Dramatis persona*

helenhead Helen Chick

I've always wanted a bumper sticker that said "I'm a female, LDS/Mormon, Scout leading, geocaching, piano-playing, bicycling, mathematics educator with a PhD in maths ... and I VOTE"!

I think this makes me a minority group of cardinality 1!

* Since there's only one of me and "personae" is plural (I think), I've gone with dramatis persona.
December 2022
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Velden and Villach

I was travelling between conferences with my friend and colleague, Jane. After catching the train from Vienna we arrived in the lakeside town of Velden, and lugged our suitcases over 1km to our hotel/guesthouse. We’d had the impression that it was closer to the station than this, but at least the view was great when we arrived. The panorama below is what I could see looking south over Wörthersee from my balcony.

Not far from our guesthouse was the lovely little church of Franzosenkirch, with its shingled roof and wooden steeple (the stripey effect in the first photo is an artifact of shrinking the photo). I went back late at night to photograph it when it was lit up and was distracted by a hedgehog (I’d never seen one before … and they really do look like a cross between an echidna and those big boot-cleaning brushes that you can buy to put beside your front door). Just as I finished taking the photograph of the very shy hedgehog (a photo which didn’t turn out at all well) the lights went out on the church! Just my luck!

There are churches all over the place in Austria. Every little village has one, with its distinctive tower. Sometimes the locations are quite spectacular, as is the case with Maria Wörth, which stands on a peninsula jutting into Wörthersee (Wörthersee is sometimes rendered “Lake Wörthersee” for English-speakers, but that’s like saying “ATM machine”: the “-see” part means “lake” … and English-speakers could learn to cope with this, I am sure (I’m sorry, but one of my pet peeves is Anglicising names that we could simply train ourselves to pronounce properly and understand)).

A 15 minute train ride from Velden took us to the larger town of Villach. It too has a church, the church of Sankt Jakob (St Jacob). There are 240 steps to climb the tower (I was too out of breath to count them!), and there was interesting vaulting in the ceiling. The view from the tower was over the old part of the city, some of which was damaged in the second world war. Now it is a pedestrian zone, and there are restaurants and various places of interest.

The final photo is back in Velden, showing the lake shore as the ferry comes in from its trip to Maria Wörth. There were lots of people swimming in the lake (this week has been very warm in Europe), plus there was sailing and parasailing and other activities. On one of our evenings here we had dinner by the lake, just to the left of the photo (and our guesthouse was quite a distance around to the right and back up from the shore, which meant we had a great view of the lake at breakfast time).

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