Saturday, June 25, 2016

Impressions Of Copenhagen, Denmark

When traveling to a new city, my husband (a.k.a. Mr. Pardon Me) tries to explore and walk every single square inch.
It was no different in Copenhagen, Denmark, the first stop on our trip to Europe this year.
After two free guided walking tours, the first one lasting three hours, the second lasting an hour-and-a half, and after two boat tours, I can say that I did get to see much of Copenhagen. But not all, of course. This definitely means that we will have to come back, for the place is beautiful.

Since the weather was gloriously sunny, which apparently hardly ever happens, Mr. Pardon Me and I decided not to spend our limited time in the City indoors in museums. For that reason alone, we must plan another sojourn here.

During our stay, we were able to witness the preparations for Sankt Hans Aften, the shortest night of the year which corresponds to the birth day of Saint John the Bapist on June 24 and gives the celebration its name. On this night, Danes gather with family and friends to set ablaze bonfires and burn witch figures, who are thought to imbue the evening with evil spirits.
Unfortunately, by the time the fires were lit, torrential rains were falling on the City.

What struck me most about Copenhagen is the relationship of its citizens to the water surrounding it. Wherever one looked, people were kayaking and swimming in, as well as just enjoying being near the clean water of the harbor.
Made me think of our own New York Harbor and of our polluted Gowanus Canal back home in Brooklyn.

Next stop on this trip will be Montpellier, France. So stay tuned.

The sculpture of the polar bear is entitled "Unbearable" and is by sculptor Jens Galschiøt. It is a very sad reminder of the reality of global warming.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

À Bientôt, Brooklyn. Well Hello, Denmark And France!

The small village in the Auvergne I return to every summer
The famous chain of volcanoes in the background
The view of the famous Puy De Dôme volcano in the Auvergne
Sky, nothing but sky…
 Summer fields
 Cows are everywhere
My family's house 
The house in 1972, shortly after my parents purchased it.
My mother at the house in the 1970's

Will you come on a trip with me, dear Reader?  As in years past, I am heading to a small village in the Auvergne region of France to spend some time with friends and family.

Many of you already know that since 1971, my parents have owned a stone farmhouse right in the center of France, four hours south of Paris, five hours North of Marseilles. They bought the house as a week-end place when my family was living in Clermont-Ferrand. It needed an incredible amount of work, so for five years, all they did was renovate it to make it livable.

When we moved to the United States, my mother insisted she wanted to keep it, though my father wanted to sell. She won that argument. So every year since purchasing it, my parents spent four summer weeks there. That is until 2003, the year my mother became gravely ill en route to this, her favorite place on earth. She was in a french hospital for four months and had five operations, during which she was unconscious for most of the time. One of the last sentences she whispered to my father before slipping into a coma was: "Take me to my house and I promise you, I will get better in a few days, I promise you."

She never saw her beloved house again.

After she passed away, my father, sister and I scattered her ashes under her beloved linden tree in the courtyard of the house. Since then, my husband and I have made the trip to France every year determined to keep her memory alive by keeping this old house in one of the remotest places of France in the family. It represents lots of work and time spent there means lots of repairs and projects, but it has been tremendously  I think my mother would have been proud of us.

The Auvergne is one of the most beautiful areas of France. The famous Bleu D'Auvergne cheese, Michelin tires, as well as Volvic water, come from there. It is a rugged, volcanic area that is so lush that it resembles Ireland, except with better food and spectacular mountains. The landscape is breathtaking. Curvy roads wind their way through beautiful valleys. They lead through small century old villages with beautiful stone houses, and right out again through fields of wheat and sunflowers. It is a magical place.

I will reach my little village and the house in just a few days, but first, my husband and I are stopping in Copenhagen Denmark and will then travel on to Montpellier, France.  We will make our way to the Auvergne from there with a stop in Avignon.

I'll post photos of the trip along the way.  So, will you join me?

Picture Of The Day: A Favorite

One of my favorite buildings in Carroll Street.
It's on President Street.
What's yours?

Jazz Brunch At The Amazing Garden On Columbia Street This Sunday

photo credit: The Amazing Garden

The The Amazing Garden on the Columbia Waterfront is hosting a great jazz brunch fundraiser this Sunday.  The event starts at 10 am.  entry is $10 for individuals, $20 for families. All proceeds will support this extraordinary community garden.

The Amazing Garden's Jazz Brunch Fundraiser
Sunday June 26th
Time: 10am - 1pm 
Location: Corner of Columbia Street & Carroll Street 
What attendees get: Great live Jazz music from Raquel Rivera Band, food served (quiches, pastries, coffee, beverages, and more)
Sponsors: Shelsky's, Egg, Union Market, Ninth Street Espresso

Stay in touch with The Amazing Garden on Facebook here.

Reader Question: What's Up With The Dirt Patch On Court And Union Street?

When Sackett Union, Alchemy Properties residential building in Carroll Gardens was completed in 2013, the enlarged sidewalk tree pit on Union Street was planted with liriope and mulched.  Soon afterwards however, the plants were trampled by people getting in and out of their cars. Since then, the long strip looks rather sad, which prompted reader Bonnie to write:

Hi Katia
Do you know if there are any plans, by tenants or the city, to do something with the dirt patch in front of TD Bank (Court Street btwn Union and Sackett)? When the bank first opened, I seem to recall some greenery in that pit. The soil is so compacted nothing grows and  water just runs off...
Thanks,  Bonnie

Indeed, one wonders why the condo owners or the ground floor businesses have not done anything about the sorry looking strip of dirt.
Does anyone living in that building have an answer to Bonnie's question?

Below are some photos of what that same block looked like when the building opened three years ago.