31 Dec 2009
29 Dec 2009
Facebook is leaking like mad at the moment, be very very careful - and please go in and check your settings, and tell friends and family to do the same. I have tested and tested different variants and this is really bad. It doesn't matter if your choice was to stay with old settings. Many things you can no longer control and other things were changed regardless. Much information is now considered to be "public information" which means it is leaking to programmers and to in some cases other users.
You will not be able to stop it completely, but you can at least do your best to lock down, if you are on Facebook. I assume it is a case of bugs together with Facebook wanting us to share more information, so that they can sell advertising space etc...
You need to change in several areas; First go in under Settings -> Privacy Settings (Top menu, to the right) and make sure that everything under each and every point except possibly "Add as a friend" and "Send message" is set to Friends only, or possibly in some cases to "Only Me" - that is what I have done.
Then go in under "Applications" on the bottom left, open the menu, and chose "Edit Applications". Make sure that each and every application is set to "Friends Only" (you click on the "Edit Settings"). And last but not least, go in under Photos and set every album to "Friends Only". Especially Profile Picture might be open for Everybody.You don't want that...
And be aware that there is a chance that even if you have put everything to Friends Only your postings may still show up in the news feed of others, depending on how the receive has set up his/her account. I am pretty sure it is a bug, but a very serious bug.
At the moment I have locked down my account pretty much completely, but comments that I made on a friends photo STILL showed up in the news feed of a colleague. A colleague who doesn't know my friends at all... Facebook is simply not safe at the moment. Assume that everything you do is vieweable by EVERYBODY even if you lock down, simply because it is so buggy at the moment, so think about what you post..
(OH! And under Settings -> Privacy -> Application and Websites, make sure you unmark everything under "What your friends can share about you")
These settings will still not make Facebook safe for the moment, but it will make it a little bit less unsafe. But just a bit...
And again; Here is the link to the article about the complaint officially filed to the US authorities., posted in PC World, a PC magazine - I am sure you can find it elsewhere too..
Do go in and have a look that the complaint itself, it is 29pages long... From EPIC, the Privacy organisation in US.
No, not even the founder of Facebook is very impressed, bu the looks of it - read this interesting article from NBC Bay Area... That's worrying! But at least they may do something about it then...
Update 2: Make sure EVENTS are also blocked for others than your friends, they were made available to all when settings changed. Do you REALLY want people you don't know to know when you are at home and when not?
Sorry for the somewhat boring post but this is an article I really think you should read if you are on Facebook, it is an article from PC World about the latest changes of privacy on Facebook, and then you should read this page too, which is the complaint made by EPIC, Electronic Privacy Information Centre, in US, to FTC, US Federal Trade Commission.
I am not going to rant and rave about the problems with the settings, I have done that enough, including on my Swedish little forum, and in various other forums, but right now Facebook is leaking, and leaking badly - I suspect there is a pretty large element of bugs too, not just the changes that were done on purpose, because I can see little differences in behaviour from day to day, more or less, and some functions have also come and gone since after the change to the new privacy settings.
It is not just me being paranoid, no, because if it was, we wouldn't have read articles like the ones above, and we wouldn't have seen consumer groups filing a complaint...
I am personally very very careful using Facebook, and I have deleted all applications and removed me from all fan pages, as well as removed all personal information except my pictures and some films from the network. I don't want to disable my account but as a last resourt I willl have to do that - hopefully Facebook have managed to sort it out well before that though...
UPDATE! Facebook is leaking like mad even if you have locked down. Be very very careful right now, will you?
28 Dec 2009
When I host I often have a little meal prepared too but everybody brings a snack and then we eat, laugh, play and just enjoy in general. Today I had prepared a pumpkin/apple soup, which was delicious, and later in we had a sweet potato pie that I had done based on a tip from a friend in Atlanta, US.In between we had stollen, a German Christmas speciality - so good with coffee. But sweet, oh so sweet, it's a bread full of sugar, dried fruit and, if I an bit mistaken, a bit of marzipan. Yummy - with a bit of coffee to take away from the sugar shock... :-)
Anyhow, today's game was Ticket to ride Europe. There is a Ticket to ride which covers US as well, actually the first one, and I have played it many times before, even if it was a while ago. But I honestly preferred the second edition, Europe, as it has some additional rules and challenges. Ticket to ride is an excellent game in general but this version takes it to yet a other level.
The whole point with the game is to build railroad in Europe in this case, and use it in an efficient way. Works for 2-5 players and should work well with kids too, if there aren't too young.
I can really recommend board games as a social activity!
27 Dec 2009
The Swedish Christmas buffet is also pretty heavy, a bit too heavy for my taste at times. I like to add some new and lighter dishes to it, so that it is somewhat different every year — but I do it with a Christmas touch. This year the menu was more restricted than usual considering I wasn't going to have a lot of guests.
The somewhat traditional part of the buffet
- The usual pickled herring — although only two different kinds that I bought in the shop here. Normally I would go for at least five and I would pickle them myself (almost wrote "pickle myself" but then I got this really weird picture in my head. Pickled Ann-Katrin...)
- Salmon - two different kind, one smoked, one "gravad lax" — pickled/marinated — but I didn't have any of the special sauce you are supposed to have so I made my own, mustard in a bit of yogurt. Works so well with salmon!
- Ham - although not the usual Swedish ham, I didn't have the energy to find that kind but bought a few slices of a normal boiled ham.
- Pate - but not the liver pate we normally have in Sweden, another kind, but very good.
- Cold cuts. But not the usual, instead I found a really nice lamb salami, and that was the only cold cuts I had, actually.
- Cheese, but not the normal ones but a bunch of other interesting cheese. I didn't have time to search for great cheddar, Swedish "Herrgård" and "Greve" etc, I would have had to go down to Cologne - Köln - for that. IKEA has some but it is not the best ones that I want for Christmas...
And the additional dishes this year
- Cinnamon spiced lentils with onion and carrots
- Beetroot salad with walnut dressing
- Saffron bulgur with peppers and leek, with a yogurt and mint sauce.
- Cabbage salad inspired by the Thai Somtum soup - i.e. hot and spicy.
And for dessert
Also made some ginger and cinnamon spiced pears but we didn't get around to them, so I froze some and took some with me to the event on Christmas day...
As you can see these are vegetarian, or even vegan. My friend who was visiting on Christmas Eve used to be vegetarian but just recently started to eat meat again. I of course wanted to ensure that there was plenty of vegetarian food available for her in case she would have gone off meat again, but I also did it for me. I eat a lot of vegetarian, I believe it is better for your body and I believe it is better for the environment to do that. Not all the time, but a lot more than we do. And vegetarian dishes can be SO yummy!
Have a feeling I forgot to mention something but I guess I will just have to update later if that is the case... Hope you are feeling hungry now? I may post some more recipes later...
(By the way, the food orgy continues, Boxing day, the 26:th, I tried a new recipe for a fantastic sweet potato pie, a new experience, and today, the 27:th I am making pumpkin soup... The food from the 24:th covered us for the 25:th as well...)
26 Dec 2009
Anyhow, that was not what this posting was supposed to be about, but about my Christmas celebration.
This year I am celebrating Christmas in Germany, but with some of my Swedish traditions, or at least with a strong influence from Swedish traditions. There are reasons why I am in Germany, one big being that I work between Christmas and New Year, and I simply don't see the sense in paying a fortune to go to Sweden for a few days. Why travel when everybody else is? Besides I was up in Sweden for a wonderful Goose dinner in November, and then I met the family, so I have already done that.
I had not made many plans for Christmas except I knew I was going to meet up with friends on the 25:th, for a little meal. I also knew that I was going to cook a bit, either a special luxurious dinner - I like to spoil myself - or have more of the traditional Swedish celebration, which consists of a Christmas buffet - "Julbord". Julbord, the buffet, has the advantage that you can eat different things and you also have enough food to last for a few days so that you don't have to spend all the time in the kitchen once Christmas has started. There has been years when I picked the option not to celebrate at all but this year I wanted to.
After having considered the options I decided to make a little buffet, with the essentials at least, and then try a few other things too, with traditional spices but not so traditional food. Was not going to invite anyone, but just relax on my own, read and eat and, well, relax.
Turned out that a friend, Ms P, also was alone in Germany over Christmas, so I changed my mind and asked her to come over. Turned out to be a great idea! First of all the Swedish tradition with Christmas buffet means a LOT of food, and I don't want to eat until I explode, and I certainly don't want to waste food either - and it is fun to show some Swedish traditions as well. Ms P and I had a great evening with long and healthy discussions.
I did (most) of the preparations on the 23:rd, because on the 24:th I would not dream about going out to any shops etc, celebration starts already in the morning for me, it is supposed to be relaxed and nice, but there were a few steps that were taken on the 24:th. This year I also didn't worry about a Christmas tree. Christmas trees are nice, yes, but they do take up space and they have to be carried home - and since I don't have a car it just felt like a little bit to much work this time. My home is nicely decorated anyhow, without being tacky. And I didn't really feel I had time to mess around with a Christmas tree this year. Christmas trees are to be taken in on the 23:rd, in the evening, and they are not to be lit up until the morning of the 24:th. It is one of the strongest Christmas traditions for me, I am much rather without a tree than taking it in too early, it so clearly marks the start of Christmas for me. When visiting homes with Christmas trees before Christmas I do what I cannot to look at the tree, even . Call me silly, but that's how it is and how strongly I feel about it. As a child I didn't even get to see the big tree before the morning of Christmas eve, it was "Santa" who dressed the tree...
Luckily many Germans understand my tradition it seems and takes in the tree on the 23:rd. I knew there was a reason why I like being in Germany, they understand me - or at least the most important things... ;-)
No, but back to Christmas, I woke up full of expectations, around 6 o'clock Christmas Eve, but managed to make myself go back to sleep and sleep for another hour, before finally getting up. Made rice porridge with cinnamon for breakfast and lit lots of candles and had breakfast with Christmas music in the background. It actually a bit funny because every Christmas I play the same record that was played already when I was a little girl. It was on vinyl then and for a few years, before I could find it on CD, I had to listen to other music as the record was so scratched, but nowadays I have it on CD. And no, I don't play it before Christmas Eve. I can play other Christmas records, but not this one. Not until after the first time I hear it in the morning of Christmas Eve. The Christmas eve breakfast is such an important part of Christmas, even though I don't do it quite as when I was a kid or when I had just moved from home, this time used to be the first chance you had to eat the Christmas biscuits and cakes, but now I am trying to go easy on things with flower in them, so it is not really a good idea to start with cakes. Besides I ended up throwing away so much the last times I baked, I am not that much of a biscuit and cake eater but I used to bake a LOT. For Christmas that is. Now I have moved on to Christmas porridge - rice porridge - instead. I also last longer on that, and especially this time I was going to have my Christmas dinner in the afternoon/evening instead of at lunch time.
Anyhow; The morning of Christmas Eve was wonderful. And then I started to prepare some more food... I realise that the Christmas eve dinner will have to be a separate posting, because otherwise I will bore you to death with a very long entry...
For now; Merry Christmas - it is still one day to go!
UPDATE! The menu for the 24:th can now be found here, it got posted on the 27:th, I may try to post some more recipes later too...
Here is a simple Saffron pancake that I have made a few times. This is excellent for Christmas but works well all year around. Looking for something this week I stumbled over the recipe which I had written down about two years ago. I know I had seen something similar that I had used for inspiration, but I fitted it to my own taste. To me saffron is a spice that is very important for Christmas so this pancake is very nice.
24 Dec 2009
This little note was written a while ago and publishing was scheduled for the 24:th, just so that I wouldn't forget. Have a great one!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
22 Dec 2009
Although it IS melting.
And I can't help but think about how the city would be much safer had they bothered to clean the pavement/side walk, so that people weren't forced onto the street where cars drive, and where it's icy as well...
I don't want to be in the way of a skidding car, but I also don't want to slip and break my legs or walk around with wet feet the whole day (pneumonia, anyone?)
Oh well. It's beautiful anyhow and I'm happy I travel to work using train and not car.
21 Dec 2009
The park was started by an amazing woman, Lek, who is from up north in Thailand, if I remember correctly. It has over 30 elephants, all with their own personality, ad they are allowed to develop it as well. The elephants have formed smaller families within the park, and they seemed to roam pretty freely. But back to the start...
There are three different kinds of Asian elephants. All of them are smaller than their African elephants - both in size but also smaller ears etc - easiest way to see if the elephant is African or Asian actually. You can also check the toes, or nails. One kind has same amount of nails both on the backfeet, as on the front. (Do you call it feet, hooves would be wrong, they are not hooves...? Well, you know what I mean. But then you need to remember which is which, and how often do you see the feet,the ears are far easier to spot... Anyhow, tame elephants are always, as far as I know, Asian, but they can be one it the three - Thai, Sri Lankan or Indian. Indian is the biggest and Thai the smallest.
In Thailand many elephants were previously used in the forest industry, they are strong creatures, but after the forest industry switched to machines many elephants became unemployed. And when that happened, there was a need to find something else for them to do - an elephant is pretty big and eats a lot, it's costly! Many elephants were then turned into tourist attractions, some became street begging elephants, not ideal... Can you imagine other animals having to talk the streets helping their owners to beg? Well, the elephant is certainly not made for asphalt jungles... But they bring in a lot of money where they are used, who can resist an elephant... And the more they are out, the more they being in, so some people even started to drug the animals, so that they wouldn't get tired, or at least not feel tired. A lousy idea, elephants on drugs... A problem is also that while the wild elephants are protected, the tame ones are seen as cattle, and the domestic elephants are treated in the same way as cows or horses, I e not very well in many cases.Anyhow, the wonderful elephant park outside Chiang Mai; the park is helping abused elephants but also teaching people about the animals, as well as helping the elephant keepers, teaching them how to treat the animals and get them to do things without breaking them, but by showing love and compassion.
Lec and her employees are doing an amazing job. The tour there was more expensive than other tours. Nothing compared to what you pay in Europe for many things, but a lot compared to what you pay to go to elephant shows and the same in Thailand, but it is worth every penny, and you know that your money goes to something good rather than to tourist industry and to where they may not treat their animals very well. I'd go back again, fact is that I am contemplating a working holiday there next time; room and board for an I'm my eyes small sum, and you get to work with the elephants - for a week or more, as a volunteer.
Back to the park; it was almost a religious experience! These fantastic, amazing, stunning, incredible animals! I was picked up in the morning, at my hotel, and then we went and picked up a few other guests, all in all we were 12 people if I remember correctly. The ride to the park took about one hour, and the guide told us about the park on the way and we got to watch a film. Important details: Wash your hands when you get to the park, the elephants are sensitive and chemicals can kill them, especially the babies. So no sunscreen covered hands in little elephant mouths etc. Not that I would want to put my hands into the mouth of an elephant anyhow, they have bit teeth if only four, as we were shown once we got to the park... Another thing was the lecture not to touch the animals unless their mahoot, carer, was there, and not to run after the elephants, but to let the elephant approach you - elephants are afraid of everything faster than them and you don't want a frightened elephants around you. And important; The dogs that hang around the place sometimes steel shoes...
Well on the premises we were taken to the elephants. We were taught about the different individuals: Hope, a little elephant teenager who was found in the wild after his mother had been shot after going in to a farmers field. He is kind of wild still and teases the other elephants when he has the chance.
Also; The blind elephant, who's previous owner blinded her when she was not working fast enough after she had lost her baby, and her friend, another elephant in the park who adopted her when she first arrived, and now always team up and help our blind little friend. The elephant girl who has learned to kiss as a thank you, with her trunk, leaving a suction mark on your cheek. And so forth!
We got to feed the elephants - they would pick up the bananas, melons, corn on a cob and so forth using their trunk, and then putting it onto the mouth themselves - to bathe with them in the river - they loved a scrub, and so on. Amazing. It was incredible, I'm telling you! Standing there, talking to someone, and all of a sudden you feel a trunk knocking on your shoulder, someone checking of you have any bananas with you! Serene!
Than you so much Lek and the rest for the fantastic job you are doing!!! This is important work, we can not let more species disappear.
Suggest you take a look at the website, http://www.elephantnaturepark.org/ - and why not visit if you are in Chiang Mai? Elephants eat up to 200 kg per day, they can need some support...
Update: The name of the blind elephant is Jochia, and her best friend is Mae Perm. She is doing really well according to some other bloggers who just came back from twoo weeks of volounteer work (that I have been thinking about doing too) - see Sleep Talkin' Man. It's a small world, I started following Sleep Talkin' Man just a few weeks ago - and now it turns out that they have just been to a place I visited in October. Amazing!
18 Dec 2009
Det kan inte sägas mycket bättre... Såg den här underbara baletten i Düsseldorf nyligen, och väntar med spänning på att B.02 och B.03 släpps...
Update: Saw this in Düsseldorf recently - B.01. Absolutely brilliant! Waiting for the next two ballets! Our opera house here is fenomenal, they dare to try new things!
16 Dec 2009
I can't believe that God is insulted, if you come to a temple for the right reasons, and you enjoy the moment together with other people, and show them respect. I don't believe in a god who forces us to chose sides and reject any other human beings.
But there are things I don't do, like taking the communion when I am in a catholic church, for the simple reason that they have different belief in what happens at communion, that the bread and wine is really turned into the body and blood of Christ in your body, while it for the Protestants etc is more a symbolic gesture. And there are other examples too.
Anyhow, the Basilica: it was a special experience! The service was held in Hungarian, but the pattern was not unlike what you'd see in a Swedish church, which means it was easy to follow. The only surprise was that it was such a solemn, as if it was the time before Easter and not the time before Christmas, which is supposed to be a happy time, waking for the birthday of Christ, not the death. Although yes, the death is supposedly also something positive, as he died for our sins an all of that, but you know what I mean. Also, there were no hymns in the service, it was just singing of the written words.
And then on Monday when I was all alone and the last person from our little group, my friend and two friends of her, had left the city I went to the synagogue next to the Jewish museum. It's the second biggest synagogue in the world, something that surprised me, only New York is bigger. And New York is not bigger in number of seats, it's just the building that is bigger.
The synagogue is a masterpiece - but confusing enough it is very similar to a church! The reason is partly, we learned, because it was designed by two men that were not Jews, but I always find similarities between churches, mosques and synagogues anyhow. This one has some special features though, like a big organ. And by that I mean the musical instrument, obviously...
Anyhow; Due to the organ this synagogue is not used by the Orthodox Jews, on the sabbath, the day for rest, no one should work, and that includes the person who is handling the organ... So there is yet another synagogue in Budapest, but that one I never visited -the museum and the big synagogue was plenty.
And yes, it was cold!
The strongest impression from the synagogue and museum was however not the synagogue but the simple Raoul Wallenberg monument, for the Swede who saved thousands and thousands of Hungarian Jews during the second world war. That really made an impression! It's a very small monument, and the guide didn't tell us much about it, but being Swedish it brought out a special feeling of pride.
I love the real comments though, those written by people!
And you can still be anonymous when writing a comments (even though I think it is more fun if you at least give me a signature) so don't let that stop you.
15 Dec 2009
I guess he thinks that it will only make us tougher?
Or that we won't be as cold when we get out in the cold if he has made sure that we are freezing inside too.
I told you he was considerate...
Oohhh, I long for December 22!
14 Dec 2009
The Hungarians know how to fight the cold though, with warm wine, a kind of glögg (if you are Swedish), or Glühwein (fir those Germans out there), or Mulled wine (for English speakers. You find the warm wine everywhere, in the market, but also sold from regular shops, on the street, and so forth. I must admit that I never tried it while in Budapest though, but I tried something else: Hot ginger tea, very sweet but SO good. Bought it from a little restaurant on the tourist street, Vaçi Utca. The food was low quality - this is tourist trap area - but the ginger tea, oh, the ginger tea! I have a soft spot for ginger as well, so it was perfect.
Otherwise there is always another Hungarian speciality that will warm you up: Gulash soup. I adore gulash soup, it's very, as we would say in Swedish, "matig" ("foody"...?), meaning it is very rich and a real meal. Meat, potatoes, carrots. Some have beans, some just broth, and it is allowed to cook for quite some time before it's served. An excellent warmer in the cold climate.
Otherwise Hungary is only cold from a weather perspective, or weather and shop employees. For some reason those working in shops don't seem to be able to smile, and to some degree that goes also for those in restaurants. While other Hungarians seem to be rather easy going the people in the shops seem to have lost their smiles somewhere. I can't help it but wonder. I seriously suspect that this might be something that still sticks since before the wall came down. Can it possibly be that it then was a sign of weakness, if you smiled? Everybody bought whatever they were allowed anyhow so you didn't have to attract customers, they would come anyhow? I really don't know, for me it's only speculations. But it is clear. The shop keepers are very grumpy...
(blogged via mail, I'll be back later to fix line breaks etc.)
I am spending the weekend in Budapest, a wonderful place. I have wanted to go for years, and now finally, a friend of mine asked if I wanted to meet up with her in Budapest and who can say no to that???
I will write a longer blog post about the wonders of Budapest soon, but in the meantime I can say the following;
Wonderful, interesting, charming, special, and the thermal baths are do die for!
11 Dec 2009
(blogged via mail, you know what that means: have to come back later
to update line breaks etc)
9 Dec 2009
mashed potatoes with a hint of garlic
Chicken leg baked in the oven, with mustard and rosemary cover
Mix a spoon of mustard, some oil (corn, or other without significant taste), a bit of water and a little splash of sherry.
Add some preferably fresh rosemary that you chopped up.
Add I pinch of freshly grounded black pepper, and a pinch if salt.
Cover the chicken.
Cook in the oven, 180-200 degrees, until the chicken is ready - cut in the thicker part and see if it's pink or white. Chicken needs to be well cooked, otherwise one can become really ill!!! And remember to wash your hands and tools!
Cooking in lower temperature gives a juicier chicken, but takes longer. It's worth it though! I started on low and then went up just before being ready.
Mashed olive oil potatoes
In the mean time, boils potatoes. When they are done, poor out the water but save a little bit of the water in case you need it for the mash.
Mash the potatoes, add olive oil, a bit of balsamico, some salt and pepper, and some potato water if needed. Work with it and remember to taste and smell to see when it's perfect.
No milk, no butter! And use a good olive oil!
Delicious! And SO easy to make!
8 Dec 2009
Finally! The screens have been connected!
For a year and a half I have been taking the train from where I live. For as long as I have lived here, in this flat, and as long as I have been taking the train, the screens have been there, but always black, never connected. Or that is not true, they have been connected, but they have been saying "please listen to callouts" or something similar, but in German. It has been frustrating and pretty annoying. Why spending money on screens if they are not going to be used? Especially considering I know that it works on other stations...
But this week I saw it! It's still test but they are connected!!! They work! Still in test mode as I said, but still!
(blogged via mail, back later to correct line breaks etc)
7 Dec 2009
But it is not a forum for adverts. If you want to comment about a topic that I write about or if you want to say something about my blog I am happy to let the comments through. But ads that doesn't have anything to do with what I write about? No, I am sorry, they are not going to be published. It is uninteresting and I do consider that to be spam. I don't like spam. And I don't want products I don't know anything about or don't trust in to be advertised here. That is not why I write.
(If you want advertising space, pay someone who is happy to publish ads, or use another media. My blog is not the right forum.)
I believe most of the spammers are robots, i e automatic postings, as I have discovered that the same thing comes up again. I don't have word verification switched on at the moment since I anyhow approve the comments before the release. If it gets ridiculous I will switch word verification on again but I hope it won't come to that.
6 Dec 2009
You need to know where to shop. Mango on Kö, the fanciest of the fanciest streets here in Düsseldorf; 9.98 EUR per mango, December 5 2009.
The Turkish fruit shop on Bilker Allee, the day before, 1.69 per mango...
OK, the ones on Kö were slightly bigger but still...
5 Dec 2009
I do insist that Gothenburg is a lovely city to visit, but even better, of course, in the summer, because the wind and the horizontal rains in the winter makes it a bit rough... Bring a good hat! And remember the gloves. I don't live in Sweden anymore and I don't want to move back but Gothenburg will always be in my heart. I love beautiful Stockholm too, but Stockholm is more pretentious while Gothenburg, an old working city (ship yards, automotive industry, SKF and so forth) is a bit more down to earth. You can get the fanciest of the fanciest in Stockholm, Gothenburg has a bigger selection when it comes to the middle span.
The two are so different that you can't really compare them, it would not be fair. On any of them, and still of course I do, and so does everybody else. Stockholm being the capital of Sweden and the bigger one, and Gothenburg being the second biggest city of Sweden, there is a bit of competition between the two, similar to the competition between Köln and Düsseldorf in Germany, although not quite as bad, possibly because Stockholm and Gothenburg are on different sides of Sweden while Köln and Düsseldorf are neighbours.
While Stockholm is beautiful and a good place to visit, I personally find it a bit "off", geographically spoken. Yes, it has changed now, that Estonia, Lituania and Latvia are in the EU and no longer part of a Soviet Union that doesn't exist, and you can more easily go to Russia as well, but prior to 1989 the only country you could really go to easily from Stockholm was Finland while Gothenburg was the gate to the west - a few hours drive up north and you are in Oslo, Norway, a few hours south and you get to Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark. Take the ferry to UK (no, not anymore, it has been cancelled, not enough people travelled after Sweden joined EU), take the ferry or drive down to Germany. If you want to do any of that from Stockholm you have to drive for a many hours first. So while Stockholm is the capital of Sweden, Gothenburg is the port to Europe, everything is within reach, and it is in the centre of Scandinavia - perhaps Gothenburg really IS the capital of Scandinavia, as they claimed years ago? I'd say it is...
Gothenburg, or the bigger cities in Sweden (Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö at least) has something you don't find everywhere in Europe; Food from other parts of the world that is more "authentic" than what you can find in other cities of the same size in Europe, Thai food that really taste as in Thailand (and as spicy! Possibly because to many Swedes have been to Thailand - it is the new Mallorca (Majorca) for Swedes, at least the beaches, so we expect the food to taste as it does there), Indian food that is really Indian, not some European version of Indian food, to fit European taste buds. The Japanese food is much better in Düsseldorf though, the Swedish Japanese food that I have tried is good but more adjusted for our taste buds. But then again in Düsseldorf it is not mainly maid for the Europeans, but for the big Japanese population. Yes, you have to make what sells, if you want to run a business, obviously.
Tried a new restaurant, S.P.I.C.E, in Gothenburg. The food was good - although just next to one of the big tourist streets so pretty pricey for being in Gothenburg, at least if you compare the places in the not so touristy areas - and spicy as in Thailand. Unfortunately the staff wasn't the most fun and friendly, nor the quickest, it was difficult to get some attention, but if you can live with that it is worth it. The dessert was not typical Thai, but with Thai influences; Coconut milk mini pancakes with a to die for lemon sorbet. It made me almost want to cry of happiness...! I actually spotted them on the menu first and decided to check what was in them (have to avoid things containing lactose), to know whether I should save room for dessert or not. It is rare that I can actually eat the dessert so I tend to have a starter and a main course, but because I got the info that I could eat it I skipped the starter - I wasn't hungry enough for a full three course meal.
Also, another place I would like to recommend in Gothenburg is SoHo, an excellent wine bar. It is pricey too, as it is right in the middle of the touristy area, but it is worth it. They have an excellent selection of wines by the glass, even if the wine by the glass here cost as much as a bottle (something I wrote about before) when you buy them at "Systembolaget", the alcohol retail monopoly in Sweden. But buying them at Systembolaget means that you need to stay at home to drink it and sometimes you just want to go out, don't you? And I would much rather have one really nice glass of wine than two not so good. SoHo:s bathrooms are not that impressive but that is about the only really bad thing I can say about the place, otherwise it is very nice. Although I found it a bit funny when i was in the bathroom and I heard from outside a girl shouting "Wait, I recognize this, I have been here before!" Turns out she wasn't sure if she had visited the bar before, until she saw the toilets... Perhaps a sign to SoHo that they need to keep their toilets in order too? Time to put up a proper toilet roll holder in the ladies room, not so great to find the toilet roll on the floor, is it. It made at least me want to go somewhere else for the second glass of wine, don't want to have to use the bathroom there too often, and especially later in the evening when people are a bit tipsy, or if it is raining outside, because shoes will drag in water and mud. Don't want that on my toilet paper, please...
All in all SoHo is a nice place anyhow, though, and you can also go there for coffee in the afternoon - or afternoon tea - or even for a meal.
4 Dec 2009
I have put up some of my Christmas decorations in my flat in Germany, some lights. In Sweden it is common to put the lights up for the first of Advent, it is a beautiful tradition, to see the windows full of lights. Not the tacky glittering lights, but simple candles or stars. It really makes December so much bearable, the light is needed in the darkest month of the year.
In my family we basically bring the lights in for the first of Advent but then the Santas etc have to wait until around the 13:th, when we celebrate "St Lucia" - I may possibly write more about that some other day but not today. It is the date that is relevant here... And then the Christmas tree. Don't ever try to convince me to take in the tree before the 23:rd, I am forever rejecting that idea. Christmas trees should not, and will not, come into my home before the 23, but then on hte other hand they last until it is time to throw out Christmas, in the middle of January. I'd rather not have a tree than taking it in to early - when I was little the tree was not even dressed when I was awake, my parents (or Santa, I mean) would bring it in after I had gone to bed, and in the morning I saw it for the first time.
Anyhow; In Germany they don't have the tradition of putting up Christmas decorations. A few do, I have seen some very tacky, and I have also seen the Swedish looking ones. But in general the streets are as dark as they are in November. The Germans have fantastic Christmas markets but don't understand lights in the windows it seems. Many Germans cover their windows up completely, with thick curtains, something that always surprised me - I am Swedish and I want my light. But of course, if you cover the windows you can't really have decorations in the window, can you? Can this be the reason to why they don't use Christmas lights?
What is odd to me is that the German houses and flats in general don't even seem to have power outlets close to the windows... In Sweden we have them even in the airports - hence the picture... No, but seriously, I am used to having little lamps in my windows, but here I can't unless I put a serious amount of extention cords in place. I have the cords now, because I really want my lights (and yes, I am being careful so that I don't trip over them) but it is not ideal and it doesn't really work in the summer, with one exception; In the living room, as ther I can hide the cabeling relatively well behind other things.
The Germans in general seem to have a lack of power outlets, actually... I am trying to break some sort of record when it comes to excention cords and so fort...
3 Dec 2009
Spent the weekend in beautiful Gothenburg (Göteborg), Sweden, last weekend. We have a family tradition to meet and have goose together. Goose dinner is common in the very south of Sweden, just like it is in Germany, although we have somewhat different things with the goose in Sweden compared to Germany - we have normal boiled potatoes, the Germans like their Knödel (or Klösse), a form of potato dumpling, easily described as mashed potatoes spiced and made into a ball, and then boiled (in the cases that I know of at least). And the Germans like their cabbage with it as well. But in principal it is the same; Goose, potatoes, sauce etc. It is even on the same day in the beginning of November - Mårtensafton in Sweden, Marten in Germany. The difference is that in Germany it is celebrated all over the country, in Sweden focus is in the south, and many up north are not even aware of this tradition.
Yes, that is my plate you see on the picture. It was worth it... And notice that this is after we ate the soup that comes as a starter... The soup that I am basically the only one who really eats, as one of the main ingredients are... goose blood. The rest are not so keen on it, except possibly my dad, and mum eats a bit too, although I suspect it is more for the sake of it and not really because she likes it... I normally do spice the soup up a bit with some sherry, pepper, and other ingredients. It is already tasty but the extra sting is needed.