My First Celebrity Sighting

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This blog entry about the events of Friday, July 02, 2004 was originally posted on July 10, 2004.

DAY 258:  You never know when you may bump into someone famous in a major city.  During my days in New York City, I’ve randomly stumbled upon Keanu Reeves, Nathan Lane and Sarah Jessica Parker to name a few — friends and acquaintances of mine have encountered Kiefer Sutherland, Uma Thurman, Andre 3000 from Outkast, Jerry Seinfeld and even the guy who played his TV dad Morty.  Being in the world city of Barcelona, another celebrity sighting was bound to happen.

JACK AND I WERE AT THE BARCELONA-SANTS TRAIN STATION waiting around for our number to be announced for service — the regular train station staff was on strike so getting information about trains were a long and slow process.  A voice called from behind me while I stood staring at the digital numbers.

“Are you Erik?” a tall guy said in an American accent.

“Yeah.”

“It’s Bill from your blog.”

“Oh hey!”  Bill had contacted me via e-mail that he too was in Barcelona, but we had no definite plans to meet up.  He too was waiting around for service amidst the train station strike when he saw a five foot five tan-skinned Filipino-American guy wearing glasses and a baseball jersey. 

“I saw you and thought, nah, it couldn’t be, but then I saw The Global Trip logo,” Bill said.  I introduced him to Jack and Jack back to Bill, as I was wearing the familiar outfit as seen in my bio picture on the main page of TheGlobalTrip.com.  “I feel like I’m talking to a celebrity right now,” Bill told Jack.

Celebrity?  Really?  Well, if the shoe fits…

“Surely you’ve been recognized before, traveling.”

“Actually, no,” I informed thinking about the past eight months.  “You’re the first.”  How about that?  My first celebrity sighting.

Bill told me he was an avid reader of The Blog since Day One and that reading it was a daily work time activity — all other travel blogs didn’t compare because they were updated only every week or so.  He and his co-workers at his former engineering firm followed me on all my (mis)adventures thus far and couldn’t wait to tell them he ran into me.  “You’re a legend at the office,” he told me.  “You have a lot more people reading than you know.”

“Really, I keep on asking how many people are our there.”

“I think most guys don’t post because they think it’s just you talking to your buddies.”

“Actually, I think there are more people that I don’t know now posting.”  Bill was one of those unknown Silent Blog Readers (SBRs) but that moment it changed; I knew him and he knew me.

Bill hung around waiting for his number to come up while Jack and I left to check out the buses since we had number 292 and they were only up to 112.  We made plans to meet up with Bill later on that night and head off to the nearby bus ticket office, managed to get a bus at a time we wanted the next day, and at a cheaper price than a trains that would go just as fast.  Afterwards, we had the rest of the afternoon to see more famous Barcelona sights until meeting up with Bill at 9 p.m.


OTHER THAN MIRO, DALI AND PICASSO, the big artistic celebrity of Barcelona is architect Anton Gaudi.  His mark can be seen throughout the city, but his wildest designs are best exemplified in Park Güell, a city park to the northeast corner of the city.  Originally intended to be a housing development, its sixty projected houses weren’t completed before Gaudi’s death — only three were made.  The project was transformed into a city park development, which became something out of a fairy tale; Gaudi’s Modern, organic style had a minimal use of straight lines, making the colorful buildings near the main Palmetto Gate like something from a Grimm fairy tale.

Jack and I walked amidst the crowds of tourists all attracted to the wonderland, admiring the sounds of live jazz coming from under one of the stone tree caves while feasting their eyes on the sights of the tiled centerpiece statue of a lizard, the Hall of One Hundred Columns and the stone tunnel inspired by a tidal wave.  Unlike Bill, no one was excited to come across me.  We rested in the Plaza de la Naturalesta, where we took notice of a pair of women reminiscent of celebrities Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie.

From Gaudi’s famous park we went to one of Gaudi’s famous buildings, the Casa Mila (picture above), arguably the architect’s best example of his Modernism style.  Also known as La Pedrera (the “Stone Quarry”), the apartment building with no straight lines in its design has an organic undulating facade and houses not only expensive apartments but a roof deck and exhibition space.  The free temporary exhibition was of ancient Mexico sculptures, many of it very intentionally phallic — perhaps an idea they got from the Spanish.


BILL WAS WAITING OUTSIDE the Hostel Sun & Moon when Jack and I arrived from an internet cafe across town.  We decided to go out to dinner somewhere in the vicinity of the Gothic Quarter.  I stopped to get some cash at an ATM on La Rambla.

“I’ll watch your back in case that guy from Cape Town shows up,” Bill said, pounding a fist into his other hand.  How about that, a fan to protect me from danger.  I was starting to like this celebrity thing.

After wandering, we eventually settled on a seafood place in the Port Vell, collection of eateries near the marina where we dined on paella for three, beer and sangria.  A post-dinner walk through La Rambla de Mar’s island of dance clubs only introduced us to a scene where nothing but American English was spoken or heard.  Bill knew of a place he’d been to before that was a bit more laid back, a local bar hidden down an alley in the Barri Gotic with an enchanted forest theme, complete with trees growing inside the tavern.  The three of us had a couple of rounds there talking about another bar in the area with a pirate theme.  Needless to say, it spawned a whole bunch of pirate talk.

“Shiver me timbers!”

“Walk de plank, matey!”

“Yaaaaaar!”

Pirate talk made the beers all the more merrier as we stood around a barrel repurposed as a table.  If anything makes any situation more fun, it’s pirate talk.  (Go ahead try it now with whomever is in the room with you.)

Bill was tired and went off to get some shuteye.  It was a pleasure meeting him, a dedicated fan, and we made tentative plans to meet up somewhere on the continent.  Jack and I went off to check out the pirate bar (there are actually two of them across the street from each other), but it was nearing 3 a.m. and they had both already announced last call.  Not even my newfound celebrity status could open the door for us.  Yaaar, shiver me timbers.

Good ol’ American sneaking in (and not the phenomenon of celebrity) got Jack and me into Sidecar, a loud foreigner-frequented club in the Plaza Real — and one of the few places in the area still open with a long line out the door.  Luckily we befriended an Aussie who had been in already and had his arm stamped for a quick re-entry.  Following him to the head of the line, we quickly flashed our arms to the bouncer like we had red ink on our arms too.  Once in the foyer, we thought the coast was clear and headed down the stairs.

“Hey!” another bouncer called to me in a scolding manner.  I turned around halfway down the staircase, revealing my face and my arm.

“Okay,” he said, motioning me to just go on in.

Whether it was my “celebrity” status or just the fact that the lights were so dim no one could really tell if I had red ink on my arm I don’t know, although I’d like to think it was the former.  I suppose if that wasn’t true and I ran into any problems, there’d always be a fan like Bill out there somewhere to get my back.






Next entry: Progression to the Typical

Previous entry: City of The Phallus




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Comments for “My First Celebrity Sighting”

  • HEY THERE… Here’s three—it’s the start of a slow and steady process…  stay tuned for more!

    IF IT’S TRUE that SBRs are just shy from posting comments because it appears to be cliquey, it’s not!  Don’t be afraid to break the silence, I’d really love to hear from others that are out there reading…

    TGT TRIVIA:  The photo of me in my TGT shirt on my main page is actually computer generated—it was taken ini 1999 even before I had t-shirts or an idea of going around the world.  The original photo is here:

    http://www.theglobaltrip.com/indexred.html

    Ah, the magic of Photoshop…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/10  at  05:47 PM


  • wow, i never knew that. i thought it was just a recent picture. that was a good job touching up the pic. the paella looks so goooood. now i want some.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/10  at  07:01 PM


  • beyoooo…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/10  at  08:01 PM


  • Where was Bill on Friday???? wink
    That shrimp (prawn?) on the paella is massive.  Guell Park looks awesome - pics are fab smile

    Posted by Liz  on  07/10  at  08:17 PM


  • So then, hello from one of your SBRs!!

    Greetz from Vienna,
    m!

    Posted by Markus  on  07/10  at  08:38 PM


  • Hey Eric!

    Seriously, I just started working 4/10’s and my job is so incredibly boring!! I would probably quit my job if I didn’t have your blog to read everyday.

    BTW, I am posting all the way from Alaska- trying to spread the word here, too!

    Ciao ciao!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/10  at  09:06 PM


  • Hey Erik, Erik here.  Hello from Vancouver - no I don’t (yet) know Sebastian smile
    I love reading about the places you’ve been; truly inspirational.
    I’ll be in SE Asia this fall and next spring… Any idea if and when you are going to make it there?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/10  at  09:50 PM


  • My bad- EriK

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/11  at  01:59 AM


  • You’re killing us!  Been waiting all week to hear about your escapade with the bulls!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/11  at  05:48 AM


  • Good work, man! Ay!

    You’re gettin’ mad props out there!

    Word Life!

    Moman!

    Posted by Moman  on  07/11  at  05:48 AM


  • welcome markus and Erik (vancouver)....

    Nicole: Alaska? wait is this the same nicole from actv? if so, wth are u doing in alaska? if not…hi, ppl here call me LP. (^_^)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/11  at  06:44 AM


  • Mmmm, paella…

    Those Gaudi buildings, sculptures, etc are fantastic. Can you imagine living in a development like the park, with it completley finished? That would be spectacular!

    I’m glad you’re okay, sorry about the pictures - some bum luck, eh? Is the rule of 3 in effect here, this being the third incident?

    I try to share the blog everywhere, but some people just don’t like to be slackers like us BH’s.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/11  at  10:05 AM


  • GREETINGS FROM PARIS… I’m all disheveled right now… just got off the train and got a place to stay… I’m three blocks from the Louvre…

    Sightseeing and romance (and beers at McDonalds) will have to wait… I came here to sort out my Russian and Chinese visas for onward travel…

    YES, two Nicoles and now two Eriks, both with a K… I can be Erik TGT now to lessen the confusion… unless the other Erik wants to switch handles?

    Greetings Markus and Erik!

    Markus… might have to make a stopover in Vienna sometime… not sure… keep in touch!

    Nicole (AK)...  wow!  Give my regrads to the mooses!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/11  at  10:36 AM


  • Sorry LP, whatever actv is, I have no affiliation with it.  I live here.

    Erik- regards to the moose.  Sure.

    =P

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/11  at  10:57 AM


  • E - catacombs in paris…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/11  at  02:07 PM


  • mooses?  i thought it was meese

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/11  at  03:36 PM


  • MARKYT:  Its a shame the email address of Fred (Ethiopia) was in my stolen wallet…. not only might I have had a place to crash, but he knew guys that knew the real underground catacombs that tourists don’t get to see…

    Where did you stay in Paris?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/11  at  03:53 PM


  • ERIK TGT: what quarter are you staying in?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/11  at  04:57 PM


  • Erik TGT - you’re making my dizzy - I can’t keep up with you. I think because of the blog not being up to date. Or else I’m just really slow (completely an option this month so far…).

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/11  at  05:04 PM


  • E- we stayed in the latin quarter…. at the young and happy hostel….across the street from a “69” whatever street we were on…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/11  at  06:22 PM


  • Hey Erik!  Long time reader, first time post-er.  I’m a friend of Ted’s(Tanzania) over here in Rhode Island.  Enjoy spending lunch reading your stories and your pictures are fantastic!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/11  at  09:44 PM


  • Kuya - got your message…thanks…

    (first time i called you kuya on the blog…hah!)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/11  at  11:07 PM


  • Greetings from Bill’s former workplace. 

    Everyone enjoyed the blog and the pics.  We haven’t seen Bill for months, so these are among the first pics we are getting of him on the continent.

    Can?t wait to hear about Pamplona.

    Bill - Now, everyone is going to know how you spent your days at work grin

    Tom

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/11  at  11:21 PM


  • CHRISCUS:  Awesome…  I suppose you’d make fun of me for wearing a Yankees cap too, huh?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/12  at  12:07 AM


  • TJW:  Shhh…. I think you just gave away how YOU are spending your days at work!

    Thanks for breaking the silence… perhaps I’ll run into you too on the road somewhere…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/12  at  12:10 AM


  • NOELLE:  Yes, I know I know… I’m actually really stressed of how far behind I am…  I’m not even up to date on paper yet either…  Plus, everyday that goes by only adds up to the pile…

    I might have been caught up (and I might have saved those lost pictures) if I just brought my laptop around Spain with me…  we weren’t sure if we’d be sleeping in the park or not in Pamplona, so I opted not to bring it…

    Anyway, I’m in Paris now trying to catch up…  although it’s easy to get distracted here—it’s Paris, and two days before Bastille Day…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/12  at  12:14 AM


  • PAUL:  First quarter, three blocks north of the Louvre

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/12  at  12:16 AM


  • Well, I am meeting Bill in the UK in August, but I’m not sure that will work.

    Cheers

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/12  at  12:26 AM


  • MAAIKE / PAUL / MARKYT (and PEPE if you’re still out there):  The answer is probably NO, but do I need to have my passport, going from Paris into Amsterdam?  The consulate will have my passport, but in the meantime I’d still like to cover ground…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/12  at  12:29 AM


  • E - once we landed in paris, our passport didn’t have to come out until we flew out of amsterdam….

    we only needed for checking into the hostels…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/12  at  12:51 AM


  • I mentioned it on another page, but catacombs & Saint Chapelle (no relation to Dave)—very cool spots to check out in Paris. Glad you’re ok, too bad about the $ and the camera—-again. But having your own body guard sounded like a damn fine idea!

    Catch up, we’ll be waiting!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/12  at  12:56 AM


  • E - I know you’re stressed and I didn’t mean to make you more so - that was NOT my intention. Apologies for doing that, if I did. Take your time - the stories will be there for a while - and it’s better that you left your laptop away from the running of the bulls!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/12  at  04:42 AM


  • Erik: Maybe you might get more SBRs to post if they didn’t have to enter an email address. Just a thought…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/12  at  05:27 AM


  • Erik
    If they are f@$#ing around with you at the Chinese Embassy (sometimes they tell you that you can get a visa only from your own country) well, then you can still get a visa for the PRC in Hong Kong, just telling you in case. (I hope you can get the visa anyway)
    bon voyage

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/12  at  05:46 AM


  • F.LEVENTE:  What country did you have problems getting a Chinese visa?

    Hong Kong is sort of inaccessible to me if I’m taking the train in to China from Mongolia…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/12  at  02:10 PM


  • I saw 2 English guys asking for tourist visas at the PRC Embassy in Budapest, Hungary; they were told to go back to the UK…
    I’m pretty sure however that you’ll get a tourist visa in Paris, so don’t worry! I live close to Macau where they also give visas on the border but this might not be the case on the Mongolian border…give them a call!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/12  at  02:35 PM


  • sorry dude, really didn’t want you to freak out!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/12  at  02:42 PM


  • F.LEVENTE:  Hey… I looked into it on the internet…  I’m seeing that I can apply for a Chinese visa in France as an American—provided I have a proof of residence card in France.  Uh oh…

    ANYONE OUT THERE know what I can do?  I suppose this is just as a backup in case I go to the Chinese consulate tomorrow and get turned away.  Perhaps another European country can give me the visa?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/12  at  04:43 PM


  • if they should turn you away be sure you ask them if you can get a tourist visa on the Mongolian border plus you still have the chance to charm them
    tell them all kind of stuff about how long you’ve been traveling and that the main point in your voyage is CHINA and you don’t want to be disappointed; they hate losing face and look bad…you can also cry like “I won’t get to china now, what can I do…” beleive me they will cave
    if you still have to go to Hong Kong you can crash at our place in Guangzhou (Canton)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/12  at  05:36 PM


  • Erik’s very good at crying..and whinning ...and throwing tantrums…and…oh..wait, that my daughter! (^_^)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/12  at  08:00 PM


  • HEY ALL… Allow me to vent, but I’m really sort of hating Paris right now.  Well, not Paris I guess, the combination of being in Paris and behind on the blog…

    Basically today I spent all morning at the Russian embassy and all afternoon in my room writing… I got everything up to date up to the bull run to upload tonight, only to find the only internet cafe I know with a USB connection to close at 10pm.  Bummer… 

    So no stories for you now… Sorry!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/13  at  12:34 AM


  • thats ok…  AR5 tonite!!!  woohoo!!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/13  at  12:48 AM


  • Erik- No worries!  Enjoy your travels.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/13  at  02:45 AM


  • Erik - where are you headed to in Russia? Did you get it all sorted out? I don’t know what help I could be here, but I’ve been there… if you have anything to ask, you could try… smile

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/13  at  04:23 AM


  • AR5 hits another TGT2 site at the tomb of Eva Peron at the Recoleta Ceremony!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/13  at  06:10 AM


  • NOELLE:  Moscow, Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk, Ulan-Ude… have you done the Railway before?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/13  at  09:25 AM


  • MARKYT:  Cool… I don’t suppose you can tape those for me?  Don’t matter I guess… I’m on TGT anyway…

    I also went to a the first pitstop in TGT1—Punta del Este, Uruguay…  Casa Pueblo is niiice…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/13  at  09:27 AM


  • E - i’ll try and tape the rest of them…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/13  at  02:36 PM


  • Markyt - don’t you have tivo? smile

    I’ve not done the railway before, I know people who have thought, I’ll ask them. I’ve been on two trains before (to and from St. Petersburg/Moscow). One of the trains was super nice, one was rather scary. I can only imagine that at one point they used to be nicer than they are now - just b/c of the state of Russia.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/13  at  05:49 PM


  • TIVO? - Sure I’m a nerd, but no money for the tivo..

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/13  at  05:57 PM


  • i’m too many entries behind!  i’m a failure… :(

    Posted by hanalei  on  07/14  at  07:48 PM


  • HANALEI - you’re no failure….  we DO know failures tho….LOL

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/14  at  07:57 PM


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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by BootsnAll.com. It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

Praised and recommended by USA Today, RickSteves.com, and readers of BootsnAll and Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, The Global Trip blog was selected by the editors of PC Magazine for the "Top 100 Sites You Didn't Know You Couldn't Live Without" (in the travel category) in 2005.


Next entry:
Progression to the Typical

Previous entry:
City of The Phallus




THE GLOBAL TRIP GLOSSARY

Confused at some of the jargon that's developed with this blog and its readers over the years? Here's what they mean:

BFFN: acronym for "Best Friend For Now"; a friend made on the road, who will share travel experiences for the time being, only to part ways and lose touch with

The Big Trip: the original sixteen month around-the-world trip that started it all, spanning 37 countries in 5 continents over 503 days (October 2003–March 2005)

NIZ: acronym for "No Internet Zone"; a place where there is little to no Internet access, thus preventing dispatches from being posted.

SBR: acronym for "Silent Blog Reader"; a person who has regularly followed The Global Trip blog for years without ever commenting or making his/her presence known to the rest of the reading community. (Breaking this silence by commenting is encouraged.)

Stupid o'clock: any time of the early morning that you have to wake up to catch a train, bus, plane, or tour. Usually any time before 6 a.m. is automatically “stupid o’clock.”

The Trinidad Show: a nickname of The Global Trip blog, used particularly by travelers that have been written about, who are self-aware that they have become "characters" in a long-running story — like characters in the Jim Carrey movie, The Truman Show.

WHMMR: acronym for "Western Hemisphere Monday Morning Rush"; an unofficial deadline to get new content up by a Monday morning, in time for readers in the western hemisphere (i.e. the majority North American audience) heading back to their computers.

1981ers: people born after 1981. Originally, this was to designate groups of young backpackers fresh out of school, many of which were loud, boorish and/or annoying. However, time has passed and 1981ers have matured and have been quite pleasant to travel with. The term still refers to young annoying backpackers, regardless of year — I guess you could call them "1991ers" in 2013 — young, entitled millennials on the road these days, essentially.




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The views and opinions written on The Global Trip blog are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the official views and opinions of the any affiliated publications.
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