Morning photo: Streets of Vienna

In the city …

By and large, cities aren’t exactly my thing. But there are a few metropolitan areas where I’ve always thought I could live — for example L.A. and San Francisco, because they’re just so damn cool, or Munich (where I did live for a while) because it’s really more of an overgrown village than a city. Vienna, the capital of Austria, is definitely one of the places I could hang my hat.

I hadn’t really spent a lot of time here up to know, just a few visits as a tourist, but even during those short trips, I had the feeling that, beneath the urban hustle and bustle was a city with heart and soul. I felt some of that a few weeks ago, visiting during a huge demonstration and march in support of humane refugee policies. Since then, I’ve had a chance to start exploring the city along the Danube just a bit more, and even better, getting to know some of its people. I’ve only scratched the surface, but what I’ve found so far is a place that values art and community deeply and deliberately fosters a culture tolerance and openness. Vienna has a collective conscience, in contrast to the dog-eat-dog mentality that marks so many modern urban agglomerations, and there are killer coffee and pastry shops on nearly every corner — but that’s another story!

Morning photo: Rainy day(s)

Finding color on rainy, gray days isn’t all that hard, especially in the fall, when the plant world erupts in one last blast of color before winter’s grays and whites take over. Keeping my iPhone dry deep in the pocket of a raincoat, I set out for a short walk along the base of the Pöstlingberg, where residential streets give way to small urban garden plots, hedges and farm fields, looked for the brightest splotches I could find, including backyard fruit trees and berry bushes along the trail.

Morning photo: #Fleamarketfinds

One man’s junk …

Since I didn’t need a pair of used — but shiny — wingtips, I didn’t buy anything at the Linz fleamarket this morning, but I still had a good time. Fleamarkets can definitely evoke some pretty strong feelings if you let yourself drift down memory lane. I recognized several toy cars that I coveted as a toddler, and at another stand was a collection Pez dispensers that also brought back a flood of childhood remembrances. But the best part is watching the negotiations between buyers and sellers — the Italian shoe salesman explaining the intricacies of a small espresso maker, or the Matchbook car dealer, knowing that he has some real treasures, and refusing to sell himself short.

Morning photo: Snaps

Die Waldschänke …

After a few days of good old Central European gray and drizzly skies, the sun burst forth on Monday morning, so we headed up the hill to a local Waldschänke — a mountainside eatery that’s favored by hikers seeking a view over the broad Danube Valley around Linz. Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t the type of place that requires hours of strenuous slogging — more like a short walk up a country lane through farmyards and orchards, just enough exercise to work up a bit of an appetite for some country cooking.

Morning photo: City edits

Old town

I took the long way to Upper Austrian press club yesterday, walking across the Danube, then up through the old town to the castle and down the other side into the center of the city. Even following that detour, it’s only a 20 minute walk, but it gave me a chance to check out some of the sights along the way on a friendly and warm autumn day. After meeting some local reporters for lunch in the beer garden, I sat for a few minutes in the town’s main square and edited the morning snapshots for this set. All except the overlook image were run through multiple layers of filters and sharpening to create some grain that, for me, emphasize the cobblestone patterns and the old stone wall behind the statue.

Morning photo: Countryside …

Austrian scenes

In between researching stories on the influx of refugees and setting up interviews with environmental scientists, we’ve been able to get out into the Austrian countryside a few times, including a short local trek into the Mühlviertel of Upper Austria, one of the country’s most traditional farming regions. The pastoral scenes reflect an agricultural way of life going back many centuries, with carefully tended fields and orchards. Farther south, at the edge of the Austrian Alps, the Salzkammergut lakes region is starting to quiet down after a busy summer season, with boats neatly harbored in the scenic towns along the shorelines.

Morning photo: Euro pics …

Old stomping grounds

Had a chance to spend 24 hours in Frankfurt last week, sad to learn that Henninger Beer no longer exists, but happy to see that the city has revitalized and re-invented itself. Frankfurt has always been the commercial center of Germany, but in recent years, there’s been more of an emphasis on culture and green spaces. The downtown area is still gritty and urban, but the edges are a bit softer.

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