Friday, August 22, 2014

The Gothenburg Culture Festival

Hej hej!

Last week was the Gothenburg Culture Festival that is a week long event with workshops, museum exhibits, and concerts that are free to all! It started off as a week long drinking festival but in recent years they have added the culture component and made it kid-friendly as well. It was like a fair but without the barn yard animals or the dangerous looking carnival rides.

On Tuesday I went to support my house mom at her Ju-Jitsu group's presentation. After several martial art groups gave a small show, they had a "try-it-yourself" session. What I pictured below was part of their warm up routine.
That night we decided to have festival food for dinner - as posted on my food blog, this is a langos. Deep fried bread with sour cream, onions, and LOTS of cheese. It was really fatty and very filling but quite good.

On Saturday I visited the festival again starting at this cute little chocolate shop at a "Make Your Own Chocolate" workshop. I'm glad I went to this workshop because the shop was in this little plaza that reminded me of Rome (minus the statues).

Step one: Roll the fudge into a ball. I used this muscovado sugar fudge which tasted really yummy.
Step two: Dunk the fudge in chocolate.
Step three: WAIT for the fudge to dry, that's the hardest part.
Step four: Put melted chocolate on the bottom of the chocolate and add toppings. I went with sprinkles, cinnamon, and walnuts.
Step 5: Enjoy! The fudge was amazing because it just melted in your mouth when you took a bite. Very yummy chocolate.

After the chocolate workshop, I really didn't have any plans but just wanted to explore the festival.
To the left is is one of the kids activity/food stations.
Below is the Citroen booth which I learned is a French car company that is quite popular in Europe. The Citroen employee seemed surprised that I didn't know about the brand, but I just googled it, and they do not sell Citroen cars in the states. The car had plastic "air bubbles" on the doors which are supposed to prevent scratching the car in parking lots. In my opinion, it really takes away from the appearance of the car.

This is one of the many "Native Swedish" booths. The dream catchers and music made me think of Native American products back home.

Since there was free entry to some museums, I decided to check them out. I started off at the Röhsska Museet which had 6 rooms that displayed products from the 1800s-2000s in Sweden. It was a really cool exhibit and interesting to move a few decades at a time through history. I noticed that Sweden picked up some of the same "retro" styles we had in the states during the 1900s.

At the top floor of the museum was this metal collection. I thought this child riding a reindeer was really unique but I think they mislabeled this as a "Drinking Cup". I'm not quite sure how you could drink out of that.

I then visited the City Museum of Gothenburg which was really cool. I only had 45 minutes so I missed a lot of the museum, but here are some of the highlights.
This was a "Where are you from" exhibit. Basically, there were about two rooms filled with pictures, videos, and other displays of people describing either their home town or their favorite place. I wish I knew Swedish so that I could have enjoyed the exhibit more!

To the right is the remains of an old Viking ship. They also had really cool exhibits on the Norse Gods so I got to learn about Oden, Thor, and Freyja. I wonder if Norse mythology had as much relationship drama as Greek mythology (I mean Zeus had A LOT of kids).

Below are just a few pictures of this amazing exhibit called "Gothenburg from Above" by Lars Bgydenmark. It was such a cool way to look at the city! The first picture was presented in this dark room so the light from the picture seemed so real. People who can use photography as an effective form of art always impress me, so this exhibit was my favorite.

Lastly, I visited the "All World Market" to grab some dinner. There were about 20-30 booths selling fresh food, packaged food (teas, meats, jams, ect.), plants, and even British tea cup set. I decided to go with this spicy Polish (I believe) sausage which was delicious. Again, the hot dogs here never seem to have a bun big enough to fit the meat. 

I still have a lot of Gothenburg left to explore, but I can't believe I only have two weeks left in Europe. Once I finish exploring the city a bit more, I think I'll be more than ready to go home and back to UCSB!

Bye for now,

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Adventures of Stockholm

Hej Hej!

I hope you are all enjoying the weather where ever in the world you may be. It is currently a bit gloomy in Gothenburg and weather reports say it will rain all day tomorrow, but I'm choosing to enjoy it. I wouldn't experience a real Swedish summer without some clouds, wind, and rain along with the sunshine.

Alright, let's get off through my adventure through Stockholm!
BAM! Now you are in the old Norse city that was crucial for trade. Visiting Stockholm, I was surrounded by so much history that was very different than when I visited Rome. When I walked through Rome I had heard about a lot of the monuments, knew basic ancient Roman history, but still learned a lot about the city. All I really knew about Stockholm when I arrived is that it was the capital of Sweden and that it was made up of a lot of islands that are connected with cool bridges. What I didn't expect to find was so much history, culture, and liveliness embedded in a city so far up north.

First stop: City Hall 

Here you will find where they host the Nobel Prize Banquet (except for the Nobel Peace Prize which is presented in Oslo), a golden mummy, and a lot of couples getting married on a Saturday afternoon. Oh, I almost forgot to mention the wooden horse that is covered in chalk art and a cute little garden with weird statues!

Off to Gamla Stan! This is the "old town" island. It includes some cool churches, shops, restaurants, and oh, a palace/former castle too.

The journey! 

So on our way to see the palace (which is on the island in the first picture below), we had a few interesting detours. First was a group of Swedes chanting hinduism mantras, second was a street performer who juggled knives, and third was lunch at an Italian restaurant where Alex, my fellow intern, and I met an awesome couple from Florida. The couple had just retired and the wife used to be an editor while the husband was involved in higher education administration. They were very excited to hear about our research experience abroad and shared their stories of where they have been. I feel like every time I visit one place, I add three more places on my list of where I need to go!

Second Stop: The Royal Palace

The Royal Palace in Stockholm has been burned and rebuilt and renovated many times since the first wooden blockade was set up in the 900s. A ticket to the palace let's you see four parts: The Royal Apartments, The Tre Konor Musuem, The Treasury, and The Musuem of Antiqueties.

So trouble is that you can't photograph any insides of the palace. So I'll do my best to describe each part of the palace and let you all google, or better yet, visit Stockholm to see the rest.

1) The Tre Konor Musuem literally translates to The Three Crown Musuem. It is underneath the current palace where the old palace used to be. The palace has been expanded and the tallest ceiling of the first castle now hits at about the floor level of the current palace. We were in time for the English tour so it was interesting to learn about the history of the palace. In short, the three crowns were originally a symbol for the three lands early Swedish Rulers had God given control over. Later the symbol was "taken" by Denmark who now use it on their coat of arms as well.

When Sweden traded or conquered with some place in Africa (I can't quite remember), they received a lion. They thought it was perfect since lions are the king of the jungle and Swedes are the kings of the North. So they took the lion and placed it in a cage alongside the castle for everyone to see. They would have it face other animals and they would take great pride in it winning. However, one day they decided to have the lion face a bear. Not the best idea to have an old lion that has been raised in captivity to face a bear. I believe the lion was greatly injured and then passed away. Inside the Museum we saw old oven pits, classic defense tactics including a tree trunk with pointed branches to throw on any enemy climbing over the fort, and other remnants of life at the castle. It reminded me a bit of other European castles. However, it was well known that the Stockholm castle was outdated so when it burned in the 1600s, they decided to renovate. Sadly they decided to save the new expensive things, such as printed books, instead of old handwritten manuscripts and official documents, so a lot of history was lost in the fire.

2) The Royal Apartments - the only other "apartments" you can compare it to are the ones in the upper east side of  New York City. The Royal Apartments had a lot of rooms, a lot of antique furniture, and were lavish. They even had a room displaying the military stashes and metals that the royal family has worn throughout the years to represent their nation. It truly was a palace!

A bit on the Swedish Royal Family: they have a crown princess (yey for letting the first born inherit regardless of gender) who married her personal trainer who then became a prince. Even when the crown princess becomes a queen, her husband will remain a prince which I find very odd, but understandable. Also, apparently the Germans are super obsessed with the Swedish Royal Family.

3) The Treasury was full of crowns, swords, and other jewel-encrusted items. If the palace wasn't enough to make me feel that I lived a life of simplicity, this room definitely did the job. Each pair of crowns was just as lavish as the next and I was trying to figure out why they couldn't just reuse one pair of crowns. Then I thought about the worry about lice and the fact that they were royal, so I guess they should be allowed to make their own crowns if they want.

4) The Museum of Antiqueties made me feel as though I had just stepped back into Rome. It was full of old Roman statues and busts which made up a very unique collection.

I almost forgot to mention - I got a picture with the a guard! Everyone who signs up for military service in Sweden has to spend two weeks serving as a guard somewhere in the country. Someone on my floor at work actually served in front of the castle and saw the King drive into the castle in his personal car.

Time to visit the old church!

Third Stop: Tyska Kyran (German Church) 
The church closed about a half hour before we got there, so I just have this picture from the outside. I admit, it is a really bad picture, I think I might have accidentally deleted the close up.

Fourth Stop: Fika 
I felt really Swedish taking a fika break on a Saturday in Stockholm. I decided to try the princess cake because it is a Swedish classic, I had just visited a palace, and my last name means princess. It was a nice cake with mascarpone cheese filling that went perfectly with my glass of milk. We also passed by the Nobel Prize Museum after fika, but didn't have time to look around.

Fifth Stop: Brazilian Culture Festival
As we were looking for dinner, Alex and I stumbled upon this Brazilian festival and concert in a park. I bought a simple chorizo baguette for dinner because everything else seemed to be deep fried or really sweet (which is normally what I go for, but I was trying to be healthy). 

Sixth Stop: Under the Bridge Tour 
Since Stockholm is made up of a lot of islands, we decided to take a boat tour to cover more ground. I'll try to post a fact with each picture I took on the tour!
This was our route for the tour. We got to six islands. 

This is the Royal Palace, partially covered by a cruise ship. Stockholm has over 10 palaces, most around Lake Malmö.

This is an island that has a lot of Museums on it. I'll talk about it later in this blog post.

Since the river freezes during the winter, people have to store their boats outside of the water.

Can't remember what this building is, but it might be city hall.
The city keeps building to accommodate all of its citizens.
A lot of old industrial centers are now being used for housing.

Steam boats were popular during the first world war, but before that
there would be oarswomen to transport you from one island to another. 
Lake Malmö is special because the currents are perfect of a trading town.
The lake connects to several important rivers, but to leave you need
to cross the often harsh waters of the Baltic Sea. To ensure that people
can cross, Swedes have built these "locks" where you enter in and
they close the path behind you, add water and then let you cross. During the
 harsh waters, the locks are closed so you can still travel within Stockholm. 

There is a large barrel just beneath the tree in the center of the
picture to represent an old Absolut Vodka distillery. 

This is an indoor swimming pool (I thought it was odd
that it was on water). 

I want this to be my future office. 

Stockholm's old industrial areas are now turning into housing.

Stockholm's waters are safe enough to swim and fish out of.
During the winter, when the water freezes, people like to walk
or skate from one island to another. 

This is a cool coffee shop over the water.

On the mountain there is an ad for a radio station that mocks the Hollywood sign. 
I want to say this was a factory that is now a museum.
I know that a lot of buildings that were red in color
represented that they worked with fire so they would be easy
 to find in an emergency. 

This may be the Italian Embassy, but I'm not 100% sure.
Amazing Sunset :)

This used to be a Prince's personal art collection but is now
an art museum.

Look on the left side and you'll see a giraffe. Behind the
yellow building is the amusement park Gronalund. They
also host many concerts here and it was said that when Jimmy
 Hendrix performed here, they had to unplug his guitar
 because he didn't want to stop! 
I believe that boat in front of the museum serves as a youth
hostel. I did not stay there, but it sounds cool!

Seventh Stop: Södermalm (Southern Stockholm) 
The receptionist at the hostel described Södermalm as the "Brooklyn" of Stockholm. There are a lot of trendy places to eat and a lot of "hipsters" live there.

 In the picture above, you might notice a big "moon" in the center. We did not see a supermoon in Stockholm, it was the Ericsson Globe which is a HUGE stadium in Stockholm.

On our way back to the hostel, we saw some fireworks! I have no idea why there were going off, but they were really nice and made me feel better about missing Fourth of July fireworks.

And then we saw this building....
I was pretty sure I hadn't seen it earlier that day, but it turns out they used projectors to color the building below to look like the building above. 

Day 2

First Stop: Vasamuseet 
So the Vasa was built in the early 1600s by order of King Gustav (who really had a huge impact on Swedish society), to sort-of show off to Poland how powerful Sweden was at the time. Problem was, the base of the ship was too narrow, the top of the ship was loaded too heavily with too many cannons, and when this huge powerful ship left the shore, it sank within 1,400 yards (1,300 m). They salvaged the cannons and they expensive things at the time, but they didn't excavate the entire ship until around the 1960s. Later they made a museum for it, and while it doesn't sound like much, it was really cool! You got to learn a bit about the history of Sweden and see a cool ship. 
This is how the original pieces on the side of the ship were
probably colored. 

Model of the ship - see it titling?
Me with another cannon! 

This was were the soldiers slept. It was a hard life for the soldiers
they weren't really allowed to leave this room or get any exercise
so a lot of men died on the ship before they even got to war.

 We then grabbed hot dogs for lunch because there were hot dog stands on every corner of the island.
I was not the one to put on ketchup and mustard, but it still tasted good regardless. But I've noticed that in Europe, the hot dog buns are never big enough for the hot dog, which I find quite strange.

Second Stop: Skansen  
So the island we were on, Skeppsholmen, is full of museums. We only had time to visit the Vasa Museum and Skansen, but Skansen is the largest open-air museums in Sweden. It presents old houses or replication of old villages in Sweden before the industrial revolution. It also has a zoo and this amazing view of the city.

Since the museum was quite large and I took a lot of pictures, I've decided to cut down and only show the most interesting ones. If you are curious to learn more, let me know!

These first three pictures are of various Sami huts. The Sami people, or Laplanders, are the indigenous people who inhabited the Scandinavian region. To me, the seemed like a mix of the Native Americans and colonists except they lived in a much colder climate. (On a side note, I got to try flat bread in one of the Sami huts)

The next three pictures are of a farmhouse and the fourth picture is an herb garden. 

 This is the center of the park where there are quite a few cute little shops.
This is the outside of the church (we couldn't take pictures of the inside). The church happens to be a popular wedding spot! 

This may be a farm house or the blacksmith's hut. I know that in the older villages, the blacksmith's place was painted red so it would be easy to find in case of fire. 

Look! I found a baby cannon! 
I know they say you can never have too much
ice cream, but this was almost too much ice cream!
Now onto the zoo! I didn't take a lot of pictures since I worked at a zoo back home, but here is what I have.


Sleepy Elk or Moose!

After the zoo, we also saw more historical buildings.

This lady was blowing glass! It was really cool to see in person!

Old furniture shop. 

Used to be living quarters for the gardeners and servants,
now this Red Row of buildings is used for offices.

Overall, Stockholm was an amazing city! We stayed at City Hostel, which I would highly recommend as being clean and very close to the train station. If I had a chance, I would love to visit Stockholm again. I think I would need a week just to see the museums, explore the city, and ride on the roller coasters in Grona Lund. There is just so much unique history in this city! 

Stockholm, I will be back!

Bye for now,

P.S. I know I said I would stop with the long blog posts, but sometimes I underestimate how long my blogs will be for a weekend trip. Sorry!