This blue marble

– and yet it spins


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Just eat

bologna-12Oh, such a change: from wheat noodles and sauce, lard on rye bread, and very few non-meat options to an abundance of antipasti, tapenade, bread, and cheeses. Fresh gelato. Wonderfully fat green olives. Aioli. Salvation.bologna-13I find myself exposed to several “food capitals” this summer: I am still in San Sebastián, the city with the most Michelin stars; and writing about the food capital of Italy: Bologna. What else can one say but “go there and eat everything that’s put in front of you”? It is bound to be a success. bologna-11(Bologna, Italy; July 2019)


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Across the Alps

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Fortrezza? Bressanone? Chiusa? Not sure. Every little town has at least one chapel if not two, plus a monastery nearby.

The Alps and the Dolomites are quite magnificent when viewed from the train, as it crosses landscapes far away from highways. Five hours from Innsbruck to Bologna passed quickly by admiring the views – and bemoan the insufficient luggage storage space and noisy people on board the train.

(Italy; July 2019)


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A ship called Kaiser Franz Josef

stwolfgang-4The good ship Kaiser Franz Josef labors hard to take passengers around the Lake St Wolfgang. I try to recall what the rules are for naming a ship: as ships are usually referred to as feminine, in which case is a ship allowed to be named after a man? Perhaps being a Kaiser justifies the cause?

Kaiser Franz Josef the Ship is a paddle steamer. He is over 140 years old, thus quite the senior and well beyond retirement age, one should think. Yet he whirs his wheels and pedals his paddles every day, without much complaint. No rest for the living.
stwolfgang-3(St Wolfgangsee, Austria; July 2019)


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The little town by the lake

stwolfgang-5St Wolfgang by the lake is one of the coziest towns there is. And just like traditions call for, all the balconies have red or purple flowers. No Japanese boxwood shapes or other modern inventions here. Petunias and pansies, please.stwolfgang-1With its lakefront view, abbey, and old buildings, St Wolfgang bears a teensy bit of similarity to Montreux in Switzerland. Another cozy favorite town of mine. Fortunately, no chilly castle dungeons here, as far as I know of.
stwolfgang-2(St Wolfgang, Austria; July 2019)


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On the top of Sheep Mountain

schafberg-14There has been a Gasthaus on top of Schafberg since 1862, and it prides itself to be the first mountaintop Gasthaus in all of Austria. Since the steam cogwheel train was not built until the 1890s, the only way up was on foot (or horse or mule). Quite a lot of work for the gentry and nobility that liked to come up for a day’s outing. That train is going upward, by the way, pushed by the steam locomotive. schafberg-7Schafberg seems to be well known by Austrians and less so by foreigners. As I do not exactly have millions of readers I take the risk of making a warm recommendation for anyone wanting to combine a weekend in Salzburg with a couple of days of fresh air. By the way, there is a decently accessible hiking path up and down the mountain, too.schafberg-3(Schafberg, Austria; July 2019)


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Straight down from Himmelspforte

schafberg-6“The Himmelspforte is the place to start.” Herr Pasch, the owner of the inn, seemed quite elated that a non-German-speaking tourist had asked him for advice on hiking routes instead of advice for where to take the best selfie. “It looks scary, so don’t look down. Just look up at the mountain.” He handed me two walking poles and my sister his own wooden walking stick which once had belonged to his grandfather. schafberg-2After a few minutes of convincing we chose the circular route around the tip of the mountain and peered down the Himmelspforte, or Heavens’ Gate. And what a view. Because the route led us straight down the rocky mountainside. Nearly vertically.
There was some clambering, some climbing on all four, and some worry that Herr Pasch’s Gandalf-stick would fall down into the valley below.
schafberg-10In some places there was a via ferrata built to keep us stuck to the mountainside. In other places, the locals must have run out of wire as we had to climb the slanting bare rock face on all four, thanking our lucky stars there was no wind to sweep us off the mountain like lettuce from a plate.schafberg-12Somewhere along the way Herr Pasch’s excitement dawned upon us: not a single person had greeted us in English or with a foreign German accent. Sofar we were most likely the only non-German speaking people on the route. The route was not marked out as such, but there certainly was signage belonging to other, longer routes. Where was everybody?schafberg-11Five hours later we encountered the train track again, just under the tip of the mountain. As I sat down among the flowers in the meadow, it occurred to me that this was probably the most gorgeous hike I had ever done, at least when it comes to visual entertainment. Physical entertainment was not far behind, either. schafberg-13(Naturally one should always hike in pearl earrings and a scarf from Paris.)schafberg-15(Schafberg, Austria; July 2019)