Gower Power – Vienna!

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Multiplied times 12!  Eight years and four countries later, we are all together in Austria this week, wondering if there is anything better than a room full of cousins.  Uncle Dave, Aunt Cris, Grace, Ellie, Matt, Will, Mimi, and Dede flew in late on Friday and we were so excited to see them!  Anytime is a good time to ride scooters and get ice cream, even when it’s almost midnight!

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Little did we realize that it would be midnight before any of us went to bed for the next 10 days.  How can we sleep when there’s so much to do?  How can we waste time sleeping when there’s so much to talk about?  How can we miss a chance to crack open one more Grapefruit Radler?

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Or play one more game of Monopoly with Matt, the most enthusiastic Monopoly player ever?

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With only two days in Vienna, the time flew fast.  Looking back at all these pictures it seems like we were busy, but it never felt that way.  It just felt like two days of talking, goofing around, and catching up on what’s going on.   College, lacrosse teams, shopping, Minecraft, photography, everything Old and everything New.  I guess we’re learning the magic of vacation with older kids, who are thrilled enough just being with their family again that they don’t melt down when they stay up too late and never ask to go home.  Maybe all anyone really needs is just a hug from someone they love like crazy, and one more scoop of ice cream….

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With comraderie like that, it even seemed like fun to climb 343 steps to the top of an old church.

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The blasphemy of me, to call St. Stephen’s an “old church.”  Europe is making us jaded.

Inside we heard a choir singing, and Eli and Jake showed their cousins that if you say a prayer, you can light a candle.  We have a lot of reasons for thankful prayers today.

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How could we not be thankful at our good fortune to see the Lipizzaners walking back from practice?  The Lipizzaners are from Slovenia, Uncle Dave!  They are an interesting breed, born black but turn white.  We talked about that a while.

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The rain clouds gathered in the afternoon and that was a good reason to visit another of Vienna’s famous institutions.

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We learned that some of those beautiful cakes at Demel have alcohol in the frosting!  When you have eight kids buying pastries it had to happen to someone.  Sorry Elle!  Maybe we can make it up to you by getting you lost in a giant maze….

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In the labyrinth at Schonbrunn we split into teams, the older kids barely beating the younger kids with a time of 7 minutes and 30 seconds.  We kept hearing them run back and forth, laughing and weaving around through the leaves.  Why is it so funny to see grown people getting lost?

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Later at the bell towers, all the boys made it to the top, and Jake and Eli got piggy back rides.

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There is too much to see in Vienna in just two days, but we gave it a whirlwind effort mixed with Almdudler and Aperol Spritz, and managed to see St. Stephen’s, the Votiv Kirche, Am Hof, the Ferstal Passage, Schonbrunn, and OSCE at the Hofburg Palace where Mike works.

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We had schnitzel outside at a biergarten and introduced them to apricot krapfens for breakfast, and went through huge bags of lemon Manners every couple of hours.  It’s so fun to share our life in this country with people who are so eager to love it right along with us.

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We feel like we could spend weeks with Aunt Cris, Uncle Dave, Grace, Ellie, Matt, Will, and Mimi and Dede, and still not have time to do everything!  There are still more wood-fired pizzas and käse spätzle to be had down under the stars at the Rathaus, and still more classical music to listen to while we sip radlers at the Summer Film Festival.

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Thank you guys for coming over and sharing our life, and for giving me these wonderful memories of you all sitting in my kitchen, making our house a home.  I will remember Grace wearing my sweater and Ellie wearing my pants, which is nice since I don’t have any daughters of my own to do that.  Our home is more home now that you’ve all been here!  Love you, and already looking forward to next time!

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