Thankful Thursday: Another Year on the Books

Julia Willard, Julie Willard, Eiffel Tower, Falling Off Bicycles, birthday, Paris, France, dusk, pretty hair

Another year on the books for me. It’s been a truly wild year with lots of excitement, plenty of heartache, and some of the best adventures. I’m ready for more! Thanks to you all for being part of the journey! 🎈🎂🎈

Photo by Georgianna Lane.

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Kansas City, I’m so in LOVE

Julia Willard, Falling Off Bicycles, Fortuity KC, Valentine bicycle
KC Pride #HowWeDoKC

I’ve always loved Valentine’s Day, with or without a boyfriend. I love the pervasive red and pink in shops. I love the additional flowers that seem to pop up more places. I love any excuse to have fresh flowers around.

To celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, I went out this week and took my bicycle with me for a little photoshoot next to a mural I discovered recently. I thought it was extra cute with the Valentine balloons. 💙🚲❣️🎈❣️

Falling Off Bicycles Valentine’s Day Inspiration

I’ve loved Valentine’s Day since I was a little girl. I think what I love is that it comes after (an often dreary) winter and feels like a ray of hope looking toward Spring with all the bright colors and flowers. 💐🌹

I’ve compiled a few colorful shots to share today to commemorate this love-filled day. Enjoy❣️

Falling Off Bicycles, Julia Willard, Julie Willard, Valentine's Day, true love, Paris, France, Paris photography, Vespa, moped, façade

Julia Willard, Julie Willard, Valentine's Day, roses, pink flowers, Paris, France, Paris photography, Paris balcony, baguette, French cheese
Charming Parisian balcony set for a picnic
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Terrace life in Paris
Falling Off Bicycles, Julia Willard, Julie Willard, Valentine's Day, roses, Paris, France, Paris photography
Discarded café chairs in front of a wall of sweet treats
Falling Off Bicycles, Julia Willard, Julie Willard, Valentine's Day, red balloon project, Paris, France, Paris photography
Vintage car with a pop of color
Falling Off Bicycles, Julia Willard, Julie Willard, Valentine's Day, roses, pink flowers, Paris, France, Paris photography
The most perfect pink Valentine bouquet

Julia Willard, Julie Willard, Valentine's Day, roses, red cafe, Parisian cafe, Paris, France, Paris photography
Falling Off Bicycles, Julia Willard, Julie Willard, Valentine's Day, roses, pink flowers, Paris, France, Paris photographyFalling Off Bicycles, Julia Willard, Julie Willard, Valentine's Day, café, thé, chocolat, Paris, France, Paris photography

Falling Off Bicycles, Julia Willard, Julie Willard, Valentine's Day, roses, Rome, Italy, Paris photography, mailbox, red
The prettiest red mailboxes for Valentines
Falling Off Bicycles, Julia Willard, Julie Willard, Valentine's Day, red doors Parisian doors, Paris, France, Paris photography
Classic Parisian doors
Falling Off Bicycles, Julia Willard, Julie Willard, Valentine's Day, roses, pink flowers, Paris, France, Paris photography
Pick your Valentine bouquet

Follow me on social media for more colorful photos of Europe and beyond:
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Waterlogue Wednesdays: Julia Willard in Kansas City

Exported Image_2016-07-22 15-01-23
Julia Willard at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art

Time to clear something up. Where am I from, many people have wondered… France? Non. Netherlands? Nee. U.K.? Nope.
I come from beautiful Kansas City, Missouri, USA. I just have trouble staying in one place for long, and I’ve quite liked it that way all these years. And this is my bike. 💚🚲 The bike that my mom bought me at an estate sale a few years ago for $35. It was brown and had been neglected for probably 30 years. For my birthday last year, my parents had it repainted for me to match the #fallingoffbicycles logo. 🎂💚🚲 And here we are together at a real KC gem, the @nelsonatkins Museum of Art. 🏸 Even though where I’m from is considered by some as “flyover country”, there is much to do and see here… like pose with giant shuttlecocks. 😉😂

Image painted in Waterlogue.

Falling Off Bicycles Instagram Huffington Post Feature

Julie Willard, Julia Willard, Falling Off Bicycles, Paris photography, Au Vieux de Paris, Netherlands photography, travel photographer, Europe photo Julie Willard, Julia Willard, Falling Off Bicycles, Paris photography, Au Vieux de Paris, Netherlands photography, travel photographer, Europe photo

A “friend” on Instagram congratulated me under one of my photos the other day for my Huffington Post feature. I had no idea what she was referring to, as I hadn’t been notified of any mentions from them. Indeed after a little googling, I did come across the article featuring 20 accounts worth following if you suffer from wanderlust. If you follow me on Instagram, you know I have a little ‘catch me if I can’ thing going… no one ever knows where I am; and, frankly, sometimes my own head is spinning from all the moving around. And yet, in spite of all the stress, fatigue, and exhaustion that can often accompany travel, I cannot live without it. And I even prefer my travel to happen with great frequency. For this reason, I feel very honored to be considered worth following for this particular topic. Pop on over to my account and join me as I travel across Europe.

Read the article, 20 Travel Instagram Accounts That’ll Make You Feel Worlds Away, here.

Follow me on Instagram @fallingoffbicycles

Introducing… Falling Off Bicycles’ First Puzzle!!

My mom and I have always loved putting jigsaw puzzles together. She has that puzzle- and word game-loving mind that I seem to have inherited. I have dreamt for years of making all kinds of products from my photographs, but a puzzle was always among the few at the top of the list. Last year, I finally decided to go for it and find a partner to create jigsaw puzzles out of my images.

In secret, I sifted through my favorite images, vetting them for which ones would make the most interesting puzzles. The first one I decided on is one of my favorite images taken in one of my favorite French towns. My trip to Martigues in 2012 was a favorite for me. I took the train from Marseille where I was staying with my French family to go discover the nearby towns. This image sells really well for me, and it’s one I return to time and time again to remind myself of why I love photographing France. I, of course, am also thrilled there is a bicycle in it! 😉 So for Christmas this past year, I gave away my very first Falling Off Bicycles puzzle, and the recipient was obvious… it had to be the one who taught me my love for puzzles, my mom.

France puzzle, jigsaw puzzle, Martigues, France, colorful puzzle, lilacs

Even after Christmas festivities wound down, we still didn’t get it done when I was home for Christmas, but my quick Spring trip home gave us just the right amount of time to tackle it. For the first time in my memory, my dad also sat down to help with the puzzle, which made the coming together of it all a bit sweeter.

So voilà! Here is the finished product. I must say, I was quite pleased with the result. What do you think?

Waterlogue Wednesday: Costa Rica II

Costa Rica, Julia Willard, Julie Willard, Paris photographer, pura vida, Exclusive Resorts
Superficiel
Costa Rica, Julia Willard, Julie Willard, Paris photographer, pura vida, Exclusive Resorts
Éclatant
Costa Rica, Julia Willard, Julie Willard, Paris photographer, pura vida, Exclusive Resorts
Superficiel
Costa Rica, Julia Willard, Julie Willard, Paris photographer, pura vida, Exclusive Resorts
Épanouissement

It’s time for another Waterlogue Wednesday, and for this one I want to reminisce a little. It’s been a year now since my oh-so-relaxing trip to beautiful Costa Rica, and I still haven’t shared the photos. How about a little trip to the tropics this chilly February day? These were taken on the Peninsula Papagayo with a view of the Gulf and the Pacific Ocean.

Thankful Thursdays – Mobility

{Well, mes amis, I have a lot of photos to share with you, but today (once again) it has to be a few iPhone photos from the last couple of weeks because the computer situation is nearly resolved but not quite. I think you get the gist of the places I’ve been frolicking even so.}

 

This Thankful Thursday, I am focusing on cherishing something I haven’t had much of outside of Paris these last few years: mobility. Having access to a car to see the villages and lesser-known places in France is so wonderful, as those are the times that you really appreciate the landscape and history of the country. Along the highways, France has excellent signage for its many châteaux, monuments, and places of interest, and trust me when I tell you it makes you want to pull over every few kilometers! Below are a few from recent “pull-over!” moments.

Julia Willard, Falling Off Bicycles, paris blog, France blog, French vineyard
Vix

Knowing that I was going to be in France around the grape harvest time, with access to a car for once, I was thrilled to pull over a couple of times to get to shoot the most beautiful field of vines.

Julia Willard, Falling Off Bicycles, paris blog, France blog, Ile de Ré, Julie Willard, bicycle photos
Île de Ré

This darling scene was taken while we were on Île de Ré, which was way bigger than I had thought, so I was very glad to have been able to see many of the towns on it (yes, there are several!). Going à vélo may be great in the summer, but not with tornado-strength winds and heavy rain.

Julia Willard, Falling Off Bicycles, paris blog, France blog, Ile de Ré, Julie Willard, bicycle photos
Monflanquin

This was an impromptu stop when driving through the Dordogne. It was a beautiful surprise to happen upon, and as I said on Instagram yesterday… when you see what looks like an enchanted village in the distance in France, always go have a look.

Julia Willard, Falling Off Bicycles, paris blog, France blog, Ile de Ré, Julie Willard, bicycle photos
Domaine de Ladoucette, Saint-Andelain

And this, as we were getting closer back to Paris, is a château spotted from the highway and simply too stunning to drive past without having a closer look. (And this is as close as I could get.)

In case you missed it, here is my France bucket list (to be updated/revised soon).

To Travel is To Live

Julia Willard, Falling Off Bicycles, GGI, Girl Gone International

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.

Thankful Thursdays – The Challenge

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 presents. People have questioned my life decisions since 2000 (if not before), so I’m no stranger to having questions pelted at me about what in the world I am doing with my life. That part is still a struggle for me. I have moved more times than I care to count in the last 15 years, and if my shoulder issues weren’t enough to prove it, then the cumulative hours of chats debating whether the life I desire should be. If I did count, though, no number would be too high for me to say it hasn’t all been worth it. Every encounter with French administration, every visit to the préfecture, all the time spent in lines, every moment of blankly staring at a Dutch person not having a clue what he was saying, each bout with culture shock (going and returning) has all come together to form the most beautiful collective experience of my life. I am so thankful this is my life.

✎✎✎  Side note: As I type this, I feel the urge to jot down notes, to write free-flow about how this life has changed me, turned my world upside down, confused me, thrilled me, and kept me begging for more. I shall move it to the top of my writing list (for a future book…?). ✎✎✎

⇺ ⇺   —  ⇻ ⇻

There isn’t a perfect image that goes with this particular sentiment, so I leave you with this thought and the encouragement to forge your own path, however jagged and rocky it may be.

ggi, girl gone international, Falling Off Bicycles, Julia Willard, Anne Scott