21 MayFour Days in Stockholm

We wrapped up our vacation in Stockholm. Melissa and I took three trains from Karlskrona to get there including the X2000, Sweden’s high speed train. That was a very European experience for me. Stockholm, to me, has a different feel than Copenhagen, it’s a more metropolitan city with a faster pulse, but also very old and beautiful.

Parts of Stockholm have a big city feel...

...but with many old streets (this one is in Gamla Stan)...

...and grand buildings.

Stockholm is made up of fourteen islands.

And was founded by Birger Jarl around 1250. Which was also the name of our hotel...Birger Jarl.

The Södermalm neighborhood is part of the backdrop of the Stieg Larsson Millennium Triology. This is the 7 Eleven Lisbeth Salendar went to to stock up on Billy's Pan Pizzas.

Fiskargatan 9, Lisbeth bought the penthouse at this address after helping herself to the Wennerström money.

While in Stockholm we also visited:

The Vasa Museum: which has an intact ship that sunk in the Stockholm harbor in 1628. These are backgammon boards found on the ship when it was salvaged.

Drottningholm Palace: where the King and Queen of Sweden currently live.

The Royal Palace in Stockholm: which has the treasury where the Royal Jewels are on display (no pics of the bling allowed). This is also where we watched the changing of the guards.

The Nordic Museum: which has beautiful exhibits on Swedish traditions, folk art, and the Sami people (arctic indigenous people). The building alone is something to see. Pic complements of Wikipedia.

Skansen: an open air museum and zoo founded in 1891. Including an old fashioned bakery. That pretzel shape is now the symbol for bakeries in Scandinavia.

The Swedish Museum of Photography (Fotografiska): they had about a half dozen exhibits including works by Albert Watson (this is one of his photos).

I am back home now (and think it is much later in the day than it really is). I had an amazing two weeks exploring parts of Scandinavia and wouldn’t hesitate to return to Copenhagen or Stockholm. They are both beautiful and friendly cities, I felt welcome and at home in both.

Random side note: since all of our stays were in coastal towns I have since developed a new obsession with anchors…they are everywhere…how could you not fall in love them?

Finally, and most importantly, I want to thank Zaza for being an amazing tour guide in Copenhagen and for opening her home to three crazy Americans. It was also her first time to Stockholm, but oddly enough, she was a great tour guide there as well. I especially enjoyed our time together in Södermalm. I miss you and hope to see you soon, on my continent or yours.

This was the very last photo taken on my camera. Cheers!

Up next? Ireland…Spring 2012!

17 MayThe weekend in Karlskrona

For the weekend between our time in Copenhagen and Stockholm we split into pairs and went separate ways. Vicki and Zaza went to Visby, Sweden (an island off of Stockholm) and Melissa and I went to Karlskrona, Sweden to visit her family that lives near there.

Karlskrona is a small, picturesque archipelago town in southern Sweden with a large square (the largest in Scandinavia), beautiful architecture along it’s winding streets and a peaceful central park.

This trip has taken me places I never thought I would go, and has allowed me to meet some of the kindest people that I’ll never forget, and for that I am grateful.

14 MayDays 5 & 6: Around Town, Roskilde, & Tivoli

On the agenda for Day 5 was a day trip to Møns Klint. It’s about a two hour drive on country roads each way from Copenhagen. The cliffs look amazing in photos and from what the ladies said they were. But I took the day to stay in Copenhagen and catch up on some sight seeing I missed due to jet lag.

Copenhagen is an amazingly friendly city. I felt 100% comfortable walking around by myself. Here are a couple of things I did:

My first stop was the Rosenburg Castle. Unlike the other two castles, this one is located in the city.

Not to scale.

Rosenburg houses the Royal Crown Jewels. I do appreciate them keeping my emeralds safe.

Then I had lunch at and strolled around the The National Gallery.

Which got me in the mood to look at something new. So I went to The Danish Museum of Art & Design. I totally have these bowls in my kitchen.

Then I swung by to say hi to Hans Christian Andersen.

After my day around town I met up with Vicki, Melissa and Zaza to meet some of Zaza’s friends out for a drink. They were just as nice and funny as Zaza is. We ended the night at a wine bar to share some delicious tapas.

On Day 6 we went to Roskilde which is an ancient city, dating from the Viking Age.

We started at the Roskilde Cathedral.It was the first Gothic cathedral to be built of brick.

And it is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

And the burial site for Danish monarchs.

Then we were off to the Viking Ship Museum. These are pieces from an original Viking ship.

I don't they would have gotten far with me on board.

On the way back towards Copenhagen we stopped in Dragør again and I was able to take some pictures.

While there we stopped for coffee and a danish, as we often do in the afternoon.

Then I had one more stop to make before leaving Copenhagen. Tivoli Gardens. It’s right in the center of Copenhagen and is the oldest amusement park in the world (don’t worry the rides aren’t that old). Tivoli is set in beautiful gardens with many rides, games and restaurants. It’s also a place for concerts of all kinds. It’s fun and beautiful and I wanted nothing more than to have been there with Tom. I guess I will just have to come back with him!

So that was my stay in Copenhagen. It’s a European city I never thought of visiting before meeting Zaza. But now that I have been here I am going to recommend it to everyone. I absolutely love it here!

Now it’s off to Sweden!

11 MayDay 4: Hillerød, Helsingør, Hornbæk & Dragør

On Tuesday we borrowed a car and headed north of Copenhagen.

Frederiksborg Castle in Hillerød, aka The National Historical Museum which is lined with a ton of portraits.

Surrounded by beautiful gardens and lots of green space. A great place for a picnic and bike ride.

Kronborg Castle near the town of Helsingør. This is the setting of Shakespeare's Hamlet.

And home to Holger Danske. According to legend he slumbers here until the day Denmark is in grave danger, at which time he will arise and save the nation. This photo is from Wikipedia because Holger is in the dark, cold basement that was just a little scary so I forgot to take a photo.

This photo of Kronborg is also from Wikipedia...this angle wasn't easily available to me.

After visiting the two castle we headed to Hornbæk for a walk on the beach.

Houses overlooking the water.

A house with a thatched roof in Hornbæk.

Friends at the beach.

We ended the day having dinner in a town back near Copenhagen called Dragør. It was getting dark (which happens around 9 pm) so I don’t have photos, but it was lovely.

09 MayDay 3: Copenhagen

Day 1 and 2 were just a blur.

I am in Copenhagen with my girlfriends Melissa and Vicki visiting Vicki’s sister, Zaza, who lives here. We’ve literally been going nonstop since we landed at 8 am local time on Saturday. Truth be told, Melissa, Vicki and Zaza are still on the go. I, on the other hand, snuck back to the apartment for a few hours to myself.

Here are some pictures from my first three days in the order they were taken:

Not bad for three ladies heading to Scandinavia for two weeks.

We drove to the airport on my birthday so my girlfriends got me cupcakes for the ride!

Our home away from home while in Copenhagen.

Artist at Nyhavn ("New Harbor")


Operaen (the Copenhagen Opera House) one of the most modern opera houses in the world.

Changing of the guard at Amalienborg Palace.

Statue of the Norse Goddess Gefion.

The Little Mermaid Statue - symbolizes the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen.

Traditional windmill at Kastellet (military area).

International language of cupcakes!

Cold drinks...

...at the Ice Bar.

Staying warm at the Ice Bar!

Staying warm during happy hour!

Self-guided tour through The Old Carlsberg Brewery.

I always say "a good tour should end with an ice cold beer." You get two here with the price of admission!

We had dinner with Melissa's second cousin, her husband and their son at their home in Sweden (15 minute train ride). It was the first time Melissa and her cousin met.

An after dinner walk in the Swedish countryside.

On Monday we had a traditional Danish smorgasbord for lunch.

With a snap of Aquavit.

One entrance into Christiania, a collectively run 'hippie' village within the city.

Another entrance. We walked through the neighborhood, but no pics allowed on "Pusher Street". I wonder why?!?

So much more to see and so much more to do! Tomorrow we will start exploring the areas around Copenhagen. This weekend we will visit more of Melissa’s relatives in southern Sweden and then take a train to Stockholm where we will spend four days before flying home. So stay tuned!

27 FebRed Carpet Pre-Game

For the third year in a row I have watched the Oscar nominated movies for the major categories. And before the show begins I want to put my predictions out into the world:

Actor in a Leading Role
Colin Firth in “The King’s Speech”
Javier Bardem in “Biutiful”
Jeff Bridges in “True Grit”
Jesse Eisenberg in “The Social Network”
James Franco in “127 Hours”

Actor in a Supporting Role
Christian Bale in “The Fighter”
John Hawkes in “Winter’s Bone”
Jeremy Renner in “The Town”
Mark Ruffalo in “The Kids Are All Right”
Geoffrey Rush in “The King’s Speech”

Actress in a Leading Role
Natalie Portman in “Black Swan”
Annette Bening in “The Kids Are All Right”
Nicole Kidman in “Rabbit Hole”
Jennifer Lawrence in “Winter’s Bone”
Michelle Williams in “Blue Valentine”

Actress in a Supporting Role
Melissa Leo in “The Fighter”
Amy Adams in “The Fighter”
Helena Bonham Carter in “The King’s Speech”
Hailee Steinfeld in “True Grit”
Jacki Weaver in “Animal Kingdom”

Directing This is a tough category for me. I threw a dart at these names and came up with The Social Network, but I could see any one of these winning.
“The Social Network” David Fincher
“Black Swan” Darren Aronofsky
“The Fighter” David O. Russell
“The King’s Speech” Tom Hooper
“True Grit” Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

Best Picture
“The King’s Speech” Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin, Producers
“Black Swan” Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver and Scott Franklin, Producers
“The Fighter” David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman and Mark Wahlberg, Producers
“Inception” Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan, Producers
“The Kids Are All Right” Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte and Celine Rattray, Producers
“127 Hours” Christian Colson, Danny Boyle and John Smithson, Producers
“The Social Network” Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca and Ceán Chaffin, Producers
“Toy Story 3” Darla K. Anderson, Producer
“True Grit” Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
“Winter’s Bone” Anne Rosellini and Alix Madigan-Yorkin, Producers

The following are not what I would call major categories, but I watched them, so here are my predictions:

Short Film (Animated)
“The Gruffalo” Jakob Schuh and Max Lang
“Day & Night” Teddy Newton
“Let’s Pollute” Geefwee Boedoe
“The Lost Thing” Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann
“Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary)” Bastien Dubois

Short Film (Live Action)
“The Confession” Tanel Toom
“The Crush” Michael Creagh
“God of Love” Luke Matheny
“Na Wewe” Ivan Goldschmidt
“Wish 143” Ian Barnes and Samantha Waite

See you on the Red Carpet.

08 JanJo Koy at The Egg

I swear this is not the only thing I have done since being back from Prague.

As a Happy New Year gift Tom bought us tickets to see Jo Koy who is a regular on the Chelsea Lately show. He was wicked funny, I was crying with laughter at times. He got the night started with some funny observations about the culture on Lark Street. I am looking forward to his next Comedy Central special to see how much material he uses from tonight – it was all pretty good.

Then we stood in line for a photo…

His warm up act was Orlando Baxter, he did some great bits about being an in school suspension teacher at a middle school.

12 OctShout Out from Prague

For a couple who wants to travel, our trip to Prague never would have happened if it weren’t for my parents. They basically pushed us out of the country (and put a little something under the Christmas tree to help). This trip was definitely the catalyst we needed, I already have a trip booked to Scandinavia with some girlfriends in May and Tom and I are planning “Barcelona 2012”.

Thank you!