Monday, 31 December 2012

Ships in Shanghai on New Year's Eve

The world's busiest port, the port of Shanghai, was full of ships also on New Year's Eve. This was the view about 11 PM on the Marine Traffic map (showing only part of the Shanghai area):

The crew of the Danish owned 318 x 42 m container ship Maersk Kotka - on its way to Pusan new harbor - were among the sailors celebrating the new year far away from home.

Happy New Year to all of you on board the Maersk Kotka, and all other ships in different locations!

An unforgettable New Year's Concert from the Semper Oper in Dresden

Christian Thielemann again created an evening of musical magic.

Last night, German  ZDF was the first television channel to broadcast its New Year's concert. And what a concert it was! 

Television audiences have already been spoiled by several world class performances with the great Christian Thielemann conducting his Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden, but last night's gala concert from the beautiful Semper Oper, with music by Emmerich Kálmán, was unforgettable. 

And the fact that soprano Diana Damrau had taken ill and was unable to sing did not matter at all, because she was so ably replaced by Dresden's "own" star soprano Ingeborg Schöpf

Soprano Ingeborg Schöpf excelled in "Heia, heia, in den Bergen ist mein Heimatland".

Schöpf and the Polish tenor Piotr Beczala brought down the house with such  Kálmán favorites as "Höre ich Zigeunergeigen", "KommZigány""Einmal möcht`ich wieder tanzen", "Heia, heia, in den Bergen ist mein Heimatland", "Weiss Du es noch?" and "Zwei Märchenaugen". 

Bezcala and Schöpf enjoyed singing together.

Operetta songs are easy for the ear, but very demanding to perform. It is difficult to imagine that any other active tenor would be better than the great Beczala in this repertoire. 

Piotr Beczala, arguably the best tenor in the world in the operetta repertoire.

This New Year's concert is bound to become a classic! 


The recording of the concert is now available here. Highly recommended!

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Very British baby carriages in Hyde Park

Today, when I searched for something else in my photo archive, I found this image, which I must have shot in London's Hyde Park in the late 70's. I think one could say that babies were transported in style at that time .....

Friday, 28 December 2012

The classic freighter Saturn in Helsingør

I have seen the small (54 x 9,3 m) cargo vessel Saturn several times passing by in Øresund. Today, my visit to Helsingør gave me a nice opportunity to have a somewhat closer look at this classic Dutch built (1966) beauty. Seeing Saturn lie in front of the beautiful old buildings in central Helsingør, was like going back in time about half a century.

But according to the owner, the Danish shipping company Janus Andersen & Co, Saturn is still very much in active duty, carrying different kinds of loads in Denmark and neighboring areas. The company website has a few nice photos of the ship here.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

The view from the Glumslöv hills

The Glumslöv hills, on the coast between Landskrona and Helsingborg, are magnificent even in late December. From the hills you can 30 churches and seven Swedish and Danish cities, including Copenhagen and Elsinore. The island in the Sound is Tycho Brahe's Ven (Hven in Danish), where the astronomer lived and worked from 1576 to 1597.

PS (August 22, 2013)

I added this image of the Glumslöv hills, seen from the sea:


Wednesday, 26 December 2012

The Christmas Eve Mass in St Peter's Basilica in 2012

Watching Christmas Eve and Easter Masses celebrated in St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican has been tradition in my family for decades now. I find it amazing that they are able to create a feeling of warmth, even intimacy, in spite of the huge size of the St Peter' s - it can easily host more than 15.000 people.

Pope Benedict XVI celebrating the Christmas Eve Mass in 2012

Masses celebrated in St Peter's Square, pictured below in a 19th century drawing by Boudier, are even bigger events, with up to 80 000 people attending.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

A wintry slideshow from Southern Sweden

I would like to wish you all a 
Merry Christmas!

Three old photographs from the Holy Land

The three photographs below show Nazareth, Capernaum and Gethsemane in the 1890s:

In the New Testament, Nazareth is described as the childhood home of Jesus, and as such it is a center of Christian pilgrimage, with many shrines commemorating biblical events.

Capernaum was according to the Gospel of Luke the home of the apostles Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John.  In Matthew 4:13 the town is reported to have been the home of Jesus.

Gethsemane, the garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem is the place where, according to the gospels Jesus and his disciples are said to have prayed the night before he was arrested, the day before his death.

Merry Christmas to ARTE!

Not only are the programs of the French/German television channel ARTE of outstanding quality. In addition, even the small announcements and greetings between the programs are some of the most beautiful and creative that at least this "reviewer" has seen.

Take e.g. ARTE's new, visually fascinating musical Christmas greeting, illustrated by the two  photos below, as I could not find the greeting on ARTE's website or YouTube:

Looking forward to more quality programming, I say MERRY CHRISTMAS to all people over there at ARTE!

Friday, 21 December 2012

Those incredible "flying machines" that did not quite make it

A "ballon captif", used as an observation post during the battle of Fleurus in 1794.

In the early 1890s the airplane was not yet invented, but there had of course been many - not very succesful - attempts to construct a flying machine. In an article published in 1892 the Swedish writer Karl af Geijerstam cited experts, who were of the opinion that it was time discard the futile attempts to make "clumsy hot air balloons"steerable, and begin the search for other options.

Af Geijerstam mentioned that the "most serious attempts to build a flying machine" were being done in America. These attempts were according to af Geijerstam based on the idea that such a machine would imitate the flight of birds.

Not many years passed until there was a real breakthrough - in the US - but the first airplanes were not quite flying like birds ....

What I found interesting in af Geijerstam's article, were to illustrations of various, more or less unsuccessful "flying machines", some of which never had gone further than the drawing board. Here are some of them:

The electrically powered hot air balloon "La France", built  by Krebs and Renard, actually flew in 1884, but it was not able to function in windy circumstances.

A number of earlier projects for steerable hot air balloons. 

This hot air balloon, constructed by Giffard, was powered by a steam engine. It actually flew in 1852, but was unable to move against stronger winds.

A drawing of an "air ship" designed by Gabriel Yon. It was never actually built. 

An inventor by the name of Nadar had this kind of ideas about future flying machines. 


Although the airplane had already been invented, there was no lack of flying fantasies, as late as 1906. That year a Swedish news magazine published this picture of a "Flying House", which was said to be under construction in north London by some unnamed French inventors ...

"The Flying House"

The white cliffs of Dover will remain British

On this blog, I seldom comment on topical issues. However, today I make an exception. The Guardian reports about a historic victory for the inhabitants of Dover:

Dame Vera Lynn can relax. The white cliffs of Dover, the most famous symbol of Britain's indomitable wartime spirit, have been saved from the prospect of falling under French control.
The Port of Dover, which has sat at the foot of the cliffs since 1606, will remain forever England after the government scrapped plans to sell it off to the highest bidder – rumoured to be the local authority of Calais.
On Thursday thetransport minister Simon Burns bowed to public pressure and withdrew Dover from the auction, saving Europe's busiest passenger port – which handles 13 million passengers and 5m vehicles, including lorries carrying £50bn of goods a year – for the nation.

This well known tune is probably once again quite popular in the pubs of Dover:

A 1626 map of Finland

Old maps are beautiful. This map of Finland from 1626, made by Andreas Bureus (1571-1646), the founder of Swedish scientific cartography is one of my favorites. (Finland was until 1809 a part of Sweden).

Thursday, 20 December 2012

A view of Frankfurt in the 1880s and today

The skyline of the bustling German city of Frankfurt am Main is today dominated by skyscrapers. But the view from the river towards the Kaiserdom has not changed very much during the last 120 years or so:

On this 1880s photo you can see the tower of the Kaiserdom and the Eiserne Steg pedestrian bridge, which was built in  1869. The interesting stone formations in the foreground were probably used for building purposes.

The same view in 2007, from a somewhat closer distance. The pedestrian bridge is still there.
(image by wikipedia)

Monday, 17 December 2012

Christmas lights and decorations brighten up the dark season in Scandinavia

This time of the year it is rather dark in Scandinavia. Not many hours of daylight. But people like to brighten up their homes with various types of creative Christmas lights and decorations. Tonight I made a short walk in my immediate neighborhood here in Hittarp (southern Sweden) in order to document some of the newly added decorative elements:

This is the community Christmas tree
What was new to me, as a fairly recent member of my local community, was that many people already now have installed their Christmas trees in their living rooms. Since my early childhood in another Nordic country, I have always done it on Christmas Eve.