CB&WPC: Bicycles Rule in Amsterdam!

In Amsterdam, bicycles are ubiquitous. Most people ride them and many people commute to work on them regardless of the weather. If they are going far, however, they might park their bikes for the day at the train station.

This is a bicycle parking lot near Sloterdijk Station.
20180129_131047 (2)

Bicycles have the right of way in Amsterdam over pedestrians. If you are on foot, do not linger on a bike path or you will collide with a cyclist! Although we were there in the winter, that doesn’t stop Amsterdamers from riding their bikes – they just bundle up against the cold, wind and rain. I heard that once there were hurricane force winds and that a number of people on bikes were blown into frigid canals!

Speaking of canals, canal tours are also ubiquitous and a must for anyone visiting Amsterdam! I took the following during a canal tour.

1-31 canal tour3 (3)

DSC03034 (2).JPG

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge is for anyone who wishes to showcase their photos in black & white. Join in the fun!

 

WPC: Going Up?

The Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge this week is ascend.  If I were a bird, I would spread my wings and fly! Since humans have no wings, we have created other ways to go up…

Escalators at Ogilvie Transportation Center in Chicago (two of these go down, one goes up)20171211_175047

Circular stairways at Grand Ave. Mall in MilwaukeeSONY DSC
The funicular and the stairs connecting Upper and Lower Old Town, Quebec City, Canada

Want to see the view? Try Chicago’s Ferris Wheel on Navy Pier!
20170920_190646

Circular stairway at Museu da Arte Moderna (MAM) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
20161127_153558

I did a long post several months ago about going up Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar) in Rio de Janeiro, including a video of our cable car ascending. Here it is again:

 

KODAK Digital Still Camera
Some are getting ready to descend, or are disembarking after ascending!

Winding staircase and marble staircase at State Capitol, St. Paul, MinnesotaKODAK Digital Still Camera

20170522_090236_001

Elevator door, State Capitol, Bismarck, North Dakota20170526_133446

 

 

 

Praça do Relógio on the University of São Paulo campus

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

We wisely took a cab to the Praça do Relogio (the first driver we asked didn’t know where it was, the second did) on the USP (University of São Paulo) campus.  I wanted to go there because I had read that it’s a large park containing species from all six ecosystems in the state of São Paulo.  It was kind of a disappointment.  For one thing, we couldn’t find all the ecosystems which are not marked in any way.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

The first thing we came to was a memorial to the students of USP who had been persecuted and killed during the military dictatorship (1964-1985). I was glad to see this – in spite of the corruption scandals and upheaval the Brazilian government is going through now, at least there is the recognition that Brazilians died defending human rights and the democratic process.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

We  wandered through the nearly deserted park, seeing the occasional student crossing through, hearing the sound of a batucada being played by someone who repeated the same rhythms over and over – perhaps he was practicing for something –  and taking pictures.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

In spite of the park being deserted, evidently there were plenty of people around, as this full parking lot shows.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Brazil 2016c 445

The clock is actually a cement tower carved with designs with a clock at the top, and standing in a circular pool of water, surrounded by a mosaic tiled walkway with words spelling out NO UNIVERSO DA CULTURA O CENTRO ESTÁ  EM TODA PARTE. (In the Universe of Culture, the Center is Everywhere.)

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Brazil 2016c 439

KODAK Digital Still Camera

We had to take a bus from there which would take us to the end of the yellow line subway station.  It took a couple of inquiries and contradictory answers to figure out which bus stop and which bus.  When the right bus came, it clicked:  my GPS route had said take bus 8022-10, so when the bus bearing the number 8022 arrived, I figured it was the right one.  The driver confirmed it.

It quickly filled with students and I paid the R$3.80 each to pass through the turnstile, even though we qualified as idosos – I wasn’t going to bother the driver by showing him our passports, which is what the money taker said to do.  Soon we couldn’t see anything but the bodies and backpacks of students filling the aisle, crushing together.

Little by little, the students got off.  It was obvious when we were no longer on the university campus, where there were several stops, and soon after that we arrived at the last stop – the subway station for the yellow line.  Relief!  After that, I knew exactly what to do:  we rode the yellow line all the way to Luz, transferred to the blue line and got off at Vila Mariana.

20161123_035552

That evening, we returned to Graça Mineira for dinner, where we ate a sinful dessert: There was a card on the table advertising some desserts and we ended up getting one to share – good thing, because it was big!  It was a churro-like donut-shaped shell filled with doce de leite and ice cream on the side, and drizzled with chocolate sauce. It was yummy!

20161123_042144

São Paulo: Luz Train Station and Pinacoteca (11/21/16 Part 2)

November 21, 2016

From downtown, we took the metro to Luz, the largest and most historic train station in São Paulo.  Through this station have passed agricultural products from far-flung farms and plantations, as well as natural resources such as coal and minerals.  Luz was the hub of transportation activity as well as the place where immigrants entered the country back in the late 19th and early 20th century when the city was beginning to expand rapidly.

132_3865
Luz train station, the oldest in SP, from Pinacoteca. It was through Luz station that immigrants first arrived in Brazil.
132_3874
Inside Luz Station it is a zoo – throngs of people rushing every which way. Crowds of people cluster around the doors to get on and the trains are always crowded. Luz is a connecting station for every subway line in SP.
Brazilian Constitution, illustrated graphically on the walls of Luz Station
Brazilian Constitution, illustrated graphically on the walls of Luz Station by a collaborative group of school children.
20161121_155143 (2)
Detail of two of the “bubbles” which represent articles of the Constitution

 Across from the station, in Praça da Luz, is a historic building called the Pinacoteca, from the Latin word for art gallery.  In this museum are housed works by Brazilian painters and sculptors from the 18th and 19th centuries.  There are also temporary (which are located in Pinacoteca’s other building in the district of  Bom Retiro) and permanent expositions of modern Brazilian art. This is what we ended up seeing.

20161121_155859

The building was constructed in 1900 and was originally a lyceum of arts and crafts.  It was renovated in the 19990s and since then has become one of the most important cultural centers in Brazil. We went inside as much to see the building as the artwork. 

20161121_163910
Looking up from one of the courtyards
Fernando Limberger,
This is a piece of artwork by Fernando Limberger, “Contencao verde Botanica SP”

There were artworks made of words:

There are words overlapping on each layer of this circle.
There are words, made of glass, overlapping on each layer of this circle.

20161121_161222

20161121_161317

A fantasy landscape made of knitted yarn:

20161121_162239

20161121_162403

20161121_162003
Installation by artist Ana Maria Tavares, with mirror panels on all sides which give a sometimes distorted reflection.

20161121_162146

20161121_162205
This is my reflection as I take a photograph.
20161121_161926
Hallway flanked by galleries on both sides

One of these galleries contained paintings by Brazilian artists.

Ivan Serpa (1923-1973),
Rio de Janeiro artist Ivan Serpa (1923-1973), “Figura” (Figure), 1964; oil on canvas
20161121_162824
Gilvan Samico, from Recife (1928-2013), woodcut on paper; Top: “A louca do jardim” (The Madwoman in the Garden), 1963; Bottom: “Alexandrino e o passaro do fogo” (Alexandrino and the Firebird), 1962

We saw sculptures:

20161121_163828
Animal totem in a courtyard

20161121_163818

20161121_164253
Flavio Cerqueira (Sao Paulo, 1983 – ) “Antes que eu me esqueca” (Before I Forget Myself), 2013.

By the time we emerged and wanted to take a walk at the adjoining park, Praça da Luz, it was 6 pm and the park was closed, the entry gate padlocked. We looked through the bars at the beautiful tropical plants and meandering paths within.

132_3871
Looking through the locked gates at Luz Park, where it would have been lovely to go for a stroll.
Luz Park from the entrance gate.
Luz Park from the entrance gate.

We headed back to Vila Mariana on the metro. It was rush hour on a weekday and Luz Station was teeming with people anxious to get home, Luz Station being a hub with connections to the other lines in the São Paulo Metro system. As “idosos” (elderly – age 60 and over), we got to ride free!

 

CFFC: 3 generations of cable cars

The theme for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week is OLD and NEW. In November, I spent 5 days in Rio de Janeiro with my husband, Dale. My favorite thing to do in Rio, especially on my last night there, is to ride the cable car up to Sugar Loaf in the late afternoon and watch the sun set. It is a gorgeous sight! When the lights begin to come on at dusk around the city, I say my silent good-byes and always end with, “I’ll be back!” And so far, I’ve kept that promise.

At the top of the mountain are relics of the older cable cars. I realized that I have ridden all three generations of cable cars!

The oldest cable car operated from 1918 to 1972. I must have ridden up in one of these on my first trip to Rio in 1971! It looks scary! In fact, Wikipedia reports that there was a near accident in 1951, when one of the cables snapped and the car full of passengers hung on one cable for 10 hours! (Needless to say, I didn’t know about that incident when I rode up in 1971.)  However, there has never been a fatal accident in over 100 years of operation.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

This car was replaced by a newer, sleeker cable car with floor to ceiling windows on all sides.

KODAK Digital Still Camera
The 2nd generation of cable cars (with the older one behind it).

The last time I had been in Rio was in 2003, so I, along with my husband and son, rode in this 2nd generation cable car.

In 2007, an even newer, slim-lined generation of cable cars began. It is reportedly even safer, with a hi-tech infrastructure.  This was the one we rode on our recent trip in November 2016.

KODAK Digital Still Camera
3rd generation cable car ascending the mountain. Below is Praia Vermelha.

And just for fun, here’s a video I took while riding from the first stage (Urca) to the top (Sugar Loaf). Enjoy!

Curitiba: City Tour on the Tourism Line

November 10, 2016

On November 9, 2016, we arrived after an overnight direct flight from Chicago O’Hare to São Paulo’s Guarulhos International Airport.

20161108_185247

As soon as we landed, a Brazilian passenger got on social media and found out who won the U.S.presidential election – to our shock and dismay, we found out Trump had won! I could write a whole post about that, but for now I am going to stick to this travel journal. From Guarulhos, we got a mid-afternoon, one-hour flight to Afonso Pena airport in Curitiba, where our friends, Eliane and Carlos, live.

I was amazed to see how Curitiba had grown when we arrived and Carlos drove us to their house, crossing much of the city. The city itself has a population of 1.8 million, but the metropolitan area has swelled to nearly 4 million!  Needless to say, there was much I didn’t recognize and since it had been 37 years since I was last here, I don’t think I would have recognized even familiar things if they hadn’t been pointed out!

When Eliane returned home from her part-time job that night, she told us of her plans for us the next day: we would catch a tourism bus nearby, but we had to get to the stop at a certain time or we would miss the bus!

Map of the tourism bus line
The tourism bus line route

Of course, that’s exactly what happened! We spent too much time talking over our morning coffee and didn’t make it in time.  So Carlos drove us to another stop further down the line, the Torre Panorâmica (Panoramic Tower).

20161110_072806.jpg

Arriving there, Eliane figured out we’d have 20 minutes to go up into the tower before the next bus would come.  We paid admission (it was R$5 – five reais – , or R$2.50 for seniors age 60 and up) and went up in the tiny elevator to the lookout level, where we took pictures from all directions.

Nice view of downtown Curitiba

Curitiba from Panoramic Tower

Looking down on a nearby section of Curitiba

Looking down

There were two urubús (vultures) sitting on the ledge outside.  Eliane told us it’s good to see them, because they die when there’s too much pollution, so their presence is a good indicator of relatively fresh air.

Vulture on the ledge
Vulture on the ledge outside the window

I could now see for myself how much Curitiba has grown so much since I was here last!  There are clusters of tall buildings in various places and large areas of green, which are the many parks.  I was happy to see that there are still a predominance of houses, although there are also many high rise apartment buildings.  Inside the tower, the round cement foundation pillar contained murals depicting the life and history of Curitiba and Paraná.

132_3640

Araucarias - Parana pine

Eliane going toward the elevator

We went back down and looked briefly at the gift shop, but we didn’t buy anything.

We got on the bus as planned, where we received a sheet of 5 tickets (meaning we could get off and on five times throughout the day) and a pamphlet containing a map of the route and a short explanation of each stop in 3 languages – Portuguese, Spanish and English. A sheet of 5 tickets cost R$40 each.

The tower was stop #24 of 25, but the bus was on a continuous loop so it didn’t matter.  We climbed the steps to the upper deck and sat right in front.  There was a canopy overhead (because it might rain) but the front and sides were open – better for taking pictures!

From the Panoramic Tower, the bus headed down the hill toward downtown and the Setor Histórico (Historic District). I became obsessed with capturing as many pictures of araucárias as possible. On my first trip to Curitiba, I fell in love with these pine trees that grow only in this area of Brazil, whose branches curve upward, like inside-out umbrellas!

Street with many araucarias
Street with many araucaria (Paraná pine) trees
Mago Restaurant
Mago Restaurant – we never ate there but I liked the pink building.
Downtown Curitiba contains modern highrises next to colonial style buildings.
Downtown Curitiba contains modern high rises alongside colonial style buildings.
Praca Tiradentes
Praça Tiradentes

The bus stopped for about 10 minutes at Praça Tiradentes, but we didn’t get off.  Tiradentes is the nickname of Joaquim José da Silva Xavier (1746-1792), a hero and leading member of the Brazilian revolutionary movement.

Praca Tiradentes
Praça Tiradentes

At each stop, there was an oral narration in the same three languages about what we were seeing. Some of the places we could not actually see much of, because the bus could not enter some of the streets (one was blocked off by police cars for some reason) and also, sometimes the bus didn’t stop right in front of the landmark in order for us to get a good look at it. This was the case with the Historic District – we could only see part of it –  but we would visit it another day on our own.

20161110_080155

Everywhere in Brazil is evidence of the richness of art, and Curitiba is no exception. There are many beautiful murals for public appreciation as well as good art museums.

20161110_080913.jpg

Stop #4 is the Railroad Museum.

Museu Ferroviario

Other stops along the route included Teatro Paiol, built in 1906 as a gunpowder storage, it was transformed into an arena-shaped theatre in 1971. Dedicated by popular poet/singer/composer Vinícius de Moraes, it represented the beginning of Curitiba’s cultural transformation.

brazil-2016c-050

 

Paço da Liberdade, which used to house the city government and now has a cultural center.

brazil-2016c-062

The Arab memorial

20161110_085952.jpg

juggler outside our tour bus
A juggler performs on the street next to the bus.

 

We finally got off the bus at the Oscar Niemeyer Museum (popularly known as “The Eye”), mainly because we were hungry.  It’s a great museum, Eliane says, so we’ll have to come back here.  As it was, we sat down for a small bite to eat at the MON cafeteria – I ordered bolinhas de queijo and diet Guaraná (Guaraná Zero); Dale and Eliane ordered quiches, and we all shared. In less than half an hour we were returning to the bus stop so we wouldn’t miss the next bus.

 

 

 

132_3643
Museu Oscar Niemeyer (MON)

 

We  got on the next bus and again went upstairs.  There were more people on this bus but it wasn’t too crowded.  The problem was the noise.  The motor on this bus was so loud that it drowned out most of the narrative.  We sat through stops 13-17, which didn’t help much because we couldn’t see anything – I was kind of disappointed that we didn’t even get a glimpse of the Ópera de Arame.

We got off at Parque Tanguá and walked some.  There was a fountain and water that dropped off into two waterfalls.  By this time, we were hot and tired, so Eliane called Carlos to come pick us up.

Parque Tangua
Parque Tangua’

Parque Tangua'

132_3647
View from Parque Tangua’ tower

 

 

 

 

My Baltic Sea cruise journal: Flying to Copenhagen

My husband and I returned from a 12-day cruise on the Baltic Sea last Wednesday, our first cruise ever!  Since the Internet on cruises is expensive and not very reliable, I kept a hand-written journal, and over the next few weeks will edit and transcribe here. Getting ready to leave was nerve-wracking, particularly because I was switching health insurance and had some problems getting my medications before we left.  Fortunately, the night before we left (Aug. 4), I got a good night’s sleep!

~

August 6 (Thursday)       air travel and arrival in Copenhagen

People talk about how awful air travel is today. As far as the airport security & check-in is concerned, it wasn’t bad. In security, you have to remove your shoes (unless you are 12 or under – I guess they figure children aren’t likely to be potential shoe bombers), and walk through a chamber where you have to stand with your legs spread a little apart and your hands over your head – similar, I guess, to your stance if you are put under arrest on the street. A few people (not us, thank God) are picked at random to go through a more rigorous screening – the people right behind us had to go through that.

We boarded this KLM plane to fly from Chicago O'Hare airport to Schipol airport in Amsterdam.
We boarded this KLM plane to fly from Chicago O’Hare airport to Schipol airport in Amsterdam.

The worst part of the trip was being on the plane. The space we had at our seats was very confining, very cramped. Dale and I were in the very last row – 44 – which was against a back wall, so we couldn’t put our seats back. The people in front of us could, of course, which restricted our space even more.
.
Dale and I actually weren’t seated next to each other. Dale was on the aisle of the middle section and I was in the middle seat between two (unrelated) young men. The guy next to me on the aisle patiently got up 2-3 times so I could go to the bathroom.
.
We were traveling with my sister Mary and her husband, Elmer, but they weren’t sitting near us; they were in row 33 (also up against a wall, it turned out). I imagined Mary in one of these seats. It was barely large enough for me, I couldn’t imagine how such a seat would be adequate for her, because she is very heavy. I checked them out during one of my trips to the bathroom – Mary was lucky to be sitting next to the only empty seat on the plane! So, effectively, she had 2 seats. When I saw them, Mary was sleeping sprawled over the two seats with a blanket over her head.
.
I hardly slept on the 7-hour flight. I tried the inflatable pillow I’d brought with me, but had a hard time blowing it up – I’d fill it with air, but then was unable to stop it up before much of the air leaked out. Finally I succeeded but when I put it around my neck, it left like it was about to choke me in the front. I got used to that but still found it uncomfortable.
.
In the flight magazine, there was a list of entertainment options. One of the movies being offered was Far From the Madding Crowd, which I’d seen advertised on PBS and thought it looked interesting.
.
When the headphones were passed out it took me some time to untangle the cord and figure out how to fit it over my ears. I had to look at the guy next to me to see how it worked. They weren’t very comfortable and the sound wasn’t great so I missed some of the dialogue but figured out what was going on for the most part.
.
We passed through some heavy turbulence and I got scared. I exited from the movie to follow the flight path, and prayed. The captain made an announcement but it was too soft to hear what he said.
.
I noticed that our altitude was remaining steady and gradually the turbulence ceased. I turned back to the movie, but it started over from the beginning so I had to search for where I’d stopped it. I watched the end, but had missed some important scenes so I had to back track again.
.
Finally I was ready to sleep. I took off my glasses and put them in the inflatable pillow’s cover, and I put an eye mask over my eyes. I couldn’t get comfortable, though, and the straps pulled the mask unevenly. I twisted and turned and finally pulled the mask off. Then I couldn’t find the cover with my glasses and groped around on the floor trying to find them but I had no room to maneuver. I told myself not to worry, that I would find them in the morning but I became anxious, thinking what if there were an emergency and I couldn’t find my glasses? Or what if someone steps on them trying to get out?
.
I groped around some more – still no luck. I forced myself to be still – I’d be fine and the glasses would be found, I told myself. I dozed off.
.
Eventually I found myself awake and groping around for them again – and this time I found them! I managed to doze off again by making myself be still using meditation breathing techniques.
.
In spite of the minimal sleep I’d gotten, I didn’t feel tired during our two-hour layover in Amsterdam. We tried to get international phone cards but found out something: the ones being sold in the airport were for Holland only. Later we’d find out this was true in every country we visited.  Warning to any Americans wanting to stay connected in Europe (especially if you’re going on a cruise): Don’t tamper with your phones! Just rely on WiFi and hot spots in Europe. Cruise lines will sometimes offer a WiFi station on the dock near the ship at ports of call. You probably will not be able to make phone calls, however.

The airport in Amsterdam has many of these little shops where you can buy tulip bulbs and flowers.
The airport in Amsterdam has many of these little shops where you can buy tulip bulbs and flowers.
At Copenhagen airport - a very welcoming sign!
At Copenhagen airport – a very welcoming sign!
There was a Lego store in the Copenhagen airport. Legos are originally from Denmark!
There was a Lego store in the Copenhagen airport. Legos are originally from Denmark!

I didn’t sleep on the flight to Copenhagen either, and I was excited looking out the window of the bus and snapping pictures on the way to our hotel.

Thorvaldsen art museum murals
Thorvaldsen art museum murals
Scandic Palace Hotel, Copenhagen
Scandic Palace Hotel, Copenhagen

By the time we got to Scandic Palace Hotel, I was finding it arduous to do simple things, like climbing a flight of stairs. Once we got to our room, I read a little and wrote in this journal, but soon got sleep. I lay down for a nap and fell asleep in no time!

~

At 3:30, I woke up and we called my sister’s room. Elmer had just gotten up and he was going to wake Mary up. We said we’d meet up with them downstairs in a few minutes. Meanwhile, I took some pictures in our room.

I was delighted to find something like this in Copenhagen! In the hotel room, a recycling wastebasket!
I was delighted to find something like this in Copenhagen! In the hotel room, a recycling wastebasket!
View from our hotel window - there was a noisy bar below but we were too tired for it to disturb our sleep for long!
View from our hotel window – there was a noisy bar below but we were too tired for it to disturb our sleep for long!

When we met downstairs at 4 pm, we decided to go on a canal tour. One of the canal tour companies I’d heard of was about ½ the price for the same tour. It wouldn’t have been too far to walk, but it would be for Mary, so we took a taxi.
.
The driver was a Lebanese Danish citizen, and although he charged a lot, he was entertaining – very talkative. He spoke several languages but was fully bilingual in Arabic and Danish. Although he didn’t know which company was the one we wanted, he happened to drop us at the right one, whose name I recognized as soon as I saw their sign.
The tour was relaxing and I took lots of pictures, although I didn’t get what the guide was saying half the time – by the time I’d begun processing his remarks, he’d switch to another language and seemed to be saying a lot more in Danish and German that he did in English!

Nyhavn from our boat cruise
Nyhavn from our boat cruise

NyhavnNyhavnAn interesting old buildingPeople all over the city were taking advantage of the warm and sunny weather, which Danes do not take for granted.

People all over the city were taking advantage of the warm and sunny weather, which Danes do not take for granted.

Domed greenhouse and Copenhagen residents on foot and bikes
Domed greenhouse and Copenhagen residents on foot and bikes

BoatsDanes enjoying a balmy evening along the canal.

Canalside bars
Canalside bars
A young man enjoying a sandwich on his boat
A young man enjoying a sandwich on his boat
The Little Mermaid statue is dwarfed by the swarm of tourists that come to see it.
The Little Mermaid statue is dwarfed by the swarm of tourists that come to see it.
Queen's yacht
Queen’s yacht

100_0105 100_0099100_0104

Copenhagen Opera House
Copenhagen Opera House
I loved this building with all the windows. It is the Danish Architecture Center.
I loved this building with all the windows. It is the Danish Architecture Center.
Old Stock Exchange (Børsen)-until 1974; one of the oldest buildings in Copenhagen - situated on the island of Slotsholmen and built by King Christian IV (1577-1648) in 1619-1640. He wanted Copenhagen to be a financial & trade center.
Old Stock Exchange (Børsen)-until 1974; one of the oldest buildings in Copenhagen – situated on the island of Slotsholmen and built by King Christian IV (1577-1648) in 1619-1640. He wanted Copenhagen to be a financial & trade center.
Tower on the Old Stock Exchange
Tower on the Old Stock Exchange

100_0093

This bridge dates from Feb. 1459.
This bridge dates from Feb. 1459.
This is one of the oldest bridges.
This is one of the oldest bridges.
Elmer, Mary & Dale enjoying the canal tour.
Elmer, Mary & Dale enjoying the canal tour.
This tower has a spiral staircase going all the way to the top.
This tower has a spiral staircase going all the way to the top.
The smoke stacks visible in the background are no longer in use - it was a power plant but Denmark is converting to wind and solar energy.
The smoke stacks visible in the background are no longer in use – it was a power plant but Denmark is converting to wind and solar energy.

Hanging out on their boatsAfter the tour, we went to have dinner in Nyhavn. There were many restaurants lining the canal, but there were people everywhere, enjoying this beautiful afternoon! I decided to choose the first restaurant that a.) had an empty table outside and b.) had a bathroom. There was a public toilet but it was down a flight of stairs and Mary couldn’t manage it. So we ended up at Fyrtojet, where our server accompanied Mary and Elmer to the bathroom while Dale and I saved a table outside. What with wine and our selections from the dinner menu, the meal was very expensive (and we didn’t even have dessert) – over DKK 1,000! But we spent a couple of pleasant hours relaxing among the thousands of other diners. After all, we were at a sidewalk café in Europe on a perfect summer day!! Something I’d been dreaming of for years!
.
On return, Mary and Elmer got a bicycle taxi for a bit less than the taxi we’d taken to get there – and it was more fun! Dale and I walked back, mostly through pedestrian streets lined with modern stores, restaurants and cafes. He stopped in one of the few still-open stores to find out about international phone cards. I waited outside and spotted a Lagkagehuset right next door! I knew we were very close to the hotel. The famous pastry café was closed but we could return in the morning.
.
Back at the hotel, we just hung out in front, enjoying the last rays of sunshine and warmth of the day – it was 9 pm, and across the street a clock chimed the hour. Elmer had gone to get Mary ice cream, returning with an individual sized contained of Ben and Jerry’s brownie chocolate ice cream. Mary shared some with me.
.
I slept pretty well, in spite of the noise at the bar below.

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: 1983

1983  I have been working on scanning pictures from my mother’s 1983 photo album. Cars that year looked like this:

cars on Las Vegas strip 1983
cars on Las Vegas strip 1983

1983-chevrolet-corvette-prototype

They just seem so – well, old fashioned! After all, 1983 wasn’t so long ago…

In that year, this man was the president of the United States:

1983-reaganRonald Reagan did much to alter the course of our economy for decades to come. His influence is still felt today and he is championed by Republicans as one of their role models.

Not coincidentally, in 1983, unemployment in  the U.S. was the highest it had been since 1941 – 12 million people were unemployed that year.

This woman, whose economic policies were very much like Reagan’s, was prime minister in Britain:

Baroness Thatcher death. File photo dated 10/06/1983 of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher waving to well-wishers after her election win. Baroness Thatcher died this morning following a stroke, her spokesman Lord Bell said. Issue date: Monday April 8, 2013. See PA story DEATH Thatcher. Photo credit should read: PA/PA Wire URN:16215355 (Press Association via AP Images)
File photo dated 10/06/1983 of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher waving to well-wishers after her election win.

A few other disasters made the news:
Hurricane Alicia hit the Texas coast, killing 22 people:

1983-hurricane-cars 1983-Hurricane AliciaAlso, the U.S. Embassy in Beirut , Lebanon, was attacked by terrorists:

1983-terrorist attack in Beirut1983-terrorist attack in Beirut1In October, 1983, the U.S. invaded the tiny Caribbean island of Grenada (part of the Windward Islands), to prevent the “spread of communism in the Caribbean.”

GRENADA 1983
Operation Urgent Fury
Date: October 25-27, 1983
Location: Grenada, Windward Islands

Invasion of Grenada map
Invasion of Grenada map

Differing views of the invasion:

1983grenada_protestflyer1983-grenada1983-grenada-communismstopshere1983-grenada-revolution1983 ushered in the beginning of the era of “big hair”:

Miss New Zealand wins Miss Universe contest. Note the hairstyles!
Miss New Zealand wins Miss Universe contest. Note the hairstyles!

In rock music, Kiss was hip:

1983-Kiss A few things happened in 1983 to make my boring life a bit more exciting.  My husband’s cousin Claudia came to Milwaukee to stay for a few months. She arrived in the winter and, as someone who had grown up in the tropical climate of Brazil, found it enchanting! She wanted to ski, so we took her cross-country skiing in some large nature reserves. Here is a picture we posed for, when we took Claudia to visit my parents’ house in Janesville:

Betsy, John, Katy, Fernando & Claudia Alvarez-winter 1983. Claudia wanted to go cross country skiing!
Betsy, John, Katy, Fernando & Claudia Alvarez-winter 1983. Claudia wanted to go cross country skiing!

Claudia never forgot that visit and we remained good friends since then; twenty years later she paid back our hospitality by inviting us to stay with her and her family in Rio de Janeiro!

The other exciting thing that happened was the birth of my niece, Julia. I witnessed and was part of her first few years of life, since Julia’s mother (my sister) and her family lived in Milwaukee.  Later, after my son was born, he and Julia became great friends and always looked forward to playing together. This picture is of newborn Julia, May 1983:

newborn Julia Waeffler - May 2, 1983
newborn Julia Waeffler – May 2, 1983
Mom Alix with her children, Tom & Julia Waeffler
Mom Alix with her children, Tom & Julia Waeffler

Here is Julia now, all grown up, married and expecting her first child:

20150411_141438_3My mother took this picture of my sister Mary and her family, with my father, in their dining room in the summer of 1983. My parents were going to take John (age 9) on a trip to Lake Superior and this was taken when they went to pick him up.

Counter clockwise from bottom left: Elmer, Maria, Betsy, Dad, Mary, Rob, John
Counter clockwise from bottom left: Elmer, Maria, Betsy, Dad, Mary, Rob, John

Charleston, SC: Palmetto Carriage Tour

Wed., March 26, 2014

We had ordered tickets for a Palmetto Carriage tour the night before, so we proceeded directly to the Old City Market, adjacent to the Red Barn, where the tour was to start. For booking in advance, once again we got free parking.

DSCN8546It was a clear, but chilly day, and in the barn it was even colder! A warmer room was adjacent to the barn, where people could buy tickets or snacks from a couple of vending machines; however, the barn was interesting – there were a lot of things to look at, such as old-fashioned horse-drawn carriages, horses and mules, and amusing signs.

???????????????????DSCN8554DSCN8552DSCN8545

feed buckets
feed buckets

DSCN8603

Our tour wasn’t leaving until 11:15, so we had some time to look around the Market a little.

South Carolina is home to the palmetto tree, which is pictured on the state flag. Whole cottage industries arose with creations made from these trees. We saw beautifully-woven baskets made from palmetto fronds, a tradition of the African-American population here. I would have bought one but even the smallest were out of my price range! So I took pictures of them instead.

DSCN8549 DSCN8550 DSCN8551

Another mule-drawn tour
Another mule-drawn tour

When it was time for our tour, the carriage pulled up to the platform where tour-goers were waiting. Our guide helped us in, and then fetched some blankets, because it was going to be cold in an open carriage today. The carriage was drawn by two mules, each of whom had a name and distinct personality traits, as our

Our young guide
Our young guide

young guide explained. The mule on the left was lazier than the other, so the right-hand mule would bump the lazy one’s rump to get her going again! The mule on the right also tended to lean into the left mule.

The guide was very knowledgeable about Charleston’s history and the story behind the mansions we saw, and he told many anecdotal tales to keep us entertained. There are many “haunted” tales associated with certain buildings – in fact, there are ghost tours, but we weren’t going to stay in town late enough to go on one.

I took a lot of pictures, but even if we had just returned from this trip yesterday, I wouldn’t remember the names of most of the places we saw! Charleston’s historical district is characterized by small, winding streets as well as cobblestone streets -although only a few of these have been preserved -and large manor homes, built for the elite of the 19th century. These elites had made their fortunes through business or trade, and certainly many of them owned slaves. Charleston is still proud of its Confederate heritage.

I loved the ironwork and many of the decorative facades. The homes are beautiful architecturally, and several of them offered tours, although we didn’t take any of them.

DSCN8556DSCN8557?????????????????????????????????????????DSCN8561 DSCN8563 DSCN8565 ???????????????????????????????????????????????????DSCN8571 DSCN8572One can tour the Edmonston-Alston House, on High Battery, to experience early 19th century elegance (built 1825). It contains  furnishingsof the Alston family. I zoomed in on one of the balconies because of the decorative ironwork. (I don’t know what the black and purple sashes are for.)

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????DSCN8576

Headed toward the harbor
Headed toward the harbor

Look at the columns on this house, which are are slightly “crooked.” (Most noticeable if you look at the railing along the side of the balcony). This was done for a reason. Boats arriving into the port of Charleston could align themselves with the columns to guide them into the harbor.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

DSCN8579
The same house from the front

DSCN8580 DSCN8582 DSCN8583 DSCN8584 DSCN8585

Calhoun mansion, one of the houses that holds tours
Calhoun mansion, one of the houses that holds tours

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????In this picture, people are waiting for a tour in front of the Calhoun mansion; note the chandelier in the front hall.

Below: Facades

DSCN8605DSCN8588 DSCN8590 DSCN8592

DSCN8593Below, Charleston Hat Man. This little “man” (all made out of hats – look closely!) is a symbol of the city, and you find him here and there on buildings or signs. Personally I found him to be a bit sinister.?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Episcopalian church
Episcopalian church
Looking toward the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon, one of Charleston's most important historical landmarks.
Looking toward the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon, one of Charleston’s most important historical landmarks.

Back at the Market after the carriage tour, we once again encounter the Charleston Hat Man:

DSCN8604

Peru 2008: The Uros on Lake Titicaca

July 4, 2008

The alarm went off at 5:30 this morning, and I opened the curtains of our room to witness a beautiful sunrise over Lake Titicaca, the lake tinged a light violet.  Stands of totora reeds in the shallow water near shore and the peninsula beyond were silhouetted against the pink and purple sky.

Sunrise over the lake, as seen from our hotel room window.
Sunrise over the lake, as seen from our hotel room window.

After breakfast, we assembled for our bus ride to the dock, and then we would transfer to a boat to visit Uros and Taquile Islands. Our local guide for the next two days is named Edith. She is cute and sweet, and her English somewhat better than Edgar’s, though not as good as Boris’s. Sometimes she didn’t seem to understand our questions, so I tried to ask questions in Spanish, even though I didn’t want to appear rude to the others. There was always a translation following.

 

The boat was part of the KonTiki Tour company, I immediately noticed. Edgar and Edith are apparently both employed by KonTiki as well, contracting out to OAT for this leg of the trip. OAT requires local guides for each region. Boris, of course, was with us as well.

On the boat, we again greeted Edgar who boarded with his tour of the day, a group of people from several Spanish speaking countries.

After a ride of about two hours, our first stop, Uros Islands, was one of the most fascinating parts of this trip. Uros is a group of floating islands made entirely from totora reeds and their root systems.

We're now on a speed boat in the lake, where we pass among large stands of totora reeds that grow there.
We’re now on a speed boat in the lake, where we pass among large stands of totora reeds that grow there.

839

This part of Lake Titicaca is full of these totora reed patches, which the Uros people use to make their islands, the ground they walk on, their houses, their boats, and are even used for food.

The Uros are an ancient people with an ancient language, which has become extinct, as they began trading with the Aymara people along the lake, and adopted their language. Nowadays, the people of Uros speak Aymara. Spanish is their second language.

The Uros predate the Inca civilization.  According to their legends, they existed before the sun, when the Earth was dark and cold; thus they say that they have “black blood” making them impervious to the cold, as well as drowning and being struck by lightning.  Their legendary ancestors disobeyed universal order and mixed with humans, so they lost their status as super beings. 

Apparently the original purpose of the island settlements was defensive, when the Inca expanded their empire onto the Uros’ lands.  By living on these islets, they could move if a threat arose.  They have been living this way, on the highest navigable lake in the world, for hundreds of years.

There are about 40 of these floating islands, supporting from two to more than 10 families. On the largest island, there is a church and a primary school. Today, the Uros make their living by trading on the mainland and through tourism. They make beautiful embroidered crafts and small items made of reeds that they sell to tourists who visit their islands. They also fish and hunt shore birds and ducks for eggs and food. Some of the fish are for their own consumption and some they trade in Puno at farmer’s markets.

The main island. (The large fish is made of reeds, like most things on Uros.)
The main island. (The large fish is made of reeds, like most things on Uros.)
The main island: Uros women stand along the water's edge to greet us.
The main island: Uros women stand along the water’s edge to greet us.

At the main island, we transferred to a balsa boat made of reeds, rowed by native men. We got off at a much smaller island, named Isla Suma Balsa, that is home to only a few families.   This community consists of a few houses and storage huts. Notice the ground cover – all reeds. It is sort of spongy to walk on!

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

View of the island we are visiting and neighboring islands.
View of the island we are visiting and neighboring islands.

The men on the island demonstrated how these islands are constructed.  The totora reeds have a dense, interwoven root system about 1-2 meters thick that supports the islands. They are anchored with ropes attached to sticks which are driven into the bottom of the lake. The people must add new layers of reeds frequently because the reeds at the bottom rot away quickly. They also wear away due to the people constantly treading on the reeds. In the rainy season, the reeds rot much faster, so new layers must be added more often.

The following pictures show how the men measure the thickness of the island.

This man gives us a demonstration of how they measure the thickness of their island. They must maintain it at about 6 feet thick, and once they measure it, they will add a layer to maintain the thickness that offers stability for their island life.
This man gives us a demonstration of how they measure the thickness of their island. They must maintain it at about 6 feet thick, and once they measure it, they will add a layer to maintain the thickness that offers stability for their island life.
He uses this string, which he lowers into the hole to find out how deep the hole is.
He uses this string, which he lowers into the hole to find out how deep the hole is.
The pole will help determine the thickness of the reed island.
The pole will help determine the thickness of the reed island.

During this demonstration, our guide, Edith, gave us a commentary in English of what was happening.

We sat down to listen to Edith explain the history, geography and culture of these islands. One of the men demonstrated with miniature versions how the island is constructed.

Geography lesson
Geography lesson
She shows us a chunk of the island as it is constructed underneath.
She shows us a chunk of the island as it is constructed underneath.
The Uros travel between islands and the mainland in their balsa boats made of totora reeds.
The Uros travel between islands and the mainland in their balsa boats made of totora reeds.

853

The men show how the island is put together, with these bricks of reed and mud.
The men show how the island is put together, with these bricks of reed and mud.
The bricks are tied together.
The bricks are tied together.
Layers of reeds are placed on top of these bricks.
Layers of reeds are placed on top of these bricks.
Houses are built on top of the reed layers. Buildings are also made of totora reeds.
Houses are built on top of the reed layers. Buildings are also made of totora reeds.

858

859

While all this was going on, the women sat nearby, making crafts to sell to the tourists.  It would have been rude for us to not buy anything. Tourism is a major part of their economy.

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

This colorful embroidered panel shows life on Uros.
This colorful tapestry shows life on Uros. I bought it!

AThen one of the women showed us another use for the reeds: nourishment! Peeling off the outer layer reveals a soft white interior that is very nutritious, rich in iodine. We all tried it!

???????????????????????????????????

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Children suck on and play with  reeds.
Children suck on and play with reeds.

The white part of the totora reed is also used to kill pain. The reed is wrapped around the place that hurts to absorb the pain. When it is very hot, they use the white part of the reed  to cool off by putting it on their forehead.

This panel describes the religious beliefs which descend from the Inca empire.
This tapestry describes the religious beliefs which descend from the Inca empire.

Afterwards, we were invited to explore the island, including seeing the interior of their houses. Each person in our group was “adopted” by one of the women on the island who led us to see their houses and encouraged us to try on their clothes! I declined, but others did try them on.

It looks like a robotic creature from Star Wars, but in fact it is a lookout platform.
It looks like a robotic creature from Star Wars, but in fact it is a lookout platform.
Every island has a reed boat. (In the tall reeds is where people go to relieve themselves).
Every island has a reed boat. (In the tall reeds is where people go to relieve themselves).
Traditionally clothed women invite us to come into their homes. Note the black pole with a panel on top - it is a solar panel! The Uros use solar power for small appliances such as radios or TVs.
Traditionally clothed women invite us to come into their homes. Note the black pole with a panel on top – it is a solar panel! The Uros use solar power for small appliances such as radios or TVs.
The woman on the far right has an unusual hat. Also note the large yarn balls the woman on the left has on the end of her braids.
The woman on the far right has an unusual hat. Also note the large yarn balls the woman on the left has on the end of her braids.
Inside one of the houses. I am invited to try on the woman's traditional clothing. I decline but others give it a try.
Inside one of the houses. I am invited to try on the woman’s traditional clothing. I decline but others give it a try.

DSCF7441

Dale tried on men's clothes, of course!
Dale tried on men’s clothes, of course!
3 brothers in the doorway of a home
3 brothers in the doorway of a home
Electrified home: The small TV is powered by an electric cable connected to their energy source - the solar panel seen in another picture.
Electrified home: The small TV is powered by an electric cable connected to their energy source – the solar panel seen in another picture. This is the only room in the home, so it serves multiple purposes.

Uros homes are simple, one room shacks built with reeds. Like other Peruvians, their cooking and eating is done outside. Food is cooked with fires on piles of stones. We saw traditional clay pots in these cooking areas.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Cooking stove and other utensils
Cooking stove and other utensils

After visiting the homes, the people had all their items for sale on display, so we shopped.

DSCF7447

DSCF7446

Sharon admires one of the beautiful tapestries.
Sharon admires one of the beautiful tapestries.

??????????????????????????????????????

Other tapestries

DSCF7439

DSCF7440

Several people then climbed the lookout tower.

Surprisingly, Dale climbed up into the tower - he's afraid of heights!
Surprisingly, Dale climbed up into the tower – he’s afraid of heights!
Dale took this picture as I climbed up after him.
Dale took this picture as I climbed up after him.

Neighboring islands, taken from the tower:

884

??????????????????????????????

Meanwhile, we were being summoned to board the balsa boat once more. It was time to say good-bye!

Taken from the lookout tower
Taken from the lookout tower

The people of Isla Suma Balsa lined up along the shore to sing to us – they sang an Aymara version of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star! We sang a song to them too!

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

View of Isla Suma Balsa from the boat:
886

We pulled away from Isla Suma Balsa on our reed boat, with two delightful rowers.

??????They also allowed the passengers to have a go at rowing. Here are Wally and Jayme:
896We made our way back toward the “main” island. I took two more pictures of “our” island, Isla Suma Balsa, as we got farther away:
???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

899Another boat just like ours passed us as we approached the big island.

894One of the main sources of food for the Uros is, of course, fish:

This is a fish hatchery.
This is a fish hatchery.
On the main island, some people have motorboats.
On the main island, some people have motorboats.

After being delivered to the island in the balsa boat, we waited for the motor boat that would take us to our next destination.

We stop on the big island to transfer to our motor boat.
We stop on the big island to transfer to our motor boat. Of course, there are trinkets for sale for tourists.
Father and daughter love.
Father and daughter love.
Carole and I talk to a local woman and her daughter.
Carole and I talk to a local woman and her daughter.

Our next stop on Lake Titicaca was TAQUILE ISLAND. (next post)