exploring what it means to be the modern man.

jetset // barcelona, spain.

Posted on July 5th, 2016

As soon as I got off the train, I felt the life of the city pumping through my veins, the diversity, the opportunity, the life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is unfortunate that my memory of Barcelona was tainted by my trip back to Valencia via BlaBlaCar. It is a platform that connects drivers and passengers to share the cost of travel. It has more than 25 million members across 22 countries and has been operating for 10 years now.

I was a passenger, along with three of my friends, in my first BlaBlaCar on Sunday, June 19, 2016. We confirmed our ride with Sergio from Barcelona to Valencia, as verified on the app.

Sergio picked us up in Barcelona, and we started our drive out of the city. His car is listed as “comfortable” for four people in his listing, but it is a two door coupe. The car was a mess, he had his personal belongings everywhere, including dirty sneakers and clothes, the AC did not work, and the right side front seat was broken. He also asked if he could smoke, we said no, and he decided to anyway. Other than these initial issues, it seemed like the trip would be fine.

Sergio listed in his profile that he was in town for Sonar, the music festival known for its hard-partying ways. He looked like he had just finished partying all night at the clubs and after parties, and proceeded to show us his VIP wristband, asking if we had gone. He chugged his Coke, asked my friend to open his Doritos bag for him, and smoked again, ash covering all of us.

I have never felt so unsafe in a car before. He was clearly still drunk and or on drugs. Once we got out of the city, he started to swerve in and out of lanes, would switch lanes once he realized he was swerving, and even fell asleep at the wheel several times. He hit 160kph (100 mph) when the speed limit was 75. During all of this, the windows were completely open, no AC, and 85 degrees F outside. We asked him to pull over, and he got off at the next rest stop, 170km outside of Valencia.

We refused to get into the car with him, and asked to take our luggage out. We didn’t have data or service to look up any numbers for BlaBlaCar, so we asked a lady at the gas station ordered a taxi for us. He was confused as to what we were doing and why because of our language barrier. He eventually understood what we were saying and denied doing any of those things. He drove off (and we hope he got home safely).

We waited 30 minutes for a taxi, and paid him to get us all back to Valencia alive.

Our experience was horrifying, and running a business with dangerous drivers like Sergio is asking for murder. We could have crashed, been injured, or worse.

Since our ride, I have been in touch with BlaBlaCar for reimbursement for the cab ride, as the driver could not safely get us back to Valencia. It has been a very difficult process, as the company does not employ any drivers and says they do not have insurance to cover any passengers unless an accident happens or the car breaks down. There is no certification or approval process either; if you have a car and a license, you are allowed on the platform as a driver. Vehicles do not go through an approval process either.

Four phone conversations (from Spain and Paris with customer service representatives and member service managers) later, BlaBlaCar still claims they will not reimburse us for our cab ride since they have no official, ie police, evidence, and they cannot validate our experience. I urged them to create an emergency number and they explained that they tested an emergency number in Paris, and it took too many resources, funds and personnel to continue this and launch in other countries. So basically, BlaBlaCar does not stand for its core offering and would rather continue increasing their bottom line than invest in the safety of their customers.

If the driver were to take a breathalyser, he would have been pulled over for a DUI. Consequences in the states would include a minimum of 1 year temporary drivers license suspension, up to $2500 in fines and fees, up to a year in jail, and high insurance premiums, court-mandated community service and participation in drunk driving education programs, and BlaBlaCar would have been involved with all of this. Instead, they refuse to pay a 400 Euro cab ride.

Thankfully I was able to photograph Sergio’s offenses, and will be pursuing legal action to ensure that

style journal // barcelona.

Posted on July 1st, 2016

Spanish weekend getaway 2: Barcelona! It may be tourist central, especially coming from Valencia, but the energy of being in an actual city was exhilarating. Roaming through back alleys, stumbling across local haunts and taking a moment to absorb it all. As each day passes by on this trip, the more and more I learn that I am a city boy, with a bent for country escapes.

 

 

 

[[ jumpsuit: chapter, in camo here // watch: shinola sport watch, another favorite here // espadrilles: soludos by james polan, some other favorites include camera x glasses here,  shark x diver here, mesh lace-up here, rust suede here // celine trio // ray-ban oversized clubmasters ]]

 

jetset // castell de xàtiva.

Posted on June 16th, 2016

Weekend getaway 1: Xàtiva castle, just a short drive from Valencia. It was a total Game of Thrones moment, especially hiking up the mountain with a crew of fellow GOT fanatics (we congregate every Monday night to watch the previous nights episode).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

style journal // russafa, valencia.

Posted on June 15th, 2016

Can you believe that I live in Valencia? Halfway through my third week, it has finally hit me that I’ll be abroad for a year, living in a different country every month.

As a New Yorker I am already ready to move on to the next city, but I am challenging myself to enjoy, to be open to all that Valencia has for me, and fully immerse in the city and culture.

 

Kauf Vintage is an awesome shop a block from me. I was eyeing a pair of vintage Levis, and of course I let it get away. Shopping has been the last thing on my mind, until now. I am ready to add to my very limited wardrobe.

[[ uniqlo sleeveless knit // banana republic leather shorts // dior abstract sunglasses // nike flyknit trainers ]]

jetset // 10 things about valencia, spain.

Posted on June 14th, 2016

Buenos dias from Valencia! Two weeks in and I feel like I have been here for a few months already. Crazy how that works, huh? I’ve gotten a ton of questions about what Valencia is like, so here are ten of my initial observations of the city:

1. It may be the third largest city in Spain with 800k urban residents and 1.5mm total, but it still has a small town feeling. That’s probably due to my New York roots and love of big cities, and the fact that most of Valencia is walkable and bike-able within 20-30 minutes in any which way.

 

2. What Valencia lacks in overall style, the city makes up for in architecture. Buildings including the Cathedral, Plaza de la Reina, Plaza Redonda, Mercat Central, Palau de la Generalitat, Palau de les Corts Valencianes are examples of Roman, Modernist, Mediterranean and Art Deco influences throughout the city’s cultural history. Here is a fascinating read about Valencian history and the influences on the city’s architectural evolution.

 

3. It’s hard to miss the modern architecture when you drive around Valencia, the city’s way of showing the world that it still is a force within Spain. Most notable: The City of Arts and Sciences by Santiago Calatrava (most recently of the World Trade Center Transportation Hub fame), the Conference Centre by Norman Foster and Veles e Vents by David Chipperfield and Fermín Vázquez.

 

4. Though there may be several El Corte De Ingles’ (a department store, two that I’ve seen so far), 4 Zara stores, H&M, Mango, and even a Louis Vuitton, Loewe and Hermes store, the Valencians don’t seem to be obsessed with trends and shopping all that much. They have their own priorities, and if I lived in Europe, I would definitely spend a lot more on traveling.

 

5. We had a speaker at a Remote Year event and apparently Valencia is one of the fastest growing start-up cities in Spain. Barcelona and Madrid may take the crown for the number of successful start-ups, but people are drawn to Valencia’s coast, lifestyle and low cost of living.

There also seems to be a thriving creative/art community. There are several galleries open/opening up in Russafa (the Williamsburg area of Valencia), and street art abounds.

 

6. The standard Valencian diet consists of: Paella, potatoes, rice, bread and tomatoes. And meat and cheese. And potato chips. Yes, there is a fair amount of seafood, but it has been quite difficult avoiding carbs, meat and dairy. I’ve been able to survive two weeks thanks to Be Green (similar to sweetgreen), La Llorona (mexican), Copenhagen/Malmo/Oslo (vegetarian) and the markets, cooking at least once a day.

7. Valencians have their first breakfast around 8/9am, and then their almuerzo (second breakfast around 11am). Then lunch and/or siesta around 2-4pm, work until 6 or 7pm. Dinner doesn’t start until 9pm during the week, and 10/10:30pm during the weekends, which means Valencians, and Spaniards as a whole, don’t go out until 1-2am. I used to be up at 6am, have lunch at noon, and go to bed at 10/11pm in NYC.

Eating times and staying up have been the most difficult adjustments, but after two weeks, I have found my solutions: Cook, and take naps so I can stay up until 4-5am.

9. No dryers (like the rest of Europe), open showers (like the rest of Europe), and no AC (like the rest of Europe). Please, Forma gym, can’t you invest and add AC to your gym? Think about how many more people would join!

 

10. Markets trump supermarkets. I frequent Mercat de Russafa at least 2-3 times a week, and I already have my fish guy, my produce lady, my egg lady, and my crunchy organic market.

Off to get some work done at Bluebell, one of my favorite cafes in Russafa.

Adios, and more to come from Valencia!