Tag Archives: tourism

Travel Bloggers Unite Conference in Innsbruck

I’ve often wondered if the hills really were alive with music in Austria. Having grown up watching The Sound of Music to the point at which I had the conversations memorized and the songs always on my lips, it was a legitimate question in my mind.

I finally have my answer! After traveling to Innsbruck and Seefeld, I can assure you – the hills don’t sing. However, there is a symphony of sorts in the snow-capped mountains, green pastures and brilliant blue sky of Austria and its Alps. In the colorful streets of Innsbruck. In the flower-box-lined streets of Tirol.

I owe thanks to Oliver Gradwell of TBU, who flew me to Innsbruck so that I could photograph the events and share the joy of iPhoneography while teaching my fellow travel bloggers during a photo walk. It didn’t go exactly as I planned. None of TBU did, for me, yet all for the best. It was a week I’ll never forget, packed so full of experiences that by the time I was making my way back to New York through Amsterdam I could barely keep my eyes open even while standing, so sleep deprived and energy-drained was I. The classes taught were genuinely helpful and appropriate to the crowd on hand at the conference, several were scaled into different levels for varying levels of experience. The pitch-to-PR room was a smashing success and the evening events made me fear we travelers might drain Innsbruck of all its beer … we certainly gave it a good shot!

I’ll be doing a follow-up post on a few of the experiences I had in more detail. Yet, I couldn’t let any more time go by without thanking some of the people and organizations, besides Oliver, who made my trip so special!

  • Nicholas from Innsbruck Tourism who was so forthright and outgoing and who went out of his way to accomodate more than one blogger when things got sticky. I very much enjoyed sitting with him at dinner one night and hearing his frank thoughts on Austria, tourism and twitter. It has been fun to watch him be more active on twitter since TBU and I hope that was the positive influence we bloggers had on him during our visit?
  • Austrian Tourist Board who handled such a large amount of the logistics for all of us bloggers visiting Austria that I honestly don’t even know how to thank them.
  • Grauer Bär Hotel hosted the conference and all of the bloggers who spoke or taught during the conference. Thank you for giving us a home during our stay in Innsbruck!
  • Lilli Linsenmeyer from Seefeld Tourism, hosted myself and several other bloggers during our post-conference tour. Lilli was so delightful and really was the glue that made our stay so pleasant in Tirol. I cannot thank her enough for all she did for us and for all she helped us to experience. I dream about returning to Tirol weekly! Thanks Lilli.
  • Just a few of the bloggers I met for the first time at TBU, all whom I can’t wait to see again: Keith Jenkins, Melvin Boecher, John O’Nolan, Abigail King, Isabelle Kenis, Chris Richardson, Jools Stone.
  • Bloggers I saw again and never tire of: Andy Hayes (totally my partner-in-crime all week, big hugs to Andy for making sure I never ate a meal alone), Ken Kaminesky, Janice Waugh, Dylan Lowe.
  • There are so many more, if I typed out every name this post would be absurdly long. Thank you to everyone I met or saw again who made TBU a week I will never forget. See you in Umbria! If not before.

Though this trip was sponsored, as always, the views and opinions in this post are my own.



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Friday Five for 3.25.11

If you are on twitter and you somehow missed that there is a movement going on called Blog4NZ then I’m glad I am publishing this post. If you’re not on twitter and you don’t know about the blogger movement supporting bringing tourism back to New Zealand, I’m equally glad I am doing this post. If you are completely aware of Blog4NZ you can move on … or, enjoy my five favorite posts from the project that took place this week. There were quite a number of posts to wade through and I perhaps didn’t get to see them all. However, I think these are five terrific blog posts about New Zealand full of photographs and video that may make you want to hop on a plane bound for New Zealand now. I know that’s how I feel!

1) My 5 Favorite Views in New Zealand – Some truly great photographs are in this image heavy post celebrating New Zealand. It’s a treasure trove and definitely a good way to convince me to grab a flight over the ocean!

2) Off the beaten track: New Zealand’s South Island – There is nothing I am more in support of while traveling than getting “off the beaten track” and seeing the real heart and soul of a place. This post, does just that. For New Zealand’s South Island.

3) Paragliding Over Queenstown New Zealand – My mother went paragliding in Hawaii and ever since she did it’s something that’s always been on my “bucket list”. While I was finally able to zipline this year, I still haven’t followed in my mum’s footsteps. Maybe that’s why I enjoyed this post so much. Another chance to live vicariously!

4) Foodie’s Guide to New Zealand – Food is usually the gateway to truly getting to know any place one travels to. Oh, it’s not for you? Totally speaking for myself then!! I’m a bit of a foodie. This post definitely made my mouth water for a visit to New Zealand. Major bonus points for leading with ice cream … only my favorite food!!

5) Beautiful, Breathtaking New Zealand | Land of the Long White Cloud – And in a possible case of “saving the best for last” I present my friend Ken’s post on the Land of the Long White Cloud. Ken is the first photographer to ever help me appreciate HDR. Before his work, I was not a fan. I imagine these photos can help convince you, like his work did me, of the merits of this technique. Certainly, they will make you want to visit New Zealand! The grapevines at the end alone …

This week’s header image was taken on the California coast at Pebble Beach. I, sadly, have not been to NZ otherwise I would have proudly featured an image from the country!

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Friday Five for 3.4.11

Bonjour from Paris! While here, my only real aim is to wander the city and photograph all the sights. I am sure I’ll do many other things like eat my way through town … but it is photography that is my ultimate “to do”. What do you enjoy doing when you’re traveling to a new place? My activities depend greatly on the destination but there are a few things I really love to do in certain towns. This week, here are a few of my favorites and a few I’d like to do when I am able to visit the destinations I’ve not yet conquered.

1) In Savannah, Georgia – Take an architectural walking tour with Jonathan Stalcup. Architecture is such a part of what makes Savannah a unique and beautiful place and no person I have met in Savannah is as knowledgeable and as passionate about the history and significance of architecture in Savannah. His tour goes beyond facts to make the city come alive in a fascinating way. You could also take a Hauntings Tour with Robert Edgerly. Another unique aspect of Savannah is their ghost and hauntings legends. Robert knows them all and tells the tales in such an entertaining way! My tour with Robert was one of the most fun evenings I’ve had in Savannah. Just remember, take advantage of the ToGo cup policy and arm yourself with a stiff drink to calm your nerves along the walk.

2) In northern California – I’ve been to Napa Valley and Sonoma, while there I enjoyed wine tastings and unique culinary offerings. None disappointed! What I did fail to do while there was take in the views. Should I get to chance to return, I plan on taking the Wine Train. Sit back, soak in the scenery and be ferried from one end of the California wine region to the other? Yes, please! Bonus: following in the footsteps of Top Chef Season 6 finalists but not having to slave through a quickfire challenge!

3) In New York City – Continuing the ghostly theme, don’t pass up the chance to take a tour of lower Manhattan with Dead Apple Tours! Drew will drive you around town in a classic hearse sharing tales of New York City’s residents who are no longer with us and the visitors that expired in the Big Apple during their stays. Beware if you mind being stared at however, it’s amusing the looks you receive being carted around in a hearse during the middle of the day in a place like New York City.

4) In Ireland – What could be better than a pub crawl, isn’t this the place they were invented? If not, it probably should have been. See if you can hit all 13 of these pubs and still make your flight home. Certainly, it’s what I intend to do should I find myself on the Emerald Isle with nothing else on my agenda but time!

5) In Michigan – Detroit may have a bad rap, but beyond the surface you’ll find a wealth of culture and history in Michigan that’s worth examining. Should you find yourself in the SE portion of the Great Lakes State I recommend heading to Dearborn and entrenching yourself at The Henry Ford. During the winter months, this indoor playground boats a IMAX theater as well as the largest and most interesting collection of historical artifacts I’ve ever come across in America outside the Smithsonian. In the summer months, Greenfield Village is a playground of a different sort for kids and adults alike. As if those weren’t enough, step inside the auto industry and take a Ford Rouge Factory Tour – it’s a peek into the auto industry that will open your eyes and definitely entertain if you have any interest in cars or automotive history!

This week’s header image is of Luchador Masks for sale in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.

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The Real Mexico

I often find myself pondering the “real” in life in this age of instant gratification and digital everything. As a photographer, I still find myself thinking that shooting on film is real while all these digital images we take are, well – less real. I learned to be a photographer by using 35mm film and developing it myself in a darkroom. When I encounter younger photographers who have never shot on a roll of film, I cry inwardly. I curse technology. Of course I try not to judge, as I happen to be in love with some of technology’s accomplishments like the “Hipstamatic” app on my iPhone.

A similar same mindset applies to my travels. I’m always searching for the path that is now [or has always been] least traveled, older, more authentic.

During my recent trip to Mexico, I was given with the opportunity to stay in the all-inclusive Hacienda Tres Rios. It was great – their property is really a sort of paradise. However, it’s gated and separate from the rest of the Riviera Maya and certainly from the towns inward from the ocean – on many levels it doesn’t strike me as being – The Real Mexico.

What’s “real”?

Perhaps it is racing through the jungle sitting on the back of what can only be described as the world’s-oldest-still-operational-dune-buggy.

Perhaps it’s a small pueblo where tourists don’t usually venture. Perhaps it is a group of women who manufacture their own soaps and bath products still mixing ingredients by hand. Perhaps it is a simple meal cooked by a woman who speaks no english on the side of a road under a thatch roof hut, not in a resort kitchen with all the modern conveniences of a 5-star restaurant in New York City.
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California Highway 1 Daytrip

Sitting in snowy Michigan, here for a week for photography jobs, I can’t help but think of warmer weather. First on my mind is the trip I have to Mexico in February, second I had flashbacks to the weeks I spent in California last year. I decided to relive one of the days where we, my god-father and I, drove down Highway 1 from San Francisco to Carmel. The scenery is just breathtaking and I think I will continue to post more photographs this year from that trip, since I just discovered hundreds I had never even edited!


We drove south along the famed Highway 1, passing Teslas and Smart Cars, rolling green hills and glaringly-yellow-Acacias in full bloom.  Blue sky overhead and bright sunshine guided our way, and our mood; the smell of the sea never ceasing to waft in from the sunroof of the car.

The goal: take in Monterey, Pebble Beach, Carmel and Big Sur in one day.  We accomplished all except the full Big Sur experience…though we did make it to the lighthouse just outside Big Sur and compared it to a a less exotic version of Mont Saint-Michel.

We had a private tour of the wine cellar at Casanovas in Carmel (amazing atmosphere, highly recommend), we marveled at the work of our favorite architects on the coast just outside Carmel (Frank Lloyd Wright of course), we gazed with wonder at the lone Cypress which has stood for soo many years along the Pacific between Pebble Beach and Carmel and we were amazed at the crashing waves and spindrift up and down the rugged coast.  Blue skies cheered us even as we ran into stretches of road closed to us by recent storms and the magic of California seemed to bless us in big and small ways no matter what diversion we chose.  All smiles, we headed home, a night out in San Francisco waiting.  A day of adventure behind us.  A day of savoring creation and man’s invention accomplished.  California did not disappoint!

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