Wesseling- Russian Icons

Wesseling- Russian Icons

I like to go on a regular road or regular train. Then at least I get tosee people,living in the area.

Along the river Rhine you gobyboat instead of a bus. It is very practical. The old reputable company KD Köln-Düsseldorf… KD Deutsche Rheinschiffahrt AG is extremely practical and in my opinion a very convenient way to travel along the Rhine. I have had reasonsto travel between Cologne and Frankfurt a few times, but of course, boats go north and south from those places along almost the entire Rhine.

In Cologne you have totake a taxi to the dock, which is hard to find otherwise. Make sure you get the right boat. The boats serve as regular country buses: you buy the ticket before boarding, either in a kiosk at the dock or in a shop across the street in thesmall towns. I believe you can also buy the ticket onboard. Everything is low-key and very practical and pleasant.

When you boardthe boat, you take a place in the restaurant—hopefully at a window—and you will keep itduring your entire trip. If you want to get up on deckyou can markyour placewith a book or a jacket. During the day, you order breakfast, lunch, and dinner and your waiter will take care of you. They will serve you coffee or wineor whatever you want at any time.


Once I was first on board and grabbed the small table for two peopleat the front, almost above the bow. I had the most amazing view you could imagine. When the boat left, I discovered that I was blocking part of the view for the rest of the passengers, so I moved back to anotherwindow table and everyone was grateful. Nobody took my first table.

Once I started in Cologne quite late in the afternoon and could not get to my favorite city on the Rhine, the small town of Boppard. I stayed overnight in Wesseling, halfway between Cologne and Bonn. It’s probably seven years since I was there. As I walked in the park along the river, I discovered that there was a Russian Icon museum in a villa in a park. It is a private museum and the man who created the collection lived upstairs on the second floor of the big villa. Perhaps the man was Russian Orthodox, maybe he was Roman Catholic. I never thought about asking because the situation suddenly became so dramatic.

The man asked me where I come from. My friends who subscribe to this blog know that I grew up in Sweden and have Swedish / European Union passport but that I’m also a US citizen after spending half of my life in the United States.

In Europe, I say I’m from Sweden. It simplifies life. Everything in human history deals with LOYALTY and Europeans like European “loyalty”.

I said to the man thatI come from Sweden. Heexploded in anger. “Sie sind ja Protestant!” he said, refusing me access to his museum.

”Religouswars”arealive and well in Europe! Are not ”religious wars”a strange expression?

I shall tell you a little aboutmy family, who mainly were farmers in the cold and dark of Scandinavia for probably 1500 years. Butonebranch in our family tree was well off in the 17th century and earlier they were large landowners (with many children who sometimes shared theinheritance). Earlier,from 1300 AD backwards,they belonged to those who createdtheEuropean states.Takealook atyour background! We may be related!

I told the angry man in the Russian Icon museum in Wesseling on Rhine thatI have lots of saints in my background, including Russian Orthodox Saints and even a Pope. You should have seen his 180 degree turn! He treated me royallyafter that.

If you are a Catholic, Orthodox or if you like icons or if you just love beautiful things, you would like the Wesseling Museum of Russian Icons from the 16th century. I bought two CDs of Gregorian chantsfrom the man. He felt so good because he met a descendant of medieval saints.

Have a great day


Italy – Vatican

The Sistine Chapel

If you travel to Rome try to be there on a Friday night. The Vatican City State often opens the Sistine Chapel for visitors on Friday nights. First of course check the Internet if it’s open on the night you’re there.

It is so much more convenient to visit the Sistine Chapel on such an evening because there is not such a big crowd as during daytime.  You get more time to be in the chapel, which you will want after the long walk up the wide spiral staircase and the long corridors. The corridors might not feel so long due to the   immensely fine art on all walls.  I have always thought that the Holy See want to educate the visitors and also give them exercise.  It takes a long time to get to the Sistine Chapel, but don’t let me discourage you. You won’t regret making the effort!

Last time we were in Rome with  we went with a guided tour on a Friday evening and we were able to sit down for half an hour and enjoy Michelangelo´s paintings in the ceiling. When you see those paintings in the ceiling remember that Michelangelo was not a painter but a sculptor. This enabled him to make three-dimensional figures. They give the impression of being sculptures,

Michelangelo lived between 6 March 1475 till 18 February 1564. He painted the ceiling of Sistine Chapel 1508 to 1512. He had already made one of the finest sculptures in existence, La Pietà, and it is now on the right when you enter the Basilica from the Piazza San Pietro.It is now placed behind a bulletproof acrylic glass after being damaged due to an unfortunate attack by a sick person in 1972. Michelangelo was appointed the architect of St. Peter’s Basilica, in 1546, and he created the dome above it. Do go up in the dome or at least go up  to on the terrace that looks out over Piazza San Pietro.

Have a great day



USA Midwest, Lee Child—Jack Reacher

USA Midwest, Lee Child—Jack Reacher

The Heartland

I cannot say anything about Lee Child´s writing. He is one of the (many great) modern writers. But I can tell you about my own feelings when I read his novels, his thrillers.

The thing is that I relate easily to Jack Reacher, Child´s main character. For me he is the perfect “tourist.” He travels and takes in impressions as they come along. That is the way I love to travel, eager to see something new.

Lee Child is the perfect “tourist.” A tourist is a person of immense curiosity. Child was born in England, but most of his stories take place in the USA. As a perfect “tourist” he looks in awe at new vistas with the eyes of a child. Although he places sinister happenings in the towns and cities he visits, Child must have been happy getting to know those places or he could not spend so much time describing them in detail. He works like a painter in front of a canvas.

Reacher hitchhikes or takes Greyhound buses. It is not a very sophisticated way to travel, some might think, but it is relaxed.  I have traveled from Colorado to New Mexico and from Pittsburgh to New York with Greyhound, but I have never hitchhiked.  It is not so dangerous for a man, especially if he is more than six feet and weighs over 200 pounds like Jack Reacher.

Somewhere Child calls Jack Reacher a “drifter”.  I do not think I am a drifter. For several years I drove along the Atlantic Coast just to be able to breathe. I drove along the Atlantic Coast from Key West to the Canadian border. But I had a goal. I drove in the direction away from where the “early trees” were not blooming. I was avoiding pollen that I feared would finally make it impossible for me to breathe.  My health was poor with allergies and asthma haunting my frightened soul. But I was lucky. I could get away from the allergens. I took my car and drove away from them.  Maybe I was a drifter then for a while.  Just like Reacher.

There are no colors really in Child´s novels. They are grey.  There are shadows and mist and gloom, night, but also sun.  When I read about Child´s sun I add yellow and orange, but that is not his intent I believe. There is brightness and there is dawn.  A modern grey novel. I mean that for me it seems that the New World is black or grey.

In Die Trying he has the following color: peach color. The lady who we hope would stay with Reacher forever has a peach-colored expensive Italian suit. She has a high post in Washington and spends lots of money on clothing. There are glimpses of a blue sky occasionally, but not many times through the book.  And there is the green truck with a ton of dynamite on a desolate road in the sparely populated mountains out west.

How can I, a colorist and artist find myself so at home in Lee Child´s novels that are grey, more or less?  Lee Child gives the answer himself when he describes as genius being in the details. I like genius.  And Child´s novels are built up with details that draw the reader into the action. The reader is part of the story.

I believe I can relate to Lee Child´s Reacher the most when he travels across the Midwest of the USA, living very simply, taking a room at a small town´s only hotel. And that hotel room is in no way fancy—just the way I did when fighting for my own health.  But I think that what echoes in me when I follow Jack Reacher is the farmland in the US Midwest and the emptiness in the large landscapes. Those wide scenes place me back to my childhood and summers that I spent in the Swedish countryside at different homes and farms, belonging to family. To get to them the Ford we travelled in passed wide fields and through large forests. Only now and then I saw a farmhouse, just the way Jack Reacher sees farmhouses on the Plaines. Although I was only a child, and although there lingers in me memories of a sunlit orange countryside, I today pick up a feeling of loneliness and melancholy that is a residue of impressions from my childhood summers. Odd enough it feels good for me, although Child describes landscapes in murky weather. It touches a nerve in me.

Jack Reacher crisscrosses the US, describes the sites he visits in detail, and lets us follow him, which I happily do. Over the last 60 years, I have visited 43 US states and lived in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Colorado, and Florida. I have spent so much time in Manhattan, so I canalmostsay I have lived there and the same with California. I love to follow Jack Reacher to US states I feel I know so well.

Reading one of Child´s thriller novels, I sort of took a helicopter trip—together with Jack Reacher— to Chicago and Washington D.C. and spent some time in both cities, cheerfully going back in my memory to wonderful days in both cities over fifty years. Reading Child´s novel was a tourist trip to the Midwest (and D.C.).

I do not read the fighting scenes. Sometimes I skip to the last page of such a scene to see who survives and then I go back and hastily read a few words in paragraph after paragraph to see what happened. The martial arts scenes must be great in the movies, but I read Child for his description of places.

I like the modern world. We are so lucky. We can try on innumerable Personae through our lifetime. As children we copy the grown-ups like children always have done, but as adults there is no limit to people or situations we can copy and learn from. It is as if we are trying on shirts, pants, jackets in the dressing room of a clothing store. When we stand in the irritatingly long checkout line in the grocery store we enter famous peoples’ lives for split seconds and take on and live their lives  subconsciously, approving or disliking their behavior. Those moments are travels into different worlds. So are of course all the movies and books that open places where we can experience other lives in our minds for a short spell.

This is what the modern world has done for “everyman” during the last hundred years or so and I am one who is enormously grateful.

And I can take on different personae when traveling. I can be a tourist, with eyes open in awe over new unexpected aspects of life or I can be a traveler, intent on a goal, a study of something or a business appointment.

Now I am starting to read one more Lee Child book, Tripwire.  Jack Reacher is in wonderful Key West. That will be another vacation trip for me as a tourist.

Have a great day



Croatia Underwater Wine

Croatia is an extremely beautiful country.  It has a very long, rocky, coastline with islands along the Adriatic Sea and we all know how coastlines with islands sooth our aesthetic souls.

The only thing Croatia and the other Balkan states need are tourists. These countries are restored to comfort again after the horrible Yugoslav Wars, 1991 to 2001. There are beautiful items, locally produced, to bring home as souvenirs. What did I buy on my bus-charter trip in 2017? I picked up a couple of fun things at the Antique market in Split, but what I really was happy about was a very special wine, a business concept. The wine is stored for two years in underwater grottos in the Adriatic Sea.

Look on the Internet under Croatia, wine, stored underwater in grottos and you will be inspired to take boat tours out to these grottos for a swim.

This wine was hard to find in any store, but I had read about it in a travel magazine and I kept trying. There is a very good liquor store outside the northeast corner of the Palace in Split and they ought to have that wine.  Well, they did not.  Finally, I found the wine in a gift store in a cheese factory on the island of Pag in the northern part of CroatiaIt is the most expensive wine I have bought; a little above 100 dollars for this bottle.  It was delivered, carefully packed in a wooden box, like a small crate.

It was a fabulous wine. We had a family (We are a small family) reunion and celebrated with this wine.  That dinner was an event.

Have a great day