Self-deprecation is worth its weight in smoldering phoenix-ashes and baby unicorn tears.
or; improve your love life!
Published on February 14, 2008 By SanChonino In Travel
(What does that sub-title have to do with anything? Absolutely nothing. And that's why I like it.)

Well, I'm finally here. I'm in Spain. It's a strange feeling – this is something I always dreamed about doing, but I never really expected it to happen. Especially after having as many problems as I had with the visa, flight, and everything, it's almost like the whole world was conspiring to keep me from getting here – but I made it!

I don't really know how to write about how I feel here, so I'm going to share some of my journal with you. It's obviously not all of it, but just certain selections. My cousin gave me a beautiful journal for Christmas to use specifically as a travel journal, and I've been faithfully writing in it every day – about whatever and whenever.

So here it is, a bit of my journal for the last few days.


07 Feb 2008. 11:09 am.

Sitting in the airport in SLC and off to a simply smashing start. Smashing as in I had to change all 3 of my flights in order to make it to Barcelona by tomorrow. It's always kinda scary when you have to change flights – but hey, I get to fly to Frankfurt. Germany, here I come!

08 Feb 2008. 12:40 pm.

No, wait – I'm not going to Germany.

Comedy of errors? More like comedy of terrors. They moved all my flights, and things were looking good. Then, as they were cleaning the plane from SLC to Chicago, the blow-up ramp suddenly appeared on the side of the plane! One of the cleaners had “inadvertently deployed” it.

Sucky start already.

My new flight was cancelled, making my connections impossible. Awesome. So I got to call Mom and have her come get me, so we could go through the painful “saying goodbye” rigmarole once again today.

But so far, so good. Approximately ONE MILLION printed tickets later, I'm halfway to Chicago. From there it's London and then Barcelona. Maybe I'll actually make it this time.

One can only hope.

09 Feb 2008. 3:37 am.

We just left the last bit of Canada behind us. We are flying over the Atlantic as I write this!

A million thoughts are rushing through my head right now. Most prevalent – what am I doing?!?!? This has been a dream of mine since starting back at school after my mission. But deep down, that's all I expected it to be – a dream. Something I think about a lot but not anything I'm ever crazy enough to do.

Too late to change my mind now – I'll be in London in 4 hours. Nessa (my littlest sister) will be so jealous.

It's almost 9pm back home.

Emotions = indescribable. It's funny to look around this (mostly empty) airplane and try to imagine what each person is doing here – where they're coming from, where they're going. Such a strange amalgam of people, all trying to sleep (except for the guy on his laptop) while I sit here, chock-full of equal parts anxiety and excitement, trepidation and euphoria.

I pull the little airline blanket tighter around me as I stare out the window, across the vast wing of this ungainly aircraft, and look out into the blackness beyond.

Sunrise is coming. And we're running to it, making it come faster and brighter.

The allusion to Icarus is not lost on me.

7:25 am.

Watching the sun rise over Great Britain from the window of my plane is a sobering moment. A thin wisp of cloud covers everything. I study the ice crystals that have collected on my window, a kaleidoscope of geometric designs splashed across the glass with the abandon of a Pollock.

I see myself in them.

10:35 am.

The sun shines bright as I look out over the French countryside, with thin skiffs of clouds darting quickly over the meticulously parceled land. I'm crammed into a seat that's far too close to a petulant young Spaniard who can't seem to get settled in his seat and who keeps elbowing me in the side.

Ah, the wonders of air travel. I'm weary.

10 Feb 2008. 8:42 pm.

Finally here. It's beginning to sink in that I'm actually in Spain. Trying to get to Tarragona was a joke, especially when you've got two huge suitcases, a laptop bag, and a backpack. I had to take a shuttle bus from the airport to the little train station. Then it was a train ride to the main Sants station – which was, needless to say, ginormous. After figuring out which train to take, I was off! I crammed myself and my luggage in the handicapped spot, because there was no room for me at the inn.

Finally (and another taxi ride later) I arrived at the Residencia Sant Jordi – or, better named, the DUMP.

It's like any other dorm that you would imagine – small, cramped beds, generic desks, no room for your luggage. But it gets better – the girl next to us comes in last night about 1:00 am and starts blasting eurotrash techno music and yelling at the top of her lungs. This funstuff continued until about 3. It was crazy, and there was no sleep to be had, no matter how many times I banged on the wall. Then, of course, in the morning was the familiar “squeek-squeek” sound from the room next door – gotta love it when you wake up to the sound of punchis-punchis.

Yesterday I went for a walk around the city. It's beautiful and sad, all at the same time. Beautiful because it oozes tradition, culture, and history. Sad because it seems as though they want to throw a lot of it out the wayside. There's something tragically poetic about an 18th century building with a bright, fluorescent “Farmacia” plonked in on the main floor, cutting out original architecture to put spacious glass walls to hock your wares. The juxtaposition is startling and disheartening.

But it's a city teeming with life. I walked up and down la Rambla last night, just looking and enjoying. At the very end of la Rambla, it looks out over the Mediterranean. I stood there, staring at the beach and the port and tried to let it sink in.

It's the Mediterranean.

Birthplace of Western culture and tradition.

11 Feb 2008. 10:35 pm.

I love to explore the city. I went to the old center of town today. There's something immensely humbling about standing next to a huge wall that was built before Jesus was even born. It stands there, proudly, just begging you to try and topple it, defying invaders even 2.000 years after the fact.

Those Romans knew how to build stuff to last. Will our walls, our great edifices still exist in two millennia? No way. We don't build things to last. Our existence is far more ephemeral – we don't leave a mark. We're simply bulldozed and forgotten.

That makes me sort of sad. I don't want to just be bulldozed and forgotten.

I want to last.

12 Feb 2008. 9:27 pm.

Another day, another walk around the city to parts unknown. At first, I didn't like the smell of Tarragona – the mixture of sweet breads and stale cigarettes, trash and freshly-warmed ham. However, with time, the strange combination of scents has grown on me.

It invigorates me. I walk the streets like a vagabond, breathing Tarragona in, synthesizing her, making her my own. I stand in awe of the history that oozes from the pores of the city like sweat.

As gross as that sounds, I bask in it.


So that's the first little excerpt from my journal. (Except for the part where it's not very little.) I hope that you didn't get too bored with it, but to make up for my boring prose, here's some pictures I took this afternoon!

on Feb 14, 2008
Cool! Now...breathe it all in and just live it bro. I think you deserve it.
on Feb 14, 2008
You dork. Who writes like that? Oh wait, you do. Hope you're having fun!
on Feb 14, 2008
Who writes like that?

My thoughts exactly but then that's Braeden for you!!

Listen, I'm so happy for you, enjoy it, live it, (which I'm sure you're going to do) and have fun, fun fun! Yea, you will have to work hard, but carpe diem!
on Feb 14, 2008
Oh hell yeah. Your writing is awesome. Makes me want to start a running journal...but I have to do something interesting first.

Have an awesome time, SanCho. If you're enjoying this much so far then you're never going to want to leave.

on Feb 14, 2008
And yet we can't get my pictures up on the's a conspiracy...
on Feb 14, 2008
Wow, I like the writing, mate. It kind of reminds me of reading some of the Lonely Planet stuff (or Bill Bryson when he gets sentimental). It is a pity I can't see the photos at work, though. I will have look when I get home.

What an amazing opportunity for you, though. Hope you continue to enjoy it (and do something about the girl next door).
on Feb 14, 2008
Fabulous. Now do you see why, if I talk about Marseilles, I get all woozy and far-way? It's intoxicating; the whole southern European way of life just so laid back and easy.

Now look out for British tourists. They're vicious.

I love you, Panty-Man.
on Feb 15, 2008
All I have to say about Spain: