A little late, but here is a proper goodbye to 2018

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So every year, I make a book out of some of my favorite photos of the year. In making this book, I also thought about what happened this year and some of the things that made this year so different from the others. This post is just a quick rundown of things that happened this 2018.

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Literally, everything changed. My body changed, my career path changed, my priorities changed, everything! And I was worried about it at first. I thought about how every year ever since I graduated were so drastically different from one another, but most especially this year. But then I thought, maybe all this changing also means progress. So I just chose to see it that way. Hahaha

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I used to work for a makeup brand that was the bulk of my monthly income, but then one day, while I was in Europe and on leave, they told me they were terminating my contract by the end of the month (that was two days from that time!) And I was completely terrified because I didn’t know what I was going to do next. When I calmed down though, I thought about how it was a good opportunity, and how I learned a lot, but I knew that it was time anyway.

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At the time also, I also made weekly visits to the farm, and I loved being there. And since I had free time, my mom invited me to help with the farm. And so I did.

My mom’s dream was to create a local bean to bar chocolate brand. (Well one of her dreams), and now slowly, it started becoming one of my dreams to. Throughout the year, I learned how to make chocolate, and I’m proud to say, we were able to produce some jsut in time for Christmas! So yes, from fixing lip colors and skin blemishes to grinding beans and making chocolate. GREAT BIG HUGE CHANGE!

I still take freelance projects though to fund some of my other dreams.

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This year, I also started to go on a diet, and at first I have to admit my mindset going into it was not really healthy. But, I learned and found a healthy philosophy when thinking about my philosophy about my self-image! To read more about it you can read my essay here.

Along with everything that went on this year, I also started to change my philosophy on taking photos. I used to be so caught up on being accepted by the people I looked up to, that I was so focused on getting a picture, that I punished myself when people don’t notice my work. So then I decided it was time I tried film again. That way I would alot time to detach from the actual outcome of my photo and dedicate more time to experiencing and thinking about the photo I was taking. Sounds like a lot of bullcrap, I know, but it did work. I started taking photos for what I saw, and not because I wanted others to see it. It became a very personal experience for me. And that, I think, is how I wanted it to be.

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So I could go on and on and on about how my 2018 went, but I don’t think I would ever finish! It was a great year. I am eternally grateful.

Thank you, next.

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A Garden (or Farm) of Zen Thoughts

If you see my previous posts or if you know me personally, you’d know that I spend a few days of the week at our farm. Being around nature and quiet has really had a significant effect on my mental health. It gives me time to pause and think, and truly reflect on what truly matters to me. So I decided to write some of those thoughts down.

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1.

One of my biggest emotional turmoils ever since has been my insecurity about my work, or how good I am at what I do. Since I work as a freelance graphic designer and photograher, I would get jealous of people who put out such good work and I would immediately put myself down for not releasing “good enough” work. This is especially magnified when it comes to my photography. And whenever I felt this, I would get restless and I would immediately spiral, until time makes me feel better.

Probably, my biggest realization about this is that you always have to go back to your “why”. I started thinking about why I liked being creative and sharing my vision. It was because I felt that it was the best way that I could express my emotions. And following that as a guideline, I realize that I am doing my best, and that what I put out, is what is in my heart. It may not necessarily be the best, but it is an encapsulation of what is dear to me, and that makes it special, even if it’s just for me.

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2.

What do I want? That’s the first question that guided me when I thought about what my dream and purpose in life were. And because of that, I started seeking out for what I thought I wanted:  I thought that what I truly wanted was to be recognized. I wanted people to have a good perception of me, I wanted to have a perfect life, I wanted to be remembered. But the thing is, everything I just stated was based on external factors. And after chasing these things for a while, it became toxic. I became too dependent on this. And because I thought I was “failing” for not getting what I “wanted”, I isolated myself, and decided to go to the farm with my parents and just escape.

And in isolation, I started to question myself. I tried to analyze life as it is. No frills, no anything. I asked myself this question: “What is in the core of your soul? If there was one thing you wanted to be, or if there is one thing that defines you as a living, breathing, human being, what would you want it to be?” and at that moment I decided, what matters to me the most is that I just wanted to be a good person. Whatever space I take up in this world, I just want to live my life trying to do something good, whatever field, no matter how small or big. I just want to do it with heart, and with kindness and hopefully, I can make my small space an impactful and productive one.

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3.

Not really a thought, but I always feel this:  With all the politics, and all the bad people in the government and in high positions, and people dehumanizing and destroying other people, I often have a hard time thinking about all our country’s issues. But when I stare at trees, and at sunlight peering through the leaves, I feel a little bit better. And it reminds me that I love this rich and generous land that is my country.

Still though, some people are just scum. Please vote wisely this 2018 elections! Vote people who will empower the citizens, not just who they want. Preferably those who truly love our country. 

 

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4.

My parents are amazing people. I get inspired by them everyday.

Thank you, Mom and Dad. 

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5. 

Being genuine and living your truth is key to finding what truly matters to you. It is a constant struggle to find what matters to you when you box yourself in who you think you are, or who you think you should be. Your personality is not a checkmark or a list. It is your choices and your decisions.

Be genuine and observe. You will find what really matters to you.

September (and early October) in Film

SEPTEMBER 28, 2018, Ektar 100, Pentax K-x 35mm: Weekend at the farm

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Kuya Abet driving us to the farm. It was a not-so-sunny-but-not-dim kind of afternoon.

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My dad always has meetings. He has a way with people. Maybe it’s in how he always has good intentions and purpose in everything he does.

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The empty “meeting room”

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As we were walking around the farm, I stepped on a spud-like thing, and pointed it out to Kuya Abet. Apparently, it was Singkamas (Turnip). I was so surprised, I thought someone just threw it on the floor, but apparently, it was “ligaw”.

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Kuya Abet always helps out in the farm. He gives his honest opinions, and gives feedback about farm activities!

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We were in a Mango Orchard, and my parents were discussing something, and the light hit them oh so dramatically, I just had to take the shot.

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My Dad under the mango trees.

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These Kamotes (Sweet Potato) were actually just planted to keep grass away from the Papayas. But they turned out so beautiful and sweet!

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These flowers looked so pretty, and I was fascinated by the small bulbs. My mom would bring home some of these to put on vases at our house in Manila.

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The farm.

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These are Dalandan trees. My mom told me about how these trees bore fruit this year even if it wasn’t their season yet. This is one of the possible effects of using organic matter to enrich land and plants! 🙂

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My mom and one of the farmers walking around the Dalandans.

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Under the shade of a dalandan tree!

 

 

SEPTEMBER 30, 2018, Ektar 100, Pentax K-x 35mm: Birthday Dinner in Makati

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A view of Makati/Mandaluyong from the condo.

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My sister doing her make up before we headed out for dinner

OCTOBER 2, 2018, Ektar 100, Pentax K-x 35mm: An Afternoon at Home

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I really liked the light streaks coming in from the window, so I photographed my hand with it. I really like how even small gestures of hands can communicate different things. It can be delicate, or stern, or giving or closed off. 

 

 

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Self portraits through a mirror. 

 

 

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A photo of some of the trinkets and items on our dresser. 

 

 

OCTOBER 7, ILLFORD XP2 ISO 400: Early Morning, while waiting to go to Centris Supermarket

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Shadows of raindrops against a window.

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My sister Frances taking a selfie.

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Almost leaving.

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My sister’s profile.

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Sleepy morning.

 

 

OCTOBER 8, ILLFORD XP2 ISO 400: A random day doing chores

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My sister in her natural element.

 

 

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Street photos while in transit.

 

OCTOBER 9, ILLFORD XP2 ISO 400

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I like how the lighting fell on my body, subtly forming shaped and lines amongst the darkness.

 

Journal Entry: Freelancing, Making Chocolate & Being off medications

1.) If you knew me personally, you would know that it’s been almost 2 years since I’ve gone into freelance photography and graphic design. (woot woot! Please follow @gabbiedoesfreelance for updates!) So I usually spend my weekdays huddled over my laptop, working on random things like invites or photo clean ups!

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2.) On weekends, I usually spend my time at the farm. We’ve recently been into cacao farming and I even made chocolate bars from our beans already! Although sometimes I want to cry as the process of making chocolate demands precision and it’s so very tedious, I keep thinking about the farm and how my purpose is to help out our farmers, and I think about how my mom is so passionate about Organic farming and then I take a deep breath and just repeat the whole process again.

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Chocolate making process:

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3.) I was recently given the go signal to take my meds off. I have been taking Lexapro for quite some time now, and the psychiatrist recommended that I exercise, eat healthily and sleep early for a few months (which I did) before I taper off the meds. And finally, a few months ago I was able to completely remove them.

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It isn’t an easy process though. It still isn’t easy. It’s like I’m feeling everything again. It’s quite painful to be feeling things again after them being so mundane before. I was actually surprised because I didn’t know how great the effects of the meds were before. But, I am grateful that I have a psychologist who helps be build thinking structures when I feel these things. And it’s only been a few months, so I’m still getting used to it. I’m trying my best to handle these intense emotions.

So that’s it for this quick life update! I promise I will update this blog more.

 

The Body and The Self

So for the past 9 and a half months, I have been dieting and working out. I initially did this to improve my mental health and eventually remove my medications for depression (I eventually did! But that’s a whole other story). It has not been an easy process, and I wanted to share with you a little bit about my on-going journey. No, this won’t be the inspirational “You can do it!” or “You can be sexy!” or “If I can do it, you can too!” type of post. I am not a nutritionist or a dietician so I am not qualified to give advice on how to lose weight. What I wanted to share with you are my introspections and my image of the “self” as realized over the past few months.

 

 

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One thing that a lot of people forget is that the “self” is made up of more than just your body. According to Plato, there’s the body, the mind and the soul. It’s so easy to forget everything else when you’re focused on losing weight, or eating less or trying to be strong. Although the body is a very integral part of the self, it is not all there is. I do believe in taking care of your body, for it houses the mind and the soul. But not to the point where your whole image of yourself is entirely dependent on how your legs look, or if your shirt makes you look fat. No, that is not the entirety of the self. Beauty can come from the mind, the way you speak or your ideas. It can even come from being so passionate about something.

 

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So if it’s not your self-image, what drives you to take care of your body? 

Although sometimes, I am still guilty of having self-image or beauty as motivation for working out (I am just human after all), I do believe that there is a bigger picture. I workout and eat healthy because of the following reasons:

1.) For the mind: Working out helps me focus and it helps me mentally because it gives me breaks from my overthinking brain and all I could think about is the exercise that I am currently doing. It also helps me become more tolerant of doing things that I don’t want to do. My workout mentality of “Just start it and do what you can” gets carried over to everyday work.

2.) For the body: Well aside for being more mobile and being stronger (ya’ll know those things already), I also find that working out makes me feel sexy no matter how I look. Sweating makes me feel good about myself. It gives me confidence and pride that I am working on this booty, and these thighs and this stomach so others’ opinions matter less to me because I know that I have my own relationship with my body.

I could think of maaaany other reasons but, I feel like these two are what motivates me the most.

I’m not saying though that you shouldn’t measure yourself, or that you shouldn’t take health seriously. By all means, do it. I’m just saying that you should go into this for the right reasons. Go into this without judgment or bias. Take it as it is, and don’t lose your “self” in the process.

Travel Diaries: Life Stories with MAD Travel

 

When my friend invited me to join their Life Stories Zambales Tour & Workshop, I really didn’t know what to expect. Being the nervous wreck that I am, I didn’t want to go out and socialize or spend a weekend with people I didn’t know. (The thought of which made me so nervous I couldn’t sleep the night before) But, my psychiatrist recommended that I go out more, so I said yes. Plus, it was an opportunity to take photos more. AND ALSO, one of the speakers was Hanna Reyes Morales. (She’s a very talented Filipina photojournalist. Like seriously. Her work is so important).

And with all my anxiety, I came home feeling enriched and honored to have spent time with people who are so full of heart: The kind and warm people of the Yangil Tribe, who despite the rainy weather, welcomed us with open arms (and yummy food!), The passionate tour guides from MAD Travel who gave meaning and importance to the land and the environment that we were visiting and who tirelessly made it a point to give their all in every step of the way and the very open-minded participants who were very open to share their stories.

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I probably took around 15 photos of Carabaos! I found them so gentle and cute. Huhu

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Kuya Rom trekking ahead of me

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It was hard to stop taking pictures with this scenery around!

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The Carabaos took a little break/bath in the river. Their owners threw river water at them so they could cool down.

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Our tour guide pointed out to us that although the mountains looked beautiful, they were dying. There were little trees and it was almost barren. Our tour guide discussed with us some of the environmental issues that the land (and the Philippines) were facing.  The tour also included tree planting as part of the activities. This was a very important part of the tour, as this is one of the most pressing issues that we have and it is important that we be aware of this as we travel through different areas.

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My friend who invited me on the tour!

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More Carabaos!

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Kuya Wilson crossing the river. Our tour guide was telling us that usually, the river isn’t this wide. It has been raining heavily in the past month, so the rivers got wider and deeper. So much so that some houses and farms of the tribe members were washed away by the river.

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It was a 1 hour trek from the city going to the location of where the Yangil Tribe was. We crossed around 4 rivers.

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There were many times when I got stuck knee deep in sand or water. At one point I got a splinter and I was so tired I just wanted to just lie down in the sand.

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Before going to the location of the Yangil Tribe, we stopped by the nursery to plant some trees. The picture above is dead tree that didn’t survive the weather.

 

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Riding Carabaos to the Yangil Tribe location

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This dog followed us from the city to our final location. Even through rivers and muddy paths!

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Some tribeswomen and children beside an assortment of goods. They were selling fresh lemongrass, handmade bamboo straws, honey and even avocados!

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Chief Gabriel, who was with us the whole time we were trekking.

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Part of the itinerary was an interview with a member of the tribe. This is Kuya Pol. He was one of the members whose house and farm was washed away by the strong rains. We were talking about his struggles and how he makes ends meet and he smiled and said “Ayoko na isipin yung dati. Nakakatanda yun.” (I don’t want to think about the past. It makes me older).  We also rode Kuya Pol’s Carabao going back to the city. Our conversation then was more laid back. We were all saying that his carabao “Paso” was our savior, and we exchanged warm conversations and he told us more about what crops are usually planted in their area, and how the town usually had nicknames for people or animals (He was called kulot because of his hair).

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Chief Gabriel playing guitar for the performances.

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The tribe showed us some of their traditional dances. Above is a traditional courtship dance.

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When it was the kids’ turn, they invited some of the guests to join their dancing.

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Traditional Yangil flute

 

I don’t think I will ever forget this trip. I could feel happiness and warmth overflowing from one person to another. And it really made me think about how one can go beyond traveling and touring and help out a little. Especially since these are our Filipino brothers and sisters. It taught me how connection, although sometimes taken for granted, can enrich lives and can drive change.

Not pictured here are the comprehensive workshops on creativity (by Ayen Dela Torre) and finding your story (by Hannah Reyes Morales), which was the perfect end to the program.

Travel Diaries: Florence, Pisa & Rome

We’re down to our last leg! For our last stop, we did all the touristy things and filled our stomachs with Pizza, Pasta, Gnocchi, Cacio e Pepe and Gelato. (If you need recommendations, I suggest La Francescana Trattoria. Good food, not so high price.)

The Leaning Tower of Pisa!

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Florence:

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Il Duomo

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Rome:

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The Colosseo (Details)

Villa Medici

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Trevi Fountain:

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WHERE MY OTHER SISTER’S WALLET GOT STOLEN HERE

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Castel’San Angelo

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The Vatican Museum

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St. Peter’s Basilica:

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That’s it! ❤ I am extremely grateful that this trip happened.

Happy 30th Anniversary, Parents!

Europe 2018

Europe 2018:

Travel Diaries: Cinque Terre

https://flic.kr/p/27zV98xCinque Terre literally translates to 5 towns. Cinque Terre in the Italian Riviera is composed of the 5 fishing village of Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Unfortunately, we were only able to visit Monterosso al Mare, as we were only there for a day. The weather was perfect: Sunny, but not too hot. The vibrant colours of the town matched the tasty dishes and the warm culture of the place. This is probably one of my favourite places we visited. My only regret was not bringing a bathing suit.

We rode a bus from the boat to Levanto, where we needed to catch a ferry

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Olive Trees! Their Extra Virgin Olive Oil here is so pure it only 2% acidity. The ones in retail usually have around 8% acidity.

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Monterosso al Mare:

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Monterosso is famous for their lemons. They’re a little bit bigger, and a little bit sweeter than your regular ones.

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Europe 2018:

Travel Diaries: Marseille & Provence

Next stop on our cruise was France.

Provence

When we arrived in Provence, I immediately felt the urge to get a basket, buy fresh fruits and sing the opening song in The Beauty and The Beast. (For reference: https://open.spotify.com/track/1cPfKp9ThNZ1fez9itmUMN?si=FYtC3JdySWOWV9Sn8ZXfFg) It was really charming. It had a certain Je ne sais quoi that only a small French town had. The small alleys lined with cobblestones, town centers lined with little cafes and shops. It was how I imagined France in my head. Down to the typography on the store signs. And to top all that off, this town smelled of lavender. A lavender farm is located in Provence, so they sold lavender soaps, oils, everything!

On the way to Provence.

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Main Road

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Town Area:

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Callisons: The good King Rene and Queen Jeanne were part of an arranged marriage. The Queen was happy, so the King asked the town to prepare all kinds of pastries and sweets. The queen tasted this cookie and smiled.  The shape of the cookie was to commemorate the queen’s lips that were smiling.

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Everything was simply charming. Even down to their handwriting.

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Aix-en-Provence is very famous for their Rosé. (Bottle not shown). It was very pale, almost orange in color. I don’t really know how to describe wine, but it was dry, and it was perfect with our meal.

Fresh Market:

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Marseille

Marseille was on the coast of France. It was lined with beautiful houses and at the highest point sits the unique Notre Dame de la Garde Cathedral. From there, you could see the beautiful view of Marseille.

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View from Notre Dame de la Garde:

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Notre Dame de la Garde

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This cathedral’s interiors made it feel warm: from the striped archways to the gold domes. If you look closely, you can also see how they hung small model ships. Upon searching online, these are apparently replicas of ships or vessels of survivors from disasters during their voyage at sea.
“In the 17th century, it became the custom for those who suffered near disasters and had recourse to her to thank Notre Dame de la Garde with an offering of thanks. In this Basilica the ex-votos – literally, from the vow made – reflect the livelihood of the people: to thank Our Lady the survivors commission oil paintings of their ships in peril at sea or craft model replicas of their ships that hang from the ceiling vaults. “
Source: https://www.traditioninaction.org/religious/h137_Exvotos.htm

 

Europe 2018:

Travel Diaries: Gibraltar

The place looked like it was straight out of a Wes Anderson movie. (Well, at least the lighthouse part). Gibraltar is a small piece of land under UK territory. It is mostly dominated by The Rock of Gibraltar. It is quite literally a big rock made up of limestone. Gibraltar is known for being a fortress for Britain during the 2nd world war. This is why this small and dainty town is so rich with history.

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