Friday, January 27, 2012

Solen Skiner i Stockholm!

shines mainly
in the summer

So we have to take advantage of the few moments when it's actually sunny in the winter months. And this is what you get - walking through the cold streets of Stockholm, people are stopped, faces sky-ward, eyes closed, soaking up as much warmth and color as possible. And then most Swedes head to the solarium anyway. That or take the healthy route, developing a ghostly tint by mid-February. Either way, everyone is counting down to that first warm day - could it be ... still 4 months away? Maybe less. Best not to remind myself

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Juxtaposition of Artists

J.M.W. Turner, Claude Monet & Cy Twombly - 3 seemingly very different artists who painted in 3 very different times - the early 1800s, late 1800s/ early 1900s, and the mid-late 1900s respectively. And yet, many of the same themes run through each of their paintings, a point well-established at the Modern Museum's recent exhibit on these three masters of the brush. The exhibit concentrates on the 3 artists later works, displaying the paintings of each artist with those of the others by theme: beauty, seasons, the sublime. 

Turner and Monet were pioneers of the canvas for their times, while Twombly's unique, contemporary style was heavily influenced by classicism. All three artists faced a certain degree of opposition in pushing the boundaries of acceptable painting styles. 

Listening to my audio guide, I learned a great deal about Turner, Monet and Twombly both individually and in comparison to one another. I can highly recommend this engaging and unusual exhibit - although I do need to invest in one of those museum stools if I'm going to make my museum visits a more regular occurence.

Monday, January 16, 2012


Ljusterapi=light therapi=happiness

Every day when I get off the bus on my way home from work, I see this ad and wish I was in it. Sitting on the beach in the warm sun feels so far away right now as the Stockholm sun rises and hovers just above the horizon for a few short hours each day.

For now, though, the light and color this ad brings to my walk home will have to suffice, at least until

A) a fairy drops a bag of cash on my doorstep which i will promptly use to fly far away to a warm place. i'm thinking south africa, maybe thailand? or perhaps an island somewhere...


B) summer comes, which requires waiting for 6 more long months

Guess I don't have much of a choice on this one. But there is a redeeming factor: the days are getting longer now, by almost 4 minutes every day. So in just 2 weeks, we've got a whole extra hour of light! That's at least one thing you can rely on in Swedish winters, which I'm learning are more unpredictable than not.  

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Scaling the Walls in Telefonplan

The world of climbing is a funny place, as I learned on our recent visit to Klättercentret ("The Climbing Center") in Telefonplan, an area in south Stockholm. From kids as young as 3 to 85-year-olds, people of all kinds climb. For some, it's an occasional afternoon activity; for others, it's an everyday routine. Climbing clothes, harness, sand to keep hands dry (a constant issue for me), headphones. And go for it. Up and up and sometimes upside-down. For the exercise, for the fun, for the thrill.

 Maija, Sanna, Nina & I - totally blending in, didn't look like newbies at all, right?

I have a tiny fear of heights, for instance, in jumping off high places into water (an activity that I've surprisingly had a fair number of go-at's). I stand atop the perch for a long time. So long in fact that any by-standers have bet their lives I'll back down. And then I finally jump. With a terrified look on my face, I take the plunge. And I haven't regretted it yet.

see Katie climb

But with climbing, you don't even notice the height until you're pretty far up. You just concentrate on getting to the top the best way possible, and then look down with a slight panic. But it's a good panic, if that makes sense. 

You can get up pretty easily using all the pegs, or the hard way by choosing a color. Each color in an area is a course or route to the top, and can be one of many levels with 10 being the most difficult. I made it up a 6A - not bad for a beginner.

I loved the climbing - even if my muscles didn't. It's truly a full-body work-out, every muscle clenched in pushing you upward and onward. I hope to go back to Klättercentret soon - and next time I'll conquer a 6B.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Nick Brandt @ Fotografiska

Situated on the northern edge of Söder island, Stockholm's Fotografiska museum overlooks the city's gorgeous harbor and Gamla Stan (the "Old Town"). Some might say the main reason for visiting the museum is for the breathtaking views found in the cafe at the top where visitors end up after seeing the various photography exhibits on display. But with the current exhibit (on show up until today), this was far from true.

NS and I lined up for 30 mintues behind a meandering queue of probably 90 people in sub-zero temperatures so as not to miss Nick Brandt's widely acclaimed exhibit On This Earth, A Shadow Falls. The show features Africa's incredible wildlife as I've never before seen it captured.

"What I am interested in is showing the animals simply in the state of Being," says Brandt. "In the state of Being before they are no longer. Before, in the wild at least, they cease to exist."

Brandt's photographs of African animals are portraits. As with portraits of people, Brandt does not use telephoto lenses, but instead gets close to the animals - sometimes dangerously close. He successfully captures moments of natural beauty that take place every day but are rarely seen. 

One of Brandt's goals is to spread awareness of and eliminate the killing of Africa's magnificent beasts. He's set up an organisation: the Big Life Foundation - a worthy cause and one that won't be around for much longer if nothing is done...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

God fortsättning i 2012!

New Years in Stockholm usually means an expensive evening squeezed at a table within inches of 2 other tables for an over-priced 3-course meal in portions I suspect are roughly the size of a 7-year old's afternoon snack. Not that I'd know because this year, after coming to the conclusion that a meal out would be no less than 1300sek (that's almost $200) per person in this city, NS and I decided to do it ourselves.

Whisky cheddar and chevre to start with the Swedish delicacy toasted skagen, followed by oxfile, asparagus and homemade french fries, and to finish, ostkaka (another Svensk favorite, their version of cheesecake) with whipped cream and raspberry jam. It was delicious, more so accompanied by champagne and plenty of wine.

We rang in 2012 with more champagne on Västerbron, one of Stockholm's highest bridges which links Kungsholmen, the island where we live, to Söder, Stockholm's southern island. From the top of Västerbron, we could see the entire city surrounded by thousands of fireworks and Chinese lanterns (a la Disney's Tangled) set off in the clear sky. It was a beautiful sight, and a New Years to remember.