Tell Stories + Inspire

Tell Stories + Inspire


2018-08-01_0006.jpgIsabella turned 16 this year. For every new parent out there, beware the time is fleeting. For every older parent out there you know better than we do how fast the time goes. She is beautiful inside and out, compassionate with a soft spoken kindness and intelligent with a wonderfully witty sense of humor. We love this kid so much, we couldn't be more proud of the young woman she has become and we are so excited to see what her future holds.
But (and there is always a but!) - are we doing the right job with our girls? So many thoughts are going through my mind as we raise these two young women and today's one of those days that I'm so glad Isabella and I had an impromptu conversation in the kitchen. These chats that we have always provide insight into her thought process and help me understand if some of the lessons we are trying to teach (whether subtle or not so subtle) are resonating with her.

We celebrate the changing role of women by talking about real life examples within our own circles.  Many a conversation has been had with the kids comparing the lives of our grandmothers and their friends, with my mother and MIL and with my friends, sisters and cousins and how our perspective is changing and different then the the current day reality for my girls, most is better yet oddly so much of it remains the same. But there is so much more that can be done.

This is such a big subject but such an important one with two young women growing up in our home. Yes we implore that being a strong woman is important. We try to give real life examples. We stress education, compassion, empathy, independence and self reliance. 

But what I'm questioning in myself is whether I am doing enough. Today is one of those days where I feel like I sit on the sidelines a lot. I believe in these qualities and I try to live by example but am I doing enough? For my girls and for all the other women out there? I feel like my voice should be louder. I feel like we all have lots of stories to tell, experiences to share and that maybe this will inspire my girls and this next generation of women.

What do you do to inspire young women?

 

February 22, 2021 — Keith Pitts
The I Love You Wall, Paris

The I Love You Wall, Paris

 

The I love you wall - Le Mur des Je t'aime, Paris

 The I love you wall – Le Mur des Je t’aime, Paris

 

Keith and I have been traveling together for nearly 20 years. We had cell phones back in those days, I had a Nextel (Motorola, two way radio that made my head explode as the voice of my boss could come out of nowhere at any time regardless of where I was, what time of day or what I was doing) and Keith had a Startac (still his favorite phone). Back when phones were phones, not cameras, computers, dating tools, etc. and we still had 56k dial up at home on the laptop and if we wanted to take a photo we actually had to have a camera. 

I still have distinct memories of Keith bringing his Hasselblad on our first trips together to Italy and then to Ireland. I think he may have had a Pentax 35mm (that he still uses) as well. But he was using film. Digital cameras were becoming more the norm but pros were still using film. And tourists were using a combination. But people who traveled were just taking photos, snapshots, landscapes, groups, families – the typical tourist shots.  The travelers were present, enjoying the tour, the sightseeing, the monument, the view. Traveling was more about where you were going, who you were with and what you were seeing – quite frankly it was really not about you.  


Look at all these people taking photos in front of the I love you wall in Paris!!!!!

 Look at all these people taking photos in front of the I love you wall in Paris!!!!!

 

Fast forward 20 years and it is mind blowing how travel has become all about the perfect selfie, the perfect shot for social media.  A new breed of travelers that seem to be only in it to gain followers, or to take that perfect couples shot in the perfect spot in the perfect place. People don’t seem to be present, just more concerned with their contrived, arranged, staged photo of themselves in some instagram worthy spot. 

Within a short 30 minute walk in Paris last month I couldn’t get over it. We walked through the sweet little park that contains the I LOVE YOU WALL and could not get over the quantity of folks waiting in some sort of line to take their selfie in front of the wall. Last time I visited this spot, about 6 years ago (in July as well), my kids were able to play in the playground adjacent to the wall, while my friend and I sat there ALONE and quietly chatted while NO ONE took a selfie in front of this wall.  Quite honestly I think I took one quick shot – and not with anyone in it – before we left. 

This July and it is a whole different story – because now this wall has become an instagram favorite. Trust me I love instagram more than the next guy but the travel photo has changed because of it. As my daughter and I left the park, we were walking down from Montmartre and couldn’t believe that a woman was standing at the top of a street – taking a shot with her phone, using her selfie stick, holding up traffic and nearly getting run over. What for? I guess a shot of a typical looking Paris street looking down from Montmartre – and as if she didn’t even notice the honks of horns, she stood there and posted the photo. 

We had already survived Santorini earlier in the month, which is over run with tourists that seem to be there for the Blue Dome shot in Oia trying to make it look like they are all alone on the island even though there’s about 1,000 other tourists standing just out of the shot waiting for their turn to get the exact same Santorini shot. The puckering of lips, the flip of the hair, the primping, it is exhausting just to watch. (It is apparently exhausting for the hotel + business owners in Santorini as well that have posted signs up all over “Don’t stand on the roof” Why you shouldn’t stand on private property is not common sense and there has to be a sign posted is beyond me, but we saw it happen over and over while we were there.) We asked a local why these signs were in random languages not in Greek or English – and they said that each season or two they need to change the languages because Santorini goes through different rounds of popularity with different parts of the world. This waiter told us that a couple years ago it was Japanese tourists, now it’s Russian and Chinese. Regardless of where the tourists come from it is just plain annoying. 

I happen to be a big fan of selfies, great way to get yourself into a photo and it can even be a fun perspective but I guess what I don’t like is the feeling that these travelers are missing out on the very reason to travel in the first place. 

“ONE’S DESTINATION IS NEVER A PLACE, BUT A NEW WAY OF SEEING THINGS.” -HENRY MILLER

February 22, 2021 — Keith Pitts
Travelogue:: Koufonisia, Cyclades, Greece

Travelogue:: Koufonisia, Cyclades, Greece

There are so many Greek Islands to choose from, why Koufonisia?

[Maybe that question will be easily answered through the photos or perhaps I might do a decent job of writing.]

When researching our 3 week trip to the Greece we decided in addition to Athens, we wanted to visit three islands. Santorini for a couple of nights and then we wanted to choose two other islands that we could get to from Thira (by boat) with relative ease. One of the islands needed to be off the beaten path (especially after Santorini where we knew there would be crowds) and the other could be a hybrid.

We wanted a more unique experience, less tourists, nothing overly commercial, not a party island, we wanted a more authentic Greek experience.

We narrowed it down to Folegandros, Amorgos and Koufonisia. We were going to close out with either Paros or Naxos (and decided on Paros, more on that in a later post) because we wanted to be able to fly back to Athens.

After reading an article about Koufonisia in Conde Nast Traveler, the decision was made.


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Check in at Portes Houses, Koufonisia

Check in at Portes Houses, Koufonisia

 

The water was smooth as silk crossing from Naxos to Koufonisia. The kids took dramamine as a precaution. We had read a bit about how rough this route can be with high winds and considering Seajets uses a smaller boat for this route, the kids will err on the side of caution whenever there is potential for getting seasick. Can’t blame them!

The handful of guests that disembarked were met by a driver from their hotel. Our driver from Portes Houses picked us up in an air conditioned van. We had no idea how short the drive was going to be and I personally wasn’t overly impressed as we drove away from the dock. (imagine, a dock area not being inspiring, I must have been tired!)

One glance at the stunning blue water and I was transported.

Our sweet driver who knew barely a word or two of English couldn’t have been more hospitable - along the way he showed us some beaches and gave us an idea as to what we could easily walk to from the hotel. Practically the entire island.

The check in process at the hotel was a treat. A little slow but who’s in a hurry when you are on a Greek Island? The sweet receptionist met us with a tall glass of chilled water and a powered sugar covered treat (my guess, a piece of candied honey). Exactly what we needed after a long day of travel.

The receptionist walked us to our room answering questions and suggesting restaurants. Magically our bags were neatly in place. The two bedroom “house” with a crisp island white interior contrasted perfectly with the hot pink bougainvillea wrapped terrace overlooking the calmest, bluest water off in the distance.

Immediately, we changed into our bathing suits and went by the pool, grabbed an ice cold Mythos, and jumped in. So refreshing.

Gabby yelled out to Keith and I “Do you want to see a trick?” followed by “Daddy can I have a ride?” (you can’t see the smile but it was ear to ear, how much we love this!)

Keith and I later wondered if this would be the last summer she is still a kid, wanting to splash around, do tricks and play with us in the pool. It was one of those moments that reminded us how fleeting childhood is and how much we treasure these moments with the girls.

A quick walk from the hotel into town and we stopped at the restaurant just steps from the beach in the center of town, Lefteris (Keros) Seafood Restaurant . A table was waiting with views towards the water. A carafe of Greek wine and some appetizers were immediately served. We were content.

After dinner we stopped for an adult beverage at Sorokos Bar., the oldest bar in Koufonisia.

Not hard to guess why this bar, perched on the edge of the water is one of the most popular spots on the island. Grab a comfy cushion set up on water’s edge and watch the sun set, step inside to hear the DJs beats a little closer or head upstairs for the view. Great cocktails (and since this spot is open from 10am on, you can swing by and grab a coffee and breakfast in the morning, take a swim and enjoy the same gorgeous view!)

Portes Houses is a family run boutique hotel and it really shows in the service. There are probably just a handful of people working at the hotel but you would never know that. Everything is taken care of. Especially breakfast. You preorder the evening before, make your selections and choose a time. The staff comes in and sets it up for you. Enjoying such a lovely breakfast with these views is an ideal way to start the day.

 

 


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There is no shortage of small beaches with crystal clear blue water.

A short walk in the other direction, away from town heading towards the more popular beaches and you have to stop for lunch at Finikas. Every meal ends with watermelon. Such a treat.

February 11, 2021 — Keith Pitts
The Marais, Paris

The Marais, Paris


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A short walk around The Marais in Paris and there is no shortage of street scenes to photograph. We were walking from our apartment to MUSÉE CARNAVALET – a museum of the history of Paris located just off of Rue des Francs Bourgeois (a great shopping street in the Marais) in Paris’ 3rd Arrondissement. Right before we arrived at the museum we saw this little park sandwiched in between a few buildings.

The best thing in the world about taking walks around Paris is finding these little gems. Square Georges Cain is filled with colorful long stem roses (being hand pruned by a gardner), park benches full of Parisians taking a respite from the busy city around them, a gorgeous bronze sculpture, a fountain, stone relics, trees – the perfect little spot to stop along the way.

I just love The Marais. Crooked streets, lavish squares, old world charm meets great little boutiques and cafes, pre revolutionary buildings bustling with an artistic vibe. Spending time walking around these streets gives you a feel for Paris before Haussmann, before wide avenues and the large squares that Paris is now known for.

An historic area within an historic city. From the beauty of Place des Vosges to the vibrant art scene, a coup d’oeil for the senses. And lots of great photographs along the way.

{Square Geroges Cain, Rue Payenne, 3rd Arrondissement (Metro stop: St Paul)}

December 01, 2020 — Keith Pitts