2017 Photo Contest

2017 Photo Contest

Our seventh annual photo contest was held in January 2017. The contest was open to everyone who participated in our 12 trips to the Luberon, Chianti, Alsace, and the Cotswolds in 2016. The rules for this year’s contest were the same as previous years. Each person could enter one or two photos that best represented their personal experience during their week; they also provided a few sentences about their photo and why the experience was meaningful to them.

Everyone experiences travel in a unique way and brings home their personal set of memories. The collection of photos submitted in our annual contest represent the many aspects of a European Experience trip that resonated with these travelers: beautiful countryside, ancient villages, unique experiences, connections with local people, delicious meals, and special times with group members. We know from the selections made by our judges that people respond to photos in a very personal way as well… each of the four judges chose different photos for their top three!

This year we received 90 entries from 46 people, one-third of the people on our 2016 trips. Every photo captures a special element of a European Experience week, and the captions enhance and explain the photo from the photographer’s perspective.

Congratulations to Cindy Benjamin (left) of Longwood, Florida, USA, our grand prize winner this year! Her photo from our Return to the Luberon week is from a unique new experience on this trip, a truffle hunt and tasting at Les Pastras near Cadenet.

Return to the Luberon was Cindy’s third Experience trip; she also joined us for The Luberon Experience in May 2013 and The Périgord Experience in June 2015. As our grand prize winner, Cindy wins a $500 credit on a future European Experience trip. She’ll be with us this summer for The Alsace Experience, so her prize will be put to immediate use.

After the grand prize winner, we had a three-way tie, so we’re delighted to announce three runners-up this year. They will each receive a $250 credit on a future Experience trip:

  • Mindy Smith from Quincy, Massachusetts, USA, a first time traveler with us, for her photo of the beautiful landscape below Broadway Tower from The Cotswolds Experience.
  • Debbie Maguire from Eleebana, New South Wales, Australia, also a first time traveler, for the view from her window during her Luberon Experience week.
  • Steve Rapapport of Stockton, California, USA, (our 2016 grand prize winner) for his photo of a flying owl from The Cotswolds Experience. This was Steve’s third European Experiences trip.

Eleven other photographs were selected for special recognition in this year’s contest. These travelers each won a $50 Amazon gift certificate (or a $50 credit on a 2017 or 2018 trip). See all 15 winning photos below, along with what each traveler had to say about the experience represented in their photo.

Our judges made their assessments independently and included a total of 40 different photos in their combined “top 15” rankings. Our judges were: Pauline Kenny, who runs the Slow Europe website and travel forum; Chris Coburn, the web designer for our websites; Bill Steiner, co-owner of Adventures in Italy and a fellow founder of the Slow Travel Tours group; and our daughter Kelly Wood, a graduate student in International and World History, this year studying at the London School of Economics. Thanks to all of them for their thoughtful consideration of the entries!


Grand Prize Winner

Return to the Luberon – September 2016

(Cindy from Florida, USA)

One of the highlights of the Return to the Luberon trip, was a truffle hunt. When the hunt was over, we were able to taste truffles served many different ways. The truffle ice-cream with truffle honey was my favorite. This photo shows the black truffles being weighed.


Runner-Up (tie)

The Cotswolds Experience – July 2016

(Mindy from Massachusetts, USA)

This photo was taken from the top of Broadway Tower located near the village of Broadway in the Cotswolds. What caught my eye (besides the breath-taking view) was the little red car driving down the grassy lane. I love the color variations of green, the yellow fields, and puffy white clouds. But the eye is drawn to the little red car and your mind wonders what journey is ahead for the driver.


Runner-Up (tie)

The Luberon Experience – October 2016

(Debbie from New South Wales, Australia)

Of all the beautiful scenery in the Luberon, my very favourite view was the one from my lovely room in Le Clos du Buis. An early morning cuppa was the perfect start to the day in our home away from home.


Runner-Up (tie)

The Cotswolds Experience – July 2016

(Steve from California, USA)

I chose to call this photo “Focus” because that is what this little owl was doing. During the Cotswold Falconry Show this little owl traveled from chair to chair or from one child’s arm to the next which provided great photo opportunities. Then the trainer sent this little owl off into nature and it returned at full speed heading straight to the trainer’s hand with one goal to get the treat he was holding. The steely focus in the owl’s eyes and the intensity of the flapping wings show the owl’s desire to get back to the trainer.


Special Recognition

The Cotswolds Experience – July 2016

(Lisa from Minnesota, USA)

On a balmy summer evening at the Giffords Circus, I said to myself “I think think we’re not in Kansas (or in my case, Minnesota) anymore.” While the entertainment inside the main tent was good old-fashioned fun, the real magic was in the air outside among the concession tents. Offerings included the usual popcorn and “candy floss,” but only in the English countryside would there also be a Tea & Cakes tent, where the tea was served from whimsical oversized ceramic tea pots. As local families and travelers mingled among the circus wagons, the young ladies in this photo offered snacks and spread joy to kids of all ages.


Special Recognition

The Alsace Experience – June 2016

(Diane from Arizona, USA)

Our picnic spot at Hunawihr will probably be a popular photo for many travelers. Not only was the picnic delicious, but the setting could not have been more beautiful. It was probably the most perfect place I have ever dined!


Special Recognition

The Chianti Experience – June 2016

(Sonia from Virginia, USA)

Highlights of each day were exceptional because Kathy and Charley had cultivated close friendships with local vineyard owners, restauranteurs, and here in Montepulciano, a favorite guide (Pino Teresi), and a copper entrepreneur (Cesare Mazzeti). Love, respect, and friendship reflect in their smiles. I treasure the copper pieces I bought!.


Special Recognition

The Luberon Experience – May 2016

(Tim from Queensland, Australia)

On a number of days I spotted the village men playing boules in the carpark of the church just down the road from Le Clos du Buis. The first time I went down I sat on a seat where they were playing. Games progressed casually with a constant banter of older men at play. Each games started with the drawing of a circle on the ground near where the last game ended. The rough ground didn’t matter because the heavy balls were thrown through the air and were often used to bomb out another ball. That day I gave the players that I thought played well a koala each and explained that “Je viens d’Australie.” The next time I visited the men playing they acknowledged me with some “Bonjours” so eventually I built up the courage to ask ” Peux-je jouer aussi?” They found a spare set of metal balls for me and away we went. It was quite difficult and my shots caused some laughter. But I was having a great time. This picture shows the men adjudicating the end of a game looking quite stern.


Special Recognition

The Cotswolds Experience – July 2016

(John from Tennessee, USA)

The 500 year old Parish Church of St. James was a frequent sight as we meandered the streets and pathways of Chipping Camden. This photo of the church, taken from one of those pathways, struck me as a scene that could have easily captured the eye of a countryman 500 years ago as it captured mine that day.


Special Recognition

The Luberon Experience – October 2016

(Rebecca from Michigan, USA)

If Cezanne were to return today, I think he would paint this photo taken in the village of Roussillon, France. I see his ochre based shades of blood orange, yellow and burnt reds accented by greens and pale blue. The geometric shapes he so favored are present in the repeated windows and doorways, as well as the arch of the door and the mosaic tile entryway. The conical shaped cypress tree is echoed by the form of the solitary pedestrian. The timeless quality of this street in Roussillon reminds me of why so many painters are drawn to Provence.


Special Recognition

Return to the Luberon – September 2016

(Becky from Tennessee, USA)

We had a glorious September day to drive through the French countryside and stopped at several small villages. One stop was Viens where Kathy and Charley laid out a picnic feast for our Return to the Luberon group. When I turned around, I spotted this lovely farm house with the backdrop of the most beautiful blue sky and cloud formation that I had ever seen. Simple beauty.


Special Recognition

The Luberon Experience – May 2016

(Cecile from New South Wales, Australia)

“Simplicity.” This photo was taken after a perfect afternoon after a perfect picnic lunch after a perfect morning exploring the Luberon with Kathy and Charley. Chasing a photo of butterflies that had surrounded us I looked up to take this perfect poppy. The image signifies to me how the whole week we were indulged with cultural pursuits, wonderful wanderings, exceptional cuisine and companionship all leading to the simplicity of contentment. The natural beauty of the environment we were immersed in is symbolised by this single poppy.


Special Recognition

The Luberon Experience – May 2016

(Pauline from Manitoba, Canada)

It is the first full day of our Luberon Experience! We’re off to the world famous antique and flea markets in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue! After enjoying the busy market we headed for Charley’s favourite cafe for cappuccinos. Nearby, another market seemed to be dedicated to local shoppers doing their household shopping. We enjoyed sitting in the sunshine watching them go about their errands. I am a dedicated people-watcher and the lady with the long white hair tied back in a ponytail caught my eye. Her face was so filled with character. Such a joyful person!


Special Recognition

The Alsace Experience – June 2016

(Richard from Arizona, USA)

Colorful Bergheim was a great place to experience a Sunday afternoon stroll in Alsace — flowers everywhere.


Special Recognition

The Chianti Experience – June 2016

(Cathy from Virginia, USA)

Vistas are a huge part of the Chianti experience. The lush green hillside tapestries were everywhere and are punctuated by the lovely stone and stucco structures with tile roofs that dot the countryside. Obviously, the two statues in this image are mesmerized and truly invited everyone to join them to view the lovely scene and watch the dramatic clouds roll by. Vignamaggio, a famous wine estate where we enjoyed a tour and lunch, is the site of this enchanting scenery.


See a slide show of all the entries here.

We think you’ll enjoy these different perspectives each photographer offered of their European Experience! Thanks to all 46 travelers for taking the time to share their memories and enter our contest. Everyone who entered will receive a special gift.