Every afternoon at two, most French businesses close for a siesta. What that means for clueless foreigners like me is, no lunch.
The siesta, for me, has always been an abstract concept. However, now, I have first-hand experience. As we walked around French villages, we needed to be mindful of this custom. The best rule is to get up early, get out, and stop for lunch at a reasonable time. But getting up early doesn’t always work out when you’re on vacation, so thoughts of lunch get pushed out as well.
On more than one occasion, we’d see an enchanting little place like this, and think to stop for a taste of local cuisine: not during siesta. It’s the law, and if you think you’re going to starve, then pack a snack.
Here’s a random beach scene from Lloret de Mar. Everybody seemed to be having way too much fun for a weekday.
However, people here are on some kind of vacation, so the day of the week is unimportant. I had just arrived on a redeye from the states; it was Thursday, I think. And, I was just getting warmed up to the whole vacation thing.
What better way to do that than take photos of others who are already warmed up. Eventually, I got into the rhythm of things, maybe even a little too much. By the time we left this town, I had managed to lose my passport, but that’s another story for another day.
Here are some people in the gothic quarter of Barcelona sitting outside at a tapas bar, talking late into the night.
Scenes like this occur over and over, and I think, are typical of Catalonian culture. Not that I’m an expert, but it seems quite friendly and puts a lot of value on spending time with family and friends.
It’s not difficult to see the appeal, especially in places like Barcelona. Sure, every area has its problems, but it’s fun to see different lifestyles and wonder what it would be like to live there, if only for a spell.
This scene is typical among the towns of Spain. In particular, this is in Lloret de Mar along the Catalonian coast.
These types of street scenes are a favorite of mine because they convey a nightlife ambiance. I take photos like this by using a high ISO, (in this case, 2000), and a low f-stop, (in this case, 2.8). That combination allows picture taking as though it was daylight. Granted, I do post-processing to get the look I’m after – painterly is a word that describes this type of treatment.
We stayed in Lloret de Mar on our first day of vacation. It’s a little over an hour from Barcelona airport and is an excellent way to decompress from an all-night flight. And, because the body clock was on North American time, it was easy to stay up late and get these scenes, despite the lack of sleep.
Having only one night, we had to find the best tapas in town. Fortunate for us it was just around the corner. In Barcelona, that’s any corner.
I really don’t think you can go wrong, but Bo De Gracia was especially right if that makes any sense. There were quite a few things we ordered, but I remember sardines and olives the most. My wife doesn’t generally like sardines, but we both had to split the last one. And the fresh green olives have a taste and texture I’ve never experienced in America. It was all washed down with a local Spanish wine that complemented everything perfectly.
But I’m a photographer, so I had to pick up the camera and take this quick shot from the bar where we sat. The only people here were us and this couple. Probably because it was early in the evening. Around nine or ten is when these places start to fill up. By “these places” I mean the worlds best tapas bars around every corner of Barcelona.
Just before leaving Chattanooga we stopped here at the Frothy Monkey for lunch. The Frothy Monkey is a hip coffee bar attached to the old train station next to where the Chattanooga choo-choo sits on display. So perhaps these windows were once part of the old station.
In any case, it’s a cool place to hang out, and I’d do just that if I lived here. But we were leaving town on a Sunday afternoon and had many miles to drive. Nevertheless, my eye was attracted to these reflections. They’re similar to water reflections, only on a table top. I find that the whole reflection dynamic adds a new quality to the photo.
I ended up buying a Frothy Monkey cap as a souvenir. As we left, I threw it in the back seat of the car, and that’s the last I’ve seen of it. Maybe it’s still stuck under a seat or in one of my bags; I need to look for it. I wanted to have a little something to remind me of how hip this place is. Until then I’ll have to use this photo for that.
Here is a little section of a restaurant along a canal in Venice. Our timing was fortunate because we were seated right away while others who came later had to wait; Italians are late eaters. We enjoyed an amazing meal seated along the canal on a warm summer evening. For the life of me I can’t remember what I ordered but I do remember it tasted very good.
As chance would have it we were surrounded by tables of Americans, even though there were people from other countries as well. On one side was a group of college girls and on the other was a couple of producers with their wives. There was a film festival going on and I could hear everything the producers were saying. It was one of those situations where you can’t help but hear the conversation, the tables were very close. Somehow the producers started talking to the girls since one of them was trying to break into the business. And on and on and on….
Being an American tourist myself I try to be a little circumspect, I know that a reputation proceeds us. There’s nothing wrong with American tourists, but every so often you can sure pick them out. I know I’m a little too quiet, but I prefer to soak up the ambience. That includes the gondolas, lights shining from windows on the canal, amazing Italian food, wine, and occasionally the conversations of my fellow Americans.
Here is another vision of Venice that I took from a boat. A vision is what best describes this place; it seems not entirely real. When you’re in Venice the real world seems to fade away and become distant. Venice holds its own kind of reality, like the fabled Brigadoon. And then the opposite happens, you leave and the magic dissipates and you feel that Venice was like a vision.
Anyway, like some other photos I’ve produced, this was taken hand held at night from a boat. I’d normally use a tripod to get a better exposure with a lower ISO, but using a high ISO my camera’s sensor is able to recover most of the details of the night scene.
Do you ever notice that when you go to an amazing place you feel like you want to live there? Or maybe you feel like you’ve been there before. The excitement of seeing new places and the feelings it produces are why we travel in the first place.
This is travel photography with a twist. It’s from a place that doesn’t seem real until you go there. It seems to have a reality slightly removed from the real world. Maybe I should call it vision photography, …or maybe not.
That building on the left is the Riverhouse Reef and Grill. I live near a crossroads of sorts, it’s a main thoroughfare between the two towns of Palmetto and Bradenton. As it happens the thoroughfare is really a couple of bridges over a river, and on each side of the river are marinas, parks and restaurants. All in all it’s a pretty nice place to explore and you don’t have to go too far to find a good waterfront restaurant.
Sometimes we’ll come to this place in Palmetto, other times we’ll go directly across the river to Pier 22 in Bradenton. We sit outside, why sit indoors when the weather is so good? Its rare that we go to an indoor restaurant with so many options. I’m not fanatical about eating outside but it’s rare we go out and eat indoors.
I took this shot at dusk from a concrete pier that used to be the main bridge between the two towns. Someone recently told me that the main bridge was destroyed in a hurricane back in the sixties and so now it’s just a fishing pier. It’s a nice place to walk at dusk and sunset, especially after eating too much at the Riverhouse Reef and Grill.
Bormuth Tapas Bar is located in the El Born / La Ribera section of Barcelona. It’s in a labyrinth of streets and shops. Of all the places I visited in this city, this area was most enjoyable to get lost in. I snapped this shot as I was walking around at night, but later learned from TripAdvisor that it has great ratings. Had I not just left another Tapas bar a few minutes before I would have stopped here for a quick nosh. This area is so fun I could imagine living in Barcelona just to hang out here and talk late into the night, or wander around with my camera.
Tapas is the way to go, a little bit of this, a little bit of that and some good Spanish wine to wash it all down. I’ve noticed a few Tapas bars popping up near my home in Florida lately. If I were to make a prediction I would guess that Tapas will grow in popularity here in North America. It just seems like a reasonable way to eat, kind of like a Spanish version of Dim Sum.
To take this photo I used an ISO of 5000 which is quite high. That and the in-camera image stabilization allows me to capture a night scenes like this that would not have been possible a year ago without a tripod. Capturing images at night is one of my favorite types of photography, the mood is transformed from the stark light of day and somehow it evokes more feelings and imagination, at least for me.
So here I am, lost in a labyrinth, having just had Tapas and wine, and lost in the joy of my favorite type of photography at the same time. What could be better?