Tag Archives: Art

Tastes of Stockholm in February

We have a plan to make only short trips to close by areas this year and the first trip has just finished. We headed to Stockholm, the ever so beautiful capital of Sweden, like so many others during the winter holiday week. We quite enjoy visiting the city we know so well and like to stay in different parts of the town. This time we stayed in Östermalm, the West-End of Stockholm, one of the posh parts of the town. This was mostly due to an excellent hotel discount offer. We also loved the idea of us travel from Östermalm, Borgå to Östermalm, Stockholm.

Eating is and has always been the main attractions on our travels along with museum  visits. Eataly, the Italian gourmet shop and restaurant, had just been opened and was thus a main attraction. Yes, I know, why eat Italian in Sweden? We did not actually have a meal at Eataly but wanted to see how the concept was modified for the Scandinavian market. The location and premises are great, impressive – see their website for all the services and activities offered. Much to taste and see, much to enjoy in this luxurious former theatre.  We were certainly not the only tourists and foodies there inspecting the store. The experience was not quite the same as upon visiting Eataly in Italy but it is naturally because were not in Italy, it was not summer and there were no departments with wine shelves and tastings (as we were in Sweden with state monopoly over retail in alcoholic beverages just like in Finland).  Maybe we go and have a meal next time around when it is less crowded.

Östermalms saluhall, the food halls of Östermalm, was another attraction and this for lunch. The old food halls are being renovated and there was temporary set up for the stalls. Lisa Elmqvist Fish, Seafood, Delicatessen & Restaurant was the place for lunch – this restaurant dates back to a 1926 when Lisa bought a stand in the food halls. It is the fourth generation running the company today the food stalls, catering and restaurant. I enjoyed fried lemon sole with beet root and capers and by husband halibut with truffle-lobster sauce.


Some other places were stopped by were Wiener Caféet (Bibilioteksgatan), Fabrique (Humlegårdgatan) , Sally Voltaire & Systerar (Åhlens) with healthy meals and raw food. We also shared a delicious pizza at Jamie’s Italian (Scandic hotel Anglais). Quite a lot of fika, Swedish coffee with sweet treats all day long, and other goodies. Have a look at the pictures. We stayed only for a day and half yet experienced a lot. It was a trip with some 30,000 steps out and about the town plus a couple of metro (tunnebana) journeys.  Apart of the food we enjoyed sunny crisp winter, window shopping, people watching and a couple of museums. Interior decoration, cookery shops and book stores are always on our list on mini- and longer breaks.



The Stockholm Museum of Photography (Fotografiska) never lets me down. The exhibitions are ever so intriguing and statement taking like the ones on right now. What more is that the museum opening times are excellent as it stays open practically all night. I’ve once also participated an evening guided tour that started at 9 pm. The museum shop is excellent and the restaurant experience so fabulous. Their concept is of conscious food philosophy is based on organic and plant-based kitchen. The man behind the restaurant is Paul Svensson, a famous, chef of the year, TV and cookbook author to name just some of his merits. Once again, I had not book a table in advance and thus we could only enjoy the café-bar with the great view over to Skeppsholmen och Djurgården (islands of Stockholm).

The exhibitions on are Fearless & Fabulous by Chen Man, a talented young Chinese photographer and designer. She is a pioneer in Chinese fashion photography, very successful and known also in the western world. She mixes eastern and western traditions, techniques as per the museum introductions. I particularly liked the fashion portraits taken in Tibet.


Somnyama Ngonyama/Hail, the Dark Lioness is a collection of portraits by Zanele Muholi a South-African photographer. The photos pose questions on social justice, human rights and contested representations of the black body, as stated in the museum home page introduction. The all black-and-white portraits were powerful. I felt they first opened on the surface – the image you saw – and then as you looked on in depth.


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Encounter with Vincent and Axel in Amsterdam

What a better way to enjoy a Sunday in a city than indulge yourself in a good dialogue with your favourite artists. I did this the past Sunday in Amsterdam the company being Vincent van Gogh and Axel Munch.

I like if not love them both and have learnt to know their work in different parts of the world. The past Sunday my target was the newly opened exhibition at the Van Gogh Museum. I truly recommend it, I’d never actually thought of the resemblance or them being contemporaries. They both studied in Paris as any artist to be would do those days. They had a somewhat sad childhood and neither of them found true love. Both died in a relatively young age.

The colours used are strong and stokes powerful. Paint is not used scarcely. Oil colour is the most natural or favoured tool although graphics were also experimented. I love the yellows and oranges of Vincent. The blues and greens of Munch. The symbolism and nature phenomena.

The exhibition has a clever display of placing the paintings next to each other, displaying how Munch might have been influenced by Van Gogh. The exhibition displayed in the annex was quite sufficient and I only quickly entered the main.myseum building. It was rather crowded in the late afternoon and I realised that my stroll with the gentlemen had taken couple of hours. The terrific audioguide accompanied us through and through.

The experience reminded me of visits in Italy e.g. at Uffizzi and Stendahls syndrome, which was also a topic of one of the modern pieces of art in the museum.

The following stop would be Rijksmuseum and selected sections. The Van Der Meer, Rembrandts and The Dutch Delf China were awaiting.

Amsterdam was a delightful stop and excellent start for a good week of work in the Netherlands. The week let me have more insights into to Dutch way of life and culture.

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Urban Nature with Surprises

You can meet many kinds of creatures on your morning walks. What do you know?
I took a walk to the river bank heading towards Sikosaari nature reserve and met these guys.


Have to admit that I was taken by surprise when seeing this heard of Highland cattle in their pasture. It was odd and reminded me of paintings of cows. Victor Westerholm, a Finnish painter in the late 19th century and founder of the Önningeby artist colony in Åland. Westerholm is known for painting pasture landscapes and his work is well esteemed today. He did, after all,  found the one and only Finnish artist colony.


I had not met my destination, Sikosaari, when starting to shoot the cattle but was not even half way there. Once again I started on the path towards the nature reserve through the long road, the empty boat yards, met some cars driving to town and made it to a bridge and then to a second bridge. I could see the birdwatching towers and the lamp posts leading the midst of the reserve but decided not to make it into a half-a-day walk and turned back. Next time I’ll walk or cycle to one of the towers.

There was a swan couple with one duckling – not an ugly one.




Check these pages if you are near or plan to visit Porvoo, Finland.

Nature and Environment: http://www.porvoo.fi/en/our__services/nature_and_environment

Nature trails: http://www.porvoo.fi/en/our__services/nature_and_environment/nature_trails#Sikosaari

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Summer in Helsinki with Rosemary, Sage and Thyme

We are living the last days of summer. This has been a very different one. No long days and weeks at the cottage, no vegetable or herb garden to water and no trip to Italy. And still, it has been a good one and very enjoyable.

We experienced Italy in April and learnt a lot. In fact loads of Italian and art history. We spent Easter near Sorrento and lived in a place kept by a sisterhood of San Vincenzo.

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In May our balcony turned into a garden, not an Italian one and not into an oasis, but a garden with flowers and herbs. Just noticed that we have parsley, rosemary, sage and thyme exactly what Simon and Garfunkel sang about. Other than that we also have peppermint, lemon thyme and huge basil. On May 1 we got two lovely pots of violets, yellow and velvety blue, and they are still in full bloom. I even took some of the plants out. The money plants just love it. Now I can’t wait to see where the good fortune is coming from and when;-).

Italy came to us with an exchange student. We had a lovely three summery weeks of cultural exchange. A darling girl with fresh ideas and breezes from Rome. Also of the food culture with e.g. Bucatini Amatriciana (tomatoes, smoked pig cheek and pecorino).

At the end of the summer I can say that we have experienced and seen quite much this summer this summer and especially enjoyed Helsinki, our hometown and World Culture Capital 2012.


Huvilakatu, one of the Southernmost streets of Helsinki.

The town has hosted and still hosts many cultural event. The night of arts on August 23 was a blast. The Helsinki Festival has a very wide range of events from clubs to opera premiers. Art goes Kapakka (restaurant) is also on. We experienced a most unusual dinner the other day when there were 95 choirs in Helsinki. There were five choirs performing in Restaurant Kosmos during our dinner. Quite nice actually, they sang mostly traditional Finnish songs.


Dinner at Restaurant Kosmos: Sausages of Sweetbread with Root Vegetable Fondant and Chateubriand with Madeira Sauce and Baked Potatoe.


Restaurant Lasipalatsi                                        Helsinki Music Centre

The Song Trees (aka the giant pike) by Reijo Hukkanen in front of the Music Centre and the Finnish Parliament (background).


KIASMA Museum of Contemporary Art     Interactive art in the city.

A Taste of Ballet on the Rooftop and the Kamppi Chapel of Silence.

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You can follow news on Helsinki e.g. at http://www.helsinkitimes.fi

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Landscapes and Artists in Önningeby and Föglö

Önningeby Museum, Önningeby in Åland Islands

course in Åland is now over but I want to share the experiences. I got home today after spending a week with 17 other enthusiastic language teachers. We all enjoyed the ‘holiday’ very much. Out dwelling, Åland’s folkhögskola in Finström, is in the middle of nature yet near everything as things are on Åland.


Ålands folkhögskola, Finström

I wrote earlier about Stendahl syndrome, remember? The visit to Önningeby artist colony the other day took me close to another seizure. Önningeby is a small village near Mariehamn, in the Åland Islands, and it was the homestead to an artist colony at the end of the 19th century. Victor Westerholm first invited colleagues to his home Tomtebo in Lemland, Åland. The time is called the Golden Age in the Finnish art history. Önningeby was especially in favour of young female painters who came to stay there from the continent ie mainland Finland. Most of the artists would first study in Finland then in Paris, and they would travel and paint both in Europe and in the home country.


This was the era of landscape painting and artists wished to move away from the bustle of towns. The colony was especially in favour of young female painters of whom Elin Danielsson-Gambogi is the most famous and renown. Other painters to mention are e.g. Hanna Rönnberg, Amelie Lundahl and Dora Wahlros. There were also some Swedish painters that spent summers in Önningeby. The most famous of them is probably J.A.G Acke and the rumour tells that many of the female artists were infatuated by him.

     Victor Westerholm’s house by the canal in Lemland.


After the visit to Önningeby we continued to Föglö, one of the municipalities and islands of Åland. On the way we had to take many ferries some of which carried 20 some cars and some only 20 people and a couple of vehicles. The landscapes near Embarsund offer most beautiful sailing routes in Åland.


At the end of the tour our guide, Kjell Ekström, took us to his studio and home in Föglö. Kjell is the very man behind the association of Önningeby Museum, an art expert and connoisseur. He was a terrific guide and help us enjoy the day very much.

Take a look at these websites if you are interested in learning more
www.visitaland.com and www.kjellekstrom.com (Swedish).

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Filed under Art, Miscellaneous on travelling, cooking and life in general, Travel diary