Posted on 5 Comments

Winter in Europe: Favorite Places and Photographs

Winter Sunrise over Lake Como

“… But unless the child in you is entirely dead, it is snow, too, that can make the heart beat faster when it catches you by surprise that way, before your defenses are up. It is snow that can awaken memories of things more wonderful than anything you ever knew or dreamed.” ― Frederick Buechner

 

Winter in Europe: Favorite Places and Photographs

I love Europe in the winter.

There is something magical about European winters. Something about ice skaters filling a small town’s central pond, enchanting architecture sparkling beneath a pixie dust snow, the mountains and the grandeur of the Alps, the Christmas Markets and the rhythm of the people as they go about their lives, and the sheer beauty of it all.

Over the four years my family and I lived in Europe, we traveled throughout much of central Europe in the winter. This winter amidst the huge amounts of snow falling on our new home in the American Midwest, I’ve been sorting through some of my favorite photos of our time in Europe.

Thanks for scrolling through and discovering some of the favorite places I traveled in the winters in Europe, including Czech Republic, Italy, Austria, Poland, and Germany. All of the following are places I’m grateful to have captured through the lens of my camera. Undoubtedly, they will stay in my heart and mind forever.

Austria at Christmastime
Tirol region, Austria at Christmastime
My favorite castle on the Austria / Italy border in the Alps
My favorite castle on the Austria / Italy border in the Alps

 

A Typical Countryside Scene along the North-central Austria / Czech border
A Typical Countryside Scene along the North-central Austria / Czech border

 

Majestic, Stunning Austrian Alps
Majestic, Stunning Austrian Alps

 

Silent Black Forest Laden with Snow along the German / Austrian / Czech Borders
Silent Black Forest Laden with Snow along the German / Austrian / Czech Borders

 

Rural Poland
Rural Poland

 

Poland
Poland

 

Statuesque Church, near Linz, Austria
Statuesque Church, near Linz, Austria

 

Sumava Region, Czech Republic
Sumava Region, Czech Republic

 

Powdered Sugar - Snow Wonderland, Austria
Powdered Sugar – Snow Wonderland, Austria

 

Chiavenna, Italy
Chiavenna, Italy — at the top of Italy, nestled into Switzerland

 

Engadin / St. Moritz region, Switzerland
Engadin / St. Moritz region, Switzerland : the silhouette of a church

 

Prata Comportaccio, Italy : the Black Church, 14th century
Prata Comportaccio, Italy : the Black Church, 14th century

 

A Lone Chalet in the Distance in a Snowstorm in the Alps, Alto Adige, Italy
Snowstorm in the Alps, Alto Adige, Italy

 

St. Moritz, Switzerland
St. Moritz, Switzerland

 

Prague, the view from the Charles Bridge toward Mala Strana
Prague, the view from the Charles Bridge toward Mala Strana

 

Prague's Old Town, Astronomical Clock, Tyn Church, and Christmas markets
Prague’s Old Town, Astronomical Clock, and Christmas Markets

 

Winter Sunrise over Lake Como
Winter Sunrise over Lake Como, Italy

If you’ve traveled in Europe in the winter, please share your favorite places here in the comments as well. Thank you and happy travels!

Posted on Leave a comment

The Alps: A Photojournal

the Alps, the charm

Captain von Trapp: It’s the dress. You’ll have to put on another one before you meet the children.
Maria: But I don’t have another one. When we entered the abbey our worldly clothes were given to the poor.
Captain von Trapp: What about this one?
Maria: The poor didn’t want this one.  ~ The Sound of Music

The Austrian Alps have many meanings. To some, they mean great skiing in winter. To others, they make a wonderful place to hike and bike in summer. To many, the Austrian Alps bring the Sound of Music directly to mind. For me, Austria and its beautiful Alpine region means all of the above. I simply love Austria.

A few weeks ago, my family and I drove from Prague to Venice, Italy. The main reason we wanted to drive, despite the ski season traffic, was to experience the views. The Alps are truly glorious in the wintertime, especially on days of blue skies after a heavy snow. It just so happened that this trip, the weather was perfect. Perfect for photographs, too. So, this week, as I work intensely on my work-in-progress novel, I’m posting a photojournal of Austria.

I hope you enjoy the views as much as I do!

The Alps, the View from Italy's Veneto region
The Alps, the View from Italy's Veneto region
Italy into the Alps, near Venice
Italy into the Alps, near Venice
Entering the Italian Alps
Entering the Italian Alps
Near Venice heading north over the Alps, Italy
Near Venice heading north over the Alps, Italy

Continue reading The Alps: A Photojournal

Posted on 8 Comments

Work and Living, En Plein Air

Writing in Italy, along the Mediterranean

“The basis of human happiness is the possibility to be together with nature, to see it and to talk to it.” –Leo Tolstoy

Jennifer Lyn King
In the Alps

As I type these words, I sit outside on the patio tucked into the back corner of our house near Prague. Bees buzz lazily around the dainty blue catmint and fading lavender planted beside the patio, and creamy roses tinged in raspberry pink dazzle in the setting sunlight. A light breeze whisks across the yard. Puffy cumulus clouds sail across the powdery blue sky. Songbirds call out as they dart toward the feeder. And the notable Prague passenger pigeons make their whispering rounds of flight in tight formation. I type and I can’t help smiling, because there is something so free about being in this exact spot. I love to be outdoors. Continue reading Work and Living, En Plein Air

Posted on 12 Comments

Paradise Found: My Fourth of July in the Austrian Alps

Paradise Found: St. Gilgen, Austria and the Zwolferhorn

“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson, American Poet, 1803-1882

Paradise Found: St. Gilgen, Austria and the Zwolferhorn
Paradise Found: St. Gilgen, Austria and the Zwolferhorn

When I was a girl, I read all the time, and the first book I remember wanting to reread was Johanna Spyri’s HEIDI. If you aren’t familiar with the children’s classic book, HEIDI is about an orphaned girl who comes to live in the Alps with her reclusive grandfather. Like most fans of Heidi, I relished the notion of finding hope in the face of hopelessness, but I also loved the setting of HEIDI: the rugged and beautiful mountains of Europe where man and mountain thrive together. There is something about being in the mountains that connects with who I am. Whether it is in the Tetons or Rockies of the Western United States, the coastal mountains of Maine, or the Alps of Austria, Switzerland, or Italy, my heart sings when I am in the mountains. Luckily for me, my family feels the same way … Continue reading Paradise Found: My Fourth of July in the Austrian Alps

Posted on Leave a comment

The Winter Wonderland of Austria, Germany, and Czech Republic

Winter Wonderland in Czech Republic Sumava

In the depths of winter, I finally learned there was in me an invincible summer. -Albert Camus, French novelist, 1957 Nobel Prize for Literature

A few weeks ago, we spent time in the Alps skiing. And, on our way home to Prague, we plugged in our Garmin, set the destination to HOME, and started the journey. We didn’t look at the route the Garmin suggested … which we soon found out was different than the Autobahn quick drive home. Instead, we took the LONG road home to Prague, through the high country of north-central Austria, into the National Park in Germany, and crossed the mountains into the Sumava region of Czech Republic. That route meant we got to cross some sizeable mountains in a heavy snowstorm. It was quite the adventure!

Winter Wonderland in Czech Republic Sumava
Winter Wonderland in Czech Republic Sumava

Now, in January, looking out at a blanket of snow, I’m reminded of the photographs I took during that drive. And since I’m working heavily on rewriting and editing for my work-in-progress novel, I’m taking the chance to save words for the novel and post stunning photographs instead. I hope you enjoy them!

The Austrian Alps in WinterThe Austrian Alps in Winter

Austrian Castle in the AlpsAustrian Castle in the Alps

The Stunning Snow-capped Alps, AustriaThe Stunning Snow-capped Alps

German Winter WonderlandGerman Winter Wonderland

Powdered Sugar Trees, Czech RepublicPowdered Sugar Trees, Czech Republic

Starting the Conversation: What off-the-beaten path adventure have you taken lately? Have you experienced a time recently of unexpected beauty?

Posted on 1 Comment

An Austrian Alpine Christmas

Austrian Alps at Christmas
Sleigh bells ring, are you listening,
In the lane, snow is glistening
A beautiful sight,
We’re happy tonight.
Walking in a winter wonderland.
-R. Smith, lyrics to Winter Wonderland, 1934

Austrian Alps at Christmas
Austrian Alps at Christmas

This year, I am spending the Christmas week in the Austrian Alps with my family. We are skiing here, which is a perfect way to soak in the Alpine beauty. Heavy snow glistens across jagged peaks and frosted evergreens decorate every slope and valley. In the tiny village where we stay, we walk across a bowed bridge to the ski slopes, and also walk to the little grocery, the family-run huts (traditional restaurants) for food, and the chocolate-box type church in the center of the town–for Christmas Eve service. Horse-drawn sleighs pull people across the village toward their destinations, jingling as they go. It truly is an idyllic scene, especially for Christmas.

the majestic Alps

I’d like to share it with you, here in a short collection of photographs I’ve taken this week, accompanied by the original version of Silent Night, written in Austria in 1818:

DEUTSCH (GERMAN)
composed and lyrics written in Austria, 1818 Music: Franz Xaver Gruber, 1818
Words: Joseph Mohr, 1816/1818


Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,

Alles schläft; einsam wacht
Nur das traute hochheilige Paar.
Holder Knabe im lockigen Haar,
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!

driving into the Alps, near Salzburg, Austria

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Hirten erst kundgemacht
Durch der Engel Halleluja,
Tönt es laut von fern und nah:
Christ, der Retter ist da!
Christ, der Retter ist da!

a village church on the Austria / German / Czech border

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Gottes Sohn, o wie lacht
Lieb’ aus deinem göttlichen Mund,
Da uns schlägt die rettende Stund’.

Christ, in deiner Geburt!
Christ, in deiner Geburt!

an Austrian castle nestled into the Alpine slopes

ENGLISH Literal English prose
translation by Hyde Flippo

Silent night, holy night
All is sleeping, alone watches
Only the close, most holy couple.
Blessed boy in curly hair,
Sleep in heavenly peace!
Sleep in heavenly peace!

Silent night, holy night,
Shepherds just informed
By the angels’ hallelujah,
It rings out far and wide:
Christ the Savior is here!
Christ the Savior is here!

from the peak where we are skiing

Silent night, holy night,
Son of God, oh how laughs
Love out of your divine mouth,
Because now the hour of salvation
strikes for us.
Christ, in Thy birth!
Christ, in Thy birth!

the powerful silence in the Alps

Sending you warm wishes for a wonder-filled Christmas. Merry Christmas!

Posted on 2 Comments

Vienna, U2, and OneRepublic

Me at U2!
“We’re waking up … And right on time.” -OneRepublic, Waking Up

On Monday, the King five drove the windy Czech roads and ventured down in Austria. This wasn’t just any trip. Our destination was Vienna, the legendary city of music of the ranks of Mozart, to a concert we bought tickets for almost exactly one year ago. This wasn’t just any concert. The music we have been anticipating seeing live in concert is the music of the legendary band, U2.

U2 Live at Vienna 2010
U2 Live at Vienna 2010
Me at U2!
Me at U2!

And, oh! was it a CONCERT!

There are not many words to wrap around the fullness of the sound, the incredible heart-shaking bass, or the soul-flying energy and spirit to a crowd gathered around one of the music of U2– all 68,500 Austrians, and the five of us Kings. The whole time was truly the experience of a lifetime. So grateful to have had it.

But I want to mention the band who opened for U2, a new-ish band called OneRepublic. It turns out that their music is familiar, and before the concert I dove into their band bio to learn a little more. Ryan Tedder, OneRepublic’s frontman, says this, after he had performed on a singer/songwriter show on MTV and was given a prestigious recording contract, singing “POP” music:

“But how could I ever take myself seriously,” he says, “if I was embarrassed by what I was singing? There are a lot of artists who want to make you shake your ass on the dance floor, but only a handful that connect on a deeper level. I wanted more than just a catchy tune. There’s nothing like a good pop song, but there’s a fine line between accessibility and credibility, and that’s the line I want to walk.”

 

When at the concert, and Tedder said, “This is a lifelong dream come true,” about playing with U2. And when he mentioned they’d only seen U2 play once before, live, it began to make sense. This OneRepublic band, of amazing musical depth (violin, cello, 3 guitars, bass, keyboard, drums, etc.), has arrived at their dream only by remaining true to who they are. Not selling out for the popular music of little depth, not settling for something less than what they’ve dreamed. They stuck out the wait, and sharpened their skills, and practiced, and worked some more before their time came to sing. And sing and make music, they do.

I was deeply moved by their story, and by their music, and look forward to hearing more of them (live!) in the future. Oh, and to hold on to dreams … they will come true, with hard work and patience, in time.

Starting the conversation: What is your favorite live musical performance? Has it changed you?

Posted on Leave a comment

Destination Alps: A Summer Roadtrip

On the Road: Destination Alps

Posted on August 3, 2010

It is not down in any map; true places never are. ~Herman Melville

This past weekend, we ventured on a summer roadtrip– which we loved– to the Alps. The photos say so much more than any words I could form, so this week, I’m posting my favorite photos from our daytrip to the Austrian Alps (from Prague).

On the Road: Destination Alps
On the Road: Destination Alps
On the Road: Destination Alps

 

Driving South through Czech Republic

 

Nearing Salzburg, Austria

 

Sharp rise into the Alps
Sailing
Serenity
Town colors
Wolfgangsee region
Paragliders in the clouds above
the View I love
The View North, from the top
Wolfgangsee
The Drive home to Prague

Starting the Conversation: Do you have favorite photos from a roadtrip to share? (paste a link with a comment, below, in the comments) I’d love to see where you travel, too!

Posted on Leave a comment

The Alps and the Impossible

Wolfgangsee

Posted on June 29, 2010

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. ~John Muir

Saturday, we hopped in the car and set off for Austria, for a day of hiking the Alps. To feel the colors, breathe the views, experience a moment in paradise. As I sit now in my writing chair, the views we saw, the whole Alps experience seems surreal and impossible, in the grandest sense of both words.

 

Wolfgangsee
Wolfgangsee, Austrian Alps

Dreaming up driving to the Alps from Prague just for the day sounds like the old saying: “You can’t get there from here.” But we can. And did. I’m so glad I brought my camera to prove it to myself.

The difference between Austria and Czech could not be more stark, though they are neighbors. Compared to Austria and its sunny disposition, Czech Republic still frowns from its years under Soviet communism. Austria’s optimism seems to bring an extra sunshine at the border. We ventured to the Salzburg Lakes region, near Wolfgangsee to the town of St. Gilgen.

 

From there, we rode a cable car to the next peak, high above St. Gilgen. With some of the world’s most amazing views, we ate at the Hut. Clouds scraped our heads as they passed, and cowbells clanked from the herd grazing on the steep meadow below.

At the peak meadow, paragliders took flight in throngs around us.

And we hiked trails winding among peaks, and stood in awe.

My belief still stands that the Austrian Alps are the closest place to paradise I’ve ever experienced. Where else does heaven meet earth in such a grand fashion, where humans and nature have coexisted for centuries … where paragliders fly, and sailors grab at wind, and hikers may tread among clouds and meadows?

Can the Alps be more beautiful?

Truly, we not only gained the impossible view of the world, from Austria’s eternal beauty, but gained hearts filled and refreshed. These images will have to remind me until the next time we venture … to the Alps.

Starting the Conversation: Do you have a favorite place to hike, walk, or experience nature?

Posted on 3 Comments

The Austrian Alps, Up Close and in Living Color

the Austrian Alps
I have to admit, I’m still pinching myself. I guess I’m trying to ensure that this is real—this living in Prague, and traveling Europe with the whole family. I find it amazing to be able to hop in the car, drive through a few countries, and a handful of hours later be standing in the heart of the Alps. Wow! And as we cross borders, to change languages and currencies like we would slip into different pair of shoes … WOW!
the Austrian Alps
the Austrian Alps

 

Though we’ve taken quite a few trips in the past couple of months, hiking the Alps has always been one of my dreams. This trip tops the rest so far.

Our destination was Patsch, Austria, which is nestled in the base of the mountains south of Innsbruck. From Patch, we took the PatscherKofel cable car up to an Alpine Hutt, where we stayed. The views were beyond spectacular, the hiking was incredible, and the Hutt experience was rustic and unforgettable.

The particular cable car from Patsch was the lift for the Olympic winter events in 1964 and 1976, and still leads straight to the Olympic ski runs. And since the mountains in the Alps are connected by an impressive network of trails and huts, even before snow flies backpackers stopping for bier and schnitzel make for a lively crowd around the huts.

On our first afternoon on the trail, my husband Brian just so happened to help a couple in their seventies with a wheelbarrow full of firewood. Brian pushed the wheelbarrow for them along the steep and narrow trail, not really knowing where they were going… but soon, they invited us into their own Alpine house to share schnapps and stories in Deutsch. And they gave me Edelweiss from their single blooming plant alongside their house. As we left, hearts full, a rainbow appeared—another wow!

But for me, the most memorable experience was climbing behind our three boys, ages seven, eight, and ten, to the highest point on the mountain. With Innsbruck stretched out fifteen-hundred meters below us and a 360º view of the Austrian Alps, we were above the tree line and on top of the world. Not sure it gets any better than that … 

I can’t wait to venture back to the Alps again, but I know I’ll forever treasure that first experience filled with Edelweiss and rainbows, with big smiles and pine tree walking sticks, hiking in the clouds and marveling at the amazing handiwork of our Creator.