Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Packed Day of Tourism in Stockholm, Sweden on June 21, 2011

Regular readers may be pleased (I know I am) to know that I've figured out how to enlarge the images included in small size... just click any image you'd like to view in the larger size. If you found your way here from World Bird Wednesday, where I'll be posting later on this week, you may want to scroll down the page to the bird images which are towards the end.

Hang onto your hats for a parade of collages from a day so full that I cannot begin to share it all!
street scenes and buildings as described
We started our day wandering through Gamla Stan (the old part of Stockholm and the location of the Royal Palace) where we saw colorful fruit and vegetable stands, lovely building details, wandering tourists and a nursery school on parade, a gnome outside a shop door, a BIG bag (filled with construction debris and too heavy for any human to carry) and the Swedish Academy where the Nobel prize winners are chosen every year.

We tarried long enough in Gamla Stan to take numerous photographs of narrow streets, building facades, steeples, windows, and even a "pissoire" (urinal) near the Royal Palace. We also had coffee and a pastry (sorry, no photograph as I wasn't fully awake yet) and observed the changing of the guards afterwards.
Street filled with people, lovely facade reminiscent of Dutch architecture, quiet side street and window of a shop not yet open.
Steeples everywhere... so many different styles to catch the eye.
Another quiet street, what might be the most photographed pissoire in the world although it is apparently no longer in use as a urinal and a strange piece of wearing apparel, especially as shown with a jacket and tie! Can you imagine wearing a vest made of tiny skeletons? (photographer reflection in lower right)
Hotels along one of the many scenic waterfront areas in Stockholm, the Royal Chapel, the organ in the Royal Chapel and the church (kyrka) on Skeppsholmen (more about that later in my journey).

Much pageantry is associated with the changing of the guard at the Royal Palace in Stockholm... the outgoing guards were wearing blue uniforms whereas the incoming guards were wearing black uniforms. Those wearing white were members of the marching band providing music for the ceremony. The tiny inset showing tourists in the first of the two collages above is a small taste of the huge crowd gathered to watch the show... the two men wearing plaid on the right are my brother (nearest the camera) and his partner... the woman, also wearing plaid, with her back to the camera on the left is my sister. As the band marched past us (second collage of the two shown above), I was happy to note that the leader of the band was a woman!
The building in the upper left corner is a small portion of one of the wings of the Royal Palace (I believe it is the wing where the private apartments are located, hence the privacy covers over all the windows.); the building on the lower right was built from 1882-1889 and is the headquarters of Norstedts, Sweden's oldest publishing company. I'm not sure about the other buildings that caught my eye!
Leaving Gamla Stan, we wandered past the Opera House and through a park where I spotted a Black-backed Gull perched on a statue... it took me about 10 minutes to make my way closer and closer to capture the image in the bottom right. The wooden windmill is out of place in that it was seen in our next destination, Skansen Park on Djurgården, but I needed an image to fill up this collage.
Nude statue seen in a quiet courtyard, gorgeous steeple on the House of Lords and the Stockholm City Hall as seen from a distance.

The last set of images were all taken at Skansen Park on Djurgården. Stockholm is a city made up of many islands, Djurgården is where Skansen, the Gröna Lund amusement park and the Aquaria Water Museum are located. We spent our time on Djurgården at Skansen, Europe's first open air park. It was established in 1891 at a time when the rural way of life was changing and was designed to preserve how people lived before industrialization brought about sweeping changes. One can see buildings from the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries and hear docents explain how people lived in the "old days." There is also a section of the park devoted to display of Nordic animals.

No one going to Skansen Park could miss this guy waiting to make balloon animals for anyone willing to pay him. The animals, a reindeer and a goat, were seen in the Sami area of Skansen Park and the building, maybe a schoolhouse (?), was seen while wandering the grounds after a nasty storm blew threw and soaked everything. I love the light!
The Peacocks and geese wander freely around Skansen Park; the Heron (young Great Blue?) was seen in the animal park. The Peacock was uncooperative when it came to displaying his tail feathers for me... but he knew enough to take shelter from the pouring rain that blew through the park later in the day. I don't know what kind of geese these are.
Some more of the geese (the gosling was wet with rain), a Moose grazing in an enclosure in the animal park and an unknown wee critter (maybe a bunny?).
collage of images as described
One last mystery bird... a Sparrow whose ID I have been unable to find so perhaps one of you will know it! A fitting end to our day at Skansen included dinner at the restaurant near the exit gate and a very fine beer! If you've stuck with me to the end, I hope you've enjoyed sharing my day. You've only seen a small subset of the many images I took that day... digital photography makes me picture happy... must learn to censor so I don't have quite so many images to go through on my return!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Slightly out of order once again... a visit to Drottningholm Palace, Sweden, 2011...

Although we visited Drottningholm on our second full day in Stockholm, I wanted to coordinate these images with a post to my photography blog so I'm including them here. I'll pick up with images of our first day in Stockholm in a future post. So hang on to your hat... here's a nearly five hour visit trimmed to 7 collages containing 32 images to give you a taste of the official residence, since 1981, of the Swedish Royal family and the lovely grounds/park associated with the palace. The first palace on this site burned down to the ground in the 1600s. Construction on the present structure, designed by Nicodemus Tessin the Elder, was commissioned by the dowager Queen Hedvig Eleonora and began in 1662.

collage of four images described
Our day began with a boat ride, the common way for tourists to reach Drottningholm. The first image of the Swedish flag flying over the stern of our boat sets the tone for the day... a nice, sunny day with a stiff breeze most of the time! The statue of Apollo di Belvedere is in a courtyard surrounded by four buildings which today house the Theatre Shop and private residences, the gilded gate in the lower left is the entrance to the formal gardens behind the palace and in the lower right is a view of one end of the palace as we approached by boat.

collage of four images as described
Here you see a view of the front of the palace as we passed by before the boat docked, a close-up of the crest of the royal family as it adorns the gated entrance to the formal gardens, one of many statues gracing the gardens, and colorful flowers typical of many of the plantings seen throughout our day.

collage of four images as described
Continuing into the gardens and looking back, one sees the rear of the palace; facing forward down the grand promenade is a view of the length of the garden... the same view the royals have from inside the palace; a side lane lined with trees gives a view of a different part of the palace at the end and the cascade fountains serving as a backdrop for the Water Parterre in the formal gardens.

collage of images as described
Color overload! Images include the "Confidence" which was used as a private dining room for the royal family when they did not want staff to overhear their conversations (top right and top middle close-up of the tower); the Chinese Pavilion, one of the worlds best preserved rococo structures, was originally built as a prefab house and birthday gift for Queen Lovisa Ulrika from King Adolf Fredrik in 1753 and was rebuilt in the form seen here from 1763-1769 (bottom right, and the two lower images in the middle on both rows); information about the bottom left building is taken from the brochure on Drottningholm: The Guards' Tent was built in 1781 for the dragoons of Gustav III, C.F. Adelcrantz designed the building - built of timber, clad with iron sheeting and then painted to resemble a tent in a Turkish army camp. I'm not sure what the building in the upper left is but thought it was quite pretty and the reflections in the globe light are of the Chinese Pavilion and the Confidence.

collage of images as described
Before leaving the buildings to wander through the beautiful gardens, one last image of the Guards' Tent showing a bit of the detail... all wood! The other images show you what a beautiful park this is with statues, flowers, greenery and water features. Stockholm residents and tourists alike find it a lovely place for a picnic.

collage of bird images and a pond as described
A few more images showing the lovely gardens and some of the winged inhabitants including a Black-headed Gull (brown head during breeding season), Geese feeding on the lawn (not sure what kind of geese they are) and a Black-headed Gull and a Mallard female sharing a pond. The other image is just very peaceful... you aren't missing any birds here!

collage of images as described
As we were heading back toward the palace to visit the inside areas open to the public (no photographs allowed and I got busted trying to take one through the window looking out into the gardens), these old wooden posts lining one of the waterways caught my eye. Wandering past the Royal Stables which now houses the Royal Guard, I managed a photo of these lovely old cannons without any tourists in the way. The last two images close out our day... one of the many statues on the grounds of Drottningholm and a last view of the front of the palace as we pulled away.

Photographs were not allowed in the interior of one of the most interesting old buildings I've ever seen... the Royal Theatre. If you go to Drottningholm, don't miss the opportunity to see this building, completed in 1766 and still in service today, preserved in its entirety as it was then. The theater closed in 1792 with the death of Gustaf III and remained closed until it was rediscovered in the 1920s. From May to August every year, a festival of 18th century opera is presented here. In 1991, the Drottningholm Court Theatre was proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage.

If you have the time to comment, please let me know what you think of the idea of combining this blog with my photography blog which has been suggested by one reader. It would save me cross-referencing and allow for bigger images since the format of my photography blog is different from this one and I haven't a clue how to adjust the code for this template to allow larger images.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Göteborg to Stockholm... a Day of Travel in Sweden, 2011.

At this rate, I'll be on my next trip before I finish posting about my recent family trip to Sweden and Iceland. BUT, I think I'm getting the hang of decision making about what images to include in collages to give a taste of our travels. There is simply no way I can possibly share everything we saw and did without overloading everyone with images and stories! But I simply had to share a few more images from our day of travel (already reported briefly in a previous post) between Göteborg and Stockholm. The previous post was made while still traveling and using an iPad for posting to my blog... not the easiest thing I've ever done!

churches in Habo and Gränna Sweden
Exterior of two churches: Habo Kyrka in Habo, Sweden on the left and Gränna Kyrka in Gränna, Sweden on the right. Habo Kyrka is famous for its painted interior which is considered to be the finest in all of Sweden. The present Gränna Kyrka, rebuilt in 1895, is on the same site as the 12th century church that was destroyed by fire in 1889.

images of painted interior of Habo Kyrka
The painted interior of Habo, Kyrka is mind boggling to see... the church, cathedral style, was built entirely of wood in the early 1700s. From Wikipedia: The interior of the church was painted [from] 1741-1743 by two artists from Jönköping, Johan Kinnerius and Johan Christian Peterson. The paintings represent Martin Luther's summary of Christian Doctrine. No single image could possibly do justice so I suggest you go there and see this church (kyrka) for yourself! Clockwise from top, left: the part of the pulpit where the minister would stand, the portion of the pulpit above where the minister stood, the high altar, and a detail of one of the many painted areas of the church.

miscellaneous images of travel in Sweden
A few miscellaneous images including a view of the beautiful countryside near Habo Kyrka, watering cans hanging in the cemetery near a water spigot, delicious lunch at Gyllene Uttern Hotel (the first motor hotel in Sweden and a lovely spot to stop along the way), and the robot lawnmower we saw cutting the grass (really well!) at Gränna Kyrka.

You might like to view a slide show of images of my family vacation which includes additional images not posted to this blog.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

More on Göteborg, Sweden from June, 2011

If you have been following along on my journey, you will have noticed that posts have been very slow to appear! (and that this one is out of order) In addition to having difficulties with internet access while I was away, I took over 3500 photos in the 2-1/2 weeks that I toured Sweden and Iceland... a bit of overkill that NEVER would have happened back in the days when I had to pay for prints! So it's been taking me quite awhile to go through the images and pick just a few to share.

The collage (created with Picnik) has two images from our visit to the Göteborgs Stadsmuseum (Gothenburg City Museum) which houses viking and emigration history as well as special exhibitions: in the top left, copper coins used for currency during a time in Sweden when silver was extremely scarce and pottery and tile samples diagonally opposite in the bottom right corner, Skansen Kronen tower (sits on a HIGH hill overlooking Göteborg), a view of the city from Skansen Kronen park (on the left under the tower) and just one of the many church spires soaring over Göteborg on the right. Under the copper coins, a close-up of the Poseidon statue, a famous fountain at the top of the main street, Avenyn, in Göteborg, a colorful police car and one of the many coffee shops we saw in Göteborg.

At present, Starbucks has no coffee shops in Göteborg. Apparently, that will change when a Starbucks coffee shop opens in Göteborg's Central Station in the winter of 2012... I have to wonder how many of the marvelous coffee shops everywhere in the city will remain after/if Starbucks builds a large presence there.

This collage represents quite a lot of trial and error, research looking for templates (FAIL) and a painful learning curve encountered in putting this together in Photoshop CS5. My goal was to be able to create a collage that wasn't locked in to the templates offered by Picnik. I'm somewhat satisfied with this but, if I had it to do over, would try to figure out a better way! Meantime, I will post this as is and MAY replace it some day if I ever figure out a simpler, cleaner way to do it. Clockwise from top left, a view of Göteborg from the deck near the top of the building where my cousin Örjan works, architectural detail of the roof of his building as seen from this same deck, detail of one of the painted inlays typical of the elaborate exterior decorations seen on many buildings in Sweden, atypical street scene (no people in it during early afternoon), detail of statues decorating a balcony... they seem to be saying oh my aching head... or how long do we have to support this balcony above us!

I'll close this post with a shot of the seaport from which our grandparents (and their first two children, my Aunt Ada and Uncle Holger) set sail for America in the early 1900s... Grandad came first to get settled and earn money to pay the way for Grandma and their children to follow him several years later. After their family was reunited in Sheridan, Wyoming, four more children were born. My mother was the fifth.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

From Göteborg to Stockholm... A day of ups and downs...

Our second full day in Sweden found us traveling from Göteborg to Stockholm with a few stops along the way. One was to see the church in Habo which is an old, wooden building famous for the extensive painted interior of the church. It is in the countryside near Habo, not in the town itself. The setting is beautiful and we spent quite awhile there exploring the cemetery and the church interior.

Up until our last stop to get gas about 30 minutes outside of Stockholm, we were doing fine. But the trouble started at the Statoil station when we used the windshield washing pump instead of the gas pump to fuel the car. Our inability to read Swedish plus exhaustion after a long day driving plus an idiot employee who told us to use the orange button to begin fueling at pump 18 when he should have known it was not a gas pump added up to a very expensive and time consuming delay before we finally arrived, hungry and exhausted and quite a bit poorer at our hotel.

A few photos from the day begin below.

bell tower at Habo Church
First, the bell tower at Habo Church...

interior detail from Habo Church
One of the many detailed interior paintings from which you might see why this church is considered to be the finest example of a painted interior in all of Sweden. At some point during our travels, we were told how common it was in the "old days" for wooden churches to be extensively painted.

view of tow truck towing our car
After my return, I promise to post a few more images from the better parts of our day. In the meantime, here is what our view looked like as we were towed to a service station to have the washer fluid drained from our tank and replaced by gas after the mishap described above.

pushing the car into the service bay
Our tow truck driver, moving our car into the garage bay where it was raised on a lift so they could drain the tank. They were very thorough, flushing the tank twice with gasoline before giving us 20 liters of gas, for which the repair shop owner did not charge us, figuring perhaps that we'd suffered enough already!