Good times over in Austria. For whatever reason, I did the least amount of shooting on this trip compared to all other in the past. Travel always brings on great experiences no matter what. Perhaps the funniest and unexpected came out of the need for a bathroom. During a long drive, we stopped at a market in a small town to pee and get food for lunch. I couldn't find the bathroom and tried asking the two workers in the back. They obviously knew very little English, and had no idea what I was saying. After trying every word they might know, I moved onto the universal sign for a guy going to the bathroom, the actual motion of doing it. They instantly knew what I needed and showed me the way. When I came back out, one of the guys was still there and asked me with a very Austrian accent "Ver ah you from?" I replied simply with "California", to which he screamed "AAAAHHHHH, SCHWARZENEGGER!!!"
A few months ago we took a trip to Spain, and one of the highlights for me was the meat. It's something they definitely don't play around with over there. Everywhere you look, there are pig legs sitting on a bar, or hanging from the ceilings. At the markets, it seemed like there wasn't a single part of an animal that you couldn't buy. Don't made saying that I completely overdid it with the mean consumption, but whatever....
There are so many things to love about travel, but high on my list are the people you meet. Most of them unexpected. And making portraits of these people is something I love to do. Even if it's a brief encounter, you can learn so much about a culture by talking to the locals. This woman was set up on a roadside on our way in to Rovinj, Croatia, where fruits are a major commodity. And she made the most of it. Her whole "stand" was filled with tons of dried fruit and homemade jams, which we left with plenty of. Lady knew what she was doing, because it was all delicious. Just by looking at her, you can tell she knows. The late afternoon light was just flooding in her stand, so I couldn't help but ask her for a portrait. Glad I did.
It's been a about a month since we left Istanbul, and I still can't make any sense of it. Not sure there is any point in trying either? Don't take that as a negative thing though. I couldn't be any happier that I went, but it's an exhausting place if you do it right. Istanbul is a city that never stops moving. With the exception of a few wee hours, the Turks are always hustling. And as a 6'5" American, I was a victim of that hustle. It's hard to knock it, but after a while, it definitely gets old. Rather than make myself look like an idiot by trying to describe Istanbul, here are some random thoughts on things that really stand out:
- Religion (Muslim) is bigger then anything else in the city
- The Muslim's are unapologetic about shoving their religion down your throat
- The "Call to Prayer" is played 5 times a day throughout the entire city and every town in Turkey. If you don't know what the Call to Prayer is, Google it
- Turkish Coffee and Tea are a big thing. Wherever you look, the men are drinking it together on little stools. Not chairs. Stools
- Turkish woman rarely leave their homes. And if they do, it's to buy groceries
- "Turkish Delight" is no joke. Before going to Turkey, I thought it was just a saying. It's not
- Turkey knows how to do Tomatoes. If you have a meal with tomatoes in it, chances are, that meal will be great
- Almost all of the street food is delicious
- The Mosque's scattered throughout the city are extremely impressive. Especially when you see all the detail up-close
- They are even more impressive when you realize that they were built in the 16th Century
- There are building in Istanbul dating back to the 5th Century
- Istanbul is awesome
I'm not going to say Dubrovnik is the best place I've ever been, but it's pretty damn solid. A lot of you nerds might recognize it as a filming location for Game of Thrones. I've personally never watched it, nor do I see that happening anytime in the near future. Anyway, Dubrovnik. Loved it. Out of all the towns we visited in Europe last month, this has to be at least tied with the tops. Had we been there a few months earlier, it probably would have been crawling with tourists? So mid October was a great choice. Our apartment was actually inside the walls of "Old Town", which made the experience that much better. Old Town was built some time in the 15th century, which you can probably tell from the pictures. It's an extremely unique town. Plenty to do, or not. Walking on top of the walls gives you a great view. And exploring the many alleys gives you a more intimate feel for how the city operates. There are no cars allowed inside the walls, so all the residents and business owners have to hump everything in. That includes any kind of construction materials or food supplies for restaurants. Speaking of, the meals were fantastic. Being on the Adriatic, you expect the seafood to be good. Well it was better then good. Never in my life have I eaten a better piece of swordfish. Don't think I even had to chew it.There really isn't much not to like about Dubrovnik. Very authentic, which is all you can ask for.
It's hard not to fall in love with Croatia. The more you explore, the better it gets. We drove from Dubrovnik, all the way up the coast of the Adriatic Sea, to Rovinj. And even if there was no Rovinj, the ride itself could have been the payoff. The coastline alone is gorgeous. And the seemingly never ending chain of islands is just icing on the cake. That route should be a requirement for everyone visiting Croatia. With the exception of a few small towns, It's completely desolate, with nothing to do but enjoy the view.
Then there is Rovinj. Right away you know it's a different place because people are speaking Italian. Turns out there are actually two official languages in Rovinj, Croatian and Italian. Which means you know there is going to be great food. Hence the reason why Anthony Bourdain is such a big fan. Do yourself a favor and get your grub on in at least one of the places he visited. You won't be disappointed. It general, it didn't seem like you could go wrong with the food, just by snooping around a little. We went out to Giannino's one night and let the waiter bring us whatever he wanted for every course. And he was on point with everything from the apps to the limoncello.
Side note: Rovinj is located on the Istrian Peninsula, which is known for their truffles. So this is the place to get them, it that's your thing. They have it all. Straight truffles. Truffle cheese. Truffle meat. Truffle oil. Truffle Vodka. Etc.