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Dec 172014
 

italy, montecatini, tuscany, rainy day, attitude, make the most, the journey, travel, destination, landscape, photography, Los Angeles ©Jen Castle Photography,

The day we arrived in Milan was a very rainy day. Don’t get me wrong, I love the rain. I’m a Cali girl after all and we don’t get much rain so it’s always a welcome change but this was daunting at first since a nine-hour plane ride then led to a soggy three-hour drive to Montecatini which then led to a sleepy and cross-eyed pair of travelers. Joe and I were exhausted once we checked into our hotel. I kept trying to fight it but my energy was low. Needless to say, Joe checked out the local shops while I just checked out.

italy, montecatini, tuscany, rainy day, attitude, make the most, the journey, travel, destination, landscape, photography, Los Angeles ©Jen Castle Photography,

At 8:00pm I woke up refreshed and ready… to a sleeping husband and a huge storm outside. Thunder. Lightning. Buckets of rain. The whole nine yards. Most of  Montecatini was now closed, I knew that and since I can’t drive stick and my driver was currently incapacitated, I was stranded. However, watching the storm pass by our window (and we had a tremendous view) while listening to it hum over-head was just the right cup of breathtaking that I required. That night I wrote:

“Day 1.  Candle-lit and high off the local vine, the hum of Mozart harmonizing to the flash and strike of mother natures melodious rage. The rain applauds. I stand in awe. What an amazing opening night.”

My man’s snoring chimed in a little later to then add a bit of urban flavoring to the given symphony (lol) but for the most part, it was a long and beautiful night of solitude for me. So I documented it. Within our room we had these huge windows that magically jumped out onto Montecatini’s medieval ruins, small villages, personal vegetable gardens and endless rolling hills. I got out my remote trigger, opened up my shutter and got straight to work. After each shout of thunder that crackled, I began to press my trigger knowing the lightning was soon to follow. One tea-light and a whole lot of smiles later, I got my shot. I finished up my glass of wine, Mozart’s Piano Concerto #23 and slowly drifted into the most comfortable slumber. It was a dreamy moment.

italy, montecatini, tuscany, rainy day, attitude, make the most, the journey, travel, destination, landscape, photography, Los Angeles ©Jen Castle Photography,

 This was our theme for most of our stay in Italy but we knew the risks of off-season travel and were willing to take that gamble because with the rain, comes less tourism and a greater sense of the culture and people (in my humble opinion). The costs can be considerably less as well. I kept getting up early however to try to catch that perfect Tuscan sunrise. You know the one- with just the right amount of clouds and loads of color. It was an idea I had for a shoot ages ago, the second we had booked the trip. I knew where I wanted to go and how I wanted to shoot it. Yet once there, it just wasn’t working out. It became comical actually. For three days we tried and for three days there came rain, then fog and then more fog. On our last attempt, the fog was so thick we couldn’t even see 10 feet in front of our faces!

italy, montecatini, tuscany, rainy day, attitude, make the most, the journey, travel, destination, landscape, photography, Los Angeles ©Jen Castle Photography,

So instead of doing a beautiful Tuscan sunrise shoot, we did a dark and foggy enchanted forest-like shoot. Tim Burton eat your heart out.

italy, montecatini, tuscany, rainy day, attitude, make the most, the journey, travel, destination, landscape, photography, Los Angeles ©Jen Castle Photography,

italy, montecatini, tuscany, rainy day, attitude, make the most, the journey, travel, destination, landscape, photography, Los Angeles ©Jen Castle Photography,

italy, montecatini, tuscany, rainy day, attitude, make the most, the journey, travel, destination, landscape, photography, Los Angeles ©Jen Castle Photography,

italy, montecatini, tuscany, rainy day, attitude, make the most, the journey, travel, destination, landscape, photography, Los Angeles ©Jen Castle Photography,

I’m now in love with these shots. They’re completely different from my original intention but I love the mystery they represent and they hold a special place in my heart since Joe & I tried so hard, worked so well as a team & nearly lost our lives while parked on the narrow foggy bridge that we primarilly shot from. We gave it our all. Bob Marley had it right when he said. “Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.” We definitely felt, explored, played, experimented and got drenched in the process of this shoot and we couldn’t have been happier.

italy, montecatini, tuscany, rainy day, attitude, make the most, the journey, travel, destination, landscape, photography, Los Angeles ©Jen Castle Photography,

Sometimes, you just gotta roll with the punches. Sometimes, the punches become your best work. Often, life’s most amazing moments come from the journey. Here’s to the journey!

italy, montecatini, tuscany, rainy day, attitude, make the most, the journey, travel, destination, landscape, photography, Los Angeles ©Jen Castle Photography,

 

Nov 262014
 

My mother is the bomb of #awesomesauce and her birthday happens to be today. I couldn’t be there due to our current Italian adventure so we’re sending our love the best way we know how (cue the backstory)…

romeo, juliet, gulietta, veron, italy, travel, photography, juliets house, shakespeare, mother, birthday

Growing up, I was entertained primarily by three movies: “Gone with the Wind,” “The Sound of Music” and Franco Zeffirelli’s, ”Romeo and Juliet.” These were my mother’s favorites. I was raised by these three movies. I knew them by heart because my mother played them for me often, since birth really. I knew the script, the dialogue, the blocking, all by heart. And to be honest, I get why she loves them.  They’re well written, brilliantly acted and the leads have the best chemistry I’ve ever seen! It’s easy to fall in love with these movies.

Well my husband and I are currently in Verona, the birth place of the Romeo y Gulietta stories, so we thought we’d put together a little something for my mom. Here’s to love, here’s to shakespeare and heres to one of the best renditions of both. Cheers, from Verona and Happy Birthday mom. We put this together just for you.

from Juliet’s home to the walls, moats and squares of Verona, Happy Birthday and Happy Thanksgiving (Double whammy).

romeo, juliet, gulietta, veron, italy, travel, photography, juliets house, shakespeare, mother, birthday

Juliet’s Balconyromeo, juliet, gulietta, veron, italy, travel, photography, juliets house, shakespeare, mother, birthday

The costumes worn by the famous (Zeffirelli) star-crossed lovers.romeo, juliet, gulietta, veron, italy, travel, photography, juliets house, shakespeare, mother, birthday

Juliet’s houseromeo, juliet, gulietta, veron, italy, travel, photography, juliets house, shakespeare, mother, birthday

romeo, juliet, gulietta, veron, italy, travel, photography, juliets house, shakespeare, mother, birthday

Flip side of the balcony. Joe is graciously demonstrating where Romeo would have climbed in. lol.romeo, juliet, gulietta, veron, italy, travel, photography, juliets house, shakespeare, mother, birthday

And these are the hundreds upon hundreds of love letters that are left daily for Juliet, asking for her advice. Some answered, some not, they continue to cover the walls that encircle her house.

“There is no world without Verona walls, 
But purgatory, torture, hell itself. 
Hence-banished is banish’d from the world, 
And world’s exile is death.”

(W. Shakespeare)

Nov 232014
 
The next few weeks are going to be all about Italy but since we needed to catch our flight to Milan via the Newark airport, I decided to stay in New York four days prior. Joe joined me two days later where we ran around New York like a couple of school kids. We were on a tight budget though, since Italy was right around the corner. So how do you do New York on a tight budget?! Breath, It’s possible. We did it and below are a few tips to help you with your next New York adventure…
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Globe-Trotting, Travel, destination Italy, New York, Budget Travel, iphoneography, iphonesia
  1. Bring friends! The more the merrier right? Of course. Bring friends to split the cost and enlarge your New York network. The more connections the better- the better the suggestions and better the savings. Between our connections (this round) and our friends, we were able to stay at an Apartment on the upper East side, obtain comped entrance to The Standard’s Boom Boom Room, The Marquee Club, and even get on the green at the NY Giants vs. 49ers Game. I was also able to take two days to visit my Jersey family. It must be a give and take though. Make sure to be able to give to your friends as well. You can’t just be a taker. Try a house swap with your bi-coastal friends. They stay in Los Angeles, you stay in New York, etc. Everybody wins. With friends, you can also be sure that the trip will be fully documented. The more friends, the more smart phones, the more pics. We had a selfie stick that was used and abused. If you can’t go with friends, make new ones. New York is all about its people so try to connect to your networks or make it your goal to befriend someone new each time you go.
  2. Focus on the free. They can be hard to find but do your research prior to leaving. There are many museums, parks and historic buildings that offer free admission or ask for a small donation. Start there. Know the days that are offered for this and then comprise a schedule. If the statue of Liberty is too much for your budget, go to Time Square instead or Central Park or the 911 memorial site. Think out of the box. Everybody has a free jazz night. Find it. The city is full of musicians dying to play. Also, research the history and walk in that direction. You can take your own self-guided tour. The city is rich with history.
  3. Always, always, always take the subway. It’s America’s finest. It goes nearly everywhere so there’s no reason not to take it. You can also burn a few calories with the walks in-between.
  4. Download a daily budget ap. and use it. I use “Trail Wallet.” (See below) It’s quick, easy and has totally kept us on track. It’s been a huge tool for us on this trip.
  5. If you can’t stay with friends or swap homes, look into vacation rentals. NYC is back and forth on the vacay rentals right now so they may not always be available but when they are, they’re good on the budget and often located in a great area. Hotels can get expensive in the city so why not stay in someones home? A great place to find vacation rentals is “Trip Advisor.” We used their suggestions for most of Italy. I’m not big on “Airbnb” but that’s another option. I just don’t want to share my rental with anyone else. I want it to myself and Airbnb tends to rent out shared units or even couches within someone’s living room! No thanks. Be aware when booking a vacation home. Make sure to look at their feedback/ratings and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  6. Mini booze bottles for the plane. They’re usually 1.5-2 ounces so you can throw them in your carry-on. I like to sleep when it comes to long flights so the minis help to knock me out. It’s also a fun way to toast the new adventure with my hubby. Drinks on the plane can cost up to $10.00 per bevy so these come in handy and work in a pinch.
  7.  Don’t go out every night/ every meal/ every drink. Plan to cook for a few. If you are staying in a vacation rental, you usually get the luxury of having a kitchen or kitchenette. Use it. Shop at the mom and pop a few blocks down the road and cook. It’s a great way to get to know the neighborhood and the produce. Eat snacks and keep it simple for breakfast/ dinner, go big for lunch instead. Due to the variety of New York lunch specials, this is a great way to try the local cuisine for a fraction of the cost. As far as drinks go, start the evening off with a few drinks from your hotel/ rental instead of having them all out. Make this your time to squeeze in a Skype call, check email, eat the dinner you cooked or catch up with the friends you came with and then move the party outside.
  8. Try to do New York during their Restaurant week: July 21-August 15th and February 17-March 7th. The deals that go on during this time are completely incredible. They also have a Broadway week from September 1-14th where you can buy two for one tickets. Incredible. Huge on the savings. Do it. *Dates tend to change a little each year so look them up to double check.
  9. If it’s cold (like it was for us this round in NY) find a window, order something warm and watch New York pass by. It’s that simple. Sometimes you need a break from the sites and the hustle-bussle so why not do a little people watching in one of the most populated cities in the country? #JustSaying
  10. Never ever ever buy anything in Time Square. You’ll find it 5 times cheaper, 5 blocks down.
TRAIL WALLET AP-    Globe-Trotting, Travel, destination Italy, New York, Budget Travel           Globe-Trotting, Travel, destination Italy, New York, Budget Travel
(#love)
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That’s it. Some of these are self explanatory, some took me time to learn. Either way, I hope these tips help you in your next New York minute.