Monday, January 23, 2006

Spontaneous weekend trip to Austria

Since we arrived in Munich, we've been talking about a trip to Gmuend, the small town in which Steve spent 4 weeks as an exchange student when he was 15 years old. We contacted Steve's host father a couple of weeks ago, and by the time we coordinated our schedules -- mid-week, last week -- we had two days to rent a car and plan the trip. By Saturday morning, we were on the road to Austria.

Now you must understand, our family often experiences "scope creep" in organizing our excursions to various places. "Scope creep" is a term used in the business world when projects grow and grow and grow... just like our trips. By the time we finished contacting two of Steve's former teachers, we had 3 families to visit in the 25 total hours we were in Austria. Might as well make the most of the time we're there!

First, we had Saturday lunch with Magda, the teacher who organized the school trip to Austria in 1992, in Spittal, a large(r) town near Gmuend. She served us traditional Austrian fare, then led us on a refreshing walk in the sunshine to see the high school which Steve attended during his month in Austria. Here we are, sitting with Magda in her beautiful sun room.

We then stopped by to say hello to the family of Steve's high school choir director. It was fun to reminisce a bit about the amazing musical the director organized in which the *students* composed all the music. He has quite a gift for inspiring young musicians, saying that "everyone has music somewhere inside them." Here is Steve with the family.

We then spent an relaxing evening with Sepp, Steve's guest father:

Sepp graciously hosted us overnight in his home, cooked us delicious food, and took us to his church the next morning. The church is such a sweet, friendly community, with especially impressive music accompanied by only an electric guitar and a xylophone/marimba like instrument. Sepp treated us to a nice lunch at a small-town Austrian restaurant (Beth tried deer meat and veal liver for the first time!), and then we went to the local Porsche museum. Apparently during WWII, Herr Ferdinand Porsche and his colleagues moved their personal automobile operations from Stuttgart to Gmuend, disguising their small factory as a manufacturing facility for some other type of goods. It was here that the first auto to bear the name "Porsche" -- the Gmuender Porsche 356 -- was built. This photo shows us in front of a Porsche Spyder and its "wooden model." After each metal piece was pounded into shape, it was laid against the model to see what parts still needed to be pounded. It was taken back and forth, pounding it as necessary, until it laid flat against the model -- a perfect fit.

We are so thankful for the opportunity to make the trip, and we appreciate all the wonderful people who helped make it possible.


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