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Norway’s Harsh Beauty

Norway’s Harsh Beauty

I teetered apprehensively at the edge of the pebbled beach, still wearing a woollen hat and thick hoodie sweater. Runa, however, a hardy Norwegian, had already stripped down to her swimming costume and was striding into the blue-black water of the Hardangerfjord, a vast lizard’s tongue of water licking its way inland from the North […]

Vienna’s Secret Spring Getaways

Vienna’s Secret Spring Getaways

Once again the countryside surrounding Vienna is awash with spring colour. From forested hills with bright green canopies of beech and oak, to romantic gardens adorning majestic castles, there are some charming places for a day’s getaway. And get away I did – with daypack dusted and family enlisted – determined to discover the most […]

Channelling Frustration: Preserving Europe’s Amazon

On Sunday, 9 Oct., near the town of Osijek in Croatia, 40 protesters launched a regatta of small boats and canoes into the Danube in the stretch that separates Croatia from Serbia. The activists from four Danube nations wore thick jackets and woolly hats against the autumn cold. They were protesting the industrial regulation of […]

Bombs, Bullets, and Butterflies

Rainham Marshes is not a typical nature reserve. Every few minutes a train hurtles by on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, giant electricity pylons hiss and cackle, and fork lift trucks on nearby industrial compounds beep and shunt. I am in the U.K. this month, and though this flat, wide marshland offers the chance to […]

Mad March

It’s minus five or six degrees. My hands are numb and writing in my notebook is difficult. So what Dr. Teresa Valencak is explaining seems even more remarkable. “Though they live and even sleep above ground, they’re not particularly bothered by the cold,” she says. As she tells me this, one of the creatures in […]

Notes from Nature: Life or Death

After a brief respite of a few spring-like days, winter is back. But living in the city, perhaps we don’t always feel the full force of the seasons. For many people, snowfall in Vienna means little more than pulling on stout boots and de-icing cars in the morning – minor inconveniences at most. Within hours, […]

To the Lobau

Though it’s only early September, autumn is already in the air. Over the Danube hangs a tinge of melancholy, fading, like an out-of-season seaside resort. Black-headed gulls, already arrived for the winter, sweep high and slow over the choppy-brown water. I follow the river south, away from the city, past empty bathing platforms and picnic […]

A Buzzing Business

Etched in stone, from as early as 2422 BC, primitive human figures are carved into the walls of the once lively 5th Dynasty, Nyuserre Ini sun temple. Faded colours are still visible on the stiff Egyptian workers, depicted blowing smoke at beehives. Their motions are captured in unison. The ancient art of beekeeping thus hails […]

In Austria, the Eagles Have Landed – Again

I’m in the March-Thaya wetlands on the Austro-Slovakian border. It’s the closest thing to the Heart of Borneo that I’m likely to find in Central Europe – and not just because of the giant mosquitoes that are treating me like a walking lunch buffet. These verdant swamp lands constitute arguably Austria’s most valuable and underappreciated […]

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