A Road Trip Through Italy: Italian Cities
Back from the Italian Alps
Still in a daze from the scenes of Northern Italy, we continue traveling on the open road. Living out the words to Chuck Berry’s No Particular Place to Go, we find ourselves in a flux of mountains and age-old cities. Arco, a small town north of Lake Garda with its ancient hilltop castle and mountainous backdrop was the stunning welcoming that we needed. Without thinking, we pulled over. From the second I pulled the door handle, my eyes were jumping from one scene to the next. This was the start of a new adventure.
Exploring the Italian Coast
Although, the objective is to head down the Italian Coast and make a loop back to Venice, this trip was not ruled by an agenda. We took each road, each turn, each place as it is. This is the only way I can imagine traveling for myself. It’s cliché to even type “Its the not the Destination, It’s the journey.” But that is what traveling, adventure and memories are. I can share pictures of beautiful Italian destinations but what I can’t share are the laughs, the long rides, the happiness that simple conversations with strangers bear. I try to convey as much as I can through photography while at the same time, I enjoy keeping some of the most important moments to myself. Moments that I will look back on in my own time and just smile. I did that, I was there, and I will never forget this.
Lost in Italian Cities
Italy is alive through its stories, through its past. From Venice to Milan to Florence, you could close your eyes and imagine with ease walking in a time that’s not yours. A hurried Filippo Brunelleschi drifting through the streets of Florence or a glimpse of Leonardo da Vinci as he adds the final brush stroke to The Last Supper in Milan. It’s hard not to get lost in your surroundings, to get soaked up in the architecture, art, nature and landscape of this beautiful land. I have never stepped on a street that felt so catalytic in the importance of history than the streets of Italy. It’s hard not to fall in love in a country like this.
Serendipity: The City of Siena
The chants of a faceless crowd finds its way through the winding, cobblestone streets of Siena, Italy. Moments later the crowd with their Contrade’s emblem banners raised in hand, marched their way around the corner. This was the celebration of the The Palio horse race. A passionate event with its origin tracing back to the 6th century. This was how Italian cities felt. Frozen in time while the rest of the world marched on.
What was important about this, was that this was never planned. We didn’t know about this city nor of this celebration that only happens twice a year. Sunset was quickly approaching and our original destination was out of reach. By chance we entered the city of Siena for the night. This was probably one of the most memorable moments of any trip that I have ever had. It wasn’t scripted, it was living in the present. It was discovering a love for a place that was waiting to be found.
If you like this, you will love A Road Trip Through Italy
‘Twas the morning before Christmas and all through Chicago, the lakefront was silent apart from the waves below. (I know, I know, I’m quite the gifted wordsmith.)
My eyes slowly opened to the alarm I instantly regretted setting just a few hours ago. It was Christmas Eve morning but the view outside of my window begged to differ. I hazily grabbed my camera bag and stumbled out of my apartment which was still enclosed in the shade of night. Like the every previous time I chased the sunrise, the first 10 minutes being awake I contemplated turning around to the dream of falling back into the comfort of my own bed but how many moments worth remembering started off like that? (rhetorical question…I’m sure many.) Shaking out the cobwebs, I pressed on to my favorite place to watch the sunrise on the lakefront.
It’s always that moment just before the sun rises above the horizon, where the warming hues spill its way through the sky that keeps me forever in awe. Seeing how beautiful the start of a day can be seemed like a fitting way to end off the year. It’s like they say what feels like an end is often a new beginning.
Where to can you watch the sunrise? Click Here to see my favorite Chicago Spots
If you like this, you will love 360 Chicago Sunrise
You had me at Colorado.
When you have Chicago in your backyard, you hike through dense city streets, breathing in the heavy air, while the sweet sounds of a car honks and everyday conversations fill your ears. You look up through the shadows and your surround by architectural mountains; while I suppose some refer to them as skyscrapers… nonetheless this is the urban landscape that I am oh so familiar with. On the other hand, it cultivated this allurement to nature, hiking, camping, traveling etc. and I find myself constantly seeking these momentary escapes in the world’s more natural landscapes.
When asked by two friends if I would be interested in shooting their engagement photos, I happily accepted. But when expressed that they would like the backdrop to be Colorado, all I could think of is ‘yes, yes and yes. I have personally never been to Colorado, well of which I could remember (I may have driven through Colorado riding in the backseat as a child at some point, but those years of my life are a little hazy.) however I have seen and heard various anecdotes of just how beautiful it is. The seed was planted and the anticipation grew instantly. Let the adventure begin.
With an average 243 sunny days a year, it’s a sort of unwritten law that you should be outside. From the beautiful Red Rocks Amphitheater to the copious hiking trails to watching the sunrise above the clouds, Colorado is an outdoor lover’s paradise. I did not quite know what to expect but it was everything and more. It’s a place where you can get lost in yet at that exact moment feel like you were meant to be here. Oh Colorado, you are quite beautiful. Until we meet again.
When I first picked up a camera, I never knew, well how to use it but moreover, what I would do with it or where it would take me. It has allowed me to meet some amazing people, rekindle old friendships, and to see places that I never thought I’d ever step foot in. When I look back at pictures like these, I can’t help but be humble at the remarkable people and opportunities that I was given. I am sure I say this a lot but it is an important notion to recognize. I can not thank enough, these two wonderful people I’m lucky enough to call friends, for not only showing me around but letting me be apart of this special time in their lives.
If you like this, you will love A Road Trip Through Scotland
A Day at the Blackstone Hotel
Walking down Michigan Ave, you’re bound to notice a few of Chicago’s most architecturally significant buildings. From the Wrigley Building to the Tribune Tower to the John Hancock Center, but if you head a little bit south there is an unmistakable mansard roof peaking above the skyline.
I was fortunate to have been able to spend a night at the historic Blackstone Hotel last month. The home of the original “smoke filled room”, today it’s a mix of historical, modernism that you can not help but wonder about the stories that were written inside of these walls. Opening the door to my room I was immediately welcomed with sunlight reflecting off the marble floor as well as their signature KOVAL bourbon waiting to be poured. It was a luxurious room that I never wanted to leave. I found myself sketching behind a desk during the day, watching the city lights at night and waking up to the sunrise over Lake Michigan in the morning. Although my time here was only for a night, it was a wonderful experience that I would not trade for the world.
Outside of the Blackstone
Located in the heart of Chicago, on one of the most vibrant streets, you immediately feel like you have the whole city in the palm of your hands. Just looking out the window to the mind blowing view of Grant Park made me want to grab my camera and just go. And so I did.
The streets were alive, Grant Park was preparing itself for summer and the tulips scattered throughout Chicago sprang to life. I don’t live in Chicago, but I’m here quite often. I usually drive up here, park and either walk or take the CTA to get around the city. But this time, I found myself walking for the entire day, never once worrying about what time it was or when I should leave. I was free to just enjoy the city… just me and my camera. This was a convenience I never once thought I’d appreciate until my stay at the Blackstone.
This was simply an amazing opportunity that I’m for ever humble to have experienced. Below are a few of my favorite pictures I have ever taken and it is all due to everyone at Blackstone Hotel. A big thanks for letting me be apart of the heart that beats the city. This was one of the most relaxing days that I’ve ever had and now I have a new favorite hotel. Until next time, and trust me, there will be a next time.
Interesting Facts of the Day:
- The Blackstone Hotel opened its doors on my birthday April 6th, 1910 (I wasn’t born in 1910)
- It attracted everyone from Teddy Roosevelt, the Rockefellers, to Nat King Cole and Al Capone.
- The Blackstone Hotel was declared a historic landmark in 1998.
If you like this, you might like 360 Chicago Sunrise
360 Chicago Sunrise
I was recently invited by a fellow photographer, Kavita (go check her out) to a sunrise meet, hosted by 360 Chicago and did not quite know what to expect. Firstly it was my first photography event I went to and secondly I have never been to 360 Chicago before. Needless to say, I was pretty excited. Sunrises usually means waking up early, and early in the city is a little different than the hustle and bustle of the day. Walking through Chicago at 5 am had an eerie but serene feeling to it. No one was on the street but the world felt so alive. Kind of like the calm before the storm and before I knew it I was on an elevator, 94 floors up to the eye of the storm.
What’s better than a sunrise in Chicago? A 360 panorama of that sunrise 1000 feet in the air. All I can say is wow, I felt like a kid in a candy shop with these views. Watching the sunlight slowing awaking the city from the shadows is a moment I will never forget.
Some Food for Thought
Sometimes I forget how lucky I am to have this city in my backyard. We tend to only look out the window when it’s scenic, and often forget those everyday moments that make up our lives.
Today I turn 30 and this whole idea of appreciation of where you are and who you have become is more relevant than ever for me. We’re living in this sort of ‘new’ digital era, in which you have information at your fingertips 24/7. Advertisements, engagements, politics, new born babies, credit card breaches, duck faces etc. bombard you 24/7. It is the new normalcy and has become ingrained in most, if not everyone’s life in some aspect. It’s this sort of white noise that has made it hard to think, react and just plain sterile to what’s around me.
I remember how simple and real things used to be. Genuine conversations, face to face arguments and the sound of real laughter. Now, conversations are through text, arguments are through online shaming, laughter is reduced to a simple ‘lol’. I’m not going to lie technology plays a big part in my life. It has opened up the door to possibilities I have only dreamt up. I can’t escape it nor am I demeaning it (its the very reason I get to write this blog). I think I’m just a little bitter that I wanted to grow up so fast when I was younger that I didn’t fully appreciate those simpler days. But it’s not too late. I’m watching less t-v, turning off my phone a few nights, enjoying conversations with people but most importantly, I’m looking around more. It’s pretty amazing what there is to see.
If you like this, you might like Sunrise at the Lakefront
Chicago Lakefront | Sunrise
Photography has led me down on an array of unpredictable paths thus far. It has sent my curiosity on adventures across the world, has kept my mind awake as I drove through the night across the country and has me constantly exploring every aspect of Chicago. This seed of curiosity has always existed, but photography has this uncanny ability to push and drive a person. In this case, the person is me.
My First Time…
The first time I have ever felt this push was on an early Sunday morning. It felt like yesterday (This is definitely the first sign of me sounding old right? Next I’ll be saying “Back in my day we had to listen to music on compact discs…) that I woke up to my 5 am alarm. A difficult feat for a person that usually falls asleep at 2 am, but nonetheless I was determined to see my first ever Chicago sunrise. Still in a daze, I grabbed my camera, tripod and made my way to Dunkin Donuts because well yeah. Once I was able to think again, I made my way to Chicago.
Being my first sunrise, I did not have a clue on where I should go nor did I think of simply googling “where to see the sunrise”. As I was brainstorming possible locations, I found myself on autopilot to a little stretch of the lake shore in Lincoln Park. The Fullerton Beach has always a favorite spot of mine during the day. It had it all; a skyline view, a beach, an endless view of Lake Michigan and my personal favorite, a rocky coast. At around 6:30 am, a warm glow began to spill over the horizon. I was completely alone on this little oasis outside of the city and had a front row seat to the greatest show on earth. It was surreal. Ever since that day, photography pushes me to not only wake up, but to continually chase, see and soak in more of these beautiful displays. Although, these pictures are not from this story, I come back to this spot often and think about this day every time I watch a sunrise here. (they updated this location from when I first came here but you can still see the remnants of the rocky coast that I so much enjoyed)
A sunrise is the most honest moment I have ever seen.
I think we all have that place where you can sit without any of the worry and noise of your life, and just… be. This little strip of the lakefront is mine.
Want to see a photo from this story? See my first Chicago Sunrise Here >
If you like this, you might like Natural Moments in Chicago >
There’s nothing like seeing the sun rise over Lake Michigan. The sun slowly shedding light over Chicago as the city begins to wake up. The Fullerton Avenue Beach has always been one my favorite places to not only see the sunrise but the views it offers of the city are simply stunning. It used to be quite rugged & natural and I think that is why I liked it so much. It disassociated itself from Chicago. I would see the rocky lakefront and completely forget where I was. There are still remnants of these urban boulders breaking through the water reminding me of when I first came here. Now concrete slabs cover the ground where rocks once laid but the sun still shines the same way.
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