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 October 1st, 2010 at 11:37 AM by admin
With this entry I would like to begin a series of entries that will be dedicated to the next year of my life, which will be spent in Salzburg, Austria (and hopefully a few other choice european destinations as time allows). I cannot believe it has taken me a month to get an entry up but to put things into perspective – it took about the same amount of time to get my internet working and to get health insurance again. So the first weeks have been difficult: deciding on (and FINDING) classes, locating the nearest stores of weekly importance, purchasing a means of transportation, suddenly reading large sections of foreign books weekly, and trying to decipher what the hell Austrians are trying to say to me in – wait that wasn’t German was it?

My room is about half the size of my parents’ bathroom. Truthfully I’ve slept in smaller rooms but never without a secondary room -a living room, dining room, maybe a sitting room? I guess technically the shared kitchen could count as a secondary room. I do spend a considerable amount of time there cooking and studying with Jordan and Toni (my fellow grad students that live here in Haus Merian with me). For those of you who don’t know – I am doing a Masters in German through BGSU (Bowling Green State University) and while I’m not so bad at the german language in general, the reading, writing and general expectation of historical background knowledge are a bit tough for an Electrical Engineering undergrad major. I knew it was too good to be true when I was told I didn’t have to take any more history and literature classes about 10 years ago now. Haha – all kidding aside I entered into this on my own free will. I may be lacking in knowledge but not in motivation and curiosity. I want to know what I’ve missed out on and transform myself into something I never imagined I could be.

Here is my room - yes the vast majority of it CAN be captured in one shot!

The city of Salzburg is in many ways “my kinda city.” It’s multicultural and internationally recognized (and surrounded by the Alps!), yet small and quaint. You can get anywhere in the city in an hour or less by foot and with a bike, bus or car you can make it nearly anywhere within a half an hour. With the exception of the typical european store hours (closed by 7pm on week nights and all day Sundays), it is relatively convenient to live here. Last weekend we went on a school excursion to Vienna. I certainly enjoyed my trip several years ago to Vienna hanging out at the Christkindlmarkt with friends of friends during the Christmas season, but this time I got the more educational/touristy visit, in which I went to several museums and on a pretty comprehensive city tour (for such a big city at least!)

Die Festung Hohensalzburg (The High Fortress of Salzburg) - fitting name!

Just a small portion of the Parliament in Vienna

My class schedule is a bit insane. As I recall, I never had more than 5 classes during my undergrad years (and most semesters I had 4), whereas now I have 6 (YIKES). I have 3 required courses which are basically History, Literature and German (language) – all relating to German of course. Then I have elected to take a course on language instruction/acquisition research and a course about the physco- and neuro-linguitical aspects of foreign language acquisition as these two classes relate to my future thesis topic -or so I hope! Then I am taking Arabic (for fun). Yeah I know what you’re thinking but there is something about starting a new language that is refreshing, almost as an ego boost as it’s something I feel i “know how to do.” We’ll see if I still feel that way after a semester of it!

This week we’ve had two days off for All Saints Day and All Souls Day. This 5 day weekend (since I don’t have class on Fridays) has been a nice chance to try and catch up since I wasn’t feeling well last week and consequently got a bit (or a lot) behind in my work. I went to Salzkammergut (very beautiful area just outside Salzburg) with another program participant and our program coordinator/professor – Thanks for inviting/driving! Other than that I’ve been reading, studying and putting up lots of dates up on my timeline. Oh, yeah – I almost forgot to mention the timeline. Since I am so historically clueless I have built a timeline (see picture of my room above) to remember the most important points relating to my classes or just things that I should know as a human being with basic cognitive abilities (lol).

Salzkammergut - it was a bit of a dreary day but still beautiful scenery in fall colors

Well I’ll have to say Auf Wiedersehen for now as I really need to do some research. Bis zum naechsten mal meine Freunde!