During the fall of 2006 my wife and I went on our honeymoon. It consisted of a cruise that left Savona Italy and traveled to Barcelona, Casablanca, St. Cruz deTenerife, Funchal and Malaga before returning to Savona. The total length of the cruise was 11 days, 4 of which were at sea days and an extra day after the cruise in Genoa before flying home.
For the honeymoon I had prepared myself a little better to take award winning photographs (not that I actually managed to). I had practiced photography a lot more between my England trip and my honeymoon. I had also purchased a 3rd party 28-80mm f/3.5 zoom lens. I had only a limited amount of time to try out the lens before the trip and I found that it cut off the corners of photos. I traced the issue to a filter attachment ring that was to long. I removed the ring and it seemed like everything was fine, though I found out after returning that the lens still vignetted badly at all focal lengths and apertures, but it did not vignette when focused closer then about 20ft, which is why I didn’t catch it before the honeymoon as I only took pictures close up after fixing the filter ring issues. By this point in time I had a pretty good grasp of sunny/16, so exposures were much less of an issue.
For the trip I took with me my brand new LoweproNova AW 2 camera bag loaded down with my OM-1, zuiko 50mm f/1.8, Vivitar 135mm f/3.5, Non-name brand (Samigon, Samyang???) 28-80mm f/3.5 zoom, a few filters, 4 rolls of Fuji reala and 8 rolls of Fuji Superiaiso400 film. Fortunately because I didn’t trust the zoom lens very much I took the bulk of my pictures with the zuiko 50mm f/1.8 or the vivitar 135mm f/3.5 lenses.
Day 1 consisted of a very long and grueling flight from Dulles Int Airport to Rome Lenardo Da Vinci – Fiumicino Int airport. We then had to pass through security again for a regional flight. Of course my carry-on was x-rayed again and my first of many requests for a hand check of film was denied. From there we caught a small twin engine prop plane to Milan. We then boarded a bus to the port of Savona for the cruise.
The day ended with sore backs and sore feet relaxing in our cruise cabin.
On the second day we arrived in Barcelona mid morning and my wife and I went into the city for a bike tour of the waterfront area. I left my camera and bag in our room as I didn’t want to carry the whole thing on the bike, though I should have brought it. So sadly I have no pictures of Barcelona, which is a very pretty city. I didn’t experience any issues withpick pockets as some have complained of, but our bike guide did warn us several times to be vigilant.
We puttered around the boat and generally relax.
Very early in the morning (just after midnight) we past the strait of Gibraltar. I managed a couple of pictures, but nothing that turned out very good due to trying a 1 second exposure on a ship that is moving with my camera braced on the railing. We went to bed afterward and woke up a few scant hours later to catch breakfast while pulling in to the port of Casablanca.
Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca, Vivitar 135mm f/3.5
Sunrise over Casablanca, Vivitar 135mm f/3.5
After a hearty breakfast and a few pictures from the deck of the ship my wife and I hopped on our tour bus to head to Marrakesh. It ended up being close to a 3hr bus ride one way to get to the city. The outskirts of the city are primarily palm trees, but the city steadily turns into suburbs and even a few golf courses before the old city begins.
Souks, Marrakesh, Zuiko 50mm f/1.8
We did a walking tour of the Souks, which I must say are rather confusing. The walking tour was okay for taking photographs, but absolutely no good for shopping. Our tour guide never gave us long enough at any place to do more then look before continuing on. We stopped at the Ben Youssef Madrassa for about 15 minutes of exploring and picture taking. It is the largest Madrassa in all of Morocco and was originally founded in the 13th century and rebuilt in the 16th century.
Ben Youssef Madrassa, Marrakesh, Zuiko 50mm f/1.8
Ben Youssef Madrassa, Marrakesh, Zuiko 50mm f/1.8
Madrassa Grate, Marrakesh, Zuiko 50mm f/1.8
After visiting the Madrassa we continued out Souk walking tour to the Djemaa El Fna square where our group broke up for 45 minutes of shopping and relaxing. My wife and I ran across some snake charmers in action and my wife also ended up getting her hand tattooedwith Henna, though not of her volition as the woman grabbed her hand and began tattooing it even though my wife tried to jerk away. Some of the peddlers, though only a very few, are extremely pushy…and usually come back with an eye popping price if you don’t haggle.
Snake Charmers, Marrakesh, Vivitar 135mm f/3.5
Alleyway, Marrakesh, Vivitar 135mm f/3.5
After taking a breather we headed to lunch at a restaurant nearby. We had excellent food consisting of chicken, couscous, rack of lamb, and fruits with water and wine to wash it down. We also were on the receiving end of a very nice belly dance exhibition. After lunch we headed to the Royal Palace for a tour (Dar el Makhzen).
Royal Palace, Marrakesh, Zuiko 50mm f/1.8
After touring the royal palace we ended up having about an hour of down time to wander and shop before loading up the tour bus to head back to the cruise ship. During this time my wife managed some haggling to buy a couple of things while I commented on her choices and enjoyed a wonderful cup of Moroccan Mint tea, which I highly recommend everyone try who visits the country, so long as you have a sweat tooth as they like about half sugar and half tea.
The bus rideback was fairly uneventful, though it was wonderful to look up at the stars as we drove through the countryside.
Day 5 was spent at sea.
My wife and I woke up early to catch a good breakfast for our day in the Canary Islands at St. Cruz de Tenerife. We took another bus tour, but this one was more of an eating and drinking tour with a bit of sight seeing along the way. We drove up through one of the national parks to get an elevated view of the island. Afterward we drove to the Bodega where we were having a wine and Tapas tasting. The wine was magnificent and among the best I have ever tasted as was the Canarian Salsa for the small baked potatoes (for dipping).
An amusing story is during the tasting one of our fellow tourists was getting into the tasting a little to much downing shot glassed sized wine and grape liquor samples like he was dying of thirst. After trying everything as quickly as he could he sized upon a bottle of olive oil and pour himself a large shot, not noticing the rosemary and other herbs stuffed in a, very not wine bottle looking, bottle. One shot later and a grimace and he realized his mistake. He innocently headed to another table so as the hide his embarrassment, which was probably for the best because my wife and I had a hard time keeping our faces straight.
Bodega, Tenerife Island, Zuiko 50mm f/1.8
After much wine tasting and a little bit of shopping where I acquired a bottle of the excellent salsa to try to reproduce, with pretty good success, and some canarian honey rum, which is just opulent. Afterward we walked, and in some cases, staggered back on the bus to head back to the cruise ship.
My wife and I then relaxed on deck while the cruise ship left port and sailed for the Madeiran islands.
Tenerife Island, Non-name 28-80mm f/3.5
Early in the morning we arrived at Funchal, capitol of the Madeiran islands (Portugal). We were taking a sight seeing tour of the island and it left early. The first stop was up near the top of the city we took a sled ride down. Before the incorporation of steam and cog locomotives in the 19th century this was the primary means of getting around the city other then by horse or your own two feet. A team of sledders would literally pull you down the hill (and ride on the back when steep enough). It is quite an experience and a little harrowing when you are expecting the skids to hit a rut at every turn…there are LARGE ruts in the cobble stone roads.
Sled ride, Funchal, Non-name 28-80mm f/3.5
After this sled ride we drove up over the spine of the island and through beautiful rain forest. On the port side of the island we had heavy fog and rain, but on the back side it was mostly sunny skies. We stopped at a beautiful restaurant for lunch and had more wonderful canarian wine (though we were in the Madeira islands).
Funchal, Zuiko 50mm f/1.8
After lunch we drove around more of the island and stopped back in the city for a tasting of the famed Madeira wine. I personally found the wine not to my liking at all. We then boarded the ship and left port.
We found ourselves in the port of Malaga on the Costa del Sol, Spain. Overall my opinion of the Costa Del Sol is that it lives up to its name, at least on the day we were there. We were taking a bus ride to the small town of Mijas, which has a large British ex-pat community. The town is situated on the face of the Andalusian mountains facing the Mediterranean sea. The town as a whole has beautiful white washed walls and the worlds smallest bull ring, which unfortunately I did not get to see the inside of, but it looked positively cramped from the outside.
Mijas, No-name 28-80mm f/3.5
Mijas, Zuiko 50mm f/1.8
Mijas, Zuiko 50mm f/1.8
We debarked the ship early in the morning at Savona to head to our hotel in Genoa. After a number of days at sea, and never quite getting used to the jet lag (I blame a cabin at the bottom of the boat for that) we were off the boat.
Savona, Vivitar 135mm f/3.5
A few hours later we arrived in Genoa as debarking the boat was a long process. We checked into our hotel which was in the medieval quarter of Genoa and relaxed for a little while before taking a tour of the medieval quarter.
Zuiko 50mm f/1.8
Zuiko 50mm f/1.8
We grabbed an early dinner around 5pm and a Gelato later and after touring the medieval quarter of the city we retired back to our hotelroom and took a nap. We woke up hungry around 10pm with nothing open, so we were forced to go to the McDonalds just down from our hotel room disappointed that we would be stuck with “American” fast food on our final full day abroad.
Medieval gates, Genoa, Zuiko 50mm f/1.8
Medieval gates, Genoa, No-name 28-80mm f/3.5
We flew home bright and early on the 12th day. Passing through security I was forced to run my film through an x-ray machine again, despite the fact that my wife and I must have been 2 of a total of 20 people in the entire airport. After trying to insist that they hand check my film, very nicely mind you, the security guard and the police officer on duty got extremely annoyed and decided it would be fun to run my carry on through the x-ray machine 3 or 4 times…even though I told them both that the film had my honeymoon pictures on it. They also practically strip searched my camera (having to remove the lens, prove it functioned, pop the back cover open and even take the battery cap off). I can tell they didn’t stand for American tourists. Thankfully my film managed okay despite a total of 6-8 x-ray scannings over the course of the whole trip.
We hopped an intracountry flight back to Rome where we caught our main flight back to the US.
The main lesson I learned on my honeymoon was that any equipment that I purchase before a trip or any situation in which I want to use it and it would be important to me, I need to throughly test it out. I failed to do this with the 28-80mm lens I purchased and it bit me in the butt. I lost several photos to the horrible vignetting of the lens (as it was so bad on some photos they were not recoverable). Fortunately it was not my only lens and I relied on it as little as possible because I was wary that it still wasn’t working correctly. Also along those lines it taught me that any equipment I want for a trip I need to track down and use long before a trip. If I don’t have confidence in my equipment, and I didn’t on this trip, it makes me paranoid the entire trip that my photos are not turning out properly.