Freitag, Dezember 30, 2005

A couple of domes near the Piazza Venezia.
Rome is full of columns. They may be standing, on the ground, whole or in parts. I was amazed at how pieces of them are just scattered all over the ground. They were apparently a very integral part of the architecture.

Mittwoch, Dezember 28, 2005

Ok, I was trying to wait until I had posted photos that actually pertained to my travels, but I couldn't hold out any longer! This is probably my favorite photo from my Italian excursion, but it could have been taken anywhere. Just so happens that it was taken in Rome near the Forum. I tend to notice these adorable Fiats wherever they are, but this one was calling out to me. It was like he was sitting there in the sun just waiting for me to come by and notice. Look at that mischievous smile. Thanks for making my day, little guy!
The fountains of Rome! It is no wonder Ottorino Respighi felt compelled to write about them. They are every where, all shapes and sizes, and always beautiful. One might think that the Romans must have had an abundance of water that they didn't know what to do with, but in actuality they had to bring the water in through aqueducts. Perhaps the fountains signified their affluence. Whatever the reason, they are still very lovely. This picture was taken at the Fontana di Trevi which is included in Respighi's poem: The Trevi Fountain at Mid-Day.

Dienstag, Dezember 27, 2005

While not built for particularly pleasant reasons, the Colosseum is still an amazing work of art. It was built c. 72 AD and was called the Amphitheatrum Flavium. We went inside and walked around. It's absolutely enormous and even with all the tourists and tours going through it didn't feel crowded. The wood that was the floor of the area has, naturally, rotted away, leaving the underneath where they housed animals and such exposed. Quite an amazing network of rooms and passageways.

Welcome to Rome! This picture is the best way I can think of to describe the city. Pillars, arches, domes, statues and architecture from every period imaginable vie for attention. Rome certainly was not built in a day. When I stepped off the underground I couldn't believe my eyes. Felt just like I was stepping into another world. For the next 2 days I walked constantly and still didn't see everything. Guess I will just have to follow another road back sometime.
Frohe Weihnachten! Buon Natale! Merry Christmas! Craciun Fericit! Joyeux Noel! Glædelig Jul! Feliz Navidad! Such were the greetings being given on my rather unique Christmas day in a hotel in Florence, Italy, spending the rainy day with friends. There were some in our group saying that it didn't feel like Christmas (we ate Italian food and had Linzer Torte (Austrian) for dessert. But what is Christmas? Traditions, family, gifts? Yes, but it is also so much more. A time to focus on the supreme gift of love that was given to each of us and to share that love with those around us. I'm reminded of a song that my family used to play during the holiday season and I can still hear Julie Andrews singing "So may I suggest The Secret of Christmas is not the things you do at Christmas time, but the Christmas things you do all year through".

Dienstag, Dezember 20, 2005

It's the most wonderful time of the year! Note Santa is in town checking on alternate routes for those apartments that don't have chimneys.

Montag, Dezember 19, 2005

It's amazing the difference a few hours will make. The huge flakes were very beautiful floating down. Now to avoid the slush on the sidewalks.

Sonntag, Dezember 18, 2005

One of the cool things we saw while in Salzburg was this ice carving exhibit. It was part of the advent market and these men were carving the dome of the cathedral. It was exciting to watch how a chain saw and a little bit of frozen water could end up so beautiful. Their hands must have been freezing though!
The friendships we create are about the most lasting thing we do on this earth. I know that I certainly wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for all the people in my life who care about me. Thanks for being my friend. And a special thank you to the guys who have helped me appear to be computer savvy. I now have a second site where you can view lots of pictures. They won't all be beautiful, but if you are looking for a more thorough showing of my trips this will be the place to look. Just go under links and click on My Exclusive Photo Gallery.

Freitag, Dezember 16, 2005

How many churches can you count in this photo? Salzburg is known as "the German Rome" due to the large number. I've been thinking about church buildings a lot lately. As I've been traveling around and visiting so many it's intriguing to see the detail in everything. My teacher and I were talking about how churches were how people learned before they could read and write. Nothing is without meaning. So last night as I sat in a church listening to a concert I took the time to really look at the paintings and artwork. Next time you are in a church I challenge you to do the same, not just read that plaque about when, who, what. I think you'll find that you learn a lot more.
This was taken as we hiked up to the fortress in Salzburg. I remember loving the little streets and how cute the tiny houses were from my visit several years ago, and not much has changed. Come to think of it, probably not much has changed in the last several hundred years.
Duck on the Danube. While Ted was here I took him for a stroll along the river that is such an important part of my town. The ducks and swans came out and gave him an appropriate greeting.

Mittwoch, Dezember 14, 2005

Stephansdom by day...

Stephansdom by night. Can you find the moon?
I also insisted that we visit the Riesenrad in Prater park. This wheel was first built in 1897 and then was rebuilt in 1945 after it was burned. It is the only giant ferris wheel, 200 feet, of its time which is still in use today.
No trip to Vienna would be complete without a tour of Schönbrunn. Seeing how the nobility lived was amazing as well as walking the halls where so many important political decisions were made and famous musicians performed. Ted was picking on me because I kept pointing out things that my house is going to have, including formal gardens and fountains. The only thing lacking was a good organ, a mistake I will not make in my palace.
Looking towards the Naturhistorische Museum, or is it the Kunsthistorisches Museum? Either way, it is a beautiful area to walk through near the Museum Quarter where we visited the Leopold Museum. There is an impressionism exhibit right now with several famous pieces on loan from Paris. It was very interesting to compare the French impressionist pieces with the Austrian's response. The Austrian work seemed to be a bit more realistic and use less color, but still very much impressionistic and enjoyable.
Vienna is beautiful at night too. Everything is all decorated for the Christmas season. There are several special markets set up and everyone is out enjoying the festivities. Here are some lights looking down Graben strasse.
Our next stop on our Austrian tour was Vienna, city of a so many things it's impossible to grasp it all in three days, much less actually cover it. But we made a noble effort. We visited churches, museums, cafes, the underground, the underground, the unde... wait, you probably get the point, and walked around just absorbing the sights. The architecture is amazing and the street performers are also intriguing. Had a couple nostalgic moments as we walked, one of them being a puppet playing a piano to the tune from The Italian Job (a few of you will get that) and another was a cafe called Chattanooga. Oh, the Statue of Liberty was also there holding her flame high, and I'm pretty sure she was frozen solid. We experienced the joys of mass transportation, everything from getting where we wanted to be in no time to standing in a throng of people so tight you didn't have to balance yourself and waiting for a train that you could finally squeeze on to. We also had to evacuate a train when there was a fire up ahead. So overall, it was a learning experience. But we found a great shop where we could buy veggie pizza for a good deal. Who knew carrots belonged on pizza?!

Dienstag, Dezember 13, 2005

Following a very filling meal, we ended our visit to Salzburg with a walk through Mirabell Gardens. Not many flowers this time of year, but if you ever watched The Sound of Music I'm sure these statues look familiar. There are many more pictures from this day that I will post over time. For now, plan a trip to Salzburg. You won't be sorry.
While not appreciated during his time, Mozart is now one of the drawing cards to Salzburg. You can visit his birth house, a house where he lived, go to concerts of his music, eat chocolate, you name it, it's there. As for me, I decided to take advantage of the situation and sneak a lesson in while I was there. As you can see, his form is a bit more stiff than mine, but I was trying to duplicate it as best I could.
One of the walls of the fortress. Not only good for protection, but offers a nice view of the surrounding mountains.

We hiked up the hill to visit Festung Hohensalzburg. The higher we went the more steep and more icy it became, but once at the top it was worth it. I had been there five years ago and it was just as good as I remembered. They keep discovering things up on the mountain from earlier and earlier. Ted and I were musing that the native americans were probably still crossing the Bering Strait around the same time that people were building a church there. It's so interesting to compare what was happening in different parts of the world during various time periods.
We hopped a train and headed to Salzburg for a day. Beautiful city, made famous by The Sound of Music, and absolutely full of tourists just about any time of year. Despite having to plow through people to get anywhere it is still a must see.

This is my town! It's not every day you get to hold a cathedral in your hand. I can only imagine how beautiful this view will be on a clear day.
A closer look at the pilgrimage church on the hill. Up that high it's easy to feel like you are that much closer to heaven. The view looking out is also amazing, even if it is snowing and overcast.

ALL ABOARD!! After all the pictures I've taken of Postlingberg and all the grand thoughts I've had of riding my bike up, I decided it could wait no longer. So we hoped on the Postlingbergbahn, which happens to be the world's steepest streetcar line with grades up to 10.6%. I truly felt like I was stepping back in time as we rode up the hill, stopping at little stations along the way. It was built in 1898 and I don't think much has changed since then. Even the little (and by little, Ted hit his head) stations looked like they've been untouched by time. The snow flakes just added to the overall storybook effect.

So I've been MIA for the last week, but now I'm back and going to try to make up for it by posting a lot of pictures and telling you a little bit about my week. Ted volunteered to be my guinea pig as I start the process of becoming an Austrian tour guide (when he turns in my grades I'll let you know how I did). We began the tour in Linz, my town. We covered a lot of territory and I'm fairly sure he hadn't walked that much in a long time. It was fun for me to see things for the 'first time' again, as well as take the time to visit some places I hadn't been.

Dienstag, Dezember 06, 2005

A rather modern depiction of The Holy Family that can be seen on Landstrasse.

Sonntag, Dezember 04, 2005

Looking down Landstrasse towards Taubenmarkt. Who needs to window shop when there are so many other things to look at?
Even all the little alleys have lights in honor of the season.

Freitag, Dezember 02, 2005

It is very festive to be out in the evenings now. Everything is lit up and people are strolling around doing their Christmas shopping. Tonight there was a group playing music on the sidewalk. A tuba, trumpet, drummer and singer. Interesting combination, but it was very pleasant and easy to hear from a long distance. To all my fans, I took these pictures for you because I'm sure I looked like quite a tourist walking in between the little shops and everything with my camera.
'Twas the month of Christmas and all through the Square,
not a thing was unlit, not even a stair.
The people came out to share in the cheer,
and it wouldn't surprise me if they even drank beer.
'Tis the Season! Here is the Christmas tree that graces the Hauptplatz in Linz.

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