During the past five years I have blogged about my adventures and observations of places, people and their cultures. To my surprise, my stories have been read by people in 73 countries around the world!
The worker statue in Mijas Pueblo in Spain reminds me that most of my stories sprang from adventures and explorations. These adventures began on the side of a mountain overlooking the Mediterranean Sea in Southern Spain.
This story, my 100th, is like a fireworks display… lighting up the sky with brilliant flashes with loud blasts! It commemorates those stories that I find most enjoyable.
This story is dedicated to those who have encouraged and inspired me to write and to those who read what I have written.
In a few days I will have an anniversary marking three years since I began my European adventures. When I began my exploration I also started to create my blog. I think of my blog not only as a journal of my discoveries but also as a place to remember the stories I have heard, the people I have met, and the cultural differences which I have encountered.
I maintain my blog for myself so I can enjoy reliving memories from the many places I have visited. However, I have shared my blog with everyone and I can’t help but notice that people in 61 countries have read at least one of the 75 stories I have written. I hope that you, my readers, enjoy the glimpse into my life and my explorations.
This story is different from others I have written. I always try to add several photos into my stories to help bring memories alive. I have also noticed that I have a significant collection of photos from the past three years that have not been posted. So, this story is all about the faces I have encountered over the past three years.
My blog exploration adventures are presently followed by people in 56 countries. During the past two and a half years, my regular readers know that I like to write about interesting aspects of my life during my travels. Sometimes my topics get a bit personal. Even though I have readers, I remind myself that I write this blog for myself and I try hard to not offend anyone.
In past stories I have reflected on the effects of apricots in “Are You Regular?” and the potency of wines while lamenting in “One Too Many.” In the spirit of the song “Dance to the Music,” I present my story, “Peeing to Sounds of The Blue Danube Waltz.”
How do I write a story with a theme that is intensely horrific? How can I grapple with remnants of history and do it in a way that makes sense of an extremely painful period of human existence?
How can I write a story with full knowledge that it will be incomplete, inadequate, and certainly more deserving than the feeble words I present?
It is with these questions that I write a story that I have avoided for two years even though I knew I wanted to write it. This story is about my exploration of the Mauthausen Concentration Camp in Austria and Vienna’s “Nameless Library” Memorial to its 65,000 Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
A few days ago I moved into my apartment in beautiful Vienna. Not only do I love Vienna (having blogged several times) but also the apartment is quite nice.
A beautiful stairway leads to the third floor of my apartment. The apartment has interesting uniqueness such as the beautiful 19th century parquet flooring which makes wonderful creaking sounds as you walk on it.
Just as the snowfall in Brno reminded me of home, hearing the creaking also reminds me of growing up in Somerset, my hometown in the USA.
I began my nomadic adventure exploring Europe in October 2014. I recently realized that breakfast is my favorite meal when I visit local cafes. Not only is it my favorite meal but it also has become almost an obsession in what I eat. While in different cafes I have met some very interesting personalities who have helped me understand and appreciate their respective cultures. This story is about my breakfast obsession and the friends I have made as I have crossed Europe and found several mouth-watering breakfast delights.
This week I returned to Mijas Pueblo, Spain on the Costa del Sol near the Mediterranean Sea. Last year I “wintered” in this small village that is perched on a mountainside overlooking the city of Fuengirola and the valley leading to the sea. When I left Mijas in March, I reflected that I felt like it was “home” to me.
I established several relationships with people living in the Mijas community last winter and I felt that in many aspects I became interested in things that occupy the minds of the residents. If you follow my blog you also know that I had exceptional experiences over the spring and summer months in Austria. But I am happy to return to Mijas Pueblo and on the very first day found myself comfortably fitting in!
After stopping by the rental office and retrieving a bag I had left there, I found myself reconnecting. I once again went to Bella Vista, my favorite small cafe on the Avenida de Mejico leading into the pueblo. Bruno works there and he recognized me, we greeted each other, and in Spanish asked if I wanted my usual… pitufa con tomate, zumo de narajna, y té. Of course!! And then yesterday near my favorite grocery store I found one of the black cats that was a kitten last year.
It is nice to be home for the winter months. I am planning to explore more this winter than I did last year and have been identifying places that I will venture to from my home base in Mijas. As I conduct my explorations, I will post about them here in my blog. As always, if there are things you would like me to write about in my explorations, just email me or, like Peter and Linda, plan a trip to come visit!
Yesterday was my departure day from Austria and the conclusion of my current exploration there. I am returning to Spain from my holiday and I am heading to the Costa del Sol, Sun Coast, on the Mediterranean Sea. Once again I will reside in Mijas Pueblo through winter because the temperature doesn’t approach freezing and, most importantly, the choice to be in snow is mine. I choose NOT!
During my last few weeks in Austria I have been reflective of my exploration and the people, places, and culture which I have blogged about and reminisced through photos on Facebook. Before leaving Austria I went to Stadtpark, City Park, in Vienna one final time. It became one of my favorite places in Austria. Envisioned by Emperor Franz Josef, the center city park was set aside for people like me and future generations to enjoy the wooded paths, the pond and the wildfowl that take to it, and the serene escape that comes with it. Classical music from Shubert, Strauss, Mozart, and many others is celebrated in the park with memorials lining the walking paths.
With autumn in Austria, the evening light is dwindling, leaves are turning colors, and the reflections in the pond foretell the coming of snow and cold. On my last park exploration I stood by a child tossing bread to the ducks and enjoyed watching people snapping photos. I saw an elderly gentleman with a heavy tan blanket on his lap, confined to a wheelchair and his wife standing behind him watching the activity. Although his expression didn’t change you could see the same joy I felt as I looked into his eyes.
As evening approached the woman wheeled her husband from the park as the chill in the air intensified; it became time for me to leave. I made my way back to Wolkersdorf to enjoy the warmth and glow of the fireplace one more time. I will return to this wonderful Austrian city again. But for now, I will continue my exploration from the warmth of the Spanish Mediterranean coast where more adventures await in Marbella, Palma, Tenerife, and many other places.
In three weeks the time on the clocks will change here in Central Europe and we will be on “Winter Time.” Summer has come and gone as I spent much of it exploring Austria on holiday and in two weeks I return to Spain.
I have most recently been living in a small village in Wolkersdorf but my travels have taken me far and wide throughout the country to Krems, Horn, Melk, Tulln, Semmering, Salzburg, Graz, Innsbruck, Villach, the Wachau Valley, and Vienna. Many of these beautiful places, people, and artwork have been captured in photographs that I have shared on Facebook, blog entries and in messages to friends and family.
It is both happy and sad to be returning to Spain in two weeks. I have greatly enjoyed my holiday in Austria and with Winter cold and snow coming and the time change bringing darkness earlier in the day, I am anticipating the warmth on the Costa del Sol and friends there. I will miss the people I have met in Austria, the confectionaries, lattes, apple strudel, wiener schnitzel, and this distinct culture that I have appreciated.
Today’s blog is all about places I have captured in photos while in Austria. I hope you enjoy them!
My initial stop in Austria was in Krems an der Donau. It is one of the oldest settled communities in all of Austria and was an excellent place to begin my Austrian holiday. Many people speak English in all of Austria but especially in Krems. I wrote a few entries in my blog about Krems but my favorite one is here. Following Krems, I stayed awhile in Melk. In Melk I particularly enjoyed the park at the Abbey and wrote about my Melk holiday. Krems and Melk are the bookends of the Wachau Valley. Famous for apricots and grapes for wine, the Danube River flows through the Wachau passing many small villages with Spitz, Durnstein, Rossatz, and Emmersdorf among my favorites. The castle ruins at Aggstein are in the Valley and well worth the visit. I wrote about Aggstein and its famous “Little Rose Garden.” I especially enjoyed visiting the ruins during a Renaissance festival and loved the food and writing about my visit to Aggstein.
In many of the places I have mentioned I went by train and boat to visit towns and cities in Austria. Most notable to me was Salzburg and is certainly one of the places I want to visit again someday. Salzburg is the location for the movie “The Sound of Music.” The scenery in the mountains and lakes is stunning and in the mountains one cannot help hearing Julie Andrews singing “The hills are alive with the sound of music.” While in Salzburg I visited Hitler’s “Eagles Nest” where the beautiful mountain views take your breath away. I wrote two blogs about my visit to Salzburg and Eagles Nest. One can’t help but to be inspired to write in these places with beautiful skies and spectacular peaks.
I have taken so many photos that it is always difficult to determine which to include in any blog or to post on Facebook. Staying in Vienna presented a problem in that there are so many places one wants to visit and if I were to reflect on them all, the blog would be way too long. The city offers so much… classical music by Strauss and Mozart among others, opera, historic, beautiful monuments and architecture, and wonderful food and drink. I narrowed my photo selections to a few and decided to write about the “City of Dreams” from a perspective that focused on present day Vienna as dreams that have been realized. There are also memories in Vienna that are sad such as the 65,000 Jews who never returned during the Holocaust, the NAZI annexation of the entire country during World War II, and the oppression by the occupying Russian forces following the war. Vienna was also the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and there are wonderful and sad stories throughout the history of the Empire. These are captured in the numerous museums throughout the city.
Hiking along the Wachau Valley Trails brings you to many of the famous places I have mentioned previously. There are many selections of trails to take and one can always find solitude and reflection somewhere in the Wachau. Surprisingly often you find yourself in one of many vineyards. The grapes from the Wachau are particularly desired for making Gruner Veltliner wine which is loved throughout Austria and Germany.
Two of the towns in the Wachau Valley are Rossatz and Durnstein. Each are known for many things but my adventures were often focused on taking photographs, eating different foods, learning about history, and tasting wines.
Rossatz in particular is quite beautiful. Located across the river from Durnstein in the Valley, the town is often identified as the heart of the Apricot Mile. In the Summer when apricots are ripe, they are for sale everywhere. In addition to fresh apricots, apricot dumplings are particularly popular. There are all sorts of drinks and syrups made from apricots. But in Rossatz I enjoyed its quiet charm. Many just don’t know about it and the serenity found there in the vineyards, throughout the community, and along the beach. That’s right, there is a beach on the Danube very close to Rossatz. It also turns out that there are several along the Danube.
My excursions have taken me to many fascinating places in Austria and I have captured some of those memories in this blog. I enjoyed my Summer holiday very much and look forward to returning sometime and reliving many of the memories that I have described and many more. So for now I will say “Auf Wiedersehen” from Austria as I plan my return to Mijas Pueblo, Espana, later this month.
Vienna, the “City of Dreams,” is much more than Freud’s dream studies in Vienna. In Vienna, dreams are much more expansive and expressive than his work alone. The ever-changing, diverse city holds dear all forms of artistic culture. The visions of dreamers extend into every aspect of the city at the Staatsoper Opera House and numerous concert venues. Mozart’s, Strauss’ and Schubert’s dreams of beautiful music come alive in Vienna. And native son Klimt’s paintings adorn the city along with Austrian masterpieces in the Belvedere.
Dreams leap to the present from the imperial past and the stately palaces at Hofburg and Schönbrunn and numerous museums depicting Austria’s past and dreams for the future. Public places depict the dreams of emperors from the bustle on the Ringstrasse to the relaxing calm at Stadtpark. Dreams brought to reality are exhibited in numerous festivals like the Film Fest held outdoors at the Rathaus town hall and numerous other sites that attract people from around the world to both visit and to stay.
The visions of past Vienna dreamers have affected and continue to shape the future of Austria and the world. The city continues to set an example for quality of living as it is identified as #1 in the world according to the latest Mercer “Quality of Living Survey.”
During August 2015 I experienced many of these dreams and the quality of life as I lived in the city and have seen how, over time, the dreams have become reality in this City of Dreams.
The Vienna dreamers emphasize remembering the past and you see it everywhere. Be it simple as enjoying a latte in Stephansplatz with Saint Stephen’s Cathedral’s bells tolling or a visit to the multitude of museums, it is evident that the dreamers for this city want to leave their mark as a commitment to past memories so that future generations will learn from the city’s past. The Technical Museum is a fine example of this where the emphasis on industrialization and dreams for bettering life live on.
As mentioned previously, music and art abound in the city. Monuments to song and dance reside many places and have been left by past visionaries. The most notable of these monuments is the Staatsoper Opera House where beautiful paintings adorn the luxurious grand stairway and patrons delight as one senses the sounds and sights of beautiful music and dance.
Dreams are also found in the political history of Austria as it was once was the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. There are grand stories of the dreams of Emperor Franz Josef and his Empress Elisabeth. While Franz Josef was the visionary for much of the way we see the city today, the impression left to us by Elisabeth is quite interesting.
Known as “Sisi,” Elisabeth dreamed of not being tied to royal expectations of court life and lived her dreams by traveling. Her story is fascinating and worth writing a blog about her but I will save that for another time.
Vienna is an enchanting city and it is understandable to be called the “City of Dreams.” One can just feel the presence of the past and the visions of many and their contributions for now and the future. If you have a bucket list item to visit Europe, Vienna is your necessary stop to be embraced by the City of Dreams.