as an end-of-the semester treat, scan|design arranged a trip to norway for us (‘thank you, scan|design!’). we took the ferry (= cruise ship) from copenhagen to oslo, and then marianne, our intrepid mentor, showed us around lillehammer and and the capital for three days. our trip coincided with norway’s national day, may 17, so we got to see traditional costumes, parades, and lots of other celebratory goings-on. in lillehammer, we got to visit maihaugen, an open-air museum that had an exhibit on norwegian history as well as several examples of traditional wooden buildings. after our day in lillehammer, we took the train back to oslo, where we visited the vigeland sculpture park (which i visited last november and love) and the newly opened operahuset, which was fantastic (and i have to say better than copenhagen’s…particularly in a roof-to-roof comparison). we had a great time, ate some delicious lefse, sampled different foods-in-a-tube (including, yes, the always-wonderful nugatti), and enjoyed some blueberry muffin ice cream at anker brygge, oslo’s new harbourfront development/restored warehouse district. having visited norway once in the winter, it was really nice to be able to see what the landscape, and oslo, were like in the spring. i was really impressed with the city – and got to see many places that i hadn’t visited before. it was also nice to be there for the national day and to learn a bit about norway’s historical ties to denmark. so again, ‘thanks, scan|design…!’


my good friend liz maly is visiting me in copenhagen, and we decided to take a weekend trip to stockholm (one of my favorite cities!) to visit our friend and uw colleague heather burpee, who is there on a valle scholarship. we had a fantastic time – visited some museums, met up with some friends from copenhagen who were also visiting, and got to see hb’s side of stockholm. i would say that the highlights of the trip were an amazing meal of swedish meatballs at pelikan, seeing the restored ship at the vasamuseet, visiting traditional buildings from all over sweden at skansen (stockholm’s open-air museum) where we learned about the origins of falu red paint (which gives many rural swedish buildings their distinctive color), visiting the dalahäst (traditional carved wooden horse) museum, and being initiated into (and heavily practicing) the swedish tradition of fika, a verb meaning ‘to take a coffee break,’ one that often includes friends and snacks, between larger meals…a tradition that i will be taking back to the states, and anywhere else i go…anyway. although that seems to be a lot of ‘highlights’ for two short days, it’s definitely an indication of what a great time we had in stockholm. here’s the photo-illustrated version:

visiting bornholm’s round churches was one of the ‘themes’ of our trip. the collection of four churches is a kind of architectural icon for bornholm – they’re all similar in form, materials, and construction (though each has its own individual personality), and were all built between 1150 and 1250. they’re super practical buildings – the round shape of the churches allowed them to serve as storage places for grain and other commodities as well as to defend against viking raids during the unrest of the middle ages. there are also some theories afloat about a connection between the round churches and the knights templar, who were crusading around this time. the churches are two or three stories and are constructed of thick stone walls with central pillars that support circular barrel vaults on each floor. the conical roofs were added in 1600; before that, the churches were crowned with open battlements and embrasures (so they looked more like little castles). i really enjoyed visiting them – and they’re spaced out quite well on the island, so it gave us a chance to see a lot of the in-between. it was fun to search for them, because we could see the conical roofs from so far away…they’re definitely landmarks on the very rural island. and they’re lovely little buildings. so…here’s a mini-tour of bornholm’s round churches:


olsker church is the tallest and slimmest of the four churches – it’s on a hill and is so tall relative to its surroundings that it once served as a navigation point for fisherman at sea; it gets its name from the hero-king ‘olaf the holy,’ a major figure in a battle between the christians and the heathens

the buttresses were added in the 1800s to stabilize it/tiny apse

inside detail/outside detail

we got to climb up to the third level…via this wee door and steep staircase/the wooden roof construction is amazing!!

the round nave and tiny ship hanging from the ceiling; the upper part of the central column is painted with frescoes of biblical scenes/spiral stair to the choir


nyker church (‘new church’ or ‘all saints church’) was built from granite boulders, except for the central column, which was constructed using local limensgade stone

nyker was the smallest of the four churches, with only two stories (it used to have three, but the top level was removed with the battlements)

inside detail/outside detail

the frescoes on the central pillar at nyker church are from the 1300s

the round nave/view to the apse


østerlars (or ‘east st. lawrence’s’) is the largest (and i think most visited) of the four churches

its distinctive buttresses were added in the 1500s and 1600s to keep the walls from pushing outward/view looking straight up at the roof construction – crazy!

indoor detail/outdoor detail

the central pillar of østerlars church is so large that it is inhabitable – its nickname is ‘the oven’…the vaulted space is now used as a baptistery/view of the radiating pew boxes and the altarpiece

the lovely cemetery on the church’s exterior


nylars church is dedicated to st. nicholas

lovely site among the fields/cemetery churchyard

indoor detail/outdoor detail

view of the round nave and the choir…the frescoes on the central pillar of nylars church are the oldest preserved examples on bornholm and date to about 1250

i really liked the bluish color of the pillar stone (‘bornholm silurian limestone’)…and the frescoes depicting scenes from genesis: ‘the creation and fall of man in seven scenes’

here’s the promised landscape photo post…i just wanted to share these photos separately because i was so impressed/amazed by the variety of different (and picturesque) landscapes contained on a 590km² island (that’s 230 square miles for you u.s.’ers), of which we saw only half. needless to say, i made a LOT of photo stops while biking. there are additional photos on my flickr page, but these are my favorites. hope you enjoy them!

bornholm by bike

May 6, 2008

the gorgeous bornholm landscape (stay…posted…for a post with more landscape photos!)

over the may 1st holiday weekend, my friend cat and i took what ended up being one of my very favorite (if not THE favorite – maybe this one and ‘hakka roundhouse trip #1’) trips ever – to bornholm, a danish island in the baltic sea (waaay far east of the rest of denmark…it’s on the other side of the southernmost point of sweden, and has actually been part of sweden at a few different points in history). we brought our bikes with for transportation and spent three days exploring the island. i was thinking that it would be a nice place, since many danes vacation there, but it far exceeded my expectations – it was SO beautiful and we had absolutely perfect weather. cat was also an excellent travel companion, and very patient with my amateur biking status (she’s what i would call a ‘serious’ seattle biker…needless to say, i’m learning lots of new bike vocab). : ) it was very fun, and bicycle was the perfect way to get around the island – to me, it’s a very danish mode of transportation, and it allowed us to travel at our own pace and really take in all of the scenery (while stopping often to photograph it, of course). one of my danish friends told me that if i were to visit one place in denmark outside of copenhagen, it should be bornholm…and so we went. we covered 115km(!) in three days and were exhausted at the end of the trip, but very happy that we’d gone!

here’s the ferry that we took from ystad in sweden to bornholm (we took the train from copenhagen to ystad…and were able to bring our bikes on both the train and the ferry with special tickets)

cat and her lovely golden bike at the beginning of our trip

some photos that cat took of me doing ‘bike things’ and hauling the backpack…i was so impressed that my trusty second-hand city bike did such a good job!

some adjustments were made…

cat was a very good sport and visited all four of the island’s round churches with me (i’ll also post more specifically about these in the near future)

cat’s documentation of me documenting one of the round churches

although i was not the only one taking photos…

view of sandvig, the town outside of which our hostel was located

a very yummy second saturday breakfast of black coffee and fiskefrikadeller (fried danish fish meatball) – gotta keep up that energy level! this was enjoyed on a picnic table at a lovely seaside cafe : )

unlike the rest of denmark, bornholm is NOT flat…i was very, very happy to make it to the top of this hill…and many others…

we had a picnic lunch one day at the harbour in gudhjem (a town on the east coast of the island)

windmill in gudhjem/lighthouse at bornholm’s northern tip

a rogeri, or smokehouse, in gudhjem…smoked fishes and other seafood are one of the island’s specialties

on sunday, we visited the ruins of the fort at hammershus, northern europe’s largest medieval fortification. hammershus was built in the 1200’s on the island’s granite cliffs to the north (it was a really big deal to see cliffs in denmark…cat, who has seen a lot more of the country than me, couldn’t believe we were still in danish territory).

the fort was used as a base for the danish crusades and was conquered at various times by both sweden and lübeck. i liked all of the different window openings…perhaps strategically placed for defensive purposes?

stone and brick construction of the tower/remains of the fortress chapel

cat takes a break among the ruins

on our way from hammershus back to rønne to catch the ferry home, we rode along what is definitely the loveliest bicycle path i’ve ever been on…

…parts of which skirted the coast/me celebrating the successful completion of our trip with a triumphant (and delicious) ice cream cone in rønne : )

more amsterdam!

April 13, 2008

there’s really no such thing as too much amsterdam (not the way i do it, anyway). ; ) at the end of jen’s stay, we visited as another long weekend trip…we had lovely weather and were able to eat frites and stroopwafels to our hearts’ content. i think amsterdam is such a beautiful city, and it was so nice to be able to see it in the springtime, with trees budding and flowers blossoming.

we stayed in the most amazing and best-located hotel (the greenhouse effect, if anyone’s interested)…this is the view from our room! this canal is called the damrak, and it’s right smack in the center of the city, about a two minutes’ walk from amsterdam centraal train station.

each room has a theme…we stayed in ‘tropical paradise,’ so here’s jen and the view inside our room. ; )

the first thing we did was to take a canal tour, which i’ve never done before in amsterdam. it was fun, but difficult to get good photos. above are a refurbished trading ship in front of nemo, and amsterdam centraal train station.

this is the first of the ‘seven bridges’ in amsterdam…a famous scenic viewpoint

some canal sights…duck on a green houseboat roof/fancy canalside mansion

we took a walk through the vondelpark, amsterdam’s most well-known park

jen at the vondelpark gate/jen on the canal

we also visited the ‘hollandse manege,’ a dutch riding school modeled after the spanish riding school in vienna

riding lesson in progress

here’s me clearly enjoying a fun blue hammock chair i found…if it’s still on sale when i go back, it may have to come home with me…/and a colorful bike-graffitti-scene

typical view with canalside cafe seating : )

fo guang shan he hua,’ a buddhist temple in amsterdam’s chinatown/ typical canalside houses – one with a stepped gable next to a comparatively plain warehouse-style gable (click here for a web guide to amsterdam’s many and various gables)

an ad for febo, a dutch ‘automatic snack’ institution (which perhaps i’ll blog about in more detail next time i visit)/modern (and blue!) architecture in a traditional neighborhood, complete with requisite furniture hooks

souvenir magnets provide an alternative gable tutorial

long weekend in paris

April 5, 2008

last weekend i met my sister in paris, one of my very favorite european cities. : ) we had lots of fun – eating (incredibly delicious) macaroons, sightseeing, and doing a little shopping. we got to see some of the usuals – the eiffel tower, place des voges, and notre dame, plus some new places for me – marché ste. catherine, the rodin musuem, and ste. chapelle (all highly recommended). we took a day trip out to versailles, which was great, but unfortunately it was raining too hard that day for us to be able to explore the gardens. jen and i also got to have dinner with my friend aurélie (who i studied with in the netherlands in 2005) and her husband jerome. it was really fun to spend some time hanging out with them and to see their apartment in paris. : ) here are some favorite photos from our trip: