Thursday, August 27, 2009

the launching pad

Please pause for a word from starfish and waffles corporate headquarters.

This is long overdue, but today me and the editor are happy to announce that we've officially launched a dedicated website for our own distinctive brand of dingobear photography! Click here, to visit ... please, bookmark, browse around, and tell us what you think.

Finally (!) you can now seamlessly order prints of your favourite pictures featured here on felix's daily starfish and waffles. In addition, many pictures on display are available to be licensed for a variety of editorial and commercial uses. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask.

Online checkout is fast and secure, and payment by Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and PayPal is cheerfully accepted. Are you a regular reader of felix's daily starfish and waffles? Email us now for a coupon code, and get 25% off your first order.

Thank you for indulging us in our little marketing pitch and we hope you're doing great, wherever you are.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.


Well hello there, good lookin'! Lund, Sweden. (2009). This, the pictures below, and many of your other favourite shots as seen here on felix's daily starfish and waffles are now available for sale as prints on the new dingobear photography at Zenfolio website.


Boats. Marsaxlokk, Malta. (2008).


Night lights. Bergen, Norway. (2007).


Dreamy. Nice, France. (2008).


A place like no other. Lund, Sweden. (2008).

Sunday, August 23, 2009

forever summer


Morning sun. Lund, Sweden. (2007).

***
So, I guess this is it.

Thirteen posts after exiting stage left across the Atlantic, it's time to sign off on a Swedish summer that will always be my own.

I look back on what I wrote two years ago, when moving was done in the opposite direction. See the difference? Then, it was about things to forget. Now, it's about all there is to remember. I think we're making progress.

On this first real night in my new old home, I lie awake thinking of those who made my last two years as other-worldly as could be.

Somewhere, may it be forever summer.

Somehow, may summer one day take me back.


Please, leave a light on. Lund, Sweden. (2008).

Sunday, August 16, 2009

absolut åhus

For a country of nine million supposed socialists, Sweden sure punches above its weight when it comes to famous, homegrown companies and brands. IKEA furniture. H&M clothing. Volvo cars. Sony Ericsson cellphones. And, of course, there's Absolut vodka.


Absolut Sara, in front of the corporate offices of Absolut Vodka. Åhus, Sweden. (2009).

The Absolut Company hails from the town of Åhus in northeast Skåne, and offers tours of its distillery during the summer. This, in itself, would be reason enough for a daytrip but Åhus is also renowned for a couple of other drawcards. First, there's the eel, a local delicacy. Second, there are the glassbåten, boats docked at the harbour with the express purpose of selling you copious amounts of ice cream.

Vodka. Eel. Ice cream. Now that's a trifecta if I've ever heard of one.

As you might expect, the Absolut operations are quite sizable in scale. Apparently, an eyebrow-raising 20%(!) of all farm acreage in the province of Skåne is used to grow the grain required to feed the Åhus distillery. I'm inclined to think there's an ethical question in there someplace. As Julian would later remark, that's a lot of bread.

In any event, the distillery tour turns out to be pretty good. We see a bottling line, and then a "History of Absolut" video that can only be described as very corporate. I secretly hope that they serve us a wide range of vodka samples at the end, but Sweden's strict alcohol laws skewer that dream. God, the alcohol laws.

I won't talk in any length about the ice cream boat ice cream because, embarrassingly, I failed to finish the five litres of pistachio, coconut and soft serve that they gave me in a waffle cone the size of my head. But I hasten to add that Sarah didn't finish hers either!

And the eel? Sadly, we never got around to it. Oh well, I guess two out of three isn't bad. Besides, it leaves something to do for the next time we're in Åhus.


Absolut Jonna, in the Absolut Vodka boardroom. Åhus, Sweden. (2009).


Absolut Sarah, with a supersized bottle of drink. Åhus, Sweden. (2009).


Absolut directions. Just for the record (and because it's hard to tell from the picture): Sara's pointing at Bombay, Jonna at Lima, and Sarah at Berlin. Åhus, Sweden. (2009).


Absolut confusion. I don't know what this is, either. Åhus, Sweden. (2009).


Absolut glassbåten (ice cream boat), before my Absolut ice cream failure. Åhus, Sweden. (2009).


Absolut tree, in front of the Absolut distillery. To us, the droopy tree looked decidedly drunk - almost certainly from too much Absolut vodka. Åhus, Sweden. (2009).


Absolut vodka. Although the bottle was once mine, the picture was taken by Julian (check out his cool Tumblelog here) and is published on starfish and waffles in accordance with a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. Lund, Sweden. (2009).



Absolut wheat. 20% of this will become Absolut vodka. This great picture was also taken by Julian, and is published here in accordance with a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. Bjärred, Sweden. (2009).


Absolut editor, with his very own björnbär vodka shot. Look how happy he is! Lund, Sweden. (2009).

Sunday, August 09, 2009

metropolitan


Movin' on "upp" at Liseberg in Göteborg, Sweden. (2009).

***
The train from Varberg is packed to the brim and it's sardines-in-a-can all the way to Göteborg - or Gothenburg, as it's otherwise known in English.

Göteborg (population: 622,827) is Sweden's second city, and projects a more down-to-Earth energy than, say, Stockholm, its glitz-and-glam rival to the east. Göteborg just feels real, and immediately upon arrival, I like it here.

Jonna had taken the train up with Lotte earlier in the weekend for a birthday party, and together with Sami, a local, I have three Swedish guides for the afternoon. Pretty sweet deal.

We only have four hours before the last train leaves for Skåne, so time is short (there's that recurring theme again). On the docket: a walk down the Avenyn (the Avenue), Göteborg's main central boulevard; a requisite stop at the Triumf Glass ice cream factory on Bruksgatan for a couple of scoops; and a visit to the excellent amusement park, Liseberg.

Good day. Check another destination off the list.


Ticket to ride. Liseberg, Göteborg, Sweden. (2009).


"Farfars bil" on the "Avenyn". Göteborg, Sweden. (2009).


Lotte, Jonna, and Sami. Götaplatsen, Göteborg, Sweden. (2009).


Escalator. Liseberg, Göteborg, Sweden. (2009).

Friday, August 07, 2009

broken records


Frida, Markus, and the captivating Hallands coast. Varberg, Sweden. (2009).

***
Distance makes daytripping it to Göteborg from Lund a bit of a rush job under the best of circumstances, and relying on Skånetrafiken's reduced summer schedule introduces further complications. Still, the logistics of it don't matter; spending what time's left with important people do. Easy decision. Sunday morning, I get on the first train heading north, without much of a thought.

Before Göteborg, however, a pit stop in Varberg is due. Frida and Markus are from there, and I can't turn down the offer of a quick, cup-o'-coffee tour. Markus meets me at the train station, and we stroll through town along the harbour, the beach, and then up the hill to the heavily-touristed Varberg Fortress, where Frida works. The sun breaks through the clouds, making for a nice view of the Hallands coast from the top.

Varberg in 90 minutes or less, after a fast lunch it's back on the train and on towards Göteborg.

"You'll be back," Markus predicts from the train platform. "See you later."

I sure hope so.

Sea, sun, and friends in the Swedish summer. If you're a regular reader of starfish and waffles, I'm pretty sure, by now, this all sounds like a broken record. But be that as it may, this music is just something I can't grow tired of - not now, and let's hope, not ever.


Market Square, within the walls of the Varberg Fortress. Varberg, Sweden. (2009).


A Swedish knight. Varberg, Sweden. (2009).


Not just an expert on European politics, Markus is also a connoisseur of the fine arts. Varberg, Sweden. (2009).


The beach. Varberg, Sweden. (2009).

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

the one and only


Welcome to Förslöv, Sweden. (2009).

***
It's not so much that she openly dared me to go. But the funny way Jonna said "Förslöv"... with thick Skånska accent and all ... well, I just felt I kind of had to go. And I did.

"You want to go where?" asks the driver of the empty yellow bus in Ängelholm.

"Förslöv," I repeat. I add that I'm a travel photographer who needs shots of Förslöv.

He laughs at me, possibly in disbelief.

"Okay, get on. I'll let you know when we get there."

Thirty minutes later, we stop at a non-descript intersection in front of a non-descript ICA supermarket across the street from a non-descript wheat field.

"Welcome to central Förslöv!" announces the the bus driver in grand, sarcastic tone. Funny guy, this bus driver.

I hop off. Hmmm, Förslöv. Fine, so maybe there's not much to see, but I'm still glad I came. Besides, there is an ICA here ... and that ought to make any person happy, which I am.

:)


On the bus in Ängelholm, Sweden. (2009).


A view of Lund, Sweden, from the Lund University Geocentrum Skyroom. (2009). Look closely and you can see the Hansa-inspired architecture of Hjärup's Jakriborg district in the distance. If you really squint your eyes, you can see Santiago Calatrava's Turning Torso in Malmö ... and even all the way to the Öresund Bridge which connects Sweden to Denmark.


Nothing says "quadruple bypass" like one of Julian's homemade burgers. Lund, Sweden. (2009). Yet, let me personally attest that these burgers are completely worth it, myocardial infarction or not.


On the balcony with Annica. Malmö, Sweden. (2009).


Cottonlawn. Båstad, Sweden. (2009).


Blue jeans, blue house, blue sky. Båstad, Sweden. (2009).


City by the bay. Båstad, Sweden. (2009).

Sunday, August 02, 2009

the far side


Sandals Simrishamn. (2009).

***
Pinkish in hue and coarse to the touch, the sand at Simrishamn somehow differs than anywhere else I'll find along the three coasts of peninsular Skåne ... and dare I say that I like it best.

Off come the sandals.

The pink sand scorches the soles of my feet in a dear-God-I'm-walking-on-fire! kind of way ... or at least until I can't take it any longer. For relief, I wade into the cold waters of the big blue Baltic, and retrace my steps back to the centre of town along the arc of the half-moon bay.

Good therapy, this.


A bay in the shape of a half-moon. Simirishamn, Sweden. (2009).


The medieval church, Sankt Nikolai Kyrka. Simrishamn, Sweden. (2009).


Cobblestones and colourful houses dot Stora Rådmansgatan in Simrishamn, Sweden. (2009).


Simrishamn station. (2009).


Going circular by the quay. Simrishamn, Sweden. (2009).


A real photographer would have patiently photographed the three scoops of raspberry, strawberry, and pomegranate sorbet before eating it. Judging from the picture, I think you know where my priorities lie. Österlens Café, Simrishamn, Sweden. (2009).


Anyone know what the "TID" stands for? Stortorget in Kristianstad, Sweden. (2009).


Earlier in the summer, seven of us rented a cherry red mini-bus for a roadtrip around Skåne. Here's a snapshot of our primary driver, Markus, right before he drove us into a tree. Photo taken by Linda. Södra Mellby, Sweden. (2009).


Scanian lake country. Vombsjön, Sweden. (2009). Sidebar: I think the direct translation of "Vombsjön" in English is "Uterus Lake", which would make it the best-named lake in Sweden.


Linda is mesmerized by the "secret world of the apple." This could only be Kivik, Sweden. (2009).


Crazy kids on the grounds of Kronovalls Slott. Fågeltofta, Sweden. (2009).


Lone flower. Stenshuvuds Nationalpark, Sweden. (2009).


Dorothee and Juhan co-operate (or "cooperate" for those of you, Jonna, who prefer to shop at that other grocery store instead of ICA) to build the most pathetic sand castle I've ever seen. Stenshuvuds Nationalpark, Sweden. (2009).


Ales Stenar is Sweden's very own mysterious version of Stonehenge. Call me a skeptic, but based on my keen powers, if I do say so myself, of observation (note the metal hinge, holding the tall rock on the right together), I tend to be of the belief that Ales Stenar was purpose-built in the middle of this cow pasture by the Swedish government as part of an elaborate inside joke :) Kåseberga, Sweden. (2009).