The Feast of the Trays in Tomar

 
 

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If you happen to be in Portugal during the month of July, I highly recommend not to miss the beautiful city of Tomar and the Feast of the Trays celebrations.

However, there is a catch. The Feast of the Trays, or Festa dos Tabuleiros, is taking place only every four years, and the next time will be in 2019.

I was lucky to experience this beautiful festival this year and learn more about the city’s traditions.

The Tray Festival or the Divine Holy Spirit Festival is one of the most ancient cultural and religious events in Portugal. If you want, you can compare it to Thanksgiving, as both holidays’ origin is in the Harvest. It is a very colourful festival, thanks to the beautiful paper-flowers decorations in the streets of Tomar and the flowers tabuleiro (tray) the girls carry on their heads.

The citizens of Tomar are getting ready for the big celebrations a few months in advance. They spend hundreds of hours making endless number of paper flowers to decorate their streets. The residents of each street are coming up with an idea or a theme or colour, and they work together on creating the decorations for the festival. It was great watching them uniting around these decorations; from young kids to the elderly; They were all motivated to have their street the best it can be. (One of my colleagues was joking and said that this is the time there are no arguments between neighbours… )

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But beside the paper decorations, the citizens of Tomar are decorating their terraces with their best colourful blankets. I’ve learned it is a Portuguese tradition (not only in Tomar) to put the best blankets outside the windows, when there is a religious festival or a procession. Most of the time, these blankets are hand made and pass from one generation to another, mostly for these religious holidays.

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There are several ceremonies of Festa dos Tabuleiros that are still maintained and kept in Tomar and some, that are slightly changed and adjusted to current days. For example, the Butler procession. Originally, the butler procession was a symbol of wealth and abundance, represented by bulls, or ‘The Holy Spirit Cows’. These bulls were paraded in front of the locals and afterwards were slaughtered and their meat was shared among the crowds. Whether rich or poor. This act was a symbol of brotherhood among the locals. However, since 1966 the act of slaughtering these bulls has been stopped and the meat is obtained from the owners of the Butcher shops to the families who need the most.

The parade is followed and accompanied by the local orchestra players. A great honour is given to the Butler of the parade, the City Mayor and the communities members who are dressed black and white, with a red ribbon around their neck.

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The most colourful and beautiful part of the parade is the Partial Parade, followed by the Tray Parade. It is when the girls from the different chosen parishes are carrying flower baskets on their heads and march from a location outside of the city centre and pass by the Nobel Court and City hall, where the Butler of the parade, the City Mayor and the Town Council are sitting and observing the parade.

The girls are the ones who carry the heavy flower baskets, decorated not only with flowers but also with bread loaves, which are later on given to the public.

Every girl is accompanied by a guy, who is not allowed to carry the basket but only there for help and support in case the girl is losing her balance or the basket is falling.

The parade passes through Tomar old town, through the City Hall and ends at the park, where the baskets are nicely put and held before the last parade, taking place on the same evening.

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If you have the chance to plan your next trip to Portugal, don’t miss Tomar with its beautiful streets and welcoming people.

 
 
 
 
 

Fifty Shades of Green, Terceira Island

 
 

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Have you ever wondered how many shades of green there are?

I stopped counting when I reached the top of Serra do Cume in Terceira island in the Azores. Serra do Cume is a complex of mountains and the view from the top was beyond beautiful; Hundreds of squared green patches of grass, which are mainly used for feeding bulls and cows. This scenic viewpoint is considered one of the island’s most beautiful landscape, and I highly recommend to drive up the mountains and not just drive through them.

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I have stayed in Terceira only for 24 hours and drove through a combination of Nature and City life. If you are visiting this beautiful green island, here are few suggestions not to be missed.

My day started with a climb to Mount Brasil and ended with an overview of the city of Angra de Heroismo (see below). The entire city spreads out over the gentle hill that faces the sea, and in the background is the almost circular form of Mount Brasil.

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Mount Brasil is a volcanic mountain which has a central crater surrounded by four hills. It forms a peninsula creating the bay of Angra.

If you climb up the mountain (probably by car) you should reach the Pico das Cruzinhas (the peak of the little Crosses) where old items of artillery recall the days of Second World War. This is a place for a few minutes of awe and inspiration, and to enjoy the beautiful view of Angra do Horoismo.

The city of Angra de Heroismo is best explored by foot. Walking through the cobble stone streets, you will discover some bright coloured facades with windows coloured frames. Don’t miss a beautiful view of the port and pay a visit to the city Cathedral.

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Walk up Rua Recreio dos Artistas, where colourful houses (coloured doorways and windows) form part of the city’s characteristic structure, and walk through Rua da Se, which has been the main route through the city since the 16th century.

I happened to visit the Se Cathedral of Angra do Heroismo, with its majestic entrance staircase. I was quite surprised to see its modest interiors, quite different than what I’m used to see in Churches. Apparently, there was a massive earthquake in 1980 in Terceira, which caused an extensive damage to the building and one of the bell towers was completely destroyed. Five years later, a great fire destroyed most of the interiors, from the carpentry, the organs and the framed ceiling decorations. Despite these disasters, the Cathedral is still one of the most important to the Azores.

 
 
 
 
 

Finding Beauty, Religion and Heritage in São Miguel, The Azores

 
 

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For the last three years I have been traveling to Portugal to photograph its beauty.

I have been to Lisbon a numerous times, captured Porto on a rainy weekend, been to the university of Coimbra, passed through Aveiro, and wined and dined in Alentejo, the so-called Tuscany of Portugal.

The country is fascinating and has all the elements to make it (if not already) as one of the most desired and affordable destinations to travel this year.

It was only a matter of time for me to travel to The Azores Islands, (total of nine islands) which were created out of volcanic eruptions millions of years ago. The islands are located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, only one hour flight from Lisbon and five hours flight from Boston. The SATA airline, which has various routes, makes the Azores more accessible and closer than ever.

In previous posts, I mentioned my love for Portugal mostly thanks to its people and their desire to travel. The Portuguese are known for discovering and mapping the coasts of Africa, Canada, Asia and Brazil, in what became known as The Age of Discovery. Therefore, many of the Azores’ inhabitants are descendants of explorers who settled there several centuries ago.

Throughout the history of Portugal and with the restoration of Portuguese independence (1640) São Miguel, the biggest of the nine islands, was considered a central commercial base where ships crossing the Atlantic, stopped there for fuel. The island was sometimes considered as ‘The gate to Europe’. 

In this island, which can be easily called Heaven on Earth or Paradise, I have found timeless natural beauty and timeless heritage sites.

Here are the ones not to miss;

* Lagoa das Sete Cidades: 

The Lagoon of the Seven Cities is a twin-lake resort, Lagoa Verde (Green Lake) and Lagoa Azul (Blue Lake) are so called for the reflection of colour in the water; each side of the lake reflects the sunlight in different colours and shades and creates this beautiful sight. Even though technically it is considered as one lake (it is only divided by a narrow passage and crossed by a bridge) most refer to it in terms of two separate ones. They are located inside an inactive Volcano with a 12km perimeter.

As weather can be very tricky in the Azores, this lake (like others) can be hidden from sight when it is foggy. I had to return a second time to experience this view in full glory when it was sunny.

In 2010, the Sete Cidades Lagoon was voted as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Portugal and became a sacred place in the Island.

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* Lagoa de Santiago: 

Here is a confession to make; the view of Lagoa de Santiago from Pico da Cruz, is one of the most remarkable sights I have ever seen. I had to take a short video with my iPhone as a proof to myself that I was actually there.

The ten minute walk from the parking lot all the way to the peak of the mountain and the vista point were easy to walk. Not even the luscious flora along the way prepared me to what I was about to see.

I was very curious to see and understand what my tour guide, Cecilia, referred as Paradise, or as The most beautiful place on Earth. ‘I consider myself very lucky’ Cecilia kept telling me, ‘because I live in Paradise and soon you will see what I mean’.

And indeed, it was a jaw-dropping experience. Lagoa de Santiago is one of the most beautiful natural sites, and words cannot well describe it.

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* Lagoa do Fogo: 

Lake Fogo or Lagoon of Fire, is located in the center of São Miguel in the crater of an extinct Volcano. This enormous lake with its clear waters, peninsulas and white sand beaches (in some of its parts), is classified as a Nature Reserve. I reached the vista point of Pico do Barrosa on a very windy day, but luckily a clear day with no fog.

This lake is the highest above sea level in São Miguel and one of the largest of the water-bodies in the Azores.

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Driving through São Miguel’s many Volcanic craters and green mountains, I couldn’t help but think that this island can be the perfect backdrop for the movie set of Lord of the Rings.

On my second day, while I was visiting one of the churches, a group of men in colourful shawls and scarves, with back-packs on their backs, gathered outside the church in a circle and chanted some prayers. For a second, I thought someone was filming a movie and these men were actors, but apparently these Romeiros (Pilgrims) were following a tradition of walking for eight days across the island, from early morning till night. This tradition is taking place in the period of Lent, before Easter. These Romeiros carry backpacks, filled with food they get from families who host them and offer them a place to sleep during the night. (It is considered an honour for these families).

It was then when I realized that São Miguel is also renowned in terms of religious belief.

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On my last day in São Miguel I stayed in Ponte Delgada, the biggest city in the island, where most of the religious monuments are located. The original plan was to have some free time to walk around and experience the city, but a meeting with Eduardo Elias from Turismo office of the Azores, turned this day to one of the highlights of my trip. Eduardo, who heard that I am originally from Israel, prepared a special tour following some important religious sites.

* The Holy Christ of Miracles:

We started with the Holy Christ of Miracles, which is located in the Convent of Our Lady of Hope, (in the church of Nossa Senhora da Esperanca). We were directed to one of the rooms in the lower level. At first, I was admiring the colourful flower ornaments around the room, but only then did I notice the image of the Lord Holy Christ of Miracles opposite the main altar and at the end of a blue Azulej tiles corridor.  The glorious image of the Lord of Miracles is an impressive bust of natural size, representing Jesus as ‘Acce Homo’

The image of the Holy Christ of Miracles is from the beginning of the 16th century and was given by the Pope Paulo the third to two ladies from São Miguel, when they went to Rome to ask permission to build the first convent of nuns in the island. It was first located in a convent in Vale de Cabacos near the sea, but since the convent was exposed to Pirates attacks, it was agreed to move the image of the Holy Christ of Miracles to the Monastery of Esperanca, where it is today.

Since 1700 there are celebrations in honour of the Holy Christ of Miracles which last for one week in May. During the second day of celebration, which is a Sunday, the people of São Miguel are showing their faith and devotion for the Holy Christ by walking the streets of the city, carrying the image of the Holy Christ of Miracles. This week is one, if not the most important week in Ponta Delgada. It is followed by celebrations, feasts and cultural events, and thousands of Azoreans fly from Portugal, Brazil, US, etc to participate in these celebrations.

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and last, but not least was visiting the Synagogue Shaar Hashamaim in Ponte Delgada. I must admit that this visit was one of the peaks of my trip and brought some tears (of happiness) to my eyes.

* Synagogue Shaar Hashamaim:

We met with Dr. Jose de Almeida Mello, an Historian (who carries numerous honour titles) at the entrance of an old building in Rua do Brum. The domestic architecture of the building, the lack of any Jewish symbol didn’t prepare me to what’s inside. If I was by myself, passing this building on a regular day, I would never have thought that behind its doors there is the synagogue and the Hebrew temple of Ponte Delgada.

Dr. Jose Mello, who I fully admire, was appointed by the Israeli Community in Lisbon in 2003 as a co-ordinator of a committee which was responsible for the restoration and conservation of the synagogue. For the course of 12 years, he has investigated the history of the synagogue and took upon himself its restoration in order to turn it into a valuable and cultural patrimony of the city of Ponte Delgada.

The synagogue itself is hidden behind a wooden door. When the door is closed, nothing really hints that behind it, there will be the praying room, coloured light blue, with good natural light coming through two windows. In the north part of the room, there is the holy Torah with the prayer books inside.

Shaar Hashamaim is about to be opened soon to the public as a museum and a space for culture and tourism.

I encourage everyone who visits São Miguel to pay a visit to this museum, as a reminder of history, heritage and one person (Dr. Jose Mello) devotion.

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Stay tuned for Part 2.

 
 
 
 
 

Shooting the Luxury Hotel; The Norman

 
 

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As a Travel photographer, not once do I get to shoot hotels for Travel Magazines.

I have contributed to Travel+Leisure World’s Best Hotels books in the years of 2013, 2014. I have shot Nhow Berlin and Semiramis both by Karim Rashid. I have photographed Palacio Belmonte in Lisbon for Marie Claire UK and I had a glimpse of the elegant d’Angletter in Copenhagen.

But shooting The Norman, a luxury boutique hotel in the heart of Tel Aviv, is completely something else!

Stretched over a period of almost six months, shooting all types of rooms and suites, waiting for every little detail to be perfectly placed and working with an incredible creative team of people, made it to a beautiful result.

They say ‘God is in the Details’. It is definitely true for The Norman hotel, thanks to architect Yoav Messer and mostly to David d’Almada of SAGRADA and his interior design team.

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The hotel is well situated in King Albert Square, just across the street from the Pagoda House and off Rothschild Boulevard. It is a great addition to the ‘White City’, Tel Aviv’s UNESCO heritage site, as it is comprised of two historic and iconic buildings. Both buildings were impressively restored to the glory of the 1920s but well equipped with all technologies and comfort of a top class 21st century hotel. In between the two buildings there is a fragrant citrus garden, which is a great reminder to the original orchard in old Tel Aviv.

The main building (colored light blue) comprises of 30 classic and duplex rooms while the second building (I call it the beige one) has 20 suites, each designed differently, including two penthouse suites with separate entrances.

It was a great challenge (as a photographer) to shoot the different types of rooms, taking into consideration to keep the same vibe and character of this gorgeous hotel. But at the same time, the process was very rewarding. I had to be aware of all the little details: how the window light is falling on the sheets, how the color of the flowers is matching the rug (or the curtains) and how the pillows should always be wrinkle-free. And always keeping in mind what angle of the frame will speak to the feel of ‘Timeless Elegance’ and ‘Redefining Luxury’ .

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My most favorite area to shoot was the Library Bar, thanks to the almost-endless-natural light coming through its wide windows. I must confess that each time I carried my camera with me, I snapped a picture of that corner of the bar, exploring the light falling on the golden patterned floor, highlighting the green covers of the bar chairs. The Library Bar is an elegant 1940s colonial style bar with an impressive collection of Whiskey and cocktails.

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Another space with some gorgeous light is The Norman Restaurant, also on the first floor.

It is a brasserie style restaurant, serving French Mediterranean cuisine throughout the day. The challenge in shooting this space was in the flickering mirrors in between the two seating areas. I had to find the right angle that didn’t show my reflection or didn’t send back light to my flash. Changing the angles of the mirrors and standing on a ladder was a great solution.

If you happen to book a breakfast reservation, go for the Eggs Benedict choice. The chef managed to come up with the perfect Hollandaise sauce.

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And then there is Dinings.

Originally from London, the Japanese tapas restaurant opened a branch in Tel Aviv on the third floor of The Norman. As part of the design, Dinings has a live sushi counter and partially open kitchen. My favorite part of the restaurant is the terrace and the outdoor dining area, overlooking the high rise buildings of Rothschild Boulevard.

On set I had the honor of photographing Mister Chef, aka Masaki Sugisaki, the executive chef of Dinings in London, who came to Tel Aviv to open the second branch. Masaki was super co-operative and patient with my requests. I guess patience is a virtue when it has to do with making some of the best Japanese food in the world.

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What makes the hotel so great and remarkably beautiful is the infinity pool on the rooftop floor. At the end of every shooting day I wanted to jump right in and swim.

The view is remarkable and for a minute, you might think you have been transported somewhere else… The high rise buildings in the background and the white umbrellas are the perfect backdrop to end the day.

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The Norman Hotel, 23-25 Nachmani street, Tel Aviv.

To see more of my photos of the hotel, click here.

 
 
 
 
 

Shooting Tel Aviv’s Vegan Scene for British Airways Magazine, Feb Issue

 
 

If you are flying British Airways this month, don’t forget to grab a copy of High Life magazine and see my recent shoot of the vegan scene in Tel Aviv. If you are more of an audio passenger, you can listen to British Airways’ podcast and hear me talking about Tel Aviv’s night scene.

Imagine a carnivore/Scottish/Sikh/Comedian/Writer who is asked to put his steak-knife down and indulge in the Tel Avivian’s vegan scene. Sounds hectic and hilarious?

This is exactly how I felt after spending four intense days with Hardeep Singh Kohli, discovering, documenting and tasting some of the most delicious vegan places, one fork at a time.

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To read the full article, click here.

Well, I am not a real foodie, but these four intense shooting days were incredibly delicious. I got to the point I had to hide behind my camera as I couldn’t eat more food. It was great to discover that veganism in Tel Aviv is taking off like nowhere else on the planet. It was more great to see a carnivore such as Hardeep, munching on falafel and grilled artichokes, or asking for another round of hummus.

Here are some of behind-the-scenes-pictures with Hardeep taking over this fun assignment. Obviously, they didn’t make it to the final layout.

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My Busy Year of 2014

 
 

I was planning to write this post right at the end of the year, but got caught up on some work and found myself already scheduling trips for the new 2015 year. Looking back at the images I took throughout the year and the new stamps in my passport, there is no doubt about it; 2014 was a very busy year.

When you do what you love mostly for a living, means you are willing to commit more and more time to your work and think about it 24/7. Not once did I say to some of my friends who are also creative independents that ‘I am my work and my work is me’. Taking a day off is usually taking a day off from myself. Or from my creativity, my head or from the way I look at things. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t complain. I am happy when I am busy and I can be climbing on walls when I’m not.

2014 was a year in which I ‘jumped’ on almost every opportunity I got and I didn’t hesitate to book flights and trips with minor preparations. ‘Don’t Think too Much but See What Happens’ was sort of a mantra.

At the end of February I traveled to Central Portugal. It was a new destination to explore that didn’t fall from Provence or Tuscany. I have visited in Coimbra and got a special permission to shoot the magical library in Coimbra’s University. I have shot many colorful Portuguese tiles in Aveiro. I walked trough olive groves, almond trees and vineyards in Alentejo, stayed in some chic wine hotels such as Casas Do Coro and Casa Des Penhas Dourades  and caught up with good friends in Lisbon and Sintra.

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Later on in March I flew to Paris to shoot a Patisseries Guide to Paris. By all means, it was the sweetest assignment of the year; sweet as the Mont Blanc Patisserie in Angelina (which, by the way, was the first Patisserie I shot on that assignment). But it was also a very hectic and intense four-days-shoot in which I had to photograph 32 patisseries all across Paris. During this sweet assignment, I met and photographed some of the top Patisseries Chefs in France, got into their kitchens (some of them are quite secretive) tasted the best Eclairs, Paris Brest, Saint Honore, Mille -Feuille and Macaroons. Here are some of the ‘Behind the Scenes’.

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Patisseries in Paris

Right after completing my sweet adventure, I shot a great story for Feast Magazine about Rue du Nil. I got a glimpse into one of the smallest streets in Paris, (exit metro Sintier) a street which happened to set a new tone in the culinary scene in Paris. I happened to discover some of the most friendliest chefs, interesting store owners, a really good coffee spot I went back to and of course, some really good food. Luckily, a good friend of mine who has a great sense of style, joined me to this assignment and together we explored this 2nd Arr gem.

After spending two weeks in Paris, I have decided spontaneously to travel down south to the French Riviera and spend some time with two friends of mine; Liza, who was living in Nice with her husband (but was ready to move to London) and with the talented photographer Millie Brown, an Aussie expat who lives in Beaulieu-sur-Mer and photographs the Southern French region. Thanks to Millie and her beautiful blog, I got curious about shooting Laundry in Menton and South of France and this quick break in the French Riviera left me with a taste for more.

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In May I have traveled to New York. My second home with a Capital H. I’ve stayed in Manhattan for the whole month; catching up with friends and colleagues and visiting all my favorite spots and hang outs. I cannot even described how much I missed the City. At the end of the month I was assigned to shoot a story for Lonely Planet Traveller, describing the top fun things to do in New York. I couldn’t have asked for more! It was a great opportunity to do some of the things I have always wanted to do but never really found the time.

Together with Orla, a fun writer from Lonely Planet Traveller, we cruised the city from Uptown to Downtown, using all sorts of transportation. We found ourselves trying out cocktails at 10 am in the morning (research for the article, mind you) in some of the sleek and chic bars at the Meat Packing District and later on rushing to Coney Island to interview some Circus performers, making sure to come back to the city and take a HipHop Class at Alvin Ailey School (research as well). I am anxious to share some more of my shooting experience but you will have to wait for March 2015 when the article will come out. Please stay tuned. I promise to blog about it in more details.

Apart from capturing Manhattan during sunsets and sunrises, taken from both Midtown and Long Island City, and discovering some of the most stylish secrets bars, I have also spent more time in Bushwick in Brooklyn, documenting some of the coolest street art walls by Bushwick Collective for my Street Art/Graffiti shoots collection. According to Vogue magazine, Bushwick is becoming, if not already, one of the coolest neighborhoods in the world.

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On June 1st, I’ve jumped on the flight that took me from New York to Athens. Spending one night at Semiramis Hotel designed by Karim Rashid and waking up very early in the morning to catch a very early flight to Milos, the southwestern most in the Cyclades group. Milos was another assignment I got to shoot for Lonely Planet Traveller and it was such an educational experience.  I have paired up with Duncan, a well travelled writer, who was interviewing some of the locals and together we documented their lives on that volcanic island.

One of my most memorable experience was not caught ‘on-film’. It was a Friday night, the last day before heading back to Tel Aviv. I was spending two days in the scenic fishermen village, Klima. My house was literally on the water and I could hear the waves while I was in bed. I was drinking my morning coffees and my evening wine with my neighbors; locals fishermen who hardly speak English. We communicated mostly with smiles and with gestures such as pouring wine and eating greek cheese.

Lonely Planet’s story is coming out this Summer and I promise to blog about it in more details once it is published. All I can say is that it is going to be a great and colorful story. I am really curious to see it on print.

Milos Greece

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I know it sounds very hectic, but for me, that was the way to go. I like it sometimes when my life are on the move.

I have stayed two weeks in Tel Aviv and at the end of June I have decided to escape the humidity and get some Scandic vibe in Copenhagen and Stockholm. My mom has always wanted to go so it was a good reason for me to travel again.

Ever since Noma was chosen as the best restaurant in the World, and WallPaper magazine named the Danes as the most beautiful people, it seems that Copenhagen got her groove back, and no wonder it is considered one of the coolest city in Europe. Talking about WallPaper magazine, Copenhagen is one of these places that look like exactly taken from the magazine’s pages.

We spent four days in Copenhagen, exploring the Danish Design Scene, the Nordic Cuisine, and some unique museums that left us in awe. We also got a glimpse inside Hotel d’Angleterre and had lunch in its Michelin Star’s restaurant.

Copenhagen was great and welcomed us with warm weather and long daylight time. It didn’t get dark before midnight, so I had more time to shoot.

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Copenhagen

After less than one hour flight we found ourselves in Stockholm, the Venice of the Scandic part of Europe.

It was in Stockholm when we changed roles and my mom was the impatient teenager who was anxious to visit the ABBA museum while I was waiting for her outside. The weather was a bit on the grey-rainy side, but Stockholm is such a beautiful city; a mix of modern design, cobblestone streets, medieval atmosphere (mostly in Gamla Stan area) and everyone is wearing H&M. I didn’t have any previous knowledge about Stockholm, to be honest. I was mostly following an article I read in Travel+Leisure few months before my visit, which directed me to the most stylish locations.

The highlight of my visit, which is highly recommended, not only for photographers, was Fotografiska Museum. It is located in a former customs house in Sodermalm and is showing work of photographers around the World. It has a great book shop and an amazing view from the third floor.

Another great thing about Stockholm, which matched well me and my mom’s personality, was the Swedish love for Coffee, or in other words, their Fika. Sort of like Starbucks coffee in every street corner in New York, same as in Stockholm.

Stockholm

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In the first week of August I have traveled to Provence with a good a friend of mine who is the perfect partner for any Travel spontaneous decision. The only thing that guided my choice to start at Marseille was MUCEM and the fact that Marseille was chosen as the European Culture Capital for the year of 2013. We stayed in Marseille only one night and then we rented a car and traveled to Cassis, which was just magical with its turquoise color water (definitely I should go back) and the hidden Calanque. We took a boat ride to see three Calanques de Cassis and I got tempted to jump off the boat into the water.

From there we drove to Arles, where we followed the steps of Vincent Van Gogh . We saw Cafe Van Gogh, this is the Cafe than Van Gogh painted in The Cafe Terrace on the Place du Forum at night and the hospital where Van Gogh was taken after cutting off a portion of his ear. Throughout this trip I was in search of Lavender fields. I was happy to finally find them in Saint-Rémy de Provence, once I have visited the Saint Paul Asylum, where Van Gogh was hospitalized. Not once when I look at a painting in a museum, I wonder to myself how do life look like in these locations. Visiting Saint Remy de Provence was a great opportunity to see what inspired Van Gogh’s painting and what did he see around him.

Note to self: Keep taking trips following the lives of your favorite Artists.

Provence

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Since I didn’t have enough of Paris in March (I never have enough of Paris actually) I booked another last minute flight to Paris at the end of September. It was originally to shoot the scenes of Fashion Week in Paris but I ended up mostly catching up with my friends and colleagues who live there. Coincidence or not, related or not, I have spent some time over coffee and wine with three Aussies photographers who I admire their work; Millie Brown who came back to Paris for fashion week, Carina Okula who I adore her work and sensitivity and Carla Coulson, who is such an inspiration for me.

I’ve spent some time with Gail from PerfectlyParis, who I became friends with after I have stayed in one of her apartments in Paris few years ago and photographed Chef Constance and her adorable baby in their cozy apartment. I jumped on a Culinary tour Baguette to Bistro, discovered some new cafes, ate a lot of cheese and most of all, enjoyed my friends’ company.

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Paris

So the year is not over yet, and I’m trying to squeeze the last few months of it. In October I was a sent by Conde Nast Traveller Magazine to shoot a story in Antwerpen. It was my second time around in this fashionable city, and it was fun coming back and visiting some of the locations I have discovered at the first time, but this time of shooting was quite intense. Tight on a deadline, I managed to shoot more than 20! locations in 48 hours, making sure I cross off all the locations on the photography’s brief, knowing I don’t have a second chance to shoot it (Tight schedule, remember?)

As small as it is, Antwerpen doesn’t stop to amaze me. Shooting some of the most popular and high end restaurants, capturing delicious dishes which are kind of complicated to shoot and dealing with some of the top chefs, was a great learning experience. The Antwerpen story is coming out to print this Summer and I promise to write about it in more details.

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And now it is already the second week of January, trying to get used to Two Thousand Fifteen. I already have few assignments booked and some new locations to travel to. As much as I am anxious to stamp my passport and jet-set the Globe, I am trying to breath in, enjoy the present and see what happens.

Have a Happy, Healthy and Well-Travelled Year.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 

The Elegant Hotel d’Angleterre

 
 

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Copenhagen has been high on my travel list for a while now. Being known for its great design scene and the Nordic cuisine, I didn’t know what to expect before going there. When I kept spreading the word I was about to travel to Copenhagen, a colleague of mine who is working in the PR and Tourism industry has suggested me to visit Hotel d’Angleterre when I am there. Not only that, but he also connected me to the lovely PR and communication manager of the hotel, who was generous enough to give me a grand tour on location.

The Hotel d’Angleterre is situated in the heart of Copenhagen’s fashionable Kongens Nytorv Square, steps from the Royal Danish Theater, the Nyhavn Canal and the famous shopping street, Strøget. With its recent most ambitious restorations in Danish history, the hotel is as elegant and sophisticated as the surrounding streets.

History: 

The story of Hotel d’Angleterre began in the 17th century when Jean Marchal, a servant of the royal court, and Maria Coppy, daughter to the royal chef, fell in love. In 1755 they established a restaurant on the King’s Square (Maria was known for her culinary ability) which later grew into a Palace and ultimately, the Hotel d’Angleterre. With a longstanding tradition of hospitality, the hotel became the premier social destination and over the years has hosted the world’s visiting royalty, dignitaries and celebrities who visited Copenhagen.

The original hotel structure was the neoclassic residence of Count Ahlefeld and the hotel as it stands today was designed by the Danish architect, Jens Vilhelm Dahlerup in the mid 1870’s. (Dahlerup designed numerous other iconic landmarks in Copenhagen, including the Royal Danish Theatre).

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The Hotel Today: 

The renovated hotel is featuring 90 rooms including 60 suites with spacious bathrooms and balconies. With pistachio-colored silk curtains (to allow the light coming in) and purple tones for the sofas and the beddings, the rooms convey elegance.

The stunning 250 square-meter Royal Suite features a grand balcony overlooking Kongens Nytorv Square and The Royal Theater, it has a dining room for 10 guests and a spectacular fireplace.

As the hotel has hosted countless historic events including formal galas, weddings, diplomatic assemblies and royal occasions,  the historic Palm Court and Louis XVI Ballroom continue to be the most desired entertaining space in Copenhagen these days.

If you are visiting the hotel, make sure to pick inside the Palm Court. It is a stunner.

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The Marchal Restaurant:

I was lucky enough to have lunch with my mom in Marchal restaurant. While my mom was so impressed with dining in a Michelin Star restaurant, I was heels over head with the fact I could shoot the amazing photogenic dishes and take a portrait of Ronny Emborg, the head chef, who was just nominated as a Michelin Star chef for the second time. But wait. There is more! Ronny himself walked to our table and served us with a marvelous dessert. I couldn’t ask for more.

Our lunch included six! courses;

We had Fjord Shrimps with tomato juice, dill and acidic cream

Glazed White Asparagus with smoked cream, lovage and buttermilk sauce

Fried Lamb and Sweetbread with green asparagus, truffle puree, gooseberries and glaze

Fried Beef Tenderloin with rehydrated beetroot, red currants and glaze with marrow

and two kinds of desserts;

Strawberry with Ice Cream on long pepper, buttermilk mousse and crispy vanilla flakes

Creme Anglaise with Sorbet Granite, tarragon emulsion and sorbet on celery (mind you, Ronny made it especially in front of us)

I wish I was a food critique who knows how to describe the rich and various flavors of the dishes, but I hope the images of food can speak louder than the words.

You can make your booking in advance here.

Diet can wait.

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Marie Claire UK, October Issue

 
 

October starts with some great news and with my debut in Marie Claire, UK version.

This is not the first time I have my images in Marie Claire. First time was in Marie Claire Italia, April 2012 featuring my ‘Intimacy under the Wires’ story, and few months later on September, the magazine featured an image of Jaffa Flea Market.

But this time is bigger and better. Deluxe Travel story about Lisbon with some of my fave images of the Portuguese Capital. This piece really makes me want to book a flight and visit Lisbon again.

If you can get your hands on Marie Claire UK, October issue, here are the details;

Must Do: Ride a vintage yellow tram, no. 28 takes scenic route; dine on fresh fish Aqui Ha Peixe in Bairro Alto; bring home stylish gloves from Luvaria Ulisses. 

What to Pack: Dresses are the ultimate holiday staple. Go for block colors that can be livened up with some carefully chosen accessories to take you from sightseeing to cocktail sipping.

Stay At: Palacio Belmonte, a luxurious ten-suite hotel inside the walls of medieval Sao Jorge Castle with terrific views over the city. Add in a swimming pool, garden and gorgeous 18th century azulejo tiles and you are all set for a romantic break.

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Featured in Virtuoso Life Magazine, July / August Issue

 
 

Since I visited Porto on February 2013, the city was chosen as European Best Destination for the year of 2014. And no wonder. The city combines a rich History alongside contemporary architecture and great dining scene thanks to the wine industry in Douro Valley.

The timing to visit Porto was a great one as I managed to experienced the city before it became too touristic or maybe over-written. My Porto images were in Huffington Post, Elle Decor and now in Virtuoso Life Magazine, July/August Issue.

Excited to have my debut image of Porto with Clérigos Church’s bell tower in the background, as an opener to ‘Porto Perks Up’ article by Jeanine Barone.

To read the full article, please click here or skip to page 128.

 
 
 
 
 

Voyeur Magazine; Tel Aviv Heats Up

 
 

I was very excited to get an email the other day from the Photo Editor and Art Director of Voyeur, the inflight magazine of Virgin Atlantic, asking me to shoot a story about Tel Aviv for their August issue.

I love shooting for inflight magazines. They are the first thing I look for when I am taking a flight. My excitement got topped up when I have learned that Virgin Atlantic doesn’t fly directly to Israel and yet, chose to feature Tel Aviv as one of the hot and exotic destinations in the Middle East.

This Israeli city is riding a wave of trends thanks to forward-thinking locals, a booming nightlife and experimental art’ says the subtitle, and I had to capture these essence with my lenses. I had less than three days to do so.

In case you are not flying Virgin Atlantic this coming August, here is a summary of the article;

“…Israel’s most cosmopolitan city is a fast-paced, chaotic and idiosyncratic, a place where global fusion and local innovation rule everything from food to fashion and even music and architecture . Culturally, Tel Aviv has much to offer. Its collection of art galleries, boutiques and designer fashion markets are easily comparable with any large cultural capital, and it’s known for its wild nightlife and thriving gay scene…” 

Some of Tel Aviv’s Must-See Spots, mentioned in the article are;

‘…Much of Tel Aviv’s appeal lies in its different neighborhoods, each with an individual feel. The city holds the largest single collection of Bauhaus buildings in the world, collectively known as White City and declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 2003. The 4000 or so buildings are scattered throughout several neighborhoods; the best place to start exploring them is the Bauhaus Center. Wander through the scenic south-west neighborhood of Neve Tzedek (dating from 1887) with its narrow streets, lovingly restored buildings and main shopping strip, Shabazi Street offering charming boutiques and chic cafes..’

Where to stay:

Luxe: For classic European charm with a modern Israeli twist, head for the Hotel Montifiore, which occupies a beautifully restored 1920s building, with 12 luxurious rooms and a superb restaurant.

Hip: The trendy Brown TLV Hotel has a decidedly 1970s flavor and offers 30 comfortable rooms and two cool bars popular with local movers and shakers.

Budget: For those looking for cheaper accommodation, the cosy and friendly Eden House TLV, in the city’s historic Yemenite Quarter, is only a short walk to the beach and the busy Carmel Market.

Suburb Spotlight: 

‘…In the south of the city is the neighborhood of Florentine. Largely overlooked for years, the area has become increasingly hip, home to students, musicians and artists and plenty of bars, cafes and nightclubs. The area’s main attraction is Levinsky Market, a stretch of shops offering an astonishing variety of exotic spices, locally roasted coffee blends, cheese, Middle Eastern products, pulses, dried fruit and one of the local specialities bureka (savory pastries)… ‘

Where to Eat: 

‘…Hummus is a big deal in Tel Aviv. Locals go mad for the no frills Abu Hassan, where, if you can get a seat, you’ll be treated to what is generally agreed to be the best hummus in town…Cult chef Meir Adoni’s Mizlala is a mecca for the city’s hipsters, with its minimalist decor and cool playlist. But the food is what they come for: creative and meticulously constructed dishes with a pan-Middle Eastern vibe…For a taste of cafe culture, try Sonya Getzel Shapira with its relaxed atmosphere and attractive back garden…’

Don’t Leave Without: 

‘…Checking out Tel Aviv’s underground dance venue The Block – it’s a must for those wishing to experience local nightlife. Try and catch a contemporary dance performance at the Suzanne Dellal Center. Also visit the Center for Contemporary Art, which showcases cutting-edge installations and video art…’

 

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