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Photo of the Week

Venice at night, May 2009.
Venice at night, May 2009.

Jan. 8

“Venice is so unique,” said Gary Penner of Fort Wayne, Ind., who submitted this week's top-rated image in our It’s A Snap! travel photo contest.

Penner, the communications manager at a healthcare services company, said he isn't an experienced traveler, but has taken “life-changing” Christian short-term mission trips.

After the devastating 2004 tsunami that followed the Indian Ocean earthquake, Penner took photos and helped rebuild fishing boats in Thailand. In Ethiopia, he established a culture-sharing network with schools in Africa and the U.S.

But on a rare two-week leisure trip with his sister and brother-in-law last May, Penner toured Venice, Florence, Rome, Austria and Germany, traveling mostly by train. Rail travel is “relaxing, fast and efficient,” Penner said, and is the only way first-time visitors should go.

“You wouldn't want to drive in Rome, it’s kind of dangerous,” he said. “Even walking — there’s no walkways, and it’s hectic. You expect people to stop for you, but you can't assume that.”

Penner snapped the winning image with a Nikon D40X. “In Venice, there was something different about the light there — it was very bright, very crisp.”