Monday, March 13, 2023

Paris 2023-some final thoughts

 I recently spent 12 days in Paris the first two weeks in March.

Some last observations about the trip:

I’ll never travel again without photographing the exterior and contents of my suitcase, somehow the brand/make of the luggage is a big deal to airlines when looking for it beyond “hard shell gray suitcase”

Always consider your bag internationally may get misplaced, what s your worst case  for clothes, gear etc. I will also never travel again without an Apple Air Tag tracker in my bag.

People smoke a lot in Paris and not only old people, a surprisedly large number of young people. It seems the younger generation did not get the whole cancer memo.

It seems everyone, including “street people “ have smart phones, and are generally on them ALL THE TIME.

Lots of self cleaning public toilets in Paris (and I do not mean Porta potties)  and they are free, what a concept to keep people from having to piss in the bushes in the park. NOLA could take a lesson there in particular.

The weather for the entire 12 days was generally overcast and gray, and rarely got above 50° and it seemed like it was also a damp cold too, the fashion tradition of wearing a scarf for men as well as women was great for me as well as my vest and cap I wore just about every day.

The photo “body count” was a bit over 3,000 digital files, works out to 300 photos of day every day for the 10 days of shooting, a pretty solid inventory of raw material. Paris is a like NYC a great place to do street photography and I was always looking for ironic juxtapositions which seems to have made up 90% of the images of shot. I never found a camera store open so I just shot one roll of film with the Nikon 28Tii I took along.

The food was the biggest disappointment, it was not bad, and generally I could describe it as good but I was expecting great. The pastries and bread where again good but the bread although cheap (a Euro for one baguette ) was no better than what you might find at Whole Foods and the pastries were no better by any degree than when you might find in New Orleans-IMHO.

People were for the most part very nice to us, the trope of the snotty Frenchman was rarely found and when encountered it was someone in their late 50 and 60.
Interestingly, most of the food service people we met were from other counties, Morocco, Spain etc. Lots of people when what I call French-African background and they seem to fit into the culture pretty well. I spoke nearly no French beyond the basic greetings and thanks but most folks where understanding and good with it.

Where as Italy is a very Italian place-food culture etc Paris is a very international place, lots of mixing and interesting blending of things. I guess NYC is a little like that too.

The general strike initially was not an issue for us-aside from the METRO being closed down, but the garbage men were on strike too and it was piling up as we were leaving. Lots of rumors about air traffic also going on strike that had us a little worried too. The only time it was a real issue was on the last day I got tickets to see the catacombs and they were that day also on strike.

There is a lot to be said culturally for a big city with an extensive METRO or mass transit system that takes you just about anywhere. The Parisians where for the most part a pretty fit people who seem to do a lot of walking, biking and keeping fit. Unlike the people you might find in any given Walmart in the USA. It’s a sign of my life that young people on the Paris METRO often would get up and offer me their seat. Is that awareness of my worn out condition or politeness? I’m not sure that is a common practice in the USA.

It’s fun to travel but its nice to be home, and we’re home for a while, Mardi Gras and Paris printing to be done and I’ll start spring cleaning at the studio soon in prep for the 2023 studio portrait season out there at the Tyson studio. We’re done with international travel for a while I think, it is just so physically hard. We did pretty well with money, I budgeted 100€ per person per day and it ended up being closer to 45€ each. Food at restaurants is reasonable by USA standards.

I think that’s all the high points from the trip, I hope you have enjoyed my travel musings and photos, of course I’ve ben posting a lot on my @fakestanstrembicki instagram too.

Au Revoir


Sunday, October 20, 2019

A few thoughts on my 2019 Italian trip

A few thoughts about my Italian trip.

1. Having travelled so much thru Italy North of Rome I am not sure sure what I expected. We found ourselves in a lot of Italian, seashore, resort communities. That’s where the places to eat and stay are in that part of the world and unless you’re into the agrotourism scene that’s what you’ll find. For the five days we were in Sicily I thought finding Greek ruins would be easier and especially ones that were not so touristed but that was not the case, perhaps I should have done more extensive research. I am pretty much done with visiting Roman and Greek amphitheaters honestly from a photo standpoint they are just not that interesting.

2. Mt. Etna was a very cool place and gets you in touch with the forces of nature, Rosemary really wants to go to Hawaii now. With the limitation of how the tours go there, its a hard place to photograph, especially if you’re a hard core landscape person, which we all know I am not. Also working at 9,000 feet of elevation is a real consideration.

3. Naples and Sicily in my mind prior to the trip really had me worried about crime and especially getting my camera or rental car stolen or broken into. Now I don’t think its any worse than anyplace else in Italy, you gotta be careful and aware but its not like Rome where I think crime is much more of an issue. Rosemary said she felt safer in Naples than downtown STL.

4, Having done a short week in Sicily I think I’m good now and don’t feel any strong desire to get back there. I can see myself returning to Florence or the far north of the country but I think I got enough of the that place. The Amalfi coast was fine but its really a resort/tourist experience and that comes from someone who likes Venice and Florence.

5. I always said for the most part, its easy to take advantage of public transportation in Tuscany and the North. I thought that might be true of the south but its not, a rental car is important but its also a hassle to park and the mountain roads are not for the faint hearted. It can be a challenge but so many places are just not well served as they are in the north by trains or busses.

6. I did the $10 a day Verizon international phone plan for two weeks and it worked well enough, but if I went back for a longer trip I think the cost is not worth it. I was in a group of 5 of us and group communication became an issue. I keep wandering off to photograph and often had to call and reform with the pack.

7. For an October trip in the south I used all the clothes I took with me with the exception of my beach sandals and bathing suit, if I would have done it again, I’d have taken along more long sleeve shirts with me, lots of cool nights are the higher elevations or along the coast. Still my minimal packing plan worked for me.

8. An observation of sorts about places to stay, Ikea has the AirB&B, Bed and Breakfast, and small places to stay market all sewn up, if you do not like that kind of furniture or kitchen gear you’re not going to like it there as that it seems is all you’ll find. I was surprised that the AirB&B market was so entrenched there, and of course some better than others but lots to choose from and most of them were pure income places, it was clear no one really lived in any of the places stayed, they were all full time AirB&B’s.

9. Lastly a gear note, I am a compulsive over packer in terms of photo gear but this trip I decided on one body, my Nikon Z7 and two zooms, a 24-70 and a 14-30. It worked great and I ended up using the 14-30 more than anything else.

So in the end the trip did manage to scratch my itch to return to Italy, it had been 4 years since I was last there and I felt like I needed to reconnect with the place. I will return again in a few years now both Rosemary and I want to concentrate on traveling in the USA for a while.

Thats the final Italy report now to work thru the images and get over my jet lag, and oh yes, more more thing, somehow I managed to loose a pound in weight! The Medditerrian diet works!

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Friday, October 11, 2019

Mt. Etna and the Volcano

First tip, its 9,000 ft elevation so don't try to hike the entire way. We took the cable car.

Second tip, get there early to avoid the crowds.

You might even see and eruption.

Thursday, October 10, 2019