Austria 2014: top 10

10. Speaking German — brushing off my Austrian accent and getting to use this language that usually just lies dormant in the back of my mind is always super fun. The first time I started to hear real Austrian German from the flight attendants on our flight over, Dave-man was a bit taken aback by how excited I got. German feels extremely homey and comfortable to me. I was grateful for a chance to enjoy my other homeland.

9. The Food and Coffee — Oh, the coffee. Just look at that foamy mug of heavenly coziness. I’ve never had coffee that had no trace of bitterness, had the perfect strength, and temperature every time. And my Oma’s cooking is the best. She’s the kind of Oma who will make sure the only way you can leave the table is if you’re beyond full.

8. Bumming through Christmas Markets — The smells, the food and all the interesting things to look at and shop for. The general cheeriness of the ambiance and crowds out to celebrate the coming of Christmas.

7. Shopping in cobblestone streets — Wandering through century old streets, ducking into little shops, and shopping is one of my favorite activities for a couple of hours while over in Austria. It’s so fun to look at the little things that are different and I enjoy a good injection of European style.

6. Seeing Dave-Man wear Lederhosen — See picture above. That’s worth a trip to Austria all on its own.

5. Seeing The Kiss — Oh. Nothing compares to seeing a favorite painting “in the paint.” There’s an essence, a soul that the real painting has. And The Kiss captivated us. Even Dave-man who admits to having “hated” the prints of the painting before seeing the real thing, could not resist this piece. He left Vienna having an appreciation for it. And I accomplished one of my life goals.

4. Salzburg — We went to this city twice, once with my godmother and her husband and once on my birthday. The little old city enchanted me. Everything is close enough to walk to, easily navigated and the walks between destinations are an exciting adventure in themselves.

3. Winter Wonderland — The day after Christmas it started to snow, and after three days of snowing, we found ourselves in a genuine wonderland. We headed to a forest with some sleds and an exuberance for life. This will be one of my favorite memories for decades to come.

2. Visit in the Alps — During the first week of our time over there, we spent 3 days with my godmother and her husband in a tiny little alpine village surrounded by mountains. It was a retreat mentally, spiritually and relationally. We enjoyed fellowship and encouragement. It was a wonderful time of renewal and I will treasure that time for a long time.

1. Family Time — And finally the real reason for the visit and the reason I love Austria is my family. I can’t express how amazing it is to be with my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. To feel comfortable because these people have known me since I was a baby. And to enjoy the peace of love. I tried to soak up as many small moments as I could and store them away for the months and years that I am apart from them.