Exploring the City – Getting Started

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You’ve seen them.. the urban explorers.. Huge packpacks..2 cameras hanging around their neck.. walking stick, hiking boots, a battered map in their hand.. The epitome of the modern day adventurer. You’re just waiting to hear them say –

“Livingston, I presume?”

But what are they doing? They are taking the same old picture of the Eiffel Tower …following the same herd to and across the Charles Bridge .. joining the masses in front of the Parliment Building..

Parliment Building in Budapest, Hungary from the south side of the river.

Parliment Building in Budapest, Hungary from the south side of the river.

If you are going to see iconic landmarks in a city, a map is hardly neccesary. Just look for the biggest conglomeration of people with cameras and tag a long.. and make sure it is, at least midday because adventure may wait for no man, but it can,by God, wait until after breakfast..

Arles, France

Arles, France at Sunset

Don’t get me wrong.. seeing the landmarks is one of the reasons we travel to different cities.. Can you imagine going to Paris and NOT seeing the Eiffel Tower..or the Arc de Triomphe .. or the Louvre?  Of course not..  But exploring a city is so much more…

It’s side streets and back alleys.. it’s small hidden cafes and a neighborhood bakery. It’s an open air market with vendors yelling unintelligible things in very loud voices.. It’s watching the sunrise over a new place.. and sunsets with new friends..

Ok..with that being said, there is no “wrong” way to explore during your vacation..some ways are just more right. Let’s go over a few of the different ways you can see what you “must see” and still have a relaxing vacation..

Budapest - Bridge at Twilight

Budapest – Bridge at Twilight

1. Walk.. walk..and walk some more…  Walking, by far, is the most common way to get out and about.. Map or no map, walking allows you to enjoy more of the sights, sounds and even, the smell of your surroundings.. walking gives you total immersion in your enviroment..but it takes the most time and energy..  Granted, you can add the subway or buses to save time, but that’s not really walking ..is it?

2. Hop On/Hop Off Bus Tours …  My opinion, the next best thing to walking… You “hop off” at your destination..take photos..explore the surrounding area (I have been know to walk to the next stop) … and “hop on” the next bus to the next spot.. There is no tour, the bus is just a ride between landmarks.  Most cities have some version and most are fairly inexpensive. Whenever I visit a new city, at least one 24 hour period is devoted to seeing the landmarks..and I usually choose this way to do it.

3. Bicycle … This is another good choice but it takes common sense, a degree of caution and, in most cities, nerves of steel.  It is a fairly quick way to travel that still allows you to enjoy your surroundings, even more so going uphill..which usually morphs from cycling back to just walking.. only this time, walking AND pushing..  My biggest complaint about this is taking care of the bicycle..if you want to go inside a museum or gallery, you have to lock it up.. carry your helmet ..

4. Guided Tours … My least favorite of all ways … They have their place,of course, but just not my cup of tea.  I took a mountain wine tour outside of Batumi, Georgia that was very enjoyable..even though the tour guide spoke only Russian and I understood only one word in 10.. Still, the tour was fun, the other “tourists” were pleasant and a great meal was included.. Still, having to move when everyone else moved, stop when everyone else stopped and, even worse, was having to pass up on great photos because noone else wanted to stop..

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Eiffel Tower — Nightime from a Boat

Packing for a day trip can be as much an adventure as the actual trip .. we’ll talk about what to pack..and why.. next time..

Until then  HAPPY TRAVELS!

Travel with Steve              Photography as Art                       Prints and Postcards

Interesting Entrance to a playground in Kyiv, Ukraine

Interesting Entrance to a Playground

Arles ..

To be perfectly honest, I love Southern France..  This was my second trip here and the 3rd will be next May for a new photography exhibition in Arles.

Transfers from the airport to the center (or St. Charles Station) are extremely easy and inexpensive.  There is a bus that runs about every 15 – 20 minutes and costs 9 Euros..  There is also a shuttle to the train that is free but you must have a train ticket to board.  The biggest problem I encountered was that the ticket booth for the train did not take cash. Again, it needed a credit card with the microchip. Common in Europe…not so much from the USA.  

St. Charles - The main station in Marseille

St. Charles – The main station in Marseille

Since Arles was my first stop on this leg of the journey, I needed a train ticket from the airport to Arles. I was told that you can buy a ticket from the attendant on the train as he comes to check tickets. This actually proved to be the case and I was able to purchase my ticket as the train pulled into Gare de Arles.. That’s right..I did not have a ticket TO Arles but I was able to buy one as I left the train IN Arles.. 

Gare de Arles - Train Station

Gare de Arles – Train Station

Arles is a quiet little town on the Rhone in southern France. It has a long history and was very important in the days of the Roamn empire, as both a seat of government and a supply point for the Roman armies. The Arles Coliseium, second only to the Colisieum in Rome, is a major attraction.

Inside the Coliseum

Inside the Coliseum

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Empty Morning Streets

I, personally, like it more for the quiet side streets and cafes.. the open markets on the weekends and the laid back artist commune atmosphere.

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Avoiding the Crowds

                                                                                                                       

 

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Weekend Market

Since this trip was planned late and Arles is busy during the first week of July, I wound up staying across the river in the town of Forques. A nice little 20 minute walk along the river, past rice fields and cottages, and you will find yourself looking across the river to Arles.  The veiw of the left bank of the Rhone is especially dramatic in the evening as the sun sets and paints the town in red and gold.

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Posts from France … Waiting

Here I am in Arles, where I was exhibiting photographs for the Nuit de la Roquette..at FreeSpace Gallery. 16 photos were hung and only 7 remain. Whether the missing ones are in someone’s flat or my outside exhibition was merely vandalized, I guess I will never know. Hopefully they are safe and sound hanging on a wall somewhere. I worry about them all alone in the city..

Since I am a complete I-Pad dweeb and cannot figure out how to upload photos to the blog without my computer, posts from France ( with photos) will have to wait until I get back to Kiev. Lesson learned … take computer and not just the I-Pad until you get it figured out.

I-Pad is awesome for instant gratificationon Facebook….feel free to add me as a friend and see photos there. :). But now I realize I should carry my computer too.. Like I said… Lesson learned.

Enjoy your week everyone!