Around The World // Ursula Hechenberger-Schwärzler - Hard, Austria

March 12, 2014

This next lady probably don't need an elaborate introduction because you will see for yourselves just how talented and wonderful she is, and also because I'm dying for you all to see the breathtaking photos she's posted for this series! You'd probably recognise her name too, as the winner of the last Post-a-Parcel round. What's that? "Nia stop blabbering!" you say? Ok ok, let's head to Austria today (yes AUSTRIA, not Australia) and get to know the lovely Ursula Hechenberger-Schwärzler.



Hello World! My name is Ursula Hechenberger-Schwärzler - a pretty long name, I know, and a hard one to spell out and remember as well but I just couldn't give up my birth name when I got married and thought it'd be fun to give the authorities a hard time fitting it into forms and such. Well, I'm really giving myself a hard time doing just that but I'm still happy about my choice and feel comfortable with my looong name. 

I live in Austria - the very western part close to Germany and Switzerland - located right at the shore of Lake Constance. I used to live in Sydney, Australia, for some 5 years which I loved and dearly miss at times as these years have been extremely important to me as to who I am now. I went back to Austria to be with my boyfriend, now husband, and gave birth to our son last year in April. Jonathan is the sunshine of my days - although he continuously manages to push me right to the edge of sanity - in a good way!



I am a photographer/graphic designer in the middle of an identity crisis. It sounds worse than it is. I quit the corporate world where I was working as an art director in ad agency a bit over 1 1/2 years a go as I didn't feel comfortable anymore creating advertising for products that I couldn't fully back up myself. I felt like I was constantly lying to people. So I started my own business which I'm now trying to streamline into what I actually want it to be - a creative and sustainable studio/workshop and that's about all I have set in stone right now - everything else is still in a kind of liquid forming stage. While this undefined state makes me nervous at times, it may be essential (and even beneficial) by giving me the creative freedom to do whatever I feel like without the need to define myself. My work is mostly design at the moment, which I guess, is easier to do with a baby. However, I do wish to be able to introduce more photography back into my workdays. The challenging part here for me is that I consider myself to be a documentary-style photographer and I haven't quite figured out yet how to combine it with my design work. The most recent project I've been working on is a corporate identity for a company that produces rotary screens for textile printing - quite a rarity in western Europe, considering most textiles here are manufactured in Asia. I like to experiment with new techniques and with this project, I had the possibility to do just that! What's more, I like the little things in life - the little pleasure, small details that make me smile or cringe, and I like to document them. Other than that, I have enjoyed being part of Post-a-Parcel which has proven to be a wonderful outlet for my creativity!


I live in Hard, a small town just outside of Bregenz which is the small but neat capital of Vorarlberg - the ninth or so-called left-over state of Austria. Vorarlbergers don't quite feel like they fit in with the rest of Austria; not only because of the location but also because of the accent which is considerably different to the ones spoken east of here. We give the rest of Austria a really hard time understanding us!


Bregenz sits on the south-eastern shore of Lake Constance and is just a short 15 minutes drive from Germany in one and Switzerland in the other direction. A bit further afield - well a 45 minutes drive - lies the tiny principality of Liechtenstein. So this is what people here call the 4 countries corner. I like Hard as it is kind of laid-back yet close to the city. It's not big but big enough to have a good choice of different restaurants, ranging from Italian to Korean to contemporary Austrian. The Austrians are a sociable bunch of people, so eating out here usually means spending a whole evening out at a restaurant, cafe or bar. This usually involves a lot of food, too. By the way, if you like cheese, this is definitely the place to be. The Bregenzerwald is only a short drive from Bregenz and it's got the official "Cheese Street" which runs right through the whole region.



Bregenz has a lot to offer in terms of culture. Despite its small size it has a couple of sophisticated museums, theatres and the locals are especially proud of the "Bregenzer Festspiele" (or Bregenz Festival) with the opera on the lake being the highlight. The festival takes place every summer and the stage is set up on the water and usually quite spectacular; add a wonderful sunset - if you're lucky enough - and you'll need someone to pinch you to make sure you're not dreaming ;) The Kunsthaus is well known for its fine exhibitions as well as for its distinct architecture. Speaking of distinct architecture: if anyone is interested in contemporary architecture in Vorarlberg, I'm more than happy to do another post on that topic but it would quite possibly get out of hand here.


Lake Constance is probably the most prominent landmark of Bregenz and its surrounding towns, maybe also because it connects 3 countries. It seems to be omnipresent - somehow like the harbour and the ocean in Sydney. You've got two kinds of people here - the lake people and the mountain people. Although I have been discovering a mountain-loving side in me recently, I'm still more of a water person. And so is our dog, Mäxine! Lots of people have boats, even if they are just tiny gondolas, but come summer everyone gets onto their boats and into the water.


But let's not forget the mountain people: Bregenz has also got its very own mountain – Mt. Pfänder which can easily be conquered by cablecar or if you feel like a good long walk, you might also hike up in about 2 hours. It offers great views over the lake with Austria right below and to the left, Germany to the right and Switzerland to the far left. There is one ski lift which is really only fun for beginners and kids, provided there is enough snow. For the real deal you'd have to drive about 30 minutes into the Bregenzerwald - some great ski resorts are nestled in there. Back to the Pfänder: it is a nice escape up into fresh air and the "Dohle" restaurant is always open - that's at least what it seems to be as it's never been closed no matter what time or day I've been up there. Which brings us to the cafes and restaurants of Bregenz. While we are not really out and about a lot right now due to the little one, I do love to grab a coffee from "Cafesito" or enjoy one at "Cuenstler" - both places have beautiful coffee and depending on your mood you can choose between a cozy or a modern chic atmosphere. There are lots of places to eat ranging from Vietnamese to Spanish food, however, the night life in Bregenz seems to have suffered over the past few years. It used to be much more alive at night, but then I'm probably just too old to be at the right places - ha!



What's left to say? I guess I could keep going and going but I'll probably save some for another post - maybe I'll blabber about some architecture then. I hope I didn't bore you too much with what I thought might be of interest to you. 

With love from Austria! 

PS: I hope you don't mind the iPhone snaps; having to carry around a 9.5 kilo baby all day - he's been very needy recently - leaves me with only one hand to snap. Thank you iPhone for making it possible!

[Follow Ursula - Instagram / Website]

24 comments:

  1. omygosh these photos are stunning!!!! she lives in such a beautiful place! silly me never realised how close Austria was to Switzerland!!

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    1. Austria's beautiful isn't it? I want to go visit now!

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    2. Thanks Tanya! Switzerland is really only close in this corner of Austria, the rest of Austria expands to the east where it borders Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia and Italy :)

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  2. It looks freezing cold!!!!! But so beautiful!! Lucky you Ursula, I don't think I've ever seen real snow in my whole life. Only man-made ones and it's so not impressive hahaha.

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    1. You've never seen real snow? Oh Dee, you are missing out....

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    2. Yes, you are Dee - real snow makes the cold quite bearable :D

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  3. Well it's safe to say I really really really want to go to Austria now! Your photos Ursula are like whoa! Loved getting to know you a little more too xxx

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    1. RIGHT?! I too, am now also dying to pay a visit.

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    2. Thank you Erika <3 You should just all let me know when you're around and I'll give you a tour of the area :)

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    3. Holding you onto that Ursula ;)

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  4. Definitely breathtaking photos Ursula and what a beautiful place you live in! I also am going through a bit of an identity crisis in regards to my work - similar dilemma to yours actually! Currently taking some time off and reassessing what it is that I'm really passionate about. Great to hear you've jumped into the business :-)

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    1. Thank you & good to hear, Georgia. It always calms me down a bit when I hear that I'm not the only one feeling this way - it means I can't be totally wrong or messed up ;) I hope you'll get through the dilemma quickly. Although it is somehow fun to be in the middle of it all, I hope to soon see the light at the end of the tunnel. Taking some time off is always a good idea, I reckon. Would love to know what's happening in your life respectively what you come up with. It all sounds very inspiring <3

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  5. these are beautiful shots! Thanks for sharing Ursula & Nia xo

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    1. Thank you Lyndal. I'm glad you like them.

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  6. By the way, thank you so much Nia for the opportunity to share some of my pics and a lot of blabbering <3

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    1. Blabbering welcomed here anytime Ursula ;) Thank you again for sharing your wonderful photos with us xx

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  7. These are beautiful photos! You should print and sell them Ursula!! My husband and I are actually planning to pop by for a visit for our big Euro trip so these suggestions will come in handy ;)

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    1. Ursula - if you sell them, you'll have a regular buyer in me! ;)

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    2. Thank you Dani for the compliment and I'm glad I could help with some handy hints :) And thank you Nia for your ongoing support <3

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  8. Ah I absolutley adore Ursula's photos, Austria looks seriously dreamy. Mountains & lakes sounds like the perfect combination :) And it was lovely to read a bit more about Ursula too!

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    1. Thanks so much Sally - ditto! I really enjoyed reading your post. Nia's got a bunch of lovely people at hand <3

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  9. Thanks so much Sally - ditto! I really enjoyed reading your post. Nia's got a bunch of lovely people at hand <3

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  10. Oh, these pictures are to die for!

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    1. Thank you Alanna! Very much appreciated <3

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