Another summer, another vacation for the family. This time, we focused on Western Europe again, visiting places like Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Salzburg, and Munich. Along the way, we also stopped by in Schwangau to see the Neuchswanstein castle, and did a couple of small detours to visit old German villages.
I brought along 2 cameras with me, the Nikon D800 and the Sony NEX-5. For the Nikon, I carried the 24-70mm lens along with several ND and Polarizer filters, while the NEX was coupled with the 18-200mm lens. I wanted to travel light in this trip and I used the NEX combo about 75% of the time. I only used the Nikon for anything that requires the use of tripod (The 3S - sunrise/sunset/slow-shutter). My iPhone was used on a lot of occassions as well.
These are the selected photos from the trip, in the order from the place we visited. All of these photos have been posted on my G+ account and I included the original posting that I wrote for each photo.
Brandenburg Gate My target in Berlin is to photograph the Brandenburg Gate at sunrise. Unfortunately, they installed a huge stage at the base of the gate for the celebration of the German Soccer Team winning the World Cup. Because of that, I focused only on the 'quadriga' part of the statue as shown below.
From Berlin, we took the train to Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. Prague is a heaven for architectural photographers. We love Prague. Walking in old town make us feel like stepping back in time. And also, because of their currency value, everything is cheaper here. We had a great time trying out the local cuisine.
Charles Bridge at Night I took this photo from the patio next to Charles Bridge, while drinking local beers. Definitely, a very easy photo to take (because of the beers :)
This was taken at sunset.
And, this was taken after they turned on the city light.
A Fairy Tale View of Prague from the Charles Bridge Waking up at 4 AM in the morning, I walked 30 minutes from my hotel to Charles Bridge to photograph this scene. You can see the St.Vitus Cathedral in the background (top right).
Statue of Charles IV (Karolo Quarto) Statue of King Charles the fourth, or locally known as Wenceslaus. Back in the 13th century, he brought the empire into the golden age of Bohemia.
Charles Bridge at Sunrise I guess photographing the bridge in the Summer means that you won't get the kind of backlighting glow that you always see on the iconic shot of this bridge. This was taken early in the morning, just right after sunrise. When you walk on this bridge in the afternoon, you will be shoulder-to-shoulder with thousands of tourists. I avoided it at all cost.
Charles Bridge Before Sunset I took this photo from the bank of the river on the castle side of Prague. It was a lovely afternoon. Even though there were about 50 geese's on my left side and my head was surrounded by mosquito-like bugs, the air was cool and dry and I was the only one taking a photo at that spot. It was such a good break from all the tourists in the area.
Old Town Tower I photographed this bridge tower in the late afternoon on the way to Charles Bridge. The statue on the right side of the tower is of the legendary King Wenceslaus.
Statue of St. John Nepomucene on the Charles Bridge This is probably the most popular statue on the bridge, which is understandable, considering he is the most popular saint of the Czech Republic. Read his story here if you're interested. He was killed (drowned on the spot where the statue was erected) by the order of King Wenceslaus on the account of refusal to betray the confession given by the empress.
Again, we took another train, this time to Vienna. Vienna is a city full of architectural wonders, so much so that the historic center of the city has been added to UNESCO's World Cultural Heritage list. It is also a city with a long established musical heritage. Many celebrity musicians (Mozart and Beethoven to name a few) called this city their home. Only spending 3 days in Vienna, I concentrated on photographing my favorite building in the city: The St.Charles Church (Karlskirche).
Karlskirche Wien (St.Charles Church) This is my favorite building in Vienna. What a beautiful architecture. Truly, a feast for the eyes.
Statue of Prince Eugene of Savoy at the Hofburg Palace Prince Eugene of Savoy, one of the most successful military commander in European history, was weak in his younger days. He was rejected from the French Army, moved to Austria, and built his military career with the Austrian monarchy to become one of the greatest commanders in Europe. This statue was photographed from inside the Hofsburg, giving the impression that the General is marching into the city, John Wayne style.
Vienna State Opera House (Wiener Staatsoper) The iconic Vienna Opera House, photographed with a city tram at night. My family and I just had a fabulous dinner at Gigerl with a couple of friends and I brought my tripod with me so I could do a night photography afterwards. After the dinner, I stopped by the St. Charles church to capture a blue hour photo and then before I grabbed a taxi back to the hotel, I snapped this quick photo of the State Opera House.
A Statue of Ueterpe I stumbled across this scene on the way to the restroom in the Albertina Museum. I happened to have my NEX with me and composed this shot.
From Vienna, we took the high-speed train to Salzburg. We arrived on the first day of the annual music festival. Just like Vienna, Salzburg is also a city deeply rooted in classical music. Made famous by the movie 'The Sound of Music', Salzburg is popular among tourists. We mostly spent our time here exploring the old town and the famous fortress high above the hill.
Mirabell Garden I took this photo of the pegasus statue at the Mirabell garden. Just behind me was the famous 'Do-Re-Mi Stairwell' from the Sound of Music. I stepped on the fountain wall so I could include the fortress in the background.
A Jazz Clarinetist I took a photo of this Street Jazz Clarinetist on the first day of the Salzburg Music Festival. This was taken in the morning not far from the famous stairwell at Mirabell Garden (the 'Do-re-mi' stairwell from the Sound of Music). I like his expression so much that I decided to get a close up photo of him in action.
The Dome in the Salzburg Cathedral This is a photo of the intricate architectural details of the Salzburg Cathedral's dome, photographed in 3 different exposures and combined as an HDR image.
Salzburg Cathedral A stage is installed at the cathedral square for the performance of the drama Jedermann by Hugo Von Hofmannstahl, which prevented me to take a sunrise/sunset photo of the building. This is my best attempt of photographing the cathedral without including the stage.
The Interior of Salzburg Cathdedral I took this interior photo by placing my camera on top of my bag as they don't allow tripod inside the church. I then combined 3 different exposure photos to make this HDR image.
Salzburg Old Town at Night I took this photograph of the old town from across the river, not far where we stayed in Salzburg.
Based on a recommendation from a friend, we rented a car in Salzburg and drove to Munich, taking a detour on several places along the way: Hallstatt, Konigsee, and stayed overnight in Hohenschwangau.
The Village of Hallstatt I took this iconic photo from the vista point near the edge of the town. With the low hanging clouds and the greenish mountain in the background, Hallstatt reminds me a lot of Alaska. Anyway we had a great time there. We rented a boat and circled the whole lake just before the rain arrived.
Traditional Lodges I took this row of Bavarian lodge photo in Hallstatt. My 10 year-old son was driving the boat so I could focus on photography for a while
Konigssee on a Wet and Foggy Day, Berchtesgaden National Park On the way to Schwangau, we stopped by in Konigssee and spent a few hours admiring the emerald color water. This place is definitely one of the highlights of our trip. It was beautiful beyond belief. It was raining, but the fog and the low-hanging clouds created a magical ambiance and provided crystal clear reflection of objects near the water. I took this photo of the 'St. Bartholomew's Church' from the on the lake. If you look closely, you can see a lady with a red umbrella taking a photo of the church.
Neuschwanstein Castle on a Foggy Evening We arrived in Germany in one of the wettest day of the season. It was pouring cats and dogs when we got to our hotel in Schwangau. I quickly abandoned my plan to capture a sunset scene of the castle and will concentrate on sunrise instead. Walking halfway to the castle, to scout the route, I was able to get a photo of the castle surrounded by fog.
Neuschwanstein Castle on a foggy Summer morning I woke up at 3:30 in the morning the next day and walked the one hour trek to the Marien Brucke vista point. It was kinda scary actually to walk through the pitch black forest at 4 in the morning. But when the sun broke out at about 5:45 am, I was blessed with this view. And the best thing is, I had the bridge all to myself :)
Later on in the morning, my family and I went on a tour inside the castle and we were greatly impressed. A lot of times, we couldn’t believe that what we see is real. It’s like fairy tale come true. All the rooms were beautifully decorated, a little bit over-the-top. Walls were beautifully painted with intricate details, depicting scenes from the king’s favorite opera. Beds and furnitures were carved in amazing details, representing roofs of Germany cathedrals. And of course, the view from the castle is something to die for. In short, everything about this castle is magically gorgeous. No wonder Disney was inspired by it.
If you plan to visit Germany (or Munich), I’d really recommend that you spend a day visiting the castle. You won’t regret it.
We finally arrived in Munich, with a plan to visit the Dachau Concentration Camp. I didn't take a single photo in Dachau because of the sad history. It just didn't feel right to take photograph in a place where so many people have died in the past. After Dachau, we spent some time in the old town and we had a blast. Munich is such an enjoyable city to visit.
Rathaus-Glockenspiel This is a photo of the famous clock tower in Munich's old town square. Every 12 and 5 pm, the figurines in the clock tower (only the top one is shown on the photo) animate to tell two different stories. I am including a link to the wiki article behind the story here. I think Disney might have gotten his inspiration for Disneyland's animatronics from this clock tower.
I actually forgot the name of this church near Marienplatz. We were just exploring the area when we stepped inside this very interesting church with lots of live plants and decorated with bird origamis flying in formation.
Bronze Lion Statue in front of the Residenz I took a photo of this lion statue after noticing a lot of people rubbing its muzzles. Read the story here. It's considered to bring good luck.
A Scene from Marienplatz I photographed this couple studying the town house building's architecture in Marienplatz.
Munich Old Town A photo from the top of the New Town House in Marienplatz.
And finally, I found this accordion player when exploring Marienplatz with my family. I asked his permission for a photo and he gave me a great smile as a bonus.
So, that is my last selected photo from the trip. I still have many photos that I still need to edit. But the photos featured here are the ones I like the most.
Thanks for coming. Hope you enjoyed the photos featured here.