The markets in Collioure are on narrow streets that lead to courtyards filled will shops. This is a fishing village along the mediterranean that's also a destination for French and Spanish vacationers on the account that its close to the Spanish border. In fact its part of Catalonia, a region with a separate language and customs that crosses the borders and envisions itself as an independent state.
The border crossing between France and Spain is up a mountain road at the very top. As I drove past I mistook the boarded up buildings for a tourist attraction, but in fact it was the old border checkpoints that were used before the EU. When you see those old stations it amazing to think that there are no more borders within the EU.
Anyway, I loved the colors of the houses here, they reminded me of homes in tropical regions where colors are used freely and in excess. I suppose that's an earmark of a warm climate, colorful houses that reflect the atmosphere. Further north we tend to stick with muted or darker tones to endure the winter. The feeling here was almost magic as we sat at outdoor bistros and meandered along the narrow streets looking for bargains. I was too busy taking pictures to shop but my wife found a couple of dresses by a designer dressmaker at the little shop on the left.
I can be such a tourist at times, like when I took this shot of the Vancouver Convention Centre against the back drop of the harbour, bridge and mountains. It would not surprise me if there are a thousand of these photos taken everyday. To prove my point there was a little plaque where I stood to describe the scene. One minor difference is that I took this at an ungodly hour on a Sunday morning before any self respecting tourist was out of bed.
But its karma, or something like it. I live in an area of Florida where there are a lot of tourists, so it's only fair that I should get to be a tourist once in a while. Actually, it's not karma, its more like tourism payback, serious payback. That makes no sense.
Off to the right is the Lions Gate Bridge, beyond that are the mountains and at the tops you can make out the lights of Cypress Bowl, a local ski area. Between the bridge and the convention centre is Stanley Park and to the foreground of that is the sea plane port. But the one thing that catches my eye, and everyone else eye, yet gets left out of the tourist plaques is the gas station. Why on gods green earth they decided to put a gas station in the middle of Vancouver Harbour I'll never know. But there it sits, along side all the other icons of Vancouver. Interesting.
This is the Arc de Triomphe in Montepellier France. It's a gateway to the old city which is full of shops, galleries and bistros. I walked for hours around here on a couple of occasions and didn't come close to seeing everything, as if that's even possible with the countless narrow passageways. On my second or trip I was beginning to learn my way around, orienting myself to the towering steeple of the main cathedral. I think that pretty much works anywhere in Europe. However, in between the main arteries are small subsections of neighborhoods, each with endless generations of habitation.
I have no idea what it would be like to be born, live and die in the same place. I'm somewhat nomadic and I live in a world that is re-inventing itself every generation. Very little stays the same in the landscape of North America, at least within the urban areas, we are always re-inventing ourselves. That stands in contrast to the old city centers of Europe. They remain intact while inculcating a sense of european identity that endures even as the world changes around it.
Urban exploration in photography is a passion for me. I'm not entirely sure why that is. Maybe because it freezes a moment so that I can go back and examine it, like an anthropologist. The structures and ambience of an urban setting speak volumes to the questions of my inquiring mind.