I am a lover of all things French and a self-proclaimed student of art of life. I say, of art de vivre, because for me this form of art is developed by the French to its best expression)) In this post I want to share what I have learnt so far from them and the impressions of our road trip in the South of France.
The start was here, in Perpignan, and I was slightly unimpressed by it. There was not enough Frenchness there to my taste, which is touristic and brought up by the classical images of Paris and Provence. That changed when we came to Montpellier, a pretty city, totally unknown to me. It had all the elegance of the French city, the signature architecture and the color scheme, and I immediately fell in love.
Once I was talking to a friend about my blog and noticed: “Everyone says that the blog must give something, and I don’t know what my blog can give to the reader”. Her answer was: “Your blog can show your search for meaning. And it has value. You are searching for meaning, for beauty in your everyday life – you don’t create those glamorous Instagram accounts, but collect your doors and things you like. Because not everyone knows what he likes. And you can show your way”.
The backyards of Oslo are charming and mysterious. They are hidden behind wooden doors or iron gates. Some are simple, with geometric shapes of facades. Some are full of life, with fountains, gardens, romantic benches under the trees. When I walk through my favorite neighborhood of Gruneløkka and pass by the gates, I always slow down and peek into the backyard, wandering at its secret life, imagining how people use it. Do children play there? Do they make backyard parties there?
Once when I was on a photo walk, I’ve seen an open gate – and after a moment of hesitation I sneaked inside and stood there. Just a backyard, just a girl with a camera. But that joy of explorer was reaching to the stars, as I stood there, happy as a child. After that I wondered if I should sneak into more backyards, waiting by the gate until someone was passing through 🙂 That would guarantee me a status of a local weirdo, I guess. I decided to wait on that one, and just make photos through the gates and doors. That day became an adventure for my explorer spirit.
After I have caught an explorer excitement about the city where I live here, I was inspired to share the collections of things that catch my attention. Like my collection of backyards, or balconies, or details of Oslo. In my first years in this city I was sharing my collections of doors, old cars and lights of Oslo on Facebook. Then when Instagram came, and I have seen shots of the beautiful doors, I was again running around the city looking for the pretty doors and facades. My friend even mentioned that I should post more photos of myself than of doors (but I disagree :)).
I also want to introduce the idea of micro exploring. That concept came to my mind yesterday, but I would not be surprised if it already exists (as it often happens with some ideas occurring to me :)). A quick search of blogs here on WordPress led to the Ted talk by Alastair Humphreys who introduces the notion of micro adventure. A further research is to be done. But here I am not to claim the originality of the idea, but to speak my heart about it. I feel that this is what the world needs right now. Or maybe, this is what I need right now :)) A shift of focus. The discovery of beauty in my immediate surroundings.
Why I am so afraid to feel my negative emotions? Why when I feel despair or anxiety rising up do I want to run and hide, to distract myself, to do anything but avoid feeling what I feel? I am not a good runner in sports, but I am a very good runner from my fears. Isn’t it generally a human condition? We try to stop ourselves from feeling the way we consider negative. But what if we stop stopping – and start exploring?
Feeling is healing, I have recently heard in a yin yoga class. And I loved that thought. But I am so good in suppressing the feelings I don’t like – even though I consider myself very self-conscientious and in touch with my inner life. But it shows in situations where I face really uncomfortable emotions that I have no interest for self-inquiry. I just would love to switch the channel and be in a totally different state. As much as I respect Tony Robbins and all that philosophy of quantum leaps and switching states, I want to answer to that call for facing my emotion. I feel that it can bring me closer to my true self.
I am a lover of colors and think that the life is too short to be less than colorful. When asked about my favorite color I used to answer: the rainbow (before I knew the symbolism of rainbow :)). I love how multiple colors can play together and I find nature to be a perfect example of it. We people got a bit too serious with rules, as well for color combinations, and prefer to wear black if we want to look stylish. I respect stylish people – but really inspired I get by individuals who are not afraid of showing their true color and mixing it up. Like Frida Kahlo. Like those fashion bloggers who make you smile with their sprinkle alert.
If cities were people, what kind of person your city would be? I have lived in several cities around Europe and they were sassy, cosmopolite, rich in culture and history. Staying in Oslo after that was like staying with a relative in a village. Predictable, familiar, but, gosh, somehow boring and uninspiring. It took me several years to hack the code of Oslo. Its charm does not serve itself as a flirty social butterfly at a cocktail party. Instead it is to be explored and discovered, and if you have the appreciation for detail, you will be rewarded in your search for beauty.
This summer I didn’t travel as much as I used to. The positive effect of it: I had time to browse my old photos (because usually I just take them and never look back at them while rushing forward). I have discovered a lot of beauty which I shot this February while traveling around Catalonia and Southern France. So, if there are no trips to share from this summer, there is enough to share from this winter. Which is also fine! 🙂
Today I will start posting about our road trip in Southern France. Our route was: Barcelona – Perpignan – Montpellier – Avignon – Aix-en-Provence – Nimes. We stayed a night in every town, except for Avignon and Nimes where we stayed for two nights, and the whole route took totally one week. Staying every night in a new location can be also draining as we found out. As exciting as it is, traveling can be a hard job 😉 But we don’t complain!
So our first stop was Perpignan, just three hours drive from Barcelona. Riding on French motorway is fun, listening to the French radio and Spanish GPS. We successfully missed the exit to Perpignan centre and had to drive 7 km further – just to turn around and drive 7 km back to the centre. Beware of that, if you decide to go to Perpignan. It comes on you unexpectedly.