Road Trip Part I - Lakes and winding roads
Having spent the last few months "on the rails," we were itching for a little freedom, and the easiest way to get that was with a set of wheels of our own. Welcome to my six-part road trip series, in which I'll be narrating our photography trip through part of Central Europe, where there's a man-made or natural marvel around every bend and almost always a black cloud on the horizon.
Doing some research, we learnt it best to hire a car in Milan for a two-week period, complete a big loop through some Central European countries, and then finish where we started. Once this plan of ours was locked in, we strapped in, then set off to create a unique and memorable experience of our own.
After getting the hell out of the major city, we made our way east to Verona, where we stocked up on everything we'd need for the two-week trip. With our supplies gathered, we turned the keys and drove into the countryside, stopping first at the Sanctuary of Madonna Della Corona, a 16th-century Diocesan church built into the side of an overhanging precipice.
When you've been on organised bus tours, in the back seat of a friend's car, and on your legs for four months, and then you get a car, all you want to do is drive. In the first couple of days, we had our hands on the wheel from sunrise to sunset, soaking in every little bit of our newly earned freedom. We fell into a bit of a routine, actually. Before first light, we would do some quick research and choose a quiet town (like Cortina d'Ampezzo) which was on the way to our next major destination, and then we'd set out for it. Arriving at our pit stop, we'd indulge in Italian coffee and a cheeky bakery item or two, before getting on with the bulk of the journey and snaking up the mountain roads of northern Italy.
Another reason for starting in northern Italy was because we'd heard there was a string of reflective lakes dotted through the country. We'd either start our day with a sunrise over one of these lakes or end it by grazing on picnic snacks beside them. I mean, come on, have you ever seen mountain, forest, and sky mirrored to such perfection?
Our final stop before making way to Slovenia was Lago Di Braies. For seven years prior I'd marvelled at the spectacle of this lake, having seen it in photographs and magazines. Arriving close to sunset, the visuals were so great that we decided to come back for sunrise the following day. Both times we sat on a small hill facing the softly-lit mountain summits and silent rowboats. It was like time had stopped. And, honestly, we never wanted it to start again.
After a few days feeling out our newfound freedom – a few days of getting used to those frozen-in-time moments, we set our sights on Slovenia, the next major destination in our six-part road trip.
Please join me in a moment of silence in honour of Mel Gibson, the brave-hearted man to whom we owe our freedom.
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Written by Chad Gerber, Edited by Nick Petrou