A Travellerspoint blog

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Closing the circle - reunited with friends and family

a bit delayed - the blogging frequency reflects that we've been quite busy since our return :-) Allerheiligen im Mürztal, Kirchanschöring

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In the arrivals hall of Vienna Airport, we were welcomed by Sam’s parents. They were holding a large banner for us and had even brought wreaths for us to wear. We were delighted about the special welcome, but what counted more was seeing each other again after such a long time.
Once we had loaded all of our stuff into the car and were on the way home, we were chatting away like always, just as if we had never left. That’s just how it feels being back home and with people we dearly love and know inside out. And that’s how from a minute to the other, mentally our world travel was over even though we have not reached our own house.

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We had intentionally planned to stay in Austria for 10 days. After all, there were many people we wanted to meet and see again after such a long time. And there were many things we planned to do.
Already on our first day we were greeted with one of our favorite foods that we did not have for a very long time: Bavarian ‘Weißwürste’ with sweet Händlmaier mustard. But also the next couple of days held lots of delicious foods in store for us. Despite several tours to stop at ‘Tödtling’s Icecream Parlor’ we are still not able to tell which of his many flavors we like best. We had Polenta, Buchteln, several variations of casseroles and used the nice weather for barbecues.

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And even though we thought this covered already most of our cravings, those ‘normal’ days were topped by the birthday parties. We celebrated Sam’s birthday with a huge pan of paella and enjoyed Sam’s favorite cakes. And upon Max’ request we celebrated a delayed birthday party for him as well.
We also got to see many members of Sam’s extended family who were invited at our welcome party and for Sam’s birthday. Max spent lots of time with his uncles and seeing how they played together, it felt like they had just seen each other the week before. We visited friends and got to catch up on what happened during the last year.

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And to our great delight we also managed to meet one of our new friends. As agreed with Davina already seven weeks earlier in Nepal, we tackled the 2277m Hochschwab, Sam’s ‘home mountain’ and a favorite hiking destination in the region. It took us over four hours to make it to the top via the ‘G’hacktes’ – a small section of via ferrata through the steepest part of the hike.

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After a lunch break at the top, we got to see several chamois, marmots and a group of twelve sizable alpine ibex on our hike down. At Häuselalm we deserved a break and enjoyed Kaspressknödel- and Strudel-soup before heading down the remaining altitude difference to the Bodenbauer, where our car was parked.

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While Davina, Irmi, Sam and I were hiking, Max was out with his great-grandmother. They had a great outing taking the train and bus into Bruck an der Mur. Not surprisingly, his highlight was the visit in a toy shop where he was allowed to pick a toy to take home.
From Otmar and Davina we also got back our belongings that we had asked them to take home for us from New Zealand and Nepal respectively. It was surprising to see what we had given them and indeed there’s hardly anything we had missed in the meantime. And we also found some dear items we had left in Austria before heading off: Sam was happy to see his trial bike and the trailer. Unfortunately, my car is not around anymore. Some guy had totalled it while trying to park (or was it drift?!?) his own car. While it’s good to know that his insurance company paid for the time value, we would have certainly preferred to get the car back instead of the money.
We also got to do some things we had not done for a while: Sam and Max had fun chopping wood, all of us went biking, Sam went trial biking, we walked down to the Mürz to skip and throw stones in the water, read the local newspaper, spent time relaxing in the hanging chair, etc.
We also headed to the mountains once more – this time together with Max and Otmar. After making it to the Fölz at 1472m, we treated ourselves to Fritattensuppe and Schweinsbraten at the Herzer Hütte. And on the way down, Max and Sam had to build a small dam in the river – after all, that’s what they did in almost all countries we visited.

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We truly enjoyed our time in Austria. It was already a very different rhythm vs. the time we spent on the road. In other words: We mastered already phase one of the process of re-entry into our ‘normal’ life. Still, we consider ourselves lucky to have eight more weeks until we’ll start working again. That should hopefully be sufficient to be fully immersed in our home culture and lifestyle again.
After ten days in Austria, we headed off towards Bavaria to my family. Irmi took us all the way to Stein an der Enns, where we spent some time with friends. It was a hot day and the kids had fun playing in the pool and on the water slide.

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That's also where my parents picked us up and took us to Kirchanschöring. And that’s where we closed our circle. It had been 412 days ago (on April 27, 2016) when we had left Kirchanschöring for Munich and now we were back.
Not much had changed in the mean-time. Well, at 25 °C it was considerably warmer than the snowy days back in April. But Max and his cousins started playing with each other as if they had just seen each other the week before. It surely helped that we had talked in regular intervals via Skype or WhatsApp and that we exchanged lots of pictures. Contrary to the adults which seemed to be exactly like a year ago with their usual peculiarities and characteristics, at least the kids had clearly grown. The smaller the kid, the more pronounced the development they made in the past year. What a relief: at least there’s something that has changed.
We did not spend every day in Kirchanschöring though. It was such nice weather that we spent most of our time at lakes (Höglwörther See, Seehauser See, Waginger See), in the mountains (Harbach Alm, Teisenberg) or in the garden.

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Most of our time we spent with my immediate family, but we also made sure to say hello to my grandma and uncles and aunts. And I even got to catch up with one of my best friends from high school days.
There were lots of small and big things that make home ‘home’. There’s the food, the house, the view, the local customs, the card games and the peculiarities of everyone including ourselves. What a luxury being able to come back home after having seen so many other parts of the world.

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Posted by dreiumdiewelt 10:30 Archived in Austria Tagged food home mountain lake friends family party bike Comments (0)

Back home

Sorry for the blog post coming so late. I wrote it in July, but have been way to busy an pre-occupied with other things ever since... but finally: here it is!

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After 17 days of staying with our families and spending a fabulous time, we felt the urge to finally go all the way home to our own house. It had been 14 months to the day that we had left our house. Still, it just felt like home. A nice feeling.
As we had rented the house out while we were gone, Sam and I were relieved to realize after a tour of the house that there were no major damages. The only thing that was obvious: we’d need to spend a lot of time in the garden, as there was lots of work in the form or weeds and wild growth waiting to the tackled. Once the house was checked, we headed on a tour to greet our neighbors, to say hello and to invite them for the ‘we’re back home’ party on Friday.
Then it was time to empty the car of all the stuff we had taken with us – just in time for Sam to pick up my dad and Max from the train station and to get some food from the supermarket. In the meantime, I had a surprise visit of the girls of my knitting group (at least that’s the cover name we use for meeting regularly to drink some cocktails). It’s amazing: despite being so long gone, it feels just like a couple of weeks.
The next hours passed quickly: amidst everything we had packed up before we left, we tried to find the essentials: bedding and linen and basic kitchen utensils. And over the next days we prepared for the party. Finding tableware, tablecloths, glasses, outside furniture was a must. But once all of that was in place, we could concentrate on the optional items such as setting up the TV to show pictures from the trip.
The party was great fun. We had lots of neighbors, friends and colleagues over. The big group of kids was having fun in the garden and the little playhouse. And we enjoyed having so many faces around that we had not seen for such a long time.
But we did not only party: there were many things to be organized. Sam’s car had to be started, inspected and registered again. There were calls to be made to our bosses at work, things needed to be organized for Max’ kindergarten, the official handover of the house to be done with the tenants and much more. We did not get bored. But at the same time, we did also not get stressed out at any moment. Even though our efficient German / Austrian minds continue to be wired such that everything should be completed as soon as possible, we have learned to realize that the stress to do so is simply not worth it.
A couple of neighbors commented on the state of our garden and that they would have a hard time accepting the poor state it was in. We agree: there’s much to be done. But everything at its time. Our first priority was to be able to live in the house again and to get the car registered. Then it was about celebrating to be back. And yes, in the next weeks, there’s no doubt that we’ll spend much time in the garden to get it fixed. But I will not feel bad if this will take a while. After all, the garden is supposed to be there for our relaxation and pleasure. And it should not turn into a direction that we’re the slaves of our garden and not able to enjoy life or do what we like to do until it is near perfect.
Despite the many things to do around the house and the garden, I did take the liberty to take a day trip to Kassel together with my parents. After all, the exhibition of contemporary art ‘documenta’ is only taking place once every five years and renown worldwide.
At the time of writing, we have spent four weeks in our house. The garden is back in shape (more or less that is), many boxes have been unpacked (but not all) and Max is feeling comfortable in his new kindergarten.
While everything around us seemed not to have changed too much, we certainly have changed during the last year. Having lived comfortably with the contents of three big pieces of baggage throughout our travels, it feels strange to be confronted with boxes over boxes of stuff. We used the opportunity while unpacking to sort out our stuff. Part of it has already been scrapped or donated, part of it sold or is waiting to be sold.
In that respect, we envy our Swiss friends. They got back from their travels two weeks after us. But as they had sold practically everything before their travels, they now get to start from scratch – being able to define where and how they want to live and work. This part of getting rid of everything unnecessary, is what we still need to do now. After all, there are three important phases of a world trip like ours: the preparation phase, the actual traveling and the re-integration. And if the cleaning out did not take place in the first phase, it will need to happen now.
We hope that that the process of re-integration will continue to be fairly easy and straight forward: we reserved the two months of June and July to spend time with family and friends, to get Max back into kindergarten and to get everything in the house and garden done such that we’ll be ready to start working again as of August.
We’re not at the end of phase three yet – if there ever will be an actual end. As one thing is sure: this trip of a lifetime will be something we’ll never forget. We’ll be thankful forever having had so much time together as a family and being able to see so many parts of our beautiful world. Our experiences have shaped us and made us stronger as a family. Having lived so close together - often also in the limited space of a campervan or tent – was surprisingly easy, but also required the respect of each other’s wishes and needs. We learned a lot about each other and are probably closer now than we’ve ever been before.
We’ve been asked by many of our friends and family what we liked best on our travels. That’s a really hard question, as it’s simply impossible to compare sights as different as the city of San Francisco, Canadian National Parks, the islands of the South Pacific, Australian wildlife, Cambodian temples, the Himalayan mountains or Mongolian nomad life.
And even comparing by theme proves to be extremely difficult. We have seen wildlife as different as deer, prairie dogs, bears, salmon, manta rays, corals, turtles, dolphins, dugongs, sharks, koala bears, kookaburras, possums, spiders, goannas, monkeys, camels, horses, sheep, goats and many more. Every single encounter was special in a way. And while I would not have minded to skip encountering any ticks, all the rest was just simply great. We would not have wanted to leave out any of our experiences.
And the same is true in respect to the various countries and landscapes we’ve seen, the people we met and the cultures we’ve experienced. They were so varied and these contrasts made our journey so exciting. From the lush jungles of Rarotonga to the steppes of Mongolia, from the shows of Las Vegas to the prayers of Buddhist monasteries, from snorkeling the warm seas to the cool glaciers of Canada or New Zealand, from South Korean technology to the buffaloes on the rice terraces in Nepal, from island hopping by plane in French Polynesia to the Transsiberian Railroad, from the depression in Death Valley to the slopes of the Annapurna… Those opposites seem hard to grasp and when looking at the pictures of our journey,
No matter where we were, we were fortunate to meet mostly friendly and open people. There was not a single situation where we were robbed, misled or deceived by anyone (ok, to be fair: there was one: DriveBeyond still owes us the bond we have paid for the rental 4WD vehicle in Australia). Rather the opposite: our hosts made extra sure that we were doing well and were having a great time. There was not a single reason to ever be worried or afraid that anyone would do us wrong. Everyone – no matter of which race, belief, country, language or background – tried to do his or her best in the context of their environment.
We hope that we will never forget that no matter where we were as foreigners in other countries, we were always greeted with respect and a hospitality that often surpasses the standards we’re showing towards foreigners in our own home country. Hopefully, we’ll get the chance of being able to return the hospitality we experienced – towards the friends and acquaintances we made along the way, but also towards people we do not know who might become friends.
There are too many people to say thanks to list them all. We were thankful for the support from our families, friends, colleagues, bosses and the many people we met on the road. Without their help, it would have been much harder or nearly impossible to take up such an adventure.
Those of you who know us, will have no doubt that we’ll continue to explore the world. With Max starting school next year, the trips will be shorter, but for sure no less adventurous. There’s still so much of the world that we have not seen so far, that we’ll probably start exploring countries and regions we’ve not been to. Iceland, Iran, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Southern France, the Baltics or Costa Rica come to mind. And once Max will be a bit older, we might take up travel to malaria or higher altitude regions again, i.e. Peru, Bolivia, Vietnam, Vanuatu or African countries will continue to tempt us. And I’d be surprised if the friendliness of the Russian people and the vast Mongolian landscapes would not pull us back to visit again before too long.
And while we love being abroad, we also love the beauties of home, of having friends and family around. And while we’re home, we always like to have visitors over who bring the world into our home.
While this concludes the story about our journey in the virtual world, it will continue in the real world. It will be fun and exciting! And maybe our example will spark the wish to go out and explore also in others. I’m sure it will be a great experience.

Thanks for following our journey and all the best!

Sam, Birgit and Max

Posted by dreiumdiewelt 13:23 Archived in Germany Tagged home house party boxes learning thanks unpacking Comments (0)

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