Category: Europe

Morning photo: Marillenblüte

Spring in the Wachau world heritage region

Nothing says spring like blooming fruit trees, and one of the most beautiful places to view this annual spring spectacle is in the Wachau region of Austria, along the Danube River between Krems and Melk. Perhaps best known for producing stellar crops of apricots — not to mention wine grapes, the Wachau is designated as a world heritage region for the values of its cultural landscape, including agriculture, ancient castles and villages and terraced vineyards that have been cultivated for centuries.

The area’s natural forests were cleared during the Stone Age, from which date famed relics like the Venus of Willendorf, a fertility figure shaped some 25,000 years ago. Around 800 AD, bishops from Salzburg and Bavaria started cultivating the hillsides for wine grapes, creating the present-day landscape pattern of vine terraces. Learn more about the region at UNESCO’s world heritage website.

Morning photo: Wien blüht!

Got blossoms?

In densely packed Vienna, open green spaces are cherished by residents and the city’s many parks and gardens are starting to come alive with spring blossoms. It’s easy to take trees for granted during the green days of summer, or in winter, when the branches are bare. But in spring, when they burst into their most colorful display, it’s time to stop and give thanks for the plants that help us survive on this planet. The city recognizes the environmental value of green spaces and actively works to encourage the creation of new gardens by offering subsidies for community gardens, green roofs and other activities that promote more plant life. You can find the best of Vienna’s gardens, and many other interesting tidbits of information about the city, with this online resource.

Morning photo: Skyward …

More #windowseat love!


A few more aerial views, just because looking at the world from above is so cool. The air was filled with a wintry haze during a recent flight to LA, but with a little editing I was able to bring out some of the detail in the Denver cityscape, and a black and white edit of the mountains helped sharpen the image a bit. It was also fun to see the giant jets at Heathrow all lined up, looking a bit like toy planes. Just a couple of hours later, our flight path took us along the mighty Danube for the approach to Vienna, spread out and gleaming in late winter sunshine.

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.

Morning photo: Market colors

Ahhh, Provence!

Even in mid-November, the markets of southern France were bustling with vendors and shoppers all jostling over a fine selection of goodies for those pre-holiday season meals. Its not all that far from the Provence to areas where certain types of produce can grow nearly all year round, and the tangerines from North Africa were among the best I’ve ever had, while other market stalls feature more local and seasonal fruits and veggies like persimmons. And, of course, it wouldn’t be a market day in France without a slice of fresh-baked apple tart.

Morning photo: Paris by night

Metro tour …

I spent the better part of last week in Paris covering the COP21 climate talks at the Le Bourget conference center, where nearly 200 countries agreed to try and curb global greenhouse gas emissions and to shift the world to a low-carbon, sustainable future. I didn’t have a lot of time to be a tourist during this visit, but each day, on the way between the conference center and my downtown apartment, I chose a slightly different Metro route, stopping along the way to check out some familiar Paris landmarks by night. See if you name all the different spots and stay tuned for links to stories about the historic climate talks.

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.