The Ghosts Of St. Paul’s

Halloween is the perfect time of the year to experience a ghost tour. The city of London has a vast array of these tours, you can choose The Theater District, Jack The Ripper or any of a number of cool locations.

The Cathedral of St. Paul may be known the spot where Mary Poppins and the children meet the bird woman. But by night, the location takes on an eerie appearance.

The Whistler is St. Paul’s most well-known haunting. Many have seen the visage of an elderly clergyman accompanied by a tuneless whistle. Your best chance of meeting the clergyman is to visit the Cathedral’s west end. On the ground floor of the northwest tower. When the tower was rededicated after WWI, a previously hidden door was uncovered. This is the exact spot where the whistling cleric appears to fade into the wall.

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There are 2 other ghost stories captured by Irish writer and Ghost Hunter, Elliott O’Donnell. In one story an American couple experience a “great black cloud” that rose out of the floor and climbed 20 feet into the air before disappearing. They described the cloud as “alive'”.

O’Donnell’s second story involves a woman who was resting in the cathedral one afternoon. This woman spotted another woman in a pew in front of her. She seemed to be frantically looking for something. The first woman got up to help the woman, but on her way down the aisle she felt a tap on her shoulder. She spun around to find no one behind and when she resumed her walk, the other woman had vanished.

Several days later, at the same time of day, the woman saw the figure of the woman once again. She rose to offer assistance but was once again stopped by a tap on her shoulder. Just as before, there was no one behind her and in front of her the woman was gone.

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LINKS:

Walking Tours of London

St. Paul’s Cathedral

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Hey, Hey, We’re The Monks

No trip to Tallin, Estonia is complete without a visit to the Danish King’s Garden. Watching over the medieval walled garden are statues of faceless monks, Ambrosius, Bartholomeus and Claudius. The legend goes, that during a losing battle, the monks prayed for divine intervention on behalf of the Danish King. Out of the sky fell a large flag, which became the national flag of Denmark.

Estonia is also considered one of the most haunted places in Europe. The King’s Garden is said to be haunted by a monk, perhaps a former executioner having a change of heart.

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LINKS

Visit Estonia

Categories: Church, Estonia, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

There are more things in heaven and earth

Legend has it that Shakespeare wrote his masterpiece Hamlet, with Kronborg Castle as it’s setting. The mystery remains as to whether or not he actually visited Denmark. In 1816, on the 200th anniversary of his death, the soldiers garrisoned at Kronborg performed his play for the first time. 

When you arrive at the castle, make a point of checking out the days schedule as in the Summer months, Hamlet is performed live on the castle grounds.CPH1_-279I arrived just in time to head to the King’s Chamber for Ophelia’s mad scene. 

“We know what we are, but know not what we may be.”

Elsinore1_-2“Good-night, ladies, good-night, sweet ladies, good-night, good-night.”CPH1_-136In between scenes, Queen Gertrude works on her crewel in her chamber.CPH1_-137

CPH1_-280One woe doth tread upon another’s heel, 
So fast they follow. Your sister’s drown’d, Laertes.”CPH1_-281“But to know a man well were to know himself.”CPH1_-282“The Queen carouses to thy fortune, Hamlet.”CPH1_-283“No, no! the drink, the drink! O my dear Hamlet! 
The drink, the drink! I am poison’d.”Elsinore1_“It is here, Hamlet. Hamlet, thou art slain”CPH1_-284

Good Night Sweet Prince

LINKS

Shakespeares-Danish-links

BBC Elsinore A Castle Fit For A Prince

Hamlet Live 2017 Facebook

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Kronborg Slot

Standing guard high on a promontory in Helsingor, Kronborg Slot (Kronborg Castle) was the home of Denmark rulers until the 1600’s. CPH1_-141

In 1785, the castle was being fitted for use as army barracks. The chapel was outfitted as a gym and fencing hall. The chapel was later refurnished with the original furniture and reinaugurated in 1843

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Detail of the main entrance to the chapel. CPH1_-286The chapel features the original pews dating back to King Frederik II.CPH1_-287CPH1_-139CPH1_-138The casements deep beneath the castle are a unique experience. Dimly lit and at times a bit treacherous, the casements are fun to explore but watch your step.CPH1_-288This subterranean labyrinth is where you can meet Holger. According to the myth of King Arthur, a Danish king known as Holger the Dane, was kidnapped by the sorceress, Morgan le Fay and taken to Avalon. He escaped to rescue France from danger and then traveled to Kronborg castle. Today he sleeps until he is needed to save his homeland. CPH1_-289

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LINKS

Visit Denmark

Kronborg Wiki

 

Categories: Castles, Church, Copenhagen, Europe, Hamlet, Kronborg Castle, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Riviera of the Nordic region

CPH1_-278Hop one of the convenient trains from the central train station in Copenhagen and an hour later you’ll be visiting the town of Helsingor in Northern Zealand. CPH1_-145Kulturhavn Kronborg is an area dedicated to the arts, live music, theatre and art all play a part in the culture of the region. CPH1_-134This fish sculpture is made entirely out of garbage found in the bay.  Look clsely and you’ll find everything from plastic beach pails to hubcaps to watering cans to children’s toys. All items that were tossed in the water and retrieved for art. CPH1_-135The narrow cobblestone streets are perfect from exploring on foot or on bike. CPH1_-142Han, Danish for Him, is the little brother of Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid. Artists Elmgreen & Dragset use the same pose as his more famous sibling, but he has 2 legs instead of a tail.  If you watch closely, Han’s eyes blink for a split second once every hour as he stares out into the harbor.CPH1_-143

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Public houses, merriment and generous women

In 1671, King Christian began work on a new harbor for Copenhagen. Nyhavn has been the home of Danish artists such as Hans Christian Andersen and countless writers, ballerina and musicians. CPH1_-76The brightly colored buildings are home to restaurants, shops and clubs. Once a notorious red light district, activities today range from getting a new tattoo to cruising along the canals on a flat boat.CPH1_-96At one time the area was frequented by sailors who came for the seedy taverns and loose women. Today, the area is a vibrant neighborhood where you can enjoy one of the bars and restaurants or purchase a bottle of wine and sit on the wall overlooking the canal. This stretch is referred to as the longest bar in Scandanavia. CPH1_-97In the old days, the neighborhood was split into the Sunny Side and The Shady Side. Today both sides are family friendly. CPH1_-99

CPH1_-100One of the unique restaurants is called KOMPASSET (The Compass) – the building used to house several manufacturers of compasses.  KOMPASSET features a menu of  smørrebrød/open sandwiches and craft beers from local breweries.CPH1_-101As you walk along the waterfront, don’t forget to look up. This building features a diving helmet as a monument to Em. Z. Svitzer Bjergnings Enterprise, a marine salvage company.

CPH1_-102In the mood for a burger, try Hereford House, but don’t be surprised at the price. A burger and beer can set you back more than $20 USD.
CPH1_-103For the adventurous drinker, the ideal place to order a shot of Fisk “Fisherman’s Friend” vodka, Ga-Jol liquorice vodka, Akvavit or Gammel Dansk is the Fisken Pub. Located in the basement of the Skipperkroen Restaurant, the abundance of nautical decor gives you the feeling of what it may have been like to visit here 350 years ago.CPH1_-104Hyttefadet is a good little restaurant for a quick Danish lunch of an open faced salmon sandwich and a beer. Sit back and watch the world go by. CPH1_-105Nyhavn 17 is a more elegant dining choice. CPH1_-106Heering is a cozy restaurant, known for traditional Danish entrees as well as European Bistro specialties. The inside is very small and don’t be surprised if your dinner is interrupted by servers poking you to move out their way as you eat.CPH1_-107Hong Kong is one of the old school strip clubs and bars in Copenhagen. If you’re looking for a local dive bar with a rough clientele, this may be the spot for you.CPH1_-108If you visit Copenhagen, a trip to Nyhavn is well worth a few hours of your time.CPH1_-109

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LINKS:

The Compass Restaurant

Hyttefadet

Nyhavn17 on Facebook

Restaurant Heering

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Nice Knockers

The homes of Cartegena are dressed in tropical and flowering vines. Door knockers or Aldabas reflected the status of family in residence. They spoke to the families social and economic status without saying a word. The door knocker came about in the middle ages when most people could not read or write. The pictorial images were the ultimate status symbol. Although today they are merely ornamental, they hearken back to the family’s status and wealth. Cartagena1_-17Nautical motifs that feature creatures of the sea such as fish and mermaids were used by families that made their living by the sea. Usually as merchants importing goods into the New World or traders. Cartegena1_-27

Cartegena1_-19Lions were the symbol of the military. It is the epitome of strength, pride and power. The protectors of the city lived behind these doors.Cartagena1_-13

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Cartagena1_-15Aldabas shaped like lizards refer back to the country’s royalty. Families with these often were members of royal family or could produce a connetion to the royals. Cartegena1_-14Both the size of the knocker and the material that it was made of, were also important indicators of the family’s status. The actual meaning of the different styles comes into question quite often. Where some say the Lion represents the military, others say it is meant for teachers. And if the lizard is truly a symbol of royalty, there must have been a huge royal family living in Cartegena based on the dozens of lizard aldabas that I saw. Any way you look at them, the aldabas are beautiful bits of decoration on some wonderful homes. Cartegena1_-15

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Exploring the Old City of Cartegena

Head towards the clock tower and you will find your way to the Ciudad Vieja or Old Town. The Old Town and Ciudad Murallada, the Walled City, lie just behind.  La Puerta y la Torre del Reloj is your entry into this amazing city. Cartagena1_The Plaza of the Carriages (Plaza de los Cloches) next to the clock tower, was the site of the original slave market. Slaves were brought into the New World through Cartegena and Veracruz, Mexico. And yes, you can pick up a carriage ride in the Plaza de los Coches. Cartagena1_-5If you’re on the hunt for some vintage record albums or a used copy of the South Beach Diet, this market is just for you.Cartagena1_-3Be sure to check out the street vendors and maybe pick up a Panama hat to keep you cool. The heat and humidity are overwhelming and most people stay away during the heat of the afternoon.Cartagena1_-18A towering statue of Christopher Columbus stands in the Plaza de la Aruanda. Columbus explored the coast of Panama, which was part of Columbia on his fourth voyage of discovery. Cartagena1_-4Modern art sculptures adorn the streets and plazas. This palenquera was one of several sculptures in the Plaza San Pedro Claver.Cartagena1_-6The Church of San Pedro Claver was built in the early 17th century. Saint Peter Claver was known as the slave of slaves by his Jesuit brethren. Unlike his brothers, Claver did not support Slavery and chose to minister to the many slaves brought through Cartegena. He would meet the slave ships before the human cargo was unloaded so that he could be the first and only friendly face they saw in the New World. San Pedro Claver was the first saint canonized in the New World. Cartagena1_-8The $5 entry fee was well worth it to get out of the hot sun for a half hour or so. The church grounds feature heavy wood furniture offset by the gleaming white washed walls. Cartagena1_-9Cartagena1_-7The altar is dedicated to San Pedro and his remains are visible underneath. You can check out his skull if you want to get up close and personal. Cartagena1_-12Cartegena1_-26 The mausoleum in the back of the cloister houses more recent parishioners.Cartagena1_-11Cartagena1_-10

LINKS:

Saint Peter Claver

The Church of San Pedro Claver

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The streets of Cartagena

It has been called by some ‘The Queen of The Caribbean Coast’. Cartagena, Columbia is a bright maze of cobblestone streets. Just inside the ancient city walls, you can find used booksellers. The brutal heat and humidity were overwhelming but wandering the neighborhoods was not to be missed.Cartegena1_-2The thick walls of Las Murallas surround the Old Town. Originally built to keep out enemies, Las Murallas is in remarkable condition.  Even though there are numerous guide books on Cartagena, it is better to just wander about. Colorful buildings line the streets with their open patios and balconies.Cartegena1_-3Street vendors sell a variety of fresh fruits, ranging from coconuts to papayas and bananas. It’s safe to try some of the produce, the water in the larger cities is safe to drink and the fruits and vegetables are also safe.Cartegena1_-10You are sure to encounter some of the brightly dressed Palenqueras. These black women were originally from San Basillo de Palenque, a small village located in southeast of Cartagena. San Basillo de Palenque was founded by runaway African slaves and is one of the first free towns in the Americas. Tourists snap up pictures of the beautifully dressed women with bowls of fruit on their heads. But beware, if you do not tip them first, they will hiss at you and hide their faces. Cartegena1_-18For a dollar each, I got some great shots, but as soon as the cameras stop snapping, the smiles disappear from their faces. Even though they are used to being the center of attention, they really are tired poor women who have to sit all day in the sun and heat to make some sort of living.Cartegena1_-17As colorful as the tropical parrots that freely fly around, the buildings are dressed in bright yellows, blues, reds and oranges. Cartagena was one of Spain’s important ports along with San Juan and Havana.Cartegena1_-11Cartegena1_-12Cartegena1_-22Cartegena1_-23

LINKS

Cartagena

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Tales of Pohjola

Walking around Helsinki, dodging the rain and sleet, I happened upon this really cool building. The Pohjola Insurance Company building is decorated with forest animals and monsters from the tales of the Kalevala. The Kalevala is studied in schools and well known by boys and girls across Finland. Finland1_Kullervo is an orphan boy in search of a real family. In his journey he finds his real family, who he thought were slaughtered, but accidentally sleeps with his sister. When he finds out her identity he kills himself on his own sword. Not quite a happy ending.Finland1_-2

Pohjola is the mythical land of Finnish literature. Kalevela, the Land of the North is eternally winter and ruled by an evil witch. Finland1_-3

In another tale, Louhi, The Mistress of Pohjola, sends a bear to wreak havoc on Kalevala’s cattle. The hero, Väinämöinen kills the bear and they hold a feast. The bear is treated as a welcome guest, and the feast is in his honor.  Väinämöinen sings of the birth of the bear, friend and brother to man, born upon the shoulders of Otava, the Big Dipper. Helsinki1_-6Pohjola is where many believe that the roots of the world tree are. This could account for all of the trees and squirrels across the building’s front. More broadly the word refers to any northerly direction. Given its mythological namesake, it’s no surprise that the Pohjola Insurance company agreed to decorate their building with statues of monsters, fools and animals.Helsinki1_-7Helsinki1_-33

Categories: Europe, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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