Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Coldplay Put a Smile Upon My Face

IMAG2262.jpg by gkhamilton
IMAG2262.jpg, a photo by gkhamilton on Flickr.
This Coldplay wristband was my glowing contribution to the nebula of fog and colors at their Portland Rose Garden concert. And it was all Yellow.

Blame my short attention span, but the Amsterdam finale to my ongoing Spring Break in the Low Countries travelogue will have to wait a few more days. With these past few days of sunny weather in the Northwest, I just can't bring myself to stay inside to upload vacation pictures. Besides, I wouldn't trade anything for the look on baby Lena's face on Sunday as she saw the Pacific Ocean during the descent of that coastal hiking trail.

Coldplay didn't exactly rock the Portland Rose Garden last night, but Chris Martin and co. sure know how to throw themselves into an energetic frenzy of anthemic pop/rock. After my past two attempts to see a Coldplay show fell through, the long awaited opportunity to see one of my favorite bands did not disappoint.

CameraZOOM-20120424210728136_orig_1_edited-1.jpgSoaring melodies, gleeful dancing, and spectacular show production were the order of the night. The randomly flashing glow bracelets that were handed out before showtime illuminated the arena with a multicolored sea of lights.

Above: Coldplay encores out of a random stadium entrance within the crowd for an acoustic version of "Us Against the World."

All of that hyperkinetic energy occasionally ebbed away to make room for the intimacy of "The Scientist” (one of the greatest ballads ever) and Chris' beautiful piano outro of "Amsterdam" (no, not a plug for my next BlogSpot post). Most of the show, however, was pure, bouncy pop bliss.

Or maybe I should say, Paradise.

Our night didn't end there, of course. A late night/ early morning stop at Kells downtown for live Irish folk tunes and Jameson's BBQ sauce smothered wings winded down the evening.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Trouble On the Tracks (The Netherlands)- Spring Break in the--- yeah,yeah…

IMG_4042.JPG by gkhamilton
IMG_4042.JPG, a photo by gkhamilton on Flickr.
After our train from Brussels got diverted twice, we all got kicked off on the wrong side of Amsterdam. For some reason, I look like I'm four feet tall in this photo my dad took of me scouring the map for an alternate route that WASN’T shut down.

From March 29: “There is trouble on the tracks ahead,” the train conductor blurted out just moments ago over the P.A. with a heavy Dutch accent, warning that our train from Brussels to Amsterdam is now being diverted. Again.

I had assured my dad back in Brussels that I would track down an Amsterdam hotel for us before the sun went down. It’s been pitch black outside for a while now, so I figure my travel cred was already toast before this train crossed into the Netherlands anyway.

I’m not worried, though. I’ve never had problems finding a hostel in Amsterdam, even at night. Stepping it up to a full-blown hotel for Bo should be a piece of cake.

Trust us, Amsterdam, we’re coming! Eventually.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Belgium- Spring Break in the Low Countries, Day 3

My previous visits to Belgium have been sadly confined to the city of Brussels, and this trip with Bo was no exception. On our train ride over from Luxembourg, my dad and I decided to allot only a few hours to see the city. I wanted to make those hours count. Naturally, I plotted out a beeline to Grand Place public square.
Photo of Grand Place public square courtesy of

Brussels’ Grand Place plaza was by far the most memorable city sight from my first ever trip to Europe at the end of the 90s. I’ve flown all over Europe dozens of times since then, but this particular place is second only to Prague in my book (not counting the Swiss Alps, the Greek islands, or any of the countless European countryside routes that I’ve explored).

I have yet to see a photo of Grand Place that does justice to the panorama of preserved, ornate buildings that date as far back as the 15th century, engulfing the public square’s visitors as they approach from one of six entrance alleys.

IMG_4041.JPGBo and I capped off our visit with a light lunch at Grand Place’s Restaurant La Rose Blanche Brasserie: Twin of shrimp, cheese croquettes, and French onion soup. Although I prefer rural settings, I can’t imagine a more mesmerizing city view from the ground level of any outdoor cafĂ©.

After walking around the city for a while, I convinced Bo to follow me on a short detour to Brussels’ most iconic tourist attraction. Friends, I apologize for this picture in advance…
IMG_4035.JPG Brussels’ famous Manneken Pis (go ahead, sound it out), for all of its hype, is just a 16th century bronze statue of a boy taking a whiz into a fountain.

Tasteless? Most definitely. Worth the hoopla? I’ll leave that to the eye of the beholder.

Next stop: Amsterdam, the Netherlands!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Luxembourg- Spring Break in the Low Countries, Day 2-3

Continuing last week’s post (link here) from Europe:

Following our 9+ hour flight in Delta’s Business Elite cabin from Portland to Amsterdam, Bo and I hopped a train from the Netherlands to Belgium. From Brussels, we rode the rails to Luxembourg City.

Tickle the "Play" button above for a short video of our weary arrival at the Luxembourg City train station.

Finding a room in Luxembourg City was somewhat painless for my dad and me. IMG_3947.JPG Our train from Brussels conveniently dropped us off in time to field a couple of on-location “No Vacancy” conversations before learning about a last minute cancellation at the Hotel Restaurante Italia.

We dropped off our bags in the room upstairs SAM_0086.JPG and made our way to the Avenue de la Gare Viaduc bridge, which crosses the Vallee de la Petrusse and veers towards Luxembourg Centre. The mix of businesses and shops in the city center didn’t hold our attention for long.

The historic part of town was infinitely more interesting. IMG_3969.JPG The cobblestone streets of Luxembourg City’s Old Town had a charming, fairy tale vibe to them that evoked memories of my weeklong stay in Prague, Czechoslovakia.

CameraZOOM-20120328085716491.jpg Old Town’s only letdowns were the scaffolding that partially obstructed our view of the Cathedrale de Notre Dame (pictured) and the Royal Palace’s lack of distinctiveness.

IMG_3981.JPG During my previous travels through Luxembourg I regretted not taking the time to walk to the ruins of the cliff-top Bock fortress, strategically located to defend the city from enemies in the 17th century.

IMG_3985.JPG Walking along Chemin de la Corniche, "Europe's most beautiful balcony," provided a memorable route for Bo and I to access to the Bock fortress.

IMG_3989_edited-1.JPG Look Ma, one hand! Much of the remaining 17 km of Bock Casemates rock tunnels carved into the cliff at la Forteresse de Luxembourg were closed off. We improvised our own self-guided tour!

IMG_3996.JPGIMG_3995.JPG Bo obliged me with a brief view of the Neumunster Abbey complex in the Grund before we meandered back to southern Luxembourg at dusk. We had differing opinions about dropping in at the packed hipster hotspot Urban in Old Town, so I attempted to mask my longing looks as we passed by the crowds lining up to get inside.

IMG_3998.JPG I’ve always told my friends at home about the tiny food and drink portions in Europe (relative to our supersized plates in the U.S.), but outdoor eatery La Fountaine Pizzaria in the Place de Paris plaza proved me wrong. And I LOVE being wrong about small food portions!

The next morning, Bo and I were thankful that our comfy Hotel Restaurante Italia also served grub downstairs (would you believe that Italian cuisine was the specialty?). Breakfast was on the house.

IMAG2240.jpg We split up after checkout so I could make a morning jog over to the U.S. embassy (pictured) while Bo shopped for a warm weather hat. Luxembourg City seemed easy to navigate with my cartoonish tourist map, so I made great time.

Leave it to me to get a little too creative with the alternate return route, though. I ended up jogging against traffic down a one way, seemingly endless underground tunnel that was CLEARLY not intended for pedestrians. The tunnel entrance spit me out onto a totally unexpected neighborhood of Luxembourg (Pro Tip: Tourist maps may only include the exit, not the entrance, of underground tunnels- Wah!). I laughed at myself as I tried to maintain a brisk running pace while navigating my way back to familiar territory.

Not knowing how many minutes we had to spare before the next international train departure, I sprinted across town to hook up with Bo at the Place de Paris plaza, collect my bag from the hotel lobby, and descend on the train station.

Next stop: Brussels, Belgium!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

E.P.I.C. Student Ministry Update- April 2012

WiFi signals throughout Europe have been sketchy this past week, so bear with me as I begin uploading my Benelux pictures and travelogue (Part 1 was posted last Tuesday) here to BlogSpot now that I’m back in the U.S. Check back here later this week on BlogSpot for the rest of our adventures!

In the meantime, I’ve already uploaded some “private” Aloha Church of God E.P.I.C. Student Ministry photos on Flickr that I’ve recently converted to “public” for posting here on BlogSpot. Here is a big ol' pile of our students’ favorite pictures from the first few months of 2012…

DSC_0415.JPG Students gawk at Lena before an E.P.I.C. Wednesday night session

Shaving cream Santa beards, crafted to perfection in January

IMAG1756.jpg Blindfolded students listen to guidance to find their "purpose," as we conclude our Soul Surfer teaching series. Later, Derek spoke to our group about Christ revealing the apostle Paul’s purpose to him in the book of Acts.

DSC_0492.JPGDSC_0497.JPGE.P.I.C. Super Bowl party at our house

Playing "Statues"

P1020715.JPG AChoG/WPC graduate and proud new mama Lindsay Adams (on the far right) shows off baby Judah at Warner’s first ever Class of 2033 "Preunion" during Homecoming Weekend

No host Sunday at the Old Spaghetti Factory

IMAG1733.jpg The premiere of Derek's creative new theater/drama game, "Statue" (not to be mistaken for student favorite, “Statues.” Confused yet?)

IMAG1836.jpgIMAG1841.jpgFundraising for our upcoming trip to Denver for International Youth Convention (prepping for our Valentine Cookie Fundraiser is pictured)

And finally...

IMAG1904.jpgA tournament of “mercy” jumpstarts our discussion of what it means for Christians to show mercy, in the context of our living in community IMAG1931_edited-1.jpg Don’t ask how this innocent little crowdbreaker got out of hand so quickly!