First “Easy” Hike of 2018

Everywhere the sound of mountains thawing. The waterline in the reservoir is frighteningly low, we assume to make room for the water raging down from above, gurgling all around us. It’s a warm day in the middle of April. And the place is almost deserted. We go left around theSchlegeisspeichersee (Schlegeis reservoir), home to one […]

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The Wine Road Less Traveled

I’ve walked down a lot of them, let me tell you. The Weinstraße/Route du Vin/Wine Road in Alsace is my favorite; but I’ve also done the Mosel, spent a day in New Zealand’s Marlborough region and a week in the Aconcagua Valley in Chile, floated past the vineyards of the Douro river in Portugal, driven […]

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Salz Welten at Altausee — Not for the Claustrophobic

Have you ever been in a salt mine? Did you (also) lick the walls? We’re on our way back from Graz (Austria) and driving through the Salzkammergut when I turn to Herbert the Loquacious Lard Maker and say, “We should see a salt mine while we’re here.” And he says, “Are there salt mines here?” […]

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Neusiedler See — The Biggest Wading Pool in Europe

Did you know Neusiedler See (Lake Neusiedl) is only a bit over one meter deep? Wait. You didn’t know there was a big–yet famously shallow–lake in Austria on the border to Hungary, did you? Nor did you know it’s the largest lake in Austria or that the fancy scientific name for it is an endorheic […]

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Schönbrunn Palace — Vienna Re-revisited

We’ve been walking in the gardens at Schönbrunn for at least thirty minutes when I turn to Eldon the Lion Lice Trainer and say, “There’s something about this rose garden, those faux Roman ruins, this puddle. I’ve been here before, haven’t I?” “Twice,” he says. “Oh.” “Yeah.” “Why don’t I remember these things?” “You remembered […]

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Vienna Revisited

Horses and Vienna — Inseparable. Vienna is big. Have you ever noticed this? Does it keep you up at night? We passed a sign on the road while visiting the capital of Austria last weekend that said Vienna has 1.7 million brains. Unless some of the citizens of Vienna don’t have one–or some have two?–I’d […]

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A November Hike at Aachensee in Austria

Friday, we–and you know when I say “we” I always mean Oscar the Carpaccio Pounder because I don’t plan things, right?–so, we planned a spur-of-the-moment trip to Austria. We drove to Aachensee, just across the German border into Austria, then we hiked all the way to Gramaialm from the parking lot in Pertisau. When I […]

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On the Bee-ducational Path at Pillersee

Yesterday evening our neighbors came home after a family bike ride all bundled up in warm jackets and scarves, hats and gloves. I was standing there at my door barefoot in shorts and a not-very-clean T-shirt. “Um,” they said collectively. “What.” The only thing missing from my summer-fun gear was an umbrella-ed drink, sunglasses and […]

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The Last Rays of Summer

Every year around this time, Otto the Bavarian Zookeeper and I go through the same ritual. We begin to say things like “Well, Otto the Bavarian Zookeeper, this weekend will be our last opportunity to go hiking, so we should make the most of it, eh?” or “So, Otto the Bavarian Zookeeper, how about one […]

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Z is for Zillertal

Sexy CowFor the last 18 years, I’ve been hearing Germans talk about where they renew their mental strength, where they recharge their batteries. For lots of Europeans–not just Germans–the place to do this is on a beach; but for lots of others, this place is the mountains. You’re either one or the other, unless you’re […]

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