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Project 365 – Week 26

I seemed to have unintentionally photographed quite a few animals this week. In reviewing them now (at home), I figure, why not make this week’s photos to the theme? Then again, it would have been too easy if I have at least a photo of an animal every day of the week when I didn’t think about it in the first place. As a result, I struggled to pick a favourite one for some of the days, and I also struggled to find at least one photo for some of the days. Saturday’s photo of the day was even a toss up between two different non-living animals – a sculpture or a stuffed head of a cow….

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Cat

24 Jun: While F was out snorkelling, I had settled quite nicely at a terrace with a drink and reading on an ebook reader. Out of nowhere, this little friend appeared and started exploring under a number of tables, including ours. It has a friend too, that was a bit more skittish and stayed away from this human. Now that it had my full attention, when it jumped up to perched on a low wall, I knew I had to take a photo.

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Postcards: Amiens Cathedral (FR)

The largest cathedral in France (you could put two Notre Dame de Paris in it!) also possesses the tallest nave for a complete cathedral in the country. It stood proud before me on a glorious Wednesday morning when I was in Amiens and yet I was at lost on photographing it with Frédéric’s few-days-old camera. The small manual that I’ve grabbed on my way out of our apartment sat in my bag; I didn’t have the time to consult it page by page, nor the patience to. I would just have to make do somehow.

Amiens Cathedral is a Gothic cathedral which construction began in the 1220 under the instruction of Bishop Evrard de Fouilly, while three architects – Robert de Luzarches, Thomas de Cormont, and Renaud de Cormont – oversaw the works. These men are commemorated through an octogonal plate embedded within the floor of the cathedral, enclosed within a labyrinth. Standing at 112.7m in height, its nave stretched an impressive 42.3m, giving it the real meaning (esp back in the 13th century) of reaching for God and the heaven. With multicoloured stained glass and imposing sculptures that recount religious stories to the populace, the cathedral in its entirety was deemed worthy to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981.

(Hover over photos as usual for captions)

Amiens Cathedral

Amiens Cathedral

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Daytrip from Paris: Amiens

I must admit, I didn’t know much about Amiens. In fact, even after visiting the capital city of Picardy, I still have much to learn about it. My daytrip happened very much out of coincidence, suggested by Anne when we were chatting one day while I was searching for an interesting place not far from Paris that I could visit. At that point, I’ve been working on getting myself upgraded from the status of Voyageur to Grand Voyageur with the national train company, SNCF, and I was just a couple of train rides short from making it.

Travel time between Paris-St Lazare and Amiens takes just a little over an hour on the inter-city train, and as the train pulled into the station of Amiens, I could spot the one dominant building in the skyline – the Amiens Cathedral. My plan for the day then was to visit the cathedral, the historical centre of Amiens, and the Hortillonnages. I wish there was a walking tour that I could join, but a quick check on the eve of my visit showed that the sole walking tour available for the months of September to June runs only on Saturday afternoons. Visiting on a Wednesday, I was out of luck.

Amiens train station

Le Carlton

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Project 365 – Week 25

Summer officially kicked in in the later part of the week but whoever up there who’s supposed to dish out the correct weather condition seems to have missed the memo. We started the week with crazy storm and there were reports that some parts of Ile de France were hit by large pebble-sized hailstones, then we had a bright sunny day, just to get another day of storm, followed by a day torrential rain before clearing up in the afternoon. Trying to fit all the awful weather in before it turned 21 June and really need to get into summer mode?

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Impressionist photo

17 Jun: Paris plunged into darkness today. There was raging thunderstorm all morning that I was pondering if I should even stay online or shut down the laptop. The lightning could be seen running all the way from the sky down to the earth, and this is not a common sight. Right around 11am, barely a slither of natural light remained and it felt like night. I love this shot because it reminds me of the quality of Impressionism. Peer closely, it’s mostly random water blobs. Step away and perhaps you’ll start to see what I saw in my apartment that memorable moment.

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Lunch at Le Jardin des Plumes

If anyone tells me right now that he/she will be visiting Giverny, my immediate response is “Call Le Jardin des Plumes, book a table in their restaurant and treat yourself to a wonderful meal”. It may only be a few months old, but at its helm is Chef Joackim Salliot, who interprets the vision of Michelin-starred Chef Eric Guérin, and a warm welcome from the maitresse de maison, Nadia Socheleau, awaits all. Seriously – Just. Do. It.

Le Jardin des Plumes

Le Jardin des Plumes

Tucked hidden away from the main village on rue du Millieu but mere handful few minutes walk away from the Musée des Impressionnismes, the restaurant is part of an elegant boutique hotel surrounded by the calm of the countryside. Few visitors of the village explore beyond rue Claude Monet, so this is, for now, truly off the beaten track.

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Daytrip from Paris: Monet’s Giverny

It shouldn’t be any surprise that the main road of the village of Giverny is named after its most famous (former) resident, the Impressionist painter Claude Monet. Afterall, without his fame, it is unlikely that thousands of visitors would flock daily between April and October to the village. He lived here for over 40 years, drawing inspiration from the kaleidoscopic garden just outside his house and the adjacent water lily pond/garden.

Giverny

Giverny

The star attractions of the village are undoubtedly Monet’s House and Gardens, and the Musée des Impressionnismes Giverny. Apart from these, the Ancien Hôtel Baudy and the Église Sainte-Radegonde de Giverny are getting considerable attention as well from the visitors, particularly the latter, for the burial site of Monet and his family can be found in the grounds of the church.

In addition, the tourism board has done an excellent job in setting out a trail of cultural walking tour of the Giverny Village. Along this route of approximately 4km (give or take an hour walk), 20 points of interest are identified with information panel planted in front of them. We did try to complete the trail but was unable to do so, as the path parallel to the Aqueduc des Moines had been closed off, most likely for safety reason given the high water level of River Seine in recent months.

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Project 365 – Week 24

I had not set out to photograph the week in shades of pink and blue, and yet somehow that’s how this week’s round-up is taking shape. Unintentional colour scheme aside, I’m experimenting a good bit with F’s new toy and totally having lots of fun at it! Looking at the photos below, you could probably figure out which were shot using the dSLR and which using my good ol’ PnS ;)

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Designer's Days

10 Jun: I am not sure why these flyers have just popped up on the phone booth near where I live. Afterall, Designer’s Days took place through last week and if any of the events needed promotion, it should have taken place then, not now. In any case, I like the retro feel to the flyers and the use of a large apostrophe as its identifying logo. It is simple yet relatable, and it is clever too, how the repetitive images in the background are linked to the quotation or the person behind the quotation.

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Postcards: From Bray to Greystone (IE)

On our final morning in Dublin, we woke up at the ungodly hour of six in the morning. Frédéric had been a little restless through the night. The unpredictable Irish weather had rendered our planned cliff walk from Bray to Greystone a no-go on the previous day, and he really hated the idea of leaving the excursion to another trip. He had stealthily checked the weather right before waking me up, and quietly declared “it IS clear this morning so shall we go to Bray?”

I groaned at remembering my promise from a few hours earlier that we would go if it’s not raining in the morning. Unfortunately, we could not leave any later either or we risked not getting back in time for our lunch meeting with Nora. Bray and Greystone are situated to the south of Dublin, of which travel time by DART from Lansdowne Road (the station closest to us, 10-12 minutes walk) takes about 35 minutes and 45 minutes respectively. A trail of cliff walk of about 6km separates the edges of these two small towns and here are some photos from the walk.

Bray-Greystone cliff walk

Bray-Greystone cliff walk

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Hillwalking and sightseeing in Glendalough

Frédéric loves Dublin. Rather, the nature of Dublin that’s close to both the sea and the mountains, while at the same time it being a bustling capital city yet maintains a particular quiet charm that isn’t drowned out by the sound of city traffic. He sees a life where weekends away from the work desk are spent exploring the great outdoors, especially in the Wicklow Mountains, given the taster that he’d got when we went to Glendalough recently.

Glendalough

Glendalough

Glendalough Valley

About an hour drive the south from Dublin city centre, Glendalough (i.e. glen of two lakes) is a former monastic city and today a popular site for visitors who are keen to see the traces left behind from the monastic heyday against the beautiful setting of the Glendalough Valley. We’ll come back to that a bit later in the post.

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Project 365 – Week 23

With a blink of an eye, we’re nearly half-way through the year. It feels like it should be summer already, but the weather is not showing signs of this sort, preferring to swing to and fro between a real scorcher of a day and a horribly wet one. Elsewhere, heavy rain had flooded numerous central European cities and towns, and those in the French Riviera were greeted by tornadoes! Sort of make me glad that we’re only dealing with either sunshine or rain in Paris.

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Hotel Belloy

3 Jun: The beauty of buildings in Paris often lies in lines and symmetry, but that doesn’t necessarily means something square or rectangular. Instead, they radiate in accordance to the layout of the streets. Paris doesn’t do organised repetitive blocks, which inevitably means a large number of apartments come with irregular shapes and could render them quite tricky to decorate on the interior or to maximise whatever little space there is in an apartment. Small hotels would have an even tougher time trying to fit, say, an ensuite bathroom in…

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Postcards: Connemara (IE)

Drizzle, drizzle – just another typical Irish weather that greeted us in Galway. Like good troopers, we pressed on with the second part of our express roadtrip to the west coast. Direction: Connemara.

We hurtled down the small and windy roads of the region, while keeping an eye out for spots we’d like to take a break and enjoy at the same time. It was not always easy to find shoulders where we can safely parked though – the roads that are good for one-vehicle access in both direction often border ditches. Half-parking the car between the shoulders and the roads is a no go as oncoming traffic of some 100km/h at bends means certain blindspots that could very easily lead to some nasty bangs.

As the morning progressed, the sky did clear up considerably. We were lucky too, that for most part, it was rainy while we made our way in the car but when we stopped for photo-ops, the rain abated or ceased altogether, at times accompanied by bright blue and sunny sky. Couldn’t really complain about that now, can we? ;)

Lough Corrib

Lough Corrib

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Postcards: The Cliffs of Moher (IE)

My niece was wrapped in five layers of clothes and she also had her mittens and hats (yes, hats) on, yet among the first things uttered by the adorable 15-months-old was “cold cold”. Oh, she was happy to be out of the car, cheerfully demanded we hold her hands so she can “walk walk” – no one can accuse the girl of not knowing what she wants! – but the wind was strong and relentless. Not too many steps later, she gave up battling the wind-opposed walk in favour of being carried by her mummy, and only her mummy.

After taking a few obligatory scenery and family photos, her parents decided it would be best to take her into the visitors’ centre where it would be warm and cosy. Meanwhile, Frédéric and I stayed on for a short walk along the designated visitors’ path, partly to admire the beautiful cliffs, partly to stretch our legs after a long drive in from Wexford. I’ll let the photos take you through our path.

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

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Project 365 – Week 22

Paris constantly surprises me. Streets that I use on regular basis still contain unknown elements, waiting to be discovered. Double-takes on my part become something I look forward to and I am also gradually more observant, provided I’m not in a hurry or lost in my own little world. I should start exploring them by foot instead of flashing past them on a bike or on the bus.

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Fontaine des Innocents

27 May: In the past, the royal procession of a newly-crowned King of France would enter the city on a route that includes rue St Denis and passing by Châtelet to get to the Palais de la Cité (today used as Palais de Justice). Commemorative monuments (most of them on temporary basis) would be erected along the route and the Fontaine des Innocents was among those erected to welcome the royal entry of King Henry II. Back then, the “fountain” was not free-standing but built against the wall of the former Holy Innocents’ Cemetery (hence the name), with taps to provide water to the citizens of Paris. The “windows” were actually part of the viewing balcony! It was moved to its current location in mid-1800.

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Ride Béret Baguette 2013

Thanks to a hat-tip by Sam, I was out this morning to check out at Place de la Sorbonne to check out the Ride Béret Baguette 2013. In its third year, the aim of the group is to promote the (rhyming) culture of “rétro et vélo”, and boy have they delivered! A few hundred people and bikes were there, all dressed up and ready to bike around Paris.

Ride Béret Baguette

The programme for 2013 edition included a “caravan” (that showcased all kinds of things in rétro style, including fashion, accessories, styling and, of course, bikes!), a bike race, a vintage ball, and a bike ride to cap off the wonderful weekend. If only I’ve known about this ahead of time, I probably would have participated (a fellow blogger, Lauren Lou, did!), at least in the bike ride on Sunday. Next year, I shall be there ;)

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