Travel Sneak Peek: Oslo, Florence, and Venice

I’ve been pretty excited about September for a while, and now that it’s finally here I can barely contain myself. I always get the pre-travel jitters, a feeling of giddiness mixed with nervousness and sudden panics when you think you’ve forgotten to pack something. I always feel keyed up the last 48 hours before a trip, especially because I usually wait that long to begin planning what I pack, much less actually doing the packing. But for this trip, it’s my usual nerves and excitement times a hundred. Why?

Well, by the end of next week, I’ll have gone back to Oslo, which is a wonderful city; I’ll also have traveled to one new country and two new cities, because right after Oslo I’m heading to Florence and Venice. That’s the excitement part of it. The nervousness comes in because these trips are not exactly for pleasure – they’re my first international jobs as a freelance photographer. The pressure is immense, and no matter how many times I assure myself that I’ll be able to handle it, I still fly into a panic every so often.

This post is something a bit different from what I’ve done before on my blog, but hopefully one I’ll get a chance to do more often if I get more chances to travel like this.


As I said, I’m heading back to Oslo. Yes, back – I’ve been a horrid procrastinator, as usual, and not blogged about the first time yet. It was after my excellent Swedish Midsommar that I hopped on a train to visit Norway for the first time, and I’ll get around to that post eventually.

This time, however, I’m heading up for the 3-day coffee extravaganza that is the Nordic Barista Cup. Held in the heart of Oslo, the Grünnerløkka district, at the new Mathallen, this event will see talks being given from top coffee and food industry personalities such as René Rezdepi of Noma, Scott Guglielmino of La Marzocco USA, and Alex Bernson of Sprudge.

I’ll be quite busy with all of that from Wednesday night, but since I get into Oslo early on Wednesday morning I hope to see a few things before starting work. One thing I missed last time that is a “must-see” in Oslo is the Frognerparken, also known as the Vigeland Sculpture Park. Basically, the sculptor Gustav Vigeland was given 80 acres and an open brief to fill it with whatever he wished. What resulted was a collection of 212 bronze statues, the single largest collection of statues in one place by one artist in the whole world.

Image from


Speaking of Sprudge, they’re the reason I’ll be going over to Italy. In Florence I’ll be teaming up with them to take photos at the La Marzocco factory, but we will have a little bit of time to explore the city as well. Thank goodness for that, because I hear Florence is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It is the home to the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, also known as the Duomo. Construction on this beautiful cathedral was began in the 13th century and it is considered a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Image from Flickr via uncorneredmarket

Florence also houses one of the most famous sculptures ever made – Michelangelo’s David. Residing at the Galleria dell’academia, David is in good company with many other Michelangelo sculptures as well as numerous 15th and 16th century Renaissance paintings.

Image from Flickr via tuscanyarts

I’m also desperate to find the beautiful duomo featured in this picture on the Gary Pepper Girl blog. (If you ever want to lose a few hours in photos of beautiful travel destinations and beautiful clothes, Gary Pepper Girl is definitely the place to do it.)


Venice, which comprises 118 islands criss-crossed with canals, sits in the Laguna Veneta in northeastern Italy. The city is supposed to be one of the most beautiful in the world, almost unchanged from the way it was 600 years ago. We’ll be passing through Venice to go to the Mazzer factory, but hopefully we’ll have a few hours to explore here as well. I want to see the gorgeous Basilica San Marco and eat gelato as I walk over the bridges to look down the canals.

Image from Flickr via dmmaus

Image from Flickr via mbell1975

Enough wishful thinking – time to pack! So, what does a photographer pack for a 10-day trip to multiple countries? Heck if I know. But here’s what I’m taking on my journey.

Kindle: If there is any testament to the durability and quality of the Kindle, it’s this little guy. It’s a second generation Kindle, which was discontinued in 2009. This one is a hand-me-down from my dad, who upgraded to a Kindle Keyboard and has since upgraded to a Kindle Fire (lucky). But still the original chugs on, though the battery cover is held on by tape. I love reading, and though I love the feel of a proper book in my hands, they’re often take up too much precious space in my carry-on bag. As a frequent traveller, I’ve come to love the Kindle as a great alternative to books or pricey, last-minute magazine purchases.

Notebooks: It might seem silly in this day and age to take paper notebooks when we all have smartphones to dash out a quick memo to ourselves. But, like my penchant for proper books, I still have a fondness for handwritten notes. Sometimes I find it much quicker to jot down my thoughts in one of these, rather than opening the memo app on my phone, typing it out and correcting the spelling, saving the note, etc…

Cosmetics bag: I forgot where I bought this cute little cosmetics bag, but it’s also been on many trips with me. I find it essential to have a small, wallet-sized bag for storing passports, printed iteneraries, tickets, travelcards, credit/debit cards, etc… for easy access.

Multi-plug: This one might seem very silly,  but it’s a must-have for me. I have to charge my camera, computer, phone, tablet, and other devices, and it’s too expensive bringing that many travel adapters. Of course, that also assumes that you’ll be able to find that many plugs. But if you bring one adapter and a multi-plug, then you’re sorted.

The camera bag: As much as I’d love to swan onto an airplane with a Mulberry or similarly stylish carry-on draped over my forearm, there has only ever been one choice of bag for me. I could never pack my precious camera equipment in my checked luggage, so I have to have a bag spacious enough to fit a camera, multiple lenses, batteries, cards, chargers, laptop, and kitchen sink (ok, maybe not the last one) as well as my wallet and other essentials. This is why the Lowepro Fastpack 250 has been my constant companion for the last 4 years. It’s endured many journeys, both abroad and day-to-day ones around London. If you’ve ever seen me anywhere doing anything, chances are I have this on my back.

Clearly I’m a much more practical traveller than a stylish one, though I would love to fill my luggage with cute gadgets, accessories, and clothing. If you’re more of a stylish traveller, then check out Urbanara’s post about packing. The Berlin-based company curates a collection of beautiful, well-designed products from all around the world. Though the emphasis is on home decoration, they also have a variety of accessories that are also perfect for travellers, as seen in their post. Personally, I’d love to add the gorgeous, Japanese-print-inspired Pontoise notebook to my bag on my next trip, as well as the Hirschberg leather cosmetics bag to stash my make-up essentials. It would certainly be an upgrade from the one I’ve been using!

Let me know in the comments – what are your must-haves when traveling?


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