If you ask any college student what they are looking for in their future career, I think 99% of people will say they want a job that allows them to travel. Traveling is everyone’s dream after all. I definitely fell into that ‘99% of people’ cohort and was lucky enough to find a job that met that criteria with flying colors.
For more than two years now I have been traveling around the globe to work at surf contests in exotic locations such as Fiji, Costa Rica, and the Azores. Since that dream of traveling has become a reality, my perception on traveling for work has definitely changed, not necessarily for better or worse, but I just understand that it has its pros and cons.
For my latest work trip I got shipped off to France’s Basque Country to work at the 2017 ISA World Surfing Games in Biarritz, the heart of European surf culture.
I also took advantage of one of the major pros of working abroad and took a little vacation while I was in Europe, using this time to visit old friends that I hadn’t seen in years.
So off to France I went to drink espresso, live off croissants, and act like I know the difference between Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Not a bad view from the hotel room in Biarritz.
Cafe in Biarritz.
George is a pro skimmer that I looked up to back in my skim-grom days. Now he works with us as the webcast director.
I must say, two years ago I never imagined myself conducting press conferences with surfers like Jeremy Flores and Tom Curren. Photo: ISA / Sean Evans
Seafood dinner in Biarritz.
245 surfers from 47 countries inaugurating the ISA World Surfing Games.
Jhony Corzo makes history as the first Mexican surfer to win Gold at the ISA World Surfing Games.
Fastforward to the morning after the contest, feeling a little like death.
And off to Spain I go.
It had been seven years since I was last in San Sebastian. Walking around brought back a lot of memories of my travels here with my brother and my friend Romeo.
Lunch with Regina.
Hadn’t done the hostel thing in a couple years. Top bunk was mine.
When you are planning on going on a hike and Santiago (ISA webmaster) drags you into a bar. No complaints.
I could get used to this Spanish, tapas-style bar scene.
Italy will always have a special place in my heart.
We have hosted exchange students from all over the world nearly my whole life growing up, but when I was 17 we hosted three Italian students that were roughly my age. I really connected with these Italians and next thing you know I was studying Italian at the local community college and headed off to Europe for my first time the following winter with my brother. My Italian is pretty mediocre these days (although not bad for not having practiced it for over five years), but this experience carved out the path and passion that I have for traveling, learning languages, and experiencing other cultures. It all started in Italy.
So seven years since my last time in Italy, I decided to take advantage of being in Europe to do a little homecoming of sorts and visit all those students that had left such a big impression on me. I spent a week hopping around cities and towns in Northern Italy, reminiscing and catching up with old friends.
First stop: Milan.
Giulia studied abroad at the same school as me in Chile in 2014, and was nice enough to show me around for an evening.
Day two in Milan: visit the city via bicycle.
Milan is overshadowed by Italy’s well-known, historic cities, such as Rome, Venice, and Florence, but Milan had its own enchanting feel that I enjoyed just as much as I navigated its spiderweb of alleyways and cobblestone streets.
Milan has an interesting mix of ancient and modern architecture.
Mandatory selfie on my bike tour.
Sforza Castle in the heart of Milan, built in the 15th century.
Afternoon with Elena, one of the three original students to stay at my house as an exchange student in 2009.
The Navigli District of Milan was one of my favorites. Its canals are lined with lively restaurants and bars full of young people having a bite to eat after work/school.
No idea what I was trying to explain here, but with the 80+ degree heat this beer was oh-so-refreshing.
After two days in Milan, I was off on the train to Torino located in Italy’s Northwest at the foot of the Alps to visit another one of our exchange students, Giulia.
Passing time on the train.
Straight to the top of one of Torino’s iconic buildings, the Mole Antonelliana, to get a view of the city.
Exploring Torino and dodging intermittent rain clouds.
Villa della Regina, a house of Torino’s royalty in the 1600 and 1700’s.
A vineyard at the ancient mansion looking over the city. Yup, I’m in Italy.
Old art is cool and all, but doesn’t quite excite me as much as some other things in life. However, I found myself staring at this piece for a long time. These soldiers are praying to Jesus as they die in this war. Just a reminder of how deep religion runs in the veins of this country.
I’ll never understand these Italian toilets and pray that I never have to go #2 in one of these (Can you go #2 in one of these?).
Dinner with Giulia and friends.
Train down south to Reggio Emilia.
Now meeting up with the third student that we hosted in 2009, Carolina.
Gay pride parade in Reggio Emilia.
Night out in Parma. Pietro, second from left, was one of the students in the exchange student program in 2009, and Susana, far right, had done a year abroad in Santa Cruz in 2010 with Carolina at my Mom’s house.
Carolina’s family: Andrea, Tania, and Bianca.
Day trip to Bologna.
Something about this photo is oddly pleasing.
Santuario de Madonna di San Luca, perched on a hill overlooking Bologna.
Looking south towards the Apennine Mountains.
Carolina lives in a small town outside of Reggio Emilia called Barco. If I could sum up my time there I would say, Italian meals.
Exploring Mantova on my last day in Europe with Carolina and her friend Giulia (different Giulia).
Piazza Sordello, Mantova.
Carolina’s boyfriend Giacomo took me for a scooter ride.
And we were ‘lucky’ enough to meet the man himself who lives there. I forget his name, but our conversation in my elementary Italian and Giacomo as a translator consisted of: how the Americans faked the moon landing, how people that live in this wood structure actually age backwards, how popular this guy is on Facebook, and how the only interesting thing in the United States is Niagara Falls (however, the man has never actually been to the US). Interesting guy with some interesting opinions to say the least.
Admiring the geography of the Swiss Alps as I fly back home to the states.
It had been nearly a decade since my first trip to Europe, and it was great going back and exploring new nooks and crannies of the old world.
Another successful Surfing world championship put on and a successful trip to reconnect with old friends. I am sure that fate has another one of these trips in store for me somewhere down the line, so au revoir, hasta luego, and ci vediamo, Europe. See you soon.