Poppy Collated

A compilation of intrigue and beauty

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To The South of France!

You may have previously read my post about taking a chance, and booking my art tour in the South of France.

My boyfriend had joined me for the time spent in Spain and Paris, however now he was heading home, and I was jumping on a train, on my own, to Sarlat!

I’d spent my entire holiday with my partner, now I was on this train heading to a new place on my own, without a phone, only a small French translation book and no English speakers around me, hoping someone would be at the other end to collect me! Now, while you might expect a cruisy train trip through the French countryside, that’s not always the case! A couple of hours in to the 5 hour journey, we hit a branch. Yes, a branch. We were then at a standstill for 4+ hours while the issues it had caused were fixed! I tried not to panic when the lovely French lady next to me gave little groans as each announcement was made. I continued to keep my head in my book as I hoped we would continue soon. In the end, she was able to write down some numbers for me, an indication of the time that was predicted we’d spend sitting in that spot. In the end, a few rows down, a girl spoke a little English and was able to tell me that it had been said we were to go to another stop and swap trains! Oh dear… Eventually, we made it all the way to Sarlat, I was so thankful to have avoided the stress of changing trains and not knowing where I was going! My fellow art tour friends were on the same train, in another carriage, however we had not met yet.

The train to Sarlat! Before it broke down...

The train to Sarlat! Before it broke down…

Finally, as we got to the station, hours later than expected, we were greeted by the lovely Christoph and Sarisa of the local taxi company Taxi a la Carte. They were our guides throughout this tour and were better than you could have ever expected. They are truly lovely people and have so much knowledge of the area.

Sarlat was an absolute dream. I get inspired just thinking about it, I’d so love to return one day. It was so different to Paris, a big bustling city. Sarlat and the surrounding area was truly stunning, a historic and friendly place, one that you could stay in forever!

That night, I met the rest of the group of wonderful aussies, for a lovely welcome dinner in Sarlat. Our accommodation at Les Cordeliers was in the centre of the town, we really were right in the middle of everything. It was fantastic and I highly recommend staying at this B&B. The owners were so friendly and had a great knowledge of the area. The breakfast was delicious and the rooms were beautiful!

Our first full day included a guided tour of Sarlat. This was a fantastic way to get a real understanding of the town and its history. It was also market day, which takes up a huge portion of the town. It is such a beautiful place, am I getting across my point of how wonderful this town is?!

Sarlat, France

Sarlat, France

Sarlat, France

Sarlat, France

Sarlat, France

Sarlat, France

Sarlat, France

Sarlat, France

Selfie in Sarlat!

Selfie in Sarlat!

The main square in Sarlat

The main square in Sarlat

Sarlat, France

Sarlat, France

Sarlat, France

Sarlat, France

All photos by Carly Smith

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The Beautiful Montmartre Apartment!

Following a quick stop in Malaga, we caught a plane to Paris! This was originally the first place I was to visit, when this was a solo holiday. As you may have already read in my earlier post A Week in a Paris Apartment? Yes, Please!, I had booked a beautiful place to stay in Montmartre for 7 nights. I was so excited to arrive here as I was looking forward to settling in one spot for a week and I was dying to see this fabulous apartment for myself!

On arrival we were greeted by Maria who gave us the rundown of the apartment and the local area. Maria was lovely and helpful and gave us the most beautiful flowers and wine! The crew at Haven In Paris were so great to deal with, we were more than happy with their service and the apartment. The photos below will speak for themselves! The apartment was so beautifully detailed in it’s design and decorated. It was extremely clean and had everything we could possibly need. There was a huge array of books to read and even DVDs to watch. The bed was very comfortable and the bathroom was lovely!

I highly recommend finding yourself an apartment when you have a week or more in one place. We were able to cook for ourselves, do our own laundry and do everything at our own pace. The subway was very close by and wandering around Montmartre was wonderful. The weather was on and off, mostly raining in the mornings, but it was quite unpredictable. It all added to the Paris charm!

I’d absolutely love to visit this apartment again one day! Fingers crossed!

The amazing view from our Montmartre Hideaway

The amazing view from our Montmartre Hideaway

Can you believe this view?! So beautiful!

Can you believe this view?! So beautiful!

The stunning Montmartre Hideaway - Haven In Paris

The stunning Montmartre Hideaway – Haven In Paris

So French!

So French!

Beautiful detail everywhere you look

Beautiful detail everywhere you look

Many beautiful books to read

Many beautiful books to read

The kitchen had everything we needed, and looked stunning!

The kitchen had everything we needed, and looked stunning!

There were a lot of stairs! But the apartment was worth it

There were a lot of stairs! But the apartment was worth it

The night view

The night view

Paris rooftops - the view from the Montmartre Apartment - Haven In Paris

Paris rooftops – the view from the Montmartre Apartment – Haven In Paris

All photos by Carly Smith

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A day trip to Montserrat

On our last full day in Barcelona we decided to quickly do some internet research on the best day tours in the area.

Montserrat was highly recommended and we were super lucky to score a spot on a tour leaving that morning!

We hadn’t heard of it prior to that morning so didn’t really know what to expect.

Montserrat was absolutely beautiful. A monastery in the mountains, about an hour out of Barcelona, it is reasonably cheap and easy to get to. We took a bus up the windy hill to discover this popular tourist destination/spiritual haven tucked away, waiting for the first visitors of the day. The views were absolutely spectacular. AND you can even stay there overnight!

This Benedictine Monk retreat also features the stunning sounds of the famous boys choir in the basilica at 1:00pm most days. We were thrilled to be able to sit down and listen.

Montserrat was a wonderful addition to our time in Barcelona. I’m glad we did some research that morning and decided to take a day trip to somewhere a little different! I’d highly recommend a visit!

I’d love to hear about unexpected places you’ve visited!

The amazing views from Montserrat

The amazing views from Montserrat

Picturesque Montserrat

Picturesque Montserrat

A very spiritual place

A very spiritual place

Montserrat

Montserrat

Imagine the view from your window!

Imagine the view from your window!

Such a wonderful place to visit

Such a wonderful place to visit

Adding a candle to the hundreds already lit

Adding a candle to the hundreds already lit

All photos by Carly Smith

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La Sagrada Familia, Not to be Missed!

On our first day in Barcelona, when wandering around the city, we got our first look at Antoni Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia.

It was such an amazing monument, towering above, demanding attention from the whole city. It was such a beautiful day that there were HUNDREDS of people around, many lining up to get inside. We decided that we should go back early the next day to avoid such a huge crowd.

We purchased tickets online and made our way back the following day. The crowds were still there, but not quite as bad. All to be expected at an amazing place like this! Unfortunately, we were unable to venture into the tower that day, it was closed, but we were very happy to view the open sections of the building.

The light that came through the stunning stained glass windows was simply amazing. The ceilings were so high, it made the area feel very majestic and grand. Yes, there were many people around, but it was so remarkable that it didn’t matter. You were in your own little world. The sculptural work involved in the entire design is extraordinary.

I feel truly inspired by this building and the creative mind of Antoni Gaudi.

What, or who, inspires you?

La Sagrada Familia - plus the crowds!

La Sagrada Familia

Always in progress

Always in progress

Stunning light

Stunning light

The detail!

The detail!

Symbols everywhere

Symbols everywhere

Sculptural facade

Sculptural facade

Inspiring architecture

Inspiring architecture

All photos by Carly Smith

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Experiencing Gaudi; Casa Batllo

One of my biggest dreams since studying the famous architects of the world at University was to see Antoni Gaudi‘s work in real life. This is where I was going to get my chance!

We made our way from the hotel on foot towards Gaudi’s famous building, La Sagrada Familia.

This was a weekend, so when we arrived at the stunning structure, we also saw the hoards of people hoping to get in and explore! We decided that it wasn’t the best day to enter so we continued strolling the streets, discovering more food and small stalls with touristy gifts. We then happened to come across another Gaudi building, Casa Batllo. There were a lot of people waiting to have a wander through, but not as many as at La Sagrada Familia, so we decided we’d join the crowd and go in for a look.

Casa Batllo was so unique and beautiful! I clicked away on my camera, enjoying the stunning detail of every element, including the walls, windows, tiling and lighting. Gaudi really did think of everything as well as the occupant’s experience when creating this beauty.

Something so unique and creative really does conjure inspiration and challenges your imagination. You can almost see Gaudi’s thoughts and dreams within this space.

Do you have any favourite architects, designers, poets, artists or writers who inspire you to think about life in a different way? I’d love to know your favourites!

Casa Batllo

Casa Batllo

Check out that skylight!

Check out that skylight!

Grand features

Grand features

Beautiful styling

Beautiful styling

Amazing internal void and natural light

Amazing internal void and natural light

Rooftop chimney features and stunning detail

Rooftop chimney features and stunning detail

All photos by Carly Smith

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A Week in a Paris Apartment? Yes, Please!

So I booked my dream art tour to France!

Then I started to consider the fact that I was travelling all the way from Australia to Europe. ALL THAT WAY. 30 something hours! The art tour was 10 amazing days, however I decided that if I was going to travel all the way to France, I was going to spend some time in Paris!

At this stage, I was doing this travelling on my own. I never expected to meet my man and that he’d join me on this adventure! More on that later.

I often read the AMAZING blog A Cup of Jo and I’d seen a post regarding Haven In Paris. So I checked out the HIP website and absolutely fell in love with the apartments. They were all perfectly styled with a simple modern French influence and looked so homely and comfortable compared to the hotels! For not a lot more money I could get a stunning one bedroom apartment in Montmartre, a short walk away from Sacre Coeur! So I did it! I booked an apartment in Paris for seven nights prior to my art tour!

The staff at HIP were so helpful and friendly, they really influenced my decision to book the apartment. I was sent information regarding the area and special details about the rental. I couldn’t believe this was really happening!

I’ll give you the full run down of the apartment and Paris in future posts! It was a dream…

Montmartre Hideaway Apartment, Paris

Montmartre Hideaway Apartment, Paris

Montmartre Hideaway Apartment, Paris

Montmartre Hideaway Apartment, Paris

Montmartre Hideaway Apartment, Paris

Montmartre Hideaway Apartment, Paris

All photos by Carly Smith

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I Dreamt of a European Adventure

I daydream; a lot. I also get fidgety when I feel myself falling into a routine that includes limited creativity and inspiration, leaving me itching for something exciting!

This was just how I felt the day I googled ‘International Art Tours’.

As a teenager I spent time refining my portrait drawing skills until I had it down to a fine art. Since moving into the working world, I sadly stopped finding the time to spend on my art. Even when I decided to do a 4 year university degree in Interior Architecture, I still didn’t delve too far back into my drawing.

So ‘International Art Tours’ I googled. And ‘Cilla Campbell’ is what I found.

I contacted Cilla, an art teacher from Sydney, to discuss her tours and was completely mesmerised by the thought of spending days drawing in small French villages, touring around the historic towns and castles, visiting wineries and truffle farms. So I did it, I booked an international art tour to France!

Do you ever feel like you need more inspiration and creativity in your life? Obviously this was quite a big move, however I’d wanted to book a trip to Europe for some time, so I felt that joining a tour with like minded people was a good move for me.

In further posts I will tell you all about my trip, including expanding it from the 10 day tour in France, to a 4.5 week European adventure!

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France poppy
All photos by Carly Smith