Training Update


OK, just an extra update from me here on the whole «getting into shape»-program I have started. I have survived another round of “Health Booster”, and I just want to say that when I am gasping for air into burning lungs, have an abnormally high body temperature and muscles and joints ache, and I generally feel like I am about to die – I usually go to the doctor and get diagnosed with double sided pneumonia, bronchitis, arthritis, gout and probably the plague. This is not the type of health you want to boost!

(If you, by oversight, missed the background for this update, then you can read it here: FUN RUN)

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I am so glad we got to visit Egypt before the trouble there started! Although they do not advise against travelling to the tourist-sites in Egypt, I would opt it out. Thus, I am happy I already crossed it out of my bucket list. Been there, got the pics to prove it!

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We went there in Des 2009, when the Karate Kid was 8 years old. I am considering writing a series of blogposts from Egypt, but right now I’ll only share pictures of some big friggin’ things:

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From this position we had good oversight of the Pyramides

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Helsingør (Elsinore), Denmark


Now that we have visited the Kronborg Castle, where Hamlet lived, spoke to ghosts, and died, I think it is only natural to pay the surrounding town a visit, Helsingør (Elsinore, as Shakespeare called it). Helsingør is situated on the northeastern tip of the island of Zealand, Denmark, at the narrowest point (4 kilometers) of the sound, (Øresund) between Denmark and Sweden.

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The area has been inhabited for a long time, and around 1200 the first church, Saint Olaf’s Church, was built. Helsingør as it is known today was founded in the 1420s by king Eric of Pomerania. In 1429 he established the Sound Dues, meaning all foreign ships passing through the strait had to pay a toll, which constituted up to two-thirds of Denmark’s state income. At the time, the Swedish side of the sound was Danish, therefore Denmark could control all activity in the sound. With this income, Eric of Pomerania built the castle Krogen that was later expanded and renamed Kronborg. (This is the castle we visited yesterday – Hamlet’s Elsinore.) All ships had to stop in Helsingør to get their cargo taxed and pay a toll to the Danish Crown, and of course this meant increased trade for the town, as the ships had to anchor here anyways. In 1672 Helsingør had grown into the third biggest town in Denmark. The Sound Dues were abolished in 1857.

A lil’ bit of trivia: The car ferry line crossing the sound, between Helsingør and Helsingborg, Sweden is the busiest in the world with more than 70 departures in each direction every day.

The Greatest Ferry Line in the World

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Hamlet’s Elsinore


Yes, this place actually exists! Except the castle’s name is not Elsinore, it is Kronborg Slot (added to the UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites list in 2000). You can come and see for yourself, it is in the town of Helsingør, Denmark, on the northeastern tip of the island of Zealand at the narrowest point of the sound, (Øresund) between Denmark and Sweden. The sound is here only 4 kilometers (2.5 mi) wide, so a fortification here has always had an immense strategic and economic importance, and it has been repurposed several times throughout the years.

The castle dates back to a stronghold, Krogen, built in the 1420s by King Eric VIII (Eric of Pomerania*). King Frederick II** transformed the stronghold into a Renaissance Castle from 1574 to 1585. Much of the castle was destroyed in a fire in 1629, but King Christian IV subsequently had it rebuilt.

*Related reading: Roskilde Cathedral, King Pantsless, where Erik of Pomerania becomes King through adoption by King Pantsless (Margrete I)

**Related reading: Roskilde Cathedral – The Renaissance Ruler, about Frederick II and his young Queen.

Per a legend linked to Arthurian myth, a Danish king known as Holger the Dane, was taken to Avalon by Morgan le Fay. He returned to rescue France from danger, then traveled to Kronborg castle, where he sleeps until he is needed to save his homeland. He mst be knackered and overworked to sleep this long! His beard has grown to extend along the ground. A statue of the sleeping Holger has been placed in the castle.

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Holger the Dane

The Ballroom was, when it was completed in 1582, the largest hall in Northern Europe. It measures a whopping 62 x 12 meters. The present floor and fireplaces are from the rebuilding 1924-38.

The chapel was inaugurated in 1582, but in 1785, as the castle was being fitted for use as army barracks, the chapel was fitted out as gymnasium and fencing hall, and the furniture was stored away. In 1838, the chapel was refurnished with the original furniture, and reinaugurated in 1843.

The Swedish army besieged and conquered the castle during the Dano-Swedish War of 1658-60, and the castle was deprived of many of its most precious art works. The Swedish conquest demonstrated that the castle was far from impregnable, so after the castle was back on Danish hands, the castle defenses were strengthened scientifically. After their completion, Kronborg was considered the strongest fortress in Europe.

From 1739 until the 1900s, Kronborg was used as a prison, and the inmates worked on the castles fortifications. From January 17, 1772 to April 30, 1772, Kronborg was the place of imprisonment of Queen Caroline Mathilde***, following the scandal of her affair with Johann Friedrich Struensee.

***Related reading: Royal Shenanigans, where I tell the story of the Royal infidelity that landed the young Queen in prison.

***Related reading: Roskilde Cathedral – Power struggles and insanity, the story of the mentally ill King, the imprisoned Queen’s hubby.

We do have to talk about Hamlet, William Shakespeare’s famous tragedy, which is set here at Kronborg. In the play, it is called Elsinore, though that is actually the anglicized name of the surrounding town Helsingør. The play has been performed several times in the courtyard and at various locations on the fortifications. For those of you that are dire Hamlet-fans, here are some famous Hamlets:

The castle was opened to the public in 1938, and they host a fantastic Christmas Marked two weekends in December every year. I absolutely recommend visiting Helsingør and Kronborg Castle. And should you happen to be in the area in December, make sure you visit the Christmas Marked!

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Identifying my superpower


A recurring question for the various awards that I have encountered in my blogging experience is “If you could choose one Superpower to master – what would it be?” To which I always answer atomic manipulation. Don’t you see? That is the perfect superpower! With atomic manipulation, you can change anything into anything, including yourself! There is no superpower that can beat that, how tempting isn’t that?! X-ray vision ain’t gonna cut it! Flying? Strength? Heck no! They can’t hold a candle to atomic manipulation.

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Unfortunately, atomic manipulation is not my superpower, but I am curious of what my superpower might be. As we have started a new year, I guess the thing to do is to go over last year’s statistics and try to make sense of it. Perhaps my superpower is buried in statistics. There will be two lists, as I am a bilingual blogger. I would like to call myself a polyglot, but I’m not quite there. I guess that would be a nice superpower, when I can’t have atomic manipulation, I mean…

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Well, let’s consider my stats then. The top 15 are Norwegian recipes, which is not surprising as I only do food blogging in Norwegian. Also, not surprising that the Norwegian recipes are on top, as I have a couple of venues to promote my recipe-posts. Thus, I can’t draw the conclusion that recipes in Norwegian is my superpower. Here they are with their English versions listed below in case any of my English-speaking readers would like to check out my top 5 posts:

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# 1, my potato salad

This was a result of perfect timing, yanno a great BBQ-side at the start of summer and BBQ-season. You just can’t go wrong with that one!

Norwegian: Verdens beste potetsalat

English: The world’s best potato salad!

last-ned-1# 2 The oyster sauce

I am not sure why this one made such high numbers. I guess the recipe intrigued and resonated with the Norwegians – like it did me! This is one of my fav recipes!

Norwegian: Svinemørbrad i Østerssaus

English: Pork Tenderloin in Oyster sauce

# 3 Cream Puffs

This is a very, very long rant on how I failed making cream puffs first time I tried it. It’s quite a witty text, and I think the reason it did so well was because I posted it in the Facebook group where it happened, so to say.

Norwegian: Verdens Lengste Vannbakkelsoppskrift

English: The world’s Longest Cream Puffs Recipe

# 4 Sandwich cake

This is the recipe I get the most hits on from search monitors, months after the initial marketing of the post.

Norwegian: Smørgåstårta (smørbrødkake)

English: Sandwich-cake (Smørgåstårta)

# 5 Autumn food

Again, timing plays a role. Promoting recipes for comforting autumn-food at the beginning of autumn, seriously, it can’t fail!

Norwegian: Beef and Guinness Stew (Norsk)

English: Beef and Guinness Stew (English)

The top 5 (well, top 15, really) has everything to do with marketing and timing. It has nothing to do with any superpowers. You see, if I find similar venues to promote my English posts, I am sure I will match the numbers for the English posts. Lets look into them anyways:

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# 1: My hometown

This was shared on Facebook by the storeowner I write about in this post. Her friends got curious and clicked the link. Again, how the post is promoted plays a huge role.

Stavanger, forever in my heart

# 2: Surprising current event

I don’t think this one needs any explanation, it is timing all over again.

Brexit Tea

images# 3: Funny recurring post (coffeeshare)

I had built a reader-base for my coffee shares over 3 months, and this post got lots of extra shares because the regular coffee crew liked it.

The Nerve!

# 4: Personal recurring post (coffeeshare)

This one baffles me. It’s not really funny, although there is a feeble attempt at a joke at the end, but it’s a personal post, in which I don’t really say anything. It wasn’t promoted in any special way. I don’t get it. Is this really what you guys like to read?

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# 5: Travel post with fab pics

I think this reached such high ranking because I have entered several Weekly Photo Challenges on the Daily Post. It has sort of accumulated the views over time.

Geiranger, Norway

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I think it is safe images-1to draw the conclusion that the stats won’t reveal my superpower. This trip into stats did reveal a big problem though; I have no idea how to promote my English posts. I have the content, I have loads of it. I have loads of it coming as well, that’s not the problem. The problem is promoting the blog, especially the English posts. If any of you marketing
mavericks and those whose superpower is blog-promotion, feel inclined to drop a few links of venues where I can promote my blog, I’ll be most grateful.

Oh, after all this bopping around in stats, NOW it hits me! I finally understand my superpower:

I make wine disappear! What is your superpower?

Me Gusta Valencia, Town Hall Square


 

Now, should you visit Valencia at one of the many, many feasts and holidays they celebrate here, then la Plaza del Ayuntamiento (Town Hall Square) is the place to be. During Fiestas and Fallas, the entire place is bursting with energy and spectacular mascletas (pyrotech).

Also, should you be here and there being NOT a fiesta, rest assured that the plaza is a popular meeting point for Valencians and is often filled with stalls selling flowers. A local tradition that dates back to 1924.

Our hotel was at la Plaza del Ayuntamiento, and was a great starting point for us exploring the lively, narrow lanes of Valencia’s Old Town.

As the name reveals, Plaza del Ayuntamiento is home to some of the most representative administrative buildings in Valencia, and features an outstanding mix of Spanish architectural styles. Dominating the square are the stunning neoclassical Town Hall (Ayuntamiento) and the magnificent Central Post Office (Edificio de Correos), designed by architect Miguel Angel Navarro in a beautiful eclectic style that combines striking Modernista features with lavish baroque-inspired interiors.

Check back later for more posts from this magnificent city! Also, check the previous posts:

Spanish Smiles

Me Gusta Valencia, Mercado Central

Me Gusta Valencia – The Silk Exchange

Flamenco is not just a bird!

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Facade

Graceful

Where the Streets Have No Name


Nope, this is not about the U2 song at all. Sorry to disappoint you, but now that you are here anyways… I am absolutely certain that U2 could write a fantastic tune about Longyearbyen! How could they not? It is so song-worthy! See for yourself:

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This is the end – or beginning – of Street 100 in Longyearbyen

 

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See that row of lights on the tundra? That is a row of snowmobiles coming back to town on the tundra, parallel to Street 400

 

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And this is Old Mamasan getting ready to go for a short trip on the ol’ Yamaha, starting from Street 232.

 

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Tundra road?

Do you find it strange that the Streets have numbers instead of names? I do too, really. But it makes it darn easy to navigate once you see the pattern in it. Just like Manhattan! (Did I really just compare Longyearbyen to Manhattan? LOL!)

Do I look daring on a snowmobile with a rifle over my shoulder? Just a regular part of living in the northernmost town in the world.

I know, I know, there has been many rants from me over Svalbard lately, and I guess I’m not done… Seeing as most people who have spent some time on the island do rant, I think it’s safe to say that once you have been bitten by the “Polar Bug” – you’ll never recover. Ever. There is just something so sincere and authentic about living in the Arctic.

And I really do think that U2 should write a song about Longyearbyen!

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A Svalbard Love Story


My nose and forehead was cold from being pressed up against the aircraft window as I was trying to catch a peak of what would be my home for the summer. I was 22 and held a freshly pressed diploma in my hand. And I had just landed my first real job, yanno, the full time job that was actually relevant to the letters on my diploma.

I wasn’t just excited to get a relevant job that quick, but at such an exotic location! I knew practically nothing about the place. I knew no one who had even been there. All I knew was that it was a Company town in the Arctic, and that they mined for coal. Sure I knew the dry facts, on how it was “No man’s land” or Treaty country – governed by Norway. I knew there were Norwegians and Russians and Polar bears.  But I had no clue what I was in for, didn’t know anything about work and life in the northernmost town in the world, Longyearbyen. I thought I had been quite daring

I strained my eyes to see through the thick layer of clouds that surrounded the plane as we had started our descend to Svalbard Airport, Longyearbyen. Finally a strange landscape revealed itself to me as we broke through the clouds. It was indeed a barren land. An inhospitable facade.  My nervousness increased as I asked myself, “What the hell is this place? How am I going to survive this cold, sterile, grey land?”

My new boss was chirping away about this mountain, and that fjord and coalmines and tourists and historic facts as we drove from the airport towards town. As we drove past the industrial area with rusty old rinky-dink containers and equipment lying about, my concern grew. What in the hell was this place? I remember thinking that I was a complete dingbat to accept a job up here without doing any research first. Surely this was information that I should have sought out on beforehand?

Boss lady was smiling and talking very enthusiastically as we approached town, giving me a guided tour. I felt my brain shutting down from the information overload provided by boss lady and all the visual impressions. I tried my damndest to respond to boss lady in a polite and positive manner, I really didn’t want to give her the impression that I was a complete nutter, however that was what I obviously was.

As I stepped out of the car and finally faced the view I had had my back against most of the way into town – or there had been stuff in the way blocking my view, that is when it hit me – and it hit me hard. I fell in love with Svalbard, with Longyearbyen. I finally understood boss lady’s enthusiasm. I got it. I really got it.

Svalbard really is The Greatest Place in the World

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Arctic Autumn


Browsing through old pictures, I came across these from September 2005. This is from our time living in the northernmost town in the world.

I miss it greatly, and would love to move back there. Alas there aren’t that many interesting jobs, it is very expensive to live there and not a whole lot of options when it comes to The Karate Kid’s education. Thus, I look at old pictures and miss the clear, crisp days of the arctic autumn. Days like this when it was perfect to put on lots of clothes and go for a hike or boat ride – or both. Go out of town, turn off the engine of the boat or car, or snowmobile and just sit. Relax. Observe. Enjoy. You get very aware of yourself in surroundings like these. You feel both very small and very mighty at the same time. You feel very alive. You excist Here and Now. It’s completely silent on windless days like this. The only thing you hear is your own breath and the rustling of your clothes. It’s wonderful. Scary. Nice. Relaxing.

Maybe one day I’ll be able to convince Sir Nerdalot to move up there with me, and until I do I rest assured that Svalbard will still be there even if it takes me 10 years.

The Greatest Place in the World

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Want to see more photos from Svalbard? Check out these previous posts:

Welcoming the sunset back

It was home

Blue much?

Showing some super S’es

Arctic Camping

Arctic Tundra – a sparce landscape

Evening at Borebreen

Snow car much?

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Dublin much? Slainte!


You can’t go to Dublin without hitting the pubs. The Irish pub theme has spread around the world, and has a widespread appeal. Now, imagine going to an Irish pub – in Ireland!

Irish pubs have existed for roughly a millennium, and the oldest pub in Ireland is the Sean’s Bar in Athlone, which was established in the 10th century. The oldest pub in Dublin, The Brazen Head, was established in 1198.

Our “local” was the O’Brien’s, not far from our hotel. This is one of the oldest pubs in Dublin and The Greatest Pub in the World! The famous bar has remained untouched for nearly 100 years. Fridays are popular for after work gatherings, and in fair weather the patrons gather in small groups both inside and outside, on the sidewalk along the intersection. Want to get to know the locals? No worries, go to the pub, get your preferred beverage and hope someone will come and talk to you. Soon you will be immerged in great conversation and good craic! (No we are not talking drugs here. Craic is a term for news, gossip, fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation. In other words, the good kind of craic!)

The Irish public house has been an integral part of Irish social culture for centuries. The local pub is a pillar of the community much in the same way the local church would be. It is not just a place to consume alcohol, but also functions as a place in which to meet and greet the people of that area. The warm and friendly atmosphere extends to outsiders as well, and as mentioned above, as a tourist you quickly get drawn into conversations with the locals. Often you also find live music – also an important part of the culture.

Many pubs also serve hearty food, often featuring classic Irish dishes like Beef and Guinness Stew (see recipe HERE) and fish and chips. Also hamburgers and various sandwiches are often offered.  Drinks include a variety of spirits and beers on tap but one can certainly expect Guinness and Irish whiskey such as Bushmills or Jameson. Of course, you do not have to drink alcohol; you can still have good craic with the locals. It is traditional that, when with a group, patrons take turns buying rounds of drinks for the group as a whole. It is considered bad manners to leave before buying your round of drinks. If you know you have to leave early, make sure you get your round in early on. The traditional Irish toast is “Slainte” which is the Gaelic equivalent of “cheers”.

When visiting Dublin, and Ireland, make sure you pay a visit to the local pub for some good craic with the locals! Slainte!

Make sure you check out my previous posts from Ireland:

An Irishman goes into a bar…

Beef and Guinness Stew (English)

Dublin much? Viking legacy

Ambience