When we travel, sometimes we pretend we do it for history or art or culture, or simply relaxation. But really - if we're honest - we travel for food. And my goodness we had some good food on our European adventure. The greatest bolognaise of my life in Bologna; the best fluffy yet chewy pizza in the dodgiest of Italian port cities; the herby pot of sausages and lentils in Nice; the baguettes in every tiny French town we drove through; the roquefort in - yep - Roquefort; the olives and cured pig in Cadiz; the gelato everywhere...
But, strangely, I rarely take photos of my food when I'm travelling (or when I'm not travelling, for that matter). This is for three main reasons:
1) Everything looks so damn tasty and I'm pretty much permanently hungry so half the dish is normally inhaled before I even think about taking a snap.
2) I'm normally travelling with my anti-social media, anti-camera, pro-living in the moment husband who would mock me mercilessly if I pulled out my camera at the start of every meal.
3) I'd mock myself mercilessly too if I pulled out my camera at the start of every meal. Basically - I'm too self-conscious and too afraid of being a cliche. Sad and somewhat shallow but true.
All of which is a long winded way of explaining why this is five favourite snaps of people, not food. And I'm quite happy that it is about people. Holiday snaps without people - without action and movement and life - can get a bit soulless after awhile, I think.
Lecce, Italy. This one fits with my 'the prettiest places don't always make for the best travel photos' theory. We spent three nights in Lecce, in a grand old hotel, and it was nice. It was a typical Italian city with a lovely centro storico, lots of alleyways and piazzas. And it had it's fair share of grime and graffiti too. Pretty and gritty in equal measure. But, packed with families and holiday makers, it was full of life. (And gelato - oh man! The gelato in Lecce was both plentiful and delicious!).
I love this shot. I love how the strong afternoon sun brings out the colours and frames the family, the tweety bird balloon providing a focal point. I love the contrast between the extended family out for a stroll and the graffiti covered wall. I love the guy on the bike, so Italian in his polo shirt and sunglasses, about to disappear into the shadow.
Lecce, Italy. There's the graffiti and the bin and the dirt of the street. But there's also family good times, gelato in the shade, relaxed holiday vibes. And now I want gelato. Damn.
Lisbon, Portugal. There is a lot of snobbery about cruising. Unwarranted, I think. One day I'll write a post about all the reasons we love to cruise, and I swear it'll make you go out and book one right away. But for now I'll just tell you that leaving port on a giant boat is a wonderful thing. The views you get as you slowly pull away- such a different perspective on a city.
I love all the traditions around leaving port too. It's normally perfectly timed for aperitivo hour, so everyone gathers on deck, drink in one hand, camera in the other. They play Con te Partiró over the loud speakers, followed by Somewhere Over the Rainbow (the ukele version, of course). It may just be because I'm getting old and sentimental but it always, always brings a little tear to my eye. Which is a bit ridiculous, but also kind of great.
Leaving Lisbon was fantastic, you really got a sense of how impressive the city was, how it stretched down the harbour. You could picture all those explorers sailing out to discover the world, way back when.
Civitavecchia, Italy. Now this was cool! When we were leaving Civitavecchia there was a maritime pilot who stayed on board the cruise ship, guiding the boat safely out of port. All good, right? But how does he then get off the cruise ship? Apparently, he does it James Bond style!
Directly beneath our cabin I watched as the pilot inched down a dangling rope ladder, dwarfed by the enormous cruise ship. He clung there, waiting for the right moment, and then leapt on to the speed boat below. Impressive! This shot captures him in mid jump.
It's one of those times when you think - how lucky that this just happened to take place right here, and how lucky that I just happened to be faffing about on our cabin balcony at the time.
Conques, France. I could tell you all the things that could be better in this shot. I could lament the fact that I rushed it, out of fear and that feeling of intruding (we were in a church!). I could mourn the image that could have been, that should have been.
But I won't.
Instead I'll just enjoy the gorgeous tones of the old cathedral, the light streaming in from above. The beautiful french woman, the joyous flowers, the pink and the purple and that perfect red jug. Oh! And those glorious gold moccasins! It may not be the perfect image and yet - there is still so much to be happy about here.
Over to you - do you think the prettiest places make for the best pictures? Or do you prefer a bit of grit? Do you go for pristine, people-less shots when you travel? Have you got an 'almost but not quite perfect' image that you just wish you'd got right? Do you take photos of your food? Do you like to cruise? Do you want some gelato?