Gracefully – Laura Izibor
Last Wednesday, Adam called to tell me we won the lottery. No, not that lottery. We won the lottery to attend a taping of Austin City Limits! To be honest, I had never heard of the artist we were going to see, but a quick Spotify listen proved intriguing.
Tonight was the concert. In short it was amazing. In fact, Adam and I walked right across the street to Austin Java afterwards so I could write this blog.
The program we received before the show stated that tUnE-yArDs (made up of singer-songwriter Merrill Garbus, a bass player, and a 2-person saxophone section) is “somewhere between Aretha and Yoko.”
And? She plays the ukulele. Sold.
Every vocal sound that you hear is made on stage by Merrill. And I mean every.
Watching her layer vocals, scats, hums, and screams left me in awe of her artistry. Then, just when your fingers start getting into the vocals, she adds in a drum beat, loops it, and your toes start tapping. Then the sax section adds in some jazz runs and I’m practically giving myself whiplash.
The ukulele was unlike any I’d ever heard before. It was pure rock jams and oftentimes I even forgot it was a ukulele.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a concert with so much sensory overload at once. The environment of the ACL studio only added to the atmosphere and I loved every minute.
I’m pretty sure I’ll be listening to her all day tomorrow.
Meanwhile I’ll leave you with a couple of YouTube videos from some of her older live performances.
You didn’t think I’d leave you hanging on the rest of our EPCOT travels did you?
As I mentioned in my first post, the reason for our trip to Disney was to celebrate a sorority sister’s wedding. In the days leading up to the wedding, we had a few events to take part in – but the times still allowed us to have some night park time!
After taking a nice long mid-day break (due to rain, AGAIN), we were able to get gussied up for the Dessert Welcome Party for the wedding. But first, we had to make our reservations at La Hacienda San Angel in Mexico – while braving the rain. This restaurant was recommended by a co-worker’s wife and I’m so glad we knew about it! The atmosphere was wonderful, the service was great and the food was mouth-watering.
To start, we ordered the Queso Fundido – one of our favorite mexican dishes – which was served alongside some wonderful warm flour tortillas. We then split the La Hacienda Parrillada, which included an unbelievable New York Strip, chicken al pastor, chorizo, and grilled vegetables.
This was more than enough food for us to eat and we ended up sending about half of it back when it was time for the next course, dessert!! Adam ordered the Crema de Chocolate “Abuelita” which was chocolate custard served with crunchy buñuelo strips and caramel syrup.
Meanwhile, I was devouring my dish - Empanada de Manzana, a puff pastry filled with sautéed caramel apples, served with dulce de leche ice cream and cajeta. It was heaven.
After finishing our meal, our hopes of the rain letting up was drenched – literally. So we walked across the street to ride the indoor boat ride, Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros. By the time the boat ride was done, the rain had let up some and we were able to have some picture fun as we headed to the monorail for the Dessert Party at The Grand Floridian.
We had a great time at the Dessert Party catching up with some of my college friends I hadn’t seen since graduating. On our walk to watch the breathtaking Magic Kingdom fireworks show, we passed another banquet room with a band that sounded very similar to Journey. In fact, so similar we had to stop and take a peek. Later that evening, Adam looked up Journey’s website and it was made about 90% certain that the headshots on the website were the same people on the stage. So yeah, we saw Journey at Disney World. No biggie.
After the Dessert Party, we made our way back to EPCOT for extra magic hours. We crammed in some final attractions before calling it a night around midnight. We met Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, and Donald!!!
After hobnobbing with the characters, we speed walked to Soarin’, the only ride we had yet to be able to get on due to lines. Lucky for us there was no wait at 11:30 pm. Go figure! So we got to take an aerial tour through California. Adam loved this ride, but I wasn’t entirely a fan. It needed a story. Specifically, a story narrated by Morgan Freeman telling me about the things I’m seeing on the ride. Even with that comment, I did love the “smell-a-vision” aspect of the ride. California citrus smells AWESOME!!
We ended our travels in EPCOT taking the obligatory sphere picture – thanks to the park photographers
After a fun-filled morning in the Magic Kingdom, we were starving and made our way to EPCOT for lunch in Germany.
Before our trip, we made reservations in 2 countries in the world showcase – Germany for Adam and Mexico for me. The Biergarten in Germany was a total man food heaven while I was happy to eat the mac and cheese from the kids buffet and sip on my Shirley Temple.
The cool thing about eating in Germany was that you got to meet other park-goers. Every table in the Biergarten is set for 8 people, so we were able to meet a family of 4 and a local couple over lunch. Lucky for us, the locals where actually a part of the Disney family, the husband was a cast member in EPCOT and gave us a few tips of must-dos while in the park. At the end of lunch we were treated to a show of traditional German music – which we wouldn’t have known about had we not ended up eating with a cast member.
Throughout our trip, it became evident that EPCOT really didn’t want us to stay long. Every time we entered the park we had to rush through to avoid getting rained on. So after our lunch in Germany what did we do? Walked really fast through the rest of the World Showcase, snapping minimal pictures along the way, and took the bus back to our hotel. The downpour started immediately after we closed our room door. At least we got to see an awesome juggler in Italy!
The next afternoon, we finally got a few hours in to enjoy EPCOT without the threat of rain. During this time we got to take full advantage of the International Flower and Garden Festival that was taking place throughout the park!
The flowers were absolutely breathtaking and we had a fun time goofing off as we made our way throughout the park.
After we spent sometime taking pictures, it was time to ride some rides. First up? Mission: SPACE. We had heard that there were 2 tracks to take in this ride and we chose the calmer of the 2 – The Green Team. This was the perfect choice for us pansies and we really enjoyed being the crew of a mission to Mars. The video the showed throughout the ride really made us feel like we were in space – I’d definitely ride this again we we come back!
Yep, it’s in the iconic EPCOT sphere.
Call me crazy, but this might have been one of my top rides in all of Disney. I really enjoyed the trip through history and the slow-pace of this ride. My favorite part was at the end – it’s still etched in my brain. I’m not sure if the developers of this ride intended it to have such symbolism, but at the very end your “car” turns around and you face the parts of the ride you just went through. I immediately leaned to Adam and said “I love the symbolism.” He looked confused, so I continued, “You know, how you have to look back at your past to move into your future.” Who knows if this was the goal of this ride, but it’s what I got out of it.
An added bonus was getting to create a movie about your future that you could then email to yourself for future laughs. Very, very cool!
Our final evening of having a park pass also proved beneficial because it was Extra Magic Hours at EPCOT and within an hour we were able to speed walk and see all the attractions we had missed or were too impatient for earlier in the afternoon.
After surviving all those rides without a breather, Adam and I decided to start the calm part of our Magic Kingdom tour. Off we headed to Tom Sawyer Island where we could go at our own pace and take pictures of whatever caught our fancy.
Tom Sawyer’s Island was like an oasis in the middle of family friendly madness. No lines to take the raft over from the “mainland” and we didn’t really run into another soul while we explored the gorgeous trails and made our way through the dimly lit caves.
As soon as we arrived on the dock, Adam began the soundtrack of our tour on the island – Rush’s “Tom Saywer”. Which I’m sure is EXACTLY what Disney envisioned as they began developing this attraction.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to snap a picture (or even think to get video) of the Barrel Bridge. It was truly one of my highlights of the Island…or maybe it was Adam’s shock when the barrels became unstable as soon he tried to cross. HILARIOUS!
One of my most vivid memories from Disney when I was 7 was climbing through the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse. I have always loved the movie and remembered the treehouse as being really awesome.
I also don’t remember any other families being around when we went up in it, unfortunately that wasn’t the case when we toured it. It was PACKED, you really couldn’t stop to take in all the elements because there was a steady stream of people right behind you. Nevertheless, we enjoyed it and really liked being in the treetops above the park. I’d definitely climb it again!
The treehouse concluded our tour of the Magic Kingdom, because we had lunch reservations in Germany! But we couldn’t leave the park without the quintessential park picture, could we?
In April, Adam and I went to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida to celebrate the wedding of one of my dear college friends and sorority sisters. We spent a whirlwind 2 days in the parks and rode all of our top choice rides, before being guests at a magical wedding and reception that only Disney could deliver.
I spent the weeks leading up to our trip prancing around our house singing “M-I-C-K-E-Y-M-O-U-S-E” and trying to perfect my Donald Duck impression (I failed), while Adam was in charge of logistics for meal reservations so that we would best use our meal plan. Seeing as it was our first adult trip (and Adam’s only trip), we were fairly naive in what to expect and once we opened up our Unofficial Guidebook we became quickly overwhelmed with options. We decided to read up on the to-dos at each park and then made a list of our top preferences in each to maximize our time.
Honestly, I don’t think it’s even possible to maximize your time in Disney, especially when you only have a 2 day park hopper pass, but we gave it our best shot.
We started our first day in the parks at Magic Kingdom. I had fond memories of this park from when I had come to Disney when I was 7. I remembered the Tea Cups, Space Mountain, Cinderella’s Castle, and The Swiss Family Robinson Tree House fondly – so those were high on our “must do” list.
Thankfully, the extra hour our first day was at Magic Kingdom, so we arrived bright and early that morning to try and beat the masses. According to our guidebook, we should make a beeline for Space Mountain right when the doors open to avoid lines. Beeline we did and were among the first 50 riders that day. After the ride, we agreed that except for the fact that we felt like we would be decapitated at any moment (not a fun feeling mind you), we enjoyed the dips and twists and thrills. Adam added that he “wouldn’t ride it with children because he’d be yelling ‘Oh shit! Oh shit!’ the entire time.”
After thanking God that we didn’t lose our heads on Space Mountain we headed towards the tamest part of Magic Kingdom – Cinderella’s Castle. As we got closer I remarked that “it was a whole lot smaller than I remembered it”.
Oh the dashed dreams and memories of my childhood.
It was still beautiful and enchanting but the scale I had in my head was much, much larger than what my eyes saw in real life.
After we exited the castle, I dragged Adam to buy Mouse ears. Oh yes, I did – and we both wore them proudly for the rest of the day.
Once our ears were securely placed on our heads, off we went to what many call the most annoying ride in the park. Grabbing a fast pass for Peter Pan along the way. I know I probably made my parents ride this ride several times as a child so it was the least I could do to ride it once with Adam. It was serene and peaceful and would probably be much more enjoyable under the influence.
Nevertheless, being the pansies we are we both really enjoyed the ride, but agreed that it could get old after 2 turns through.
Once “It’s a Small World” was firmly embedded in our head off we went to the tea cups. It was everything I remembered and possibly has a place among my favorite rides. We had a blast taking video and pictures on this ride. Oh, and also making our tea cup spin as fast as possible. I mean, what else are you supposed to do on the Tea Cups? WINNING!
After the Tea Cups, it was time to use our fast pass for Peter Pan. I felt really guilty when we showed up with our fast passes and cut in front of at least 90 folks in line.
I’m weird like that.
Once I got over my guilt (it didn’t take too long) and we stepped on the conveyor belt that matched us up with our ship, I became truly enchanted. This was easily one of my favorite rides at Disney. I truly felt like I was flying and really loved all the characters that were included throughout our “journey”. Adam, however, probably could’ve done without my rendition of “I Believe I Can Fly” while we were in our private ship on the ride.