Travel Photography: Chamonix–Paris–Amsterdam
After I finished with National Geographic Student Expeditions, my boyfriend flew over to Europe and we got to travel together! Our adventure began in the mountain village of Chamonix, France. Chamonix is located at the base of Mt. Blanc, basically on the border of France, Switzerland, and Italy. We were literally surrounded by mountains everywhere we looked. Chamonix is full of people looking for mountain adventure. It is also full of people who found mountain adventure, walking around with crutches and casts. And, it was the site of the first winter Olympics in 1924. They take their mountain sports very seriously. The best, coolest, queasiest thing we did in Chamonix was our trip up the Aiguille du Midi cable car up to see Mt. Blanc. You can travel from the base of the mountain to the top of the cable car route, at about 12,000′ in under 20 minutes. So, while we were feeling a little queasy, we were also freezing since the temperature dropped below freezing. Despite those not so awesome feelings, it was the coolest to be that high up in open air. I’ve definitely never experienced anything like that.
If you’re the kind of person who chooses to go mountaineering, (I am not that person) you simply climb down that little rickety ladder from the observation deck. Do you see it in the photo below? The ladder that looks like it’s slightly wider than a climbing rope? No thanks, I’ll stay on the deck. After a few days in Chamonix, it was onto Paris via TGV. We loved staying near Rue Montorgueil and slowly making our way all around the city. And we walked, walked, walked, all over. Luckily, there’s enough pastry shops and gelato stands to keep the walking fueled during the hot summer days. The tuileries, a beautiful spot to rest and stick your feet in the fountain. Louvre plaza in the evening…We made our way to the Eiffel Tower. Which was much bigger than I remembered. It’s taller than the Columbia Tower here in Seattle! It really is beautiful and impressive. Who can see a roundabout like the Arc de Triomphe and not think of this scene? Later, we hung out with the Impressionists (and the AC) in the Musee d’Orsay. We loved starting our mornings at this cafe, with some coffee, a croissant, and some people watching. I love the side-by-side seating, it makes people watching so much easier. Parisian restaurants are obviously big on wine, but if anyone has successfully ordered a manhattan, would you si’l vous plait let me know how you did it?? One night while out to dinner, I thought to myself, I like beef tartare. I’m brave. I’ll order it. What came out on my plate was not what I was expecting. It was more of a raw hamburger meat situation with garnishes on the side, rather than something already mixed up with spices and sauces. I really gave it the ol’ college try, though. Lucky for me, the fries were crispy, salty perfection. On our final night in Paris we watched the people & twilight along the Seine. The next morning, we hopped on another train to Amsterdam. Land of clean streets and suspiciously nice people. It’s the kind of city where I could live forever. One of the very knowledgeable Dutch people we met and overloaded with questions, told us that buildings used to be taxed by their width. Which is why so many of the buildings are so narrow. This city has more bikes than cars, by far. Actually, it has more bikes than people. They estimate there are 881,000 bikes, and fewer than 800,00 people. I was obsessed with watching people cruise the canals.
And then back to the states in the morning. The direct Amsterdam to Seattle flight is amazing and I would do it every month, if I could. I finally got around to watching the sixth sense on that flight. Real big twist at the end, but I don’t want to ruin it for you. adios & au revoir Europe,