2020 in Review (a little late)

The year started with three weeks in Miami, Florida in February on a solo trip. Most of my time was spent bicycling, walking on the beach, photographing, and exploring.

I was gearing up for a big year with my business, Cincinnati Urban Adventures when the pandemic hit.  Suddenly, I was alone with my grief – no travel – no business – no boyfriend.  I went to a local shelter and brought home Grayson, who has been a comfort.

I had two trips previously planned before the pandemic hit – one in May to Utah and Idaho, and the other in August to various destinations in Oregon.  I ended up cancelling the flights for both and drove 4400 miles round-trip out west to Utah and Idaho.

I’d already explored Bryce and Zion Nat’l Parks in Utah years past, so this time I went to Arches and Canyonlands. 

On the drive to Idaho, I spent a couple of nights in Salt Lake City for hiking and also had a masseuse come to my Airbnb for a 1 ½ hr. massage to treat myself on my birthday.  I hiked a 6 mile roundtrip, 3,000 ft. elevation change trail while there.  This was at the top…

Next was Idaho.  This is the Snake River Canyon near Twin Falls, Idaho (where Evil Knievel attempted jumping the mile wide chasm with his rocket, but failed).

Shoshone Falls Park, Twin Falls, Idaho

I visited Sun Valley, Idaho, which I found to be gorgeous.  I rented an e-bike and explored for miles.  I also hiked a lot.  I stayed away from people because of the pandemic.

Then I drove up to Stanley, Idaho in the Sawtooth Mountains and stayed in this cabin on a small river.

There was time spent with friends throughout the remainder of 2020, doing mostly outdoor activities (because of the pandemic). Lots of hiking and also get-togethers at our homes for patio dinner/cocktails.

Madison, Indiana

Rough River Lake, Kentucky for our annual ladies long weekend. I reserved a 5 bedroom/3 bath home on the lake. We rented a pontoon boat and had fun!

Bengals football game

A visit to my cousin’s place in central Ohio. He has built quite the mansion/castle – it has hidden rooms, so many things to look at – very eccentric!

Birds in my backyard…

An outdoor Thanksgiving with family…

My dear friend helped me put up my Christmas tree.  Holidays are rough when you’ve lost your parents, spouse, and only child.

Christmas with my brother and sister-in-law…

All things considered, I was doing pretty well with everything I was going through.   I tried to be grateful for what I had.

2017 in Review (a little late)

2017 began with me on assignment at the Casino in Cincinnati for Cincinnati Refined.  A very colorful and loud party to photograph.

I continued finding much joy taking photos in my free time…like the sunrise captured in this church window a couple of minutes from our place in the country.

and Fountain Square in downtown Cincinnati at night…

The Licking Riverside Historic District in Covington, Kentucky with a beautiful view of Cincinnati’s skyline.

Get-togethers with friends…

Over-The-Rhine, Cincinnati, Ohio

Family time…

My brother, sister-in-law, nephew, and niece.

I was busy growing my new business, Cincinnati Urban Adventures.  Friends accompanied me on trial runs for some of the tours.

The Carew Tower, Cincinnati, Ohio

My husband, son, and a girlfriend were models on my Over-the-Rhine Sights and Bites tour for my website.

I hired a few models for my Beyond the River tour in Covington, Kentucky.

Here are some of the photos shoots I did for Cincinnati Refined…

Cumberland Falls, Kentucky
Eighteen at the Radisson – a revolving restaurant on top of the Radisson Hotel
Cabana on the River, Cincinnati, Ohio
Diner en Blanc (everyone wears white and brings everything for the party including chairs/tables, decorations, food, drinks)
Taste of Cincinnati, an annual event
The Renaissance Festival
The Circus School, Cincinnati, Ohio
Danger Wheel
The Thanksgiving Day Race – I got up very early to be downtown in time and it was cold!
The La Boheme Opera at the Aronoff Center in Downtown, Cincinnati

I began managing an Airbnb located in Covington, Kentucky…

I had a few photo shoots for my own company, Sherry Lachelle Photography. A senior photo shoot…

A family photo shoot…

I was the Tour Guide and Photographer for a wedding with 40 people.  It was 5 hours long, but everything went smoothly.

And I photographed my first gay wedding – 2 beautiful ladies.

I attended an annual weeklong Urban Adventures meeting in Portugal and arranged a trip to follow for a few friends.  They met me in Lisbon, Portugal, where we saw the sights for a few days before moving on to Seville and Granada, Spain.

The La Alhambra, Granada, Spain
The Plaza de Espana, Seville, Spain

Cheers – Salud!

My husband and I were able to get away to Florida for a week in December.

As you can see, my year was very busy, filled mostly with photography and growing my business, with a little travel sprinkled in.

The View from St. Anne’s Church in Warsaw

If you’re looking for a great spot to climb up for a beautiful view of Old Town Warsaw, St. Anne’s Church is the place!  As I was surveying the scenery, I noticed a Nun cutting flowers…

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Here’s part of Old Town Warsaw…

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Love tiled roofs, dormer windows and color…

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Simply beautiful…

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I heart Warsaw!

The Streets of Warsaw, Poland

With only 1 1/2 days to explore Warsaw, I made the best use of my time walking the streets and taking lots of photographs!

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Warsaw was much prettier than what I had envisioned.  I loved all of the quaint sidewalk cafes!

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The center of Old Town was much like that of the other Eastern European cities we visited.

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The Central Market was well stocked and very nicely laid out!

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Lazienski Park in Warsaw, Poland

We arrived in Warsaw on June 30th via the 7 1/2 hr. Lux Express bus from Vilnius, Lithuania, and took a taxi 1 1/2 miles to our Airbnb.  After meeting with our host and dropping our luggage, we walked a couple of miles to the gorgeous Lazienski Park.  The 187 acre park is Warsaw’s largest, and dates back to the 17th century.

The Palace on the Water in the Park was even prettier in person!

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We explored the lovely interior…

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Out on the terrace, a couple of peacocks were making lots of noise (maybe it was mating season).  They are my favorite bird!

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Magnificent Trakai Island Castle in Lithuania

Situated only 45 minutes bus ride from Vilnius, Lithuania, Trakai Island Castle is a perfect day trip.  The morning of June 29th, I escorted my tour participants to the Central bus stop in Vilnius, a 15 minute walk from our Airbnb for the short ride to Trakai.  The buses run every 10-20 minutes per day to Trakai and cost about 2 Euro each way.

The bus lets you off about 2 km away from Trakai Castle, so I was glad we arrived early enough to walk to the Castle before it opened at 10:00am.  Having seen photos of the Castle, I was so excited when it finally came into view.  It’s like a fairy book castle!

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The first phase of the Castle was built-in the 14th Century and had great military strategic importance.

Beyond the gate is a spacious courtyard.  Once inside, we agreed to meet back in an hour and went off exploring on our own.

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The drawbridge is massive!  Those are people standing beyond the door…

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It’s set up like a museum now, with lots of artifacts and exhibits from the Castle’s history.

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As you can see, the weather gods were shining on us yet again!

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I just had to pose in the guillotine type structure.  It was heavy!  That’s my purse hanging down on the right.

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Uzutrakis Palace is off to the left of Trakai Palace…

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Here are my tour participants, Paul and Jing…

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After our explorations, we had lunch at one of the outdoor cafes bordering the lake with a view of the castle!

Beautiful Churches of Vilnius, Lithuania

During the 33 days I toured through Europe, there were many Cathedrals and Churches to visit.  Although not as colorful as some others, the simplicity and beautiful cream interior of the St. Peter and St. Paul Church in Vilnius provides a tranquil shelter for those seeking peace.

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The spectacular interior has over 2,000 stucco figures and its ceilings soar!

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The Church of St. Anne and Church of St. Francis and St. Bernard are also lovely.  It is a bit confusing because they are right next to one another.  I don’t show a photo of the latter’s exterior.  The Church of St. Anne’s gothic architecture reminded me a bit of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

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Living like a local in Vilnius, Lithuania

The Lux Express bus ride equipped with wifi and restroom from Riga, Latvia to Vilnius takes four hours.  Upon arrival in Vilnius, we walked 15 minutes to our spacious and bright Airbnb, with three bedrooms, and two bathrooms.

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We followed our established routine, going out to a local Supermarket to stock up for the three night stay, and then hit the pavement!

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Our four mile walk included a stroll through beautiful Bernardine Park.

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I love capturing emotion…a mother’s love for her infant…and color!

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We also briefly explored the area called Uzupis, similar to Christiana in Denmark…The self-proclaimed “Republic” of Užupis is Vilnius’ Bohemian and artistic district. It has its own anthem, constitution, president, bishop, two churches, and the Bernadine Cemetery.

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Riga, Latvia’s Architecture

Riga, Latvia’s architecture is lovely!  Much of it is the Art Nouveau style.  I love the variety of shapes, colors, and styles…

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The view of the Daugava River and Old Town is spectacular from the top of St. Peter’s Church!

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I could see the street where our over 100-year-old Airbnb was located…on the left side!

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Three Days in Riga, Latvia

On Midsummer Day, June 24th, we boarded a Lux Express bus at 8:30am from Tallinn, Estonia and arrived 4 1/2 hrs. later in Riga, Latvia.  The bus was equipped with wifi and a restroom, and was quite comfy.  Upon arrival, we walked 15 minutes to our Airbnb, which was located right in the heart of Old Town.  Actually, a little too close for comfort.  Music from a nearby restaurant/bar disturbed my sleep at night.  When you’re searching for an Airbnb that has everything you’re looking for: location, space, amenities — sometimes it’s difficult to have a clear picture of what you’re getting. 

After settling in, off to the Supermarket we went.  With only 2 1/2 days to explore Riga, there was much ground to cover.

Riga’s Old Town was filled with restaurants and cafes!

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The Pilsetas Kanal is quite lovely…

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Wandering through the Central Market we discovered fragrant flowers…

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and heaps of fresh fruits and vegetables…

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Views from Tallinn Old Town Wall in Estonia

The view from Tallinn Old Town Wall is wonderful!  The wall was originally 2.5 km in length, but isn’t totally intact now.  Along a road called Müürivahe, you can enter a wooden door, and for a small fee, climb the stairs and explore the top of the city wall.

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Originally, I was going to climb to the top of St. Olaf’s Church to view the City, but because it was a holiday, they were closed.  This view was quite spectacular also!

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There are other viewing platforms around the City for outstanding and picturesque views of the City!  Our Airbnb was located on the outskirts of Old Town on the Western side and the viewing platforms were only a 10 minute walk away…

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Kadriorg Palace & Park

Kadriorg Palace was built in 1725 by Russia’s Peter the Great for his wife Catherine I.  When Estonia gained its independence in 1919, the Palace became Estonia’s Art Museum in 1921.  During World War II, Germany occupied the Palace and then the Russians.  Finally, in 1991, Estonia became independent once again!

After years of renovation, the Palace was reopened in 2000 displaying foreign art.  The Palace, gardens, and park are lovely!

We walked over 2 miles from our Airbnb to the Palace…

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There are plenty of park benches to relax on and enjoy being in nature.

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The Palace is quite colorful and we had another beautiful day for sight-seeing!

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Tallinn’s Architecture

We arrived to Tallinn, Estonia’s harbor after a 2 hour ferry ride from Helsinki on June 21st and took a taxi to our Airbnb.  The taxi ride was quite odd because initially the taxi driver said he knew where the address was (which was only about 1.5 miles from the harbor), but then drove past it and when we spoke up and said we think he passed it, he assured us he was on the right path.  A few minutes later, he realized his mistake and took us back to the Airbnb.  I told him I wasn’t paying any extra for his mistake and he didn’t try to cheat me.

There was also a mix-up with the Airbnb host, but she eventually arrived and gave us a partial ride to a grocery store located 15 minutes walk from the lodging.  The Airbnb was in a great location, within walking distance of Old Town.  We were spending three nights here, so after returning from the grocery, we explored Old Town Tallinn and its amazing architecture!

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According to Wikipedia: Estonia was founded in 1248 but the earliest human settlements date back to 3000 years BC, making it one of the oldest capital cities of northern Europe.  Often dubbed as the Silicon Valley of Europe, it has the highest number of startups per person in Europe and is a birthplace of many international companies including Skype.  In 2011, the city was a European Capital of Culture.

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Some of these photos were taken the following morning when I went out exploring on my own…

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Peterhof Palace and Gardens – truly amazing!

We visited the dazzling Peterhof Palace and Gardens on our last day in St. Petersburg, Russia.  Built by Peter by the Great in the 18th Century, Peterhof is spectacular!  The Palace was closed because it was a Monday, but we were most interested in the gardens anyway.  I had the visit scheduled on the itinerary for the previous day, but it was rainy and we definitely wanted a pretty day for our visit.

We walked 10 minutes from our lodging at Comfort Hotel to the Pier with Lions embankment on the canal where we boarded a 40 minute Hydrofoil boat to Peterhof.

Upon arrival, there is a beautiful 10 minute walk to the centerpiece of the complex, the Grand Cascade and Samson Fountain in front of the Palace.

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Even with my wide-angle lens, I wasn’t able to capture the entire complex!

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The gardens are also referred to as the “Russian Versailles”.

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The creativity is astounding!

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You can barely view the sea in the distance…

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St. Isaac’s Cathedral and Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia

Built in the mid-1800’s, St. Isaac’s Cathedral is the fourth largest Cathedral in the world and its main dome stands 333 ft. high and is plated in pure gold!  An interesting fact: the Cathedral sits on 10,000 tree trunks that were sunk into the ground.

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With a church of this size, it’s impossible to convey what the interior feels like, but here are a few photos…

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part of the ceiling…

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