Fri June 3
From bus to train to train again we make our way to Vienna, Austria. No one checks passports as we leave the Czech and once again I comment on the ease of travel in the EU. Blanka compares it to traveling within the states in the US but I can’t make the connection from driving US22 into New Jersey and crossing by train into Austria. We snack on gingerbread from nearby Pardubice and the drive is full of bright green fields that lie flat across the open space.
Vienna’s Miedling station has a home for our bags (I love these lockers) and we head into the city in the direcion of Schönbrunn Palace and Gardens. Our entire afternoon is full endless expanses of grass and the smell of roses. The palace grounds are vast and the sun is bearing down on the hundred of tourists in the area. We climb to the terrace and look out over the grounds and into the city beyond. The sight is breathtaking, and even the best camera cannot do it justice.
Making our way down I discover there is a 90 minute wait for entrance into the palace, and wonder if the 10.50 fee is worth it (it’s not). I wander the palace with hordes of other people, half listening to be audio guide and half listening to the swarm of languages around me. We stare at the rooms of royalty and I puzzle over the tiny waist of the empress.
A sun shower comes while we are exploing the gardens, and we sit under the trees until it passes. What a curious problem to have – waiting out the rain in a palatial Austrian garden. Our day could not be more beautiful, until we arrive to the outskirts of the city and into the home of Casilda and Walter, friends of Blanka’s from her au pair days in Vienna. They open their home to us and I am delighted by this Mexican – Austrian couple. Spanish flows from me like water, as though it has been pent up since my departure from Sevilla. I find that Spanish has become my traveling language and therefore my default in tourist situations. I’m baffled by this. The first inquiry from my lips is “perdona” and “excuse me” is nowhere to be found. What?