Life is short but sweet for certain

Yesterday, I visited the palace and gardens at Schloss Schönbrunn, 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! Überwachungskameras” (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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