Dublin: Messing Around in the City of Your Choice

This is post #4 of our Dublin-Berlin trip, Friday, September 14, 2018.

The title comes from a moment late in the day, when exhausted, weary, and tired of sight-seeing, we decide to bust loose from our agenda and just do what we want, see what we want.  It’s often this push-and-pull for me: See All The Sights! often dominates, whereas Enjoy Your Travels and Discover, often takes a back seat. So we think there should be a guidebook with this title, as often that’s when you have the most fun, even though you may “miss” some of the “important” things in a city’s checklist.  Today we tried to balance out the both.

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Gallagher’s Boxty House

Because of pathetic night’s sleep, we didn’t get moving until nearly lunchtime.  We’d made reservations at Boxty’s for lunch on Saturday, but decided to see if they could accommodate us for lunch today, Friday, then we’d “get that out of the way.”Dublin Boxty Menu

They could, and we started our day with a small bowl of Traditional Irish Lamb Stew and Soda Bread, and a Corned Beef Boxty.Boxty Lunch3Boxty Lunch2

What is a boxty?  A pancake, for all practical purposes.

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We headed out the usual way, trying to get to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, but detoured onto a little curved street, where we saw City Hall, and decided to check it out.Dublin City Hall1_Dome
Dave always goes for the dome in the ceiling.Dublin City Hall2_floor
I always go for the tiled floors.  There’s some sort of message in this, but I can’t think what it is.Dublin St. Patricks_1

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

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I loved this little scene, right behind the ticket-taker at the door.  We get a “concession” or discount on the ticket price because we are of a Certain Age.  Getting a discount always makes Dave happy.

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Another big vaulting nave, and although there is nothing “special” about this Cathedral, it does have some interesting features.

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See these regimental flags?

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When old military regiments are disbanded, their flags are sent to this cathedral to hang until they disintegrate and fall to the ground.  Then the flag remains are placed in a display case and hung on the wall.  The St. Patrick Cathedral website notes that “Saint Patrick’s Cathedral began receiving regimental colours in the 1850s and these represented Regiments who had fought in the Napoleonic wars. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries more flags were laid up (added) in the Cathedral and this tradition continues today.”

The decaying flags are hung in a side chapel.  The ones you see here, along with their helmets and swords, are those of the Knights of St Patrick. Click the link to read more about them and their connection to this cathedral.

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These tiles are from a renovation by the wealthy brewer “Benjamin Lee Guinness [who]  wrote offering to underwrite a complete restoration of the building, the only condition being that he be subject to no interference: the project took five years and cost £150,000. One of the alterations made by Guinness was raising the floor of the nave to the same height as that of the choir. In the process, new tiles were laid down, of which these are an example, based on medieval designs and covering the entire nave.”  from here

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Needlepoint cushions for the seats.  My eye was caught by the Wexford design.  We saw similar ones in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., but they were stitched honoring notable people from the area.

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Jonathan Swift is buried here, along with his companion, Stella.

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Side door, St. Patrick’s Cathedral

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The fact that Swift is buried here helps these medallions on these neighboring housing units make more sense.  On the unit above, you can see the main character of Swift’s novel, Lemuel Gulliver, tied down by the Lilliputians.  There were several housing units in this development and several medallions depicting scenes from the novel, such as when Gulliver was instrumental in a sea battle.

Two more businesses with one-word titles: Feast and Pure. Pure is a styling salon for women.

Dublin The Rolling Donut

We were headed to St. Stephen’s Green and Butler’s Chocolate, but encountered this donut shop, which by now was my favorite of all the shops I saw.

Perfect afternoon pick-me-up, complete with “red velvet soil.”  Verrrry glad there is nothing like this in the States. But our original errand was to head to Butler’s to try their White Hot Chocolate, and that was just across the pedestrian shopping street, along with another busker/musician:

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Holding the white hot chocolate at the Fusilier’s Arch, St. Stephen’s Green.  We found a bench, and sat, taking turns sipping the beverage.

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It reminded Dave of warm, sweet milk, with a slight undertone of chocolate.  Agree.

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This young girl was mobbed by the gulls, as she held a crust of bread.  Then all of a sudden they flew off over our heads in a great cawing and rush of wings.

One of the interesting things about travel is how one experience overlaps another.  Sitting on the bench in the green reminded us of the day we were in Halifax, Canada, waiting for the restaurant to open where we were to eat.  We had an hour to kill, so headed to a park, talking and taking a breath in the travel rush.

Dublin Govt Building

Leaving the Green, and walking north along Merrion Square Upper lane, Dave caught this shot of a massive set of something governmental looking.  A commenter on Google Maps said that “This complex of Government Buildings situated on Upper Merrion Street, Dublin is where the government ministers and staff have their offices. It originally housed two government departments, the Local Government Board and the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction.”  Apparently you can take tours of it.  Next trip.

We were headed to Merrion Square because I’d heard there were great doors to look at there, but we had fun goofing around in the park, finding this chair which was a tribute to  Dermot Morgan.  I said to Dave that he can put one like this in the local university botannic garden for me, and I’d be happy.

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How about this for a Christmas Card photo, sneakers and all?

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When we were on the airplane on Aer Lingus, the flight attendants would come down the aisle at the end of service asking for “Rubbish?”  or “Waste?” where we usually hear “Trash?” on American flights.  Here’s a litter box, all fancy-style, in the park.  I think we usually still use the one word, “trash.”  Interesting that there are three words in their vernacular to our one.

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Even though there was no rain expected/predicted, it’s raining now, so we scurry over to the National Library of Dublin, because I’d seen photos of the Reading Room (below) and I wanted to see it.  Of course, photos weren’t allowed (privacy for those in the Reading Room) and no postcards, either, so I took this one from the web.  I think I want to repaint my house in these colors.

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We walk back to our hotel, dodging under doorways. The rain let up a bit.

Dublin Bus

We never could figure out the bus system in Dublin, thinking instead they keep it away from the tourists, so only the locals can use it.  I do like how the last guy on the bike, in the green, is looking at the portrait.

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They think we’re weird because we are drinking ginger ale instead of beer.

Dave wanted to eat dinner where he could listen to some traditional Irish music.  O’Flaherty’s had three levels, and the guy receiving patrons politely guided us downstairs (where the old folks and the kids were dining), but we did have a good view of the stage with the two-piece band, and the dancer, when she’d come downstairs to do a bit of Irish dancing.  I also had the biggest piece of Fish n’ Chips I’d ever seen (Dave had to help).  He had Irish stew.

Dublin River Liffey

A last walk up onto O’Connell Bridge to see the lights.

Doors from Merrion Square, Dublin

This is post #3 of our Dublin-Berlin trip in September 2018,
a happy-go-lucky Friday afternoon, September 14.

Click on any image to enlarge.

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Merrion Square, in Dublin Ireland is surrounded by stately homes.

Yeats Lived Here.jpgAnd Yeats lived here for a while.

I do love these lines from Yeats’ poem “The Second Coming,”
which I can almost make sense of.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre   

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold

Book of Kells, Christ Church and more meandering

This is post #2 of our Dublin-Berlin trip in September 2018

Thursday, September 13, 2019

Dave had sourced out lots of places to eat in Dublin before coming.  So that first morning we walked along Fleet Street to find breakfast at the Queen of Tarts.  Along the way, we photographed the famous Temple Bar.  I guess if you are a drinker, you would like to come here, but since we aren’t drinkers, I thought it was just a lovely place with all the flowers.


Scone, juice and a streusel muffin

Then on to visit Christ Church.  They are renovating an area outside the church and I loved all the bold design fences.

Interesting comment on Christ as a homeless person.

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Coming inside, I know understood why the fences outside had such bold designs: they were taken from the floor’s tile designs.

Back outside, we kept checking the sky, wondering if we were going to be rained on, but the clouds cleared and we kept going.

The cathedral is on the right, Synod House is on the left, joined by a bridge.

We walked all the way down from Christ Church to St. Patrick’s and realized we’d left the tickets for the Book of Kells back in the room, so we re-traced our steps back along Fleet Street, back to our hotel.

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The other side of Temple Bar, plus another notable pub, below.  Lively Irish music was always pouring out of this yellow pub from early afternoon into the night.

Back at the room, I held my camera below the open window to get this shot of the The Spire of Dublin (aka Millenium Spire).




This is typical of how our screenshots from Google Maps Offline looked like: we’d chart our course while in wifi, then head out, tracking ourselves as we went.  Seriously, offline maps are like magic.  We couldn’t make sense of the public transit, and unlike other cities, it seemed to be reserved only for the locals.  So we walked everywhere, and kept our destinations local.


Entering Trinity College, you feel history waft over you, as everything has so many years behind it.  It’s either that, or you feel like you’re channeling Harry Potter, or something.


I’d watched The Secret of Kells twice before coming, forcing Dave to join me once (he fell asleep), but I was glad I’d done that for it helped me to make sense of the chaos that the Book of Kells exhibit felt like.

img_6471It felt like we were all moooooved into one room like cattle (and they’d run out of English pamphlets, with the girl telling me — not so helpfully, but in a lovely Irish lilt — “everything’s printed on the displays”).  There were large displays with pictures of The Book, but it was hard to see/read with all the people.  We stepped up into another room with a crush around one low table.  It displayed several manuscripts, one of them the Book of Kells.  They display a random page, so you never know what you’ll see, but I was hoping to see the Chi-Ro page:


“Chi and Rho are two letters of the Greek alphabet, the first two letters of “Christ”. Chi gives a hard Ch sound. Rho is an R. Chi is written as an X. Rho is roughly a P. In this illumination the Chi is the dominant form, an X with uneven arms, somewhat resembling a pair of curvaceous pliers. The Rho stands in its shelter, with its loop turned into a spiral. There is also an Iota, an I, the third letter, passing up through this spiral. All three letters are abundantly decorated, their curves drawn out into flourishes, embellished with discs and spirals, filled with dense tracery and punctuated with occasional animals and angels.”  (from here)


After that insanity, we climbed the stairs to head into the Long Room of the Old Library, along with the rest of the herd.  Shades of Wizarding!  There were two rows of alcoves along the main center aisle, and on top of that, another series of alcoves.  This room, built between 1712 and 1732, was expanded to two stories in 1860.


The ties of twill around the books are like bandages for the books, as they need to be repaired.img_6462img_6451img_6468img_6463

At the front of each “stall” (their word) or shelf of books was a bust of a famous person, 100% male, with the exception of one stack, which displayed this harp, above, which apparently is the model for All Things Harpish, and is one of the three oldest surviving Gaelic harps (c. 15th century).  But the statues everywhere (and not just in the library) are all men.  This male thing was getting a little overwhelming in Ireland — seems the only woman around is the Molly Malone statue, and she’s fictional.


So I asked the attendant why there were no women anywhere.

img_6461“There is one,” he said, and pointed to Mary Pollard’s name.
“But where is her bust?” I asked, gesturing to all the marble heads in the room.
“It took us 200 years to get that,” he said, pointing the name.  “The other is coming.”

I had to look her up.  Seems she was the former Keeper of the Books at Trinity College.  The Trinity College Website notes that  “The Pollard Collection – a bequest of Mary “Paul” Pollard, former Keeper of Early Printed Books – is the largest collection of children’s books in Ireland. Items date from the 17th century to the early 20th century with a special focus on Irish imprints, Irish writers, and books written for girls.”

We are shunted down in the (what else?) gift shop, but that’s a crush, too.  After trying to work our way around the merchandise, maybe the crowds have cleared out, we say, and we loop back around again to the beginning and things are much better.  We are able to read all the placards, and actually see the Book of Kells page.  The old library upstairs was largely cleared out, so we had more of a chance to see it, too.

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I asked the attendant how the people moved between the stack upstairs.  He pointed out the door in each bookcase, close to the wall, where it was hard to see.  And, he said, those doors are eight feet tall, even though from down here they look small.


Of course, I had Dave pose by the The Berkeley Library, named for that Irish philosopher, considering that Berkeley in California was his alma mater ( and that city was also named after this Berkeley).


Henry Moore: “Reclining Connected Forms”


Back out into town and walking around that day, we saw more hats on sculptures: the Four Angels Fountain received head pieces too.  After I looked at a complete listing of Dublin’s public art, it looks like there are more women statues than previously thought.img_6500

Molly Malone received a hat with fringe and a lace veil flowing down the back.


Lunch was at Sprouts, with dessert by Laduree, picked up minutes before and smuggled downstairs to enjoy with our bowl of food.img_6505


It was after our lunch at Sprouts, serving healthy-ish food, that we began to notice other one-word, one-syllable shops: Rocks, Fields, Cloth, Chopped, Card, Boots, Toast.



But this was our favorite: FADE, a store for tattoo removal.


We thought we’d like to see the Castle, but ended up at the Chester Beatty Library instead (on the grounds of the Castle).  Dave was fascinated by all that was there. Me?  Not so much, so I retired to the leather bench outside the exhibit, logged into their free wifi and did incredibly shallow stuff like posting on Instagram.  I plead jetlag.


I did like the cards in the gift shop, though.

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We walked back through town, heading to dinner at The Pig’s Ear, a recommended restaurant (we’d made reservations earlier, before leaving home.


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The dining room, on the second floor, faced Trinity College, but from our perch in the corner of the room, we could only see bits of the greenery.  The whole experience was lovely, beginning with the sense of forest or woods or earthiness in the decor of woods and soft greens (except for the women’s bathroom, which was a perfect shade of pink–pig pink?)

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(Definitely going to think about repainting our bathroom when I get home.)


We sat by an unused set of stairs, decorated with pigs and a gun-toting rabbit.

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I snapped a photo of the menu outside, before heading up. We each did a two-person menu, splitting the Starter and the Dessert.  Of course, we were upsold with the side of vegetables.DinnerPigsEar_2a.jpg

First, the bread was brought out in a leather basket, the wooden disk holding a round of slightly salty butter, with a wooden blade.


The Starter of the salmon was a work of art.


We loved everything, but the dessert was the perfect finisher:


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We headed for one more walk along the Ha’Penny Bridge, passing by this building.

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The gulls here have cries that will wake tired tourists; click here for video.

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We lingered long enough for the lights to come on.

HaPenny Bridge_3.jpgWhy go home? We can’t sleep.  In fact, I’ll close this post with a photo of the ceiling taken in the middle of the night, by my unsleeping husband.

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It was a struggle, every night: too hot, too noisy, terrible pillows.  So we start chipping away at the conditions.  We received decent pillows on day 3 of our stay.  We started closing the windows (yes, they are double-paned — they obviously were aware of the noise problem) and turning on the fan, inevitably sweltering hot by about 3 a.m.

Maybe we’ll sleep in Berlin, we say.  Who knows?AsktheRiver.jpg

We’ll ask the river (sign courtesy of the Fringe Festival).





Meeting Dublin

This is post #1 of our Dublin-Berlin trip in September 2018.


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

We left Los Angeles Tuesday evening, on Aer Lingus, an untested airline.  Now having flown them internationally and locally, go for international.  They make you pay for water locally (pet peeve of mine).  This was taken Wednesday, before we arrived in Dublin.


I asked if everyone spoke Irish.  Nope.  But the law mandates dual language signs.  Actually it’s probably a pretty good thing, to try and keep the language from disappearing.


We clear customs, get our luggage, and made our way onto the airport bus, that was the meandering version.  It took us past the harp-shaped Samuel Beckett bridge, one I didn’t see again.


After the bus left us off, we walked down O’Connell Street, snapping photos.  Dublin is pretty enamored of their donuts, but they are more like cream-filled donuts than regular ones.  By the end of our stay, I was pretty enamored of their donuts, too.

The William Smith O’Brien statue was wearing a hat, as were some others.  Later I found out it was part of Dublin’s Fringe Festival, a combination of plays, performances, art pieces, and some hi-jinks — like hats.

The River Liffey.  We really had great weather while we were there–only a few rainstorms.  My first impressions of Dublin are of a smaller town with lots of energy, a long flat river bisecting it east-west, lots of statues, lots of donuts, and lots of tourists.  Oh, and it is very very green.

We had lists of things to see, from friends and neighbors and even our son Chad, who had come here last year with his family.  One place I wanted to see was the Garden of Remembrance, a memorial with a reflecting pool in the shape of a cross and a beautiful statue of children being changed into swans.

The Dublin Post Office was on the way, and I often buy one beautiful stamp from a country as a souvenir.  This time I purchased postcard stamps as well.  What a beautiful building!  I imagine the other ones aren’t like this, but I did have severe Post Office Envy.

I loved the hexagonal stamps they sold, but left them there.  We are at the stage where we only buy things that we think we’ll enjoy in our lifetime (as the children will throw out the bulk of our possessions, we’re sure!).  I could see framing them, but then what?  I just enjoyed them there.

The Millenium Tower, aka The Spire, is right on O’Connell street, serving as a landmark for us as we scooted around.  It was finished in 2002 (two years late), and apparently some hate it and some love it.  It is kind of cool looking.


Still on the trail to the Garden, we heard chanting, like an enthusiastic call-and-response, and we realized we had happened on the Labor Rally for that afternoon, perhaps to get them fired up for the talk (below):

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Looks like Jim Larkin’s spirit still persists.

We arrived about 5:43 and the gatesman said he was closing soon.  “6:00 p.m.” I asked.  “In five minutes,” he said. So I raced down into the garden, up to to the statue and then back again, all in five minutes.


The statue of the Children of Lir, a tale from Irish mythology.  It’s complicated, but love, suffering, and revenge are at the heart of it.

According to Wikipedia, “In Celtic custom, on concluding a battle, the weapons were broken and cast in the river, to signify the end of hostilities.”  The broken weapons are in several places in the reflecting pool.

We look pretty good for being so jetlagged.  Little did we know that we would never have a good nights’ sleep in our hotel.  More on that later.

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All the buildings are so different from our town, we found ourselves snapping photos left and right.

Now it’s time for our traveling ritual: Hunt For Food.  These days we have guidebooks, internet, Yelp and Google to help us find our way.

Fabric Store!  Fun to see that night, but of course it was closed.  And of course, I never got back to it.  That also is a ritual of traveling–seeing things, and never getting back to them.

We had downloaded Google Maps Offline, which keeps us oriented even when we don’t have Wi-Fi.  That kept us on target to cross the Ha-Penny Bridge, so named for the original toll, keeping Us on one side, and Them on the other side because of the steep (at the time) toll to be paid.  Now it’s just a charming and well-used bridge over the Liffey.

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Dave on the Ha’Penny Bridge • Dublin, Ireland

Fun stores and buildings on the way to dinner.  We also saw the first of many many many buskers (or street musicians–the term can vary) (click the link to see a white Irish Rapper).

We were headed for Fallon and Byrne, where we heard they had good food.  We opted for the restaurant in the Cellar, where we had a really great meal, though unexpected in their offerings.


I had the Irish Chicken atop Sweet Potato (what we call a “yam” in this area of the world).

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Dave had the Beetroot, Avocado and Tofu Fritter, but it was like all of that mixed into a sort of “patty” that rested on a ciabatta bun.  Tasty, it was!

Twisting and turning, we made our way to the Molly Malone statue, a tourist tradition.  Home, and then experience the wonder that is a hotel room in the Temple Bar area of Dublin: no quiet anywhere.  In fact, even given the jetlag, we saw more awake time because of all the action, than we did sleeping time.  No whining while traveling, right?  Yes, but it’s difficult.  They do like to party All.Night.Long.


This is post #2 of our 2017 Geneva, Switzerland-France trip, September 2017.

The town of Annecy was a short drive from our hotel in Talloires, so after lunch on Sunday, we drove over there. These mountain are known as the “teeth” mountains–the Dents de Lanfon–we see them just as we drive out of the little village of Talloires. We are aiming for the old section of Annecy, and keep driving in and in…until we can’t go any further.  Someone honks behind us and we pull to the side to let them pass, which they do: right into a parking garage.  We join them, noticing that there aren’t too many places.  Dave’s so-called “Parking Karma” emerges again. In the center of town is this church with a golden statue of Mary over the front door, and is the Notre Dame de Liesse, or Our Lady of Joy. It had a most unusual, patchwork-type rose window over the altar, and in each of the transcepts. One of the more unusual things about Annecy is its series of canals through the town.   Of course, I always look for the decorative arts and fabric — or tissus– shops wherever I go. Feeling the jetlag, we grab a sandwich from a Paul shop to take back with us, and start to head back to the car in the carpark. We figured out how to pay, how to leave (again, Google Off-line maps was really helpful) and headed back to our idyllic Talloires, where we spent the rest of the day on the deck overlooking the lake, enjoying the scenery.


This is post #1 of our 2017 Geneva, Switzerland-France trip, September 2017.

We  arrived Sunday morning in Geneva, Switzerland, and immediately picked up our rental car and drove southeast towards Talloires. After driving on the A-1, we left that highway and started going through some mountain towns, lush with greenery and swaths of mist floating over trees and through the bushes.  It was a lovely scene.  Along one of those roads, we spotted this: Was this a mailbox?  A road marker?  We’ll never know, but it was cool to see. Maybe I can remodel our mailbox at home.Using Google Offline maps (a life-saver) we made our way down out of the mountains, dropping down into this scene. We made our way to our hotel: Beau Site Talloires.  The main building is below, where we checked in. Our room is on the ground floor, in the back right of this building, which faces the main hotel. View from our window. The hotel has a path behind it that heads down to Lake Annecy, so we wandered down there after our morning naps (trying to stave off the jetlag). This was the view across the lake from where the hotel’s property fronted the shoreline: a small chateau in Duingt, apparently also painted by Cezanne in 1896:

Depending on the light, the color of this lake can tilt towards a deep grey-blue.  When the sun is out, however, it looks turquoise. On our way back up to our room, we heard all this cheering; it was a two-person race, with one running (carrying a baton) and the other on a bicycle.  They trade off, apparently, as this happened right in front of us at one point. Loved the costumes. We’d written to say we wanted to have them reserve a table for us for their Sunday lunch buffet.  We arrived about a half-hour after it started, but apparently we were late.  But there was still enough food to choose from: Our reserved table overlooked the turquoise Lake Annecy.  It was an idyllic view.  The place was filled with people, and we could distinguish that there were three of four groups of friends? family? that occupied larger tables. We explored the main hotel building after our lunch buffet, and found the entry-way tiles reminded of of Gaudi’s tiles in Barcelona.  Later, when talking to the owner, she confirmed they were made by an Italian tile company and were in fact, modeled after that design.  We decided to head to Annecy, but when we returned, we came here. On the opposite side of the ground floor was this large room, with lots of seating.  We sat out in those two chairs you can see through the window for a long time that afternoon, retreating only to the inside when it got too chilly.

We sat here (or inside) until dusk, then ate the light dinner we’d picked up in Annecy.  Talloires was recommended to Dave by a friend, as it was not a place either of us had considered before, but a place we’d love to return to.

Little Mermaid and Walking Around Christianshavn

This is post #8 of our 2016 Copenhagen-Stockholm trip: Tuesday, August 16, 2016.7Scandiskip_11Uber

After an afternoon rest, we decided to use Uber to get to the Little Mermaid, as it was not near any Metro, nor bus lines that we could decipher (I hadn’t yet found that Metro map).  When we talked with Shergo, our driver, we found out he was a student (immigrant) and was being paid to go to school, plus $1000 dollars per month.  I wonder if the Swedish government knows he’s driving Uber in his spare time instead of studying. 7Scandiskip_12 Little MermaidSweet and sublime, perched on a rock by herself…

7Scandiskip_12a…and a multitude of her closest friends.  I understand that this scene is repeated often, and when the tide is out the tourists get in a long line to pose right beside her rock, which means you could never get a photo of her unless you were in line, waiting to pose with her too.  Ah, tourists.  We are a funny lot.7Scandiskip_12bThe statuette industry was out in full force, too.7Scandiskip_12cWe walked on, away from that site.

7Scandiskip_12d7Scandiskip_13And now we are strolling tourists, walking through sections of the city we’ve not seen before.  The light has a beautiful quality–that golden light right before the sun starts to set, which makes all the colors richer.7Scandiskip_13a

Monument to those who fought bravely: this is an explosive mine, used in the harbor.  This park was the site of the Danish Resistance to the Third Reich and the Nazis, and is named Churchillen Park, after Mr. Churchill.  We walked on, heading for Christianshavn.7Scandiskip_13b 7Scandiskip_13a 7Scandiskip_13b 7Scandiskip_13e

Decorative building wall.7Scandiskip_14

The fountain drew us in, and we enjoyed the view of the Copenhagen Opera House:7Scandiskip_14a

After spending a few mintues here, we noticed what was across the street:7Scandiskip_15

That dome in the back is the Marble Church, behind the plaza for Amalienborg Palace.  We heard the clicking of steps and the calls of a marching group of soldiers and went to watch the changing of the guard.7Scandiskip_15a 7Scandiskip_15b 7Scandiskip_15c

Yeah, apparently I was standing inside their marching lane and had to quickly get out of the way.7Scandiskip_15d

They did this interesting face to face thing, and we supposed that they were reporting in on any weirdo tourists lurking about, or other matters of state.7Scandiskip_15eOn the side of each guard box/tube is a small cut-out heart.  This place is so charming.

7Scandiskip_15f7Scandiskip_15g7Scandiskip_15h7Scandiskip_15jNyhavnWe found Nyhavn again, but turned left up and over the pedestrian bridge, apparently pretty new and…

7Scandiskip_16 Christianhavn…into Christanshavn, not really knowing where we were going, but trying to check another thing off the tourist list.7Scandiskip_16a 7Scandiskip_16bYes, that really is a rhinosaurus head strapped to the car.  It appeared to be some sort of art project, though. Not real.

7Scandiskip_16b1The pub across the street with a figure near the door that looked like a cross between Angelina Jolie/David Bowie with impossibly high cheekbones.  We never could figure out what gender the figure was, but s/he looked like a visitor from across the River Styx. 7Scandiskip_16cWhen we were walking around we loved seeing this steeple of Vor Frelsers Kirke, but we were there too late to enter the church or climb that spiral tower.

7Scandiskip_16d One of the oldest streets in Copenhagen, we enjoyed seeing the half-timbered front of the houses.

7Scandiskip_16eYes, it’s does say 1765 over that doorway.

7Scandiskip_16f 7Scandiskip_17Since Dave wasn’t feeling well we decided to jump on the Metro and take it back to our neck of the woods.  This wasn’t grafitti, but decor painted on the walls.  We liked how the sunlight seemed to be steam coming out of the iron (on the upper right of the photo).7Scandiskip_18Here’s another rendition of that hollyhock by the doorway, signs that we were almost back to our hotel.  Dave went right up to our room, but I said I was going to go and get something to eat.  I tried the pizza place from the first night and it was jammed.  I guess Tuesdays are popular nights to hang out.  So I found another pizza place that baked some pizza-dough-like bread and put in a couple of thin slices of ham, sliced tomatoes and a wad of lettuce.  I took it back to the room, removed the wilted lettuce and enjoyed the rest.  We spent a quiet evening, getting some rest, letting Dave practice his presentation for the next day.

My Attempt to Find Chocolate and Brave the Transit System

This is post #7 of our 2016 Copenhagen-Stockholm 2016 trip.

7Scandiskip_1chocolate3Tuesday morning I had my passport, my receipts from the Marimekko store (for my VAT refund) and the idea that I would find chocolate at the Magasin store, and so I descended into the Metro station, determined to figure this out.  I was in the elevator with a nice young woman and her buggy-with-a-baby, and she explained it all to me as we descended.  Which went really well, until she said, “to get on, you just swipe your pass here,” and indicated the place, only I had no pass.  She smiled and I waved good-bye as I went up one flight of stairs to the convenience shop, which I’d been told would sell me a ticket.

Nope, so I went up one more level to find the ticket machine, where I had my escapade mentioned in the last post.  But finally getting my ticket, I went back downstairs three levels and got on the nice shiny new Metro car and went one stop to the Magasin Department Store, which is kind like our Nieman Marcus, or equivalent, I guess.  When I got out, it was raining –or– misting very heavily, and of course, the forecast said no rain, so my umbrella was at the hotel.

I always check for earrings, or some other costume jewelry to purchase, but all they had was real gold and real silver, so I asked where the VAT refund was and they said top floor.  I found the place, but there was a line.  I’d read somewhere that you have to take a ticket whenever you stand in line, so I grabbed one from the ticket dispenser and waited my turn.

It was all for naught, as apparently there are two VAT refund companies at work in Scandinavia and the one Marimekko used was not the one that could refund money at this place.  But I could show it at the airport, she said, which sounds great until you’ve done it once, and I had, so I realized that I’d just donated to their tax-dollars-at-work system.  But I could investigate the chocolate!

7Scandiskip_1chocolate2 7Scandiskip_1chocolate1
The chocolate, according to the woman I met at Nyhavn, was in the basement, which was under construction, but I found the rows of shelves, and immediately started to try to calculate the prices.  The bars at the top run about $14 and the one at the bottom is $17.  I found a young woman to help me, and she steered me to Guld Barre, the ones at the top of the post.  They were around $1.50–much more affordable.

I was going to walk on further, but because of the rain and the anxiety about finding my way around the Metro and their convoluted ticketing system for tourists, I decided to head on back to the hotel.  I could buy a 24-hour pass, but the price was around $20 and I didn’t think it would be cost-effective, given that the bulk of the area I was going to move in was away from the two Metro lines.

Copenhagen Transit MapIt wasn’t until I found this map (full-size here, in case some else can use it) that I began to survive the Copenhagen Metro system. I downloaded it onto my phone and continually pinched it larger to navigate around town.  But for now, I just wanted to head home.

7Scandiskip_17My ticket was good for one full hour anywhere on the system, so I descended three levels below and waited in their nifty little place for you to wait: tucked inside that line where it says “Vent”  (which means “Wait).  And of course, the doors line up perfectly with the dots.  I was supposed to meet Dave back at the hotel, but when I came out, I saw this:

Stoff 2000 Fabrics_1I knew what Stof meant: fabric! Since the sun was now shining, I took that to be a sign, so I went in and explored.  It was on two levels, small, with similar fabrics on the second floor as on the first, with variations.Stoff 2000 Fabrics_2
I purchased a half-meter off two of these rolls of cotton.  “Small suitcase,” I explained to the woman, when she asked “only a half-meter?” and who was most helpful. Stoff 2000 Fabrics_3
Stoff 2000 Fabrics_4I also purchased some buttons, shown here in their tubes (right).

7Scandiskip_7When we met up again, Dave showed me this great snapshot of a man carrying chair on his bicycle, snapped while Dave was walking back to the hotel.7Scandiskip_9c
We went over the Food Hall and gazed at the sandwiches.7Scandiskip_9d
7Scandiskip_9b We ended up with three: the potato/onion/crispy onions (above), the roast pork with watercress, bacon and berries (below), and…7Scandiskip_9a
7Scandiskip_9…roast beef with shredded horseradish, crispy onions and mustard pickles as well as dill pickle slices. 7Scandiskip_10
We sauntered over to the chocolate that I’d seen before: filled chocolate frogs.7Scandiskip_10a
When I asked the saleswoman “why frogs?” she just shrugged her shoulders and said, “We see them a lot in Spring.”  I translated this to mean “I have no idea–they are just what they are.”7Scandiskip_10b
Across the way was this small shop: Summerbird, with its chocolate-enrobed almonds.7Scandiskip_10d
They let us try a few, and we liked the mint the best.  It’s coated in rhubarb powder to make it pink. 7Scandiskip_10c
The lemon and the chocolate frogs came home with us.  Time for a break, so Tuesday afternoon found us trying to ignore all the sounds outside our open windows, while catching a few minutes of sleep, a tourist’s prerogative.

Street Level Sights

This is post #6 of our 2016 Copenhagen-Stockholm trip.

I can’t resist it any longer.  Here are all the manhole covers we saw in Copenhage and Stockholm.  Just to give this a lofty air, manhole covers date back to ancient Rome and were made of stone.  There’s even been several books written about them; one title is “Drainspotting.”  Clever.

manhole cover scandinavia_1 manhole cover scandinavia_2

Look carefully at this one. . . and then the next one.manhole cover scandinavia_3

It’s one of Hans Christian Andersen’s stories “The Brave Tin Soldier.”  In the lower manhole cover, he is in the water (remember he only had one leg) about to be eaten by the great fish.  I don’t know what happened to the top manhole cover, but the tin soldier is missing.  Obviously these are from Copenhagen, Denmark.manhole cover scandinavia_4

Another grand symbol of Denmark was the Elefantordenen, or “Order of the Elephant,” a royal order to which a limited number of people can belong.  (I guess one has to die before another can be added.)  And upon the death of that Knight of the Order of the Elephant, they have to return their insignia; however, there are two exceptions: one is in Paris in a museum, and the other is on display at Dwight Eisenhower’s presidential library.  I’m guessing that’s why there are elephants all over this cover, found near Rosenberg Slot (castle).manhole cover scandinavia_5 manhole cover scandinavia_6I’d been reading about an artist that is one of Copenhagen’s native sons, Poul Gernes, and he seemed to grab circles out of the air and put them into his art.  When I saw this, and a few hundred other dotty motifs in Copenhagen, I could see where his art was coming from.  Here’s one example, a poster from his exhibit at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (another one of those things I wish I could have gone to):

Poul Gernes_1I was sitting beside sleeping Dave, trying to shake off his illness, browsing Things to Do in Copenhagen, and found news of this exhibit.  I then did multiple searches on him, finding his quiltish motifs irresistible, like visual catnip.

Poul Gernes_2Here’s some of his works installed at the Louisiana, a complicated train ride away.

How do I know that it’s complicated?  That morning, when I’d tried to buy a Metro ticket to the Magasin Department Store, a couple from Italy showed me their paper with the directions (train connections) out to the Louisiana, written in English.  So I tried to help them.  They had a credit card, and it appeared that this machine would accept it (that was our problem in the airport–the machine “didn’t like the card” according the to man helping us, so we had to try a different machine).  So that morning, the Italians (the woman spoke very limited English) and I selected what we thought was the ticket, only it didn’t like that, and cancelled the selection, without any information about why.  We tried again, but now it showed they were buying four tickets, not two, and we couldn’t find a way to have it be just two tickets.  Of course, there is not an agent in sight, only a line-up of tourists behind us.

So I tried buying my ticket, which went through, and now which creates another problem.  Once you buy a ticket, you have one hour to use it or lose it, so now the clock is ticking for me.  I turn to the couple behind me, who were from Britain, explained the situation and they took over, as I scampered down three flights of stairs to catch my train.  So when another day presented itself to head out to the Louisiana, I’m afraid I chickened out.  I found out only LATER, that at my station, upstairs, before you even go to the train-ticket-buying level (which is NOT the same level as the train-taking-level) there is a person there who can help.  I guess I just didn’t want to be that far away from Dave.

Now back to the manhole covers.

manhole cover scandinavia_7 manhole cover scandinavia_8 manhole cover scandinavia_9 manhole cover scandinavia_10 manhole cover scandinavia_11 manhole cover scandinavia_12

This one is from Tivoli Gardens, as the motifs on the upper left and lower right are the main entry gate, shown below:


manhole cover scandinavia_13I think UPONOR does sewer, drainage sort of things, but I did love the way the cobblestones are set in a circle around this one.

And to further enrich this post, here is a section from Wikipedia that bears re-reading:

The question of why manhole covers are typically round (in some countries) was made famous by Microsoft when they began asking it as a job-interview question.  Originally meant as a psychological assessment of how one approaches a question with more than one correct answer, the problem has produced a number of alternative explanations, from the tautological (“Manhole covers are round because manholes are round.”) to the philosophical.

Reasons for the shape include:

  • A round manhole cover cannot fall through its circular opening, whereas a square manhole cover may fall in if it were inserted diagonally in the hole. The existence of a “lip” holding up the lid means that the underlying hole is smaller than the cover, so that other shapes might suffice. (A Reuleaux triangle or other curve of constant width would also serve this purpose, but round covers are much easier to manufacture.)
  • Round tubes are the strongest and most material-efficient shape against the compression of the earth around them, and so it is natural that the cover of a round tube assume a circular shape.
  • A round manhole cover has a smaller surface than a square one, thus less material is needed to cast the manhole cover, meaning lower cost.
    The bearing surfaces of manhole frames and covers are machined to assure flatness and prevent them from becoming dislodged by traffic.
  • Round castings are much easier to machine using a lathe.
  • Circular covers do not need to be rotated to align with the manhole.
  • A round manhole cover can be more easily moved by being rolled.
  • A round manhole cover can be easily locked in place with a quarter turn (as is done in countries like France), which makes them hard to open without a special tool. Lockable covers do not have to be made as heavy, because traffic passing over them cannot lift them up by suction.

Honestly, I’ve never thought about why they are generally round (some are not), but I just enjoy them when I see them!

An Evening Stroll to Nyhavn

This is post #5 of our 2016 Copenhagen-Stockholm trip.

5scandiskip0Monday afternoon, I meet Dave at the hotel and we head out the back way to dinner.  This bright pink hollyhock is by a stoop, and I think I photographed it everyday.  We head down Nansesngade Street, turn right on Vendersgade, walking towards Torvehallen, the Food Hall.5scandiskip1We ended up here and after ordering at the counter (they have a limited selection), they handed us our utensils and napkins in these paper bags and we found an empty spot (most tables are shared).5scandiskip1aThey brought our salad with our meal.  We shared everything (how could we not?).

5scandiskip1bRoast chicken au jus with corn on the cob.

5scandiskip1cRoast potatoes sprinkled with fleur de sel: a winner.  The buttery juice underneath had whole cloves of cooked garlic floating in it.  Dave said these reminded him of the time we were in Lyon, buying food at the street market (marche); the rotisserie chicken sellers would rack up their birds, letting the juices drip down below to a catch basin, which was full of potatoes, being basted by the chicken drippings and juices.  Agree.5scandiskip1dThis was porchetta (stuffed pork chop) with those delectable tomatoes on a vine that you can find in Europe, but not so much where I live.  The tomatoes were lightly cooked, so they were warm and juicy, but not mush.

About halfway through the meal, two young women join us at our (communal) table.  Usually, because of the language barrier, it still feels private, as we are speaking English and whoever is next to us is speaking the language of the country.  While that was still true here, I realize that in Denmark (and found this again to be true in Sweden), just about everyone is fluent in English, so our veil of privacy is dropped.  I am careful about what I say in public because of this.5scandiskip1eEl Mercato’s tables under their umbrellas.

5scandiskip1fNow that we have been here a day, we are starting to get familiar with the little touches, like these winged bird balustrades alongside the steps leading down from the street.  We head out the back of Torvehallerne, turn right on Fredericksborgade, and arrive at the Metro station. (If you thinking typing the names of the streets is tough, try saying them.)5scandiskip1gThe bicycles!  This time we come at the mass from another angle and place; these bikes are all contained in a depression at the station, perhaps to keep them corralled.5scandiskip1hWe walk along the backside of Rosenborg Slot, where the guards maintain a walk back and forth from one guard post to another, the sweet little heart cut-out just visible.  I never dare get too close, but it’s an interesting touch to have a heart on a guardhouse.5scandiskip1iHans Christian Anderson’s profile on the street covers.  Is this one water?  Electrical?  No matter–they have quite a collection of them.5scandiskip1j 5scandiskip2This older house has shifted: notice those crooked windows in the middle.  We turn right on Gothersgade (does “gade” mean street?) and continue walking.  I show Dave all the red brick buildings I saw earlier.

5scandiskip35scandiskip3At the Kongens Nytorv square is another telephone box, but this time with different gilded designs.  5scandiskip4And ahead of us?  Nyhavn, a 17th century “waterfront, entertainment district, and canal in Copenhagen, Denmark.”  Dug by dug by Swedish prisoners of war  in 1660, “it is a gateway from the sea to the old inner city King’s Square (Kongtens Nytorv), where ships handled cargo and fishermens’ catch. It was notorious for beer, sailors, and prostitution. Danish author Hans Christian Andersen lived at Nyhavn for some 18 years”  (Wikipedia).5scandiskip4a 5scandiskip4b 5scandiskip5All I know that it is on every To Do List for tourists who visit Copenhagen.  Because Dave isn’t feeling well, we avoid the left side of the canal where it is mobbed with people, and instead walk on the right side, which we feel gives us better photos, anyway. We’re all about the photos.  We bump into a jovial trio of women, who ask us where we are from (America?  don’t we look like it?).  Apparently two of the women have traveled in to meet the third woman, who lives here.  She asks us how we like Copenhagen, and I say it’s great — except for the fact that I can’t find any decent chocolate.

Ah, she says.  You need to go to Magasin, the big department store at Konger Nytorv.  Go into the basement, and they have lots of chocolate.  I make a mental note to do that tomorrow, as I also have to go there to get my VAT tax back from Marimekko.

5scandiskip5aWe go back to strolling and realize that the lavender house on the left does angle out to the right as it moves back from the street, invading the space of the yellow building.  At first I think it’s an optical illusion, but no.  It really is all stretched out of shape.5scandiskip5bNyhavn 17 is a restaurant, and I saw an earlier version at the Lego Store.  The oldest house, number 9, dates from 1681.5scandiskip6 5scandiskip6a 5scandiskip6bWe rest on a #copenhagenbench, and enjoy the sight of the bicycles whizzing past us, as well as the reflection of the old buildings.  Two young women whoosh by it, coming to a stop at the light to our right.  I realize then that one young woman is on the bicycle seat, steering and pedaling, and her friend is behind her on the sturdy fender, holding down her short fluttery dress for her as they ride along, laughing at jokes that only young teens know.  5scandiskip6c5scandiskip7Time to head back to let Dave rest.  5scandiskip8We turn right on Havnegade, coming up at Holmens Kirke, a church built for Christian IV in 1619.  Now as I sit here at home, writing this all up, I wonder, why didn’t we ever go inside that one?  I’ve found many sights I want to see again, so I guess I’ll have to come here another time.  See that twisty spire to the right of the church? 5scandiskip8aThat is on the steeple atop Boursen, the former stock exchange from the 17th century.  It has four dragons with intertwined tails. 5scandiskip9We walk past the Parliament Buildings, up Kobmagergade Street, which turns into a pedestrian and shopping zone.5scandiskip105scandiskip11When the sidewalk stars come out at night, and the planets begin to shine in shop windows, you know it’s time to go home.