Morning photo: Austria revisited

Countryside

All I can really say about this set is that I want to go back and see all these places in all their other seasons — and that, if you’re ever in Upper Austria, be sure not to leave without trying a portion of Speckknödel, a delicious dumpling variety stuffed with bits of crisp bacon and baked with a fluffy milk and egg wash.

2015 will be second-hottest year on record in Europe

Summer heat waves fueled drought, forest insect outbreaks

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2015 temperatures across most of Europe were well above the 1981-2010 average. Map courtesy European Regional Climate Centre.

Staff Report

With little snow in the Alps for the start of the winter season, Europeans won’t be surprised to hear that 2015 will enter the climate annals as the second-warmest year on record, just slightly cooler than last year.

Much of eastern Europe was exceptionally warm in 2015, and central Europe baked under a summer heatwave that brought drought conditions to many breadbasket regions, stressing forests and affecting crop yields. In southern Austria, a small forest fire burned in early December. Continue reading

Morning photo: Winter color

The brighter the better …

The only possible theme you could find running through this set of images is my love of bold and bright color, and when I saw the bubble-blower on the Mariahilferstrasse in Vienna a few days ago, I definitely got back in touch with my inner child, whose voice always tells me, “The brighter the better.” The heck with grays and blacks! Especially during the holiday season and the short days of winter, a splash of color can warm your heart and soothe your soul.

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.

Severe drought spreading across Europe

June and July brought record high temperatures and big rainfall deficits in many parts of the European Union

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Drought conditions were widespread across Europe during June and July.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — The western U.S. isn’t the only part of the world experiencing severe drought this year. Across much of central Europe, extremely warm temperatures and lack of rainfall have combined to create the worst drought conditions since 2003.

Hardest hit have been France, Benelux, Germany, Hungary, the Czech Republic, northern Italy and northern Spain, according to new information released by the European Drought Observatory. The report includes data from satellite imagery showing that the areas with the largest rainfall deficits also recorded exceptionally high maximum daily temperatures, in some cases reaching record values. Continue reading

Morning photo: Gorge du Verdon

The Grand Canyon of Europe

During the last few days of this visit to the Provence, I finally had a chance to visit the Gorge du Verdon, where the Verdon River has cut an impressive path through the massive limestone plateau that characterizes much of the Provence region geologically. Along with all sorts of recreation, the gorge, through a trove of fossils and other evidence, has revealed many secrets of the prehistoric people who lived in the region. The canyon walls tower as high as 2,500 feet over the aquamarine water in places, and the winding roads along the rim offer great access to view points and to trailheads leading deep in to the heart of the canyon. Truly, the Grand Canyon of Europe!

Morning photo: Window seat!

‘Not all who wander are lost’

FRISCO —This summer’s trip has been a little different so far. I’m missing my travel companions, Leigh and Dylan, with whom I’ve shared some amazing adventures all over the world the past few years. For the first time in a while, I left Colorado by myself to join part of my family in Linz, Austria, where my mom grew up. A big part of this trip was to be there to accompany mom’s sister, my aunt Erika, safely back from Austria to her home in France. She and her husband Pierre were inveterate travelers, but both are in their 90s now, so it’s not always easy for them to get around. But we made it safely, even during a pretty extreme mid-summer heatwave and are now enjoying a cool glass of rosé from a family vineyard on the patio of their 200-year old house. I’m brushing up on my French and enjoying just being with two people who have seen so much in their lives, and who radiate contentment and calm.

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