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Caught in a Jam

May 24, 2016
Inspired by David Lebowitz, I modified the ingredients -
a bowl of strawberries, two bowls of roughly diced rhubarb, 
3/4 C apple juice, juice of half a lemon, 
3/4 C sugar, a few squeezes of honey, and a pinch of salt. (Made two jars.)

Piburger See

May 10, 2016

This past weekend was a four-day weekend... and it was glorious!  After all the weeks of cloud, rain, or snow (!), this long weekend of sun and fun was very welcome change.  We went for long walks in the nearby Oetztal Valley... one such trek was around the Piburger See.  Once a valley that ran parallel to the Oetztal Valley, this lake was formed after a rock slide cut off the the south-eastern part of the valley.

Took about two and a half hours... including stops to examine all of the patches of moss, glimpses of trout in the lake, and, of course, time to eat ice cream!

A view of the two restaurants at the opposite end of the lake...

Rocky pathways...

The height of this forest... feels like looking up at a cathedral ceiling...

A well-tended path...

Feeling close to nature here...

The view of our starting point....

Natural colors...

Post-hike fun!

The Piburger See - nature, water, moderate hiking, and a yummy pit stop... It was a fun time here!  Servus!

Vienna's Aquarium (Haus des Meeres)

May 9, 2016

On a recent trip to Vienna, we made it to the city's aquarium - Haus des Meeres.  The above picture is a view from the top... now imagine this same view but in 360 degrees.  Vienna goes on forever in all directions.  It is a beautiful, European city... packed tight with alleys and corridors... lined with endless buildings of elegant, Viennese architecture.

Here's a shot out of my hotel window.  See how the streets just go on and on?  I felt a bit claustrophobic walking along street level... so, I was really glad to get a good aerial view to see the forest from the trees!

The aquarium is located in a single building with ten floors.  It's an interesting aquarium because it's more vertically integrated.  Smart use of limited space!

Lucky for us, we arrived in the morning... just in time for the breakfast rush!

Animals were on the move!

I mentioned 'vertically integrated'... well, in the tropical exhibit... the space is open upon three floors... and the animal seem to move freely.  This guy moved so freely, he came inside and inspected the place.

Always happy to visit with the fishies, El & Lil had a grand old time before we made our exit out of Vienna... and even happier to find their friend, the Spider Crab!!!

Here are a few shots taken by Ella of her latest souveniers from the aquarium...

Haus des Meeres is a fun place for kids... and secretly, an awesome spot to go for a panoramic view of Vienna... you can even climb up the 192 steps to the top and by-pass the aquarium.  Have fun!

Haus des Meeres - Aqua Terra Zoo GmbH

Fritz-Gr├╝nbaum-Platz 1
1060 Wien
Tel  +43 1 587 14 17
Fax +43 1 586 06 17

Vienna's Natural History Museum

May 4, 2016

It was cloudy this past weekend in Vienna... so, a trip to the Natural History Museum was the main excursion with El & Lil.  The architecture of the museum was quite impressive.  Commissioned by Emperor Franz Josef, the museum officially opened its doors in 1889.  And to be even more impressive, there is a second, identical building directly facing opposite of it - the Museum of Fine Arts.  These buildings are representative of the Viennese architecture in the historicism tradition.  They are a double whammy!

As we approached the front entrance, a friendly elephant was there to greet us!

Right when we entered the main hall, we looked up and there was a gorgeous dome forty meters high.  The busts in profile represent various natural scientists and collectors.  It was quite beautiful!

Walking along the halls of the first floor, we passed through room upon room of collections of rocks, minerals, meteors, bones, fossils... anything of archeological or historical relevence was here.  These rooms were filled wall to wall with the finest specimens.  The museum contains nearly 30,000 objects!

Not to be missed - the dinosaurs!!! How many toes do you see, Ella?


The hall of dinosaurs.  Incredible the size of these extinct creatures!  There was even a robotic dinosaur who moved and roared.  The girls weren't so thrilled about the last part!

And, here - the largest skeleton of the archelon turtle... scientists believe it lived to be a century old!

The pteranadon...

Early fashion designers...

Ahh, the lovely Venus de Willendorf.  She is so awesome - she goes by one name!  29,500 years old, small in stature, big in presence.  I was so delighted to finally see her after having studied her history years ago.

In the very same room, there was a second figurine.  This one is older at 36,000 years and is known as the Venus of Galgenberg.  I incorrectly assumed this was a male warrior figure... but lo and behold, I was mistaken.  This figure was found not far from where the Venus de Willendorf was found... in the area of Stratzing, Austria.  Wow.  Just wow.


 Next, we saw a replica of the skeletal remains of Lucy, the upright walking hominid.  Scientists have dated her age to 3.18 million years old!  Her original remains are safely housed in the Paleoanthropology Laboratories of the National Museum of Ethiopia in Addis Abada, Ethiopia.  

Phew! And, that was just the first floor!  On to the animal specimens...

And, similar to how jam-packed the main floor was with specimens, the second floor did not disappoint! Room upon rooms of gorgeous animals... standing tall like proud markers of natural history.  Many, sadly, are now extinct.

A beautiful polar bear!


Lions and tigers, oh my!


 I can never get over how large moose are!

Safari animals...

Baleen whales...

A few interesting, fine-feathered friends of long ago...



Not extinct yet - the kiwis! 


Crocs and gators!

A few funny fishies...


And, calling all Octonauts!  It's the spider crab!!!  The girls were so excited to see this guy!  They knew all about him from the cartoon!

What a great day at the museum... we could have gone on and on... but sensory overload was upon us and ice cream was requested - PRONTO!  C'est la vie!  Vienna is such a lovely city... quite impressive... I have to go back again one day to go see an opera... and see some serious art exhibits.  Til next time!

Naturhistorisches Museum Wien

Burgring 7
1010 Vienna, Austria