Monthly Archives: November 2012

Statue of Liberty watching the skyline of the Big Apple

nasdaq

New York, what a joy! Four girls went on a shopping and sightseeing trip to the big city and I was one of the girls. We arrived in the city one day late in May few years ago (2009) and started out with having the most amazing sushi and taking a walk on the Brooklyn Bridge. The city skyline looked wonderful in evening lights.

Brooklyn Bridge

Walking on the Brooklyn Bridge

new york

New York view from Brooklyn Bridge

The following days was shopping, sightseeing and more shopping. We visited Woodberrys Common, Macy’s, Victoria’s Secret, Mac Store, Abercrombie an Fitch, you name it. And of course, of course, of course B&H Photo. Wouldn’t survived otherwise. Buying what? Clothes, shoes, Mgic Mouse and a pretty big zoom-lens. And lots of other less important stuff. New York, New York.

bull

Bull with balls on Wall Street

Wall street

Wall street

And of course there was plenty of entrainment. For how about a play on Broadway with Cathrine Zeta Jones or Peter Gabriel in Radio City Hall or Tosca at the Metropolitan. Just great. The play was OK, the consert was very good and the opera, well, interesting, but not a hit. I was fighting to keep awake, it must be jet lag.

fire post

Fire post, feels somehow New Yorkish

Brooklyn bridge

Brooklyn Bridge in the daytime

One of the days we visited Empire State building. The view from the top floor was amazing, the streets down there were tiny, cars looked like ants and the view several miles was just great. Sometimes I feel sorry that I don’t live in a city like that.We also saw Flatiron building and walked amazed on the Wall Street. There was a bull with huge balls, something that we found pretty funny.

night

The city that never sleeps

empire state

Empire State Buiding from below

Before going to New York we decided to go and eat burgers in a real American place. And we actually found a great place with tabblecloth with red and white squares and a waitress with a pen behind her ear that welcomed us saying with a whiskey voice “What can I get you, honey”. Just great! The food in New York was pretty good. Besides the wonderful sushi and great burger we were in some strange place in China Town, enjoying something that might have been duck (but you never know) and a great cool place called Tao. It had very sophisticated food, high prices and cool drinks. But it was worth every penny.

streets

View of the tiny streets from top of Empire State Building

elmo

Elmo is texting someone from Sesame Street

We also spent few hours in the Central park in the sunshine. We planned eating hot dog on a stick, but skipped it this time. But the city skyline from the park was just wonderful. We also visited the Mac Store at 5:th Avenue at 3 a.m. Just because you can. We also visited Washington D.C, but that’s another post and we took a chopter ride above the city. The view from above was even better then from the very high buildings.

radio city hall

Radio city Hall is one of the places we visited

mac store

Max Store on 5:th Street is open 24/7

One of the museums that we visited was MoMa, Museum of Modern Art. MoMa was cool, the art sometimes strange, sometimes inspiring. I learned to like modern art working at Modern Art museum at home anyway. Some of it.  We planned to visit a few others, but the funny thing about time is that it fles away too fast when you enjoy yourselt. As a time-optimist I think that there should be time for more activities and every time I discover that there is not I’m surprised. Or is this just bad planning?

moma

MoMa

Central Park

City from the Central Park

And finally we went on a boat ride to Statue of Liberty. We took a boat trip on a wonderful sunny day and went out to the Liberty Island to see the statue, to see the place that first immigrants once saw. Or not, but we did. I expected something smaller, but the statue is huge, it looks proud and welcoming. I liked it.

empire state

Empire State from above in the background and me in front

statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World; French: La Liberté éclairant le monde) is a colossal neoclassical sculpture on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, designed by Frédéric Bartholdi and dedicated on October 28, 1886. The statue, a gift to the United States from the people of France, is of a robed female figure representing Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom, who bears a torch and a tabula ansata (a tablet evoking the law) upon which is inscribed the date of the American Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776. A broken chain lies at her feet. The statue is an icon of freedom and of the United States: a welcoming signal to immigrants arriving from abroad. [Wikipedia]

Link to the site: Statue of Liberty.

And the grade? Once again I’m unsure. Three or four? I was going to give three globes, but thinking of history, the wonderful city and the changing world, it have to be four.

GlobeGlobeGlobeGlobe

//Monika

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Greenwich, where the time gets you

Greenwich

Just a stroll in the park. In the end of October, in London there is always huge risk that it can rain. And is it worth to go and visit a park? Well, Greenwich is not any park, and since it is a world heritage site,it might be worth visiting, even on a rainy day in October. Or is it? We went to find out.

cute

Cute town of Greenwich, we liked the town, despite the rain

entrance

Entrance to the park

The thought with world heritage sites around London, as I noticed, is that they are not clearly marked with UNESCO’s symbol. Sometimes we found it, and sometimes we didn’t. It’s like they are not particularly proud of being a world heritage site. Or maybe they know what great places they have and they don’t feel that they need to make so much fuzz about it. And so it was at Greenwich, we found a small UNESCO symbol in the pavement. It could as well have been covered with autumn leaves. OK, there was also a bigger sign that we found on the way back to the train, outside the area, but still. So much to be proud of, so little information.

heritage

The nice, although small world heritage sign

ship

Ship in a bottle

When we entered the park there was a gallery with a huge ship in a bottle outside. I liked ships in bottles when I was a kid. They always fascinated me, as they were too big to fit into the bottle throgh that little hole. And they were still there. Like achieving something impossible, incredible and cool. Later science became like ships in bottles and even if I started to understand how things work and why, and how they actually get a ship inside a bottle I still like them and find them cool. Why was it there? We didn’t visit the exibition to find out? Maybe because this place was about time and navigation and doing the impossible possible?

clock

What time is it now?

Meridian 0

Meridian 0, clearly marked

museum

The museum of time and astronomy

Greenwich  is a district located in south-east London. It is notable for its maritime history and for giving its name to the Greenwich Meridian (0° longitude) and Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). There is an old royal palace in Greenwich, but it looked like a small palace on the outside and probably like many other palaces on the inside as well, so we skipped it. We came here to see the parkm the astronomic observatory and the time line. And we did. Together with many school kids.

prime meridian

Prime meridian clearly marked

meridian

Lokking out through a little window in the museum, the meridian is marked here as well

view

The view would have been nice, but there was construction, or deconstruction in the way

Since we were here in October the place was ok, biut I was told that in the summer the place is crowded and the lines very long to the museum, time line and the observatory. By the way you have to have one ticket for the museum and the timeline and another for the observatory, which feels like a rip-off. The park was nice and the English garden by the museum building as well. It must be beautiful in the spring. And the view of London from the hill is quite nice as well.

solar clock

Solar clock in the museum garden

astronomy center

Astronomy Center, you need a separate ticket here

stair

The cafe was free, so we entered and found this cool stair

One of the olympic arenas was in the Greenwich park and was now taken down. Because of that some of the parked was closed. Interesting to see, but not so nice to walk around construction works.

sign

We found one larger sign, showing that they are proud of the sight

Greenwich became a world heritage in 1997. Link to the site: Maritime Greenwich.

Did I Like this place? I found it interesting, but I don’t feel a need to visit it again. And Grade? Since I don’t have half globes and can’t give two and a haf I will give it two globes. It’s nice to visit once, but that’s enough.

GlobeGlobe

//Monika

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How much salt is hidden in Wieliczka and why is it there

salt mine

Wieliczka is a large salt mine in Southern Poland, near Cracow and it is one of the first sites on UNESCO’s World’s Heritage original list and it became a world heritage in 1978, It’s a place of magic, because of it’s beauty, because of it’s long history and magic  and because of all the salt that is hidden beneath the surface. And let’s not forget the legends.

I visited Wieliczka several times. First as a kid, maybe in school, then with my scout group, the following times with visitors and friends from the US and Sweden. Every reason is a good reason. I enjoy the place very much, the long corridors, the salt in the air the old and new salt statues and the feeling of just being surrounded by salt.

on ground

On the ground before going down several hundred stairs

Unesco

It is UNESCO’s world heritage site and they are proud of it!

The legend tells a story of a Polish saint, Kinga, that dropped her ring in a salt mine in Hungary and it showed up near Cracow with enormous amounts of salt. Whether there is a salty passage connecting Poland and Hungary, I doubt. Some people say that it’s because of the ocean that was here millions of years ago. I’m not sure, it must have been a very local ocean.

tree structure

Tree structure, holding the ways together, some are very old, all are more or less salty

St Kinga

Statue of S:ta Kinga that according to legend brought salt to Wieliczka

The fact is that there is plenty of salt in Wieliczka. The mine opened already in 13th century and is still active. It’s 327 meters deep and it has over 300 km of tunnels, some underground lakes and… millions of tourists every year.

Copernicus

Statue of Copernicus, polish astronomer

During my last visit to Poland (read about Cracow in a different post) I, once again decided to go to Wieliczka. I was a little worried, since it rained very heavy the previous day. That day we went on another tour in the area, the Eagle nest tour. The Eagle nests are medieval castles in an area, built on hills with view of the nearby land. The castles date mostly to the 14th century, and were constructed by the order of King of Poland Kazimierz the Great. They have been named the “Eagles’ Nests” as most of them are located on large, tall rocks of the Polish Jura Chain featuring many limestone cliffs and valleys below. They were built along the 14th century Polish border with the province of Silesia. The Trail of the Eagles’ Nests is considered one of the best tourist trails in Poland, marked as No. 1 on the official list of most popular trails in the country. It encompasses all 25 castles and watchtowers, and is 163 km long (the bicycle trail is 188 km long). Some are still beautiful castles, some are ruins, but all are quite impressive. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Eagles Nest Trail end up on the world heritage list one day. Then I will write another post.

Kazimierz the great

Kazimierz the Great, a former Polish king

chamber

Wonderful chamber with everything made of salt

We saw five or six castles, in heavy rain, unable to see the road that we were driving on. It was exciting, just to see that the roads turned into rivers. The following day it was time for Wieliczka and I wondered if the mine was flooded as well. But it survived. And when you are under the surface, exploring the mine, it doesn’t really matter whether it it rains or not.

Last supper

The Last Supper, one of the salty “paintings”

holy family

The holy Family travelling on a donkey

The guides in Wieliczka are special, at least the ones I’ve met. The last time I visited the place I was in a group of an old gentleman with huge bunch of humor. As the tour started he said that everyone can collect a gift as the tour starts, as long as the person promises to carry it all the way.  Two hours up and down the stairs, walk and walk in the corridors. No problem, we thought, until he said that the gift is 10 kilos of salt. Maybe not. The last time the guide was a cynical communist-hater, which he pointed out quite often.

lake

Salty lake, it would be fun to go swimming here

Well, walking in the mine was interesting. First we started with going down about 400 stairs. Maybe more. Then we walked in the different corridors, watching salt everywhere. Some places were covered with salt crystals, other were just plain salt. We were allowed to taste the wall and it tasted… salt.

workers

Socialists workers, made of salt

passage

Long passage, one of many

There were different statues made of salt, a salty lake and a ballroom. There was also a chapel made of salt, also with copies of paintings, this time carved out of salt . For example “The last supper”. There was a statue of Pope, old presidents or just a plain workers, dwarves and saints. The works were amazing and beautiful. Even chandeliers were made of salt.

unesco

Wieliczka is one of the first UNESCO world heritage sites.

The tour took a few hours. It was interesting and good. If you want to get in without waiting in a very long line to buy a ticket, you can buy a tour of the mine directly in an agency in Cracow. It costs a little more, but I think it’s worth it.

A link to the site: Wieliczka.

And my grade? It’s five, for sure.

GlobeGlobeGlobeGlobeGlobe

//Monika

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Unfinished business with death

The granite cross at Skogskyrkogården

The granite cross at Skogskyrkogården (the Wooden Cemetery), a symbol of the circle of life and death.

I like cemeteries. They make me feel calm and relaxed, and sometimes they make me think about life and death and everything between life and death. One cemetery where you can wander for hours and hours is Skogskyrkogården (the Wooden Cemetery) in Stockholm, Sweden, a World Heritage site since 1994.

The main reason to visit Skogskyrkogården, 102 acres big with 100,000 graves, isn’t necessarily to see the graves and tombstones. Many people from all over the world (many of them from Japan) come to Skogskyrkogården to experience the wonderful architecture and nature. The granite cross casting huge shadows in the green grass, the meditation grove Almhöjden (a hill with elms), the pond, the wall, the visitors center and the chapel of resurrection are just a few of all buildings and places that makes Skogskyrkogården worth visiting.

My father

My father.


My unfinished business with death

I have only been to one funeral, my godfather’s. But what about the tombstone in the picture above? It has my father’s name (my father is buried in Nora, a small village 200-250 kilometres west of Stockholm). Didn’t I attend at his funeral? The sad answer is no, I did not. I guess I wanted to, but the grown ups told me I was too young to attend the funeral. It’s true I was only six years old when my father died in an accident, but I believe that children know far more about life and death than you might think. Maybe that has changed in recent years, I don’t know, but I hope that everyone, no matter how young or old they are, are allowed to be at their parents’ funeral.

Anyway, the fact that I was not allowed to witness my father’s funeral makes me feel that my relationship with my father is an unfinished business with death. I never got the chance to say goodbye to him. Often when I visit a cemetery, whenever I wander among the graves, a thought that always pop up in my head is:  who was and who was NOT allowed to witness his or her funeral? Now, that may sound sad and perhaps a little bitter, but it’s just a quick reflection, no worries.

Back to Skogskyrkogården
Skogskyrkogården was founded in the beginning of the 1900s. Two architects, Gunnar Asplund and Sigurd Lewerentz designed Skogskyrkogården. Gunnar Asplund is considered to be one of the most importent architects of that time. The same is said about Sigurd Lewerentz, although he never got the fame he deserves.

The pond and the Almhöjden.

The pond, the granite cross and Almhöjden.

Statues stretching towards the blue sky.

Statue stretching towards the blue sky.

The chapel.

The chapel.


Autumn at Skogskyrkogården
I doesn’t matter when you visit Skogskyrkogården – it’s always a magical place. This time (I have been to Skogskyrkogården many times) we decided to visit Skogskyrkogården in the autumn (when the nature explode in beautiful colors) and the day before all saints day (when the Swedish darkness is lit up by candles).

Beautiful colors.

Beautiful colors.

Almhöjden in the evening, the day before all saints day.

Almhöjden in the evening.

Candles.

Candles.

More candles.

More candles.

Even more candles.

Even more candles.


Cool cemeteries and churches

There are cemeteries and there are churches, and there are “cool” cemeteries and there are “cool” churches, if you know what I mean. Skogskyrkogården is a beautiful cemetery, but is it cool? No, I love the mysterious gothic style, and cemeteries and churches with a long history. Skogskyrkogården is too young to be a mysterious place with a long history. But I still love Skogskyrkogården!

One of my favorite “cool” cemeteries is the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris, France, where many famous people like Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf and Fryderyk Chopin are buried. Look at the picture below and imagine the same place a cold misty autumn evening when the ravens croak in the trees!

The Père Lachaise cemetery.

The Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris, France.

Graffiti next to Jim Morrisons grave.

Edith Piaf.

Edith Piaf.

A church of which I am particularly fond of is another World Heritage site, namely Westminster Abbey in London, England. Imagine a place where people who influenced the world (at least in the Western world) so much are buried: Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin and many, many other significant scientists, writers, architects, kings, queens…

Yes, I have visited Westminister Abbey, but that’s one part in coming post with six World Heritage sites visited in five days: Westminister Abbey, Kew Garden, Tower of London, Greenwitch, Bath and Stonehenge.

Westminister Abbey.

Westminster Abbey.


Verdict and links

Skogskyrkogården is a unique place, the largest cemetery in Sweden, and a cemetery that attracts people who want to see the architecture and nature, as well as visiting the graves.

Number of globes? Four out of five, definitely!

GlobeGlobeGlobeGlobe

/Jany

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