While You Weren’t Looking canberra, 20 April 2010

While you weren’t looking, we have been away and back again. We left on Easter Saturday and returned as the gates of Europe were closed by ash behind us.

Where have we been? We went to Geneva by a circuitous route: Canberra–Sydney–Hong Kong–Helsinki–Vienna–Geneva–Immenstadt–Salzburg–Vienna–Hong Kong–Sydney–Canberra. Yes, it is a complicated way to get to Geneva (the reasons are complicated too) but mostly thoroughly enjoyable, especially as we travelled within Europe by train through alpine snow and fields touched by spring.

Why did we go? Chris is the chair of a committee of the World Student Christian Federation charged with finding a new general secretary. The interviews were conducted in Geneva. Successfully. And as well as spotting potential general secretaries, Chris even spotted a new bird for the list (a Blackcap) on the morning walks between the John Knox Centre, where we stayed, and the Ecumenical Centre.

WSCF folk in Geneva enjoy a birthday break

Work done, we boarded a train back in the general direction of Salzburg, to visit our friend Glynthea. We had decided to break the journey en route and the pin fell on the map at Immenstadt, a delightful small town in Bavarian Germany where the occasional man can be spotted wearing lederhosen. Two days of wandering and walking took us to castle ruins and lakes with alps towering above.

The Marienplatz in Immenstadt as viewed from our Three Kings Guesthouse

In Salzburg, we woke to the news of the birth of great-niece Caitlin Emma in Brisbane.

Meanwhile, in Brisbane ... Shane, Caitlin, Cooper and Wendy

That was 12 April. That day we visited the international English-speaking church where Glynthea is minister and ate lunch in the exalted company of musicians in the cafeteria of the Mozarteum. And Chris spotted a Black Redstart frolicking on the edges of the Salzach River on the way back. That night, courtesy of Glynthea’s video, Geoff watched the opening scenes of The Sound of Music for the first time and his appreciation of Salzburg landmarks rose accordingly. Yes, we also ate cakes, saw Mozart's birthplace and generally accumulated good reasons to return to Salzburg.

Glynthea and Chris gaze at the Fortress in Salzburg, a la ‘The Sound of Music’

Then it was a matter of retracing our steps to Vienna, Helsinki and to a wet cold Hong Kong. As we settled gratefully into our hotel there, the BBC news was full of the airspace closing behind us. We caught up on some jet lag and on the news of good friends in Hong Kong before heading out to an airport where the departure boards were full of the red ink of cancelled European flights.

Thankfully all we had to complain about was a delayed bus connection between Sydney and Canberra.

So, in lieu of postcards, here are some more photos for you. We hope you enjoy them and that this epistle finds you well.

On one of our walks around Großer Alpsee
A coot in the clear waters of the Großer Alpsee near Immenstadt
Even the woodstacks were picturesque

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