St. Martin & Anguilla // French West Indies

One of the toughest parts about living abroad is the long stretches of time you’ll go without seeing your family. So when my dad told me he & my stepmom were going to fly me in from Vienna to go on vacation with them and all my siblings, I was super excited. As it turns out, the trip came at a perfect time for all of us — my dad recently took a new position that has them moving to Dubai for 2 years, and they leave in just a few days! It was so nice for us all to spend time together before their big move. And in a beautiful place, at that.

St. Martin is a country in the Caribbean that is half Dutch & half French. I flew in from Paris and met up with the rest of my family there. My parents had rented an amazing house to accommodate all 11 of us, complete with an infinity pool overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. It was by far the most incredible place I’ve ever stayed in! The whole house was open to the outdoors, with the exception of the bedrooms and bathrooms. There was one long table where we all had dinner, with local chefs coming a few nights and preparing fabulous meals for us. We went into town a few days and ate at some local spots and checked out a few of the different beaches. We mostly just hung out – played games, ate, laughed a lot (A LOT), and soaked up the sun (my pale now-European self got sun poisoning).

My favorite day of the trip was when we took a private catamaran to the island of Anguilla. We sailed around for awhile, stopping a few times to snorkel. The beach that we docked at in Anguilla was the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen. There were beautiful white villas all along the coastline. The sand was so soft it felt like walking on baby powder. The water was calm, so clear, and the most beautiful shades of turquoise. It felt like swimming in a bottle of Evian. I could have stayed there all week.

I’m so thankful for the chance to have gone to such a wonderful place with the people that I love. Until next time (in Dubai!).

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Switzerland

Wow. Switzerland might be the most beautiful country on Earth. Next to Austria, of course.

I took a train from Vienna to Zürich a few weeks ago to visit my friend Amber, who lives in the beautiful city of Interlaken. Amber is starting a church in that city, and is doing amazing work all throughout Switzerland. Amber met me in Zürich and took me to a little town called Aarau, where we had dinner with some new Swiss friends. Aarau is such a quaint little town, with elaborately painted buildings lining the streets and random cats wandering the streets. We walked down to the river and put our feet in the icy cold water and talked about what life in Switzerland was like, and then we had Bible study over crepes.

We went to Interlaken that night and spent the next two days there. Interlaken is insanely gorgeous. The name of the city literally means ‘between lakes.’ There are two lakes on each side of the town, and huge mountain ranges surround the whole area. Jungfrau, one of the highest mountain peaks in Europe, is in Interlaken. From a certain vantage point, it looks the same size as the other mountains, except they’re green and Jungfrau is covered in snow. But as you get to a higher elevation, you see it from a different perspective and realize just how massive it really is.

The air in Interlaken smells like lilacs. There are wildflowers growing out of the sides of the mountains, and the water is a beautiful shade of turquoise, or it’s so cold that it’s silver. Cows and sheep are everywhere in Interlaken, and they all have huge bells around their necks. Paragliding is very popular here, and there’s a big field in the middle of the city where people come out to watch the paragliders land. It really is the dreamiest town.

We took a funicular up to the top of Harder Kulm, one of the mountains there, and had an amazing view. After that, we stopped in the town of Grindelwald, which literally looked like something straight out of the pages of Heidi.

The second day we were in Interlaken, it rained all morning. We didn’t mind it so much, as we had totally worn ourselves out the previous day. About halfway through the day, the temperatures dropped, and it started pouring snow! We stayed inside most of the day and ate Swiss chocolate and watched the snow gather on the mountains. It was truly beautiful.

On Saturday, I took the train to Geneva to go and spend a few days with the church there and some friends who were in town from Munich. Geneva houses The United Nations, The World Heath Organization, and many other international organizations. It is such a mix of old & new. Parts of it looked & felt like Rome to me. The city dates all the way back to 2nd century B.C. & once was under Roman rule, so I guess that makes sense. Old Town Geneva had beautiful old buildings with flowers in the windows. There you’ll find the church of famous Protestant reformer John Calvin, who they say is actually responsible for the luxury watches Switzerland is so known for (he preached against all jewelry except for watches, thus moving the people to create fancier watches!).

The waterfront in Geneva feels more like a ritzy beach getaway. The world’s most expensive cars & luxury stores are everywhere. It was my first time to see an Elie Saab store (my favorite designer) in real life. There were so many Bugattis, Maseratis, Ferraris, etc. that I lost count. There are boats everywhere, all drawing attention to the focal point of the Geneva waterfront, the Jet d’Eau, a large fountain shooting 450 feet into the air. It very much felt like a place where the super wealthy went to vacation.

Geneva is right on the border of Switzerland and France, and one of my favorite parts of the trip was a drive we took through the French countryside to go and visit a lady from the church and her new baby in the hospital. When the clouds cleared, you could see Mt. Blanc out on the horizon. It was such a beautiful area, and spending time with friends, old & new, was even better.

Until next time, Switzerland!

 

Interlaken, Switzerland 

 

Views from the trains in Austria & Switzerland

 

Aarau, Switzerland

 

Geneva, Switzerland

 

French Countryside

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Cameron + Melody: Wedding

I was so happy I got to come back to the States for a few weeks last month to photograph Cameron & Melody’s wedding. I can’t really remember a time that these two weren’t together! They are such great people, and together, even greater. I love them and both of their families lots, and wouldn’t have missed their wedding for the world.

Thanks, Cam & Mel, for asking me to be a part of your big day!

 

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