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Dr_Kim's Travel Blog

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Albany, United States

permalink written by  Dr_Kim on May 31, 2008 from Albany, United States
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The end

Wien, Austria

permalink written by  Dr_Kim on May 25, 2008 from Wien, Austria
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District Conference

Zagreb, Croatia

permalink written by  Dr_Kim on May 21, 2008 from Zagreb, Croatia
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Still standing

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

I am now in Sarajevo and finally have access to the internet although it means walking or taking a taxi to the Holiday Inn where I am sitting now using a computer at the hotel! I am very impressed with the people I have met here. Today is my 3rd day here, we arrived on Saturday and today is Monday. I am saying that for myself because at this point I have completely lost track of time!
Driving to Sarajevo took 6 hours and so much of the country side broke my heart. Entire communities of houses that were destroyed and they stand there today grown over with trees and bushes, the people in them have moved away or been killed in the war that began in 1991 and ended in 1995 when the United States finally bombed the Serbian forces that had besieged the city of Sarajevo. I have spoken to so many people who were affected by the war. The driver that took me to visit a school in a rural village had served in the Special Forces and out of 18 members in his unit only 6 survived. However, these people have recovered and they are very proud of this war-torn city. The Holiday Inn where I now sit was the home of the journalists during this war. I visited the bridge at Mostar that was rebuilt and is stunning! There is so much beauty here, but in order to appreciate it you first need to look past the buildings scarred by mortar fire, small cemeteries all through the city because they could not leave to bury the dead, and bullet ridden buildings and get over the feeling of incredible loss in order to see the city as it is today. The streets are filled with beautiful, very well dressed, people and there are children playing, dogs barking, flowers everywhere - this city is very much alive but still needs help from the global community. I hope the rest of the world does not forget the people here.

permalink written by  Dr_Kim on May 17, 2008 from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
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Lakes, rivers and the sea in Slovenia

Brezice, Slovenia

We arrived in Brezice in the afternoon after a 4 hour drive from Schladming. It is amazing how close these countries are and how small they are compared to the USA! I spent the first 2 days in the home of Dr. Franz, a family doctor in a small village. I was able to visit the Elementary or Primary school next door. It was so great to be able to see children! I was able to speak with many of the students and they could understand me because they are learning English when they are only 9 years old. I spent the rest of one day visiting health offices and even a chiropractor who was trained by someone from California...but I am glad that he did not offer to treat me because I was able to observe him treating another patient and his methods were quite barbaric!!!! EEEEEK! I was able to have a family barbeque with a man named Danilo and his wife, Andrea, and their 2 children, Caspar age 10 and Tina age 7...just like Brody and Rylie. Watching them made me really miss my kids, but they were so funny. I am hoping that maybe Brody and Rylie will be able to send emails to my new Slovenian friends.
Part of our trip took us to the incredibly beautiful town of Bled, 3 hours away, where we spent one night. Funny enough, it is the site of the photo I chose for Slovenia!! Pictures do not do it justice. I was amazed. We also toured a bit of the city of Lubjana, the capital of Slovenia. One day while in Slovenia we drove to the Adriatic coast! Palm trees and sand! I asked the driver to just leave me there but he would not.
The people of Slovenia are very kind and generous. They have a wonderful sense of humor. The children in school know so much about the United States! Even the children in school know who our candidates are for the election in November and everyone wants to know who I will vote for.
One thing that has been consistent in both Austria and Slovenia is that families will quite often continue to live together so that it is most common to have grandparents living with their grandchildren. Wine is an important part of their family life and the majority of families have a small vineyard where they make wine for their own use. They say that there is not a big problem with alcohol abuse because they all know that it should only be enjoyed in moderation. They have very strict penalties for driving after drinking.
The highlight of my visit to Slovenia was definitely communicating, although the connection was poor, with the students in Middleburgh. I was so happy to see all of them! I think it was amazing that I could see and speak to you from so many miles away.

permalink written by  Dr_Kim on May 12, 2008 from Brezice, Slovenia
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Visit to Salzburg and the Lake District of Austria

Salzburg, Austria

We enjoyed a wonderful trip today thanks to our host Rotary club. They arranged for a large van and driver as well as 2 Rotarian guides to take us to the beautiful city of Salzburg which lies 1hour northeast of Schladming. We were then met by an English-speaking guide who took us on a walking tour of the Old City of Salzburg. The land was first inhabited by Celts 2,000 years ago, and the city; which was a Principality before WWII, was settled in 696.
The City used to be governed by Arch-Bishops and each one liked to put their own stamp on the city. Their favorite thing to do was to build churches and now there are 109 churches in this small city of 150,000 people. When you walk through the streets you hear bells ringing all of the time. This city is well-known in the US as the site of the movie and the tru-life story of the "Sound of Music". We were able to see the monastery (sp?) where Maria was training to become a nun, the graveyard where they hid behind the tombstones, the fountain where she sang about confidence, and the gardens of Mirabella where she danced with the children singing "Do-Re-Mi"! It was awesome! We saw the birthplace of Mozart as well. This is an exceptionally wonderful place to visit; especially if you love music.
One thing interesting about Salzburg, the name comes from the fact that this area has many salt mines (Salz = Salt) and Italy would trade with Salzburg long ago and as a result there is a lot of Italian influence in the style of the buildings and the design of the gardens and statues.
After our 3 hour tour we drove to an Alpine Lake for lunch. Gorgeous!!! There were swans swimming in front of us so, of course, I had to feed them!
We then drove to the medieval town of Hallstad, a town built into the mountain around the lake with winding street and steps and flowers and a beautiful lake.
I will try to add more photos and captions as soon as I can.
My love to all of my family and friends in Middleburgh. I wish you were here with me!

permalink written by  Dr_Kim on May 10, 2008 from Salzburg, Austria
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Schladming, Austria

Today for me was a dream come true. After so many years of watching "The Sound of Music" I finally was able to hike in the Alps. But first, let me backtrack a little. We arrived in Schladming on Wednesday, driven here by a wonderful retired Doctor and Rotarian by the name of Vanner. It was a 3 hour drive through mountains and valleys that defy description. Vanner has hiked up all of the highest peaks of Austria and remembers WWII. He was drafted into the Austrian military and was discharged 2 days before the end of the war and remembers walking home to the city of Graz with hundreds of refugees before the ceasefire 2 days later.
We arrived in Schladming; everywhere you look you want to take a picture but a picture simply cannot describe the beauty of this area of our world. The mountains reach to the sky. The flowers are in bloom and the birds are singing. The people are simply gorgeous and so friendly. There are several people who still wear the traditional clothing because they are trying very hard to hold on to the things that make this country special.
I am living with a doctor of manual medicine and his wife who is a physical therapist. They have 3 children who have just arived for the weekend; Lena is 21, Mattiaus is 20 and Lisa is 17. I have visited Dr. Fritsch's practice and shared philosophy's with him. It is very interesting to hear the point of view from someone outside the US.
Schladming is a small city, 20,000 people and most of the families know each other well. They have an active Rotary club of 35 members and they have 1 or 2 members joining each year.
This is a skiing community. They host the World Cup Slalom skiing competition and about 50,0000 people are here during that time. This is also a traditional Austrian Community and they have a special way of dressing and still have a weekly farmer's market each Friday... I visited the market today with the 83 year old mother of Dr. George Fritsch and bought a bottle of oil typical for this area made from the seed of a pumpkin-like squash.
This afternoon I hiked with Dr. Fritsch and his wife to an Alpine Lake. It was a dream come true for me. There was still snow in patches and it felt very good to take some snow and put it on the back of my neck. I can just imagine Brody and Rylie, they would definitely want to have a snowball fight! We hiked across suspension bridges that took us above the treetops. I saw beautiful Alpine flowers and I can truly say that, in Austria, the hills really are alive with the sound of music!

permalink written by  Dr_Kim on May 9, 2008 from Schladming, Austria
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Hello Everyone

Waidhofen an der Ybbs, Austria

Hello everyone! I have been in Austria now for 4 days. We arrived in Vienna Saturday afternoon and then we were driven to Waidhofen an der Ybbs. There is another Waidhofen in Austria; this one is called "an der Ybbs" because it is along the Ybbs river that eventually runs into the Danube river not far from here. Waidhofen is a medieval town; the first settlements here occured more than 1000 years ago and Waidhofen was first written of in the year 996. 11 years ago they celebrated their 1,000 year anniversary. There are about 20,000 people living in this area although it has a very rural-small town atmosphere. Today was the weekly market day, a tradition that dates back for centuries. The farmers outside of town bring in their goods; even live chickens and pigs, to be sold at the market on the Upper Main Street. Here the difference between upper and lower Main Street is an actual height difference of about 4 stories and the buildings are built right into the hillside. All of the original buildings have multiple levels of cellars and many buildings are connected through the cellars so if the town was invaded you had a place to escape! There is a castle that was last owned by the Rothschilde family around 100 years ago. It is now owned by a museum and is a cultural center where artists in town can exhibit their musical and artistic talents. We heard an opera singer there Saturday night. Although I could not understand a word of the music, his voice was incredible! There is a very old church next to the castle and the bells are ringing all day long. On Sunday we took a walking tour of the town with Peter, an eye surgeon, who lives and works in Waidhofen. He is a member of Rotary and he was born in Ethiopia to Austrian parents and grew up near an American military base so he speaks very good English! He travels back to Ethiopia to do surgeries for people who could otherwise not have surgery and has worked very hard to improve the quality of drinking water in Ethiopia. He is a wonderful humanitarian. Peter also showed us his home and took us to visit a local blacksmith who has returned to the traditional way of working with iron. This area of Austria is known as the "Iron working" area because it was the center of the iron trade for centuries. We also travelled up into the hills to see where the lumberjacks would send the logs down the river in order to make charcoal to burn for the blacksmith's fires. The fires need to burn hot and for a long time! We hiked through a valley and I saw snow covered mountains that seemed to go right to the sky! I drank from a fresh mountain stream and the water was the best I have ever tasted. The people here believe that it is the fountain of youth so I drank a lot of it...in fact, I splashed it all over just to be sure I would get the most benefit!!For the past 2 days I have been visiting different people who are working in health care. There is a lot of difference between how we take care of our health in the United States and how they do it here. It has been very interesting and I have a lot of new ideas that I will be sharing with other healthcare providers when I get home. I have seen a lot of children! They look a lot like the kids at Middleburgh Elementary school! They get to go home and eat their lunches if their family lives in town and their school day is much shorter than ours! They also learn about 4 languages on average before graduating. The Austrian people are very friendly and they laugh a lot. They are very gracious and our time in Waidhofen has been wonderful and beyond any expectation I ever had. The mountains are so tall and green and the houses and buildings are charming. This town belongs in a story book. I can imagine dwarves and princesses and if I try very hard I can almost hear the sound of horses hooves on the cobbled streets.I miss everyone in Middleburgh but I am having a wonderful time.Kim

permalink written by  Dr_Kim on May 6, 2008 from Waidhofen an der Ybbs, Austria
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The beginning

Waidhofen an der Ybbs, Austria

permalink written by  Dr_Kim on May 3, 2008 from Waidhofen an der Ybbs, Austria
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We arrived!

Wien, Austria

We were met at the airport by 2 Rotarians and then were driven by van on the Autobahn to Waidhofen; about 2 hours away. We drove along the Danube river. One thing that was remarkable is that centuries ago the leader of Vienna decided that in order to have good quality fresh air in Vienna that a forest should surround the city. Still today there is a 25-30 kilometer forest around the entire city. They also have several wind turbines to generate some electricity. No one here is offended by these huge windmills.
We will have more time in Vienna at the end of our trip.

permalink written by  Dr_Kim on May 3, 2008 from Wien, Austria
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