Saturday, November 5, 2011

Fall Break: Six Weeks Remaining

Well, here I am with approximately six weeks left until I'm headed back for the States. Even though it's only been a week or two since my last blog post, I feel like a lot has happened since then. First things first, I know some of you have already seen my Switzerland photos. For those of you who haven't, I'll catch you up on that experience.

It all started last Friday; my roommate Colin and I embarked on our journey to the greatest country in all of Europe (this is a blog, opinions are allowed after all), Switzerland. The travel there was long, boring, and a bit sketchy to be quite honest. Being in some of those train stations at 4am is not what I consider to be safe. But, we made it without a scratch on us. With our hour of waiting time at the Bologna station, I was able to snap this shot:

The camera didn't stay out long though. There were very few people there, but the ones that were kept giving me looks. The last few hours of traveling were a bit of a blur as I was in and out of consciousness for most of the duration of the last train connection from Milan to Spiez, Switzerland. But, the second I woke up and looked out the window, I thought I was dreaming for a moment.

Don't get me wrong, I've been to many places which would easily be considered beautiful. But Switzerland? If heaven existed on Earth, this would be it.

We eventually made it to our final destination, Lauterbrunnen, I quaint town nestled between the Alps. I couldn't have asked for a better place to stay. The temperatures were fantastic, the town and location was absolutely breathtaking, and everyone I confronted was beyond friendly. Being in Italy, I've gotten used to keeping my guard up, watching out for pick-pocketers, things to that extent. But here, it's different.

A view from the hostel. How am I not supposed to fall in love with this?

I won't go into detail explaining every single thing we did in Switzerland, but I will focus on some of the highlights. Beyond eating kilos and kilos of sausages, cheese, bread, and pastries, most of our time was spent exploring Lauterbrunnen with day excursions to close-by towns M├╝rren, Grindelwald, Interlaken, Stechelberg, and Grimmelwald. We also saw Tr├╝mmelbachfalle, a beautiful waterfall that flows through the mountain and visited Shilthorn, a nearly 3,000 meter summit of the alps.

I've been to Pikes Peak in Colorado already, twice, which is notably higher than Shilthorn. But, what I haven't done is walk off of the beaten path enough to get my heart racing a bit, to get the adrenaline pumping, and most importantly, to get the best photos. Rather than putting it into words, here's a photo of me in my element (a cellphone picture, but a photo nonetheless):

This photo is of me setting up my camera to take a self-portrait. It's not often I do a self-portrait, but it just felt necessary while up here. I generally hate photos of myself, but I'm really happy with this one (and another that will come later).

I could have spent an entire day there; the brisk but pleasant air was incredibly refreshing and the view certainly never got tiresome.

I couldn't have been any happier with this photo than I currently am. It's so perfect (well not perfect, but darn close). The bird came into frame right as I snapped it, the man is pointing across towards the mountains, and of course, there is a beautiful view. The combination of these elements create such a powerful image.

I'm not really sure how to sum up four days in Switzerland, it's no easy task by any means. A photo's worth a thousand words, right? So, let's have the photos speak for me instead; after all, photography is how I tend to document my travels here.

And one last photo, one of my personal favorites that I've ever shot:

Yepp, that worked much better than a monotonous explanation on my part, don't you think? As you can see, it's not hard to fall in love with a place so beautiful. After the journey (sadly) came to and end, I was off to Milano for one day. Nothing incredibly eventful happened there, but I got to see some of the more famous historical spots in Milano: mission accomplished. 

Finally, I made it back to Firenze Wednesday night. It was quite relieving to just get back and relax, and more importantly, edit through my photos so that I could bring them to you the way you see them above! 

While looking through them and editing, I noticed something; I've finally improved. It may sound like an obvious statement, but I've felt as if my photography has been lacking any significant improvement in the past year. But these photos gave me a renewed faith in my photography abilities. I've had more views on my flickr than ever, my facebook page is growing, and I even had two of my photos featured in flickr's Explore! (For those of you who don't know, Explore is flickr's program in which they chose 500 of the top photos uploaded each day. It's certainly an accomplishment to have a photo "Explored".) It's one of the most satisfying feelings I've come to know thus far in my life.

And that brings me to the next point. With fall break coming to a close in 1 day, I'm now approximately six weeks from departure. Shocked? I know I sure am. I've already been here for over 8 weeks, I've passed the half way point. In some ways I'm glad; I'll get to see my family, my friends, I'll get to drive my car again and re-familiarize myself with everything that I call home. But, on the other hand, once I'm gone, I'm not coming back: it's over. I'm ready for the first part but I'm not quite ready for the latter.

I'll certainly be making the best of the short amount of time I have left. I'll be going to Rome this upcoming weekend, (most likely) going to Sicily in two weeks after that, and at some point, going to Siena and Pisa. There may not be a lot of time left, but I'm definitely going to take advantage of what is left.

Hopefully I did an adequate job of filling all of you in on my past week or so. Having a glimpse of heaven on Earth and coming back to tell the tale is no easy task.

Thanks for reading, and as always, you can find the rest of my photos (and in higher resolutions) at my flickr page and be sure to follow me on facebook by liking my page, ML Photography!

Farewell, Switzerland. It's been a precious experience.


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