Glück auf!

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So say the miners! This is a traditional miners’ greeting in Germany/Austria, wishing each other luck in finding a lode. I was in Salzburg last week, presenting a poster at a GIS conference, and I found the opportunity to do some exploring, including spending a morning at the salt mines.

I chose the salt mines in Hallein, which are among the world’s oldest, mined for 7,000 years. You put on protective clothing, ride a little train through the mine, walk through the tunnels, cross into Germany, slide down 2 miners’ slides, and ride a boat across an underground lake!

The slides were definitely the coolest–very steep and it was all so fast!

The above photo is taken from the fortress in Salzburg. More to come on the beauty of Salzburg!

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Salt mine ceiling

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Miners’ gear: riding the train!

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Miners’ slides: can’t see the top!

Rainy Day Hike

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Yesterday I ventured out for some more hiking, this time en route to Dobratsch, the highest peak visible from central Villach. That’s misleading – I didn’t make it all the way up, but did a solid 4 hours of steep-slope wandering, probably making it to about 1,000 meters. For comparison, the Alpine slopes we hiked in Tarvisio were about 2,500 meters. Dozens of trails snake through these mountains, and I did a lot of contemplation at each intersection to figure out how to proceed! Pretty much every trail is marked with the Austrian flag.

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I’ve been pretty lucky so far with no pervasive buggies, but there were definitely some persistent mosquitoes on this rainy Sunday morning/afternoon. Did you know they can bite you through yoga pants? The rain was lukewarm and calming, and I was mostly protected by canopy. Tall pine trees were all about, making for soft ground and lovely scents.

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Quiet trail

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Lookout point

Summer Sausage Digest

Let’s talk about the swine.

Reminders of the primacy of sausage in Austria are frequently encountered:
-The odor of sausage sandwiches on the bus to Venedig
-The incredible varieties of sausage in every store and every booth at every farmer’s market
-GIANT(and tasty) 5€ lunches of swine, potatoes, and salad at the university restaurant

The other day, I was in the center city of Villach and ordered a bratwurst at a stand by the river. Because…Austria.

Perhaps I was expecting bread to fit the brats? Silly. No utensils were present, so I watched the man next to me to see what he did with his order. No forks, no knives, no problem!

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An order of bratwurst

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Delicious city treat: caffe latte!








It wasn’t bad, but I do think I’ve had enough sausage for a while! I’ll stick to the caffeinated sweets!

Haha evidently this was incorrect, since not only did I have a sandwich with salami for lunch, but I also made these little rotbratwursts this very day!

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Rotbratwursts cookin’ in the pan. Dorm livin’.

Perchance You Were Wondering…

…where does that Quelle Aventure cover photo come from?

These photos were taken during a hike with my advisors in the Alps of Tarvisio, Italy. Tarvisio is part of the province of Udine and within the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region in Italy. We took a car ride from Villach (about 1 hour) to our approximately 6-hour hike, which looked like this:

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At the base of the snowy mountains were fields of beautiful blooming wildflowers, naturally conjuring up all of the Sound of Music scenes and giddy joy.

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Starting the ascent

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Fields of yellow, white, and purple



There were several snowbanks to cross (very carefully) as we ascended the mountain, and when we got high enough into their habitat, a herd of mountain goats began to follow us!

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Hello, new friend








We didn’t get to reach the very top of this mountain due to remnants of the unusually snowy winter, but we did get close. After our descent, we consumed fresh Italian pasta, beer, and Montasio cheese made on the premises at the mountain hut! I can’t wait to do some more hiking around these gorgeous mountains.

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Happy hiker (look carefully for friends!)

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Cutie pie






And in case you were ruminating, what does Quelle Aventure mean? Or, how do you pronounce it?
Quelle Aventure = French for “what an adventure!”
Quelle Aventure = KELL AHH-VAHN-TOOR

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And my favorite

Venezia II: Island Vibes

My second day trip to Venezia (or Venedig in Deutsch) was focused on ferrying to the islands of Murano and Burano. Murano is where there are a lot of glass-making activities. You can pretty much find Murano glass all over Venedig, but you can watch demonstrations of how they make it in Murano. Most demos take place during the weekdays, so I didn’t get a chance to see the action. I did, however, get a chance to try cuttlefish, which is of the same class as the squid and the octopus. The sauce for the pasta I ate it with is made from the ink of the cuttlefish, known as Nero di Seppia! It was pretty good!

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Dining on cuttlefish in Murano

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Murano glass art

About half of the trip this day was spent on the Vaporetto, or ferries around the city and islands. From Murano to Burano was another 40 minutes, well worth it. This is a tinier island with all the buildings painted in bright colors. The production of lace was once a thriving industry in Burano, and there are a lot of lovely lace goods for sale.
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More colored houses in Burano

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More vibrancy!

Finally, I don’t think any day trip to Venice would be complete without wandering through the streets of the main island, cooling down with gelato, and perking up with espresso. It seems that about 3pm is when total exhaustion sets in, and it is time to sit and chillax!

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Haven’t hit the same cross-city path yet!

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Another eye-catching waterway

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Until next time, Venezia!

Land of Cute Narrow Alleys

20€ and 3.5 bus hours is all it takes to get to Venice from Villach!

Taking the 6:50am bus and sleeping all the way, Venezia has been the perfect place to wake up to on a Saturday morning! I took my first day trip a few weeks ago, and returned yesterday to hit up the islands of Murano (of Murano glass) and Burano (of Burano lace and pretty painted buildings). I’ll add those photos later — I realize I took a ton to share!

My favorite part is absolutely losing myself among the narrow winding streets and discovering all the cute cafes, restaurants, and gelato shops (so much gelato).

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View from the Rialto Bridge

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Saint Mark’s Basilica from the bell tower

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Another bell tower view!

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In front of the Basilica






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One of many scenic waterways









Venezia II (island vibes) coming soon!

Storm the Castle

Last Sunday, I took myself on a little bike ride to Landskron castle, which dates allll the way back to the year 878. It’s a ruin today, having burned in 1812. I followed a bike path along the Drau and lost myself among the winding streets. Gazing upwards, there it was!

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Landskron Castle

I parked my bike and hiked up the mountain, just in time for the BIRDS of PREY show! The show is narrated in German and Italian and features eagles, hawks, and vultures, flying around in the open air!

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Determined eagle swoops in

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Follow-up meal on the outdoor terrace

There were gorgeous views all around, a perfect Sunday relaxation activity!
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Bis bald!

Guten tag!

Hallo and greetings from Villach, Austria!
I am based here in Villach for the next several summer months as part of a research fellowship. What great fortune to be able to travel and explore while also working on cool projects! Villach is located in the south of Austria in the valleys of the Alps, very close to the borders of Slovenia and Italy. It is 2 hours south of Salzburg by train and 3.5 hours from Venice by bus.

Equipped with a trusty bicycle (thank you, university!), some summer shoes, an English-German dictionary, and a Kindle for lazy reading in mountains and fields, I am ready to explore!

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Biking through Villach

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View of the Center City over the Drau







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Hauptplatz, Villach

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Kreuzkirche, Villach









If you are interested in saving photos, you can access a larger version by just clicking on the photo you want. Looking forward to sharing more with you!

Bis später!


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