Sea Organ, Zadar

ZADAR, Sea Organ

If you should be in Croatia please make an extra effort to go north to the old city of Zadar, home to the unique sounds of the Sea Organ.

Alfred Hitchcock visited Croatia in the spring of 1964. Croatia was then part of Yugoslavia. Hitchcock said that Zadar has the world´smostbeautiful sunset, even more beautiful than Key West in Florida.  Hitchcock visited Yugoslavia as the Balkans were working to recover from the horrors of WWII. The seashore was for many years after the war an area covered with simple cement, but that did not stop Hitchcock from experiencing his most beautiful sunset.

About 40 years after Alfred Hitchcock´svisit, the city of Zadar gave free hands to an architect, a genius, who transformed the whole seafront into the most serene place. His ingenious creation of a Sea Organ is one of the most peaceful and emotionally invigorating monuments I have had the fortune to visit.  And still, from the pictures here you can see that it was not even on a sunny day and even so a fabulous experience.

I had the loveliest afternoon in Zadar walking along the seafront, listening to the soothing accords coming out of the“organ”-pipes, humming along. The “organ”is70meterslong,76.5 yards or 230 feet.  There are 35 pipes in seven groups. The pipes are tuned in the same key as traditional singing by men from this geographic and ethnic region.   Chances though, that the same two accord should appear as the same “melody”isabsolutelyminimal.The tones are made by the combination of waves and the amount of air under the marble stones. The amount of air depends on the height of the waves at different times during the day.

If I had several lives I would spend one of them in Zadar, and every afternoon I would go down to the park with the Sea Organ and sit for part of an hour and listen. Not necessarily at sunset. The soothing always-original-melodies would cleanse my soul.

I do wish that Hitchcock could have lived to experience the tunes from the Sea Organ at one more sunset.

Zadar tourist bureau has an excellent website where you can hear the Sea Organ. By the way, Zadar is also the birthplace of Captain Georg von Trapp, famous from The Sound of Music.

Have a great day


17 Waterfalls in Croatia

Krka National Park, Croatia



In the National Park on the Krka River, halfway between Zadar and Split in central Dalmatia, you walk in a wide area around waterfalls for two, three milesin a long circle overbridges and over small streamspassing many beautiful small waterfalls.



You arrive at the national park by bus or car to a large parking area above the falls. If you go straight ahead, that isyou go the circle clockwise then you reach an area of ​​terraces and restaurants on the levelwith the upper part of the fall. From there you go on wide stairs down to the plateau at the base of the fall. These stairs are comfortable and have steady rails.

The area below the fall is wonderful. People swim in the pond formed by the waterfall and there is a large outdoor restaurant. People come andstay all day long and have a great time.

As a tourist you want to go the whole circle around the falls. So,when leaving the area below the fall, you must walk a very long staircase. It’s OK because there’s a railing on the right handside (there is no railing on the other side). I recommend going in a clockwise direction if you want to go up and not down the long staircase. It may seem a very small detail, and for young peopleit does not matter but for older people it may feel in theknees to go downwards. At the parking lot, it is easy to go to the right over the charmingsmall bridges which takes you counter-clockwise and up the long staircase. So it is important toknow which direction will be easiest for you when you come toKrka National Park.




I wish everyone a happy Fourth of July, 2018


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


Tokyo, Japan




Our Kimono-story

In the spring of 1988, my daughter C got off school to follow me and my husband to Japan for one week on one of his business trips. We lived at the time in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Thirty years ago, airplanes could not fly as far on one full tank compared to today, so we had a half day stop-over in San Francisco before continuing to Japan.

In San Francisco we did the normal tourist program. In Tokyo we stayed at the Tokyo Prince Hotel. My daughter C and I did tourist things while my husband met with his business contacts.

For instance, we saw people celebrating the falling of the Cherry blossoms in a park. They had brought blankets and had pick nick under the trees. We took part in a lovely tea ceremony in the top floor of an international hotel, and we made a weird trip to a university out in the country where they taught Swedish.  I was at the time the only Swedish teacher at a university between Washington D.C and Chicago and maybe I felt I should meet a colleague. Maybe I got bored of the sameness of the huge city of Tokyo.

One of the great memories is my two mornings at the Tokyo fish market, which is fabulous. I only took a taxi when I heard the gong at the monastery next door.  They beat the big gong at sun-up.  My daughter C went with me one time, but we had to leave as she thought it smelled too strongly —of fish.

I hope to describe the Tokyo fish market to you some time.  You ought to visit the Tokyo fish market if you have the chance.

My husband and C and I were invited by the Japanese businessmen to their club in Ginza. They had a shelf reserved for their personal liquor, whiskey. I do not drink whiskey and asked about brandy and somebody was sent out to buy a bottle. That bottle of brandy is still there, I am sure. That evening in that club in Ginza I made an unforgettable—for my family unforgettable –Karaoke rendition of “I Left my Heart in San Francisco.”

We also made a memorable trip to Nikko but here I will let C tell the story because that is C’s story:

Our first evening, a Friday, in Tokyo, I inaugurated a new pair of white leather sandals. However, the leather was very hard, especially at the heel, and cut into the skin. When we returned to the hotel I had bloody sores on both heels. That being the last time I bought shoes from a catalogue. Or wore those shoes. So, wearing other shoes I went around Tokyo with my eyes and mind wide open. And taking photos of everything, stopping only to enjoy the corn-on-the-cob-fried-in-soya-sauce in large Woks sold by street vendors. Yum!!! Then on Thursday we made our way to Nikko, a sanctuary up in the forested hills to the north of Tokyo. A visit was recommended to me by my history teacher who had lived in Japan. After several trains and busses, we reached the lovely site with large ornate pagodas, and a small water trough from which a thirsty visitor could get a drink.

The air was slightly moist with rain, and many of the school children and their teachers were holding up umbrellas. We walked around and took photos. Of course. We watched as school classes took turns to line up in rows on the steps and have their pictures taken. [The three “smaller”photos have been scanned in as they were not digital.]

Then it became time to return to Tokyo proper. So, we started to wander down the hillside to a bus stop where we would begin our journey. Behind us was a class of children around 11 years old. About halfway down the hillside Mom noticed that they wanted us to stop. Wondering what they could possibly want from us, we stopped and their male teacher approached us. He was stretching out his arm towards me. And in his hand, he held two Band Aids and pointed at my feet. I smiled, bowed and placed my hand on my heart before graciously accepting the gift. C


But it was OUR KIMONO STORY I wanted to tell you; how my daughter C and I found and each bought a pre-owned kimono and an obi “somewhere” in Tokyo. It was a wonder how we got there and back to the hotel.

I checked the English-language newspaper for things to do and I had found the smallest ad: “Used kimonos. 1 dollar per pound.” Why I reacted I do not know, but I love beautiful “stuff.” And I assume that we all agree that kimonos are very beautiful.  The receptionist at the hotel wrote out the address in Japanese and my daughter and I took off. I remember going by two different buses and one subway. We tried to get a taxi, but the taxi driver refused to drive us. That made me think that it might not be a good or safe address, but we endured. Between buses and subway we stopped people and showed them the paper with the address and asked what to do next. I remember well that when we were close we walked about 500 yards through an area with very nice modern buildings.  But what we thought the last person meant when we asked for directions had us ending up at a shack below a railroad track. We stepped in. Bowed respectfully of course and looked around. Only black “working-class”  (sorry for the choice of word) kimonos, many of them mended. We looked around and tried to make some sense of it all and maybe find a nice black kimono. The man in charge of the store was sweet and apologetic. When we showed him the advertisement he took us outside and made us understand that his was not the place for us. We together understood that we should go to the modern building across the street and he pointed at the door where we should enter and showed three fingers. So we went across the street and up to the third floor and there we came into a Paradise.  If you love beautiful things, hundreds and hundreds of colorful kimonos are Paradise.

The store had wedding kimonos on the fourth floor. Only if you are extremely lucky do you get to see such fabulous things. Maybe some museum in major cities have Japanese wedding kimonos on display.  We were very lucky. We spent two hours and bought each one kimono and each one obi.  Then we started on our long and complicated way back to the hotel. We were elated, to say the least.

This morning, sitting in my home in Orlando, Florida, I looked up pre-owned antiques on eBay. Auction houses and eBay are like fine museums and you can sit comfortably in front of your computer and enjoy the beauty without having to travel! Lucky me.  There on eBay were pre-owned kimonos, being auctioned. That was when I remembered my and my daughter´s difficult travel with buses and subway to that store that sold fabulous pre-owned kimonos in Tokyo.


Mobile, Alabama


December 13, 2017, Lucia Day in Sweden, a very important day culturally.

MOBILE, Alabama, ”the best city in the USA.”

”the best city in the USA.”  is what Sweden´s (second most important) author, Carl Jonas Love Almqvist, said in the 1860s. Almqvist was born in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1793 and died in Bremen, Germany, in 1866. Almqvist spent the years between 1851 and 1865 in America, mainly in Philadelphia, but traveled extensively in the USA.

Almqvist was a genius, unfortunately too modern for his own times. Almqvist managed to construct the Swedish school system before he left his country. Almqvist was a romantic writer and still would have fitted in today as he was a very early Feminist.

Yesterday, was the dramatic election in Alabama of a Senator for the US Senate where feminism played an odd role. That triggered my memory of Carl Jonas Love Almqvist and especially his love for Mobile, Alabama.

I had been curious about what Almqvist had seen in Mobile, and had the chance to see the town on a drive between Denver, Colorado and Orlando, Florida.

Mobile was well worth my visit. The old part of town today is restored and lovely and looks like it must have looked in the mid-1800s.

The Old Spanish Trail, or route 98, out of Mobile going east is a beautiful experience. And there is also the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park just outside the town. That would be interesting for a family with young boys. Interesting for Dads also. (For Mom?)

I had a great meal in a HUGE building, bigger than a barn, on the reef 3 miles east of downtown Mobile: Felix´s Fish Camp Restaurant.

Another restaurant I found and to which I´d like to return is Tropics Bar and Grill on 5872 Battleship Parkway, in Spanish Fort, just at the foot of a bridge on Route 98, about 8 miles from Downtown Mobile. The view is very inspiring.

When I went to school, they taught Almqvist´s writing. Today, many people in Sweden have not heard about him unfortunately. He is among the people who have shaped the Swedish way of thinking in the 1800s. Almqvist happened to live in the Romantic Era. For instance, he and some friends “went back to nature” the way the French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) preached.  Almqvist and his friends were farmers for a while in the wooded area in Värmland near the Norwegian border. The house is still there, well taken care of by people from the Almqvist Society.

We have several touch points. In 2012 we moved our Swedish home from the Stockholm area to Upplands Väsby, halfway between the capital and the city of Uppsala. From the time Almqvist was three years old till he was fifteen he lived in Upplands Väsby. He described his childhood on a country estate 200 years ago as an idyll.  The square in front of our train station in Upplands Väsby is called the “Love Almqvists Torg.”

And another touch point with Almqvist is our country home I Värmland about 10 miles from Almqviststugan, his little cottage in the dense forest where he played at being a farmer for a few years around 1820. There he married a country girl and they had a daughter. The daughter was his contact in Sweden during his years abroad and we know so much about him through his letters to the daughter.

Mobile, Alabama. It is lovely. When I feel like it I shall take my little dog with me and drive there again, follow the Gulf coast, possibly take a detour to the lovely and artsy Cedar Key on route 24 north of Tampa. I will plan the trip over some Saturday and Sunday. In the USA it is so pleasant to travel through small towns on Saturdays and Sundays as people in small towns put on special “Days” at their market squares over weekends. We people are after all flock-animals, and seek any reason for festivities.

(The foremost Swedish author is August Strindberg, born and died in Stockholm, 1849-1912)

Have a great day, S.



Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico. A hidden Gem.


And a hidden gem.

To my mind, Acoma is an exotic and a magical place.

I visited Acoma about fifteen years ago when I stayed for a while in Albuquerque. Acoma is 65 miles straight west of the city, about 100 km.

You arrive at a tourist center and a shuttle will take you up onto the flat top of the Mesa where Indians live and work. They are well-known for their fine pottery. You may follow a guided tour and learn about the Pueblo people´s culture. The place is still very authentic American Indian.

If you are interested in the history in the Native Americans there is much written on the Internet.  There is quite a lot about Acoma and the Mesa in New Mexico.

A visit to Acoma is a very unusual experience and pleasant. And for most people anyway an unexpected meeting with a very different culture.

I have a small collection of Native American  pottery, that I have bought in Arizona, New Mexico and at the Brass Amadillo Antique Mall  (well worth a visit!) in Wheat Ridge by Denver,Colorado. Also at an auction in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Have a great day



Madrid, Spain—Plaza Mayor

Every Plaza Mayor in Spain is wonderful and so is the Plaza Mayor of Madrid. The Plaza Mayor measures 129 m × 94 m (423 ft × 308 ft), was built during Philip III’s reign (1598–1621). According to Wikipedia.



But before you enter the plaza I suggest you go next-door to the food market, a very pretty building, also filled with energy.




The Spaniards know their ham like the French know their wine.

And the sausages.



Tapas or other dishes for lunch

I know that not everybody likes fish, but there are a lot of fishermen among  the Spaniards.


Tapas and dessert.

And of course the ubiquitous fruit stand.

And the desserts.




There is all you need at the Market in Madrid. And of course drinks.

Casual and relaxed eating.

But we must go into the Plaza Mayor.

The three-story residential buildings have 237 balconies facing the Plaza.

The day we were at the Plaza Mayor there were also soccer fans in blue jerseys!






Helping tourists who do not know Spanish.

This is what we saw as we left Plaza Mayor. A piece of real life.

It is hard work to be a tourist.  S.