Reflections in Photos of My Austrian Summer

This statue in Krems is called
This statue in Krems is called “Simandl.” It is about the hen-pecked husband begging for the house keys so he can stay out late with the boys.

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.

A grand Danube River View from Aggstein Castle in Wachau Valley
A grand Danube River View from Aggstein Castle in the beautiful Wachau Valley

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.

In Salzburg, Pegasus in Mirabell Gardens. It was also in The Sound of Music 50 Years Ago
In Salzburg, Pegasus in Mirabell Gardens. It was also in The Sound of Music 50 Years Ago

Today’s blog is all about places I have captured in photos while in Austria. I hope you enjoy them!

Melk is at the beginning of the Wachau Valley and is also on the Danube River. It's famous Benedictine Stift Melk Abbey dwarfs the little town.
Melk is at the beginning of the Wachau Valley and is also on the Danube River. It’s famous Benedictine Stift Melk Abbey dwarfs the little town.

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.

Lake Wolfgang near Salzburg was in the opening scenes of the movie
Lake Wolfgang near Salzburg was in the opening scenes of the movie “The Sound of Music.”

A beautiful view of the Alps in Bavaria from Eagle's Nest
A beautiful view of the Alps in Bavaria from Eagle’s Nest

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.

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Schönbrunn Palace, the Summer residence of the Hapsburgs

Johann Strauss in beautiful Stadtplaz in Vienna
Johann Strauss in beautiful Stadtpark in Vienna

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.

A Wachau Vally trail marker
A Wachau Vally trail marker

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.

An original 14th century walkway to the Danube inside the Durnstein walls
An original 14th century walkway to the Danube inside the Durnstein walls

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 early in the Summer
Rossatz early in the Summer

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.

The Jester in Villach
The Jester in Villach

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.

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Are You “Regular?”

Okay, everyone… I am sure this is a topic that few blog about and I do understand the very personal nature of the subject. I will endeavor to keep this blog story at an appropriate level of discretion.

I am certain that many of you recall TV commercials in our youth about Ex-Lax,  the likely parental discussion we had as children about what it meant to be “regular,” and the specific purpose of a laxative. I recall my dad putting it into terms that I would readily understand… “A laxative helps make you poop!”

Indeed throughout our lives, we of a certain age have learned that our bodies respond to different FullSizeRender (24)foods in curious ways. Gone are the days in which we discuss these effects only attributed to prunes! Some could say there is a movement beyond that created by prunes. The laxative responses we get to various fruits and other foods leads me to conclude that doctors and others giving medicinal advice have their favorite remedies to keep us “regular.”

In February I had hernia surgery in Spain. My care was excellent and very efficient. That is certainly a topic for another blog as my surgical experience was quite different from what is done in the U.S. Regardless, the prescription from the Mijas town doctor following surgery was to eat two kiwis a day even though I told him that orange juice would work just as well! He is a determined, friendly man so I enjoyed two kiwis a day as well as a glass of orange juice!

My fresh apricots
My fresh apricots

I have discovered a new fruit that also does the trick!! It was a bit difficult to narrow it down as there is currently an abundance of fresh strawberries and cherries at the end of their season and the beginning of apricot time in Austria. However, through process of elimination (I proudly chuckle at my choice of words) I have found the magical properties to exist with apricots! Yes, they keep me “regular” and running (I chuckle once again) to the nearest toilet. Last week as I enjoyed fresh apricots, apricot dumplings, apricot liquor, apricot jam, and so on, I made sure to always be aware of the location of the nearest toilet…just in case!

Fresh apricots (“marille”) are wonderful and abundant now in Austria.They are sold at weekly town markets in Melk, Spitz and Krems,  in grocery stores, and in roadside stands throughout the Wachau Valley. What a special time to be here and experience the “Apricot Mile” near Rosaatz! I hope you enjoy this story…and I send along my wishes for your regularity!

Apricot Dumplings
Apricot Dumplings

My Melk Holiday

Melk Abbey towers
Melk Abbey towers

I extended my stay in the Austrian Wachau Valley where I am now exploring in and around the town of Melk an der Donau. Melk is at the beginning of the gorgeous Wachau Valley with the Danube River running through it. The Wachau extends about 35 kilometers down river to Krems. Melk is a small community of about 5000 and is dominated by the picturesque 11th century Benedictine Monastery, Melk Abbey (German: Stift Melk).

The Abbey is the principle tourist destination for the numerous Danube River cruise tours that tie-up here enroute from Amsterdam and elsewhere to Vienna, Budapest, and beyond. My apartment is in the older part of the town with the massive Abbey immediately behind me.

Overlooking the Danube, the Melk Abbey has a long history. It was founded in 1089. You can read more about the Abbey and the history of Melk here. For now, though, I am going to share with you some of my pictures and my observations.

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Melk Abbey sitting above the Danube River

The town has a rich history and the town government provides numerous placards (in German and English) throughout Melk that provide the tourist with a great deal of information about the early inhabitants, their relationship to the Catholic church, the influence of the reformation, the first ruling dynasty in Austria, the impact of World War II, the buildings, the town growth, and the flooding of the Danube in recent times as well as the recording of the massive flooding in 1501.

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From the 13th century when bakers sold their wares from this little building

Melk is a chameleon. It takes on a typical tourist hot spot in the daytime as tourists flock to the Abbey. There are many places to have a coffee as well as a good wine and schnitzel. In the evenings, however, the tour groups from the river boats are mostly gone and those in town are residents and numerous bicycle riders who have stopped for the night.

Weekly there are band concerts with participants in traditional Austrian dress playing music on the Rathausplatz. This is when the community just sits back and relaxes with a large beer-in-hand and listens to the music and occasionally sings along.

Abbey tourists enjoy the massive old library, paintings of royalty and old world leaders, statues, and the beautiful artwork of the church interior. The Abbey is beautiful both on the interior as well as the exterior. With a bit of luck you can hear musical rehearsals which in themselves are spectacular. But for me, the exterior gardens are quite special and a place that is often overlooked by the tourists who are visiting with very limited time to absorb the grandeur of the Abbey, the town and the area.

I have found the groomed walkways in the Abbey gardens to be nice but the peace and solitude FullSizeRender (22)found in the garden woods is very special. The smell of evergreens add to this place high over the Danube River flowing by. It is an ideal spot for me to contemplate, listen to nothing except for a few birds and the breeze in the trees. It is a great place to relax in the shade… my next destination.

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My Kremser Experience

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Statue (1682) to returning crusaders

Stunning medieval architecture and extraordinarily beautiful countryside is found throughout Lower Austria. Captured in photos of Aggstein, Durnstein, Rosaatz, and Melk I have shared on Facebook many of the old structures, castle ruins, monuments, stone-terraced vineyards, and the picturesque Danube River that make the World Heritage Site of the Wachau Valley unique and special.

While many find the charm of Austria to revolve about Vienna, I have opted for a more rural area in which to holiday for the past three months. My residence has centered on Krems an der Donau, maybe the oldest of communities in all of Austria. Here people are referred to as “Kremsers.”

Part of the Rathaus 1452
Part of the Rathaus 1452

Located down river at the end of the Wachau Valley, the town of 25,000 inhabitants even today remembers and celebrates ancestors from the Middle Ages and their influence in creating Krems. The town is very long on memory, pride, and tradition including personal dress, food, wine, religion, and music.

In this blog I am primarily sharing photographs. While I can tell stories, the photos speak! They shout of the history and pride that Kremsers feel for their community, their ancestors, their architecture, their food and drink, their traditions…their way of life.

As I enjoy a slice of cinnamon-sweet apple strudel at my favorite outdoor cafe, I pause to listen to the chimes of the Steiner Tor. I hear the commuter trains in the background. I see lovers holding hands and smell roasted coffee which beckons me to sip a caramel latte. I hope you enjoy my reminiscences about Krems and can envision the beauty that makes Krems a wonderful place to feel the past while in the present.

Old Testament scenes etched in 1561
Old Testament scenes etched in 1561

I have deeply absorbed Krems’ preservation. It is there for the taking by Kremsers, me, and future generations. The soul of this community is in, and its voices come from, its landmarks, traditions, and people. So gathered here is my collection of photographs that I have found particularly interesting to these ends as I explain in captions.

Medieval mural in Krems center
Medieval mural in Krems center
Bell tower in Krems Stein
Bell tower in Krems Stein
A typical Krems street
A typical Krems street
A favorite stop for coffee and strudel
A favorite stop for coffee and strudel
House built in 1210
House built in 1210
The status Simandl is about the hen-pecked husband begging for the house keys so he can stay out late with the boys
The statue “Simandl” is about the hen-pecked husband begging for the house keys so he can stay out late with the boys
Typical alley in Krems
Typical alley in Krems