2014-04-28

More culture!

Impressive on the inside ...
 From Lund home to France back home back to Lund - before I get back to Lund soon, yesterday we went to visit Metz which lies around an hour from here. Metz has quite a lot to offer but as it was only a day trip we did not have time for a lot of sightseeing. On the other hand a summary of all of it fits into one blog entry. I will let the pictures speak.
... as well as the outside.
The pitch black areas are windows ...
We started - as usual ;) - with the cathedral. It is one of the largest gothic cathedrals in France and because of its large glass windows (6500 m² in total - largest in France) it is called "God's lantern". At the time of our arrival a mass was supposed to take place but just when we stepped onto the square in front of the church, a parade of veterans left and the mass was over. So we did not have to wait and entered. Inside it was - dark. Not quite what I expected from God's lantern but the "outside" picture to the right should explain the darkness ... Still Metz cathedral is an impressive building and definitely worth a visit.

Centre Pompidou in Metz.
With a museum as interstation as last main attraction we went to visit the Centre Pompidou. Not the one in Paris. There is one in Metz as well. It lies at the "Human Rights Square". The square is neither especially large nor considerable. It is undermined by a car park and next to it a shopping centre is under construction. Just an ironic sidemark ...
Picasso should not be missing!
Concerning the Centre Pompidou, however, the building itself is already a piece of art. (See left.) Out of four exhibition floors two were close. Nobody cared to tell us before paying the entrance fee. Why should anybody?

A piece of modern art.
It was interesting.
One of the two floors that were not closed showed modern art. There were not many people there. The other floor held an exhibition about paparazzi. I found it very boring. On this floor, however, there were many, many people. More irony?
Before driving back home again we stopped by the "Gate of the Germans". It was a gate against Germans rather than for Germans. Blessedly, there is no need for it anymore as Germans and French are good friends nowadays. :)

2014-04-26

Sweden, home, Finland

When I decided to go home over Easter my father told me that on 24 April the Trier Philharmonic Orchestra's Sixth Symphony Concerto will take place - so the first Easter break evening programme was fixed, especially as they played Sibelius! They also played Rautavaara's (a Finn like Sibelius) "Lintukoto" and Chopin's fist piano concerto and according the local newspaper Chopin was the main reason for many of the visitors to come but for me of course Sibelius was the absolute highlight. Sibelius' second symphony was the first I played in an orchestra and Sibelius' violin concerto was the first solo concerto I played in an orchestra. (Of course, I played the solo violin! ;) )

So I listened interestedly (does this word even exist?) to Rautavaara and Chopin which both were nice but lacked something. Lintukoto was well played but somehow too uniform in dynamics (no, although I am a drummer I do not mean too quiet) and in structure so Rautavaara did not really catapult himself on my must-listen list. Similar with Chopin: Very well played and already with this piece the orchestra proved that the missing dynamics in the first piece was a compositional issue rather than an "orchestral" issue. The soloist Miao Huang's skill is unquestionable as the piano concerto as well as her encore showed. Only once again I was not fully convinced by the piece itself. "Too many notes" for my taste. Maybe you see what I mean when you listen to the concerto linked below: For my taste there is too little melody in it, too much swirling up and down the claviature. Besides - despite her skill - the soloist's interpretation (for me) seemed to lack ... feeling. Too many notes. ;) For piano music lovers and romanticism fans this might sound like blasphemy but "De gustibus non est disputandum." ;)
Then after the break finally the highlight! It is not only that Sibelius was the first composer I played in an orchestra! Sibelius always creates a very unique sound and a very unique atmosphere. After listening to several of his works I begin to suspect that the sound comes from the use of very distinct harmonies and - from bassoons.^^ I might be wrong though ... Listening to Sibelius brings you immediately to Finland. The music is a little melancholic, dreamy but still energetic and idiosyncratic (I hope this is the right word for it ...) - especially concerning its rhythmic. As I am (unfortunately :( ) definitely not a music expert, for a more accurate description and analysis I recommend the music guide or internet of your choice. ;)

For German readers here is a (slightly exuberant) newspaper review and - of course - recordings of the pieces performed:

For Rautavaara - Lintukoto I could not really find a good  recroding ...


2014-04-23

Back home, back in the mountains

Yesterday I had to go to our neighbouring metropolis to get a 'certificate of residence' or however you might translate this masterpiece of German bureaucracy. A certificate that states what is stated on my ID card anyway? A certificate that states that I am alive and registered where I am registered? Seems legit. In addition to flowing over with meaningfulness it costs 5 EUR. Printing out a piece of paper, signing it and hammering a stamp on top of the signature. One minute of work. 5 EUR. I do not quite understand why administration officials are not paid as well as bankers - 5 EUR / min results in a quite formidable creation of 'value'. At least the young lady in the office was exceptionally nice and good-humoured compared to administration officials I had the pleasure to meet several times before. Not all clichés are true. The trainee sitting beside her, however, shows a facial expression that you would rather expect from someone who did this job for around 75 years and is denied pension because of outstanding friendliness ...

The more interesting part of this journey between the two 1500 inhabitants metropolises, however, was the way there. I thought it would be a good idea to go to this office by bike for exercise. So I excavated my part-time retired bike from our garage, inflated the tires, borrowed a lock, reanimated my old helmet and was good to go. Or rather semi-good: The gear changing worked ... ok, the handlebar needed some getting used to and the breaks worked like solid walls compared to the old bike I am currently using in Lund. So the old computer game racing credo had to hold: If you break, you loose. ;) The quest of the journey was exercise anyway so on I rode, already looking forward to the nice slopes - the two villages lie on two different sides of a hill.

A real Bauernpfad.
The way there was perfectly nice, up, down, up, down, up, down, down, down, ... The way back was the interesting part as physics demands that for a closed integral in a conservative potential the total energy is zero. That means that you have to give all the energy back that you gained, or simpler: It is exhausting to get back up the hill. So I really got some exercise. Struggling with the lowest gear, breakneck pace, to the right the snails rush by, my mp3 player softly tootles Dave Matthews Band. (Where are Machine Head and Trivium when I need them?) Pushing instead of pedaling seems even more exhausting so I continue struggling ... At the top of the hill a police car is waiting for ingenuous drivers who used a forbidden shortcut that is blocked by a gate which is always open. (I guess it is a trap!) I think about smiling innocently and friendly when passing by
but decide that after the recent effort it might rather result in a very suspicious grimace and so I just get home - enough exercise for the rest of the break. ;)

2014-04-20

Another account of a journey part II

After a short pre-easter break now here comes the second part of the account of a journey. First, however - although usually one should not do that - I have to allude to a three language pun. ;) I called this blog entry "Another account ...". Translated to German this would mean "Ein weiterer ..." or - here starts the pun ;) - "Ein anderer ...". In Swedish, however, "andra" means "second". And this is the second (pair of) entries that I called "Account of a journey". Very funny, I know. :D At least you learned some Swedish. :P

A very exciting view from the train -
without velocity aberration.
Ok so last time I ended with a pioneering physical observation and with a pretty girl, so I will restart with the latter. After some time my pretty vis-a-vis left the train. :( A few minutes later, however, another pretty girl entered our compartment. :) Only she did not want to retake the now empty seat. :( At least she did not want to take any seat in the compartment and left the same direction as she entered. ;) As you can see, it is true: Sweden is full of beautiful girls! One does not only notice this when leaving Sweden so I look forward to another one and a half years of living in this likewise beautiful country. And not only the far future but also the near future (on the train) should become even better! At the next station again, a whole bunch of - as it seamed - future models entered the train and marched along all the compartments in a parade of high heels and make-up. So I did not need to worry about headaches from the train window's velocity aberration anymore. ;)
Besides enlightening moments as these, however, (sorry for today's frequent use of this word ...) you should also expect a clear example of why Scandinavia is often perceived as a rather dark area compared to more southern parts of the worlds if you decide to enter Sweden by train. It is not about the weather and it certainly has nothing to do with the fact that even in southern Lund some times in winter you cannot see the sun for weeks due to grey sky. Actually this impression of dark and cold only and exclusively originates from the train stations! (It is always the trains, of course - in any country.) Every single of the train stations between Lund and Kastrup made a really dark impression: Underground, connected with several tunnel route sections, not really old but not explicitly modern either. (At least not all of them.) So do not let a train station expression influence you!

During the rest of the train journey, apart from a slow train before us, two porters confusedly running up and down the train but never actually checking our tickets and the occasional brightening appearance of beautiful Swedish girls not much happened.

The way from the airport train station to my terminal did not seem as long as it did last time I went home as this time I knew the way and did not have to follow the roofed way along the building due to heavy rain as last time either. So the rest of the time I spent at the gate wondering about all kinds of different people like when I started my trip at the train station in Lund. Most of the people were rather boring except for a small child, barely able to walk but already ambitiously exploring the airport. Doing so it did not even care for passing indoor-airport-cars and definitely made clear who's assignment is to be ranked most important when it made the car violently break while crossing the gate corridor. Mother and car-driver seemed equally impressed by the little explorer's determination and did not even complain.
After that I myself was mostly impressed by not being recognised as German by the stewardess, and by how little is going on at my destination airport at night. Probably there is not much more action during day time either ... But this is exactly what you want for a break so all in all it was a very pleasant journey. :)

2014-04-16

Another account of a journey part I

"Wenn einer eine Reise tut, dann kann er was erzählen." is the beginning of a small verse of Matthias Claudius, a German poet and journalist. In free translation it means "If someone does a travel, he can tell something." - in German it sounds equally awkward but this formulation keeps the metre and allows the rhyme with the second part "Drum nähm' ich meinen Stock und Hut und tät das Reisen wählen." - "So I would take my stick and hat and would chose travelling."

This is exactly what I once again did yesterday when flying from Lund to Germany. And indeed there are a few small stories to tell. The first thing one always notices when travelling with public transport are the people. Especially at train stations there are a lot of different - sometimes interesting - people. Hounded people, annoyed people, people with beaming smiles, people with excitement and wonder in their eyes. Business people, free riders, poor people. While I was waiting for the train (I scheduled rather generous time slots to make sure I get my plane) one of the latter approached me at the train platform and involved me in an ... interesting conversation. He tried to convince me to give him some small coins in a mumbling Skånish Swedish and I tryed to convince him to speak more slowly so that I could understand him. Eventually we established a kind of mutual agreement and he wandered his ways wondering at a few euros as I did not have any crowns with me anymore.
View from the train from the Öresundsbron.
After waiting for around 15 minutes I finally entered the train and searched for a place to sit. All of the suites were already occupied to with more or less sated amount of people so I chose one of the few places opposite to the prettiest girl in sight. ;) Unfortunately she was busy with her phone all of the time - as many people are nowadays. (Einstein ...) So I let my sight wander out of the window. Unfortunately this was not as pleasant as I thought as the Swedish train windows seem to have a grinding that distort view even worse than German train windows do so I could not stand the sight for long. So I looked for another highlight to make time pass faster (the train was going unpleasantly slowly as another train in front of ours had some trouble - the generous schedule already paid off) and as soon as he entered our compartment I noticed that guy. The guy with the phone who lets the whole train participate in his conversation - this in Arab or something like that. The highlight however, was, when - he was still talking on his phone - his phone rang. Well, his second phone. At this point at the latest I could not hide a smile anymore.
Just in case I turned my attention back to the window, briefly passing the pretty girl opposite to me. She actually smiled back! :) However, after she returned to her phone I made a scientifically quite impressive observation! By now the train was going so slowly that it almost came to a hold and I noticed that the distortion by the window was not as severe as before anymore when we were moving faster! Thus - besides chromatic and spherical aberration - this phenomenon shall henceforth be calleth velocity aberration! ;)

Concluding with this rather impressive scientific revolution a shall continue this account of a journey another time with the supermodel youth parade, the reason why Scandinavia is perceived a region of cold and dark and small children enthusiastically exploring the extents of an airport terminal.

2014-04-14

Digital sightseeing

As I learned today the (freely translated) German saying "In April weather does what it wants" does not seem to exist in Swedish. However, this is exactly what the weather here currently does: It changes from sunny to grey to rain to sunny to stormy several times a day. Before I leave Sweden now for a short time I leave a few impressions of how my chosen home for the running two years looks like during the sunny part of weather chaos.

We start with a view down one of the roads of the inner city. To the very left there the entrance of the cinema, called "bio" in Swedish. To the right there is the Swede's sacred temple of alcohol, the "Systembolaget" of Lund. Systembolaget is a federal institution that sells beverages with more than 3,5 % alcohol. Except for these shops you cannot get alcoholic beverages in Sweden. The state does this to guarantee an even distribution of the same quality of alcoholic beverages throughout the whole country. As far as I know this system was established in a time when Swedes still fulfilled the cliche of heavy drinking because of the dark. ;) I am sure it had nothing to do with money.

These are two views of "Stortorget" - "large square". Besides, this is probably the largest crowd ever counted in Lund. Though I am sure it will be topped during Lunda-karnevalen in May which only takes place every fourth year. This year will be one of those. If I remeber correctly the immense crowd visible in the picture to the right was demonstrating for an establishment called "Projekt 6" which exactly promotes what the name implies. (No, it is not a club of panderers but it quite contraryly promotes education, safety and that stuff.) To the left is a picture of the rest of Stortorget.

The second but last image shows a small scene from the "botanisk trädgården" - the botanical garden in Lund. As the trädgården is still in hibernation there is not much to be shown except the ever resistant stone garden - which is already very nice, I think. There are even some early flowers where my exceptional botanical knowledge (exceptional implying more exceptions than anything else in this case) leaves me without much clue what they are called. I would go with "crocus" if I had to guess ... When in summer the trädgården is filled with more life stan stones again I will post some more and some really (as I think) impressive pictures. :)

Now with this flower I would guess some kind of water lily ... Might as well be completely off. It lives in the greenhouse so it survives winter as well as the stones in the stone garden. There are numerous other flowers, trees, cactuses and whatever else the botanist and tourist heart desires but Lund does not only consist of flowers. ;)

2014-04-13

Feuerzangenbowle

How do Germans achieve Gemütlichkeit? With fire! :) On Friday we started in the easter break with a decent Feuerzangenbowle - there really is no translation for this. My favourite online dictionary gave me "mulled wine with a rum-soaked sugarloaf lit above it". Although this is correct it is of course not a proper translation and by far not a proper description of what Feuerzangenbowle is.
First, the ingredients - the bowle: Mulled wine: Yeah ok ... Mulled wine is what is sold at the Christmas market and the main ingredient of Feuerzangenbowle is very similar: Red wine and orange juice with spices. More wine, of course.
All is heated up and then second, the "Feuerzangen"part! A sugarloaf is placed on top of a special device (the people here already declared this as my standard description of everything - I think it really is very appropriate in almost every setting) on top of the pot with the "mulled wine", soaked with rum (I do not know if the rum we used is even legal in Sweden) and lit on fire. The melting sugar then drops into the mulled wine. Of course it is also ok to pour some rum immediately into the mulled wine so that the whole pot is on fire.
Third, the show and the Gemütlichkeit (another of these typical German things and one of the best ever!)! From time to time rum is poured onto the burning sugarloaf. You can imagine what happens. All this together is a very sacred German tradition that is characterised by - as the English wikipedia very accurately describes - a notion of Gemütlichkeit!

However, fourth and last, the most important ingredient are of course the people around and they were awesome so it was an awesome evening!

video
"Feuerzangenbowle is like a nuclear reactor - you cannot stop it."

video
A notion of Gemütlichkeit.