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.

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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.

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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?

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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). 

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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! 

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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!

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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.

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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.   

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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.

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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) 

West Texas Road Trip Part 2 | Marfa Photographer

This is the second part of a blog post about my trip to West Texas, back in November. If you missed the first part, you can check it out here

Since we were down in West Texas, we wanted to explore more than just Big Bend so we planned a day to stay in Marfa. I stumbled across El Cosmico a few months ago and as soon as I saw photos, I knew that I had to stay at this spot. It’s a bit of a hippie hotel experience and the option to stay in a teepee is my idea of camping!  

On the way from Alpine to Marfa we decided to check out Fort Davis Mountains State Park. I’d heard that there was some nice hiking here as well and since it was on the way, we gave ourselves a few hours to hike here. The terrain was steeper and rougher than the trail we hiked in Big Bend and as someone really afraid of heights it was nerve wracking, but we did it! And though the views were not as majestic as those in Big Bend, they were very impressive. The terrian is so different, just an hour away from the park. It felt more like the Texas desert. From the peak you can see into Mexico and the mountain ranges further south, which is pretty cool! The Indian Lodge that serves as lodging in the park is just beautiful, it would be so fun to come back and stay there and to go to the McDonald Observatory as well.

After the hike, we drove the scenic loop through the mountains and it was impressive. I really could have stopped every 10 minutes to take photos. The mountains were giant rocks jutting out of the earth and below them cattle grazed in brush and trees. The landscape varied from flat desert, to trees with fall colors, to towering rocky mountains. During that one hour drive I think we saw maybe 3 other cars on the road. Safe to say the only people living out here are cattle ranchers and true Texas cowboys. Unfortunately, our pleasant drive was interrupted by a car sick Louis (no photos of that, fortunately). But, by the time we made it to Marfa he seemed to be feeling much much better and after some intensive cleaning we checked into our little teepee.

I absolutely loved staying at El Cosmico and I can’t wait to do it again! I will say fall/winter is not the best time to stay if you hate the cold. It was pretty cold and the bathrooms (and showers) are all outdoors, so, yeah - I froze. Fortunately, the teepee is heated with a propane fire, so we were cozy while we slept! We sat outside the teepee, while Louis slept and enjoyed some wine & the beautiful night sky. Even with the town of Marfa close by, there were so many stars to see!  

On our way out of Marfa we made a pitstop to see the Prada store. If you aren't familiar with this, its a real sized Prada store front out in the middle of nowhere. Literally, NOWHERE. But, we were all the way in West Texas, so we figured, we had to. It was quiet something to see a store sitting on the side of this empty road, just a few miles from the Mexican border! Teresa and I had to have a little photo-op, of course! 

The drive back to Dallas was a long trip, but totally worth it! I am just enamored with West Texas and I can’t wait to go back! As a photographer, its just a dream location to shoot, so I’ve been fantasizing about styled shoots out in the desert or maybe even shooting a Marfa wedding!

Check out my favorite shots below. I shot a little film while I was there as well! Can you tell which ones are film?