Saturday, 1 June 2013

Four fine cruise ships and a blackbird

Tonight three large cruise ships passed Hamlet's Kronborg castle in Helsingør. Later National Geographic Explorer did the same, although my picture below shows the small cruise ship a few minutes after she had passed the famous castle.

The first cruise ship to arrive was the 280 m x 32 m Vision of the Seas, which was on its way from Copenhagen to Alesund, Norway. 

The next one was P&O's Aurora (270 m x 32.2 m) heading to Zeebrugge.

Aurora was followed by Costa Luminosa (294 m x 32 m) on its way to Hellesylt. 
The last, and smallest, cruise ship tonight was the 109 m x 16 m National Geographic Explorer.

A nice blackbird joined me in my favorite ship photo spot, high over Øresund. The bird, sitting on a branch, where it had an even finer view than I, greeted each passing cruise ship (and me) with some wonderful evening songs.


A Danish landscape

This time of the year the scenery in northern Zealand (Denmark) is quite colorful:

Frederiksborg and Fredensborg - Two Magnificent Royal Palaces in Denmark

Frederiksborg castle in Hillerød is one of the finest examples of Renaissance architecture in Norhtern  Europe.

Denmark is the country of over 600 castles and manors. However, there is one area of Denmark, where you do not find more than a handful of private, historic manor houses - the northern half of the island Zealand (Sjælland in Danish). This is due to the fact this region (including Copenhagen) has at least since the 16th century been "reserved" for the Royal Family

Fredensborg was originally a hunting seat for the King of Denmark.

Here you will find the most magnificent Royal castles and palaces. In addition to Amalienborg in Copenhagen and Kronborg in Helsingør, the most spectacular palaces in northern Zealand are Frederiksborg and Fredensborg, the main spring and autumn residence of the Danish Royal Family. 

Work on the Frederiksborg palace began in the 1560s under King Frederik II, but the main builder was his son Christian IV, who was born in the palace in 1577. 
The Dutch master builder Hans van Steinwinckel and his namesake son were responsible for the planning and construction of Frederiksborg in the late 16th and early 17th centuries.
The little Bath House from 1580 remains from Frederik II,s original palace. It isoccasionally
used by the Royal Family for hunt lunches.
The Baroque Garden was carefully recreated in 1996.
The Baroque garden is noted for its four royal monograms in boxwood.
The magnificent Fredensborg Palace was built in several phases during the 18th century by Denmark's foremost architects of the era.
The original architect and planner of Fredensborg was King Frederik IV's head gardener Johan  Cornelius Krieger, who also turned out to be a first class architect. 
Royal builders Lauritz de Thurah, Niels Eigtved and C.F. Harsdorff later made additions to the palace, all carefully respecting Krieger's original design. 
The Fedensborg Palace is often the setting for important Royal Family events, like weddings, birthdays and various anniversaries. The Queen also receives visiting foreign  Heads of State at Fredensborg.
The changing of the guards is a popular event among visitors also in Fredensborg.
The Fredensborg Palace Gardens are among the largest of Denmark's historical gardens.  The main park area  is still undergoing an extensive renovation. The reopening is scheduled to take place in the autumn this year.

Friday, 31 May 2013

Southern Sweden is a paradise for cyclists

A fine network of bike routes makes Scania (Skåne) ideal for cycling. 

No wonder then that USA Today gives this tip:

Think about a cycling tour of Skåne. Sweden’s southern province has nearly 500 miles of cycling paths, many of which are easy enough for even relatively inexperienced cyclists. If you plan on cycling across the region, there are a number of youth hostels and campgrounds where you can find accommodations for the night. Before undertaking this type of tour, you need to establish how much distance you can comfortably cover in a single day and plan accordingly.

A canoeist in the Helsingborg marina

A canoeist enjoyed the beautiful summer evening yesterday at the Helsingborg marina:

A wonderful summer concert by the Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra

People entering the Helsingborg concert hall last night, with the Helsingborg Symphony  Orchestra already waiting on the scene.

Hopefully more and more music lovers in the Øresund region will realize what a treasure they have in the superb Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra, and their "home",  the beautiful concert hall designed by Sven Markeliusone of the most important modernist Swedish architects.

Last night the HSO gave a delightful summer concert, with works covering four centuries, from Johann Pachelbel's (1653 - 1706) Canon to Andrea Tarrodis's (b. 1981) Camelopardalis

One of the evening's highlights was Camille Saint-Saëns's Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso for violin and orchestra. The soloist was the orchestra's new Alternating 1st Concertmaster, Gordan Trajković. And how he played! I have seldom heard the the solo part of this famous piece performed with such brilliant virtuosity and lightness. The HSO has to be congratulated for having succeeded in getting a top class international soloist join its ranks!

The evening ended with a commanding performance of Jean Sibelius's Finlandia, a work that never fails to stir deep emotions, if it is well performed, as it was last night. The Swedish conductor Thord Svedlund may not be a household name outside of his native country, but tonight's concert showed that he is a very fine musician. 

Next season will be the last one for Principal Conductor and Artistic Director Andrew Manze, who has wonderfully refined the playing and the sound of the HSO, which now counts among the best smaller symphony orchestras in Europe. The young and talented Swedish conductor Stefan Solyom is to be Manze's successor.  

Much to look forward to in the coming years!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Another seldom seen guest - Russian Coast guard ship Velbot-17 - in Øresund

Velbot-017 in the Sound.
Tonight, at about quarter past nine, another seldom seen visitor - the Russian Coast guard patrol ship Velbot-017 passed by. The 58 m x 10 m ship's destination is Gothenburg.

Portraits of a white horse

Horses are nice to photograph. When they are relaxed, they pose rather nicely for the photographer. This fine white horse lives in a nearby riding stable here in Hittarp:

Jim, a semi retired senior horse, enjoying the nice early summer weather.

MS Brilliance of the Seas approaching Kronborg castle

Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas (292 m x 39,8 m) looked radiant when it approached Kronborg castle just over 5 PM today. The Radiance-class ship, which made its maiden voyage in 2002, is on its way from Copenhagen to Stockholm, hopefully with close to 2501 guests (max. capacity) onboard. A crew of 848 is taking care of the passengers.

An apple tree in full bloom

This apple tree in full bloom in a neighbor's garden is a joy for the eyes: 

A closer look at the Lilacs.

Two great Wagner anniversary concerts on ARTE

Jonas Kaufmann and Christian Thielemann in front of the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden.

Last week the French/German ARTE channel broadcast two Wagner anniversary concerts, both conducted by the great Christian Thielemann

I must admit that I have never been a very dedicated "Wagnerian" - operas lasting five or six hours are a little too much for me. However, the incomparable Thielemann certainly inspired me - and probably thousands of other viewers - to find out more about Wagner's beautiful music. Also, I think that the concert format is very suitable for this kind of exploration. 

The Semperoper is one of the most beautiful opera houses in the world.

The two broadcasts, the first one from the Bayreuther Festspielhaus and the second one from Dresden's beautiful Semperoper, also were technically top notch. Modern High Definition technology makes viewing so much more enjoyable!

Jonas Kaufmann - a great singer.
If I would have to choose between the two anniversary broadcasts, I would probably go for the one from the Semperoper. The combination of Thielemann, the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden and tenor Jonas Kaufmann is irresistible. Kaufmann's rendition of  Lohengrin's "Gralerzählung" was utterly moving. 

Christian Thielemann again created musical magic.
It is always a joy to listen to and watch the Staatskapelle Dresden's highly concentrated musicians.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Mein Schiff 1 returns

Mein Schiff 1 returned this evening after a day in Copenhagen. The ship is now on its way to Kiel, Germany:

Mein Schiff 1 approaching Helsingborg/Helsingør on May 28, 2013.
A closer look at Mein Schiff 1.
Mein Schiff 1 passing Kronborg castle with a swan on the Swedish side of the Sound.

Mein Schiff 1 approaching Helsingborg/Helsingør

Mein Schiff 1 was approaching Helsingborg/Helsingør early this morning on its way from Oslo to Copenhagen.  The 262 m x 32 m ship entered service in 1996.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Swans and ships

Tonight there was a rather special light, as the sun was partially blocked by one quite large dark cloud. The Sound was full of sea birds, quite a few with chicks. Below a couple of images with swans and ships.

A swan in Hittarp with Holland America Line's M/S Rotterdam and Swiss cargo ship Romandie in the background  approaching Helsingborg/Helsingør

Swans and other birds at the Hittarp reef, with M/S Rotterdam in the backround. 

A cargo ship approaching Hittarp and a swan.

The Polish schooner Kapitan Borchardt (30 m x 7 m) was also going northward in the  Sound. 

Just a few minutes earlier, the Kapitan Borchardt passed Hamlet's Kronborg  castle. 


I added this closer look at the beautiful Kapitan Borchardt.