South African Yann Horowitz is an experienced traveler who has visited Europe several times. On his visit last summer he collected some photos, which we'll share here along with some travel tips he has collected over the years.
I’ve had the opportunity to travel through Europe a lot of my life and I end up getting myself into crazy situations every time I’m there. I mean I’m always there during the summer and you know European summers are crazy. You guys only get a short time of it, so you gotta get it all in. I’m gonna give you three of my favorite stories in Europe, full of misadventure and chaos.
I was in Hamburg a few years back and I had the pleasure of meeting the Lousy Livin guys during my stay. They wanted me to film a short advert for them and I happily agreed to do it. They told me to meet them in St. Pauli. There’s a famous DIY skatepark next to an infamous squat. I arrived an hour early, so I was skating around and meeting the locals. One of the guys that was staying at the squat came up to me with a big old joint and offered me some. Naturally, I said yes because there’s nothing better than sharing a joint and some stories with a stranger. We’re smoking and chatting and eventually he gives me this cheeky smile and walks away and that’s when I realize that everything around me started moving. My vision got blurry, all the graffiti on the concrete ramps were jiggling around and started morphing into creatures, geometric shapes, and then it hit me… That wasn’t just weed. This guy had jeffreyed me. When the film crew arrived, I was peaking on this psychedelic journey that I hadn’t even planned that day. I decided not to tell them and go with the flow, and Jesus Christ, were things flowing. It’s tough skating a bowl when the coping’s telling you to go faster and the concrete wants to swallow you up like a tattooed beast. I managed to do my job but only by the skin on my teeth. That was the first time I learned how to ask questions before accepting random party treats from strangers.
London was the last stop on a Euro trip that I had been doing over five months. In the four cities I had been in before, I had managed to spend all my money. I arrived at Heathrow Airport with not even enough to get the bus into town, so I started freaking out. I didn’t even have any credit on my phone to call a friend. The first thing I did was to open my bag outside the airport and start yelling, “Clothes for sale! Clothes! RVCA, adidas (which were my sponsors at the time) shoes! Anything you need!” These two punks walked up to me looking extremely confused. One had a giant yellow mohawk and his girlfriend had some crazy face tattoos. They asked about my situation and I was honest with them that I was a broke South African with absolutely no money, about to try and survive a month in London. They had pity on me and bought basically half of everything I had in my bag, got my bus ticket to London, and made sure I had enough money to eat for a week. London is a really tough town to live in if you have no money and I had to hustle my ass off. I ended up selling secondhand Hélas caps at Stockwell skatepark, doing humiliating modeling jobs in Pikachu outfits and with giant lizard tails, and if someone liked anything I was wearing, I would sell it to them on the spot straight off my back (even if it was my T-shirt). From that moment on, I’ve learned to spend my money wisely and to try to avoid the expensive cities at all costs.
Barcelona, the Mecca of skateboarding – probably the first city that any young skater goes to first to check off the bucket list. As anyone knows, Barcelona is not for beginners. I learned very quickly that your pockets were not safe in any corner of the city. The pickpockets are out to get you. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you got about eight different hands in your pockets at all times. One day, we’ve been partying all night and this one guy tries the classic football trick. I quickly shut him away screaming, “I live here! Don’t try me!” I tapped my pockets to check that everything was where it was supposed to be and realized my phone was not there anymore. After months of dealing with these pickpockets, I’d had enough. I saw red like in that scene from Kill Bill and I threw a full can of beer at this guy’s face as hard as I could. The can exploded on his nose and he dropped to the floor. Right away, about 20 of his associates started running at me, so I’m running through Barcelona trying to hide behind bushes and dumpsters. Trying my best to get away from this angry mob and, thank God, I ended up losing them because I would’ve had the shit beaten out of me. To celebrate, we ended up breaking into the Montjuic Olympic pool with a giant diving board that everyone loves jumping off in summer. I decided I wanted to do a naked backflip, so I go to the top of the diving board and start stripping naked, and at this moment, I realize that my phone was not in my pockets but in the top jacket pocket. It slid out in slow motion and fell from the top of the diving board onto the tiles of the pool and exploded in spectacular fashion. I couldn’t even be upset. I learned that instant karma is extremely real. I had broken this guy’s nose with a beer can and ran from an angry mob to save my life when I didn’t even have to. Karma bitch slapped me across the face that night in Barcelona and I’ll never forget it.
The best advice I can give you is to not take yourself too seriously. Have as much fun as possible, get lost every now and again, and make mistakes. It’s the best way to grow and it always makes fucking good stories!
Have fun out there xo