Random pictures.

This is my best shot of the outside of Eggenberg. The students were also in awe and decided to stand in just about everyone's shot. 

The above is what John ordered at the buschenschank, which is kinda like a winery, but they can't really cook hot foods. So you get a tray of cheeses, meats and a basket of bread. The wine is good and inexpensive, and the views are really nice:

Today we are heading up to Goesting, I believe, if the weather holds. It sprinkled just a bit this morning while I was out walking, but now the sun is peeking out behind some grey clouds. It's pleasingly cool, so wearing jeans and a short-sleeved shirt right now feels just a bit chilly, but coming down from Goesting, it will feel very pleasant. 

The above was a caprese salad at dinner one night. The olives were amazing. The cheese tasted just a little different than mozzarella. I'm sure it was, but it was just a little off to me, so I didn't enjoy that quite as much, but it was a tasty meal. This was the pizza that went with it:

The pizza was terrific, and it was thin-crust, something I normally don't like. 

This is our hotel room: 

The beds are platform and there are two twin mattresses, I think. No box springs. This is not the most comfortable bed I've slept in, but now I get why people like beds that are lower to the ground - it's easier to sit on and be able to access your suitcase that's on the floor. I may have to rethink all those IKEA beds that I rejected because of length to the floor....

And this is a calendar at Stift Rein, which is an old monastery that's the oldest Cistercian Monastery in the world. The monastery dates back to 1129. The library has books dating back hundreds of years. It took 36 years for monks to physically write one book. And while we were there, the pews were stuffed with bikers. Motor bikers. The priest said this was the first time the church had been filled with motorcycle enthusiasts. It was a bit surreal.

This is a picture of the church's ceiling. 

And here's a pic of many of the bikes parked in the courtyard.

The monastery is still in use today as a school and other events. Click here to learn more. They also have a really nice picture from the outside that I wasn't able to get unless I wanted more bikes in the picture.


Look! Another picture! It only took 10 minutes to upload! This is kinda a still of the video I posted - postcard perfect, yes? Doesn't this make you want to come here? Today it is rainy, so I've spent the morning in the hotel not doing a whole heck of a lot. I created a spreadsheet so I could categorize my spending, and I'm just about on target for food spending, which makes me happy. Unfortunately, I forgot how expensive it can be to do museum tours, etc., and then there's paying for John's beer that he drinks, so I'm in the hole in that regard.

And can I say, coconut gelato is the smoothest gelato I've ever tasted. I'd take a picture, but I inhale it so fast that it's gone before I can even think of getting the camera out. Near our hotel, we've found a gelateria, or gelato cafeteria, and I am so in love with the coconut gelato. I'd never had it before, but I had a bite of John's and ever since, I've gotten a scoop to pair with my raspberry gelato, or my chocolate chip gelato....it is glorious.

The hotel we're at is so loud at night. The sweet time of sleeping is between 5 and 6 am when the bar underneath our window closes and the lushes go home before the street sweepers come by. I swear they were beying at the moon two nights ago, so when the rain set in last night, I was happy. Closing the windows and putting in new ear plugs helped a bit, but for some reason, the hotel room gets hot quickly if the windows are closed. It's funny that the rooms are all so different - one student says her hotel bed is more comfortable here than at the last one, and her bathroom is nothing like ours. We have a stand-in shower. She has a tub with no shower curtain. She has a full-length mirror and a flat-screen TV in her room; I have a 4 inch mirror on the wall and a 10 inch old TV mounted to a corner in the wall.

Yesterday's excursions took us to the Gibs Language School, where our friend is a teacher, and the students got to attend a few classes and talk to the students in English. This school is awesome. The kids know 5 languages by the time they graduate high school. Classes are taught in English or French, and they're usually done around 2 pm. There's a 20 minute break between classes, and the kids can run around the school, be loud inside or out, and get food from the cafeteria and then take it into class to eat if the teacher allows it. They can sit on their desks if they're more comfortable. It is refreshing to see that there are schools out there that are not teaching to the test. Would anyone else like to move with me?

After that, we went to Schloss Eggenberg, which in the past was one of my favorite places to visit, but yesterday's visit wasn't that great. I was not impressed with our tour guide. She went through things very quickly and was dry, and she didn't mention why the doors were different colors until I asked, and this year, she gave a completely different response than last year's tour guide, which now makes me believe they're all full of it. This year, I don't even remember her preposterous response. Last year's was much more interesting - there are doors painted white and blue, and I think last year's tour guide told us that the ones painted blue were only used at night, and the ones where the doors were painted white were the rooms used during the day. The peacocks this year also disappointed, not showing us their giant tails. They walked around, or laid in the grass, and sometimes they...what, honk?...cry?...they called out and scared one of the students, but maybe because there were no females close by, the males didn't feel an urgency to look beautiful. The eisschokolade, though, did manage to hit the spot, and several students also tried them and liked them. Win!

The weather was great until today and may also hinder our plans to climb up to Goesting tomorrow. We have just a few days left until we head to Split, which I am looking forward to. Not so much the bus ride, but the waves of the sea. It's been a good time in Graz (except the damn hotel). I know my way around the city, and I will miss the gelato, oh, the gelato....but it will be good to see the Adriatic and poke around the city for a bit before going to Sarajevo.

And speaking of Sarajevo, the city is not flooded, but around it, it is. Our contacts say that there is massive damage from the flooding, and lots and lots of cows and pigs were killed. Clean up is slow. While land mines have likely moved, we are not going to any place where our safety is an issue.


Not really travel related.

I need to get into a place where I can write wherever I'm sitting. I took a book up to Schlossberg today and sat and read for about an hour and a half, and then I gingerly walked down the mountain. Because I walked 28,000+ steps yesterday, which amounted to over 12.50 miles, I have a little blister on one toe to show for it, so I gingerly walked down the mountain after climbing it this morning. I was going to take the funicular up, as I usually do, but again I was greeted by many small children, so I decided since I needed the steps anyway, I'd just keep walking. I found the other side of the mountain and started climbing, and wow, what a workout. So sitting at the top was also to catch my breath and stop sweating in addition to reading. On the way up I saw one salamander, and on the way down I saw two.

The book I decided to take up with me was Motherless Mothers, written by Hope Edelman. I'd read Motherless Daughters before, but now that I am a mother, I decided to give this a try. One thing I learned that I hadn't really realized before was that grief is fluid. I thought that I would grieve the loss of my mother, and every so often there would be a ping here or there, but considering it's 20 years out, I figured I was "over it". According to Edelman, you're never over it, and becoming a mother can bring forth all those feelings of loss. While reading the first part of the book that focuses on becoming pregnant and labor and delivery, I reminisced to my own pregnancy and delivery. I suppose since my mom has been gone so long, I kinda came to terms with the fact that she'd never know my family or be around to help, so I didn't really grieve the lack of knowledge or care I didn't have. But I do feel sadness every so often, knowing she would have loved Luca and Wiley and she missed out on them. And I feel sadness that I don't have a mom to call when I'm upset and need some love from someone who's known me the longest. I had a small breakdown a few weeks ago where I called up my aunt, who has become somewhat a surrogate. Here in Graz, I feel appreciative of the wanderlust she and my father gave me. Every summer, we'd head somewhere for a week or two. Sometimes it was Lake Okoboji in Iowa, sometimes it was Utah and Arizona, other times it was North Carolina, and once it was even Hawaii. Thanks to them, I have an urge to see lots of the world, though it makes me sad that she never got to Europe, and I don't get to call her and say, "You wouldn't believe the gelato they have over here!"

For a long time, I didn't want to be a mother. I consider myself damaged goods. I had a mother, she died, and then I didn't have a mother. Then I didn't have a father. That's my life arc. I had grandparents, thankfully, that took me in for a couple of years. A lot of people don't have anyone after their parents are gone. I was worried that because my mom died when I was young, the same might happen to me. Or that I'd be a bad mom because I had a flawed mom. And sometimes, self-help books make me feel bad, like I'm not doing a good job, and sometimes I feel that with this book. I'm not sure that I really am completely healed from that trauma 20 years ago while reading the book, and now I worry what I'm doing to Luca. Am I overly cautious because I'm scared I'll lose him? Yes. Am I worried that I'll die young and leave him scarred as well? Yes. Do I want to run home to him right now, scoop him up and never let him go? Yes, yes, yes. But I'm also learning that becoming a mother has a way of healing the trauma. I give Luca the things I never had: attention to detail. He likes a snack and milk when he's picked up from preschool, and the milk has to be just a little bit warm or he doesn't like it. I try to give him my undivided attention, which I'm not very good at yet. I realized my mom was a bit aimless...she flitted from this job to that, doing whatever, and my guess is because her first priority was taking care of me and my sister. It dawned on me that I'm doing the same thing as my mother, and that really kinda drives me nuts. I have a shoe half-in, half-out of the world. One shoe is in, taking care of Luca, and the other is out, working two part-time jobs to help support the family. How will Luca view that when he's older? Will he see a woman who worked odds and ends so she had the flexibility a family demands, or will he see someone who didn't have a career and seems a bit lazy? I wouldn't have characterized my mom as lazy. She did all the cleaning and the cooking. And later in life, she found work she loved with the mentally handicapped. But in those early years, I've found our stories have somewhat aligned, and that frightens me. I don't want to appear aimless.

I also have not really grieved the loss of my father all those years ago. It was a different way of leaving. He couldn't function, literally, after my mother's death. He needed someone to take care of him, so he went searching for that someone. I realized how unhealthy he was, so I left and moved in with my grandparents, and after that, he and I never spoke again, and he died in maybe 2006. I don't remember. I don't give him enough credit. I remember mostly only bad things, but I do understand how hard he worked for the family, and now that I'm older, I see that the demons he had overpowered him. My only real memory of him when he was nice was letting me have his Hostess cherry pie. Mom got them for his lunch, but when I eyed one, he let me have it. He usually let me have his sweets, like Swiss Cake Rolls (which I eventually didn't care for, preferring Hostess Ho-Ho's), and he made great eggs and bacon. It's hard to remember the good when there was so much bad. I'm worried I am still very damaged from that.

And then a new thought flits into my head. We're all going to die, so what does it matter? Do no harm, and life will be fine, and when it ends, that's that. I will give my best to my family and enjoy the journey.


Bells ringing from Schlossberg.

We have moved to Hotel Mariahilf, which seems to be in the center of things. A saxophone just blared by the window. The kids are off to Budapest, and we are trying to relax in the heat. The room is nice and cool without AC though, so I'm keeping the windows shut for now.

This is a video I took on Wednesday up at Schlossberg with the bells ringing around the city. Click on the link because uploading it is taking too long!


Hotel Mariahilf is nice in its own way, but it costs a Euro a day to get an internet code. And that's for one device. So if you have a phone and a computer, you need 2 codes, which will cost you 2 Euros. John says the download speeds are fast, and the upload speeds are slow, which is exactly the opposite of what I want. For example, the video above has so far taken 5 minutes to upload, and it's still not done; hence the link instead.

Lunch today was at Drei Goldene Kugeln, which is a small chain of restaurants that's known for its super-sized portions of schnitzel...well, everything. My dessert was a kugel dessert, which was about an inch of whipped cream - whipped cream with sugar, not just plain whipped cream - underneath a ball of vanilla ice cream topped with chocolate sauce and more whipped cream surrounded by 8 little cream puff balls. HEAVEN. When I saw the inch of whipped cream under the ice cream, I almost cried. Such goodness. One of the students said, "I just can't do the sweets like that." I said, "I can't drink like others. We all have our strengths."


And I will walk 10,000 steps

We have been in Graz since Monday, and I believe I've averaged about 20,000 steps a day. On Tuesday, I think I had 25,000+ steps, and yesterday I walked 22,000+ steps. It's pretty easy when you're lost in a city trying to find your way around. The students have class at 8:30, so we eat breakfast and then walk into the city, which is an 8 minute walk to the tram stops. To get to the university, it's a 17 minute walk or so, and it's a very nice walk. Then they go their way and I go mine.

On Monday, I used the hotel's iron to iron our clothes. It didn't quite work as planned. I added water, and as soon as I tipped it, it all spilled out the side. That's when I noticed the silver duct tape wrapped around two places on the cord. It was then that I decided I'd had enough with hotel irons and was going to find my own. So on Tuesday, I went all around the city looking for the electronics shop. In Vienna and Graz, and perhaps most of Europe, there is no Wal-Mart or big-box store. It's all broken out. The grocery store sells groceries. BIPA sells make-up. Electronics stores sell electronic devices for the home - like vacuums and irons. Hauptplatz (the "hou" is pronounced like "house") is where City Hall is and a quick walk up the road from Jakominiplatz (you say it as "Yack-o-meeni-plats"). So I decided to concentrate my efforts around Hauptplatz. Nope. So I went down to Jakominiplatz again, about ready to go home, and I decided to take a different route home. That's when I saw it - the big red sign that said "Elektro". I headed straight to the store and asked if they sold a "bugeleisen". (I don't know if that's spelled correctly.) They said yes, and then I asked if they sold a travel iron because it dawned on me that I didn't want to add a 5 pound appliance to my bag. They did. So I am now the proud owner of a little travel iron that fits in my hand and gets surprisingly hot without water so now the Professor always looks clean-pressed. Victory!

I also was tasked with finding a bottle of American wine around 20 Euros (right now, it's $1.37 to 1 Euro.) I failed, instead finding 8, 40, 60 and 90 Euro bottles of wine. This was a gift for the city council woman we met on Tuesday afternoon. This year, we got to go into City Hall into the room where the city council meets. We sat on these very nice white leather chairs, and when the woman came in, she told us who normally sits where. I was sitting where the Communists sit. There were no liberals represented, ha. She welcomed us and then invited us to go to the balcony to see Graz. I've included a video here for you to see what I saw.

Afterward, they had a reception for us: juice, wine, salad, potato salad, bread, cheese, fish, chicken and rice. It was so nice.

It was at this time that one of the students was really complaining about her shoes, so John asked me to take her back to the hotel so she could change them. We had about 20 minutes to do it before they caught the tram back to the university, but we made it. After they went back to class, I went home and edited photos. The videos are being uploaded, but the internet connection is very slow, so 3 hours ago, it said it would take 3 hours, but it's still saying that...so...

On Wednesday, I went to Schlossberg, which is a tower on top of a pretty big hill. We took the students there on Monday, but I decided to go back and sit for a bit. So I took the funicular up with about 100 elementary aged children, and they ran for the bathroom and I ran for the edge. They must've gone farther up because I didn't see them again. Instead, I sat and heard lots of birds singing, and then the church bells all over the city started ringing. That is the video that I think is taking so long to upload because I was recording for about a minute. So I sat up there for awhile, taking pictures, listening to birds and bells, and then decided to walk down all the steps. There are many steps...I haven't counted them all, but I went there again today and lost track around 200. We are having a formal tour of the city tonight, so I'll try to keep track when we go back. Oh look, a picture! This is Schlossberg.

I don't have the other pictures from Schlossberg uploaded yet, so you don't get to see those right now.

Last night we had dinner at a Columbian restaurant. I had a burger.

At first, I was so surprised that it was missing the top part of the bun that I didn't notice the egg sitting on top. That's not cheese. Underneath the tomato was Grey Poupon. The meat itself was tasty, but the egg, onions and mustard were a bit much. However, the fries were terrific. I'm not sure the meal was worth 20 Euros, but our friends picked up the tab. They and John had steaks, which were fantastic. I should've gotten a steak. Instead, I got apple cinnamon ice cream afterward, which was the first time I'd had that flavor. Very intense. I liked it.

There's been some change from the past year. The little store where we got our advent calendar is no longer in business, which is very sad to me. It was a really cute, quaint little store. You knew you could get doilies, but there were a few other finds that you just didn't know about until you got there. The advent calendar is one of those things. 

The other thing is that our favorite kebap place changed owners. I took the students there on Monday and asked about the previous owners. "New ship," I thought he said, but I think he said, "New chef." The kebap is still very tasty, but I miss our old Turkish/Kurdish owners. They were so nice to chat with. This is kebap:

This is the best 2 Euro meal you can buy here in my opinion. Kasekreiner is a close second, but I haven't had that yet on this trip!

This morning, I stayed behind to see if the videos would upload, then decided to head out because it's going to be 83 or so again this afternoon and I wanted to get my steps in. I needed to find the post office and our new hotel that we're moving to tomorrow, so I walked over the bridge and into a new area I haven't yet explored. I found our hotel and quite a few bars that I bet the students will also find, then headed back toward Schlossberg. I spent part of the morning sitting on the side overlooking the city, watching the honey bees flit from flower to flower (less than a foot away from me, and I didn't freak out once), and then decided to head back to the hotel and see how the video uploading was coming along. Our tour of the city starts much later today, around 4 or so, so I may take a little nap. Those are such luxuries. 



When trying to upload my pictures yesterday to John's computer, the card reader failed. So I have a backlog of pictures to edit now that I got a new card reader, and I'm using a new computer that I don't know how to use, so I can't edit my photos because I don't have Photoshop on it! John is at a bar watching a soccer game, and as I was getting ready to meet him and some of the students, he texted to say it was standing room only. I am not interested in standing for 2.5 hours for a soccer game, so I opted to stay in, but unfortunately, I can't do the laundry because he's wearing what will need to be laundered (bars are smoky here), and I can't edit my photos. So....I suppose I could go down to the bar and drink in the hostel. That's not a bad idea.

So far, the students seem to be having a great time. All the girls are together in one room, which I think has helped avoid any alliances being made. They all seem very friendly and accepting of one another. I think this will change with time. The guys also seem to have gelled rather well, though there is one who is a bit shy and doesn't always hang out with the frat boys. It is funny to see that during the day, the girls will stick to each other and the guys will stick to each other, which isn't something we had last year because we had so many girls and so few guys (9 to 2).

The weather has also been really sucking. It was supposed to be sunny tomorrow, but guess what? More rain. We finally took them to the center of the city today, realizing if we waited for the weather to cooperate, they'd never get to see it. We went to St. Stephen's Cathedral and looked inside, and then we went to the Jesuit church with all its marble and gold. I toyed with the idea of coming back and going into the catacombs where 10,000 plague victims are buried, but we ran out of time. While we were at the Jesuit church, the organ started playing Mozart. It was pretty cool. After the churches, we went to the Belvedere, which is an art museum now that was once a palace given to Prince Eugene for defeating the Turks, and I think it might have been his summer home. It is home to "The Kiss", an original work of art by Gustav Klimt.

After that, we headed to the Naschmarkt, which is an outdoor market. If you want something, chances are good you can find it here. They have fresh fruit, stuffed olives, Indian food, burek, cheese, spices, pastries, all sorts of things. We met one of John's former students there who has been in Vienna the past 9 months as an au pair.

Then it was back to the hostel for some dinner, and then the soccer game. I put in a load of laundry which was done quicker than I thought. This place always seems to be a bit busy, especially during the evenings. I can hear the music downstairs now, and I was surprised at all the people who were down there while I was going to get the laundry. I see most people in passing. We leave at 8:30 in the morning and don't come back until 5 or 6.

I've been a bit more careful about my food choices than last year. I tend to have a lighter breakfast, try to skip lunch and just have a roll, and then have dinner and some dessert, and not usually in that order. I still have not had my kasekreiner yet, which is kinda like a kielbasa with cheese put into a bun that has a hole in it instead of looking like a hot dog bun. It's ingenious, really. Everyone else has had them and loved them, so they liked my recommendation! But it just hasn't worked out yet for me to have one. Good thing that we will be heading to Graz, which also has some. I also try to make sure I get my 10,000 steps in, and the past two days, I've gotten up to 20,000! While I'm not really working my heart, I feel good that some of the calories I'm eating are being expended.

Tomorrow we are heading to the military history museum and the city museum. Shops are all closed except the grocery store at the train station, so I imagine we'll be home a bit earlier. I think a lot of the kids are going to want to do laundry, which will have to be staggered because there are only 3 washing machines at the hostel. I have already managed to lose one sock of John's. Maybe someone else will find it and put it out for me!

One thing that didn't happen last year that almost happened this year was someone tried to take my wallet from my purse. It was a normal-looking lady who walked up through the crowd, and as I was getting onto the subway, she put her hand on my zipper. That's when John caught her eye and wagged his finger at her, saying, "Nuh uh uh," and she stammered and said something like, "I didn't do anything," and walked to the other end of the car. I'm normally pretty careful, so I'm pretty miffed that I didn't really notice. My purse was under my arm, but the zipper was behind me instead of in front where it normally is. The good thing is that my camera was on top of my wallet, so she wouldn't have gotten anything, but man, pickpockets are sneaky. I've decided to go for overkill and put a luggage zipper around my purse while we're out, and I'm also practicing my evil eye and turning every which way so I look completely paranoid. Luckily, since it's been raining the whole time, I've been wearing my rain coat, which has inside pockets for my phone. I was lucky that John saw her get near us and kept his eye on her, even while he was talking to the students. This is an instance where I wish I was taller so I could scan better. So lesson learned: watch everyone, try to keep space around your body, and keep your fingers on your zipper when you're in close quarters with strangers.


New Trip.

Well, another year has come and gone, and I've written diddly on this blog. There's just not so much to write about in Virginia, it seems. Or maybe I'm just a bit busy raising a preschooler. Whatever the reason, I'm here now.

Only I'm not here. I'm back in Vienna! We are back with 13 new kids this year. John is at the airport collecting 9 of them, and one I saw downstairs on my way out to get a new eye mask because I lost my super nice one on the plane. When a little voice says, "Are you sure you have everything?" heed it because I thought I was missing something but decided I was being paranoid, but in fact, it was the eye patch I'd misplaced after my 4 hour snooze on the plane.

Speaking of which, for this trip I came a bit prepared. I got a Travel Rest pillow that inflates and deflates really quickly, and it was really nice to have on this trip because while I couldn't lay down, I could lay in awkward positions that worked because my head was supported. The funny part was that while I took some melatonin to help me sleep, it was the bumpy turbulence that actually helped me get to sleep. Weird, huh? Now I guess I know why Luca always wanted to be rocked to sleep - he got it from me! So while I did sleep on the plane, we had to keep going yesterday to avoid falling asleep, and I actually took a 40 minute nap sometime in the afternoon while John worked. Last night, we fell asleep between 6:30 and 7, and then I woke up to loud neighbors at 10. Since they'd wakened me twice already, I was fed up, so I knocked on their door and asked them to keep it down. They closed their window, I closed mine and put in my ear plugs, and I didn't hear anything. We woke up around 6:22. John didn't sleep more than a few hours, but I did, and I feel pretty rested today.

Unfortunately, Vienna has proven a bit hostile to us so far. Yesterday we had gusts of 40 mph while we walked around the city. Today, the wind is still here, and RAIN has set in. It's so windy that you can't use an umbrella, and I put my hair back because of the wind, and my rain jacket's hood has a hard time staying up because of the clip. I can't win. I bet the students are going to be thrilled to arrive in this. And we'd planned to walk them around a little bit today. I don't know what we're going to do with them.

Room-wise, we are again at Hostel Ruthensteiner, and this time we picked a room with a double bed. While I was dubious we would both fit because our queen barely feels big enough sometimes, we had no problems sleeping last night. Luca would not fit in this bed at all, but I only scraped my toes against the wall once or twice in the middle of the night. And this room has its own bathroom, which is so very nice. While our neighbors could be better, I like this room a lot, and the staff remembers us from last year. If you are ever in Vienna, stay at this place. The sheets are clean, the staff is friendly, the breakfasts are tasty, and the beer is cheap.

Which brings me to food. Last year, I indulged in every single thing I wanted, and while my taste buds and stomach loved all that I shared with them, the scale went up. I have fought a whole year to get back down to where I was last year before the trip, and finally succeeded in dropping the last couple of pounds thanks to a stomach virus (not my preferred method, just so you know). This year, I am adopting a new strategy: at home, I rarely eat breakfast and instead opt for a snack at 10:30, then lunch and dinner. But here, breakfast is included in all of our rooms, so I will have a bit of breakfast, save my bread from breakfast for lunch and have that as a snack, and then have dinner and my sweets. This way, I get my schokolade kugels while I'm out (that's chocolate balls to you), and maybe my Heisse Liebe (Hot Love which is ice cream with hot raspberries and whipped cream), and perhaps the scale will not go up.

I'm also walking a ton, which I think I did last year, but that didn't help me. This year, I have a Fitbit. Yesterday's trek netted me 18,000+ steps. I'm off to a slow start today at 3100, but I have lots of steps in the hostel so I suppose I can get them that way to make it to 10k. The room is admittedly too small for much pacing.

Yesterday's dinner was a huhner kebap, which is chicken in something akin to a pita bread (but tastier to me), topped with lettuce, tomato, something like tzatziki sauce, and some paprika. I will live on this stuff in Graz because it is so good, but last night's was good too. Alas, I was too hungry that I forgot to take a picture for you, but rest assured, I will take pictures of my culinary delights. I took my camera out this morning to maybe grab some pictures of Vienna, but then decided I just wanted to get my eye mask and get out of the rain.

Well, the children should be here soon with all their luggage, and their room will not be ready, so they will probably leave their luggage in our room for the day, so I need to get our room ready for the onslaught. It's funny - we're here for a month, so most of us have big bags (at least that was the case last year). Ours weighed just 41 and 43 pounds, and some of that is due to books brought as presents for friends, but the bags are still bigger than what most people have for travel. A lot of people have duffels or small carry-on sized suitcases. Hoisting it up the stairs at the hostel made me wish I'd kept it at 36 pounds, but I'm happy for an extra pair of jeans now that the weather is cold and crappy.