it. This mat easily inflates with 2-3 breaths. Firmness can be adjusted with a small hand pump. The mat is a little smaller than a 20 oz bottle of soda.

ExOfficio Men’s Give-N-Go Brief


ExOfficio Men’s underwear are synthetic, moisture wicking underwear that will dry in about 6 hours. Depending on the humidity of your location the drying time will vary. They are also odor resistant. The ExOdficio tagline is: “17 countries. 6 weeks. One pair of award-winning underwear. (Ok, maybe two.)”

Sea to Summit DryLite Towel


Compact, super absorbent, perfect overall travel towel. This towel could fit inside of a pocket. If you have quick dry clothing, you can roll your clothing up inside of the towel and ring it out to speed up the drying of your clothes.

Eagle Creek Travel Gear Pack-It Cube


There are at least 101 uses for these handy organizers. Use them to pack T-shirts and socks for easy access upon arrival; for quick unpacking during security checks.

Marmot Trail Wind Hoody


The marmot Trail Wind Hoody is an Incredibly light wind jacket that packs into its own pocket and has mesh vents under the arms to help it breathe. It repels water but is not waterproof.

Merrell Bare Access 2


Run in near-barefoot freedom and comfort with the Merrell Bare Access 2 running shoe. Part of the Barefoot Run collection, this men’s minimalist runner has a breathable mesh and synthetic upper, supportive overlays and a six-eye lace closure for a snug, glove-like fit. Barefoot Strobel construction enhances flexibility, while a 0mm ball-to-heel drop affords a next-to-natural footfall. An Aegis-treated footbed and 8mm cushioned midsole provide ample shock absorption. Compared to its forerunner, more rubber meets the road in the Bare Access 2 Vibram rubber outsole, so you can count on more sticky traction.

Swiftwick Performance One inch Sock


Fast drying, lightweight sock with superb abrasion resistance and long-lasting durability. As a fiber, Olefin retains less than .01% of its weight in moisture and resists deterioration from chemicals and perspiration. The combination of nylon and spandex with the Olefin fiber helps create a softer, more comfortable sock with incredible breathability for everyday wear.

Pacsafe Luggage Cashsafe Belt Wallet


The cashsafe travel belt wallet is great for stashing extra cash and perfect for heading through airport check-points

Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes Fizz


Central nervous system function, digestive function, cardiovascular system function and muscle function depend heavily on electrolytes.

Fresh & Go Toothbrush & Paste


The Fresh & Go Toothbrush comes with a snap-on cap and enough refreshing fluoride toothpaste to last for as many as 30 brushings. The easy-to-grip cylindrical handle of each brush is packed with paste: just twist the dial and mint-flavored toothpaste flows easily onto the soft round-ended bristles. Fresh & Go provides the convenient way to brush whenever one feels the need or urge to brush. The Fresh & Go toothbrush is neat and handy: it fits in a handbag, glove compartment, desk drawer, backpack, briefcase, or gym bag.

Philadelphia, PA

Steak Sub - Jim's Steaks - Philadelphia, PAI will be adding more information about this trip over time. Below is a list of places I went while in Philadelphia, PA:

Restaurants/Bars

South Philly Tap House
Los Cabollitos
Morgan’s Pier
Dock Street
Village Whiskey
Broad Street Diner
Honey’s Sit-N-Eat
Eulogy Belgium Tavern
Oyster House
Standard Tap
Frankford Hall
The Dapper Dog
New Deck Tavern
Nodding Head Brewery & Restaurant
The Belgin Cafe
Fuji Mountain Japanese Restaurant
Famous 4th Street Delicatessen
Underdogs
National Mechanics
El Camino Real
Time
Fat Tuesday
Resurrection Ale House
The Sidecar Bar & Grille
Graffiti Bar

Cheesesteaks

Jim’s Steaks
Tony Luke’s
Geno’s Steaks
Pat’s King of Steaks

Cafes

Higher Grounds
La Colombe
Green Eggs Cafe
One Shot Coffee
Black N Brew

Markets

Claudio’s Specialty Foods
Reading Terminal Market
Di Bruno Bros
Greensgrow Farm

Music/Arts

World Cafe Live
Eastern State Penitentiary
Underground Arts
Suzanne Robert’s Theater