Saturday, October 25, 2008

Hansel and Gretel were here......

Strasbourg is packed with architectural gems. Some houses are picked out of a fairy tale, like this house located on the left corner of Rue Mercière and Rue du Vieil Hôpital. It looks like it has inspired a fairy tale by Brothers Grimm, highly ornate, like the Maison Kammerzell by the Cathedral itself.

Rue Mercière is a narrow street that leads directly up to the cathedral. Along this ancient narrow street you find similar houses. Still, this house is one of my favourites. Very narrow and long, with statues, faces and other ornaments carved out of century old wood.

Here you find a great souvenir shop, where you may buy post cards and traditional products. But I would recommend you to go closer and study the details carved into the wood.

Like this guy. A bishop, prince, king? Whatever position he once had, he has been immortalized, carved into one of the old beams of the gingerbread house in Rue Mercière.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Schweriner Dom

Wherever you are in Schwerin, you will see the 117 metre tower of Schweriner Dom. This wonderful church was built 1248-1416, but the tower was finished as late as 1893.

Most of the Gothic cathedrals I have visited have been built in stone. In Northern Germany, however, you find large red brick churches, and Schweriner Dom resembles churches I have seen in Lubeck and Hamburg.

The church is different in other ways. Cathedrals as those found in Lyon and Strasbourg are ornate structures with light arches and a large number of statues. The Schweriner Dom is very different. You have arches all right, but decorations thin and elegant as lace are not found here.

When entering the church, you are met by a bright, white and light interior.

Not as in Notre Dame or the Nidaros cathedral, where you find dark and mysterious interiors where the light is reflected through beautiful coloured stained glass.

But you are easily decieved by this interior. In parts of the church you see what is hidden behind the white paint. Faded, but still colourful decorations painted directly on the stones.

Within the church walls you find the mausoleum of the dukes and duchesses of Mecklenburg Vorpommern.

The Headstones of the von Bülow Family

One family has been intimately connected to the Schweriner Dom. In the 13th and 14th century 4 generations of this family were appointed bishops of Schwerin. They were Gottfried, Ludolf, Heinrich and Friedrich von Bülow.

A Flamish unknown master made two magnificent headstones in pure brass in their memory. They are exquisite examples of the skills of the late 14th century, when they were engraved.

They have been brought back to their former glory by Joseph Wieczorek. This work has been funded by the von Bülow family

Thursday, October 23, 2008

In or about the year of our Lord One thousand Six hundred thirty and four

the then present inhabitants
of the Town of Boston of whom
the Honorable John Winthrop Esq
Govenor of the colony was chief
did treate and agree
with Mr. William Blackstone

for the purchase of his Estate

and rights in any

Lands lying within said

neck of land called


after which the purchase this

Town laid out a plan for

a trayning field which ever

since and now is used for

that purpose and for

the feeding of cattle

This gray memorial plaque outlines the history of Boston Common, the large green lung located in the middle of Boston.

John Winthrop was born in 1587 in Edwardstone, Suffolk, and he, his third wife Margaret Tyndal, their three sons and eight servants left their small manor bound for the new world 1630-1631. Here he became the governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony.

In or about the year of our Lord One thousand Six hundred thirty and four he bought what was supposed to become Boston Common from William Blaxton, born 1595 in County Durham, and arrived at Weymouth MA in 1623. In 1625 he settled as the first inhabitant of Boston. His house was located at todays Beacon Street.

Later he settled near Cumberland, Rhode Island. He died as a very old man in 1675.

So when you walk through the park today you can think back on the contract signed in 1634, and two puritans role in creating an American city.

It is not true that America has no history, as many Europeans tend to believe. Travel to Boston and feel it!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Jeg kom til verden i en mursteinsgård.....

"Jeg kom til verden i en musteinsgård. Jeg er en gategutt."

"I was born in a red brick building. I am a street boy." These are the two first lines in a poem by Rudolf Nilsen, a Norwegian working class poet.

He was born in 1901 and lived his entire short life at Oslos East End. He is connected to Gråbeingårdene, large red-brick working class housing estates built 1884-1896 by Ole Olsen, called Gråbein (Grey Bone), due to his meaness.

These red brick buildings, 8 in all, are located at Urtegata 36, Tøyengata 36-40, Herslebs gate 32-34, Jens Bjelkes gate 14-18 og 37-39, Lakkegata 71-75, Siebkes gate 1-5 og 4-6 and Sars gate 2. They had, when built, a high standard compared to other houses nearby. Originally there were 700 flats in the 8 buildings housing more than 3500 inhabitants. Now they have been turned into 120 larger flats.

Today they are located in the increasingly expensive and popular downtown area of Oslo. These and similar buildings are currently being restored back to and even beyond their original state.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A1 Deli - Ye Olde Traditional American Diner

Haverhill, MA - once a centre for local shoe manufacturing. Now turning into a fashionable Boston suburb with its own commuter rail station. Haverhill is the home town of Pete, husband of my cousin, and he brought me to his favourite place to eat, the A1 Deli.

The A1 Deli is located in downtown Haverhill. This is a place where my cousin and her husband love to go and dine. A huge menu at low prices - and what food!

I have visited a great number of American diners, and I have rarely left disappointed. Large portions of decent honest food. Large truckers breakfasts with bacon, eggs, roasted potatoes, pancakes and maple syrup. Hamburgers made from real meat with delicious french fries. Generous sandwiches with potato chips.

The A1 Deli is run by a Greek family, and Pete told me that they work around the clock in the restaurant.

I was struck by the enormous menu. Sandwiches with corned beef, tuna melt, turkey or veal cutlet priced from $4-8, Caesar, BLT, Roastbeef, sliced Turkey salads within the same price range. Traditional dinners as veal cutlets, lamb kebabs, and chicken breasts to around the $10 mark.

An Honest Tuna Sandwich

What to choose. I struggled with a very substantial lunch that I enjoyed at Le Bec Rouge in Hampton Beach 5 hours earlier.

I chose a sandwich with a very generous amount of tuna salad made from tuna, mayonnaise, and raw onions, served on rye with tomatoes and cornichons for $5,95 and it was made right in front of you.


Traditional roast with a Greek twist

My cousin chose a roast with fried potatoes, gravy and a delicious stewed broccoli. The broccoli had been stewed in a white sauce with, what my cousin assumed, feta cheese and cracker crumbs on top.


It is so great to see that these traditional diners still survive through all modern trends, and that Peter can return to his hometown and enjoy his ultimate comfort food.

I certainly enjoyed the meal at A1 Deli, and recommend a visit if you drive through Haverhill. It does not cost very much either. To get a generous meal and a beer for around $15 is a rare experience in Europe.

A1 Deli
92 Merrimack St
Haverhill, MA 01830, United States
Phone: +1 978-372-7951

Monday, October 20, 2008

The P-Hotel experience

I am attending a conference. in Trondheim In order to save money, I booked into P-Hotel. I know they say that less is more, the P-Hotel states that I as customer gain from a low budget, low service hotel brand. I say that for a little higher price than I pay at P-Hotel, I could get a room elsewhere for the same price with not less, but more goods and service. What do I miss the most during my stay. A breakfast buffet!!

Location: BBBB

The hotel is located at Nordre Gate, a downtown street with shops and restaurants near by. The hotel is a 5 minutes walk away from the main railway station. From the railway station you may catch north- and southbound train services, busses, and the shuttle bus to the main airport.

Service: BBBBB

The receptionist was the only member of staff I met, and she did a great job. As I asked for a place to dine she gave me her favourite place to eat. As I needed needle and thread to mend my trousers she found it in her drawer. Very kind and charming, as the service was not in short supply as much of the other stuff at the hotel.

Room: BBBB

Decent sized room and bath with a rather gloomy view into a grey wall. The good thing was that it had a very silent location, turning away from the street.

There was one large - and very comfortable double bed, a comfortable chair, and a slightly uncomfortable desk, on which I wrote this story.

White pleasant and rather neutral colouring. It has a designer hotel character, without that extra twist that would set it out from other similar hotels. The room is well maintained. Not immaculately at there are some small signs of wear and tear on carpets, tiles, and lamp shades.

The floor is covered with wall to wall carpeting, to be critical of, as it is hard to keep clean. Still it it had no larger stains and seemed clean enough, as carpets come. There were a little dust at the top of picture frames and the mirror.

A nice flat screen TV and water cooker with tea bags and coffee. No hair dryer or mini bar, so you have to leave the hotels as there is no inhouse bar.

Room and bathroom acceptable at the price I paid.

Breakfast BB-

I love to wake up in the morning and, after a shower, walk down and choose from a breakfast buffet. No such luck here. This is rather a difficult point, as the breakfast is included, but someone has chosen what to eat. At 6.30 AM I could decide whether I would like to have one sandwich with either cheese and ham, juice, and fresh juice delivered to my door. And coffee? You have to brew it yourself.

I would love to choose what bread to choose, yogurt, what fruit to eat - and the smell of freshly made coffee and a newspaper.

P-Hotel may claim that this is their idea of breakfast included, but it is not mine. This is not the way to save money for the guest. You may like it, I do not.

Other facilities: BB

P-Hotel has neither inhouse restaurant, nor inhouse bar. This is a hotel stripped of every kind of necessary and unnecessary facilities. The only facilities to talk of are the free high speed wireless internet access and a free PC in the lobby.

The design and hygiene in the hotel is acceptable, but the wall to wall carpeting in the corridors is partly worn and stained. The corridors look a little shabby.

Price: BBBB

I paid NOK 795 for one (a little less than 100 EURO), an acceptable price for the room, but I feel that it should have included more.

Rating the P-Hotel experience: BBBB- (3,64 points)

Rating if breakfast is excluded: BBBB (3,87 points)

Less is not more, but much less at P-Hotel. Still recommendable for no nonsense guests. Personally I like the nonsense more......


Nordregate 24, 7010 Trondheim
Phone +47 800 HOTEL (800 46835)
Fax: +47 73 80 23 51
SMS: p trd ddmm send til 19180