amsterdam

Jul. 17th, 2013 11:59 am
clevermynnie: (smile)
I had one last trip, to cap off a month in which I visited five other countries and filled two pages of my passport: to Amsterdam! This actually got planned further back than all those other trips, before I realized that I wouldn't be able to travel much in late July and August. But I really wanted to see the newly renovated and reopened Rijksmuseum, and the Van Gogh Museum, so I recruited some like-minded friends from Dublin, and we headed over just for the weekend.

The museums were great, just so good. We went early to both and pre-booked tickets, because I had heard some horror stories about lines, but we had no lines at all! I loved all the Dutch golden age stuff--Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hals, Steen, Ruisdael--and actually there was a lot of historical context that was really helpful. And the Van Gogh museum was great; I loved a lot of what I saw, but was especially surprised and pleased to find that Van Gogh had actually painted versions of two Hiroshige woodblock prints that we have up in our house. And I loved lots of the pieces they had, and the context, though I found the omission of any discussion of Van Gogh's mental state kind of weird in the areas that focused on his later life. And we went to this concert in the Royal Concertgebouw, which is apparently famed for its acoustics. They did some Brahms variations I didn't care much about, and then the Ravel orchestration of Pictures at an Exhibition which is always enjoyable, but the really amazing part of it for me was Isabelle Faust playing the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto. I saw the piece in the program and thought, Mendelssohn, cool, violin concerto, yes! But I didn't realize until the opening notes that, oh, I know this piece, when I was a kid we had a recording of Jascha Heifetz playing this and the Bruch violin concerto and we listened to it a lot on weekends. Hearing it performed in person was rapturous.



We also had a lot of fun poking around Amsterdam, going to little shops or outdoor markets, having nice food and beer, and just wandering up and down canals. I think I was a bit prejudiced against Amsterdam, which is part of why it took me this long to get there; it's often the favorite European city for people who are really into partying, who will enthuse about the open availability of drugs and prostitutes. And okay, fine, but that's not my thing so I kind of assumed I would not click with Amsterdam. But actually, there's so much culture and history there, and it's such a lovely place, that I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed being there! I would totally go back, though in the near future I will just be sticking around Dublin, where I can enjoy lovely summer weather and have ice creams and go swimming and spot urban foxes.
clevermynnie: (al fresco)
I took a lot of photos! In Scandinavia!

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sibelius monument 3

trip times

Jul. 9th, 2013 01:16 pm
clevermynnie: (see us waving)
I'm back in Dublin! My weeklong foray to Scandinavia was pretty fun, though it did leave me with the suspicion that my favorite place up there is still Norway.

Ben and I started out in Copenhagen, which had some rough weather but the added ambience of truckloads of teenagers, newly graduated and kind of trashed, roaming the streets. I literally mean truckloads, like these open-backed farm vehicles driving along, honking, filled with kids cheering and mooning. We went up a stone tower to see the view, went to Tivoli Gardens which is sort of like Disneyland but with Hans Christian Anderson, and had tea in the design center while watching the rain. We also met up with some people Ben knew through work, in an Irish pub, to talk about the travails of being a game development programmer.

Then we took a train up to Stockholm, through myriad lakes and forests. I loved Stockholm, which seemed to have a lot to do, a diverse population, and lots of water winding through the city. We spent a good chunk of time at Skansen, which is like an outdoor museum with historical houses from all over Sweden, plus arctic animals like reindeer, bears, owls, and moose. Well, and peacocks, which are less arctic. And we went to the Nordiska Museum which has a lot of cultural stuff, including a great exhibition about the Sami (indigenous people of Lapland), and the Vasa Museum which has a truly spectacular 17th century ship. Stockholm also seemed to have a lot of great food, and much cheaper than the other places.

To get from Stockholm to Helsinki, we took this overnight cruise, which is cost effective but also just very beautiful. You go through forested archipelagos, and in the summer the sun doesn't go down until late. Dinner was great, and then we were up on the deck having a drink when the sun did finally set, eventually watching the ship dock in Åland before it continued on and we went to bed. And then in the morning you wake up and are nearly to Helsinki! This was one of my favorite parts of the trip.

Helsinki was small but really nice and quite sunny. I loved seeing the Sibelius Monument there, and the big food market at the harbor, and the design and architecture museums. Actually in general I felt that we saw a lot of museums that asked deep and probing questions (like in the design museum, things were organized thematically and there was a lot to chew on). We also went to a great pub, and took a boat out to this fort island, Suomenlinna, which was really nice to walk around. Our last act in Helsinki was to get some treats to take home: I got brunost, which is a Norwegian cheese I really like, and Ben got surströmming, this Swedish fermented fish which has an intense putrid aroma. So I got something sweet and slightly odd, and Ben got something famed for its difficult to acquire taste. I feel like that says something about us.

So it was a pretty nice trip, though we had some difficulty on agreeing on what to do, and I missed the outdoorsiness and mountains that I experienced so much of in Norway. I do have photos, of course, coming soon!
clevermynnie: (smile)
Ever since I went to Norway last summer and completely loved it, I've really wanted to see more of Scandinavia. So today Ben and I are off on a weeklong vacation through Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Helsinki! I'm super excited; it'll be a bit different from my Norway trip since we're staying in cities rather than hiking through the backcountry, but it should be a great change of scenery.

sphere

belgium

Jun. 18th, 2013 10:56 pm
clevermynnie: (smile)
I went to Belgium with Ben over the weekend, to hang out with some friends from grad school. If this sounds familiar, it's because we did the exact same thing last summer, just with different friends. What can I say, Belgium is a nice place to hang.

sunny high five


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clevermynnie: (and then?)
I'm back from my weekend in Northern Ireland! This was supposed to be my race weekend, but shin injuries (shinjuries!) and illness took me out of the running, so instead I relaxed with friends. We had amazing weather and went on a hike up Slieve Donard, the highest mountain in Northern Ireland. And then we were tired and had a barbeque and relaxed and played card games. And I took photos!

cottage field


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life

May. 21st, 2013 03:50 pm
clevermynnie: (mask)
My shins hurt less now. Unfortunately on Saturday night, I started having back spasms, presumably due to sitting so much. But after an unpleasant Sunday, I opted to go back to work Monday, and my back is now feeling a lot better. It still hurts to flex my shins at all (which is part of walking), but that's slowly getting better too. I'm really grateful to be healing this quickly.

I still have that race in the Mourne Mountains less than a month from now, and we'll see how my legs are by then; I might have to drop down to a shorter distance. It's hard to predict, but the area is beautiful and I've organized a big house and friends coming along, so the weekend should be fun regardless of the race itself. Plus we have a weekend in Belgium later in June, meeting up with some friends from grad school, which I am really looking forward to after how much we enjoyed Belgium last summer. And I'm going to Amsterdam to see the newly reopened Rijksmuseum in July, which should be awesome.

Also, ever since I went to Norway last summer I've wanted to go back and see more of Scandinavia. So now I'm thinking a weeklong trip later in the summer, through Copenhagen and Stockholm and Helsinki. I'm still ironing out details but it looks like there will be so much fun stuff to do, and I'm very excited.
clevermynnie: (al fresco)
I found Wales to be one of the loveliest places I've ever visited, and while I didn't take any photos during my race, I did take photos of the other places we went to. And here they are!

me in the forest


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bay area

May. 16th, 2013 06:32 pm
clevermynnie: (see us waving)
Going through a bunch of miscellaneous recent photos, and this one reminded me, I would totally move back to the Bay Area. Not sure if I actually will, but man, what a nice place. (Side note: if I did move back I would probably not get to live in Coit Tower where I took this picture.)

golden gate

wales

May. 15th, 2013 10:52 am
clevermynnie: (smile)
I ended up having a really packed trip to Wales, but it was a lot of fun!

The precipitating event was the Ultra Brecon 40, which was a mixed bag. But what was great was that [livejournal.com profile] erindubitably and [livejournal.com profile] marrog came down from Scotland, to drive around with me and Ben and to do a lot of relaxing in various B&Bs, cottages, and pubs. Pretty much everywhere we went was gorgeous, but also we had a lot of fun just playing board games and listening to music and chatting.

We also visited some distant relatives of mine, second and third cousins on my paternal grandmother's side. They were really nice, especially my second cousin who is older now and told me about going around the US by Greyhound after World War II, moving to New Zealand because it was cheap and sounded fun, and generally how one should travel when one was able. They showed me my great great great grandfather's grave, and took us out to a family-owned house near Llanidloes. The house was very old and very interesting, with a lot of bedrooms that are apparently filled with distant relatives come summer. And we walked around to see the grotto, the pond, the forest with stone age burial mounds, and of course a lot of sheep and views of sheep. I'd love to go back and stay awhile sometime.
clevermynnie: (see us waving)
So after my race which went so well, I spent a few days in San Antonio. I was visiting friends I grew up with, whose older daughter is my goddaughter, and whose younger daughter I hadn't even met before since it had been so long since I saw them.

It's always nice seeing old friends, and I keep in pretty good contact with Jeanine so there wasn't really a disconnect at all. Still, it was odd peeking into her life which is so dissimilar to mine. She's a stay at home mom with very young kids, a new dog they are still training, a cat, a minivan, a house. This is absolutely what she wanted to be doing at this point in life, so while it can be stressful, she and her husband seem pretty happy. It doesn't really make me want to do any of that more, though, but I guess we've been on different life tracks for five years or so, since she finished with school.

We did go around San Antonio a bit, to the Alamo and the River Walk which were both very nice. Texas in the spring is a surprisingly enjoyable place, though from the sounds of it I should never ever go there in the summer. And we cooked together and did stuff with her kids, and I got both my friends into SW:TOR which I'm hoping they keep playing. I still think it would be easiest to keep up with friends if everyone blogged regularly and played an MMO. Alas, I've had a hard time converting people to either of those pursuits. If only I were in charge!
clevermynnie: (see us waving)
Having spent the last week in the Bay Area, I am now in transit passing through Phoenix, which means I actually have time to write!

I had wondered if it was going to be weird returning to the Bay Area for the first time in 4 years, mainly because of the bizarro past-life vibe that Los Alamos still gives me. But actually, it was just lovely to be in San Francisco again. This is a great time of year to be there, what with the greenery and the clear air and the temperate weather and the way that everything goes into bloom. I had a nice dinner with [livejournal.com profile] mr_ron and his girlfriend, spent the weekend in Napa with [livejournal.com profile] chih and everyone, got to have banh mi with Jessica and meet her boyfriend, and saw my undergraduate mentor and catch up. It was really enjoyable, with jaunts to Berkeley and through Chinatown and up Coit Tower. I loved being back in Berkeley; it was comforting and great, not quite like home, but like an old friend you're really fond of. And it was fun taking around some of the people I work with in Ireland, and eating more than my share of Mexican food and sushi (and, intriguingly, the sushirrito).

I do notice variations, though, in the rapport that I have with various old friends. When you've had a lot of life events pass there's a sort of disconnect that starts happening, and I could feel that with some of the people I saw, where we're all in very different places now and it's noticeable even if it's still good to get together. Though in some ways maybe that's nicer than going back to someplace you're still disentangling yourself from (Philly, I'm looking at you) and navigating that whole experience. A lot of things have happened since I lived in the Bay Area and saw many of these people, but mostly life has gone in a positive direction and that's comforting.

I didn't have time to see everyone in the area that I would have liked, since I was in SF for work and had a pretty packed schedule. Nor did I get to revisit every old haunt! But what's most important is that I had Cheeseboard Pizza... and in a weird turn of events, meet the son of the woman who wrote the Cheeseboard cookbook. Would I consider moving back to the Bay Area? I certainly would, though not for awhile yet.

And now I am going to San Antonio to see Jeanine and her family, run my trail 50k, and hopefully track down some sopapillas. Hopefully good news to follow.
clevermynnie: (see us waving)
I am in the airport, and had to leave so early to get here, and am shifting so many time zones over, that it seemed to make sense to just not sleep until I am on a plane. At least, several hours ago that made sense.

I'm going to San Francisco to give a talk at a conference, and that is exciting. I did a practice talk for my boss which went pretty well, and while there are some nerves because this is the first time I've presented research from this group, it's a nice feeling that overall I know how to put together a good research talk. Also, obviously I know some people in the Bay Area still, and will be doing what visiting I have time for, so that is good. I haven't been back in four years, and loved the Bay Area but who knows how it will feel now.

After that I'm going to San Antonio to visit friends and run a race, and after that I should really have a vacation where I do nothing at all. Just sit under a tree and fall asleep, that would be great.

My uncle Ted, who was terminally ill a month ago when I visited, has now passed on. It's sad, and my uncle was great and I will miss him. It makes me miss family, but also family is complicated.

road trips

Mar. 21st, 2013 01:01 pm
clevermynnie: (and then?)
I haven't had a car in four years, and it's been a lot longer since I had a regular car commute. I love commuting by walking, am a bit sad that I now have to take the train (though I always stand on the train). And I think that weekend car rentals and hourly carsharing services, like I had access to in Philly, are more practical than car ownership in most cities, assuming that you don't need a car to commute. I don't do either of those things as much here in Dublin, but also I am a lot worse at driving on the left in Dublin, so that works out just fine.

But I have to say, I miss road trips. Not enormous ones with 12-hour driving days, but there is something I find enjoyable and freeing about driving for a few hours with music playing, watching the scenery go by. And ending up somewhere cool, far from civilization, maybe with a friend or two, looking to explore. This largely reflects my having grown up out west where driving is easy and there's lots of space to cover, but even driving from Philly up to Hackettstown and back a couple weeks ago was enjoyable and reminded me how much I like road trips. Maybe I should be researching some sort of European road trip for the summer, preferably in some part of Europe where I could enjoy driving on the right.
clevermynnie: (al fresco)
Even though there was a lot more stuff to work through on our Philly trip than I would have hoped, there were some highlights.

*Seeing my old labmates was really nice, and old coworkers, and it was especially awesome to talk to people who had graduated after I left and hear about how well they were doing.
*My uncle and aunt in New Jersey are really fun to talk music with.
*My in-laws in Lancaster are really fun to talk literature with.
*I love going to spin with my stepmother-in-law! I hadn't done it since just after my defense, but I didn't really even think about that, I just enjoyed how tough it was.
*Also I kind of love driving in the US. It is so easy and enjoyable compared to driving here.
*The bat mitzvah which occasioned our visit was also pretty cool. I had not been to such a thing before, and they had the family members do readings including me, and that was nice.
*Relaxing with SW:TOR at our friends' house the last evening of our trip was also really laidback and enjoyable.
*And finally my friend Rose had a gorgeous scarf which she brought back for me from Pakistan. One of the best matches for my eyes of any piece of clothing ever!

scarf from rose
clevermynnie: (al fresco)
So I spent the weekend with a couple friends out west, in County Clare. Originally we were going to do an academic writing retreat, and then it morphed a bit so we did some writing, but also some cooking and also some hikes. I knew we'd be near the Burren, a starkly beautiful geological area, but didn't realize until we got out there just how close we were to the Cliffs of Moher as well. So writing was nice, the time with friends was really good, and also the hikes were amazing! Here, have some photos.

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mullaghmore

madrid!

Jan. 21st, 2013 11:58 pm
clevermynnie: (smile)
Over the weekend we went to Madrid with [livejournal.com profile] erindubitably and [livejournal.com profile] marrog! We saw a lot of the Prado and the Reina Sofia, two of the largest art museums there; I've wanted to see them ever since I realized how much good stuff was there (which occurred while I was reading Janson's over a year ago). I was a bit goal-oriented about seeing all the things, but we also had a lot of downtime having tapas, wine, and hotel room game nights, so I felt like it was a well-balanced weekend overall. Somehow I barely took any pictures and the good ones were of random buildings where we didn't spend any time, which probably indicates that fun was had.

san jerónimo el real

roof and sky


I like both traveling and friends. Life is good.
clevermynnie: (smile)
Friday after work we drove down to Clonakilty with some friends, partly so three of us could do some of the Clonakilty races (the half-marathon for me), and partly to spend a weekend down in west Cork which is a very lovely place. The weather's pretty variable there any time of year, and I was telling myself that even if it rained nonstop we only had to be outside for a couple of hours and be toasty indoors in the gorgeous house we rented the rest of the time. But we lucked out and it was just gorgeous all weekend! Here's the view from where we stayed:

clonakilty view


The race itself was not the best organized I've done, but I was pretty low-key about the whole thing and didn't really have specific goals other than 'run a bit'. And the scenery was great! We started at the Inchydoney beach and then went along the coast for a bit before going out through some rolling hills, greenery, and finally back over a huge hill at mile 10 and back in along the coast. The times the race posted don't match what I timed on my watch (or what many others timed), but in any case I didn't PR but was 1-3 minutes off the PR I had at Clontarf in July, depending on whose watch you trust. It's cool to know that's a pace I can reliably hold for a half, and is also 0-2 minutes under my Dublin Marathon first half split. But it was also awesome having people at the finish line cheering for me, and also getting to hear about everyone else's good races (a half PR and a really nice first 10k) at the finish!

We also had a pretty nice time out that evening, going to a very traditional pub and then a pretty amazing seafood restaurant. And after dinner we went to a local's pub that, shockingly, had a back room with a pool tables and a piano! So I lost at pool but at least I didn't miss any days of piano, and in fact made a heroic effort to bang some Debussy and Chopin out of an untuned piano with 1/3 keys broken. If that doesn't count I don't know what does.
clevermynnie: (al fresco)
These are pictures of the main park area, which has part of the race I did. And some of Ben and his mom and stepdad!

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causeway cliff path
clevermynnie: (al fresco)
These are pictures of the main park area, which has part of the race I did. And some of Ben and his mom and stepdad!

Read more... )

causeway cliff path

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