Gritty port city and street artists’ dream, Valencia offers up her tantalising urban street walls like freshly primed canvases. Patinas in unthinkable hues – the likes of which Pantone could never replicate – escape the camera lens and computer screen, revealing themselves only to the naked eye like demure hidden beauties.
The quietly subversive art of ESCIF lives within this world of patterned tile and decaying brick wall like it grew there. Simple and bright, the sweet motifs – ponies, people, apples – have a stinging political tail. Austeridad, sostenibilidad and flexibilidad laboral are themes that dirty what would otherwise be visual ditties.
These biting tableaux, along with works by other street artists exist against a backdrop of Valencia’s lost modernist dream – the ciudad de artes y ciencias – it’s mottled architectural city scape and it’s grey, littered beaches.PINK DOT: Street art by ESCIF. AQUA DOT: Street art by ESCIF image courtesy of the artist. PURPLE DOT: Street art by Blastus, Valencia.
Barcelona is probably the most lisp friendly city in the world. What’s more, with it’s dark narrow streets bursting with life (so long as you head there at a civilised hour, like after 5) crazy Disney Land architecture and fiercely proud, seriously arty and cosmopolitan people it’s pretty visitor friendly too. The unhealthy rivalry between Madrid and Barcelona plays itself out in more places than the fútbol field. Unless you want to endure at least an hour of one-sided conversation in which you are permitted no input or respite, never ask a Madrileño what they think of Barcelona, and vice versa.
What I will say about Barcelona is this: there seems to be an actual commitment to contemporary art and design with an actual centre dedicated to the stuff – Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Barcelona – right in the guts of the old town where I spent a tidy afternoon.
…I’m talking about a place where the beer flows like wine, where beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano. I’m talkin’ bout a little place called San Sebaaaaaastian. Dumb and dumber jokes aside, San Sebastian is one of the most beautiful places on earth to eat, explore and party. The salty humid air, the distinctly Spanish, um I mean Basque pinchos and more starred and hatted restaurants than you can shake a deconstructed, white asparagus spear at, makes the vibrant, tightly packed seaside town the destination that it is.
1./ A snapshot of some of the piles of delicious food 2./ This amazing plaza in the middle of the old town was once a bull-fighting ring, the numbers on the stalls in the balcony remain from those days 3./ Pinchos crawling down this little street late at night is everyone’s favourite thing to do 4./ This is a sneaky photo I took of one of the very mysterious men’s only cooking clubs 5./ Weddingssss! 6./ Looking out over the mountains into France 7./ Beachfront in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, France 8./ Beautiful fresh oysters in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, France