Quick trip to Salzburg – Salt Fortress and Love Locks

Austria’s 4th largest city, birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, with an Altstadt (old city) listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997, Salzburg is probably one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.

salzburg1

Short History

The first settlements of Salzburg date all the way back to the Neolithic Age, and were merged into one city during the Roman Empire times.The city was named Salzburg, with means Salt Castle, honoring the barges carrying salt on the Salzach River, in the 8th century.

Salzburg, as the capital of one of the Austro-Hungarian territories, became, through time, home for a large number of Protestant emigrants and emigrants from regions of the Kingdom of Hungary, as refugees from the war.

Even if during the World War II, the bombing destroyed 7,600 houses and killed 550 inhabitants, the Baroque architecture was preserved and the city rebuilt, blossoming year after year.

The Hohensalzburg Castle

The High Salzburg Fortress, is located at an altitude of 506 m, on Festungsberg, a small hill situated in the heart of the city, which offers visitors probably the best view over Salzburg.

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Measuring 250 m in length and 150 m in width, Hohensalzburg is one of the largest medieval castles in Europe.

The construction of the fortress, originally designed as a simple wooden fortification, began in 1077, under Archbishop Gebhard von Helfenstein, and was gradually expanded during the following centuries, until 1462, when the ring walls and towers were built, under Prince-Archbishop Burkhard II von Weißpriach.

Even if the main purpose of the fortification was protection, the only time it actually came under siege was during the German Peasants’ War, when in 1525, the townspeople tried to force Prince-Archbishop Matthäus Lang out of his position, but failed.

Hohensalzburg Castle

Nowadays, the castle, with various wings, chambers and a beautiful courtyard, is open to the public, and if you want to visit, you can get there either by cable car or by foot. As usual, I had to choose walking, so I can stop on the way, and admire the gorgeous view over the city. I must say, I wasn’t disappointed at all!

The Makartsteg Bridge – Locks and Love

Named after the 19th century painter Hans Makart, the bridge over the Salzach River is the most modern bridge in the city center, with 20,000 pedestrians crossing it everyday.

However, this is not what the bridge is so famous for. The fence of the bridge is covered in a sea of locks, brought there by lovers from all around the world, which are meant to declare their eternal love.

Makartsteg Bridge

Even if this is a bit cheesy for my taste, I must say I was impressed by the large number of locks. Also, I couldn’t help but wonder how does this work in case of a break-up. Do you go back there, jump in the river, look for the keys, find them (right … good luck with that) and get rid of the evidence? 🙂

Either way, the shop owners selling them, are very happy and thankful for all the couples who feel the need to write their names on fences (not sure what happened to the good old romantic dates where people brought knifes along and carve their names on trees).

With plenty Romanesque and Gothic Churches and Cathedrals, a perfect blend of baroque and classical modernism buildings and a beautiful contemporary architecture found in Salzburg’s old town, the city is definitely not lacking variety.

Regardless if you stop by to visit the historic center or the Alpine surroundings, Salzburg is full of culture, history and beauty, and ever since my first visit, it’s been on my top 5 favorite cities list.


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Cherry Blossoms in Spring

As a painter, my biggest inspiration is Mother Nature. It always has something beautiful to offer, all year round.

Spring finally arrived and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate it, than by painting a gorgeous cherry blossom tree, in a fresh mountain landscape.

Welcome back, Spring. I missed you!

cherry blossom


Contact me to buy an original painting or a very high quality reproduction on canvas 


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Barcelona – City of Color, Life and Gaudí

Barcelona, capital city of the autonomous community of Catalonia in Spain, is Europe’s Largest Metropolis on the Mediterranean coast, with a population of 1.6 million.

Short History – Two Legends, One Settlement

The origin of the earliest settlement of Barcelona is the subject of two legends. The first one claims the founding of the city was done by the mythological Hercules while the second legend attributes it to the historical Carthaginian Hamilcar Barca, who originally named the settlement Barcino.

Becoming a Roman military camp in 15 BC, the city minted its own coins and blossomed until it was sacked by the army of Almanzor when most of Barcelona’s population was either killed or enslaved. Barça continued on a down spiral when the great plague (1650–1654) halved the city’s population, all the way until the Napoleonic wars, when the city was even further affected.

Even with such a rough history, Barcelona managed to survive and prosper, becoming soon the second largest city in Spain.

Why Visit?

DSC_5840Full of color and life, Barcelona redefines the term ‘green’ as more than 10% of the city is covered by parks. The boulevards are also a mix to concrete and green, which helps keep the noise level low, and maintain the air quality.

Also, Barça is home of many buildings dating all the way back to the medieval times, which blend with the gorgeous Art Nouveau constructions, part of them already included in the UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.

La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia is a large Roman Catholic church designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. However, the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar was the first one who designed the church, and the construction began on March 19, 1882, following his vision. Only in 1883 Gaudí started working on the project, next to him, until March 18, 1883, when Villar retired from the project.

Although incomplete even nowadays (it is estimated that the completion of the project will happen around year 2026), the church is already part of UNESCO World Heritage Site, which attracts a large number of tourists, every year.

Casa Batlló

Another one of Gaudí’s masterpieces, Casa Batlló or Casa dels ossos (House of Bones as it’s known to the locals) is the result of a total restoration which took place in 1904 when a 1877 conventional house was transformed completely.

Gaudí used ceramics, stone and forged iron for the radical construction, which made the building be highly criticized for a design that broke all the laws of the city. In the in 1900s however, it was voted by the Barcelona City Council as one of the three best buildings of the year.

Casa Mila –  La Pedrera

La Pedrera (the stone quarry), the last civil work designed by Antoni Gaudí, built between the years 1906 and 1910, is also part of UNESCO World Heritage Site. With self-supporting stone facade and columns, twisting iron balconies and windows, this is another very controversial work of the famous architect.

Originally built for a married couple living in Barcelona, nowadays the building is the headquarters of Fundació Catalunya – La Pedrera which organizes a large range of cultural activities and exhibitions.

DSC_5871Cathedral of Santa Eulalia

La Seu, as it’s also called was constructed between the 13th and the 15th century, to honor Eulalia of Barcelona, a virgin martyr from during the Roman times in Barcelona. Nowadays, her body is still entombed in the cathedral’s crypt, and the building is the Gothic cathedral seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona.

The Beach

Even if the beach attracts so many tourists, it’s interesting to know there were no beaches in Barcelona until the year 1992, when the city hosted the Olympic Games, the main reason for transforming the city’s shoreline into a leisure area. According to both National Geographic and Discovery Channel, the beach was ranked number one in the list of the top ten city beaches in the world!

With a combination of perfect sand, luxurious yachts, bars and restaurants, the area is very inviting and full of life.

The Aquarium

Located in Port Vell harbor, the aquarium is home to 11,000 animals, representing 450 species, which live in 35 aquariums. All in all, during your visit, you are surrounded by 5,000,000 l of water. Pretty impressive, or what?

Among the tanks, the ocean tank for sharks is probably the most impressive, considering its size and capacity. However, the large number of beautiful species offer a wonderful experience, throughout the entire aquarium. 

All in all, Barcelona is a very colorful and happy city, combining perfectly various building styles, from medieval, to modern.

With a fresh cuisine, a positive vibe, a stunning architecture and a fascinating history, Barcelona makes you want to go back and experience more!


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What’s Your Excuse?

Every now and then our path in life blends, even if only for a short while, with the path of a few extraordinary individuals, which inspire us, and we keep in our mind forever. Today I was lucky enough to meet such a person, in the most unexpected place of all, at the gym.

Usually, the gym is the place where only a small percentage of the people subscribing are actually dedicated to working out, while the majority spend their time chatting, clicking pictures for various social networks, or sitting down complaining about how bad their muscles hurt, after the first 5 minutes of training. However, today I saw the most dedicated person working out, which got me thinking about my actions, and the actions of those around me.

A young man, with Down Syndrome, pushing against the mobility impairment, a problematic ankle, and very poor eyesight, got on the treadmill, completely dedicated to finishing his workout. Later on, he moved from one equipment to the other, not giving up, until he got the job done. To my surprise, he did a better job than most of us there!

I was so impressed and proud to see him going for what he wants, ignoring the physical limitations, and working together with his body, as a team, to become stronger.

Success-InspirationMy mind couldn’t help but think about those of us, who are lucky enough to be in good health, capable of pretty much any challenge, who choose to not go for what we want, who don’t step out of their comfort zone, who find excuses.

It’s always easier to say: ‘I can’t do that‘, instead of saying: ‘I don’t want to do that‘. Subconsciously, when someone can’t do something, we look at them with different eyes, than we look at a person who doesn’t want to do the same thing. Honesty is being punished, because the excuses are more powerful to the brain.

This is why we choose to say we can’t, sometimes even without trying, and we make excuses for ourselves. The excuses are so powerfully embedded into our brains, to such an extent, that our mind shifts into that powerful negative state, which determines you to fail. Telling yourself that it won’t happen, convincing yourself that you can’t do it, it will make it not happen.

And so, we make excuses for ourselves, we say no, we fail. We fail to get out of our comfort zone, we fail to try, we push away any chance to succeed, when actually, we only have to break the mental barriers we set ourselves.

And we see people who have to fight through physical and mental limitations, dreaming the dream, setting the goal, going out there, fight with themselves and the world, and achieving what they want. Their road to success is 10 times harder than the same road a healthy person has to take, and even so, they don’t quit. Why? Because they don’t have room for excuses. They don’t let limitations put them down, but they work with those limitations, and get where they have to go. Now, how powerful is that?

I believe such persons should be an inspiration for all of us, and their amazing journeys should make us realize WE CAN DO IT. There’s no such thing as ‘I can’t’, there’s only ‘I don’t want to’.

The biggest barrier between you and success, is yourself. Always yourself, no one and nothing else. Nothing can stop a determined person to reach the goal. Success, is in the end, only a state of mind. Our minds are such powerful tools that if we set them to ‘I can’t‘ or ‘I can‘, in the end, that’s going to be the outcome, so tell yourself as often as needed: ‘I CAN‘. If you want it, you can do it! It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it! Want it, dream it, do it!

What’s Your Excuse?


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Why I Write

As my life took a few crazy turns in the past few months,  I’ve been busier than ever, trying to readjust to the current situation and also to keep up with everything I want to do further on. I’m working on improving my programming skills which eats up most of my time, I have two books on the making which I had to postpone for now because of the lack of time (same happened to my painting projects), I try to be as active as possible on the blog, keep in touch with my friends from both here and abroad, stick to a strict exercise schedule, while dealing with a few flu episodes and other events which did their best to push me off track.

Considering all of this, I was asked a few times already, why do I still focus on other things as well, like writing, instead of focusing on something more useful, which will actually make me earn money.

After having a wonderful conversation with my dear blogger friend, Nihar, I’ve decided to write a few thoughts on why do I choose to write, and how do I see the return on such an investment.

writing

I might be one of the weird types, but I take joy in the small things in life. I don’t need to earn or spend a lot in order to be happy, I don’t need to earn money from everything I do in order to feel successful and appreciated, and I definitely don’t believe earning can be resumed to money only. Those who only earn material things in life, are some of the poorest people I’ve seen.

So what does writing bring me?

Every time I write something, I learn more, I share more, I meet even more amazing people. If your passion is attached to materialistic gain, and you can’t see the beauty and joy in the simplicity of exchanging thoughts and experience, you will lose much more in life, than money can ever bring you.

For me writing is an investment much more valuable than words can describe. Nothing makes me happier than sending an idea out there and receiving messages, comments, emails from people thanking me for inspiring them and making their life better, and telling me how much they appreciate my work. This always brings tears of joy to my eyes! Also, seeing a blogger friend inspired by something I write, and posting an article about my thoughts, is some of the best payment around.

time to be a writerMy rewards comes from the simple things writing gives back: a smile, a thank you, a positive feedback, inspiration, appreciation, change, new friends and every single one of them, has the power to make me richer and richer inside.

Nothing money can buy will even enrich your spirit in such a beautiful way, as these intangible rewards can. Also, no other tool around can bring you in the center of so many talented, passionate and dedicated people, with whom you can start such meaningful conversations.

That considered, many thanks to all my readers for rewarding me everyday, in many wonderful ways. Starting my blog was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and yes, writing does pay, more than a regular job ever will. You just have to open your heart and feel the reward.