Tag Archive: Hiking

Day 21: Hiking in Vienna

After our usual classes on Thursday, we were taken to the 19th district of Vienna. To reach the 19th district we went by UBahn, so I was surprised when we came out of the underground and found plenty of trees and small little houses. It was a completely different Vienna. Our guide, Bergit, told us that the 19th district is a very expensive place to live and I can understand why. All the houses are very cute and bright. I felt like I was in a separate little town nowhere near a large city. All the houses had yards, which was the first time I’ve seen a yard since Dorfgastein.

I immediately felt at home in the 19th district. It reminded me a lot of Portland and the actual hike was almost exactly like Forest Park, with unpaved roads and thick dense trees. Everyone was really friendly and it felt great to get away from the fast paced life of the city.

Our hike took us slowly, but surely up a hill towards a place called Kahlenberg. Compared to the hiking we did in Dorfgastein, this one was nothing and we all agreed that Dorfgastein hadn’t been a vacation, but boot camp to prepare us for all the walking we would be doing in Vienna. The hike was actually very relaxing and once we got to Kahlenberg, there was a great view of Vienna and a place to stop and eat. We didn’t stay there long though and instead headed further up the hill to Leopoldsberg.

Leopoldsberg provided us with an amazing panoramic of Vienna and the Donau. It was really interesting to see the difference between the Neue Donau (on the left) and the Donau (on the right). From above it was pretty obvious which one was cleaner. We tried to look for landmarks to see exactly where we were staying in Vienna and we were eventually able to see what we thought was Karlskirche, which is somewhat close to where we are all staying.

After the hike we headed back into town and went to a little *”restaurant” called Schwammerl Wochen. Inside was an open courtyard where there were picnic tables and an open buffet. It was a really cute place and very relaxing after the hike.

My snack was bread with bacon and a Radler. I was a little queasy at the thought of having bacon after a long hike, but it was one of the only foods I recognized and I didn’t feel very adventurous that day. It actually tasted really good and what I couldn’t finish, the others were more than happy to eat.

Soon after eating we made our way back to the UBahn, which would have been a simple ride home if it wasn’t for a group of 100 men, what we assumed were soccer fans, all trying to cram into one single, and already full, train. While they all boarded we had to wait at least 15 minutes and also listen to them sing and bang on the train. We knew it was getting serious when the police also boarded the train and stood at the entrances with their bulletproof vests and helmets. Miraculously, everyone made it onto the train and nothing more happened.

That night I ate a quick dinner and packed my backpack for a four day trip to Venice the next morning. I was so excited that I didn’t even mind that I was going to have to wake up at four in the morning to catch my flight.

*EDIT 9/24/12

I finally figured out what these restaurants are called in German. The place we stopped at is called a Heuriger. A Heuriger is like a small tavern where people sell this year’s newest wine.


It was almost time to leave Dorfgastein. Although we had only been there for about a week, we had also gotten to know the little town pretty well. We no longer got lost on the main street (this did actually happened, but it only took us a few seconds to figure out we were going the wrong way), we hiked every hill you could possibly hike and we had eaten at every restaurant.

Instead of sitting cooped up inside the pension, we decided to head out into the town and explore one last time.As we were walking I looked up and saw the sign Römerplatz. It was only then that it hit me that I was standing in the exact same place that the Romans lived, breathed, and worked. It’s hard to think about such a distant past and such a different culture, but it’s truly amazing how a single place can connect us to the past.

We came up to a small bakery and there we decided to have ice cream and because everything looked so good, I decided to be adventurous and bought some sort of cookie with berries and peanut brittle. Both the ice cream and cookie were delicious.

With only an afternoon left, Annika (another student in the program) and I decided to take a walk along the Hauptstraße or main street to see where it would take us.

On the way we passed the volunteer fire station where we sometimes had classes. It’s only in a small town like Dorfgastein that you would actually be able to get away with volunteer firefighters.

As we headed out of the town the road turned into a footpath.It was a very nice walk along the fields and there were a lot of fun games for kids along the path. The start of the path and the end were both marked by one stone pillar. We weren’t sure what exactly they meant, but they looked as though they were built from  the different stones that could be found in the Alps.

Also along the path we came across a stone with writing on it. Zum Schutze unsere Almen.To Protect Our Pastures. Beneath these words was a spout for water, but it was dry. We really had no idea what it meant, but perhaps the well is dry so that the farmer’s fields will never have to be.

After only a half hour, we arrived in the next town over Bad Hofgastein.

Just getting out into the air and walking until we felt like stopping was a great way to end our week in Dorfgastein.

Summer Photography Trip: Moab

I’m really late posting this, but I took some photos over the summer in Moab, Utah. While my mother and sister were off on their own adventure my father and I decided to go somewhere specifically for photography.

We couldn’t have chosen a better place.

I’ve seen pictures of the desert and high plateaus, but if you really want to experience them, go there yourself, because there’s nothing else like it in the world. While we were driving to our hotel we were literally right up against a plateau. It was beautiful and unnerving at the same time. Car-sized boulders were strewn all over the side of the road and I constantly tried not to think about what would happen if one decided to tumble down the cliff and land on top of us.

The horses at the ranch where we stayed were impressive. I have no idea how they went out into the heat twice a day with someone on their back. During the day when they weren’t being ridden most of them just relaxed under the shade, but really in 100 degree weather the shade isn’t going to be much cooler.

* Fun fact: Apparently the plateau in the background of the picture above has been used to film a lot of music videos (Blaze of Glory by Bon Jovi) and also some car commercials where they had to helicopter the car in pieces up to the top. While my father and I were there we also met a group of people who were there working on the new Lone Ranger film with Johnny Depp. Sadly, we did not get to see Johnny Depp himself.

While we were there it was over 100 degrees every day. I felt like the water was being sucked out of my skin by the sun and I literally felt weighed down by the air. It was a rough climate and one that I had never experienced before. My father and I wanted to do as much as possible while we were there so that meant going outside in the middle of the day.

We went rafting, which was one of the highlights, but we also made our way around Canyonlands, Island in the Sky, Arches, and also the Fiery Furnaces.

Each place had its own “feel”. Canyonlands, Island in the Sky was more panoramic. You could see for miles and miles on end. The landscape reminded me of an abstract work of art and I can only imagine how long it must have taken for the river to carve its way through the land to make such beautiful cliffs.

As you can probably see I was having fun with the fisheye lens. The sun also seems to be a big theme in my pictures, but really how could it not be? It was basically impossible to escape. Both the photos above are ones from Dead Horse Point.

Arches National Park, obviously had a lot of very impressive arches and rock formations, but it also felt a little more closed in. Unfortunately we didn’t make it to a lot of arches, but we did get to see Delicate Arch from a distance.

My favorite place was the Fiery Furnaces. I love to go hiking in caves and this place was very much like a cave without the roof. The entire place is a maze of rock columns and because of this we decided it would be best to have a guide. In one place we even had to climb through a crevasse using both hands and feet. This was extremely difficult with a camera in hand. One minute we were walking on a sandy path and the next we were climbing up a steep and slippery rock face to get to a cliff. It’s now one of my favorite places in the world. I’m glad we had a guide who knew where to go, because otherwise I don’t know if we would have come out.

The pictures above and below are basically the same photo, but on the one below I tried experimenting with the levels a little. I was going for more of a desert theme, trying to bring out the hotness I felt while walking around under the sun.

Day 3: Sportgastein

After getting settled in to Dorfgastein for a day we took a trip farther up into the mountain to Sportgastein. To get there we had to travel by bus through some smaller towns and eventually we make our way  through some very long and dark tunnels. The trip us was beautiful with a lot of great views and many cute towns along the way.

In this area where we are staying there are three main towns. Dorfgastein, which is family oriented has many restaurants, pubs and small guest houses, Bad Hofgastein has more shopping and I guess what you would say is more teen oriented, then there’s Badgastein which has healing spas, a casino, and is, in general, a great place for people to get away from the rush of everyday life. Lastly, Sportgastein is the most scenic of the towns and is great for hiking. Naturally, all of these towns are covered in tourists during winter when the ski season is in full swing.

We arrived in Sportgastein to find ourselves completely surrounded by mountains. I’ve seen a lot of mountains before and there aren’t many places that I’ve been that can rival Mount Hood, Mount Rainier or Mount Saint Helens, but the Alps were stunning. The Alps are a different kind of mountain range. There are hardly any foothills. One minute there’s no mountain and the next your looking up and wondering how such a giant beast could have snuck up on you. The Alpine peaks towered above us and the rolling green hills made me constantly look over my shoulder to make sure that Julie Andrews wasn’t running down the pasture singing “The hills are alive”.

Not only was the scenery beautiful, but there were also cows and goats wandering around and hanging out with people like it was no big deal. Dotted everywhere were little huts, where people could stop and drink and at each one there was a small band singing and playing the accordion. Many of the local people were also dressed in their traditional clothing, the men in lederhosen and the women in dirndls. Usually Sportgastein isn’t so active, but we were there during the Almfest. I’ve come to realize that for many people hiking in the Alps, the main goal of the trip is to hike to a hut, sit down and finally have a drink with cheese, bread and maybe some meat. All in all it doesn’t seem like such a bad way to live life.