Our final day in Austria, our friends organized a day trip out to the Wachau Valley, famed not just for its wines and picturesque scenery, but also its architectural elegance and rich history.
For the concert-going crowd, summer is synonymous with big music festivals. Although we live on the edge of Europe, in a little country that fails to draw the big name bands, we are close enough that each of the last two years D has managed to find a way to attend the Frequency Festival, held in a small Austrian town half an hour outside of Vienna.
Although the world’s two closest capital cities are located elsewhere in Europe, Vienna and Bratislava are so near each other that an hour-long train ride is all it took for us to leave Austria behind and set foot in Slovakia’s capital, whose outer boroughs abut the Austrian border.
Though we only visited twice — for Thanksgiving in 2013 and again for a handful of days last summer — we will always associate Vienna with our tour in Eastern Europe. Not only has it served as a gateway city for many of our trips abroad these past two years, but also we have close friends there. Last week we returned to Austria one final time before bidding adieu to the European continent for the immediate future.
With our Moldova tour wrapping up next month, we have started looking ahead to our home leave, and the opportunities to explore our own country that it affords us. Two summers ago, we took a three-week road trip around California. This time, we decided to leave Munchkin with his grandparents and do a quick tour of the Southwest.
Live in a country long enough, and a part of you starts identifying with it. Chisinau may only be a temporary residence for us, but after spending two years here we have developed a soft spot for Moldova. So when friends comes to visit, we endeavor to show off Moldova’s good sides. We haven’t had nearly as many visitors here as we did in Kenya, but that was in line with our expectations. In fact, we have been pleasantly surprised at how many of our friends made arrangements to visit our little corner of Eastern Europe. Last weekend, we hosted the last of our visitors — an Austrian friend from D’s grad school days.
This summer marks fifteen years since D first picked up a disc and started playing ultimate frisbee, a trajectory that has taken him from his New England college team to pick-up games in Spain and Costa Rica, tournaments throughout East Africa, and most recently the role of field captain for Moldova’s Flying Mamaligas.
Unlike the Danube Delta, which required advanced planning and a full day of travel to reach, Odessa is so close to Moldova that we always figured we would just go. Ukraine’s storied Black Sea port is a 3-hour-drive away from Chisinau, yet we never quite managed to make our way across the border. Though to be fair, for a significant part of our tour Ukraine was off-limits for Embassy personnel. This month, we finally found a good reason to go.