Something Swedish


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Eurovision 2013 – in SWEDEN (Featuring a song ABOUT Sweden)

Last night Europe was huddled around their television sets watching the finally of The Eurovision Song Contest, crossing their fingers for their own country to win, or at least a neighboring country. It’s usually a love hate relationship; there are die hard fans of the competition and then there are people who think it’s a joke. Either way it is an acquired taste. One of my favorite parts is following Twitter #Eurovision2013 and reading the comments and reactions.

Euroneigh

Last year I wrote all about the Eurovision contest, recap  or learn all about it for the first time by clicking this link: Sweden Wins Eurovision AGAIN! A History Starting With ABBA

This year The Eurovision Song Contest was held in Sweden because of Loreen’s powerful hit, “Euphoria.” Hosting Eurovision is a big deal; bringing in thousands of tourists and being able to show off your country to the world.

Instead of telling you about all 26 finalists (or even highlighting them all) I want to show you my favorite part of the show, which was an intermission song called, “Swedish Smörgåsbord” performed by the host, Petra Mede, singing all about every (true) Swedish stereotype and characteristic that exists. It’s hilariously accurate and paints a great picture of Sweden and the Swedes.  (Read the lyrics  HERE) It really is a must watch:

Sweden has been getting a lot of credit for putting together a great show this year, with special attention to this song, calling it a “Show Stopper” and that the host “Steals the Show” with a disappointment that you can’t vote for intermission songs.euro2013twit

Sweden’s entry unfortunately came in 14th place:

However, our neighboring country, DENMARK, won by 50 points!:

So, next year Eurovision will still be right around the corner, in Copenhagen.

Trip to the Tivoli Christmas Market

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Tivoli is always a beautiful place, especially at night, but with all the extra Christmas decorations and lights, with dozens of fun stores filled with presents and ornaments, it was extra special!  ~ Enjoy!

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Hope all those photos put you in the Christmas spirit! This week I sent out all of my U.S bound Christmas cards and exchanged my first presents! It really is around the corner!

This gallery contains 32 photos


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Standing in Shakespeares Inspiration

As I crossed the cobblestone courtyard, ducked through the small dark and narrow passageways, climbed the steep and sagging brick stairwells, marveled at the untouched chapel, watched the swans swim around  the castle moat, heard my voice echo in the tremendous ballroom, looked out the windows to see the cannons pointed towards the coastline of Sweden – I was imagining Hamlets plight. Envisioning the ghost of his father, eavesdropping, deceit, secrets, murderous plots, revenge, and a death stained fencing match. Shakespeare may or may have not ever been to the Kronborg Castle (known as Elsinor), but he was inspired by it nonetheless, and framed the most famous play in history within these walls.

Exploring the underbelly of the castle, originally built as a stronghold fortress in 1420. Continue reading


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Traveling to Denmark Taught Me These Things:

It feels good to be home, and even better it felt great that our  apartment in Sweden is where I craved to go when I was done with Denmark and wanted to go “home.” (This weekend made 4 months that I have been living here) Despite visiting Sweden before, this was different, this was my first time really being a full on tourist. I experienced a lot and got to see many things I also learned some things along the way that I wanted to share.

1. Walk more - if you plan on visiting another country and are an ambitious site seer, start walking more BEFORE you go. Walking 5 hours every day kicked my butt! I don’t get as much walking time as I should but now that I have so many hours of walking recently on my feet, I plan to start walking more every day.

2. Careful on Cobblestone - If you are not used to walking on these beautiful stones, don’t over do it. Unless you are wearing some very thick soled shoes you WILL feel the pitch, angle, and depth of each cobblestone in the soles of your feet and your ankles. I have very sensitive feet, so maybe I am overstating, but I advise to avoid it if there is any smooth path along side the picturesque walkways.

3. Beware the Bikes - I’m serious. This also holds true for Sweden, as I have almost been run down a few times, but ESPECIALLY in Copenhagen be aware of the bikers. I think this would be applicable for any one traveling anywhere, and even more so for Americans I think because we do not have the same massive bike culture as other places. Just be careful. Cars are not the only thing that can run you down.

4. Obey the Lights - Being from New York I don’t have the patience to wait for a light to turn red, if there’s no cars a-comin’, I’m a-goin‘. DON’T do this is Copenhagen. You will notice that everyone waits very obediently at every single cross walk, even if there are no cars (to the point of construction on the street and no cars allowed), everyone WILL wait the whole duration of a do not walk sign. This is also found in Sweden, but not too the 100% degree. The reason is that the drivers and bikers in Denmark are known to be more  aggressive. So, watch as the locals do and do the same when it comes to walking into streets.

5. Respect Bike lanes - This goes along the same lines of the last two but I just wanted to point out that bikers do not really appreciate you standing in their lane completely unaware of their presence as you are trying to get the perfect angle of a photo of some building. Just Saying.

6. Don’t over do it - It’s okay if you don’t see all the sights, it’s more reason to come back another time. Instead of walking an extra 3 hours one day I decided to skip seeing a few things and I am glad I did. You can’t see everything you want unless you are there for a very long vacation. Pick and choice your top ten and enjoy them longer rather than running after site number eleven.

7. Relax - On my last day I didn’t do anything. I left the hotel at 8 am,went to the bakery and picked at my food for 90 minutes while reading a  book, watching people come and go. I didn’t inhale my food, but enjoyed it. When I left I walked for 20 minutes and sat on a bench for 30. An hour later I sat on a fountain for an hour, people watching. I walked and sat throughout the city until 2pm and just slowed down, read half of my book and didn’t worry about running to my next Danish destination. Being in another country isn’t all about the sites,  museums, or shopping but about seeing the day to day life.

8. Disconnect - That last day of relaxation I didn’t take a single photograph. Not because my SLR camera died, I had two back up cameras, but because it would have ruined the vibe. I didn’t use the computer, the phone, I just sat back, watched, and read. Soaked in the sights instead of trying to get the perfect angle of them.

9. You ARE a tourist - Don’t be afraid to be new. I had to let go of my protective veil that I use in Sweden, where I try so hard to fit in and not bring attention to the fact that I am not from here. Being a tourist in Denmark made me relax on this front a lot, it’s okay to be different and from somewhere else. You are allowed to be lost, not fit in, not understand, do things incorrectly.

10. Don’t forget where you are - This not only goes for where you go and travel but where you are from. Every town in every city in each and every Country is unique, with it’s own history, beauty, and culture. You are always visiting, or living in, a city where others would love to be, it might not be the number one place you have ever wanted to go but you are experiencing SOMEONES bucket list, so enjoy it and embrace it the way they would.

11. Touristing alone is not so bad - I was only alone half the time, but the sentiment and experience still holds true. I took the train one way alone and every day from 9-4 I did all my touristy stuff alone. It seemed terrifying and impossible, I thought I might stay in our hotel room during the days instead of explore. But once I was there I was no longer scared, the fact that I am not often alone and have not done any solo adventures did not stop me. I became braver at approaching people to take my photo. I conversed with people. I was able to go where I wanted, when I wanted, at my own pace. As long as you are smart and safe  and aware about everything around you (And have a good sense of direction) I think that it was a defining experience to explore a new country on my own each day.

12. Learn - Don’t walk away from a new country with only photographs. Take the time to listen to tour guide stories, read planks on buildings and statues, remember where things are, when things in history happened. On my first day I was sitting on the stairs of some building, writing in my notebook and eating a banana when a tour group walked up to the building and the guide started talking about it being the royal church. Having survived for 800 years through wars and great fires it was burnt down in the 1990s due to a firework landing on its roof. It was rebuilt 5 years later for the queens birthday. I was amazed, I followed them to the two next buildings and listened in from a distance. The next day I decided to take a canal tour to hear some more.

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I enjoyed Denmark a lot, but even more so I enjoyed the experience. I knew once I moved to Sweden I would want to travel more, and a part of me found that exciting while some of me found it to be scary. It wasn’t scary at all. At the end of the week I was looking forward to going back to Sweden (a part of me felt like I was cheating on Sweden with Denmark!) but I enjoyed the stay. Make sure you don’t over stay your own welcome, as in how long you are comfortable being somewhere – it depends on your desire to be in that specific country, and your ability to be somewhere new for how ever long. If we were in Italy or France, or one of the countries I have always dreamed of going, I would have wanted to stay longer and experienced even more. Looking forward to my next adventure, whenever/wherever that will be- for now I am still experiencing Sweden and loving it!


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The Changing of the Guard and The Marble Church

Copenhagen is cloudy today, instead of the brilliant and beautiful backdrop of clear blue skies I’ve been lucky with so far, today is dull and so photos have a lack of “edge.” I did not make it all the way to the little mermaid statue due to a) immense foot pain b) cold weather and wind c) lack of energy d) Camera battery died e) why bother when the sky is so grey? I’ll be back.

However I made it to the first goal of the day which was the Amalienborg Palace to see the changing of the guards at noon. This is where the royal family stays during Winters, consisting of four identical mansions set up to leave a square courtyard with a statue of the founder of the palace atop a horse in the center.

I wasn’t sure it would be worth it to wait around and watch the changing of the guards since two days ago I accidentally followed them as I stumbled upon (standing in the middle of a street I felt as if I was suddenly being descended upon) them as they marched through town back to the barracks – flutes drums, trumpets and all. This was not the same at all – I’m happy I decided to watch it, to witness such a traditional ceremonial procedure.

It was neat to see them move to perfectly in unison, to listen to the noise of their guns hit against their hands or the ground and to hear them “Pssst” to each other as a sort of secret language/code when to move, walk, change direction- making it seamless from far away until you hear them communicate so slightly up close. When I think of any guard of this nature I think of the Buckingham palace guards who are known for not being allowed to move (unless marching) let alone speak or smile. These guards hold their composure and do not interact with tourists, however you can see they quietly speak to one another as they march around side by side.

I know I posted photos of the guards marching two days ago but this is more special than me running  alongside them as they walked down the street, I hope you can see that through these still frames.

You can hear the drums a few minutes before noon as the new guards are marching towards the palace through the streets of Copenhagen, the police tell people where it’s okay to stand (The police officer told me where to stand for the best photos- so nice!). They enter the courtyard and circle the statue in the middle.

The first part takes about 10 minutes, then it is time to relieve the guards that are presently on watch- this takes about 20 minutes of marching to each post (There seems to be 8?) checking inside their red standing booth (?) and then swapping places with a fresh guard.

The new guards and the on duty (But not currently standing watch outside) guards then stand face to face and then switch places.

The whole thing takes about 50 minutes and is pretty interesting to watch something to monumental, a huge part of history, culture and tradition.

At this point my SLR camera died, but I did have a back up and asked someone to take a couple of photos of me (I’m getting better at that!):

Next I went to the Marble Church which is just one block down, exactly lined up with the palace which makes it perfect for photos from the courtyard

Unfortunately there was no sun, no SLR camera and there is construction scaffolding all over the church right now so there was not much photo opportunity.

Getting closer this was the only angle I could manage without showing the construction:

I have never walked into any church to “look around,” the idea has always sort of creeped me out and seems disrespectful, but today I decided to take a peek

Beautiful and serene.


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A Canal Tour and The Round Tower

Legs felt a bit like jelly this morning after yesterdays long walk, so I decided to let a boat do the walking for me today. For 70 Dkk (about $12) I jumped aboard a very flat tour boat and listened to the tour guide for an hour as I snapped away with my camera. While the sky was just as blue and clear as yesterday the temperature was a little cooler and being on the water did not help. It was worth while to hear some facts, history and tidbits about the buildings and areas on the tour. I recommend it!

Being on the water gave for some different, beautiful, and more unique views that I would have never been able to capture otherwise.

The tour began in Gammal Strand (Old Beach)

My favorite place in Copenhagen, Nyhavn (New Harbor) I am a sucker for brightly colored buildings in a row.

The path brought us all the way up to see the Little Mermaid statue, but I plan on walking there tomorrow for close photos.

We passed by the Royal palace, the spherical building in the back is the Marble church. This is where the changing of the Royal Guards takes place (From where yesterdays  accidentally journey of following the guards began – but I never made it to the palace)

Directly opposite this is a straight on view of the new Opera House, it is larger than it seems with most of the building below ground. (side view)

A church with a tower that you can climb to the top of – look at that spiral stair case along the outside of the tower!

“Mind your head” was the catch phrase of the tour, no wonder the boats are so flat!

Next I wandered down to the Round Tower, which is supposed to be the best view in town.

It didn’t disappoint!

I love seeing all the towers peek over the town.

The inside was just as impressive:

Looking forward to tomorrows adventures!


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Destination Denmark: Day One

Even though we arrived in Copenhagen yesterday, I’m still counting today as day one since the only thing we did was eat a quick dinner. I will however recap my solo train experience, since I was a bit nervous about it.

I managed to get everything done on time, cleaned the apartment, packed my bags, packed a snack, cleared out the fridge and got out the door within five minutes of my target time- go me! Arriving at the train station I found the track number and waited, I was 15 minutes early and confident .Having said that I  STILL somehow almost missed my train. Being used to taking the LIRR trains in NY that are in and out of the station within two minutes I didn’t realize that I was sitting next to my train for ten minutes while passengers were loading. When I looked at the clock and saw that MY train should be arriving in  FOUR minutes I wondered why THIS train was still on the track. Thankfully I put two and two together and found my seat a minute or two before the train left the station.

I’ve always enjoyed taking photos from cars or trains- capturing a moment as it flies by.

Bye Sweden, See you on Friday!!

And so DAY ONE started with a breakfast at a bakery we have been to before, it was 8 am so hubby could make it to his course by 9. Our “deluxe” meal was coffee/tea, a roll (Better selection of rolls than if you choose a regular breakfast) with cheese, butter and marmalade, fresh fruit, and juice. We also split a danish. It was a nice breakfast, but too early to start my day of sight seeing, especially since there was a big gloomy cloud covering the city so I went back to bed.

At 10:30 I started my day, the sun was shining and the weather was nice – perfect day for taking photos and walking. And WALKING I DID. I wish I had a pedometer to see how far I walked, since I felt like my legs, ankles and feet were all falling apart even though I was only out and about for about 4-5 hours. I covered more ground than I had anticipated, which means I will certainly be able to see everything I planned on and the distances aren’t as far as they seemed.

As nervous as I was about traveling and being a tourist alone I quickly realized how not so scary it is. You can stop to take photos of anything, anyone, at any time. You can go at your own pace and follow which ever route calls to you. I was tempted to join a tour guide group but quickly realized that I’d rather be exploring on my own. The drawbacks are that it does get a  little lonely and it is nice to have someone to talk to, and also as much as I love taking photos of places I love being IN the photos even more. No one to take photos with is a pretty big draw back. I did end up taking to one woman along the way who was very helpful and kind. She took a few photos of me in front of a castle I accidentally ended up at (That story coming up).

My plan for Copenhagen was simple, I just wanted to walk around and take photos. There was only about six places I had picked as definite destinations. I looked at the map last night and believe it or not that was the only time. Not once did I have to look, I never got lost, and gave someone else directions! The best thing you can have when traveling is a good sense of direction – it gives you freedom. I did not stick to the main street and was not afraid to walk down side streets, when a building captured my attention I went to it. I ended up being about 15 minutes off course and still knew where I was. I wandered from building to building instead of following the traveled path from street to street. If I didn’t do that I would have missed A LOT. As I was having this very thought I was off track and heading towards a huge statue of a horse that I spotted from a distance. It was about half a block away when all of a sudden I hear an ERUPTION of music coming from where the statue is. I walk faster, not wanting to miss a thing – next thing I know the Royal Guards are parading towards me!!

They marched throughout the streets with trombones, drums, and flutes proudly leading the way. Stopping traffic, most on lookers seemed nonchalant, some smiled and took photos, I saw a small girl whistling along to the tune, a few danced, and then there were a couple aside from me that was walking along side, occasionally running to keep up while recording and taking photos.

Little did I know that the horse statue that caught my eye is dead center in the middle of the Royal palace (which was one of my destinations for another day) and so, while I did not see the changing of the guard (and didn’t know it was happening), I did walk besides them the whole march back to their barracks. I only took a few photos because I video recorded most of it (Have to find a way to post it). And so, by following my curiosity from one beautiful side street to another I ended up across town at another castle (Which was also on the list for another day, but there I was!)

Rosenborg Castle:

So to not overload you with photos, I’ll save some for this weekend and post a few highlights each day!

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