Our resident photographer, Mikey Massas, explored beautiful locations in Europe over the summer. You've probably seen him setting up his equipment at the College Park shop shooting stunning images for the online store and Instagam. When you are continually shooting pictures for work, it's refreshing to see the things that a photographer captures for pure pleasure. Mikey was nice enough to take a moment to tell us about the sights and scenes that inspired him the most.
You went to London, Paris and Barcelona. Tell me more about your experiences in Paris where you would spend 11 days of your trip: At first Paris was cold and rainy but it eventually warmed up an dried off. I stayed in the 10th arrondissement, no more than a seven minute walk from Canal St. Martin, just off the Jacques-Bonsergent station. I fell in love with my neighborhood and if I were to ever live in Paris, it would be in the 10th.
I spent the first couple of days in Paris getting the usual touristy stuff done, naturally. The remainder of my time in Paris consisted of me attempting to blend in and live as a local as much as I could with a camera and equipment slung over my shoulder. By the end of my stay I was slipping into acclimation, able to read French without much struggle and hold my own in cafes, etc. I have to add that the light in Paris is always perfect.
I loved being in Paris and if anyone were to ask me, my answer would be the same every single time. Never get it twisted. I. Love. Paris. BUT **bold, underlined, italicized** and whatever else it takes to show emphasis....
Barcelona quickly became the city I could see myself spending a couple of years in at the very least.
I spent the last 8 days of my trip in Barca touching on a few of the touristy things I wasn't able to do the first couple of days like La Boqueria and Barceloneta. I was staying in a flat in El Raval. Raval is a mostly immigrant district, about a 15-20 minute walk from Placa de Catalunya, the absolute center of Barcelona City. Raval used to be a rough and tumble, seedy place about 20-30 years ago and some of that still holds up now, but the immense culture the immigrant community brings to the area makes you quickly forget about that. It was hard to take in the view I had from my terrace, it was like nothing I'd ever seen before.
I followed the same procedure I did in Paris, staying low key and trying to blend in while still looking like a tourist, though most people assumed I was from Italy and not the US. Irene met up with me when she could, either before he had to go to work or when she got out and it was always a good time. Whether hanging out at MACBA with a couple of cans of Estrella and watching people skate, having a vermouth at a 200 year old bar, tapas and cañas at a traditional Catalan establishment, or walking the narrow streets of one of the near by neighborhoods; Irene is incredible company to have, even more so an ocean away.
Music plays such a strong role in the setting at the stores when we're working. When you were traveling, what were you listening to? I didn't really listen to any music while I was there....I much preferred to listen to the sounds of the cities I was in. I really love the sound of police sirens, crows, French being spoken and random music playing in passing cars in Paris. In Barcelona, I enjoyed the odd sounds the albatross made, how funny Castilian Spanish sounds, skateboards on pavement, street performers all echoing down narrow streets. The only time I did put on music was when I was getting ready in the morning and it was my usual jazz (WW2 Era to Bebop) and Hip Hop (early to mid 90's underground) stuff. Irene put me on to Camaron de la Isla one night in Barcelona and it will always remind me of that night.
It was funny to hear almost exclusively American music at any restaurant, cafe or bar because most of these people don't speak English. 10Belles, a coffee shop just near the Canal St. Martin usually had a dope playlist of the type of music I listen to which was unexpected, especially from the bilingual French girl behind the counter who HELD. IT. DOWN. Also Hollybelly, a popular breakfast/coffee spot in the same neighborhood, killed it with the Drake and Future playlist they had on during my visit .. which several other patrons had the same opinion according to my server.
You covered a lot of ground hopping countries. Give us some of your personal food/drink recommends from each city:
Paris Du Pain et des Idées for anything bread, Chez Prune if you want to dive head first into cafe culture (they have wifi), and Monoprix for absolutely anything you could possibly need.
Barcelona Bar Marsella for absinthe, Casa Almirall for vermouth, and Espai Joliu for an aesthetically pleasing coffee spot, not for from the beach in Poblenou.
Any souvenirs? I returned home with only two small things from abroad, both purchased in in Barcelona. 1) a tote bag from the Montana Colors flagship store and 2) a vintage Catalonian flag pin purchased from a vender at the flea market in front of the Cathedral of Barcelona.
You're often dressed in functional head-to-toe black when you're at the shop. What did you pack/wear when you were living out of suitcase for a month?
I think the most important thing is comfort. The best way to see a city is to walk, so from head to toe be as comfortable as you possibly can. And don't wear shorts in Paris.
You're traveling.. it's not a fashion show. And never will I say to not look good while doing anything, but you're going to sweat, you're going to get dirty, you might even get paint on yourself.... Minimalism with style. Choose pieces you don't mind sacrificing, as hard as it may be to decide which those will be. Your sneakers, if not already thrashed, they will be. Embrace it.
We have this perception of how people dress abroad, fed to us by the media and the Internet. While some of it is real, most of it is not; and what I mean by that is what you see are often looks put together by stylists and companies and shot to appear as if that's what people are wearing in order to sell you and me clothing and accessories. What we digest online is often exaggerated "street style" that very few people actually rock on the day to day.
People in bigger cities definitely have a style you don't see anywhere else, they just make it look effortless by keeping it simple.
What I wore for the majority of my trip was a Levis blue denim jacket (fairly washed, the inside pockets were a major selling point for me), dark colored t-shirts (most often black), black Levis skinny jeans, white crew socks and my white Reebok Club C 85s (very comfortable.) Luckily, I also packed a North Face jacket for those cold, rainy days in Paris when it got down to the low 40s (I almost didn't bring it so be prepared for situations like that.)
What were some of your favorite moments on the trip?
It's harder than it should be for me to be able to pick a favorite anything of anything....I'd have to say seeing these places in person and the absolute immersion. Wandering the streets with no real destination and coming upon something you only see in photos on the Internet. I was in disbelief the entire trip. Really enjoyed hanging out by Canal St. Martin in Paris, the circus that is La Boqueria in Barcelona, having absinthe for the first time with Irene, as well as any time Irene and I got vermouth. Though the VERY BEST time I had was probably the night we hung out until sunrise at what we refer to as "the Cubes." The Cubes are massive concrete cubes that line the shore off of Barceloneta Beach on the Mediterranean Sea...
... As much as I would have loved to have intentionally missed my flight...I came back with so much perspective. This trip was life changing, without a doubt.
All images courtesy of Mikey Massas. / Interview by Flower Ta