Return to Gothenburg

Gothenburg is the second stop on our Interrail trip through Scandinavia. We reserved a hotel, but surprise! there are two hotels with the same name in different locations. Hmmm… taxi it is. We arrive across the Göta älv river into Lindholmen, home to a tech park, conference center, and our hotel. It’s definitely not the Gothenburg Lisa visited before. So we drop our bags and catch a free ferry back to the action.

IMG_3163

Mary’s dream commute: bike + ferry

We have the evening to ourselves before meeting up with Lisa’s cousin Kim tomorrow.  Our walk from the ferry takes us by the harbor.

IMG_2352Gothenburg harbor with the large schooner 

IMG_3199View with the “Lipstick Building” in the background

We search for the Customs House. The Customs House was the departure point for Lisa’s grandmother in 1897 when she emigrated to the US, on her own, at the age of 20. Instead we find a Casino that seems to be in its place, but later, with help from Kim, locate it on the backside of the Casino, by the river.

IMG_2367

We take a quick detour to Postgatan Street, the place where the immigrants paused while waiting for their paperwork to clear. The next day Kim explains that some never made it out of this area, instead losing their money to gambling, whores, or getting robbed.

IMG_2362

After wandering for a while we finally find a street with several restaurants of interest. Where do we eat? El Barrio, the “South American Fusion restaurant.” We devour delicious Bolivian tapas and sweet potato fries, a favorite in these parts.

We get a late start meeting Kim due to the torrential rains. It has not rained for months. Sweden had as many as 80 forest fires simultaneously this summer. We think this is a good sign for the drought stricken area. Kim’s partner Robert joins in the tour.

image1 (1)

A quick history tour before heading to the docks for shrimp and wine. We visit  Postgatan Street again,

IMG_3192

and then onto this memorial to Holocaust survivors.

IMG_2357A remembrance of the Holocaust circa 2009

IMG_3179
In 1621, when Gothenburg was settled a church was built on this site, named Gustavi kyrka, after the king who had fallen in battle the year before. Later converted into the cathedral, now standing, Domkyrkan, renamed for Gustavi Domkyrka.

IMG_3182
A young visitor walks along the map of the old city, laid underneath his feet in stone.

IMG_3185
Seahorse unicorn, Mary’s favorite.
IMG_3189
Kronhuset, the oldest building in Gothenburg, served as a munitions depot until 1954.

And a quick stop at the city market,

IMG_3176

After saying goodbye to Kim and Robert, we head to a nearby Gothenburg Botanical Garden. Among the amazing display of flowers and fountains,

the quiet serenity is quickly interrupted by dance jam/party hosted by DJ Mr. French.

IMG_3213

Flashing lights and music so loud it followed us all the way out of the park. We head back to our hotel to relax.  Perhaps we are not the only ones that find some entertainment among the chairs placed at the entrance to the elevators on each floor.

On our last morning we take a walk along the water by the hotel before departing for the Central Station en route to Oslo.

IMG_2426

IMG_3229“Kuggen” (Swedish for cog), part Chalmers University of Technology.

IMG_2424Rainbow flags all around celebrate Euro Gay Pride the weekend after we left.

IMG_3232Outside the dining room of our hotel, this sculpture spins slowly in a Göta älv river inlet.

© Lisa Howells and Mary Reynolds, 2018

Advertisements

Malmøhus Slot (Castle) and the Mexican Suitcase

We take in a little bit of Malmø history and visit the Malmøhus Slot, before heading north to our next Swedish destination.

IMG_1059

Originally built in 1434 Erik av Pommem, then King of Denmark, Sweden and Norway, this castle, aka Malmøhus Fortress, was important to Danish sovereignty at the time.  The Sound was a vital passage to the lucrative trade of the Baltic region. Rebuilt and renovated several times, in 1658 it came under Swedish rule. And by the end of the 18th century, the fortress no longer had any military significance so was converted into a prison, housing over 1,000 prisoners until 1914 when the prisoners were moved to a new location.

IMG_5516
As we head out the gate after being a little bored by this slice of history, we see a large poster advertising an exhibit inside. The Mexican Suitcase: Rediscovered Spanish Civil War Negatives. Perhaps not a topic of interest to many, but Las Chicas, having lived in Catalunya for two years, have developed an interest in Spanish history. Curious about this seemingly out of place exhibit, we pay the admission fee and head inside to investigate.

In December 2007, a Mexican filmmaker, Benjamin Tarver, discovered three boxes of negatives in the possession of his late aunt. These negatives had belonged to a family friend, General Francisco Aguilar González, a Mexican Ambassador to Vichy, France, in 1941-42. Apparently Aguílar managed to smuggle out the negatives in their twenty trunks of belongings on their return to Mexico.

Upon investigation, Tarver discovered the boxes contained 4,500 original negatives of the Spanish Civil War, negatives taken by Civil War photographers Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, Fred Stein and David Seymour (Chim), that had disappeared 70 years earlier.

Pictured from left to right, Taro, Capa, Stein, Seymour (Chim)

Born Gerda Pohorylle, Taro was one of the first recognized female photojournalists. Of German Jewish descent, Taro was raised in Leipzig but fled to Paris in 1933, where she met André Friedmann. The two reinvented themselves as Taro and Capa, and worked together to photograph the Spanish Civil War on the front lines. Taro lost her life in only one year into her coverage of the war, during one of the fiercest battles, the Battle of Brunete. She was the first female journalist to lose her life on the front lines of war.

Robert Capa, aka Friedmann, was a prominent photojournalist in the 20th century. Born to a Jewish family in Budapest, he fled Hungary for Berlin at the age of 17, because of his leftist activities, and enrolled in journalism school. He then moved to Paris in 1933, where he met Taro and Stein.

Third in the crew was Fred Stein. Also born a German Jew, Stein fled to Paris in 1933, when he was unable to practice law in his home country. In Paris he worked as a photographer and kept company with intellectuals such as Hannah Arendt.

Chim was born Dawid Szymin in Warsaw Poland to a Yiddish/Hebrew publishing family. He took to photography early and traveled to Paris to attend the Sorbonne. Recognized for his political  photographs, he photographed the entire Civil War in Spain, but from a distance, centering in on the complexities of the political landscape of that time.

The photographs tell the story of war from a variety of angles: the soldiers and their families,

IMG_4964

IMG_0241

the political climate, still not well understood by many today.

IMG_6341
IMG_8055

Translation: Workers! There are only two ways to win the war. Fight with determination at the front, and work tirelessly at the rear. Comrades, work intensively and with enthusiasm! So we will win!

The suffering and destruction,

IMG_1055
People pressing against the gate at the morgue, waiting for news about their relatives.

IMG_5164
Following a major air raid in Valencia

and images of a proud people supporting their country. (Below: Soldiers working alongside farmers in the fields.)

IMG_2338

Taro’s photos depict some of the most hideous results of the war, including her photos from the morgue. They are a bit too much for me to photograph.  Instead, here is the comment attached to these photos,

“Taro showed the atrocious consequence of a new kind of war, in which the civilian population became the main target of enemy forces.”

The content of the exhibition was made into a documentary, “La Maleta Mexicana” (The Mexican Suitcase), available on Amazon. You can read more about the story and related information,  A Secret Archive: On the Mexican Suitcase

© Lisa Howells and Mary Reynolds, 2018

Malmö: Cool City by the Sea

Las Chicas return to 🇸🇪 Sweden in hopes of escaping the unrelenting summer heat of Berlin. Our first stop is Malmö, just across the channel (30-minute train ride) from Copenhagen. Record breaking heat in Malmö too? Hotel air-conditioning to the rescue!

Malmö’s city center contains a mix of very old and very new buildings. St. Peter’s Church in the Gothic style, built in 1319:

The church is under renovation, so it holds services in this dome festooned with small rainbow ribbons representing universal inclusiveness.

IMG_3641

Starchitect Santiago Calatrava’s Twisted Torso, which twists a full 90 degrees from bottom to top. With 54 storeys, it’s the tallest building in Scandinavia:

IMG_9547

IMG_9381

IMG_3146

IMG_3103

Above is an new extension designed by Australian Kim Utzon for the World Maritime University (below), a United Nations Institution. The brick university building is the former Malmö Harbor Master’s building.

IMG_1789

During a day of walking around the city, Mary relaxes in a temporary lounge chair, among many couches and chairs built for fans of the upcoming Malmö festival.

IMG_8824

The Clarion Hotel makes its bid for Scandi-cool design:IMG_1138

Green glass curves greet us as we emerge from the train station. It’s called “Glasvasen” and designed by Kanozi Arkitekter.

IMG_9611

Like other Scandinavian cities, Malmö boasts thought-provoking public art too.

IMG_7679

“Non-Violence” by Swedish artist Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd, 1 of 16 of his knotted guns around the world.

“Way to Go” includes nineteen bronze shoes that represent artists from different eras and professions. The shoes point to a place that was important to each artist.

IMG_4497

“Optimistic Orchestra” by cubist sculptor Yngve Lundell.  He said it was a tribute to “two positively disobedient people,” Lech Walesa and Martin Luther King, Jr.

IMG_3100

IMG_3096

“Rubato – Free Flow” by  Eva Hild. She created this aluminum curvy sculpture as an antidote to the city’s boxy buildings.

IMG_2304

“The Spectral Self Container” in colorful fiberglass by Matti Kallioine, with small boat harbor on the left and harbor buildings behind it.

Sculpture and shadow along the canal, but we fail to get name and artist!

From architecture to design, we visit a Swedish design store. Mary spots the neck bike helmet, created in Sweden, on sale; then we see a cyclist wearing one. We spot several cyclists using this self-inflating balloon helmet throughout our travels in Scandinavia.

IMG_3136

IMG_3139

More Swedish specialties! Below left: “Upcycle” display from the festival, how to use recycled glass and broken cement. Below right: “Caviar” fish paste that comes in tubes in a variety of flavors from shrimp to garlic. Mary tests this savory spread at the hotel breakfast buffet and dislikes it.

We bike to the Ribersborgs Kallbadhus (cold bath house) on the sea. We walk out the long pier to an old wooden building perched on pilings. The original building was constructed in 1898, but has been renovated several times since then.

IMG_2092

Lisa riding the rental bike with ferry to Finland in the background; locks and tiny lockers at the bath house.

The bath house has single sex bathing areas, plus single sex and co-ed sauna spaces.  Open all year so winter guests alternate icy plunges into the sea and steamy or dry saunas. We pay our fee and enter the women’s side, changing out of our clothes and into nothing! Textile free” like everyone else, we walk outside, past the bath (actually sea water) surrounded by an interior deck and changing rooms.

Ready for this new Swedish experience, we head to the exterior deck and staircase into the open sea. Women and girls of all ages enjoy the water and sunshine.  Lisa immediately heads into the sea and dives right in. The temperature is perfect as we swim and float, get out for some sun, in again for more swimming.  At the bath, we experience lagom (pronounced laaaw-gum), the Swedish word for health and contentment.

© Lisa Howells and Mary Reynolds, 2018