Travel Photography – Capturing the Essence of Your Destination

One of the best compliments I get on my travel photos is that I’ve “really captured the essence of the location.” When I hear that I know I succeeded at what I set out to do. Taking “nice” photos (and by nice I mean well-composed, technically correct, in focus shots) is something that goes without saying. No matter what you’re shooting these things are a requirement. You can travel anywhere and take endless “nice” shots. Whether or not they give the viewers a true glimpse into what it was like to be in your shoes in another story. The goal is to stimulate the viewers senses to the point where they feel like they themselves traveled right along side you.

Lobster bouys

Balancing rocks on the beach

lighthouse on Monhegan Island, MaineIn many ways, your camera gives you super powers. You have the power to dictate the lasting impression people will have of the places that you photograph. The scenes that you shoot, the mood you create when you shoot them, and what you ultimately decide to show to represent your trip makes all the difference in the resulting impressions.

sunrays behind the lighthouse Monhegan Maine

Rusted chain against the rocks

Looking out a gallery window.

When you travel to different places you get a feel for the locale by walking around and meeting the locals. Every city has a story and it’s your job to tell it. You have the advantage of seeing things at all angles. You see the good, the bad, and the sometimes ugly. What you decide to show should represent the overall feeling and vibe that you experienced.

Life ring and rusted chain hanging from a tree.

Oars laying in a dingy.

Oars leaned up against the wall.

I recently re-visited the artsy little island of Mohegan. The island is all about art, fishing, relaxing, and being transported to a simplier way of life. I wanted my photos to portray art, beauty, peacefulness, etc. I hope I nailed it . . . and made you want to visit the place.

Reflection of lighthouse in window.

Lobster traps and lobster boat.

monhegan-14

Maine Puffin Adventure

There are a lot of cool things to do here in Maine, but seeing the puffins has to be one of the coolest. From the moment I laid eyes on photos of puffins I couldn’t stop thinking about them. I just had to find a way to see them up close and personal and thanks to my awesome new friends my dream became a reality.

It was about six months ago when I got the email invite to take a trip all the way up to Machias, ME to go on a puffin tour. Back then we were still living in CT and the whole thing seemed so far away, both in distance and in time. We booked the trip when there were feet of snow on the ground and Machias seemed like a world away. But by the time July rolled around Machias was just over 2 hours from home. We were so close to seeing the puffins that the excitement was hard to bare.

I’m still thanking my lucky stars, not only for getting the invitation to join my friends, but for the fact that everything worked out so perfectly. Not only was the weather impeccable, but the seas cooperated just enough for us to make the island landing. Not every tour gets this lucky and in fact there were several flat out cancellations in the weeks prior to our trip and many other tours that made it out to the island, but were not able to make landfall. Our trip was very sketchy, but our captain did everything possible to get us on shore safely.

Here’s a map of where we took off from in Cutler, ME and Machias Seal Island where our destination was.

Map
As soon as you got close to the island you can see the birds swarming. It was an amazing site.

Machias Seal Island
It took just under an hour to motor out through the open ocean. The swells were huge and although that made for a cool boat trip, it was going to make for a very shaky landing. We had to transfer from the boat to a small dingy to come ashore.

DSC_0003
And making it from the dingy to the shore without getting soaked was quite the challenge, but we all did it safely. Camera gear and all.

Machias Seal Island
This is the only island where you are allowed to actually come ashore to see the birds and it’s set up for this viewing. Here we are waiting to be taken inland along the boardwalk.

Machias Seal Island
There are little blinds that are perched in various locations that allow spectators to watch the birds without disturbing them. Here’s where we camped out.

DSC_0063
From the point when we got inside the blind the show immediately started. There were birds everywhere! You heard the constant pitter patter of their adorable feet on the roof and no matter where you pointed your camera you were bound to get a great shot.

Maine PuffinsMaine Puffins
Maine PuffinsMaine PuffinsI couldn’t resist this shot because the bird reminded me of myself with the itchy ears!

I was officially in my glory.

DSC_0096
On the ride back to Cutler we just sat back soaking in the sun and sights and counted our blessings for how great the whole adventure turned out.

IMG_4801

To see more photos of the adventure please click play on the video below:

A Walk Through Acadia

We lucked out with another great weather day and after resting up from our early morning sunrise expedition we laced up our hiking shoes and headed for the trails. I never set out to photograph anything on the hiking trails before because I never wanted to carry heavy equipment. It’s hard enough just getting me up those mountains, let alone cameras and lenses.

I’m so happy that we were with some photographer friends because it allowed my husband and I the opportunity to explore trails that we never would have on our own. Normally we can’t be bothered walking on flat trails. If there’s no big climb with soaring views we sometimes have little interest. So this was the perfect chance to get a different perspective on the park.

We stayed on the low lands and took a close look at nature. I found the time to notice little frogs.

untitled-668 And pretty dragonflies.

untitled-687
untitled-684

I even captured some dragonfly porn!

untitled-698
I took the time to notice some little details that I don’t normally see.

untitled-703 And found beauty in simplicity.

untitled-744 untitled-705
untitled-734 I swear on any normal hike I would have never even noticed an open grassy area. I mean how boring is that? Wrong. It was beautiful and I must have taken dozens of pictures in this one spot and no two photos look alike.

untitled-718 IMG_4835 I even had fun just making abstract art out of the grass.

untitled-738 Then we discovered this gorgeous wooden boardwalk that seemed to go on forever.

IMG_4836 When the boardwalk did eventually end it brought us to this amazing grove of birch trees. Who doesn’t love birch trees?

untitled-763-Edit-Edit_HDR We must go back to the is exact spot in the fall. We loved this spot so much we just didn’t want to leave and spent all kinds of time goofing around taking group photos. Here’s another group shot taken by Tara.

10497871_10204438977157726_5917650636164689307_o On the way back to the car we walked through some pretty gardens and caught a pop of color and here and there.

untitled-785 untitled-699 It was hard to get back into the car and head for home. First we needed one more pit stop in Bar Harbor where we grabbed a quick lunch. Here’s our final parting shot. Good bye Bar Harbor. See you again soon.

IMG_4839 How sweet it is to have less than a 2 hour commute back home. And it’s even sweeter that our “Maine vacation” didn’t have to end when we got home. I couldn’t resist taking one more artsy phone pic here at “home.”

IMG_4859

Beyond the Puffins

Last weekend’s road trip was mostly about the puffins, but we also had a blast exploring more parts of Maine. Because Cutler wasn’t far enough away, we decided to continue East until we ran out of coastline. I think my car was sad to come this far, so close to Canada, but not actually cross the boarder. At least I gave it some time to gaze over across the water and wave to the Canadian Lighthouse.

IMG_4804 Our gang stopped at a cute little place for lunch. There was positively no cell service in this area so here’s the scene at lunch when we figured out that the restaurant had free wifi.

IMG_4807 After getting our fill of emails, Facebook, and lunch our next destination was to Monica’s chocolates. I never heard of the place, but apparently it’s pretty famous with chocolate to die for. They offered samples of their decadent truffles.

IMG_4816 I managed to squeak in a taste before the french fries that I ate during lunch decided that they hated me. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise because I had no interest in all the rest of the temptations.

IMG_4815 Now it was time to head back and make a bee line to our most favorite place on Earth – Acadia National Park. It was a long, but beautiful drive and I’m not sure who was having the most fun: my husband relaxing in the passenger seat, me behind the wheel of my MINI, or my MINI itself! It was a great drive that we are longing to go back and do on the motorcycle.

We finally arrived in Bar Harbor with just enough light left in the sky to snap a few photos.

untitled-259 untitled-247_HDR Then it was time for dinner and boy did we have a great time at the Side Street Cafe. That place is a for sure repeat visit and I already can’t wait to go back. By the time we walked out it was dark and that meant it was time for funky phone photos.

IMG_4823 IMG_4824

And a little motorcycle “art.”
IMG_4822
IMG_4821 As much as I dreaded getting up the next morning at 4 something AM I just couldn’t miss sunrise at Cadillac Mountain. I knew I wouldn’t enjoy shooting it, but you really can’t visit Acadia as many times as we have and NOT partake in this amazing experience of seeing the sun come up before just about anyone else in the USA.

10275398_10204448518116244_290916543264914693_o

Thanks Tara for the great photo!

Escape to Mexico, Third Edition

Mexico2014-63

It took me years to convince my husband to visit Mexico and now that he’s been there, it’s hard to drag him away. If he had it his way he would just stay in the ocean for the rest of his life. I can understand. I’m not at all a water person. In fact, it’s normally near impossible to get me into any body of water. I even complained on some occasions about having to get into the hot tub, but for some reason I love the beaches in the Mexican Riviera. The color is amazing, the sand is heavenly, and the water temps are bearable. Well, almost bearable. I might stay in the water all day too if I could tolerate it. Just the fact that I can get into it means it’s pretty darn warm, but it doesn’t take me long to get cold and have to get out in search of dry land and full sun. We got a kick out of watching our snorkeling footage to see all the huge goosebumps all over my skin. Leave it to me to freeze in Mexico. This just proves that I’m going to freeze anywhere I go so why not go to Maine?

IMG_3310 So my husband had an aversion to visiting Mexico and I had an aversion to beach vacations and yet this is our third consecutive Mexican winter break. We just love it and I can’t even explain it. It’s so not our style nor our speed. The first year we used Jessica as the excuse to do it. We really did it for her because we knew she would love it. Last year we used my neck recovery as an excuse. I needed to just kick back and relax for a week. This year we made a very last minute decision to take this vacation because we knew that this was likely our only shot at taking a real vacation this year. There was some comfort in knowing exactly what we were getting ourselves into and also some comfort in knowing we were taking a relatively inexpensive vacation. It still wasn’t easy to break our “If it’s not for the new house we can’t buy it” rule, but I’m really glad we did.

mexico So now that we made three excuses for taking what we would normally consider a “lame vacation” we have officially decided that we love it and we want to continue the tradition as many years as we can. We even, dare I say, discussed looking at real estate (just for future reference).

Mexico2014-26 It’s just so amazing how comfortable and content we feel in a place that we never dreamed we would be drawn to. The locals are so incredibly friendly and they are really set up to cater to US tourists. English is widely spoken by everybody and you can even use US dollars just about everywhere. In fact, on our last day we needed more cash and every single ATM machine spit out US dollars exclusively. It was a challenge to find one that dispensed pesos.

Mexico2014-10 Last year we pretty much stayed directly on 5th Ave which is lined with every sort of tourist trap known to man. Restaurants, bars, boutiques, souvenirs, shopping galore . . . along with endless tour companies trying to lure you in. We strolled through just about every shop and ate at a different 5th Avenue restaurant every night. Although the atmosphere was always awesome it wasn’t until this year that we discovered the food was not nearly as good on 5th Ave as it was a block or two away. Not sure if we just got braver because the place was so familiar or we were striving to spend less, but this year we ventured off the famous 5th Ave and discovered a whole new world. The best part of venturing away from 5th Avenue is that you all of a sudden feel like you’re in Mexico as opposed to being on the main drag where it feels like you’re in Epcot center. It was a nice change to be more emerged into the culture. The bonus was that the food was twice as good for half the price.

IMG_3296 One of our favorite places that we stumbled across was the Crepa Cabana. What caught our eye was the enormous tubs of Nutella on display all over the cute little hole in the wall. The owner was so awesome. Not only did he ham it up for me when I wanted to video document the making of the crepe, but he also let my husband do a little faux cooking for the camera.

IMG_3305 That crepe had to be the highest fat and calorie content food item I ever saw. It had about 2 bananas, 1/4 cup of cinnamon sugar and a 1/2 gallon of Nutella inside. One bite and I was jittery, but my husband managed to chow down the entire thing. That was an accomplishment for sure.

IMG_3307 Another huge step for us this year was not getting a rental car. We always shy away from public transportation, mostly because we just plain suck at it. I would have hoped that my European husband would know his way around the trains in Europe, but no, we got lost and got on the wrong trains, etc. It’s always very stressful for us. But again, Mexico makes it so easy for the tourists. The public transportation is easy and cheap. We took a shuttle from and to the airport and we even took the public “Collectivos” to travel to our favorite little snorkeling spot in Akumal Bay. The ride was about 25 minutes and it only costs $60 pesos each way for the both of us. That is about 5 US bucks! It couldn’t be easier because the shuttle vans run every 5 minutes (or less) and there’s only one road going up and down the coast. It is impossible to get on the wrong one.

Mexico2014-87 As always Akumal didn’t disappoint and the snorkeling was terrific. The beach is lined with palm trees so you can easily find yourself some shady spots to set up for the day. We were completely comfortable leaving all of our belongings (including my camera, money, credit cards, etc) on our towels as we swam. Last year we rented lockers, but again, this year we were just more comfortable in our surroundings. We saw tons of big sea turtles and even a few sting rays. Another huge leap for me was snorkeling without a life jacket. And I did this more than once. First in Cozumel and then in Akumal. I’m not even sure I recognize myself these days. I’m getting so brave!

Mexico2014-50
In Cozumel we took a guided snorkel trip that required me to jump off the side of the boat. I must say I was not all too pleased with this situation, but I did it. And not only did I do it three times, but later we found a little beach to do some private snorkeling and I got into water that my husband thought was cold! I guess I figured if I could jump off a boat this wouldn’t be so bad.

Mexico2014-48 Cozumel is my favorite place to snorkel and visit while in Mexico. The water is even more spectacular than on the main land and it’s easy to scoot all around on scooters. The traffic isn’t too bad, the scenery is always awesome, and the weather couldn’t be more perfect. We never experienced any humidity and everywhere you go there are ocean breezes. Oh and I mention that there’s not much air conditioning? Definitely a huge plus.

Mexico2014-90 And speaking of weather, we were there for 8 days and we got 8 perfect carbon copy days of mid 80s sunshine. You just can’t beat it and I don’t even think I even want to bother trying. I’m sold on Mexico and it’s where I hope to spend a lot more time in the future.

Buen día.

Mini Maine Vacation – Part 2

We left Portland about 2 minutes before getting a parking ticket. We literally ran past the parking attendant to get to our car before he did. Phew. From there it was a short drive to Freeport and we just had to stop for some shopping and dining. We had a ball walking through LLBean where my husband found a new toy that suits him to a T.

IMG_2562
After a great seafood lunch and some shopping we hopped back in the car for our last leg of the trip to Rockland. It sure was beautiful to drive through all the quaint coastal towns at the peak of the foliage. It was simply gorgeous. Just as we got into Rockland the building clouds decided to part and let the late afternoon sun beam down. We decided to make a dash up to our land because we never saw it in the afternoon light before. There is no doubt that we are looking forward to seeing it during every minute of the day.

Portland_Rockland-26It was time to check in to the campground and get settled in. Luckily we didn’t have to actually pitch a tent, but instead opted to rent a little log cabin. This pleased me greatly. Sometimes it’s a luxury just to be able to stand up when you get out of bed. Finding out there was electricity . . . well that was just icing on the cake!

The best part of our new digs was the fact that it was right on the ocean. We could hear the waves crashing at night and every morning we had our breakfast in this little private area with some pretty sweet views. I have to say, it was hard to move from this nice sunny spot every morning.

IMG_2614But we had to motivate ourselves because we had some exploring to do. We wanted to get more familiar with the area that would someday be our home. We headed over to Owls Head, which is just a short 10 minute drive. We visited the lighthouse and walked around the beautiful little secluded beach.

Portland_Rockland-37

untitled-17

Portland_Rockland-44

Portland_Rockland-46One important thing we wanted to accomplish while there was to check out the local hiking spots. We are so spoiled right now with tons of hiking options – not to mention the fact that one of our favorite trails is literally in our backyard. It’s going to be hard to give that up and we needed the piece of mind of knowing that we didn’t have to travel too far for good hiking. Well, this is what we discovered only a couple of miles from our land. I could see us packing lunch and hiking up to this spot every day!

IMG_2575We kept ourselves very busy for 4 days. I was concerned about not having a proper hotel room to come back to and what would we do if we got bored, but that was never an issue. Every day was jam packed with things to do. And when and if there was a free moment it was easy to grab our cameras and find something pretty to point our lens at. That is super easy to do around there. I can see this lighthouse and breaker becoming another favorite spot. We walked out one evening for sunset and Karlo got a chance to practice shooting moving objects. The seagulls were good sports and, for the most part, posed for him.

Portland_Rockland-32I just loved the late day light. Nothing beats it for portraits. Even I can take a nice people picture in this light.

Portland_Rockland-36One of the locals happened to mention that there were seals out on the distant rocks. This is a terrible picture, but if you look close you can see a big white seal on one of the rocks.

Portland_Rockland-29We liked it so much we came back the next morning for sunrise. You gotta love shooting sunrises in mid October because it allows me to actually “sleep in.” We walked the entire two miles out to the lighthouse and back before the sun was fully up.

Portland_Rockland-52I’m looking forward to watching many more sunrises from that spot.

Mini Maine Vacation – Part 1

I was supposed to be spending an entire week in Maine this past week for another Maine Media Workshop. My heart broke when the news came in that the class was canceled. This one of my Bucket List items that I’ve been wanting to do and finally decided to go for it. All that thinking, all that planning, and then it was taken away. What a bummer. But since I had the week off from work I decided to twist my husband’s arm into taking some vacation time along with me so we can do some playing.

Our little adventure started on Saturday and to my delight I discovered that Saturday was the official worldwide Scott Kelby Photo Walk. This is where photographers all over the globe get together in small groups to walk around designated places to take photos. What a great way to start off our my husband’s new interest in photography.

Portland_Rockland-7We headed out nice and early and made it to Portland, Maine where it just so happens that my old photographer buddy “Other Scott” – not to be confused with the real Scott Kelby – was hosting a walk. It was great, not only to reunite with him after not talking to him for so long, but also to watch my husband have a little fun with his camera. I can tell already that he’s taking a liking to this and I couldn’t be happier.

Portland is a super cute little city right on the water with cobblestone streets and hip little shops and cafes. As far as cities goes it totally gets our approval and it wasn’t hard to try to find interesting things to take photos of.

Portland_Rockland-6-364x550

One of the most interesting things we stumbled upon was a piece of the actual Berlin Wall. I took many shots, but something about the simplicity of this one appealed to me.

Portland_Rockland-9

There was no shortage of nautical things everywhere you turned.

Portland_Rockland-10

Portland_Rockland-2-364x550

There was also not shortage of interesting looking people.

Portland_Rockland-11

Since we were actually on an “art walk” I couldn’t resist snapping this photo of the newspaper.

Portland_Rockland-15

When I got bored with the nautical and the people watching I started looking closer at the details. That’s when I looked down at my feet and found some cool shots right on the ground.

Portland_Rockland-8

Portland_Rockland

As it turns out my husband seems to be gravitating more toward taking photos of people which surprised me. Right now he seems to be practicing a lot with me as his subject, but if that what’s it takes to get him to shoot I’ll pose and say “Cheese.”

untitled

Well there’s no doubt . . . even after just one short afternoon in Maine I was ready to buy this shirt, but really . . . who would wear a shirt that says, “I love me”!?!?

Portland_Rockland-24

New England Rocks

It seems to take me going to photography workshops to fully appreciate the true beauty of New England. If fact, I have to credit the workshop that I attended last Fall for making me want to stay in New England rather than run off to Colorado like we were so very ready to do. I told Karlo that it was fate and I was meant to be sitting in Vermont with a bunch of strangers one night talking about how simply perfect New England was. Every word that was exchanged effected me so deeply that the first chance I got I had to have a heart-to-heart with my husband and it went something like this . . . “I can’t leave New England. It’s where I belong!” Luckily he didn’t put up too much of a fight and we stopped looking at real estate in Colorado and focused our attention on Maine. I’m so grateful for that workshop one year ago and as I was in nearly the same shoes this past weekend I just knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that we made the right decision.

Last Thursday me and my Mini took a nearly 6 hour drive up to Northern New Hampshire. I can’t say that I was looking forward to the long lonely drive, but to my surprise it was awesome. It was a fast and easy cruise up to the Merrimack outlets where I stopped for a break to stretch my legs and use the rest room. Yah, that’s it . . . that’s why I stopped there . . . not to shop or anything. One hot awesome new winter coat (that I so did not need) later I hopped back into Coop and off we went. Before I knew it we were at the base of the White Mountains and that’s when the leaves came alive. It had to be peak foliage and from there all the way up to my destination (another 3 hours north) it was nothing short of spectacular. No more highway – just winding twisting perfect Mini Cooper roads. I loved every minute of it. Well, until I lost my GPS signal. Those were some scary and frustrating minutes, especially when that means no cell service either. In fact, there was never any cell service anywhere around there. Talk about roughing it . . . 10 high tech photographers with no cell connectivity for 4 days. Not easy.

Northern NH-2We stayed in a gorgeous log cabin right on one of the Connecticut Lakes. Who knew that there were 3 “Connecticut Lakes” in Northern NH? That had to be some of the nicest scenery I ever seen – anywhere – and I’ve seen some pretty amazing places. There is just nothing that can compare to the quintessential New England scenery during the Fall. It can literally take your breath away.

Northern NH-4I so enjoyed myself for four straight days of picture taking. Lord knows I can never get enough of playing with my cameras. The group of people that attended the workshop were all super and, as always, I instantly made a bunch of new friends (even with some Canon shooters) 😉

Northern NH-9The theme of the workshop was “Nature” and I sort of struggled with that. I was among some amazing wildlife photographers that had lenses bigger than my car. Believe me, it’s not easy to stand next to them with my rinky dink 300mm lens when I can barely get a slow moving duck in focus as they are capturing birds flying through the air tack sharp. Sigh.

Northern NH-5

This is when I just resolved myself to the fact that everyone has their niche and mine will never be wildlife. I don’t excel at shooting things that move. Period.

Northern NH-3But I do pride myself on my creative eye and finding art where others don’t see much of anything. Some folks can stand at the side of a lake for hours and wait for their subjects to ‘fly in’ and then capture them. With my attention span that could never work for me. I would rather go on my “treasure hunt” and create the photos. Where there’s a will there’s a way, but I can’t will a creature to appear for me. If I could I would have come home with lots of moose pictures!

Northern NHInstead I came home with some nice artsy fartsy pictures. I had to laugh when I realized that after 4 days and hundreds upon hundreds of photos I had almost no “nature” photos at all. I have to throw a few in here just to prove that I did at least try.

Northern NH-6

Northern NH-7

Northern NH-11

The very very best part of this entire trip was coming home to talk to my husband about it. My heart broke when he emailed me to tell me that he missed me and wanted to drive his motorcycle up on Saturday and spend the night with me. I was staying in the “girl cave” and it just wasn’t going to work so I had to tell him no. It broke my heart and that’s when I starting thinking about how nice it would be if photography was also his passion. How does he know he wouldn’t love it if he never tries it? I fantasized about going to workshops with him rather than always feeling guilty taking off without him. After expressing all this to him to my surprise he said he’s game. He wants to try it!!! I am positively over the moon at the thought of being able to share my passion with him and I’m so excited to get him started. I can already tell that my “photography cabinet” will have to be expanded.

Footnote: As I was composing this blog entry my husband called me from Chicago. He’s on a business trip and I shipped him out with an old DSLR body and one lens for him to start to get the feel of things. He called to tell me that he “didn’t have the right lens.” Oh boy did I have to laugh at that one. Welcome to my world. Maybe now you can finally relate to the story of my life! Lenses are like shoes, you can never have enough . . .

9 Islands in 7 Days (Part 3)

From Kea it was back to where we started from on the mainland to complete our Island Hopping tour. It’s amazing how fast a week can go, which is why we were thrilled to continue our trip to yet another island – Aegina. This one we traveled to by high-speed ferry and was only a 40 minute ride. The island of Aegina is best known for its pistachios and they were everywhere you turned. I was in Heaven.

pt3-6We toured this island extensively, first by bicycle and then again by scooter, leaving nothing un-explored. Taking another Island Hopping ride was a true bonus and we were very grateful for the generosity of our guides letting us freeload on the next week’s tour group. As always we did some climbing and were treated to some views, but this time we also got to visit a very cool ancient archeological site. I was thrilled to see just how in tact it was.

pt3-2

pt3-3Once we got our hands on a couple of scooters we combed just about every mile of the island during what was the most spectacular scooter ride of my life. I think the views speak for themselves and say it all.

pt3-4

pt3-5Another fun highlight of the day was seeing storks – real live storks. I have to admit that up until this point I was never even really sure if storks were real birds or just made up creatures like Santa Claus that brought babies rather than gifts. Well, come to find out they are real and they are beautiful. Seeing these huge birds soar was incredible. If you happened to have read my review of my new camera I made a comment like, “If you happen to stumble across a unicorn, the ultra digital zoom would be appropriate to use.” Well the stork was my unicorn and I activated my “should-never-be-used” digital zoom to grab this shot from a distance.

pt3-7So in summary . . . we biked for 7 days, visited 9 different islands, sailed for over 30 hours, climbed over 9,000 feet of elevation, met 20 new friends, ate an enormous amount of pistachios, and aged our skin over 10 years while having the time of our lives in one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

I made a little video to serve as a more animated and visual summary of the trip . . .

The snapshots used in this video can also be viewed via an online album.

For more information on the Island Hopping vacations, please visit www.islandhopping.com

9 Islands in 7 Days (Part 2)

pt2-11

Our next island hop was to Mykonos which was positively beautiful (as if all the others weren’t) and was definitely one of my favorites. We had to dingy from the sailboat into the town which itself was an adventure. Once everyone was on shore we did a walking tour where our guides told us all about the island and took us to all the neat spots. My favorite story was about how the island got its mascot – Petros the Pelican. How lucky were we to spot him in two different places?

pt2-3

pt2-2Another highlight of the island was the windmills which are no longer working, but still a cool sight. Maybe this island was my favorite because we only shopped, strolled, ate, and took photos – no pedaling or hill climbing required.

pt2Next we had a real treat visiting an important ancient site on the island of Delos. According to Greek mythology the God Apollo and his twin sister Artemis were born here. At one time this was the center of the world and its was positively amazing to learn all about this civilization that was created in the 4th century BC. Suddenly I became interested in history. I just couldn’t believe what I was looking at and the stories that I was hearing. How could people have engineering such amazing structures way back then without the tools and technology that we have today?

pt2-5

pt2-4It was a short visit on Delos and then we sailed to Tinos. This island is known for their doves. The landscape is filled with beautiful dove castles, ornately decorated bird houses, where thousands of doves live and fly freely all over the island. I was so inspired that I too wanted to fly. It would have been much easier than all that uphill pedaling, that is for sure.

pt2-6Once again, as always, the pay offers were great and the views spectacular as we coasted down the mountain. I guess this was our version of flying! On the long descents I tried to compose descriptive blog posts in my mind to try to share the experience of what I was seeing and feeling, but unfortunately none of the brilliance was stored in my memory. I think this falls under the “words just can’t describe it” category. Or maybe I just need to be a far more talented writer than I am in order to do it any justice at all. This is the closest I can come to sharing some of the experience with you. Sorry for the poor quality.

From Tinos we sailed to Kea which is the most Westerly inhabited Cyclades Island. Today we had a choice to either bike on the flat lands to the beach or straight up another mountain to the village of Ioulis. You would think that by now the uphill biking would be getting old, but without hesitation I picked the hilltop village. What would I do at the beach anyway?

pt2-8

pt2-12I’m so glad that we huffed it up yet another huge hill. The little village we visited at the top was among my favorites. The main attraction was a huge smiling lion which was chiseled from stone in the 6th Century BC. It was quite a nice walk through the alleyways that turned into a picturesque hiking trail to get to the lion and of course we were treated to the Greek mythology stories along the way. The entire hike offered great views and it was a nice treat to enjoy them on foot rather than zooming downhill on a bike.

pt2-9I loved seeing all the locals and visiting the bakeries and shops. It was in one particular artsy shop at the top of a very steep hill where I fell in love with a piece of artwork. I debated endlessly if we should buy it, but couldn’t decide. I had to first figure out where it would go in our house and then decide if we should spend the bucks on it (despite my husband insisting to “just get it.”) We left the shop empty handed and I continued to think about it all the way back down the hill. No sooner do we get to the bottom I announce, “OK, I want it!” My husband was such a good sport. He grabbed his bike and pedaled up that insanely steep hill (that nobody attempted to bike up) to get our souvenir.

pt2-10

Thank you Karlo, for the artwork and for the memories we made while buying it.