August Adventures

It never fails…when adventure strikes, it’s not just one little trip.  I do what I like to call “crazy trips” where I hop from place to place with back to back trips all in a row.  It’s partly my work as a photographer that has me traveling all over the country and world, but also the fact that I can’t resist adding in extra days to my work trips or fitting in a vacation between everything.

I remember one of my first “crazy trips” where I had to fly from Atlanta to Minneapolis for work, then LA, back to Atlanta and drive to Charleston for a photo shoot all in less than a week.  For most people, this would spark huge anxiety – but for me, it is exhilarating!  The packing strategy alone gets my blood pumping, let alone the logistics of getting from place to place, studying maps and finalizing plans.

Right now, I’m in the middle of one of my longest crazy trips ever – a solid three months of travel!  Thank goodness for espresso, global entry and peaceful views out of my airplane windows.

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Even with August being very busy with work, I managed to squeeze in a little ‘vacation’ between jobs.  Though, it’s never really a vacation for me.  When I’m not shooting paid assignments, I’m wandering around new cities and countries taking photos and exploring the local culture.  I originally wanted to go to the Italian Lakes and Switzerland.  I even booked my ticket.  I immediately felt it was the wrong place to go.  See, I’ve traveled to Italy many, many, MANY times and have been almost everywhere.  The lakes district was one area I hadn’t seen, I’m obsessed with Italy and speak Italian so it seemed like the right decision.  But something in my gut was telling me that it was not where I was meant to go.

Luckily I booked my ticket with Skymiles so I was able to change it pretty easily.  I found a better deal flying into Amsterdam and out of Paris – two places I had not traveled to before besides having layovers in the airport.  I decided to book it and also travel to Belgium in-between.

It ended up being one amazing trip filled with so many adventures!  Some good, some bad, with lots of stories in-between.  While my professional images are being processed and I have some time to digest the trip I wanted to share just a few images and show you where I went.  These are all photos from my phone, along with a few snippets of my adventures.  Enjoy!

FIRST STOP: Amsterdam, Netherlands

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I had absolutely ZERO expectations of Amsterdam.  I figured since I was flying into AMS that I’d spend a few days here.  It turned out to be my favorite stop on the trip…more on that later!

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The canals and architecture stole my heart at first sight.  So charming, quaint and just felt so comfortable.

AwanderingHeart-AugustAdventures-4One day I traveled to Zaanse Schans, which is a 20 minute train ride outside of the city.  It’s a charming little town filled with historic windmills, chocolate factories and fields of sheep.  It was absolutely gorgeous…but did I mention the chocolate?

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That’s me…and one of my favorite scarves that I lost (more on that later)…

AwanderingHeart-AugustAdventures-6Besides picturesque towns, historic architecture and taking photos…my travel vice is food and drink.  Here is a little meal from the Foodhallen in Amsterdam.  Oysters (fave), vino and croquettes.

NEXT STOP: Brugge, Belgium

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Brugge was a storybook.  Lazy canals, quaint buildings, swans and countless outdoor patios perfect for an afternoon aperitivo.  It was a bit rainy the first day, but the sun eventually came out.

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A fresh pot of steamed mussels with garlic for lunch, a popular meal option in Belgium along with frites…of course.

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My last day in Brugge I wandered around and took photos and then rented a bike to explore the town further.  I rode along canals and explored the windmills on the east-side of town.  I also rode out to the small town of Damme at the recommendation of my B&B.  The sun was out, breeze was blowing and it was a perfect day for a bicycle ride through the countryside.  Later that evening there was a dance festival in Market Square which brought the crowds to a previously empty Brugge.  It was low-season here, and I was surprised to find out that Christmas is their most popular tourist season.

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While I was in Belgium I heard that the bi-annual flower carpet was happening in Brussels.  This event only happens every other year in mid-August and just happened to be going on the 3 days I was in Belgium, so I had to go.

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One of my favorite places (behind airports) are train stations.  I love the coming and going, the hurried rush of travelers, goodbyes and hellos.  There is some kind of nostalgia about seeing the big board filled with departures, letters flipping and wondering where all of these people are going.  I had a great experience pre-booking my train tickets through Rail Europe on Thalys from Amsterdam to Brussels, and Brussels to Paris.

 

NEXT STOP: Paris, France

AwanderingHeart-AugustAdventures-12 Technically speaking, I’ve been to Paris many, many times…that is, to the airport for layovers.  I figured it was finally time to explore the city of light.  My overall thoughts on Paris: I was there during the big August holidays, so most local Parisians were out of town at the sea to escape the heat.  Many stores and restaurants were closed, but there were still a good number of tourists visiting the city.  Paris wasn’t my favorite.  My favorite time in Paris was midnight when hardly anyone was out on the streets and I could walk around and marvel at the beautiful city, architecture and the full moon.  The way I figure it, you’re either a “France Person” or an “Italy Person”.  Needless to say, I’m the latter.

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It doesn’t mean that I didn’t find places that moved me.  I absolutely LOVED Sacré-Cœur!  (Little known fact: I have a degree in Architecture and Interior Design, and specifically love historic buildings.  There’s something about their stories, the history and the craftsmanship that gets me every time.)  Such a beautiful building and spectacular view of Paris from the top!

AwanderingHeart-AugustAdventures-14I of course had to go see the Eiffel Tower…but (don’t hate me)…it didn’t really spark that “wow” moment.  Maybe because I’ve seen it so many times in photos and movies, maybe because it’s so popular that it could never live up to anyone’s expectations.  However, Luxembourg Gardens (LEFT photo above) was a magical dream!  This garden integrated my two favorite things – architecture and nature.  It was orderly yet wild all at the same time with symmetrical buildings, fountains and balconies…with meandering paths mixed amongst the order.  I had the most fun taking photos here and cannot WAIT to get my professional film back from shooting here.  I spent a good amount of time roaming, sitting and observing.  One of the best spots in Paris!

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My hotel was right across from Notre Dame Cathedral, and while I wasn’t a huge fan of all the tourists and crowded neighborhood the view from my bed was amazing!  I spent my last moments in Paris along the Seine sitting and enjoying the view of the cathedral while all the boats went by.  Just gorgeous!  So I guess I found “my spots” in Paris that made up for all of it’s not-so-likeable qualities.  More on other things that saved Paris later…

A super quick peek into my trip, but much more coming soon!  You can see more on my Instagram account too so head on over and give me a follow.  Can’t wait to share more stories from my trip.  Until then, keep wandering!

Ciao!

A Wandering Heart | Melissa Schollaert | Travel Photographer | www.awanderingheart.com

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