Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Vienna, Austria: My version of "Before Sunrise"

It's a sunny day in Zurich and my workday is coming to a close. Just one last conference call at 7:00pm and I can finally call it a night. Last evening, I didn't click "end" on my cell phone until 8:05pm. After which my boss, who I'd been on the phone with, promptly stated, "You need to sign off and go stare at a wall for 30 min or something." I laughed. My boss is totally awesome.

It's my last workweek here in Zurich. This Saturday, Chris and I will be heading off for a week-long adventure through Italy. First destination is Milan, then Venice, with a short stop to Verona (and yes, just to visit Juliet's balcony, cus I'm a girl like that), then Florence, and finally a couple days in Rome.

When that concludes, I'll have officially visited 12 countries in my short 25 years of life: Spain, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Ireland, UK, Greece, Philippines, Canada, The Bahamas, & Italy. I should include the U.S. Which thanks to my job, I'm flying everywhere all the time. My job description literally states that travel is required approximately 6 months out of the year. Gulp.

I remember almost perfectly, the moment I realized how possible traveling was. Like a seed that was planted just when it needed to be--just when I could do something about it.

I'd just graduated from college, started as an intern for a global software company in Palo Alto. My manager was a role-model for for bravery. From her, I learned about the possibility of traveling alone and at a young age. It certainly left an impression. She told me, "At 22-23, I didn't have it all figured out. I spent months in Ireland with family. And that was only the beginning." She's a world traveler in a class all on her own.

I learned from others on the team that they too had had the chance to explore the world: France, UK, India, Egypt, you name it. I was intrigued to the point that I'd begun to get fixated on the idea. That I needed to travel. And then it happened. I saw "Mamma Mia" with Meryl Streep (that's right, you heard me). And I said to myself, "That's where I'm going first. Greece!" I started watching all sorts of movies that were filmed in various locations within Greece, including "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants". In no time, I was officially obsessed. I Googled, top places to visit in Greece, and viola, I had top two: Athens and Mykonos. But that was as far as I got. I didn't know where to go after that. So I let it sink in for a while. And then it hits me--I could get a travel agent.

After experiencing Greece, and crying over the hole it left in my wallet, I got to become a savvy traveler. I wanted more. I wasn't done. And next thing you know, I quit my job and backpacked Europe alone; heading to London and all across Spain for a month with nothing but myself to keep me company and whoever I came across at various hostels.

But even when that concluded, the itch wasn't gone. Not yet. After nearly two months here in Zurich, I'm happy to say...I think I'm done. At least for a while. I'm aching for the comforts of home, the friends, the family, and the predictable days. I miss BBQ's, Panda Express, and Chipotle. I miss my cat and my house. It feels like life sort of went on "pause", waiting for me to return back to the real world.

But most of all, I'd like to hurry and finish the manuscript, Violet Storm. The goal is still alive: sell by the end of summer. I hope I can accomplish this. But I guess I don't spend much time hoping as I do the actual "doing". So I'm doing it. Working on it with a ravenous hunger; allowing the looming deadline to invigorate me, to scare the hell out of me.

This past weekend, after returning from Cork, Ireland for business, Chris and I flew over to Vienna, Austria. It was magical, even though it rained for most of the trip. There was so much to see. I guess the one thing that stood out the most and is probably more significant to me (being Catholic and all) was that I got to see the Holy Lance. The spear that is said to have been the one that pierced Jesus' ribs. There was even a piece of wood, also reputedly to have been from the actual Crucifix. Everything else kind of disappeared in relevance, when I saw this. I'm not exactly sure why, but maybe it's similar to the reasons why people go back to their home country, to track their ancestry, to go to someplace meaningful or to just seek answers. Odd, I know. But I guess Catholicism is more a part of me--of who I am--than I thought.

Anyhow, I don't want to end on a dreary, serious note. On the steps of the Stephensdom we were accosted by a man wearing a classical costume. He holds a binder and flips through it, starting his sales pitch, that we'd already heard at least 3 times before.

"Young man, where you from?" He asks.
"California," says Chris.
"California?" The man glances down at me. "You, young lady, have you ever been to a concert?"
I laugh, anticipating the rest of the conversation to follow. "Yes," I say.
"To hear Classical music?"
"No," Chris and I answer.
"Oooh," he says with his big salesman smile.

That was the start of a 2o minute conversation where the guy gets Chris "not" to admit that the ballerina in the proposed show was beautiful. To which the salesman says, "This guy, he's good! But if you don't take this beautiful lady, I will take her."

I don't know if I've ever admitted this to anyone, but I'm scared of salespeople. Why? Well, I've fully accepted that I can probably be talked into anything. Terrifying right? So I usually steer clear of em'. I mean literally go-out-of-my-way to get away. So halfway through, I'm getting talked into paying whatever he's asking to go see this Concert. Thank goodness for Chris. This is why we make a good team. He can have these conversations and walk away, shrug, and ask, "What do you want for dinner?" While me on the other hand will spend the next 30 min talking myself into and/or out of whatever I'd been talked into. Confusing I know. Okay, so we don't do the concert thing. It would've been cool, I admit. Hearing great pieces that were borne from Vienna. Classical pieces from Mozart, Beethoven, Johann Strauss, Shubert--you name it. On top of that, there would've been some Opera and ballet mixed in. But we didn't have any formal wear and looking tacky isn't exactly on my list of favorite things to do.

The salesman was hilarious.

A friend and an old co-worker suggested to watch "Before Sunrise". A movie starring Ethan Hawke and a French woman who meet on a train and fall in love. I watched with enthusiasm, but I guess I was eeked out by the creepy way Ethan looked. So it made it hard to fall in love with him in the movie.

Here's me multi-tasking. Paused mid-way through the blog, jumped on a call, and now I'm back wrapping up this blog.

Thanks for the support. For the well wishes, and for the prayers. Even from across the ocean, across the continent, I can still feel it. Thank you.

Above: Salzburg, Austria for a PhD Conference for work. I couldn't finish my beer, but I did partake in the wine...

Above: The National Library -- Vienna, Austria

Above: Enjoying Vienna's favorite pastime--Midday coffee and cake

Above: Vienna's version of a carnival/boardwalk. This place was HUGE.

Me chatting with Pinnochio


  1. Sorry to hear you lost the other blog :( I'm so happy you are enjoying life! Keep writing and we can't wait for you to come home.

  2. Thanks Ray! I can't wait either. Lots to catch up when I get back, including where you at?? LOL :)


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