We are on the verge of December, which means the Viennese are already deep into the Christmas season. The Christmas markets are open, the decorative lights over the streets and plazas are lit (including our Wahringerstrasse electric blue Christmas clouds), and the weather has turned appropriately cold.
As always in our outings, we come upon surprises. One recent cold, wet Saturday we were wandering with no particular purpose and beginning to think better of it when we turned a corner and were met with a parade that encompassed much of the European military past.
We still don't know exactly what it was about, but it was like watching a history book march by. The pictures don't do it justice. The horses were enormous.
Most of what we've been doing, however, has centered around Keir's activities. We've always enjoyed watching our kids play sports, perform in plays, do music and the like. Keir, as the last of the herd, has dutifully provided us with years of basketball and baseball games, as well as a few wrestling meets and karate events.
For the past few months he's been on his high school varsity volleyball team, and once we figured out the rules, volleyball has proved as exciting as the other sports. As with everything over here, what is routine is, for us, exotic.
Keir's school hosted the high school volleyball championship tournament, so Keir played against students from Athens, Tel Aviv, Brussels, Munich, Dusseldorf and a few other schools. We had boys from the Brussels team stay with us, one American and one Swedish, although neither one of them had spent much time in their home countries.
Misti ran into a more extreme situation recently when some Viennese women lectured her on American traditions.
Keir's team played well in the volleyball tournament and made it to the final four. As he was playing his last set, Misti and I realized that after more than 30 years of being parents, this was likely the last high school sports event we'd attend, at least until the grandchildren become teens.
As is evident from the photos, Keir is rather intense when he plays. His guitar, by the way, is a Schecter. The band was good.
While we're on the topic of musicians, they are everywhere downtown this time of year, mostly playing German/Austrian tunes. Here are a couple of images from recent weeks.
I'll conclude with Thanksgiving, which, obviously, doesn't exist in Austria. Apparently it is one American tradition the Viennese women aren't interested in upholding. Because there are many Americans at the institute where I work, however, there is an annual Thanksgiving luncheon that is spectacular.
Beyond the setting in the palace cafeteria (see photo), the lunch includes turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, green beans, carrots, and pumpkin and apple pie. Excellent red and white Austrian wine was served and we enjoyed lively, delightful conversation with people originally from Britain, Argentina, the Philippines, and Texas.
We likely will have a quiet Christmas this year, but with blue clouds out our windows and the city decorated like no other, we'll spend hours walking and enjoying the streets. It's sort of becoming a tradition.