In April & May, I spent four weeks traveling abroad in Eastern Europe. My husband grew up in Sofia, Bulgaria, where his parents and grandparents still live and every other year we make a trip to see them and visit his home country. My sister-in-law and her husband also joined us from Arusha, Tanzania, so the entire family was together! This visit was unique because after a week alone with my family in Bulgaria, three of our friends from Minneapolis joined us to visit. It was quite an adventure! Our time in Bulgaria was spent exploring areas off the beaten path, where most American tourists would never get to visit! I think my friends would agree that the highlight of the trip was a visit to an old Bulgarian psychic, who lives in a remote mountain house outside a tiny village in rural part of the country. We had to hike up a mountain to see her! And it was unanimous- her readings were spot on! I had last seen the psychic in 2008 and her reading proved to come true, so I was eager to introduce her to my friends! Besides for that, we spent time wandering the countryside and exploring small towns and villages, in addition to time in the capital city of Sofia. We had tons of traditional, fresh food and salads. Thanks to my mother-in-law for being an amazing host and cooking us the best meals of the trip!
Category Archives: destination & travel
Let’s take it back to the year 2000 today! I had recently graduated from high school in small town Minnesota and moved to Fargo, North Dakota to pursue my degrees in Architecture and Interior Design. I was going to be living in the dorms and was randomly placed with a international student from Japan. Luckily, the new roommate and I hit it off very well and since she was a sophomore (and I knew exactly 0 people at NDSU) I started hanging out with her and her friends. She was a member of the International Student’s Association, which just happened to have a very cute Bulgarian president! This Bulgarian president and I seemed to cross paths often. I don’t remember specifically meeting him, but we had mutual friends, worked at the same on-campus job, and saw each other at parties and events.
This randomly placed roommate turned out to be so serendipitous. I met so many international students from all over the world which sparked my love for travel and exploration. But most importantly, it led me to my now husband. After a couple years of running into this cute Bulgarian boy, we eventually started dating, eventually tied the knot, and now we will have been married 9 years in July. (HOLY CRAP!!!) As soon as we started dating we fell head over heels in love and it wasn’t long before he invited me to Bulgaria. It wasn’t exactly your typical “meet the parents” scenario. I had to fly 5,000+ miles to meet them. Of course, we were poor college students, so we had to purchase the cheapest fares ever, and if I recall correctly, we had about 15 connections to get to Bulgaria! I remember showing up at the airport, nervous as can be, jet lagged beyond belief, feeling like I desperately needed a shower. We made our way to my in-laws home, and there waiting was a sweet, little, wide-eyed girl named Florina. Flori was only 15 at the time (heck, I was only 22!). I wasn’t engaged yet, but I was pretty sure this girl was eventually going to be my sister-in-law and I was so nervous to meet her. Maybe more nervous than meeting the parents. Flori studied English and spoke pretty well, but back then communication was more limited. We bonded over painting our nails together and our mutual love of her brother!
The next time I saw Flori (and my in-laws) was at my wedding. After that, Flori moved to the Minnesota to study, and eventually she met a boy too. He was from Tanzania and they fell in love. Before we knew it, we found ourselves celebrating at their wedding, 1 day before our own six year wedding anniversary! Anyone who sees Flori and Mo together can immediately see how in love they are. (Or if you’re on Facebook, you can just check out Mo’s annoyingly sappy Facebook status updates!!! ;) I’m really happy my little sis found a man who loves her so much and treats her so well. Our family time together is limited since we live on three different continents, but it was so good to be in Bulgaria in last month. I captured a few photos for Flori and Mo. Miss you guys so much!
I recently dusted off my old, manual, 35mm camera from my high school/college darkroom days. Even though not much can break on these old, seemingly indestructible cameras, I toted the camera around in my purse for a few days to shoot a roll of film, just to test everything out. Turns out the camera/lens function perfectly and I’m really loving the results. The camera is super small, lightweight and compact, so it’s easy to carry everywhere. It will definitely make a fun travel camera.
Nikon FG, 50 1.8 lens | Fuji 400H Film
National parks are pretty much my new favorite vacation destination and Zion just might be the best of them all (at least of the parks I’ve been to thus far)! Truth be told; prior to a year ago, I didn’t know much about Zion. I’d heard of it, but I certainly couldn’t have pinpointed it on a map and I didn’t know about it’s grandeur. Then, I happened across a blog post on a fellow photographer’s site (ah, the magic of social media) and I fell in love. (I mean, her pics are pretty darn stellar!!) I think I scrolled through the photos a dozen times. Right then and there I promised myself I would go! Zion happens to be pretty close to Las Vegas, and luckily for me, there is an annual photography convention in Vegas! Perfect excuse.
Fast forward to March of 2014. I attended the conference, and had a blast with my photographer friends. Afterwards, my travel-partner-in-crime, Laura, and I headed out for a road trip through Utah, with Zion being the highlight. Zion is absolutely breathtaking. Early March is quiet around the park, so you won’t see too many cars on the roads or hikers on the trails. We enjoyed serenity, nature, and gorgeous views from every vantage point. The highlight of Zion was definitely hiking up to Angel’s Landing. The trail is 5 miles round trip, with a 1488 ft elevation gain, but it the last quarter mile of the trail that features the most stunning views. It’s treacherous and requires hikers holding on to chains to avoid dropping off the 1000-1488′ cliffs. Literally. Some areas are so narrow two hikers can’t even pass each other and since you’re following a ridge, there are dramatic drop offs on BOTH sides. Needless to say, my camera was safely tucked away for the majority of the hike- I only snapped pics in wider areas of the ridge and at the summit. I didn’t create this video, but if you want a 3-min consolidated version of the hike from the safety of your home, check out this video.
I say this about every place I travel too, but I really, really want to return to Zion. It’s such a special place.
Photos captured on a Contax 645 with Fuji 400H film, iPhone and a couple on Laura’s Canon MkIII.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to road trip from Vegas to Salt Lake City. I went to Vegas to attend WPPI- the biggest wedding photography convention in the world. This was my fourth trip to WPPI and I love going because I get to see the latest and greatest in the photography industry, meet with vendors, and network with photographer friends from around the country! Oh, and Vegas is kinda fun too! ;)
But this time, I secretly went to WPPI because at about this time last year, I came across this blog post on a fellow Minneapolitan’s photography site and I knew I needed to visit Zion- a mere 3 hour drive from Veags. I immediately put WPPI 2014 on the calendar. Then I figured, hey, as long as I’m in Utah, maybe I should hit up Arches National Park too. Oh, and let’s just throw Goblin in there too. I mean, I can fly home from Salt Lake City and it’s on the way.
I’m going to do a separate blog post to share my images of Zion, but for now, I wanted to share my images from Arches National Park and Goblin Valley State Park, which was inspired exclusively by this image from my favorite Instagrammer of all time (this is my second trip inspired by an image on Instagram; my first was a trip to Death Valley, inspired by this image). Some of these images were even taken out of plane and car windows- on the road. Utah is that beautiful. The whole state looks like a national park. I can’t wait to go back to Utah- one could easily spends weeks/months enjoying the parks. Sadly, we zipped right past Bryce Canyon and Canyonlands. There are too many parks to cram into one week.
As always, when I travel personally, I travel light. I just brought my trusty Contax, a bag full of Fuji film, and my iPhone. There are also one or two pictures taken with my travel mate, Laura’s, digital camera. I also want to give a shoutout and big virtual hug to Laura. This girl is so amazing, so full of life, and such a fun travel partner. We had a blast! #laura2themaxx!!