Day 14: Once Upon a Time There Was An Ocean

This morning we got up leisurely, had a casual political discussion with a German twenty-something and our French host at the breakfast table and hit the road , west again, this time for the adorable old fishing port town of Honfleur. When I asked Ma and Pa what there is to see there, they said “uh…it’s just a cute town.”

The drive was a relatively short one and we eventually found a good parking lot close to the Old Harbour in Honfleur. The walk was short and pretty soon we were surrounded in all of Honfleur’s charms.

The main attraction of the town is the old harbour, lined with beautiful sailboats in the water and beautiful Norman buildings on land.

We hobbled around the old quay, admiring the beautiful boats, taking the same photo 37 times because “it’s so cute”, and steeling our ankles against the uneven cobble stones.

Down every alley and around every street was another picturesque scene featuring cobblestones, half timbered Norman houses, window boxes full of flowers and shop windows full of striped, nautical themes apparel.

An interesting little nugget about Honfleur is that it was the casting off point for both of Samuel de Champlain’s voyages to the New World (Canada), including the 1608 voyage where he founded Québec City.

Another interesting part of Honfleur is Ste Catherine’s Church. It was built in the second half of the 15th century by master ship makers, which is why the roof looks like and upside down ship. There were no saws used, and measurements were dicey. It is a cool looking church though.

We grabbed lunch at a seaside eatery where we had burgers and crêpes and we found out what a panaché is (beer+ginger ale) and I dared Pa or Ma to order the horse steak (no takers).

After lunch we wandered more, buying the obligatory fridge magnets/postcards/shot glasses and poking our noses into the many chocolate shops before indulging in delicious ice cream and hitting the road home for an early night.

Croatia (Part 5: Zadar)


Our pleasant-est of pleasant surprises on our trip to the Balkans was the coastal town of Zadar.  We decided to stay in Zadar randomly – it was a coastal town almost a straight line from the more inland Plitvice Lakes.  We read that it had a pretty old town and a newer interesting waterfront feature – the Marine Organ.


After most of our day in Plitvice lakes we decided to head into town to check out the Organ and get some dinner.  We wandered through the old town and marvelled at the beautiful Venetian stone work – it was like a miniature, less crowded version of Dubrovnik.  The city is very clean and the stones shiny, like they polish them on a regular basis.  Little art galleries and pizzerias were strewn about the town.


When we made our way outside of the old wall we were thrust upon a vision of utter majesty – the orange-red sun setting on the restless, white-capped Adriatic Sea, the sound of Nikola Basic’s award winning urban art instalment – the Marine Organ.  As mentioned in a previous post, the Marine Organ is a set of polyethylene pipes of varying lengths and widths set into the concrete seafront with slats on one end to allow the wind, waves, and water in and an opening on the other to the let the chance music out.


We sat on the steps, watched the sailboats pass by in the choppy waters and the sun set, and listened to the music.  The music was enchanting, harmonious, hypnotizing.  I could have listened to it all day.  We noticed that there were a few cafes set back from the concrete steps and decided that some day, one day, when we return, we will spend more time in Zadar and sit at one of those cafes for a day, drink the delicious coffee and listen to the music of the ocean.


Croatia (Part 3: Split)


Split.  Split is very cool.  The main attraction of Split is Diocletian’s Palace, the retirement home of Roman emperor.  Mountains on one side, Adriatic Ocean on the other, palm trees aplenty!  We stayed at a pansion whose owner may or may not have been some sort of Croatian gangster named Ivan.


Split was pretty laid back and super interesting.  The only part that I found particularly cheesy was a ‘reenactment’ of some sort of proclamation by the Emperor himself (some schmuck in a toga).  You better believe that those bedazzled, be-visored cruise ship tourists got their iPads out for that one.  One of the many things I liked about Split was that you were never too far from the sea.


The Mediterranean climate proved for some lovely, bright sunny photos, and the ancient architecture a perfect model.


It’s amazing to me to be able to photograph real, authentic, ancient bits of history and architecture, like this pillar, an original feature made from red marble native to the region.


I like to try and imagine what some of the areas that are in disrepair would have looked like in its glory days, like the above tower used to have a domed roof, according to historians.


On a more personal note, I got spend my 31st birthday within these walls.  I got some delicious pizza, Croatian cream cake and liquor, thanks to the generosity of our host Ivan.  Definitely one of the cooler birthdays I’ve had.

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun




The Story: I took this photo in Mostar, Bosnia which is located in the southern bit of the country.  Ma and I bussed in from Sarajevo, leaving Pops behind in the hospital as he had bailed on the cobblestones and shattered his elbow, requiring 2 surgeries.  I was totally gutted that my dad wasn’t there with us because Mostar and its iconic bridge was the place I was most excited to see on our trip that year.  Ma and I tried to make the best of it – shuffled over the bridge a few times, looked at some local artwork, shopped the open air markets, eventually turning into a restaurant recommended by our B&B proprietor, Susanna.  After our dinner overlooking the bridge and Neretva River we walked back to our B&B when I spotted this little Bosnian girl all by herself minding her own business in a sea of cobblestones.  I took several snaps of her deciding this was my favourite.

Why I Love It: When I took this photo I was so, so sad, but this girl made me feel a little better.  I love that you can tell she’s a cute girl even though you can’t see her face, but you can see the outline of it.  I love that the black and white gives it a bit of a timeless feel and that she is a single living entity seated amongst a myriad of stones.


The Story: Still just me and Ma in Dubrovnik, Croatia, we headed into the old walled city (which some of you will recognize from that show that has dragons and everyone dies) in the early morning so we could spend most of the day exploring.  We had breakfast in an outdoor cafe on the main promenade (or Stradun), drank copious amounts of delicious coffee and watched the people go by before the hoards of cruise ship tourists overtook the city.  In the middle of breakfast I spotted this little girl in the main square feeding the pigeons, told my mom to watch my stuff so that I could grab a shot before this little muse took off or noticed me.

Why I Love It: Again, the mystery behind it.  Who is she?  Where is she from?  In such a touristy place, she could be from just about anywhere.  I love her playful, youthful dress and I love that you can still see the beautiful architecture of the city behind her.  I’m glad I took as low an angle as I could because I like that the bottom quarter of the photo is just stone floor.