Shanghai is a beautiful modern city, but it does have its backstreets behind the glitter. I was lucky enough to get lost while searching for the YuYuan Tea Garden and came across some interesting characters:
Shanghai is a beautiful modern city, but it does have its backstreets behind the glitter. I was lucky enough to get lost while searching for the YuYuan Tea Garden and came across some interesting characters:
I am not a big fan of zoos, as it pains me to see animals in captivity, but once every five years or so, I do visit one, as I truly love looking at them through my zoom lens and sharing their faces and quirks.
The pictures are from the Copenhagen Zoo where life has come back after all these Covid months. I have not visited since I was around 12 years old when I had a yearly pass and would bike up that steep hill on Roskildevej several times a month. I was glad to see on Sunday that the living conditions of the animals are much better now than in the 70s!
Who could resist these faces?
I will have to admit that I have never been the slightest interested in soccer! The only time I sat through a game was at the age of 8 when I tried to bond with my grumpy old grandfather! However, after over a year of lockdown and/or restrictions, the ambiance in Copenhagen on Saturday was electric! Thousand of people out in the streets dressed in red and white, flags and Viking helmets signing and drinking and enjoying the beautiful day. This was probably the most life-affirming day I have had since March 2020!
Unfortunately, the main player had a heart attack on the field that was fatal, but they quickly managed to revive him and it was decided that the game should continue in that spirit. Unfortunately, the bet did not pay off which was rather disappointing after all those emotions that rippled through the country and Finland won 1-0. Please enjoy this little vignette into true joy! These were all taken in Nyhavn, the former seedy sailor part of town and now a fashionable restaurant area with millions of tourists every year (except 2020 and 2021 so far!).
An adorable gem in the middle of Copenhagen!
Christian IV, responsible for most of Copenhagen’s older architecture, was deeply influenced by the Dutch Renaissance style. Rosenborg, finished in 1615, was his summer residence. Today, it houses the Danish Kings’ Chronological Collection which includes the Crown Jewels.
Rosenborg was opened to the public in 1838 and the large park is often full of sun worshippers, joggers and family picnics.
Saturday was the first day that felt like spring after a long and depressing Covid winter. Although shopping is still limited, the streets were filled with people and every square hosted myriads of people just sitting outside watching life, drinking wine or beer or enjoying family time. Hopefully, in a month or two, we will all be able to dine outside and feel the warmth of Scandinavian summer.
See in a browser for a better viewing experience
The recent violence against Asians simply needs to stop!
I am outraged and saddened that one man’s words have rippled into hatred against a large part of the American population. My beloved San Francisco, once a beacon for tolerance and neighborly love, is now a hot bed for attacks against often defenseless elders. By calling Covid the “Kung Flu” or “China Plague”, an entire part of the country is now demonized and vilified and it is completely unacceptable.
Asia has always been a big part of my life. My fascination started with Shogun, the 70s series based on the book by James Clavell. My mother later took me on a trip to Thailand where I fell in love for the first time with a gorgeous Thai. In 1993, I started making yearly business trips to Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore and a love for the East was born which changed everything from food preferences, medical practices, music, self-care and religion. Yes, I am a proud Buddhist, although I do not consider it a religion, but rather a philosophy.
I chose to honor Asians with a collection of these beautiful people from all over Asia and some American Asians from San Francisco:
Lake Tahoe is Americas’s second deepest lake and my safe haven for the past 28 years. I have loved Tragic Season (Fall before Winter arrives and Spring before the summer season hits), full-blown winters, 4th of July on the Lake and every moment in between. Nestled in the heart of the Sierra Nevada on the California side, Squaw Valley and Tahoe City became my homes away from home and nothing felt more familiar or safe to me for all those years. As I find myself on the other side of the globe in these early spring days, I feel the pull of the mountains and my lake. I truly hope I will see it again and/or discover my new Tahoe which I believe will be Höga Kusten. Until then, here are a few pictures from the past ten years in Tahoe:
For those of you who are not familiar with the various projects around this Lake, there are currently plans to build a gigantic hotel in Homewood on the West Shore which would make the 5 mile drive to Tahoe City 2 hours during 4th of July weekend, as well as a gigantic outdoor waterslide in Squaw Valley. As far as I am concerned, this would be a disaster for residents, tourists, critters and nature and I can only repeat over and over “KEEP TAHOE TRUE”!
The Marble Church and the Royal Palace
I admit it – I am totally in love with this Church! It is generally referred to as the Marble Church, but its real name is Frederiks Kirke or the Church of Frederik.
The church was designed by the architect Nicolai Eigtved in 1740 has the largest church dome in Scandinavia with a span of 31m. The dome rests on 12 columns.The inspiration was probably St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
The foundation stone was set by king Frederick V on October 31, 1749, but the construction was slowed by budget cuts and the death of Eigtved in 1754. In 1770, the original plans for the church were abandoned by Johann Friedrich Struensee (Interesting tidbit for those who enjoyed Mads Mikkelsen in “A Royal Affair”). The church was left incomplete and, in spite of several initiatives to complete it, stood as a ruin for nearly 150 years.
In 1874, Andreas Frederik Krieger, Denmark’s Finance Minister at the time, sold the ruins of the uncompleted church and the church square to Carl Frederik Tietgen for 100,000 Rigsdaler — none of which was to be paid in cash — on the condition that Tietgen would build a church in a style similar to the original plans and donate it to the state when complete, while in turn he acquired the rights to subdivide neighboring plots for development.
The deal was at the time highly controversial. On 25 January 1877, a case was brought by the Folketing at the Court of Impeachment, Krieger being charged with corruption over this deal. He was, however, eventually acquitted.
Tietgen got Ferdinand Meldahl to design the church in its final form and financed its construction. Due to financial restrictions, the original plans for the church to be built almost entirely from marble were discarded, and instead Meldahl opted for construction to be done with limestone. The church was finally opened to the public on August 19, 1894.
Right next to the Church is Amalienborg, home to the Royal Family and the Royal Guards who march through town every day at noon.
The adorable Spring/Fall Residence of the Royal Family and occasional hotel to VIPs (I hear George W spent a night there!)
“Fredensborg Palace was built as a hunting seat for King Frederik IV by the architect J.C. Krieger. Construction began in 1719. The main building was first used in 1722 and the chapel in 1726.
It was rebuilt and expanded during the reigns of King Christian VI and of King Frederik V and his Queen, Juliane Marie, by the architects N.Eigtved, L. de Thurah and C.F. Harsdorff.
After Queen Juliane Marie’s death in 1796, the palace was rarely used. It was not until the reign of King Christian IX and Queen Louise that the palace again became the setting for the Royal Family’s life for lengthy periods. “Europe’s parents-in-law” gathered their daughters and sons-in-law, all of whom represented many of Europe’s royal and princely houses, at Fredensborg Palace every summer.
Now HM The Queen uses the palace for three months in the spring and three in the autumn”.
The visit did not start so well, as I had managed to forget the battery of my Sony and could only use my Canon with its Paparazzi lens which meant having to get creative and concentrate on the details rather than the amazing surroundings. I am now aching to go back towards the end of the day with a tripod and some filters! This zen gem definitely deserves some more time!
Denmark’s Former Capital and Unesco Site!
The drive from Copenhagen to Roskilde is not a whole lot to write home about. Flat freeways with ugly landscapes and the entry into town reminds me of any American city with car dealerships on every corner – I instinctively started looking for the inevitable Target (pardon, Tarjaaaaaiii), BUT then, once the streets all have royal names, you step into a time warp!
It has now been almost two months of total lockdown here in Copenhagen, added to the 10 months spent on lockdown in California, and seeing nature springing back to life while we cannot quite is almost unbearable! Danes now spend their Sundays picnicking in public squares and My Lady Mother and I spent 15 minutes gazing at every restaurant menu and dreaming of being in a noisy restaurant again! A new, wonderful life starts and we are like fish in a tank counting the moments until we can start participating again! Zen……
I do realize that most people do not know much about Viking history, but if there is one name we all recognize, it is that of its Roskilde’s Founding Father; Harald Blåtand, or the more familiar Bluetooth!
According to Wikipedia:
“Roskilde, which developed as the hub of the Viking land and sea trade routes over a thousand years ago, is one of Denmark’s oldest cities. From the 11th century until 1443, it was the capital of Denmark. By the Middle Ages, with the support of kings and bishops, it had become one of the most important centres in Scandinavia. The Saxo Grammaticus and other early sources associate the name Roskilde (meaning “Ro’s spring”) with the legendary King Roar who possibly lived there in the 6th century.
According to Adam of Bremen and the Saxo Grammaticus, Roskilde was founded in the 980s by Harald Bluetooth. On high ground above the harbour, he built a wooden church consecrated to the Holy Trinity as well as a royal residence nearby. Although no traces of these buildings have been discovered, in 1997 archaeologists found the remains of Viking ships in the Isefjord, the oldest of which is dated to 1030. At the time, there were also two churches in the area: St Jørgensbjerg, an early stone church, and a wooden church discovered under today’s St Ib’s Church. Harald was buried in the wooden church he had built on the site of today’s Roskilde Cathedral.
In 1020, King Canute elevated Roskilde to a bishopric, giving it high national status. Absalon, the Danish bishop, had a brick church built on the site of Harald’s church in 1170. Today’s cathedral was completed in 1275 after five of Absalon’s successors had contributed to its construction. As a result of Absalon’s influence, many other churches were built in the vicinity, making Roskilde the most important town in Zealand. Coins were minted there from the 11th to the 14th century. In 1150, Sweyn Grathe built a moat around the city. In 1151/2, a religious confraternity was founded for the defence of the town against Wendish pirates. Under the command of Wetheman, it also took part in the Wendish Crusade. The Roskilde bishops owned large areas of land in the region including, from 1186, Havn on the Øresund which later became Copenhagen. By the time of the Danish Reformation in 1536, there were 12 churches and five monasteries in the city.“”
The Lakes (Danish: Søerne) in Copenhagen, Denmark are a row of three rectangular lakes curving around the western margin of the City Centre, forming one of the oldest and most distinctive features of the city’s topography. The paths around them are popular with strollers, bikers and runners.
In the early Middle Ages, a need of water for watermills was determined. As a result of this a dam was built and the Peblinge Sø was created.
As a result of a siege of Copenhagen in 1523, it was decided to expand the entrenchments in order to improve the fortifications of the city. The levee at Peblinge Sø was expanded and another was created, which resulted in the creation of Sortedams Sø. In the beginning of the 16th century, Sankt Jørgens Sø was created, by further damming. This made it possible to flood the banks and lakes in case of an attack.
There are plans to create a park around Sankt Jørgens Sø, with the dual use of acting as a detention basin for cloudburst flood waters. Likely as a consequence of Global Warming, cloudbusts have become much more common in Denmark, making the sewerage pipes designed for the old weather patterns insufficient; using Sankt Jørgens Sø as a detention basin is just one of many such projects in Copenhagen.  The municipality of Copenhagen together with Nordic Innovation, an organisation under Nordic Council of Ministers, is launching an extensive climate adaptation and urban space initiative with objectives such as redirecting rainwater from cloudbursts, purifying the water running into the Peblinge City Lake, and creating new, attractive and more liveable urban spaces.
Since we are all on lockdown, but are allowed walks, Danes flock to parks and beaches in spite of the biting cold, but the views are all worth it!
The place where the happiest Danes live!
10 minutes from Kastrup, Copenhagen’s Airport, you find yourself transported to a different planet, seemingly dominated by yellow houses and adorable shops.
Dragør was founded in the 12th century and rapidly grew as a fishing port, further aided by the trade privileges granted by the Hanseatic League in 1370 and became one of the major fishing fleets in Denmark.
In the early 16th Century, King Christian II invited a group of farmers from the Netherlands to settle there. The Dutch were considered much advanced in agriculture and they were invited to produce food for the Royal Household. The first settlers were 24 families and their presence is still felt until this day. The Old Town still offers many well-preserved historical buildings and it is a compact maze of alleys with yellow-painted houses, red roofs and cobblestones.
Usually thriving with tourists, it was an eerie feeling walking around like Palle Alene i Verden (Childhood book about a boy who woke up and everybody was gone). Unfortunately, it was much too cold to stick around and wait for the sunset so here are some Tourist Photos, ugly light and all!
Copenhagen is usually a very busy city, but ever since I landed end of last year, we have been on strict lockdown with only food shops open. I cannot even open a bank account and who knows how long this will last with the new strains showing up everywhere? I am pleased to see the respons of the Government here and feel fairly safe, but will admit to some cabin fever during these dark days. Luckily, I can still take out the camera when it is not too cold or pouring down, even though my tripod has not arrived yet. The lack of tripod is reflected in the pictures, so these are just a few Happy Snaps:
These pictures are of The Royal Guard, the Marble Church, Strøget (the famous Pedestrian Street – now with Mounties?), Amalienborg (home to the Queen), Nyhavn and old downtown streets.
It is terribly frustrating to know that there are all these lovely spots out there to (re)discover while we have to stay as safe as possible until the vaccines arrive! As it seems to be the case everywhere, there are delays here and as a relatively young person, I am last in line and probably will not see it until May. It seems awfully far away right now, I will admit and it is hard to envision a world back to normal at this point in history. But there will be Spring eventually…..
I had to say goodbye to three little beautiful, but very different souls within 6 months and thought that a few words honoring my sweet companions might alleviate the huge sens of loss that I am feeling today after saying goodbye to the last one 24 hours ago.
Clicquot was adopted in 2005 at the age of 9 weeks. It was love at first sight, but she was a fragile one. From feline herpes to flee allergy – there was always something. About two years ago, her kidneys started failing and it became time to say goodbye. That last night, I blew THC on her little face, hoping to make her feel a bit better. She bounced right back and the doctors were amazed. However, we knew that the kidneys would not get better and they did not. She managed to last 4 weeks after we left the only home she has known, but then her little body gave up. She was surrounded by a sweet vet and her two mothers and it was very peaceful. Rest In Peace, sweet Clicquot, forever La Grande Dame. Saying goodbye to you yesterday was truly heartbreaking.
Nobody knows where Saladin came from. He started showing up around 2006 or 2007 and it took me a couple of years just to get close to him. One day, he just gave up and threw himself on his back, thus offering me belly and throat. I have never met a more affectionate cat, nor a more annoying one. The drooling in the ear at 4 am, the very loud meowing and the constant need for attention could be a challenge, but when he stared at you adoringly, my heart swelled up and we would spoon the night away. He was probably around 20 at the end, deaf and with a good dose of dementia, but what a loving soul.
MeiMei started showing up in 2010 with Saladin. He was small and friendly and I was convinced that it was a girl, as the two were very loving towards each other. He got the name which means little sister in Mandarin, probably not the best name for a little boy who desperately wanted to meet a mate in the spring. It turns out he was leading a double life as Chandler and I suspect he may have picked other restaurants, too, but I loved having him. MeiMei was a big lover of other critters and would wait for the raccoons, possums and skunks every night for dinner time. He sadly disappeared around June.
Thank you for all the love, my sweet fur babies. Let’s hope that reincarnation thing works! Namaste.
A New Life Begins
After hellish months of packing and preparing, I enjoyed one of the easiest trips ever from San Francisco International Airport to Copenhagen on SAS. Strangely enough, there was absolutely no problems going through customs equipped with a few souvenirs of California in the shape of tinctures, gummibears, marzipan/chocolate bites and one cat, nor any Covid check points.
Wednesday was a huge moment, as I got to experience Covid Testing Danish Style. A gigantic soccer stadium has been commandeered as test center and long lines in the pouring rain and wind did not make it a particularly warm or fuzzy experience, but what a feeling! I still remembered my old social security number which was all I needed to provide and not a dollar or a krone. Test results appear 20 minutes later on the cell phone and VOILA.
Vaccines have started appearing and first in line are front-line workers and old folks – as it should be. I will be the last group in line, but suspect it is a matter of a month or two. After 9 months of almost constant lockdown, and this miserable weather, I am pretty sure to be able to stay out of bars and restaurants! Besides, they are all closed.
Let me start this year by wishing you all a much Happier 2021/Year of the Ox!!! I will be sharing lots of photos from Scandinavia from now on – stay tuned!
I discovered a fun little trick in Cyberlink’s PhotoDirector called dispersion effect – make sure you click HD in the lower right hand corner of the video screen for a better viewing pleasure!:
Being 8 and having a birthday during the Coronavirus is not easy! My little friend Hailey got some help from the local First Responders in Napa who showed up en masse and made her day so special. The music is by her father and it was played on local radio stations during this morning! What an uplifting experience during these difficult times!
Needless to say, this movie will not be winning any Pulitzer price, but I am sharing it to show how a community in Northern California came together to help a loving father while remaining responsible during confinement!
Make sure to click the HD icon at the bottom of the screen for a better viewing experience!
Who would have guessed in early March that this was the last visit to the Wine Country before we started Sheltering in Place, or SIP’ing , as I prefer to call it (no pun intended, of course)! Spring had already started, but it pains me to have missed the gorgeous mustards and cherry blossoms this year!
Models: Kamilia Amirova & Alina Tuhkbatshina
Jewelry: Miae Nelson/ BEL AMOUR JEWELRY
Dress Designer: Bernard Edward Burns
MUA: Celia Molina
MUAH : Jamie Huang
Photoshoot Location : Noe’s Nest Bed & Breakfast
Fall has arrived and the Ol’ Ghouls are now roaming the streets of Benicia. I am taking this opportunity to send good thoughts to Solano County, Napa & Sonoma which are severely threatened by wildfires this weekend. Millions of people are out of electricity and several highways are now closed down. Please keep people, critters and grapes safe!