The Art of Travel Posters

There’s a really awesome feeling when you realize that so many things you’ve worked on the past come together to form another project. This week I kicked off my latest Skillshare class, The Art of Travel: Create Your Own Tourism Poster. For years I’ve been taking pictures of posters on the walls of the metro that inspire me. One of those posters for Morocco even inspired my thesis on tourism and new media in Morocco. After my Map Making class was such a hit on Skillshare, I wanted to do another travel-inspired class. I love that my classes become a community that welcomes both designers and non-designers who get creative in their own ways. In my new class we look at a brief history of travel posters as well as contemporary tourism campaigns to help inspire you to create a travel poster for the place of your choice. (My poster was inspired by my #pariscafechairs series on Instagram – I explain more about my thought process on my project board on Skillshare). The entire class is less than an hour broken down into easily digestible video lessons, which leaves lots of time for your own exploration!pretavoyager-Skillshare-ArtofTravel-title-600So here’s what you need to know about Skillshare. 1) I’m addicted and it’s my favorite online learning platform. I love not only the classes, but the teachers. They’re totally my style. They’re everyday professionals like myself to some of my design idols like Ellen Lupton and Debbie Millman. 2) All classes are project based so there’s incentive to work towards something and learn in the process. 3) Skillshare classes can be a great way to connect with others by sharing your work on an online project board, and commenting on the work of others. I’ve discovered some really cool designers that way! 4) There’s a new $9.95/mo membership model which allows you to take as many classes as you want (unlimited access). There’s even a free 15 day trial if you want to test it out. In other words, it’s completely affordable, and there’s no excuse not to learn something new.

I’ll be sharing some student work here on my blog once that class really gets rolling (you can also follow along with #ArtofTravelPoster on social media). In the meantime, I’m focusing on spreading the word. If know anyone who may interested, just share this link: (It was thanks to blog readers like you that my first class went viral!)

My other Skillshare classes are ongoing and I still give feedback to students who upload their work to the online classroom:

Holler if you have any questions. Don’t you just love learning!?!

Follow me @pretavoyager on Instagram + Twitter + Medium! I teach MAPS, Travel Posters, InDesign, and Redesign Your Résumé on Skillshare, and give Paris tours through Vayable!

Jerry Gretzinger’s Imaginary World Maps

pretavoyager-jerrymap-palaisdetokyo-1A few years ago I happened upon the magical mini documentary about Jerry Gretzinger who has been making maps for decades. While the places he maps don’t actually exist, the maps aren’t aimless by any means. He has a systematic way of making them, where a special deck of playing cards tells him how the next map card will develop. It’s fascinating.

So you can imagine my excitement when on @PalaisdeTokyo’s Instagram I saw that part of his map (3,200 cards, I believe) is in the Le Bord des Mondes exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo (one of my favorite museums for many reasons, but mainly because it’s open until midnight). I could stare at it forever. It was hard to pick my favorite photos to share, but the Vine I took gives you a sense of it and the different details.

I’m just sad I missed it when Jerry was here for the installation.

pretavoyager-jerrymap-palaisdetokyo-2Check out Jerry’s official site here.pretavoyager-jerrymap-palaisdetokyo-3

Speaking of maps, if you don’t already know, I teach map making on Skillshare (super affordable!) where one of the class exercises to to make an imaginary city. Stay tuned because I’m launching a new travel related class this week!

Follow me @pretavoyager on Instagram + Twitter + Medium! I teach MAPS, InDesign, and Redesign Your Résumé on Skillshare, and give Paris tours through Vayable!

Roald Dahl Museum & Story Center

My last two trips have been inspired by my favorite childhood author, Roald Dahl. Without really realizing it as a kid, I started collecting his books, which I loved for their quirkiness. Each book was illustrated by Quentin Blake, and thinking back to it, he was the first illustrator who I was able to identify by style. I probably never really realized that was a real job growing up. I’m definitely one to take advantage of good travel deals, but my most recent Eurostar 69€ round-trip deals (sign up for their newsletters and follow Eurostar on social media!) were the perfect excuse to revisit some of my greatest inspiration from my childhood. Creative pilgrimages are THE BEST! Go see what inspires YOU!

Roald Dahl Museum & Story Center. Characters pictured above also found inside.

Back in October, I took a day trip to The House of Illustration, a new “museum” near King’s Cross Station in London that celebrates – you guessed it – illustration. The inaugural exhibit was ‘Quentin Blake: Inside Stories’ and despite being small, it made me very happy. The show ended in November, but you can read all about it on The Paris Review and The Financial Times. The exhibition was far more than Blake’s collaborations with Dahl, but his style remains distinctly his own. (Here’s my peek inside on Vine).

pretavoyager-quentinblakeinsidestoriesIt was thanks to this expo and following the museum on Twitter that I discovered that there was a Roald Dahl Museum. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine a magical place like this could exist! What luck! It’s a 45 minute train ride out of London in Great Missenden where Dahl lived. I decided to save it for my most recent excuse to go to London. To get there take the Chiltern Railways from London Marylebone to Great Missenden. My ticket was 11 Pounds round trip, and the museum is a charming, short walk from the station. Trains leave twice an hour.

If Vine is not appearing correctly, click here to view.

The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Center isn’t particularly large, but it’s full of charm and small details. It made me laugh because the website says it’s aimed at 6-12 year olds. Maybe that’s why I liked it so much! There’s a look at his childhood and schooling (the school groups there were VERY excited to try on his school uniforms) with letters from the archives. Starting at boarding school Dahl would write letters to his mother every week, a tradition that continued, and she saved every one of them. Then a look at his life as a pilot in the Royal Air Force, where he experienced a plane crash that caused him to have back pain for the rest of hist life, along side a re-creation of his Writing Hut, complete with chair that had a hole cut out of it to lessen the pressure on his back. If you look hard enough you’ll even find drawers with fingers and fake teeth – how many museums can claim that!?! The final “story center” section of the museum is more interactive. It reminded me of Kaleidoscope in Kansas City where I grew up (part of Hallmark!). There’s a chair to sit on, part of the set of Fantastic Mr. Fox, things to cut and color and make. It’s absolutely delightful. I also wanted to sneak into “Ms. Honey’s Classroom” with the school group that was visiting the museum, but resisted.

pretavoyager-roalddahl-storytellerpretavoyager-roalddahl-writinghutHis Writing Hut was meticulously re-created. 

pretavoyager-roalddahl-mrfoxpretavoyager-roalddahl-storycenterTo my surprise there was still more! With your entry fee they also give you two map brochures with local walks. The village walk is much shorter and closer. I never knew that I was going to visit his grave, but with mention of footsteps from the BFG nearby, I knew I had to. The area is beautiful! There is also a countryside walk that takes a bit longer. I’ll have to do that next time!

pretavoyager-roalddahl-villagepretavoyager-roalddahl-greatmissendenThe Village is charming.

pretavoyager-roalddahl-BFGFound the BFG’s footprints on the way to Dahl’s grave site. People had left various gifts and mementos, but most touching was a letter RD had written to the people of Britain to encourage vaccinations after losing his daughter Olivia to the measles at a young age. Both The BFG and James & the Giant Peach are dedicated to her.

pretavoyager-roalddahl-redpumpThe Red Pump which inspired the garage in Danny the Champion of the World.

And if that all wasn’t enough, plan a visit to Café Twit. I of course had to have a slice of their signature Bogtrotters chocolate cake with mini marshmallows and candy on top! It only seemed appropriate. I picked up a copy of Dahl’s memoirs, Boy and Going Solo in the bookshop. They’re amazing to read because instead of trying to cover his whole life, they’re snippets of his childhood (Boy) and life (Going Solo), that make his books came alive. Candy definitely played an important role, and you can see so many characters unfold.

pretavoyager-roalddahl-twitcafeI already asked this on Instagram, but what’s you’re favorite Roald Dahl book!?! I re-read The Twits on my train ride home, and I do remember that one being a favorite alongside The Witches and The BFG. But little did I know that Dahl also wrote adult fiction. I picked up Kiss, Kiss as my first one (thanks to a tip on Instagram)!

pretavoyager-roalddahl-bookspretavoyager-roalddahlmuseumThe Roald Dahl website is extensive. Follow the timeline of his stories, read through his archives, or plan your visit to the museum. There is even a Marvelous Children’s Charity in his name, and a percentage of the proceeds from his books benefit his charity.

Follow me @pretavoyager on Instagram + Twitter + Medium! I teach MAPS, InDesign, and Redesign Your Résumé on Skillshare, and give Paris tours through Vayable!

Paris After Charlie

pretavoyager-nogozonesTomorrow marks 1 month since the Charlie Hebdo attacks, which in many respects feel much longer ago than that. I’ve been wanting to post about what happened for some time, but haven’t found the words, nor time until now. In short, I was very impressed how Paris handled everything. A few weekends ago I Instagrammed the photo above. The caption read:  Strolled through Fox’s “no-go zones” which are my favorite areas in Paris. I love how diverse and international Paris is and I can learn a lot about the world without going far. I feel safe here. #paris75018

At the time I followed the developments of Charlie Hebdo offices closely thanks to Twitter. A journalist from Yahoo Travel reached out to me. Only a short comment I sent over made it into the final piece, but I thought I’d post my full reaction I had sent her below, and expand on a few observations. While Paris feels back to “normal” I still felt it was important to share.

When I first studied abroad in Paris I arrived two days before 9/11. As an American it was strange to experience it abroad, but I felt safe here and received compassion from strangers. As bizarre as it sounds, soldiers with machine guns in the metro were never anything I saw as fear inducing so much as protection. You still see men with machine guns all over – particularly in front of Jewish institutions. Am I the only one who worries they are not warm enough with their close shaved hair cuts and small hats? It’s been very cold lately.

On January 7th I was on my way back from the pool on metro line 8 when I heard that the stop Richard Lenoir (line 5) had been closed by the Prefecture of Police. That is different from the typical closure announcements, so I should have known it was something serious. It wasn’t until I got off at my stop and got outside that I received a text from a French friend who was on holiday, asking if I was OK because she knew I didn’t live far. She did make the point to say that the events seemed targeted to the newspaper, Charlie Hebdo. I immediately pulled up Twitter and saw what had happened. I told her I was fine and headed straight home, even skipping my plans to pick up groceries. I realized later the metro where I got off essentially runs parallel to line 5 in that area and I walked across the same street where they [shooters] had driven away. After the video emerge the next day I recognized the location where the police officer lost his life, as I know Richard Lenoir, because I often walk to the market there on Sundays. It was a reminder of what a small “big” city Paris is. There is never an excuse for violence of this kind, but the realization that it was a highly targeted attack seemed a stark contrast to many of the headlines in the US regarding attacks.

I spent the majority of the next few days in my apartment glued to the internet, tweeting and sharing what I learned, along with a few observations when I eventually ventured out (sirens, sirens, sirens, sirens…). My goal was to stay educated and aware, looking for facts before sharing rumors.

That Friday I met a friend for lunch in central Paris, and when we left I looked at my phone to see the news of the hostage situation at Hypercacher. I know Paris is a small city, so I decided to walk home, taking the long route avoiding any place that had the slight chance of being a target. The thing that made it scary is how many sirens I heard around Hotel de Ville, while not knowing what was really happening. I’d look around and see tourists smiling and going about their own thing. That’s what made it eerie to me that day. But a couple weeks later I was walking that same route alone at night, and realized I really do feel safe despite feeling scared that day.

pretavoyager-mondearabe-charlieThe city of Paris reacted fast from making Charlie an honorary citizen with ‘Je Suis Charlie’ banners in black and white outside Hôtel de Ville (city hall) to this Je Suis Charlie installation in French and Arabic going on the Institut Monde Arabe the day of the march.

What I think impressed me most was Friday night after the hostages had been freed I watched the French news (FRANCE24 is international news from a French perspective in English, French and Arabic channels). Myself and so many of my American friends in Paris noted how refreshing the news coverage here was vs some fear/terror inducing headlines I saw coming out of the US. The reporting in France was clear, smart, and didn’t point fingers or overly speculate. The French style of news often involves a panel or debate, and I heard from experts in terrorism, negotiation, about the French police and more. It was enriching and reassuring, in a way that is not easy after such a dramatic and traumatic series of events. As I see headlines shared by friends around the world, I do still think that so much that happened in Paris is hard to grasp if one doesn’t view it in context and take into consideration the French perspective (and history). The conversation needs to continue. pretavoyager-charlie-march-Jan11I just know I refuse to live in fear, and I think the January 11th march proved an incredible solidarity amongst the people in France. I found myself over a mile away and everyone was going the same place. The crowds were packed so deep, and it was truly moving (not to mention you could barely move). The turnout was incredible. From posters to pencils in pockets it was a huge relief that it was a peaceful march. I don’t handle crowds well, but did do the full march later in the evening to see what remnants and reminders were still around. pretavoyager-charlie-pencilsFor me, I was also reminded of cultural differences in surprising ways. Many Americans may have been surprised to see “Waldo” in the crowds, but in France he goes by “Charlie” (in the UK he’s “Wally”). Hence he became another way to say we are “Tous Charlie” – we are all Charlie.

pretavoyager-touscharlieIt’s still hard to fathom that week in January. As hard as it sounds, it did bring France together. Solidarity is the first word that came to mind for me. Now, a month later, it is the stories of hope, like the Malian man who helped hostages escape at Hypercaher (he later received French citizenship), which are the stories that stick out in my head.

pretavoyager-pencil--charlieFor additional reading, here are some of the articles that I found interesting at the time:

parsonsparis-pencils-600-xx-2I was proud to get to work on the Parsons Paris holiday card this year. Alongside my colleagues this was our response to Charlie.

Follow me @pretavoyager on Instagram + Twitter + Medium! I teach MAPS, InDesign, and Redesign Your Résumé on Skillshare, and give Paris tours through Vayable!

Christmas in Strasbourg (& Metz)

pretavoyager-placekleberEvery December my life seems to get quite hectic, so I don’t have much time, or energy, to plan for the holidays. I don’t travel internationally because it’s too expensive, and too many delays. This year with one day notice I booked a train to Strasbourg – near the France/Germany border – to check out the Capitale de Noël (Capital of Christmas) famous for their marché de Noël – there are 11 Christmas markets in Strasbourg alone! Lucky for me, my friend Alison has been living in Strasbourg and working as a teaching assistant (the same program I did years ago, but in Paris), and she was my awesome insider guide pointing out things like the popularity of the stork in the region, the best vin chaud (mulled wine), best crêpe, best hand made ornament stand, and things I probably wouldn’t have noticed, like they also serve vin chaud blanc, because the region of Alsace is known for white wine. Alison wrote a great post herself about Christmas in Alsace, so be sure to check that out too!

The one downside in my lack of ability to plan ahead is that the price of train tickets was much higher than desired (it also is peak season). It was one of the pricier tickets I’ve paid to go a mere 2 hours from Paris, yet, still it was completely worth it. (Note: I find Capitaine Train much nicer to use to buy train tickets than SNCF). I also would have saved a bit of money had I not missed my return train because I went to the wrong train station (the trains to Paris leave out of  “Gare Centrale” not “Gare Strasbourg” as I mistakenly looked up on my Google map — the ticket just says Strasbourg). On my train to Strasbourg it was slightly cheaper to change trains in Metz. I had never been, so I thought the ~1.5 hour layover would be a good excuse to scope out the city. The Pompidou–Metz is in easy walking distance of the train station, however, it did not open until 11am, and my train left around 11:20. So instead I explored the old city and happened upon their holiday market, which was delightful. I definitely will go back. In fact, I think Metz will be more appealing in years to come because it doesn’t have quite the hype of the Strasbourg Christmas markets as a tourist destination.
pretavoyager-metz-christmas-4Christmas market in Metz. 11am before crowds (but generally much calmer than Strasbourg).

Overall, I was away from Paris for less than 24 hours, but my “day trip” (I did stay the night, but left very early the following day) was exactly what I needed to get in the festive mood from decorations to lights and vin chaud. Also, both Metz and Strasbourg had far superior Christmas markets than Paris, which even tourists have told me they’ve been disappointed by during their visits. For more about Christmas in Paris, see this post. Maybe next year I’ll try to venture to an even smaller city – I think the less publicized markets are probably the best!


pretavoyager-strasbourg-christmas6pretavoyager-strasbourg-christmas7pretavoyager-strasbourg-christmas3Strasbourg Christmas market near the cathedral

pretavoyager-strasbourg-christmas9Christmas lights in Strasbourg

pretavoyager-strasbourg-christmas4Vin chaud blanc d’Alcase

pretavoyager-strasbourg-christmas5Bread ornaments

pretavoyager-strasbourg-panoPlace Kleber

pretavoyager-strasbourg-snowflakeLit streets in Strasbourg

pretavoyager-strasbourg-christmas14Typical architecture in Strasbourg

pretavoyager-strasbourg-oranmentsHandmade ornaments in Strasbourg

More after the jump!


Read The Rest

Christmas in Paris

pretavoyager-christmas-in-parisAlthough Christmas has come and gone, it will inevitably come again next year, so I wanted to compile some of my favorite links for future reference. And most of the decorations won’t come down until mid-January, so it’s not too late to catch the festive spirit. This year I stayed in town, and had several tours, so I really got in the spirit – or at least knew what was going on.

Every year the holiday windows at Galeries Lafayette and Printemps along Blvd Haussman in the 9th arrondissement are a huge draw, and every year the crowds get crazier and crazier. I either recommend going early in the day, or late in the evening after the stores are closed (the downside there is that you can’t visit the 6 story Christmas tree inside Galeries Lafayette — this year it was upside down! [opening image]). Ever year the windows have themes, and this year Galeries Lafayette was “Noël Monstre” and Printemps was a voyage with Burberry. I visited on several occasions, and almost got trampled each time. Visiting on Christmas Eve was the calmest time I experienced. If you’re traveling with kids, realize that the crowds can be very overwhelming, and try to avoid strollers and big bags. If you cross the street it is much calmer, but the catch is you can’t see the moving window displays up front.

Ice skating in front of Hotel de Ville (city hall for Paris) is another tradition, and for the second year the impressive Grand Palais off of the Champs-Elysées has become an ice rink (buy tickets online – every year it picks up momentum after Christmas and is super crowded the final days; late night is more of a club vibe). The later you get into the season expect longer lines. A couple years ago skating at Hôtel de Ville was a bit overwhelming with a few teenagers who had brought their skates (it’s free entry that way) and were pretty aggressive. This year it was much calmer when I passed.

Rue Montorgeuil (2nd)

If you love to walk like I do, dozens of streets around the city are decorated with lights through ~20th of January. Some of my favorites are Place Vendôme (1st arr), Rue Cler (7th arr), Rue des Martyrs (9th), Rue Lepic (18th), and Rue Montorgueil (2nd). The city kindly put together a map marking all the illuminated streets for 2014, which doesn’t change much from year to year. The “grande roule” giant ferris wheel also gets set up at Place de Concorde (and the base of the cringe worthy Christmas markets along the Champs).  

pretavoyager-christmas-paris-vivienne Galerie Vivienne (2nd) pretavoyager-christmas-paris-marais Rue Francs-Bourgeois (4th) pretavoyager-christmas-vendome Place Vendôme (1st)

Christmas day most museums are closed, but the Centre Pompidou remains open. This year we were happy to visit right when it opened as it only got more crowded. It was very cool being able to get a bit of culture – Jeff Koons, Marcel Duchamp, and Frank Gehry exhibits are currently on. Even if you don’t like modern art, the views from the Pompidou are stunning! pretavoyager-pompidou-koonspretavoyager-pompidou-christmasMy friend Alison was in town and we were surprised how much was open on Christmas day, particularly in the Marais. Yes, it is the Jewish quarter so falafel was open, but we even enjoyed lunch at Le Loir dans la Théière. We had way more options than we expected. I think Christmas dinner is probably a bit harder in terms of what is open. Every year Paris by Mouth compiles a handy list of restaurants open around Christmas and New Years. pretavoyager-strasbourg-christmasmarketStrasbourg market

When it comes to Christmas markets in Paris, many tourists I showed them were a bit overwhelmed. Over time they’ve definitely become more commercial and have lost much of their spark. The marché de Noël at St. Germain is probably your best bet for finding anything handmade. There are also markets along the Champs-Elysées and Abbesses, amongst others. The locations may change slightly from year to year. Also, the Marie (Mayor’s Office) of every arrondissement is always festivally lit up.

For a more “authentic” market plan a trip to Strasbourg (I finally did this year, and highly recommend it) which is known as the “Capital of Christmas” were there are 12 Christmas markets in a very walkable city, or other small towns in France (such as Metz), or cross the border to Germany. For me the best part of the Christmas markets is vin chaud (mulled wine)! UPDATE: See post here.

pretavoyager-christmas-paris-vinchaudAnother treat during Christmas season are the “bûche de Noël” and every year boulangeries seem to get more and more creative with this log-like cake. This year Picard the frozen food store even created ice cream igloos and trees that were creatively packaged. Aux Merveilleux de Fred a delight to see being made (see below).

The further you get away from city center the less crowded/crazy many of these places will be. It’s also the perfect excuse to explore a different side of Paris. One place not to miss is the Festival du Merveilleux at Musée des Arts Forains in the 12th arrondissement . I visited last year and it was truly magical. The museum is closed most of the year except if you book a private tour, but the Festival des Merveilleux is so fun when all the old amusement rides and games come alive again. Once again, I recommend going when it opens, as it will only get more crowded throughout the day.

Here are some more links for planning to spend the holidays in Paris:

Follow me @pretavoyager on Instagram + Twitter + Medium! I teach MAPS, InDesign, and Redesign Your Résumé on Skillshare, and give Paris tours through Vayable!


pretavoyager-pariscontactsheet-studyabroadLast week I was reading my Twitter feed when I came across a couple travel bloggers I follow using the hashtag #WHtravelbloggers. Drawn to the tweets, I immediately switched over to read all the responses to the hashtag to realize that 100+ travel bloggers had been invited to the White House for a Summit on Study Abroad and Global Citizenship. The next day I watched the entire 4 hour summit that had aired on livestream (unfortunately, the full video link seems to have been replaced by this 45 minute one). Headed up by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs one of the exciting announcements was that the State Department will be opening a new U.S. Office of Study Abroad, which has developed into the hashtag #StudyAbroadBecause.

You can read more about the U.S. Study Abroad initiative on Mashable and Upworthy, and from the travel blogger perspective here. I may not have been at the event, but I decided to use this White House announcement as the perfect excuse to publish my first article on Medium: My Best Piece of Advice: Study Abroad.

My Best Piece of Advice: Study Abroad




Contact sheet above was created in 2009 while I studied abroad in Paris. Learn more about it here.

Follow me @pretavoyager on Instagram + Twitter + Medium! I teach MAPS, InDesign, and Redesign Your Résumé on Skillshare, and give Paris tours through Vayable!

Fly Porter

pretavoyager-porterairlines-bienvenue Porter Airlines, what air travel used to be! Back in 2009 Grace of Design*Sponge posted this interview about the branding of Porter Airlines. Ever since the day I read that post I’ve been aspiring to fly Porter. The catch is that they’re a Toronto based airline and I don’t have the excuse to go to Canada much. So when the opportunity came up for me to attend the RGD Design Thinkers conference (awesome, BTW!) and see family, I jumped on the chance to fly Porter (who also happened to be a sponsor for the conference, not for this post, which is entirely my own love affair with the airline). The irony was that I may have been able to find a cheaper flight, but I didn’t even bother to search my typical cross-checking websites. When it comes to good design, and a great experience, I don’t mind if it’s not the lowest fare (it was still reasonable!). Pretty much everyone I’ve talked to since my trip to Toronto has heard me rave about my experience on Porter so I thought I’d share it here. While nothing I’m about to say is all that novel, it’s amazing how much of a hassle air travel has become. Porter is what all air travel should be! He’s also a pretty rad raccoon who knows how to travel and have fun!

pretavoyager-porterairlines-porterraccoonStep 1: Airport arrival. I have sadly been conditioned to always arrive at the airport 2 hours in advance, because often I get there and I’m standing in some horrible line despite having checked in online and end up rolling up to my gate not too long before my flight boards. Both flying out of Newark and Toronto there were only 2 people in front of me in security. It reminded me of how we used to just stroll up directly to the gate before security was implemented after 9-11. In short, it was easy and pleasant.

pretavoyager-porterairlines-loungeStep 2: Hang out in the lounge and enjoy free wi-fi. I must admit that I didn’t realize Porter even had a lounge, because these days I rarely see lounges, and you have to fly a million miles a year on the same airline (or have a hefty airline credit card!) to even be considered in. But then I heard a voice asking about sandwiches [not included in the lounge], and I look up and I’m like, ‘Hey that was Martin Short!’ (Think crazy wedding planner in ‘Father of the Bride’). Yes, he was on my flight, and I have him to thank for pulling me away from the horrible CNN election coverage on in the main waiting area. But yes, even celebrities fly Porter. In addition to the free wi-fi (my phone is French so I live for free wi-fi while I travel, and MrPortersLounge is the coolest network name!). I also enjoyed complimentary Tazo tea, with the options of Starbucks coffee, a range of sodas, bottled water, biscuits and almonds. It was a so civilized!

Step 3: Board the plane. Now if you fly Porter you need to realize these are prop planes (the wheels come out of the wings), and not 747 jumbo jets. There are luggage limitations, but they’re up front about them. I did carry-on, but it was super easy to gate check. I admit, it was a strange feeling to board the plane and find my seat and not feel like being in a herd of cattle! Pleasant.

pretavoyager-porterairlines-planeStep 4: For awhile I’ve said that airline inflight magazines are my some of my favorite, and it’s the one time when you actually have time to read it cover to cover. I had my row to myself, but had anyone seen me pick up the Re:porter magazine for the first time, I think they would have thought something was wrong with me. It was so beautiful! Atypical paper size. Beautiful, thicker matte feel. Clean and simple design. Cute illustrations of Porter. And it was all in French and English (perk of Canada!). And how perfect is that name!?! As a bonus there were also multiple spreads with maps. My complimentary copy definitely came home with me!

pretavoyager-porterairlines-reporterpretavoyager-porterairlines-reporter-routesStep 5: Enjoy the ride. I’d heard from my relatives that Porter serves their beverages in glasses. Yes, glasses, with the name Porter etched in them. They’re so cute!! If you’ve ever flown international you know how cringeworthy it is how many tiny cups get tossed during that flight. Granted Newark to Toronto was something like an hour and a half flight, and a different kind of international, but still it is the simplest detail that becomes memorable. Oh, and they serve free beer and wine on their flights! WIN! (For the record, that’s ginger ale pictured below).

pretavoyager-porterairlines-glassI am however sad to report that they no longer do the adorable Porter snack boxes. Yes, I specifically asked because I remembered the design from this post. Apparently, they stopped earlier this year. It makes sense, it’s an expense, and it’s a short flight. I was quite pleased with my snack of Terra chips to tide me over. And the flight attendants were a pure delight––not to mention stylishly dressed––in addition to answering silly questions about snack boxes. I was very happy to share with them my story of my first flight.

Step 6: Arrival. By the time I finished my inflight magazine we had landed. Getting through the airport was super easy (but a bit slower for me as I stopped to photograph every poster of Porter around, despite poor to photograph lightboxes. Porter goes to Chicago and Washington Dulles, ya know!).

pretavoyager-porter-postersCanadian customs was a bit intimidating, but I passed! (Don’t forget your passport. It may still be North America, but it’s a different country!). When you fly into Toronto, you land on an island, so everyone gets transported via the ferry that leaves every 15 minutes or so. Public transportation in Toronto is a whole other story, which I won’t rave about the same way I just did about Porter Airlines, but I ultimately got to where I needed to be with the help of the kindness of strangers : )

Learn more about the backstory of Porter on this Design*Sponge post. London-based Winkcreative is the agency behind Porter’s inception (see their take on Porter here). If Re:porter inflight magazine seems slightly familiar, Winkreative also works on Monocle. Neal Whittington who Grace interviewed and worked on the development of Porter while at Winkreative, but now runs his own fabulous paperwares shop in London – and online! – called Present & Correct (he also keeps an awesome Instagram feed!). I visit every time I’m in town! . . . And if you want to book a flight on Porter you can do it here!

Follow me @pretavoyager on Instagram + Twitter + Vine! I teach MAPS, InDesign, and Redesign Your Résumé on Skillshare, and give Paris tours through Vayable!

Life in France: Cinema Pass

pretavoyager-pariscinemapassWhen was the last time you saw a movie in a theater? I’ve been 3 times in the past 4 days. Typically I don’t go quite that often, but I needed to make up for the 3 weeks when I was too busy to use it. In my mind the cinema pass is one of the best French inventions ever. For 20€ / month I can see as many movies as I want in the theater. I have the UGC/MK2 illimité, which gives me access to all of their cinemas around town – and there are a lot: over 500 in France – as well as La Pagode (a cinema in an old pagoda) and Luxor (an Egyptian cinema). For UGC theaters I can book through the app, and pick up my ticket an hour before the show, or for MK2 I just show up. I’ve started using the pass an excuse to see different parts of Paris by visiting different cinemas. Another perk is when I see a bad movie, it’s not much of a loss, and I still got a language lesson out of it! While I may look somewhat miserable on my cinema card, fret not, that’s just one of my non-smiling official French passport sized photos one needs to survive life here. One of my favorite past-times is just strolling up to a theater and seeing whatever the next show is that is playing. Not only does my French get better the more movies I see, but having French subtitles on American films is also a learning experience (VO = version originale). I also become an unofficial PR agent for the films I see, and several of my friends have the pass as well, so the cinema becomes our inexpensive social outing. Here are some of my favorite films I’ve seen in the past couple month (I try to go once a week).

Les Vacances du Petit Nicolas is a fun summer vacation story based on the French book by Goscinny and illustrated by Sempé.

Qu’est ce qu’on a fait au bon dieu? is a hilarious French movie about devout parents whose only wish in life is to have their 4 daughters marry good Catholic men. With daught #4 they get closer… I think the film would be funny to anyone, but living in France, I found so many of the stereotypes extra funny because I’ve observed moments in real life. The movie has been in theaters for 22 weeks so far, so it’s a hit!

Boyhood, directed by Richard Linklater, who was behind Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight (each filmed 9 years apart), Boyhood is a coming of age story filmed with the same actors over 12 years. It’s almost 3 hours, but doesn’t feel that long. Also, I had no idea his daughter was the young girl in the film. I thought she was fantastic!

Searching for Vivian Maier is a documentary about a mysterious nanny who had a secret life as a photographer. Funny because an Irish said it was a “very American” telling of the story, which I can see.

Playtime by Jacques Tati is a film from 1967 that was digitally restored. It’s a quirky story of American tourists coming to Paris, but see more of a trade show than Paris.

Je Voyage Seule is an Italian movie (here with a French title) which is an interesting story about travel in the world of 5-star luxury.

The Fault in Our Stars is translated into French as Nos Étoiles Contraires (oddly enough, I often don’t know the actual titles of some films I see in France, as I only know the French title; other times American movies are given titles that are new “translations” that are still in English) is an American film based on the book by John Green. You won’t leave the theater with dry eyes, but it’s a touching story.

The Love Punch with Pierce Brosnan and Emma Thompson is only on this list because 3 summers ago I was an extra in the movie. I didn’t make the final cut, but it’s fascinating to see how much we filmed in 2 days and what actually made it into the movie.

One of my other favorite things about seeing movies in Paris is watching films that have scenes in Paris. I find I can recognize most locations, but this map compiled by Rue 89 has over 600 locations of films in Paris.

Follow me @pretavoyager on Instagram + Twitter + Vine!
I teach MAPS, InDesign, and Designing Professional Documents on Skillshare, and give Paris tours through Vayable!

How I spent my summer vacation: Boisbuchet

pretavoyager-boisbuchet-welcometoEvery summer I have the same conversation with my French friends. Them: “Anne, where are you going in August?” Me: “I’m staying in Paris. I was just traveling in July. I’m happy to stay in Paris.” Them: [strange looks]. So this year, despite my travels to Italy and the U.S. in July, I decided to appease my friends at the last minute by signing up for a week-long creative workshop at Boisbuchet, between Poitiers and Limoges, in central Lessac, France. I first learned about Boisbuchet, a place where internationally recognized artists and designers are invited to teach workshops in Lessac, France – about 7 years ago from my architect friend Lisa. She raved about her experience, and the idea of going has been engrained in my head since. I remember her advice was to take a class outside what you’d normally do. I’ve been following Boisbuchet on social media, and signed up for their newsletters a year ago, and then in late July a newsletter arrived in my inbox, and something I never had considered was signing up for a workshop last minute on a whim.
Boisbuchet summer workshops have been running for over 20 years. This summer’s theme was ‘the natural and the artificial’ and the 3 workshops available during the August session when I could attend were Survival Food with Dutch food designer Katja Gruijters, Process as Spectacle with London-based Studio Glithero, and Fantastic Reality with Austrian designers Mischer’Traxler. I spent a week in “Fantastic Reality,” but all our days revolved around waking up around 8am, heading to breakfast at 8:30, then going into the workshop or meeting with our group, lunch at 1pm, more making things, tea time at 4:30, more making things, dinner at 8, followed by presentations by the visiting designer/instructors. Not only was I surrounded by people with all sorts of creative backgrounds, from all sorts of places – the staff alone consisted of 15 different nationalities – but it was so refreshing to be making things with my hands. From time to time I’d stroll into the field in front of the chateau to get enough of a 3G signal to post a photo or two on Instagram, but in a connected world, it was awesome to sit at a table and have a conversation with someone from half-way around the world. All workshops are conducted in English, but it was such a treat to hear a myriad of languages around me at any given time. It’s an experience I’d recommend for anybody, even if you’re not a designer per se . Below is just a taste of my experience. My full photo album is on Flickr, but the Boisbuchet staff does an incredible job documenting each session too. pretavoyager-boisbuchet-vitradesignmuseum-chairsBoisbuchet’s workshops are offered in cooperation with Vitra Design Museum and Centre Pompidou. Alexander von Vegesack established the Vitra Design Museum before founding Domaine de Boisbuchet, which has been offering creative workshops for 20+ years. This chair collection is in the foyer of the ‘Dependence’ where I was housed for the week. pretavoyager-boisbuchet-domaineThe Dependence, my home for the week. Everything is walkable on the estate, but some staffers staying by the lake would bike to breakfast. pretavoyager-boisbuchet-housing_pairThe room I shared with roommates from Dubai and Taiwan. I was one of two Americans participating in the workshops that week. pretavoyager-boisbuchet-floatingpicnicThroughout the domaine [estate] there are projects from past participants that live on, such as the floating picnic bench in the middle of the lake, and the pyramid structure. Some projects have a longer lifespan than others. pretavoyager-boisbuchet-workshop-libraryThere is a workshop with all the tools you need to make what your imagination holds. (The building on the right will become the design library). pretavoyager-boisbuchet-workshop-makeProcess as Spectacle and Fantastic Reality participants in the early stages of exploration. pretavoyager-boisbuchet-workshop-atworkParticipants are a mix of all ages, although I found all the “students” were all more advanced at making things than me, as many were industrial designers. (Note: the workshop also served for great late night ping pong!) pretavoyager-boisbuchet-toolsworkshopTools consist of anything other than a computer or a screen.

pretavoyager-boisbuchet-canoeMy workshop partner and I decided to make a boat, so we took out a canoe for a brainstorming session.

pretavoyager-boisbuchet-mealtimeMeals were initiated by the strike of a gong. It was a great way to come together and talk to the other workshops and see how they were progressing. Every meal was communal, and the staff members take shifts in the kitchen. (And yes, there is wine with dinner– this is France after all!)

pretavoyager-boisbuchet-dinnerinsideRainy day meals were spent in the barn attached to the workshop, and every evening we’d gather here for a presentation by a designer. Karaoke also happened here the last night, with fake microphones made out of bamboo shoots with tin foil tops!

pretavoyager-boisbuchet-2designerpresentThe evening presentations were my favorite part of the day to get insights into how the invited designers go about their practice. Even though I wasn’t in a workshop with either of these designers, meals were a good way to get to know them better.

pretavoyager-boisbuchet-chateau-tentEvery Friday each workshop presents to the other groups. Every week the result is completely different.

pretavoyager-boisbuchet-chateau-expoThe chateau is in need of extensive renovations, but is opened from time to time for exhibitions, and in this case the presentation of the final work of one of the workshops.

pretavoyager-boisbuchet-marblerunIt’s not every day you see a marble run in a chateau.

pretavoyager-boisbuchet-survivalfood-plantsResearch by the Survival Food group of everything edible and available for scavenging on the estate.

pretavoyager-boisbuchet-survivalfood1The Survival Food group presented their work in a secret “restaurant” in the forest by the lake. We were all happy to indulge, as we learned about what was edible around us. Minutes after this presentation was complete, a downpour came down.

pretavoyager-boisbuchet-survivalfood-grasshopperEvery detail of the presentation was impeccable. Even the presentation of the grasshoppers… Gisele posted about her experience in this workshop on Medium.

pretavoyager-boisbuchet-downtimeOverall a lot of time was spent like this, and I had some really interesting conversations that way.

pretavoyager-boisbuchet-presentation1So much was about the process, and not always the final product, and the importance of sharing and talking it through along the way.

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