It is that time of the year when mountains are covered with snow. I took a few days off to forget all about the urban and stressful lifestyle. Walking for hours in such black & white scenery, with my steps and the distant echo of a bell or the barking of a dog as the only sound, is such a simple and relaxing joy.
The winter of Beijing’s old town is magnetic, both day and night, especially during the lunar new year season. Walking in the hutongs (narrow alleys), every brick and stone has an engaging story to tell. The depth and richness of its culture and history is more than I could ever comprehend even as a native. During my short stay in Beijing this winter, I didn’t have to plan anything. I would set out for a culture treasure hunt every day to any random spot on the map, and found myself in serendipity and vast pride of my own culture. Looking at the festivus lunar new year temple fair vs the solemn Tiananmen square, the old style tea-house vs the modern dome-shaped national opera theater and that back-to-childhood lake-skating, I realized that Beijing is Beijing, like no other.
Annecy is a very charming city in the French Alps, a few miles from Geneva, Switzerland. Annecy has given its name to a lake surrounded by smaller cities such as Talloires, Menthon-Saint-Bernard or Veyrier-du-Lac.
The Palais de l’Isle, built in the 12th century and lying in the middle of the Thiou River, is one of the most photographed monuments in France. The castle in the second picture, whose first buildings were also erected in the 12th century, overlooks the medieval city. Two parks are on the edge of the lake, the Gardens of Europe and the Pâquier, separated by the Vassé Canal on which the Love Bridge has been built.
As a kid, I used to stop by Annecy on my way to another resort, and I happily rediscovered the city a few months ago. This is to me a perfect place for vacations as there are several leisure possibilities, with many hiking trails, a few beaches on the lake, and of course a quiet cruise is an easy way to have a global overview of the area.
The Diocletian’s palace is a truly amazing heritage site from the Roman Empire. It is located in Split, an important Mediterranean harbor city in Croatia. I was completely in awe, standing at the center square of the palace, feeling like a dwarf looking up at the magnificent palace pillars. The Gregory of Nin statue at the north gate carries an admirable and amiable charisma, and whose big toe through years of touching by visitors (for good luck), has become discolored and shiny, like bronze.
The building of the Louis Vuitton Foundation, in Paris, France, was designed by Frank Gehry (who also designed the IAC building and 8 Spruce Street in Manhattan). This boat made of glass was inaugurated in 2014. The building itself is worth a visit as its 12 huge panels of glass, sails of a peculiar sailboat, will make you dream of vastness compared to your tiny person. And if you ever come back to reality, go visit the contemporary art museum located inside!
I cut through Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, a rather low-key European capital city. I did not know what to expect prior to arrival. I only got to spend a couple hours near the city’s central railway station. Across from it stood a palace-like building with an open plaza filled with pigeons. It was drizzling, windy and cloudy, not much color to see, except for the butter-like color used on many historic buildings. Somehow, this miserable gloomy weather casted perfectly an aura of solemnity, glory and hardships upon the surroundings, leaving a tone of melancholy floating in the damp air. There, I could savor a sense of age, power and past brilliance even without much knowledge of what it really was, probably an influence of the former Russian empire. I would really like to freeze everything I saw just the way it was at that moment, I thought to myself as I left.
The pink granite coast is located in the North coast of Brittany, in the area of Perros-Guirec, France. This magnificent jewel stretches on only a few kilometers long, and is a bicolor beauty. The pink torn rocks contrast with the blue of the sky and the turquoise blue of the sea. And if you come early in the season, yellow Brooms add to the explosion of colors.
Spring has arrived early in France this year. I was lucky to spend a few days outdoors with my camera to (re)discover three parks in the suburbs of Paris. While the Parc de Saint-Cloud allows the walker to enjoy a stunning view of Paris, quiet or crowded plots alternate in the Bois de Vincennes. Port-aux-Cerises is a huge recreational area where I however spotted some old photogenic rowing boats.
Segovia, a small town an hour away from Madrid, presents people with a magnificent Roman aqueduct that was well kept for almost two thousand years. It is said that no cement-like agent was ever used in between the giant stones that hold up this masterpiece. How did they do it? No matter from what angle you look at it, you will be awed by its majesty and mystery. Not too far from it is a fairytale-like castle standing on top of a hill. About six-hundreds years ago, the charming and ambitious Queen Isabella of Castile ensued her crown here, in the Alcazar of Segovia. Nowadays, life is rather simple here, like killing a random afternoon alone with a saxophone player.
Scenes from Lisbon, Portugal.During the day or at night, shades and shadows offer so much contrast. They create an atmosphere so powerful that you immediately feel charmed and bewitched at the same time.
A year ago, I took a road-trip in Spain, a beautiful country with rich culture and cheerful people. Nerja, a pearl setting on the Mediterranean shoreline, is the one I chose to document first.
Nerja is known by another charming name, “Balcony of Europe.” A piece of cliff taps into the Mediterranean. The view from the cliff top is absolutely stunning and peaceful.
Nerja is a typical Mediterranean town, decorated by crowded white houses sitting irregularly at the waist and foot of mountains. It has beautiful shorelines, evergreen palm trees, abundant fruits, and pleasant temperature. Nerja is so lucky to have it all, thanks to the fabulous Mediterranean climate. In Nerja, I couldn’t see traffic or feel any stress. Life just seems so simple and content. Although I have never been to the fictional Shangri-La, I imagine living in Nerja must be like living in that earthly paradise.
Hong Kong is a world-famous metropolitan city setting amongst mountains and islands. The city runs like a high speed metro train, arriving and departing from one destination to the next, non-stop. The city is known for its vibrant finance and real estate business, expansive stunning skyline at Victoria harbor and delicious cultural local food. Beneath all the luxury enchanting veneer the city displays are the local hardworking humble people who live a rather simple life on each corner contributing their entire lives generation after generation.
Lisbon is such a charming city! At first sight you wouldn’t guess you’re in a European capital: some parts of the city recall small villages, and no one seems stressed. In addition, colors are everywhere. This is one of these paradise cities for photographers, where they can daydream as much as they wish.
On a Sunday afternoon, I decided to have a walk in Paris, to enjoy the city, take a few pictures, and keep an eye open: what has changed in the past years? As my footsteps were inexorably leading me towards the river Seine, I was struck by the evidence: I don’t remember seeing any seagulls—or at least not so many—in the city. I must admit they do look better than ugly fat pigeons!
I arrived late at night for a short weekend in Winchester, England. I discovered the city the next morning. On my way downtown, there was an old cemetery, which could have been there for centuries. Further, there was no one by the arches of the cathedral—it actually had just rained. The only colorful spot I could see was a bright red Mini Cooper.