I’ve been dreading this post simply because it’s going to be a long one! Just a warning, there are over 200 images; and I actually trimmed it down by a lot. When I was editing the pictures, I was reminded of the wonderful memories I shared with so many people. Gosh, I so want to go back to Europe and hang out with my new friends. Most of them live in Australia – heard it’s a great place to visit!
So, a few months ago, I was virtually email and twitter free. I spent 6 weeks in Europe on vacation. The trip was simply eye-opening!
I was immersed in culture, history, politics, community, art, FOOD, SHOPPING and much more. I cannot even articulate all that happened, except with these photos. Hopefully they will succinctly tell the story of my holiday coupled with a few captions here and there. Before I begin a barrage of pictures of Europe, I wanted to say thanks to my fellow Contiki-mates, Contiki and @bullysaurus (who forced me to part from my computer).
Before I begin with images, here is a video we produced while in Greece. It is a spoof on the “I’m On A Boat” music video. Enjoy!
That’s our coach driver (Eelco – Holland) and tour manager (Dave – Australia)
London – what can I say? I probably saw all four seasons in one day. Wherever you go, bring a poncho or umbrella, seriously.
Julie decided to cut her hair pretty short – I like!
“Mind the gap,” echoes in my head to this day.
Julie and I met up with some old friends (my very first wedding clients) and rode our bikes to the top of a hill. While taking in the breathtaking views, a cute little boy approached us with his big curious eyes.
This city had so much to offer! I wish I could have stayed longer. I remember visiting the Eiffel Tower at midnight as it shimmered brightly. Afterwards, Julie and I shared a nutella crepe, which was nothing less than orgasmic for my mouth.
We had to take a ferry from England to France, thus the boat-type images.
White Cliffs of Dover – sounds like something used in Lord of the Rings, huh?
Julie and I played voyeurs at a sidewalk cafe while I nibbled away on a plate of escargot and sipped on espresso (I just had to lol).
Arc De Triomphe
Sagrada Familia by Antoni Gaidi – wow! It is a church so huge I could barely fit it in a full-frame shot at 16mm standing 200m away.
Food is a nice representation of each country, city, town, province’s culture. Therefore, I oblige by eating / learning. We ate, drank sangria and watched flamenco dancing! Next image: cold soup…interesting.
We were so fortunate to be in the path of “Le Tour de France” in Nice, France. Check out my super wicked image of the contestants! I dragged my shutter at 1/125.
Florence – or Firenze – had the best cappuccino.
An overview of the city with the bell tower and all in the background – beautiful golden light! I love Italy!
A black and white version
Mmm there is always time for gelato paired with a sugar cone!
Sistine Chapel – was I not supposed to take pictures in here? Oops!
This is supposedly where Caesar died.
One thing I fancy doing is visiting McDonald’s around the world. Each country serves different foods. In Rome, they served deep fried tiger prawns.
Since most people were illiterate, clients would point at the diagrams of what they wanted at this brothel.
Wow – this bed looks really uncomfortable [and short].
This relief in the ground was their form of advertisement; it directs clients as to what they can get and in the direction of said service.
That’s Mount Vesuvius! She blew her head off way back then. I remember reading about this in middle school. To actually be there was surreal.
Where art thou, Romeo? Julie! What are you doing groping poor Juliet’s right breast? Supposedly, if you do so, the groper will be blessed with eternal love.
After that, I bought Julie a Furla purse for her birthday.
Around the corner was a Ferrari dealership, so here’s just a picture for proof.
After some crazy traveling, we did some R and R in Corfu where we did lots of sleeping, drinking, eating and playing. The first thing we did was hop onto “George’s Boat,” which is operated by Captain George – a super entertaining and prurient man. The entire boat ride, he would blare through his speakers about sex and skinny dipping.
This is where we did lots of water sports including parasailing. I don’t have any pictures because my Canon 5DMII doesn’t work too well with water. Julie has video footage. I’ll post that when I have time.
And I thought LA drivers were aggressive!
I’ve come to learn that European signs are very clear.
This was the boat where I filmed our spoof video. It sure helped pass 5 hours or so of boredom. Plus, everyone got a good chance to bond with each other. Since I didn’t have sun screen, I returned to my cabin all burnt.
Pisa and Florence, Italy
Don’t hate. I just had to.
Venice is known for glass blowing and sculpting, thus the demonstration.
Europe is known for a chip called “Fonzies.” It’s not quite like a Cheeto, but similar. Supposedly, Australia has a better version called “Twisties.” I long for the day to try it!
Vienna is the city where Mozart – the prolific composer – started his musical career. In that corner is where he first performed at 5 years old. We watched a live performance that followed by dinner at the city hall – wonderful!
Cafe Central in Vienna – where Trosky was once a regular.
Schnapps brewery! It was a blisteringly cold day when we went. After a few shots, I was one step away from taking even my tshirt off because of my newfound warmth.
Spell it backwards 🙂
Our first stop was Mauthausen – a German concentration camp. In my career, I have only photographed happy and beautiful things, until that day.
This was the table where teeth were pulled for precious metal. The blood drained into the hole at the bottom.
After leaving the gloomy Mauthausen, we headed for the city of Munich where we visited the Cathedral Church to Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI). The Church contains supposedly the Devil’s footprint, which was stomped into the marble after being defeated in a challenge with Von Halspach (the architecht).
The rule was that the Devil will fund the completion of the church under the condition that the architect does not build any windows. Only problem for the Devil was that the windows were already built, but were all covered during construction. The Devil wanted the Cathedral to be dark and dreary. Instead, he found the completed church to be bright and beautiful.
According to Jewish customs, visitors place a pebble on top of a headstone as a sign of respect. This black marble monument is to commemorate the lives lost during World War II.
There was a channel of water where people can surf…in the city!
Hofbräuhaus is where you can drink you head off..
One of our fellow Contiki mates drank too much. Julie learned this technique while studying at UCLA. Hook the plastic bag handles around the person’s ears to make it self-sustaining.
The next day, we arrived in Rhine Valley where we went to an underground cellar to have ice wine – sweet and yummy!
The Sound of Music! That’s where the movie was filmed. Before we did anything crazy in these beautifully green hills, Julie and I filled our bellies with lasagna and pizza.
Oh yeah, that’s what where we flew off from.
Julie getting strapped up!
We had a friend with us as well; she’s went first followed by Julie and me.
I stepped on some cow poo.
I have a video on this, but will edit / upload later. So that’s Julie to my left. Her guide was really mean. He navigated the parachute to hit me!
Absolutely crazy views from up above. I told my guide that he had the best office in the world; he agreed.
After that fun trek, our tour manager (Dave) and coach driver (Eelco) dressed up as a couple and served us dinner – so hilarious! Oh I am tearing thinking of it…I miss them.
After dinner, Julie and I took a stroll around the city. We concluded that we will miss the sound of the water streams and the scent of flowers wafted in the air. The best I could do was photograph some of the simple luxuries we overlook in our rat race lives.
Switzerland is where we did so many things – ate Swiss chocolate, got engraved Swiss Army knives, donned Swarovski jewelry (headquarters), yodeled from Swiss Alps, and much more.
First stop – Swarovski Museum where it everything was trippy!
After the museum, we went to Mount Pilatus where we saw the Swiss Alps and a few goats trotting around.
Briefly speaking, this relief carving of a giant lion – Lion Monument – represents the Swiss Guards. The slain lion is a memorial for the mercenary soldiers from central Switzerland who lost their lives while serving the French king Louis XVI during the French Revolution.
Home for space cakes, beautiful stores and clogs.
I found a cute little bunny right outside of the cheese / clog store.
We did some light biking around the beautiful city.
Booze Cruise – we made two Canadian friends – Erica and Mark. They were so delightful.
Since photography in the Red Light District was strictly prohibited, I shot it from our boat.
On the last day before everyone parted, Julie and I took a picture with our super smart tour manager and coach driver. We learned sooo much from them!
What a fun European vacation! Contiki ROCKS! Now only if Contiki would hire me as their stock photographer, that would be such a cool job. Better yet, anyone getting married? Imagine the engagement picture possibilities!
We should all do a Contiki trip! Who’s down?