Twenty days into the New Year and I'm just posting a 'reflection' post from 2013. Where have I been?! Well, taking on way too much apparently. I was going to start going to school again in January (I do, after all, work for a University) but quickly realized that between a full time job, my online job with Answers.com, and trying to keep up with my blog it was just impossible. Oh yeah, I also do photography occasionally on the side and travel. It's alright though, I was just going to take some classes for fun. Luckily all of the courses are for design and I can find the same information on Lynda.com if and when I have the time.
Here's a look back on some of my favorite photos from 2013, and my favorite memories as well. It was a great year of travel for me. Some people manage to travel nearly every weekend. While I don't travel nearly that much, I still try to go somewhere about every six to eight weeks. I also am not one to do extreme budgeting when I'm visiting a new place. I like to go to the restaurants and try the food, have my own room to sleep in (and usually we use airbnb.com and have an entire apartment to ourselves), and I also don't mind paying for a tour to learn new information. I can't afford luxury travel, but I would rather save up and have a more relaxing time, versus budgeting every penny I spend and worrying that my bank account is going to dip into the negatives.
That being said, my time is starting to dwindle in Germany. We still have quite a while here, but I want to try and visit (nearly) every place on my bucket list while we're here. This is especially true when we live so close to everything. Many places I want to see are within driving distance so my goal is to do longer day and weekend trips to save money and be able to see more. Just this weekend we went to the beautiful Königsee in Germany, and next weekend we're taking the bullet train to Paris, and then I'm off to Nice, France for some Carnival fun with the girls!
So enough chit chat, here are my favorite photos from 2013 in tour format.
Vienna - Austria
Last January a girlfriend and myself booked a blind booking flight through German Wings and ended up in Vienna (click here to learn more about how to blind book your next trip!). Even though it was extremely cold and slushy and snowy, we still made the best of it. Much of this included popping our heads into a cafe or bar to warm up and have a drink. Even in the winter Vienna is beautiful, one of the prettiest cities I've ever visited. We went to the Spanish horse riding school which was just okay. No photos are permitted and it's not a show, just them holding practice. We also discovered there are about four Australian pubs in Vienna, so of course we had to stop in to one. The owner was in fact Australian and the atmosphere was really fun. If you ever go to Vienna you'll see a lot of shirts that say 'No Kangaroos In Austria' which leads me to believe more than one person has accidentally booked a flight to Austria thinking it was Australia. Talk about culture shock if you go there by accident!
The above photo made the cut because while we were still in Vienna, we noticed many of the tourist shops had these postcards with photos of seemingly random things. A half eaten plate of food with a grainy overlay, a picture of the ground, and many more like that. So, I told my friend I was going to take photos of random things and make a postcard to send her. This is the one I ended up using. I just went through moo.com to create my postcard and have been since sending them off when I get the chance.
Lake Garda - Italy
Have you ever heard of Lake Garda? I hadn't until I started searching for lakes in Italy. Lake Garda is a stunning lake in northern Italy. This place has made the cut as one of the most beautiful places I've ever visited in my life, and that's a tough thing to do considering I'm from Alaska. The Alps shoot up high in the sky and the lake is dotted with towns all along it. It's the largest lake in Italy and I don't know why it isn't more popular than Lake Como to be honest. We stayed on the northern end of the lake, where you feel more like you're on the ocean just because this lake is so massive you can't even see the other side of it (as also shown in the photo below). Riva del Garda was a nice town with a lovely downtown area near the shores. Along the water there were many restaurants and shops. However, we took the ferry and found the magical town of Malcesine. The Malcesine castle is on a hill above the water and if I go back I will definitely stay in this town. It was more touristy, but there were more shops, restaurants, and an Irish pub (bonus for me!). There also aren't cars that can go down the streets so it's a bunch of pedestrian alley ways to walk through. The town is small but so charming. Limone was also an amazing town edged against a rocky cliff. Here they grow lemons and make limoncello, my favorite alcoholic drink in Italy next to wine.
Malcesine and the Castle
We took the cable car or funicular up to the top of Monte Baldo for the gorgeous view overlooking Malcesine, shown below.
Venice - Italy
After that we took a two hour drive east to Venice. In May it was getting very touristy so walking the streets lost a lot of it's allure. At night the streets clear out so we had fun wandering around once the sun went down.
Salzburg - Austria
In June we had family visit and drove to Salzburg for a few days. I love Salzburg. Even if it's overrun with tourists in the summer, it's still a beautiful city in an amazing area. I could easily live here for the rest of my life.
We walked up to the castle and sat out at the biergarten overlooking the city one afternoon. We stayed there until the sun set and then made our way back down.
I SO WISH I would've had a tripod on this evening. The shot below still turned out good, but it could've been soo much better with a sturdy tripod holding my camera in place. This is the view that you get when you're walking down from the castle.
Riquewihr - France
Sometime this summer we took a day drive to check out the cute French village of Rieuewihr. I'd read that they have great wine and it's a really quaint place. We also stopped by Colmar, France since we were close. Everything was nice and Riquewihr really is cute, but much of the architecture seemed to resemble what we see in Germany on a daily basis so it wasn't as awe inspiring as I thought it would be (and I just realized how spoiled that makes me sound). Nonetheless it was definitely worth the drive. Oh and the wine was fantastic.
I spotted this little guy when we were walking around Riquewihr. At first I thought it was a hummingbird as I was snapping away. Upon closer inspection I noticed the long thing coming out of it's mouth and wasn't sure what it was. When I got home and googled it, I discovered I'd been taking pictures of a hawk moth. Many people refer to it as the hummingbird moth because it really does look and act just like a hummingbird.
Galway - Ireland
We also went to Ireland in the summer. Instead of a round the country trip, we decided to plant ourselves in Galway to really get a feel of what it's like to live like the Irish. Galway was amazing. I highly recommend it over Dublin to anyone traveling there. There are minimum tourists but it's also a fun town. There's a university here so you have the young crowd, but it's also a fishing town as well. A long pedestrian walkway covers the downtown area and is lined with pubs that all play live music daily. Of everywhere we went last year, Ireland was probably my favorite trip. The people are so friendly and also quite funny too. Coming from Germany it was like a breath of fresh air being around so many nice and friendly people.
Cliffs of Moher with T
It was unseasonably hot when we were there too. Everyone said that up until that week when we arrived it had been rainy and cool. When we got there it was in the 90's and stayed that way the entire time. As someone who doesn't love hot weather I was so glad that I picked one of the only places in Galway with a/c. I slept comfortably the entire trip!
Nuremberg - Germany
We drove two hours to Nuremberg one weekend as well. There are so many beautiful German towns and cities I wish I could see them all (maybe I will!). Nuremberg has a lot of history, especially related to recent historical events, namely World War II. Hitler had a special fondness for Nuremberg and made it the center for his Nazi Rallies. After the war, Nuremberg had their infamous trials where they convicted countless war criminals.
The city was nearly completely destroyed after World War II but has been rebuilt slowly to resemble it's pre-war days.
This is the Nuremberg Nazi Rally Documentation Center. If you get the chance you should visit to learn more about Nuremberg's history and the tumultuous past that made the city famous.
Below is a newspaper clipping that was on display at the documentation center.
Salcombe - England
I took a weekend trip to Salcombe, England for a friend's wedding in September. After a flight there, a 3 hour train ride from London, and a 45 minute car ride I finally arrived. It was a really cute fishing town on the southern coast of England.
International Beard and Moustache Championships - Leinfelden, Germany
The International Beard and Moustache Chamionships are held every other year in a different spot all over the world. This year they were in my town, crazy! People came from all over and there were camera crews and plenty of photographers covering the event. I was in awe at the impressive amount of mustaches and beards on display!
Sölden - Austria & Neuschwanstein Castle
Over Christmas we took a ski trip to Sölden, Austria. On the way back we stopped by Neuschwanstein so I could finally get a decent shot of the castle. I'm so glad we stopped because the crowds were minimal and my hubby was finally able to see this castle and the pristine area.