Give Rise to or Cause

As fortunate as we have been to adventure through some of the most recognized cosmopolitan cities in Europe, I must admit that the some of the most revivifying experiences have been far from urbanite.

The Natural History Museum in London is a proud host to the world premiere of Sebastiao Salgado’s Genesis, a documentary photographer whose work explores and documents the diversity of our earth. We first walked through Planet South, observing water trickle down the tails of southern right whales in Argentina and gazing into the river valleys of the Brooks Range in the Arctic. We continued through Sanctuaries, Africa, Amazonia and Pantanal and Northern Spaces. Essentially, I trekked through Brazil, Indonesia, Rwanda, Sudan, and Ethiopia in under an hour. We were given the chance to experience a glimpse of Selgado’s connection with the origin and ceaseless formation of our planet and instantaneously we found our own relationship with our environment. We all understand that we are responsible for the care of our planet, but do we actually have the desire and knowledge to protect it? My responsibility has met desire and empowerment in Genesis. Desire, it is a pleasure to meet you. Earth, you magnificent creation, I promise to protect you.

And then we have Stonehenge, an ancient creation surrounded by mystery. With so many questions left unanswered, it is undeniable that this site on the Wiltshire countryside is remarkable.

Exploring the grounds of Lacock abbey and village offered us a true taste of the past. We looked through the famous window where William Henry Fox Talbot created the first negative photograph, marveled at the cloisters and antique furnished rooms, and were arguably the most thrilled to walk the hallways Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint once walked through in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Before leaving this small but rich with history town, we watched the afternoon sunlight shine through the stained glass of the Salisbury Cathedral. History, you are sacred to me, and I promise to protect you too.

Stonehenge on the countryside.


Medieval furniture, I will own you someday.


Reflecting in a reflection.


To light a candle for someone.


A Rainy Day in London

After a glorious morning in which most of us enjoyed sleeping in, we took the tube to explore the city. We jumped on one of the famous red double decker buses to make our way to Buckingham Palace. We didn’t get off at the right spot, but that was okay, because it gave us more time to explore. I was surprised at how many parks were in the area. It was very refreshing to find so much open space in such a big city. It was sprinkling rain for quite a while, but it was such a small amount that it was actually quite enjoyable. The weather here is so nice compared to the heat we were experiencing in Paris. We saw Big Ben and the Parliament building, then headed to Westminster Abbey. It was closed for the day, but it was still quite impressive from the outside. After that we found ourselves in a massive park, where we stopped for a few minutes to eat ice cream. Then we walked to Buckingham Palace. It was strange, because it didn’t seem quite as big as I had imagined. However, it was still wildly impressive to stand in front of such a historic building. We hung out there for a bit, then headed back through another massive park to get back to the tube. It started to rain just as we walked back to our apartments, and kept on raining throughout the night, so we decided to relax, eat some junk food, and enjoy a quiet night in. It was truly another lovely day in London.

Big Ben

Big Ben

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey


Buckingham Palace


Andrea and I on our way to steal the royal baby.


Sarah, Dylan, Elizabeth, and Andrea on the statue outside of Buckingham Palace




Grin and Bear It

Like my grandma always said when things go wrong, “You win a few, you lose a few.” I found myself saying this more than once today. We went to the market near the Bastille, which was very interesting. There were tons of vendors with different foods, clothing, and jewelry. Even though it was 90 degrees outside, I went ahead and bought an extremely hot Nutella crepe. I’ve noticed that Nutella is incredibly popular in Europe, and I buy into the trend whenever I can.

After the market, Dylan, Andrea, Elizabeth and I decided we wanted to check out the catacombs. We attempted it yesterday and planned on renting some bikes and riding them there, but the machine for the bike rentals wouldn’t accept American credit cards and we realized we wouldn’t have enough time to look around before it closed. So today we decided we would get there via the metro. We had to walk for a while to find the right one to take- the system is very confusing. However, we were very proud when we figured it out and made it to the catacombs, but we were too late- the line was around the block, and a man working there told us we were too late to get in.

It was disappointing, but we reconvened and told each other to put our biggest smiles on. It was a different part of the city, so we decided to explore and see what we could find. Elizabeth had spotted a large monument a few blocks down, so we headed that way. We couldn’t help but roll our eyes and laugh when we realized that it was nothing more than a large concrete block.  Our spirits rose for a second when we spotted a park, but when we walked in, we laughed again and decided that in terms of Paris parks, we had probably found the lousiest one.

The disappointing monument.

The disappointing monument.

The park we found. I accidentally lied in a pile of dirt while we relaxed there.

The park we found. I accidentally lied in a pile of dirt while we relaxed there.

There wasn’t really anything else to explore, so we headed back to the metro. Andrea and I had scoped out a vending machine, which took the only 2 euro coin I had and failed to give me an Orangina in return. We took the metro to the Luxembourg Gardens- and that’s when we finally “earned our stripes.” We dipped our feet in a massive fountain and wandered through the tunnels of trees, enjoying the shade. The flowers and lawns were stunning. All of the problems from earlier seemed to melt away there.

The beautiful Luxembourg Gardens

The beautiful Luxembourg Gardens

Afterwards we headed to the Lourve to catch the Tour de France bikers race by, which was a very cool experience. A few of us decided that we needed food, water, shelter, and hopefully wifi, so we stopped for dinner. I devoured a pizza, and I don’t think I have ever been so happy to sit down before.

Bikers in the Tour de France

Bikers in the Tour de France

There were a lot of bumps in the road today, but I’m very fortunate to be able to say that it took three weeks before I had a day where things didn’t work out well. I also think days like this are important to have, because they make you appreciate the good days even more, and they build character. You can either complain and be miserable, or laugh it off when things go bad, and many laughs were had. And as for visiting those pesky catacombs-  I firmly believe that the third time’s a charm.

A Dip in the Mediterranean

With a free weekend of hot, sunny weather, most of us felt that visiting the Mediterranean Sea was a fine idea. After a lovely train ride through the mountains, we arrived in Cassis. Since we didn’t know the bus schedule, we chose to walk to the beach, which was a great adventure. Since no one wanted to take their DSLR cameras to the beach, many of us were disappointed that we didn’t have them to capture the fantastic scenery. However, it was pretty nice to be able to focus on our surroundings with our own eyes as opposed to a lens. Fortunately, most of us had our phones or point-and-shoot cameras to take a few photos.

The mountains we passed through on the train ride.

The mountains we passed through on the train ride.

Vinyards and houses we passed on our walk to the beach.

Vinyards and houses on our walk to the beach.

Gorgeous flowers pouring over the tops of fences.

Gorgeous flowers poured over the tops of fences.

A street filled with shops and bakeries led up to the harbor. We were surprised to find that the beach was very small. It was framed by very large rocks and cliffs, and the water was beautiful to look and even better to swim in. Kristen and Katie were brilliant enough to stop at a shop and pick up some pool floats, which we had a blast with in the water. We also ventured away from the beach to climb on the rocks and check out the pier.

View of the cliffs next to the beach- Photo courtesy of Katie Stiefel

View of the cliffs next to the beach- Photo courtesy of Katie Stiefel

The gang in the water.

The gang in the water.- Photo courtesy of Dylan Sowle

Elizabeth, Andrea, Dylan and myself having deep thoughts on the rocks. -Photo courtesy of Katie Stiefel

Elizabeth, Andrea, Dylan and myself posing for our future album cover. -Photo courtesy of Katie Stiefel

After a day of sunshine and water, we returned to Arles in time to see the fireworks which kicked off tomorrow’s Bastille Day celebrations. Needless to say, nothing beats a great day at the sea.