Posted on May 29th, 2011 at 5:16 PM by admin
As much as I wanted to go from the moment I heard about this excursion through the university, I truly didn’t think I could make it happen with my crazy end of the school year exam preparations.  But at the last minute it all worked out. The trip consisted of a nice loop starting in Salzburg and going south to Werfen to see the ice caves and castle, then to Piesendorf for a great hostel in the mountain-filled countryside experience, and last but not least to Halstatt (in the Salzkammergut region) to see the world’s first salt mine and this beautiful lakeside city with a long and interesting history before heading back to Salzburg.

I was in my heaven with all this great landscape to shoot but I must admit that the ice caves were the only disappointment. The lighting was so minimal that you could hardly appreciate all the ice and they did not allow pictures of any kind, which I found fairly unjustifiable. It was an interesting experience though to get to the top of a mountain in the summer time and have it be snowing!  Love it! The castle, on the other hand, was very tourist oriented. Everyone was dressed up in their mid-evil attire and despite our large group’s wandering habits, did their best to entertain us. Although the weather was not ideal (too calm) we were even able to watch a bird show with a variety of birds. Being so close to the birds yielded some great pictures, but due to the lack of wind, I presume, one of the birds came awfully close to my head during its take-off. Stupid me didn’t flinch as I was determined to get a great picture out of it. Probably not the smartest move after we had just been given a safety speech about how dangerously fast these birds are.  Luckily the gust of wind that gushed over my head was the only thing I felt, although I admit I was a bit shaken up afterwards!

The view from atop Hohenwerfen (The Werfen Castle)

Not your average summer day in a castle...

Puttin' on the breaks!

The salt mine in Halstatt was very entertaining even if we did have to wear some unusual clothing to get in. Inside we heard many “cheesy,” yet entertaining stories, about the history of the mines, got to ride on a little train out of the mine, and even saw a pretty impressive light show. After the salt mine we went on a city tour where we learned how the people of this city solved a lack of space problem for burying their dead. They have a room full of bones and skulls. And the skulls were fired up like pottery and decorated. Kinda freaky but not a bad idea, right?

The whole group on the boatride to Halstatt!

So many great views on the boat to Halstatt


Halfway up to the salt mines we got this great view


Salt mine light show - there's a first time for everything!


Space efficient way to honor the dead


View of Halstatt from the salt mine gondola

Posted on May 14th, 2011 at 10:34 PM by admin
For my birthday I decided to take my first full day off of schoolwork in…I don’t even know how long. Quite possibly since the semester started?  I didn’t sit around and watch TV though. Oh no. I went hiking with my friends Josh and Brandis. Brandis traveled all the way here from Milan, Italy where she is studying so I had to make sure to show her a good time. Seeing as how I didn’t quite make it the last time I tried to climb a mountain, I thought this time I would just try to descend one. 6 hours later I realized that that isn’t necessarily any easier for me. My poor friends listened to me whine and complain for the last 2 hours or so of the approximately 8 hour adventure. So I’ve decided I just shouldn’t ever go on a hike that takes more than 5 hours. Yup that’s my new plan! I think…but don’t quote me on it!

This view left me speechless 🙂

This little bridge somehow made this picture great

When we started the hike we couldn’t see 5 ft in front of us and I was pretty disappointed as I had seen pictures of the amazing view at the top of the mountain. We even had to hike a few hours with our umbrellas out, but about halfway down it started to clear up and the mountain revealed to us its momentous beauty.  We veered off the path for a bit to check out a stream that caught our attention. And when we got to the bottom we were greeted by many farm animals that I couldn’t help but take pictures of. Josh tried several times to pet one of the cows but the cow was not having it!

This chicken had quite the swagger

The cow that got away from Josh...

After that crazy long hike we showed up like 1.5 hours late for my birthday dinner (whoops!) I even had a couple beers. It was WILD!  Thanks to everyone for that special day. It was exactly what I needed!