My First EuroTrip

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. 😄

What to Pack for Europe Photo Gear and Clothes

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:

  1. Silk Long Underwear- these were kinda hard to find, but luckily REI had some in stock.  I just got 1 pair of the bottoms, but next time I would may take an extra set of bottoms and get a couple 2 silk tops as well- this would make doing laundry so much easier.  (Thank you to Lisa for this tip!)
  2. Yoga Leggings- sometimes I wore two of these together to double up on the warmth.  I guess I’m a big baby when it comes to the cold, because I saw a few people in Paris walking around with bare legs or maybe just sheer tights.  I, on the other hand, usually opt for comfort over fashion.
  3. Waterproof boots- I got my suede boots soaked in the wet snow looking for Grom’s gelato in Venice and we happened to walk pass by a little shoe shop still open at 9:30pm.  Lucky me!  I found a cute pair of ankle boots made by MÉDUSE for about $50.  I like that they are light weight and made of rubber.
  4. Photo Gear- I wanted to take lots of pictures of the scenery, landscapes, and streets.  For these pictures I brought my widest lens- 16-35mm 2.8L.  Then for detailed shots like food, night time, and portraits I brought my 50mm 1.2L.  Camera body was Canon 5DM3, with a couple of memory cards, batteries, and small video light (ended up not needing the video light at all).   If I were to check in a bag for luggage I would consider taking a tripod, but passed on bringing it this time because I didn’t want to lug it around.

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.

Florence: 5 days 🇮🇹

AirBNB Florence Duomo

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.)

What to eat in Florence

 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.

Florence Duomo January 2017Duomo Florence 2017

Below- some street views.  I thought it was cool they had nice paintings on the exteriors of buildings protected in glass cases.

Streets of Florence

One of the best things I ate in Florence was the Truffle Pasta from Savini Tartufi at the Mercato Centrale (pictured below).  I also have a little YouTube video of the chef’s making the pasta HERE.

Truffle Pasta Savini Tartufi Mercato Centrale

Things to do in Florence

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.

Palazzo Vecchio David

Palazzo Vecchio Art Venus

Palazzo Vecchio ArtPonte Vecchio Wishing Boar

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?

Ponte Vecchio Firenze Light Festival

Below- it was fun exploring the city and finding street art.

Florence Street Art

Venice: 5 days 🇮🇹

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.

Grand Canal Rialto Bridge VeniceGondolas Venice Rialto BridgeGondolas Venice Wells Water Fountain Street View

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! 💕)

Venetian Palace for Rent

(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.

Sherri J Photography Travel in Venice

Venetian MasksMy 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.”

Piazza San Marco Venezia Flooded

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 Doge's Palace Venice

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.)

Bridge of Sighs Venice

Giudecca channel at Sunset

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. 😝

Ponte de Pugne

Burano: lunch and sunset 💖

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!

Venetian Island of BuranoVenetian Colorful Island of Burano

Al Gatto Nero Burano

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Al Gatto Nero Burano

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?!  😍🌈

Venetian Island of Burano Sherri J Photography

Paris: 5 days 🇫🇷

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.)

Rue Cler Paris

Musée de l'Armée

Musée de l'Armée Napoleon Horse

Napoleon Tomb Les Invalides, Paris, FranceLa Fontaine De Mars

The next few sets of images are taken with iphone, because I didn’t want to bring my big camera.

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Château de Versailles Moulin Rouge

Below- Matt and Sherri both doing their favorite things.  Wine and Photography. 🍷📷  

travel in Paris France Wine Shop

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.

Eiffel Tower night photography

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:

Eiffel Tower sunset

Eiffel Tower Carousel

Eiffel Tower carousel sunset

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. 😜

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Weekend trip to Paso Robles

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!

Kalyra Winery Solvang1999 Kalyra reserve blanc de noir sparking

On airb&b, I found the cutest little villa on a private vineyard in Paso Robles.  Check out the views! photo paso003_zpshwhnnarn.jpg photo paso004_zpsqkxgv9df.jpg

A short trip up the road took us to Morro Bay, where we saw a kite festival, otters, and seals playing in the water. photo paso005_zpsuxbfsiyk.jpg photo paso006_zpsrozea8ii.jpg photo paso007_zpsinxszoi9.jpg photo paso008_zpsm87u5jck.jpg

Lunch with a view… photo paso009_zpsfslssakt.jpg photo paso010_zpsqn7lupfx.jpg photo paso011_zpskxiprql2.jpg photo paso012_zpsu9yvo2gk.jpg

Top 5 Wine Picks from the Central Coast:

  1. 2013 Laetitia single vineyard Pinot Noir
  2. 2014 Adelaida Chardonnay
  3. 2012 Justin Isosceles (Bordeaux blend)
  4. 2015 Halter Ranch Rose (Rhone blend)
  5. 1999 Kalyra Reserve Blanc de Noir Sparking

SJP’s Top 12 Holiday Gift Ideas for 2015

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! photo GiftIdeas_zpsg0zwjvu4.jpg

  1. Cirque Du Soleil: Kurios Tickets– I’ve seen 5 Cirque Shows, and they never disappoint!  If you’ve never seen a Cirque show, let me describe it to you as a cross between human acrobatics, with choreographed dancing, and cute storytelling that crosses all language barriers.  A beautiful show with talented performers from across the world.
  2. Himalayan Salt Lamp– a great night light with soft glow that also purifies the air when turned on.  These lamps are very popular at spas.  I recommend getting a set of 2 so you can have one on each side of the bed.
  3. YSL lip stain– This is one of my greatest beauty finds this year.  I love these because they apply to lips smooth and stay on for hours without drying out or smelling weird like the cheap versions.  I now have them in a few different shades… my favorite being “COLOR 13 Rose Tempura” which is a nice shade of raspberry-red. (Sephora $36)
  4. Phone Holder– The best gift for someone who uses their GPS a lot while driving.  It attaches to the CD slot in the car (Amazon $12)
  5. Sima Video Light– perfect for the photo-enthusiast in your life.  I like using these little lights at night time to add a little extra lighting to my shots (For what this looks like in use, check out the last picture in this post.)
  6. I recently heard Seth Macfarlane as he serenaded a live audience at the Grammy Museum.  Apparently, the talented creator of Family Guy is now starting a singing career!  I recommend his “No One Ever Tells You” CD for people who love old sounds of vocal jazz similar to Harry Connick Jr, Elvis Presley, and Frank Sinatra.
  7. Jambox- the best portable speakers, great to use in the kitchen or bathroom.
  8. Entertainment Coupon Book– If you like saving money all year round, you’re going to love this coupon book!  It has different coupons for things like entertainment, food, shopping, travel, etc.  I remember when I was a kid, we used to sell these in elementary for fundraising. Now available directly on their website, you can get a book for $19.  Available nationwide.
  9. Photo Mousepad- a cool gift for anyone who has a computer!  I like custom mousepads with pictures of my travel adventures.  You can buy these at Costco or online at Vistaprint for about $10
  10. Kalyra Winery– my favorite winery in Solvang because they have “Sticky Wicket,” a very sweet dessert wine that tastes like lychee.  mmmmm I recently became a member of their wine club and got my first shipment.
  11. Lovesome Chocolates– handmade treats from my favorite Chocolatier in Long Beach, Nicole makes the best dark chocolates bites of unique flavors including Sea Salt Blueberry, Crushed Red Pepper and Cherry, and Spicy Pecan and Fig, to Rocky Road, French Lavender Sugar, and Toasted Almond Toffee (just to name a few!)  All of her chocolates are seasonal using fresh ingredients, so check with her to see what’s popular this month!  Nicole is pictured below at a recent tasting event.
  12. $200 SJP Giftcard*- Give the gift of memories, perfect for families and couples.  (Pictured below is what the packaging looks like.  The giftcard comes in a nice presentation envelope and does not expire.)

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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 before December 12th to ensure an ontime delivery of your giftcard.

Happy Holidays!