Nordic-light Duo/ Elsa Beskow concert

This week marks the start of Jul market season, beginning with Bosjökloster (Cloister by the lake) in the town of Höör.

Carole, Beata and I arrived in time for the musical prelude and were surprised to find ourselves enjoying much more than just a few holiday songs. The concert was based on original (some never published) art work and books by Elsa Beskow, set to music by The Nordic-light Duo, Elsa’s great-grandson, Daniel Beskow, a concert pianist, with vocals by Josefine Andersson. The concert and storytelling alone would’ve made a fun day out but we were only just getting started!

It reminded me of reading Elsa Beskow books to my little girls!

Penitence chapel, where naughty nuns were sent.

One thousand year old oak tree on the Monastery grounds.

Femtioett

Since we recently returned from Athens where we maxed out our children’s travel energy and goodwill, I knew that my 51st birthday wishes should be modest when it came to their involvement.

My own celebrations started early in the week with a trip to Malmo to see Melissa and try out the Chocolate “Tea” menu at Peter Beier Chokolade. By the time I arrived after missing my intended train, it wasn’t really Fika time so we went to lunch instead, at my favorite Vietnamese place. Then we returned to PB where she treated me to chocolates and coffee for my birthday. And we managed a full afternoon of walking and shopping!

The IKEA cabinet that I’ve been wanting for years, is now back in stock! The stars aligned, and Bryant and the kids got it all set up for me to display my future knitting and craft projects. Now my yarn stash is elevated to art, and I can enjoy it without any feelings of guilt (for buying more yarns). What could be better for my birthday! Passionfruit is in season (I love it in yogurt, or salad dressing, or any dessert, but especially with chocolate) and I have been indulging in more ambient lighting with timers. And for the ones that do not have timers, IKEA has a new Smart System that Bryant will install for me to enable lights go on and off automatically and with dimming options!

My birthday weekend continued with a short visit to the history museum and fika with friends, and then dinner out at a nice restaurant in Lund. And Bryant willingly DROVE so that I could wear fancy shoes and not have to walk home in the dark chill of November. That means he couldn’t enjoy more than a few sips of alcohol and had to deal with city parking (we actually discovered a great place to park for cheap on the north side!) so this was a special treat. Then the big finale on Sunday, High Tea at the Grand Hotel! Though my British friends did not recommend it for the tea menu, I was satisfied with the novelty and tradition of the event. True, the scones were not the best, but good company and the Grand Hotel vibe made it a beautiful afternoon. It happened to be Father’s Day as well, so we didn’t get the private tea room I had reserved due to staffing issues, which in the end didn’t make much difference. There was a nice selection of sweet and savory tea goodies, and we had a lovely time.

Archeology Museum & The Agora

On our second day with Johanna, she guided us through the highlights of the National Museum of Archeology, Downtown Athens, and The Roman Agora, the ancient market place which includes many structures meant for gathering, the covered walkway, temples, churches, library, baths etc.

Parko Thiseio

We explored sections of the original Dromos or Panathenaic Way, the route through Athens that most historical figures of the era would have walked. A new sculpture of Socrates meeting Confucius was unveiled this year “a symbolic meeting of two ancient cultures” celebrating 50 years of Greek-Chinese diplomatic relations.

There were lots of tortoises wandering around (see the one hiding on the path)! We think this is an adult and baby marginated tortoise. Amazing size difference, though. The adult was over a foot wide.

We made it to most of the major sites in Athens, but one we missed was an ancient cemetery and archaeological site, Kerameikos. A small downside of travel in the low season meant that sites were transitioning to winter hours. Even though it should have been open until 6:30, the guy working the gate said it was closed when we arrived near 6:00. We saw some of it from outside the fence, but obviously missed the museum. Too bad, because the ancient grave markers were some of my favorite items in the archeology museum. There are little stories depicted in some gravestones. Like the woman named Myrrhine, escorted by Hermes (winged feet) to the afterworld as her loved ones attempt to hold her back, indicating that she was young at the time of her death, around 420 BC. The middle stone depicts a mother saying goodbye to her baby. Some of these and similar graves were found at Kerameikos.

Another favorite was Hadrian’s library (more like a community center) where some of the original shelving/ niches can be seen in the wall. The library had capacity for around 16,800 papyrus books which could be checked out to reading rooms here. There were also transcription rooms, lecture halls, and even public restrooms. Johanna explained how they worked. Dating from the 2nd century BC, they were free or very inexpensive. It was fascinating and involved a clever system of running water, sea sponges and vinegar. Not bad considering that toilet paper was only invented relatively recently in 1857 and average homes didn’t have indoor plumbing until the 1950s.

And I’ll end with the view of Lycabettus Hill from Areopagus; my early morning adventure on our last morning in Athens. Not sure it was worth missing the breakfast buffet for this, but fomo made me do it! I did stop for my favorite classic greek yogurt with honey, pine and walnuts on the way back.

The Acropolis -The Temple of Olympian Zeus

Bryant added his favorites to my post about Athens. Here are some photos from our tour with Johanna, which he described in the previous post.

Sunrise from Areopagus, meeting place of the aristocratic/ judicial council

One of the most interesting aspects for me was revisiting the connections to mythology in history and science, as with the ancient Greek roots of modern medicine. The healing temples revealed genuine medical artifacts along with records of healing practices that were used. The scene above depicts Asklepios and his daughter Hygieia, goddess of cleanliness and health, receiving gifts from grateful patrons. The “hospital” a series of small rooms where patients had to sleep in contact with the ground in order to be healed by snakes, served as a combination medical and religious treatment center. Today we still use the Star of Life symbol, the Hippocratic oath, the benefits of Hygiene, etc.

Our room overlooked the Temple of Zeus, which is still being restored from damage caused by earthquakes and by barbarian invasion in 267 AD and, currently, pollution. It had been completed by Roman Emperor Hadrian only a century earlier. Just one section of pillars still remained and have been restored. The grass covered platform above right is where the other part of the temple would have stood.

The Acropolis with the Stoa of Attalos (covered walkway)

Athens

Our first European travel since moving to Sweden (other than Copenhagen) finally came together this week as we spent 3 days exploring Athens. The trip was short and sweet, focused on the historic sites of the ancient city. The flight was an easy 3 hour non-stop hop from CPH.

We started strong with a food tour by Julia Pant, a local guide whose grandfather ran a butcher shop in the central market for many years. We tasted our way through the market … olives, fish soup, souvlaki! Then on to Julia’s shop where she showed us how to make tzatziki, and a tomato-feta appetizer with some of the very last fresh tomatoes of the season. We enjoyed local wines and yogurt sour cherry dessert. After a shot of rakia to “warm us up” we headed off again to a fish restaurant where we tried a creamy fava (yellow pea) lemon dip with chickpeas, giant white beans, calamari and fresh fried whole anchovies and fresh local grapes. Julia said the girls were some of her most adventurous eaters and the only American kids who tried everything including the anchovies (which they loved). And we all loved everything, except that we were very over full. Luckily we were able to walk it off through the Plaka neighborhood before bed. It was a fun evening with “Ioulia and Yiorgos” and the couple from the Netherlands who shared our tour.

Sleep, however, was hard due to the traffic outside our hotel. Cars and scooters/motorcycles ran basically all night out the window. Next time we’ll check on the room details because I’m sure the ones on the opposite side were much quieter. But the location was perfect for access to the places we wanted to see. We used earplugs and white noise and slept fairly well since we were pretty tired!

I remembered JenJill! Here she is at one of many churches dedicated to Saint Sophia/ goddess of wisdom. Here we discovered that we are not allowed to take photos of JenJill because it would violate the rules around commercial photography and she might be confiscated by guards. Horrors! So we were very careful during the rest of our visit, taking covert shots, even though it’s not fair to poor JenJill. We guess “influencers” have ruined our fun by abusing famous sites for product placement. At least JenJill was able to pose uninhibitedly and wave to her very own wise Sophia before we were informed of this rule.

The second day was a customised walking tour with Ioanna (who was awesome and we fully recommend). We told her how long we had and what we would like to see, and she took care of the rest.

We started with the Acropolis and the Parthenon (along with the rest of the temples on the hill). It was amazing to learn all the history and it really struck Bryant how complicated the histories of things can be. For example, the Parthenon housed a christian church and a mosque at different times, as well has having been the subject of canon fire from a Venetian invasion! Here are our favourite shots from the Acropolis.

After a delicious lunch, the afternoon was all about the Acropolis Museum. Most of the amazing sculpture is not kept on the site of the temple, but rather in a very modern and nice museum next to it. You can see it as the modern black/glass rectangle in the picture of the Theater of Dionysus above. While there is a lot of the sculpture and art in Athens to look at, much of it was “taken” (however you choose to interpret that) by Earl Elgin and sits in the British Museum (where we have seen them as well). Read more here. The art and guiding by Ioanna was amazing, and the process of walking through the long history of the place was awesome, and exhausting. But, we got a couple of snaps of the art in the museum.

After the Acropolis Museum, we made our final stop for the day at the Temple of Zeus and Hadrian’s Gate. Unfortunately, the Ministry of Culture started a restoration project on it this year, so there is a bunch of scaffolding blocking it. Most of it is (obviously) collapsed, although it was huge when it was originally built. Hadrian’s arch is interesting as it was a gift from Athens to the Roman emperor Hadrian, as they were co-existing with the Roman occupation pretty well, and (ever diplomatic) they decided to show their appreciation for him not destroying the city. On the side facing the Roman area it reads “the city of Hadrian” and the other side (facing the Athenian area) reads “the city of Theseus”. The marble roof portion was interesting to Bryant. Because they started with wood in their building, they used big nails to hold it together. The rectangular decoration on the roof was simply that they were keeping the look of the nail heads, even after they had moved on to marble as the material.

Finally, we let Ioanna go, and we had dinner at a super-cool patio in the Plaka.

The next day we started at the main Athens Museum of Archeology. LOTS to see in this collection, and Ioanna led us thru the history, connecting it to the stories of Homer and the actual archeological artefacts that connect to it. Interestingly, there were many bronze statues made, but few survive as the Roman’s melted them down for the material.

We rounded out the day with Ioanna at the Roman Agora, the Temple of Haifestus, and Hadrian’s Library. There is too much to talk about so, here are some interesting snaps from the day.

Dinner ended up being a little light, and we were all really wiped out!

The next day was the last day, but we still squeezed in the original Olympic stadium (all solid marble!) with some fun geometric pictures and a hall with the torches! And then the Lyceum of Aristotle. Nothing like walking around the first western university! Finally, we walked back to the hotel thru the city gardens, and passed some more excavations. This city is amazing for how the ancient and the modern are right on top of each other!

And then it was time to head home. A jam-packed trip, but we did our best to see Athens. Next up, Rome!

Wonderland

The long jetty with bath house and restaurant

It feels a bit like wonderland lately, with so many teas and outings and social invitations that we can’t keep up! I feel like I should take advantage of every opportunity this autumn because, come winter, things will slow down. So the party goes on, and my introverted self will have to hang on a little longer. I slept for 11 hours straight after this busy week! That hasn’t happened in years.

Brunch at the long jetty which is “remarkably long” – I couldn’t find out how long. We never get the timing right to eat here, and this time we arrived on time but with no reservations so we had to eat upstairs. Seems like the best seat in the house to me!?!

Reservations are also an issue for Alice och Katten, the Wonderland-themed tea place which has intrigued me for ages. Finally a friend suggested it and followed through with said reservation and it was lovely. We know for next time that we should order one or two pots of tea for the table to share! Baby Max was a joy, scones and cakes, so-so, Alice atmosphere A+

Lots of people are buying places in Eslöv, a small town which is more affordable but still has easy access to Lund by train, and bike. I went to visit some friends and delivered baby Daniel’s pumpkin hat, my best one so far!

I’m sold on this German-engineered All-In-One kitchen appliance, Thermomix, demonstrated by my friend, Carole! We made the most amazing Butternut Squash Soup and savory custard simultaneously! We even made the vegetable broth base, a paste which can be stored for a long time in the refrigerator and then added to recipes as needed. So I don’t need to ask friends to smuggle in anymore heavy jars of Better Than Bouillon! And no more preservative cubes…the Thermomix can make it!

You clean and peel veggies, prep ingredients, but then the machine does the rest with auto settings from the wi-fi, it weighs, chops, mixes, steams, sauteés, whips and can even velouté (and also sous vide, which will hook Bryant) with very little mess, all at one time. It’s almost the Jetsons. Carole had her first one for 15 years and recently upgraded to the internet connected model. Stephanie already owns one, too, though she left it in Spain. Too bad Google Meets won’t make for a good cooking party, because I think all of us should have one of these babies!

The new knitting exhibit at Kulturen is fun. We got there right before closing one day so I’ll go back for a better look. Their gift shop is always a favorite and I think the restaurant has reopened. It’s still on my list. Also heard there is a cafe in the basement of one of the University buildings that’s very nice. Mostly locals know about it. I can see why they might keep quiet about some of these places. Tourism has picked up a lot in the last few months. It’s hard to get photos with all these people getting in the way, lol!

Cafe in this building on the right.

This area was the Kungshuset botanical garden. Some of the trees were planted in 1889, and some, mostly evergreens, in 1868 when the rune stone ring hill was installed using 7 local stones. The largest stone reads something like “Sven and Torgot made this in memory of Manne and Svenne, God rest their souls, but their bodies lie in London.”

Lund Choral Festival/ Opera

Free concerts all week (Oct 18-24) and one ticketed professional concert each evening, but, alas, the venues filled quite quickly and I only made it in to one free concert! Next year we know to get the pre-paid pass. Bryant and I did manage to get tickets at the door to hear Det Norske Solistkor and it was magical! My favorite was Ørjan Matre: Orphic Songs, but there aren’t any recordings of it available that I could find.

All Saints Church, aka the red church, hosted the ticketed events, probably because of the amazing acoustics. Photo from last winter!

I thought there was another free concert as part of this morning’s Högmässa High Mass at the cathedral. It was just the regular church choir, but it was an interesting experience. I tried to sit in an inconspicuous location, the back row of the first section, thinking that it would be crowded all the way at the back but I didn’t realize the multiple processions would put me in the center of the event! It was all in Swedish, of course, but I followed along OK without understanding much.

The homily is given from the pulpit to the left so I essentially sat right in the front, even though it seemed like the back when I chose the seat. All of the processing ended right next to where I was sitting. The people at the front turn around to face the center, putting me face-to-face with the far back section, argh! And it lasted for and hour and a half. The choir was a good church choir, not like the professional singers of the other concerts, but nice. And it was fun to hear them in the cathedral.

Our Musical Extravaganza continues…On Friday night we went to Malmö to join with some of the MN to Malmö group (all relocated from Mpls for jobs at IKEA) to see our friend, Dom (Bry knew his partner from Target and now IKEA), perform in Glada änkan The Merry Widow. It was a fabulous show and tons of fun even though we didn’t understand a lot of words. Luckily, the show is more about the music and drama, so it didn’t matter. We also read a synopsis in English and watched a few YouTube clips of a London production. Dom was a star in his roguish role, and, on top of having an incredible voice, he learned this role in SWEDISH while also working his other high energy job. He is setting such a great example of embracing a new language and culture. The kids were both suitably impressed and enjoyed the show, too. Dom arranged for us to meet some other cast members after the show and made us feel like special guests. Another lovely experience.

Hilleshögs Dalar and a Sunny Weekend

Bry and I continued our exploration of the west coast, a bit north of our Glumslöv hike. It was just as scenic.

passage grave from bronze age

After our hike we stopped for a quick lunch at Fish and Chips in Lomma. It was too cold to eat outside, but the food was tasty.

It was past time to clean the patio wall, a chore that we put off all summer. I started noticing a greenish tinge last Spring but never got around to cleaning. The wall, which is visible from the living and dining rooms, was looking pretty sickly and I didn’t want to spend all winter looking at it. We need to turn off the outdoor water soon, so Bryant hooked up the power washer and we took turns blasting away what I think is mostly algae. Hopefully not much paint! Algae reminded me of the Agardh algae collection, which I learned about at the Botan.

Carl Agardh studied algae in the early 1800’s and began an important collection that is now part of Lund University. His son, Jakob, was also a botanist and designed blueprints for the “new” botanic gardens in 1862. The octagonal Agardhianum is being restored. It’s such an unusual building, with a rectangular wing on four sides of the octagon. I can’t wait to see the interior! Here’s the patio before and after.

This year we bought pumpkins early- hopefully timed it right so they don’t rot.
Joined the food co-op…Lund Matvarukooperativ. The thing that looks like cauliflower is Lion’s Mane! It was delicious

The Slopes of Glumslöv

On the drive back from Ängelholm we stopped at this nature reserve in the village of Glumslöv. The trail we took leads through lovely hillside pastures to the sea. There are several stone age monuments nearby as well as 2 barrows dating to the iron age, which served as the graves for the family groups who worked the land. The Island of Ven is visible in the distance, and the coastline trail looks like a great adventure for another day. Glacier activity resulted in rare flora and fauna in the valley and along the cliffs. Signs said spring time is especially good for seeing the unusual specimens so we’ll add it to our list! And another castle to check out sometime.

Morning coffee

Bryant and I often walk to Broder Jakob’s for coffee and baked treats on Saturday mornings. It opens earlier than most bakeries and I love the atmosphere. The colors and decor are my style, with creamy white, and pinkish beige walls, high grey-blue ceilings, soft, elegant lighting, lots of plants and vintage photos. I just love relaxing inside or in the patio nice weather. I’ve never taken pictures because it’s always full of people and it feels awkward to photograph them. Then the man sitting at a table across from us arranged himself in the perfect vignette. He looked so much like a painting that I pretended to take a selfie and took a photo of him over my shoulder. I’m still amazed at how a portrait composed itself! Doesn’t he look like an impressionist painting?!

We walked through Stadsparken on the way home and saw the grey heron who often perches on rocks or trees by the pond. The fall colors really made it pop, though it’s too bad I never remember a zoom lens.

On Friday we meant to go to Copenhagen for their big Kultur Natten but it runs from 6-midnight and in spite of our good intentions (I even had a little afternoon nap and energy drink) we just couldn’t muster up the energy to deal with transportation, long lines, and big crowds. So we went only as far as Malmö to meet Bryant for dinner in the City instead. We made new discoveries even though we’ve been in the area many times. Never noticed the Lion Passage before! We were so frustrated with google maps telling us to turn right when there was no street! It was quite funny later in the evening as we came through the passage from the other side on our way back. Then dinner at the place we ate (Ruth’s, formerly Bastard) when we came to Sweden the first time almost 2 years ago! Still great food and those two got their oysters.

Saturday afternoon we drove to Ãngelholm to visit the candle factory but it was closed! I can’t get used to Swedish opening hours. So we went hat shopping and walked around the picturesque town.

Ängeltofta Estate, candle workshop in one of the outbuildings