Saturday, 20 October 2012

A summary of the summer 2012 in the Øresund region

A not uncommon "summer" 2112 evening in the Øresund region

Sweden was almost summerless this year. In most parts of the country there were only about six or seven "high summer days", that is, days with temperatures over 25 degrees Celsius. Last year there were 28 of them. 

Still, at least in the south of Sweden, there were some nice days for sailing, surfing and bathing. And the almost daily rain clouds created some dramatic visual effects ....

Below are a few memories of the the summer that wasn't: 

It started in a rather promising way in the middle of May
May 30 was rather nice too, but the clouds had started gathering ....
On June 2 the clouds already were looking more dramatic
June 6 was a great day for sailing in the Sound
The view from the northern end of the Hittarp reef on June 17
Dark skies over Øresund on June 18
The water was still fairly chilly on June 19, but this young man was ready for a swim after  some  initial  hesitation
A view of Hittarp on Midsummer Day 
Slow evening sailing on July 5
July 15 was a nice day with lots of beautiful cumulus clouds - and a neighbour who was returning from a refreshing bath in the already fairly warm Sound
Before the thunderstorm on July 31
August 1 was one of the many excellent wind surfing days in Øresund last summer.  (Kronborg  castle behind the surfer)
There were quite a few spectacular sunsets last summer. This one is from August 15.
On the 21 of August this gentleman did some stretching after a nice swim
On August 25 this kite surfer reached a good speed in front of the Hittarp reef
The cruise ship Vision of the Seas passing Helsingborg on August 26

Friday, 19 October 2012

Havet and Halmø - Two vintage sailing ships in Copenhagen

The topsail Ketch Havet at Larsens Plads in Copenhagen

The Larsens Plads (Larsen's Place), in the immediate vicinity of the Amalienborg Palace area, is the prestige waterfront in Copenhagen. No wonder then that only some of Denmark's finest vintage sailing ships are allowed to berth there more permanently. 

In the middle of October, when I visited Copenhagen, the gaffrigged topsail ketch Havet and the schooner Halmø were berthed at Larsens Plads. 

The Havet is owned and operated by Alice and Henning Breindahl  Sørensen, who also live aboard the ship

"The topsail ketch Havet was the last wooden cargo ship built in Denmark.
She was built in Holbaek, Denmark in 1953-54 for servicing the trade route to Greenland but never got there. Instead, the ship worked as a coaster in Scandinavia and the Baltic.
In 1977 she was fitted with the current rig and re-registered for passenger service."

Read more here

Below deck Havet has 6 double cabins with private shower and toilet and a saloon with seating for 46 people.

The 37,5 m ship, with a sail area of 600 m2 is presently used for different types of charter trips and company  events. There is room for 46 guests on daytrips and 12 overnight guests. 
The ropes are in perfect order

The schooner Halmø and the ketch Havet at Larsens Plads

The other classic sailing ship berthed at Larsen's Plads was the two-masted schooner Halmø (32m), one of Denmark's best-preserved vintage ships. Halmø, which was launched already in the year 1900, sailed for decades as a freighter and domestic packet boat.

During WW II Halmø carried many jews to safety in Sweden

"In 1974, the schooner’s life took a new turn when boat builder, Freddy Jørgensen fell in love with her in Sæby Harbour. He and his son devoted more than 12,000 work hours restoring her into a classic yacht. New masts of seasoned larch wood were built and Halmø was later treated to a new rudder, steel keel and oak planks. The original hold was carefully converted into a beautiful saloon, one four-person cabin, three double cabins, a bathroom and two toilets."
Read more here
Additional pictures of the extremely well maintained schooner Halmø:

Here is a nice photo - shot by a friend of mine - of the Halmø sailing in the vicinity of Copenhagen in September:

Thursday, 18 October 2012

The cruise ship MS Quest in Helsingborg

The small cruise ship MS Quest has been lying in the port of Helsingborg for a few weeks now, waiting for the next cruise season to begin. The ship is operated by the Swedish adventure travel company PolarQuest, specializing in the Polar regions.

Noble Caledonia, last year voted the Best Small Cruise Line in the UK also has chartered the MS Quest for tours around England, Ireland and Wales. In June 2013 Noble Caledonia will use the ship for an expedition cruise of the Svalbard Archipelago.

This is how Nobel Caledonia introduces the MS Quest:

"She is the ideal small ship, accommodating a maximum of fifty passengers in attractive and comfortable cabins with outside views. Built in Denmark in 1992 and completely refurbished in 2008, this stout-hearted ship can operate in the most demanding and difficult places. As you would expect from a vessel designed and built in Denmark, she is comfortable and up to date with all the latest safety and communications equipment."

Monday, 15 October 2012

My favorite Stockholm restaurants (in the 1980's)

Here are some of my favorite Stockholm restaurants from the 1980's

There are now six Michelin star restaurants in Stockholm, including two with two stars. I am sure they are all very good and deserve their stars. However, it was possible to eat well in Stockholm already in the early 80's, when I lived there - even without Michelin stars. Many of my favorite restaurants from that time have closed for various reasons, but fortunately some - like the classic Operakällaren, Stallmästargården, Teatergrillen and the Konstnärsbaren (KB) still exist. 

The bar at the Operakällaren looked very much like this in the 80's. The  picture  is  from 1905.

The grand old man of Swedish Cuisine, the legendary chef and restaurateur Tore Wretman - who at some stage operated the three first of the above mentioned restaurants - had already left active restaurant cooking, but he was still involved in many activities and his legacy was very much alive in the kitchen of the Operakällaren. Wretman would most certainly have deserved two stars, but at that time Michelin did not cover restaurants in Sweden. 

As far as I can remember, Erik's (named after the chef and owner Erik Lallerstedt) at Strandvägskajen was the first restaurant in Stockholm that received a Michelin star, in 1984.

If you, in addition to good food, are interested also in beautiful restaurant interiors, then a visit to Operakällaren is a must while in Stockholm, but I also recommend lunch or dinner at the Teatergrillen, which has one of the most exciting and intimate restaurant interiors in Scandinavia

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Les Arts Florissants - The real stars in Opéra Comique's Dido and Aeneas

The Les Arts Florissants chorus - The real stars in Opéra Comique's Dido and Aeneas

On October 1 the French-German television channel ARTE rebroadcast Henry Purcell's (1658 or 1659 - 169) only true opera, Dido and Aeneas, based on Virgil's account of Aeneas at Carthage. The opera, which has a tragic ending (unusual in baroque opera), includes some of the most beautiful music ever written for chorus and soloists.

ARTE showed a Paris Opéra Comique 2008 production, directed by Deborah Warner. The soloists - with the Swedish mezzo soprano Malena Erdman as Queen Dido and Christopher Maltman as Prince Aeneas - were  very good, but the real stars of the evening were the members of the Les Arts Florissants chorus and orchestra. The sheer beauty of the singing in the final chorus of cupids, "with drooping wings", made the end of the opera extremely touching.