anna brones

writer + artist + producer

Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Is Paris Any Good or Not?

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Paris skyline

I’ve got thoughts about Paris and our notion of “home” in a new essay over on Medium. I have been meaning to write this essay for quite some time, and happy that it found a place in The Archipelago collection.

In the beginning, you feel high just from being in Paris. At dusk, the light hits the buildings just so. You find a bakery that makes the best almond croissants in the world. Nothing can get you down. But then eventually the downs do come, and they hit you hard, like a bucket of cold water in the face. Your bank meeting that was supposed to take ten minutes takes two hours. A taxi almost hits you while you’re riding your bike in the bike lane and you’re the one who gets yelled at. It rains. It gets gray. You try to go for a run and get hit on — “courage mademoiselle.” You spend far too much time arguing in French to get something accomplished that you didn’t even want in the first place. A certain dreariness sets in that you can’t seem to shake.

Like Bogart in Casablanca, I try to tell myself “I’ll always have Paris” — not the real city, with its homicidal cars and persistent men, but the memory, the good stuff. Eventually the daily frustrations will fade, and in ten years it will be easy to gloss over the frustration and be one of those people that casually throws “that time I lived in Paris” into conversation. It wasn’t just a ten-day trip, or a month abroad, I’ll tell people. No, I actually went and lived there. Wrote there. Ran there. Drove there. Called it home for a while. Even in the darkest moments, there’s something comforting about that thought. I’ll always have Paris.

In the meantime, because of my adopted city’s magical reputation, I don’t get to complain. “The apartment is tiny, I’m starting to feel claustrophobic.” “Yeah, but Anna, you’re in PARIS.” As if, once enough poems are written about a city, it becomes impossible to be sad there.

It felt good to write this piece. The editor challenged me to call it “Is Paris Any Good or Not?” but if anything it’s less about Paris and more about thinking what “home” means, and maybe even, where “home” is.

You can read the full essay here.

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Written by Anna Brones

July 23, 2014 at 08:23

Posted in Paris, Portfolio

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Wild City: Les Jardins du Ruisseau, Paris

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Les Jardins du Ruisseau by Anna Brones

All wildness is finer than tameness.

-John Muir

In an urban jungle I have been craving wild respite.

Trees.

Flowers.

Earth.

Growth.

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Written by Anna Brones

June 10, 2014 at 17:20

The Changing Coffee Scene in Paris

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Image

Call a spade a spade: most coffee in Paris isn’t good. But thankfully that’s changing. I had the chance to have some in depth chats with roasters and baristas in town over the last couple of months to talk about that change, culminating in an article for Roads & Kingdoms. An excerpt:

The tide is turning in the French capital, though, with a flood of new craft roasters and cafes that all believe in good coffee. The French, however, are sensitive to change, especially in a city that’s known for its deep-rooted traditions, and while this expanding coffee scene is welcomed by many, it also comes with a side of criticism. For some, local craft roast might be the sign of a city looking forward, yet for others it’s the sign of a city undergoing an irrevocable transformation in food culture.

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Written by Anna Brones

January 29, 2014 at 03:21

The Paris Coffeshop for Freelancers: Cafe Craft

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cafe-craft-8-640x426

I am a big coffee drinker, and while in the first few weeks of the New Year I have made an effort to tone things down, normally I am a at-least-one-French-press-everyday kind of girl. It’s therefore totally normal to be thrilled about one of my new gigs for 2014: a contributor the coffee site Sprudge.

Yes. An entire website devoted to coffee.

My first piece was about a cool place in Paris that is set up for freelancers that need some desk space every once in awhile (hello: me!).

Drag your Macbook along with you to a cafe in Paris and you’ll probably end up being hard pressed to get any work done. While there are a handful of cafes that tolerate their space being used as a workspace, the hole-up-for-five-hours-and-get-a-coffee-buzz-that-only-a-freelancer-knows concept doesn’t really fly here. And yet…

As the French capital, Paris draws all kinds of people, from around France and from abroad, and amongst those people are plenty of creatives, students and entrepreneurial spirits that don’t always fit in the 9 to 5 category. This city is an iconic epicenter of art and culture, after all. While a more traditional work culture has been the dominant one, slowly but surely startup and freelance culture is starting to grow, and with it, the need for temporary workspaces.

Enter Cafe Craft, a cafe that calls itself the “premier café dédié aux créatifs indépendants.” If your French is rusty: “the first cafe devoted to independent creatives.” And that’s exactly what you get. Desk space, fast and free wifi (often an anomaly in this city) and most important, a plethora of outlets to charge your computer. You can literally sit here all day, and as long as you’re willing to pay for it, no one is going to hassle you or give you a nasty Parisian glare.

Read the full article on Sprudge

Written by Anna Brones

January 10, 2014 at 08:53

Bringing Travel into the Kitchen

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My latest over on Foodie Underground:

A freakish commitment to perfecting a recipe picked up while abroad might seem off, but don’t we all have food obsessions when we return from voyages? We come back from our travels, whether near or far with stories of “have you ever heard of [insert odd local dish here]?” and “they had the most amazing [insert normal dish] but with [insert oddball ingredient that is representative of the place traveled to here]. I wish we had that here!”

Ask someone which bus line they rode most often during a trip and you’ll get a blank stare, but ask about the best local meal and you’ll be sure to be listening to an animated story for a minimum of seventeen minutes. Food is often one of the biggest takeaways when we travel, be it just a half hour from home or on the other side of the world. That roadside diner with the house special sauce can be just as exotic as sambusas on a street corner in Kabul. Through food we experience a culture a people and a place. We are forced to stop and take things in, listen to our senses. It’s no surprise that the result is memorable.

Read the rest here.

Written by Anna Brones

November 14, 2012 at 06:00

Women’s Rights: Thoughts from Afghanistan

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Thanks to a project with Mountain2Mountain I had the opportunity to travel to Afghanistan to help produce a series of public art exhibits. Afghanistan certainly isn’t the top pick destination for most people, and before my departure the mention of it would inevitable spur a handful of emotions and comments, somewhere along the lines of “are you sure that’s safe?” One of the common reactions also had to do with women’s rights, reminding me that the state of affairs in the far off country was different than the one I had at home. During the two week trip I had a lot of time to think about women and women’s rights, and I came up with the following essay, reprinted from the Moutain2Mountain blog. Hopefully it spurs some thought.

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“Remember that being a woman is different in Afghanistan.”

I was getting yet another opinion on my decision to travel to Afghanistan. The statement was made out of love, wanting to remind me that I should be aware of my surroundings and behavior, that just because I was a strong, independent woman, I should remember to respect local culture. But it was also coming from someone that had never traveled to Afghanistan.

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Written by Anna Brones

November 8, 2012 at 08:10

Hop in the Saddle: A Guide to Portland’s Craft Beer Scene, by Bike

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Love this new book…

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Written by Anna Brones

October 5, 2012 at 06:22