Austria and lessons learned from travel.

 I've had a lot of love for Europe for a long time, and even more after completing this recent trip to Austria.  Don't get me wrong, I love America and have a lot of pride for this country. But every time I visit Europe, I find myself saying "they have it figured out over here". There just seems to be a whole lot less bullshit, and the people have a much more relaxed outlook on life. Walk around Vienna, take a couple rides on the U-Bahn, and tell me you're not somewhat embarrassed of how disgusting most of America is? You'd have a hard time finding a piece of garbage on the street in Vienna. And the subway platforms are almost clean enough to eat off of. Sort of a double edged sword, as the grit in America is a lot of what I'm drawn into photographically. Still though, our biggest and most popular cities (NYC+LA) are fucking filthy. Trash everywhere. 

As is any trip worth remembering, this one was an adventure. Traveling in all forms will teach you valuable lessons whether you realize it immediately or not. We flew on Air Berlin which was our first mistake, as we later found out that they are bankrupt. I'm not a genius, but maybe if they had working WIFI on the flight for people to purchase, they could turn over a few extra euros? That's just one bullet point I'd throw in if asked to make a power point presentation. Not that I really care, but you don't see British Air having problems with their WIFI!  We made it to Salzburg fine, but our luggage, not so much. The whole system of trying to get your bags located was prehistoric, but finally after 7+ days, they were back in our hands. Again, not the end of the world. Although most people would probably disagree with you. We weren't necessarily that upset about not having our bags as we were thinking about having to replace everything that was in them. During the trip it sucks taking time and money to go buy the necessaries, but something you just shut up and do. Deal with it and make the most of your trip. The biggest lesson we learned after dealing with Air Berlin's bullshit for 7+ days, is that there really is no reason to ever check a bag again. How much stuff do you really need on a trip? Not much. There now is no question that everything we could possibly need can fit in a backpack and you're one given piece of carry-on luggage. Think about all the times you've packed for a trip and never end up using half of what you stuffed in there? That's almost every trip that every human being on the planet has ever taken. Let's not even discuss the photography equipment that I take on a trip. If you just focus on the necessaries, it works in just your carry on. Couple t-shirts, socks, boxers, jeans, shorts, sandals/bathing suit(seasonal), and a nice shirt or two for dinner are the basics. On top of that, all you need is a warm layer, a shell raincoat (just incase), and your toiletries. A great pair of sneakers are key, but those are already on your feet. Add on a nice pair of shoes if you really need them. We always stay in Airbnb's or VRBO's, which often have washing machines, so doing laundry isn't any issue. Even when they don't, wash your laundry in the sink. It's easy, just takes a little bit of thinking. Checking luggage is out. All it does is slow you down. 

As you can see from our route on the map, we covered a lot of ground. One of the phenomanal things about Europe is how easy it is to travel between countries. Almost without slowing down at the "border" we took little side trips into Hungary and Slovenia. Anyway, good times over there. Will be posting more on this soon. For now, go do yourself a favor and throw out that huge old suitcase sitting in your closet.  


Venice, Italy

When a local in Rovinj, Croatia told us we were only a 2.5 hour car ride from Venice, we had no choice but to go. You just don't turn down that opportunity. So we woke up early one morning and did it. Crossing the border couldn't be easier. And from Rovinj, you actually go through the country of Slovenia as well. Which in all honesty, I didn't even know existed. Anyway, if you stay off the highway, the drive takes you right through Italian wine country. So yeah, you'll never forget the ride. The kind of country where you see old houses completely covered in vines. Postcard kind of thing. Then you park and take a boat out to Venice, and have no choice but be impressed. The city is made up of 118 islands, that are seperated by canals, and linked by bridges. Just thinking about how the place was built, blows my mind. Seeing all this beauty comes at a price though. And that's dealing with boat loads of tourists, literally. There were 5 cruise ships in the Venice harbor when we pulled in. 5 cruise ships! That many idiots packed into one place sorta takes away from all the romance that is Venice. Deal with it for a few hours though, they all get back on the boat, and Venice becomes a different city. Much more intimate. There are so many layers, that keep un-peeling the more you explore. And in my opinion, everything gets better the farther you get away from the Grand Canal. Which in itself is undeniably impressive, but there is so much more to offer elsewhere. I probably don't need to bother saying that you'll find tons of good food and wine in Venice? My only regret is not having more time here. Guess we'll just have to go back. 


Rob Hammer