The next morning we packed up and took a train east from Vienna toward Salzburg. From there we voyaged south from Salzburg past the southeastern tip of Germany toward St. Viet im Pongau, flanked on both sides by the snow-capped Austrian alps. Our destination, the family home of the next addition to the family, Justin’s fiance, Evelin.
An hour south of Salzburg, we made it into the train station of the tiny town (pop. 3500) and were welcomed with warm embraces and the smiling faces of Evelin’s parents, Imola and Lajos. They drove us from the train station partially up the mountain on which the town sits toward their beautiful new home. That night they fed us with nothing short of a feast that Imola had spent much of the day preparing. Our enormous dinner consisted of all sorts of Austrian, Hungarian, and Romanian traditional dishes including a fabulous lentil soup and the best schnitzel any of us had ever had which put our schnitzel from the previous night to shame. Through out our amazing dinner, Evelin’s parents kept bringing out more and more dishes until their dining room table was beyond full, while our cups were kept full by Evelin’s ever-smiling father.
With full stomachs and a strong buzz we played Jenga until some of our party went to bed. The rest of us stayed up late into the night getting to know our warm and caring hosts better with help from our ever-patient translator Evelin.
The next morning we were woken up to the scrumptious smells of bacon and another feast of a meal. We were awed again by the amount of food presented to us with several plates of various meats piled on top of each other, with fresh salami, ham, and various regular and cheese-filled sausages. There were also a number of robust-smelling cheeses, probably 10 different flavors of cream cheese, various fresh breads, and a plethora of fresh vegetables.
Later, we walked down into the valley to get a look at the small market square and its tiny church before Evelin’s father drove us up the mountain side on which the town sits. The view of the snow-covered mountain was absolutely gorgeous and we walked down from its apex, completely awed at the panorama before us.
After a relaxing afternoon, more scrumptious smells began wafting from the kitchen again and we were fed all the traditional Hungarian goulash we could handle before we were presented with a mound of crepes. Our choice of fillings included Nutella and other delicious chocolate based spreads, an assortment of jams, and a variety of fresh fruits which included the biggest strawberries any of us had ever seen. It was another truly magnificent meal.
Though we shared no common language, I have never felt so instantly attached to anybody like I did when meeting Imola and Lajos. From the second we met them I felt like I was with longtime friends. I am so thankful for all of their hospitality, from putting us up for a night, to working for hours making the delicious meals we loved so much, to making us feel so genuinely at home. I am so thankful to have met them and to have enjoyed their hospitality. I cannot wait for them to be an official part of the family!