Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cousin Anna (Vienna Part One)

Some days I think I should run a travel quiz on our blog by flashing a photo and asking, "Where in the world are the Willinghams today?" I think we could probably give both Carmen Sandiego and Matt Lauer a run for their money! Anyway, these photos are of Vienna's intricate and beautiful St. Stephen's Cathedral with its zigzag-mosaic roof. Here is the inside of the magnificent St. Stephen's: Way back when Kirk was working in Prague, Connor and I decided to meet him at week's end in nearby Vienna. We arrived a couple of days earlier than our rendez vous so we had some 'Kirk-less' time in Austria. We certainly missed him. But we got along okay without him too. We girlie things, like gawking at pricey HIGH heels...
...and admiring the HORSIES clip clopping in the street......and dodging spilled ice cream cones!And drooling over exotic jewels......and all in all just soaking in the culture and sunshine Vienna had to offer us!But the true reason we went early to Vienna was so we could hang out with Cousin Anna!
Anna is our cousin on my Mom's side of the family. Our kinship is more distant than our admiration for Anna would indicate. Anna lives in Vienna and her international living certainly inspired our decision to move abroad. Anna is also an accomplished artist. She is just the definition of cool! Connor and I met Anna our first night in Vienna at the Karlsplatz park right outside this jewel of a church...
Karlsplatz is also near the famous Vienna Opera House. Do you know that the architect of this fine structure killed himself after the building was completed due to local critique? Hard to believe!
But I digress. Amidst these picturesque monuments Connor played on the playground and we caught up with Cousin Anna. She is warm and familiar and easy to be around. Anna invited us to join her with her children and their cousins at the Vienna beach the next day. Usually I would have shied away from such an impromptu invitation, but I found myself saying why not?! It would be great for Connor to play with her cousins and to do something less "touristy" for a change. I forgot bathing suits so we left Anna and went on a swimming search along the shopping street, smiling the whole time at the love of family on the other side of the Earth.

We met Anna with her children - Lena, Emil, and Johan - and hopped the metro to the man made beach on the outskirts of the city. Swimming and sunning on the Danube River. Not bad. Connor adored her cousins right away. Lena, 18, who had just dyed her hair red for the first time the day before - was especially loving. And Emil. Oh Emil. He took Connor under his wing the entire day. And though there is a decade between them, you would have thought they were everyday playmates.
Connor's last minute swimsuit purchase was a tad big for say the least. But hey, it worked. That is it worked with a little bit of Mom-alterations!
The Danube beach was a hit. Not too crowded even on a blazing beautiful day. We swam, picnicked and played to our hearts' content.So on this day we were not very touristy, but very local! And very European with our cousins and their cousins.Thankfully Connor kept the top of her bathing suit on! (There were MANY topless women of all ages at the beach).
It was a tough day on the Danube, can't you tell?!?!
Cousin Anna, Lena, Emil and Johan - thank you for a perfect day.

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