Monday, June 30, 2008

Pandas and palaces

I am posting from an internet cafe in Vienna. In a few hours, my son Chris and I will get on a train and head to Zurich. We hope it will be easy to get a connection to Paris tomorrow, but when the worst thing that is likely to happen is that we will gain a few hours to explore Zurich, there are no worries.

Today we spent at Schonbrunn, an immense palace whose grounds include parks, gardens and a really cool zoo with a baby panda and baby polar bears.

During the palace tour, we saw quite a small, dark room with a rather ordinary desk where the Emperor associated with the palace began work at 6 am every morning. Apparently he often ate both breakfast and lunch at his desk, and believed one should work until exhausted. It was a very small space in a palace of 1500 rooms, in a country that had immense wealth and power at the time.

At the zoo, we watched a polar bear pace the same ten yards, back and forth. He was pacing when we passed again, hours later. Back and forth over the same ten yards, vigilant and unsatisfied.

Wide open spaces. Growing things. An immense, open view over a prosperous city.

We were grateful that we were not in cages: even tonight when we sleep in a tiny couchette, we will be rushing forward into new adventures.

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