By Marina Aagaard, MFE
On a very recent four-day trip to Riga, the capital and largest city of Latvia (696,600 inhabitants), a birthday present from my husband, I kept fit mainly by walking the streets for hours and hours; when you are interested in architecture and design, there is a lot to see in Riga, the European Capital of Culture, 2014:
Interesting buildings, museums and structures (photo: Vansu Bridge) of many time periods including incredible art noveau buildings and wooden houses.
Save some cab money; a (brisk) walk is great for the heart and weight maintenance.
The art nouveau area is the largest in Europa, maybe the World, and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is definately worth seeing: It is like being in another time.
The wooden houses found in several areas of the city, some seemingly disintegrating and others recently restored, are also unique and recognized by UNESCO.
Hairdressing and beauty salon in Riga …
And some more modern houses with roofs a little less ordinary ………………….
Riga is not only for art and architecture lovers. It is also for party people (and some say for people looking for a date) with lots of clubs, bars and restaurants.
I can vouch for the restaurants: Everywhere I had a meal, the food was good, and especially so at the Biblioteka No1 (French/European) and Monterosso (Italian).
Good food and a comfy bed aka wellness.
What more do you need?
The comfy bed was at a modern and reasonably priced hotel some 5 km away from the city centre; Name came as no surprise: Elefant hotel!
Eat. Work. Eat. Work out. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.
And some travelling seeing sights, that’s neat …
By Marina Aagaard
Baltic Cruise Day 2: Excursion Day Copenhagen (København)
First cruise stop is Copenhagen, Denmark. I could choose to stay on board – as a Dane, though from another part of the country, I have visited the capital on numerous occasions for business and pleasure – or go to shore.
I chose the latter; to spend the day as a tourist in my own country.
Have you visited the capital of your country? It is highly recommended.
In the cruise ship DAILY program Copenhagen is presented as ‘the premier capital of Northern Europe and the centre of the most dynamic region in Europe, the Øresund Region [certainly a lot of novel and very interesting architecture there] and one of Europe’s oldest capitals with a royal touch with the Danish monarchy the oldest in the world’. (Below: Opera House donated to Denmark by Mærsk-McKinney Møller, container ship tycoon, price approx. 1 bio. DKK).
Copenhagen, dating back to the year 800, is the capital of Denmark with a population of approx. 1,200,000 (total population of Denmark is approx. 6 mio.).
Recently rated # 1 on Monocles list of ‘Most liveable cities in the world’ and a very interesting place to visit for everyone interested in art and architecture.
Major Danish companies are A.P. Møller-Mærsk (container ships), Carlsberg (beer) and Novo Nordisk (insulin). Newcomer ‘company’ is Noma, voted Worlds Best Restaurant for three consecutive years 2010-2012 (this photo below shows their premises, brick building in centre, in Copenhagen).
All on board 17:30. Departure 18:00.
First things first:
A visit to the brand new Metro of Copenhagen, travelling to the end of one line: Kastrup, home of CPH, Copenhagen Airport.
Airport art: Wormholes by Jonas Pihl.
Secondly: Visit the brand new aquarium, also in Kastrup, the very exciting Den Blå Planet, The Blue Planet, to admire the building and the fish.
All while I am saving up for going to see the fish in their natural habitats, I love visiting aquariums and can’t help taking photos of the fish, lots of photos …
After this some sightseeing in central Copenhagen. A canal cruise is a great way to see many of the most interesting areas of historical Copenhagen (below Nyhavn, meaning new port, in the city centre, on bottom photo a couple of ‘lazy’ Danes).
Summary: A nice surprise, after a slow start, the august weather was at its very best, bright sunshine, approximately 30 º F Celsius, 86 º F and not a cloud or rainstorm in sight. And a day full of wonderful views of Wonderful Copenhagen.
Then it is time to get back on board for dinner.
If one wishes to dine at the restaurant and follow the program today the Suggested dress tonight is: Informal, which is less formal than gala, but more formal than casual.
Program of the day apart from various sports, games and entertainment activities (including karaoke events): Stretching, Rock’n’roll, Rumba, Jive and Twist Dance Lessons and Flower Glory Disco Night at the Disco.
By Marina Aagaard
In order to answer the critical question “A Baltic Cruise, how cool is that?”, I set out to test if it is too cold, clammy, contra-Caribbean-cruise-like to be cool …
Baltic Cruise Day 1: Embarkation (Excursion) Day Kiel, Germany
After a surprisingly smooth embarkation procedure, The DAILY program in the cabin says ‘Welcome on BOARD’ and has a ‘Have a wonderful holiday’ greeting from Giuseppe Maresca, The Captain.
As embarkation is early, at 1300 hours (1 pm), this leaves time for lunch at the buffet and an afternoon in Kiel before taking of for a one hour sail through the Fjord of Kiel (unless one wants to stay on board for the Cruise Guide Information meeting about life on board).
Very importantly before taking off, always have an extra look at the program to check, when to be back on board (or better; bring the program with you):
All on board 17:30. Departure 18:00.
Kiel is the capital of the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein, with a population of approx. 242,000. A nice reasonably sized city worth a visit.
Kiel is an important port (formerly the main German marine base) with ferries to Norway, Sweden and Lithuania – and cruise ships for Baltic and Atlantic cruises – and is known for the annual Kieler Woche, the worlds largest sailing sports event – every school kid in Kiel learns how to sail!
Alternative fountain at a Kieler square.
‘Window shopping’ – alternative cushion display – at a Kiel home textiles shop.
Heavy art: Massive iron and granite sculpture in a Kiel park.
Summary: In spite of the weather forecast this august day was bright and sunny and warm, approximately 30 º F Celsius, 86 º F.
As a nice Kiel surprise there was a summer event by the harbour with a live rock performance. In addition there was a great afternoon lounge music and dance event at the park. You could have stayed on for a little longer.
After a couple of hours of sightseeing it is back on board to get ready for dinner, though. On embarkation day the “suggested dress tonight” is: Casual … until first-time cruisers get the hang of it.
Program of the afternoon (for those who stay on board) and evening: Aerobics, Pilates, Mambo and Merengue Dance Lesson,
Plus welcome cocktails, fashion shows, activities with the entertainment team and Welcome Disco from 23:30 o’clock.
It’s cruise time!
By Marina Aagaard, MFE
It is brilliant. A fusion of nature, art, architecture and fitness and wellness.
I have been. I have been again. And I am going again.
To see, hear, touch, feel and taste Sculpture by the Sea.
Aarhus University has already offered running seminars to this open air exhibition. I have done my own walks. Now I will go for a run in the sand and on the stairs into the forest to experience more. Go artychitecturitness.
Bathing Jetty. Extra lively. Good for balance training.
Vandmodul A1 og B2 Fase 1. Artist: Jesper Dalgaard.
What is wellness? Sensations for all of your senses: A massive grain of
Brilliant: Artist put grain of sand in microscope. Enlarged, modeled in clay, cast in soap. During exhibition, wear and tear will reshape and dissolve the grain continuously, as if it were a grain of sand. Grain of soap. Artist: Espen Grandt-Moeller.
Become part of the work and the landscape.
Tea with a view # 2. Artist: Anja Franke.
My body jogs.
My mind wanders.
Mindbody fitness wellness moves.
By Marina Aagaard, MFE
Do you know the feeling? Forgot the camera … %¤#!@£$€”%=)?!”&%£@$€£!
You are reminded at the exact time, you spot something, you would like to save.
Well never mind. I grab the phone and take a few snapshots. Very arty and ‘Dogme 95’ like and better than nothing. Or is it?
I am not in doubt; this had better not be a recurring incidence. Terrible quality. I miss the camera. But wanted to collect and share these three images of some Oslo, Norway, art; free art to be enjoyed on the road.
Other free Oslo art includes awesome architecture of all ages as well as park art in Vigelandsparken, an art-lover must-see over with 212 sculptures!
Escalators at National Theatre train station. Choose a lilac or red ride. Light art.
By Marina Aagaard, MFT
Mediterranean Cruise Day 2: Excursion Day Genoa
According to the DAILY program of today, it is not necessary to leave the ship at all: Daytime: Sunbathing, sports, gaming, fitness, wellness, spa treatments and more.
More than plenty to see, do and eat. But port of today is a must-see; on your feet!
Arrival 08:00 Genoa.
All on board 16:30. Departure 17:00.
A must visit for any serious traveller: The birthplace of Cristofo Colombo aka Christopher Columbus, 1451-1506, a somewhat possessive and ‘lost-at-sea’ italian super-traveller completing four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean.
Genoa, population of 612.000, European Capital of Culture 2004 and a UNESCO World Heritage site, boasts Italy’s biggest port and Europe’s largest aquarium, so it is an awesome area for architecture and aqua aficionados. Off we go for a splendid ‘show’.
Option 1: Buy cruise ship excursion: City bus tour and ticket for the Aquarium: 39 EUR.
Option 2: Step off the ship (moored at port), walk 5 minutes to city centre, walk around on your own. Start at the port, visit the Acquario di Genova first, when it opens (at 9:00 am), before everyone else shows up: Ticket: 19 EUR.
Great Barrier Reef not on your budget? Go daydream at the aquarium.
Mesmerizing flourescent sea creatures. The wonders of nature.
A city with a wow view: One of Europe’s largest medieval quarters with narrow alleys contrasted by grand boulevards of yesteryears.
An abundance of beautiful exteriors, renaissance palaces and baroque churches, and interiors, fantastic art and elaborate decorations and furniture. A day is not enough …
Old-school Art around Genova.
New-school Art around Genova.
Summary: Genova trip is worth every penny. A must must-see for everyone interested in nature, history, architecture, art and sizzling (university) city life.
With experiences like this, maybe the cruise way is not so bad after all?
Late afternoon: On board again, waving bye-bye to Genova, enjoying a mega-meal (informal dress) and a stroll around the lounges listening to easy listening music.
Program of this evening: Circus Show, Sail Away party, Mega Bingo, Disco Dance Lesson, Glory Generation and Welcome Night at Disco.
Being on a cruise could become quite hectic …