I Left My Heart in a Parisian Cafe

WARNING: EXTREMELY LONG BLOG POST BELOW.

Hey, don’t say I didn’t warn you. After a rough year personally and artistically, this trip felt like a gift and exactly what I needed. Ever since my aunt moved to Austria several years ago, I’ve eagerly awaited making plans to visit her every year. And every year, it hasn’t worked out with either with my school and work schedule. I was so excited when my family was able to score extremely cheap tickets last winter, and I was finally traveling to the spot at the top of my bucket list. For my first overseas experience, it was nothing short of a dream. I found the cities, architecture, people, fashion, and cuisine to be incredibly inspiring, and unlike anything I had experienced before. I’m not exaggerating when I say that these few weeks spent abroad were among my most treasured memories, and I can’t wait to return. 

(I wanted to make a quick note before I continue. While this trip was a dream, it was also bittersweet for many reasons. My dear Auntie Kim, who had battled cancer for over a year, went into hospice and passed away with family close while we were away. This was incredibly hard for us to be away from her, and from the rest of my family. The timing of the whole thing felt confusing and painful, but the Lord knows why it happened when it did. Please keep my family in your prayers. <3)

As you know, photography is a huge part of my life. A couple months before my trip, I decided I wasn’t going to take my Canon camera that I’ve used for virtually every shoot I’ve done over the past 2 years. I really wanted something light, and to not be lugging around an big and expensive camera. A few weeks before leaving, a photographer friend of mine tried to convince me to only take my iPhone 7 Plus. I said I would think about it, but in my mind it was a ‘Uh, no.” situation. I ended up buying a smaller Fujifilm camera, but unfortunately it hadn’t come with the right charger(coincidence? I think not.). I used it for the first day we were in London, and it died within the first 48 hours of our trip. I knew I couldn’t Amazon Prime any charger quickly to an Airbnb, and was very bummed out. But quickly realized maybe I was meant to be only shooting on my iPhone. And you know what? I loved it! There were moments where I was a little bummed I didn’t have my Canon with me, but for the most part, using my iPhone was great. I felt like I was better able to experience everything around me with a few quick shutters and then popping it into my back pocket. I wasn’t wasting time messing with settings and focusing. I’ve also been interested in trying to shoot different subjects from what I’m usually shooting at home. I’m really inspired by street photography, although I don’t do much back in Portland. Because most of my work is highly curated and styled, I wanted to focus more on capturing raw moments in time. And this trip was a perfect opportunity to try shooting something different. So here’s my attempt at showing you my favorite images(from literally thousands of shots, no joke.) from my travels.

So, put on the Midnight in Paris soundtrack, and let’s get started! 

P A R I S 

We started our trip flying into London, and spending the evening(which wasn’t very long because jet lag! zZzz…) in a quaint little Airbnb. We headed to the train station the next morning, and hopped on towards Paris. The first few hours of Paris were so surreal for me. Paris has been on top of my bucket list for years, and did not disappoint. One of my favorite captures from my whole trip is the first shot below during that first evening in Paris. Imagine me pulling a suitcase with one hand, photographing literally every inch of the street we were walking on on my iPhone with the other. This particular image was snapped at the perfect time to make eye contact with a local riding his bike in the streets. 

 Paris. Oh, Paris. This place was complete magic. Also, I’ve never wanted to own a Vespa more in my life. What I would give to have a shot of espresso and a warm croissant once again… I had to remind myself multiple times a day that this was actually happening, and not a dream. We took a bus tour our first day there and seeing the beautiful architecture and hearing about the history was something else. You’ve just never seen a place so old if you haven’t been outside of America. We got off the tour and grabbed lunch in Carrousel du Louvre. I spent the afternoon walking in a sea of black umbrellas as the rain drizzled on the Paris streets. I found myself in one of the expensive shopping areas in the world(I mean, it’s Paris!), and browsed around stores that were way out of my budget. I usually don’t love rain(I still question why I live in the PNW sometimes…haha), but that day walking around the shops in the pouring rain felt like it was straight out of a movie. We stopped by the park near the Louvre, and the skies cleared up. I glanced over across the greenery and water fountains, spotting a little Eiffel Tour in the distance. What a day. Probably one of the best days I’ve ever had, to be honest. Strolled along the Seine River, and glanced at the paintings and books for sale from vendors along the river. We finished the evening hopping into an Uber towards the Eiffel Tour looking out the window at the buzzing Parisian streets and buzzing night life. We then watched the Eiffel Tower dazzle for 5 minutes.

The next morning, we hopped in an Uber, and grabbed breakfast at a small cafe. This breakfast was a simple cheese omelette with several plates of bread(duh!), espresso and orange juice. Probably the best breakfast we had the whole trip. We walked down the street to our Eiffel Tour tour in the drizzling rain. Seeing the views of Paris from the middle of the Eiffel Tour was so gorgeous. The Louvre, what a spot. So beautiful. This museum is something everyone should experience in their lives. It’s such a stunning and unique way to experience history. And let’s not forget about seeing the Mona Lisa in a sea of people! The following morning, we hopped over to a cafe for croissants and coffee, and that was one of my favorite parts of Paris. There’s nothing quite like sipping on espresso and a pastry while people watching sitting in at a table in the front of a cafe. Oh, I’ll be back Paris. Let’s continue our journey….

 


V E N I C E

After enjoying a few special days in Paris, we hopped on a train on our way to Venice, Italy. After arriving in Italy, we jumped on a water taxi, which is essentially a fancy speed boat to get onto Venice. This was so neat! Now, Venice is very different than anywhere I’ve ever been. There’s no cars, the streets are extremely narrow in between each building, and you have to walk everywhere to around the island. We checked into the cutest Airbnb, with one of my favorite balconies I’ve ever stepped foot on. I remember the so clearly that first evening watching the sun go down and gazing out into the colorful buildings across the way. These buildings are built so close together, you can literally see people eating dinner in the window across from yours. The first morning waking up Venice was special. I heard an opera singer’s voice stream in the window. I peaked through the red curtains to spot a gondolier passing by one of the canals by our apartment. Our Airbnb happened to be right next to one of the canals, so we would hear these singers at least once or twice a day. These moments hearing singers sing or accordion players play out the apartment windows was such a unique feature of Venice. Where else do you hear that kind of thing straight of your window? 

Our time spent in Venice was incredibly relaxing. We strolled along the narrow streets, enjoyed pasta and pizza for every meal, and I found myself loving the constant stream of gondoliers rowing as we walked the narrow walkways.  We found ourselves at the beach one of the days there, and soaked in the 90 degree weather along with hundreds of other Italians and tourists. The beach was packed with more umbrellas than you’ve ever seen before, and the water felt like bathwater. We spent the evening along the water viewing the sites from the Rialto Bridge. We grabbed a bite to eat with my family from Austria, and ended the night eating the best gelato and walking along the water. The evening was warm and the streets were buzzing with other tourists on vacation. I strolled down the street to a grocery store the next morning to gather supplies for breakfast, and grabbed a quick espresso on the way back. Every time we walked the streets, I snapped several images of the buildings and gondoliers. The colors are incredibly different than Paris, and varied in vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow. After making a quick egg and bread breakfast, we headed to The Doge’s Palace near San Marcos Square, to soak up the history and architecture of this incredible structure. I walked along the hallways that once were prison cells, and looked out the small windows at the waves and tourists below. The art and architecture of this structure was magnificent. We grabbed a slice of pizza for dinner, and headed to the square to hear local entertainment and enjoy the architecture lit up at night. Venice was really special, and surprised me at being close to my favorite part of the trip, besides Paris of course! 

Now if only that Italian date on Rialto Bridge hadn’t gone South…

R O M E

After taking a water taxi back onto land, we hopped on a few very scenic trains into Rome, Italy. (That Italian countryside, am I right?) Rome was stunning. So much history and beautiful architecture. Started our time in Rome with pasta and wine(are you starting to see a pattern?). The next morning, I walked along the Italian cobblestone streets towards a small local market for some groceries. I watched as Vespas drove by, and local Italians began to open their shops as the morning progressed. On this day, we made our way to St. Peter’s Basilica. This space is unlike anything you’ve ever seen! The art and architecture is unreal. Imagining people working on building this structure hundreds of years ago is even more unreal! We took a tour up the top of the Vatican, walking up hundreds of stairs in 90+ degree weather to experience Italy in a whole new way. I think my jaw was probably wide open majority of this time spent at the Vatican. It’s just honestly hard to believe.  We grabbed a slice of pizza and a Coke for lunch. Now, I’m not a soda drinker, but there’s something about European Coke. By the end of the trip, I was drinking it out of a wine glass… Anyways…

That evening we took a stroll down the buzzing streets of Rome. Walking the crowded streets of Rome at night was one of my favorite memories from Italy. The evenings were spent watching local street performers, indulging in every gelato shop we came across(every night naturally), and gazing at the beautiful lit up statues surrounded by swarms of people from all over the globe. Those warm Italian nights are something special. That last morning in Rome was a good one for me. I woke up especially early, and was actually shocked when I found that no coffee shops were open at 7am! So I took my slightly caffeine deprived self on a quick walk around the sunny block. I watched the locals chat with each other and gazed at the shadows and lights dancing along the cobble stone street.

L O N D O N

We were nearing the last of our few week travels, and everyone was starting to feel it. Traveling is wonderful, but can wear you down if you’re going on weeks of non stop moving.  The last weekend in London was relaxing and laid-back. After enjoying over a week of warm weather in the Italian sun, it was a little shocking to come back to London for the weekend. It was overcast, 60, and raining, and felt like fall time back in Portland. We stumbled into our Airbnb that was located on the 10th floor of an apartment building in the London suburbs. It was about a 30 minute train ride from downtown. The following morning, we sent a few of my family members back to on a plane, and my brother and I headed for the tube. My brother is a huge fashion lover and shoe enthusiast. So naturally, we hit up all of the best shopping spots downtown around including all the exclusive sneaker spots. I enjoyed a bit of vintage shopping, and indulged in my second pasty of the day. The following day was spent on another on/off bus site-seeing in London including the infamous London Bridge, Big Ben, and Queen’s Castle. Oh, and eating more pasties. London, you were good to us. 

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t experience some kind of post trip depression after returning. Maybe that’s why it took me so long to write this blog post… Either way, this trip was much needed, and I feel incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to recalibrate. There’s so much more exploring to do, and I feel like I just scratched the surface. ‘Til next time, Europe. 

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