When I first moved to Austria my parents considered visiting, weighing up cost with long flight time and seeing their daughter. My dad thought it would be nice to make a trip each year and do some travelling along the way, my mum preferred to make the journey only every second year.
So what was the outcome?
They have visited every single year. Which is awesome, obviously. Awesome that they get to see and experience where I live, awesome that they have the desire to come all this way, and awesome that they are healthy enough to do it. When you consider that I spent 5 weeks in Australia last year, and they visited us for two, it might even be possible to say that I almost see them as much as I would had I lived in Australia (ok, maybe not quite, but you get what I mean).
This year they timed the trip for June, dropping in after touring Canada. A standard June in Austria is generally pretty mild, mid-20s kind of nice. The kind of temperatures that mean you can do almost anything. So what did my parents get to enjoy this year? An unusually hot two weeks. Still, there’s nothing you can do about the weather!
Now that my folks have visited so many times, they don’t need a packed schedule of sight-seeing – they are happy with a one-day-on-one-day-off kind of routine, late sleep-ins, long breakfasts and coffee sessions.
But they wouldn’t be my parents if they didn’t help out a bit. While on one hand it’s testing to spend two weeks in close quarters with your parents, on the other hand it is their only chance to help out and look after me. I did some hours working from home when they were there… which was great. I get hot cups of tea delivered to me, plates of cut-up fruit, and I finished the working day to discover an empty dishwasher and dinner being prepared! Bliss.
This year we built a new garden hut – it was a huge project (I take no credit). My dad spent his working life as an Industrial Chemist at Dulux, essentially making paint. So one of the things they were looking forward to was painting the hut (yes, really). I drove them down to the local hardware store and we collected paint, bought paintbrushes… and although I helped out a little… I must admit I was more the facilitator than the worker. The result… a beautiful, garden hut.
My dad also gave me a hand in the garden, with tips on how to plant the corn so it could cross-pollinate, and how to prune the tomatoes to avoid them growing into unruly bushes (think I need some more help on this one though).
One highlight was taking them to Italy. While Lignano is not where most English-speaking tourists would choose to holiday, my parents were excited just to see the places I frequented. It gives them a mental picture when I talk about it, which makes them feel closer to me and vice versa. The three days we spent lying on the beach were glorious and relaxing, and we stayed in our favourite hotel and took them to all our favourite restaurants and watering holes.
Aside from that, we ate plenty of good food, lots of ice cream and desserts, and I took them to Graz for a daytrip, because during the previous visit our trip had been waylaid by a nasty storm. We visited Europe’s biggest armoury, which was… as they promised… big.
Of course, there is still plenty to do that they haven’t done in our area, which is lucky, since they’ve already booked a European cruise for next year, and they’ll be back.
I just need to take a few deep breaths first before I can think about that.