2024 Photo Contest
As Rod Stewart sang, “Every picture tells a story.” That’s certainly true of our annual European Experiences photo contest!
This year’s contest was open to everyone who participated in our 27 trips in 2023. Each traveler could enter one or two photos that best represented their personal experience during their trip; they were also asked to provide a few sentences about their photo and why the experience was meaningful to them. If a traveler joined us for more than one trip, they could submit up to two photos from each trip. We had 125 entries this year.
Our daughter Kelly Wood managed the contest again this year, and the two of us (Kathy and Charley) were the judges. We judged “blind” and didn’t know who submitted any of the photos.
As always, a wide variety of photos were submitted, representing many different aspects of our European Experiences trips: spectacular scenery, specific experiences, local people, other group members, memorable meals and more. In choosing our winners, we included a mix of photos from a variety of trips and locations and tried to choose photos that were different from photos recognized in recent years. As always, we had a very difficult time narrowing down our choices and selecting the photos to recognize.
Every photo and its description represents a unique memory from the traveler’s personal experience. We appreciate the time everyone took to share their memories, and we’ll be sending them all a special gift.
We’re highlighting 15 photographs that reflect the broad scope of a European Experiences trip, considering first the photo and then also the description. Under our contest rules, we could recognize only one photo from each person, which required us to adjust a few of our choices.
And The Winners Are…
Congratulations to Marguerite Milland of Newport Beach, California, our 2024 grand prize winner.
We welcomed two groups for The Cornwall Experience last year (in April and September) and had 22 photos submitted from these trips… by far, the most from any of our destinations. Marguerite’s photo looking down on Cape Cornwall, on the southwest tip of England, is especially stunning and showcases the dramatic landscape of Cornwall. Marguerite usually joins us with her husband Mark Viles, and The Cornwall Experience was her 8th trip with European Experiences. Marguerite and Mark were with us in Cornwall and Alsace in 2023, and we’ll welcome them for The Riviera Hillsides Experience and The Mediterranean Provence Experience in 2024. She was also our grand prize winner in 2020 and a runner-up in 2023.
Marguerite’s grand prize is a $500 credit on a future European Experiences trip, so she’ll claim it this year. We also selected three runners-up, who have each received a $250 credit on a future Experience trip. Eleven other photographs were selected for special recognition. These travelers each won a $50 Amazon gift certificate (or a $50 credit on a 2024 or 2025 trip). See all 15 winning photos below, along with what each traveler had to say about the experience represented in their photo. The Runners-Up and Special Recognition winners are listed in alphabetic order by first name.
Congratulations to our photo contest winners, and thanks so much to everyone who participated! Special thanks also go to Kelly Wood for her excellent support for this year’s contest.
Grand Prize Winner
The Cornwall Experience (September 2023) at Cape Cornwall
Marguerite from California, USA
We had made our way to the top of Cape Cornwall and had enjoyed the views in several directions for quite awhile. We were about to start down when the sky suddenly changed in seconds. It happened so quickly I could barely capture it and it was over in sixty seconds.
The Cotswolds Experience (July 2023) at Snowshill Manor and Garden
Kelly from Texas, USA
The grounds surrounding Snowshill Manor were as fun to visit as the displays of the eccentric Charles Wade’s collections throughout his former home. We had a beautiful day to wander around and enjoy the various gardens. The views of the Cotswolds countryside beyond were stunning and peaceful.
The Riviera Hillsides Experience (May 2023) at Île Saint-Honorat
Lynn from Ontario, Canada
This secluded swimming spot left us wishing we had brought our bathing suits on our day trip to Les Îles de Lérins, a tranquil island off the coast of Cannes. The sparkling azure water and vibrant orange of the swimsuit provided a vivid contrast to the serene solemnity of the monks’ worship service we experienced earlier that day at the monastery. It was a day filled with lovely surprises.
The Normandy Experience (May 2023) in Honfleur
Patti from Tennessee, USA
This photo was taken at the old port area of the picturesque, historic commune/township of Honfleur. Sitting on the banks of an estuary of the Seine River two miles from the English Channel, Honfleur is home to one of the oldest churches In France, Sainte Catherine’s, built in the 15th and 16th centuries. Many artists, including Monet, and some of his fellow artists painted there. Beauty and history abound in Honfleur.
The Mediterranean Provence Experience (Sept 2023) on the Route des Crêtes
Bryan from California, USA
Overlooking Cassis – Another lovely day along the coast. The view over Cassis where we took a boat tour of the calanques (Mediterranean fjords), had a relaxing lunch watching the boats in the harbor of Cassis, did a bit of window shopping, and then rode up to this spectacular view.
The European Christmas Experience (December 2023) in Colmar
Cathy from North Carolina, USA
Visiting the Little Venice area of Colmar, France during the European Christmas Experience 2023. Walking through this area, so beautifully decorated for Christmas, a person can’t help but feel the holiday spirit.
The Cornwall Experience (September 2023) at the Geevor Tin Mine
Charlene from Florida, USA
I have discovered, after six trips with European Experiences, that there is always a “surprise highlight” for me. On the Cornwall trip it was our visit to the Geevor Tin Mine. This was our guide, known as “Stevie Boy.” He started working at Geevor in his late teens and stayed until the mines closed in 1991. He managed to make the miner’s life come alive for us!
The Puglia Experience (October 2023) in Ostuni
Gary from Tennessee, USA
During our trip through Puglia, we visited many hilltop towns, each unique in their own way. I particularly enjoyed Ostuni, not just because we were hotelled there, but because of the beautiful buildings in the ancient part of the city. We had a great view of the town from our room, but an even finer view from a small park a short walk from the town square.
The Cotswolds Experience (July 2023) in Snowshill
Ginger from Wisconsin, USA
Strolling around after lunch one afternoon I came upon this quintessential British scene, complete with a red phone booth. The rolling fields had long ago been cleared of stone, making the cobbly fence. The ancient church and cemetery stood moss covered and resolute. The Cotswolds never felt so Cotswoldsy as this!
The Alsace Experience (May 2023) in Riquewihr
Kathy from Georgia, USA
On our Alsace trip I fell in love with all of the signs over the restaurants, hotels, and businesses. Each one had such a great personality! This sign in Riquewihr was my absolute favorite! Just look at the detail and how it tells so much about the region!
The Cornwall Experience (April 2023) in Mousehole
Kim from Victoria, Australia
Blue skies, surfboards for hire, and the tide’s in at Mousehole on a cool Spring day. The wall around the harbour protects it from stormy tides with an entrance that can be closed by slabs of wood. Cornwall is a unique part of England, proud of its own language, heritage, and music, all together with a good old Sunday roast.
The Puglia Experience (October 2023) in Grottaglie
Linda from California, USA
The town of Grottaglie is famous for creating ceramics. We visited a shop located in a cave where the owner demonstrated all the steps involved in making a plate. We watched in awe as she hand painted it — she made it look so easy!
The European Christmas Experience (December 2023) in snowy Munich
Lisa from Minnesota, USA
The news report said “Munich woke up to a record-breaking snowfall of 50 cm (1.6 feet) on December 2, 2023, marking the city’s heaviest snowfall in two decades.” While some things shut down for a day or so, it did not deter the vendors and performers at the Medieval Christmas Market from becoming a snow removal crew as they cleared the way for us to enjoy the market experience. Nor did the snow deter our intrepid European Experiences group from making the most of the winter wonderland.
Inside Paris (September 2023) at the Christian Dior Museum
Mindy from Massachusetts, USA
Oh how I wish my mom could have been here with me! She passed in May 2023 and I definitely felt her presence. She had a flair for fashion and was a wonderful seamstress. I love this photo which gives the viewer a mere sampling of the designer’s creativity. Looking at all of these gorgeous fashions was a joy for my eyes. Darleen would have been in “Heaven.”
The Cornwall Experience (April 2023) in the Isles of Scilly
Pam from Texas, USA
Some of our Cornwall group enjoying a pint at the pub, the Seven Stones Inn, with its beautiful sea view in the Isles of Scilly on St Martins. After a day of sightseeing one of the best parts of the trip was sharing the highlights with our travel companions.