Turn off Your Music and Look Around

Barcelona Streets

Yep, you heard me!  Turn off your music and look around!  Okay, that title may be shocking coming from someone who’s life revolves around music and whose voyages are financed, in part, by a job in the radio industry.  Bear with me as I explain why I’ve written such an article.

Humans are very busy creatures.  We are constantly moving around, worrying about the next task.  We get so busy that we distract ourselves with the internet, music, or movies; activities that allow us to step away and take a break.

Earlier this morning I took a walk up the street from our hostel on Gran Via in Barcelona to a big tourist area in search of a postcard and a stamp.  While many walking around me had their ear buds in their ears, I made the conscious choice this morning to NOT take any ear buds with me.  Why on earth would I do that?  I’m in a foreign country that speaks a language I do not.  Music helps us feel safe, and as if we were in a familiar place.  One of my fondest memories of exploring Europe was walking down the streets of Rome in 2010 while listening to my favorite tunes.  Why, then, would I opt-out?

Simple!  I love listening to the sounds of life.   There is so much to be gleaned from the sounds around us, and yet we miss out on those opportunities when we immediately plug in and create our own soundtrack to life.  For once I wanted to listen to the natural soundtrack, the heartbeat of Barcelona.  That’s exactly what I did.

The following recording was taken during that walk back, over the course of 10 or so blocks.  Listen for a moment:

That is raw, unfiltered Barcelona.

Now go back and listen carefully.  You can hear the sounds of buses and motorini as they speed up and slow down.  You can hear change jingling in my pocket, or perhaps even my footsteps.  You hear sounds that really, in the end, are very familiar.  At that point, you may realize as I did, that Barcelona isn’t that different from, say, New York City or San Francisco.  Sure, languages and time zones may be different.  Methods of going about a task may change.  But no matter what, we are all human, and that gives us common ground.

So next time you venture off to a foreign place, leave the ear buds in your pocket and listen to the world around you.  You’ll feel more at home than you think.


Christopher is a bonafide pizza snob, and loves spontaneous adventures to wherever the skies deem fit.

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