Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Oh I wish the weather and light had been more cooperative in Amsterdam - and it was kind of difficult to avoid the sky and concentrate on the details all the time... Here are a few of my impressions of Amsterdam - in many ways a pretty city, in others just very dirty and very worn. Including a lot of nasty dog poo on the sidewalks and streets. I also noticed that my skin reacted pretty much the same way as it does when in London, impure, grey and unhappy. I suppose the Amsterdam air isn't what it should be...
Apart from the multitude of channels and bridges, large and small, it reminded me of so many European cities and somehow it never really got to me. It never distinguished itself in the way that a few others cities have done, where the ambiance is something really special, cities which I just love, which I return to regularly or at least long to return to, plan to return to. I somehow doubt I will return to Amsterdam. I just got a feeling of been there, done that and not a feeling of oh-how-I-want-to-return-and-explore-more. Despite the very nice shoes on offer...
Yes, nice shoes, not so interesting when it comes to other garments. Mostly just the same, old boring high street chains you'd find anywhere. The one time I went really excited from looking at a window display it turned out to be a Noa Noa-shop... The other really nice clothes shop I found was so unbelievably expensive I shudder at the thought actually. I would so have liked there to be more of the Copenhagen-style of shops, small designer and handicrafts-shops. I didn't find many of those, at all. Perhaps I was just in the wrong place of things, although it seemed like we walked pretty much all over the city...
The impression of the Amsterdamians where overall quite nice, like Dutch in general they speak English so very well and of course put most Swedes to shame in that area... Although their smoking habits are *slightly* too much for my liking. And well, I don't have to even mention my views on their infamous coffeeshops and red light districts...
On the other hand I do like the impression of the Dutch having an, in general, unpretentious way of living, looking at life. Seeing the opportunities rather than the problems perhaps. Much like my impression of the Danes. And very far from my view of Sweden, Swedes and certain areas of our legislation...
I do like the fact that Dutch, like Danes, cycle a lot. What I don't like is their complete rudeness and inconsiderate behaviour towards traffic rules and pedestrians - ah well, like in Stockholm I suppose... The many trams were quite intimidating, high speed and everywhere including swooshing down crowded pedestrian streets.
When it comes to food we had some really nice meals in different places, in different price ranges. The coffee was way below average in general, sometiems plain average, but never really, really good. What was really good though was the bread, everywhere, all the time. And the fruit juices and fruits, fresh, sweet, invigorating, lovely. I'll return to some of the food highlights of the trip in a later post.
Lots of museums, many lodged in simply amazing buildings, large and small. We visited a few, some really lovely and unusual, one more than rather disappointing. More of that later too.
And now, a few glimpses of a city on water that is not Stockholm - here are some random pictures of an alas gloomy Amsterdam. For more pics, have a look in my Flickr album. The official Amsterdam website you'll find here.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
On a business trip to Milan the other day M found himself in the seat right behind Swedish Foreign Minister Carls Bildt's Italian wife and their toddler son. A child that was *slightly* more than tolerably rowdy and ill-behaved - and the accompanying parent didn't much care. When he got bored with running about he suddenly turned around in his seat, looking at M and demanding attention. After having chatted for a while M returned to his book, something which clearly wasn't appreciated by the boy who plainly called M a turd before he sat down in his seat.
I suppose one at least should be grateful that was the foulest word he could come up with. However, my personal view on these bad manners that leave a great deal to be desired is simply - like father, like son.
Monday, October 29, 2007
I had my mind set on showing this season's witchy footwear immediately - since I knew the Amsterdam *congratulations to Wendy who had the correct answer in no time...:)* pictures would turn out rather bad due to absolutely lousy light conditions. Every. Single. Day. And therefor a proud and pleased Amsterdam-picture-cavalcade was out of the question...
But the weather and light conditions back home haven't been much better and there was just no chance of snapping any decent pics of the boots I'll happily walk around in this autumn - winter season, today. But still, I'm extremely pleased with the fact that I found so many shoes that fitted both in looks and comfort - and at a reasonable price.
Kind of all three of them for the price I paid for these beauties, I've never worn since they somehow had shrunk by the time I was about to wear them... Oh yes, will make an effort in selling them one day... Along with some other for-various-odd-or-stupid-reasons-never-worn-niceties-in-my-wardrobe-bought-way-before-I-became-this-old-hence-wise...
Something, someones, that have been an absolute bliss seeing again and cuddling, kissing, enjoying are of course the wee furry ones - oh my have the major weensy ones grown in just a few days. My little, bestest catwatcher has indeed done a very good job in feeding and looking after them, they are just even more cute than before - and *very* precocious... My job as a living, walking, moaning, screaming climbing-tree has indeed begun, for real.
Yup, a combined climbing-tree-scratching-post with very nice footwear, that's me in a nutshell, right now. A scratching-post adamant to show off her brand new shoes one day in a not too far future...
Sunday, October 28, 2007
But it is kind of neat to be able to do a bit of semi-serious blogging and check emails after having walked and walked and walked street up, street down, day in, day out - and mind you, this is still me with a sore ankle... - and just relax in the lobby for a while. Kind of keeping in touch with reality.
Right now it's a few hours before the plane leaves and the feet, sore ankle and left companion, have most seriously put their feet down demanded no-more-walking. So they're happily resting beneath the table - little do they know that the true test of this trip will be carrying the kind of hefty, heavy, flowery suitcase down the really steep entrance stairs in a while...
I'm slightly nervous about that actually, it's not that I've been shopping all that much, really, apart from being the very happy owner of not one, not even two, but three new winter boots -flippin' fantastic! - things have just become heavier all by themselves during these few days. Actually.
I might be able to just push the suitcase down the stairs, perhaps even riding on it myself, or not, ah this is really almost always the most dreaded moment when on trips. How to get the suitcase - and its content - back home safely. And I have absolutely no idea how it can become heavier without extensive shopping. And those days are all gone as far as I'm concerned, I'm so discerning and wise almost beyond comprehension when it comes to shopping. Especially since I've now reached a very mature and impressive age while away.
If you want to take a wild guess as to where exactly I've been I'll give you a few, selected clues, apart from famous bulbs, the place has the largest numbers of bridges worldwide, lots of bikes and pancakes in various shapes and forms. And far from the most pleasing language...
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Friday, October 26, 2007
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Today I just want to heart myself and muse a bit about whether I'll feel like a completely different undersigned when I wake up, or sometimes during the day, or maybe tomorrow morning... Like one door has been opened to a better me, to a new and amazing life whilst another has sadly, definitely, melancholy and forever been closed...
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Over the years I've been collecting various sorts of things, some more practical than others. One of the less practical things are mugs - mainly from places I've traveled to - since they in the end tend to really, very much overflow the kitchen cabinets. So I've most definitely stopped collecting mugs, of any kind. Period.
Well, there's always an exception to even the strictest rule, isn't there...? My exception - and it's not as if I very much look for it everywhere I travel, I more like stumble over it really... - is mugs from places of interesting, memorable in one way or the other, coffee. If they sell their own mugs as souvenirs that is, which is far from always the case.
A place, a chain, of reasonably good coffee - which for some extremely odd and unknown reason still hasn't open up a branch in Stockholm... - is Starbucks. So whenever I travel abroad, and there's a Starbucks I stumble over I both get a pretty decent latte - apart from the one I got in Barcelona, which was some strange, watery excuse for a coffee... But that's another story... - and a mug to come home with me. So far I have only a few Starbucks souvenir mugs, but they make me happy whenever I look at them and remembering the lovely travels...
My latest addition to the smallish collection is not from a travel of my own, but from M's latest Chinese adventure - if you need to refresh your memory as to what oddities he brought home with him the last time before that, here it is - something I think is actually pretty unique to have.
A Starbucks mug from Dong Guan, China - with quite a pretty photo of a Chinese bridge much resembling San Fransisco's Golden Gate one. But the prettiest thing must definitely be the thing inside the mug, not from China, much more of a British thing really. And not tea, but a totally adorable sweetie named Widar. Cheers!
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
But, what I've come to discover during these past years is that when hugs come from people that actually mean it, not just a wimpish social superficial thing, it's so very comforting. That kind of simple human touch is just so pleasantly endearing. Sometimes you don't even realise that you need a hug until you get one of those big-warm-I'm-here-for-you-ones. Very likable.
Another kind of human touch are different kind of massages and therapies - for medical and stress-relief purposes I've been having them on a semi-regular basis for some years. Trainee treatments at a very reasonable price. I'm just so glad I discovered them! They've done wonders for sore muscles and aching limbs, and I don't think it's only the massage work, it is that warm human touch that's comforting in itself.
I definitely prefer the vigorous kind of massage before the sissy one. Really, I haven't got a clue as to why some people decide to train as masseurs when they obviously have *a bit* of a problem with both the strength as well as the touchy part. The majorly weird trainees have actually had rubber gloves on... Talk about having chosen waaay wrong line of work...
Back on track then. I know quite a few people can't stand being massaged, since they feel it's kind of intimate. Which it really isn't - or at least shouldn't be if it's a professional spa-masseur - we're all just a piece of meat being kneaded on a bench. And the possible wibbly-wobbly bits just give them a bit more to work with. That's it.
These trainee treatments are performed in large rooms with only curtains between the different masseurs/clients. So you get to hear all sorts of peculiar behaviour from different clients, some are just terrified of being touched - which makes the choice of having a massage at all really very odd... - others are really querulous, others just can't stop talking - which makes it sort of impossible to completely relax next-curtain.
I've also had my fair share of oddball masseurs - apart from the rubber gloved ones then - to mention but a few;
the ones that don't leave the room while you undress/dress,
the ones that think it's strange if you leave the bra on/take it off - which is something I'm still not completely sure as to whether you should or shouldn't... -
not to mention the ones that have no idea how a bra is buttoned - strangely enough always guys...
Myself I don't think I've ever really had a problem with massages like these being too intimate, since there are always boundaries that aren't, and shouldn't be, crossed - and the seat- and tummy-part of the session is really amazingly stress relieving... I admit, if you get the odd Adonis as a masseur, which actually can happen, you tend to think a bit more about the fact that you maybe didn't shave your legs, or *shudder* the armpits..., that you're possibly wearing really ugly knickers or the hair isn't washed the same day, and those curvy shapes can perhaps feel a bit too flaccid for comfort... Nota bene, the choice of pronoun "you" and not "I" here...
Today my masseur turned out to be, perhaps not the Adonis kind, but at least a kind of sugary boy. His massage was quite alright - although I discovered I apparently don't have all those darn sore muscles and aching limbs to struggle with anymore, except for that stupid right ankle then... Good news I guess - and he was surprisingly skilled when it came to unbutton/button the bra. But his inclination for smalltalk and the annoying habit of not leaving me alone to undress/dress really deduct the overall experience. But for only having trained for three weeks I suppose he made a good job...
Monday, October 22, 2007
I can very deeply regret the way I wrote things a couple of years back, well only a few months back really. Some things written really shouldn't be flaunted in public. And what on earth was I thinking, probably being rather proud of the stuff then... Now and then I do find a glimmer of something really great, and old, I'd forgotten that I'd wrote, it doesn't even sound like me and my words, but nonetheless I like it. A lot.
Other things I'm just blushing of embarrassment over. The worst thing is when it's really published in a more full-of-myself-grand-way, like a travel-article I'm thinking of that's really, really not a good one. Talk about overusing stupid words and too much silly details. And of course I'm not telling you where to find this article, since it's oh so much better fallen into oblivion.
Oh I know, I know, completely useless to even thinking about these things. That was me then, this is me now. Can't be proud of every achievement we make I suppose - though I'd like to be. But on the other hand who wants to be an übermensch...? Um, but it's strange to think that it was me only some months ago, have I changed so much in such a short time...? Peculiar how the mind works, and how it forces the fingers to the keypad with utterly weird choices of words and sentences, anyway... Curious things, the windmills of your mind...
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Friday, October 19, 2007
This is Poncha, in my opinion a *quite* revolting honey, lemon, rhum beverage from Madeira. Got it when we spent a lovely Christmas there some years ago - a place of wonderful, fresh food and drinks, except coffee and then this grody thing.
However it is kind of handy to have as a cold remedy - but as might be visible from the still-after-years-remaining content of the bottle, it is also kind of difficult to gobble down, even in tiny doses. I can safely say I shudder just thinking of it... I can't imagine it being a cool drink ingredient, as it is said to be, well, perhaps if your only aim in a night on the town is to throw up it might just be the thing...
Right now though, I'm contemplating whether gulping down the last remaining cloudy fluid of that Poncha-bottle would be the thing or not for a good night's sleep. Since for nearly 24 hours, there has been a completely annoying, regular, medium-pitched noise coming from one of my neighbours - sounds travel easily through the thick walls in these atrium-houses here - which makes it almost impossible to sleep, since the sound is most audible in the bedroom...
I know the sound - kind of what can emanate from a sound system that isn't completely shut down - from before summer. Then it was on and off regularly for about a week, we thought they might be renovating or something, and it wasn't on at night. Since I like late nights and not so early mornings though I didn't appreciate it being "turned on" in the wee hours of the morning... But just when I was going completely crazy from it and was ready to storm in - I'm not 100% sure which neighbour's causing it though - like a mad banshee, it stopped completely. Simple bliss.
I have no interest whatsoever in socializing with my neighbours more than a random hallo-how-are-you-nice-weather, I don't know half of the people who lives in this common land society of ours, and thus I'm not all that excited about having to thwack some strangers door in order to get some quiet. Especially since I'm not sure which exact stranger's door to pound. So right now I'm not in a good mood, I limp, it's raining and I just might look like some nasty creature that has come haunting pre-Halloween. I think I'll settle for some private grump and growling plus earplugs. For now.
Even though I don't really want to think about one of my favourite things to do, walking, right now, I'm going to do that anyway, just for you *I hope the martyr's crown is quite visible now* - I think a very nice thing to do before the actual walking commence is to have a coffee.
I basically never ever drink coffee at home, if you didn't know that by now, I'm a teaperson. Even if I could, which I can't, make a decent cup of coffee - let's just say that all those kittenbuyers over the years that I've *treated* with my coffee making skills, most of them have been really gracious and bought a kitten anyway... - I so very much prefer tea over coffee most of the times. The exception to the rule is that I like a latte now and then, after lunch, or as a treat. A sort of social thing, a bit of simple luxury, a thing to perk me up if it's a gloomy day, or too early, too cold, too anything... As long as I can do without *said the -oholic* I think it's kind of ok to have a coffee now and then, and always with milk of course.
This interlude was brought to you just as an introduction to the place where I quite regularly get my coffee nowadays - since my favourite coffeechain Coffee Cup was merged into the lesser good chain Espresso House... -
Wayne's Coffee at the Central Station. Perfectly situated when you get off the c-train and want to have a latte on the go. The ambiance is nice, the music too, and I bet it's really cosy in there wintertime with all the candles on the tables, watching the people rushing by to and from the trains... The staff is nice and the coffee is decent. I rarely get anything but a latte to go, but I think their display of treats to eat looks really pleasing to the eye, don't you agree?
After having grabbed that coffee you might want to head down to the *posh* department store NK (Nordiska Kompaniet). It looks pretty on the outside, and yes it offers quite a bit of nice merchandise inside, but to tell you my view I think it's kind of shabby, apart from the pricetags that is, and frankly, the place is *slightly* too full of itself and it's importance... Well, I suppose I'm not easily impressed by this kind of surface, sure I like my bit of luxury, but I rarely find it in department stores.
I think they pretty often can be described as boring consumptiontemples worshipping massproduction. I prefer small shops, with one off's kind of wares, the really well made ones that someone has put their heart and soul into while making, with personal and caring service with a more longterm thinking. In my opinion, to support those shops, to wear and use those kind of goods really is luxury at its best, at least when it comes to the more superficial luxuries in life that stems from shopping.
If your heart desires the more cultural luxuries that can be found at theatres, you might want to continue walking down to Nybroplan - where this amazing photo exhibition still is on until November - and the Royal Dramatic Theatre. As I've said before, I'm not really a regular visitor of any kind of theatre anymore, unless it's a movie one that is. But if you're unlike me fond of theatres and stageproductions, I'm sure you'll find something worth while seeing and experience at this, the most distinguished of all theatres in Stockholm, founded in the late 18th century.
Myself, I'm not going to join you at the theatre, instead just very figuratively heading home now, for some well deserved rest and relaxation.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
The prospect of seeing a doctor for it really doesn't appeal to me - let's just say that the local health care centre, when it comes to doctors, leaves a lot to be desired... And getting myself into the city for a doctor's appointment, now, for some reason doesn't have an appealing ring to it either... And what would a doctor say, rest, keep warm, rub this ointment? Besides, I think it just might be feeling a slight bit less sore and swollen now...
Weekend plans are simply meant to be broken - better that than a broken leg - I'll just have to take the sofa position, watch movies and knit. Which can be nice for a while, but will get boring after some hours... And there are a whole lot of things that need to be done, which can't be dealt with jumping on one leg... Oh my, is this annoying or what?!
Next week I, the legs and feet, really, really, very much so need to be perky and back in walking mood. In time for a special treat. No, most definitely can't let a silly sore ankle get in the way of that.
Silly alluring Stockholm in lovely autumn shroud that just keep tempting undersigned for yet another walk, another outing, another finding - or rediscovery - of a place of wild strawberries.
And silly - but most and mainly pitiful - me that can't stop listening to the siren call of the autumnal dressed lady in the water above.
So, foot up, sofa position, movies, yarn, turn a blind eye to the mess that *should* be dealt with and toes crossed for a weekend full recovery.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Some things stupid beyond reason can't be completely ignored unfortunately. And something that definitely qualify for my top 10 list - at least - of completely stupid phenomenas as well as useless tasks is wiping the inbox from spam.
The illiteracy and caveman attitude of the senders is just appalling, to say the very least. Something which surely, to begin with, can be a source of great amusement. That is, until the insinuations and their illiterate way with words get really obnoxiously distasteful. My filth filter is overflowing and I'm both disgusted and getting angrier by the spam. I want to fight back, I want revenge - and in my non-illiterate mind I come up with the most delicious way with dirty words and curses, and exquisite ways to extinguish those useless excuses for living beings spelled spammers from the face of the earth.
There are good people, companies, out there fighting the good fight - which isn't always obvious, but was well told in Spam, the Documentary - I just hope they, we all, some day will manage to smash these aliterate energyprowlers into obliteration. No mercy whatsoever. Until then, in lack for better words, up yours, spammers, so very, very much.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Myself I haven't the slightest interest in wine, but for those who do I suppose South Africa has quite a lot to offer also in that area. Therefore M had quite looked forward to the stay at a vineyard guesthouse in Stellenbosch, a charming old university town in the heart of South Africa's wineroute situated some miles east of Cape Town. Some nice wine sampling, for some, and a good dinner would be just the perfect end of a long day in the car. Little did we know...
We arrived at the Knoerhoek Vineyard late afternoon and was greeted in a way that can only be described as inhospitable and rude, by an elderly woman who could hardly speak English. The room we got was far from the nice ones as seen in the pictures, but more of a shabby hostel one. Since I very much take notice of details I didn't find it very appealing to see cheap soap filled in old bottles of more expensive brands for example... The fan in the room was making so much noise it couldn't stay switched on during the night, which was too bad considering the temperature that time of year...
The information about the fact that in order to eat at the inhouse restaurant you had to preorder well in advance hadn't been given... The place was fully booked - by unbelievably noisy and uncongenial golfplaying German seniors... I let it be unsaid which one of these attributes that made them so unpleasant... - and we had to look elsewhere for dinner. I can't help but using the words *of course* now, as in of course we were given the completely wrong driving directions for another restaurant...
We got lost, in the pretty much pitch dark surroundings of Stellenbosch. We ended up at a 7-11 shop in some strange neighbourhood, where I stayed in the car while M stocked up on *delicacies* - can't say it was all that comfortable... Although I got treated to a strange and rather entertaining mini-show when a drunken man suddenly appeared in the dark answering a call of nature, trying to relieve himself beside the building - right outside our car... -, and then frighten the hugest rat I've ever seen, who factually ran straight into the wall trying to get away from what he/she probably saw as a very daunting Nemesis. Myself I just counted the minutes until we could get back to the guesthouse with all that wonderful delicacies that the tummy ached for by then...
I suppose all is relative when it comes to what can be considered as culinary delights... But I'm pretty sure none of the above things can be considered first class delicacies... However, even if the great expectations of a lovely stay and great food at a vineyard came to naught, it was rather lovely to sit at that "balcony" outside the shabby room, having the non-five-star-picnic and looking up at an amazing pitch black yet star-spangled sky. The kind hardly ever visible when living in or close to a city or in a densely populated area.
Our room is the one with the open door on the upper floor. Outside my knapsack is waiting to leave...
Since we were on *a bit* of a tight schedule we didn't have much time strolling the streets of the town of Stellenbosch - which was a pity indeed - but I did get the first kind of fairly decent latte there anyway. At Mugg & Bean, by an employee/proprietor that must be one of the most, if not the most, accommodating ones I've ever met. Borderline servile really. Strange experience indeed.
Next post will be about our drive to Cape Town, including penguins, Sirocco and Good Hope, so stay tuned.