Friday, 16 March 2012

The Helsingør - Helsingborg ferries

The Øresund bridge/tunnel is great, but so are the Helsingør-Helsingborg ferries. Here are three of them in action two days ago:

M/F Mercandia IV approaching Helsingør with the passenger ferry Pernille just behind it

M/F Hamlet is one the ferries in the Scandlines fleet

M/F Hamlet from an angler´s angle


The ferry connection between Helsingør and Helsingborg this week celebrated its 120th anniversary. Hopefully this useful link between Sweden and Denmark will be there for at least another 120 years!

This steam ferry was one of the first ones shuttling between Helsingør and Helsingborg

Thursday, 15 March 2012

A tribute to a great soprano - Sena Jurinac

Sena Jurinac as Octavian in the film by Paul Czinner

"Jurinac's chief trademarks were a rich, full, vibrant tone and an absolute directness and sincerity of expression. Those qualities, combined with her good looks, made her a favourite in every operatic centre that she graced."

Alan Blyth, The Guardian

Last November the sad news reached us that Sena Jurinac, one of the the finest operatic sopranos ever, had passed away at the age of 90. Fortunately she left a number of recorded performances to be enjoyed by her old - and hopefully new - admirers. The visual gem in her musical legacy is the wonderfully restored blu-ray version of the Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss recorded on film by Paul Czinner at the Salzburg festival in 1962. 

Octavian with Sofie (Anneliese Rothenberger)

Although the entire cast, with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (Princess von Werdenberg), Otto Edelmann (Baron Ochs von Lerchenau) and Anneliese Rothenberger (Sofie) are all outstanding, it is Sena Jurinac (Octavian) who makes this performance truly memorable.

Herbert von Karajan in front of the Wiener Philharmoniker in 1962

Princess von Wedenberg (Elisabeth Schwarzkopf) with Octavian and Sofie

And with the Wiener Philharmoniker under Herbert von Karajan in top form, the ingredients of a wonderful opera experience are all there for us to enjoy, 50 years after the live performance!

Listen to Sena Jurinac sing Voi che sapete from Mozart´s The Marriage of Figaro:

The new Danish Maritime Museum to open in 2013

These beautiful fighureheads will soon find an new home when the Danish Maritime Museum next year moves out of Kronborg castle in Elsinore/Helsingør to resettle in its immediate vicinity.

Work on the new museum seems to be progressing well, although one can imagine that the construction work at the old Helsingør shipyard is not without its problems.

Here is some background information on the unique and exciting new museum:

The Museum will mirror Denmark’s historical and contemporary role as one of the world’s leading maritime nations. It will be placed in a unique building that has been designed by the company of BIG Architects, and it will be placed below ground level in and around the dry dock of an old shipyard.
The new museum wants to reach out to new groups of visitors who when they leave, will have a feeling of fascination, and new knowledge gained in a serious and entertaining manner.
The Dutch exhibition architects Kossmann.dejong will be in charge of the design of the new exhibitions. In recent years, Kossmann.dejong’s exhibitions have been particularly commended for their rich use of pictures and exciting designs, and for their ability to attract new audiences who are not accustomed to museums.
Since its foundation in 1915, the Danish Maritime Museum has been located at Kronborg Castle in Elsinore. This fine building, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, is, however, not the ideal setting for modern museum operations, and a potential relocation of the Museum had been discussed for years. The discussion culminated in 2003 when a report from the Danish Heritage Agency on the future of the Danish national museums, proposed moving the Danish Maritime Museum to Esbjerg and merging it with the Fisheries and Maritime Museum in order to create a strong and united maritime museum.
This idea was unpopular to many. The Museum’s subject field and collections are national and, for a major part, related to the Copenhagen area where the majority of shipping companies have their headquarters. As a result, a major study was implemented with the support of the Danish Shipowners’ Association, and the study indicated potential locations in the metropolitan area. The debate reached a positive conclusion in the autumn of 2005 with a decision that the new museum should maintain its historical attachment to Elsinore and Kronborg at the approaches to the Sound, and through this to the Baltic Sea. The Museum will be placed in Dock 1 of the former Elsinore Shipyard between Kronborg and Elsinore’s future main library and cultural centre in the old yard buildings.
The choice of location created the basis to continue a comprehensive fundraising effort, an architectural competition and clarification of the major project.
It was clear that the project was not only about relocation to a new building, but also about another weighting of the Museum’s research and information activities, so that the present time and contemporary maritime trade would take a more central place. It was also a requirement that the Museum should be designed and operated so that it would attract not only a larger number of visitors, but also a much broader user group with emphasis on young people and both sexes.
A significant asset for the Museum and its exhibitions will be the creation of unique architecture on the basis of the old dry dock from 1953 which was previously an important part of Elsinore Shipyard.

Even before the new building is opened, the Danish Maritime Museums´s existing collections at the Kronborg castle are well worth a visit!

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Simple pleasures nr 18: Stones on the beach

Living close to beach has always been important to me - although not so much because of the possibility to swim and get a sun tan. No, the thing I enjoy most is to stroll along the beach, preferably when it is almost empty of other people. Enjoying the beauty of the always changing colours of the water, the sound of the waves and the birds trying to catch something to eat, is just great. Observing ships passing by is an added bonus. They are reminders of the larger world outside of ones own small coastal neighbourhood.

Stones on a beach have a particular appeal. In my opinion there are few things in the world that are more satisfying to look at than rounded stones, which have been formed by the forces of nature during a long period of time.

In general I just enjoy the stone as they are on the beach, but when living in a number of westerm countries, I have picked a small number of stones to keep. They now remind me of some glorious bygone days on the beach ....

A reefer and a tug in Øresund

The Ukrainian owned reefer Noviy Svet, here shown with  the Danish tug Vitus, passed Helsingør/Helsingborg at about 9 this morning on its way from St. Petersburg to Agadir. The 125 x 20m ship was built by the also politically famous Gdansk shipyard in 1990. Through the years it has had several names, among them Greenlandia, Murmansk Night, Sun Regina and - interestingly enough for a reefer - Warmia.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

The Dutch ocean liner Gelria in Helsinki in 1925

Gelria (170 x 20m) could take 1520 passengers, with 250 in first class. The Royal Holland Lloyd line ship was built by Alexander Stephen and Sons in Glasgow.  

While waiting for the Baltic Sea cruise season to start later in the spring, I thought it might be interesting to look at these pictures from the early days of cruising in the Baltic.

The picture above shows the Dutch ocean liner Gelria arriving in Helsinki on June 11, 1925. "with several hundred tourists" on board.  At the time the the 14000 ton Gelria was the biggest ship ever to visit Helsinki. The interior of the ship is very much like the interior of a luxury hotel, one local newspaper reported.

In Helsinki the Dutch visitors were shown the sights. The building in the center background is the Royal Swedish Embassy (still today located in the same building).