Archive for February, 2010

Tea: A Mirror of Soul

Since Philadelphia has decided to actually have winter this year we are still holding off on riding bikes until the weather turns more spring-like.  We’ve been enjoying indoor time though– catching up on reading, learning some new card games (gin!) and going to the opera.  That’s right, the opera!  I recently won two  tickets to an opera called “Tea: A Mirror of Soul” at the Academy of Music here in Philly.  Patrick and I trekked out last Friday night (the East Coast premiere) and had a fantastic night.

The opera was written by Tan Dun, who you all may know as the composer for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.  It is about the search for a prized book, love and relationships and, of course, tea!  I have never been to an opera before, let alone a modern opera.  I was really fascinated by all the organic instruments used such as water, rocks and paper.  Percussionists “played” bowls of water on stage, dripping, splashing and slapping water in large glass bowls.  A chorus of monks rhythmically clicked rocks together during a very emotional scene.  And some interesting sounds were made from clay bowls and stringed instruments I had never seen before.

The costuming was absolutely phenomenal, I read that some of the costumes weighed up to 30 pounds!  My favorite was the King’s jacket, which was adorned with very detailed scrollwork.  I wanted to borrow the opera glasses from the gentleman sitting in front of us so I could get a closer look…  I also enjoyed the set and dressing.  It was fairly plain but really helped to tell the story. 

Watching the opera was a lot like going to a modern art exhibit: I really, really enjoyed what I was seeing and hearing but at times did not completely understand what it was that I was enjoying.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, though.  Sometimes the beauty of art is the feeling it stirs in you.


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OCTOBER 2012!!!!!

It’s decided: our official estimated departure date will fall somewhere in mid- to late October, 2012.  Holy cow, this is really real!

Over the weekend we took a look at weather in the countries we plan to bike through. Any month that had an average temperature of less than 45 degrees or more than 70 degrees was filed under “no way, Jose.”  You have to remember, for that beautiful 76 degrees to be an average, there had to be a handful of 90 degree days in there as well.  Vice versa on the cold weather, too.  I’d love to attach the color-coded Excel document we crafted but I don’t think this blogging software allows for it.  It looks good though, and we’ll be able to follow the warm-ish weather all the way through to Eastern Europe.  Hopefully we won’t have a repeat of this year’s winter…

The other thing we thought heavily about was the (un)likelihood of Australia and India being a part of our agenda.  Mapping out the European leg gets us to roughly 8 months worth of travel.  Unless we somehow become even speedier speed demons there is simply no way we can cover an entire sub-continent and island continent along with Asia in the remaining 4 months.  I was super bummed at first and even lobbied to extend the trip– how can I have my spiritual awakening without India?! Where else can I get away with using my fantastic Crocodile Dundee accent but Australia?!  To put it politely I was pretty grumpy about this turn of affairs. 

Luckily I have been blessed with Patrick, who is very good at putting things into perspective for me (he is also infinitely patient, I must note).  He gently reminded me that, although this trip is going to be one of the most amazing experiences of our lives, it is not the only experience of our lives.  We have many years for many more adventures, in whatever form they may be.  I love him.

For now we are really excited about our more detailed timeframe.  Now we really have something to shoot for financially, physically and mechanically (gotta learn how to fix those flats!) 


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What Will We Eat?

The Blizzard of 2010 continues today in Philadelphia and I have been gifted with a snow day.  I haven’t had one of these since high school!  Well… not counting the (several) unofficial snow days I took in college… Anyway, Patrick had to trudge into work so I’m home with the cat passing time and thinking about the trip, of course.

One of my favorite websites/blogs for biking around the world is Tyler and Tara’s “Going Slowly” site.  They are on their trip right now and I love following their adventures, checking out their pictures and living vicariously through them.  They have the same kind of on-the-road living philosophy we hope to have– mostly camping, some hotels, lots of pretty vistas and not too much tourist stuff.  They also cook a lot of their meals on their camp stove, something I plan on doing as well.

I am trying to get into a cooking mindset for the trip, experimenting with dishes I can make in one pot that are A) not just soup B) nutritious and C) tasty.  Here’s one that is definitely a staple in our house now, so there is no doubt in my mind that we will happily gobble this dish up in any country (at any time!)

Hole in One

From my Grannie, who makes them best.

  • 4 slices of bread
  • Butter
  • 4 eggs

Butter one side of the bread.  Put it in a frying pan, butter-side down.  Butter the top of the bread. Use a cookie cutter or knife to make a hole in the center (I prefer a heart-shape).  Fry over medium heat until the butter is melted and then crack an egg carefully into the hole.  Fry until the white sets, flip and continue to fry until the bread is golden brown.  We like the egg  a little runny so you can dip the cut-out from the hole into it.  Enjoy!


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Snowed In

We find ourselves in the midst of another Storm of the Century and luckily had enough foresight to stock up on the really important things: eggs, milk, bread and booze.  I’m joking  (well on the first three items at least).  Philadelphians love being prepared for whatever kind of weather heads their way so we are too.  We spent the day hanging out in the house, trekking out for a winter walk, and cooking good food. 

Here is an updated map of our proposed route– Holland to France and then on to Ireland:

I like the Google Maps program, it is an easy way to chart out general directions and search out towns/sites that interest us.  It can get bogged down though, as is expected with a free application.  I also find the “tagging” feature pretty useful– it’s a good way to remind yourself why you’re interested in that particular site. 

We will definitely need to get some detailed regional maps or a GPS for the trip.  I recently received a package from France containing a wealth of maps and brochures.  Did you know that many countries offer this type of tourist service?  Pretty cool!  I am drooling over all the beautiful pictures of cheese, croissants and chocolate.  Guess you know my interests…

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