Monday, July 20, 2009

This Week is Comic-Con

Geeks everywhere are thinking "Duh. Everyone knows it's Comic-Com."

I'm sure some of our Comic-Con ventures are covered under the Geek label in Chickenblog. The funny thing is we feel like we were already there this year. But the food was too good, so we must have been in Bruxelles! My first post about Bruxelles alluded to the comic theme and the good food, to Tin-Tin and the Grand Plaçe, and then I promised a visit to... Atomium!

Somewhere in the comments was a nice remark about our 'many pictures' and how we 'must have lots of photo albums.' We have many up until about 2001, and then came digital and I have practically stopped printing. And once I started blogging I gave up photo albums. Chickenblog is our family photo album. It would be nice to rectify this. I know it would be nice to have real books with prints that we could leaf through and enjoy. We don't even have family pictures in frames... very bad. Shame.

Well, no point dwelling. And until I remember how to make prints or learn how to take a memory stick to the printshop, then I will at least try to keep Chickenblog as up to date as possible.

Comic-Con has crowds.

Bruxelles has crowds.

Comic-Con has art and people to admire the art.

Bruxelles has art and people to admire the art.

Comic-Con has forums for self expression, for demonstrating your interests, talents, points of view.

Bruxelles has forums for self expression, for demonstrating interests, talents, points of view.

Comic-Con has people that dress in character.

Bruxelles has people that dress in character.

Comic-Con has vendors.

Bruxelles has vendors.

Comic-Con has food convention center nachos, dry pretzels and tall sodas.

Bruxelles has waffles, chocolate, sweet strawberries, frites, beer, hearty and fresh sandwiches that are stuffed with delicious veggies, Speculoos, Nutella, onion soup, mussels...

Comic-Con has been around since the 1970's.

Bruxelles has been around since before the 10th Century.

We love Comic-Con enough to return year after year.

Bruxelles has us smitten too.

On our way out of town we were lamenting how little time we had to spend in Belgium. I had read about this place called "Atomium." Dallas had mentioned it too... a place we might enjoy seeing. But we felt the need to race off to our next reservation, so we assumed we'd have to miss it. But as we settled in to the highway and had our course charted, we saw the shiny mecca on the horizon, rising like a gleaming geek siren above the trees. Once again we made our GPS go bonkers when we steered away from the charted course and tried to find our way to Atomium.

Go to the webpage to get a handle on what Atomium is all about. This 1958 World's Fair attraction, a big, shiny representation of a ferrium crystal, was well worth the price of admission. We loved the sights. We loved the engineering. We loved the design. We loved the shine. We loved the retro back to the future vibe. If we could have worn jetpacks and slept in pods we would not be here right now...

We would be pondering the joy of comics and science converging.

We would still be playing with the endless wonder of digital photography and big things.

We would be riding up and down the elevator to the top atom.

Then we would be looking down.

Down is where we saw the city and the woods and the tiny cars.

Hey, there's our car!

And there's Mini-Europe!
I want to go to there.

No. Wait. I want to go to there!
That looks awesome.

We were surprised how much of the Ferrium Crystal was accessible. With stairs, the main elevator and escalators we were traveling all over Atomium.

Wouldn't it be cool if they could achieve zero gravity in here?

Don't let their expressions mislead you. Those are the reverent faces of geeks in awe of science and technology. Okay, and Maria is a little sad her ice cream is all gone.

You can't get this at Comic-Con, but we're going anyway.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Vacation in Holland

A great deal of Chickens Abroad was devoted to traveling, to big cities and using the metros, to getting from one sight to the next, and navigating busy streets, then squeezing into small hotels. It was great. It was something new, and it was exciting. It does the brain good to learn new words and new contexts and new ways to get from point A to point B. It does the soul good to gaze on art and hear live music and see the stars from a different latitude and longitude. Our bodies were rewarded too, with all day excursions and market place berries, fresh bread, great cheese. Big active cities are amazing and full of opportunity, and the energy exchange... you give as much as it takes!

After London and Paris and Bruxelles we felt savvy and sophisticated (ahem) We also felt just a teeny bit frazzled. We were ready to welcome a new flavor of Europe, and we got exactly that when we pulled into Rabbit Hill. I'd booked the reservation and seen the website, so I knew we were going to be staying in a family friendly, all inclusive place, in a natural setting, but with all the conveniences a traveling clan craves. And there would be rabbits... wild ones is what I figured... a lot of bunnies hopping in and out of the woods.

"Rabbit Hill" is a rabbit hill and the sight of hundreds of bunnies living in thumper harmony, lazing, bouncing, nibbling, hopping and grazing together was hilarious and unexpected and delightful. There was every age, size, breed and temperament living together in a giant enclosure, with broad and shady trees and a real warren... like you may have read about in "Watership Down" or "Rabbit Hill." Seeing the rabbits was just the beginning of our vacation... the restful, slowdown, take it easy, relax, play, breath easy vacation.

As much as negotiating a big city is a new experience for us, quiet days in the woods and bowling-swimming-pedaling is unique too. Here in Garage Mahal we are between zones... neither big city nor country-woodsy. We don't have pool access or metro access. We have traffic and only one rabbit. We'd been bowling once, but not since 1999 have we had a vacation with everything made easy and fun.

May You be blessed with a vacation made easy and fun. It is wonderful.

Why I liked loved staying in a Landal GreenPark

Indoor Pool
Outdoor Pool
Indoor Playgrounds
Petting Zoos
Grocery Store
Mini (Midget!) Golf
Thoughtfully equipped cabins
Friendly staff
Options and amenities
Unbelievably comfortable beds
Internet in the flat screen TV
Children's programs
Intelligent design
Cold Beer
Super fun
Like, totally awesome

*Some day I may win the lottery. (Some day I may play the lottery.) When I win, I am offering a Landal GreenPark vacation to family and friends. Honest. It's on me. Restaurant Bazar is less than 2 hours away. This really could happen. Be ready!