Wednesday, September 26, 2018

NORTHERN COUNTRY TOUR - VASA SHIP MUSEEUM STOCKHOLM

Before we left Stockholm for Helsinki, we visited the Vasa Museum. It contains the remains of the Vasa a Swedish warship built between 1626 and 1628. The ship sank after sailing about 1,300 m into its maiden voyage on 10 August 1628. The Vasa was a vast, beautifully decorated ship. It was covered in wooden carvings that told stories about the Swedish royal family, and most importantly the king, Gustav Adolf II.  It was the king who had ordered the ship, which carried an unprecedented 64 bronze cannons. The Vasa was recovered in 1961 and has been displayed in its own museum since 1990.

Honestly I didn't really know what to expect I had never heard about this ship and was so surprised to see this over 390 year old ship so amazingly intact, despite the fact that it had been so long in the water. 



The museum looked very modern ! When we entered the huge hall where the ship was standing, the light was dim to protect the old wood and carved sculptures. Therefore it was a bit difficult to get good pictures, especially with my little Canon camera.



It was just amazing ! When I think that this ship had laid in the water for such a long time, it was a miracle that it was so well preserved.



You could see the still beautiful carved sculptures and the window like holes for the canons. Of course it looked a bit rotten, but not that much with a bit of painting maybe it would be look like in his old glory.



and it had looked like this exact replica in a smaller size ! How colorful it was ! the sculptures in the front of the ship were all painted !



Even the lifeboat looked as if you could still use it.



A display showed how the ship's decoration had once been. It didn't look like a warship at all, compared to the dull grey warships we have today !

With 64 bronze canons and all these  decorations it was no wonder that the ship sank.



A little movie showed us how the ship was built.


Tuesday, September 25, 2018

NORTHERN COUNTRY TOUR - STOCKHOLM

Here is a map of the whole tour and how it started.

We left Copenhagen early morning and drove over 600 km up to Stockholm.  It was a nice trip through the stunning rural scenery of rolling fields, lakes and forests.  and of course we stopped for lunch and "comfort" stops as our guide said, which meant of course the toilet ! Ever since when I have to go I also say I go to my "comfort stop".



When we arrived in Stockholm, we went on a walking tour of the city center. When I heard that Stockholm is built on 14 beautiful islands connected by 57 bridges, I thought it's a pity that we have no time to do a sightseeing tour.

But we visited the old town called Gamla Stan, which is one of the largest and best preserved medieval city centers in Europe, and one of the favorite  attractions in Stockholm. This is where Stockholm was founded in 1252. The narrow winding cobblestone streets, with their buildings in so many different shades of gold, makes it quite special.




There were plenty of shops,  restaurants, cafés, bars etc for everybody's taste. It is a very nice area to walk around.



Of course we also saw the Royal Palace and most of our group waited for the change of guards, I didn't because I had seen this so many times even at home before our King Baudouin of Belgium decided not to have guards anymore because he pitied them standing in the cold and rain. But I was lucky I saw the guards arriving ! The actual King of Sweden is Carl Gustav XVI who married a German girl Sylvia Somerlath he met at the Olympic games in Munich in 1972.

And there are many other things to see



the beautiful Theatre



The Gustav Vasa Church






The German Church St. Gertrude



The National Museum



and of course the Nobel Museum



The habour of Stockholm



and a tram in green and blue colors which I had never seen.

I liked Stockholm very much, there are so many things to see and definitively in this short time we couldn't see all in detail. But at least I had an overlook.






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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

NORTHERN COUNTRIES TOUR - COPENHAGEN

Here is a map of the whole tour and how it started.

After Amsterdam we had a quite long drive to Copenhagen, with real fantastic views, before  we crossed Europe's longest bridge The Oresund Bridge which is an approximately 16 km long road and rail link between Sweden and Denmark.

When we arrived in the Copenhagen, we made a tour of the city, and our tour leader showed us highlights of the city, including the parliament house, Tivoli, town hall, Rosenborg, and the little mermaid statue. I took a lot of photos, but unfortunately I don't always remember what building or place it was. At least it gives an overlook of the city and for me personally good memories of my short visit in Copenhagen, one of the largest cities in northern Europe.

From the city itself I liked  Nyhaven the best. Old colored houses are just so cheerful and there were so many restaurants and also an entertainment district, which I haven't seen. We had a wonderful meal there, in one of the colored restaurants. We could sit outside, the weather was a dream, we were so lucky to have the hottest summer ever in Copenhagen.




The house where Christian Andersen the famous Danish writer lived.








There are about 20 bridges or more in Copenhagen !



A quite special architecture





We saw the Church of our Lady behind the place



We had not enough time for a sightseeing





But I think we saw enough to give us an idea about this city !














It's said that Denmark is the city of bicycles. I don't agree, I think it's still the Netherlands. In Copenhagen no bicycle did bother me, the people were all very polite and paid very much attention to the pedestrians and in general didn't disturb anybody. While in Amsterdam all tourist guides inform you to be careful with the bikers they drive without looking around and ran you over if necessary !





These yellow houses is Nyboder a historic district of former Naval barracks in Copenhagen, for housing the personnel of the rapidly growing Royal Danish Navy and their families during that time.



On our way to



The mermaid ! So well known and so tiny ! You have to look twice to find her.



Our tour ended at the Danish Play House, where our bus picked us up !






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Monday, September 10, 2018

NORTHERN TOUR - HAMBURG

Here is a map of the whole tour and how it started.

It was terribly hot when we arrived in Hamburg ! 37° C (99 F) Apparently it had never been so hot in Hamburg since weather is recorded. Fortunately it wasn't sticky, because the town is surrounded with two rivers and lots of canals.

When we arrived in the afternoon in Hamburg our first stop was the St. Nikolai memorial. The former main church was destroyed during air raids in 1943. Today, the ruin is a place for remembering the victims of war and tyranny. The tower is still the highest church tower in the city. A glass-walled panorama lift travels up to an outlook platform at a height of 76 metres. There is a museum in the vaulted cellar which provides information about the destruction of Hamburg in the Second World War. I didn't take the lift.

I looked at these ruins with very  mixed feelings. I was born in Germany in Frankfurt in the middle of the war and this city had also been nearly completely destroyed. I as child only remember ruins as playgrounds to play with my friends. Nobody cared if it was dangerous or not. People had other worries. How terrible it must have been to loose everything, lives included and live amongst ruins for a while, all that because one man had promised the heaven on earth to the German people with this result !! They paid a high price for this promise ! I had to think of my parents who lived in Frankfurt and had the chance to flee the ruins of their city and their house there and could live with my grandma on the countryside when their building had been bombed.



A dream became a nightmare, Hamburg 1945



St. Nicolai church or what remains






Today a memorial.

But fortunately 73 years later Hamburg had become again a very nice town. Although I haven't been there for long only for a little more then half a day, the city gave me a good feeling and I found it nice, the people friendly and a lot of things to see for which unfortunately we had no time.







We saw the city center with lots of shops and people, food stands with a variety of typical Northern Germany food but also international plates.

We saw the impressive Rathaus or City Hall which is Hamburg's seat of government: It is where Hamburg Parliament and the Senate assemble. The eclectic, neo-renaissance building from 1897 had fortunately survived WWII

After several relocations, fires and other turmoil, the current City Hall is the sixth edition in Hamburg's history. Construction started in 1886 with 4000 wooden poles that had to be drilled into the muddy shores of the Alster Lake, in order to carry the weight of the 133 m wide, 70 m deep and 112 m tall building. Special care was given to construct a passageway to connect the new building to the Chamber of Commerce as well as the Hamburg Stock Exchange. The courtyard between these buildings resembles an Italian piazza and is decorated with the 'Hygieia-fountain', which was named after the Greek goddess of health and built in remembrance of the cholera epidemic that took place in 1892. After 11 years of labour, the City Hall with its 647 rooms was opened in 1897.



The impressive City hall = Rathaus

















Hygieia-fountain



In between the old  buildings ran little rivers, showing that it hadn't rained since a long time ! Which is a contradiction to the usual weather in Hamburg where people are recommended to never go out without an umbrella !

And as it was so hot we opted for a sightseeing tour on the Alster.



We bought our tickets, at the Jungfernsteg stop, the tour lasted one hour



on the table the itinerary was shown



The captain was also the guide and had a lot of humor. I took this picture inside the boat.



and then we drove along the shore, with beautiful mansions and buildings. Even if many were "new builts" they were very elegant and fitted in the landscape.



Lots of sailing clubs along the whole Alster.



and also many embassies and consulates. The captain of our boat told us that Trump's visit here at the American embassy had caused a mess on the whole lake and there were so many policemen as if they had to protect the emperor of China !

A James Bond movie had also been shot here where he was catapulted out of a window, I haven't seen this film but everybody in the boat was very interested. 



We also had a wonderful view on the skyline of Hamburg








and the very famous Jungfernstieg

The Jungfernstieg is a diverse connection between the Inner Alster and the surrounding shops and attractions.


But in the past for Hamburg residents, this street was very important !! Families came here on Sunday to walk and introduce their unmarried daughters (" Jungfern") - hence the name.

Even today, the Jungfernstieg is very special: It is enjoyable to be right on the water - the Inner Alster and why not find the right partner even without "family" ! I just imagine myself in a long dress with a flower decorated hat, walking between mum and dad looking for an adequate husband !!

After one hour of admiring the Alster shores of Hamburg we were hungry 



and had lunch directly at the "beach"



I had never seen such a huge ice cream which our table neighbor had for desert !!


I tried out a prawn salad which was absolutely delicious.




And then we had to say good bye to Hamburg, and went to our hotel the Radisson Blu, which was a little outside.



After a good rest we continued towards Copenhagen the next morning.





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I love painting, writing, travelling and photography. My favorit models are my four cats which I observe with fun and humor. I am German, married to an Italian and we live in Waterloo (15 km from Brussels) / Belgium since many years. Waterloo is a famous place to many tourists, because Napoleon lost his battle here against Wellington and other European countries.

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