My first visit to Granada was almost ten years ago. One of my best friends was studying spanish abroad for a few months and another friend from California and I flew to Malaga to meet up with her and start our month long backpacking trip around Europe. I had never been to Spain before and really didn’t quite know what to expect. I was 19 and had a backpack overloaded with film and was filled with excitement to explore Europe with two of my best friends. The weekend we spent in Granada was perfectly timed during a religious festival. I vividly remember dancing in a square surrounded by people of all ages, from grandmas to children. It was raining and everyone was soaking wet, and while we must have been freezing cold, no one seemed to mind the rain one bit as we danced into the wee hours of the morning. Maybe I have romanticized my few days in Granada as time has passed, but my memories of our time there are sort of magical. Needless to say, I was both excited and a little scared to go back to the city I fell in love with almost a decade ago. I was scared that I would return and see nothing of the place of my memories. Fortunately that was not at all the case. We only spent a day there, and I wish we could have stayed longer, but walking through winding streets of the Albayzín took me back to that place ten years ago, at the beginning of our adventure, completely mesmerized by the charming little city.
After what was said to be the darkest winter on record in Germany, I was craving sunshine and needed out of Berlin. Fortunately I had a trip planned to the south of Spain for the BodaF wedding photography conference, and I was lucky to have Andreas join me for a weekend in Malaga before the conference started. While it wasn’t exactly warm and we found ourselves shivering from not wearing enough layers, we soaked up all the sun we could get.
I had visited Malaga for about an hour almost ten years ago, when a friend and I were catching the bus to Granada. This trip we explored the streets walking aimlessly (my favorite way to get to know a city) and were charmed by the small city’s architecture and lovely people. At one bar the older men sitting next to us bought us a glass of sparkling wine for no apparent reason even though they didn’t speak a lick of English, and another night out, a nice guy struck up a conversation with us and then proceeded to offer us some of his cheese plate. After 4 1/2 years in Germany, that sort of thing is slightly shocking to me now- and to Andreas as well. No offense to my German friends, but I have grown pretty used to not striking up conversations with strangers (which is much more common in the US) and cannot remember a time a random stranger bought me a drink. Our first night in town we got caught in a rain storm without umbrellas and got completed soaked and of course it stopped raining the minute after I bought an umbrella :) but I now have a 3€ rainbow kid’s umbrella in case I ever need one.
As someone who comes from one of the most perfect climates in the world, winter loses its appeal for me after the snow melts, or after the forth month of darkness, I am not sure which. I think next year we need to find a way to escape for at least a couple weeks in February so I don’t risk turning into a grumpy old lady like I did this year. Thankfully it seems after a few days of sunshine and now with a hotel balcony with a view of the Mediterranean (where I am finishing this blog post) I am back to my old self.
Over the holidays, I took a Visual Storytelling class from Skillshare along with my friend Anne of Prêt à Voyager. The class focused on creatively telling a story through the use of video. Anne and I had shot a little bit of footage just for fun while I was in Paris back in October, and decided this class was a great opportunity to collaborate and finally edit through the video we had shot. It did take us a little longer than expected (the class ended in December), but paid work always trumps personal work. It is admittedly not my best work, but it was a lot of fun to work on together and I thought I would share it here on the blog. Anne is a graphic designer and used her skills to create the graphics and text and as well as creating the concept and modeling in the video :) Hopefully we will be able to work on another project again soon, working with friends is so much fun and I love having someone to bounce ideas off of.
AND, did you see? In honor of Valentines Day, I am giving away a Heartbeats Session on my wedding blog! For more information and to enter, click here!
A few weeks ago on a very snowy Sunday afternoon, Andreas and I ventured east to Lichtenberg to visit the Stasi Museum. The museum is housed in the former Stasi Headquarters building which was stormed by protesters on January 15, 1990 during the collapse of the GDR. When it became clear the East German government was going to fall, Stasi officials had holed themselves up in the building destroying and shredding Stasi documents and after the some of the shredders broke from overuse, the officials continued to shred the papers by hand. The protesters believed those documents, many of which detailed the personal lives of GDR citizens, should have been available to the people and been made public. Since 1995, a team of people in Zirndorf outside of Nuremberg, has been working to piece back together by hand, the 15,500 sacks of paper which were recovered. A fascinating article was written in the Guardian detailing the documents and the efforts to piece them back together, read it here.
a camera which was disguised as a button. The wide array of hidden cameras displayed in the museum are fascinating (especially for photography nerds, like me), there was even a camera hidden inside a watering can. The great lengths the Stasi went to spy on the citizens of East Germany is unbelievable (and really sad).
Infrared flash cannot be seen by the human eye, but can be used to photograph subjects at night without being seen. Infrared flashes were hidden in the doors of this car to photograph along the roads. The watch was used as a recording device.
one of the most well known parts of the museum is the office of the last Minister of State Security, Erich Mielke. His office and those of his colleagues have been restored and are pretty much exactly as they were left over 20 years ago.
Stasi Museum Berlin
Ruschestraße 103, Haus 1
exploring berlin is a series following my explorations of my adopted home city.
*Note to non-German speaking visitors, most of the text in the museum is NOT translated. There is a LOT of text to read, detailing the history of the Stasi and the GDR government and those who stood up against it. Although I do think for those who don’t understand German, it would still be really interesting, I just wanted to write a little warning to prepare you.
After having several (very lovely) readers tell me they were interested in buying prints of my photos, I finally got around to opening a little online print shop. I will be adding more prints over the weekend and will try and keep the shop updated with favorite images from life and our travels around Europe. All images are printed on Hahnemühle Photo Rag which has beautiful texture and makes the most beautiful prints. Custom prints and sizes available upon request.
Chasing Heartbeats Print Shop
It feels like ages since I last posted a weekend in pictures post, and that is probably because it actually has literally been months since I last blogged one. Things have been sort of quiet around here lately and part of that is because things have been crazy busy around here- I randomly signed up for German classes which are 3 hours a day, 4 days a week and have thrown my schedule completely off. I have also been feeling a little disconnected from this blog and trying to find the inspiration to post again. I have some big plans for the year and hopefully with that, will come some interesting new content for this little piece of the internet.
The start of this year rekindled my desire to explore this city and get out of my neighborhood on a much more regular basis (which as other Berlin folk know, is not always that easy- especially when you work from home). Over the weekend Hazel and I braved the below freezing temps and walked across the city discovering parts of Mitte and Wedding I had never once stepped foot in before (some of which were interesting, some not so much). I also fell in love with Volkspark Rehberge, which felt like a little escape from the city and was mighty charming filled with kids sledding through the woods. I have a love/hate relationship with winter, while I despise the grey days and darkness, I love how when the sun actually comes out for a quick minute like it did this weekend, you cherish every second of it.
The Hansaviertel is one of Berlin’s most unique neighborhoods. It was almost completely destroyed after World War II, and it became a sort of experiment for modern urban planning in the 1950′s. In response to East Berlin’s massive apartment blocks on the former Stalinallee, the Hansaviertel was based on the idea of a “garden city” where the apartment buildings were separated by large green spaces and lots of trees. 53 architects from 13 countries were invited to design a range of apartment blocks in the Hansaviertel, representing what was then thought to be the “city of tomorrow”. I find the idea of the neighborhood and the urban planning ideas which created the space fascinating. Even though I know practically nothing about architecture, walking the quiet streets of the Hansaviertel almost transports you back in time, and I love that.
Surely most people think of snow and frosty weather when Christmas comes to mind, but for me, Christmas means time with my family and walks on the beach. I always cook up a big breakfast (with my cinnamon rolls), open presents, and then get some fresh air and exercise before preparing our Christmas dinner feast. This year was no exception with an afternoon walk along Pismo Beach, somewhere that holds a special place in my heart because I spent so much time there growing up and still remains one of my favorite beaches.
Returning back to Germany after two weeks in California, I am feeling all kinds of blessed. Being able to spend the holidays with family and friends in such an incredible place as the central coast of California, was the greatest gift of all. I feel so very lucky to call this my home.
Here are a few shots from an afternoon hike up Madonna Mountain with Andreas and my mama. After a week of almost non-stop grey days here in Berlin, I could really wish I could teleport myself back. Oh sunshine, I miss you.
we were missing miss hazel so much that we had to kidnap one of my best friend’s dog, Emmy Lou, for the afternoon
I still can’t believe a year has passed since we moved to Berlin and at the same time, it feels so much longer than that. I owe all of you, dear friends and readers, a huge thank you for all the love and support you have shown me this past year. Taking the leap to full-time freelancing has taught me so much about myself, at times was terrifying (and still sometimes is), and it has once again shown me how amazing this blog world is. I feel blessed to be a part of it.
Here are a few of my favorite 2012 memories:
I hope 2013 is off to a great start for all of you! I have a feeling this will be a great year :)