Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Twain's Princeliest Creation Ever Conceived

First, an explanation and an apology to those who have repeatedly come to this site expecting a new post.  For weeks, Google/Blogger/Picasa wouldn't allow me to upload photos, saying I had exceeded my 1GB limit (which I probably exceeded years ago) and I would have to pay to increase my storage.  Having already spent all my lunch money on cameras, computers and additional hard drives for this hobby—my gift to the world (or whoever happens by)—I was reluctant to make an additional, recurring investment.  If Google, one of the planet's wealthiest companies, claims that they own my photos and my writing, (which seems very unfair) they should be paying me...and all their bloggers, not demanding that bloggers pay them.  This is not the first time Google/Blogger/Picasa has denied my attempts to upload.  Today, as has happened in the past, after waiting some weeks, it appears I can once again share my images with you.  Thank you for coming back!  And thanks to G/B/P for once again allowing me to share my images.

Milan, Italy.  Decades ago, when I first read Mark Twain's Innocents Abroad, his glowing description of Milan's Duomo,  left me eagerly yearning to see this "princeliest creation that ever brain of man conceived."  It does not disappoint.  We took an elevator to the roof to be greeted by an enchanted forest of white marble atop this marvelous building.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Darning the Fishing Nets

Genoa, Italy.  We happened to pass several men repairing fishing nets at Genoa's harbor.  I'm inspired by the lovely autumnal color palette of their nets as well as the patience and skill it must take to make these repairs.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Genoa Cranes

Genoa, Italy.  Taken from the car as we traveled north out of the city.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I Didn't Know Jack

Vienna.  Every time I visit Vienna's incredible Naschmarkt, I'm temporarily inspired to become a serious cook.  Often I buy a food we've never tried before just to learn and experience something new.  Attracted and tempted by the enormous size of a tropical Jackfruit, we carried a hefty slice home.  However, as we didn't know anything about it and didn't want to accidentally poison ourselves or eat the wrong parts or eat it raw when it should be cooked, I did what any cautious person would do and researched this mysterious fruit on the Internet.  Cautioned that the Jackfruit is so extremely sticky it is used to make glue and that it could ruin a knife or cutting board, we selected our least-favorite knife and covered the cutting board with foil.

The Verdict
Taste: OK—not bad, not especially great.  Time spent cleaning the knife: about 20 minutes.  Conclusion: Glad we tried it but not inclined to use our knives on it again.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Tears of Time: Drips in the Dark

Obersalzberg, Germany.   Reminders of war and cruelty are hard to avoid in this part of the world.  While I prefer to focus on the beauty of Vienna and all we are seeing, sometimes dark history and its ugly lessons scream to be heard, startling, shaking us off balance and tearing at our hearts.

As disturbing as it is, the concentration camp at Mauthausen, Austria is an important site to visit for the informative, personal exhibits focusing on the persons imprisoned, starved, forced to work and murdered there. Two hours to the west is Hitler's luxurious Eagle's Nest, yet, according to the guides, Hitler was afraid of heights and did not spend much time at that mountaintop retreat. Instead, he spent much time in nearby Obersalzberg, Germany. Today, the Documentation Center at Obersalzberg, stands above his extensive bunker system. (You may be interested to know a bunker system was also made for him near Los Angeles.)    

I was surprised to see stalactites forming in Hitler's bunker, tears of time. I'm also struck by the similarity of the word, stalactite to stalag, the German word for a prisoner-of-war camp.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Zwinger Ceilings

Dresden, Germany.  The exterior ceilings of Dresden's Zwinger, rebuilt after WWII, make me wonder how these ornate designs are made today and how they defy gravity.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Zwinger

Dresden, Germany.  Now a collection of museums, Dresden's baroque Zwinger was originally the outer fortress for the city and later the site for grand events.  Although it had to be rebuilt after the massive bombing of Dresden in World War II, its architecture inspires idealized images of a high level of gentility and civilized behavior.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Boats of Lunzersee

Lunzersee, Austria.  Electric boats with their light hum and the swish, swish, swish of human-propelled kayaks, canoes and paddleboats of the Lunzersee add to the peaceful landscape of this Alpine lake and are items of quiet beauty in themselves.

The view from one of those lovely electric boats is pretty nice as well:

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Not My Favorite Thing About Austria

Austria.  It's one of the most beautiful countries on the planet, yet someone in Austria's autobahn department seems determined to hide its lovely scenery from motorists.  Where a year ago you could see a castle, now the view is of a wall.  Such walls are common in Austria and most are without windows.  While no one wants residents to suffer with roadway noise (assuming that's the reason for them), there are studies saying shrubs are effective for sound attenuation.  Austria, tear down those walls!

Monday, October 8, 2012

You Gotta Pick a Pumpkin or Two

Hintersdorf, suburb of Vienna, Austria.  It's about as close to pumpkin heaven there is.  Pumpkins, gourds and squash in a spectrum of colors, shapes, sizes and textures are presented as sculpture, decoration and even food at Franzlbauer's grand and amazing pumpkin emporium.