Celebrating life with one of my dearest friends, Alma.
Celebrating life with one of my dearest friends, Alma.
One of the things on my bucket list has always been a trip overseas to Europe. I’ve heard so many great things about the food, history, and art. Well, for the past couple of weeks I’ve been on Cloud 9 traveling around Italy and France! Overall, I took about 355 images during my trip- I will eventually make a little coffee table book or a couple of prints for my office. For now, here’s a little highlight of my adventures to share with you today. 😄
First, traveling from Southern California to Europe meant that I had to dress much warmer than normal (forecast predicted some rain and snow) and light (I didn’t want to mess with checking in a bunch of luggage on the way there, in case it got lost and also lugging it around on boat/ train/ plane getting to the places we were staying). After some obvious basics like electricity converters, layered winter clothes, and personal items… I have a couple of my favorites for winter clothing and photo tips to share with you:
Please note, most of the pictures on this blog post were either taken with my professional camera or iphone6 – with the exception of the palace in Venice, which has been credited with source to the property’s website. Images from my blog post are not to be copied, printed, or published without written consent. Please contact me directly for usage.
For our stay in Florence, I found a cute Airbnb in the middle of the city with a balcony view of the Duomo! Every morning starting at about 7am, we could hear the church bells ring. Our host Guia was very helpful with travel tips from the airport and a gave us a great restaurant recommendation for delicious steak dinner close to the apartment. O’Vesuvio is my favorite pizza spot for the boar and truffle pizza- ready in 5 minutes! (Fun fact: it also happens to be where the cast of MTV’s Jersey Shore spent their summer working.) Next the cafe “Eatly” was where we found morning snacks like fresh croissant sandwiches, espresso, and it also has a great wine selection. Lastly, is afternoon tea time at Santa Maria Novella (apparently their products are made from nuns and the pomegranate soaps and candles are kind of a big deal.)
We visited the Duomo a couple of times, climbing up the tower and inside of the dome. The exterior of the Cathedral was just beautiful with green, white, and pink marble. Visiting during the “off season” gave me a few clear shots in the early morning.
Below- some street views. I thought it was cool they had nice paintings on the exteriors of buildings protected in glass cases.
Pictured below is the state of David- masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture created between 1501 and 1504 by Michelangelo (who’s tombstone is in a church and pictured second). I spent some time at Palazzo Vecchio looking at art including the last 3 images below of classical paintings on the high ceilings. When I’m at an art museum, I especially love seeing how the art is displayed with their ornate wood carved frames.
Pictured above is the Ponte Vecchio– an old bridge with jewelry shops. On our second night in the city, we visited the bridge again to see the holiday Firenze Light Festival with the bridge lit up with color and classical music playing (captured below top right). I liked seeing the shops closed in the evenings because the storefronts looked like medieval treasure boxes. Is that even a thing?
Below- it was fun exploring the city and finding street art.
Venice is a city in Northeastern Italy consisting of 117 small islands separated by canals and linked by bridges. To get anywhere in the city you either have to walk or take a boat. There are no bikes, horses, or cars. I found it fascinating that most of the city was built on a lagoon. It’s very common to see the tall towers tilting on an angle due to the unstable foundation. Some popular sights include the San Marco Square, Grand Canal, Cathedrals, Gondolas, and the Rialto Bridge.
During out time in Venice, we were lucky to stay in a beautiful Palace! It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. Perched on the top 2 floors, we had 360 rooftop views of the city including the Grand Canal. (A very big thanks to my boyfriend’s mother Sue for hosting us and giving me a personal tour of the city! 💕)
(Above pictures of the Palace were taken from the property’s website. Check out those wood beams on the ceiling and red kitchen and dining room.) Below, Matt and I peeking out our bedroom window.
My first view of the Piazza San Marco Venezia was at night time. Over the course of a couple days I saw lots of cool stuff happen to the square, including the one rare day it flooded (pictured below). A fun little history about Venetian masks, according to The Mascherade’s website: “The masks are typically worn during the Carnival (Carnival of Venice), but have been used on many other occasions in the past, usually as a device for hiding the wearer’s identity and social status. The mask would permit the wearer to act more freely in cases where he or she wanted to interact with other members of the society outside the bounds of identity and everyday convention. It was useful for a variety of purposes, some of them illicit or criminal, others just personal, such as romantic encounters.”
Pictured above the Doge’s Palace and below is the Bridge of Sighs connecting the Doge’s palace to the prison. (Note: most people visit Venice, do it in one day and get the view from the bridge towards the tower. I was able to get 2 angles of the same canal with entry into the Doge’s Palace- over the course of a few days.)
Above is slippery steps into Giudecca channel, taken around sunset time. Below is the Ponte de Pugne (Fighting Bridge) near where Katharine Hepburn fell in the water in the movie “Summertime.” (I’ll admit, I haven’t seen the movie before, but now it’s on my list.) One of my biggest fears while walking around the city, was falling into the canal. I’m guessing most Venetians are pretty good swimmers. 😝
The Island of Burano was my favorite sight in Europe. Burano is a fishing town where the homes were all painted different colors to help drunk fisherman return home after being out all day on the water. To get to the island, you can take a private water taxi or public boat that will get you there in about 45 minutes. I say, it’s definitely worth the trip!
We had the most delicious seafood feast at Al Gatto Nero with fresh caught Halibut, razor clams, baby clams, scallops, risotto, crab, Prosecco, Soave from Veneto (white wine), grappa, sgroppino (a lemon slushy dessert), and coffee dessert. Lunch and formal dinners in Europe usually last a couple hours, so we just talked and ate and ate until our bellies were full! On the way back to the boat the sun was setting. I walked over a bridge and photographed my favorite picture from the whole trip (below.) Just WOW… right?! 😍🌈
Another gem from Airbnb was a cute apartment right on Rue Cler 7- a lively street full of cafes, markets, and small shops. While in Paris, we visited lots of museums including the Musée de l’Armée (they had lots of Napoleon things including his last Horse), Musée du Louvre (to see the Mona Lisa), Cathedral of Notre-Dame, a day trip to Château de Versailles, and night showing of Moulin Rouge (let’s just say it was nothing like the movie). Also lots of great food including 2 visits to La Fontaine De Mars (which just so happened to be the same restaurant President Obama and the first lady visited in 2009). If you ever go to the restaurant- be sure to try to the Ile Flottante dessert (kinda tastes like creme brulee, but fluffier.)
The next few sets of images are taken with iphone, because I didn’t want to bring my big camera.
One of my biggest goals for Paris, was to get an amazing shot of the famous Eiffel Tower- an iconic landmark built for the 1889 to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the French Revolution. Paris is known as the “City of Light” but I’ve always considered it to be the “City of Love!” On my first visit, we went a few minutes before 7pm. While I was waiting in line to get to the top of the tower, the lights on the tower started to shimmer! Apparently, the lights shimmer for 5 minutes every hour. I planned for better pictures with the lights another day.
I scouted a couple of angles and decided wanted to get a view of the tower with carousel. I went out on my last evening and got these:
For those of you wondering why I might not have more pictures of myself during my travels… this is why. My camera only likes me. 😜
Highlights of San Francisco.
Wine Country is just a short drive up the Pacific coast. In about 2.5 hours you’ll be in the cute town of Solvang or 3.5 will take you to Paso Robles with even more beautiful landscapes and more wineries. Here’s a few of my favorite pictures from my weekend!
On airb&b, I found the cutest little villa on a private vineyard in Paso Robles. Check out the views!
A short trip up the road took us to Morro Bay, where we saw a kite festival, otters, and seals playing in the water.
Lunch with a view…
Top 5 Wine Picks from the Central Coast:
Are you still shopping for people on your Holiday list? Or maybe you’re like me… and barely started?!! *gasp! Well, luckily, I have started making a list and checking it twice. Here’s some of my top picks for entertainment, beauty, home, gadgets, food, and a couple of photo related ideas. Items are numbered below and full list detailed under the image, including links to where you can purchase each of these goodies!
Pictured above is a photograph taken at a wedding of the Moet champagne party favors, using the recommended Sima Video light to light the small bottles. I have 2 Sima lights, one facing forward for backlight and one illuminating the bottle tower in the back.
*If you’re interested in purchasing a $200 SJP Giftcard, good to apply towards a portrait session, event, or wedding, in addition to products such as prints and albums. Contact me directly email@example.com before December 12th to ensure an ontime delivery of your giftcard.