International Travel Photo Contest
2008 Honorable Mention
Jeremy White, Online, Italy and Tunisia
The time was early spring ’05 and a great friend of mine brought up a topic which we had discussed many times before; traveling somewhere great, to get away and experience great things that this world has to offer, outside of the United States. The only thing different about this particular conversation is that we actually did something about it; we purchased two tickets to Sicily that departed in less that two weeks.
The next day after purchasing our tickets, we both applied for expedited passports, which somehow made it to us in time to cast away. During this particular time, we both had taken a break from school and were pursuing excellent career opportunities. Although we had great jobs, we were not in a position to take any great deal of time off. We understood that visiting Europe for only a couple of weeks was not going to be as much as we hoped for, but we decided that this quite possibly could be a now-or-never chance.
We were fortunate enough to have a family member that was was stationed at a naval base near Catania, Sicily. This cousin of my friend, had welcomed us for several years leading up this time, with a place to stay. Since he was stationed there for a few years prior to our arrival, he was able to become very familiar with much of the island and had established great friendships with many local people.
Little did we know, that this trip would change our life forever. Although we could guess that it would be time to return home before we were ready, we knew to use our time wisely. To our surprise, we were given our own personal travel quest which was compiled by a local Sicilian travel agent that was a friend of our host. Immediately the next day after our arrival, we borrowed a friend’s car and took off on a day-long journey through a portion of the island of Sicily.
During this journey, we visited many historic sites that were very fascinating. We traveled through the modest rolling countryside from city to city. Our first stop was the city of Enna, the central-most point of the island with a beautiful castle from approximately 1200 B.C.E. Next we moved right on to Piazza Armerina which is the site of an ancient Roman bath and hot spring, which has dried up to date. From there we moved right on to one of the most memorable parts of our entire trip, the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento. This historic city is just a few minutes from several fascinating Roman temples. These temples date back more than 2400 years and the Temple of Concordia, which is featured with this submission, is the most complete Roman temple outside of Athens, Greece. We were fortunate enough to get photos of this masterpiece without any tourists in the photo, which can be difficult to capture at times. Agrigento was the furthest point west that we traveled on the island. We then made our way back to a suburb of Catania known as Aci Trezza.
The next day we took a break and relaxed close to “home” and experienced real local culture. It was interesting to see the pace of life within their culture. Other than ridiculous driving manors, they had a slower pace then we are used to in the states. It seemed as if they didn’t take life for granted like it seems people do at home. Most everything was surreal to us. From the idea that we were thousands of miles from home, or that we were close to rich history and culture that we had never experienced before, we were taking the memories in as much as we could. The photo to the left is near the small harbor of Aci Trezza, and is said to be rocks that were mentioned in Homer’s Iliad & The Odyssey. There was a point less than a week into the visit, where we agreed that we had witnessed so much rich history, culture, and culinary delights that we could only imagine what would be next. Just about half way through our visit, we were informed of an opportunity that we couldn’t pass up. We decided to go with eight others to Hammamett, Tunisia which was a short plane flight across the Mediterranean Sea to Africa. We agreed that this should fit our style of quick decisions, which was set a few
weeks back when decided to visit this part of the world. Mind you, we knew very little about Tunisia but our adventurous souls were eager to have more passport stamps than we had planned. We stayed for a few days in a resort area and didn’t venture out as much as we hoped to. Other than some great photos, this part of our trip was least memorable, because there appeared to be tension between our cultures and it didn’t help that the war was going on in Iraq and we were in an Islamic nation. The group we were with were all considered tourists and we didn’t know any people locally. One of my photos that is in this submission is from the old Medina with beached fishing boats.
After returning back to Sicily, we immediately headed to Rome for a couple of days. Although Rome, was engulfed with much rich history, it wasn’t my favorite part of our experiences of this trip. As expected Rome was heavily trafficked with tourists, and it was the only place that we visited that had many english speaking people. One hidden treasure during most of our trip outside of Rome was the challenge of speaking their language. Little did we know, because of little research, that we just happened to visit Rome on their Independence Day. As you can image, this brought a large crowd to the military parade. To comment more on this portion of the trip is a separate report in itself, but we visited many fascinating places including the Vatican, Sistine Chapel, Colosseum, to name a few. I have an interesting photo that I have submitted which was taken inside of the Pantheon with a ray of light casting down through the open center top.
Our final couple of days went quick but but we couldn’t get over the fact that we were able to truly enjoy Sicilian culture without the feeling of a typical tourist. This trip inspired me to pursue photography more in depth. I still consider myself an amateur photographer but some the photos that I was able to capture were simply being in the right place at the right time in regard to lighting conditions.