Destination Wedding Photographers – Caroline + Ben Photography » Destination Wedding Photographers with a passion for love, life and adventure.

Category Archives: Personal Travel

Hello! We are Benoline! This is our travel blog! We are based in the great city of Austin, TX but have a desire to experience many cultures and countries. All photos are taken by Caroline or Ben and showcase our obsession with traveling the world to experience new cultures and expand our minds. We love taking photos of our adventures while discovering the hidden gems off the beaten path of the tourist listings. We truly believe that the world would become a better place if people traveled more. We are lucky enough to be able to travel for work as well as for pleasure. We have now been to 17 countries and list continues to grow. We would like to inspire people to travel more with our travel blog and hope that people can get an insight in to the countries that we have enjoyed so far.We have a pretty long list of destinations so come back here for more adventures to come! This quote pretty much sums up our thoughts.

“Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.” -Paul Theroux

We recently celebrated our first wedding anniversary in the city where it all started over 7 years ago, Florence, Italy. For over a year, we have been recording one second of video every day. We have missed a few days here and there but it represents our lives pretty well. Some days are mundane while other days are so exciting we had a hard time picking just one moment to represent the day. I began recording on July 10th, the day Ben“re-proposed” to me at our final wedding dance lesson and surprised me with a small ceremony with 3 of our closest friends where we signed our marriage license. Our destination wedding soon followed on July 27th, 2013 in Costa Rica.

Over the last year we have traveled to 16 different countries (Thailand, Cambodia, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Mexico, Jamaica, Grand Caymen, the Netherlands, France, Italy, & Monaco) and 7 different states. We have photographed almost 50 weddings and met some amazing clients from all over the world. Based on this condensed version of our lives you can tell that we eat a lot of sushi, we travel, we shoot a lot of weddings, we love our cats, and we bike a lot. This is it, this is our life together and we are looking forward to a lifetime of adventure and new experiences ahead.

You can see we surround ourselves by our amazing family, friends and talented artist from all around the globe and we are so grateful to have all these people in our lives. We love you. Cheers to many more years!

 

florence-portrait-session (1 of 1)-2

I walked off the plane on July 1st lost, tired, and delirious from the 8 hour red eye flight from Houston to Amsterdam. I have not traveled alone since Ben & I have been together (February 2009 to be exact). I put my 40 lbs gear bag above the seat myself and I tried not to lean my head on the shoulder of snoring stranger next to me. I found my way to my new apartment where I would be living in Amsterdam for 11 days sans husband; only after standing in the airport for 30 minutes soaking up the wifi to feel connected to people again. It was unusual to feel so alone at first. After arriving to my tiny Amsterdam apartment above a cheese and deli shop around 9am the bed was screaming my name. It’s one thing to adjust to jet lag and to a new time zone with people influencing you to get out of the house but when you’re alone, it’s a lost battle, so I succumbed to a three hour nap.

I could needlessly walk this blog post through every event of my trip but have found the idea of that to be boring; since most of what I experienced on my trip was internal and indescribable in many senses. In short. I met new people, my mind has been opened and has grown, my brain was tested and tried, I gained my identity back, & I found myself amongst a sea of locals and tourists in one of the craziest and best cities in the world, Amsterdam.

Bikes, cheese, green light district, red light district, dykes, apple pie, Heineken, herring, pea soup, bitterbolen, french fries with mayo, koffie & the color orange. An amazing culture and one that is truly unique and its’ own.

I spent 18 days total in the city and would be content if I never had to leave. Most of this time was spent traveling alone although 8 of those days I was busy taking a Dutch language intensive course in an attempt to be able to speak the language some day. Learning another language has helped me understand my heritage and has massaged my brain. My brain was forced to work in ways that it has, dare I say, never worked before. I appreciate learning something not photography related for once after being out of school for 5 years.

I cannot recommend traveling by yourself enough, especially to someone who hasn’t quite figured everything out yet. In that time I have also fallen in love with the country that my grandparents were born in and I have grown to love my independence as well as my husband more than ever.

During our recent travels we have had a lot of people tell us how lucky we are to be doing what we do and how they only wish they could do the same. Yes, we are blessed, truly, but if you want to go see the world there are many ways to make it happen. So my best advice is to just DO IT!

Here are some random outtakes from our trip with descriptions below them. I did not take many photos so some of these were taken with my iphone. “The best camera you have is the one you have on you.”

If you’d like to read about the food we ate on our trip head on over to this blog post on our new Amsterdam centric blog.

photos-of-amsterdam (1 of 10)
Zaanse Schans
photos-of-amsterdam (2 of 10)
Zaanse Schans
photos-of-amsterdam (3 of 10)
Zaanse Schans
photos-of-amsterdam (4 of 10)
Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset
photos-of-amsterdam (1 of 3)
Wester Park

photos-of-amsterdam (2 of 3)

Conor Oberst at the Paradiso
photos-of-amsterdam (7 of 10)
Rijksmuseum
photos-of-amsterdam (3 of 3)
Vondel Park
photos-of-amsterdam (6 of 10)
photos-of-amsterdam (9 of 10)
photos-of-amsterdam (8 of 10)
View from the Hilton Sky Lounge
photos-of-amsterdam (10 of 10)
photos-of-amsterdam (5 of 10)
My dutch language classmates.

cats of puerto rico

The famous cats of old San Juan.



This is now our 3rd time to visit the island and we have grown to like it more and more every time. I truly believe that if you’re only going to visit one caribbean island in your life, this is the one. It has so much to offer in terms of resorts beaches, history, culture, and food. The last 2 trips we only spent about 5 days here, each, but we were also shooting/attending wedding activities for 3 of those days, so we did not have time to venture much outside of old San Juan. While old San Juan is definitely worth taking the time to walk around, you could do this in one long day of walking around the El Morro & Fort San Cristobal. On this trip we were happy to finally have been able to venture outside of the area to visit the beautiful beaches of Puerto Rico.

We spent the first two nights of our trip in the Condado area where many, often Hilton, resorts are located. There are a lot of good restaurants in this area and the hotels are always equipped with pools to accomodate many. The better resorts will also have access to a beach. We stayed 2 nights at the historic el Convento hotel where all of our Puerto Rica weddings have been located. It was nice to stay there and be able to walk upstairs to bed after a long wedding day. It is a cute hotel with a nice restaurant and a tiny pool. The customer service is wonderful here but as I mentioned earlier, I wouldn’t see much point to staying too long in old San Juan. After a change of plans to decide to go on the catamaran with our clients we opted to stay at La Concha hotel to make waking up at 8am to meet up with them easier on us. It is one of the best hotels in the area (also in condado area).

The catamaran took us as well as 12 of the wedding guests and the bride and groom out to Icacos island to snorkel and lay out in the sun. The water was crystal clear  blue and some of the most beautiful ocean water I have ever seen. Unfortunetly, Ben & I did too much laying in the sun and came home a shade redder than we had intended. That night we made the 2.5 hour drive to Cabo Rojo and stayed in a place we found on Air BnB. The next day we hit up all the best beaches in the area, Playa Combate, Sucia, & Boqueron. Playa Sucia is the highest rated beach in Puerto Rico according to Trip Advisor so we had to check it out. I definitely understand why. It’s a beach that’s far enough off the beaten path so not many tourists make their way out there. It’s mainly a local beach which is perfect for spending a day at.

Tips for Puerto Rico : Remember that while it is technically America, it’s also very different. Laws are different (18+ drinking for example) and there are some dangerous spots that are very close to tourist spots. We have personally experienced police officers telling us not to go down certain paths due to being dangerous but they are not always there and have heard of people getting robbed (mainly in Old San Juan). With that said, I have still felt very safe walking around at night in the right areas. Most people will speak English but basic Spanish is courteous to use when possible. Fun fact : many Cubans and Puerto Ricans do not pronounce the written “S” when saying “gracias”, so it sounds like “gracia”.

Next time we hope to make our way Vieques island as well as finally visit the bioluminescent bays. There are only 5 bioluminescent bays in the world and 3 of them exist in Puerto Rico.

Here are photos from our last few trips to Puerto Rico.

Old San Juan

View of Old San Juan from Fort San Cristobal.

 

ice cream in old san juan

The helado (ice cream) of Old San Juan, you will see people on the streets selling cones, a must try.

old san juan cats
puerto-rico-travel-photos (3 of 4)

fort san cristobal

Photo by Eric at Fort San Cristobal.

iguana in puerto rico

Feed the pigeons in Old San Juan, a man hangs out there selling seeds to tourists.

Feed the pigeons in Old San Juan, a man hangs out there selling seeds to tourists.

Puerto Rico catamaran Icacos island

mountains of Puerto Rico

Drive from San Juan to Ponce.

Nature preserve & bird sanctuary near Playa Sucia

Nature preserve & bird sanctuary near Playa Sucia.

Playa Sucia

Playa Sucia.

Playa Sucia

Playa Sucia.

view of the stars from airplane

From the flight on the way to Puerto Rico.

food of Puerto Rico
Some of our meals from Puerto Rico. From left to right, top to bottom – Shrimp & fried sweet plantains, mixed mofongo, Pina Coladas from the bar that it was invented  Barrachina (they were good but not mind blowing). – Steak with plantain, salad with churrasco strip steak and fried plantain bits. – Mahi mahi with rice & beans, & more mofongo! Mofongo is a very popular dish famous in the caribbean, it is smashed fried plantains stuffed with any protein you can think of and often covered in a garlic or tomato sauce. They love their plantains in the caribbean and I love it! 

budapest-hungary-travel-photography (2 of 7)In October our photographer friends, Jona & Jerry, asked us to join them for Jona’s 30th birthday in Budapest. To be honest, we did not know them very well at the time but we knew that we absolutely had two things in common, a love for travel and photography. Good enough for us! We looked at tickets that day and they were very modest European flight cost, $650 each. So we jumped on the opportunity to travel with them and a group of their friends. Budapest, while touristy to Europeans, seems to be less noticed by Americans which gave it a special charm. We were still exhausted from a red eye flight the first day of our arrival we still manage to eat amazing goulash from For Sale Pub (highly recommend), drink wine at Szimpla Kert, and sing karaoke with locals at a bar we will never be able to find again. Szimpla Kert is in the bar district of Budapest where many ruins were converted into bars and clubs. The bar is huge and likely one of the most popular.  It has many different areas including an outdoor section filled with old cars, a wine bar, and even a girl that walks around selling carrots at night. I think it is supposed to help with hangovers… We loved it so much that we decided to go back there during the end of our trip, during which, we were randomly  interviewed for commentary about the bar by the Ukranian television network 1+1.

We took the Big Bus to the citadella to see great views of Budapest (where the first photo was taken). We had dinner at the Citadella panorama, probably one of my favorite meals ever that I only have one horrible photo of, warm spinach salad with three 1 hour eggs and toasted banquette. After  a side trip to Prague I got pretty sick and totally lost my voice for a few days so we took this opportunity to relax at the biggest thermal bath, Szechenyi thermal baths. The saunas and pools were great to heal my sore throat but given the opportunity I would have visited one of the other ones like Rudas or Csaszar Baths. We have also been to the best thermal bath of all time in Iceland, so we are a bit biased. We also went to the Hungarian state opera house to see the Flying Dutchman, for a classical music fan such as myself it was on top of my list to experience the opera house in eastern Europe. I only wish I had read a little more about the story before hand because the opera is all in German and was translated to Hungarian.  Europeans also tend to update their operas with a ‘modern flair’ which made the story even more difficult to understand given the language barrier.

I really loved Budapest for the history, the sites, the food, the wine, and the price! Budapest is awesome, especially if you’re looking to experience Europe without spending so much money. Part of me hopes it gets more credit as a tourist destination location but part of me wants to keep it a secret so it won’t be spoiled.  :)

~Caroline

eastern-europe-travel-photos (11 of 11)The photo above : I saw this sign a few times during our stay in Budapest, often very crowded with tourists I was determined to wake up one morning at sunrise to get a photo without the swarms of people.  On our last full day in Budapest I was determined to wake up and photograph it the way I had imagined. We booked a hotel just three blocks from Heroes Square to make the walk easier. I set my alarm for 5:45am and walked out into the foggy morning still wearing pajamas underneath my jackets… only to find the sign being taken down. This photo was the first photo I snapped off before they continued to dismantle it. I figured it was a cruel joke Hungary was playing on me.  If you know anything about the history of Budapest you would know that it was once 2 cities, Buda on one side of the river and Pest on the other. In a way, I think this photo represents that history I’m happy that I got a photo of this installation that no one else got.:)
budapest-hungary-travel-photography (1 of 7)
Erzsébet tér during a concert.

budapest-hungary-travel-photography (3 of 7)
Szechenyi thermal baths.

szimpla-kert-bar-budapest (1 of 1)-2
Budapest parliament building.

szimpla-kert-bar-budapest (1 of 1)
Szempla Kert, where you buy carrots from girls to, apparently, help with hangovers.

budapest-hungary-travel-photography (5 of 7)budapest-hungary-travel-photography (6 of 7)
Bokod, Komarom-esztergom – a fishing town outside of Budapest.

budapest-hungary-travel-photography (7 of 7)eastern-europe-travel-photos (3 of 11)1-hungary-desserts-gelatoThis is the gelato we got from Gelarto Rosa, it is close to the best gelato I have ever had, not to mention they make it pretty and put nutella at the bottom of the cone (per request).

1-hungary-food
The two on the left are from Central Kavehaz, one of the few places you can find a traditional American breakfast with eggs & bacon, as well as a Hungarian breakfast with sausage, sausage, & more sausage. They have some of the best pastries I’ve ever had. Eastern Europe rocks the pastries. On the right is my Hungarian sponge cake revamped from Godunov, a fancy Russian restaurant.

2-hungary-food

On the left is a pastry/dessert/snack that you can find on the streets, kurtoskalaes. It’s like a butter sweet bread wrapped around a wooden stick of some sort baked and smothered in cinnamon, sugar, almonds, or a few other options. We called it a “dretzel” like a donut pretzel. The middle is Ben’s breakfast from Szamos. The right is a drink we saw a lot of at an outdoor bar so we decided to order our own. It’s similar to a white wine spritzer, a cheap sweet rose wine and carbonated water. That’s it! The wine in Hungary is pretty awesome and even better, pretty damn cheap. I drank a lot of champagne and wine here because it was so reasonably priced, you can get a decent bottle of Hungarian champagne at a restaurant for under $20.

3-hungary-food
On the left is Ben’s duck breast, pear, and puff pastry lunch from Bonnie Restro. Upper left, I ordered  a ‘sample of grilled cheese and salad’- being from America, I assumed that meant ‘grilled cheese sandwich’ but I was wrong, it was literally grilled cheese. Still delicious… Bottom right is soom street food as a part of a festival of local crafts and foods. Sooo much meat in eastern Europe.