Life is short but sweet for certain

Yesterday, I visited the palace and gardens at Schloss Sch√∂nbrunn, the “Austrian Versailles,” or the 300-year-old summer home¬†(the fact that this was not just someone’s residence, but someone’s “just for fun” residence… there are no words) to many years of¬†emperors and empresses.

Though the sun shone all day, the trip felt extremely solemn, as I had just found out about the passing of one of my best childhood friends. The friend I lost was a lover of life and an infectiously upbeat personality. As I looked around the lush, green gardens and gazed over Vienna at the hilltop view, I felt an even greater appreciation for the beautiful sights than I normally would have. I knew my friend would have loved visiting the palace. I hoped that through my visit, I could expand my experience of the world in his honor.

So, my friend, I took some pictures in hopes of capturing the day I spent reflecting on our friendship and our priceless memories. Your loss is a reminder to me to always enjoy life and to experience as much as I can during my time on Earth. You are truly missed.

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I got locked in a park

Okay, so two posts in one day… but I had way too much excitement today not to share.

So, this morning, I did a Google search on parks and gardens in my area of Vienna, and I came across one very nearby at the School of Floristik. My weather app predicted the warmest, sunniest weather that we’ve had here thus far, so I decided today would be a great time to get some real fresh air.

When I arrived at the park, I was not disappointed. The garden was expansive, and it was laid out in various sections labeled as “countries;” there was an American section of the garden, a British section, a Japanese section, and so on. I had such a wonderful time. At about 3 pm, I heard some American students leaving the school, but instead of the sudden absence of people triggering me in any way, I simply took note of the familiar accents wafting away as the students left, then I smiled and went about my day.

I took pictures for about an hour. I read for another hour (on a different note, I’m reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt — amazing). At around 5:00, I decided maybe it was time to pack up my things and head home.

As I approached the entrance/exit, the first thing I noticed were the metal gates barring me from the street. They were taller than I am, and didn’t have any places to put your feet so someone like I could climb over and escape.

“Okay,” I thought to myself. “Don’t panic. I saw another exit in the far side of the garden.” I remembered how my pre-paid phone plan had just run out of minutes yesterday, so I couldn’t call or text anyone for help if I needed it. I felt my heartbeat quicken a little as I cut corners to reach the exit quickly.

Another metal gate stared me down.

Scheisse…”

But still not too worried. I had some other options.

I tried all corners of the garden. All locked and impossible to leave. Austrians really do not like people to enter their public parks when no employees are there.

I ran up to the school building and knocked on every window. No answer. I took notice of the¬†signs that read “Achtung!¬†√úberwachungskameras” (Warning! Security cameras).

“Okay, kein Problem. There’s a neighborhood right across the street. Next time someone comes into their front garden, I’ll ask ‘Haben Sie eine Leiter?’ (“Do you have a ladder?”) After the longest five minutes of my life, still, I had seen no one.

“I’ve just got to find a way to climb over this fence.”

With my adrenaline rushing, I reached my hands up to the top of the gate, took a lunge back, then jumped as high as I could. I pushed myself up with my arms (I’m heavier than I thought), swung my leg over, straddled the fence, then swung the rest of myself over the fence. I landed directly in front of a middle-aged couple passing on the street (“Where were you five minutes ago?” I wanted to ask.) The husband put his arm around his wife as they averted their eyes away from me like I was a criminal who had just done something I wasn’t supposed to do. I smiled at them, dusted off my pants, and walked away.

I think the Überwachungskameras caught some pretty entertaining stuff today.

Also, thank God for yoga!

In other news, I got some pretty nice pics!

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Austrian National Library

…aka my heaven!

Yesterday, I took advantage of our day off and headed over to Stephansplatz, where I wandered around and discovered some alleyways I’d never seen before. As one would expect from exploring in Vienna, I¬†stumbled upon some really charming places.

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In Vienna, every corner of every street in the city center gives visitors something to see. As if the architecture and color weren’t enough, shop owners decorate their stores with fairy lights and flowers, making the streets an overwhelmingly delightful mass of cuteness.

When I found the Austrian National Library (which, unbeknownst to me, I had passed several times already, just thinking it was some beautiful governmental¬†building… whoops. Sometimes I’m a dumb American living up to my stereotype), I discovered that the famous State Hall with the beautiful painted ceilings and mountains¬†of books is actually located in the entrance off Josefsplatz (good to know for future visitors), so I walked a bit longer, but was absolutely not disappointed. I totally fell in love.

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The Library is part of the University that was founded in the 12th Century! The room also acts as a museum of sorts, housing original documents and heavily-bound leather books from as early as 1200. Appealing to my inner (and outer) music nerd, the Library even features a handwritten piece of Gregorian chant.

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The best part is… I’m only just cracking the surface of what Vienna has to offer. I can’t wait to see more.

Ostermarkt

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The Viennese certainly know how to Easter.

Yesterday, we visited Karlskirche at Karlsplatz for their afternoon Good Friday Mass. The church, though smaller than the Stephansdom, is no less incredible in terms of sheer gorgeousness.

We stopped at this super cute, hole-in-the-wall cafe called Charly Fresh for some delicious wraps and hot chocolate, then headed over to Stephansplatz for the Ostermarkt¬†(Easter Market) am Hof. Here, several streets are taken over by vendors selling hot drinks, food, and handmade gifts. At least the length of a block (streets aren’t laid out in blocks here like they are in the U.S., but I don’t know what else to compare it to) is absolutely covered in crates holding the most beautifully hand-decorated Easter eggs I’ve ever seen. We tried to resist spending money and totally failed — we brought home 5 eggs. I’m still not sorry about it!

The weather is still really cold, but it doesn’t make the Easter season any less charming here in Vienna. I’m in love!

Happy Easter, everyone!

Hiiiii again!

So, it’s been a while since my last post. Things have been a little crazy over this way! Jacco and I just got back from an 8-day trip to Bavaria — my first experience in that part of the country. We stayed in a small village called F√ľssen, which almost sounds like the German translation of the word feet… Possibly named because F√ľssen is located at the foot of the German alps, but I thought it was ridiculously cute that the town’s crest consists of three legs/feet making a triangle. Puns are great. It’s the little things…

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So, although it was a work trip for Jacco (the orchestra performed all week at Neuschwanstein Castle), we really had a great time. We got to explore the castle and see many of the incredible sights in the area. Every day was like living in a fairy tale. The mountains were just AMAZING. Inspired by the Hollywood-worthy view, I even climbed up on a rock one day and started (loudly) singing that Lonely Goatherd song from The Sound of Music — I thought I was alone, but wouldn’t you know it —- I wasn’t. I glanced over my shoulder to find a pack of tourists. Awesome. So, I kind of awkwardly walked away but was comforted when one of the older men continued the song after I left. (I was later to come across many, many American tourists singing songs from The Sound of Music — I’m telling you, it ain’t hard to pick out the Americans in this neck of the woods).

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On Saturday, we hiked into Austria. That was a big highlight of the week for me — a new country to mark off my bucket list!
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Our trip was unforgettable to say the least. I’m feeling super blessed to have the opportunity to explore new parts of the world. Now that we’re back in Dresden, it definitely feels like we’ve been jolted back into the real world! Jacco is preparing for the premiere of Die Tote Stadt by Korngold, and I’m hitting my practice time hard in preparation for my audition this week. Exciting, but busy! Just the way I like it.