A year ago, in 2019, I posted my top pictures of 2018. But there was a catch. I only included photos that I had taken up until the end of June 2018 because my computer hard drive was full and I didn’t have ready access to the rest of my 2018 photos. So I said then that I was eventually going to do a second post with photos from the latter half of 2018. Well, I didn’t get around to doing that in 2019. I’ve finally managed to do it now, at the beginning of 2020. Better late than never? It’s my blog, I can do what I want to?
Neil and I finished up our year abroad in July and August of 2018 by visiting France (Strasbourg, Colmar); Germany (Cologne); Belgium (Brussels, Bruges); and the Netherlands (Rotterdam, Kinderdijk, Amsterdam). Then Neil had a work conference in Vancouver in the middle of August, so we made our way home. We were gone for 347 days in total, from August 30 (2017) until August 12 (2018). Not quite a year, but close enough! Then, in October, Neil had another work conference in Quebec City. It was a busy but wonderful year.
I have 14 pictures to share with you from the latter half of 2018. Again, I’m breaking my self-imposed 10-picture limit because of the exceptional circumstances. I could have done a top-20 of pictures I took in Amsterdam alone! I’ve also decided to mostly group the photos by location since there are multiple photos from some of the towns, and that might be less confusing.
I’m going to begin my recap with photos from the two towns we visited in the Alsace region of France: first Colmar, and then Strasbourg. The Alsace region of northeastern France is interesting because control of it has shifted between German and French hands five times since 1681; it retains influences from both these cultures as well as Switzerland, which it borders. Alsace has its own language, Alsatian, which is a Low Alemmanic Germanic dialect that is closely related to Swiss German. I fell in love with the beautiful Alsatian architecture, which has houses that feature French style-shutters and German-style timber supports. I took thousands of pictures of them. Some of the houses, especially the ones in Colmar, date back to the 16th and 17th centuries! These residences are extraordinary survivors, having made it through the French Revolution (1789-1799), the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871), World War I (1914-1918), and the heavy bombing that most areas in France and Germany experienced during World War II (1939-1945). Neil and I spent two weeks in Strasbourg, during which we embarked on a day trip out to Colmar. I would love to go back in the future to also see the towns of Riquewihr and Eguisheim.
1. Below is a photo taken while Neil and I were exploring the “Little Venice” neighbourhood of Colmar, which gets its name from the picturesque canal through which the river Lauch flows. This historic quarter wasn’t always so beautiful, as it used to be where the city’s butchers, tanners, and fishmongers once worked. This latter aspect is why Little Venice is also known as the “Quai de la Poissonnerie.”
2. Colmar was very charming. Everywhere I turned, there was something I wanted to photograph.
3. I love how much character can be expressed through a pair of window shutters.
4. The photo below was taken in Strasbourg. I loved the yellow house, its many windows, and the gorgeous planters full of red and pink flowers.
5. The next set of photos come from Amsterdam. This was the last city that Neil and I visited on our trip. We were only in Amsterdam for a week because it is really expensive to stay there, but it was worth it. My favourite street to walk along was the one shown below, largely because of the residences with their many window shutters (I’m beginning to suspect I have a problem). These buildings used to be warehouses, and the upper decks of ships would be loaded through their large central windows.
6. Below is an interesting angle looking up at some of those windows and their corresponding shutters.
7. Shown below is one of the many beautiful canals found in central Amsterdam. Note that you can see a variety of different modes of transport, all of them equally important and popular: boats, cars, bikes, and pedestrians.
8. Bruges is another city with canals although, of course, not as many as Amsterdam. I took the photo below while we were waiting to board a tour boat.
9. I loved how much variety exists in the brick buildings that can be found throughout Belgium, like the ones I photographed below while walking around Bruges. The stepped-gable rooflines are a lot of fun to look at. So, too, are the narrow iron rods that serve a practical and decorative purpose: they hold the building together, and look great while doing so.
10. I thought the brick building below looked super cute with its flowers and decorative detail. I like the windmill in the central arch. In the arch to the left appears the latter half of the word “bakkery.”
11. One of the highlights of visiting Antwerp was getting to visit the Plantin-Moretus Museum, which was the home and shop of 16th century printers Christophe Plantin and Jan Moretus. The building encloses the beautiful Renaissance courtyard shown below. Note, also, the stepped gables that can also be seen here.
12. The museum also houses two of the world’s oldest surviving printing presses, which are 400 years old. You can see them in the photo below. The photo itself is not that great, but the devices that are its subject contributed greatly to the shape of the modern world. I was a little in awe of them.
13. Back to Canada! I took the photo below while touring Quebec City in October. It is a view of the Château Laurier overlooking the old city quarter, known as “Old Quebec.”
14. I took the photo below while Neil and I were walking around the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood of Vancouver at the beginning of November. The weather was grey and beyond dismal, with the rain coming down in hard sheets. This mural provided me with a bright, cheerful interlude that was much needed at the time.
That’s it! I hope you liked my second post of top photos from 2018. The first post can be found here.