Category Archives: Europe Travel

Vive La France!

Vive La France!

 

Vive la France! Thank you for overwhelmingly rejecting nationalism and fascism and xenophobia. I hope we can follow your example in the 2018 and 2020 elections here in the States. I’m looking forward to another trip to my favorite city in the world to celebrate!

 

Vive La France!

Hydra, Greece

Hydra, Greece

 

We almost didn’t go to Hydra because the travel guides/sites always mentioned the ritzy vibe with jet setters on Hydra.  Other than a couple yachts docked in the harbor that probably cost more than the GDP of Greece, it was a very chill place.   Hydra ended up being perfect for me – friendly locals, awesome hiking and swimming, and no cars on the island.  Not really even any roads except in town.  I love that there are no motorized vehicles on the island. But lots of donkeys!  Your transportation choices are your feet or a donkey ride.  Seriously, donkeys are the only other mode of travel.  I loved Hydra, but with over 2000 Greek islands left to explore, I probably won’t be back anytime soon but highly recommend it if you love walking/hiking and a laid back vibe.

 

I know a lot of people are nervous about traveling in Europe right now because of recent terrorist attacks, but I feel as safe in Europe as I do in the States.   But petty theft is more common in a lot of the cities in Europe.  My wallet got lifted in the subway in Athens on the day we traveled back from Hydra. Lost some cash and had to call and canx a couple credit cards. No biggie in an otherwise wonderful trip. What I was most bummed about was losing with my wallet a copy of the Lord’s Prayer Meghan gave me years ago and also a quote I loved that I found in an art musuem on Vancouver Island on a trip with Amanda. Funny how the pain in the ass stuff can be a reminder to me of how lucky I am.   I guess the lesson in this for me is that I need to transition from the laid back island vibe to city mode once I step back into that part of the world.

 

Maybe it’s because I was coming from Paris, but I got a little tired of Greek food after a few weeks.

 

All images were created with the Leica Q.   My new fav camera.

 

My new best friend on Hydra.

My new best friend on Hydra.

Cool, laid back restaurant scene on Hydra. Just a small town ringing the harbor.

Cool, laid back restaurant scene on Hydra. Just a small town ringing the harbor.

All commerce moves on donkeys on Hydra.

The only other way around Hydra besides walking is on a donkey.

Hydra town. This is pretty much it on Hydra. There are a few other really small villages on the coast but Hydra town is the focus of the island.

Hydra town. This is pretty much it on Hydra. There are a few other really small villages on the coast but Hydra town is the focus of the island. I loved it there.

I loved the little villages on Hydra. And that path on the right side of the photo kids it was along the coast for miles.

I loved the little villages on Hydra. And that path on the right side of the photo meanders along the coast for miles.

I was drawn to the contrast of the fisherman in his small boat right next to the yacht. The contrast between a guy making a living like his family has for a thousand years literally bumping against tourism.

I was drawn to the contrast of the fisherman in his small boat right next to this huge yacht. The contrast between a guy making a living like his family has for a thousand years literally bumping up against a completely different world.

I think i found where I want to live in Greece : )

I think I found where I want to live in Greece : )

Hydra town is this cool maze of ancient walkways and homes. And donkey. Everywhere donkeys.

Hydra town is filled with this cool maze of ancient walkways. And donkeys. Everywhere donkeys.

Headed out on a hike this morning before sunrise to a monastery way above Hydra thinking I'd catch some killer light, which I did, but what made my day was encountering this fellow at the door of the monastery. He let me know I was free to wander around the grounds but the inside of the monastery was off limits. All the while I could hear monks chanting inside the small chapel off to side. My hike down was a mystical combination of the sounds of monks chanting and the gentle ringing of bells hanging from the necks of the goats wandering the mountain.

I headed out on a hike that morning before sunrise to a monastery way above Hydra town thinking I’d catch some killer light, which I did, but what made my day was encountering this fellow at the door of the monastery. He let me know I was free to wander around the grounds but the inside of the monastery was off limits. All the while I could hear monks chanting inside the small chapel off to side. My hike down was a mystical combination of the sounds of monks chanting and the gentle ringing of bells hanging from the necks of the goats wandering the mountain.

Surrounded by beauty everywhere, it's so often the smaller moments that captivate me.

Surrounded by beauty everywhere, it’s so often the smaller moments that captivate me.

Hydra roof dog.

Hydra roof dog.

Killer light on the morning of this hike above Hydra. Love the hiking here. So peaceful..just me and the monks out at sunrise.

Killer light on the morning of this hike above Hydra. Love the hiking here. So peaceful..just me and the monks out at sunrise.

Something about the ocean fills me with a deep sense of calm. I spend most of my time feeling restless but put me near an ocean and that need to be in motion fades away.

Something about the ocean fills me with a deep sense of calm. I spend most of my time feeling restless but put me near an ocean and that need to be in motion fades away.

After a few days a lazy routine of breakfast, swimming and reading by the ocean develops.

After a few days on Hydra a lazy routine of breakfast, swimming and reading by the ocean develops.

Sunset on Hydra.

Sunset on Hydra.

We spent a few days on Poros, too. It was fun. Good restaurants, beaches and some road biking. But I def loved Hydra more.

We spent a few days on Poros, too. It was fun. Good restaurants, beaches and some road biking. But I def loved Hydra more.

 

Athens

Athens

 

Athens was a wonderful surprise.  I was prepared for petty crime, scams, and an unappealing city.  Without exception, everyone I talked to who had visited Greece spoke of Athens as a place you needed to see for the historical significance but to get the hell out as quickly as possible.   Spend a day or two and then head to the islands pretty much summed it up.   After a visit to Athens, I call bullshit on that sentiment.  Athens had good food, wonderful neighborhoods, friendly locals and an effective metro system.   I def recommend staying in a neighborhood close to but not right around the Acropolis.  We stayed a fifteen minute walk away and it was perfect.  A quiet area with good restaurants and friendly locals.

 

I did get my wallet lifted on the subway on my way back through Athens so that took a bit of the shine off an otherwise wonderful visit.  But that’s partly on me.  I was all chilled out from the islands and a little off my awareness game.  Live an learn.

 

All images were made with the Leica Q.

 

The entrance to the Acropolis. The upward tilt and with flare looks cool but I was just trying to get a shot without a million tourists in it. And this is it.

The entrance to the Acropolis. The upward tilt and flare looks cool but I was just trying to get a shot without a million tourists in it. And this is it.

Just hanging out with a few friends at the Acropolis. It actually wasn't too insanely crowded because we got there about an hour after it opened that morning.

Just hanging out with a few friends at the Acropolis. It actually wasn’t too insanely crowded because we got there about an hour after it opened that morning.

It's all Greek to me.

It’s all Greek to me.

The graffiti in Athens was amazing. I like this image but would have loved it if the dude had a cigarette dangling from his mouth.

The graffiti in Athens was amazing. I like this image but would have loved it if the dude had a cigarette dangling from his mouth.

This old Byzantine church dated from the 11th century.

This old Byzantine church dated from the 11th century.

A priest inside the church.

A priest inside the church.

Looking up an alley at the Acropolis. All the winding alleys around the Acropolis are what I loved most about Athens.

Looking up an alley at the Acropolis. All the winding alleys around the Acropolis are what I loved most about Athens.

Athens wins the coolest museum award. I'm not a huge fan of museums. They are usually so disconnected from what they are trying to convey. But this one did an amazing job of bringing the Acropolis and Athens into the museum.

Athens wins the coolest museum award. I’m not a huge fan of museums. They are usually so disconnected from what they are trying to convey. But this one did an amazing job of bringing the Acropolis and Athens into the museum.

I loved the way the ruins were still very much a part of modern Athens.

I loved the way the ruins were still very much a part of modern Athens.

I spent a few minutes taking photos of this guy feeding the pigeons. I guess what struck me most was the dignity I saw in his eyes. I don't often verbally ask to take a photo of someone but I do try to make a connection with my eyes or a nod. I don't want to be just taking something from them.

I spent a few minutes taking photos of this guy feeding the pigeons. I guess what struck me most was the dignity I saw in his eyes. I don’t often verbally ask to take a photo of someone but I do try to make a connection with my eyes or a nod. I don’t want to be just taking something from them.

I was struck by the utter disrepair of this old mansion in Athens and i thought it was a cool photo...

I was struck by the utter disrepair of this old mansion in Athens and I thought it was a cool photo…

...and I'm peering through the viewfinder of my camera, shooting this sorta creepy house just after sunset, and this black cat pops up about a foot in front of my lens. (Anyone around the Acropolis that evening a couple weeks ago that heard what sounded like a little girl screaming, that wasn't me.)

… and this black cat pops up about a foot in front of my lens. (Anyone around the Acropolis that evening a couple weeks ago that heard what sounded like a little girl screaming, that wasn’t me.)

It is so often the little scene that captures the vibe of a place.

It is so often the little scene that captures the vibe of a place.

 

 

Annecy, France

Annecy, France

 

Annecy, France has taken the top spot on my “I’ve Got to get Back Here Soon” list!   Think of Venice but smaller and without the smell, rude waiters or mediocre food.   That’s Annecy.  Plus, it’s nestled in the French Alps so it’s surrounded by amazing hiking.

One of the most surprising things to me about Annecy was that for a small town it didn’t seem overloaded with tourists.  Lots of locals at the market and in the cafes.  Part of that is we were there during the shoulder season before the summer throngs descended on Europe.  Unless it can’t be helped, I’m pretty much done traveling in Europe in the summer.  Fall and spring are so much less crowded and the weather is still fine.

Annecy is like a relaxing, friendly version of Venice but with killer hiking. And better food.

Annecy is like a relaxing, friendly version of Venice but with killer hiking. And better food.

The view from our loft did not suck. And at $70/night it was a bargain.

The view from our loft did not suck. And at $70/night it was a bargain.

Every alley or walkway I turned down in Annecy was like stepping back in time.

Every alley or walkway I turned down in Annecy was like stepping back in time.

I couldn't help but think how much fun it would be to ride my motorcycle on the roads around Annecy.

I couldn’t help but think how much fun it would be to ride my motorcycle on the roads around Annecy.

And castles. How awesome are castles?!

And castles. How awesome are castles?!

I loved the market scene in Annecy, France. Fresh bread, food and the yummiest pastries.

I loved the market scene in Annecy, France. Fresh bread, food and the yummiest pastries.

And love.

And love.

Loved the mood that the rain added to my photos.

Loved the mood that the rain added to my photos.

Cool cafe scene in Annecy.

Cool cafe scene in Annecy.

The rain made for some cool reflections.

The rain made for some cool reflections.

I loved the hiking that is in Annecy. Lots of trails that are literally a fifteen minute walk from the historic part of Annecy.

I loved the hiking that is in Annecy. Lots of trails that are literally a fifteen minute walk from the historic part of Annecy.

Hiking with this awesome human being was one of my fav parts of the trip. I love hanging out with brave, inspiring people.

Hiking with this awesome human being was one of my fav parts of the trip. I love hanging out with brave, inspiring people.

Au revoir, Annecy.

Au revoir, Annecy.