Meleah Reardon @ Meleah Reardon Photography

Mostar: Hope for War-Torn Bosnia

Mostar is a city located in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and is an easy drive from Dubrovnik. As we drove across the border, the transition was dramatic – from the Latin alphabet to the Cyrillic; from beautiful coastal buildings to houses that were still pockmarked with bullets or fully shelled.

Pictured here is the Old Bridge (Stari Most). It was destroyed in 1993 during the war, much to the dismay of many. However, in 2004 the bridge was rebuilt and stands today as a beacon of hope for the future of this war-torn country.

 

 

Rochester Castle and Cathedral

The great Rochester Castle towers over the city of Rochester, dominating the skyline together with its inseparable twin, the magnificent cathedral. These two buildings have resisted siege and destruction for over 900 years, and are all that remain of this war-battered keep.

On the day I took this picture, it was impossibly cloudy. I drove 2 hours for a sunset photo, only to arrive in the bleakest conditions. To my astonishment, the front passed over the castle grounds just as the sun sank toward the horizon, creating a beautiful rainbow that linked these two ancient buildings together.

Village of the Week: Eye, Suffolk

I love to explore. I especially love finding off-the-beaten-path locations that tourists rarely visit. Each week, I pick a different destination in England. Sometimes I close my eyes, and place my finger on a map. This week’s lucky winner was the sleepy village of Eye in Suffolk. Covered in cute thatched roofed homes and old churches, this village was straight from a fairy tale. My favorite bit was the church of St Peter and St Paul, pictured here. In this photo, I’m standing on the ruined ramparts of an old Norman Castle. Not much remains of this castle, but it does provide an excellent look-out point over the village.

 

The town of Eye derives its name from the Old English word for ‘island’ and it is believed that the first settlement on the site would have been almost entirely surrounded by water and marshland formed by the River Dove. In 1781 some workers dug up a lead box containing about 600 Roman gold coins dating to the reigns of Roman Emporers Valens, Valentinian , Gratian, Theodosius, Arcadius, and Honorius from the 4th century. This was the largest hoard of Roman gold coins ever discovered in Britain.

Bavaria: The Land of Good Beer

I will admit, Germany was never high on my travel list. I knew I wanted to go – heck, I want to go everywhere – but nothing about it seemed to draw me towards it. But by pure luck, I got stuck in Germany last fall during a Space-A flight back to the states. To pass the time away, I rented a car and traveled around the local area. Heidelberg was my main destination. It was love at first sight – I loved the gorgeous rolling hills covered in pine, the delicious food and very friendly people. Not to mention the castles, history and beautiful architecture! My time in Germany was short, but at this point I knew I needed to go back with Luke.

So in July of this year, we set off for the southern region of Germany, Bavaria.

Highlights from Bavaria

The ski-resort town of Garmisch is a popular destination with Americans. The US Military Resort Edelweiss is located here, and is a short distance to Munich, making it an ideal place to base yourself. We didn’t stay at the resort, but opted for a smaller hotel near town center. We only stayed one night in Garmisch, but the highlight from here was definitely Partnach Gorge – a very narrow, deep gorge that has been cut by a mountain stream. As a girl from the most beautiful area of the world (The Pacific Northwest), I’m hard to impress when it comes to natural beauty. But Partnach took my breath away.

         

Next up was a quick visit to Munich, considered by many to be the “Beer Capital of the World”. A city rich in culture, history and delicious food, Munich makes itself a city hard to leave. Maybe we will go back someday? The beer in this photo was not for me. But I can proudly say that Luke drank a full liter in one sitting.

 The view from the top of St. Peter’s

How can one visit the Bavarian Alps without a visit to Neuschwanstein Castle? Yes, it is the number #1 most visited tourist attraction in Europe, but as I mentioned in my previous post, sometimes the popular ones are popular for good reason. Such is the case with Neuschwanstein, a castle straight from a fairytale, perched perfectly in the mountains. I was obsessed with getting the “right angle” on this castle, which proved to be much more difficult than I imagined. Luke and I must have hiked over 8 miles through unmarked territory, trespassing a few times, to get this shot:

And that concludes our time in southern Germany! Next on the list for later this month … Poland.

A Bite of Austria: Exploring Salzburg in One Night

Ah, Salzburg – the city most famous for being the birthplace of Mozart, and the filming location for Sound of Music. Everything about this Austrian city is perfect and picturesque: narrow cobbled-stone streets, stunning architecture, friendly locals and delicious food. The more I travel Europe, the more I’ve come to appreciate the smaller moments and memories abroad. Yeah, sure … I enjoy Europe’s big attractions – many are famous for good reason – but I don’t enjoy wading through a sea of tourists. My favorite memories usually involve finding a nice place to eat that is tucked back along some alleyway, and enjoying the local cuisine while soaking up the sounds of a new language. And in this way, Austria did not disappoint. My only regret is that we only spent 1 night here – I think Salzburg deserves a 2-night minimum.

Highlights from Salzburg:

  • We hiked up along the outskirts of the old city wall, and just as we reached the top of Mönchsberg an enormous rainstorm swept through. Thankfully we were able to take cover under some umbrellas outside a cozy pub called Die Stadtalm, where locals were scrambling to duck inside. It rained so hard that even the umbrellas couldn’t keep us dry. Despite the wetness, there was something special and romantic about standing with Luke in a rainstorm overlooking the city. Shortly after the storm front passed, the clouds broke and were treated to this spectacle:
    City view from Mönchsberg
  • We ate dinner at Zwettler’s Stiftskeller, a cozy restaurant centrally located near Mozartplatz in Old Town. I consumed the most exquisite, yet simple spinach dumpling. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.      
    Dinner at Zwettler’s Stiftskeller                                Escaping another rain storm at a street-side cafe 
  • We went super-touristy and purchased a few Mozartkugels, a chocolaty delight first introduce by local Salzburg confectioner Paul Fürst. You can find imitation Mozartkugels on nearly every street corner, but at least we opted for the only place in the world that stills sells hand-made Mozartkugels using the original recipe. You can find these at Cafe Fürst right off Brodgasse in Old Town. As a chocolate lover, I very much approved.
  • Lastly, we enjoyed a pleasant stroll through the gardens of Mirabell Palace, which you may recognize as the filming location for the “Do-Re-Me” scene in South of Music

            Mirabell Gardens, with Salzburg Castle in the background

I’m not certain we will have time to go back to Austria during our time here (Vienna being the other popular destination), simply because our list is too long and there is much to see. But I’m content with this delicious mini-slice of Austria.

“Use Tripod, Yes. One Minute Only”

The streets of Barcelona can be quite magical, especially in the ancient Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter). Around every winding, cobbled street corner there is something new to discover – old homes, small boutiques, beautiful churches, and courtyards such as this one pictured below.

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It’s easy to get lost, so I can’t say for certain where I found this little gem. But I know it was somewhere between the Catedral de Barcelona and Santa Maria Del Mar. I stopped to take a picture, and a security guard quickly approached me. I was nervous, thinking he was going to shoo me away. Instead, he said “Use tripod, yes. One minute only”. That seemed fair! He clearly did not want me blocking the entryway for too long. I appreciated the reasonableness of his request. Rather than kicking me out before I could take some pictures, he simply requested that I make it quick. I wish other places were staffed by such reasonable people. Thank you, Mr. Security Guard, for letting me take this shot.

Sun in the Spanish Foothills

I snapped this shot while driving from Andorra La Villa to Barcelona. This little castle is nestled between the foothills of the Pyrenees, just along the E-9 in Spain.

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I almost missed the opportunity to shoot this, because we were driving so quickly along the motorway. Luckily Luke spotted a turn out, so we pulled over, climbed down the hill, crossed an old stone bridge, and shot this from the motorway. I wish I knew the name of this place, but I do not. But it was beautiful moment to soak in together. I could go back to this area of the world again and again …

Waiting for the Sun

I hate waking up early. Always have. But if there’s one thing that will get me out of bed before the crack of dawn, it’s a sunrise photo.  For this photo, I’ve been waiting several months for the sun to be in just the right position in the sky and for the weather to be clear. This morning was finally my opportunity to shoot Ely Cathedral reflecting in the nearby lakes. I woke up early (granted, only 6:30am but that’s early for me) and headed down to the footpaths around the lake. It was cold. Dark. Muddy. The weird things photographers do, eh?

This cathedral owes its existence to St. Etheldreda, who was queen and abbess of Ely. Etheldreda restored an old church at Ely, reputedly destroyed by Penda, king of the Mercians, and built her monastery on the site of what is now Ely Cathedral. After its restoration in 970 by Ethelwold it became the richest abbey in England except for Glastonbury.

I have traced my ancestry back to this city, and one of my great (great great…) grandfathers lived here and, being Catholic at the time, probably worshiped in this very church nearly 400 years ago.

Sleepy in Suffolk

Say hello to Kersey, a small picturesque village in the Babergh district of Suffolk. The district of Babergh takes its name from one of the old Saxon hundreds, referred to in the Domesday Survey of 1086. Although the name Babergh is not widely known, many of its historical villages are. The picture book villages of Lavenham and Kersey are very popular with visitors to Suffolk, and this area’s landscapes are made famous by 18th century painter John Constable.

Just recently, I read a study that said 24% of all houses in the Babergh district were built before the 16th century. The area remains largely untouched, and walking through the old village feels like walking back in time. There is a general quietness about this part of the countryside too. All one can hear is the distant sound of doves cooing, and an occasional resident walking through the snow.

It’s a magical place. You should visit sometime.

Frostbite for a Photo

There’s something about snow that magically transforms the English landscape. Suddenly villages are quainter, cathedral are more majestic, and castles are grander. I love when it snows around here. I really do. Especially with photo opportunities like this all around.

But as much as I like how this photo turned out, I’m afraid my memory of this day will always be tainted by the traumatic experience in which it was captured. To reach the spot in which I’m standing, I had to hike through a large icy field. Little did I know that this field was actually a bog containing water up to my knees. I got stuck. I got stuck real bad. I was wearing the worst shoes you can imagine, and there I am standing all alone in this giant empty, icy field with my feet stuck deep in the freezing mud. When I managed to dislodge my feet, I realized my right foot was so cold I couldn’t feel it anymore. It was a solid, icy brick. I started to panic. I was so cold I could barely move, my foot was turning colors, and I was still a mile away from my car. Bad planning! Luckily there was a very nice man who approached me minutes later. He was also a photographer, out there with his tripod. And nice, warm boots. Smart guy. Dumb girl. He helped me put my shoes back on (because my hands were frozen), didn’t laugh at me while I cried there like an idiot in the field, and showed me the quickest way out of the field. After heating my foot in the car for an hour (a very painful process by the way), I was good to go. Thanks to the man who helped me, whoever you are. Thank you.

I wonder if this picture was really worth all that…

Yeah. I’m crazy.

Pictured: Framlingham Castle is considered one of the most important and beautiful medieval castles in the British Isles. It changed hands on several occasions and was at one time in the possession of Mary Tudor: here she waited during the summer of 1553 with a large encampment of followers, awaiting the results of the succession following the death of her brother, Edward VI.