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Dear Readers,

It has been a tradition on 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 2018. Here are the places we visited in the first half.

Click on the 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:

Entrance to Harbor of Lindau, on the shore of Lake Constance in the summer

Red carpet area in St Gallen, Switzerland

Champions League Final in Kiev, Ukraine

Real Madrid scored against Liverpool and went on to win the title 3-1 –  Marcelo, Bale (2 goals – 64′ and 83′), Benzema (1 goal at 51′), Modric and Ronaldo

The Lavra, Kiev (Kyiv), Ukraine

Neues Rathaus at Marienplatz, Munich

Late night Ginza, Tokyo, in April

Zhengyang Gate, Qianmen, Beijing – 正阳门箭楼

Wanchai, Hong Kong in April

WYK, Hong Kong

Wadi Rum, Jordan

Dead sea resort, Jordan

Petra, Jordan

Oslo, Norway where we spent the beginning of the new year

Nobel Peace Center, Oslo

Let’s see where we will go in 2019.

Back in June, we spent one day in St. Gallen, on our way to Kiev from Lindau.

After seeing the Abby and its library (see the post here), we were looking for a place for dinner that was not far from the train station and our hotel. Not really expecting much, Lokal was the restaurant we chose from Google map.

Lokal, which is on the other side of tracks at the train station and it turns out to be a part of The Lokremise.

The Lokremise is a cultural center for St Gallen. It consists of a concert/theater/dance space, an outpost for the Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, the cinema Kinok as well as our bar/restaurant Lokal.

The Lokremise was built between 1903 and 1911 at the time of the textile boom. It is the largest surviving locomotive ring depot in Switzerland.

I wondered what was the purpose of this tower. It looks mysterious.

The depot is a monument of national importance. The buildings were renovated in 2009/2010 and converted into the current complex.

The circular layout of the rail depot has been adapted to form a courtyard for having drinks outdoors.

Some train tracks remain visible under the pebbles. The space can be a really good lounge-y, party space.

Kinok moved into the new Lokremise cube, designed by the Zurich architects Isa Stürm Urs Wolf SA, featuring a cinema room, screening room and bar.

The art museum’s space is situated behind the cinema.

Sculptures and drinks.

The ambiance changed a little after dark.

The post-industrial, high-ceiling dining room is made less grungy by huge mirrors and warm color light fixtures.

Not sure what the idea is with these rows of chrome hemispheres … but they made the large otherwise stark wall a lot more interesting.

The food was overall quite good; the space is phenomenal. Location is super convenient. Highly recommended.

 

We spent a day in St Gallen, a historic town located in the northeast of Switzerland. It is best known for its university and the Abbey of Saint Gall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983.

The collection of buildings in the abbey precinct including its magnificent Baroque cathedral form a unique historical ensemble. The appearance of the abbey’s buildings is largely the result of constructions in the 18th century.

The west side includes the Baroque church (the present cathedral), flanked by two towers and the ancient cloister, which today houses the Abbey Library.

The city of St. Gallen grew around the Abbey of St Gall, which is said to have been built at the site of the hermitage of Irish missionary Gallus established in AD 612. The abbey followed the Rule of St. Benedict, which prescribes the contemplative study of literature. 

We were in awe of this late baroque Rococo decorations.

The abbey prospered in the 9th century and became a site of pilgrimage and a center of trade, with associated guest houses, stables and other facilities.

As a religious city-states, the abbey joined the Swiss Confederation in 1450s and the town became free from the abbot.

The abbey is an outstanding example of a large Carolingian monastery, represents 1200 years of history of monastic architecture from the Middle Ages.

Confession booths.

The interior of the Cathedral is one of the most important baroque monuments in Switzerland.

Ceiling frescoes.

Scrolling curves, gilding, white and pastel colors, sculpted molding, and trompe l’oeil frescoes – this church has every element of Rococo.

The Abbey library of Saint Gall (Stiftsbibliothek) is recognized as one of the richest medieval libraries in the world. It is also known as the Seelenapotheke (healing place of the soul). It is home to one of the most comprehensive collections of early medieval books in the German-speaking part of Europe.

There was a guided tour and we were required to wear soft overshoes to protect the floor. 

The two-storeys library, its walls and the balconies are ornately decorated. The library hall designed by the architect Peter Thumb in a Rococo style, was constructed between 1758-67. Bookshelves alternate with window recesses on both levels.

The library holds 2,100 manuscripts dating back to the 8th through the 15th centuries which are handwritten, 1,650 incunabula (printed before 1500), and old printed books. 400 of the handwritten books are over 1000 years old. These manuscripts are placed inside the glass cases.

Of particular interest are a beautiful collection of early medieval Irish manuscripts unique in Continental Europe.

The 2,700 year old Egyptian mummy Shepenese is also housed in the library.

This abbey and the library is really THE place to learn and experience central European history and see Rococo.

Closer to home …

Earlier this year while the 2018 Winter Olympics games were being held in South Korea, we went to visit our town’s most famous tourist attraction – the Olympics Museum (Le museé Olympique).

The museum is located on a slope facing Lac Leman, not far from downtown Lausanne. We took a city bus to get there.

The museum houses permanent and temporary exhibits relating to sport and the Olympic movement. With more than 10,000 artifacts, the museum is the largest archive of Olympic Games in the world.

The museum was founded on 23 June 1993, on the initiative of then-president of the IOC Juan Antonio Samaranch.

After 23 months of renovation between 2012 and 2013, the Olympic Museum re-opened on 21 December 2013. Outside the museum is a park filled with sculptures.

The permanent exhibition is organized into three major themes on three separate floors: Olympic World, Olympic Games, and Olympic Spirit. A visit begins on the third floor, where the Olympic World part of the exhibition informs visitors of the history of the ancient Olympic Games and the rebirth of the modern Games in the 19th century.

Highlights include a display of Olympic torches, as well as a video documenting major moments in the history of opening ceremonies history.

The second floor focuses on the Olympic Games.

Mascots from previous games.

Models of stadiums – Bird’s nest from Beijing 2008

Sporting equipment for a variety of sports are on display as well as the more than 1,000 video clips of Olympic Games events and athletes which can be searched and viewed at individual viewing stations.

The uniforms.

On demand are video clips of so many dramatic and magical moments.

The final part of the permanent exhibit covers the Olympic Spirit, where visitors are invited to experience being in an Olympic Village and they can test their balance, agility, and mental skills with interactive exercises.

Interesting optical illusion painted on the ceiling and walls of the stairwell leading down to the Olympic Spirit section.

Olympic medals are also on display. These were from the Winter Games of 1972 from Sapporo, Japan.

We had a lunch buffet which included some Korean dishes while watching the games on the big screen.

There was so much to see. One could spend days here. It was for us a very nice Sunday indeed.

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.

 

We spent a weekend in Verbier during the summer this year and luckily it coincided with the annual Alps en Fête where we saw the Bataille des Reines, see the post here.

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The event was held at the Alpage des Grand-Plans, Les Planards, an alpine pasture above Verbier that was reached by public bus and a minibus operating for the day. The scenery is very much like “The Sound of Music” which is really Austrian.

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A road led us up from the bus stop to the pasture where the event was held. The road continues, sloping gently upwards. Along the way, there were two restaurants/lodge. They appear to rent out rooms.

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One of the restaurants is called La Marmotte. It was nearly full with people sitting on the outside taking in the sun, breeze and view.

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We were lucky to be offered a table with a view under a sun umbrella. After we ordered, we were served a free simple starter – olive paste on crispy bread.

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We had a generous portion of tomato soup …

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… and assorted mushrooms (mostly girolles and possibly some other kinds) in creamy sauce and a puff pastry. The Swiss likes to gather wild mushrooms.

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We also had a beef tartare and fries.

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All were excellent. The service was friendly and we had great seats facing the wide open space. Looking up, the nets set up to prevent avalanche and/or falling rocks were clearly visible (not in the photo), as are paths that lead up to the top.

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The view here is stunning, blue sky with a few clouds – the entire community of Verbier below –  the pastures on the other side of the valley, fresh air …

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Climbing wall for the energetic.

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The inside of the restaurant was open but no one wanted to be indoors.

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But we can imagine this wooden lodge, now in December with snow falling outside, it must be very cosy. A classic alpine mountain experience (if it is open).

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We said we would come back summer or winter.

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Highly recommended.

We spent a weekend in Verbier towards the end of July this year. Kind of a last minute thing. Verbier is about a little more than an hour’s drive away.

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Verbier is a primarily a ski resort but during the summer, it actively promotes itself as a haven for outdoor sports. Not just hiking and biking though, it also put together a classical music festival.

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The music festival is best known for an intimate atmosphere (since it lacks any big venue) and a didactic tradition (masterclasses, student performances).

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We were lucky because the weekend we went coincided with the annual village fair. One of the main event took place in the Alpage des Grand-Plans, Les Planards, an open pasture above Verbier.

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Apart from a street market in the village, they also held the annual Bataille des Reines (“Battle of the Queens”) – an institution in the local community.

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The highlight of the full day event was the Battle – a cow fight. There are no matadors, no enraged bulls and and no stabbing. Humans are not involved here.

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This is a tradition that has grown out of letting the cows establish a pecking order.

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The cows are sorted according to age and weight before being led into a ring.

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The animals were nonchalant around people and standing calmly as a group until provoked.

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They appear to ignore each other and eat grass until they decide to get into a bit of a head butting contest.

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They were all wearing their cow bells so there were a lot of clanking noise.

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We did not see the end because it took them a while to get the cows started and then to separate them. But it was fun.

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It was a nice day and we got sunburned because it was not hot or sweaty at that altitude and we did not wear any sunblock.

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It is odd to write this post about summer pastures while it is probably snowing up there and knowing that the same place is now all white and rather cold.

At a business meeting where we stayed for several days, the hotel put up these painting in its lobby area.

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The artist is Léon represented by Samhart gallery and the hotel is Chalet Royalp Hôtel at Villars-sur-Ollons. Hope they sell well, this is fun.

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We could use some Pop Art to lighten up – 21st century superhero/villain presented in Roy Lichtenstein style – bold colors, block contours and Ben-Day dots.

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Some of these superheros/villains come from comic strips from which Lichtenstein originally borrowed for his works.

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The very tight framing is done well – just enough to allow the viewer to recognize the character while retaining the tension generated by the closeness.

Think cat and mouse.

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Snow white

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Cinderella-Lolita
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pop art-11Robocop – engine oil

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Even fellow artists got the superhero treatment.

3D-Dali

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Micky Warhol

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The names mentioned above next to the paintings are not the actual titles ( I did not look at them closely) – I took these photos rather quickly during breaks from the meetings.

Continuing with our posts on the bookstores we come across …, Libelle mit H&B is a high end, second hand bookstore (antique bookseller) in Basel, Switzerland. Click here to see their site.

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It has a perfect location – a block from the city’s main thoroughfare –  and situated at just the bottom of the cobbled-stoned street that leads up to the boutiques on Spalenberg.

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IT was looking for some old books on accordion or ballet, I vaguely recall. I was not looking at the books instead, I was admiring the interiors.

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There are two rooms on the main floor at the street level. It is not a big place –  a basement, a main floor, and a first floor.

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The stairs that hugs the perimeter of the space and connecting the three floors is a masterpiece – modern, minimal, functional.

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The stairs allows access to literally the books on all four walls. One stretch has rather deep treads that allow a customer to remain on a stair step while browsing the books.

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At the top of the stairs is a gallery that allows one to look down onto the main floor.

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Another notable feature is the lighting fixture on the vertical part of the bookshelves. So minimal as it occupied little space, and functional that it provided light where it is needed.

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The lighting fixtures also provided visually a vertical element in the space, contrasting the horizontal stair steps and bookshelves.

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The store gave up one half of the street-facing shop window but retains the front of the first floor.

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There is a small traditional library with places to sit and read as well as space to laid out maps and prints.

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There were books in German, French and English, probably Italian too.

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This is a version of my dream home library if I am going to have one.

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Sometimes I wonder, I seem to enjoy collecting books more than reading them as there is not enough time to read them all.

Dear Readers, Happy New Year !

Continuing with our first post of 2016, this post takes a look back at the places we visited in the first half of last year. In 2015, there were 94 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 650 posts. The post that had the highest number of views in 2015 was about our visit to a durian stand in a night market in Malaysia.

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 from June:

Berlin, Germany in June to see the Champions League final – a part of the wall

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München, Germany in April for work, Asam’s church

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Catania, Sicily, Italy during Easter – Teatro Bellini

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Taormina, Sicily

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Siracusa and Ortigia, Sicily

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Half way up Mount Etna and Meditterranean sea, Sicily

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Langkawi, Malaysia in January

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Hong Kong

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Georgetown in Penang, Malaysia

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Penang, Malaysia in January

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Goodbye 2015, Hello 2016.

 

 

Dear Readers, Happy New Year !

This is our first post of 2016. It is almost a tradition of this blog – the first post takes a look back at some of the places we visited last year.

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:

Swiss alps featuring Matterhorn – we went up to Zermatt on December 30 – this was taken from a view point at Gornergrat – ‎3,135 m (10,285 ft)

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Piazza San Marco, Venezia, Italy in October

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Tree of Life, World Expo 2015, Milano, Italy in October

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Chamonix, France in September long weekend

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Crozet, France in August, business meeting

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BBQ on Lac Leman lake front, Lausanne

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Basel, Switzerland in July

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Annecy, France in June – day trip ended with surprise firework display

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Louisiana Museum of Art, Humlebæk, Denmark in June

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Copenhagen, Denmark in June

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See next post for the places we went in the first half of 2015.

 

 

 

We went up to Basel for the weekend to see the Basel Tattoo (see earlier post here).

We came upon Zum Schmale Wurf (“ZSW”) by chance and were pleased with our meal.

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ZSW is an Italian restaurant in a row of restaurants located on the Klein Basel side of the Rhine.

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It is at a rather touristy location that is also popular with the locals. People come here to get into the river here for a swim. The current is strong here enough for one to rent an inner tire and float downstream along the river.

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The restaurant has a street entrance on Rhinegasse but we entered from the side that faces the river where they had outdoor seating (but it was full at the time).

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Our server was extremely attentive. When I ordered the Spaghetti alle vongole, she went to check with the kitchen before she would accept my order as she suspected that they had used up all the clams.
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Giant and tasty bruschette.

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I was lucky as I had the last portion of clams for that evening, and it was a huge portion. Notice that the dish is not shallow, rather it has a sunken “basin”, the edge of which was completely obscured by the overflowing pasta. There was a lot of food.

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Look at the amount of empty shells in the bowl !  – while it is not uncommon to have so much mussel shells but …  not clams from a single portion ? Not even in the US. I enjoyed it very much and Sue liked her pasta dish too.

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The restaurant apparently hosts artwork by local artists. One can buy the pictures on the wall.

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This artist is very fond of naked ladies and skeletons.

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Like many houses in Basel, to impress tourists or to outdo a neighbor, the year in which a house was built (we assume) is written on the front of the house. The restaurant is situated in a site or a house that dates back to 1450.

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Recommendable for pasta. Good value for money in an expensive city.

While we were in Basel for a weekend to see the military band performances, the Basel Tattoo, we spent Sunday morning checking out this museum.

Schaulager is one of the more enigmatic art museums which we have visited.

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The word “Schaulager” means “show-warehouse” which is consistent with the museum’s philosophy of storing and at the same time showing as much of the collection as possible. The building finished in 2003 is the work of local (also internationally known) architects – Herzog & de Meuron – see their comments on this building here.

The works stored here are unpacked and arranged in accessible spaces, installed according to the artists’ intentions. The conditions under which the works are kept visible correspond to international conservation standards; they are maintained at levels of light, temperature and humidity determined as ideal for storing artworks. The works are thus in an ‘optimal condition’ for viewing.

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One enters the museum through this small stone structure. The off-centered entrance is aligned compositionally with a sign with the name of the museum placed towards the top left.

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The stone structure is empty inside except a trio of openings for ventilation.

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One exits the stone structure at the side behind the railings into a small concrete courtyard.

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The courtyard leads to the real entrance of the massive white-faced building behind the stone structure.

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When viewed from afar, the facade of the white building consists of three panels that are aligned to give the impression of a blank projection screen in the center and LED video displays on either side.

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The real entrance is set into a sliver of glass at the base of the building, the top line of the glass slants at an angle upwards from the horizon from each side, mirroring a sloped roof above it which forms a shallow canopy above the courtyard.

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This is how the architects described the front of the building:

The external shape of the warehouse is pragmatically derived from the geometry of the internal storage arrangements and the setback requirements of the building code. This led to a polygonal building made out of materials extracted on site and looking as if it had been extruded from the ground. The façade of the polygon facing Emil-Frey-Strasse is indented to create a kind of forecourt, which identifies the entrance area visibly from a distance. This entrance seems to be guarded by a little building with a gable roof, constructed from the same earthy material as the warehouse. Together the little gatehouse and the indentation form a courtyard-like space with a metropolitan ambiance.

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Schaulager houses the collection of the Emanuel Hoffmann Foundation which was founded in 1933. After more than seventy years of collecting, the Foundation possesses paintings, groups of drawings, sculptures, installations, video projects and films by approximately 150 artists.

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Because the museum applies the “No Photography” rule very strictly, we barely took any pictures. So many of the images shown in this post are actually borrowed from Schaulager’s web site.

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According to Schaulager’s web site:

The works that entered the collection early on – such as Delaunay, Klee, Max Ernst, and the Belgian Expressionists – have long since become classics of modernism. Likewise, the works from the 1960s and 1970s – with striking groups of works by Joseph Beuys and Bruce Nauman – have long since become established in the history of art. The more recent purchases – groups of works by Jeff Wall and Katharina Fritsch or Fiona Tan and Andrea Zittel – explore new territory and challenge the viewer’s receptivity.

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Katharina Fritsch, Rattenkönig, (Rat-King) occupies a huge white room, a permanent home for this oversized work.

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… just to put the size of the rats into perspective …

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We only managed to see the exhibition’s lower floors, the upper floors were closed by the time we wanted to go.

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Leo di Caprio in Bjork’s swan dress ?

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The current exhibition is ‘Future Present” which will run till the end of January 2016.

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Basel is truly a place for art.

We went up to Basel for a weekend in July to see this annual musical festival. Sue has always been interested in marching band and drum line. So this event is perfect.

We found a bunch of Youtube videos of the performances uploaded by others. Some are now embedded below, don’t miss them.

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Music, choreography, fireworks and light show in a breezy summer evening.

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This year is the eleventh performance and it involved 30 formations from five continents giving 15 performances over nine days.

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We have no idea why the event is called a tattoo. According to Wikipedia,

A tattoo is a military performance of music or display of armed forces in general. The term comes from the early 17th century Dutch phrase doe den tap toe (“turn off the tap”), a signal sounded by drummers or trumpeters to instruct innkeepers near military garrisons to stop serving beer and for soldiers to return to their barracks.

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According to Wikipedia,

The Basel Tattoo was started in 2006 by the local Top Secret Drum Corps. It has grown to be the world’s second largest military tattoo in terms of performers and budget after the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

Apart from military marching band music, there were choirs, local pop singers and dancers (Celtic-like Riverdance). The Korean Air Force band performed and brought with them traditional folk dancers.

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This Italian band – Fanfara 8th Reggimento Bersaglieri – came running into the arena several times in between other acts. It was really funny the first time since the audience expected them to remain and perform but they ran out of the arena almost immediately. Amazing that they were running and playing at the same time.

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Someone posted their “running-in” on Youtube.

Popular singer Chloë Agnew from Ireland

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The Blue Devils are 16-time world champion in the marching band division – about 100 musicians performed.

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See a part of their performance at the Basel Tattoo here.

Imps motorcycle display team from the UK –  6- to 16-year-old youth motorcycle acrobatics – the team started in the 60’s as a leisure activity for poor schoolchildren from London’s East End. They added some stunts and humor to the otherwise formal, high-precision marching band performances.

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A short clip of a stunt by Imps.

The Top Secret Drum Corps – the founder of the Basel Tattoo – apparently all amateurs – had a face-off with the Blue Devils’ drum line – it was great but a bit too short. We wanted more time and more drama like in the 2002 hit movie – Drumline.

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We found a video of the two team’s first practice session.

This looks like World War I uniform.

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There were several bands with bagpipes and one performed Mull of Kintyre which was great.

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Mull of Kintyre was a 1977 song by Wings (Paul McCartney’s group) about Scotland which included bagpipes.

The whole show started and finished more or less on time and lasted for 2 hours without intermission.

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At the venue, all the CDs and DVDs of past performances were available for sale. They even had a shop in downtown Basel. Go to their website here on the event and descriptions of the bands.

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Here is a highlight of the show we found on Youtube. Enjoy.

In many parts of Europe, including Switzerland, April and May is the season for this plant which produces flowers with an intense yellow color. colza-4 The plant is known as canola, colza, rapeseed or in Latin – Brassica. It is a member of the Cruciferous (Brassicaceae) family, sometimes referred to as the mustard family. The name “cruciferous”comes from the shape of its flowers, which have four diagonally opposite petals in the form of a cross. colza-5 In Europe, this plant is primarily cultivated to provide animal feed – cattle, due to its high lipid and medium protein content. colza-1  Commercial plantings of rapeseed are recorded in the Netherlands as early as the 16th century. At that time rapeseed oil was used primarily as an oil for lamps. Later it came to be used as a lubricant in steam engines. colza-15 The farms here grow a variety of crop and will use the same field for something else later in the year. colza-9 According to Wikipedia:

Some varieties of rapeseed (called 油菜,”oil vegetable” in Chinese; yau choy in Cantonese; cải dầu in Vietnamese; phak kat kan khao [ผักกาดก้านขาว] in Thai; and nanohana [菜の花]/nabana [菜花] in Japanese) are sold as greens, primarily in Asian groceries, including some in California, where it is known as yao choy or tender greens. They are eaten as sag (spinach) in Indian and Nepalese cuisine, usually stir-fried with salt, garlic and spices.

I can see the resemblance but am not sure if it tastes good or even edible. colza-13 These pictures were taken just outside Yverdon-les-bains, a city half way on my commute to the office.  My train passes seas of bright yellow flowers during this time of year. colza-10 This area constitutes obviously one of the flatter parts of Switzerland. It is on the western edge of the Swiss plateau at the foot of the Jura mountains. colza-6 There were several stables and riding schools in the area. colza-7. colza-2 The trees were still a bit naked at this time of year. The epiphytes growing on the trees were clearly visible (at first we thought they were bird’s nests). colza-12 . colza-11 The field was readied for planting another kind of crop. colza-8What kind of crop ? colza-14 There is also a small airfield here. The fields of yellow flowers must be quite a sight from above. colza-30 .

This was a visit we made a while back with our friend YS who came in July. We went hiking on the first day to Lac Liosin (click here for great pictures of the mountain lake). And on the second day, we went to Les Diablerets.  Setting off from Leysin (where we stayed overnight), we drove back onto Route 11, heading east and got off at a hairpin turn into Route du Pillon.

Our destination is Glacier 3000. We were greeted first by two waterfalls at the foot of the mountain. They were quite far away but it must be spectacular if we can get closer.

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Then there is the massive parking lot. Imagine the place packed with skiers in winter.

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Les Diablerets is the mountain range that separates the cantons of Vaud and Valais.  The summit is at 3,210 m.

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The main cable car was opened in 1964 and rebuilt in 1999. It connects Col du Pillon (1,546 m, i.e., the parking lot ) and Scex Rouge (2,950 m), one of the peaks.

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The views from the cable car was incredible.

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There are two sections of cable – we had to get onto a different car to continue our ascent.

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The views were quite different on the upper section as we rose above the tree line and began to see snow (in July).

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In winter, needless to say, the mountain offers all kinds of snow sports. In summer, it offers hikes, husky rides and snow bus on the glacier. These dogs had just finished their round and were waiting for the cable car to take them down hill. Very tame and calm dogs.

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Here is the Alpine Coaster, the world’s highest bobsleigh track.

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It was definitely possible to ski cross-country if not down hill here. There were people out there in the open snow field.

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At the top is a restaurant designed by the famous Swiss architect, Mario Botta. Its construction finished in 2001.

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We could walk behind the restaurant and climb a little to a flat area with 360 degrees of unobstructed views.

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It always amazes me to see a mountain lake hidden quietly among the mountains.

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We had a nice warm day at the mountain top – it was a very pleasant visit indeed.

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We were never sure of the origin of the skins – artificial or real, and if they were real, what animal ?

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Glacier 3000, highly recommended for any one at any time of the year.

After a series of posts on Malaysia, we thought it’s time to change the topic. So… back to Switzerland …

One weekend last year in autumn / fall, our friend F suggested that we go to this event called Les Automnales which was held at the Palexpo – the international exhibition center next to Geneva airport.

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The Swiss holds these large-scale exhibitions several times a year showcasing different kinds of products – some of specialist interest, e.g., manga, and some which are very general, e.g., fresh farm produce, local police community liaison. Les Automnles is one such general indoor show which is held annually in November, and coincides intentionally with the international cat and dog show (two shows on two separate days) also held at the same location.

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Swiss folks from other parts of the country make a weekend trip to attend the expo. It had sections dedicated to the home, leisure, well-being (bien-être), food, travel and pets. One section dedicated to vintage products was particularly interesting.

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Mid-century furniture, eyewear and fashion galore.

autumnal-25Paper bags with vintage graphics, and assorted knick-knacks.

autumnal-23Polaroid cameras

autumnal-24Ceramic hands ?

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There was food stands all over the place – we had oysters (it was the right season), moroccan tagine (which was poorly prepared) and Brazilian drinks.

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The biggest merchant was the Swiss Army surplus. This is the genuine Swiss Army, not the Victorinox or Wenger brand manufacturers.

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This is one of the most popular area. The Swiss are very outdoorsy and will likely find year-round uses of all the camping and climbing equipment on offer.

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One can acquire the entire camouflage outfit from top to bottom, sourced from several countries’ military forces – some actually says U.S. Army on it, some are clearly marked as German made.

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Historically, the Swiss are well known for their military – the pope in the vatican still hires Swiss guards for ceremonies – the tourists love them. Now the country is neutral and its military is strictly defensive, and it is doing brisk business here selling surplus.

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The expo was fun. Wish they do it more often.

H a p p y  2015 !

Now that we are back from our year-end vacation, we are taking a look back at some of the places we visited last year. This is the second of two posts; Part 1 is here.

The photos are organized in reverse chronological order. Some of the trips are business trips and some are vacations. Click the links where provided to see the actual posts. There are usually a series of related posts per location, they are uploaded around the same time – you can discover them easily in the calendar at the bottom of the post.

June 2014 – Val de Loire, France – It was a road trip with our “new” car and we saw V and her families.

Chambord

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Orleans

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Chez Liz, Orleans – thanks, we had a great time seeing every one.

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May 2014 – Cologne, Germany

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April 2014 – Milan, Italy – I (Chris) went to see the Salone Internazionale del Mobile.

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April 2014 – Korea – Sue went with her family for a tour.

Seoul

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Busan (부산, 釜山)

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Jeju Island (제주도, 濟州島)

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April 2014 – Morges, Switzerland – Annual Tulip festival

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February 2014, Chateau d’Oex, Switzerland with IT who came to see ballet, eat fondue and buy accordion.

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January 2014, Times Square, New York. I (Chris) took this from the building where I worked many years ago on the corner of Sixth Avenue and 44th street.

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We are wondering where we will go in 2015.

 

Dear Readers, Happy New Year !

This is our first post of 2015. It is time to take a look back at some of the places we visited last year.

Some of you who knew me from New York probably think, judging from the posts here, that since we left for Switzerland, we travel a lot and do not spent much time on work. While it is true that I (Chris) get more vacation days per year now, workload is certainly heavier than before. So these vacations are really important counterbalances.

The photos are organized in reverse chronological order and there is a part 2 to come. Some of the trips are business trips and some are vacations.

There are usually a series of related posts per location, they are uploaded around the same time – you can discover them easily in the calendar at the bottom of the post.

December 2014 – Kuala Lumpur and Penang

We left on Christmas eve for Malaysia. The photos are being selected and touched up as we type.

Georgetown, Penang

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Suria KLCC, Kuala Lumpur

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December 2014 – Munich, Germany

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October 2014 – Budapest, Hungary

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September 2014 – Piedmont, Italy

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September 2014 – Lac de Joue, Switzerland

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August 2014 – Aosta, Italy

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Near Aosta

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July 2014 – London, England

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Photos from first half of 2014 to come.

 

 

 

 

When it comes to finding a place to eat at a train station, the Brasserie at the Basel train station is hard to beat. I stumbled into this place recently.
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This brasserie is located in the Basel SBB train station on the Swiss side of the border and not the Basel Badischer Bahnhof which handles the German train services. I (Chris) had passed through this station several times but did not have the need to wait for a train.
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When I walked in, I did not expect such a space – the dining hall with a high ceiling enhancing the retro ambiance.
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All four walls are covered with art or painting by Swiss artists – Dieter Roth, Pierre Haubensak – well-known locally.

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The back of the dining room. The classic Swiss railway station platform clock is probably the only thing to suggest that this dining room might be located inside a train station.
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The center section of the brasserie sits on a raised platform, illuminated by a skylight directly above. It could make one feel like the center of attention.
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There are other dining rooms in adjoining wings, separated from the main room by heavy velvety curtains. What chandeliers!
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 More art above the entrance.
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The brasserie is almost a destination itself. The only other railway station I know that has something similar is Grand Central in New York. There were several bars and restaurants that share the magnificient space with the main waiting room at Grand Central. This place is more intimate than grand.
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Unfortunately, the food is not what motivated me to write this place up.
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The restaurant’s website is here.