Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Burning Questions with No Black or White Answers

The popular Austrian artist, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, was asked by the City of Vienna to decorate the municipal incinerator and adjacent buildings. Although he was an ecologist opposed to burning trash due to the toxic materials it could introduce into the air, he decorated the incinerator in exchange for the city establishing a recycling program.  Excess heat generated from the incinerator is used for heating local buildings.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Spring on Wheels

The days are getting longer, the blackbirds are singing...spring must be just around the corner.  Or maybe it's parked on the street!  This car was cheering up passers-by in Vienna's Third District Saturday.  

For other photos of unusual cars in Vienna, see one of my previous posts, here.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Stockholm Structures

Any survey of the modern cultural history of Stockholm would be incomplete if it didn't include a nod to Ikea with its designs, low prices and flat-pack systems that have transformed not only Swedish society but that of much of the world.  I rode the free Ikea bus from downtown to the original—and largest—Ikea store.  The core of the building is designed in spirals and, with all the merchandise on display, the effect is dizzying.

The original and largest Ikea.

Central Station.

Bubble-headed manequins.

The colorful shop of Swedish designer Gudrun Sjöden. 

Street scenes:

Unusual blue tiles add pizazz to this building.

I'm quite speechless about this street scene. 

This parking garage has that "sense of place" more than any other I can ever remember seeing.

City Hall where the Nobel Prize banquet and ball is held.

With its stripes and jaunty top, this is of my all-time favorite air traffic control towers.  Next: back in Vienna!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Expedition to Gamla Stan

The alluring island of Gamla Stan, Stockholm's Old Town, with its cobblestone alleys, old architecture, lanterns, antique shops and restaurants, was powerful enough to entice me several times from the warmth of our hotel room into sub-freezing temperatures, blowing winds, snow and slush.  I am beginning to suspect I'm a perpetual tourist!  Admittedly though, there were times when my motivation for popping into a store was more to warm up than to shop.

Friday, February 24, 2012

On Sailing and Sinking

With 30,000 islands and islets in the Stockholm archipelago, boats are a necessary means of transportation.  While many are in storage during the winter, some still grace the shoreline.

Sweden's most famous ship now stands in their most popular museum.  The majestic but top-heavy Vasa sank in 1628 on her maiden voyage without making it out of the harbor.  Preserved in the brackish mud of the Baltic Sea and salvaged in 1961, this ornately carved warship is the world's oldest surviving ship.  More information on the ship's history can be found at the Vasa Museum's website

Reproduction of the captain's quarters.

The dark wood is original; the lighter wood was added during restoration.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Virtual Smörgåsbord

We were lucky enough to enjoy a fabulous Swedish Smörgåsbord.  Among the delicacies were reindeer, herring, eel, salmon and bear.  Yes, bear!  It was my first time to eat bear—a tasty dark, smokey meat. It's that triangular sliver on the right side of the plate.

Sweden's famous food hall, Saluhall, presented a delightful array of deserts.

Fish, vegetables and breads and even baskets were also delightfully presented.

The night before we left, a Swedish friend insisted we not leave the country without tasting their fresh Swedish shrimp.  She said they are, by law, cooked on the boat within 15 minutes of being caught and that they were unlike shrimp anywhere else.  What a great tip!  Sweet, delicate, incredibly delicious and 250 grams were not enough.  I took this photo when they were nearly all gone...too tasty to stop for a photo!