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.
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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;
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.
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.
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.
‘…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…’
A little bit before the month of March, I was contacted by the Photo Editor of FEAST Magazine, who asked me if I could shoot a food story for them while I am in Paris. FEAST is one of the leading food magazines in Australia, and shortly did I learn that food magazines in Australia are like what Fashion magazines are in Italy. The Photo Editor mentioned the three magic words, Rue Du Nil, which, in fact was the first time I have heard about this street.
‘…A tiny cobblestone street is the setting of Paris’s recent food revolution with shops that now stock locally and ethically sourced produce and a trio of eateries run by the young chef who started it all…’(words by Clotilde Dusoulier)
This young chef is Greg Marchand, ‘who in 2009 was returning from a few years cooking abroad- Spain, New York, Hong Kong and London. His nickname then was ‘Frenchie’, and he lent it to his own 20-seat restaurant, a tiny space with historic charm, stone walls and exposed beams’
Up till then, I personally didn’t know about Rue du Nil and didn’t hear about Frenchie restaurant, I admit. But after two-days shoot in this tiny street in the up and coming Sentier neighborhood, I felt like I’m at home, saying ‘Hi’ to my neighborhood vendors and having my coffee at my favorite place. Was it because all the shops’ owners were working together and knowing each other, was it because the street is so tiny…I felt very welcomed that even when my shoot was over, I stayed and had a coffee or a drink with the shops’ main players.
‘…In 2011 he (Greg) opened Frenchie Bar a Vins, a no-reservation wine bar where drinks are downed with small plates made from beautifully sourced ingredient. Among the menu items was a pulled pork sandwich that Greg’s wife Marie was so crazy about she convinced him to create a third restaurant, on the same Rue du Nil, which was starting to feel like their own backyard by then…this was how Frenchie To Go was born, in 2013, selling high quality versions of classic sandwiches using house made or locally sourced ingredients…Meanwhile, Greg kept developing relationship with suppliers and partners, many of whom had become his friends. Among them were Alexandre Drouard and Samuel Nahon, who had created a company in 2008 called Terroirs d’Avenir- ‘terroirs with a future’…..’
When Greg told them about an availability of some shops in the street, Alexandre and Samuel seized this opportunity and opened three shops side by side; A butcher shop, a fish shop and vegetables and cheese one. I was very impressed by these two young guys and their vision that I found myself having a long conversation with Alexandre (off my shooting hours of course) about the business background and the plans for the future.
The third location I had to shoot in Rue du Nil was L’Arbre a Cafe, located opposite from Frenchie To Go. Hippolyte Courty, the owner of the company, is a well trained coffee roaster who specializes in exceptional coffee grown on biodynamic farms from Ethiopia to India. As a coffee addict myself who is always in search of a good and quality coffee, I highly recommend L’Arbre a Cafe, The Coffee Tree. In one of my days-off shooting I took the Metro all the way from the 11th Arrondissements to the 2nd, just to have a good cappuccino.
The months of March and April were filled with Food shots assignment, and I found this one about Rue du Nil, one of the most enjoyable experiences I had. The Food, the people, the location, all made it a fun one.
Here are some of my favorite shots of Rue du Nil.
Bon Appétit !
5-6 Rue du Nil, Paris, Metro 3 Sentier
Open Monday-Friday 8:30- 16:30, Saturday and Sunday 9:30- 17:30
Gregory Marchand, Chef and Owner at the entrance to Rue du Nil
Sebbie Kenyon, Sous Chef, preparing the seasonal soup
Ben Roussel, Frenchie To Go Manager
Camille Malmquist, Pastry Chef
Francois Roche, Sous Chef at Frenchie Bar a Vins
Reuben’s Sandwich, Pastrami on Rye
7 Rue du Nil, Paris, Metro 3 Sentier
Open Monday-Friday 10:00-16:00
Samuel Nahon and Alexandre Drouard, Owners, at the entrance to the fish shop
10 Rue du Nil, Paris, Metro 3 Sentier
Open Tuesday- Friday 12:30-19:30, Saturday 10:00-19:00
Hippolyte Courty, Owner, at the entrance to his store
I feel a bit over exposed in the short interview I did for Resource Magazine, Summer Issue. But then again, part of our job, as photographers, is to highlight and focus on one object while keeping other in the shadow. Same with our lives. There are matters we feel comfortable to share and talk about, and there are those we prefer not to discuss.
However, this is not the first time I am sharing my personal path and what led me to establish a new career for myself (divorce and lay off from work) and most likely, the second time I am sharing my story with Resource Magazine’s readers. The first time was on September 2012, being interviewed about my personal photography project ‘Intimacy under the Wires’. Take a look here.
But let me share some of my Q+A I did right after submitting the images to the Productions of the World; Paris. Here is my favorite part: The First and Last questions in the interview.
Q: What’s it like having your work published in publications like Travel+Leisure, Marie Claire Italia and Conde Nast Traveller?
Me: These are publications that I’ve always wanted to work for and I feel very proud. Now that I’ve been published, I need to pinch myself to remind myself it’s really happening. It feels good because people don’t know how hard it is to shoot. When you see the printed pictures it all looks so perfect and defined, but there are so many things that a photographer needs to do to get the shot. I always feel accomplished when I see the magazines.
Q: Now that you’ve become established in photography, what could you say your biggest obstacles are?
Me: When you go on a shoot you need to think ahead of time about what can go wrong, and when you work in a different country with different people, the obstacle is that you never know what they’re thinking. Sometimes I’ll construct a shoot in my mind and people don’t see it the same way as I do- but this is all part of the job!
Here is the full article.
For the third time (and hopefully not the last) I am honored to contribute to the series ‘Productions of the World’ in the Photography Trade magazine Resource Magazine. In the previous articles I wrote about Tel Aviv and Lisbon, and this time it is all about Paris, one of my favorite cities to photograph and visit. I was happy to get an email from Aurelie, the Editor of Resource, who has asked me to share some of my Paris’ pictures. I couldn’t have asked for a better compliment, coming from a native Parisian like Aurelie.
If you are a photographer who is interested to shoot in Paris or have any upcoming production or a shoot there, this article will definitely help you plan it. And if you are not a photographer but still, visiting the French capital, you will find some great tips and recommendations.
To read the full article, please click here.
Sweden was always related to me with ABBA songs and IKEA furniture. I used to look at it as a cold destination somewhere along the Baltic Sea, not necessarily a destination I was eager to visit. During a trip to Vietnam, I met with some travelers from Sweden who they kept telling me about the short Summers they have and how everybody is jumping into the ocean right when the temperatures went up.
So when the opportunity of visiting this area during the Summer time came up, I got used to the idea of visiting the Scandic side on the Globe.
I didn’t have lots of expectations or pre-knowledge about Stockholm, I was say, but it was just perfect. Sometimes I prefer it that way; be opened for surprises and experience the city first hand.
Stockholm is just beautiful! It is spread over a magnificent chain of 14 islands connected by bridges. No wonder it is named The Venice of Scandinavia. I love the color schemes of the buildings, brown-yellow -orange tone with greenish spires. Adding to this the Swedish Fika, (coffee break) and the cafes in every corner, to make Stockholm a city I can easily go back to.
Here is what you need to know about Stockholm in a nutshell and how to find your way around it;
* The first settlement was Gamla Stan, the Old Town, where a maze of cobbled stones alleys are lined with colorful baroque and medieval facades. * The island of Skeppsholmen has become associated with culture, thanks to the three large museums located there; The Moderna museet, the Arkitekturmuseet and the Ostasiatiska museet. * Djurgarden, a former royal hunting ground from the 17th century, now turned into Stockholmers’ favorite playground, where locals like to visit on the weekend. * The wealthy neighborhood of Ostermalm, with its elegant residential buildings and luxury boutiques and * Sodermalm, a formerly working-class neighborhood turned into a young, artistic suburb with trendy bars and restaurants.
And if you want the ‘short cut’, here are some of my personal recommendations;
What to do and see:
* Fotografiska: This contemporary photography museum is quite new (opened in 2010) and offers a showcase for both internationally renowned artists (such as Annie Leibovitz, David LaChapelle) and unknowns. The space itself is quite impressive as well. Located in a red-brick Art Nouveau building that used to be a former customs building. There is a great city view from the restaurant in the upper floor and a rich and diverse bookstore that doesn’t put to shame the one at ICP museum in New York. This museum is highly recommended and not only for photographers. (Sodermalm Island)
* Katarina Kirka: This is one of Stockholm’s three domed churches, named after Princess Catherine and is located in the Katarina-Sofia borough up the hill in Sodermalm. The original building was completed in 1695 but was burned down twice. The latest replica was completed in the 1990’s and it has the shape of a Greek cross and topped by a beautiful baroque dome. For me, it was the first time seeing a Scandinavian church. Most of the churches I came across before, were more on the dark side with minimum light. But Katarina Kirka’s inside area is all bright and light.
* If you already made your way up to Katarina Kirak, I highly recommend to pass through Katarinahissen, an elevator which connects Slussenområdet with Sodermalm area. The original elevator was driven by steam from its opening in 1883 until the mid 1910s, when it switched to electricity. In 1935 it was replaced by a more modern version, that is still in use today. I was not aware of the elevator, but I took the steep stairs up, just to see the magnificent views of Gamla Stan across the see.
* Rosendals Tradgard: This beautiful park in Djuragarden was originally created in 1817 as an English park style, called Rosendals (named after the roses grew in it), but now is a public experiment in organic food and flora-growing. I’ve been told that some of the city’s top chefs visit the area and buy their product here. I enjoyed walking in the greenhouse area and see variety of plants. Next to the greenery there is the Rosendals Tradgards Butiken and Plantboden which sells the garden’s jams, herbs and spices. I found it to be a perfect location for a weekend’s brunch as long as weather permits.
Djuragarden, as I mentioned before, is the backyard, playground of Stockholm. One of the locals Sunday rituals is to visit the Skansen museum or a scary ride at one of the Grona Lund attractions. But there are also beautiful villas around that island, which have been turned into magnificent art galleries. I really enjoyed walking around and along the water’s edge, exploring some of the wild beauty and peeping through some gates to see some of the villas back yards. One of the villas I have visited was Thielska Galleriet. I got there by chance. I didn’t even plan it, but it turned out that Thielska Galleriet is one of the finest Art museums in Sweden. The villa was built and designed for Ernest Thiel, who was a banker and an Art collector in the early 1900s.
An added value for this beautiful gallery is its cafe. When I got in to buy a delicious cake (just so I can nibble while I sit outside in the garden) I was welcomed by the beautiful Chef Monika Ahlberg, whose cooking books were decorating the cafe’s walls. Monika is not only a stunning woman, but also a talented chef, who has published few cooking books under her belt.
Where to shop:
There are so many H&M stores in Stockholm, it felt like the equivalent of Starbucks coffee in Manhattan. However, I was not after the fashion in Stockholm, but more after the design.
* Modernity: I have heard about this store through Travel+Leisure Decoder article about Stockholm. I was intrigued by the shelves that covered the entire wall with a great collection of ceramics housewares and vases. Not to mention the mix of retro furniture with a Nordic twist. The store keeper was so excited to hear that I followed the article (I brought the magazine with me) that she also gave me the address of Modernity’s warehouse, few streets down the road. Rest assured I went there right away.
* Svenskt Tenn: This store might be the mecca of design in Stockholm and the symbol of Swedish modern style. The brand was founded in 1924 by Estrid Ericson, a jewelry maker, and designer Josef Frank. They wanted to create a brand where bold colors co-exist with simple clean lines. The store is located in Strandvägen 5, same address from 1927.
My favorite part of the brand is its textile and fabrics. Josef Frank designed more than 160 textile prints during his lifetime, several of which lives on as timeless classics. You can find these rich and colorful patterns in cushions, dining textile, kitchen textile, wallpapers, sofas, you name it. The store is beautifully curated with a great selection of glassware, lighting, furniture and textile. This is a must-stop in Stockholm.
If these two stores are not enough and you need an extra dose of Nordic design, then pay a visit to Nordiska Galleriet, an industrial- style space filled with all kinds of furniture and home accessories, by a wide collection of designers.
Where to stay:
While in Stockholm, I was very lucky to stay in a very central location, at the Scandic Grand Central, just across the street from the train station. The highlight of my visit was staying at the ‘Bloggers Inn’, a specially designed room for bloggers (or social media peeps) which includes most of what a blogger might need: Make it an iPad, a laptop, a camera, a tripod and wifi loudspeakers.
I have heard about the Bloggers Inn from Judith, a colleague, a friend and a blogger, who stayed there before.
I must admit I love this concept and the thought behind it; as the market needs are changing, the hotel is adjusting its standards accordingly. This is such a great initiative and I do hope this ‘Bloggers Inn’ concept will be spread out in more hotels across the Globe.
Another great thing about the Scandic Grand Central is its interaction with the street’s life. The doors are open to hotel guests and locals who enjoy an international atmosphere. There are acoustic concerts taking place and djs performances in the bar. Its sleek and chic design make this historic building (1885) to an up-to-date and leading hotel in the area.
* Hotel Skeppsholmen: This hotel (based on its name) is located on the island of Skeppsholmen. If I have to choose my favorite island in Stockholm, Skeppsholmen will be it.
What used to be a pair of a 17th century buildings, have now been transformed into an eco retreat hotel with great interior design. It is a mix of past and present which represents the ‘Urban Nature’ kind of hotel. Following the Swedish atmosphere, the hotel features pared down colors, raw wood and quite big bathrooms with unique Boffi basins. I love the dark color bathrooms in the hotel, a complete contrast to the rooms colors and shades.
Another recommended hotel (I wish I could photograph it) is Ett Hem. In English it means ‘Home’ and no wonder; It used to be a private residence built in 1910 in Ostermalm area. Now, it is part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, with 12 different rooms and suits, with great Scandinavian furniture, mixed of modern and antique. It is a very ‘Home away from Home’ kind of hotel, where guests are treated as friends of the family and become part of it. You can have your breakfast any time of the day, read your newspaper at the greenery or grab one of the Art books from the owner’s collection and feel like you are at home.
I was well overwhelmed by its beauty, colors and attention to details. The owner has an amazing taste.
I could only wish to stay there.