Walking Stockholm (2). Touched by a Paint Brush.

Sunset in Stockholm’s Old Town brings the centuries old buildings to life in warm hues. I reflect. It’s is like walking in an old painting. I can feel the touch of the paint brush, sometimes gentle, other times more intense. Life in vibrant colors.

old building at stortorget ud164

storkyrkans torn ud164The streets are still lively at this hour and I melt in like I had never left.

vasterlanggatan ud164I soak in the history of the narrow alleys guarded by old residential buildings. The echo of little feet running on the cobble stone streets in their Sunday shoes from the 1800s is still there.

grand 2 in the old town ud164And in my mind’s eye I can still see people from long ago drinking from the fountain at the Big Plaza.

drinking fountain at main plaza ud164From there I walk to the Royal Palace. And from the top of the palace hill I admire the huge canvas opening in front of me. The blue hour in Stockholm.

royal palace ud164

painted view from the royal palace ud164Leaving the palace and the Old Town behind me, I walk towards the city center.

royal palace stockholm ud164Crossing the first bridge, I spott familiar buildings, like the Royal Opera House…

operahuset ud164… and the City Hall, where I’d gotten married so many years ago. The sky glows in the colors of love. And I feel a profound touch of the Painter’s brush.

stockholms stadshus ud164 painted 2I stand here for a long while. As the day is fading away, I walk out of this painting into the next. The one depicting my current realities. And I still feel good.

from gamla stan till city ud164 paintedTo my delight, I also get an opportunity to visit an art exhibition of recent works by Lars Lerin at the Liljevalchs art gallery. And I invite you to join me.

Lerin is a beloved, contemporary Swedish watercolor master. My sister is a fan of his paintings, and while I have not seen his much of his work previously, I immediately fall in love with his fascinating watercolor worlds. The play of light is mesmerizing – whether he depicts Nordic nature scenes …

Lars Lerin lake in Lofoten ud168

Värmlandsskogen watercolor by Lars Lerin ud168

Lars Lerin Birds ud168…or ships on the ocean.

Lars Lerin Sailor ud168

Lars Lerin 1 ud168

Lars Lerin Sailing Boat ud168His cityscapes are captivating too, not only because of the typical drama of light and darkness…

Lars Lerin 3 ud168… but also because he gives us a peek into the life behind the lit windows. Love, disagreements, fights, forgiveness and laughter. Looking at the details in his multi-panel paintings, like the one below from Agadir, Morrocco, I feel touched by the lives of the people living there.

Agadir Morrocco Arrival by Lars Lerin 2014 UD168And in his darker paintings, such as the ones below from Syria, the pain of destruction brought by war is palpable.

Lars Lerin 4 ud168

Lars Lerin city scape from Syria ud168Whether Lerin portrays drama and darkness or a quiet night camping under the stars, his work moves me. A new fan is born. One of many.

Caravan by Lars Lerin ud168 This post concludes the summer 2018 Stockholm series. Thank you for walking with me again. Have a wonderful week ahead.

 

A Sentimental Journey. To My Roots and My Toothless Smile.

After two weeks in Stockholm, my sister and I embarked on a 3-day journey to Finland. You see, we had not managed to bring home our dad’s photo albums when we put his house on the market last fall and subsequently sold it. We left all these memories with our friend, to be retrieved later. And we had to take care of issues related to the forest dad had left us. Two city girls living abroad and forest ownership was not a great combination. We badly needed advice on how to best take care of this precious natural resource. So now was the time for a ‘sister trip’ to the heart of Finland.

cruise ship 2 ud165We hopped on a big ship that cruises between Stockholm and Turku on a daily basis – a newer sister ship to the one pictured above. Slowly this giant navigated the tight fairways in Stockholm archipelago. And we enjoyed the sights of small islands with countless summer houses, an occasional old fort and a magnificent sunset from one of the outer decks.

boat deck ud169

stockholms archipelago ud169

old fort ud169

sailing boat at sunset ud169We sat out there quite a while with a glass of wine before getting something to eat and then retiring to our stateroom for the night.

sunset at Baltic sea ud169

on the boat 169

moon over the Baltic Sea ud169We arrived in Turku the next morning and after a 4-hour drive we reached our dad’s village in central Finland where our ‘business’ was to be conducted. We met our forestry consultant at a café we used to frequent as kids. It was still there, fresher than ever, and the view from the tables outside was as beautiful as I remembered. A sparkling summer day.

on the top view Lankipohja ud169After that meeting, we received all dad’s pictures from our friend and then decided to visit this year’s summer exhibition at the nearby art center, Leporanta, like we had done so many times in the past.

leporanta ud169I just love the rolling countryside where this art center is located right next to a lake.

leporanta 2 ud169An exhibition there always starts in the front yard of the main building. This year there was a charming collection of cows made from scrap metal. Those cows gave us a big smile. One cow was going from the morning milking session to a dance party in the evening – on a tractor. We thought she looked fabulous. You go girl!

from morning milking session to evening dancing session LR ud169Another one was going on vacation. With a big tiger-cat, mind you.

Summer Holiday LR ud169

detail ud169A third demonstrated milk delivery balancing on a unicycle. What a hoot!

skillful milk delivery LR UD169Another new exhibit was the “Heads” of three important looking men. We noted that some very self-important men had just visited Helsinki earlier in the week. Maybe there was a connection…you just never know. These three men were tight-lipped about their meeting.

heads LR ud169The metal eagle some of you may remember from last year was still there. It had wintered well, like most eagles do.

steel eagle LR Ud169From there we entered the barns that housed the art works, mostly oil paintings, of several Finnish painters. The barn entrances hosted other types of art…

We walked though the barns and a few paintings caught my eye, like these two works by artist Markku Uitto titled “Flowers” and Fall Harvest”.

And these two by artist  Leena Raussi, titled “Flowers” and “Summer Forest”.

There was so much more to see, but I’ll leave you with these amusing metal critters exhibited on a table in one of the barns.

bugs LR us169At the end of the day we drove to our hotel in a neighboring town – past our dad’s house. We decided not to stop there. It was our childhood home and we wanted to remember it just as it had been last fall when we left it.

koivuranta finland home ud142Looking at dad’s old photos, I found pictures of the house being built when we were very small. In the first picture our mom is still pregnant with my sister and in the second one we are both there, pictured with mom and an aunt visiting with a baby cousin. The house was still under construction. It took several years to build as dad built it alone in the spare time he had from ‘real’ work.

The next morning we visited our parents’ resting place at a nearby cemetery and planted a flower. All important issues now taken care of, we wanted to tick off a longstanding bucket list item. We would visit the tiny village in eastern central Finland where we used to spend our childhood summers at our maternal grandparents’ farm. I hadn’t visited that village since I was 16, but remember promising myself that I would come back one day. After getting some directions from our uncle, we took off trusting the GPS would eventually take us there.

kärkisten silta ud169We remembered that there was a small ferry that used to take a couple of cars at the time over a big river. It was always exciting to be on the ferry and, indeed, we passed a road leading to the ferry harbor. Instead of taking us there, the GPS took us over the river on a beautiful bridge built fairly recently.  And eventually we arrived to the ‘town center’ of the municipality where the small village was located. We found the church and planted a flower on our maternal grandfather’s grave at the cemetery.

joutsan entinen keskusta Jousentie ud169The ‘main street’ we remembered as a lively place with many shops and a nice ice cream parlor, was very quiet. Most of the shops and restaurants were now located in a shopping center half a mile away.

After a late lunch we continued towards the small village. We soon found ourselves on a gravel road. It was the road we remembered from many decades ago, nothing had changed. Closer to the center of the municipality we found a few newer houses, but the further we drove, the fewer houses we saw. Sadly, most of them badly run-down. After driving for about four miles we recognized a few houses and the hill leading to what used to be our grandparents’ farm. The house was still there, like forgotten by time.

harjumaki 2 ud169We knocked on the door and a man who lived there kindly allowed us to walk the grounds and take some pictures of the house and the dilapidated cowshed and sauna that were no longer used. Nobody was farming here anymore.

Harjumäen navetta ud169

jousan savusauna ud169This was the place where we had spent many summers, sleeping in the attic bedroom, playing in the yard and the meadows behind the cowshed. It was surreal and quite emotional to stand there with all the happy memories flooding in. In my mind’s eye, I could see us all gathered there, like in the picture taken when I was almost four years old (our family on the right, our grandparents in the middle and mom’s sisters on the right).

I was happy we had finally managed to get to this part of our roots, but a bit sad to see this tiny village all but abandoned. It started to drizzle, we said our goodbyes and drove back to the lively small town where our hotel was located, about 90 minutes drive away. In a completely different world. We ate dinner at a nice establishment and sat late in the evening in our comfortable suite remembering our adventures and all the mischief we did as kids. And we laughed a lot!

The next day we drove back to Turku and met with a dear friend and her lovely poodle. It was wonderful to see you after so many years Anja and Hertta! In the evening we boarded the overnight ship back to Stockholm. Now it was breezy. I was watching the somewhat subdued sunset over the Finnish archipelago soon after departure and my hair almost blew away. Here’s the picture evidence.

windy 2 ud169That was a trip to remember. Thanks sis ❤ Remember my toothless smile and the little ‘play corner’ we had as kids?

sisters and parents in the play corner Thank you for coming along on this nostalgic journey. My next post from the artsy quarters of Stockholm will complete this travel series. You’ll find Part 1 and Part 2 here.

Walking Stockholm. On the Water.

The inner city of Stockholm, Sweden, is a collection of islets connected by bridges. Soon after Stock(log)holm(islet) was founded in 1252 more and more islets were connected together by log-bridges. So even today water is a dominant feature in the city and its surroundings. Please come along on a 7-mile tour by foot, guided by my sister’s dog Pebbe, and then a short trip by boat to learn some of what summer Stockholm has to offer in terms of waterways.

karlberg canal ud164We’ll start our walk along the Canal of Karlberg. This canal runs in the western central Stockholm and connects two lakes. On its shores we find lots of greenery, water lilies and other wild flowers.

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karlberg water lily ud164

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karlberg walk ud164Along the canal we spot fishing boats, hostel boats, houseboats and, of course people kayaking and paddle boarding. Pebbe is a great guide and keeps up the pace. Photo stops are carefully timed.

fishing boat karlberg ud164

karlberg boat ud164

karlberg housebaoats ud164

karlberg canoe ud164

karlber paddler ud164We also find some familiar birds and cute wild rabbits, who live under one of the bridges.

gulls in stockholm ud164

mallards at karlberg ud164

juvenile coot ud164

wild rabbit karlberg ud164We pass some beautifully planned new developments right on the water.

lindhagen ud164

cafe at karlbergs kanal ud164And walking back we spot the Karlberg Palace that now hosts the Military Academy.

militarhogskolan ud164By this time we have walked about four miles and stop to rest along the canal before heading home through Solna – another three mile walk.

aulikki at karlberg ud164Once in Solna, we marvel about the 2014 building of the year, Aula Medica of the Karolinska Institute, a Medical University, by Wingårdh Architects. It houses a 1000-seat auditorium/lecture hall and catches the eye with its unconventional, modern architecture.

KI Aula ud164

aula stockholm UD164

KI Aula Medica 2014 by Gert Wingårdh UD164We walk home through the little forest surrounding these new, and old, buildings. I hope you’re doing fine after this seven mile walk. The fact that this July turned out to be the warmest in 265 years in Sweden should not make you sweat. But I am exhausted and Pebbe wants to sit for a bit too.

Pebbe UD164After resting for a couple of days, we’ll embark on a short boat tour in the very heart of Stockholm, now on the eastern side.

sightseeing boat ud165We go out right along the most exclusive neighborhood in the city, the gorgeous old buildings on Strandvägen.

stockholm strandvagen UD165

stockholm strandvagen 2 UD165

old buildings on strandvagen ud165And far away we spot a landmark, the Kaknäs observation tower.

kaknastornet ud164We pass the Nordic Museum and the Wasa Museum that houses the only 1700-ship ever salvaged (mainly) intact, the 64-gun warship Wasa that sunk on her maiden voyage in 1628.

nordiska museet stockholm UD165

wasa varvet ud164Next we pass the largest amusement park in Stockholm, Gröna Lund. We used to visit this park frequently when our son was small. It now boasts several new rides that I wouldn’t even imagine trying out … and still a few old ones that look more familiar.

grona lund 3 ud164

grona lund swing UD165

grona lund carousel UD165Then we glide past more peaceful sights, like the Fåfänga park …

fafangan park ud165… and continue a bit deeper into the archipelago, in good company.

old sailboat ud165I leave you with a hint of my next post about a nostalgic trip to Finland on a ship like the one below.

boat traffic stockholm ud165I hope you enjoyed Stockholm on the water as much as I did. Thank you for coming along.