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The Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art (Astrup Fearnley Museet) is a privately owned contemporary art gallery in Oslo in Norway. It was founded and opened to the public in 1993. In 2012 the museum moved to two new buildings designed by Renzo Piano on Tjuvholmen (see previous post about the area).

The museum is funded by two philanthropic foundations established by descendants of the Fearnley shipping family, the Thomas Fearnley Foundation and the Heddy and Nils Astrup Foundation.

 

Viewer’s discretion advice.

 

The collection’s main focus is the American appropriation artists from the 1980s, but it is currently developing towards the international contemporary art scene, with artists like Damien Hirst (National History series), Anselm Kiefer, Jeff Koons, Richard Prince, Cindy Sherman, Matthew Barney, Tom Sachs, Doug Aitken, Olafur Eliasson and Cai Guo-Qiang.

Mother and Child (Divided) 1993 – Damien HirstFormaldehyde tanks preserving the mounted corpse of a cow and a calf.

The corpses were cut longitudinally and neatly into two halves with the internal organs exposed.

It was not as shocking as described because the internal organs looked the same as those sold in supermarket.

It was just a bit perturbing to see them in its natural position in functional relationship with the other parts.

God alone knows 2005 – Damien Hirst – another set produced more recently.

A poem is engraved onto the marble pedestal. The text reads:

Here is the night
It is a reflection of the hopeful terror of the day
Be not afraid

Can’t help but associate this piece with biblical crucifixes – the sacrificial lamb.

There is a catalog of its collection online – click here and  here.

Gilbert & George

About their collection, on their web site, they stated that “This exceptional collection does not aspire to present an encyclopaedic overview of international contemporary art.

Instead, it is an agglomeration of works by artists who occupy key positions in the field, either because they have created visual languages, objects and images of great originality and quality, or because they have reinvented significant aspects of cultural production.”

Giant books made of lead – Anselm Kiefer

Francis Bacon

The museum is not big as it only had a few galleries.

 

They put on temporary exhibitons – so it is well worth coming back.

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Continuing with our visit of Oslo …, the Nobel Peace Center (see previous post here) is at the start of Aker Brygge.

Aker Brygge is a part of the Sentrum area, just west of Oslo down town.  It is known for its piers, where eateries with outdoor tables serve international cuisine, or casual fare like burgers and steak. It is one of the most visited area of Norway.

It was the former ship yard of Akers Mekaniske Verksted, which ceased operations in 1982.

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A few old industrial buildings were demolished, while several of the major workshop halls were rebuilt as shopping areas. The first step of the construction was finished in 1986.

The area was reorganized between 2010 and 2014.

A popular summer boat bar is moored nearby, and ferries depart year-round for the scenic Oslo Fjord. There were locals and tourists around even in mid-winter – it must be really fun in the summer.

The new development included an inside street, going through the main buildings. Aker Brygge area today consists of 13 separate units.

Local cultural draws include the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art (designed by Renzo Piano, see next post).

Tyuvholmen is the area located on a peninsula sticking out from Aker Brygge into the Oslofjord.

The first element of the name is tjuv = ‘thief’, the last element is the finite form of holme = ‘islet’. Thieves were executed here in the 18th century. An older (Danish) spelling of the name was “Tyveholmen”.

The name for a modern hotel on the islet –  The Thief – also originates from this history.

It was a good 20 minutes walk from the Nobel Peace Center to here.

At the tip of the peninsula is the Tjuvholmen Sculpture Park. The park’s concept was designed by Renzo Piano and developed in conjunction with the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark.

We did not have time to walk out to the beach but the sunset was spectacular.

Take a look inside the Astrup Fearnley museum in our next post.

After our visit to Tromsø, we spent a few days in the capital of Norway.

In Oslo, the Nobel Peace Center which was 5 minutes walk from our hotel. It is located in the former Oslo Vestbanestasjon (Oslo West railway station) train station building from 1872, close to the Oslo City Hall and overlooking the harbor.

The Nobel Peace Center opened in the heart of Oslo, Norway on 11 June 2005. It is a center where you can experience and learn about the various Nobel Peace Prize Laureates and their activities as well as the remarkable history of Alfred Nobel.

They used the wall outside too. The building behind the wall is not part of the Center.

The Nobel Peace Prize (Nobels fredspris) is one of the five Nobel Prizes created by the Swedish industrialist, inventor, and armaments manufacturer Alfred Nobel, along with the prizes in Chemistry, Physics, Physiology or Medicine, and Literature.

Since March 1901, it has been awarded annually to those who have “done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses”.

The biographies and careers of Nobel Peace Prize laureates can be summoned and replayed on a video system.

The center also serve as voice and meeting place where exhibits, discussions and reflections related to war, peace and conflict resolution is in focus. Obama is here.

The Center combines exhibits and films with digital communication and interactive installations.

The Center has a small book and souvenir shop. Good selection.

In our opinion, the individual exhibits were done well but the overall experience of the visit was underwhelming.

Another highlight of this trip up north is to see reindeers.  We joined a tour to visit a reindeer farm located about an hour’s drive inland from Tromsø.

Reindeer pull a sleigh through the night sky to help Santa Claus deliver gifts to good children on Christmas Eve. We see them on festive cards and decorations.

None had a red nose or responded to the call of Rudolph.

It was around midday when we got there. The sky was steel grey with a hint of pink in the direction of the sun.

According to Wikipedia, reindeer (Rangifer tarandus), also known as the caribou in North America, is a species of deer that is native to Arctic, sub-Arctic, tundra, boreal and mountainous regions of northern Europe, Siberia and North America. Some populations are sedentary and the ones we saw are migratory.

Upon arrival, after getting off the bus, we were led to a shed where we were provided with an extra layer of waterproof one-piece outerwear because the temperature was around -20°C. It was the coldest afternoon I had ever experienced in my life.

We were allowed to pet the reindeer when we were inside the fenced area.

All were keen to approach us since we had food in our hands.

The reindeer loved lichen, presumably one of the very few things the reindeers can find and eat on the frozen tundra.

They were not shy with the lichens but did not like people touching them. Many of them are youngsters.

The tour was run by ethnic Sami people. The Sami’s have historically been known in English as the Lapps or the Laplanders, but the guide explained that these terms are perceived as derogatory as they mean “rag” or small pieces of textile.

They made hot tea for us in the tent and also explained various aspects of nomadic life while passing around traditional artifacts.

We sat in a “sleigh” made of slabs of wooden planks crudely made to form a frame and a platform, covered by animal skin.  The reindeer were pulling us just like how the Sami’s or Santa Clause was transported.

Overall, we had fun but the reindeer “sleigh” ride was not as exciting as we thought. It was similar to the speed of a donkey ride. We could have walked faster. Rides pulled by dogs (huskys) would have been more energetic.

We had two main objectives on this trip to Tromsø in Norway: Northern lights (aurora borealis) and reindeers.

We joined a lights-chasing tour one night – spent four hours with a “guide” who directed the driver to take us inland, looking for a cloud-free patch of night sky. There were plenty of stars, and even a galaxy(?- Chris saw a small hazy oval patch), but no aurora.

On the next night, we saw the Northern Lights from our balcony, appearing behind the mountain across the harbor – it was weak but visible and persisted for about 15 minutes. This is the best Northern lights photo from the whole trip.

We stayed in Tromsø over Christmas  – practically everything was closed for a couple of days, including that what appears to be the city’s main souvenir store.

A Christmas tree in the town center park.

Did you know that the giant Christmas tree at New York’s Rockerfellar Centre is a gift from Norway every year ?

Most of our activities were centered around the Radisson Blu hotel and Scandic Ishavshotel, both next to the port. This spot was effectively the center of town for those few days – most people that were out and about were tourists. All the tours including those originating from the cruise ships started from there.

Tromsø was selected by the Norwegian National Olympic Committee as Norway’s candidate for the 2018 Winter Olympics. This would have made Tromsø the first city north of the Arctic Circle to host the games. In 2008, the NOC suspended Tromsø’s bid, citing excessive costs

Arctic hunting, from Novaya Zemlya to Canada, started up around 1820. Tromsø was the major centre of Arctic hunting and became a major Arctic trade centre from which many Arctic expeditions originated.

Hence, there is a Polar Museum (Polarmuseet i Tromsø) by the harbor with all sorts of seal hunting and polar bear trapping paraphenalia.

Lots of histories and stories about life on Svalbard and explorations to the north pole.

View of the bridge that connects the island to the mainland.

Arctic Cathedral (Ishavskatedralen, literally “The Cathedral of the Arctic Sea”) across the harbor is a landmark for the city.

Dedicated in 1965, glass mosaic added 1972 and new organ installed 2005.

Modern, simple, severe.

Tromsø is a port of call for the Hurtigruten.

Hurtigruten (literally The Fast Route) is a ferry line along Norway’s jagged coastline. Originally, Hurtigruten was used as a means of transportation for passengers, goods and mail along the coast of Norway. The ships still transport a limited amount of cargo, but today the ships resemble cruise ships more closely than the original coastal steamers.

The southbound ships arrive at 23:45, and depart at 01:30 in the night, to Finnsnes, … Lofoten, Trondheim and Bergen all year round. MS Nordnorge has her own on-board Expedition Team and serves as a university at sea.

Tromsø’s city’s library.

It would be nice to come back in the summer. Things will look so differently.

 

Before spring arrives, we want to post these pictures before they become out of season. We went to Norway over Christmas.

Our first destination was Tromsø in Northern Norway – at the top of the Scandinavian land mass.

It is the third largest urban area north of the Arctic Circle (following Murmansk and Norilsk). Most of Tromsø, including the city centre, is located on the island of Tromsøya, 350 kilometres (217 mi) north of the Arctic Circle.

In the city centre, the sun is not visible between November 21 and January 21. We arrived around noon – the brightest time of the day.

The city is warmer than most other places located on the same latitude, due to the warming effect of the Gulf Stream. The temperature was fairly constant at around -10 degrees celsius. Thankfully it was not windy.

We rented an apartment south of the city center.

Our apartment building looks like the one above except that ours faces the harbor with a balcony above the water.

This area is full of new buildings unlike the older town center that is famous for its wooden houses.

The view across the harbor is the mainland.

A cable car goes up to Mount Storsteinen, 420 metres (1,380 feet) above sea level, with a panoramic view over Tromsø.

All kinds of ships passed by all hours of the day.

Our apartment has two bedrooms and a large living/dining room that opens to the balcony (one can sit outside and stare at the harbor, if there was no snow on the outdoor furniture).

The apartment was about 10-15 minutes walk from the city center. We trekked back and forth many times.

On the way, we passed the Polaria – a museum/aquarium – a touristy place for the cruise ship crowd – the building looked like a toppled deck of tiles or books.

The streets were largely empty due to the holidays.

This is Tromsø’s cathedral – built in 1861 largely with wood.

More pictures to come.

Rotterdam Blaak Station is the intercity train station nearest to my hotel. Above ground it has a flying saucer-like canopy.

It is a station situated below ground for the national railway network but not part of the Rotterdam metro system. The metro stop also named Blaak is next to it. Confusing isn’t it, unless I misread the maps.

While waiting for a train to take me to Schiphol Airport, I snapped these pictures in a quick burst before my train arrived.

To me, the station is an exercise in De Stijl (and perhaps a bit of Constructivism).

De Stijl was founded in 1917 in Leiden which is only 2 stops away from this station.

Having 4 platforms, the station was completed in 1993.

The blue/green neon-ish lights and transparent glass bricks do remind me of some MTV music videos of the 80’s.

Sections of the roof is wavy.

Simple arrangement of tiles to depict train carriages.

Sculptured underside of the landing and walkways … it echoes the graphical lines on a transport network map.

A hint of surrealism with these framed mirrors.

Notice the optical illusion at the feet of the white-tiled pillars.

Since this is not a major stop, many trains dashed past passengers on the platforms at high speed without slowing down.

My train arrived on time. It stopped at Delft, The Hague, and Leiden before the airport which was about 30 minutes away.

 

 

Cube Houses (Kubuswoningen) are a set of residential houses designed by architect Piet Blom and based on the concept of “living as an urban roof”, i.e., high density housing with sufficient space on the ground level. It is built in the late 70’s over Overblaak Street between Blaak and Oude Haven.

Blom tilted the cube of a conventional house 45 degrees, and rested it upon a hexagon-shaped pylon. The walls and windows are angled at 54.7 degrees. The total area of the apartment is around 100 square metres (1,100 sq ft), but around a quarter of the space is unusable because of the walls that are under the angled ceilings.

His design represents a village within a city, where each house represents a tree.

The cubes share a common area with no traffic which presents a nice atmosphere of a community. They reminded me of the heads of giant anime robots – mecha – think Gundam, for example.

There are 38 cubes and two large cubes, all attached to each other. There is a museum of chess pieces in one of the 38 cubes and a hostel in one of the larger cubes.

An apartment is opened as a museum –  Kijk-Kubus  – but it was too crowded and I did not bother to get inside.

Just across the square from the Cube Houses is Marthal. On 19 November 2009 work began on Marthal – the first covered market in the Netherlands. It was officially opened in 2014.

Its design is unique in that apartments are draped over the daily market in a horseshoe shape. It is spectacular given the scale of the whole structure.

The main hall houses the market itself, shops and restaurants, a supermarket and a 4-storey car park underground. It was a very popular location for locals and tourists alike.

There is a Chinese grocery store – Wah Nam Hong – which has a “restaurant”. The store is well stocked but the menu is however very limited. I tried but would not recommend it. If you want Asian food, the all-you-can-eat sushi chain restaurant is much more attractive and extremely popular.

The artist Arno Coenen created the Horn of Plenty, the biggest work of art in the world. Its bright colours cover an area of ​​11,000 m2.

While I was there, the weather was quite miserable – wet and cold. This marketplace is the perfect antidote to the grayness outside and to fill up with foods from the world.

One stop shopping for all of one’s culinary needs.

Wish there is one in Switzerland.

Rotterdam is a fun city.

These are the photos I (Chris) took and posted on Facebook. The series was started in March of 2013. There is no theme – just something random and visually interesting. We gave each a title and noted where it was taken (to the extent we could remember the city).

random photo #346 – perform – new york

perform-1.jpg

random photo  #347 – lima bias – kuala lumpur

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random photo #348 – feeka – kuala lumpur

feeka-1.jpg

random photo #349 – gaze – penang

gaze-1.jpg

random photo #350 – bend – geneve

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random photo #350 bis – twist – geneve

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random photo #351 – long – budapst

long-1.jpg

random photo #352 – birds 2- kuala lumpur

birds-2.jpg

random photo #353 – peranakan – penang

nyonya-1.jpg

random photo #354 – hung over – aosta

stbernard-1.jpg

random photo #355 – lunch – new york

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If you are interested in seeing other Random Photos, click on the  random  tag on the left.
We have nothing to do with the ads below.

These are the photos I (Chris) took and posted on Facebook. The series was started in March of 2013. There is no theme – just something random and visually interesting. We gave each a title and noted where it was taken (to the extent we could remember the city).

random photo #336 – veins

veins-1.jpg

random photo  #337 – backstage – neuchatel

party-1.jpg

random photo #338 – contours – munich

carpet-1.jpg

random photo #339 – loire

loire-1.jpg

random photo #340 – relativity – budapest

relativity-1.jpg

random photo #341 – timeless

timeless-1.jpg

random photo #342 – nonstop – london

nonstop-1.jpg

random photo #343 – “fork over” – geneva

fork over-1.jpg

random photo #344 – swarm – munich

swarm-1.jpg

random photo #345 – matings – basel

matings-1.jpg

If you are interested in seeing other Random Photos, click on the  random  tag on the left.
We have nothing to do with the ads below.

Witte de Withstraat (click here and here to see earlier posts) – probably the coolest street in Rotterdam, starts actually as Schiedamsedijk from the east near the Maritime Museum.

Margreeth Olsthoorn – a designer fashion store has a prime location here. I have never heard of this name before.

It is located on the corner of Schiedamsedijk and Westersingel.

This store likes to spread its fashion beliefs and philosophies on its awnings. It also like to put the designers’ names on its windows in “The Matrix”‘s style and on the pavement in front. These statements in English probably sound less pretentious to local Dutch ears.

“Fashion is a language”

“The difference between style and fashion is quality” …

… Maison Margiela

“Elegance doesn’t mean being noticed, it means being remembered”

“Fashion is architecture: It is a matter of proportions”

“Style is primarily a matter of instinct”

“I wear lots and lots of sunscreen”- I doubt if this piece about wearing something is made by the store but it stands right next to the store. See the tiny plaque at the bottom ? Behind this piece is a gallery NL=USart. Parody ?

I noticed that in Rotterdam, English quotes are very popular so much so that many of them, literally writings on the wall, are used as decoration on buildings.

Here is an example: ” in the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes” by Andy Warhol on Witte de Withstraat.  May be it is a Dutch thing which could also explain the “fashion statements” I showed above.

At the other end of Witte de Withstraat just before the road continues into Museumpark stood this artwork on top of a building of the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen.

“Breathe Walk Die” by Ugo Rondinone

As it has been said in earlier posts including this one here, the whole area is worth a lot of exploring.

This museum is the most unexpected place I visited in the Museumpark area. See earlier posts here and here about this area of Rotterdam.

This is not a destination museum for me as I (Chris) have not heard of it before.

The entrance courtyard is stunning  – boldly marked by zebra stripes producing an optical effect.

The stripes and how they curve around objects reminded me a little bit of the zen gardens of Kyoto in Japan … the patterns formed by raked sand.

Apparently, the museum closes at 5pm and the last 30 minutes is free. And I happened to arrive at 4:20pm and they told me if I waited for a few minutes, I could see the exhibits for free.

Thank you very much !

The museum’s official web site is here – it is well organized and inviting. Quite a bit of its collection are online – I think they publish a book catalog with similar content. Some of the writings below came from it. See also the video below to learn more the musuem.

A guard told me I could enter the metal cage in the courtyard. I found two soccer balls inside. Are the zebra stripes a part of the work ? It was certainly amusing and it is enigmatic. It worked as a piece of art for me.

“Parallel lines” seems to be their graphic language – it is consistently deployed in their logos, publications, etc.

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is one of the oldest museums in the Netherlands. In 1849 the lawyer Boijmans left his art collection to the city of Rotterdam. With the acquisition of the Van Beuningen collection in 1958 the museum got the second part of its name. This is the back of the museum as seen from Museumpark.

As the museum was about to close, I did not try the “cloakroom” service – if I am not mistaken – it seems that your coat is stored (and on display) hanging in a space hovering above the lobby. I stuffed my things in one of the small wired cages on the back wall (just visible below).

The museum houses a unique collection of paintings, sculptures, installations and everyday objects. The collection of prints and drawings is apparently one of the best in the world.

There is another courtyard, more traditional, surrounded by galleries.

The museum is built with unique, intimate spaces, some of which are connected, where pieces of the collection can be viewed together in a thematic context and at an appropriate scale.

I was surprised by how much household objects that are on display – “from medieval pitchers and glass from the Golden Age to furniture by Rietveld and contemporary Dutch design”, they have them all.

The museum proudly declares that it has been shaped by private collectors. The scope and diversity are the results of 1700 private collectors who have gifted no fewer than 50,000 objects in 170 years of the museum’s history. As a result, the collection spans centuries of human creation.

I never saw this Dali before, not even in print.

Keith Haring ?

An unexpected benefit for arriving just before closing was the freedom I enjoyed with the Yayoi Kusuma installation. There were no lines. I had it practically to myself.

‘Infinity Mirror Room – Phalli’s Field (Floor Show)’ was the first of a series of mirrored rooms that Kusama began in 1965. The work was included in Kusama’s solo exhibition ‘Mirrored Years’ at the Museum in the autumn of 2008.

The brick building that houses the original collection was completed in 1935, and a modern extension was added in the 70’s.  They have just started constructing a new building –  the Depot – right next to the museum which will store the entire collection but also allows it to be viewed by the public – a concept similar to that of the Schaulager (see our earlier post) in Basel. Apparently, only 8% of the collection is currently on view.

Construction started in 2017 and the Depot is expected to open in 2020. I am looking forward to its opening and seeing more of the collection.

 

 

I(Chris) spent a day in Rotterdam and walked from the Maritime Museum to the Museumpark along the street Witte de Withstraat. Part 1 covers the shops, bars and restaurants on Witte de Withstraat.

Museumpark is an urban landscaped park located between the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Westersingel, Westzeedijk and the complex of the Erasmus medical center in central Rotterdam. The Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, the Kunsthal, Het Nieuwe Instituut, Chabot Museum, and the Natural History Museum (Natuurhistorisch Museum Rotterdam) are all located there and connected with each other by this landscaped park.

First, the establishments – the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen (see a dedicated post later)

Chabot Museum is home to one of the most important collections of Dutch expressionist painter and sculptor Henk Chabot (1894-1949).  The white villa was built in 1938 and represents a highpoint of the functionalist ‘Nieuwe Bouwen’ (New Construction) style of architecture. It was designed by Gerrit Willem Baas and Leonard Stokla in 1938 as a private residence.

Chabot Museum’s next door neighbor – there are a few more houses/villa that are built in this style in the area. But I couldn’t tell if it was built around the same time as the Chabot museum or it is a later emulation.

In Het Nieuwe Instituut – the Museum of Architecture, Design and Digital Culture – shows temporary exhibitions with a recurring theme of innovation. The museum examines the designed world and how it is constantly being changed by new technologies, new ideas and shifting social priorities. The concept is similar to that of the MAAT in Lisbon – click here for our earlier post.

Instead of a lawn, the institute has a pond covered in algae in front of it. Look carefully, it is green water.

The institute has a modern and comfy cafe

… but the bookstore (not so much a shop, but more like an open market) was closed. The stalls were all covered up.

The park was designed by Rem Koolhaas/OMA in close collaboration with the French landscape architect Yves Brunier and the designer Petra Blaisse.

The park has a very innovative design: four zones – a paved zone; a romantic zone with trees, flowers and a pedestrian bridge (just visible above); a city zone which is covered in asphalt and often used for public events; and a well-tended orchard area.

I used all my time in the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen so the Kunsthal was closed by the time I got to it.

Although it is not eye-catching like a work by Gehry, this is a masterpiece of architecture by Rem Koolhass –  read more about it here: https://www.kunsthal.nl/en/about-kunsthal/building/

One of the sculptures outside the Kunsthal.

The city’s Natural History Museum is next door.

As I walked back towards the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, one can see the other side of the museum where Claes Oldenburg’s Screwarch is installed.

I read somewhere that the ponds and fountains in this park are designed to act as buffers to prevent flooding of the city.

The green and built spaces around the park are really harmonious.

I will definitely come back to have a closer look at the museums and relax with a drink at the establishments on Witte de Withstraat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I(Chris) spent a day in Rotterdam after a meeting in The Hague, which is only a short train ride away.

Rotterdam is actively marketing itself as a popular destination for international visitors, an alternative to Amsterdam. It was built around the river Rotte in 1270 and grew rapidly over the centuries but in 1940, during World War II, the entire city center was destroyed by bombs.

The city was rebuilt, opting to break from the past, and commits itself to contemporary architecture.

Witte de Withstraat is a street which connects the Maritime Museum (just visible in the photo below) with the Museumpark.

It is the cultural center of the city which is full of restaurants, bars, museums and interesting shops.

“Work hard, play here” at the Metropole Cafe

I was there in the afternoon so that the seating areas of the bars and restaurants were somewhat empty.

But one can imagine that the place must be really fun at night.

The street is the scene.

Somebody proposed to Sam with this graphics ? Cool.

And there is of course a Dutch “coffeeshop” nearby, this one with subway-style turnstiles ! (not clearly visible in the photo) and a sauna/massage salon next door.

These establishments are facing an open park, so it is not at all sleazy as it may sound.

This sculpture of Sylvette by Picasso marks the beginning of the Museumpark.

See part 2 for the next segment of this thoroughfare.

 

 

 

 

Another bookstore … this time in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. This one barely survived.

Donner is located on Coolsingel, in a former bank building, all public areas on one floor. This bookstore and the pride of Rotterdam was swallowed up by a big chain store that unfortunately went bankrupt in 2014.

The Top 10 fictions and non-fictions.

Owing to a successful crowdfunding campaign that raised 250.000 euros, Donner was able to relocate to its current location.  It’s again a proudly independent and well stocked bookshop.

The number one fiction – “The Best Thing We Have” by Griet Op de Beeck.

A nice collection of Lovecraft stories.

Cookbook section

Calendars for 2018.

Like most bookstores these days, they sell a whole lot of other non-printed merchandise, such as collectible objects.

There was an event which just finished. A line of people was waiting for refreshments and perhaps a selfie with the speaker or an autographed book.
 
Old books – several aisles of them.
High-end lifestyle magazines. They look like coffee table photo books without a real topic (except Nez which is a serious perfume magazine), and costs the same or more.
There is something about this bookstore, possibly its slight messiness in full view which made me felt like I was in a public library.
Hope this one survives.

Continuing with my tour of the world’s bookstores … Livraria Bertrand at Rua Garrett 73 in Lisbon is the oldest and largest bookstore chain in Portugal.

Since it was launched in 1732, the Bertrand Bookstore stayed open, and has thus entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest bookstore in the world still in operation. The business survived earthquakes, revolutions and the recent economic crisis.

The bookstore was founded by a Frenchman in the area of the current store – Baixa. Pierre Bertrand joined the store in 1744.

The earthquake of 1755 destroyed the original store but it returned in 1773 to Rua Garreta where it still operates today.

Later in the twentieth century, the company evolved, changed owners several times. In 1912, ownership of the “Livraria Bertrand” was with the firm ‘Aillaud Bastos & Alves’ editors in Paris, Lisbon and Rio de Janeiro. In 1938, it opened the first bookstore in Porto and, from 1939, Livraria Bertrand had its own printing press.

When I arrived, it was still opened. The closing time is 10:00pm – rare for a bookstore in Europe.

The top 10 fictions and non-fictions – the No. 1 fiction is Dan Brown’s Origin – sans surprise. Very few English books.

Nobel laureate José Saramago’s books are prominently featured (inside and in the window display) as were those by the poet Fernando Pessoa.

The bookstore is all on one floor.

The Bertrand Group owns 53 bookstores in Portugal, a book club, and eight smaller publishers. The company was a subsidiary of giant German media corporation Bertelsmann until 2010, when Bertelsmann sold Bertrand to Porto Editora, Portugal’s biggest publishing house. “Bookstore Bertrand” is thus the name of a network of bookstores across the country.

Law Books

Although the brick-and-mortar bookstore is under threat, Bertrand has managed so far and built an online presence. I read that many Portuguese language books that publishers send overseas are delivered to Africa and nearly half are ordered by customers in Angola.

We saw some big beautiful bookstores in Sao Paulo, Brazil, click here, here and here. You would have thought that they do well in South America, but Bertrand is not there. Apparently, Portugal and its former colonies do not have a standardized literary language (although they speak the same language) which could be used simultaneously in Europe, Africa, and South America. As a result, the works of Portuguese novelists must be “translated” into the Brazilian version of literary Portuguese before they can be marketed in Brazil.

The bookstore has a cafe – Cafe Bertrand with the catchphrase “Taste our books”. It also has its own entrance.

The room is named after the poet Fernando Pessoa who frequented this place with many Portuguese literary luminaries over the years. Notice the typewriter sitting above the wine refrigerator? Just in case if someone is in a creative mood ?

It also has a cute character-based logo in the shape of a cup and saucer.

Keeping the good bookstore tradition alive.

Dear Readers,

It has been a tradition of this blog to take a look back at some of the places we visited last year. In Part 1, we posted photos of places we visited in the second half of 2017. Here are the places we visited in the first half.

As you will see, we went to the two other capitals on the British Isle, the administrative center of the Netherlands, and the wine capital of France.

Click on links, where provided to read more about the places of interest. There are usually a series of related posts per location, you can discover them easily in the calendar at the bottom of the post.

In reverse chronological order:

Loch Ness, Scotland in June

Edinburgh, Scotland, June

Glasgow, Scotland, June

Cardiff, Wales, June

The Game and the Castle

The Hague (Scheveningen), Netherlands, May

St. Emillion, France, in April on our Alps-Atlantic drive with A and F

Biarritz, France in April, the Atlantic !

Bordeaux, France in April

Arcachon, France in April

So this is goodbye 2017.

Where will we end up this year ? … if all go as planned, it will be more exotic and involve longer distances in 2018.

Dear Readers, Happy New Year !

This is our first post of 2018. It is a tradition of this blog to take a look back at some of the places we visited last year. Overall, we traveled less in 2017 than 2016, at least in terms of distance traveled. We did not leave Europe after our Hong Kong trip concluded in January 2017. But we entered the Arctic Circle, visited the capital of Norway, England, France and Portugal.

Click on links, where provided to read more about the places of interest. There are usually a series of related posts per location, you can discover them easily in the calendar at the bottom of the post.

In reverse chronological order:

Oslo, Norway, December-January – Astrup Fearnley Museum

Tromsø, Norway, December – 350 km inside the Arctic Circle

London, December – overnight business trip

Paris, France, December – on the Grande Roue

Lisbon, Portugal – attended a conference at the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown

Rotterdam, Netherlands, in November – outside the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

Lucerne, Switzerland, August – with S&J + family

Panorama from Mount Rigi above Lake Lucene

Verbier, Switzerland in September for business

Aix-les-bains, France in July with friends

Travels in first half of 2017 to come in part 2.

 

Just before catching my mid-afternoon flight home from Lisbon, I (Chris) had a walk through this place and a quick bite with a bunch of new friends (J, K, L, R & S). It was a really fun two hours.

I took most of the text posted here from its web site, click here to visit.

“It’s in the year 1846 that a threads and fabrics Company called “Companhia de Fiação e Tecidos Lisbonense”, one of the most important manufacturing complex in Lisbon’s history, sets in Alcântara. This 23.000 m2 industrial site was, subsequently, occupied by a set of industrial use related companies.”

It was Sunday and the place was packed with rural farmers selling fruits and vegetables.

Artists and craftsman selling their work.

A giant fly on the wall of a hostel within the grounds.

Not Rio, it’s Lisbon.

Plenty of street art.

A mural that stretches across one side of a large warehouse.

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“An urban fragment, kept hidden for years, is now returned to the city in the form of LXFactory. A creative island occupied by corporations and professionals of the industry serves also has stage for a diverse set of happenings related to fashion, publicity, communication, fine arts, architecture, music, etc., attracting numerous visitors to rediscover Alcântara through an engaged dynamics.”

Among the shops, eateries and offices, a company installed two escape rooms – “LX Escape – Burlesque Edition” – click to see the backstory of the escape rooms here. We wanted to do it but decided to have lunch first. But then I had to leave … and later my friends decided to see Fado with dinner instead. Well, it means the escape rooms are waiting for me to return.

There are quite a few buildings on the site and I did not have the time to walk through them.

I wonder what’s the story behind these images …

It must remind people of Covent Garden or Camden Lock in London. See also our posts on similar ideas of retail/art projects: Common Ground in Seoul and PMQ in Hong Kong.

Great project. It works. Every city needs at least one of these.

One evening after the day’s meetings are over, I(Chris) and friends walked along the Belém waterfront from the conference venue to a gala dinner. Here are some of the photos taken during the walk.

We started from the Fundação Champalimaud at the western end of the waterfront – the sun was setting.

The Monument to the Veterans from Overseas (Aos Combatentes do Ultramar) was the next landmark.

I believe there are soldiers standing guard at this monument from time to time.

Our next sight is the famous Torre de Belem. The tower was classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.

The tower was built in the early 16th century on a small island in the River Targus near the Lisbon shore.

The tower was built by the military architect Francisco de Arruda, who had already supervised the construction of several fortresses in Portuguese territories in Morocco. The influence of Moorish architecture is manifested in the delicate decorations, the arched windows, the balconies, and the ribbed cupolas of the watchtowers.

A modern waterside cafe

Continuing our walk eastbound after passing a small park, we came to a marina.

On the other side of the marina is the Altis Belém Hotel.

Then the Belém lighthouse … a historical landmark

Then, there was the Museu de Arte Popular. It has to be said that this is a sad looking building when it is compared to the others on the waterfront.  Notice the black cable that runs across the facade of the entrance ? Enough said.

Our dinner was at the Espaço Espelho d’Água – a truly beautiful place, we had an apéro followed by dinner.

Entrance to the venue.

From the terrace of the venue … sculpture in a pool in front of the river

The Espaço has a small art gallery at its entrance.

… and a bar that was completely shrouded in vegetation.

On the far side of the Espaço is the Monument of the Discoveries (Padrão dos Descobrimentos) which celebrates the Portuguese age of exploration in the 15th and 16th century. The main statue is that of Henry the Navigator.

Further into the distance, one can see the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge and the National Sanctuary of Christ the King (Santuário Nacional de Cristo Rei) on the hill.

If one continues to walk (which we did not), the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology is not far (see earlier post about this new landmark).