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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Visit to Rome

I have spent a week in Rome. I decided to visit because my great grandfather Arndt expressed a great fascination for Italy, and especially Rome. So I travelled in his footsteps. There are photos in his album from 1929, when he visited, and I tried to take photos of the same things. He visited the famous sites, like the Palatine Hill, Forum Romanum and the Colosseum. I did the same.

Even though it's September there were lots of tourists and there were lines for everything. The line outside St Peter's Basilica was about 200 meters long and I decided it was not that important (Arndt didn't visit). I spent most of the days walking around (or taking the subway) to all the sites around the city. In addition to the sites Arndt mentioned, I also saw Pantheon, Circus Maximus, Spanish Steps, Capitoline Hill and several other places. But the most interesting ones were Forum Romanum and the Colosseum. I could trace Arndt's path and even figured out where he was sitting when he made a sketch of one of the arches (he made a painting of this later). There is an enormous amount of history to learn in Rome. Old buildings, statues, columns and archaeological sites everywhere.

During my visit I rented a small apartment owned by a Swedish family. It is in a building from the 17th century and situated in a tourist area called Trastevere, west of the river Tiber. Unfortunately, the windows facing the street were not insulated so the noise from the party people kept me awake until after midnight. Two hours later the surprisingly efficient Italian garbage collectors started working, with intervals of about two hours. I woke up every time they stopped to pick up the trash. It was also a strange feeling to have a nightclub on one side of the apartment wall and a church on the other. Especially on the Sunday evening, when both had activities (both included some kind of singing)...

Most things were pretty expensive in Rome and there were no clothes that would fit me, so the shopping only included some souvenirs and cheap bracelets at a flea market. The food was of varied quality and of course based on wheat, which is not so good for me. But I tried the lasagna, the pizza and the sandwiches, of which the first and last were best. Like I try to do on my visits abroad, I also had a meal at the Hard Rock Cafe. After a week in this hot (28-30 centigrades) and noisy city (unbelievable traffic) I was glad to get home again yesterday. My mission to travel in Arndt's footsteps was accomplished and it was definitely an interesting trip.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Weekend at the summerhouse

I was at the summerhouse over the weekend. My mother will move back to her winter residence next week, so this was the last chance to see her before she leaves. We went to the fleamarkets in Åhus, had some people come over to visit and went to church coffee with music entertainment. We attended this last event because we know the guy who played the flute. I returned home Tuesday after one more fleamarket round in Kristianstad. It was not any extensive shopping; I got three egg cups and a cookie jar and my mother some pocket books and a cardigan.

Wednesday and Thursday I was at work to make plans for my next trip abroad. I'm leaving tomorrow for a week in a European capital.

The September weather is windy and occasionally wet (though no rain when I was in London!). I have given up on sitting on the balcony so the furniture is now back in the attic storage. I threw away some of the flowers also.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Shopping in London

Early Monday morning I spent 23 minutes in total (including breakfast and shower) to get ready and was out of the door before 7. The trip to Copenhagen airport took about an hour by train. Travelled with Norwegian to Gatwick south of London. At Gatwick you scan your own passport on arrival, if you have a passport issued in the EU. Bought a sandwich and consumed it on the train to the city to save time. The first day of shopping started at the east end of Oxford Street and ended at the west. The primary reason for visiting was to buy plus size clothes. Some of the stores: Simply Be, New Look, Evans, Yours Clothing, Bonmarche and Forever 21. I didn't make purchases in all of them though. In the evening I had a hamburger and a chocolately dessert at Hard Rock Cafe. I was very tired after that much walking so I took the subway (called the tube) to the hotel. Hotel rooms in London are in my experience of very low quality and this was not an exception.  I got a room facing one of the busiest streets, there was a gap under the door to the hallway, the bathroom looked like it was from the 1930s, the toilet would only flush occasionally and the floor squeeked. It said on a poster that the plumbing was from the 1860s. I was exhausted and did get some sleep, despite all this.

The next morning I noticed that the showerhead was fixed in a position too low for me. I had to bend quite a lot to wash my hair. The breakfast was two boiled eggs and two slices of bacon. At 9 I took the tube to a shopping center called Surrey Quays pretty far south. Bought two tops at Yours Clothing and then went to a big grocery store, Tesco. They also had clothes and accessories, I found a very nice handbag with butterfly pattern. I had a chicken sandwich in the food court. Returned to the tube station and continued on the same line to one of Europe's largest shopping malls, Westfield Stratford City. 250 stores and 65 restaurants on several floors. I knew that there wouldn't be any stores with plus size clothing but I still wanted to see it. I walked from one end and then down a floor back. There were some Swedish stores there, Lindex and Polarn & Pyret, for instance. Also the Danish shop Tiger, selling cheap useful items like toys, kitchen utensils and small things. It was interesting to see. I returned by tube to Leicester Square and had a cheesecake at Hollywood Planet, mainly to get to sit down. My legs were hurting from all the walking. Made a small purchase at the gigantic M&Ms store and walked down to National Gallery. I wanted to see their collection of 17th century paintings, but that section was closed off for unknown reason. Slightly disappointing. I returned to Oxford Street by tube and bought a pair of boots and a top at two different Evans stores. I was at the west end of the street where there are very few restaurants, so I had a meal at Pizza Hut. A rather nice barbecue chicken pizza. Back to the hotel by bus.

Wednesday I woke up early but waited until 8 to get breakfast. This time I had the continental variant, two croissants with butter and jam. Not what I'm used to, but I survived. I checked out before 9 and made an attempt at going by the tube when it was still rush hour. Not a wise decision. Every train arriving (with 2-minute intervals) was packed with people in office suits. I had to wait at the platform quite a while before I could get onboard a train. In Sweden rush hour is over before 9, but obviously not in London. I made it to Holborn Station and changed to another line to go rather far north, Turnpike Lane. There was a store, Bonmarche, I wanted go to. It turned out to be a store aimed at women considerably older than myself. Even so, I walked in and right then lowered the average age of customers by several decades. I went through the stock and found two dresses (one of which was on sale). I was very happy about this, as it was a long journey to get there. I returned by the tube from far north through the city and ended at Victoria Station in the south. It took about 45 minutes. I had lunch at Ed's Easy Diner in the food court above the train station. A very nice barbecue pulled pork hamburger with cole slaw and onion rings. After this I managed to find out what trains went to Gatwick, bought a ticket in a machine and went onboard. The train ride took about 35 minutes. I returned to Copenhagen by the same airline, was rather lucky with the trains and arrived home at 8 in the evening.

Going shopping in London is not cheap. The clothing prices are basically the same as in Sweden, but everything else is more expensive. For me, it was the plus size collections that was the attraction, since it's different from here. I am pleased with the result: seven tops, three dresses, one pair of boots, three scarves (all three with butterflies on!), one handbag, some underwear and a few more small things.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Research success

The semester at the university started this week and it's very busy in Lund now. Many new students arrived and my colleagues do little else than issue library cards in September. It's a hectic time of the year and I'm glad I'm not working right now. I have done some small things at work, but not near my usual work load. I have been there quite a lot to do research (for someone else) and this weekend I finally got it finished and sent it off. Regarding this, it really is amazing what you can find online these days. I was able to get obituaries published over 100 years ago from a Norwegian newspaper for this. It's scanned and searchable for free online. The package I sent was rather large and I hope they will find it interesting. I certainly thought it was.

Apart from this, I have done some chores like window washing. It was very much in need. I have also been to the large recycling place on the other side of town with some items (crushed plates) that I can't leave at the place in the same block. Other activites include crossword puzzles and some vacation planning. I'm going on a short trip abroad tomorrow.

The weather is getting to be more fall-like. Around 15 centigrades, very wet and windy. There was not much of a summer this year.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Museum visit in Elsinore

Last Thursday it was time for the annual bus excursion arranged by the social club at work. 50 of us were going to leave at noon and just ten minutes before that there was a major power outage in Lund. All our computers went out and all other technical equipment quit working. We couldn't even use the PA system to tell the visitors they had to leave the building. The situation was the same when we left to go on the excursion but we later heard that it had lasted for about two hours. The ones who left on the coach got to see the Maritime Museum in Helsingör (Elsinore), Denmark. It's a short ferry ride from Helsingborg. The museum is renowned both for its architecture and displays. It's situated in an old dry dock very close to the harbour. It's completely below ground level. We got a guided tour in Danish. The guide spoke clearly and we could understand him. Since my great great grandfather sailed the seven seas I took a special interest in the paintings of the old ships. There were displays of items brought home by the sailors from faraway places, interiors of a ship, trade routes and old maps, navigation instruments, merchant trade and the losses during wartimes and a large number of model ships from the 15th century and on. An interesting museum. After returning to Lund we had a meal at one of the hotels and I'm sorry to say it was not worth the money. There were many things wrong with it; too little food, almost nothing vegetarian and rude staff. I don't think I have ever heard so many complaints from my colleagues about a dinner (and I don't even work right now). We actually sent these complaints on to the hotel management and they asked to see some of us in person to discuss it. We'll see what happens.

Friday I worked for a few hours. This was planned ahead of time. I attended a meeting. It's far too early to say, but it is possible that I got one of my most brilliant ideas ever at this meeting... I might write more about this later. Over the weekend I was at work to do research for someone else. Today I went to Malmö and managed to find five different second hand shops. Got some small things and then went to work to try to finish the research. Didn't quite make it so I will have to visit again.