Today’s Waterlogue commemorates one thing… something I’ve been looking forward to for the last three months: I’m baaaaaaack!!! I’m so excited to return to France, especially at this time of year. How I love this season here. Look for lots more photos to come.
Planning a trip to the Normandy or Brittany regions of France anytime soon? If you haven’t read it already, check out my previous article in Insider’s Abroad Magazine about why camping is the best way to experience the regions. I also have a newer article in the Summer edition about specific cities and towns in the regions that will help you plan your visit to the area. It’s so rich in history and culture (think WWII for starters), that the article will be a good starting place for what you wish to see.
And good news… the magazine is free!
I am fortunate. There’s no doubt about it. I have had extraordinary opportunities in my life and have met interesting people that have taken me on further adventures than I could have ever imagined for myself.
I first caught the travel bug (the undeniable strand, anyway) in 1999 when I first went to France. Prior to that, I had thoroughly enjoyed our family vacations all over the United States and to the UK, but traveling with a group, discovering a completely new culture, and traveling apart from my parents as a teenager was nothing short of life-changing and eye-opening. Ever since then, I have been planning my next trip before my return flight has landed. As you know, it has also led me to live in two other countries, bringing me experiences that have been everything from unspeakably frustrating to the best moments of my life. Seeing beautiful things and visiting new places is indeed glamorous on social media and it is something I’m infinitely grateful for, but make no mistake, I have lugged hundreds of pounds of baggage around airports, train stations, and up narrow flights of French stairs more times than I care to count. A life with insatiable curiosity about the world can be both a blessing and a curse; it separates you from the familiar, from those you love and have long-standing relationships with, and it causes you to evaluate everything you’ve come to belief about yourself and the world. But despite all the pulled muscles and bruises and mental taxation from trying to do it all on my own (think escalator- and elevator-free Parisian metro stations), my life abroad is one of the things I am most grateful for in my life.
As you know by now, I tend to shoot straight on at façades, but there are times when I approach – especially in Amsterdam – a stoop all decorated with pots of flowers and maybe even a little bench from which residents people watch on nice days and have to shoot that, too. The angle is one I sometimes have to force myself to notice, but in Amsterdam I find it’s yet another great angle to get the gist of a beautiful façade, while still getting the depth of the front “garden” and maybe even the size of the steps. Wondering why the steps matter? In Amsterdam the front staircase was, once upon a time, an indication of a family’s wealth and status in society. These images were painted in my favorite, the Waterlogue app.
Well, it took me long enough! After so many years in Paris always looking for the next great view from above, and having only found a couple of cool high-up views in Amsterdam, I finally decided to look into potential view spots in Amsterdam last year. Although there are no options like the Tour Montparnasse or the Eiffel Tower to boost you well over the surrounding buildings, there are a few decent options, namely in the city’s church towers. It wasn’t until this Spring, that I made it to the top of two of the towers. I can confirm that they are indeed Amsterdam’s best options for letting people enjoy those gorgeous gables from a higher perch. In June, I enjoyed views from the tops of the Oude Kerk in the Red Light District and the Westerkerk on Prinsengracht. Each tour includes local Dutchies giving 30 min. tours for about 7€ each.
This week’s Waterlogue features a couple of the views from the Westerkerk, which can be found at the crossing of Prinsengracht and Raadhuisstraat. The church is situated next to the block of houses where Anne Frank was in hiding with her family during World War II. The queue for the museum – not so visible in the watercolor – was longer than I have ever seen it when I was peering down; I suspect it’s among Amsterdam’s top five tourist destinations. A definite must for your visit to this beautiful city, but please make your reservations in advance!
Check out information here on visits to the church towers: http://www.westertorenamsterdam.nl
Since I started with Falling Off Bicycles in 2012 – and subsequently created Facebook and Instagram accounts for the brand – my world has been so opened up to other creatives. Before I returned to France in 2013, I was virtually approached by two lovely ladies who had also moved to Paris, one for love and the other for few months of adventure. They had both found my Falling Off Bicycles Facebook page – which I’ve all but neglected since – before I pushed that aside for more time to devote to sharing on and perusing Instagram. Instagram that has opened so many doors, connected me with cool brands, interesting people, and photographers that inspire me. It is the only social media platform I’ve found with a legitimate community feel to it (despite the occasional cattiness), and I go to it multiple times a day for inspiration and a dose of cheer (I only follow cheery accounts, after all!). The photos I’m sharing today are from three walks I did with Instagrammers whom I have befriended and who I still enjoy walking the streets of Paris with (Amsterdam version to come).
- The first photo is of me handing one of our red balloons to a young French-Turkish boy (truly one of the cutest children I have ever seen) and shot by Rebecca Plotnick. In case you missed it, click here for more Paris red balloon images.
- The second photo is me shooting the stunning gardens at the Musée et Jardins d’Albert Kahn in Paris’ 16th arrondissement. Ms. Nora Serna captured this one.
- The third image is one Nico Étienne took of me while we wandered Montmartre one afternoon in late April last year. His Leica camera produces incredible images… with the help of the gifted photographer holding it. ;)
Another reason I love Instagram so much, is that it continues to solidify how humans think in images. When people describe something to us, we create an image of the scene they set up in our minds, rather than thinking about the words themselves. Not only that, images have the power to tell a story in a flash as well as to touch us and convey emotion rapidly. They are instantaneous and yet live on for others to experience after the moment itself has passed. I love that Instagram enables me to share moments that struck me with beauty and meaning with people around the world.
In case you missed it, here is my France bucket list (to be updated/revised soon).
Two adorable parked bikes in Amsterdam “au naturel” for your Waterlogue Wednesday today. You’ll be seeing plenty more of these, since I can scarcely pass any bicycle in Amsterdam without shooting it, let alone a cute one!
I may have written about this before, but I’m not even going to bother going back to look to check because today’s selection is something that I am thankful for every single day: the challenge that life among different countries and cultures … Continue reading
I have decided to quit hoarding so many photos and share more images each Waterlogue Wednesday.
Today’s first hydrangea burst comes from the garden of L’Orangerie Lanniron on the River Odet. This is a fabulous place! I am way overdue to do a whole post on it. Today’s “blue two” are from the darling town of Pont-Aven in Bretagne. I had been to Pont-Aven before, but I told R that we needed to return because I felt there was much more to explore. It was a misty and, at times, rainy afternoon, but the art galleries and vibrant colors brightened our time. The town sits on a port and has water running right through the center of it. Behind many of the shops lies a maze of bridges where hanging flower boxes invite visitors to discover the next gallery, boutique, or crêperie. No visit to Bretagne is complete without a stop in Pont-Aven.