Shelley Coar: Blog http://www.shelleycoar.com/blog en-us Shelley Coar info@shelleycoar.com (Shelley Coar) Fri, 02 Dec 2016 03:42:00 GMT Fri, 02 Dec 2016 03:42:00 GMT http://www.shelleycoar.com/img/s/v-5/u567275563-o134424220-50.jpg Shelley Coar: Blog http://www.shelleycoar.com/blog 120 120 Belgium Through the Lens http://www.shelleycoar.com/blog/2016/2/belgium-through-the-lens  

This is Belgium through the lens...

ReflectionReflectionThe canal in Ghent, Belgium Limited Edition of 500

    Ghent, Belgium before sunrise

Belgium is a hidden gem.

I was fortunate to call this tiny country home for a year as a Rotary exchange student. Most people who visit Belgium go to Bruges or Brussels; and while Brussels is grand and Bruges is simply charming, there’s a lot more to this country than meets the eye. Green rolling hills grace the countryside, dotted by stone farm houses. Exquisite farm-to-table food awaits you at any local restaurant. Friendly, quirky locals will gladly have a Belgian beer with you, and there are enough bike paths to find yourself simply... lost. Oh and did I mention the chocolate?  
And while I return year after year for the PEOPLE, I find the PLACE simply ENCHANTING!

Here are some of my most treasured images from Belgium.

Enjoy!

Around the BendAround the BendBruges, Belgium Limited Edition of 500 Bruges, Belgium at sunset

 

Catholic baptism of my little Belgian niece.

 

Dreams and ReveriesDreams and ReveriesHoegaarden, Belgium
Limited Edition of 500
A little church I found on a bike path outside Hoegaarden, Belgium

 

A special moment caught on film from my Belgian sister's wedding.

 

Rochefort Beer Trappist Rochefort beer, complete with monks at the next table.

 

Damme Canal, BelgiumTree lined canal in Damme Canal lined and quaint Damme, Belgium

 

My Belgian Family My Belgian Family

 

Belgian Countryside The view on my way home to Melin, Belgium

 

Belgian Farmhouse Old farm house door and flowers

 

Whimsical Belgian Wedding My favorite whimsical bride and groom on a rainy day in Belgium

 

Releasing lanterns and remembering those who have gone before us

 

Oma Brussels Best place to have a Belgian brunch; Oma in Brussels

 

Touch of DivineTouch of DivineMeldert, Belgium Limited Edition of 500 A lonesome church I found at Meldert, Belgium

 

Formal Belgian Wedding Where else do you wear a top hat? A classic Belgian wedding

 

Country house on a warm summer day

 

Country LavenderCountry LavenderPurple Lavender
Limited Edition of 2500
Lavender fence

 

Rochefort ChapelRochefort ChapelRochefort, Belgium
Limited Edition of 750
Inside of the Rochefort Chapel

 

EnchantedEnchantedBruges, Belgium
Limited Edition of 500
Bruges lights

Thank you for allowing me to share one of my favorite places with you! I hope one day you will find yourself wondering the streets or countryside of this exquisitely charming country.

Happy Travels,

Shelley

 

Belgium Through the LensCaptivating photographs of Belgium

 

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info@shelleycoar.com (Shelley Coar) Belgian people Belgium Belgium photography Bruges Ghent Hoegaarden Shelley Coar Shelley Coar Travel Photographer Travel Travel Photographer adventure international travel photographs of Belgium travel Belgium http://www.shelleycoar.com/blog/2016/2/belgium-through-the-lens Tue, 02 Feb 2016 16:13:59 GMT
Effortless Serendpity Belgium http://www.shelleycoar.com/blog/2015/11/effortless-serendpity-belgium Check out the second blog installment from my very talented cousin and guest blogger Maggie Lynne Siddons.  She loves travel, photography and adventure.  This week she transports us to Bruges, Belgium.  Peruse her photography work at http://maggie-lynne-photography.com/.  Enjoy and Happy Travels! -Shelley

Effortless Serendipity: Part 2 Belgium

- by Maggie Lynne Siddons

Paris at Dusk

After our first few days in Paris, we woke up early Sunday morning to catch a train to Bruges, Belgium. Over the years, Bruges has held onto its unique, medieval architecture and its Dutch language despite a push to adopt French from the East. Surrounded by lyrical rushing canals and whimsical windmills, perusing the small cobblestone streets causes a longing for a simpler time. Centered around a bell tower that sounds every half hour with songs like Clare de Lune, this city is in every way a fairy tale and a gift.

Bruges, Belgium TIP: If you come here, plan on gaining a few pounds because Belgium is known for it’s beer, Belgian fries, waffles and CHOCOLATE. Much of our time spent here was hopping from Chocolatiers to hole-in-the wall pubs for a quick taste of some of the best beer in the world. I’m not much of a connoisseur, but a few of these Belgian brews are made by trappist monks and are extremely hard to find. One in particular - Westvleteren 12 can only be found at the monastery itself in southern Belgium near the border of France and it's impossible to reach without a car. Luckily, we got the inside scoop at a liquor store in Brussels that secretly sold it and we stocked up on a few.

When you come to Bruges, there is one day trip by bike you absolutely cannot miss Damme, Belgium out on. The bike ride to a small outlying town called Damme takes you through the side streets of Bruges back along a forested canal complete with what seems like a never ending hallway of trees. Bicycling past the windmills and beautiful farm fields, I truly never wanted to leave. To this day that is the place that I imagine at the end of my yoga practice - cheesy I know. But it’s nice to discover places like these around the world. Whether it’s the middle of the Sahara desert or an enchanted forest in Belgium, knowing that settings of complete peace and serenity like this exist is enough to carry you through your darkest hours.

Bruges Canals, Belgium Belgium surprised me in many ways. There is no sense of urgency to run from one historically significant monument to another. Just an all-encompassing influence to stroll along the cobble-stoned streets and admire what used to be.

    I will leave with yet another sentiment encouraging you to start planning your next trip. My 95 year-old grandmother has said many times, “If there is one thing I can look back on in my life and feel completely at peace with, it’s the fact that I have seen the world. It’s the only thing that’s truly worth the money.” Coming from a woman who grew up during the Great Depression and mainly shops at the dollar store, this truly is saying a lot. Once you’ve made the seven hour plane trip across the Atlantic and stepped onto the European continent, you will be forever entranced and addicted to it’s wonder and at times - ultimate serenity.

-Maggie Lynne

Maggie Lynne Website: http://maggie-lynne-photography.com/travel-photography/#travel

Instagram: https://instagram.com/mlsiddons13/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/maggie.siddons
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MaggieLS13

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=AAIAAAeoJcUBIYE6ZpxG5qg8y3vNckkXpstAoNs&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile_pic

 

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info@shelleycoar.com (Shelley Coar) Belgium Bruges Travel Travel Photographer international travel maggie lynne maggie lynne photography maggie lynne siddons http://www.shelleycoar.com/blog/2015/11/effortless-serendpity-belgium Tue, 10 Nov 2015 19:01:17 GMT
Effortless Serendpity Paris http://www.shelleycoar.com/blog/2015/11/effortless-serendpity-paris I am so thrilled to introduce my very talented cousin and guest blogger Maggie Lynne Siddons.  She loves travel, photography and adventure.  She also has the uncanny ability to transport you across the world with her words.  Checkout her photography work at http://maggie-lynne-photography.com/. Stay tuned because next week she will be taking us to Belgium (my favorite place).  Enjoy and Happy Travels! -Shelley

Effortless Serendipity: Part 1 Paris

- by Maggie Lynne Siddons

Paris at Dusk

The moment I stepped out of our hotel room in Paris and heard the momentarily still and peaceful sounds of the side streets of Rue Roquépine, I knew this was a well overdue jaunt into the unknown. My fiance and I made our way down the crowded, noisy main roads to the Seine and ordered two glasses of Rose on a rickety, yet effortlessly charming riverboat/cafe. Jet-lag plagued my mind and it all felt like a clouded, foggy dream of Art Nouveau Architecture, intoxicating beauty, and delicious romance language.

  Louvre    We meandered our way back up the Seine through the courtyards of the Louvre and then to the Tuileries. There we ran up on an outdoor folk concert complete with an accordion in the middle of this perfect and ethereal grove of trees bursting with early evening sunlight. This is what I love about being in a foreign country - I was only one hour into my European vacation and still there was absolute serendipity around every corner. It’s terrifying and beautiful all at the same time. I don’t speak French (well or really at all) and I have no idea how to interact with the locals without looking like a clueless American tourist, but in the end you simply have to roll with punches and get lost in it all - even the jet lag! It pushes you outside of your comfort zone at every stop along the way and forces you to be 100% in the moment. This, in my mind, is the ultimate gift of travel.

Perusing Musee D’Orsay’s dreamy impressionists Monet and Renoir sharply juxtaposed against terrifying pieces like William Bouguereau's Dante and Virgil in Hell leaves you longing to continue your education in art history regardless of your previous Sainte-Chapelle interest (or lack thereof). Then, there’s a Vivaldi concert inside of St. Chapelle on Ile de la Cite: this is one of the most beautiful experiences anyone can participate in. This small chapel is entirely consumed by breathtaking stained-glassed windows which create a red-hued ambiance throughout the high-vaulted, stone church. You feel as if you’ve stumbled back in time and ultimately you have no choice but to surrender to the magic of that moment. There’s no checklist or clock punching to be fulfilled, just a horizon of endless opportunity awaiting you.

    Paris leaves you to do nothing more than let go of your previous anxiety about whatever is going on your life and wander the streets admiring the beauty of the blue sky, the wonderful architecture, and watching its inhabitants lead an existence free of expectations and full of simple pleasure. It’s all-consuming, this atmosphere of ultimate and effortless class and beauty. And if you just let it, it will renew your spirit and faith in this magical world.

-Maggie Lynne

Maggie Lynne Website: http://maggie-lynne-photography.com/travel-photography/#travel

Instagram: https://instagram.com/mlsiddons13/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/maggie.siddons
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MaggieLS13

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=AAIAAAeoJcUBIYE6ZpxG5qg8y3vNckkXpstAoNs&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile_pic

 

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info@shelleycoar.com (Shelley Coar) France Paris Travel Travel Photographer international travel maggie lynne maggie lynne photography maggie lynne siddons http://www.shelleycoar.com/blog/2015/11/effortless-serendpity-paris Tue, 03 Nov 2015 19:25:20 GMT
9 Things the Travel Addict Understands http://www.shelleycoar.com/blog/2015/8/9-things-the-travel-addict-understands 9 Things the Travel Addict Understands

Every travel addict knows the ins and outs of packing, airports, hotels and transportation. Here are a few little things that any real travel addict will understand.

 

Passport Stamps

 

1. Your favorite collection involves passport stamps.


 

 

 

 

 

World Map

 

2. You study a world map to figure where you haven’t been yet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Airplane Luggage
3. You can cram three weeks worth of stuff in one carry-on suitcase (minus the camera equipment of course).

 

 


iphone Weather App

 

4. You have to scroll through 10 different countries on your weather app to find the one you want.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunrise at 35,000 feet
5. One of your favorite scenes is the sunrise at 35,000 feet.

 

 

 

 

Travel Size Bottles

 

6. You have a permanent stash of all your toiletries in less than 3.4oz.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tattered Suitcase
7. You have to buy a new suitcase every two years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fresh Baked Bread
8. You return home and wonder where to find your local bakery that makes fresh bread and pastries daily?

 

 

Psst... You don’t have one...

 

 

 

Travel Credit Cards
9. You don’t have to call your credit card company to inform them you’ll be out of the country....they just know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adventure on Travel Addicts!!

Shelley

 

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info@shelleycoar.com (Shelley Coar) Shelley Coar Shelley Coar Travel Photographer Travel Travel Photographer adventure international travel http://www.shelleycoar.com/blog/2015/8/9-things-the-travel-addict-understands Wed, 26 Aug 2015 03:25:27 GMT
Life's Greatest Adventure http://www.shelleycoar.com/blog/2015/8/lifes-greatest-adventure Life's Greatest AdventureFamily portrait from winter 2015       Life is an ADVENTURE.  At least that is how I choose to see it.  Some days the path of life is laid out before us as clear and wide as the Champs Elysees on a bright summer day.  Other days it’s like you’re scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef on a moonless night and your light burns out.  If you walk out your front door and travel beyond your comfort zone; a myriad of color, culture, wisdom and a little bit of serendipity will find you.

     Travel is scary. It is exhilarating, exhausting, and moving. Moving, beyond what you thought possible. Moving, in a way that nothing else is. Becoming a parent is all of these things and so much more.

     I’ve embarked on life’s GREATEST ADVENTURE!  And I thought jet-lag after 4 flights and 3 lengthy layovers to Yangon was brutal.  I laugh in the face of jet-lag now!

Fez MadinaWondering through the market in Fez, Morocco.

     Becoming a parent is a bit like wondering through the maze of narrow streets in Fez’s medina.  There are no maps, it’s super dirty, everyone is trying to sell you something, and good luck navigating your way through it.  Yet it is so beautifully intoxicating, you revel in being lost and can’t wait to see what’s around the next corner.

Ashton Joseph CoarMy boy!      Nothing can prepare you for this grand ADVENTURE. It is awe inspiring and humbling, with the most breathtaking view. It has brought me to my knees and given me wings. Of any blessing in life and love, this is the GREATEST.  So here’s to many more years of life, love, travel and GREAT ADVENTURES.

Happy Travels!!

Shelley

FYI.  Yes, I did fall of the face of the Earth, but I’m BACK now!  So watch out world!  Now I have a side-kick...albeit pint size.

 

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info@shelleycoar.com (Shelley Coar) Shelley Coar Shelley Coar Travel Photographer adventure family fez morocco travel http://www.shelleycoar.com/blog/2015/8/lifes-greatest-adventure Wed, 12 Aug 2015 14:00:00 GMT
Top 3 Travel Excuses... and How to Overcome Them http://www.shelleycoar.com/blog/2014/7/top-3-travel-excuses-and-how-to-overcome-them  

Excuses are plentiful it seems when trying to book travel. Here are a few of the major ones we face and how to tackle them.

Bosphorus, Istanbul, TurkeyLuxury on the Bosphorus

 

​1. Not Enough Time

 

Who has enough TIME to go galavanting off to another country? Money...well, we will get to that next. 

 

If you are an American TIME is always draining through the hour glass and there’s never enough of it. So how do you travel when you can’t seem to find the time?

 

In my experience, we all seem to have a timeline of future events. I would say most people’s event timeline extends from 6 months to a year in the future, at which point they’ve run out of exhaustive plans. If you can’t find time to fit travel into your current timeline, then extend it a year or so and plan a trip for then. If you plan a summer vacation for August 2015, chances are you will have the time.

 

THE BEST WAY TO PLAN A TRIP IS TO GET IT ON THE CALENDAR. Trust me, in my house this is always a huge hassle! 

 

This would be my comic strip (please feel free to submit drawings):

Shelley: Can you look at your calendar for August so we can plan a trip to Belgium?

Bill: I don’t know.... I’ll look later.

(one month later)

Shelley: Can you PLEASE look at your schedule so we can plan our trip to Belgium?

Bill: I’ll look tomorrow...

(one month later)

Shelley: (nagging and nagging)

Bill: Well I have a meeting that day, then I have a project due. Oh, and I have a conference on that date. What are we going to do with the dog? Who is going to watch our house? Do we have enough miles to buy tickets? What flights are we going to take? We should fly Air Canada. I like Air Canada.

Shelley: So what dates are you free again?

 

Don’t give up! Find a way to work with everyone’s schedule and plan it, buy it, BOOK IT. 

 

Istanbul, TurkeyIstanbul in the rain

2. Not Enough Money

 

This can be a huge deterrent! Everyone has differing circumstances. The trick is to PLAN A DESTINATION THEN SAVE. Sometimes you may have to push the trip back to few years just to save up enough in time. 

 

Travel is like eating a chocolate made by world renowned chocolatier Dominique Persoone; insanely expensive, worth every penny, and magnificently exceeding all expectations. And while money is essential to life in this world, I would rather collect memories than currency (although I do have a small collection of European currency from before the Euro if you are interested). 

 

Ephesus, TurkeyAncient Greek ruins in Ephesus, Turkey

 

3. The Ticket Dilemma

 

Oh, the ticket dilemma!!!! This is the bane of my existence. I have found that most people have a complex when it comes to actually sitting down and purchasing a ticket. 

 

Yes, Trinity, I am talking to you. This dilemma is inevitably linked to the Not Enough Time problem. My best friend Trinity can plan a destination and save like nobody's business. But, when it comes to actually buying the plane tickets...... (crickets chirping).  And the bigger the trip the more crippling it gets for most people.

 

I just have one thing to say to this. YOU WILL NEVER GO ANYWHERE UNLESS YOU BUY A TICKET.

 

It’s like Elizabeth Gilbert says in her book Eat, Pray, Love “There's a wonderful old Italian joke about a poor man who goes to church every day and prays before the statue of a great saint, begging, "Dear saint-please, please, please...give me the grace to win the lottery." This lament goes on for months. Finally the exasperated statue comes to life, looks down at the begging man and says in weary disgust, "My son-please, please, please...buy a ticket."

 

Jump off the cliff, be a participant in your own life, make amazing memories and please, please, please, buy a ticket!

 

Happy Travels!!!

Shelley 

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info@shelleycoar.com (Shelley Coar) Shelley Coar Shelley Coar Travel Photographer Travel Travel Photographer adventure international travel travel travel tips http://www.shelleycoar.com/blog/2014/7/top-3-travel-excuses-and-how-to-overcome-them Wed, 23 Jul 2014 02:15:52 GMT
Incredible India http://www.shelleycoar.com/blog/2014/7/Incredible-India  

"So far as I am able to judge, nothing has been left undone, either by man or nature, to make India the most extraordinary country that the sun visits on his rounds. Nothing seems to be forgotten, nothing overlooked."  -Mark Twain

 

Jodhpur, India, Shelley Coar PhotographyJodhpur, India, Shelley Coar PhotographyView of The Blue City, Jodhpur, in Rajasthan, India

 

If you want the ultimate adventure in travel to try your mind and test your spirit, then try India! I often speak of wanting to get outside of my BUBBLE or my COMFORT ZONE. Travel is the best way I have found to do this. If any of you feel your bubble crushing in on you, INDIA WILL BUST IT WIDE OPEN.

 

Leave your western ideas and comforts behind, and India will introduce you to chaos, crowds, and culture. A culture rich in history, gods, architecture, art, food, and grime! You can take my word for it, don’t even take your American antibiotics, because they don’t work in India.

 

Jaipur, India, Shelley Coar PhotographyJaipur, India, Shelley Coar Photography

 

One of my favorite memories from my trip to India occurred in a most unlikely place. On a dusty road in Jodhpur, Rajasthan there is a shop whose whereabouts came to us by way of another tourist.

 

When you first walk in it looks like a very old, run down antique shop with grimy knickknacks on glass shelves. The air is oppressive with heat and dirt. To the side there are a set of stairs leading to the basement, which at once becomes about ten times as large as the entrance.

 

This basement is filled from floor to ceiling with textiles in every shape, color, and fabric you can imagine. It’s hot, musty, disheveled and there are literally piles of textiles six feet high in any given direction.... silks, pashminas, cotton, wool, embroidered, loomed... you name it.

 

Jodhpur, India, Shelley Coar PhotographyJodhpur, India, Shelley Coar PhotographyTextile shopping in Jodhpur, India

 

This scene is a far cry from the perfectly lined racks of American shopping centers. Think more like the largest textile garage sale in history! I was so overwhelmed and enticed at the same time. It was like nothing I had ever seen before. How on earth was I ever going to see all the amazing textiles in this place? In short, there was no way humanly possible. So I began to dig... and dig... and dig, only to find one textile more beautiful and intricate than the one before. Amidst all the digging, I thought to myself ‘this is the best shopping experience ever!’. Forget Nordstroms. Why had I never experienced this overwhelming rush of excitement when shopping before? 

 

Several hours, some very serious haggling, a coke, and a trip outside to breathe again, I ended up with several vibrant Indian textiles to cram into my already overloaded extra duffle bag. And now when I look down at my jade green hand-made table cloth it reminds me of a far off, hot and dusty shop in what seems like another world. The moral of the story is don't be afraid to be overwhelmed and don't be afraid of a little dirt!

 

 

-Happy Travels

Shelley

 

PS. Always pack an extra duffle bag when traveling international! 

 

 
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info@shelleycoar.com (Shelley Coar) India Jodhpur Rajasthan Shelley Coar Shelley Coar Travel Photographer Travel Photographer adventure international travel travel http://www.shelleycoar.com/blog/2014/7/Incredible-India Tue, 15 Jul 2014 01:44:49 GMT
The Edge of the Earth and Silence- Sahara Desert http://www.shelleycoar.com/blog/2014/6/the-edge-of-the-earth-and-silence--sahara-morocco Sahara Desert, Morocco

If you’ve ever sat in a sauna for any length of time fully clothed, then you’ve experienced the Sahara.

 

It’s hot.... baking hot, and dry....oppressively dry. Last year, my cousin Maggie and I got the opportunity to go on a trip to Morocco. We spent one night in a tented camp in the Sahara. 

 

This little jaunt into the desert was like a test run for me. I thought, I’ll try it out and then come back, I a mean how fun would it be to go on a trek through the desert on a camel for a week? Sounds awesome, right?

 

One thing I already knew about myself...I do not like heat! One thing I learned about myself...one day in the Sahara is plenty. It is endlessly desolate and hopelessly hot. 

 

Yet among the isolation, I found something; Silence. What a beautiful and wonderful thing. I love feeling like I’m at the edge of the earth. A place where no one can call me, or email me or find me. It’s an incredibly freeing feeling to look out over the endless sea of sand and stand idle at the hands of creation. Sometimes we forget how small we really are. Nature has a way of reminding us. So here’s to those adventures that humble us and where we find Silence. May we always seek for it and find it.

 

Happy Travels!

Shelley

 

PS. Thanks to my wonderful adventure side-kick, and travel-partner-in-training, Maggie, who made the trip so much fun!

 
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info@shelleycoar.com (Shelley Coar) Morocco Sahara Shelley Coar Shelley Coar Travel Photographer Travel Photographer adventure desert international travel travel http://www.shelleycoar.com/blog/2014/6/the-edge-of-the-earth-and-silence--sahara-morocco Mon, 23 Jun 2014 16:00:00 GMT
Top Secrets to International Travel http://www.shelleycoar.com/blog/2014/6/top-secrets-to-international-travel Top Secrets to International Travel

Suset over Bagan temple

 

Yogi Bear once said, ‘When you come to a fork in the road... take it.’  Jump on a plane, a train, a boat, a tram, a bike, or whatever you can find, but by all means...take it!

 

International travel is one of my most favorite adventures. I love JRR Tolkien’s quote; ‘It’s a dangerous business...going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”  And more likely than not you will be swept off to untold adventures and priceless memories!

 

To travel and travel well are two very different ideas. Here are a few secrets I’ve picked up along the way for traveling well. 

 

Side note: I will just come out and say it, if you are an American, you will always stand out like a fox in a hen house! I don’t think it’s in our nature to blend in. So to that end, just own it, and try not to ruffle too many feathers along the way.

 

Travel Tip #1

Relax and smile.

 

As Americans we tend to want what we want, when we want it. I hate to break it to you, but in other countries they are not on our time frame or plane of logic! 

 

Take for example the time, me and several hundred of my closest friends, waited an hour in sweltering heat to go through customs in Paris with only two lines open and 10 other customs officers standing around chatting. My husband always says, ‘It makes sense if you don’t think about it.’ I apply that principal a lot when traveling.

 

Travel Tip #2

Stop talking and start listening.

 

Listen to the sound of the new country. Listen to the history. Listen to the culture. Ask questions and then listen. Oh, and turn off that cell phone!!!! My favorite vacations are the ones where my cell phone doesn’t work.

 

Travel Tip #3

Get off the beaten path.

 

You can see a lot of great things from a tour bus window, but you won’t experience much. 

 

The best part comes from meeting and interacting with the people around you, and no, I do not mean that weird older couple from England. Go to a local restaurant, coffee shop, or garden and just sit, watch, and listen. (Order something too, so the waiter won’t despise you!)

 

**Extra Tip: One of the best places to do this is Venice. The women there are incredible dressers, and it is soooo much fun to watch them as they go by! Have some coconut gelato while you are at it!

 

Travel Tip #4

Repeat after me;  "______ is not better or worse, it’s just different."

 

Fill in the blank; Mass transportation, Buddhism, Parisians, religious ceremonies, ideas, customs, languages, food, etc.

 

You may like your way better, but that doesn’t make it right. You will be amazed at the world you will find when you take off your western-minded glasses and see life through a different lens. I like to think mine is rose colored. 

 

Travel Tip #5

Learn.

 

Please, please, please, do a little research before you go and be mindful and conscience of the culture and country you are visiting. Read a book... or two. Listen to a lecture on Cd. Ask a native. As someone who has been there. You will thank yourself later. 

 

Another side note: Dear female American college students, when visiting Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and many other countries, please do not wear short skirts and tube tops. You look terribly out of place. -Thank you...another American tourist trying invariably to blend in.

 

My mom at a local festival in Bagan, Myanmar.

 

Oh and don't forget every wary and tattered international traveler packs an extra outfit in their carry-on bag and owns a good pair of earplugs...

 

Happy Travels! 

-Shelley

 

Top Secrets to International TravelTop Secrets to International Travelhttp://www.shelleycoar.com/blog/2014/6/top-secrets-to-international-travel

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info@shelleycoar.com (Shelley Coar) Shelley Coar Shelley Coar Travel Photographer Travel Photographer international travel travel tips http://www.shelleycoar.com/blog/2014/6/top-secrets-to-international-travel Tue, 17 Jun 2014 23:15:24 GMT
The City of Lights http://www.shelleycoar.com/blog/2014/6/the-city-of-lights Notre Dame, ParisNotre Dame, Paris

 

Paris is on my mind today as I prepare for my next trip. There are songs and poems singing the praises of Paris in the springtime. And then, of course, there’s colorful Paris in the Fall. But I haven’t found anything yet reminiscing about oven-hot August?!  Although, I did read in last month’s National Geographic, that in August they turn a section of the Seine into a beach, complete with sand and palm trees. I will be sure to check that out and report back. Alas, the heat will not get to me because....I’ll be in Paris! There will be chocolate, baguettes, croissants, cheese..... I digress. 

 

I hardly miss a chance to visit Paris, even if for a day in passing. To be sure, there are a million things to do and see, all worth your while. There is, however, one thing no matter how short the trip, I always make a point to do. 

 

If you walk across the Seine to the Ile de la Cite and follow the cobblestone streets to the east side you will inevitably run into a giant cathedral. You may have heard of it; Notre Dame. Constructed between 1163 and 1345, this building is a testament to the beautiful things men can design and create. If you walk across the square in front of it, originally designed to be the space between the secular world and the religious world, now teaming with tourists in an overwhelming buzz of languages and excitement, you will come to the gigantic wooden front doors. Of course there is a smaller entrance for everyday use, and as you slip inside from the hot, sun-drenched plaza into the dark, cool interior, you first notice... the quiet. It’s as if everyone can sense the reverence for which this cathedral was built and acts accordingly. As your eyes adjust to the dim light and you begin to see the magnitude and scale of the interior, your gaze drifts up. Up to the vaulted ceiling and the stained-glass windows and down to the front of the alter. Everything intricate and beautiful basked in a dim omniscient light. But that’s not what I came here to see. 

 

If you keep walking down the aisle in between the chairs and pews you will come to a cross section. And if you go to the middle, stop, turn around and look up; that is what I have come to see. That is the rose window at the back of Notre Dame cathedral. It is gothic in design, circular, decidedly red and blue, and absolutely amazing. It takes my breath away each time I see it. I can’t look at it without smiling. I can’t do it justice by describing it. A picture, in this case doesn’t either. It is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. I stand there, for an unmeasured amount of time, in reverence and awe.  Sooner or later, my gaze will come down, I’ll tour the rest of the church and walk back to the secular world. But for those few moments, I have been transported to a place more wonderful and beautiful, and the world is just a little bit brighter. 

 

May we all find moments unmeasured, where we can stop, be moved and stand in awe!

 

Happy Traveling!

Shelley

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info@shelleycoar.com (Shelley Coar) France Notre Dame Paris Shelley Coar Shelley Coar Travel Photographer Travel Travel Photographer rose window http://www.shelleycoar.com/blog/2014/6/the-city-of-lights Mon, 09 Jun 2014 22:54:58 GMT
Traveler, Photographer, Adventurer Extraordinaire http://www.shelleycoar.com/blog/2014/6/1 SONY DSC

I've learned that if you plunge into the unknown, sometimes amazing things will happen. Late one evening as the sun set over the azure water of Anacapri, Italy, my best friend and I, hot and sticky from a long day of walking, jumped from the safety of the rocks into the translucent water. We swam towards a small opening in the shear cliff walls. The opening would disappear underwater as the tide and waves came in. I could hear my heart beating in my chest, and feel the goosebumps all over my skin as I swam closer. I couldn't see what was on the other side of the opening and so it seemed like I was swimming into obscurity. There's always a small hesitation before jumping, so to speak. But if we don't take the risk, we won't find the reward. So, I took a deep breath and dove into the darkness. And when I surfaced... I discovered for myself one of the most magical places on earth, the blue grotto (Grotto Azura). The grotto was large and lit by the faded sun which reflected off the sandy bottom. The light turns your skin a luminous white and the whole world seems to dissipate. Your voice echos and bounces off the grotto walls. You are alone in what seems like a dream; floating, laughing, embracing life.

These are the moments I live for. These are the moments I travel for. 

I owe my love for travel to a few people. My sense of independence and fearlessness comes from my grandmother. But it is my mom and dad who have allowed me to develop a love for places far from home. They let me leave my hometown of Amarillo, Texas at the age of 17 to be a foreign exchange student in Belgium. There I learned that things aren't necessarily better or worse, they are just different. That mindset has allowed me to view the world with what I hope is a clearer lens. Leaving judgement behind allows an incredible kaleidoscope of color, culture, and adventures to come flooding into your life. My mother frequently travels with me to all corners of the globe. She has been a great partner in crime. My husband has found a love for Belgium as I have shared my second home with him. He allows my dreams to take flight and lets me jump on a plane sometimes for several weeks not knowing when he'll be able to contact me again. I'm grateful that I have life and family that allows me to travel. I hope I can share in some small way my love for this world in all it's wonder through my images.

-Shelley Coar Travel Photographer

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info@shelleycoar.com (Shelley Coar) Anacapri Blue Grotto Grotto Azzura Italy Shelley Coar Shelley Coar Travel Photographer Travel Travel Photographer http://www.shelleycoar.com/blog/2014/6/1 Mon, 02 Jun 2014 22:23:39 GMT