Je t’aime, France

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”― Mark Twain

 

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We travel. We explore. We adventure. We experience.

Even better, we take our children. Every time I’m on another flight, or someone hears that we are traveling AGAIN and comments to me about it, I constantly remind myself how lucky we are. Garrett and I made a decision a long time ago that we would live a life of adventure and that our kids would go along for the ride.

I can’t tell you how many times I told my students that they needed to travel. I would have a bulletin board in my classroom, dedicated to my travel photos. I would print, laminate and label them and the kids would always look at them and then ask me: Mrs. Lewis, have you been to all of these places? Always, with a smile on my face, I would say: YES, and they are some of the best experiences of my life!! Then I would tell them: start saving now! Save your birthday money, your holiday money…whatever you get, save it and travel….you will never regret it. Forego the bigger house, the newest gadgets or $175 shoes….TRAVEL! I would like to think that some of them took that to heart.

Garrett and I traveled before Graham and Ellis were a part of us, but when our 15 year anniversary came around, we decided to go to Prague. This was our first time to the Czech Republic and it was Garrett’s first time to Europe. He loved it. The travel bug got him and it hasn’t let up.

In fact…I’m sitting here, at DFW airport writing this blog post. We just got off a 10 hour flight from Paris and are still feeling the effects of dizziness, foggy brain and vertigo. HAHA But I wanted to share while the memories were fresh.

A lot of people ask me for travel advice. I guess I qualify for that? LOL Not sure. But I will tell you that we are budget travelers. We subscribe to Scott’s Emails for deals on flights (we got this Paris flight from Fort Smith for $480 *reg nearly $2000* and will be going to Maui in August out of OKC for $320), we stay in Airbnb’s and we always shop at local markets, wherever we are. We don’t have “extravagant vacations” per say, but we do have fun ones!

This time, we took Graham with us for the week and he had an awesome time. Truly. Last night, as we were packing our suitcases, in our small apartment, in the 14th arrondissement of Paris, he said: “I miss Ellis, but I don’t want to go, I’ll miss Paris. I’ll miss this place, I love it here.” He’s 6 and he’ll remember this week and the experiences he had and that makes my heart so happy.

Below, are some photos I took. If you don’t know by now, I quit teaching after 13 years and decided to go with photography full time. People call me a professional photographer, but I don’t know if I’ve reached that status yet.

Nevertheless, here are some photos from our time in France. I’ll label below them so you’ll know where they were taken.

These are all from Paris. Eiffel Tower, River Seine, Notre Dame, Sacre-Coeur, The Louvre and the infamous Arc de Triumph. We also went to the Palace of Versailles, but it was so cold, I don’t have many photos from there LOL

We stayed in the southern part of the city, near the University. It was a lovely neighborhood with great restaurants and bakeries and the metro was only one block from our apartment, which made for easy access to the rest of the city.

These photos are from the small town of Bayeux. It’s a town of about 14,000 people and sits in the region of Normandy. We took a high speed train to get here. The train ride was about 2 hours and we were able to spend nearly an entire day. We had to take a taxi to the American Cemetery and Omaha Beach, which was an additional 20 minutes.

I believe this was my favorite part of the trip. Bayeux, itself, was such a charming town. Cobblestone streets and traditional French flair. It was amazing. We decided we would stay in Bayeux a couple of days, when we go back.

It was the first town liberated by the Allies, after they regained control of the beaches of Normandy, from the Germans. Nearly 18,000 French civilians from this area gave their lives to stop the German’s from progressing even further. Their efforts were shown by the preservation of the town.

The American Cemetery was a beautiful tribute to those lost in the battle against the Nazi regime. Garrett and I could not contain our tears and Graham looked at us, inquiringly, and asked: why are you crying so much?

It was a great lesson for him and the sacrifice that was made by a lot of people during this time in history. We hiked down to Omaha Beach and were able to see Nazi bunkers that were dug into the side of the hill and zig-zag trenches that were still in the grass as part of their defense. I would highly recommend making the trip to this area. It was so beautiful and moving.

These are my photos, taken and edited by me and are owned by AB Lewis Photography. Please don’t use them without my permission. Feel free to comment or even shoot me an email if you have travel questions. I love to help plan, give recommendations and just offer up traveling advice! ablewisphotography@gmail.com

“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” -Gustav Flaubert

Beautiful People

Today was a busy day for me…..I photographed two news anchors and two “just turned one” year olds. Two, totally different types of photography….one being more professional style and the other, well…having fun with 1 year olds of course! I have to admit though, being nearly 36 weeks pregnant doing this much today was…..wait for it….exhausting. Thank goodness the feeling of excitement for photography overpowers my tiredness. Enjoy these beautiful people!

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“My Grampa”

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

If any of you reading this know history, you know this is taken from the Statue of Liberty herself. If you look at this photo closely, you can see a piece of street art that portrays an older man. Just above the man’s head, there’s the scribbling of a person’s handwriting. It reads: “My grampa was born a foreigner, but died a proud American.” I’ve looked at this photo for 2 weeks now and didn’t even notice this piece until today. I’m learning there’s importance in the details.

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Street Lights, Big Dreams, All Lookin’ Pretty

Vibrant colors, new sounds, a different language and the smell of……fish? Welcome to the Melting Pot, or technically, I think it’s offically called “The Salad Bowl” now, but whatever you call it, culture is definitely not lacking in this city and I LOVE IT. I spent nearly all day in the oldest parts of New York, mostly in Chinatown, learning it’s history.

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Even though I can’t even remember how many times I’ve actually been to this city, today I felt like I had hit the trifecta: the city I adore, photography and history, all rolled into one. What a day. It’s so refreshing to be reminded as to why this country is so unique. The different cultures, how so many lives are interwoven into one, the clusters of people that represent all corners of the world. It’s hard to imagine what America would be like without it’s diversity. As I walked the streets, and composed my shot, I did wonder what their big dreams were…what they envisioned their life would be like when they made the very difficult decision to move to an unknown country. Was it to escape a harsh government? To give their children a better life? To be one step closer to freedoms they would never have in their native country? Whatever the reason, their big dreams may not look too different from mine. Afterall, all we really want is something better for ourselves and our family, right? They don’t have easy jobs. They’re probably doing a job I wouldn’t want to do….yet, there they were smiling and laughing and serving their customers and genuinely looked like they were enjoying life. I wish I knew their stories.

This photo has a lot of elements to it. Walking through Chinatown there were so many interesting things to look at, that it was impossible to capture all of them through the lens, but each image is still such a unique perspective of life. Where I live, you would NEVER see anything like this. I guess that’s why I love spending time in the city: street lights, big dreams and they’re all looking pretty. Well said, Jay-Z, well said.

What is your eye drawn to first as you look at this photo? Comment and let me know!