Austria

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On the drive from Prague to Austria, lines from Billy Joel’s “Vienna” kept playing through my head:

Slow down, you crazy child
You’re so ambitious for a juvenile
But then if you’re so smart, then tell me
Why are you still so afraid?

Where’s the fire, what’s the hurry about?
You’d better cool it off before you burn it out
You’ve got so much to do
And only so many hours in a day

But you know that when the truth is told
That you can get what you want or you get old
You’re gonna kick off before you even
Get halfway through
When will you realize, Vienna waits for you

It’s funny how a song can trigger memories and take you to an exact moment in time. I was transported back to my first year at University. I’d finished the first few  courses in my major, and things were starting to get serious. I was signed up to go to Vienna for a semester abroad with the other students in my major. Our professors really promoted the program to us, and told us it was an opportunity of a lifetime. I wasn’t afraid of living abroad. It’s always been my dream, and I was really excited to go. But then something started to eat at me. I had planned out the next five years of my life, and was starting to feel trapped. It seemed like I didn’t have any room to deviate from the plan or make a mistake. I felt like God was telling me that I needed to relax my grip on my plans and let go of Vienna.

It wasn’t a decision to be taken lightly. I was under a lot of pressure to go, and for weeks I wrestled with the decision. This was my dream wasn’t it? Why would God want to take that away? At last, I decided to opt out of the study abroad program. My professors didn’t hide their disappointment. One even asked if it was because I was in a relationship, and told me not to make sacrifices for a boy. I don’t think I was able to convince very many people that I was making the right decision, but I knew in my heart it was right for me.

When I told my friend I wasn’t going anymore, she played “Vienna” for me on her laptop, and just said “See? Vienna will be there waiting for you.” I was encouraged by her confidence that I would make it there someday. Instead of completely giving up on my dream, I trusted that God must have something even better in store for me than a semester abroad. I’m sure I would have loved going, but looking back I don’t regret my decision at all. My grandfather unexpectedly passed during that semester, and I’m glad I got to spend time with him during his final moments. I also felt like a weight was lifted, that I didn’t have to worry about other people’s expectations, and that I was allowed to change my mind. And my friend was right, Vienna did wait. It waited for five years.

Sorry, I know that’s a long story to start this post with, but it’s something I’ll never forget. That semester taught me that the passing of time doesn’t intimidate God, and it shouldn’t intimidate me either. Now don’t worry there are a bunch of fun photos coming up. 🙂

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Homemade goulash and dumplings

We stayed with our old foreign exchange student’s family in Austria. He lived with us for a year in 2013-2014, and it was really good to see him again. His family lives in Berndorf, and it was actually a welcome change of pace to stay outside the city. We spent the first morning exploring Berndorf with our exchange student’s dad -who happens to be a professional tour guide.
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He grew up in Berndorf, and took us on a tour of the school he went to as a child. It’s famous for having gorgeous themed classrooms decorated in Egyptian, Pompeian, Byzantine, Moorish, Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Louis XIV, Baroque, Rococo and Empire styles.

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The Egypt Room

After lunch, we got dressed up and went to Vienna for a concert. We had time to look around before the concert, and our first stop was the Opera House.
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We toured of the Opera House for about an hour, and then went to Hotel Sacher to try a famous Sacher-Torte.
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soooooo good!

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We still had more time to kill, so we went on a mad dash around Vienna to see as much as we could. Andrew and I struggled to keep up with the group because there were so many things we wanted to take photos of!DSC_0556_00213DSC_0576_00229

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St. Stephen’s Cathedral

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We arrived at the Musikverein for our concert with plenty of time to spare. Entering the Golden Hall felt like stepping back in time!DSC_0660_00305

The concert was all Mozart music, and the vocalists wore costumes from Don Giovanni and the Magic Flute.

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Papageno and Papagena

The next day Andrew and I went to the Kunsthistorisches Museum, which was right up our alley. DSC_0683_00322DSC_0687_00326DSC_0699_00337

We enjoyed a few Wiener Melange coffees before rejoining my family.

We all met up at Schönbrunn Palace for lunch, and had a walk around the massive grounds.DSC_0714_00350DSC_0751_00387DSC_0757_00393

The third day in Austria we went to Melk Abbey, a Benedictine monastery overlooking the Danube.

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It really had a gorgeous view!
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The inside was beautiful too.

We finished off the day with a picnic on banks of the Danube River before heading to the airport. I wish we could have stayed longer!DSC_0892_00509

Well that’s it for the summer really. The days are getting noticeably shorter in the UK now, and we’re starting to think about plans for Thanksgiving -already!

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