Madrid. My first time in Europe.

My first time in Europe. I think it was a great idea to land in Spain. Being from Perú, a country who was conquered by the Spanish in the 1500, Spain was a good start for me to have a romance with Europe. If you ever have the chance to visit Spain, don't hesitate. If you do, you will know what you have missed, specially is you are into the arts. On a photography point of view, my goal was to frame everything I wanted with a 35mm lens. I recently bought a brand new Sony A9 and it was the perfect chance for me to get used to the new features and amazing capabilities this monster mirrorless camera has to offer, before I take it to the wedding photography rodeo. Challenge accepted.

My first three days in Spain were a lil hard on me. Because of personal reasons, I decided at last minute to make the trip by myself. But it truly was the best decision I had. Coming to Madrid made me realize as a Peruvian, why I have the ways I have. Seeing the people in Madrid made me see myself to a certain degree. It was like... ah... that's why we do it in Peru as well. Those little things you cannot eve articulate in words, made me realize many things about myself and thee demeanor of the people in my country.

People are extremely warm and welcoming. I saw so much affection in the streets. Yes, affection. Something you kind of stop seeing in the US. People hug each other, couples kiss in front of everyone without the PDA syndrome. To the point that I started feeling kind of weird. It's like Spanish people really enjoy showing their feelings.

Besides that, Madrid was a very interesting exposure of many art forms. Music, paintings, among many others. Not to mention the food. Peruvian food is known to be one of the best cuisines in the world. I guess it is thanks to the Spanish influence. Which it was influenced by so many other great cultures.

I had the chance to go to the Museo Nacional Del Prado. Now, I've had the wonderful opportunity to go to wonderful museums in my country and back in NYC. But another thing is to be at an European Museum. It's just mesmerizing.

Seeing one of my absolute favorite painter of all time: Velazquez just gave the the chills. When I got into the room where Las Meninas was hanging, my eyes just watered. Even writing this gives me goosebumps because the impact that painting has in me is just ridiculous. It is such a masterpiece. And just one after the other, there is no point in snapping pictures on your camera because you just don't want to see it through the viewfinder. You just have to see it through your naked eyes. I had the wonderful opportunity to see The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch, the The Nobleman with his Hand on his Chest by El Greco, and the most amazing work from Master Goya. Seeing La Maja Desnuda and La Maja Vestida next to each other truly makes you cry. For me seeing Velazquez and all of the above is like putting my eyes into a rollercoaster. Jut trying to read the visual nuances and the use of light and composition makes me wanna shoot much better and improve the way I see things on a daily basis. You just cannot scape from it when you are a photographer. You are constantly framing with you naked eye, and writing with light wherever you go, whatever you do. I was there for at least five hours, but there is so much an artist can see before getting overwhelmed with so much beauty. Basically, I was binging on art. I needed to get out. 

Fortunately for me, my good friends and wonderful wedding photography/videograpahy colleagues Leandro Navall and Carolina Hernandez from Navall Films were there. So we were having so much fun doing what we love doing: shooting and filming. A full day with great laughs and packed with selfies and making what are now wonderful memories. We walked quite a bit that day, went through copious bottles of water and fantastic tapas.

I remember that night I came back to my Airbnb pretty late. My goal was to wake up really early and go to Segovia. Unfortunately, due to my unwelcomed jet lag, I passed out around 5am and woke up at 1pm. Totally missed the train and there went my plans to shoot the famous Alcazar of Segovia and the Roman Aqueducts. Whatever. Fortunately for me, the Picasso exhibit was open at the Museo de la Reina Sofía. And it was SO worth it.

I've seen some Picassos before, but being able to see La Guernica sets the whole thing to a new level. This mural-sized oil painting on canvas was completed in June 1937, at Pablo Picasso's home in Paris. The painting was created in response to the bombing of Guernica, a Basque Country Village in Northern Spain, by the Nazi's and the Italian Fascists airplanes at the request of Francisco Franco and the Nationalist movement. The painting, which uses a palette of gray, black, and white, is regarded by many art critics as one of the most moving and powerful anti-war paintings in history. In my opinion, Pablo Picasso's most amazing masterpiece. And he truly has/had so many others. I came to see this painting three times while I was at the museum. Unfortunately, I was not allowed to photograph it, and quite honestly I would have done no justice in doing it when seeing it in front of you is way better.

So many things to talk about Madrid. You should definitely must experience it yourself. But for now, enjoy the images.

Visca Barceló, visca Catalunya e visca España!

Five days of total bliss. Five days in my absolutely favorite place in Spain. Five days surrounded by beautiful people, amazing friends, great food and amazing company. Barcelona is a place where you can smell the art in the air. You can feel it coming into your veins and taking you to so many amazing places. My plan was to stay three days, but this city is worth way more than that. 

It's really jammed with tourists, yes. And it's because Barcelona is fascinating. From La Sagrada Familia, to the Park Güell, to the Rambla and the Gothic Quarter. This place is incredible. To the point I was thinking... why I am not living here instead? My sister was right when she came first in 2002. She told me, and I'm quoting "dude, if you ever go to Barcelona you will never come back". I swear, I would probably had stayed here. People are SO nice, so open minded, and so friendly.

This is where, among other great artists, Picasso studied and where Gaudí did the most amazing stuff ever conceived. His work in la Sagrada Familia is remarkable. I haven't seen anything so beautiful like that in my whole life. There is truly nothing that can compare with it. I am surprised it's not part of the Seven Wonders of the World. I swear, this place make you have goosebumps.

Barcelona is smartly conceived also. It's metro system is extremely efficient and there is pretty much no place where the subway can't take you. I had the chance to use it and it took me everywhere I wanted to go. Like la Boquería for example. This famous indoor public market with meat, produce, cheese & an array of other food in a bustling space has the most amazing delicacies ever. I bet the restaurants there are really good, like the few I tried, but this market offers scrumptious food! So try it.

Many nights out, went dancing and partying with friends and people I just met there. What a place my God. An entire day at the beach with my friend, surrounded by the Mediterranean and beautiful people everywhere. 

Anther day getting lost at the Gothic Quarters. What an impressive labyrinth. Even though is not quite that, I got severely lost there, but had a ton of fun. This colorful place presents you with tiny streets with a lot of stores, really cool buildings with beautiful balconies. 

On another occasion I went to Parque Güell. This place is where the Gaudi House Museum is located. An amazing sightseeing of the entire city of Barcelona. Beautiful spaces with multicolored mosaics, musicians performing, painters doing their craft and overall an amazing place to just breathe art coming from every direction.

I think on my fourth day I ended up at the church and amusement park of Tibidabo. Just google this place. You will be blown away. But maybe the most underrated place in Barcelona is Montserrat. Maybe is because it's a little far away from the city, Montserrat hosts the Virgin of Montserrat sanctuary and which is identified by some with the location of the Holy Grail. The hike starts at the bottom, and to get up to the monastery you need to get into the funicular. After that, it's quite a walk. The sightseeing is second to none. The summit of Montserrat is called Sant Jeroni and stands at 4,055 feet above sea-level. I could write so much about Barcelona, but since this is a photography blog, I rather you take a look at the images and enjoy them. I am just amazed I was about to come to a feast with a silly lunchbox. 


Just beautiful Valencia

Valencia is just beautiful. And it's not just because I just came from Barcelona, but this city is just gorgeous too. I was lucky enough to find a very nice Airbnb in the middle of the city, and only walking distance from many attractions. By now, my feet were destroyed. 

But you know me. I just kept walking. And made it to the City of Arts and Sciences or Ciutat de les Arts i les CiènciesJaw dropping. It felt like I was in a Star Wars scene. So futuristic, yet not.

Inside, the museum's displays were really awesome. You could see exhibits about physics, biology, history, an many more. This place is remarkably big and a candy to some eyes. The building's angles and the overall structures at this City of Arts and Sciences, in a photographic point of view, are a never-ending place to play around. You can be there for hours, just snapping photos. So I spent the entire day there. The next morning I took a different route. I wanted to see the Gulliver park. Unfortunately, it was closed that day for some sort of restoration. But lucky me, the Mestalla was only a few blocks from there. Now, I am a Barça fan, but the Valencia stadium -the third biggest one in Spain, and soon to be fourth- is really impressive. 

I took a tour at this huge stadium. Bought some Valencia FC souvenirs and had a huge pint of beer. Actually two. It was hot that day, and kind of humid. Walked some more, had some incredible food and went back to my Airbnb, which was located only two blocks away from the bullring. Another night to go to bars, drink and have fun. Valencia was really beautiful.

Two very hot days in Sevilla.

Sevilla was very, very hot. I think this was where I stayed the longest at the Airbnb. I arrived from Valencia, which was not that warm, into a pizza oven. I think that by the end of these two days, plus of course the previous ones I had already lost 15lbs. 107 degrees welcomed me into Sevilla. I am not sure how people can manage the summer there. It was brutal, but still I grabbed my Sony and went for a street safari. 

Located in the autonomous Community of Andalusia, Sevilla lays in the southern coast of Spain, on the plain of the river Guadalquivir, facing of course: Africa. Hence the hot weather in the summer? Why I didn't think of this before!

It gathers, among many amazing structures, three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Alcázar Palace, the Cathedral and the General Archive of the Indies. I couldn't make it inside the Cathedral this time, but I did visit the other two. I have to say, the Alcázar was truly spectacular. The Mudéjar style is mesmerizing, and can truly speak for the Moorish culture before Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon expelled them from the Iberian Peninsula.

Many movies and TV shows have been filmed here. From Lawrence of Arabia to Game of Thrones, this Palace gathers rich walls, vibrant colors, beautiful art and amazing gardens. It's truly a gift to humanity. A place you should definitely consider visiting if you ever come to Spain. But please, avoid it during the summer time. It's really hot!

I was walking the city around noon. I seriously didn't see a soul. It felt like a zombie apocalypse. Then of course I remembered about the siesta. People from Sevilla take this lapse of time during the day seriously. There is no commerce, no walking, no anything between 2pm and 5pm. I don't blame them. I was probably the only guy toasting outside. 

After walking a great chunk of this beautiful city I end up at Plaza España. With 10% of battery life. Yup, happens. Still, I manage to capture some cool shots until my camera decided to take her own siesta. After that I decided to walk around some more and take a cab back to my place. There was no way on Earth I would have walk back under that heat. 

The night out was a ton of fun. Of that, there are no pictures of course but great memories. Great food, drinks and company. And I did wake up late the next morning. Ready to get to the train station back to where it all started: Madrid. I left my luggage at the station and went for another scorching walk. This time I visited the Sevilla FC soccer stadium. Now I know why Sampaoli left Sevilla. It's really uncomfortable to walk in 107 degrees with a thermic sensation of 120. I'm not kidding. I was stopping at every bar that was open on my way. A beer and a glass of water. Which by the way, I find super interesting. In Spain they don't have anything cold, but beer. Water is al tiempo! So guess which one I binged first! More pictures here and there, and then jumped into the train. Toledo was coming up.