Ahh Étretat!

I have decided to dive fully into my work and surround myself by the people and things that make me happy. 
Travelling. Photography. Love. Poetry. Sea. Sea Gulls. 
You can find all of this in Étretat (pronounced at-rr-taa). This little farming town, located in Upper Normandy is famous for its über spectacular cliffs, one of which forms a natural arch. The town appears in the novel The Hollow Needle wherein Arsène Lupin, the Gentleman Thief (a fictional character who appears in a series of detective novels created by Maurice Leblanc or in short France’s answer to Sherlock Holmes) finds the hidden treasure of the Kings of France in this arched cliff.
 

Another famous admirer of Étretat is the Father of Impressionist painting, Claude Monet, who painted the cliffs at various times of day and during various seasons as well. One of my favourite writers Guy de Maupassant spent most of his childhood in this town.

On this particular weekend, the sun decided to come out and on our way to the cliffs, we saw this lovely horse grazing away on a farm. I just had to stop and take a picture. Isn’t he/she the cutest horse ever? I love the curious look on his/her face as I approached. He/she even let me pet him/her for a while and then realizing I had no treats to offer, he/she galloped away on the massive farm. *sniff* I have developed a liking for horses recently. They are one of the reasons, I am happy to live in the French countryside. I have no idea why but Goa (my hometown) never seemed too keen to integrate horses into the fauna fabric. I believe the weather conditions are either too hot or humid for the horses to adapt to. 

Finally we reached Étretat. The scene was perfect (except for the cold springtime winds and unsexy beach hair). There was just the right amount of sun, waves, pebbles and clouds. This is a perfect day trip from any point in the north-west of France. Although one must check the weather conditions and pick a day when the sun is shining or else the mood isn’t quite vivant in the town. For lunch, head to one of the numerous crêperies and charming restos (very French for restaurant) dotting the little town. There are a few souvenir shops and antique stores in the centre but they seemed a bit too expensive for my liking.  

Finally, you know it’s spring when the famous nomadic-inhabitants have returned to their homes in the cliffs. The sea gulls! They’re not the friendliest lot and they won’t pose too long for a photo. But there is still something captivating about them. They are an extension of the seas and the skies, the vast mysterious blues. The shrill cries, the flight, riding with the winds and not a care in the world. The sea gull is synonymous with a feeling we fight for everyday. The feeling so many die for and others take for granted. Freedom. 

High on Burano

After leaving Murano, all sad and droopy, I headed to Burano, another island situated towards the north of the Venetian lagoon. You know how visuals can make you instantly happy? That’s what Burano does for you! The island can literally make you joyful in an instant! Here’s why. Every house on the island is painted in the brightest shade of every colour under the sun! There is really nothing other than this colourful atmosphere to experience on the island but I would say it’s is a must see. Burano’s houses belong mostly to fishermen who would paint the houses in bright hues in order to spot them while fishing from the lagoon. The island was made famous mainly by their wives would make lace and that tradition has continued even today. The traditional methods of making Burano lace are painstakingly long and hence the products are very expensive. The weather was not really the best in the month of April, it rained a lot and it was all cloudy and windy but regardless, the ambience of Burano remains bright and cheerful! 

My love affair with Venice

I was in Venice twice this year, once with my mom and once on my own. And guess what, I’m going to Italy for Christmas! Well I will be mostly in Rome but you never know I might just head to Venice. Our connection is just way to strong. These Venice pictures have been lying around for ages now (I just havent had the time to upload my Venice photos from April and July!).  Well on pondering over that excuse, it’s not true either, I’ve just been really lazy. 
So the thing about Venice is that most tourists will stick to the areas on the mainland like Piazza San Marco, the Doge’s Palace, etc. Not many people wander further up the Venetian Lagoon to visit the islands of Murano and Burano. Today’s I’ve uploaded my photos from Murano. A little history: Murano has been producing the world renowned Murano glassware since the early 1200s. These glass-makers were ordered to move their foundries from mainland Venice to curb fires (as most Venetian houses has wooden frames). Cut to 2010: Murano still carries out the art of glass making and some of the craftsmen are more than willing to give you a demonstration. Although after the demonstration you are usually expected to buy some products from the shop. The people in Murano tend to be a bit aloof just like in Venice (I have remarked that generally the northern parts of European countries tend to have many prudish people. I live in Normandy, north of France, so I deal with a lot of prissy folk! all in a day’s work) but there is enough mesmerising architecture and shops around to keep your spirits up. There’s quite a few churches on the island, so I would recommend an entire day to take in the whole of Murano. I didn’t have too much time as I also wanted to see Burano which is a good 30 mins away (?) so I speed walked through most of the place with my little digicam and here’s the best of what I got.

Didn’t I tell you that the architecture is stunning?
The canal that you cross to visit the glass makers’ workshops
Boy with flower cart!
Murano has tons of glass artefacts all over the place. Some strange, some beautiful and some just meaningless!
Pretty street lamps on buildings!
I’m a huuuuge fan of architecture but what I love most are doors and windows!
Venice and it’s islands are a storehouse of intricately carved arches and doors!
Tower right in the middle of the island and you see that strange blue object before it? That’s pure Murano glass as well.
So I finally found a French couple who found a glass-maker who was willing to give us a demonstration of how to shape the glass into priceless objets. 
The man was such a wizard and I didn’t even have the time to take a picture of the entire process because a) we were so mesmerised by the sheer beauty of his craft b) the fire from the oven was overwhelming c) I was trying my best to be in the moment for my self rather than my camera and sure enough it worked. I have this one picture of the finished product though. The glass-maker created a beautiful bluish-green unicorn (all in a span of 20 seconds!). Human miracles! :) 
“Ecco e uno chiesa?” “Non signorina, una chiesa!”
As I was wondering around, I saw this path leading to some place. The biggest benefit of travelling alone? You can take any path you want! and so I started on this one.
It lead to a very beautiful cemetery. What struck me the most was how many people were in there decorating the graves of their loved ones. I couldn’t help thinking of my father and his unkempt grave back home. 
The cemetery was filled with flowers! I know this is not a good shot but it was the only place where there weren’t any people around but there were still flowers. Oh! I’m always making silly bets with myself and I made a bet that if i found someone’s grave with my name on it, I would buy flowers and decorate it. So here’s the thing, my real (non blog) name is quite rare and it came as a surprise when one of the few flowerless graves belonged to my ”namesake”! Life is full of mystery! I couldn’t find a florist, but I was determined to put my offering on the woman’s grave. There was a park a few minutes away and I rushed over there and plucked as many pretty wild flowers as I could and came back and completed my task. I have no idea what I was pulling off. Maybe trying to comfort a guilty conscience which was not coming to terms that those flowers belonged to another person I buried four months ago! I recall crying for a while.
Ciao Murano, I leave with a heavy heart.