Saturday, March 24, 2012

Family Fun

My family came to visit me in Austria for the second half of the year.  My brother visited in January for two weeks while my mother and father came in February for three weeks.

While my brother was here, I took him to several of my boyfriend's ice hockey games.  My brother brought his hockey equipment from America, so he practiced with my boyfriend's team as well.  Unfortunately, I did not have my car so we were unable to do many things that we had planned.  However, I think he enjoyed drinking a lot of Austrian beer and going sledding with my friends.  Since we had no car, we spent a lot of our time walking around my town of Mürzzuschlag and going down the trails behind my apartment.

Before he left to go back home to America, I was able to borrow my boyfriend's car and take my brother to see Vienna.  In Vienna, we just toured Stephansplatz (Stephen's place), where Stephansdom (St. Stephen's Cathedral) is located.  It's a main avenue with a lot of shops.  He loved Vienna so much that he wanted to go back the next day, but I didn't feel up to making the trip two days in a row since it was a one-hour drive there and back.

One or two weeks after my brother left for America, my parents came to visit.  During the first week, I took my parents sledding in Semmering, which is located about 10 or 15 minutes from my town.  I also introduced them to Austrian bowling, or Kegeln, which they loved!  I was fortunate enough to have my car back for my parents visit, so I took them to Burgenland for some wine tasting at Weingut Juliana Wieder.  The winery offered mostly red wine, so my dad enjoyed it a lot!  We took a tour of the small winery after we tasted about 10 different bottles of wine.

After spending some time in Austria, my parents and I flew to Paris for five days.  I think we all fell in love with Paris after our vacation.  My mom bought us tickets for a double-decker tour bus for two consecutive days.  It seemed well-worth the money to purchase these tickets since the bus took you to the nine most popular tourist sites in Paris while also informing you along the way about each site.  We visited the Arc de Triomphe almost every day because our hotel was located about a block from the Arc.  We walked down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées since it was right near the Arc.  We also saw Cathédrale Notre-Dame, and actually climbed to the top of the tower to see all of Paris.  My mom felt sick after walking up the spiral staircase so she went down as soon as she could.  However, my dad and I continued to climb to the rooftop of the tower and overlooked the city.  We visited two museums while we were in Paris as well, Musée du Louvre and Musée d'Orsay.  We were able to see the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, but I enjoyed the Orsay Museum much better for it had many paintings from several artists I studied in school, such as Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, and Vincent van Gogh.  We also traveled to Moulin Rouge and Montmartre where Basilique du Sacré-Coeur (Sacred Heart Basilica) is located.  Of course, we saw the Tour Eiffel (Eiffel Tower) several times during the day and at night to see the lights flicker on the tower.

After a wonderful family vacation in Paris, my parents and I returned to Austria.  I had a game in Salzburg so my boyfriend drove my parents and me to tour the city before my game.  We saw Mozart's house and walked around the town.  Unfortunately, I lost my game, 2-1, but I enjoyed having my parents watch me play.  After the game, we drove to Klagenfurt to visit my boyfriend's parents.  Although his parents cannot speak English as well as him, my parents were able to have some conversations with them as my dad attempted to speak German but failed for the most part.  It seemed as if the entire room filled with laughter when my dad tried to say something in German.

We returned home to Mürzzuschlag the next day.  Driving to Vienna International Airport would have been the final journey for my parents, but I took them to Vienna one day prior to their departure so they could see the city.  We visited Schloss Schönbrunn and the nearby zoo, Tiergarten Schönbrunn.  The Schönbrunn Zoo is the world's oldest zoo and certainly considered one of the most modern zoos because it serves more as an educational center rather than an entertainment park.  Since it was cold outside, some of the animals were not as active as we would have hoped.  Most of the animals just stayed in their pins and did not come out to greet people outside.  After the zoo, I took my parents to their last sightseeing attraction, Stephensdom.  We stayed in a hotel in Vienna for the night as my parents flew back to America the next morning.

I definitely enjoyed having my parents and brother come visit me in Austria, and I can't wait for them to visit me next year as I plan on returning to the Neuberg Highlanders for one more season.


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