travel

Crowders Mountain Surprise Engagement

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When Carson first contacted me about shooting his proposal I was thrilled. What could be more exciting than witnessing one of the most pivotal and magical moments in a woman life (and probably most stressful in a mans)? I was slightly worried however, when he told me his plan. Unfortunately  my athleticism and personal fitness was not at an all time high, and he was proposing on the top of Crowders Mountain. The day of the proposal was beautiful, it was blue skies, sunshine, and slightly chilly wind over the mountain top. It was obvious that god created the perfect day for these two. I met Carson's good friends at the bottom of the backside trail, they were assigned to bring his guitar up to the top. So we hiked up bright and early at 9:00 am and waited for the couple to arrive. After about an hour of patiently waiting and catching our breath from the accent, we got the 10 min warning notification that he and his soon to be fiancee were nearing the top of the mountain. His friends hid behind some rocks along with his guitar and I pretended to be a tourist photographer (she luckily didn't know me so I blended in.) However, after he brought his guitar out and some random girl started snapping photos of them, its safe to say she knew something was up. 

 

His friends and I listened as he played her the most romantic song on his guitar that he wrote specifically for her and this proposal; and he couldn't have picked a better spot to serenade her. The cliff side looked over the entire surrounding area for miles out it was mesmerizing and picture perfect. The horizon even had a beautiful distant view of the charlotte skyline where I had traveled from earlier that morning.

As anticipated he popped the question!

There were tears and laughter and so much love in this moment and I know that I am so privileged to have played a small part in it.My heart is so full from witnessing such a pure and spontaneous moment between two people. I could not have imaged anything better for my first experience photographing a proposal.

Durnstein Austria

  Although Durnstein in a very small town on the Danube River compared to big cities like Vienna and Budapest it still is one of the most visited and well known areas in the Wachau Region, and most notably know for its wine growing. We arrived here in the evening after a full day of sailing, and even through the fog and at the distances you could see the looming ruins of the Durnstein Castle.

Durnstein was first brought to light in the history books when the Leopold V Duke of Austria held King Richard I of England (Richard the Lionhearted) captive in the Castle after their dispute during the third crusade in 1192. However, in 1645 the castle was almost completely destroyed by the sweetish empire.

This is the condition in which we visited the castle, the stone steps leading up almost 900 ft had no guard rails, they were carved directly into the mountain and always had an edge that lead directly off of the cliff face. We traveled up these steps as night approached which added to the ominous feeling walking up the mountain.

By the time we reached the top we were out of breath, and although it was at least 30 degrees I had shed a few layers. I stood there on that cliff side in the midst of the Durnstein Castel Ruins looking over the entire Wachau Valley as dusk descended. From the top of the mountain the wind had picked up and made all of the surrounding trees creek and wane in an eerie tone, but we continued up. Inside the Castel confines we found a cellar with rust iron bars and a widow sill in a crumbling wall.

The view from the top was unbelievable at night,and nothing on my trip could compare to the feeling of being on top of the world in the Durnstein Castle Ruins.

More Than Just Shoes

Shoes on the Danube Bank was a memorial sculpture created by Gyula Pauer, made of casted bronze shoes. To passerby who don't know the history of the site, it may see out of place or strange, however, the cite specific art piece was created to commemorate the jewish victims who were ordered to take off their shoes before they were shot on cite and their bodies were carried away by the river. Located on the pest side of the river, trapped jewish peoples, who were housed in ghettoes awaiting the departure to concentration camps were forced by the Arrow Cross Execution Brigade to line up on the waters edge on January 8th 1945. They were shot on the bank while there belonging were stripped of them .

Of all the art museums I have visited over the past tow weeks in Europe, this piece was the most moving. There was an eeriness surrounding the forlorn shoes, a deep melancholy and sense of abandonment even on the bright sunny day ; and as long a they stand every person who walks by will remember what happened here.

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Budapest Hungary

This morning we took a walking tour on the Buda side of the river, here they had beautiful art nouveau architecture on every surrounding building in the castle district. Within the walls of the castle we were able to see the new palace of the prime minister, an unbelievable cathedral dedicated to The Virgin Mary, and ruins of structure previous. It was almost overwhelming to take in all the history in this one small part of the city. I was able to get panoramic city views immediately outside of the cathedral and by the palace which satisfied the photographer in me (even though it was over cast), but unfortunately the museum of fine arts was closed for renovation, maybe next time right?  likewise, walking the Chain Bridge and getting to photograph it, was deeply moving for me because I have have studied it, and dreamed about visiting ; and now that dream has become a reality.

When the sun finally came out for the first time on our trip, we ended up having a lunchtime coffee and pastry in a cafe on the city street which is exactly what I would image one would do in Europe. It was a very nostalgic experience being my last day in Eastern Europe; and my latte blew any perception I had once held of american coffee out of the water!

One of the most interesting things that I have noticed about many of the countries I have visited in the past two weeks is how pedestrian friendly these cities are; Budapest for example has an unbelievably large christmas market that overcome the entire square on the pest side. Also, in Budapest there are large streets that are only permitted to those traveling on foot. The christmas market here was incomparable to any of the previous countries and cities I have visited; so many of the items and foods for sale were genuinely hand crafted (needless to say I have a few christmas presents up my sleeve ) which was different juxtaposed to other christmas markets.

I am sad to admit to myself that Budapest is my last stop of my Eastern Europe travels, the time I have spent here seems far to short , but its time to return home to the states and I will always remember the beautiful memories I have had here.

Budapest at Night

I don't have much to say about this post, I just wanted to share some photos I took last night when we arrived into Budapest. With the reflections over the water and the monuments lit up I couldn't resit!