Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Back in India

View from the Jama Masjid (Friday Mosque), Old Delhi.

After a great holiday/visa run in Europe, I made it back to India, accompanied by my friend Lasse who came to see a bit of this amazing country. I will introduce him soon enough, but not in this post.

One of our first days back in Delhi I took Lasse to Old Delhi as I do with all my visitors. After seeing our fairly serene neighbourhood we live in here in South Delhi, I like to confront my visitors with this gritty, crowded, dirty and noise and wonderfully authentic part of town. Luckily we came just in time to witness some colourful religious procession, which just seemed to appear out of nowhere. It was made up of a lot of floats each with some people dressed like Gods or other religiously significant figures. So typically India. Notice above the guy spraying water out of his hat.

Holy man (I think) throwing bananas to the crowd amidst a cloud of confetti.

More guys dressed like Gods. Very interesting, how the costume includes lipstick, blush and a generally rather feminine look.

Last float driving by. It was a well attended event.

Happy spectators.

After a few days in Delhi, we went to Agra, which is home of the world famous and newly appointed wonder of the modern world: Taj Mahal. I arrived later than Lasse and since I had been to the Taj before I just waited it out in a rooftop restaurant, with mediocre food but a great view (the picture above), until he came out of there. We quickly moved on from Agra, which apart from the Taj Mahal and a few other historical buildings doesn't have much to offer.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Lübeck

Lübeck, Germany (also known as Lybæk in Danish, as it was briefly part of Denmark in the 13th century). On the picture above you see the river front of the charming old town of Lübeck situated on an oval shaped island. On one of the last days of my holiday/visa run home in Europe my father took me here, since I - mistakenly - had never visited the city before.

In medieval times access to the central island was limited to four city gates of which two remain. Built in the 15th century this is western gate Holsten Tor which has come to be Lübeck's most famous landmark. To the right of the gate you see the medieval St. Petri Church and a row of old houses known as the Saltzspeicer (Salt warehouses). In general Lübeck is well endowed with well preserved very old buildings. It was bombed by the allies in WWII but to a much lesser degree than many other German cities.

The other remaining gate, Burgtor, at the nothern tip of the island. Although not rivaling Holstentor for fame, it does have a certain quality to it.

Apart from the Holstentor Lübeck is also famed for its marcipan. Local myth has it that marzipan was invented in Lübeck as a result of famine or siege in which only sugar and almonds were left. Here these two Lübeck institutions have been combined into one: The Holstentor made out of Marcipan.

The marzipan Holstentor stands in the window of this famous store: Niederegger dealing only in marzipan. The store is always richly decorated with displays suitable for the season. When I was there in September the theme was obviously harvest.

Another display at Niederegger.

The old Saltzspeicher on the other side of the river. The two spires in the background are from the Holstentor.

The large St. Marienkirche behind the smaller, but architecturally very remarkable, white city hall.

Old frescoes.

A very beautiful old window glass mosaic window.

Cozy old town house.

And finally a sight which was strangely familiar and weird at the same time. An Indian restaurant playing on virtually every Indian stereotype there is. I didn't go, as I knew I would soon be back in India eating the real thing.

Friday, 26 October 2007

Windy Beach, Slettestrand

Slettestrand, Denmark. This is the beach less than a kilometer from our summer house. It's part of Denmark's west coast of endless white beaches stretches for hundreds of kilometers. It's a great place to feel the elements raging - and to bathe for the few weeks a year, when we have the weather for that. Here a picture taken against the sun on a day of very strong winds with the hazy mist blowing onto land from the salty ocean.

Amazingly, a few brave souls decided to defy the cold, the massive waves and the wind to go bathing. Notice the top of a head sticking up from the wave.

I went to the beach with Ole and Asbjørn. We all opted to stay on dry land. You can see from Ole's hair just how windy it was.

Asbjørn looking for good stones to skim with.

The sandy dunes which typically lie just behind the beach. The slightly glossy look of this picture is not an effect I have consciously added, but rather a result of ocean mist on my lens.

A summer house lying in the heath dune-like landscape close to the beach.

Lastly a night picture of our summer house. It is a cozy little place. Look forward to going back next summer, when Nitoli and I will be having our church wedding in Denmark.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

In the Summer House

I also spent a couple of days with by parents, brothers, sister, nephew and niece. Here you see my little brother Ole reading a book outside the summer house on a very nice summer day. Doesn't it look idyllic?

One of the great things about our summer house is all the nature it is surrounded by. My family has a long tradition of going to the forest hunting for cantarels. In the picture above Rikke and my father are scouting for the delicious mushrooms, while Morten pushes Johanne in her wheelchair (she walks fine, but has trouble with long distances).

Inside a pine plantation where only a few rays of sun reach the ground. With all the moss here, this is prime cantarel land.

And this is what we hunt for. Truth be told I'm not as good at finding these as most of my family members, but this bunch was all mine.

When you walk around looking down at the ground you see a lot of other things as well, such as this incredibly well camouflaged frog. Actually it was my nephew Asbjørn, who found this one. He is a very observant boy.

Asbjørn and Johanne playing on a forest road. It can be very hard dragging these kids along when it's time to move on.

My father and Rikke standing under the natural disco light of the forest.

A red Danish squirrel. Unlike their Indian cousins these are quite shy and fairly rare to spot. So I was happy to get a good picture of one :o) More from the summer house to come...

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Family Time

After spending some time at my parent's home I moved on to visit my brother and his family in Silkeborg. Starting with the youngest member of the family above is my adorable niece Johanne, who is 5 years old.

Next is her big brother Asbjørn, who is now 8 years old. He is a very active and outdoorsy boy (which makes him hard to take pictures of since he never stands still).

And here are the proud parents, my brother Morten and his wife Nicoline watching TV in their home.

Together we all took a small trip to a fun place near Silkeborg called Labyrinthia. In the village of Rodelund a local couple has made Northern Europe's largest labyrinth, supplemented by a series of smaller labyrinth and logical games.

The labyrinth is quite big, and not all that easy to figure out.

Asbjørn trying to find his way around. In the beginning he was cheating by crawling underneath the walls (there are gaps allowing people to crawl out to prevent claustrophobic attacks). But he quickly found out that it actually wasn't very much fun to solve the puzzles without the challenges of actually finding your way around.

But here he found the yellow flag, all on his own. The aim is to find all four corner flags and then find your way out.

A trip to Labyrinthia is a good experience, especially for families with children. If you have small children, who can't find their way around the big labyrinth, there is also a small child's maze which is easy to get through. Johanne is trying it out here.

Asbjørn peeking out from behind a stone well.

Morten taking Johanne for a walk in the place's rose garden maze with water gates, spraying water at different intervals. Johanne is looking excitedly up to see if any water is coming.

And finally a simple, but fun colour puzzle. You can only walk on the lines in the sequence red - yellow - green and then have to make your way to the goal in the middle. Quite challenging, but a good task to solve together.

Next morning, Asbjørn cycling to school on a nice summer morning.

Later that day we took a drive around the area. Here we are at the old station of Vrads which is home to a veteran train. Unfortunately it wasn't running, but there were some nice old coaches.

Johanne pretending to be late for the train as it pulls from the station, with her father trying to pull her aboard. Notice the hat flying through the air, creating the illusion of speed :)

We were even lucky enough to spot a fox. Although it's not a great picture I wanted to document it here. Although there are plenty of foxes in Denmark, they are very hard to spot and indeed this is the first one I've ever seen in the nature.

I also spent a couple of days with my sister and her boyfriend in Århus. I didn't really get a chance to take many pictures of them, but I took a couple from their nice summer garden. Here a close up of their apple tree.

And finally one of their roses covered in rain drops, after a brief shower.