Friday, September 29, 2006

Austria By Night

These pics all taken in the amazingly beautiful village of Durnstein. The picture of the church tower (above), was shot from our hotel/castle that we stayed in that night. The door (right) leads to the place we ate amazing combination of atmosphere, great food, and great wine. We sat outside, overlooking a vineyard, with fires going to keep us warm and candles on the table. It was great. The picture of the street (right) is just the main strip at night in Durnstein.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Austria pics part I


Look familiar? This castle (left; "Lichtenstein"), was featured in the movie, 3 Musketeers. It was conveniently located 5 minutes from the house we stayed in.

The one at right, "Aggstein," is located in the incredibly beautiful, "Wachau" valley.

Back From Austria

Will soon have pictures up and cool things to look at. But for now, I'm starting a two-part list: 1) Things I wish we did like Europe and 2) Things I think Europe needs to do like us.

#1 Plus: Pace of life. Things are so much more relaxed. A 35-40 hour work week is it. 2 hour lunches are the norm. People walk everywhere they need to go. 5 weeks of vacation is the minimum for the working class.

#2 Food. Plus: think 'no preservatives,' fresh food that's made daily. No simply walk into town, buy some fresh bread, and eat fresh.

Minus: They eat a lot of meat and potatoes. For you health nuts out there, not a lot of veggies or greens or fish...mainly pork, beef, chicken and "Schnitzel."

Plus: Coffee and pastries. Our coffee hear pales in comparison to the Viennese coffee. Starbucks? Not a chance. The coffee in Austria was full, rich, strong and made even the best coffee I've had here taste bitter.

#3 Minus: The whole country smokes...literally. In the airport, in the shopping malls, in the restaraunts, everywhere, all the can't go anywhere without breathing other peoples cigarettes.

#4 Plus: Along with the food'd be hard-pressed to find many obese people in Austria. I was surprised at this considering how much beer and wine people drink.

#5 Plus: Public Transportation System. Anyone who has grown up in the Seattle area (like myself) realizes how poor our public transportation system is. But until you travel a little bit, you may not realize just how poor it is. It sucks! Granted, Vienna was voted #2 in the world for public transportation second only to Singapore...but still. We stink in this area. They have buses, trains, subways, etc. to get you anywhere you might need to go for a very cheap price. It was great.

#6 Plus (x3 - 1): How does $300 per month, per kid sound? Yep - the government pays out $300 per month, per child that you have. How does 5 weeks of vacation per year sound? Yep...that's the miniumum (along with a 40 hour work week maximum). How does a $25 cell phone bill sound...that includes two phones, and unlimited usage.

Minus (x2): Average salary is about $30,000 per year. Cars are VERY expensive...won't find anything for less then about $10,000 Euros (about $12,000 USD).

#7 Water: Minus: Yes, they have water and yes, it tastes fine. But don't count on getting any at a restaraunt with out paying for it. Yes, I took for granted that at any restaraunt in the States, you get a nice, big glass of water served before you even order.

Monday, September 04, 2006

People really read this?

So, just got back from a hike with some friends; my wife's brother and her wife, and a gal I work with and her husband. It was a lot of fun! On the hike it was brought to my attention that yes, indeed, a few people out there actually read this thing. So, I'll try and get on it more often!

We did the Chain Lakes hike again...well, actually just a part of it (about the first 1/3). It wasn't the best day for pictures as there's a lot of dust in the air and it made things hazy. However, I did take a couple of close-ups.

When I get around to it, I'll put up some great pics I have from past adventures with my wife. Here's a couple of teasers for now!