Our 2014 Travels in 50 Photos

2014 was our biggest year of traveling yet. We visited 19 countries, including a long driving trip in the western United States. We saw, in order, the United States, Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, back to the United States, Greece, England, France, Switzerland, Italy, and Slovenia.

I made well over 10,000 exposures. Many, of course, went right into the trash. But out of the 3700 I kept, I picked 50 to show you. Some of these I'm publishing for the first time. Others, you may have seen before. I'm not sure these are all my “favorites,” but I do like them. I hope you do, too.

war memorial council bluffs Iowa
Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Table of Contents

[1] Bayliss Park, Council Bluffs, Iowa

Just in the last few years, my hometown of Council Bluffs, Iowa completely renovated its town square park, putting in a new fountain and lining the block with memorials to the city's war dead.

brussels grand place tourist photo
Brussels, Belgium

[2] Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium

When I saw this guy taking the inevitable tourist shot of his wife, I couldn't help but laugh. What did he say to her? “Smile?”

ardennes American cemetery liege belgium
Liege, Belgium

[3] Ardennes American Cemetery, Liege, Belgium

Kris's uncle, John L. (Pete) Cary was an American bomber pilot who was killed over Germany in 1944. We visited his grave at the American military cemetery in Belgium.

ghent belgium
Ghent, Belgium

[4] Canal Front Buildings, Ghent, Belgium

Ghent was a happy find on our driving trip through Belgium. I walked down the canal until the sun came out just for this shot. I love these buildings.

bruges belgium sacred blood
Bruges, Belgium

[5] Church of the Sacred Blood, Bruges, Belgium

One of the strangest churches we visited was the Church of the Sacred Blood in Bruges. There's a relic there, which you can pay to see, of a bit of a cloth with the blood of Jesus. Once a year, it supposedly liquifies. This woman though, was just praying in front of a statue in one of the chapels. Evidently, she couldn't wait for the feast day.

bruges belgium canal
Bruges, Belgium

[6] Canal Front, Bruges, Belgium

Bruges is a city of one scenic view after another. We saw this one at the end of the day, when the sun was behind it. I told myself it would look good in the morning with the sun on the building faces. So I got up at seven the next day, walked 20 minutes back to the canal intersection and took this shot.

antwerp rail station belgium
Antwerp, Belgium

[7] Train Station, Antwerp, Belgium

We got off the train in Antwerp, and I liked this view. All my cameras were packed in my backpack, so I just pulled out my iPhone and shot this. Great camera on those phones.

aachen cathedral mosaic
Aachen, Germany

[8] Mosaic, Aachen Cathedral, Germany

We went out of our way just to see the cathedral at Aachen, which was Charlemagne's capital and the site of his tomb. There were some amazing things in this church, but I was somehow more intrigued by this detail of the mosaics that covered the entire church ceiling.

bremen city hall germany
Bremen, Germany

[9] City Hall, Bremen, Germany

This Unesco World Heritage site was luckily spared by Allied bombers in World War II. It's all wood, so it would have gone up pretty easily. I love the ships sailing across the ceiling of the council chamber.

sand dunes jutland denmark
Jutland, Denmark

[10] Sand Dunes, Jutland, Denmark

Perhaps the most unexpected land form of our travels to date was finding a mini desert on the northern peninsula of Denmark. It's all blown up there by the prevailing westerly winds over the Jutland peninsula, and changes constantly.

girl st klara church stockholm
Stockholm, Sweden

[11] Girl at Santa Clara Church, Stockholm, Sweden

This girl separated from her parents on the boring church tour and watched me as I walked around the church taking pictures, which was probably even more boring.

drottningholm palace stockholm
Stockholm, Sweden

[12] Drottningholm Palace, Stockholm, Sweden

They don't allow photography inside the Drottningholm Palace outside Stockholm, so if anyone asks, I didn't take this picture when nobody was looking.

passing ship stockholm
Stockholm, Sweden

[13] Photography Museum, Stockholm, Sweden

One of the cool things about Stockholm is that you never can tell when a large ship is going to pass by the cafeteria window when you're having coffee.

parade stockholm
Stockholm, Sweden

[14] Parade, Stockholm, Sweden

We were just about to cross the street when a police car pulled up and made us stop, seemingly for no reason. But down the block a parade was forming, so we waited to watch it go by on its way to the palace up the street. It's good to be king and have a parade whenever you feel like it in the middle of a weekday afternoon.

inari lake finland
Lake Inari, Finland

[15] Lake Inari, Inari, Finland

The cool thing about this shot is that was taken at about 11 p.m. on a summer's night above the Arctic Circle–with my iPhone. Lovely light. Glad I had the phone with me. I thought I was just going across the street for a reindeer burger.

burgoynes norway graveyard
Burgoynes, Norway

[16] Graveyard, Burgoynes, Norway

We drove from northern Finland even further north to Norway just to see some fjords. We saw some, but it was so foggy there were no dramatic photos to be had. So we drove into this little fishing village. We looked around for a while and did not see one living person. Perhaps they were all out fishing.

man bar lenin saarema estonia
Saarema, Estonia

[17] Old Communist Bar, Saaremaa, Estonia

Gone but not forgotten. There's still evidence of the old ways in the former Soviet republic of Estonia.

art nouveau buildings riga latvia
Riga, Latvia

[18] Art Noveau, Riga, Latvia

There are blocks of these buildings in Riga, and it seems that the decorator of every building tried to outdo the guy next door. This is what makes walking around old cities fun.

rumbula gravestones holocaust latvia
Rumbula, Latvia

[19] Holocaust Memorial, Rumbula, Latvia

Before there were the Nazi death camps like Auschwitz and Birkenau, there were impromptu mass killings of Jews in Eastern Europe. After the Nazis captured Latvia from the Russians, one of the first jobs was to round up the Jews. They marched 25,000 of them outside of Riga to a small town called Rumbula, where they shot them so they'd fall into graves dug by Russian prisoners. Today there's a memorial, which includes some gravestones–some with names, others blank for unknown victims.

saints peter paul church ceiling vilnius lithuania
Vilnius, Estonia

[20] Saints Peter and Paul Church, Vilnius, Lithuania

When it comes to late Baroque, this one is hard to top. It's especially impressive because there's really no color. It's all just pure decoration.

krakow pope john paul basilica
Krakow, Poland

[21] Saint John Paul II Portrait, Basilica of Krakow, Poland

It was hard to walk around Krakow without tripping over a picture of favorite son and newest saint, Karol Wojtyła.

birkenau tracks auschwitz poland
Auschwitz, Poland

[22] Train Tracks, Birkenau Camp, Poland

Without doubt, the worst day of our travels was our day at Auschwitz and Birkenau. Impossible to summarize in a photo caption.

jewish cemetery warsaw poland 2
Warsaw, Poland

[23] Jewish Cemetery, Warsaw, Poland

The Jewish population of Warsaw was wiped out in World War II, and the huge old cemetery was neglected until very recently. A forest has grown up and tossed the thousands of grave stones with no respect for the history. Now the cemetery is under care again, and a gradual process of restoration is underway. But we only saw two caretakers, and there are acres and acres of wood to reclaim.

las vegas girls
Las Vegas, Nevada

[24] Girls Having Their Picture Taken, Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas is one of my favorite places. My favorite things to do there are play poker, eat, and watch other people have fun.

wedding photos
Minneapolis, Minnesota

[25] Wedding Photos, Minneapolis, Minnesota

One of the hardest jobs on the planet, if you ask me, is being a wedding photographer. I wouldn't dream of trying it. Think of the pressure. If you screw it up, somebody is going to hate you for the rest of their lives. Luckily, this wedding photographer seemed to know what she was doing, even though organizing three kids under the age of six is a near impossible task. I know she did a great job, because I've seen the results. The groom is my son, Matt, and the lovely lady is our new daughter-in-law, Amy. I only took four shots with my little camera this day.

Western Kansas
Western Kansas

[26] The Prairie, Western Kansas

Is Kansas really that flat? Not all of it, but yeah, some of it. I think the leading cause of death of the pioneers moving across the Santa Fe Trail in Kansas was probably boredom.

tree mesa verde colorado
Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

[27] Dead Tree, Mesa Verde, Colorado

The National Parks of the Western United States are stunning. But, they're difficult to photograph because what can you do that someone else hasn't done before? Nothing probably, so I just pick out a detail sometime and let it go at that.

monument valley utah 2
Monument Valley, Utah

[28] Monument Valley, Utah

Monument Valley has served as the backdrop for several iconic American western movies, such as John Ford's Cavalry Trilogy. Getting to Monument Valley isn't easy. You have to drive from Colorado into Arizona, and then double back north into Utah.

narrows zion national park utah
Zion National Park, Utah

[29] The Narrows, Zion National Park, Utah

The hike up the canyon, most of which is spent knee deep in a rushing river, is extremely difficult to photograph. The sheer canyon walls are mostly in deep shadow, except for the parts that are in bright sun. So, you have exposure problems every time you try to shoot up the walls to the sky. But, I made a lot of exposures and even managed to make the entire ten miles without dumping my camera in the river. A still life, more or less.

sunrise bryce canyon inspiration point skyline
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

[30] Inspiration Point, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

While we were watching the sunrise over one part of Bryce Canyon, Kris called out, “Look at that!” pointing to a different part of the canyon a long ways off. Luckily, I'd brought the long lens and got this shot of the translucent fairy skyline as the sun hit it from the back.

kris frying pan arches hike
Arches National Park, Utah

[31] The Frying Pan, Arches National Park, Utah

To get to the so-called Delicate Arch at Arches National Park, we had to hike for two hours on the hottest day of the year on sheer rock with absolutely no shade. That's Kris up there, and yes, we are that stupid.

mountain overlook new mexico forbes
Raton, New Mexico

[32] View from the Ranch, Raton, New Mexico

Kris and I split up for a few days in September. She went to Aspen for a spa retreat with our daughter, and I hung out on a ranch with a few old college buddies. We didn't have a spa, but we had beer and whiskey and views like this.

swainsons hawk new mexico forbes
Raton, New Mexico

[33] Swainson's Hawk, Raton, New Mexico

As we were walking the high mesa, we were treated to the view of a couple of these guys soaring overhead looking for lunch in the tall grass. I spent an hour poring over bird books back at the ranch before identifying this guy as a Swainson's hawk.

elk harem rocky mountain national park
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

[34] Elk Gathering his Harem, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

We were just in time for the elk mating season in Rocky Mountain National Park and got to watch the dominant male gather his personal herd of females for some later frolicking. We saw some of that frolicking, but I'll save the photos of that for a racier blog.

meteora in fog greece
Meteora, Greece

[35] Foggy Day, Meteora, Greece

We spent three days in Meteora, and two of them were shrouded in dense fog. So the trip by bus up to the various monasteries yielded few opportunities. But every now and then, something peeked out.

meteora monastery greece
Meteora, Greece

[36] Cave Monastery, Meteora, Greece

On our third day in Meteora, the sun came out just in time for us to take a guided hike through the back paths to the monasteries. There was some climbing, but the views afforded on the clear, yet picturesque day, were astounding.

Turville Buckinghamshire england
Buckinghamshire, England

[37] Turville Village, Buckinghamshire, England

What's better than a walk in the English countryside? A walk in the English countryside followed by a few pints in the Turville public house.

eiffel tower paris
Paris, France

[38] The Eiffel Tower, Paris, France

There was a recent flap about the French claim that it's a violation of copyright to take a picture of the Eiffel Tower when it's lit up at night. So I didn't take this picture with a camera. I drew it with a black pencil.

mont saint michel france
Mont Saint Michel, France

[39] Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France

We drove about 200 kilometers just to see Mont Saint-Michel, the famous island fortress monastery off the Normandy coast. It's a lovely and historical site, but unfortunately has been completely turned into a tourist site, complete with parking that costs €12. It's best seen from a distance to avoid the inevitable disillusionment.

grave pere lachaise cemetery paris
Paris, France

[40] Gravestone, Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France

Yup, he's dead alright.

sidewalk cafe paris
Paris, France

[41] Sidewalk Cafe, Paris, France

Americans aren't the only ones who can't put down their phones.

rosette strasbourg cathedral france
Strasbourg, France

[42] Rosette Window, Strasbourg Cathedral, France

The Gothic Strasbourg Cathedral offers so many details, it was hard to pick just one to feature here. But this rosette is among the best I've seen, and with the sun behind it, the colors are stunning.

matterhorn switzerland color
Zermatt, Switzerland

[43] The Matterhorn, Zermatt, Switzerland

It costs $80 for the half hour train ride up from Zermatt to get a good look at the Matterhorn, but you can shoot to your heart's content out the window of the slow moving train. Cheaper than hiring a model, I guess.

Lago di Poschiavo Switzerland
Lake Poschiavo, Switzerland

[44] Lago di Poschiavo, Switzerland

We spent four days covering a lot of Switzerland by train. And most of that time I spent hanging out the window with my camera. This one was shot as we came around a curve and this lovely lakeside village came into view.

juliets balcony verona italy
Verona, Italy

[45] Juliet's Balcony, Verona, Italy

Just as we arrived at Juliet's home in Verona, this newlywed couple stepped out on the balcony to reenact a scene from the play. They do realize it's a tragedy, right?

music rehearsal cathedral verona italy
Verona, Italy

[46] Music Rehearsal, Verona Cathedral, Italy

We were doing our usual pilgrimage to the cathedral in every town we visit, and the photography wasn't going so well because it was already dark. And then this girl started to sing. She was rehearsing for an upcoming concert of Christmas music that I'm very sorry to have missed. But I got to hear half an hour of her practice, and it was beautiful.

christmas lights ljubljana slovenia
Ljubljana, Slovenia

[47] Christmas Market Lights, Ljubljana, Slovenia

We only spent four days in Slovenia, and I wish we'd had a lot more. But Ljubljana's Christmas market was delightful, and I loved that her lights were so simple and elegant and spare and beautiful. Just like the city itself.

grand canal venice
Venice, Italy

[48] Grand Canal at Night, Venice, Italy

Part of the charm of Venice is that there are no cars. But that doesn't mean there isn't traffic. Sometimes the canals at rush hour are fun to watch.

shadow of the crucifix baptistery florence
Florence, Italy

[49] Shadow of the Crucifix, Baptistery, Florence, Italy

I took about 2000 photos of Florence's churches in the two weeks we were there, and I think this is the one I like the best.

rome MAXXI Museum
Rome, Italy

[50] The MAXXI Museum, Rome, Italy

We took a tour of “modern” Rome into an area in the north of the city we'd never been to before. As part of the tour, we saw the MAXII Museum whose name incorporates the Roman numerals for 21, as in 21st Century. It just opened a few years ago. I liked the building itself more than any of its exhibits.

wedding lineup tallinn estonia
Tallinn, Estonia

[51] Bridesmaids and Bride, Tallinn, Estonia

This is a bonus 51st photo, just because I couldn't leave it out. We were walking through the old part of Tallinn when we came upon this group of young women lining up for a photo. I suspected they were models for a magazine shoot. But I asked one of them, and no, they were a bride and her friends just out for an bachelorette weekend and they'd brought along a professional photographer so none of them had to bother with their selfie phones.

We've done a year-end photo post since we started Travel Past 50 in 2013. Here are links to all the annual photo posts: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019.

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50 thoughts on “Our 2014 Travels in 50 Photos”

  1. Tom, A great gallery for 2015! I like them all, but I have to say no.4 Ghent is my hands-down favorite. That is one stunning shot! I love it. Kansas come in second…because yeah…flat! I do love the comedy in the “tourist shot” as well. I wish you and Kris a great travel year!

  2. I really enjoyed looking at your photos, as well as the excellent captions. Well done! I learned that there is a mini desert in Denmark- a fascinating fact- and now I want to see Belgium.

    • Kris argued with me about the desert. She said they were just sand dunes. I say a lot of sand dunes are a mini desert. And, it’s in the middle of nowhere north Denmark. That makes it a desert, or a really big beach, maybe.

  3. Beautiful Tom. You are becoming a master of light and angle. Of course knowing you I can hear your voice with the comments. Pure Tom.

  4. Nice!!! Henk and I have been to many of these places, and you’ve done a great job capturing the feel of them. GIven that we are following similar paths online and in the real world, I’m sure one day our paths will intersect!

    • Jane, thanks very much. I look forward to that day when we meet for real. We’ve met many people along the road that we first connected with on the blog. It’s always great.

  5. I think my fave is the Train Station in Antwerp, Belgium. I share your admiration for the iPhone camera. You burst my bubble with the photo of the Parisians looking at the phone in that cafe. Are you sure they weren’t Americans? :)

    • Carole, as I’ve said often, the best camera is the one you have with you…that, and it really doesn’t matter what that camera is. Well it does sometimes, a couple of these would have been impossible with just the iPhone. But, I’m gradually changing my go-to camera to my little Fujifilm X-30, mostly because of the weight. That Nikon gear with all the lenses is just too much to haul around sometimes.

  6. Some fabulous shots! This makes me want to go to a lot of places but the one I really need to see in my own country is Bryce Canyon. Anne and I were there with our parents when we were kids but now that Anne’s finally more mature I think we need to go back! I see Lithuania and Estonia on our to-do list which gets longer every day. Why is it that the more you travel the more you “have” to travel? Guess that’s like asking an addict why the more you use heroin you want more heroin!

  7. Well, I’m glad you said Anne’s more mature, that way there won’t be any trouble with the park rangers at Bryce. And, as far as Estonia goes, I thought you were one of the blondes in shot number 51. I guess I’m going to have to look closer.

  8. Hi Tom,

    What a lovely annual chronicle. Here are my favorites:

    1. Kris’s uncle’s grave — for the sentiment.

    2. Lake Inari, Finland which proves it’s (almost) all about the light.

    3. Bryce Canyon — the light again, coupled with being at the right place at the right time with correct lenses!

    4. Mont Sant-Michel gorgeous from this different point of view and with storm clouds in the distance. Unique!

    Wishing you happy and safe travels,

    • Thanks, Josie. It was a great year with a lot of great memories.

      We actually found out where Kris’s uncle was buried when we visited the Omaha Beach cemeteries in 2007. My father had landed there on D-day and a bunch of his friends are under those crosses. His best friend from high school had been killed in the Channel, and his body was never recovered. There is a wall with the names of the missing, and I took a picture of his friend’s name. When I asked him if he wanted to see the photo, he said no, “I don’t think I could take it.”

      The American graves commission does an incredible job. They were so informative and cordial to us in both spots. The guy at Ardennes went out of his way to look up any information on Kris’s uncle, and we were actually able to learn the circumstances of his death, and that of his crew. Of the 10 on the crew, only one survived the crash.

      As for Lake Inari, it is all about the light.

      Ditto for Bryce Canyon, and for being industrious enough to get up two hours before dawn and lug 10 kilos of camera junk up a hill to get to the spot.

      For Mont Saint-Michel, that one just jumped out at me as we were driving away. No plans for that. Sometimes, they’re just there.

      Best to you in your travels, too.

      • Hi Tom,

        I so appreciate the story of Omaha Beach — and both families’ connections to it. And thank goodness for the American graves commission for guiding you. I know you shared a tiny portion of this incredible story — I think it could be an entire book!

        Most of all, thanks for sharing your father’s comment. So touching.


        • My Dad could muster a sense of humor about it, too. When my Mother tried to get him to visit Europe with him, she tried to make it seem as simple as possible. “We’ll just fly into London, stay there a few days, and then take a boat to France,” she told him over dinner.

          He said, “You know, the last time I took a boat from England to France, when I got off the boat, people started shooting at me.”

  9. These are absolutely stunning. I’ve got to vote for the Finnish Island. I sailed through the Baltic with friends, but never capture these spare places as you have. Sandra

  10. Not quite sure where I stumbled across your blog, maybe Facebook. I loved your pictures and it was fun to look at them since we have been to many of the same places you have. We don’t hit that many countries in one year but we are doing our best since I just retired and the wife is still working. Keep on traveling and I will follow your posts.

  11. Some great photos, the one that took my breath away most was inspiration point.
    I like your comment #2. I guess most of their photos come out looking kind of the same. I guess it takes the pressure off though. Then of course you have the Asians just behind all posing with their million selfies. We’re in Split right now and when those tour groups converge around you there’s frigin nowhere to go…Koreans seem to like Croatia.
    Frank (bbqboy)

    • I often wonder what possesses people to travel in large groups like that. We often go to touristy places and see the buses pull up. That’s usually our cue to bug out. I’m so looking forward to getting to Croatia one of these days. We ran out of time on the last trip. Maybe this one coming up.


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