by Niall Doherty

1.

When people ask which is my favorite place I’ve been, I answer that my two favorite cities are Amsterdam and New Orleans. But after just two days in Barcelona, methinks I’ll be adding it as a third. I could get lost in these gothic streets for years, eating tapas, admiring stone, wiling away afternoons in hidden coffee shops, spots of sun sneaking through the leaves of plane trees.

2.

I’ve given up the chase. I’ll still approach and escalate, but I won’t make it my main thing. Gonna focus on hobbies and friendship and let things unfold naturally, no forcing. With this decided, I’m at peace passing beautiful women on the streets, chatting with attractive ladies at the hostel. No pressure. No wanting. Just breathe.

3.

Fourteen-bed dorm. Everyone was out last night, except me. I stayed in, read a bit about Winston Churchill, watched a movie. It’s eight a.m. now and the room feels hungover, one dude snoring like a bear, one chick comatose with her tits out. I lace em up and hit the streets running, park-bound in the morning sun, beneath parakeets and palm trees and balconies.

4.

I’ve been testing out a new set of food rules for myself. They’re pretty detailed. I have a points system now, deducting points for eating certain foods. The goal is to average 9/10 or better for six days, then reward myself with a cheat day. It’s going well so far, but the system needs battle-testing the next couple of weeks on the road before I call it a keeper.

5.

Wandering these narrow streets, looking for a coffee shop. I find one and knuckle down for a work session, only to find they have the worst wifi in the history of mankind. Ah well, guess I’m not supposed to work right now. I kick back and read a bit, scribble on some postcards, finish a sudoku. Been thinking lately that feeling unrushed has a lot to do with happiness.

Back in Europe! Posing in front of the Arc de Triomf in Barcelona.

Back in Europe! Posing in front of the Arc de Triomf in Barcelona.

6.

I may have spoke too soon about giving up the chase. Met up with a friend today and we walked around and did a few approaches. Had some fun interactions, got one number. I think there’s a balance that can be struck, knowing when to face the fear, and when to let go. I don’t want to be rubbernecking, nor do I want to be completely passive.

7.

Wrote my own press release earlier this week and sent it to a bunch of media contacts in Ireland. That led to a Skype interview today. Three things I’m aiming for: get some traffic to the site; inspire a few people to chase their own crazy dreams; and remind myself of what I’ve accomplished these last few years, people met, adventures had.

8.

Comfortable silences. Working on those. Just met this girl at the hostel, enjoying her company all evening, but trying to resist the urge to jump in and fill every lull in the conversation. I see if I can just sit there and be at peace with the silence, wait until she has something else to say. Next I’ll need to add more eye contact and easy smiles.

9.

My last night in Barcelona. I used to like the feeling of leaving town, but not so much anymore. Three weeks from now, when asked the question, “How long are you here for?” my reply will feel like apple pie, all warm and sweet inside, a one-word answer preceded by a contented sigh: “Indefinitely.”

10.

Daft Punk on my mind as I wait to board a bus bound for Paris. Who knows when I’ll take another overnight. I flash back along the trail as I sit here, to other stations I’ve sat in, people watching, patiently waiting. Bucharest, Tehran, Luang Prabang, Managua. These buildings have been good to me. So have the journeys in between.

Hanging out with friends in the glow of the Eiffel Tower.

Hanging out with friends in the glow of the Eiffel Tower.

11.

Paris, France. The weather is beautiful here today. I break a 27-hour fast and take a quick nap at the hostel, then head to the park to do some stretching and save myself $1k. On the grass between an old clock tower and a man-made lake, couples cuddle and kids play. Regular people going about their lives, while I’m just passing through.

12.

Got a taste of it today: that feeling of community. Met up with friends and we spent the evening sitting by the Seine, basking in the sinking sun. The riverbanks were packed with people, some working out, some having a drink, laughs and smiles all around. There was a magic feel about the place, social circles interweaving like a venn diagram all massive and merry.

13.

I sometimes wonder if it’s just me or is every guy constantly sizing up every woman he meets, asking himself, a) would I want to get jiggy with her? and b) what are the chances she wants to get jiggy with me? Even when I decide to just have a nice platonic time with a girl, those thoughts are always there lurking in the back of my horny man mind.

14.

The conversation’s getting good, and seems like L really needs to be heard, so I forget about catching the last train back to the hostel. Worst case scenario, we can both crash here at A’s place. I make it sound like no big deal but that’s actually a big win for me: letting go of the original plan in favor of the moment, just sitting and being there for a friend.

15.

Watching a red sunset from the deck of a ferry heading out of Cherbourg. Tomorrow I’ll be home, 44 months and 37 countries after setting out. I’ve come full circle, completed the loop, done something few people ever have or will. And it’s all a bit overwhelming right now, many a memory vying for a good spot in the lane. I’ll let them sort themselves out, and just enjoy the view.

The last sunset of a 1,324-day journey.

The last sunset of a 1,324-day journey.

In the comments below, let me know which of the above Momentos is your favorite. Which can you relate to?

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