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Saturday, May 13, 2017

Fantastic Vienna

A relaxing train ride took us into Vienna where we found our way to our hotel. Blooming flowers abounded all about the city. 
That night, we feasted, and I mean feasted on the most amazing spare ribs dinner. Held in a huge beer hall, there was no shortage of food or drink on offer that night. Highlights of the week in Vienna included a wonderful visit to the Melk Abbey outside of Vienna.The ride through the countryside was beautiful and soothing. The views from the Abbey were just breathtaking, as views in Austria tend to be. It was so lovely to get outside of the city and experience the beauty of nature. The gardens were in full bloom and the Abbey itself is a beautiful place of peace and quiet.
We also took a tour of Karlskirche. Some of us braved the elevator ride followed by a quite rickety climb on scaffolding stairs. We were rewarded with up close and personal looks at the paintings on the dome of the church. 
A sunny afternoon of free time led many of us to take a hike in the forest where eventually we found ourselves in a wine garden, high above Vienna surrounded by vineyards. At times the hike was rigorous, but the conversations, views, and sunshine on our shoulders made it all worth it.
A major theme of the week was food! We ate well. These sausages were a delicious trio of tastes. Of course, we ate strudel, a few times! Beautiful St. Stephens lit up in the evening.
And while we enjoyed most everything, the heavy Austrian cuisine eventually takes its toll and I was happy for a huge salad upon our arrival back to Paris! Of course, music reigns in Vienna and I loved this piano bench! 
Our week ended with worshipping with the host congregation, this year, The English Speaking Methodist Church in Vienna, where our good buddy Matthew is the pastor. I loved this adorable photo of him holding this little baby! The size contrast was special! The last thing we enjoy together as a group is our closing banquet, this time held in an old wine cellar. The place was aptly named The 12 Apostles and it was charming but also roasting hot inside. The skits for the "talent" show were filled with good humor and we shared one last swan song with our buddies from Brussels. We spent Sunday afternoon sitting in the same beer hall where we had feasted on the ribs, writing up our little song. A good time was had by all.
These conferences remain a mainstay of our years in International ministry. And even though for the past three, we've thought each would be our last, we were delighted to attend another one along the way. Good friends, good content, good insights make for a winning combination of experiences and add deepening joy to these relationships that are definitely burrowed deep into our hearts.
There were so many things that we didn't have time to experience in Vienna. Guess we'll have to figure out a time to get back there!