Since I love to travel, and I love photography… I’m always looking for that everlasting first impression. I recently spent 10 days in Europe (clearly not enough time) celebrating my 5yr wedding anniversary with my wonderful wife (Anna). Rented a car in Munich and traveled around a small quadrant of Germany (Bavaria), Austria, Slovenia, and Italy. A friend asked me… “so, what was your favorite part?”. When it comes to travel, you might as well have asked me which one of my kids is my favorite. The truthful answer (even though it sounds like BS) is that I loved every region for different reasons; however, their commonality was the way each culture simply loved and lived life!
Of course, if I had to pick just ONE outstanding memory… waking up at 5:40am and witnessing Sunrise on Lake Bled, Slovenia. Definitely an everlasting first impression. Sure, I’ve seen pictures on the internet and in magazines across the world; but, that morning, it wasn’t just a picture… it was an experience! The sound of ducks and swans on the water’s edge, the light breeze and fragrance of mountain air, the amazing view of Bled Castle perched above the lake, and the absence of people. There very well could have been somebody else out there with me; but, at that time… the lake felt like it was all mine. Not sure what it is with me and lakes. Lake Tekapo and Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand – Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri – Lake Louise, Alberta Canada – Lake Austin, here in Austin, Texas – and now Lake Bled, Slovenia. What can I say… I like lakes.
See… now I’ve opened up a can of worms, because hiking in the Bavarian Alps to see Schloss Neuschwanstein (aka Castle) was a lot more dramatic than I could have ever anticipated. There’s a reason Walt Disney used this as an inspiration for his castle. Once again… that everlasting first impression. I remember saying over and over to my wife “how did they get all this stuff up here?”. No more than 15mins later, she would ask me “how did they get all this stuff up here?”. The inevitable madness of mankind. That’s how. Where there’s a will… there’s a way. But still, a marvel in its own right.
Yet still, there was more for me to be astonished by. VENICE, Italy. What the Venetians put together with their intricate canal system is nothing short of spectacular. The Grand Canal is truly miraculous; however, Basilica di San Marco (aka St. Mark’s) has got to be one of the most remarkable first impressions. Maybe we got lucky by having perfect 72F weather with clear blue skies; but, something tells me this place is magical every single day of the year. Regardless of the weather. Overall, Venice is a city of 90,000 locals, and will receive almost 25 Million visitors by the end of 2011. That’s impressive!
Now, don’t get me wrong… Germany and Austria had their highlights on our vacation too; however, there are some experiences that pictures and words struggle to comprehend. Like driving 180km/h on the A8 (Autobahn) from Munich to Salzburg… and getting passed like you’re standing still by names like BMW, Mercedes, Audi. Maserati and Porsche. Truly the ultimate driving experience. And definitely a lasting first impression. That’s all for now. Stay tuned for an upcoming “social culinary” recap of Germany, Austria, Slovenia and Italy. Probably titled something like “Eat, Drink, and Be Merry!”. I think you get the idea. Travel well my friends! CHEERS!