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As wedding photographers we naturally love to travel and every Aussie winter we look forward to a vacation to explore somewhere new. This year we were exceptionally excited for our six week European adventure. This long break, which had been months in the planning, would take us through eight cities in five countries and provide the perfect way to relax and recharge in warmer climates after a busy wedding season. But Amy and I also had our own individual reasons for looking forward to the trip. For me it would be my first time back to Europe and my home town of London since I moved to Australia over eight years ago, whilst for Amy it represented a bookmark in her career - the end of her day job and the start of exciting new challenges including running her own business and helping to develop mine.

Those reasons alone justified our trip but we returned in absolute disbelief at exactly how much happened in just six weeks. Each day was an adventure in itself and you might have already seen glimpses of them if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram or Amy on Instagram. On that note it's worth mentioning that taking photos during our trip was for fun rather than a priority. We intentionally didn't seek out any weddings to shoot around Europe (as awesome as that would have been!) and we left all our big, heavy gear at home. All we took were our iPhones and my new Fuji X-T1 which proved to be a fantastic travel camera. Its smaller size meant I didn't draw attention to myself (in fact it was incredibly liberating not to look like a pro!) and in turn this brought out my passion for street photography as I was able to discreetly capture moments that might not have been possible if I was wielding a huge lens.

Here are some of the highlights of our trip as recorded through social media and the Fuji. Enjoy.


Week 1: Paris

Before we even left Australia soil our journey was off to the best possible start with Virgin Australia upgrading us to business class!

We then spent an incredible week in Paris, wandering the beautiful boulevards and enjoying the gorgeous sunshine, food and architecture.

The view from our Montmartre Airbnb apartment

The view from our Montmartre Airbnb apartment

Old school elevator

Old school elevator

The beautiful, wide avenues and boulevards often led to incredible buildings such as Palais Garnier Opera House

The beautiful, wide avenues and boulevards often led to incredible buildings such as Palais Garnier Opera House

The dramatic interior of La Madeleine, a magnificent church located just next to the Opera House

The dramatic interior of La Madeleine, a magnificent church located just next to the Opera House

As huge coffee lovers we were delighted to stumble across Boot Cafe in Le Marais, one of Paris' very few boutique cafes

As huge coffee lovers we were delighted to stumble across Boot Cafe in Le Marais, one of Paris' very few boutique cafes

Cafe Marlette: another of our favourite haunts

Cafe Marlette: another of our favourite haunts

Street scene: Le Marais

Street scene: Le Marais

How stoked was I to find this?!

How stoked was I to find this?!

The shopping mecca that is Printemps

The shopping mecca that is Printemps

The stunning interior of Galeries Lafayette

The stunning interior of Galeries Lafayette

Shopping is hard work. Here's Amy recovering in Jardin du Palais Royal with a coffee from Maison Kitsune Cafe

Shopping is hard work. Here's Amy recovering in Jardin du Palais Royal with a coffee from Maison Kitsune Cafe

Toytown Paris

Toytown Paris

The belle epoque interior of Angelina cafe

The belle epoque interior of Angelina cafe

Ssouvenir de rigeur

Ssouvenir de rigeur

We've never had professional photos taken of us so we were thrilled that our friend and super talented photographer Dan O'Day was able to join us in Paris for a relaxed portrait session. This is one of our favourite images.

 
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Then, on our last night, this happened.

One of many incredible images by Dan O'Day that we will treasure forever

One of many incredible images by Dan O'Day that we will treasure forever

 

Week 2: London & Rome

 

London

Still buzzing from the night before we caught the Eurostar to London, checked in at the very cool CitizenM Bankside hotel on the Southbank then headed straight into town to celebrate our engagement with two of our closest friends from Sydney who just happened to be in London.

Shopping, sightseeing (which included an amazing wedding dress exhibition at the V&A) and fine dining aside, London was all about people and it was wonderful to catch up with my parents, who I hadn't seen for a couple of years, and friends from all stages of my life - from primary school to the time I left for Australia.

First sight of The Shard

First sight of The Shard

CitizenM: Lobby

CitizenM: Lobby

CitizenM: Lounge

CitizenM: Lounge

CitizenM: Atrium

CitizenM: Atrium

Tate Modern Turbine Hall

Tate Modern Turbine Hall

Westbourne Grove - full of vibrant colours

Westbourne Grove - full of vibrant colours

The search for a wedding dress didn't take long

The search for a wedding dress didn't take long

Cooking class at Jamie Oliver's Recipease in Notting Hill

Cooking class at Jamie Oliver's Recipease in Notting Hill

St Paul's Cathedral from Tate Modern

St Paul's Cathedral from Tate Modern

Southwark Street by night

Southwark Street by night

Moody London: that's more like it

Moody London: that's more like it

Descent

Descent

Enter at your own risk

Enter at your own risk

Light installation at Liberty London

Light installation at Liberty London

Juxtaposition: my favourite London skyline featuring the Royal Naval College, Greenwich Park in the foreground and Docklands in the background

Juxtaposition: my favourite London skyline featuring the Royal Naval College, Greenwich Park in the foreground and Docklands in the background

Solitude: The Sitter

Solitude: The Sitter

Solitude: The Commuter

Solitude: The Commuter

Street scene: Marylebone 1

Street scene: Marylebone 1

Street scene: Marylebone 2

Street scene: Marylebone 2

La Fromagerie, Marylebone

La Fromagerie, Marylebone

Benugo: solid sandwich shop

Benugo: solid sandwich shop

Pitstop at Workshop Coffee, one of London's finest

Pitstop at Workshop Coffee, one of London's finest

Love a good mews

Love a good mews

The Marylebone

The Marylebone

Hidden London: the gorgeous interior of St Marylebone Parish Church

Hidden London: the gorgeous interior of St Marylebone Parish Church

Catching up with close friends at Jamie's Italian

Catching up with close friends at Jamie's Italian

Secondary school bestie Andrew: now all grown up

Secondary school bestie Andrew: now all grown up

The folks: originators of the famous smile

The folks: originators of the famous smile

One for the ladies: gratuitous shot of Anthropologie

One for the ladies: gratuitous shot of Anthropologie

Ok, here's another one

Ok, here's another one

I was unexpectedly moved and pleasantly surprised by the way London had evolved during my absence, but one thing that clearly hadn't improved was commuting!

 

Rome

Our travels through Italy started with a brief stint in Rome. Our 400 year old medieval Airbnb apartment was smack bang in the centre meaning we could walk and explore Rome and the eternal city to our heart's content.

Street scene: Rome

Street scene: Rome

Italians are the masters of hand gestures and body language

Italians are the masters of hand gestures and body language

Archivio di Stato

Archivio di Stato

 
The Pantheon's open air oculus looks even better when it snows

The Pantheon's open air oculus looks even better when it snows

 
Searching

Searching

Front row seats for everyone at Piazza Navona

Front row seats for everyone at Piazza Navona

Biggest. Monument. Ever.

Biggest. Monument. Ever.

The eternal city awaits

The eternal city awaits

 

Week 3: Siena & Tuscany

 

Siena

After three scorching days in Rome we bussed down to Siena for the event that the whole trip had been based around: The Palio! This historic horse race around the city's Piazza dei Campo has been run every year since 1656 and pits the skills and honour of the city's seventeen city wards (or contrade) against each other. We arrived on the first day of the four day build up to the race, just in time to watch the assignment of the horses to the ten competing jockeys. The next few days saw spectacular flag waving and singing parades by the competing contrade and their supporters through the streets, and attending the Onda contrada street party the night before the race was something we'll never forget. Eating and chatting with the locals and learning about their proud heritage and community was truly inspiring. The following day was all about the race itself and it was more amazing than we ever imagined. In between all the pageantry we enjoyed exploring the cobblestone streets, many of which were deserted and conveyed life in Siena outside of The Palio.

Medieval noticeboard

Medieval noticeboard

The symbol of the Selva (forest) contrada, known to be excellent archers 

The symbol of the Selva (forest) contrada, known to be excellent archers 

We stayed in the only guesthouse in Siena with direct views of the parades

We stayed in the only guesthouse in Siena with direct views of the parades

Crowd dodger

Crowd dodger

If you love doors you'll love Siena

If you love doors you'll love Siena

Celestial

Celestial

Off peak

Off peak

Rush hour

Rush hour

Standard view

Standard view

Burnt Siena

Burnt Siena

Street scene: Siena

Street scene: Siena

Artista at work

Artista at work

The contrada is family

The contrada is family

Don't wear the wrong colours here

Don't wear the wrong colours here

Men in tights

Men in tights

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Hectic

Hectic

Best cheer section goes to Chiocciola, the snail contrada

Best cheer section goes to Chiocciola, the snail contrada

Shaft

Shaft

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Athletic

Athletic

Front row fanatics

Front row fanatics

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After four days of pageantry it all came down to this: the race!

 

Tuscany

After the excitement of The Palio it was time to relax and relax we did at another Airbnb gem: a gorgeous converted farmhouse set deep amongst the beautiful patchwork Tuscan countryside. We did a few day trips in our trusty left hand drive manual Brava but skipped Florence in favour of exploring some of the smaller medieval towns such as Pienza, San Gimignano, Monteriggioni and Volterra which all fueled my obsession with doorways and churches. And we also had a special guest drop by, our friend and now Lake Como based wedding photographer Lauren Michelle!

River, our Airbnb farmhouse

River, our Airbnb farmhouse

The perfect spot come wine o'clock

The perfect spot come wine o'clock

River interior: the working fireplace had a gorgeous woodfired scent

River interior: the working fireplace had a gorgeous woodfired scent

River interior

River interior

River exterior

River exterior

River exterior: how all garden shed should look

River exterior: how all garden shed should look

River exterior

River exterior

Lake Como Lauren

Lake Como Lauren

Patchwork in the spotlight

Patchwork in the spotlight

She would have seen very few changes in her medieval town

She would have seen very few changes in her medieval town

Tunnel vision

Tunnel vision

The intrepid Ms Amy off exploring again

The intrepid Ms Amy off exploring again

Churches on every street corner

Churches on every street corner

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Church with a view

Church with a view

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Doorway, Tomb Raider style

Doorway, Tomb Raider style

Much more Tuscan

Much more Tuscan

Medieval post office

Medieval post office

We stumbled across a wedding in San Gimignano; this was the wedding car - a vintage Fiat Nuova

We stumbled across a wedding in San Gimignano; this was the wedding car - a vintage Fiat Nuova

Parked

Parked

View from Volterra

View from Volterra

Postcard

Postcard

On repeat every evening

On repeat every evening

 

Week 4: Dubrovnik & Montenegro

 

Dubrovnik

Croatia was the only country that neither of us had visited previously so we arrived in the medieval harbour town of Kings Landing, sorry, Dubrovnik with wide eyed fascination. This major location for Game Of Thrones was absolutely gorgeous and we also enjoyed a day trip to the nearby Elaphiti Islands.

Welcometo Kings Landing

Welcometo Kings Landing

Through the letterbox

Through the letterbox

Guardian

Guardian

Miss Nat Geo 2014

Miss Nat Geo 2014

Private terrace

Private terrace

Stray cats: hot on the heels of stunning views and architecture as most popular photo subjects

Stray cats: hot on the heels of stunning views and architecture as most popular photo subjects

The views are a pretty convincing reason to join this monastery

The views are a pretty convincing reason to join this monastery

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Valley

Valley

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Fixer upper

Fixer upper

Ancient

Ancient

The wanderer

The wanderer

Just when I thought all the big news was over I heard that I had been elected NSW state president of the AIPP, the Australian Institute of Professional Photography! This is a tremendous honour as well as a wonderful opportunity to give back to the profession that has changed my life.

A dramatic conclusion

A dramatic conclusion

On our last night in Dubrovnik we enjoyed fine dining at Nautika, a restaurant on Conde Nast Traveller's gold list. The chef's degustation menu was exquisite, and for dessert the guy on the table next to us served up a proposal!

 

Montenegro

While we were in Dubrovnik we sneaked in a bonus country by taking a day trip to Montenegro. The country has a fascinating past. In addition to being part of what was formerly Yugoslavia, Montenegro has, over time, also been invaded and ruled by the Romans, Venetians, Austrians and Ottomans. The result is a landscape of hills littered with fortified locations and a variety of architectural styles.

These days Montenegro is still being invaded. Tourists aside, coastal locations such as Budva are the new places to be seen and prime property overlooking the emerald Adriatic Sea is being quickly snapped up by millionaires, particularly from Russia, Italy and Austria. Budva itself has been transformed from a humble fisherman's village to a town with around 500 millionaires in a population of 22,000 which is Europe's highest number of millionaires per capita.

Church of Our Lady of Health, Kotor

Church of Our Lady of Health, Kotor

Solitude: Bay of Kotor

Solitude: Bay of Kotor

St George Benedictine Monastery, Perast, Bay of Kotor

St George Benedictine Monastery, Perast, Bay of Kotor

Our Lady of the Rocks, Perast, Bay of Kotor

Our Lady of the Rocks, Perast, Bay of Kotor

Within the city walls of Kotor

Within the city walls of Kotor

It's always worth looking up

It's always worth looking up

Kotor is full of flags reflecting its history

Kotor is full of flags reflecting its history

Open air window box

Open air window box

Orthodox

Orthodox

Shrine

Shrine

Sveti Stefan resort, Budva; the Adriatic playground of the rich and famous from the 1960s-1980s, now  a 5 star hotel which you can stay in from 1,000 Euros per night

Sveti Stefan resort, Budva; the Adriatic playground of the rich and famous from the 1960s-1980s, now  a 5 star hotel which you can stay in from 1,000 Euros per night

old Town Budva

old Town Budva

The millionaire invasion of Budva rages on

The millionaire invasion of Budva rages on

The Adriatic coastline of Budva

The Adriatic coastline of Budva

 

Week 5: Berlin

 

This is the city the Amy had most wanted to visit, and by the time we arrived I was also pumped. Why? Because Germany had just crushed Brazil 7-1 to reach the world cup final and we would be watching them play Argentina in the final in Berlin the day after we arrived! We were determined to make the most of this historic sporting moment and were planning join hundreds of thousands of fans on the famous fan mile (or fanmeile) in front of the Brandenburg Gate. However, as we were about to set off the heavens opened, so rather than risk catching a cold for the rest of our trip we stayed dry in our hotel, the swank 25Hours Bikini Berlin, and watched the game in its trendy Monkey Bar on the 10th floor which also gave us a great view of the fireworks over the fan mile when Germany won! 

The 25 Hours Bikini Berlin: strange name, great hotel

The 25 Hours Bikini Berlin: strange name, great hotel

Eclectic interior

Eclectic interior

Well hello Dolly!

Well hello Dolly!

Each room comes equipped with a bike...

Each room comes equipped with a bike...

...and a hammock. Ours overlooked the zoo!

...and a hammock. Ours overlooked the zoo!

Monkey Bar

Monkey Bar

The tense, nail biting final moments of the world Cup Final 2014! Would Germany win?!

Unfortunately we missed the German team's triumphant victory parade as we had already booked a visit to Sachsenhausen concentration camp which lies just outside Berlin. So as 400,000 fans made their way into Berlin we headed out to a drastically more conservative environment. I won't dwell on Sachsenhausen, save to say that it was a stark reminder to appreciate and treasure the freedom we have the privilege of enjoying.

The other fascinating aspect of Berlin is, of course, the infamous wall. It's hard to believe that literally overnight a city was divided into two completely different worlds. Thankfully that's now in the past but the now trendy, gritty, graffiti drenched streets of East Berlin felt distinctly different to our hotel's rather more glamorous West Berlin location. If you ever visit Berlin we highly recommend spending a couple of hours at the amazing DDR Museum where you can interactively experience what life was like in Communist East Berlin.

The goddess of victory delivered the goods for Team Germany

The goddess of victory delivered the goods for Team Germany

Solitude: Sachsenhausen

Solitude: Sachsenhausen

Ampelmann: the most cherished symbol of East Berlin

Ampelmann: the most cherished symbol of East Berlin

Solitude: Berlin Underground

Solitude: Berlin Underground

Al fresco

Al fresco

How many methods of transport can you count?

How many methods of transport can you count?

Communist Airbnb

Communist Airbnb

Classic

Classic

Red and white

Red and white

Solitude: Berlin bicycle

Solitude: Berlin bicycle

Solitude: the strider

Solitude: the strider

The Reichstag

The Reichstag

Berlin Cathedral

Berlin Cathedral

So many good window displays in Berlin, and outdoor seating everywhere

So many good window displays in Berlin, and outdoor seating everywhere

Favourite florist

Favourite florist

Remnants

Remnants

Coolest ice-cream truck ever at Markethall Nine's Street Food Thursday

Coolest ice-cream truck ever at Markethall Nine's Street Food Thursday

That's the cake topper sorted!

That's the cake topper sorted!


Week 6: Cologne & Frankfurt

 

Cologne

Cologne, with its absolutely huge Gothic cathedral, was a final chance to relax en route to Frankfurt where we would be flying home from. We travelled to both cities on the impressive and super fast ICE trains.

Cologne Cathedral: so big you need to get this far back to fit it all in

Cologne Cathedral: so big you need to get this far back to fit it all in

Cologne Cathedral interior: straight out of Lord Of The Rings

Cologne Cathedral interior: straight out of Lord Of The Rings

My money's on saints being the next superheroes

My money's on saints being the next superheroes

Street scene: Cologne

Street scene: Cologne

Interesting name for a cafe, or anything for that matter

Interesting name for a cafe, or anything for that matter

Streaker

Streaker

 

Frankfurt

We were here for just one night and for our final stay we chose another 25hours hotel. This one, designed in collaboration with Levi's, featured denim furnishings and each floor was themed on a decade of music. Our floor was the rock'n'roll 70s man.

25hours Hotel by Levi's

25hours Hotel by Levi's

Disturbing

Disturbing

Psychedelic

Psychedelic

Mick and the boys

Mick and the boys

Nostalgic

Nostalgic

Vintage

Vintage

Chez Ima

Chez Ima

Not up to normal German standards

Not up to normal German standards

Luckily none of our journeys ended like this

Luckily none of our journeys ended like this

That brought us to the end of our vacation, or so we thought. But there was another big surprise in store: Virgin Australia upgraded us to business class AGAIN!

To cap it all off, when the cabin was dark and everyone sleeping, I decided to stretch my legs and go for a stroll. As I passed one of the exit doors I peeked through the window and this is what I saw: The Maldives! Perhaps this was a hint for a honeymoon location?!

 

And that truly is the end of our rather splendid European adventure. We're now back in Sydney, relaxed, refreshed, inspired (and engaged) and excited for the 25 weddings we'll be documenting before the end of 2014!

And on that note, does anyone know a good wedding photographer?