Went down to Arizona for my birthday and made a drive up to Colorado with my mom and Sara to see my little brother. There are some really beautiful areas of northern Arizona and Colorado, and I was able to test out a new lens I picked up.
I used to have a 10-20mm lens on my crop Pentax DSLR from Sigma that I really liked, and mostly kept at the wide focal length. I decided I should pick up one for my new Sony A7RII, and went with the Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar 15mm f/4.5 M Mount Aspherical III Lens. They sent me the E Mount, and I decided to just keep it, since that auto magnification when focusing feature is nice. Missing out on close focus, but I probably won’t need it.
Sara and I made it back to Minneapolis. Thankfully there are some good stops along the way. First we swung by Madison, WI for Cheeba Hut. This is a must to anyone making the drive from Minneapolis to Milwaukee, Madison, Chicago, etc. They have the best sandwiches, and grabbing a goo-ball is a must.
Next up was Lacrosse. The Root Note in Lacrosse, WI is a really great coffee shop. It has a very distinct feel and delicious crepes.
Sadly we missed the crepes this time, so make sure to plan accordingly when making the trip. I had a nice iced chai (my usual) and sequestered some of the cold brew Sara ordered.
These stops really make the drive a lot more tolerable. Driving straight through is a lot of hours, but breaking it up into minor destinations is really helpful. Plus, good food.
The camera held up really well, but I still have a lot of learning to do. The shot above was taken in JPEG, not RAW. Whoops. Still usable, and highlights/shadows were still compressed nicely leaving room for editing.
We ended up stopping through Lake Garda for a swim, which is the second largest lake in all of Italy. Pretty intense, although I think Lake Superior still wins out. This was warm though, really warm actually. It was really refreshing after the intense sun during Venice and Verona.
Oh, and I almost forgot. Here is a super embarrassing photo of myself!
Our group tackled both Verona and Venice on the same day, but I feel these two cities are best split into two posts.
This had to be August 5th, but my date stamps were still set to the wrong timezone I think.
Venice started when we pulled into a harbor much larger than I expected, filled with some cruise liners also fairly massive.
There were also some ships like the one above, must be for cargo?
There was also a lovely mural which was a pleasant surprise. There weren’t many murals in the places we went. I think Europe, or at least the highly developed parts, frowns on graffiti in general.
These shops were pretty intense, and scattered about. Some fun stuff, mostly masks. Looking at the second photo, maybe I should have picked up a scarf.
This is the ferry we took to get to the main part of Venice. It was only us I think, but with a group of almost 30 we dominated most of the places we went, haha.
We ended up stopping into the main company that does glass for all of the gondoliers, as well as the streetlights. The guy was amazing, and created gold detail INSIDE of the glass so it wouldn’t come off. He was also blazingly fast… get it… he works with fire.
Yeah, they got a couple euros from me… but they were super friendly!
Touring part of Venice.
It was hot, really hot. People went in droves to find shade. The couple above lucked out and found their own little paradise in Venice.
Some more graffiti, and people of Venice. I ended up really liking this photo.
Venice, likely because of all the tourists, was noticeably less pristine. It felt real though because of this. Like a place you could just hang out in the alleyways with friends.
Seriously, beautiful canals. That is all.
There were quite a few mask shops throughout the city, none appreciative of photographers. I managed to snap a couple though 🙂
Here I am, riding in a gondola. I am goofy.
Overall Venice was really hot, and really beautiful. Definitely recommend going there, but maybe in the fall or winter. The stores would all keep their A/C on full with the doors open so that you would be enticed by the cool air to come in and shop. Clever. Ferrari even has a store there, which is funny considering there are no cars.
The above photo is one of my favorite photos from the trip, definitely my favorite from Venice. Best part, I captured it on 35mm film. I will likely add more to this post later, but wanted to get some notes jotted down. Still more days to post about too!
Another day another country, or TWO! Our group hopped on the bus once again and made our way to Austria. The drive was beautiful, and the mountains were GORGEOUS. Ingo mentioned there was a famous ski jump in the mountains, and I can see why. They are absolutely incredible.
We didn’t stop long, but long enough for one of the members of our group to lose her phone at the Swarovski flagship store. This place had some really intricate crystals, and some really expensive designs. I almost picked up a couple penguins I saw, but decided to spend my money on some chocolate instead.
Some of us found items to bring back home, weather it was a crystal flower or a pencil with a crystal tip. I brought back photographs.
The group separated to explore the city, which is when I found myself some delicious chocolate. The bags didn’t last long enough for photographs, sorry. They were delicious though. One bag was of chocolate covered coconut treats, and the other was a bag of miscellaneous cookies covered in chocolate. Delicious, and way better than any Milano cookies.
It was really interesting how depending on the street, the place could feel completely devoid of humans to a bussling tourist spot. Here is one of my favorite little nooks I found.
…and moving on to one of my favorite performers I saw in the streets.
Pretty awesome, huh? The colors in all of the building we visited in Europe were also really cool. About this time most of us were getting pretty hungry, and many of us picked out the spot Ingo recommended for lunch. It was, indeed, delicious once again.
Now that our stomach’s hunger has been satiated, we move on to our hunger for adventure. WHITE WATER RAFTING! Unfortunately I didn’t have an underwater housing unit for my camera, so no photos, but it was awesome. We all hopped into our wetsuits, including our driver Barbara. Collectively we took three rafts, each having eight of us. This was my first time doing anything of the sort, but I would do this again in a heartbeat. We started out making sure we could all swim to short if needed in a more mild current. I was a little worried, but with the help of the life vest I actually made it. Our rudder would spin us around and we would hit a rock backwards. It was hilarious. He would do the, “look, a bird” trick, which I was surprised still worked on everyone… multiple times. I think Ash Ponders got me accustomed to not falling for those tricks. My favorite part of the rafting was that we went down THE FRICKIN SWISS ALPS! The region we were in was actually Northern Italy, and we could actually drink from the stream the delicious, chilled, mountain water.
Dried off and on to the next city, we made our way to Padua, Italy. This is where we would stay, and also the first time with air conditioning. Oh air conditioning, how lovely you are. Also, Italian food like my calzone.
I kind of wished I could have ordered a Campagnolo, but the Campagnolo I would want costs about a thousand dollars more and is served on two wheels.
The restaurants in this city all looked nice and quaint, which was to be expected since this is a college town. Sort of like Tempe or Dinkytown in some ways. There is even some silly graffiti which Austria lacked.
Hopefully tomorrow or this weekend I can write about Verona and possibly Switzerland. I have some good 35mm photos I will want to scan before though. Switzerland was my favorite part of the trip, so likely lots of photos.
So I am not sure if I have the dates right on some of these adventures, but here it goes.
August 3rd – Germany
After waking up, and still no bags we headed the surf/swim spot again in Germany. That reminds me, I need to send some of the video clips to people. Anyhow, still no swimwear so I just hung out and enjoyed conversations with others who also didn’t take a dip. The place was beautiful, so I didn’t mind not getting wet. After all, we were hopping back on the bus for a pretty long ride.
Bus time. Got my camera ready, both film and digital. “Here come the photos”, I said to myself. We take a long drive, and even in the distance you can make out the castles on the hillside.
This countryside is ridiculously beautiful with the mountains, and of course the use of castles as an accent :-P. Yes, I am wearing an airline shirt. I washed my boxers and socks in the shower with me the night before, but figured cotton (shirt, pants) wouldn’t dry quick enough. Ingenuity for the win. I will always be traveling with some clothes in my carry-on though, haha.
Neat thing about this castle, is the road has no motorized vehicles for part of the way. You can walk, bike, or take a hoarse and carriage… which is awesome. I imagine people who live nearby just bike up and down the mountain. It is a great view.
This was one of the trails off to the side of where we walked up. The actual road to walk up was pavement and had tourists and locals from all walks of life.
Once we made it up the trail we grouped up for tickets.
We ended up climbing quite a few stairs once inside the castle.
As you can tell, quite the winding staircase. We were led by a different tour guide through the castle, and told no photos.
So during this tour we were told yet again no photos.
Haha, yeah… I kept taking photos.
Throughout the castle there were amazing things, things that would go for at least $20 on ebay. Seriously though, the whole place was filled to the brim with amazing sculptures, architecture, and even technology for the time.
As you can see, the king loved swans. There were more around the castle, and the painting behind this swan contains another swan. The one weird thing to note, is the bed was TINY, as were the rooms. They had smaller bedrooms so heating them in the winter was easier.
If I remember correctly, our group dinner was also this night. We took the bus back to Munich and ended up at Hofbräuhaus München which has German performances while you eat. Whip cracking, twirling, and German food.
Oh yeah, here is a super unflattering photo of me taking a bite of food.
After some food we went off to explore Munich at night. The street performers definitely stay out later than I thought they would.
So that’s it for the day I think. I took more photos here and there while walking around, and I will be posting a link to all of the photos once I get all of these entries posted.
Another long time without an update. This post has been a while in the making. I wasn’t sure even where to begin.
Paris (layover), Germany, Austria, Italy, and Switzerland.
I was hoping to write daily entries, but internet access and time made that difficult.
Threw some clothes in a suitcase and headed to Munich. Listened to some music, talked to a flight attendant that reminded me of an old coworker. I was told I am hilarious and ridiculous.
Arrival in Paris. Confused.
Took me a while to go through customs/security; my antiquated film confused them. After getting my bearings I grabbed myself a chocolate croissant and an Orangina thinking I had plenty of time. Turns out I confused my departure time from Paris with my arrival time in Munich. Whoops. Arrived at my gate as they were boarding though, because I have some crazy luck sometimes. An hour or so later and I am sitting pretty in Munich. Well, pretty disheveled actually.
Now time to grab my bags, and hop to the next adventure. Wait… where is my bag? Air France lost my bag! Well, at least I can talk to someone about this, right? Haha, nope. Thankfully I found some people who could translate, and eventually found out my bag would arrive “later that day”. Off to find the tour guide, but everyone already left to the hotel, haha. Oh well.
Taxi pulled up to the curb and I yelled absolutely nothing because I was exhausted (Fresh Prince of Bell Air reference). The tour guide is FANTASTIC though, puts me at ease, and we have a lovely group introduction. I hear “bike tour” and my ears perk up. Bike tour around Germany sounds like a wonderful idea.
So now that we found our meeting spot, it is time to hop on some bicycles!
We ended up biking to a local manmade surf spot which was incredible.
After some went on a swim, we grabbed something to drink (I got delicious soda).
After the ride we all headed back to meet up with the people who chose to explore on foot. We all headed back, some went out, and I went to sleep. So exhausting, in the best way possible. I will be posting more tomorrow.