Monthly Archives: September 2012

Creative Mornings and Design Week Portland

Portland is certainly a city of festivals.  So much so that it’s hard to keep up with them all, but one I’ve got my eye on plenty of time in advance is Design Week Portland, Oct 9 – 13.  From fine art to architecture to fashion to graffiti art, it seems to cover a wide spectrum of design fields.  While my profession is in web design, I am truly enamored by how art and design play a role in nearly every aspect of our lives.

I’ve enjoyed attending Portland’s Creative Mornings lecture series the past few months, so it was nice to see the October CM talk appearing as a part of Design Week Portland.   Not only that, but this month’s speaker is Thomas Webster who leads Second Story Labs, exploring technology in innovative ways to create unique interactive experiences.  This is a must-see for me!

While digging through the Creative Mornings video archives I came across this gem by designer Aaron Draplin called The DDC 50-Point Plan to Ruin Yer Career.  It’s incredibly entertaining and insightful, and I agree with everything he says except for that last point…  While it’s nearly an hour, it’s definitely worth the watch.  I’ll warn you, you won’t be able to work-and-watch; you’ll want to give this your full attention.  I also think it’s something non-designers can enjoy.

Portland/CreativeMornings – Aaron James Draplin from CreativeMornings/Portland on Vimeo.

Aaron Draplin is also participating in Design Week Portland with sketchXchange, a night of inspiration and drawing in sketchbooks on Fri, Oct 12.  Illustrators, you don’t want to miss this!

What are some other great design events in Portland?  What are your favorite design events in your city?

Espresso at Paris Cafe

Ordering Croissants in Paris

Travel Tip: Know your foreign language pronunciation.

We couldn’t start our second day in Paris without a traditional Parisian on-the-go breakfast at a cafe – a croissant and an espresso.  Mike bellies up to the cafe bar and orders, “Deux cafés et deux croissants, s’il vous plaît.”  The bartender looks questioningly at Mike and repeats, “Deux cafés?” and he confirms the two espressos.  But then he seems confused about the second part and starts speaking French we don’t understand and gesturing with his hands.  We look at each other, not knowing where we went wrong, so Mike repeats, “Deux croissants?” and the bartender is just puzzled.  Absolutely puzzled.  We’re puzzled.  Mike tries it with a different emphasis, sharper enunciation, less enunciation, stereotypically sloppy French accent.  Nothing.  We’re really stuck here, and hungry.  So we motion to the only other guy working in the empty cafe – the guy standing out front who can speak some English to the tourists to hype his cafe since there are hundreds to choose from (There’s probably a name for this guy, I think of him as a cafe salesman of sorts).  We repeat our request to him, he turns to the bartender and they exchange some French, and then the bartender suddenly exclaims, “Ahhhh, croissant!”  The cafe salesman gives us a slight eye roll and apologizes.  Apparently, this Frenchman doesn’t pronounce the “r” in croissant, causing all the confusion (even though the French pronunciation really does include the “r”)!  Hey, I understand there are local pronunciation idiosyncrasies, but really?  Is krwah-sahn really that different kwah-sahn, so much so that he couldn’t piece together our order?  Nonetheless, it gave us a great story (albeit better told verbally) of our first breakfast in Paris.  We stood at the bar (because it’s cheaper than sitting at a table), sipped our espresso, ate our krwah-sahn, and tried to contain our giggles until after we left the cafe.  To the Notre-Dame!

Conciergerie prison interior arches

Historic Paris Walk (Part 2)

The Historic Paris Walk Continues

Day 2: Paris (Cont’d)

As mentioned in Part 1 of the Historic Paris Walk, if you’re really in the mood to immerse yourself in the tour, put in your earbuds and follow along with the free Rick Steves Audio Tour and Maps just as we did.

St. Severin

St. Severin was next on our stop with Flamboyant Gothic architecture.  I thought the flame-like stone detail over the exterior of the stained glass was really unique (and cool looking).  On the inside, some of the stained glass was painted to achieve such realistic faces.  The more abstract, colorful stained glass also caught my eye – I love the autumn colors!  One side room was also really interesting to me.  It was sort of oval in shape, so the walls were curved with a lip in a few places.  The ceiling was also curved and domed and – well, I’m not an architect, so I don’t know the terminology, but check out the photos!

Courtyard and Metropolitain Metro Stop

I love the painted shadows of the trees on the buildings surrounding this courtyard.  In the third photo here you can see the Metropolitain Metro Stop behind the row of parked motorcycles.  It’s one of the original subway entrances and is preserved as art!


Really beautiful architecture for a prison.  Marie-Antoinette had a cell here.

Coming to a Close

We even caught a movie in production towards the end of our Historic Paris Walk.  Before the sun went down, we snapped a picture in front of the Seine River and headed to dinner.  Afterward we strolled through the Latin Quarter which was officially part of the walk, but didn’t have a chance to do it before hunger set in.  As it turns out, it’s quite lively at night!  One particular establishment (with bras hanging from the chandelier) advertised, “Sexy Bar for Crazy Night!”  We took one more lap by the Notre-Dame, having transformed under the night sky as well.

Notes from the Travel Log – Tues 8.30.11

Slept in til 9:30am. Jet lag. Cafe and “croissant” at cafe near Notre-Dame. Historic Paris Walk. Notre-Dame exterior & interior. Park to right side. Tower climb for another time. Book stores along Seine… etc. Conciergerie. Saint Michel Chapel for another day. Dinner at fondue place. Notre-Dame at night! Crazy Facebook lady movie. Up late planning for next day at Versailles and rest of week.

Notre-Dame from a distance

Historic Paris Walk (Part 1)

Day 2: Paris

Being so jet lagged and still getting used to the time change, it was hard to wake up at a decent hour, but we had a plan.  Today we were going to do Rick Steves’ Historic Paris Walk.  This hits about 15 points of interest over a three-mile walk, beginning at the Notre-Dame Cathedral.  Before beginning our day, we had a laugh ordering croissants at the cafe.

The Historic Paris Walk Begins

If you’re really in the mood to immerse yourself in the tour, put in your earbuds and follow along with the free Rick Steves Audio Tour and Maps just as we did.

Notre-Dame Cathedral

The walk officially began at Point Zero – the very center of France, just outside the Notre-Dame Cathedral.  We admired the architecture and listened to a brief history lesson (via the RS audio tour) while waiting in the queue.  Some of the gargoyles hanging over the edge of the cathedral serve as rain spouts, gushing out water from their mouths.  As we approached the entrance I was wow-ed by the lovely detail on the enormous cathedral door.  The kids nearby were laughing and shouting as they played with a giant bubble maker, but once inside everything fell to a respectful whisper.  The Gothic arches of the ceiling aren’t just beautiful, they serve to push the weight out – to the flying buttresses on the outside of the walls – instead of down.  However, it’s the original rose window of stained glass that really steals the show.

Deportation Memorial

This is a memorial to the French victims of the Nazi concentration camps.  It’s sunken into the earth, so once you descend into the structure you can only see the walls and sky, giving a feeling of imprisonment and isolation.   Inside the memorial room, a lighted crystal shines for each French citizen who died.  The message above the door reads, “Forgive, but never forget.”

Left Bank

As we walked over the bridge to the Left Bank, we noticed the railing fence covered in padlocks! Apparently lovers will initial a lock and secure it to the fencing as a symbol of their love and devotion.  I’ve never seen this in the US, but we spotted it in a few other places as we traveled through Europe.  We continued our stroll along the Left Bank where secondhand booksellers and other merchants displayed their goods in green stalls along the Seine River with the Notre-Dame at their backs.  The bohemian Shakespeare and Company Bookstore and the skinniest house in Paris (two windows wide) were other points of interest on our walk.


Continue reading about our History Paris Walk in Part 2.

Thank you, Rick Steves.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Rick Steves (and our friends who recommended Rick Steves – you know who you are).  With such little time to plan this travel dream suddenly becoming reality and no definite focus, we consulted our friends who had toured Europe just two summers prior.  Besides getting some great first-hand travel advice, we learned of the Rick Steves travel books.  The books have suggested schedules of how to plan your time depending on how many days you can visit a particular destination and a three-point rating scale for sights: “don’t miss”, “try hard to see”, and “worthwhile if you can make it”.  This was invaluable for our flexible schedule and limited knowledge on certain destinations – being able to accurately pencil in destinations on the calendar.  Besides the plethora of information he provides on a specific destination, he also offers great travel advice in general.  We learned a LOT of great travel techniques from the Rick Steves books, particularly “Europe Through the Back Door” for getting a crash course right before the trip.  If you’re thinking about traveling to Europe, I highly suggest picking up some of his books.  I could go on and on about how much I love his books, but I’ll leave it at that for now and will probably touch on more specifics in future posts.

Outside the Notre-Dame with Rick Steves Book

Outside the Notre-Dame on Day 2 of our trip, with the Rick Steves Paris travel book in hand.