Our first four days in Austria were cold and rainy - quite cold with flooding in the local rivers. Thankfully, we had a solid roof over our heads, delicious food and good company to pass the time. We spent the first two days with Hans-Peter and Verena making necessary preparations for Trento and enjoying their company. The Lang home blends the cozy comfort of a hobbit hole with the refinement of Rivendell. They have a beautiful garden in back with countless varieties of wild flowers. It is one of the most peaceful, beautiful gardens I have ever seen, and also productive. In addition to herbs and greens, strawberries and fruit trees, tomatoes and onions, the wild flowers fuel an active bee hive. This year Hans-Peter expects to harvest 240 pounds of the best honey we've ever tasted.
The second two days we spent with Hans-Peter and Verena's son Georg, his wife Maria and their four children, ages 2 - 11. Despite the language barrier, our children were quite compatible. You can imagine seven lively children playing indoors for 2 days! What a blessing to have such open-hearted, fun hosts. We love the junior Langs and had a wonderful time, praying, talking and playing together.
Our last day together the rain broke in the afternoon and we visited an old castle ruin. Our European vacation was finally in full swing. What is more fun for boys that scampering up, around, over old castle walls?
After the castle George drove us into Vienna where we are currently staying at the home of Hans and Elisabeth Heimbucher. Hans and Elisabeth are some of the kindest, most gracious people I have ever met. You get the feeling that their goodness goes all the way to the core. Hans is 69 years old; Elisabeth is 75. Elisabeth is blind and Hans serves as her gentle and capable guide, lovingly describing all the sights as they walk. The Heimbuchers have taken us on walking tours of Vienna the past two days. We've visited the zoo, two Hapsburg palaces, the imperial gardens, playgrounds, St. Stephen's cathedral and a real Viennese coffee house which serves cakes fit for an emperor. Both days we returned exhausted while they scurried to prepare our dinner. Amazing! The Heimbuchers will have their own post soon. For now, this photo captures some of their beauty.