Spring Diary

 It has been a very long Winter in Europe and I was beginning to yearn for Spring flowers like crazy.  We were in Hungary for two weeks in March/April and saw some crocuses and daffodils peeking out a bit but the on and off snowfall just froze them away, cutting short my floral excitement.  So that as soon as I stumble into one or two floral display, I would photograph them right away lest they get snowed over again the next day if not drenched away by the rain.  Each day, I would religiously go out of the house in search for flowers even taking long hill walks just to find them.

Here is my Spring flower diary:

April 1….Nagykaniza, Hungary

Went exploring the hills of Zala and got fascinated to see primroses practically covering the grounds.

April 2….Nagykaniza, Hungary

Found these crocuses growing randomly in the church grounds of a nearby village.

April 03…..Gelse, Hungary

On our way to visit some friends, we drove through the high hills approaching Gelse and were absolutely amazed to see this picture postcard winter wonderland scenery.

April 04….. Slovenia

We finally left Hungary and started our drive back to France.  This is an orchard plantation covered in netting which we saw along the motorway in Slovenia

April 5 ….Trieste, Italy

Stopped in Trieste just for a quick tour not realizing that we will be forced to stay for four days due to the van breaking down again for the Nth time!  This town bordering Slovenia and the Adriatic Sea has a lot of beautiful sights to offer including this Magnolia blooms in a park. 

April 6…. Trieste, Italy

Flowers for sale along the Canale Grande.

April 07… Trieste, Italy

We went to visit the Miremare Castle grounds and my attention was always focused on the gardens searching for blooms.  Unfortunately, the pots were still empty at that time, save for some succulents.

April 8….Italian Motorway

Finally back on the road on the way to France.  This is an almond plantation along the Italian motorway.

April 09….Breil sur Roya, France

We have arrived home and the first thing we did was to visit Breil.  These are Begonia blooms peeking out of someone’s fence.

April 10 ….Fontan, France


A quick walk along the allotment grounds behind our village and saw this bright yellow Forsythia tree creating a wonderful contrast against the blue sky.
April 11…. Breil sur Roya, France

The new leaves of the Weeping Willow tree make a lovely natural curtain along the river Roya in Breil.

April 12 – Berghe, France

Went for an after-lunch routine walk and saw this cherry blossom tree at the entrance of the village campsite.  Lovely photographic opportunity!

April 13 – Latte, Italy

Have been missing the sight of the sea – the Mediterranean Sea – so we went to Latte in Italy.  This is the view from a  private hilltop terrace (we did not know that it is ‘Private’ and we didn’t realize we were trespassing, luckily the owners  were not home.

April 13 – Latte, Italy

Still in Latte.  This is the wisteria tree, one of my favorite Spring blooms.

April 14…. Fontan, France

Another of my favorite is this Lobella.  They grow beautiful purple or deep blue tiny flowers that spread long and wide like a carpet.

April 15 – Fontan, France

A garden display of a neighbour:  daffodils, lobella and tulips

April 16…Breil sur Roya, France

Went driving up the hill to visit the Chapelle Notre Dame du Mont des Oliviers (Chapel of Our Lady of Mount of Olives), so named because it is surrounded by hundred year old olive trees.

April 17 – Tende, France

The cherry blossoms of Tende near the Italian border.

April 18….St Dalmas de Tende, France

This fantastic lobella display becomes the center of attraction to everyone driving past this national road of St Dalmas du Tende.

April 19 – Olivetta St Michele, Italy

The beauty of our place is, it is surrounded by beautiful villages of both France and Italy.  This one is St Michele, just 20 minutes from home.  That’s a young cherry blossom tree on the bottom right.

April 20 – La Brigue, France

Went on a walking exercise in La Brigue, with my camera in tow, and was rewarded by this heavenly sight of a Forsythia tree.

April 21 – Fontan, France

Went to visit a neighbour and couldn’t control my shutter finger from clicking when I saw these tulips growing in his garden.

April 22….Aix en Provence, France

A long drive to Paris (12 hours) and the sight of rapeseed fields got my heart beating fast again!

April 23……Aix en Provence, France

We had to stop in Aix in search for a garage when the van was leaking copious amounts of oil again!  It was actually a two-day stopover, a forced holiday, so while waiting for the van to get fixed, we went around sightseeing.  This wisteria tree almost blew me away!

April 24… Aix en Provence, France

Finally, van is fixed and back on the road!   It’s amazing to be driving along paradise!  This is just a tiny portion of a long cherry blossoms display on the motorway.

April 25….Egly, France

Finally home in Paris!  This is the tulip garden of our neighbour and I had a fun time composing some shots!

April 26….Egly, France

And my own tulip garden!  See..they are so beautiful that even the aphids can’t resist!

April 27…..Egly, France

Not only good to marvel at, they even look delicious to eat!  This is also a neighbour’s garden blooms…

Street Photography: Trieste

I used to label my people images – “People-Watching” – but ever since I started getting hooked reading all about Street Photography, I thought these very same images of people I shoot in  public places would qualify as Street Photography. Not that any street or road has to be the setting. They could be inside a shopping mall or a restaurant, in the park or in the square: the main intention here is to catch that moment when you could write a story on the captions.  Since my niche is travel, I am making my own version of Street Photography where I could show  the social habits of the people living, working or simply visiting a city.

I shall start with the Italian town of  Trieste where we spent four days  early this month ( April).  Our van broke down for the Nth time and we had no choice but to stay a long weekend  waiting for that spare part to arrive!

Here is my take of Street Photography in Trieste:


A woman waiting for her turn at the  high-tech ticket machines of Trieste Train Station.


A local man reading the newspaper in one of the main squares ofthe city, here overlooking the hills and the Adriatic sea.

It was a Friday afternoon and these friends look picture perfect here infront of the Teatro Verdi, the Opera House named after the Italian composer, Giuseppe Verdi.


A tourist taking a photo of the most important square of  Trieste – the Piazza Unita’ d’ Italia. Noticeable is the style of the architecture that is very Hapsburg or of the Austrian Empire.  Trieste was under the rule of Austria for more than 500 years (1382 – 1918)


I was at the bus station waiting for the bus when this TV crew (I think  for some news report) suddenly appeared choosing people at random to interview!

 


A film shoot was going on just off the Grand Canal and everytime the camera stopped rolling, the actors donned their thick clothing.  It was freezing cold that morning!

 


Trieste is a university town hence at the strike of 5pm , bars and clubs start getting alive!

This bambina (little girl) is getting up close and personal with Boop..

A favorite pastime of Italians is the Passeggiata or the Afternoon Walk.  Men, women, families, singles, couples, friends – go walking on a leisurely pace along the main streets of the city (viale XX settembre – Via Torri – up to the main Piazza Unita d’Italia) wearing their best clothes,  best bags and best look.

Students or the ‘below 35 age group’ having a fun evening at one of the bars in Piazza Verdi.


Waiting for the bus on a damp and freezing day

 

 

Lovers occupy themselves while waiting for the green light


Stopping for a hot chocolate on a cold day


If you have a fashion model looking-like girlfriend,
photographing her is such a joy!

The elderly locals catching up on each other’s news at the Piazza Unita d’Italia

Trieste: Probably the dog fashion capital of Italy

I have been to a huge number of cities and towns in Italy but no place impressed me more – dogfashionwise – than that  northeastern seaport city of Trieste, near the Slovenian border.

It’s probably because of the winter cold, I don’t know, but it was not all freezing and rainy the whole time we were there (four days exactly!).  There were also bouts of sunny blue skies and warm weather but still, one in two dogs we saw were dressed to impress!  It might be that there is a  canine fashion trend going on in that city but whatever it is, I had a great time photographing their cuteness! 

So here they are, pampered with sartorial elegance, even more chic than their masters (or mistresses)!
 


Dogs are everywhere where we went, even in the bar where we had our “colazione” (Italian for breakfast).  I wonder if this puppy wears his hood sometimes!  Looks like a raincoat to me.

 Nice waterproof jacket for this furry friend.

 

Woolen sweater, probably knitted by the master’s mama!

Donning an AC Milan uniform, he must have been patted by David Beckham at some point!
 

Even in street parades, man’s best friend also finds his place amongst the biggies!

Also wearing the same checkered shirt!  That would be for a 5-year old size, I suppose!

A dainty lady in pink: complete with hood, belt and a tail strap!

A mistress can fashion her day’s accessories side by side with her dog.

Or simply use her dog as her own fashion accessory….!

Hungary: How to get to know a nation: At the garage

When travelling, one way of learning the cultural, ideological as well as social habits of a nation is to get more up close and personal with its people and that can easily be attained by going inside restaurants, general stores or any public establishment where people congregate for need of service. Since it is not always easy to invite yourself to their homes, their places of work where they serve the public is  good enough to discover a lot of things about their race.

In our case, we had that chance in a garage where we took the van for repair and these are what we found out:

Hungarian is the most difficult language in the planet but with a little wit and patience, it is not that all bad.

We couldn’t speak the language, we didn’t know what “garage” translates to (‘garázs’, as we later found out), but the words “auto” and “zerviz” in the signage above gave us the confidence that this is indeed the place we are looking for!

 

Even after gaining independence from the Communist regime in 1989, a picture of the Communist chief Vladimir Lenin, still remains in other places  –
 

…. but looking closer, it’s probably just a way to express their feelings towards technology vs the past regime…

This is the lovely dog who greets clients and sits with them at the warm reception room.  He prefers hanging next to the wood-burning stove, which his master, the owner of the garage, fills with wood every once in a while, as the weather outside is below zero.

 

He actually made our wait worth waiting for as he is quite a character!

Lesson: Hungarians, like any other else, love their dogs! One out of two Hungarian homes we passed by would have one or more dogs, but serving more as a natural alarm system with their barking! A few of them like the boy above are sweet and  friendly though!

Spring has arrived!

South of France, Alpes-Maritimes

After a very long winter that lasted till the first week of April, Spring has finally arrived and with it, the explosion of colourful flowers that puts me on a poetic mood again!

Through these flowers, come join me in my exaltation of the most beautiful season of the year – Spring!

“To analyze the charms of flowers is like dissecting music; it is one of those things which it is far better to enjoy, than to attempt to fully understand.”
– Henry T. Tuckerman

 

“Flowers construct the most charming geometries: circles like the sun, ovals, cones, curlicues and a variety of triangular eccentricities, which when viewed with the eye of a magnifying glass seem a Lilliputian frieze of psychedelic silhouettes.”
– Duane Michals, The Vanishing Act

 

 

 

“In the cherry blossom’s shade there’s no such thing as a stranger.”
– Issa

 

“Forsythia is pure joy. There is not an ounce, not a glimmer of sadness or even knowledge in forsythia. Pure, undiluted, untouched joy.”
– Anne Morrow Lindbergh

“I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.
– Claude Monet

“Different flowers look good to different people. Pick the flower when it is ready to be picked. The flower that you spent time to care for does not grow while the willow that you accidentally planted flourishes and gives shade.”
– Chinese Proverbs

“Break open
A cherry tree
And there are no flowers,
But the spring breeze
Brings forth myriad blossoms.”
–  Ikkyu Sojun, 1394-1481

“Let us open our leaves like a flower, and be passive and receptive.”
– John Keats