2014 // Where in the world is Lena Mirisola

Instead of doing a look back on my favorite photos of 2014, I decided to do my favorite places I visited this year. If there's one thing I love as much as photography, it's getting on an airplane. Here are my top five picks for most memorable trips I've taken in 2014!

NEW YORK CITY 

I was fortunate enough to visit NYC three times this year, on all sorts of adventures. Road trips with Tom Richmond & Barb, a wild day with my girlfriends, and for work on a commercial shoot for Barb! I met Olivia effing Bee at her show opening in Soho in June, walked over the Brooklyn Bridge for the first time, shot on a rooftop, met my other idol/inspiration Basil Vargas in Chinatown for bubble tea, got sweaty in Times Square, and ate amazing food on amazing food. It's all about the food, after all. If you're ever in the Big Apple and want to know where to get the best bubble tea or some kickass dinner, please shoot me a text! I love this place. It's big and loud and expensive but full of excitement with a little twinkle in its eye. Can't wait to move here after college.

CHICAGO

SPRING BREAK! For the crazy kids who go to the coldest city ever instead of hitting the beach in Miami. I flew out with my "brother" Cam on a cold morning to a brand new place for the both of us. It was awesome, to say the least: crashing at a hostel in Wicker Park & a friend's house, riding that super cool above ground CTA train, getting phenomenal food pretty much everywhere, Chinatown with the boys, visiting SAIC, walking around the loop, and most fondly, getting to the top of the Hancock Tower looking at the millions and millions of city lights just wanting to cry. Oh, also where I got my first and beloved tattoo! Photography related, of course. I'm aching to go back and spend more time here. Maybe summer 2015! Open couch anyone?

ENGLAND

England! That country we used to be before we got sick of the monarchy and decided to move to a different continent. It was smashing! In all seriousness, it was straight out of Mary Poppins. The houses and chimneys and streets were so quaint and adorable and I just wanted to pinch England's cheeks! Except for the whole driving on the left thing: SO SCARY! I would doze in the car and wake up and we'd be on the left side of the road with cars coming toward us on the right and boy, would THAT wake me up. I stayed with the fabulous Frances Sales, a fantastic photographer from Kent. We walked her pup through the countryside on the sunniest day, and we got a beautiful blue skied day in London, too! But no fear, it rained the day I left, so I indeed experienced a proper English day. Oh, I also achieved all my dreams by finally getting to sit on a hay bale in a lavender farm. Had to go all the way to England to do it ;)

CALIFORNIA

Where I belong.

California was incredible. I went with my best friend, rented my first car ever (that beanie little red thing that couldn't really do hills), and dove into the Pacific Ocean for the first glorious time in my life. We stayed with the amazing, AMAZING Cat in her home in the Los Feliz part of LA. We hit tons of places: Santa Monica (on the 4th of July), Venice Beach, Hollywood, K-Town, El Matador State Park, Malibu, everywhere. Being there at 19 driving my own rental car on the 405 was probably the most exciting thing I've ever done. I repeat, I frickin LOVED LA.

After that, we flew up to San Francisco and stayed right in Union Square. We did all the San Fran staples: their beautiful and massive Chinatown, that big red bridge, Pier 39 (where there was only one little sea lion swimming around), rode the cable cars, Sausalito, all sorts of stuff. We headed even more north after that, to wine country! I finally met my amazing editor and founder of SheStock, Karen Beard in Petaluma, and I visited headquarters and laughed over the most amazing steak dinner. We got a private after hours tour of Jackson Family Wines in Sonoma, and I did some shooting in Santa Rosa. And lastly, and certainly not the least, we got to see the redwoods up North! THEY'RE SO BIG! We drove through cliffs and mountains to get to them, and boy were we freaking out, but we survived! The beauty in California was unbelievable. Mountains, deserts, cliffs, the ocean, the flowers everywhere... there are so many colors everywhere you turn. We would take walks and oh look, there's a lemon tree in that guy's front yard. A LEMON TREE. 

I'm going to NY first after college and once I get some momentum, my behind is flying to LA as fast as it possibly can and I will be a happy SoCal girl.

FRANCE

How could I describe what Europe was like for the first time... I can't! The history of the land, the beauty of the people, and the architecture, and the Earth...

Mind you, France wasn't even on my top five destinations in Europe. I'm a die hard Germany girl, and France was never a place I dreamt at night about traveling to. Boy, did I underestimate the place. The South of France is unlike anything in the world. We stayed in Boutenac, an its bitsy little town. The food was fresh and amazing. Farm ingredients without all the preservatives in US food... the cobblestone streets, the antique windows and doors, and colorful facades; it was just a dream. It was like being in a dream. Ellen would be in charge of the map (yes, the physical map) and all the girls would just pile in the van and we would drive and go exploring. I dipped my toes in the Mediterranean on the shores of Narbonne, spoke French to the merchants, visited the old men who sat in the town square every night, drove through vineyard after vineyard, and sunflower fields, too, all while looking forward to what Paris had in store for me. Well, I saw the top of the Eiffel Tower and cried. So that was that. I'm unfortunately not one of those eloquent travel bloggers, hence the picture taking thing I do instead: so just grab a warm baguette and enjoy what old world charm looks like.

Tell me where your favorite places were in 2014! I'm compiling my 2015 hit list, I'd love to hear your stories!

Lena Mirisola

Boston, MA 01886, USA

Photographer. Bubble tea addict. Girlboss.