(by Helen)





A picture out our window


Iím sitting here in our hotel room in Austria and itís about midnight.The window to our room is wide open because this hotel doesnít have any air conditioning????I just looked out the window and it is raining quite steadily.†† In the distance I can see the illuminated clock face on the steeple of a 500-year old church.Every hour I can hear the chimes announcing the passing of another hour.Our window faces the side of a mountain and all along the base of this mountain and half way up are cute little ĎBavarian-typeí houses.When I look down from our window I look upon one of many little cafes that line the streets wherever you go.We had quite a storm pass through here today and it was so cool to sit in our room with the window wide open while we listened to the booming sounds of thunder and watched the rain come pouring down.Only an hour earlier we were on a gondola heading up to one tiny part of the Austrian Alps.Thank goodness we came down when we did or else we may still have been stuck up there.

As soon as we drove across the border from Germany into Austria it was so evident that we were in another country.As soon as you cross the border you head into a very long tunnel; Iím talking around 8 km.When you finally drive out of the tunnel you see this amazing landscape of rolling green hills and huge mountains.The most striking feature of these massive mountains is that they are covered in grass; almost like they are wrapped with green fur. It is so different from the mountains I am use to in B.C.They really do look like the ones you see in the movie ďThe Sound of MusicĒ.They are spectacular!





Before traveling to all these wonderful countries Iíve always had visions in my mind about what I expected the places to look like and most of the time I was wrong.This time, however, I was right on.Austria is this clean, fresh lovely country that is filled with lush green hills and mountains and it seems like each cute little house has white shudders on every, along with window boxes filled with colourful flowers.The people we have met so far are so happy and friendly and it has a very comfortable, homey feel to it.

As I said earlier we went up a gondola to the top of a mountain where we had lunch and the kids got to play on the playground beside the restaurant.While we were sitting there admiring the fabulous view waiting for our food we noticed quite a few elderly folks coming in and sitting down.They were all kind of dressed alike as they all wore shorts and they had hiking boots on and all of them had walking sticks that looked like ski poles in each hand.We realized that this mountain is very popular with the locals because of its great hiking trails and all these folks were the locals that had finished their hike and were now coming in for their lunch.And beer, I might add.It was so great to see, as they were all in their 70ís and 80ís and they looked so fit and healthy.I said to Steve that I could just imagine them a few years ago dressed in their shorts but with the cute little suspenders and the feathered caps as well.Just as I said this, one of the men came in with that exact outfit on and we both starting laughing.I said to Nikolas that I wouldnít be surprised if one of them started yodeling but they didnít.Thatís Swiss anyway isnít it?Our food came and it was delicious.I had goulash that came with something that Iím not quite sure what it is.It looks like a cross between pasta and egg and it comes in little clumps.Sounds gross but it was quite good when it was smothered in with the goulash.Steve had wiener schnitzel and was not too happy because he realized that it was veal and Steve does not eat veal.But he ate it anyways.The kids had soup made with beef broth with shreds of crepe mixed inside and they shared a couple of frankfurters and French fries.The weather was so hot that even sitting on the top of this mountain under huge sun umbrellas we were scorching hot.We hopped back on the gondola and enjoyed the ride back down the mountain, all the while, enjoying the breathtaking views.

Just to backtrack a bitÖ. as we drove to the mountain we drove through Liechtenstein and Switzerland.This little town we found in Austria called Feldrich is located right on the border of Germany (kind of), Austria, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.It is so cool as you drive along because you come across signs that have three countries listed on one sign and each point in a different direction.The borders are open and a guard just stands there and waves you through.We had our passports all ready but they never even looked at us.We must blend in already.The only clear give-a-way is the CDN sticker Steve put on the back of our car.†† Here in Europe every car has a sticker that has a letter indicating which country they are from.Even their license plates have the EU emblem on the left hand side with the appropriate letter designating their country.D is for Germany, A is for Austria, CH is for Switzerland, E is for Spain, F for France, etc.Itís fun when we are driving to see all the different letters showing us where they are all from.

Oh, thereís the bell again.It only rang once, must be 1am.It really is quite a haunting, spine-tingling sound.Especially when youíre the only one up and the town looks deserted out there.

As crazy as this sounds, we just donít have enough time.One year sounds like a long time but to see the world properly you need way longer.We have to leave Austria tomorrow and head back up to Frankfurt to pick up my mom.We are all so excited to see her, especially the kids.But spending one day in Austria is just nuts and I wish we could come back and see the rest of this amazing country.I mean really, we have seen just a tiny speck of it and I would love to see Vienna and Salzburg.Oh well, maybe next time!

This was a great idea to come here from Nurnburg in Germany.Our wonderful friends Ron and Denise spent two fantastic weeks with us in Germany.They left yesterday and we decided to get out of that city so that we wouldnít get too depressed.Itís really hard when we meet up with people we know.We get very down when they leave, like my sister and her boys when they came to Spain.I guess we really are quite lonely and when we have people with us it is such a treat.But when they go home it is such a downer.The best thing to do is to pack up and move on.So thatís what we did and it was a great idea!My list of favourites is getting a little crazy but I have to add Austria to it for sure!††