Walks with Albert | Barcelona, Catalunya

I couldn’t have asked for a better host in Barcelona than Albert, my talented and generous friend slash photographer slash world traveler. Without agenda, we began pounding the pavement (and the improbably precise Metro system) almost immediately upon my arrival.

Notable stops? Las Ramblas, where strolling is an activity in and of itself, and art installations beckon to you just steps off the pathway; La Boqueria, a maze-like market I wouldn’t have minded getting lost in; and Park Güell, an artful, Gaudí-designed oasis perched on a hill above the city.

And while Albert probably felt like a tourist in his own hometown when we dropped in on the Fuente mágica de Montjuic, a fountain whose streams of water danced under colorful lights alongside a million happy revelers, I couldn’t imagine how such effortlessly striking sights could ever get old.

Cameras: Mamiya 645AF, Canonet QL17 GIII
Film: Kodak Portra 400 and 160

Le Marais | Paris, France

Grit, graffiti, and tongue-in-cheek art installations: may I present to you the edgy side of the Marais?

And with that, it’s au revoir to France; coming soon, photographic evidence of my visit to the fabulous, laid-back, and nocturnal city of Barcelona.

Camera: Mamiya 645AF
Film: Kodak Portra 400

Le Temps de L’amour | Paris, France

Macarons, high fashion, and classic architecture? Check. Well-heeled residents sipping wine at outdoor cafés? Jaw-dropping window displays? Those, too. I expected all of that from this city, and it didn’t disappoint on any count. (In fact, you might want to listen to Françoise Hardy to set the mood as you look through this particularly Parisian set of images.)

That said, I have to admit that I also expected a chilly reception from the natives; perhaps that’s why the most surprisingly pleasant moment of my time in France caught me entirely off-guard. I had unwittingly boarded the wrong train as I was leaving for Barcelona, only to be politely kicked out of my seat; struggling with my suitcases and entirely perplexed by the train station signage, I was flustered and more than a little embarrassed. A Parisian woman about my age—effortlessly stylish in her red cashmere sweater, of course, and resembling a blonde Marion Cotillard—sensed my confusion. Smilingly, she insisted on carrying half my luggage (“It is just my way,” she explained in her accented English while waving her hand at my protestations), then walked a quarter mile with me to the correct train and helped me get situated in my seat. It was one of those moments where, against all odds, my faith in humanity was completely reaffirmed.

I was prepared for a frigidly beautiful city, and was met with surprising warmth when I least expected (but most needed) it. For that, I was both humbled and grateful—and I only hope I can pay it forward to another flustered solo traveler someday.

Camera: Mamiya 645AF
Film: Kodak Portra 400