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Finally saw Les Misèrables with G. on Thursday (his idea, and he ended up liking it better than I did, although the official version still is that I dragged him there...). Now the opening sequence... OMGholyhsitwow[openmouthedstare]wow. After that... well. It's Les Mis, so it's impossible for it to suck completely, but as a film it was bad. Really bad, for the most part. On stage no one expects realism, so a lack of it doesn't matter, but on a purely visual level the film was an awkward, constantly distracting mixture of too much and not enough realism that kept breaking the fourth wall, because it neither allowed you to lose yourself in the illusion of realism nor to dismiss it altogether and lose yourself in the play, and only ended up making the film rather kitschier than the much sparer stage productions usually are. (Case in point, the painfully fake butterfly on the iron fence during A Heart Full of Love suddenly opening its wings. I had to stop myself from giggling through the rest of the song after that.) And I can't remember what critic it was that complained about the endless, endless, unvarying close-up shots for every single song, every single time, but it was probably more than one, because that part is also painfully true.

The song written for Valjean's coach journey with Cosette is terrible and only adds to the too-saccharine overall tone of the film compared to the musical, and Dog Eat Dog should have been left in for the same reason, although I can see the reasons behind either decision.

(There's also the admittedly a bit weird thing about how English is actually my least favourite language for Les Mis. I like the French version and am quite partial to the German translation, but English lacks a certain... edge, maybe, that the musical needs? It sounds too soft to my ears to somehow to really fit the mood.)

As for the cast... Anne Hathaway deserved her Oscar, as far as I can tell, not having seen any of the other nominated films, her performance certainly stood out in the first part, both singing and acting-wise. A surprise for me personally was that it was Eddie Redmayne's Marius that I found most interesting/arresting in the second half, because Marius is usually such a thankless role that I never paid much attention to, what with all the mooning after Cosette and little else he does. This is maybe the first time I liked the character and I loved what Redmayne did with Empty Chairs at Empty Tables. That said, the fact that Marius of all characters stood out probably already says a lot about how the actual main characters were lacking. Russell Crowe was a disaster, you can't call it anything else. The singing was terrible throughout and the acting (what acting? for the most part it felt as if he was too busy to get the singing done) didn't make up for it at all. In the end, Les Mis is a musical and you can't play Javert if you can't convey a certain severity and force through your voice. The suicide scene wasn't too bad, but everything before was, and Stars especially was excruciatingly painfully boring. (Boring. Yes, really.) Hugh Jackman was technically better, although you also could hear how he was struggling with higher notes and passages that demanded more vocal power and there were parts that made me vince, but somehow I never really managed to connect to his Valjean either, although in this case I can't pinpoint the actual reason. Part of it was that for me it felt as if the character veered too much on the side of sweet-and-saintly, but I'm not sure if this is actually justified? The rest of the cast was ok, with Amanda Seyfried actually making me like Cosette (yet another thankless part) and Samantha Barks an interesting Eponine, although I have to say I found her visually arresting more than anything else. When has Helena Bonham-Carter played more than a variation of one single type of character, the last time though?

In conclusion...

oh, [sigh]. I was prepared to like this, damn it.

 

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Um. I didn't mean to disappear off the face of the Earth livejournal so completely, but life got a bit hectic since January. (In an extremely boring and uninspiring way, I should probably hasten to add.) Apart from work there's the bookkeeping class I'm still not very sure about, but have to do homework and study a bit for nonetheless, A. is keeping me busy with Russian and Russian homework and we're working on vocabulary at the moment, which is something I actually am sure about and enjoy doing, so I try to make more than a half-assed, just-scraping-by effort, and L. has been sending me texts to translate that I keep agreeing to do even if before I'd already have said that I don't have time, not even so much because of the money, but because I'm still hoping the experience might come in useful eventually. And although the weather is doing its best to sabotage me at the moment, I'm at least trying to squeeze the occasional hiking tour into the schedule to keep me sane, because the last couple of times I went out with G., alcoholism suddenly started to look quite tempting. (Kidding. There's absolutely no chance I'm going there, but, tempting.)

Oh, and the Meta from Hell (tm), which surprisingly is actually still going somewhere and there isn't even a 'RTD meta draft 5' yet, so, go me.

[Rewatch-status: DW S1: even better than I remembered. S2... a bit meh-ish maybe, because I'm not really into the more blatantly romantic Doctor/Rose angle. School Reunion is still lovely though, the Cybermen two-parter is also very good, The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit has some interesting ideas, and in my admittedly unpopular opinion 90% of Love & Monsters is among the best things RTD has written for DW overall and the best episode he wrote for S2. (The remaining 10% being the actual physical realisation of the Abzorbaloff, and the 'sex life' joke, which personally I still don't find all that horribly offensive, but I hate having to feel defensive all the time for loving the episode, so.) I don't much care for the Cybermen vs. Daleks extravaganza of the S2 finale, and I can't even say I found the Doctor/Rose part particularly touching after the first time I watched it, but Love & Monsters kills me every time, even before the final reveal of Elton's mother's death. You see these people connecting, and maybe it isn't much, maybe it isn't special in the greater scheme of things, but it says so much about how amazing it is that these connections can happen at all when they are so inherently fragile and there is so much that can go wrong, and how important they are. It's starts out as such a light, funny episode on the surface, but it has this strong dark undercurrent that makes it actually quite brutal, and really,'love and monsters' is TW in a nutshell. Human connections in an environment that is fundamentally hostile to them in every sense. There is a thematic connection there IMO, and it's not just structural similarities like Gwen and the Weevil, which is reminiscent of Elton and whatever the monster at the beginning of the episode is called, as well as the forgetting/remembering theme, or Gwen, like Elton, stumbling into something that opens a whole new world up to her in the best and the worst sense, triggering a sort of existentialist crisis. Not to mention that in Cyberwoman 'love' and 'monster' are actually thematic keywords of a sort. I'm not saying it's deliberate, but themes do carry over.

I'm in the middle of TW S1 now, and it's funny, because I always said, and I still do think that's true, that thematically TW never changed as radically as people sometimes claim, but going back, there is at least a bit of a sense of 'aw, they're all still so young and innocent' about it, especially in the first few episodes. Also realised that I have, like, sub-sub-zero interest in pre-Cyberwoman Ianto, although admittedly that might be because the whole coffee-(boy)-angle has been too thoroughly tainted by the post-CoE wank as far as I'm concerned. The character only becomes interesting when you see what goes on beneath the surface, and it's a brilliant set-up that in the long run gives Jack/Ianto some depth, although I have no idea if that was even deliberate, since I seem to remember reading that originally Ianto wasn't meant to survive the episode? Speaking of shipping, though, JB and EM have the kind of off-the-scale chemistry in Ghost Mashine that makes me wonder every time about what Jack/Gwen could have been like if they'd really gone for that angle, and I still don't understand what happened afterwards that led to all those painfully awkward UST-or-whatever-that-was scenes later on...)]

(Also, not that this is particularly relevant, since I'll still be primarily posting here, but since the AO3 officially allows meta now, I got myself an account and am going to upload at least the longer, more coherent pieces eventually...)

 

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# I hate January, I really do. Ludmila kept me busy with translations until last week, so I haven't had much time to slip into my usual post-Christmas depression yet, but, gah. We had about 30 cm of snow last week, and now everything is disgustingly mushy, the world is all black and white and greys, and I don't even remember the last time I saw the sun. I finally kicked myself out of the door for a walk on Sat., but even that was more in the spirit of duty than pleasure. Can't it be spring already?

# On the plus side, it appears that as of yesterday the Meta from Hell (tm) has evolved into an actual workable draft that has structure and goes somewhere, rather than point- & aimlessly meandering around. In that spirit decided to rewatch the whole of DW/TW/SJA in the order in which the seasons were aired and see if that might lead to any further inspirations. I started with DW S1 yesterday, and upon rewatching, The End of the World is actually rather harsh. Granted, there's the 'see how humanity survived' aspect, but how did Nine think that showing Rose the death of her world on the very first journey was the best of ideas? And then telling her almost gleefully that, nope, he wasn't going to save it, the planet was going to get roasted in half an hour, and getting cranky when she realises her mother is mortal. Obviously on a Doylist level the setting has its purpose, paving the way for the 'last of the Time Lords' revelation at the end, but on a Watsonian level the whole trip is something of a Freudian slip, as if he's determined to make her experience at least on some level what he himself went through. Lovely episode, though.

# Also finally saw The Hobbit with G. on Sat. Since I only read the book once or twice as a teenager and never had much of an emotional connection to it, I thought I'd have an easier time with it than with the LotR movies, where I complained about how they Got It All Wrong, Wrong, Wrong after every single part, but... Well. Now, the first 20 mins or so until Bilbo leaves the Shire I adored unreservedly, to the point of even entertaining the idea of giving Sherlock another try, because I loved Martin Freeman's performance that much. The part up until and including the Trolls was also enjoyable, and there were even bits of the Rivendell scenes I liked, although the whole thing still/again looks rather fake. After that, though, IMO the movie completely loses its pace and turns into a sequence of ridiculous and ridiculously drawn-out CGI action scenes (even G. agreed with that in the case of the battle in the goblin caves, and G. is usually very, very easily distracted by shiny action in 3D), although admittedly the stone giants were impressive. This is somthing I'll never understand. They have perfectly serviceable actors that are a delight to watch when they actually get to act, and then bury them (or rather their stunt doubles) in CGI that costs xx times as much. I guess I'm just too old and cranky for this kind of movies.

# Had my first bookkeeping class on Friday. God. God. It's not as if I don't understand it, it's not as if it's deadly boring, but it's miles and miles away from everything I ever thought or dreamt I'd do with/in my life. It's the sensible choice, and I can't afford dreams any longer, even if I still had any, but it all feels so wrong. Wrongish. Eight months, until the end of August, if I sign up for the second part and the exam. And there'll be homework and things to learn/repeat during the week, which will leave me less time for Russian and translations. Am I making a mistake? Should I have picked something else? But what?

 

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How did I manage to miss this vid for three years? (Although looking at the date I can actually see how that might have happened...) Brilliant. Dark, but very much to the point. I especially love how she uses footage from S1 to CoE and it fits just perfectly. (Download link is here.)




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More picture spam from yesterday.

 

Ice-covered puddles.

 


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# While it's still 2012 — A happy New Year, everyone!

# Still coughing, but today I got so stir crazy that I went for a short hiking tour regardless, and it doesn't seem to have done much damage. And the day was absolutely, although perhaps somewhat unseasonably, gorgeous (see below).


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# Christmas was okay-ish. Spent the 24th with the parents and a good part of the 25th baking our traditional Mohnstrudel, which for once did turn out really well. (Especially gratifying since last time I made if for my sister's birthday 1) the yeast dough didn't really rise and 2) I fell asleep, because by the time I put it in the oven it was well past midnight, and the damn thing very nearly burned. Stayed at home on the 26th, though, since I didn't want to pass the cold on to the nieces, and I wasn't really up to so much family, either.

# Merlin, again, because the more I actually think about it, the more the ending annoys me. It is a cheap cop-out in the end, not to mention manipulative both on a Watsonian and Doylist level.

An Arthur not days/hours away from death and despite everything grateful for Merlin doing everything to save his life would have asked harder questions about more specific instances, like if they would even be in this place if Merlin hadn't lied to his face a mere eight episodes earlier. And it's simply not true that Arthur would just have chopped Merlin's head of if he'd found out. Uther would have, no doubt about that, but if Merlin had sat Arthur down some time after Uther's death and said something along the lines of, well, at the time we didn't want you to kill his father, but what you learned from Morgause was actually true, ask Gaius if you don't believe me? Merlin is a classic case of the road to hell being paved with good intentions, and he can go on blaming himself for Arthur right along with Morgana. But does the show intend for us to see it that way?

And the audience is too distracted by the fanservice and too busy sniffing and hunting for tissues to notice that, or that the issue of magic and the old religion was quite a bit more complex than a teary 'But I did it all for you'.

Once again, right until the end, Arthur has no agency whatever, getting himself killed in a war that he could very likely have been avoided if only he'd known all the facts.

Gah. Enough said.


# Downloaded the DW Christmas episode, because, hey, it's been more than a year and a half, maybe I've changed my mind? Except things never happens like that, do they?

# Spent a rather indecent amount of money on a fjällräven parka and feel really kind of guilty. Granted, two thirds of it were gift vouchers I got from the parents and sister for Christmas, but still...

# Started the fourth draft of the Meta from Hell (tm). Every time I open the damn thing after a couple of months and look at it, somehow a complete re-write or at least rearrangement seems to be necessary. Kill me now, please.

 

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Somewhat belated, because I'm still feeling tired and cranky and scrooge-y and the cold doesn't show any signs of going away (the opposite, rather), but I took this on my way home from Christmas with the parents yesterday evening...



Happy holidays, everyone!


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Merlin finale... Mixed feelings )

In conclusion... Bye, show. After the increasing frustration of the last years I can't say I'll miss you very much, but you had your moments; it's a pity that as a whole you never really managed to live up to them.

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# Tired, cranky and slightly sick with a cold. Yesterday I woke up and my voice was almost completely gone, but I still had to croak at 150+ customers for eight hours. Did I mention tired? God, do I ever hate Christmas. I can already feel depression setting in once the stress will let up a bit after the holidays.

# Also, on a more general note, when did my life become so stressful to begin with? I did another translation job in late Nov and a few more pages in Dec, I even sent off an application for a secretary-type job that sounded both interesting and doable a couple of weeks ago, although seeing as I haven't heard from them since, that probably came to nothing. (Stupid brain with its stupid, impossible-to-stop hopes. Damn you, self.) And I signed up for a bookkeeping class starting mid-Jan, which I can't say I'm particularly enthusiastic about, but at least it's something to put in my resume. I really want nothing so much as a couple of weeks off, no studying, no worrying, just watching DVDs and writing meta and going for walks. Sometimes I don't even recognise myself any longer. On the one hand had it feels as if I'm getting more confident, as if things are moving towards a change, but it also feels like I'm losing myself... I feel so shallow and stupid.

# TV: - Merlin: cranky ramblings )


- Elementary: still watching when I remember to, but neither the characters nor the plots really engage me.

- What I actually have been mostly enjoying is, God help me, Wizards vs Aliens. Yes, kid's show, more so than the SJA, yes, the premise is complete crack and I'm still not very fond of it, and, yes, rather lacking in female characters (*), but while I didn't like 1/2 and 6/7 very much, 3/4 was great fun, 4/5 touching and not bad at all, 9/10 definitely the best and most grown-up episode so far with an interesting moral dilemma, and 11/12 wasn't bad either, with some lovely moments.

(*) Case in point, it's really hard to care about Tom's budding romance (if you want call it that) with Katie, when Katie turns up every third episode for a couple of minutes while at the same time in 9/10 Tom is siding with Benny against his own family, his own interests, and then willing to sacrifice himself so that Benny gets a chance to fix things and doesn't have to live with the guilt of killing the Nekross, or in ep 11 Tom rushes straight off to Benny, quite literally away from Katie, pouring out his heart about his dead mother and seeing her (ghost) again. (So apparently the actors are 21 and 18 respectively rather than actually 16, but that's still half my age on average, so I'm really, really not shipping them, but this said, Fall of the Nekross is slashy10 in a really adorable puppy-ish kind of way.)

Also? Magic reveal 20 minutes into the first episode. Thank you.


# Picture spam, mostly to cheer myself up, because between translation jobs and Christmas baking and the weather I haven't been outside in weeks. It's all covered in snow now, although apparently it's going to thaw over Christmas. These are from Nov 11th, and I still remember that it was such a peaceful day, the changes of autumn already mostly over, the leaves dry and shrivelled on the ground, everything settling in for winter...



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And a week later....


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It's been a while since I used this journal for more day-to-day blogging, so there are probably only 1-2 people still around who know what I'm talking about, but if anyone remembers the horse I complained about not so infrequently... Ch. (her owner) had her put to sleep yesterday. She had a (typical, stupid, stupid, stupid, and she should have been quieter at her somewhat advanced age) accident a month ago, and, from what I gathered (Ch. and I haven't been talking since Sunday, only texting back and forth, to avoid mutual breaking into tears), it turned out at the check-up after three weeks of stable rest that she almost completely tore a major tendon in her left foreleg. I googled that kind of injury yesterday, and while it's apparently not impossible to heal, to do so takes up to a year of stable rest with very, very limited, controlled movement, that is, no paddock or pasture, and she's already over 25, not trained, and has osteoarthrosis in her hind legs... And she's used to being outside with the other horses. From what Ch. said the vet told her that the chances of recovery are minimal and that she'd never be able to walk without pain. It wasn't my decision to make, which I'm incredibly grateful for, but it was probably for the best...

I drove out for a last visit on Tuesday, let her walk for a bit, since she wanted to, stop by the other horses on the paddock, let her eat apples off the ground and fed her lots of carrots, both of which was forbidden for the last year or so, because she has — had, that is — Cushing's syndrome, but at this point it obviously didn't make a difference any longer. I hope she enjoyed it at least a bit.


So, all in all, it's been a pretty shitty week so far...


I don't have many pictures of her uploaded, but here are a few old ones... )
solitary_summer: (Default)
Picture spam, the snowy part. Saturday evening the rain turned to snow and when I looked out of the window in the morning on Sunday, everything was white. On the one hand I'd have loved to do another hiking tour, but on the other hand the effect was fantastic and occasionally downright fairytale-like, since most of the trees not only still had their leaves, but in some cases the leaves hadn't even really turned yet...


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Firstly — Merlin 5.05, where things are finally getting serious. (And a bit more ambitious than ~comic relief~, thank God.) The one minor quibble I have is that I seem to remember that Arthur was already more respectful towards magic/the old religion, but my memories are more than a bit fuzzy here because for the last couple of seasons I haven't exactly been watching very attentively. This aside, The Disir is the best and strongest episode in a very long while, and it made me go from meh to genuinely curious what kind of an ending we are heading towards.

spoilers )


Secondly, picture spam. This is from my brief and too-soon-over holiday last week, before the snow. From Hallstatt up to the Wiesberghaus (1.884m). I only regret not taking pictures on my way up when it was still sunny... (In case anyone is interested, this (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) is what it looked like on top. I'm only linking these pictures because they're really crap photography-wise, but there is little you can do if the sky is completely colourless/white...)



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descent into the mist )


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Picture spam, pt.3. (*) This was a week ago, although with all the snow today I can hardly believe that. I almost didn't make it out of bed when the alarm rang at 5:15 (or more precisely, I very nearly crawled back into bed again, even after I'd already breakfasted and packed my rucksack), but I'm very, very glad I did...

(*) Very spammy indeed. The day was glorious and I couldn't decide which pictures to pick and which to leave out.


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take a walk... )



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More backlog clearing...


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# Considering the weather conditions in the US it's probably ridiculous to complain about a little untimely snow at the end of October, but still... on Friday I was still hiking up to almost 1.900m and now I'm looking out of the window and everything is white, although already somewhat less so than this morning, which is A Good Thing, since my car still has its summer tyres and I need to drive home tomorrow. Telling the bosses I'm snowed in probably wouldn't be too well received and going home by train, leaving the car here and fetching it next Sunday, is more of a bother than I want to go through with.

# Will have an early lunch and then go for a walk ~in the snow~.

# Pulled out the Meta of Doom again yesterday and actually beat the second half into, well, something a little more approaching a shape than it was before, but, wah. I'm still not sure it holds together, I keep getting side-tracked by Jack (cut! delete!), and by the time it will be finished, presuming I'll ever get that far, that is, there'll be no one left interested in reading it.

# Haven't watched this week's Merlin yet, but last week's was... pretty much what [livejournal.com profile] selenak says here; partly not bad, largely stale and frustrating. Season five and Arthur still gets conveniently knocked out when Merlin does something magical? Quo usque tandem, show, quo usque tandem...

# Clearing out my backlog... (The weather could have been better, but it was a nice hike and I still kind of like the pictures.)


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I didn't actually mean to disappear for another two months, but life has been... Hard to say, really. Partly busy, partly depressing, and partly just going through it day after day and just not feeling that any of it is particularly worth writing about. Read more... )


~*~*~



A few uninspired pictures from the two of the three hiking tours I actually managed during my holiday. During the second week it rained nonstop for two days, after which it looked like this higher up: (The lake is at 1154 m.)


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I know I haven't updated in a long while, but I feel so... stuck is maybe the best word. Embarrassed at myself. I'm not really depressed, I'm mostly quite fine just as long as I manage as much as possible to block out the knowledge that what I really should be doing is look for a new job. (Or as long as I'm not having dental hygiene, but that's an embarrassing story for another entry...)

I'm still going on hikes on weekends, I even found a new Russian teacher after the last one left for a job in Hamburg, so it's not as if I'm a complete lazy slob who gets absolutely nothing done.

On the other hand...

issues &c. )

 

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These are from last Sunday, although after last week at work it feels so much longer than that. From Mitterlengau up the Schusterkogel, and then along the rim of the valley via Teufelssprung and Hohe Penhab back down again. The mood is very different here, because while the mountains are about the same height, this is slate rather than limestone, so there are alpine meadows right up until 2.000+ m. (Which personally I'm not so very fond of, because cows? Large heavy animals with pointy horns, and not always so peaceful, especially when they're in a herd with their calves. I'd definitely prefer them behind fences. At least it was apparently still too early in the year for them to be all the way up, so most of the hike was blessedly bovine-free...)

This was also the most relaxed tour, because I didn't put any pressure on myself, but let myself stop for taking pictures, breaks, or just to sit down and enjoying the view for a bit, because I knew I had to drive back to Vienna the next day and really, really didn't want to leave. I don't remember having felt so at peace for a long time, although sadly last week killed that mood pretty fast.



Horses, for a change. At least better than cows, although I try to keep a respectful distance too...

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Wednesday, up to the Ingolstädter Haus, once again im Frühtau zu Berge starting vey early because it was still very hot and they predicted thunderstorms for the later afternoon. This is essentially only across the valley from Monday's hiking tour — the treeless green space on the mountain in the background of this picture are the alpine meadows on the first picture.

Once again, so, so gorgeous.



This time I took the camera a couple of times on my way up because the morning light was so beautiful...

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Finally sorted out and uploaded (although admittedly still rather indiscriminately) my pictures from last week's hiking tours in Salzburg to flickr. They're really nothing much photography-wise, all credit is due to the sheer gorgeousness of the landscape, but I enjoyed that time so much that my sense of self-critique refuses to cooperate. Hence, picture spam.

My level of fitness, or rather lack thereof, still makes 1.000+ m of hight difference a bit of an exercise in masochism, but I've never been to Salzburg this early in the year, and not only was it still incredibly quiet and peaceful — even on a Sunday I was more or less alone for most of the day and only met a handful of hikers towards the end of the tour —, but it caught me by surprise how much spring still lingers up in the mountains. Above 1.700, 1.800 m there were still plenty of snowfields, and in other places you could still see the pressed-down dried grass where the snow had molten only recently, with the first flowers coming out.

This batch of pictures is from Monday when we had a heatwave and I got up at 4:30ish and started out at 6:15 in the morning to avoid the worst of the heat, up to the Passauer Hütte. (Which I forgot to take a picture of, but you can sorta kinda see on a high resolution version of the tenth picture, where the right edge of the clouds meets the top of the mountain.) The pictures were taken on the way down, so they're in reverse order, snow and rocks to tree-line and flowers...


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