View Full Version : Hungary, Austria, & Italy this Summer
before i get flamed for posting this thread, please understand that i have already poured through the archives, read stacks of travel books, and looked through scores of magazines. through this research, i have been able to put together a rather nice itinerary (i think). however, since this site has users from all over the world, i thought this would be a great opportunity to get inputs from photographers who know the areas i will be traveling to as well as i know my own hometown.
that said, onto my query.
i will be honeymooning in europe from may 23 - june 10. we will be starting in hungary (budapest), then moving on to austria (salzburg and innsbruck), then to italy (venice, tuscany, sienna, florence). we'll be travelling via the eurail until we reach venice. from venice through the tuscany area and onto florence we will be renting a car.
my wife-to-be wants me take my 4x5 outfit along - yes, she actually requested the Linhof instead of my much faster 120 setup. i'd like to shoot some interesting landscapes, both rural and urban; though i guess most would call urban landscapes 'architectural'.
as i said earlier, i have, through other avenues, gotten very good tips on fine locations to shoot, however, i'd still very much appreciate any suggestions you may have.
i'm planning on limiting my gear to two lenses (150 and 240) and as much neopan across 100 and 160 portra VC that i can carry. is this a reasonable outfit? if i were to take alonog a third lens, would a 90 or 300 be more useful? the 150 / 240 is my bread-and-butter set-up here in the states, so i figured it would work well for me across the pond as well.
as always, thanks in advance for all suggestions, scott
I'll leave the equipment discussions alone as I figure for something like this where the photographyis important but a bit secondary it is a personal decision. However, if it is no ttoo late to rethink your travel arrangements I would urge you to consider renting a car for more or all of your travels.
A railpass is a great way to travel for extended periods of time but in your instance you will do as well, in terms of cost, renting a car and you will not be locked into hours on a train where you pass by great shooting opportunities. I travel extensively in Europe and drive whenever I can. I usually rent my cars befroe i leave from Europcar which has its headquarters in maine but is all over europe and has great rates. I just did a quick online check at www.europcar.com and it look like you can do a compact rental for the whole period for ~ $385 (although I did not check one way drop charges if you are flying out of Italy).
You will be passing through some terrific parts of Austria, most of which will be missed photographically if you travel by train! If you drive you can go from Budapest by way of say Graz, Klagenfurt and Villach then head northly through alpine passes to Insbruck. In so doing you will have multiple opportunities for great landscapes ranging from castles clinging to hillsides to farmland vistas to quaint town squares. I think it is a shame to be locked into train schedules and stops when there is a film aching to be exposed.
If it is not too late rethink I believe you will be much happier driving.
Scott, You have a very understanding wife to be. Mine has no sense of humor at all! She's Swedish and we get to Europe quite a bit. Take your 90mm! I take four lenses when we go over, a 90mm, 120mm, 210mm, and 300mm, and the 90mm & 120mm get used the most. When we were in Italy this past summer I found that the little towns and villages were the most interesting photographically. But the streets are narrow in both the small towns and larger cities, you'll want that 90mm. I am sure you'll have a great time. BTW I know there have been several posts of late dealing with airport security, I did not have a bit of problem last summer at any of the airports we flew out of. I carry my camera, lenses and film on the plane and put my tripod in my large checked bag. Good luck, Greg
Congratulations on your big day!
Some years ago I arrived in Venice on a Eurail Pass. It was so early in the morning it was still dark and some of the bars were still open. I spent the pre-dawn hours walking around the city---the first light was fantastic---I was mezmerized! Didn't take a single picture. You might look into getting out during the predawn---incidentally, it'll probably be the only way to avoid the crowds of tourists. Also it might be fun to check out the Mukhitarist Monastery on St. Lazare among all the other architectural treasures.
There is nothing like a rail strike to curdle one's plans. I've driven in Italty believe its the way to go. Not too far from Venice are the dolomites, (Bozen & the mountain villages above) and the "lake district". Lake Como is especially beautiful with historic towns like Belligio (sp?) Enjoy
I can see driving in the country but Florence? Siena? Obviously not Venice. If the goal is the bigger towns and cities won't driving bring it's own problems? OTOH driving may be the only way to hit some of the smaller sites.
Hope you'll have a good time. I have lived in Budapest for 6 years in the early 90's, and have visited again after a 6 year-absence last August. Budapest is a very charming city with eclectic architecture.
A few suggestions as they cross my mind:
The Parliament is a neogothic gem that offers a lot to the photographer. Get on Margit bridge at sunrise and take a shot of the Parliament with the longer lens. You may also enjoy a guided tour inside the building.
The Chain Bridge (Lanchid) allows for dramatic compositions from the Pest side, to include the Royal Palace (or the Matthias Church) in the background.
Opera House on Andrassy ut is worth a visit out- and inside.
The downtown Pest (Vaci utca - Kossuth Lajos ut - Astoria) has a lot a grand buidings, but many are pretty dilapidated -- or at least need a good scrubbing. They make for charming mood shots, particularly B&W early in the a.m., before traffic engulfs the area.
Great Synagogue on Dohany utca street, built in Moorish style has been recently renovated to its erstwhile beauty and is in active use. Also chech out St Istvan bazilika and Matyas templom in the castle.
Museum of Applied Arts - (Ulloi ut X Jozsef korut) is beautiful on the outside. The nearest American equivalent to its collection is the Arts and crafts style.
Hosok tere (Heroes' square) is great for pictures: two neoclassical buildings facing each other across a vast square, with a arched pantheon of statues of past Hungarian kings in the middle of the square. Again, it's best early in the am, before it's flooded by tourists.
Budapest boasts dozens of hot springs, and these were harnessed for spas as early as the Roman times. Photographically and for capturing the "genius loci", Budapest bathhouses are worth a visit. I would point out that baths in Budapest do NOT have (as best as I could tell) the conotation that bathhouses in, say, San Francisco have. In fact they are more in line with the European spa tradition. Your wife (or both of you) would enjoy a visit. Check out the Gellert Hotel, a beautiful modernist Seccesion building, that has its own bath complex (ie. indoors and outdoors pools and saunas). The Rudas baths were built by the Turks and have an octogonal pool with several smaller pools in the corners, all covered with a dome containing stained glass bits that filter sunlight. Finally, the Szecsenyi Baths (in Varosliget) are interesting architecturally. You may go in (even if you don't personally take a bath) and you can see people playing chess while soaking in the pool. That is a very Budapest experience.
Szentendre is a small and charming village North of Budapest, on the Danube. Can be reached by HEV (suburban commuter trains) or boat. Is a former artists' colony. Well worth a day trip.
Finally two pieces of (unsolicited) advice from somebody who has been married for 9 years
1. Spousal patience is a valuable long term resources that is, alas, rather finite. Wives tend to get inpatient with endless fidgeting with photo equipment, and LF is more taxing than most. Would try to provide entertainment for her: get a massage for her at Gellert, while you're out photographing the same building. Surely the point of the honeymoon is to be together, but you get my point.
2. Get a smaller/faster camera to capture the candids of your honeymoon. LF is surely not going to be good for those Mastercard moments.
Enjoy your trip and congratulations!
Congratulations! My wife and I honeymooned in Salzburg during the last Christmas season, and I can report with confidence that wherever you aim your Linhof, there is the possibility of a great shot. The problem there is that for every nice shot you take in the city, you'll immediately see the same shot staring back at you from a postcard stand, so don't be discouraged. The park atop the Monchsburg was beautiful in December, and is bound to be even better in season. But as wonderful as Salzburg and Innsbruck are, I'd suggest renting a car and driving around a bit. Try Hallstatt -- maybe the prettiest town I've seen, and only about 45 minutes from Salzburg. I saw two LF shooters there when we visited, and I wasn't one of them. (Left the Crown Graphic at home-- damn!)
Bon Voyage Dan
Wow! Thanks for all the great inputs everyone.
i guess i'll pick up a 90mm - i'm considering a grandagon, nikkor sw or fujinon sw and will go with whichever one i come across used and in good shape first.
ted- we've already locked the train / car reservations. we vacillated on that a bit, but in the end decided that arriving rested to the major spots was worth missing a few minor ones along the way. this was a tough pill for me to swallow, as i tend to wander, thinking of the entire journey as the destination, the endpoint being just that. however, my better half, who lived in salzburg for three years and has visited europe many times since, won the day.
nick- just to clarify, we're picking up the car on the way out of venice and driving through the tuscany region (siena, umbria, civita, etc). from there, we'll be heading to florence, where we will drop the car off on arriving, so we don't have the aggravation of a car in town. we're flying out of florence, so this should work quite well.
dan- thanks for all the tips. as i mentioned previously, christine lived in austria for a spell and actually made reservations in a hotel atop the Monchsburg.
i really appreciate the inputs! scott
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