BootsnAll Travel Network

What's this all about?

We took off for a year (which turned into 15 months) to travel the world. This blog was started as a place to keep family and friends updated on our plans and where we were. Now, we are moving to Europe, so the blog will be about our new experiences, travels, and life as expats for the first time!

Eat. Pray? Love?

January 19th, 2014

Eat. Shop. Watch.

That might be a better title for our trip to the US for Xmas.  We went to visit my aunt who lives in Florida to meet up with my parents to spend the holidays with family in a warmer climate.  It was a well needed break from the winter weather that already started here.

The trip went by so fast, but gave us a little reminder of life in the US.  I haven’t been back in 14 months, and Eric even longer.  It was a little surprising how fast you can forget little things like the fact that shops are not only open every day (even some on Christmas!), but also early and late.  There are so many choices in what to eat and what to buy that it’s nearly impossible to decide.  We first restocked our closets with new clothes and shoes.  Then we “restocked” ourselves with movies in English and every sort of food from steaks to bagels.  One night the family even made a seafood buffet with lobster, crab, scallops, and shrimp – not something we get very often in the mountains.

The weather didn’t cooperate much for beach days, but we did manage to find a sunny afternoon in Key Biscayne and Miami.  After a relaxing week, it was back home to winter with full suitcases and full stomachs.  Thanks to my aunt for letting us stay!

Here are the spoils from a good day of hunting:

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Better Than Coal

December 1st, 2013

I finally finished up the blogs about our summer… just in time for winter.  The first snow is on the mountains and the air is cold, but there are other signs that Christmas is coming.  The markets are open selling roasted chestnuts and gluhwein.  There’s also one more that goes into the “only in Austria” file…  Bauhaus is the local version of Home Depot, but in addition to tools, building supplies, and paint they also sell this:

In case you don’t recognize them, they are the giant bells worn by Krampus, St. Nicholas’ devilish counterpart who scares kids into being good.  So, if you are still working on your Krampus costume, you know where to get ‘em.

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On Top of the World

November 24th, 2013

I have written about hiking quite a few times, but there’s something special that I don’t think I have mentioned before.  Austria is a very Catholic country and on many mountains there is a cross at the very top of the peak.  It’s called a Gipfelkreuz, or a “summit cross.”  Not all mountains have them, but it’s always very satisfying to see one when you are hiking and know that you really reached the very top.  They also make for a nice backdrop in photos to prove you made it.

With that in mind, here’s a few of the Kruezes from Summer 2013…

View from the top of Mittagskogel (this is the big flat-topped mountain that you can see from Villach)

Peak 1 of 2 in Saalbach – it was a double header day:

Peak 2 of 2 in Saalbach!

At the top of Hochwipfel

On Bad Kleinkircheim

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Endless Summer

November 17th, 2013
It probably seems like my blogs about our summer just keep going, but the summers in southern Austria are really amazing.  The weather is warm, but except for about 1 week in August, not so hot that you can’t sleep without airconditioning.  The sunshine, lakes, and mountains mean that we get a lot of tourists, mostly from Germany and the Netherlands.  The tourists fill up the restaurants, cafes, and bars, but generally there are so many hiking and biking trails that they are not too crowded.

We spent nearly every weekend this summer on those trails and really got to explore a few new areas, like Saalbach, which is actually paradise for mountain bikers.   We also made two trips to the Dolomites which have the most spectacular scenery (see below for proof).  Every trip to this area leaves me with a feeling that I need to go back and see more.

Our town lies on both sides of the Drau river, which starts in Italy, flows across Austria and ends in Slovenia.  There is a bike trail along the whole length and we’ve ridden some short sections near Villach.  This year we did an overnight trip with some friends along a western section…  some year we’ll do the whole thing!

Eric also took up a new sport called “Klettersteig” or via ferrata. It seems to be unique to Europe, and very popular in Austria and Italy.  Basically it’s like rock climbing, but “assisted” with permanent cables and ladders in the really tricky parts.  You wear a special harness to clip onto these elements and it provides a bit of safety so you won’t end up splattered at the bottom of the valley.   Not my thing, but a lot of people here are really into it.  There are quite a few trails and passages which were created during WWI, complete with tunnels that are available for Klettersteig and they offer great views if you have the fortitude to climb.

Finally we finished off the summer with this year’s Kirchtag week – always a lot of fun, but by the end of the week we were exhausted and escaped to the mountains for some rest. I’ll wrap up with a few pictures of the Dolomites, but check the next post for some more hiking highlights.

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‘Dam Good Cheese!

October 6th, 2013

I’m still pretty far behind on our summer travels, but this one requires a post.  At the end of June we took a week off (we get 5 weeks vacation now after all!) and went to Amsterdam, via London.  Aside from the shopping and dining opportunities that a big city presents, it was also nice to be tourists for a while.  We stayed at a small hotel in one of the many townhouses along the canals and immediately set off to explore the city.  After an exhausting day of walking, we gave in and rented bikes.  Everyone else is riding them for good reason – you can cover a lot more area comfortably and the city is really set up perfectly for bikes.  The only downside is that you need a least 2 very heavy locks, as theft is pretty common.

After a few days downtown, we headed out to see some of the country side.  After coming from Austria, we were surprised at how flat the landscape is!  The windmills and wooden shoe shops are touristy, but fun.  However, we had something else in mind and arrived in Alkmaar on a Friday morning when they hold the traditional cheese market.  Huge wheels of gouda are sold, weighed, and carried out by groups with different colored hats.  It’s partly for show, but there is real business being done, and afterward we snacked on some of the finished product.  Yum!

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