This will be the start of my road trip tale. Even though New York can feel like a whole universe, we wanted to see more. Once you fly over the ocean, you want to explore – but what to choose? USA is such a big country, and there is so much to visit! We settled on traveling along the East Coast – visiting three cities in the North (New York, Philly and Washington), flying to Atlanta and from there driving through Savannah and down South, all the way through Florida, visiting Saint Augustin, Cocoa Beach, Orlando, the natural park of Everglades, Miami and all the way down to Key West, at the end of the island chain stretching between the ocean and the Caribbean sea.
So, after three days in New York we took an early train to Philadelphia. It was a rainy day in NYC, good enough to leave the place – but Philly expected us with low temps around zero, cold wind and light snow. That’s why the alternative title to this post was “Feeling Chilly in Philly” 🙂 And as we usually do our exploring by walking, the weather made it challenging. But we made it any way, along with some disappointments and enchantments. Here I will share them all.
Norwegian airline had this funny ad when launching their flights to USA. We see typical American images – Italian mafia-looking guys on the corner, roller-skating girls on a beach promenade, policemen holding a coffee cup and a donut – everyone on hold, every movement frozen. Then the red-tailed Norwegian plane lands and – “action”. Traffic starts moving and honking, Italians start talking, the policemen bite those donuts, the girls roll. Two Norwegian girls cross the street and a handsome guy asks them “How are you doin’?” And they say excited to each other: “Just like in the movies”.
What can I say, folks, about my first time in NYC? It’s just like in the movies! I kept on recognizing everything that I’d seen million times before. The subway entrances, the smoke from the sewer, the steps leading to the front door (like in “Sex and the City”), the fire staircases on the facades. And no matter the cold, the noise, the overpriced dinners – it was a thrilling feeling.
Yesterday we were walking in the heat of +30 in Miami and watching the city from the metro mover, a little train going really high. Today we were looking at the sunrise over the snow-covered mountains of Pyrenees while landing in Barcelona. It means that we are back! Back from our USA road trip. Which will be The Epic Road Trip of my life. But that I will realize much later.
I have missed my home and my “normal” life. My bed, my fridge and my kettle. I have missed this blog! I have heard that some of you have missed me too (salut, Vero and Snow!) – oh, that is so touching! I have missed you too!
I was away for three weeks and I thought I’d throw an occasional post here (so I never warned there would be such a long silence). I was dreaming once of traveling and blogging along the way. But now really I don’t know how people do it. Because after a day of exploring – of driving, searching and finding, asking and learning – my mind was exploding inside my head (does exploring equal exploding?😆). And to create a blog post was the last idea I would pick up. So much energy went to process all the inputs, that I has nothing left to make an output. How do those travel bloggers do it?
What I appreciated during this time is Instagram (yes, I am back on it. After a year of a break from it I am back). Especially its function of Stories (sharing photos and videos just for 24 hours). I would share them in the evening, creating a visual diary of my day – without much strife for perfection. And while I have bags to unpack and million of photos to go through on my camera – I would share here some images from Instagram. If you follow me there, you’ve seen them all (if you want to follow, you’ll find me by @marina.exploring). Images and words. Because with all the respect for the visual bit, I really love words!
The last weekend saw us flying to Seville for the bachelorette party of my dear friend. Most of them came from Oslo, some flew in from Amsterdam and Brusseles, and the two of us came as the last ones from Barcelona. While we were sitting on a late night plane, the crowd was already partying and bonding with another bachelor party from England. My friend said that they were cute and funny, but their minds got blown when asking “So where are you guys coming from?” She says, they were lost in the second phrase already.
“So, they are from Belarus and we are from Ukraine, she is from Venezuela, and he is Columbian. But we live in Norway. And he lives in Amsterdam. While she lives in Belgium. But the wedding is gonna be in Italy because the groom is Italian”. Are you still with me? :)) And then they asked the bachelor party: “What about you?” – “Well, we all are from UK, the bride is British, and the wedding will be in Britain”.
We arrived later from Barcelona. Otherwise we could also add to the mess: “We are Ukrainians, one lived in Netherlands, one lived in Norway, but now we are living in Barcelona”. And this is when I realized that this my normal life and this is my tribe. The international crowd who lived here and there, and then they moved – and possibly they still don’t settle. Maybe, you will find them in new places soon. And this is totally normal in my world.
But I wanted to write this post sharing my love for Seville, actually. This is why I started it. I didn’t take photos this time – and I even didn’t intend it in the heat of the weekend. But I went through my old images of Seville and found some pretty things.
Winter is the season when I feel the acute need to hunt for the light and color. Today my memory brought back to me one nice winter experience that I want to share here.
Two years ago we were doing a road trip through the Southern France and stayed one day and one night in the town of Aix-en-Provence. I wish we had stayed there longer because this one is an especially pretty town, though every town on our itineary was pretty. We had come to Aix-en-Provence after four French towns, and, to be honest, we were more tired than impressed. This is when we felt that traveling is not just all excitement as most of us use to believe. Sometimes you feel more hunger for your own home kitchen and your couch than for another restaurant and hotel :))
I guess, I was more hit by the beauty of Aix-en-Provence later – looking at my photos of it, than in the moment of walking those streets. Maybe you know that this town was a favorite place of many artists, Paul Cezanne being one of them. I am a great lover of impressionists and I can see why many of them were inspired by Provence. And after studying the photos of Aix-en-Provence I can imagine where their inspiration sprang from. Join me if you want to feel like that artist! 🙂
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.
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.