12 Hours in Paris.
Hasselblad 500 cm
Ilford hp5. 7 rolls of 35mm and 120mm
Ilford 3200. 7 rolls of 35mm and 120mm
Velvia Color+. 1 accidental roll 120mm
We arrived to the flat before noon, quickly hitting a pub for some grub and a pint then we hit the bricks. Our first few days we spent exploring the Shard, Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens and pubs in-between. There was talk of going to Paris for one night. Why not, to live is to see, right? Paris being only a train ride away sounded easy so we went for it. We left our suitcases at a local bodega traveling with only a backpack and overnight duffle. Situated on the EuroStar cruising at a comfortable 186mph we explored possibilities and our versions of how we thought the night might end. Arriving in Paris just in time for our dinner reservation at Monsieur Bleu, located across the river from the Eiffel Tower. Dinner was quite the spectacle with the Tower glittering behind us every hour, the night was young and our spirits were high.
We spent the night and a long morning in Paris. The city of love and cute cafes had it clutches on us. 12 hours was hardly enough time to soak in the rich environment. The morning came quickly and required sunglasses for all parties involved. Stopping at a few cafes on our way back to the train station we collapsed into our seats for a power nap on the train, two hours later we were back on English soil. Our final day fell on a Sunday, which meant brunch on the River Thames, the sun was out and orange juice was bubbly. Brunch was an afternoon affair that left us all in the best of spirits. We split ways, the girls went to Abbey Road while I went off to see an exhibit at the Tate Britain, featuring Don McCullin, I highly recommend it. Our last evening was spent playing card games and trying to face the fact our adventure was coming to an end.
Like any vacation the first half feels like you will never leave, and the last day or two feels like you blinked and now it’s all over. Horribly bitter sweet if you ask me. My goal was to shoot two rolls of 120mm every day. I totaled 8 rolls, much less than expected. I didn’t set out with any vision in mind simply to be mindful of my surroundings and have fun.
Qui vivra verra
Boots of Spanish Leather
Wiping the sleep from my eyes I turned over and checked my phone. I slept through the alarm I forgot to set. I twisted the knob on my light-stand, my phone on the nightstand next to me, dead. Next to it a half-empty water bottle and my last two capsules of allergy medication, good morning to me. I packed a few last minute items into my brown duffle and headed out the door to meet Tess. Reminiscent of last evenings rainfall stuck to the road, the dark sky started to come alive. Passing through security we started the hunt for some much needed coffee, more out of habit than necessity. We headed to the gate and boarded the plane with fresh cups of coffee ready for a short flight to Montreal. The flight itself was one of the most turbulent I had experienced in a while, Tess grabbed my hand a half dozen times in reassurence. As if in the event something went wrong that would somehow solve the issue, it’s a cute idiosyncrasy of hers I hope never loses its charm. Halfway through the hour long flight we re-upped on coffee, again more out of habit than necessity. There is nothing quite like landing in a foreign country overly-caffeinated. Hand in hand our heels clicking in a staccato fashion excited to be on foreign soil. We had arrived in MTL. We were elated to explore Old Port.
The following morning found us in the same airport we had landed in the day earlier. We held onto our electronics waiting for them to charge for a few more minutes as if hanging on to dear life. Acting almost as if we would be without electricity for the next 16 days. Hardly the truth, but it seems to keep everyone busy while we waited for the next flight. Eventually, after the ritualistic gathering, of snacks, water and other in-flight knick-knacks, we began boarding. I snuggled into seat 13A, moments from takeoff A commanding voice comes crackling over the intercom “excuse me ladies and gentleman, there seems to be a maintenance issue with the onboard computer. We will need to taxi back to the gate for inspection” There is a unanimous groan from the cabin. What is a travel day without a few hiccups anyway? An hour on the tarmac and the pilot comes over the intercom again announcing the issue has been resolved. A more pressing matter will be arriving in Toronto and catching our connecting flight to Madrid with less than 10 minutes to spare. The rest of the flight was spent in a state of faux relaxation, at this point I switched to decaf.
Upon landing, the next 7 minutes went something like this.
Excuse me sir, pardon me miss.
*runs up jetway*
* sprint down the moving sidewalk two terminals over*
*arrive breathless to Madrid gate as it’s boarding*
Seven and a Half sleepless hours later we arrived in Madrid… our luggage didn’t. We sat sweating the sweltering Madrid airport for 2 hours while they tried to locate our bags. Apparently it went to the wrong carousel and was being held in the lost baggage claim. Not the worst thing to happen in the history of travel, but certainly was a thorn in the foot. We arrived to our flat, unloaded our bags and headed out for a walk. To where? Not exactly sure, but somewhere. Eventually we met up with our friend Karina, who was studying in Madrid for the summer. A brief breakfast later and the discovery of carajillos (espresso+rum or whisky) we headed out for nearby points of interest. We walked around a few gardens, around some beautiful government buildings and eventually finding our way to Parque Del Retiro which has a vibe similar to Central Park. The crew was tired from the flight and while they took advantage of siesta I walked around the park. Following my ear deeper into the park I discovered musicians, a man-made lake, street performers and school field-trips in action. There was a relaxed energy about the park, coaxing me along almost asking to be explored.
The following day we did some exploring deeper into the city, to our delight it was a bank holiday. The streets were buzzing and the pubs alive with camaraderie. We heard some music and commotion in the distance and walked forward to see what it was all about. Opening into a large square filled with street vendors, pubs, tourists and locals alike. Dan turned around and gave me an expression, his eyebrows danced with interest. There was a centre stage with performers singing and dancing in colorful clothes, some with frills and strong pleats. Others in extravagant hats trimmed with white fur, stones and batons with ribbons. A thousand people or so occupied this square which is called Plaza El Mayor. Walking around the perimeter, looking at old coins, watches, rings, cameras and anything else that caught our eye. We stopped for some drinks and shade, in which time Dan looked up the bank holiday. The holiday was to commemorat Saint Isidore, the Catholic patron saint of Farmers. Settling our tab we had a 3km walk to our next destination, the restaurant is called Ten Con Ten which came highly recommended by our friend Javie. Nestled among a upscale part of town we found ourselves slightly underdressed and sweaty. Needing to let our food digest a bit, we walked back to El Retiro Parque to relax. A quick pitstop for some beer and sangria. Shortly after we had claimed a nice shady patch of grass by the lake, relaxation mode in full effect.
We caught dinner with Javie that evening, he recommended the squid ink papaya with shrimp. The dish came out the same color as the skillet it arrived in, pitch black. It turned into a late evening of pub hopping and exploring the winding streets. Those few short days flew by. Exploring cafes, pubs, rooftops and sightseeing at our leisure. The slow pace of Madrid reminded me a bit of Brooklyn in a way. Everyone had a destination but was hardly in a race to get there. The weather held up to a wonderful 75℉ during the day and a cool 60-ish in the evening. Like a soft Autumn evening in NY. Who knew May in Madrid could be so pleasant.
Keeping our fervent pace going, our next destination was Barcelona, what better way to see the countryside than a train? AC, Wifi, and Dora the Explorer in Espanol for three hours. What more could you possibly want from a train ride! The ride from the train station to our flat was intense to say the least. The change in pace from Madrid to Barcelona was easy to note. I felt like somebody planted me in Midtown and hit fast-forward. The traffic was dense and the drivers were aggressive. I can’t say that it made us uncomfortable, just a change in pace. We unpacked our bags and prepared for a day of exploring. Our first stop was the home of a designer named Antoni Gaudi, if you’re not familiar with him, imagine if Dr. Suse or Willy Wonka suddenly became architects. His designs are almost as if the world around you is melting in a controlled fashion. We spent a few hours exploring his family home, all six floors of it. Our next stop was an area called the Gothic Ally. as you could imagine the architecture in this part of town was filled with gargoyles and reminded me a lot of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. We explored ancient buildings and settling on a terrace at the end of the alley looking down into the street. We capped the evening off by the beach, did a bit of filming as the sun said goodbye with a symphony of color, the night moved in like a cool blanket.
I don’t say this often enough: we slept in. Especially when we travel like this, there is simply too much to see in any given day to let the morning get away from you. I think we were all a little burnt out from the go-go-go hustle we had sustained so far. We had a quick breakfast of croissants and carajillos. Apparently we had not had our fill of Gaudi and his elaborate designs. We arrived at Sagrada Familia, A massive church melting for all to see. We purchased tickets for a tour into the spires, although we didn’t tell Dan because he is afraid of heights. He was a champ about it. Despite having to take 20 some odd flights down an endless spiral staircase. We left the church after an hour or two of exploring its beautiful stained-glass interior, and walked a few kilometers to another of Gaudi’s creations situated in a park. Most of which was uphill, driving up a thirst we stopped at a little cafe for sangria, which ended up being the best sangria and tapas we had the entire trip. An hour of hiking later we arrived at Parque Guell. A large plot of land that was lent to Gaudi to design as he pleased. There were buildings and odd sculptures all around this park, made of stone, tile, and other materials. The highlight for everyone seemed to be a large bench that stretched for a few hundred feet. A meticulously tiled geological wave, perched on top of a domed ceiling supported by massive pillars. We hardly had time to explore the entire park before sundown, we cut our losses and headed towards the metro for a quick trip across town. 30 minutes later we exited the green line at the Espanya stop and arrived at an old bull fighting arena that had since been turned into shopping center topped with restaurants overlooking a massive roundabout with a monument in the center. We ended our evening with a show at The Magic Fountain. A spectacular waterworks display a few blocks away, put on by a massive fountain spouting aquatics in sync to a soundtrack. It was clearly a point of interest because it was packed. We found a patch of grass and waited for the show to commence.
We took the metro home to conclude the evening, our flight to Athens left at 0900, It was a short stint in Spain but worth every minute, see you in Greece!
While it was a short stint in Spain, it left us with only a taste, wanting more. The reminisce of pallaya and sangria still on our minds we prepped for the next adventure. Such a upbeat and thriving place will surely be missed. Greece, Here we come.
NYC had just been washed white with snow and sleet. Due to this Tess and I nearly missed our flight to LAX. Sitting in the heavily used airport chairs I was reminded of how close warm sand and sunshine was. Aside from a few work meetings and photoshoots we had a fairly loose schedule. LAX greeted us with open arms, eeking our way through traffic we arrived at our Air B&B just north of Venice beach. The place spoke of another era; it looked as if the the Brady Bunch had just moved out. Pink walls and teal accents welcomed us accompanied by appliances to match the theme.
Our L.A. adventures lasted only a few short days. The next stop was San Diego. Our friend Justin drove us to Union Station to catch our southbound train. There was something satisfying about taking a train instead of a big metal bird or a vehicle congested highway. I was rather excited to take a trip above ground, to a place more exciting, and less familiar than SoHo. While waiting for our train to arrive. I explored Union Station looking to burn a few frames on the interesting light and architecture, the energy in the station had a very cool and collected feel. Somewhere in the cavernous station the sound of a piano was floating through the air. Its source was unknown until we turned a corner and saw a man playing piano. To his right was a couple waiting patiently for their turn to coax the black and white keys to life. They happened to be standing directly under a dirty skylight, providing a wonderful diffused light directly above them. I approached them; “there is some really cool light on you guys right now, would you mind if I snapped a few photos while you wait?”
“Not at all man, thanks for asking,” they responded.
After a few frames and a song or two later, his travel companion approached me.
She asked me “Do you know who that is?
“I haven't a clue”
“That is Charles Manson’s only living biological son”
“Ah” was all I could think of, after a short pause... “his fingers seem to know their way around a piano”
“It helps him relax”
My camera had suddenly become a little heavier, my hands not quite as steady as they were a few moments ago. I’m not sure why that information changed the situation. It shouldn't have. But it did.
I felt a tug at my sleeve, Tess’s signal that our train had arrived.
Once on the train, we settled in, books and laptop’s appeared, along with a train attendant to take our ticket in exchange for wine. Pretty good exchange if you ask me. The train ride itself was uneventful.
Arriving in San Diego we got a lift from her brother & girlfriend accompanied by Tess’s parents. Spring break had begun! Zipping around the Gaslight district along with the island of Coronado we slipped in and out of bars and to and from beaches. We even managed a biplane tour of SD compliments of Tess’s brother Nick. After our week of galavanting around we were tired, sun kissed and ready for our own beds. A brief goodbye to our hosts and we were back at the airport.
Until next time San Diego, ciao!
Color positive film w/some digital.
For a full experience, enjoy the video at the bottom of the page.
A week of lucky exploration, over the hills and through the trees. To the next castle, we go.
A mix of Digital, video, color positive & B&W film.
In order of appearance; Paris, Amsterdam, London.
Digital heavy this trip, because cameras and lenses are HEAVY.
Video at the bottom of the page.