Summer swimming hole along a side arm of the Danube River, near Vienna.
Sunshine at the Langbathsee.
Sundown, you better take care …
Long exposure moonrise.
Heading into the short days of mid-winter, it’s always nice to take a look back at the summer that was. It’s a little easier, with distance, to appreciate the blessings of being able to swim in clean rivers, lakes and oceans, to hike in clean, fresh mountain air, or to take golden grasses ripening under a summer sun. The world has changed immensely in the last few months, and not in a good way, which makes me cherish the memories even more because it’s not at all certain that the world will continue to be as open and friendly as it has been the past few decades. Dark, cold winds are blowing, and a rotten brown political slime is oozing back out of the cracks of history. Tra-la-laaing around the world isn’t going to cut it anymore. We all need to take personal responsibility now to try and shape the world of tomorrow. Please read last week’s Sunday Set for more information.
Danube Pano from Aggstein Castle looking across at Willendorf.
Most travelers have heard of the Wachau region. The fertile hillsides along the Danube River have long been designated as a World Heritage region for its cultural and natural landscapes. But just across the river is another slice of forest, the Dunkelsteinerwald, that’s not quite as famous but just as beautiful. On a mid-October weekend, we hiked from the pilgrimage town of Maria Langegg up the restored Aggstein Castle, which was built in the 12th century. Like many others along the Danube, the castle was an outpost for charging toll to passing ships, a payment made in exchange for maintaining the paths along the shore that were used to tow ships upstream. But the area was inhabited long before that, with signs of civilization dating back to the Celtic era — and long before. Just across the river, construction workers in 1908 unearthed the famed Venus of Willendorf, a prehistoric fertility figurine dating back to about 25,000 BC.
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.
Brignoles, a sleepy town in the heart of the Provence, came to life Thursday night with a dance party at the Cafe de L’Univers, recently taken over by two young women who traveled the world, then returned home determined to liven up their town.
Always, always take the window seat!
The setting sun winks through the giant leaves of a plane tree in a peaceful town square in the Provence.
Sunset over the rooftops of Brignoles, France.
Old and new, juxtaposed in Linz, Austria.
Moon over the Danube in Linz, Austria.
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.
At times, there’s more plastic than baby fish in Europe’s second-largest river
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO —The Danube River has long been a source of inspiration for songs, fairytales and dreams. But in recent decades, those dreams have morphed into plastic nightmare of sorts, as the mighty European stream sends at least 1,500 tons of plastic debris surging into the Black Sea each year.
So much plastic is being washed into the Danube that, at times, the debris outweighs the amount of fish larvae drifting down Europe’s second-largest river, a team of Austrian scientists found after two years of intensive sampling.
Classic Austrian countryside near Kalkalpen National Park.
A classic stone arch in Dürnstein, Austria.
Paragliding the Austrian Alps.
Flower power at the market.
Riverside in Linz.
FRISCO —Not sure exactly what spurred me to re-post a few of my favorite shots from what I consider to be at least my spiritual homeland. Both my parents hail from towns along the banks of the Danube, albeit from different countries, and every now then, I realize that, for all the decades I’ve lived in the West, there’s a big part of me that’s still connected to this wonderful slice of Central Europe. For daily photography updates, follow our Instagram feed, and visit our online gallery for an amazing selection of prints and greeting cards.
FRISCO — In between fretting about Colorado River flows and reporting on the travails of endangered lynx and sage-grouse, it’s good to get out and see the world. It helps look at issues in a global context — and so many issues these days are global. Of course, not every story is environmental. Sometimes, travel comes down to the simple task of trying to find a Frisbee in Rome … Travel: Around the world with a Frisbee.
Travel doesn’t necessarily require a passport. There are plenty of adventures to be had within a few hundred miles of anywhere, especially when you set out for the remote hinterlands north of the Grand Canyon with what you know is sketchy starter in your engine … Travel: Karma and climate change in the Southwest.
Little things can be the most memorable, like buying a big box of blueberries from a roadside vendor at a dusty, nowhere crossroads in Slovenia, then eating on the train while watching a blazing Adriatic sunset … A Balkan sampler: Blueberries and mopeds in Slovenia.