Saturday/ unpacking my bags

As usual, my luggage was filled with books, and with little nothings and souvenirs. Here are some of the items.

From left to right: ‘Carnaval of the Animals’ (Afr. Karnaval van die Diere), satirical sketches & rhymes | Tintin postcard pictures and Tintin double book ‘Tintin and the Moon’ (Dutch. Kuifje en de Maan)’ | Norwegian Fairy Tales | from South Africa: Fritz Deelman, Agaton Sax & Vonk de Jongh books.
From left to right: Polar bear from the Museum of Natural History in Oslo | Unusual new LEGO bricks from the LEGO store in Hamburg  | The Groke mug (a Moomin character from the comic strip by Swedish-speaking Finnish illustrator Tove Jansson) | vintage LEGO doors from a second-hand store in Hamburg | a little piece of polished obsidian, a naturally occurring type of molten volcanic glass that has become solidified rock | Okapi & snow leopard from a toy store | Five Roses tea from South Africa. ‘Nobody makes better tea than you and Five Roses’, was what the print ads would say many years ago.
‘Norwegian stamps – Norway in miniature’, says the lettering on the envelope they gave me to put the stamps in. The 26 kr stamp has Harald Oskar Sohlberg, a Norwegian neo-romantic painter, below it the 38 kr stamp has Norwegian lumberjack Hans Borli who was also a poet and writer. The little bird at the bottom left corner, is Norway’s national bird, the white-throated dipper. There are no penguins in Norway, though – that chinstrap penguin on the other 38 kr stamp is from Antarctica.
And here is some Norwegian krone banknotes and coins. On the 50 kr is Utvær Lighthouse, the westernmost coastal lighthouse in Norway, on the 100 kr is the Gokstad Viking ship, a 9th-century ship currently on display at the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo (I did not make it out there), on the 200 kr a codfish, and on the 500 kr a lifeboat (rescue vessel) called RS 14 Stavanger.

Friday/ home

It’s been a long day, with a 2-hr delay starting out of Amsterdam to Seattle, but I made it home early evening Seattle time on Friday. East, west, home best.

Here’s a Ukraine International Airlines plane (this is a Boeing 737) at Schiphol airport. UIA does fly into the United States: Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, San Diego & San Francisco.
Here is the view as I was stepping into the Delta Airlines Boeing 767 at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport.

Thursday night/ in Amsterdam

I’m in Amsterdam, ready to go home tomorrow.

This is Oslo’s Gardemoen airport, and those of us in the back rows, got to step in at the back door of KLM’s The Flying Dutchman (it’s a Boeing 737-800).
Here’s Damrak street, as I walked back to Amsterdam Centraal station to get back to my hotel by Schiphol Airport. Watch out for those fietsers (bicyclists), and especially for the street cars!

Wednesday/ last day in Oslo

Today was my last day in Oslo.
I will return to Amsterdam tomorrow, and then go home on Friday.
I made it to the Munch Museet (museum) today, and hey! I found the Tintin book I was looking for in a great bookstore called Tronsmo.

This colorful passageway is on the way to the platform of the Stortinget T-bane station.
Man! A sight for sore eyes: just about every Tintin book on display in Tronsmo bookstore, and yes, all in Norwegian. When I find Tintin books in a foreign language, I try to buy ‘King Ottokar’s Scepter’, and they had one. Norwegian is a Germanic language, and a Germanic language speaker can definitely recognize some of the titles.
Eeeee! Here’s The Scream (one of them*), the famous work from Expressionist artist and Norwegian, Edvard Munch, a pastel done in 1893. The original Norwegian title: Skrik. It seems to me The Shriek or Fright would be a better translation than The Scream. The pastel was dimly lit, and I did not retouch this picture from my iPhone. *There are two pastels (1893 and 1895), and two paintings, of The Scream (1893 and 1910).
I like this one from Munch, called Erotikk i sommekveld Eng. ‘Eroticism on a Summer Evening’ (1893).
One more: Høysommer Eng. Midsummer (1915). Munch was a prolific painter, and bequeathed a large collection of his paintings to the Norwegian government upon his death.
This is one of many large sculptures from Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland in Vigeland Park.
Norwegians need their milk and bread like all the rest of us.

Tuesday/ central Oslo & Aker Brygge

I spent the day running down the interesting architecture sights around central station, and the Aker Brygge (Aker docks), a little further along the waterfront.
I also checked into some stores and some bookstores.
I have so far come up empty handed, as far as finding Tintin books in Norwegian, to add to my collection.

Brunost cheese on display at breakfast here in the hotel. It’s a cheese made with whey, milk, and/or cream .. and it is very tasty.
Here’s the type of tram that gets one around central Oslo. Lots of buses available as well.
A selfie with the help of a food truck’s polished surface . I’m on my way the Astrup Fearnley Museum, the structure in the distance.
Find the mechanical reindeer in the picture! Polished marble and glass in the modern office and apartments around Aker Brygge.
Here’s the Astrup Fearnley Museet, a museum of  modern art. It’s been here awhile (since 1993), and was designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano.
Melkesjokolade .. hmm, yes, a very large slab of milk chocolate, and spelled almost identically to the way it is in Afrikaans: melksjokolade.
And a stuffed reindeer.
The Stortingsbygningen (Storting building) in central Oslo. It is the seat of the Storting, the parliament of Norway. It was designed by the Swedish architect Emil Victor Langlet and taken into use in 1866.
Here’s the regional train called the T-bane (so no U-bahn in Oslo!), coming into Carl Berners Plass station (Carl Berner plaza station).
I’m standing on the Akrobaten pedestrian bridge close to Central Station, and watching the trains come in. That’s the Nordenga road bridge in the distance. It opened in 2011.
To my left is the Akrobaten pedestrian bridge that I am standing on. The buildings on the other side of the tracks are called the Barcode buildings: twelve narrow high-rise buildings of different heights and widths.
Just a closer view of the glass, brick and steel of another one of the Barcode buildings.
Here is the new building for the (Edvard) Munch Museum, scheduled to open in spring 2020. The Munch museum collection, that includes the famous ‘The Scream’, is currently located in Toyen. (Is the building craning its neck to take a closer look at the water?).
The Oslo Opera House, at the head of the Oslofjord (but just a stone’s throw from Central Station, actually). It opened in 2008, and is the home of the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, and the national opera theatre in Norway.

 

Monday night/ arrival in Oslo

My Norwegian Air flight had an hour delay out of Hamburg. There was a baggage mix-up in the airplane cargo hold that had to be resolved, but we made it into Oslo with no incident, after that.

The express train from Oslo Gardermoen airport to Oslo Sentralstasjon (central station) took only 21 minutes. The central station is so modern and sleek inside, that it has the same feel as an airport.

Here’s the view from the train coming into Oslo central station, some modern buildings lined up in the background.
Here’s our sleek express train called Flytoget at Oslo Central Station. It’s a GMB Class 71 electric train, capable of 130 mph (210 km/h). It is the only high-speed rail service in Norway, though.
I took a quick walk around the central station before the sun set completely. This is the town square right by the central station. Look for a big bronze tiger at the bottom right.

Monday morning/ last stop: Oslo

The flight to Oslo on Norwegian Airlines is almost due north, and 1 hr 25 mins.
The S-bahn (regional) train at Jungfernstieg station. It pays to read the overhead sign: it says the first three cars go to the airport, and the others to Poppenbuttel.
Der Spiegel cover at the newsstand: ‘One Deal Too Many: Why The Ukraine Affair Could Cost Trump The Presidency’.

I am at Hamburg airport, on my way to Oslo for a few days. It will be my final stop before going home.

 

Sunday/ the Deichtorhallen

There was a persistent rain today, that made walking around without an umbrella, and not getting really wet, impossible. So I checked into the Deichtorhallen (“the levee gate halls”) art & photography museum.
These halls were built from 1911 to 1914 as market halls, on the grounds of the former Berliner Bahnhof railway station (Hamburg’s counterpart to Berlin’s Hamburger Bahnhof). Wikipedia says they ‘constitute one of the few surviving examples of industrial architecture from the transitional period between Art Nouveau and 20th century styles’.

This is a side view of the Deichtorhalle (‘levee gate hall’) that houses the art collection ..
.. and a view of the Deichtorhalle that houses the photography collection.
The ceiling of the art collection hall is in itself a work of art (as it should be, right?).
‘Freundinnen (Friends)’ (1965/1966) by Sigmar Polke, large oil on canvas made with raster scan dots. The artist used a paint pistol and a template to create the overlapping dots in different colors. This results in moiré patterns: large-scale interference patterns produced when an opaque ruled pattern with transparent gaps is overlaid on another similar pattern.
This giant work of mixed media on paper covers an entire wall in a small room. It is also by Sigmar Polke (1968-1971) with the strange title ‘Die Fahrt Auf Die Undendlichkeits-acht (Der Motorfahrrader)’ Eng. The Ride On the Eight of Infinity (The Motorcyclist)‘.
I thought the photography hall’s pictures were weird. (Should they be?). It had a lot of interesting/ ugly human face photos, and new-born babies, and other strange, strange pictures. I liked this scary hare staring down the camera, though. The artist was not noted, only that it is a gelatin print on paper, of a hare, made in 2000.

Saturday/ the Elbbrücken station

Well, I did run out to the Elbbrücken station on the U4 line today.
It opened in Dec 2018.
I also went up to the viewing platform of the St. Nikolai Memorial.
The city’s 1968 Heinrich Hertz Tower (280 m/ 918 ft) has long been closed to visitors, but it might reopen in a few years.

Here’s the new end of the U4 line: the Elbbrücken station. It’s right by two steel truss bridges that go over the Elbe river: one for road traffic and one for rail.
There’s the U4 station in the distance on the left, then the steel bridge for cars*, and on the right edge, the train bridge.  These are the Freihafenelbbrücke, constructed in 1926. (The Elbe river has a north and a south branch, with at least a dozen bridges). *And what are these go-carts doing on the road? Best I could tell, is that it is a group that did a jolly ride circuit around Hafencity. Shortly afterwards, all of them headed back from where they came from.
Here is a collage of images taken at different intervals, of the LED light boxes at the HafenCity Universität U-bahn station one stop down from the Elbbrücken station.
Here is the neo-Gothic St. Nikolai Memorial. At its completion in 1874 as St. Nikolai Kirche with a 147 m/ 482 ft spire, it was the tallest building in the world. Central Hamburg and its surroundings suffered terrible damage during WWII, though. In 1943 the church building was destroyed during Operation Gomorrah, but the spire escaped relatively unscathed. Today there is a plaza where the church building used to be, and a museum in the basement of the tower.
A gargoyle from St Nikolai looking over the Rathaus (city hall) from the spire’s viewing platform at 76 m/ 250 ft ..
.. and another view, revealing the rooftop of the Elbphilharmonie concert hall.

Friday/ U-bahn stations

Here are my favorite U-bahn station photos, so far.
There is a brand new station at the end of the U4 line that I will go and check out tomorrow.

Messberg station on the U1 line.
The entrance hall at Rathaus station on the U3 line.
Jungfernstieg station on the U2 and U4 lines.
Hauptbahnhof Süd station on the U3 line.
Berliner Tor station on the U2, U3 & U4 lines.
Niendorf Markt station on the U2 line, northeast of the city.
Emilien Strasse station on the U2 line.
Schlump station on the U2 and U3 lines.
Sierich Strasse station on the U3 line. The train cars are model DT5’s, made by Alstom & Bombardier. The DT5’s were put in service in 2012 and were the first cars to have air conditioning and gangways between cars. And yes: there is a DT6 in the works, that will be able to be operated without a driver.
Here is an inside view from my seat in a DT5 car. Hamburger Hochbahn AG, founded in 1911, operates most of the underground train lines in Hamburg.
The entrance hall to Saarland Strasse station on the U3 line features squares and rectangles.
I love the blue glass panes at Hamburger Strasse station. (Yes, people living in Hamburg are Hamburgers! – but not the kind that we eat!).
I had just stepped off the train at Gänsemarkt station on the U2 line, and there it went, sucked in by the end of the tunnel.
Aw. Live a dream – a career in the Hamburg police force, says this recruitment poster for the Hamburg police force.
Shades of blue and gray at the Überseequartier station on the U4 line.
And here is the platform of Überseequartier station on the U4 line.
This is HafenCity Universität station. The color of the boxes of overhead lights changes all the time.

Thursday/ more Hamburg

I walked around Altstadt (Old City) and Hafencity today.
There is still a lot of new construction going on in Hafencity.

Trains and platforms inside the cavernous Hamburg Hauptbahnhof (main train station).
The hotel’s fire alarm roused all of us just before midnight, and soon the Feuerwehr (fire brigade) arrived as well. There was no fire, though .. and we got to go back in after 15 minutes. We were not told why the fire alarm went off.
Here is the neo-Renaissance Hamburg Rathaus (city hall), completed in 1897. The white globes are part of a display for Hamburger Klimawoche (climate week), promoting Klimaschutz (climate security) and sustainable policies for Earth’s resources.
Poster in the subway: ‘What We Eat Must Not Cost The World’.
Beautiful Baroque entrance to a police station in a building constructed in 1907. This is near the Chilehaus from yesterday.
Beautiful brickwork and decorations on the Sprinkenhof office building. It is right across the Chilehaus in Hamburg’s Kontorhausviertel. It was built in three phases from 1927 to 1943.
Here’s the spectacular and landmark Elbphilharmonie Hamburg: one of the world’s largest and most acoustically advanced concert halls. It opened in January 2017.
And here is the LEGO model of the Elbphilharmonie, at a LEGO store.
There is a lot of old and beautiful brickwork to be seen in the old restored warehouses in the Hafencity ..
.. and I like the outline of the old smokestack that was put in, as a nod to the building’s past, I assume.

Wednesday/ Chilehaus

The highlight of my day was to walk around the Chilehaus (Chile House) building, inside and out, and admire it.


From Wikipedia: The building was designed by the architect Fritz Höger and built between 1922 and 1924. It was commissioned by the shipping magnate Henry B. Sloman, who made his fortune trading saltpeter from Chile, hence the name Chile House.

It is an exceptional example of the 1920s Brick Expressionism style of architecture. The Chilehaus building is famed for its top, which is reminiscent of a ship’s prow, and the facades, which meet at a very sharp angle at the corner of the Pumpen- and Niedernstrasse.

 

 

Tuesday/ arrival in Hamburg

It was a long night & day of travel, but I made it into Hamburg early Tuesday evening without too much trouble.
The 5 hr train ride proved to be little long after that 11 hr red-eye flight into Amsterdam, but hey – now I will know better next time.

Here’s the Boeing 777-200ER from KLM, named ‘Litomyšl Castle’ at the gate at Cape Town International Airport just before we started boarding. Litomyšl Castle is a large Renaissance castle in the Czech Republic.
Here’s the ‘backside’ of Amsterdam Centraal Station: the side that faces Lake Ijssel (IJsselmeer). I created an optical illusion by using the glass panes on the left as a mirror.
Here’s a panorama shot. The upper deck (for buses) and the roof structure is a straight line, bent into a curve by panning the camera.
Here’s my train route from Schiphol Airport to Hamburg Central Station. 5 h 37 mins in all; three segments, so two transfers to other trains. A little bit of a pain if you have as much luggage as I have!
This is Hamburg’s Hafen City district, the sun just setting as our train arrived into Hamburg Central Station.

Monday/ back to Amsterdam

It’s Monday night, and I’m about to go to Cape Town airport to make my way back to Amsterdam. I plan to take the Inter City Express train from there, to make it into Hamburg by Tuesday night.

‘Everything you need to support the (Spring)bokke’ (the national rugby team competing in the 2019 Rugby World Cup), says this print advertisement. Tuesday is National Heritage Day in South Africa, also known as Braai Day (Barbecue Day) – hence the sausage and meats for the grill.  I should have postponed my journey back with a day or two!

Wednesday/ arrival in Cape Town

I made it into Cape Town International airport at 10 pm local time (14°C / 57° F), got my rental car, and checked into the little road lodge hotel by the airport (think Motel 6).

I did not want my AirBnB landlady to wait up for me until late .. and it’s not a good idea to step off a plane, jet lagged, and drive late at night, anyway.

A tulip flower & bulb stand at Schiphol airport. Lovely to look at, but I’m sure it’s better suited for arriving passengers. Outbound international passengers would have to stop and declare these at customs.
This giant and playful kitty cat was in the terminal near my departure gate.
Here is our flight path across Africa from AMS to CPT, skirting the southwestern coastline of the continent. Travel time was about 11 hrs.
And here is our Boeing 777 ‘Nationaal Park Gunung Mulu’ at the gate at Cape Town International Airport. The airplane is still new, started service in 2016. Gunung Mulu National Park is a protected rainforest in Malaysian Borneo.

Tuesday/ arrival in Amsterdam

My flight arrived on time at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, at about 1 pm local time.

The main arrivals/ departure hall of Schiphol airport with its industrial look of exposed beams and ducting.
I had to call the hotel to find out where the hotel shuttle bus stops. (The little black bus in the middle of the picture). And then there is a little bit of waiting time, but hey, it’s free. Cannot beat free. A taxi would have been €25, said the shuttle driver, and UberX about €15.

There is no question as to what the best part of a long flight is:  when that little bell goes ding! and one gets to jump up from one’s seat, grab everything and march off the plane!

 

Monday/ at the airport

I made it to the airport. Both escalators at the light rail’s airport stop were out of service, so we all had to use the elevator to get downstairs – a little bit of a delay.

Delta flies out of South Terminal, which is still undergoing renovations.

Here is the view from my gate at South Terminal.  Delta’s Boeing 767 bird in the front has an extended range and is shortly flying out to Beijing (11 hrs). My airplane looks similar, and is the one with the tail on the far left of the picture.
A billboard from Cathay Pacific at South Terminal. They now fly non-stop from Seattle to Hong Kong, and back, four times a week. It’s a 13 hr flight.

 

Sunday/ Amsterdam bound

My bags are packed for my trip to Amsterdam on Monday from Seattle.
I will stay in Amsterdam overnight on Tuesday night on my way to Cape Town, South Africa.
The flight to AMS is on a Delta Airlines Boeing 767-300.

It will be 10 hrs to AMS on Monday night, and then 11 hrs on Wednesday to CPT. 

Thursday/ ten years of light rail in Seattle

Today marks ten years since the opening of the Seattle light rail transit system. I was one of the 45,000 riders that boarded the light rail train for the first time, on July 18, 2009.

The initial line ran from downtown to Tukwila International Boulevard (close to Seattle-Tacoma airport). Four more stops have opened since then (Seattle-Tacoma airport & Angle Lake to the south, Capitol Hill and University of Washington to the north). The next extension of three more stops to the north, will open in 2021.

I made a run to the downtown station today, to buy this 10-year anniversary transit card. There’s the train in the background. There are currently 62 train cars in the system. They are made by a train car manufacturer called Kinkisharyo, in Osaka, Japan.

Monday/ Port Hudson & Port Townsend

That red spot on the route back to Hansville from the Olympic Peninsula, shows that there were lots of traffic crossing the Hood Canal Bridge.

We drove out to Port Townsend and Port Hudson on the Olympic Peninsula today.

It was Memorial Day, which means there were lots of weekend visitors making their way back to the ferries to Seattle.

We are staying over in Hansville and will go back to the city tomorrow morning.

This is Cupola House in Port Hudson, dedicated to all the men and women in Jefferson County who served in the Korean War (1950-53), and especially to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Here is the Jefferson Museum of Art & History, located in the old Port Townsend City Hall building, constructed in 1892.
This viewpoint is to the north of Port Townsend, and we are are looking at the pier and the beach by Fort Worden State Park.  There is a giant yellow rubber duck in the water, and the lighthouse in the distance is on Point Wilson.
Beautiful bearded irises at the same viewpoint.
The end of the Hood Canal Bridge as we crossed it just before sunset. It links the Olympic Peninsula with the Kitsap Peninsula.