A Fireworks Display for My 100th Story

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Statue in Mijas Pueblo, Spain

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.

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Throughout Europe with Excellent Cappuccino

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Pastries at Cafe Konditorei in Vienna

In the past several years I have traveled throughout several European countries and grew fond of really great coffee. I believe that most people have not experienced the aroma and smooth taste of truly great coffee.

It isn’t that I think of myself as a connoisseur or an advocate of beans from specific places throughout the world. I also don’t believe I am a snob because I rather enjoy a cappuccino or a latte than a cup of black Americano.

This story is about exceptionally great coffee with a particular emphasis on cafes and coffee in Europe. Like the one in this photo inside Cafe Konditorei in Vienna, Austria, many European cafes sell delicious pastries along with exceptional coffee. Fantastic coffee, pastries and food are also found at the famous Cafe Central, also in Vienna

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Peeing to Sounds of The Blue Danube Waltz

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Paintings representing Ballet, Comic Opera and Tragic Opera above the Grand Staircase at the Opera House in Vienna

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.”

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Holocaust Remembered at Mauthausen and in Vienna

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?

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Holocaust Memorial in Vienna’s Judenplatz

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.

Continue reading “Holocaust Remembered at Mauthausen and in Vienna”

Creaky Floors in Vienna Remind Me of Home

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Johann Strauss in beautiful Stadtplaz in Vienna
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.

Continue reading “Creaky Floors in Vienna Remind Me of Home”

My Explorations Move from Austria to Spain

The train arrived to take me to the Vienna Airport
The train arrived to take me to the Vienna Airport

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.

Leaves are beginning to change color near the pond at Stadtpark, Vienna
Leaves are beginning to change color near the pond at Stadtpark, Vienna

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.

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.