Travel Theme: Dazzling

This week, the theme at Where’s My Backpack? is: dazzling. So why wait? Let’s get dazzled.

The other day, my neighbor’s tree was an explosive cascade of color as the sun went long and gold against it.

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There’s a reason the “golden hour” is photographically special.

When in Rome…go and tour the Vatican. I almost said I didn’t want to see it, but George insisted we go, and I’m so glad we did. It’s difficult to pick any one thing that was more dazzling or glorious than the next, though many of the fabulous features have already been photographed by a bajillion people. (Think Sistine Chapel, which really is tremendous.)

And then there is the map room. Corridor. Gallery. Every square inch of that room was covered in some kind of fantastic, elaborate painting or sculpture or carving. It was astonishing. Even after walking through most of the Vatican museum and galleries, I still gasped. And was overwhelmed. And had to leave; it was quickly too much.

It goes on and on and on...

It goes on and on and on…

And then we go to the Outer Banks. Sunrise on the Atlantic Ocean can dazzle a person on its own, without anything added to it.

#NoFilter

#NoFilter

The bars in Reykjavik put on a glitzy show during the Christmas season. This is but one of them. And it is highly recommended.

Glamorous, yet cozy.

Glamorous, yet cozy.

And finally, here is a bit of razzle-dazzle right here at home, on my window sill. I’m not entirely sure why the designer thought these lucite deer deserved to be given the Jabba the Hutt/Slave Leia treatment, but there they are nonetheless. Plus, they sure do catch the light beautifully, don’t they?

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You never can tell what you’ll find in a thrift store.

Are you dazzled yet? If not, let Richard Gere give you a little Razzle-Dazzle out the door (and if you haven’t seen Chicago, then change that immediately).

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Lewisburg Alphabet: B is for Blossoms

Welcome to the Lewisburg Alphabet!

The weather is warming up, the days are growing longer, my favorite ice cream place has opened for the season… Friends, it seems that spring is upon us, and there is little that is more glorious than Lewisburg in the spring. And spring flowers are nice, but we get some incredible flowering trees.

Right now, even as we speak, this is happening outside my front door. Dig my ornamental pear tree.

Ornamental pear tree will soon be ornamented.

Ornamental pear tree will soon be ornamented.

And look at my squat-but-hardy hyacinths.

Every year, they struggle back up.

Every year, they struggle back up, bless their stunted little stems.

And ooh, Lordie. I’ve got a punk rock pussy willow in my back yard.

BUGGER OFF! -- It seemed to say.

BUGGER OFF! — It seemed to say.

But in a few short weeks, Lewisburg will be bursting at the seams with flowering trees and blossoms. (And pollen; local peeps, stock up on Claritin now.)

My ornamental pear will be stylin’ in my front yard.

It really looks like this outside my front door. Hashtag not a movie set.

It really looks like this outside my front door. Hashtag not a movie set.

The pussy willows will be furry and lush.

Oooh, fuzzy.

Oooh, soft and cushy.

And all over town, it will look something like this.

Just a mosey down the pretty street.

Just gonna mosey down the pretty street.

And speaking of pretty streets…

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HOLY CASCADING BLOSSOMS!

The Miller’s spectacular magnolia will be in bloom.

This thing deserves its own zip code.

This thing deserves its own zip code.

Meanwhile, down at the river…

Gigantic tree, in full bloom.

Gigantic tree, in full bloom.

And check out this bee, having its way with the flowering tree by the Lutheran church.

*Literally* doing what comes naturally.

*Literally* doing what comes naturally.

Lewisburg in the spring. Blossoms everywhere! This is what I get to toddle around in every day, and I feel so fortunate. It’s a visual feast that I am happy to take part in.

Come back soon to see what’s in store for C!

Travel Theme: Sensory

This week, the travel theme at Where’s My Backpack? is: Sensory!

OK, look. There’s a part of me that wants to make crap jokes asking “are you ready to be stimulated?” *tee hee* but then I think, what am I, twelve? My struggle is real. Onward to maturity! Here’s to our senses, and please enjoy the ride.

Paris. There are small ponds in the park that surrounds the Eiffel Tower. If you lean over the railing and look straight down from one of the upper observation decks, you can see them for yourself. And it’s a little disconcerting. Note: if you have vertigo, perhaps you should avoid this exercise.

Watch that first step. It's a doozy.

Watch that first step. It’s a doozy.

There’s something profoundly invigorating about getting on a boat. At least there is for me. When I’m on the water and the smell of the salty air hits me, and boat’s engine roars to life and we are seaward bound, and the wind whips my hair around my face, I feel everything come alive. I think I was a sailor in a past life.

See you later, Boston.

See you later, Boston.

Welcome to the Day-Glo Garden at the Great Lakes Science Center. Fun fact: I totally want to build an inner sanctum that looks like this. With a killer stereo system and all the streamable TV I want. Because really, this is what things look like inside my brain most of the time. Hashtag when I am a millionaire.

The only thing this is missing is are tiny sparkly pixies.

The only thing this is missing are tiny sparkly pixies.

When in Rome

Go to the Jewish ghetto, find a nice place to eat with sunny, pleasant outdoor seating and, if the fried artichokes are in season, eat them. When you go inside to use the restroom, prepare yourself for the smell of garlic wafting down from the rows and rows of corded bulbs hanging from the ceiling.

 

I had no idea what I was walking into.

And nary a vampire to be found. Savvy.

Behold! Music is just moments away with this handy-dandy travelling turntable and a trusty guitar. Photo taken at an Ellis Paul concert. Who I need to go see again, soon, but I digress.

Looks like the party's about to start.

Looks like someone has the party well in hand.

And finally.

My place. Black bean burgers with cilantro pesto on a bed of shredded sweet potatoes. It was delicious. My mouth is watering at this photo: Paging Dr. Pavlov!

I like vegetables. That is all.

Therein lies my sensory challenge. I hope you have fun checking out the other participants in this week’s photo challenge. Thanks for dropping by!

Reykjavik Street Art

I was walking down a street in downtown Reykjavik when I caught a glimpse of explosive color on the walls of a courtyard behind a bar. I couldn’t stop myself. I walked in and found myself in a riot of art and color.

Kitty!

Kitty! And…is that a poop emoji, bottom right?

I snapped a photo then turned around; there was a man in the courtyard, having a smoke. We struck up a conversation–where I’m from, what I was doing in Reykjavik–and then he asked how I liked the city. 

“Reykjavik is great fun,” I said, “and has a lot of really cool things to do. But the street art is fantastic.”

This guy, right here.

This guy, right here.

As I said this he beamed. I saw the look on his face and asked, “Wait, are you a street artist, too?” He said he was (but not of the art in this photo). He said there are a handful of street artists that work in Reykjavik, some on commission from building owners, some independently. And they’re generally incredibly creative and resourceful, kind of funny, and respectful of each other’s work.

Looking good, Billy Ray.

Looking good, Billy Ray.

And the street art is everywhere. Note: All my photos were taken in downtown Reykjavik (remember, I was only in the city for three and a half days and we had some packaged trips to take, so downtown was where we wandered in our free time. I hardly claim this is an exhaustive display of Reykjavik street art). And I have ZERO background information on how this all started. I just know the art on the walls was thrilling to see. Vibrant. Fresh. Occasionally challenging.

Note: this photo was taken at like 4:30 in the afternoon. #nighttime #north

Where koalas are king. Note: this photo was taken at like 4:30 in the afternoon. #nighttime #north

I mean, I grew up in New Jersey. New York was my training city, and there was precious little that would compel me to walk down an unfamiliar alley in New York. And yet in Reykjavik…

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The lure of houndstooth was too strong.

And here.

Back behind some bar, somewhere.

Back behind some bar, somewhere.

And here.

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George looms in the distance.

Some art is decidedly helpful.

Not one, not two, but three different ways to tie a tie.

Not one, not two, but three different ways to tie a tie.

Some art seems to be more…political? Maybe?

A statement on US-Icelandic relations? Or a really cool painting of an eagle and a raven?

A statement on US-Icelandic relations? Or a really cool painting of an eagle and a raven?

And with some art, the politics are unquestionable.

Women's rights. Dig it.

Women’s rights. Dig it.

Here’s how the Icelandic and German sections of this statement roughly translate (and I confess, I presume my readership is fluent in English, so for the red part you’re on your own).

Part 1 (in green, in Icelandic): Gender equality has not been achieved. Multiple invisible thresholds still exist in the traditionally male-dominated power system.

Part 2 (in blue, in German): The Convention* entered into force in 1981 and was an important step in the recognition of women’s rights as human rights.

*The Convention refers to The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), ratified by the UN General Assembly in 1979 and brought into force in 1981, when the 20th UN member country ratified it.

Also, I realize this is probably, more technically, graffiti. No pictures, just words. But I like what it has to say, so it’s going up.

Some bits of street art don’t make a lot of sense.

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I don’t know where that cat is going but he is hauling ass to get there.

Is quirky.

Hey li'l fella. What's your name?

Hey li’l fella. Maybe you should lay off the caffeine.

Or kind of nightmare-fuel-y.

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The Master is here for your soul. Side note: I overheard an older American woman complaining about this becloaked figure, saying it was “dreadful”. Indeed. Mission accomplished, artist.

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From what I can tell, the quote below the image translates to, “I was worst to those I loved the most.” So. He seems nice.

Or is full of badassery.

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Ride on, Wolf Lady!

If mine upstairs window offends thee I shall pluck it out.

If mine upstairs window offends thee I shall pluck it out…

...and give it to the valkyrie just around the corner.

…and give it to the valkyrie just around the corner.

Sometimes, street artists do a selfie.

Nice job, Stefan.

Nice job, Stefan.

Offer up practical bits of advice.

Who's a hoopy frood who really knows where her towel is? #geekalert

Who’s a hoopy frood who really knows where her towel is? #geekalert

And most importantly, it can remind us where our dreams can take us.

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And there he goes!

Thank you, Reyjkavik street artists, for some spectacular visual feasting. Keep making art happen! It was a thrill to see your incredible work. 

Sunrise (Sort Of), Reykjavik, December 11, 2015

Our plane landed at 6:30 in the morning, Reykjavik time. We gathered our carry-on items and walked out of the plane and across the tarmac to the terminal, raising our faces to the light as the sun started to crest…

No we didn’t. We dug deeper into our scarves and hustled for the door. It was pitch dark. Just a tick shy of being within the Arctic Circle, Reykjavik doesn’t see the sun until 11AM in mid-December, and then it just rides the horizon line until 3:30 or so. Low-level not-quite-twilight, all day long. Or short. Depending on how you look at it.

Before the sun came up, haggard from the plane and looking at a day in which we needed to stay awake, the first thing we did was get a cup of coffee. Luckily, there was a coffee shop across the street from our hotel. Even more luckily, it was Reykjavik Roasters (their less-discussed second location, it seems), which is apparently one of the best places for a cuppa in town. For the record, it was a pretty stellar cup of coffee. Plus, the cafe was appropriately groovy, with artfully peeling paint and mismatched furniture and its own record collection.

9AM, no sign of the sun, Dave Brubeck on the stereo. Nice.

9AM, no sign of the sun, Dave Brubeck on the stereo. Nice.

From there, we decided to walk to Hallgrimskirkja, the much photographed church made of poured concrete that somehow manages to look like it’s ready to lift off. Bonus! We didn’t need a map, as you can see the spire from pretty much everywhere in the city.

...in 5...4...3...2...

TA-DAAAAA! …in 5…4…3…2…

At Hallgrimskirkja, you can (pay to) climb (climb, schmimb, there’s an elevator that takes you to one floor below the top story) the clock tower and feast one’s eyes on a panoramic view of the city. It only makes sense that that’s the place to go to watch the sun come up.

Going up?

Going up?

The church was incredible…so much so, it deserves its own blog, and I’ll get to it, I swear. But first, up and away, to enjoy the sunrise. Once we got up there…oh, man, was it worth it. All four sides of the tower have windows, so we were able to watch the entire city come to light. I’ll just let the photos tell the story.

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This is about as bright as it gets. Welcome to winter's high noon, Reykjavik style!

This is about as bright as it gets. Welcome to winter’s high noon, Reykjavik style!

Talk about a way to spend a birthday.

Talk about a way to spend a birthday.

Travel Theme: Routine

This week at Where’s My Backpack?, Ailsa offers us a glimpse into routine for her photo challenge. As I need to re-routinize myself to blogging with the new year, this seems auspicious. 🙂

Ever forward.

Welcome to a goalie practice at the Herb Brooks Arena (home of the 1980 Miracle on Ice US Olympic hockey team upset-slash-victory, and I was so excited to walk in there I felt like a five-year-old on Christmas Eve). There were CAN/AM teams in the arena practicing, and we got to watch goalies get some top-notch coaching. Over. And over. And get shelled by their teammates. Over. And over. And then they’d stop and talk about what happened. It was fantastic.

OK, so, we're going to do this for the hundredth time. You ready?

OK, Bob, we’re going to do this for the hundredth time today. You ready?

Closer to home, check out these kids performing one of their dance routines at the Lewisburg Arts Festival. Come for the dancing, stay for the hand-crafted jewelry (not pictured, but trust me…you want some). 

We ain't never had an arts festival like this!

We ain’t never had an arts festival like this!

Boat maintenance is never done, and if you want to keep that boat up and running you have to tend to it as part of your daily grind. Just ask this fellow, sanding away at his boat in a Venetian canal.

All work and no play...is pretty much what happens when you have a boat.

All work and no play…is pretty much what happens when you have a boat.

Next, it’s Hilby the Skinny German Juggling Boy! Who is doing a juggling routine with his own hat that seems to surprise even him.

HEY! Where did that thing come from?

HEY! Where did that thing come from?

And finally. Ducks and swans in Reykjavik‘s Lake Tjörnin are so accustomed to people feeding them, it seems they’ve incorporated patiently waiting for bread into their daily routines.

Hey, kid. You gonna finish that?

Hey, kid. You gonna finish that?

Side note: No, you’re not imagining things. Icelandic whooper swans really are the size of a small child.

And I will leave you with an Icelandic folk song written in honor of the raven. Because I am a giver.

Enjoy the photo challenge!

Travel Theme: Letters

This week at Where’s My Backpack?, Ailsa invites to look at letters.

So let’s look at letters.

I can’t read it, but it’s letters for someone. The tattered remains of an ancient scroll written in hieroglyphics. Seen at Boston’s beautiful Museum of Fine Arts.

Don’t ask me what it says, I don’t remember. And I can’t read it. But it looks super-cool, doesn’t it?

Chef Boyardee was, in fact, a real live person. Hector Boiardi emigrated to the US, became a chef, began marketing his sauce and–as one thing leads to another–eventually had so much demand he needed his own factory. Hector Boiardi built said factory in the fertile, tomato-crop-growing lands of Milton, PA, just a few short miles from my home. It has since been bought out by a larger food company (which shall remain nameless) but the iconic smokestack–and the surrounding tomato fields–remain.

He's real, people.

He’s real, people.

As seen in Skaneateles, NY. ’nuff said.

Ham, sweet ham. HOME! HOME!

Ham, sweet ham. HOME! HOME! I mean HOME!

If you ever wanted to read a collection of poetry by Nobel Prize-winning author Pablo Neruda–translated into Russian–here’s your chance. It’s even prettier when it’s written in Cyrillic.

A little light reading (and a kind of creepy doll) before bed, anyone?

A little light reading (and a kind of creepy doll) to send you off to dreamland, anyone?

And recently, I went on a nighttime river cruise on the Hiawatha, an event-and-rentable (party) boat on the mighty Susquehanna River. Here’s the recently-risen moon, shining on the tiara of letters that spell the boat’s name.

Nice night for a cruise.

Nice night for a cruise.

That’s it, for now, for letters. I hope you enjoyed them! Or even want to play along yourself… 🙂 Happy shutterbugging!

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