This post is a new departure on my blog since it represents a change from the information-based listicle or destination profile page. The idea came to me on a grey Swedish day as I skimmed through photos on my Facebook account. Many of them seemed to jump out of the screen at me, like moments suspended in time, transporting me back to places and memories. This caused me to think about the power of images to awaken dormant thoughts and feelings about ourselves, the places we have visited and the people we have met. I have chosen photos from the last few years that represent a specific sensation or a personal discovery. Warning: If you are looking for the trendy ’33 Ways to Save Money on the Best Beaches in Brazil’ type of blog post, this article is definitely not for you.
Paris, FranceIt all started in Paris many years ago. It was the summer of ’91 when I was eighteen years old and had just completed my first year at university in Dublin. A gang of eight or more of us shared a mice-infested apartment in racy rue Saint Denis. Through contacts we met a friend of a friend who, along with her brother, organized Bohemian parties with an assortment of characters from around the world at their apartment on rue Barbes in the 18th arrondissement. Removed from the constraints of rural Ireland, it was a breath of freedom and a singular growing up experience. I left France in 1995 and didn’t return for another twenty years. Arriving back this October, just weeks before the terror attacks, felt like autumn in more ways than one. How had the years passed so quickly? The summer of ’91 still feels as if it were just yesterday. I chose the photo of Jardin du Luxembourg because it evokes that sense of nostalgia.
Venice, ItalyGiven that I spent four years working in Milan, it is surprising that it took me until my second year to discover Venice. My first trip, like all the others, was a daytrip but one like no other. From the moment the vaporetto from Stazione Santa Lucia rounded the first corner of the Grand Canal I realized that this was indeed a unique maritime city. The reflection of the sunlight in the low winter sun enchanted me at every turn. By the time I disembarked at Piazza San Marco, I was ready to declare my undying love. Subsequent trips brought further discoveries such as the glass-making workshops in Murano, but nothing could ever compare with the magic of that first day. I chose the sunset photo because it shows the soft light of the late autumn and it was taken as the time approached to return to workaday Milan.
Iguazu Falls, Argentina/BrazilThe mighty Iguazu Falls straddle the border between Argentina and Brazil. Sleepy Paraguay, although it doesn’t share the falls, is only a short hop away. Without wanting to appear hackneyed or trite, words can hardly express either their power or their beauty. Close your eyes and picture over two kilometres of falling water in a subtropical forest against the backdrop of rainbows. No matter how perfect the photo, it is hard to capture the essence of a place that feels almost like a land before time. I chose the photo above to show the ambient humidity and the unique scenery that inspired a thousand WOW moments.
Granada, SpainSometimes a photo perfectly captures a moment in your life. To me the above photo is far more than the Alhambra Palace and its postcard perfect Generalife gardens, rather it represents a specific moment, namely the summer of 2013. Having spent three weeks studying Spanish and partying in Madrid, I had come to Andalusia to visit Granada, Seville and Cadiz. In Granada I stayed at the interestingly named Funky Meridiano Hostel where I have memories of chats in English, French, Italian and Spanish with others who were eager to share travel tips or life stories. Funnily enough, I still have occasional contact with one of them. Sure, the Alhambra was enchanting, but it was just the icing on the cake.
Cadiz, SpainThe portrait of Ramon Power hangs in Museo de las Cortes de Cadiz, which celebrates the historical moment when Spain and its colonies briefly united to throw off the yolk of French tyranny. It was supposed to be the point when the Spanish world reformed and embraced freedom- this, however, proved slightly more complex. The name ‘Power’ immediately grabbed my attention since it is the most common surname where I grew up in the south east of Ireland. Sure enough, he was of an Irish-Sevillian family who had emigrated to Puerto Rico and he represented San Juan at the Cortes. Underneath the painting it stated that he had also died in an epidemic during the proceedings- the typical luck of the Irish, needless to say. Upon reading this I realized that his name was not entirely unfamiliar to me. Years before at those parties in Paris a certain Enrique, who was also from San Juan, had mentioned something of this story to me. Likewise, I had been initially incredulous. Then, the memories of Paris flooded back in torrents. By the end of the day, I vowed to visit South America. Like everything else, it all began and ended in Paris.
If you have a photo or travel memory that you would like to share, please comment or send an email to the address at the bottom of the page.
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