Trivia tuesday

There is something I want to post about this week, but today I don’t have time to do it justice, so in honour of tonight being quiz night, here’s some Tuesday trivia for you.

  • The romance novelist Barbara Cartland was the step-grandmother of Diana, Pricess of Wales. Cartland’s daughter, Raine, married Diana’s father, the Eighth Earl Of Spencer.
  • The firefly is not actually a fly, but a beetle.
  • Gandhi was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize five times but never won it. The closest he came was in 1948, when he was nominated a few days before he died. The prize committed decided not to honour him post humously, but instead didn’t award the prize that year, stating that there were “No suitable living persons”.
  • In Sweden, in 1979, a number of people called in sick to work with a case of “being homosexual,” in protest of homosexuality being classified as an illness. Within a few months, Sweden became one of only very few countries at that time to declassify homosexuality as an illness.
  • Air Force One is the official air traffic control call sign of a United States Air Force aircraft carrying the President of the United States. This means, when the president is not there, the plane is no longer Air Force One.
  • California’s vehicle licence plates have been manufactured at Folsam State Prison since the 1930s. That’s the same prison as in the Johnny Cash song “Folsam Prison Blues”.
  • Suzanne Collins, author of the best-selling Hunger Games trilogy, worked as a writer for the television show “Clarissa Explains It All”.
  • Melissa Joan Hart, who played Clarissa in the aforementioned TV series, went on to play Sabrina in Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
  • Kevin Clash, who provides the voice of Elmo on Sesame Street, also played Baby Sinclair in the Sitcom Dinosaurs.
  • Albert Einstein was offered the presidency of Israel in 1952 but turned it down, stating “I am deeply moved by the offer from our State of Israel, and at once saddened and ashamed that I cannot accept it.

That’s ten facts… enough for one day, I think. Need to save some for next time 😉

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Travel theme: Bridges

Toy train bridge

This post was inspired by Elaine at I used to be indecisive, or rather by her take on this week’s travel theme at Where’s my backpack?
The theme is bridges, which are one of my favourite things to photograph, so when I saw Elaine’s post I knew I had to join in!

I’m not sure why I like photographing bridges so much. Perhaps it’s because of what they represent. Without bridges it would be so much more difficult to get anywhere – and I do so hate being stuck in one place for any length of time! (I blame my army upbringing.) Of course, without bridges there would still be boats and planes – and in some instances even the possibility to swim – but those methods aren’t always practical – or would you enjoy swimming across a stream when there’s snow on the ground? 😉

Or maybe I just made all that up so I would sound intellectual and the real reason I have so many photos of bridges is simply because I like the way they look? Many of them are just so beautiful! Others are majestic. With some, I wonder how on Earth anybody ever managed to put them together (there’s a reason I’m a translator and not an engineer!). Anyway – enough rambling from me! Time to get on to the bridges…

With so many photos in my collection, it was really difficult to decide which bridges to include in this post, but to start with I thought I would give you my most recent photograph of a bridge, taken in Luxembourg City on 2 January this year:

Luxembourg bridge

This is the Adolphe Bridge, one of the bridges across the gorge that splits Luxembourg City in two. It was built between 1900 and 1903 and is one of those bridges that makes me wonder just how the builders managed.

The next photo is not specifically of a bridge, but it does show some of Stockholm’s many bridges. The city of Stockholm is made up entirely of different islands (14 if I remember correctly), so there are basically bridges everywhere you look.

Stockholm

This photo was taken from the tower of Stockholm City Hall, and as you can see the view is well worth the climb!

Moving on… my next photo shows the St. Nikolaus Bridge in Calw, Germany. Being my adopted home country, Germany may be featuring a few times in this post…

St. Nikolaus BridgeThe tiny little building you can see on the bridge is the St. Nikolaus Chapel and the metal statue just in front of it is Hermann Hesse, who was born in Calw. Here’s a better picture of the statue:

Hermann Hesse

Looking at the sky, you wouldn’t believe these photos were taken a few moments apart. I promise you, they were!

Staying in Germany, but moving a little closer to home, this pretty wooden bridge is in Ettlingen – the next town over from Karlsruhe.

Ettlingen

The river it crosses is the Alb.

Switching countries again, here are two Dutch bridges. One in Leiden, complete with windmill:

Leiden

It opens to let ships through.
And one in Delft:

Delft

OK, that last one isn’t exactly a bridge in the same way as the others I’ve posted (it’s part of Delft’s Eastern Gate), but it does bridge a canal and it’s rather cool, don’t you think?

Austria next, I think. And a night shot.

Salzburg bridge

The above photo of a bridge over the River Salzach, in Salzburg, was taken in December 2011 – which is why the bridge has Christmas lights on it. In the background you can see the fortress, all lit up.

OK, this post is getting rather long now so I won’t add too many more. Here’s a bridge in Venice, Italy:

Venice bridge

Returning to Germany with one from Tübingen:

Tübingen bridge

Not the best photo, but I’m including it so I can also say Tübingen is among the prettiest places in Germany and if you ever find yourself in the area you shoud go!

Another one from Austria – this time from Feldkirch, which I want in purely because I used to live there:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The yellow building is the Landeskonservatorium für Vorarlberg – in other words the music college. The building was originally a Jesiuit school, the Stella Matutina, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle of Sherlock Holmes fame was once a pupil there!

And now I shall finish off with some photos of the North East of England, because it’s the closest thing to a “where I’m from” I have.
This one is the Lion Bridge in Alnwick, Northumberland – so-named because of the stone lion that stands on it:

Lion Bridge, Alnwick

Here’s a bridge in Morpeth, the town where I spent most of my childhood holidays (my parents are both from there) and later, after moving up North myself, a few drunken teenage nights:

Morpeth bridge

And finally, here are some of the bridges that cross the River Tyne in Newcastle, including the most famous one – the Tyne Bridge itself.

Bridges of Newcastle

Wow! Sorry this post has ended up being so long – I was having too much fun to stop! If you would like to see even more bridges – or join in yourself – you need to go here.

All of these photos were taken by me or – in the case of the one from Leiden – my boyfriend. Please do not steal them.

Stockholm

Now that it’s been a month and 2 days since we flew to Stockholm, I think it’s about time I actually got round to posting about it. I know, I know – I’m a terrible blogger. Anyway…

The first, and most important, thing to say about Stockholm is I LOVED IT! I loved the buildings, the food (although I did draw the line at pickled herrings for breakfast… just eeew!), the fact that there was so much water everywhere – which I know is obvious seeing as the city of Stockholm is made up of a group of islands (14 to be precise), but I miss water sooo much living in Karlsruhe. The weather was fabulous too, with temperatures between 20 and 24°C (err, Google says 68 – 75°F) all week at a time when it got up to 40°C (104°F) in Karlsruhe. I would literally have DIED!!!! 24°C is much more my kind of temperature. It only rained twice, and both times it had stopped within a couple of hours and we were able to hide inside until it had passed, so that was okay.

Some highlights of our trip:

We were there with another couple because Jan was taking part in an A Capella festival with someone he’s in a choir with (I spent most of the week hanging round with the other guy’s wife), but on the first day the workshop hadn’t started yet so we were able to spend some time together. We went to Skansen, which is the first open air museum in Sweden and was recommended to me by a Swedish friend. The founder (someone called Artur Hazelius) basically bought loads of different buildings from around Sweden, took them apart and rebuilt them at Skansen, so everything you see there is authentic. There is also a zoo bit, with reindeer, wolves, bears, etc. The place is HUGE!! We had bought some food before heading to Skansen, and the first thing K wanted to do was eat, so we walked for what felt like miles to get to the picnic area (missing out on looking at loads of cool stuff on the way! And I really wanted to go into the acquarium!). While we were walking we noticed that there were loads of squirrels about, and they were all coming really close to people – hoping for food I presume. At the picnic area we saw even more of them, including one that was being given food by a group of teenagers at another table. And that’s how we discovered that squirrels like Nutella! The teenagers had given one a slice of bread spread with it and the squirrel was ignoring the bread and licking off the Nutella. Sooo cute! Here he is, nibbling away at his hazelnut-chocolate spread:

squirrel

He came up to our table as well, hoping for a few crumbs, but K scared him away when he tried to get on the table so I never managed to get a close up picture. He never came back to the picnic area after that either 😦 There were also birds that kept flying up trying to get a few crumbs of food, including the biggest magpies I’ve ever seen! At least they looked just like magpies, only huge. Are there any other black and white birds that look exactly like magpies, only bigger? If there are I don’t know them.

After eating we decided to split up as I wanted to go to the zoo part and K didn’t, so Jan and I managed to get some time on our own. I got to see reindeer and also real Swedish moose – albeit in captivity.

Sweden
Later we met up again and went back into town for food. I ate köttbullar, clearly a must when in Sweden.

The next day the two boys had to register for the festival, so we all went across to the island it was being held on. We walked along the waterfront taking photos of boats, found a citadel and then went for lunch, after which the guys had their first workshop and us two girls went off on our own. We walked around, took photos and had tea in a wonderful little tea salon right next to a German church (those Germans get everywhere! 😉 ).

The Vasa museum was another highlight – very interesting and we had a really cool guide. He told us all about the carvings on the ship – apparantly King Gustav II (the one who had it built) was known as the Lion of the North, which is why the ship had a lion carved on the front. The lion is holding a corn sheaf – called “vase” in Swedish, which is a similar word to Vasa, as in the House of Vasa aka the dynasty that King Gustav was part of, and which the war shop was anmed after. Well I thought it was interesting anyway! Here’s a photo of the ship, or part of it anyway. It’s too big to get the whole thing in one photo.

Vasa
Other things we did included a tour of the royal palace, where we also saw the changing of the guard (pretty impressive), a boat tour called “Stockholm: Under the Bridges”, which I really enjoyed (I love boats!) and also a visit to an amazing foodhall in a place called Söderhallarna, which is a fabulous indoor market thing on Sodermalm (south island).There was all manner of amazing looking food there. I also spotted an English shop on the top floor but K wouldn’t let me have a look in. *Sigh*.

On our final day in Sweden, the music festival had finished, so all four of us went out for the day together. We got up ridiculously early and went to get a ferry to one of the islands of the Stockholm archipelago. The island we went to was called Gällnö and it has something like 40 permanent residents! There is a little shop and café, but when we were there both were closed (although the sign on the shop claimed it was open?!). We went for a walk around the island, saw loads of butterflies that even stayed still for long enough to be photographed and found a little red rowing boat, which we went out in, but other than that we mostly just sat in the sun and enjoyed the peace and quiet. It’s amazing that such a beautiful, remote place is so close to a capital city (which Stockholm is, even though it didn’t feel like one!).

 

Pretty butterfly resting on some flowers
Pretty butterfly resting on some flowers

DSCN1471

So there you have it. I would love to return to Stockholm and see all the things I missed out on – inlcuding Gröna Lund (Sweden’t oldest amusement park) and Junibacken – a museum dedicated to Swedish literature, in particular Astrif Lindgren. Or, as I kept saying every time I spotted the building across the water, “Pippi’s in there!!”.

And that is all from me. If You’ve actually managed to read this far I commend you! Now go visit Stockholm and see for yourself how great it is. There’s no way my words (or terrible photography/random snapshots) could ever do it justice!.