THE SOUR TEAM
The Sour team, based in Barcelona, had this idea for its first of official trip, along with some members of Sk8mafia (if you remember, Sour used to be called Sweet Skateboards and they did the awesome collab video STEE with the 'Mafia in 2013), and set off from Barcy, hitting Zaragoza on the way up to the Basque Country and eventually ending up in Bordeaux, France. Sounded like an epic road trip that anyone would be lucky to join. We loaded up a mini van and Sour owner Bjorn Holmenas' 1997 Saab 900, the same one Jerry Seinfeld drove, and—with a 14-man crew consisting of seven Swedes, one Spaniard, one Norwegian, one Englishman, and four Americans—got the hell outta Barcy.
Words and Photos by Blair Alley
Simon is the youngest and maybe the least traveled of the international crew. He's from Luleå, a small town in the north of Sweden within the Arctic Circle. People from that area are known for being a bit quieter. It was always amusing to see Simon's culture shock and hilarious fumblings with language barriers, but don't be fooled—he's sharp and had some funny observations along the way. With a look of a young Ali Boulala, he's got a buttery style and tricks on just about any spot we rolled up to.
Upon rolling into this Spanish city, Bjorn Holmenas remarked, "This city is famous for being ugly." True, it lacks the architectural wonders and seaside vistas of Barcelona, but the spots are plentiful and photogenic. Our crew stacked clips and photos in two full days here. If you know how the Spaniards pronounce their "s" and "z" with a "th" sound, it was funny to refer to this city as "Tharagotha." Try it, say it five times fast.
Tyler Surrey had joined our crew in Zaragoza and had the spots sussed out in San Sebastian from a previous trip he'd been on. He explained that the San Sebastian locals didn't really go exploring for spots because they just skate their perfect local plazas every day after work with their friends. Who needs to go find new spots when you've got that going for you? However, just a short skate through town revealed epic plazas and parks with picturesque and skateable planters and bridges you've never seen in videos or in photos. Nisse Ingemarsson and Tyler got busy, and we returned successfully home for another crew barbecue. Salud!
Hondarribia is the richest village in Spain and sits across a beautiful little harbor from France. We got a bit rained out, but that gave us the chance to sightsee and eat the best kebabs of the trip (and that's saying something). Just put this town on the back burner if you're ever looking for an out-of- the-way vacation destination. You'll just be a 10-minute drive from the numerous spots in Irun and San Sebastian as well.
THE BASQUE COUNTRY
As we traveled along the A-15 freeway north into the Basque Country, our spirits rose as we left the hot, dry climate behind and began cruising through green hills that looked more like Costa Rica than Spain. Talks of fantastic meat, hospitable locals, and untouched spots floated about the crew, and soon enough we were in the thick of it. The first night outside our hostel, we fired up the barbecue with our friends from HLC Distribution, who came through with tons of steaks and sausages for us all. The way they do it in Spain is they throw on one steak at a time, heavily salt it with course sea salt, then pull it off rare. They then cut it into cubes, place it on a plate, and pass it around the crew. You just barehand a chunk or two and keep it moving until all the steaks are gone. It was a communal way to eat that suits the Spanish vibe—and those steaks were so damn delicious.
A critic's choice—if you're familiar with Gustav Tonnesen's video output and trick selection, you know he sits at the top of the stack with some of Europe's finest exports. No shit, you see this guy skate in person, he's on a Lucas Puig level. Gustav has a keen eye for spots, camera angles, and comfortable shoes. He just finished putting out his own VX video, and he'd pore over my still photography angles anytime we'd shoot a flick. And as soon as the sesh was over, he'd slip on his adidas Boost runners that he always kept nearby. As smart as he is stylish, Gustav jumped to the top of my favorite-skaters list on this trip.
We pulled into Bordeaux around 10 at night and the streets were a ghost town. We figured we couldn't be in the city center, but sure enough, Bordeaux is a pleasantly quiet city that resembles Paris, but without the crowds and madness. Our 12- head squad (by this point Javier Sarmiento and Tyler had stayed back in Spain) crashed in the two-bedroom apartment of the Riot Distribution guys (what up, Yann and Seb!). Over the next four days, we met Leo Valls, found the "Magenta Hallway" as we called it, skated marble plazas all night, and of course sampled several bottles of the wine this region is famous for. After a busy 10 days, it was time to double back to Barcelona. We took the route through France, passing through Toulouse, where the hillsides are dotted with vineyards and ancient castles here and there. We saw some epic spots, got a ton of clips and photos on untouched terrain, and came back with memories that will last a lifetime. Couldn't ask for anything else.
At a time when our world is going a bit crazy with cultural differences and religious persecution, it felt like we were in another universe cruising through different countries skating and eating in the streets with a multi-national crew. Skateboarding really can bridge any gap and make you realize you have much more in common with people all over the world than you might have thought. Don't let anyone's small-town mentality hold you back—get out there and burn down those borders.