The Morning Warrior

The early bird has been said to always get the worm. Or that’s how the saying goes in life. What happens when you translate that statement to travel? I would say in my case, it rings truer than ever. Most people enter relaxation mode as soon as their feet hit the pavement at their destination. The trips are full of drunken nights, late mornings and itinerary packed days. So many people spend their work weeks rising early and adding to the hustle and bustle of the city life. Or even the blue collar worker that takes to the job after packing their lunch and early morning coffee as they head on in. Why on earth would these people want to get up early on holiday?!

A crisp due sets in as we leave my fiancé’s family residence in Turlock. We dress up in our best outfits before heading out the door to take on Yosemite. My fiancé with her make up done to a T, myself dressed like I’m heading to a wedding. We left early, around 3am. We were off to our engagement photo shoot that we had booked the month prior. Anyone that has experienced it, will easily tell you, that breathtaking isn’t even a strong enough word to describe the view of a sunrise over half dome. Very few cars on the road as we made our way through the park. Heading up glacier point trail in the dark, we were weary of deer also waking up and making their way across the roads. As we turned off our car and made our way to the top to view half dome from the trail, our eyes instantly shot a pulse of gratitude to the brain. The sky turned purple then glimmers of red and yellow as the sun shot through the clouds. The view of half dome more than made up for the extremely cold temperature we were experiencing. The sharp ridge leading down to the valley and the somewhat perfect rounded top was stunning. We took our engagement shots and we were so glad to get out before the crowds of people entered. The perfect lighting for a memorable morning at glacier point.

Rome was the final stop on our destination through Italy. I’d dreamed of the sites to see while in Rome. Going to bed with places like St. Peter’s Basilica, the Pantheon and the Trevi fountain in my mind. I was exhilarated when we got off the train and started walking through the capital city. Walking through the city we came upon so many amazing sites, but when we walked up to the Colosseum, both of our jaws dropped. The shear sight of this gigantic structure was remarkable to see. We could only imagine being back in the time when it was in use. The volume of the spectators as they witnessed gladiators duel to the death or foreign animals being exhibited for all to see. The attention to detail as it was being built. A rationale for the way every block was laid. Several times we went back that trip to stare up at this behemoth. My favorite time viewing this was in the very early morning, while my fiancé slept. I put on my coat, grabbed my camera and whisked off into the early morning darkness. I walked the streets from our Airbnb, until I came across the stunning fixture with crisp yellow light shining brightly before my eyes. Small amounts of people gathering, as I set up my camera for a perfect shot with the moon in the background. Setting my shutter, ISO and aperture to different settings. Finding the way the light twisted and turned through the crevices of the Colosseum, all while steering away from the small amounts of people distracting the view. That early morning I got some wonderful photos, but I fell in love with the way this structure, still brings people to a sense of awe as they stare up at it.

The city of love, Paris was a destination in itself as we made our first trip to Europe. The Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame, all stop you in your tracks as you step up to them. Our walks through this city were remarkable. You can easily see why people become captivated and continue to come back again and again. The trouble at times involve the many people constantly around you in this massive city. It’s often hard to find a clear shot for photography as you maneuver through. My bucket list had drinking coffee in front of the Eiffel Tower as the highest rated. I woke up on our third day there and decided to take a crack at it. The crowds were few to non-existent as I walked up and stared all the way to the top. Stepping back, the first thing I did was just stare at the beauty. Built for the 1889 world fair, it has become the most visited paid monument in the world. You can easily see why. Being there in the early morning, captivated you even more. You and the tower itself in a duel for light. As I stopped at a local cafe and grabbed breakfast and a coffee, I came back around and snapped several photos as I started to watch vacationers come into the foreground. The chance to see this was remarkable as the sun started to rise on the city of love.

The city of Prague is one of the most visited in Europe. The fascination with beer and historic structures are what the people come to see. This city is lively as ever when you walk the small cobble streets of old town. Tourists pushing their way through to see the sights or maybe get their pictures with the random people dressed as cartoon characters. In the morning, you find a treat with the Charles bridge. This bridge connects the two areas of the city, crossing the Vltava River. Construction started back in 1357 under King Charles IV. My early morning started with walking a distance from our Airbnb and making my way across the bridge. As I stood in the middle, joggers and photographers met as they waited to see the perfect light set over the city. I’m not sure how early I needed to get up to be by myself on the bridge (maybe there never is a time to be by yourself)! The view was still unreal and a perfect photo of birds flying across the bridge with the sun in the background captivated my eyes. What I loved was seeing people help each other. As I dropped my camera into position, I watched an older photographer help another set up their camera. The sense of accomplishment not only hit the student, but the teacher had a large grin across his face as his pupil found happiness in their camera. In a way, the morning warriors are a club that help each other wake up to the perfect situation. A club that gets delighted that the sun has graced us with her presence again.

A holiday can be a time for relaxing and getting up late to start your day. When I go on vacation, the loss of that extra hour or two to see something remarkable means so much more. Seeing how a city wakes and listening to the sound of locals getting ready for the day, is priceless. After the morning calm, you always have the craziness of the tourist. People pushing and hurrying across the city to the next sight. The morning light brings the real to a vacation. It gives you a sense of who this city is and what it’s about. Grabbing a coffee and heading out the door on a slow pace to one of these amazing places, allows me to wake up in a different world. Regardless of the place you’re in, people are just a bit kinder in the morning, they are more forgiving, less likely to disturb another. Think about your early morning at home, when do you usually see the most remarkable views? The sunlight waking the hills as they touch down over them. That sun is something remarkable. The light is perfect as a photographer and you can play with all types of it, which is realistically what you are as you take photographs anyway. You control the light and have a sense of calm as you let it touch your lens. Next time you take a holiday in another location, give just one day to get up extremely early, camera or not, see the city as it needs to be seen. In a sense of real that only the morning warrior can push their way into seeing.

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I've lived several places in the United States. Born in Michigan, lived several years of my life in Florida and currently in California. I was enticed with travel from an early age. I've traveled around most states in the US and have ventured across Europe. As my love of travel continues, my passion grows deeper with learning about new cultures and what makes them unique. Travel with me as I gather my thoughts on travel and experience the world through my lens.

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