Friday, February 29, 2008


Four years from now I will look back and smile as I remember that four years previous I spent my day 4000 feet up on Montserrat looking out over miles and miles of Spanish countryside. I couldn't think of a better way to spend my "2/29" then right where I was, it was absolutely beautiful.

My day started early. I had to get up, shower, eat and check out of the hostel before heading to the famed Montserrat, a stunning set of mountains an hour(by train) outside of Barcelona.

I had heard of these mountains before, but nothing could have prepared me for what I saw as we rode the tram (and subsequently a cable car) up the side of mountain. The views were spectacular and there was a blanket of fog over parts of the mountain, adding to that "above the clouds" feeling already created by the stunning views. We set out on a hike from the cable car station. We picked the hardest and longest one available, to the summit: Sant Jeroni, just around 4000 feet up. We set out, enjoying numerous vistas as we walked, eventually reaching the summit a couple hours later. At the top, we found an unofficial viewpoint which offered incredible, and sometimes pretty dangerous (no railing) vantage points. We sat down and soaked it all in for 20 minutes or so, all the while tossing around ideas of what it might be like to jump off. It's weird how you think about stuff like that when you look over the edge of a couple thousand foot high cliff.

One thing we all noticed was that the mountains were unlike any mountains we had ever seen. They seemed very much like they had been formed underwater years ago and over time been revealed as the continents shifted. The mountains themselves were made of conglomerate rock, giving them a very unique look, shape, and feel.

We made it back to the cable car literally minutes before it made its last departure of the day and began our descent. We all sat down on the train back to Barcelona feeling very happy with ourselves, it was a day well spent.

Pictures up HERE. (in the updated Barcelona set)

Barcelona, Day 1

So, I started the day off kinda slow, but atleast I had a plan.

I sat down to some free "breakfast" here at the hostel, consisting of a medium sized bowl of cocoa crispies(?) and toast--the breakfast of champions. After that, I grabbed my camera and marched down the to train station, determined to sort out my next train ASAP to avoid any more 2 day journeys.

I was forced to book an overnight, first class reservation to Milan because my Eurail pass isn't valid for travel through Switzerland (the only other route had a transfer in Geneve). 40 euro gone, whatever, I would have had to pay another 20 euro to stay in a hostel that night anyways, at least it will save me a day on my pass and give me a direct route to Milan and a free place to crash for a few days.

After that, I came back to the hostel, dropped some stuff off and picked other stuff up, then went out into the city.

i came to Barcelona with a lot of expectations and as I walked, everything I saw and heard was filtered through these pre-conceived ideas. I think I built it up too much in my mind, I expected to LOVE Barcelona. The "Spanish Paris" I told myself, that was what I was expecting; but that's not what it is.

Barcelona is something else, it is something all its own, and I like it, I like it a lot. I walked a lot today, saw a lot, but it was only a small part of a much larger whole. I am just getting started.

PICTURES HERE (in case you didn't notice the other link)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Barcelona, I made it

3 trains, 12 hours and 3 snickers bars later, I have made it to Barcelona.

It came together pretty seamlessly with only an hour or so between each train. I got to see a good part of the French countryside/southern coast as well as all of the small little spanish villages north of Barcelona.

I made it to the hostel, got a bed and a locker, a map, and most importantly...WIFI!

Right now though, I need something to eat. Off to the supermarket!

Updates later.

Paris at Night: a 1 hour walk

This city never disappoints.

What I love about Paris is that it doesn't matter if it's a Tuesday night, that it was raining all day and its wet everywhere, that it's 8 or 9 o'clock at night-- people are out doing things! The cafes and bars are full, the sidewalks busy, cars in the street. The city is just so ALIVE.

I could shoot here for a long time, hopefully one day I will get the chance.

Off to sleep and then more train tomorrow, hopefully Barcelona tomorrow night...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Paris (again)

I'm back in Paris, just for the afternoon/night, en route to barcelona (hopefully) tomorrow.
Bout to go out and do some night shooting, I love this city.

big ups to miss paola ramos, came through big time with a floor for me to crash on tonight, THANKS PAOLA!

updates later I am hoping, this city tends to lend itself to photography.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


Julie and I sadly departed Athens yesterday, the weather had finally come around and we were getting some of the sun we had been looking for. We visited the Parthenon before taking off around 6pm; just in time to witness a beautiful sunset from the plane window. The flight passed quickly and we landed roughly 3 hours later in Frankfurt.

Side Note: For the record, airplane food (at least on United and Lufthansa) is NOT bad, it is actually quite GOOD and usually just what the doctor ordered. Just had to say that. I am sure most of you already know that its just that I have been living my life under the impression that the food on planes was gross and I was shocked to discover the contrary.

We get to Frankfurt, exhausted and ready to crash at the hostel I had looked up early in the day. We were all set to hop on the S-Bahn when I suggested we call ahead and make sure that there is actually room available. We called and were informed that they were booked solid, not even a SINGLE dorm bed was available. With no backup in mind, we entered into a brief state of shock followed by a frenzied search for hotel info somewhere, anywhere! Both of us were not into the idea of spending another night in an airport.

I found a Frankfurt welcome brochure thing that had hotel listings inside. I called 3 and soon had 3 different sets of rates and directions scrawled out in front of me. I was not in the mood to go hunting for a rando hotel at this time of night with this big ass backpack on my back--we had to find something closer.

I found an information computer and discovered that there was a hotelservice desk upstairs, we ran to it. Another 15 minutes passed and we were on the shuttle bus to the Express by Holiday Inn for 67 euro. Shuttle to and from the airport, buffet breakfast, HOTEL room, shower...thats more like it! Tragedy turned triumph, a perfect way to wrap up our trip together.

Julie hopped on the 11am airport bus back to Strasbourg this morning and I suddenly found myself on my own again; the feeling hit me pretty hard as the bus pulled away. I went back inside the airport and made my way to the way-too-nice set of reclined benches that Julie and I had discovered a week earlier waiting for our flight to Athens. I sat down, scribbled out a new itinerary for my the next month, then had a sudden urge to write. I grabbed my pen and a scrap of paper, this is what came out:

February 24th, 2008

Today marks the day of my first thoughts of home; the day that the magnitude of the trip I have undertook really begins to set in. I have been on the move for just over a month now. I have been both alone and with Julie. I am starting to miss the security and comfort of home, of a place to stay at night, of food to eat. Every meal is a struggle, every Euro reluctantly placed on the counter of the super market, the reception desk. Every movement calculated and scheduled by the almighty dollar. The pressure of a budget, of debt, of a draining bank account-it makes life hard to live. It makes you yearn for a home, a place to return to after an adventure where all is calm, where you can reflect on the days past and lessons learned.

We take a lot for granted in our lives. Luckily, we usually realize what those things are before we lose them. Today I have realized one more of those things, and it has left a feeling inside me that no amount of time in a reclined airport chair or in the lounge of a hostel can soothe. It has been a month and yet it feels like an eternity, a million faces have crossed my path; few familiar. This life on the road, in airports, in train or bus stations surrounded by languages foreign to my ears-is this what I dreamt it would be? I am beginning to realize that my destiny is not to travel, it is to live. I am most happy when I have a home, a place of my own, a place that I can create and mold into something I love, in a place that I love. Week to week travel is not me. It is exciting and tiring, stressful and exhilarating all at once-but it's not me. I want to travel and live, travel and live! I want to sample the world in months not days. I miss the feeling of home. The world is my home, but right now I am drifting, worried and tired.
OK, OK kinda heavy I know but don't worry, really I'm OK, I promise. I was feeling a lot of different things when I sat and wrote that, it's real, it was in the moment, it happened--that is why I decided to include it in this entry. Life on the road is not easy and it is nowhere near as glamorous as I thought it might be. That said, lets get to some pictures! Yaaay!

Keeping in mind that I was walking around the city on a Sunday afternoon, here are my initial observations (likely to be proved false tomorrow when the work week begins)

Frankfurt is an interesting city. It seems like a city that was built just a little too big for the population it contains--there is a lot of space here. Sidewalks aren't crowded, streets are wide and mostly quiet, and skyscrapers! Haven't seen those in awhile. It seems almost like an American city in a lot of ways, just with sex shops and peep shows around every corner. Like I said, it was a Sunday afternoon, so I didn't really expect many people to be out and about, but we'll see tomorrow.

I just want to take a minute before this next photo to talk about street shooting, I promise to keep this brief.

Photography on the street is photography in its rawest form, it is beyond capturing a moment, it transcends the traditional bounds of what photography is. It is a game. It is instinct driven.

There are 2 ways of shooting on the street:
1) Compose and wait
2) Dive in and react

There are however, rare instances when the two overlap. When you see a shot, position yourself, and suddenly, without warning, the exact elements you want appear and you have but a split second to react.

Henri Cartier-Bresson said it best, 3 different times:

Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again.

Photography is an immediate reaction, drawing is a meditation.

The creative act lasts but a brief moment, a lightning instant of give-and-take, just long enough for you to level the camera and to trap the fleeting prey in your little box.

And so, I present my photo of the day.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Athens, Take 2

Ok, so maybe I was a bit quick to judge Athens yesterday. This city is ENORMOUS.

Our host, the gracious Olivia Cerf, described the city as being "unconquerable" due to its massive size, but I really had no idea how huge it really was until Julie and I climbed up on the Acropolis today. From the mountainside, you have a sweeping view of probably half of the city, which stretches on for miles. After taking this in and realizing the tiny little speck of Athens that I have seen, I have decided to reserve any judgement I could possibly make.

Today was also the day of the neighborhood street market where vendors from all over Athens, and maybe further, set up tables of all kinds of fruits and veggies for next-to-nothing prices. The scene could only be described as chaotic as vendors took turns verbally advertising their goods over the hum of the shoppers in the street. People young and old had come to peruse the offerings, most with wheeled baskets in tow ready to be filled with bags of oranges, lemons and olives.

Julie and I walked the length of the market once, then she sat and had a coffee while I went back into the mix to see what I could capture. I spent about 20 minutes, just milling around the stands. It was tricky because all of the vendors seemed to know each other and I would hear "greek greek greek photografia!" whenever I would put my camera to my eye. I figured they were giving each other the heads up that there was a camera pointed in their direction as a few times I had a vendor shoo me away with a flurry of greek streaming from his mouth only seconds after the word "photografia!" was shouted.

Not all was bad though, a few vendors posed for me and most went about their business without so much as even sending a glance my way. I returned from the market minutes later with a good batch of photos and a few fresh oranges to snack on; 3 oranges for .20 euro, not bad!

The oranges were DELISH, seriously some of the best I have tasted.

Here is a group of shots from the market and a few from elsewhere around the city today. More on flickr in the updated Athens set.

Andros: Part 3

And now, for the thrilling conclusion to the Andros trilogy.

We were locked out, in a blizzard of Siberian proportions, literally. The weather that we were experiencing was blown in straight from Siberia (I was made aware of this the following day in Hora). Luckily, the key to the basement of the house did work and we were able to put our things down and have a little shelter from the freezing winds and snow. We found some WD-40 and went to work on the lock, which was apparently rusted/frozen shut. Matt's aunt also lived on the island, nearby, and was called in with her husband to lend a hand. After about 20 minutes of wrestling with the lock, the door finally swung open.

We gathered our things and stepped into the small, cold, "villa." I feel like the word "villa" is thrown around a lot, with a lot of undeserved (in most cases) glamour attached to it. All I can say is that the house was slightly less than the "villa" that had been described and that Julie and I had been expecting. But, at least we had shelter from the snow.

Matt flipped on the lights and we set to work making a fire and dinner. It wasn't more than a minute before the lights flickered and went out. The solar powered house that Matt had been talking up so much on the boat had seemingly run out of reserve energy and left us all in the dark. We lit candles, pulled out flashlights, found a solar light (which did have juice left), and Matt set to work fiddling with some circuitry in the basement of the house in an effort to restore the power. After about 20 minutes of lights coming on, then cutting out a few seconds later, we gave up. There was no power.

In the mean time, the rest of us had set to work building a fire in the fireplace and were enjoying a good amount of success in doing so. But, like just about everything else we had undertook that night, it was about to go very wrong. The chimney was blocked. The room began to fill with smoke. We were forced to open the front door and the door to the balcony to clear out the smoke, and the little amount of heat that had been built up in the room since we got there. We unblocked the chimney and at last had a fire going which produced a good amount of light but little to no heat. The only real source of heat was a propane space heater and well, clothing and blankets.

Matt had set to work cooking dinner on a small little propane camp stove and things seemed to be coming along nicely. Just then his aunt and her husband announced that they had had enough and even the two 5 liter boxes of wine on the counter weren't enough to keep them in that cold house another minute. They went home.

It was at this point that the effects of 40 hours without sleep began to set in. I was hungry, but I needed sleep more than I needed food. I pulled the covers over myself and fell asleep.

I woke up the next morning to the sight of my own breath hanging in the air. Julie was lying next to me, close, to stay warm. The fire had been put out last night and the propane heater had gone out overnight, it was freezing cold in the room.

When we were all awake, Matt cooked a few sausages, which we ate eagerly, and we discussed plans for the day. The snow and wind had not let up all night and there was little to no chance of restoring heat or power in the house. Matt told us that he would call for a cab so that we could get a proper hotel in a bigger city. We had 30 minutes to pack our things, eat our fill and then leave his meat locker of a "villa."

The cab arrived and we hurried outside and up the driveway to the street, not without stepping knee deep into a snow drift of course. We through our things in the back of the cab and closed the trunk, that was when it happened.

"Ok, so it'll be 40 euros," Matt said.

I looked at him for a second thinking about what he was talking about. The cab was going to be 40 euros? No way. Then it hit me, he was asking us to pay him for the night. Before I could even think about it, I was like "oh yea, sure" and reached for my wallet. I was still in a state of shock when we handed him a 50, Matt promising to pay us back later in Athens. Looking back on it all, there are a million things we could have and should have done differently. But when you are on a foreign mountain road in a blizzard with a taxi meter running, snow stinging your face with a guy you thought was trying to help you asking for money, you just DON'T think straight.

--Of course now I am sitting here 5 days later and after numerous calls and one attempted meeting, we have not gotten our 10 euros change, should have figured that would happen. However, he gave us way to much information about himself and I'll be damned it I can't find some way of getting even with that greedy opportunist.--

We struck off into the blinding snow at a rapid pace of around 5 mph, it was going to be a long ride. 20 euro later, we had reached our destination, Hora, the capital. We got out of the cab and ran to the entrance of the hotel, which was actually more like the back patio of a house. When the two owners arrived, they introduced themselves, paid the taxi driver for us and hurried Julie and I inside to warmth.

Dinos and Iro
We walked into what appeared to be a living room and sat down in a couple big, comfortable chairs as Iro, wife of Dinos, hurriedly moved around the kitchen assembling a small plate of snacks and 2 cups of tea. We were apparently looking a little haggard and sickly as both cough syrup and aspirin were delivered alongside the cookies and grilled cheese. Before either Julie or I could refuse, our tea was swiftly spiked with "punchy," a locally brewed vodka.

"It will soothe your cough, make you feel better!" Iro said as she topped our mugs to the brim with the vodka/tea blend.

All the while, Iro's husband Dinos had been sitting in the last chair of the room, waiting for us to get served before striking up conversation. He asked us what we were doing on Andros and where we were from. We answered and learned that they had gotten a call from our cabby and opened to hotel just for us. We also learned that he had lived in Brooklyn for about 10 years back in the 80's, moving back to Andros in 1991. His english was quite good and we were able to tell him our story of the previous day and of our lofty hopes for a spring break in Greece. He smiled and assured us that we were experiencing freak weather straight out of Siberia and that this snow was quite rare, that we were "witnessing history." This was both an answer to our wonders and a mega bummer, what rotten luck.

We finished up our snacks and tea and were shown upstairs to our room, which came complete with 2 beds, bathroom with shower, and a small kitchen. It was perfect, minus the fact that the power had gone out on the entire island and the room was without heat for the moment. We thanked Dinos for everything and sat down to let everything that had happened finally sink in. I checked the price sheet on the back of the door: 85 euros/night. Just one more thing to worry about, we hoped they would have mercy on us. They did: 80 euro for 2 nights. We got into bed to keep warm and stayed there, watching movies and falling to sleep early. It was still a blizzard outside and we had nowhere to go.

The next day, we had planned to hop on a ferry back to Rafina and then head to Athens, but all of the ferries had been cancelled do to the weather and we were stuck for one more night. We ate little toasted bread cracker things with butter and half-frozen honey that Iro had given us the night before. It was a most pathetic scene as we sat huddled around the small table, spreading the condiments with the back of our one spoon.

After breakfast, we decided to make the most of it and set out exploring the village once the weather had subsided a bit. Hora was amazing, a beautiful Greek island city, just as I had imagined. It was almost completely deserted due to the weather, but it was beautiful nonetheless! It was cold and windy but it was worth it to have a look around and get a bite to eat from one of the cafes.

We spent one more night in Hora, this time with heat and full stomachs and woke up to a beautiful sunny day! We packed up our things and ran out into the day. What a change! People everywhere! Sun! We were bummed that we had to catch a 1230 bus out of Hora to the ferry but then surprised to see that the next bus was actually at 245pm! We had a couple hours to sit and enjoy Andros in a much better light. We scored some souvlaki and set up shop in the town square where I found some wifi and typed out the first installment of this epic adventure.

Before we got on the bus, Dinos managed to find us sitting in the square and said goodbye. We thanked him again for everything and promised to return sometime in the summer. We enjoyed our last few minutes in Hora before hopping on the bus for the hour long ride to Gavrio. The bus ride was INCREDIBLE; amazing views around every twist and turn of the narrow mountain roads.

We got to Gavrio, hopped on the ferry and waved farewell to Andros. I will definitely be going back to explore the islands more when the weather is better. Even in the dead of winter, a blizzard and after spending way more than I wanted to, Andros took my breath away and I can't wait to return.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


When I have an extra 15 minutes I promise I will finish writing out the rest of the insanity that was the trip to Andros but, for now, I would just like to say a word or two about Athens.

Right off the bat, I have to say, not as enchanted with Athens as I thought I might be. Now, don't get me wrong, I have seen very little of the city and what I have seen has been good and great and all, I just haven't gotten that feeling like I did in Paris. Now, I don't want to stack every place I go on this trip up against Paris, that wouldn't be fair, but I do think that there is something to be said for the "vibe" of a city.

Anywho, the ruins are real dope and all, pretty much what I had expected. It is crazy to think that these columns and structures have been standing in the same spot for thousands of years with so much changing around them. They remain the same, worn by time but still there.

Also, went to the planetarium tonight with Julie, saw 2 IMAX movies which were AWESOME. It is the largest planetarium in the world and gets over 600,000 visitors a year--not too shabby.

And now, a small batch of photos I have taken from my walks with Julie around Athens.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Andros: Part 2

So, to continue the story:

Julie and I finish up our rounds in the Rafina cafes and head down to the ferry that has been docked since around midday. Based on the looks of the ship, it seemed that we were just hitching a ride on a huge cargo ship over to the island, but once we got up closer we saw that it was actually quite luxurious. Escalators up to the main seating area with comfy couches and a little snack bar/cafe area--not half bad.

We found a spot and sat down eager to get going; there was weather on the way and we didn't want to get stuck in it. Within 5 second of our butts hitting cushion a voice called out to us in English: "Hey, where are you guys from?" Could it be? Another American on their way to Rafina?

Turns out it was a 20-something year old guy named Matt who had grown up in California but was currently living in Athens, had been for the past couple years. We got to talking with him and found out that his family owned a house on Andros and he was just going to check in and make sure it hadn't burned to the ground. As the conversation went on, he started to tell us about all of the different villages on Andros and reassured us, to the contrary of what we had been told in Rafina, that Andros was a beautiful island with tons of stuff to do. By this point, Julie and I were getting pretty excited and continued to pepper him with questions about everything from the island's bus system to the best place to eat once we got there. The one drawback that he did point out to us was this: almost nobody on the island spoke english.

By midway through our conversation, both Julie and I, and Matt for that matter, had realized that we might have a little trouble getting around once we landed so, Matt made a proposition: A greek speaking guide(him), a bed, food and transport to his house on the island for up to 2 nights, for 40 euro a night. Sounded like music to our ears as you might imagine, we agreed and looked forward to a night of new friends and good food, little did we know... (had to put that in there)

When we got off the boat, it was snowing and the wind was unbelievable, we ran. Matt was driving a scooter/motorcycle thing and couldn't give us a ride with him, so we split up while he went to the grocery store to get food for dinner. He arranged for a bus to take us to another spot on the island where a taxi would be waiting for us to finish the journey to "Stavria," Matt's house. Julie got into the back of a small van that was stuffed full of people fresh off the ferry, I hopped into the front seat--I was quickly approaching 36 hours without sleep.

As we drove, I slowly began to realize that I had forgotten the directions Matt had told me, I had no idea where we were going, I couldn't understand the greek signs or words of the driver and, on top of all of this, my eyelids were getting extremely heavy. I tried to remember the name of Matt's grandfather, repeating it over and over in my head, but it wasn't right, I knew it wasn't. I resigned myself to having forgotten the one direction we had gotten, I just hoped that Julie was aware enough to have remembered...she was.

Let me just say, for the record, the chances of me making it to that house that night would have been slim to none without Julie in the car/bus with me, she saved the day, big time.

We reached the taxi meeting point after about 45 minutes on winding mountain roads and blinding snow. We jumped out and made the quick transfer of baggage into the trunk of the cab. I sat down in the front seat again, Julie in the back with another greek girl who, by the grace of god, spoke english. There was amazing greek polka music blasting from the car stereo as we shut the doors and began the second leg of the journey, I was loving every second of it.

Turns out, it was the cabbie's first week on the job, we couldn't find the house. A few phone calls later and after a lot of high volume communication between the backseat girl and the driver, we finally located the house in time for the faint single headlight of Matt's scooter to appear coming up the hill behind us.

We unloaded our gear and ran for the house, it was freezing cold and snowing with high winds...the blizzard had begun. We made it to the front door and Matt tried the key in the lock. Didn't open. He tried again, same result. We were locked out.

to be continued...


On another note, I have managed to edit a few shots from Andros and they are posted here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Andros Update: Part 1

After two days of hiding from the blizzard in our room, Julie and I awoke this morning to find the sun shining down on a lovely 50 degree day here on the beautiful island of Andros.

As we wait for the bus back to Gavrio, where we will catch the ferry to Rafina and then another bus to Athens, I happened to chance upon a random wifi signal in the middle of the town plaza.

So, in as few words as possible, here is what has transpired since landing in Greece Saturday morning:

Our flight left Frankfurt around 9:30pm on Friday, arriving at Athens International at around 1:30am local time on Saturday. With little money and no cheap place to stay nearby, Julie and I resigned ourselves to spending the night in the airport.

We found some benches in the lower level of the airport and I managed to pull another set of benches close enough to be able to put our feet up on. I knew that there was no way I was going to be able to fall asleep and someone had to stay up to watch our bags so, I chose not to sleep that night. Luckily, Julie was able to get a few hours of sleep in as I passed the time studying a map of Athens, reading and taking pictures. It was a long, rough night for me, but I managed to push through and also find a direct bus from the airport to Rafina, which we took at 8:50am Saturday morning.

We arrived in Rafina around 9:30am, we were the only ones on the bus. As soon as we stepped off the bus, we were hit with the strong scent of ocean and fish, so far so good! We walked through the small fish market of the little port city and located the ferry services store front. We bought our tickets for a 5:30pm and suddenly realized we had a whole day to kill in a city that appeared to be completely abandoned for the winter. The whole feeling of being there was very much like being at the Jersey shore in the winter. We decided to explore and bit and then spend the day cafe-hopping. We met a couple of friendly locals who all asked the same question:

"What are you doing in rafina? why are you going to andros at this time of year? don't you know it's supposed to snow tomorrow?"

Of course we didn't really have an answer for any of those questions.

The day passed and we boarded the ferry around 5pm. I had still not slept a minute since Thursday night.

To be continued....(bus is about to begin boarding)

Monday, February 18, 2008


After a series of events far too incredible and tragic to describe via iPod in wifi cafe, julie and I have found ourselves stranded on the island of Andros, 2 hours off the coast of Greece.

We arrived on the island just in time to get hit by a blizzard straight outta siberia and, without going into too much detail, we remain stranded here until the ferries, hopefully, start running again tomorrow.

We are currently holed up in a little cafe in the capital city of Chora, which is all but evacuated for the winter. We are the only tourists on the island right now; which I have really been enjoying during the past few hours as we explore the surrounding area.

Well, that's all for now, I'll post again soon from computer.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Photos Posted - Strasbourg/Paris

I finally found some internet for my laptop.
That means pictures.


And a couple left overs from the last day of Paris!
They are the last 8 pics in the set.



Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Strasbourg and Schiltigheim

After an amazing week in Paris, I was off on the train again, this time with a companion. Julie and I were on our way back to Strasbourg, France where she is currently studying abroad. I had heard a lot about this area of France/Germany before travelling here and I have to say that, for the most part, it is very much how I imagined it.

There is a different pace of life here; very different from the Parisian modus operandi. Situated on the edge of the German/French border, Strasbourg is the product of hundreds of years of sharing and mixing cultures. As you walk through the city, this blend is anything but subtle. The city's people are as varied as the architecture and the speed of life here seems to be kicked down just a notch from what I had grown to love in Paris.

Just outside of Strasbourg is the the small suburb of Schiltigheim where Julie's host madame lives. The neighborhood is a striking contrast to the ornate and carefully thought out architecture of the other French cities I had visited. It screams suburb. The shapes of the residential buildings blend into one, separated only by the varied, and actually very nice, exterior color selections. The windows, instead of shutters, have an unrolling metal cover--similar to the metal covers that are pulled over sity storefronts at night--that you hoist up in the morning to let in the light. After watching "Talk to Her," a movie set in Spain, last night, it seems that these metal window covers are standard issue for European suburbs.

Yet again, I do not have any pictures ready to post, I am writing all of this from a computer in the basement of the Univ. of Syracuse building while my laptop remains at home in Schiltigheim.

I am hoping that by this time tomorrow I will be able to feed my laptop some wireless and get more photos online for all of you following along with my journey.

Also, just wanted to say a quick thank you to everyone who reads this blog. I am finding out everyday that there are more and more of you and it really means a lot; it is what keeps me posting.

Coming Attractions: I'll be heading to Greece on friday for a week, I can't wait, should yield some good photos.

Thursday, February 7, 2008


Paris is incredible, I love this city.

- The French are not as mean as is generally thought. While there are some exceptions, and there always are, the French are in general very friendly and willing to work with you if you don't speak the language.

- Water continually flows through the streets of Montmartre, I spose it is some sort of stab at street cleaning. Not sure if this extends into the rest of the city but I thought it was interesting.

- Fecal matter on the streets and sidewalks, of both the canine and human variety, doesn't seem to be a concern here in Paris as both pets and their owners have no issues with relieving themselves in pubic. This is not a HUGE thing, but it is something I noticed.

- The bread is amazing here.

- The artists of Montmartre are a talented group. It is a shame that some have resorted to painting scenes that would appeal to a tourist in order to make a buck. Still, an immense concentration of artistic ability is showcased everyday on Butte Montmartre in the small square sitting in the shadow of the Sacre Coeur.

- The homeless of the city have nicer luggage than I do.

- Walking for 10 hours a day is hard on the body. I need to pace myself.

The Attractions (my impressions of the tourist spots in Paris):
- The Eiffel Tower - It is what it is folks. It is an impressive number, I will most certainly give it that. One thing that I did not know before coming here was that every hour on the hour, thousands of flash strobes all over the exterior of the tower blink in alternating sequences making the tower appear to well, twinkle twinkle like a million huge stars on a gigantic metal tower. I spent a good amount of time shooting this thing before I found an angle that I was proud of. It's not your typical shot of the tower, but it's mine, and I like it, and it's on flickr. Go look.

- The Louvre - Overrun with tourists during the day. It seems you have to go right when it opens at 9:30 am in order to beat the crowds. I have only explored the exterior of this location but I will perhaps take a spin around the museum itself later this week.

- Notre Dame - Tourist, tourists everywhere from all around the globe. Enthusiastic japanese tour guides hop around and broadcast the history of the famous basilica to their eager followers before entering. The interior itself is immense and absolutely stunning. Notre Dame is home to some of the most incredible stained glass work I have ever seen. Hundreds of people moved through around the floor, through the pews and around behind the altar. While still a functioning place of worship, Notre Dame has embraced it's status as a tourist attraction and is set up very much like a museum exhibit. The "homeless" of Paris are stationed at the entrance of the chapel and, in hopes that people are feeling enlightened and generous upon leaving, at the exit as well.

- Champs Elysee - This is a VERY long stretch of road to walk, all the while teasing you with the Arc de Triomphe as your "light at the end of the tunnel." It is an enormous street, packed by people and cars with numerous landmark buildings situated on either side. It morphs into a shopping area just before reaching the Arc.

- Arc de Triomphe Etoile - Very, very big. I immediately was struck by the amount of work and planning it must have taken to assemble a monument like this. The stonework was beautiful and intricate, the sculptures on either side of the arch's "feet" depicted classical figures in various epic poses.

- Sacre Coeur - Another beautiful, but less known, basilica in Paris. It is literally 5 minutes from my hostel and I have been able to visit several times since I have been here. From its spot on the very top of Butte Montmartre, Sacre Coeur offers stunning views of the city and is especially beautiful at night.

All that said...

My hostel here is great, I have had great luck with my roommates: Tomas from Argentina, Hector from Mexico, Enrique from Brazil.
Regardless of the small language barrier that exists, we share stories from our home countries and the other places that we have been in the world. We are all from different countries, but our paths have all managed to converge here, at this hostel, of all the places. It is staggering to think about really; how people's lives can be so far spread one day and then intertwined the next. Even though you may never see them again, you always have that time you spent there, you always have that friendship that was forged within a few short days. You have the email addresses and the invitations to visit, and who knows, maybe one day you will meet each other again, only time will tell.

It is a dynamic that is still very new to me, but I like it. If these few days are any indication of what lies ahead, I cannot wait to see what people I meet as I make my way across Europe.

I have enjoyed my time here at Le Village and, while I am leaving tomorrow, I hope to be able to return at the end of March perhaps for a few nights before my flight to Bangkok.

And now, pictures. I had to make them smaller than usual because I only have so much time to wait for them to upload before I get kicked offline.

I have not enough time online to upload and arrange all of the photos into this post, but they are up on flickr in the "Paris, France" set.


As always, thanks for reading.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Live from the streets of Paris

If there is one thing I can say about myself, it is that if I dont have internet where i am, i will find a place that does--even if that means i have to sit outside on the street typing on my ipod haha.

I discovered a hot spot outside of the opera house about 7 hours ago and have now returned to file my latest report.

Todays walk: 10 hours, 10gb of photos, 3 batteries, sore feet.

To keep it brief, I love Paris. It is the most photogenic city I have ever been to, I turn every corner in amazement. The city is just so alive.

No pictures for now, iPod ain't THAT incredible. I will post pics as soon as I can.

I hope all is well with everyone who reads this, au revoir!

Friday, February 1, 2008


Today, I took a little trip to the Victoria & Albert museum with Jon and Andrew (Jesse's roommates). I knew the museum was big but I had no idea that it had such a diverse range of exhibits. There were artifacts from every part of the world, new and classic art, textiles, a huge hallway of sculptures, the list goes on. 

There is also an extensive collection of cast replicas at the V&A. These casts serve as a means of documentation and distribution, bringing famous immoveable sculptures and objects from around the world to visitors here at the museum.

There was also a great, albeit small, photography area which showcased work from some of the great photographers of the 20th Century. The work of Gary Winogrand, Walker Evans, Julia Margaret Cameron, Harry Callahan, Man Ray and even Weegee covered the walls. It was a flash back to History of Photo this past semester. Here they were, these images that I had studied, real and in the...fiber. It was great to see the original prints.

While we were there, we also checked out an extensive exhibit on theater set/costume design. Included in this exhibit were some of the most detailed scale models of sets that I have ever seen. The potential for trickery was high with these images but I decided, in the interest of storytelling, to come clean. These are models, very very detailed models.

To top it all off, the V&A had an enormous chandelier designed by Dale Chihuly hanging over the information desk in the lobby area. Crafted from blown glass and steel in Chihuly's Seattle workshop, the chandelier was designed specifically for the space and is 27 feet high, weighing 3800 pounds.

It was a great trip to the museum, to be followed by a great night out for Jesse's birthday party...or so we thought. A group of about 15 of us set out on the tube destined for "Sin," a nightclub a few miles away that had a bunch of sweet DJ's performing. We find the place and get in line, waiting in the cold for about 20 minutes before we are told at the door that they only accept passports as ID. 

WOMP. We headed home. 

It was a fun night though, considering the fact that we spent it on the train/walking/yelling "AMERICA!!!"(Andrew) at the bouncers as we left.