The Lizard Chronicles

Some of this is true. Some of this is better. –Too Much Joy

Luxembourg Day 2: History and Culture (but First, Slides!) January 14, 2017

We began our second full day in Luxembourg City  with a walk through Municipal Park on our way to find somewhere to have breakfast. However, the morning meal fell a few notches on the priority list when we stumbled across a giant playground pirate ship–and just days after Talk Like a Pirate Day (yes, the trip was in September, and I’m just now writing it up in January–don’t judge me!). It was a beautiful day, and the playground was empty. Clearly, the universe was telling us that it was time to play!

pirateship

Breakfast can wait!

My father quickly went about climbing the tower on the ship because, as he said, “Someone’s gotta do it!” Well, of course.

dad_tower

Dad is on top of things.

liztower

My turn!

lizship

ARRRRRRR!

slide

About to descend the twisty slide!

As we continued to let our inner children frolic (videos here and here), several passers-by (all of them adults, mind you) came and joined the fun on the ship. Eventually, we gave in to hunger and continued on in search of breakfast…or maybe by that time, brunch. Whatever you want to call it, we ate it at Boulangerie Paul. Take it from a rhubarb enthusiast–their rhubarb tart is delicious.

Next, we explored the Bock Casemates, a series of defense tunnels that were dug out over a period of about 100 years during the 1600s and 1700s. They were seriously cool to see.

brain_ground

Here, the ground reminded me of brains. (Bock Casemates)

mom_cannon

Is this thing loaded?

casemates

Bock Casemates

empire

Here, the ground made me feel like I was in The Empire Strikes Back. (Bock Casemates)

casemate_flower

A view from the Bock Casemates

tower

Tower at the Bock Casemates

vineyard

Vineyard under the Bock Casemates

panorama2

Panoramic view

heart

I  ^  Luxembourg

After a lunch of pizza and beer at Il Punto, we headed to the National Museum of History and Art. Ironically, we managed to get far more lost there than we did while wandering through underground tunnels earlier in the day. We saw some cool stuff, though, including an Edward Steichen exhibit. Plus, the mirrored ceiling in the museum’s elevator made for one of the coolest selfie opportunities ever.

elevator

Looking up!

We passed most of the rest of the day wandering about, eating gelato, drinking wine, and taking lots more pictures.

flag_tree

umbrellas_and_wine

Danger! Umbrellas and wine?

 

gargoyle

Gargoyle

fingerprint_ground

Here, the ground reminded me of fingerprints.

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Evening falls on Luxembourg City.

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Luxembourg Day 1: Getting in Touch With My Inner Stevie January 8, 2017

Filed under: Family,Travel — lizardesque @ 2:56 pm
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We awoke the next morning to discover that our hotel room had quite a nice view, which we had not realized when we’d arrived the previous evening under cover of darkness.

hotelview

Good morning, Luxembourg!

After breakfast, our first order of business was to head to the Bierger-Center, where my brother Chris was to file his paperwork as his next step in reclaiming Luxembourg citizenship. My parents, Michelle, and I acted as his entourage for what was only about a 15-minute task.

bierger_center

One step closer to citizenship!

I had two main goals for my trip to Luxembourg. One was to visit the Modes Nita hat shop, which we did next, and I added to my collection of hats from my travels. My second goal requires a bit of back story…

It all began about a year and a half ago when I happened to noticed that, according the to calendar on the website of the the Luxembourg-American Cultural Society, August 12 was Stevie Nicks Day. The reason for this was unclear to me. It wasn’t her birthday, and a Google search yielded no obvious connection between the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll and Luxembourg. Determined to get to the bottom of this mystery, my mother e-mailed the LACS to inquire about the day and the Stevie-Luxembourg connection. She never got a response, and within the next week or so, Stevie Nicks Day mysteriously disappeared from the LACS calendar.

Nevertheless, I decided that Stevie Nicks Day was a good idea and was best celebrated by listening to her music, wearing lace and fringe, and twirling–lots of twirling–basically getting in touch with one’s own inner Stevie.

aug12

Celebrating Stevie Nicks Day 2015

At some point before the trip, Chris told me I really needed to bring the vest I wore in the picture above and twirl in the Luxembourg City  square to celebrate a (somewhat belated) Stevie Nicks Day 2016. I decided he was right, and I’m happy to say that I accomplished my goal that morning. We spent the rest of the day exploring the city, which included taking a walking tour and taking lots and lots of pictures.

houseofunderwear

This sign was an easy-to-remember navigation point.

goldenlady

The Golden Lady (with bird)

emobutcher

Emo butcher is actually a vegetarian.

redlion

Red Lion (from the Luxembourg coat of arms)

luxpanorama

Panorama of Luxembourg City

ivy

Pretty ivy

momelephant

My mom with an elephant on parade

nohandholding

No hand-holding!

municipalpark

Municipal Park

 

Ireland to Luxembourg (and a Stop in Between) January 6, 2017

Filed under: Family,Life tales,photography,Travel — lizardesque @ 2:39 pm
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On the morning of the seventh day of our trip, Ian and Friday got up unfathomably early so they could get to the airport with ample time to catch their flight home. Michelle and I were continuing on our trip to meet my family in Luxembourg and had a later flight. So, we groggily bid our husbands goodbye and slept for a few more hours.

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Pylons in Dublin kind of look like small people wearing bowler hats.

We Ubered to the airport, got there  plenty early for our flight, and decided to spend some time souvenir shopping. I think just being in the airport elicited premature end-of-vacation panic in me, and I had to continually remind myself that I still had a few days of vacation remaining, lest I buy all the things before leaving Dublin.

Once we were en route to Amsterdam, it began to dawn on me that the connection to our flight to Luxembourg City was pretty tight. Living in Chicago, I guess I’m a bit spoiled by having direct flights available for most of my travels So, when I booked the tickets, I didn’t stop to think that making a connecting flight in 40 minutes, while not impossible, was not terribly realistic. Still, our flight out of Dublin left on time, and I tried not to fret. We even landed in Amsterdam on schedule, so I was still hopeful we’d make it as we taxied for what seemed like a really long time…ah, but that was just my anxiety, right? It probably just seemed like a long time.

The plane parked at a gate, and we were finally about to be let off when an announcement informed us that there were problems with the jetway. People were working on it, and it shouldn’t be long. Deep breaths.

Eventually, we got off of the plane and rushed toward our gate, still hoping we could make our connection. We followed the signs that pointed us toward the right terminal but gave no indication of the distance to our gate (which I believe, although don’t quote me on this, was about 17 miles). Our hearts and stomachs sank a bit when we saw the line at passport control (so much for easy movement between EU countries), but our flight was still listed as boarding by the time we made it through. So we ran. We ran until we couldn’t run anymore, then speed walked for a bit, and ran again. I had seen people running through airports before, and whenever I did, I felt glad not to be them. I hate being late for things. But alas, I was now one of those people–running awkwardly, dragging luggage behind me, sweating, and gasping for breath.

Insult was added to injury when we reached our terminal only to encounter a broken people-mover, which could have shaved precious seconds from our journey if it had been operational. Still not about to give up, we ran some more. Breathless, we arrived at our gate to discover that our plane had not yet departed, but its doors had been closed, and we weren’t going to be allowed to board. Disappointed, we walked (at a more leisurely place) to the rescheduling counters and were rebooked on the next flight (roughly five ours later). With some time to kill, we decided the best way to cope with our missed flight and at the same time celebrate the fact that we did still have a few days of vacation remaining was to visit an airport bar.

bubbly

Coping with a missed connection

 

michelle_airport

This bench/sculpture looks comfortable, but it actually was not at all.

We killed some more time by wandering around the airport and browsing in shops until hunger prompted us to see out some dinner. It became quite apparent that we were still discombobulated by the wrench that had been thrown in our schedule when we both accidentally bought non-alcoholic beer (when meaning to buy real beer)–at airport prices even!

notbeer

Damn it! Oh well, at least there was pie.

Thankfully,things were relatively uneventful after that. We made our flight without any problems. As luck would have it, we arrived at the lobby of our hotel in Luxembourg city at the same time my mom and brother had decided to visit the lobby vending machine (which has beer and wine!). Instead, we all decided to visit the hotel bar once Michelle and I were checked in. There we enjoyed some beer–this time, the real stuff–and toasted  our impending Luxembourg adventures.

beer

That’s more like it!

 

IRL IRL Day 6: 30,000+ Steps in Dublin December 13, 2016

Filed under: Food,Life tales,photography,Travel — lizardesque @ 11:33 am
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We began our final full day in Ireland with breakfast at Herbstreet in Dublin. My waffles with fresh berries and clotted cream were delicious, despite the fact that I strongly feel that clotted is one of the least appetizing words in the English language and really has no place on a menu.

dublindoors

I dig the Dublin doors.

After breakfast, we went to Trinity College, where we saw the Book of Kells, which was pretty amazing and a tough act to follow. But I could have sworn I heard a choir of angels singing as I entered the Long Room and beheld more old books than I could likely read in a lifetime…although I do enjoy a challenge.

longroom

 I would like to live here, please, thx.

Our self-guided walking tour of Dublin continued with stops at Christchurch Cathedral and Dublin Castle. We intended to visit the Jameson distillery, but it turned out to be closed for re-development.

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Christchurch Cathedral

dublincastleliz

Dublin Castle

dublinbridge

Bridge on the River Liffey

We had also planned to tour the Kilmainham Gaol, but we didn’t plan quite well enough–tickets for the day were sold out by the time we arrived. Since we were all ready there, we  perused the museum there for a while, and that was quite interesting.

deadgeese

I have so many questions.

From there, we headed to the Guinness Storehouse, where we took a tour and had drinks in the Gravity Bar, which offers 360-degree views of Dublin. I’ve taken quite a few brewery tours in my day and the brewing of beer occurs regularly in my kitchen, so frankly, learning about the brewing process is not all that interesting or novel to me. That said, I really enjoyed the Guinness tour. The building itself and the exhibits are impressive, and the tour was structured so that, for the most part, you could go through at your own pace.

guinnesswater

View through a waterfall or impressionistic painting?

ianturtle

Ian wished this was a real beer. I wished it was a real turtle.

tinyguinness

Tiny Guinness is adorable!

At the conclusion of the tour, you have the option of (after brief instruction) being able to pull your own pint or to have one pulled for you in the Gravity Bar. We opted for the latter, mainly because I figured (incorrectly, as it turned out) that the bar might have options other than Guinness. Truth be told, I’m not a big fan of Guinness (*gasp*!). I don’t hate it–it’s just not my thing. I think it has something to do with the fact that when I look at it, I expect something chocolate–not something with hints or notes of chocolate but rather some serious, deep, dark chocolatey goodness–and am invariably disappointed. And frankly, the assumption that everyone who takes the tour and is not a child would want a Guinness seems a bit short-sighted, but oh well. I drank a little, and my companions finished my portion.

gravity

In my experience, it’s the other way around.

After loading up on Guinness-themed souvenirs, we sought out food at Against the Grain and then headed back to the apartment to pack up. Packing is never particularly fun, and according to my FitBit, we had racked up more than 30,000 stops that day, so a couple of beers seemed well deserved. As we drank and packed, we pondered exactly what had compelled us to buy quite so much beer. It had seemed like a good idea at the time, but there was no way we were going to finish it all. Ah well, hopefully the next occupants of the apartment enjoyed it.

potato

It’s true–the streets in Ireland are paved with potatoes!

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Forty-one Awesome Things I Did While I Was Forty-one October 24, 2016

Filed under: Life tales,lists,Poetry,Publications,Travel,Yoga — lizardesque @ 7:58 am
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  1. Got a piggy-back ride part of the way home from a bar on my birthday
  2. Got a picture of one of my cats wearing a witch hat (this had been a longstanding dream of mine)

    Toil and Trouble

    Toil and Trouble

  3. Achieved a NaNoWriMo three-peat
    NaNo-2015-Winner-Banner
  4. Sipped and painted
    Sip_and_Paint
  5. Attended the Grilled Cheese Meltdown (yum!)
  6. Made kitty plates
    Feb19
  7. Saw the Van Gogh exhibit at the Art Institute
  8. Attended the Cider Summit

    Feb27

    Cider: delicious and beautiful!

  9. Colored Ruth Bader Ginsberg on a unicorn
    Apr17
  10. Successfully escaped a room
    Escape_Room
  11. Had fun with helium
  12. Used a magical cupcake machine
    CupcakeATM
  13. Read Infinite Jest (It’s somewhat debatable whether this counts as “awesome,” but it’s definitely an accomplishment, so I’m counting it)

    1079

    Footnotes and all!

  14. Was on TV! (I’m in the background in the orange jacket)
  15. (Obviously) did more SUP yoga
  16. Took this fierce selfie
    Jun17
  17. Experimented with buttons
    Jun24
  18. Experimented with lots of new hairstyles
  19. Took an arm balance yoga workshop
  20. Met a dog named Friday while with a person named Friday
  21. Stayed at a goat farm in Ballyvaughn, Ireland
  22. Visited the Cliffs of Moher
  23. Brought a cutout of my alma mater’s founder along with me on my travels

    bradley_alums_cliffs

    Bradley alums with Flat Lydia at the Cliffs of Moher #CelebrateLydia

  24. Saw the Poulnabrone Dolmen
    poulnabrone_dolmen
  25. Visted Ailwee Cave
    ailwee_cave
  26. Visited Dunguaire Castle
  27. Learned about King Puck
  28. Saw a traditional Irish music session in and Irish Pub
  29. Wrote limericks while in County Limerick
  30. Visited Killarney National Park
  31. Visited the Rock of Cashel
  32. Went on a literary pub crawl in Dublin (and won a t-shirt by correctly answering the most quiz questions afterward)
  33. Saw the Book of Kells
  34. Took a selfie with an Irish sheep
  35. Toured the Guinness Storehouse
  36. Twirled a la Stevie Nicks in the Luxembourg City town square
    liztwirl
  37. Took a walking tour of Luxembourg City
  38. Visited the Bock Casemates
  39. Sang about a buck-toothed girl in Luxembourg while in Luxembourg
  40. Helped bring You Don’t Know Us..., the first collection of stories and poems from one of my writing groups, to publication
  41. Celebrated  the Cubs’ first pennant win 71 years
    oct23
 

IRL IRL Day 5: Limericks, Literature, and Libations October 20, 2016

On the morning of Day 5, Michelle and I again walked in to the main part of Killorglin with hopes that, this time around, some of the shops would actually be open. They were, and they included this place, the name of which amused me, and where I finally purchased the sweater in the window that I’d eyed every time I walked past the store.

place-of-clothing

I guess that sums it up

I purchased a few other souvenirs, including a picture book about King Puck and a photo of a puffin. Also, Michelle got a rock.

We spent much of the rest of the day on the road, and as we passed through Limerick, we (mostly I) decided that collaborating to compose some limericks would be a great car game. To commemorate our stay in Killorglin, we wrote one about His Royal Goatness, King Puck.

There once was a goat named King Puck
Who once a year ran quite amok
They took him to town
And gave him a crown
To bring all the children good luck

And how could we not honor our favorite songster from the previous evening?

There once was a urinal singer
A bit tipsy but still a real ringer
His notes never missed
When he took a piss
Which caused other people to linger

It also happened to be the birthday of a dear friend of ours, so we had to write a limerick for her as well. In doing so we learned that it’s harder than you might think to find rhymes for “September.”

On this fine day in September
Sara we surely remember
We stand up and yell
“Hey, we wish you well!”
May your party last into November*

We stopped to see the Rock of Cashel. We noticed this sign in the parking lot, which led us to wonder is castle tailgating a thing?

notailgating

I can’t say I would have thought to tailgate in a castle parking lot

The Rock of Cashel was by far the oldest and probably coolest looking of the castles we’d seen. My enjoyment of it was hardly dampened by the fact that I had “Rock of Cashel” repeating in my head to the tune of “Rock the Casbah” the entire time I was there.

grumpycastle

Grumpy castle is grumpy

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Irish High Cross at the Rock of Cashel

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Generally good advice

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Celtic knots

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Birds circling ominously

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The round tower at the Rock of Cashel

We headed to Dublin and arrived with just about enough time to check in to our new place and head out to the Literary Pub Crawl we’d booked. The crawl included stops at four pubs (The Duke, M.J. O’Neill’s, The Old Stand, and Davy Byrne) as well as Trinity College. At each stop, the guides regaled participants with interesting anecdotes about Irish authors and acted out portions of their work. It was great fun, probably not hindered by the fact that I’d had a few beers without having had a proper dinner. At the end of it all, the guides quizzed the audience on what they’d learned. I won a T-shirt, not necessarily because I learned the most but rather because I was quick and loud with the answers (also not hindered by the aforementioned beers). Eh, who needs dinner when you have beer and a free T-shirt in size XXL?

sideeye

Best pint glass ever

sept19

It’s a major award!

*The line I originally composed for this was “And hope that you don’t get dismembered,” but I was overruled. I guess a birthday poem that contains the word “dismembered” might not make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, but it was clearly expressing an anti-dismemberment stance. I mean really, birthday dismemberment is the worst.

 

IRL IRL Day 4: Goats, Gaps, and General Gaiety October 14, 2016

Filed under: Food,Life tales,photography,Travel — lizardesque @ 3:33 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I started my fourth day in Ireland with a nice wine glass full of coffee. Why a wine glass? Well, I searched the cupboards for coffee cups but found none, so I had to make do with what was at hand.

breakfastofchamps

Breakfast of champions

Fortified by breakfast, I readied myself for the day ahead, which included using the weirdest hair dryer in the world. I’m pretty accustomed to hair dryers that are attached to walls, but this one looked more like a central vacuum than a hair dryer. It did blow hot(ish) air, but there was no way to properly direct the flow. Plus, all but the slightest move would trigger the dryer to automatically shut off.

hairdryer

What the what?

But anyway, I survived this hardship, and Michelle and I walked into the main part of Killorglin to explore, pausing on the way to take selfies with the statue of King Puck because who doesn’t love a selfie with a bronze statue of a goat wearing a crown?

liz_puck

All hail his goaty graciousness!

Having been on vacation for a while, we’d sort of lost track of what day it was, but we were reminded that it was Sunday upon seeing that the only things open in Killorglin were a grocery store and a lamb farm supply store. Priorities, you know.

The four of us then set off to do some sight seeing by car, giving Friday his first driving experience in Ireland. Nobody threw up, and we all lived to tell about it, so we’ll call it a success. We thought we had seen some narrow roads before that point, but those were nothing compared to the ones around the Lakes of Killarney. The roads were also quite twisty, so it wasn’t actually possible to go very fast, which is good because there were plenty of hikers, bikers, and sheep about.

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Gap of Dunloe

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House in the Gap of Dunloe–it’s a bit of a fixer-upper

sheep

Does it get any more Irish than this?

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Ladies’ View, Killarney National Park

I absolutely must mention Jarvey’s Rest, where we ate lunch and I had, by far, my best meal of the entire trip—a wild mushroom duxelles and spinach filo strudel served with red onion compote and a leek cream sauce. YUM.

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Torc Waterfall, Killarney National Park

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Muckross Lake

smoochtree

I’ve heard of tree huggers, but it seems that this tree would rather have a kiss!

rosscastle

Ross Castle

lizrosscastle

Look, mom–I’m in a castle!

Later on, we returned to Bunkers Bar in Killorglin, for dinner, drinks, and a traditional Irish music session. At one point in the evening, Ian came back from the men’s room to report that the man who had stood next to him at the urinal was quite drunk…but had a lovely singing voice. Apparently, he had just been warming up because not long after that, he joined the session and graced the entire bar with that voice. Finally, we felt like we’d gotten the true Irish pub music experience!