Austria Family Vacation Part 3 | Venice, Villach, Vienna

It was a long and exhausting drive from the Austrian Alps to Venice, mostly, because it was dark the entire 4 hour drive, but we made it to the Vaporetto station at 9 that evening and managed to get into our lovely little Airbnb and get Louis to bed before midnight! Waking up in Venice was absolutely stunning. The light was INCREDIBLE. The sky was clear blue but the light was soft and the city was illuminated with a rosy glow.


We stayed in a lovely Airbnb apartment with 2 bedrooms, a quirky Italian bathroom complete with a washing machine I couldn’t make sense of, a full kitchen and a huge terrace. Enjoying a cup of coffee and soaking in the early morning light and sounds on that terrace are what my dreams are made of. You could sit back and enjoy the rosy glow on the buildings or gaze over the edge and see the city awaken.


Louis has a book about Venice so he knew about some of the famous locations and definitely about the pigeon situation. So upon arriving in San Marco’s square, he enjoyed several vigorous sessions of chase with the pigeons and a lovely hot chocolate while we had coffees.


Sitting in the early morning San Marco sunlight, steam drifting out of our cups is a memory I won’t soon forget.  


We spent our day soaking in the architecture and the limited tourists (December is definitely a great time to go). Having a small child in tow, we knew that Venice would be lots of walking and wandering and just being in the city, which is what we did. We didn't have plans for lunch or sights to see, but the city is so walkable that it was easy to just stroll and find a lovely spot to eat or beautiful architecture or art to enjoy. 


We enjoyed an amazing lunch in a little piazza where Louis was able to chase the pigeons and try to lure the stray cats. We enjoyed some absolutely AMAZING food in this town, all of which we found just by coming across restaurants and checking their google reviews. There are definitely tourist traps, but just the appearance of a restaurant and their clientele, combined with verified reviews, allowed us to easily chose delicious morning pastries and espresso, cuttlefish pasta and carafes of house red wine, and of course a little gelato.


The following morning we woke to rain and mist and a beautiful Italian mass celebrating the feast of the Immaculate Conception at Santa Maria Glorisia dei Frari church. We enjoyed one final pizza and lugged our suitcases through the misty city to the vaporetto for one final ride down the canal.


Our next stop was the lovely little Austrian town of Villach, which was a drive of only a few hours. We were back in the cold and snow and mountains and we spent the evening drinking gluhwein, strolling through another market and feasting on Knödel. Tommy was able to catch up with his cousin, while I headed back to our hotel for a relax evening of Austrian beer and reading. On our final day, we woke up to another Austrian winter wonderland (which never gets old for me) to enjoy before driving back to Vienna, where we were greeted by brisk cold winds and a very whiny four year old. Unfortunately, due to our late arrival times and the very early sunset all I have from Villach and Vienna are iphone snaps, but the cities were covered in Christmas lights, the air was brisk, and the people were friendly. We arrived at our hotel on the last evening all exhausted (Louis fell asleep in the car while we were searching for a place to eat), but with suitcases to be repacked with beer and milka and souvenirs. Fortunately, the flight home was just as easy as the flight there, but after one very long day we were all happy to sleep in our very own beds.


This trip was such a learning experience for me. It rekindled my joy of travel and proved that traveling with Louis was a easy and truly memorable experience. As a photographer, it showed me how to better document our trips and the every day details really do count. We've been talking a lot about returning in the Spring and this time I won't be nearly as nervous!  

Austria Family Vacation Part 2 | Bad Gastein & Halstatt

After our brief but exciting evening in Salzburg we began our driving out of Austria on to Venice. On the way, we drove through the incredibly scenic Hallstatt.


The town of Hallstatt is a pretty popular tourist spot in Austria, based on the large amounts of buses and people snapping photos. And it's easy to see why! The village is full of lovely Bavarian architecture and it's nestled into majestic mountains (which we barely caught a glimpse of because of the clouds.


Sitting on the beautiful Hallstätter See, the calm crystal clear water reflects the majestic mountains. Like most bodies of water I've seen in Austria, this water is absolutely clear. You can see every little fish and rock perfectly. I imagine if not for the depth, you could see straight down to the bottom of the lake! 


We spent a couple of hours just walking around and enjoying the beauty, before jumping back in the car and driving to Bad Gastein, where Tommy’s uncle lives.


We weren’t quite sure what to expect of Bad Gastein, so we were pretty shocked to find such an amazing little town here and see the biggest mountains I’ve ever seen!


It was lovely to see so much beauty in this little town and to visit with Uncle Jim, who lives on top of a mountain with some pretty incredible views. Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay long, because we had to drive to Venice that evening! Fortunately, a little ways from Bad Gastein, there is a car train that takes you right through the mountains and saves quiet a bit of time. We made it there right before dark to travel on to Italy. 


Next week I'll be sharing the final leg of our trip - VENICE!  If you'd like to see the full gallery of trip photos, sign up here and I'll be releasing it on the last day of my blog post! 

Photos shot on: 

Pentax 645n, Nikon FE, and Canon 5d markii (and GoPro & iphone pics) 

Austria Family Vacation - Part 1 | Austrian Travel Photographer

Finally, FINALLY! It’s here! My Austria/Venice trip blog post!!! Yay! I hope you are all as excited to hear about it as I am to share it!  So, a little back story in case you don’t already know this…my husband grew up in a small town in Austria - Gaming.


He moved there (from San Antonio) when he was a little 8 year old and learned German and made Austrian and American friends, until he was 17 and returned to the US for college (which is where we meet). I had the amazing opportunity to have a study abroad semester in the same town he grew up in and I totally fell in love. In love with Gaming and it’s beautiful nature and charming houses, and with Austria and its culture, food, and people. We always assumed annual trips to Gaming would be part of our lives, but his parents unexpectedly moved back to America 15 years ago and we never returned, despite the fact that Austria is more home to him than America is.


Fast forward to present life, finally, we decided to go for it. After years of not being able to afford such a trip and then having a baby who become a toddler, we just could never commit to the trip. It’s not an easy one for a kiddo - 12+hours on a plane, not to mention the driving once you arrive in Austria. But in November we finally committed and bought tickets! There was definitely some concern on my part about how Louis would do on the flight and with the time change, along with moving to different hotels every few nights, but there was no need for worry at all! If you are even considering bringing your little kiddo on a big trip - do it! The experience wouldn’t have been have as fun without Louis’s excitement and wonder at everything we did. And yes - things did start to get more difficult as the trip wore on, but after 10 days of traveling, what can you expect?


We chose December, because we knew that Louis would absolutely love the snow and we also knew that Austria does Christmas and Advent so well that it would be fun to be there during this season. We started off with 2 days in Gaming. We hiked the Kirchstein, which is 1 mile hike up a hill overlooking Gaming. Louis hiked the entire thing by himself in the snow without a complaint (which is more than I can say for myself). 


The Carthusian monastery where I lived during my semester in Gaming was having their annual Christkindlmärkte, so we enjoyed gluhwein by the fire and watched the krampus invade the courtyard. Gaming isn’t much different than it was 15 years ago when I was last there and we were able to walk around and see what had changed and what was just like it was when we left. Louis for his part, loved nutella for breakfast and sausage or schnitzel, and he was very, very brave when the krampus came around. There was more snow than he'd ever seen and so much freedom to run through fields of snow. Watching him have so much freedom to be a child in nature, running free, brought me so much joy! 


Our third day we drove about 30 mins outside of Gaming to… for a day of snowboarding. Tommy grew up snowboarding almost everyday of the season, but I’ve only been one other time, so I’m no expert, and this was Louis’s first time. Since it was a Monday and the conditions were pretty snowy we had the whole baby slope to ourselves and Louis picked it up right away. While I have no good photos from this trip, I do have a few phone snaps and a great video!


After our time in Gaming, we drove out to Salzburg. We had a little time before dark to roam the city and we enjoyed a little Christmas shopping and some beautiful music at the Christkindlmarkt.


It was Krampus day when we arrived, so we knew that things might be a little scary for Louis, so we’d planned on avoiding any high traffic areas. If you don’t know what krampus are… they are demons that come to make you serve your penance before you are visited by the generous St. Nicholas. If you are a kid you get scared, if you are an adult you get beaten with wooden sticks. So yeah - a little weird and definitely terrifying. Most Austrians are even a little scared of the krampus as adults.   


Despite our planning, we ran into the parade of them in the city and it was quite something to see. Louis was very brave, though they really are scary. He even shook the hand of a little one (who was actually a 10 year old little girl) at the Augustiner brewery.


If you enjoyed this blog post, don't worry - there are two more coming full of pictures and info on our trip! If you'd like to see the full gallery of trip photos, sign up here and I'll be releasing it on the last day of my blog post! 


Photos shot on: 

Pentax 645n, Nikon FE, and Canon 5d markii (and GoPro & iphone pics)