Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Blown Away

I promised myself I would blog more about my adventures in France. Well, I failed. I found it more convenient to snap photos and share them on Instagram than to spend more time in front of my computer as I already do that for work. I've been busy -  shooting photos and videos and enjoying my trip. So to make up for not blogging, here's a compilation of the events I've managed to keep in my little camera.

Maybe you'll understand how this windy little region swept me off my feet and blew me away. Enjoy watching. 

Blown Away from Denise Tolentino on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

First Dip

I stood in knee-deep water clutching my shoulders and moved about an inch deeper every 2 minutes. I looked back at the old woman on the beach. She was staring at me with concern, probably because I looked more like someone contemplating suicide than someone about to go for a swim.

I've been in France for more than a week now and I figured it was time to face my fear of "cold" water and just go for it. After all, how could I (pardon the pun), fully immerse myself in this country if I didn't soak up (there I go again) every bit of it... including 18°C water. Okay, I exaggerated, maybe it was around 21°C, I don't know.

I gazed around one last time, at the vast parking lot filled with holiday camper vans, at the senior citizens tanning beside their striped beach parasols, at the sparkling water in front of me with little boats bouncing up and down, and then up, at the clear sky with the sun toasting my skin. It looked like summer. It was summer, but the f*cking water didn't get the memo.

Oh well, here we go
. With one deep breath I finally took the plunge, wiggled around the water for a bit and then got out. It wasn't that bad. In fact, it felt really nice. Refreshing and awakening, as proven by all the hairs of my skin standing at attention. 

Like many of my experiences here so far, this was another first time.

You know that famous motivational question: "When was the last time you did something for the first time?" Here, my answer is always: yesterday or just a while ago or just now.

It's been really wonderful seeing, tasting and experiencing things for the first time. Most especially the things that Arnaud only used to tell me about. "One day we'll take my van and drive to the salt area of Guerande and you will see, it's really nice."

It wasn't nice, it was for me, breathtaking. And realizing right then and there that I was experiencing something that I only used to imagine in my head, that was really something. And so, continues (as our friend JonJon says) "Les Aventures de Denise Nicole". To many more firsts and to many more dips for the rest of this trip... I'm ready. :) 

France is full of lovely homes. This one belongs to the equally lovely Reitzer family. 

Merienda time in their lush garden

First time: raspberry picking (plus other fruits from the Reitzer's garden)

Camper Van Culture in Quiberon - we live in a camper during weekdays too (it belongs to Arnaud's mom)

Sailing in Saint Nazaire

Sun worshippers of Quiberon

The boys at the Marais Salants, Guerande

 After work beer and sunset

Arnaud leading me to the "secret spot"

Finally, overlooking THE secret spot (which I'm not allowed to show here :)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

2 Days in Paris

"Did you plan this?" I said in half amazement and half disbelief. 

We were walking down one of the steep and narrow cobble stone streets of Montmartre when I noticed a man playing the accordion, just outside a quaint corner cafe of an 18th century building, when up ahead I spotted a groom carrying his blushing bride in his arms. I fumbled for my camera and almost bumped into a nice old man in a fancy hat and suit walking with his cane. "Yes," Arnaud joked. "I set this up for you!" 

I knew Paris was pretty. But I didn't expect to find myself in the middle of a movie-like scenario - well more specifically in Montmartre. 

I couldn't close my eyes, and I couldn't stop walking. I didn't even give my body time to feel jet lagged. And because of my lack of recognition of a 10:30 pm sunset, we walked around for at least 8 hours and this was straight after my 12 hour flight. 

I had a great time, I enjoyed my first fresh baguette and coffee al fresco, got to see some of the monuments among other things, but in the end, I didn't mind leaving. 

Paris is awesome and there really is so much to do and see, but it's still a city - hurrying pedestrians, short-tempered drivers, scattered trash and all.

Then there's the tourists. I looked at the hoards and hoards of people with raised phones and tablets and thought, this is one element they conveniently leave out of the movies.

I really didn't want to go where there was a line and didn't want to stay where crowds gathered. So Arnaud and I decided to head out earlier than planned. "Let's go somewhere people don't have photos of yet." I told him. So for now pretty old Paris, Au revoir! These two will be by the coast.