Friends from Afar

May and June included the wonderful gift of visits from friends from afar.

Before I ever moved to Vienna, I got an email from someone named Julia — an Austrian who followed my New Zealand cousins’ blog about moving to NYC. What was a pleasantly novel offer of helpng me settle into a new home overseas turned promptly into a friendship. In about three months, we’d had more deep conversation — not to mention sharing coffee, walks, and birthday and Christmas celebrations — than one would expect in a year or more. So, it was with mixed emotions, that I said good-bye as Julia headed off on a much-anticipated 6-month internship in New Zealand.

A year-plus later saw her very happily married and on her native soil for a few weeks. It was great to reconnect with Julia and meet Rob, and we three spent a wonderful day of non-stop conversation…. A touristy trip on the Riesenrad (Vienna’s ferris wheel dating back to 1897), a walk through the strange land of Prater (half amusement park, half spacious, mid-city green space), running sushi for lunch (a first for both Rob and me), Sachertorte (a Vienna specialty that I decided was an appropriate baking experiment, since Julia had given me an Austrian cookbook for Christmas), and the feeling that we could happily chat like old friends ad infinitim. Great!

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…In June, friends Jessica and Paul visited from Knoxville. The end of the school year (for two teachers) provided the perfect opportunity for them to visit Germany (where Jessica had live for a couple years), Switzerland, and Austria — and celebrate their first wedding anniversary. (Theirs was the wedding I ruefully missed last June in Knoxville.)100_3938 - CopyI was very happy to get to hang out with them for several days in Vienna, with various must-sees enjoyed by all. Paul particularly wanted to see a Mozart opera, and Die Zauberflöte was delightful — somehow way more engaging and funny than the previous staging I’d seen. We walked a lot (in the middle of a heat wave) — city center, Belvedere and Schönbrunn gardens, the Naschmarkt for some tasty falafel, and gelato (not to be missed in any season). We enjoyed a leisurely Sunday afternoon with church and visiting afterwards, and they also timed the visit to coincide with a Lieder Abend concert that I gave with friend Marianna.

IMG_8289    IMG_8290IMG_8303    100_3925 - Copy…Not surprisingly, these much-anticipated visits flew by. However, so much of the joy is in the anticipation and then also the remembering and retelling of shared adventures. Thanks, Rob and Julia and Paul and Jessica, for the time together! Do come back soon. (And, other visitors welcome!)

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