When Niki Kalpakgian asked me to review her book she wrote with her husband, Stars, Stripes and Edelweiss, I jumped at the chance. I knew of both Mark and Niki while we were all students at Franciscan University of Steubenville back in the dark ages, but I actually get to know Niki more through blogging when they were living and raising their kids in Gaming, Austria. Mark was working as the Director of Student Life at Franciscan's campus over there and I just loved peeking into their life while vicariously living through them.
|Who wouldn't want to live here?|
You see, Phil and I met at that campus in January, 2000 and the rest is romantic history. We loved Gaming and our travels so much that once we were married, we dreamed of moving back over there so Phil could teach and work on his doctorate like our favorite moral theology professor, Dr. Asci had done. But as the babies came and it was clear Phil's calling was to teach high school theology, we put that dream to rest. So you better believe that I loved hearing what it would have been like if our dreams had become reality!
|When in Austria...wear a dirndl and eat schnitzel.|
For five years, the Kalpagian family lived and worked in Austria, and I'm so glad they wrote a book about it. Stars, Stripes, and Edelweiss was a wonderful trip down memory lane! So many thoughts and emotions came rushing back while reading about Mark & Niki's experiences there. I only wish I had read the book before my own adventures, as there was so much I had left undiscovered. I had no idea about the beautiful pools, swimming holes, and spas available. I guess between the studying, travelling to other countries, and falling in love with Phil, I didn't get to see as much of Austria as I should have! Lovesickness is a real disease :)
|Stop hugging and look around - you're in the Vatican!|
In the book, Mark & Niki explore the customs and histories of the area, and I learned so much. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about all the cultural differences, missteps and funny trips they had (a naked spa! the trash police! beer and sausages for breakfast!). The Kalpakgians made their journey come alive to the reader, and made me long to visit that area once again.
|Straight from a fairy tale|
So what would a review be without a giveaway? If you would like to have my copy of Stars, Stripes, and Edelweiss (disclaimer - slightly bent due to someone getting their toddler hands on it, but that just adds character!) leave a comment about the best place you've ever traveled. That's it! I'll pick the winner on July 26th.