May I just state for the record that long-ass flights are horribly uncomfortable when flying economy? And since that’s what we fly, the start of our recent European holiday was awful. Cramped seats, hardly any legroom, and fighting over the armrest were one thing, actually three things, but then add in “jimmy legs”, and drowning my sorrows in that liquor cart looked mighty tempting. Too bad booze on a flight gives me a massive headache.
Anyway, we landed in Zurich, were met by the lovely people from Viking River Cruises, and were transported to our hotel in the Techno Park. At first glance it seemed we were in a dismal business park – all glass and concrete and steel. But once we got settled in our modern hotel room - the Europeans really do have cool hotels – we ventured out for an exploratory walk and to find lunch. Many of the businesses were only on the ground floor, with apartments on the upper levels. There were shops and restaurants, only they were difficult to identify because the signage was uniform.
A few blocks from our hotel, we happened upon a Bike Expo – pedal bikes. Biking is huge in many European countries and this fair had all sorts of displays of cool bikes, demonstrations of the latest gadgets, and competitions between bikers with mad skills. And food, lots of yummy food.
We both had bratwurst and fries – oh my goodness, so good. We sat at a picnic table surrounded by families of all ages and people of all ages, and watched humanity do its thing.
We continued our exploration and entered the Viaduct Market area.
The arches of a former viaduct had all been closed in and converted into shops and restaurants – fun and funky clothes and furniture and artwork – a real “happening” place. A bit further toward the city centre we came to an area of apartment buildings surrounding a park that was bustling with families picnicking and playing.
After supper at Toscano, an excellent Italian restaurant located in Techno Park, we returned to the hotel, which was observing Earth Hour, and so the lobby bar was quiet and candlelit – lovely.
The following day, our group toured the Old Town, the old part of Zurich. I love old architecture, particularly the frills and adornments.
We stayed in town on our own after the tour and rode one of the ferries on Lake Zurich. Part of the public transport system, it’s also a great tour of about a third of the lake. We shared an excellent ham sandwich on board, and chatted with a local woman who sat at our table. She’d lived in one of the smaller towns on the lake most of her life and pointed out a few sights as we cruised past, including the chocolate factory.
After the boat trip, we continued to wander, and climbed a hill to the site of ancient fortifications, now a park, and watched a game of bowls. And enjoyed a lovely view of the city.
Then once back down the hill, we paused for a pick-me-up at a café alongside the Limmat River, people-watched and enjoyed the gorgeous weather.
We took the recommendation of our morning tour guide and stopped for supper at Zeughauskeller, a classic hofbrauhaus with giant beer mugs. I enjoyed a slightly smaller mug of the house beer, or maybe two, and the most excellent zwillig sausage and rosti – a large potato pancake. Followed by a delicious chocolate soufflé.
A short twenty-minute tram ride on the #4, not the #2 as shown here, took us back to the hotel. A fabulous start to our adventure.
How convenient – today is World Wildlife Day AND Day of Unplugging. What better way to celebrate both than to get away from electronic devices and venture into the great outdoors to commune with creatures in the wilds. (At a safe distance, of course.)
I’m fortunate in that I live outside town, and a small town at that, and we regularly have wildlife come to the door. Not really, but pretty darn close.
This is one of the resident deer. This mama brought her twins to visit last spring and I got to watch them grow over the summer. Now the young ‘uns hang out with the rest of the juveniles in a gang of about a dozen. I fear for my garden.
A small tribe of red squirrels lives in the evergreen forest surrounding my house. Though I see individuals scampering through the glade on a daily basis, I’ve yet to get a good photo. So here is one I nabbed from Unsplash.
I’ve seen hare tracks but haven’t seen the critter.
The variety of bird life is reduced somewhat this time of year but the hardy bird-folk are lovely to see. Sea gulls, of course, but also bald eagles, red tail hawks, blue jays, yellow shafted flickers, and nuthatches can all be seen from my office windows. I especially enjoy watching the crows play in the wind blowing in off the ocean.
What sorts of wild life can you see from your windows?
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Photo of red squirrel by Jongsun Lee on Unsplash
Most writers have a favorite writing method. For instance, some swear by Scrivener (me), while others write in Word or Google docs. Some prefer to draft longhand (me as well depending on my mood), using fountain pens with purple ink and notebooks.
Many of us have a favorite writing book, too. I have three shelves devoted to craft books that have helped me understand storytelling, and demystify several aspects of writing. Today I'm helping to usher a new writing guide into the world: The Emotion Thesaurus (Second Edition).
You may have heard of The Emotion Thesaurus before, or even own a copy. The original's lists of body language, thoughts, and visceral sensations for 75 unique emotions made brainstorming character expressions and reactions so much easier, and were immensely helpful in the editing process. It deservedly became a bestseller.
Now, there's a bigger, better second edition. Huzzah! Angela and Becca have added 55 NEW emotions such as Euphoria, Vindicated, and Schadenfreude. So many new ways to mess with our characters! (And that's not all that's new, either...the book is almost twice the size as the original. More words and ideas with which to play.)
Anyway, if you're interested in checking it out, and you really should be, you can read some of the reviews on Goodreads or find information here.
But that’s not all...are you ready for this?
Wish you could attend a free writing retreat, go to a conference, snag a seat at a workshop, or have your professional membership to a writing organization paid for? Of course you do!
Well, at Writers Helping Writers, one lucky winner will get one of the above, up to a $500 US value. How cool is that?!?
This is the giveaway of a lifetime, so hurry over to enter!
I'm unsure why tomorrow is declared Drink Wine Day in the US of A. Why is tomorrow so special? It can't have anything to do with the harvest, me thinks. Perhaps it's a way to fight the mid-winter doldrums. I think you'd stand a better chance of raising spirits (ha!) with a Chocolate Day, or a Eat Cake While Wearing Jammies Day, but maybe that's just me.
Here's the link to the official DWD website if you want to check it out. Yummy looking wine cocktail recipes in the side-bar that I may have to investigate further.
In other news, I baked these blueberry muffins yesterday. The recipe is my go-to muffin recipe from Alton Brown. I adapted it by using one cup of frozen blueberries from the stash in my deep freezer. I buy many pounds of wild blueberries every summer and divvy them up into one cup portions, which are a convenient amount for most recipes.
Yes, the recipe makes a dozen muffins, and yes, there is one missing from the photo. That's because it was in my tummy as soon as it was cool enough to eat. Son1 and his partner arrived about an hour later and each ate a muffin as an afternoon treat. Breakfast this morning took care of a few more. I think I'll be baking another batch fairly soon.
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