Koldinghus castle

Koldinghus is the royal castle situated in the middle of the little town of Kolding, pretty much in the middle of Denmark.

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Standing at the place already since the 13th century, it has changed its appearance several times due to numerous reconstructions. In the middle of the 16th century, the castle was rebuilt in Renaissance style. The “Giant tower” was added at that time. The castle was almost destroyed by the fire during the Napoleonic wars, in 1808, when the Spanish soldiers accidentally burned it down during their stay. It took a long time to restore it – the works were finished by 1991 with a wonderful combination of the old and new architectural elements mixed together in the interiors.

img15The former chapel restored in a rather modern way with the lamp posts symbolising the pillars and the ceiling lights the arches that used to be.

img16Modern solution for the concert hall.

Take plenty of time as there are many hidden rooms in the castle which you may not even find or be aware of, as there is the lack of signs on the doors. I would encourage you to try to open all the doors that look tempting and go up the stairs, as perhaps you will discover something wonderful or reach the top of the castle tower with the magnificent view!
One of the rooms is hiding a selection of historic wardrobes which can be tried on as well – great for the kids!

The permanent exhibition is nice, although feels a little bit dated.

However, the restored part is likely to take your breath away! The architects have left the ruins visible, while building the new part around and on top of it, using the modern architectural elements. The twisted iron staircase takes you up on different levels, at times quite hanging in the air, creating a slightly eerie feeling. The slightly stomach-turning experience is well worth it!

The restored part houses temporary exhibitions. Currently for last few days, until the 22nd October, there is the chance to see “Beyond Icons” – the exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Kolding´s Design School – the University where I was teaching my glove making workshop. On display are the works of the graduates and looking at other than only the iconic pieces of Danish design.

After this the new exhibition will be by the talented Finnish jewellery designer Mari Keto, who creates magical artefacts worth examining closer.
Next year the castle will be celebrating 750th anniversary with a very big exhibition, including the selection of the crown jewels!

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Karlśtejn Wine Harvest Festival

Last weekend – now seeming like so long time ago – we were in the Czech Republic, and not only just Prague… As the mid-autumn was approaching (or was it still just the end of the Indian Summer?), the Czechs were celebrating the grape harvest festival and my good friend from Prague invited us to get out of town to the Karlśtejn castle wine festival! Sounded perfect and together with the weather cooperation, it really was!

We did not just get out of town – it´s worth mentioning WHAT we got out on – the very old steam train from 1946, that is.

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On Saturday, 30th of September, the perfect sunny weather as if wanted to wish farewell to the Summer.
The annual wine festival celebrates the medieval heritage. On the way to the castle, there were plenty of opportunities to try the freshly fermented wine or the local Czech Riesling, as well as enjoy the specialities of the local kitchen and indulge in the cultural program of historical dances, fakirs, fencers and court magicians. The highlight of the day was the medieval parade in stylized costumes when people re-enacted the historic scenes of the Holy Roman Emperor and Czech King Karel IV and his entourage riding from the Karlśtejn vineyards through the village on their way to the castle.
The visitors are encouraged to come in the period costumes. This is an authentic festival aimed at the mainly local crowd, with many czechs, but not so many foreign tourists around.

medieval preformance

The little town of Karlstejn was very crowded indeed. Every second stand selling Burčák at ridiculously low prices. Burčák is a young Czech partially fermented wine. Interesting fact, that according to the law it is only legal to sell Burčák from the beginning of August till the end of November. The legend has it that Burčák will continue to ferment in your stomach, but this is scientifically impossible.

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Apparently, there are grape harvest festivals all through the month of September and the beginning of October, so worth looking out for it if you are in the region.

view from the castle

The beautiful Karlśtejn Castle originates from the mid-14th Century. Founded by the King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV, it was his private residence and the safe place for keeping the royal treasures and the Imperial Crown Jewels.
The castle has been rebuilt repeatedly afterwards, in 15th, 17th century, as well as the end of the 19th century, when it gained the current appearance. The monumental Great Tower is in the centre of the fortifications.

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It is worth visiting with or without the wine festival!

Gems of Oslo – Oslo Opera House

Oslo Opera House is probably one of the most symbolic buildings of the Norwegian capital. Emerging like an iceberg from water it epitomizes the Nordic spirit.

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I had an incredible opportunity to discover this building inside out, see the ballet preformance and even peek to the back stage while running the glove making workshop during the Prøverommet training event.

Covered with marble and white granite, the building was opened to the public in 2007 and has won numerous awards for its architecture.

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It is possible to walk up to the roof via the slant, to enjoy the panoramic views of the city.

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The glass walls create a mesmerising effect of light play in the hallway, while the interior design is contrasted with the waving natural oak panelling, bringing out the variance in textures.

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Behind the building, floating in the fjord is a glass and steel sculpture “She Lies”, constructed by Monica Bonivicini. The installation responds to the moving water and changes its appearance constantly depending on tides.

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Currently the neighbourhood of the Opera house is undergoing a transformation with extended construction – just behind the Opera house the museum of the most famous Norwegian painter Edward Munch is being built, planning to open in 2020. Along with the new city library, currently also in construction, it is aiming to turn the area into a new cultural hub.
The future of the area looks promising!

Lincoln Cathedral and the Knights Trail

Lincoln is a quaint little town in the East Midlands region of England, with a massive cathedral towering over the charming little houses on top of the hill.

While downtown is quite modern and trendy, the steep walk up the hill takes you to the rather historic neighbourhood.

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Lincoln Cathedral was once the tallest building in the world for over 200 years, until the central spire was destroyed by a storm in 1549. The cathedral has not lost its grandeour though and is still the third largest in the UK, following closely after St Paul´s in London.

Having worked in the cathedral during the Heritage Skills Festival I had a chance to get know it pretty thoroughly, with  its numerous little nooks, passages and different rooms, which made me feel like being in a village of its own. The architectural beauty is rather breathtaking!

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Unfortunately, I did not have a chance to look around the castle this time, but the 11th century Norman castle surely needs a visit.

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While walking through the town the colourful sculptures of knights can be spotted throughout Lincoln. These are part of the Knights Trail project – 36 knights in total – to mark 800 years since the Battle of Lincoln.
Each sponsored by  a local business and painted by a talented artist they form a cheerful addition to the town.

 

The playful side of Lincoln comes out this weekend, as it´s the time for the annual Asylum Steampunk Festival.
Hailed as “the most splendid festival in the world” and held already 9th year in the row, it is Europe´s largest Steampunk gathering.

If you have no plans for the bank holiday weekend, here´s an idea what to do.
Let me know how it was, if you happen to go there!

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Gems of Oslo – The Glove

The legend has it that after the big town fire in 1624, the Danish-Norwegian King Christian IV decided to rebuild the town in this area and name it after himself. He supposedly pointed to this spot and said: “The new town will lie here!”. Now there is a fountain in the shape of a gloved hand pointing to the ground making the spot. 

Christian IV was the king of Denmark-Norway 1588-1648. He is remembered as one of the most remarkable Danish kings, having initiated many reforms and projects.

The sculpture, titled “Chritian IV’s Glove” is just known as “Hanske”, meaning “The Glove”, among locals. Situated in the middle of Christiania Torv square (also known as “The Glove square”) it was designed in the mid-1990s by the Norwegian artist Wenche Gulbransen.

The allegorical statue was one of the first sights for me to visit in Oslo and rightfully so, as I was running the glove making workshop in Oslo during the following days.

Hanske Oslo

Historically a glove has also played a significant role as a symbol of power. King´s glove was a symbol of rule like a seal. One could sell, make coins and take taxes with the possession of a king´s glove. In the Medieval times, the king´s glove hanged high above the market place symbolised the right to trade. At the end of the day, the glove would be taken down. Later the glove got replaced by the wooden shape of a hand.
So in a way, it is quite symbolic that a gloved hand is placed in the middle of the market square.

Bristol Balloon Fiesta

The real reason for going to Bristol last weekend was actually visiting the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, taking place already the 39th year! Europe’s largest annual balloon event brought together over 130 international balloonists and a whole field full of spectators.

The festival was spread over the meadows of the Ashton Court Mansions, on the outskirts of Bristol. The early Saturday afternoon was filled with a variety of air shows, including a rather impressive wind walking performances, with the stuntmen fixed on top of the small aeroplane.

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image by: Pixabay

The hot air balloon lifts off was meant to be at 6 pm. Unfortunately, due to the windy weather conditions, the hot air balloons did not fly on Saturday´s afternoon. The public could only enjoy watching the tethered balloons, as it was too dangerous for them to fly.

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However, the evening event was worth a stay. Saturday night was finished off with a glorious nightglow show, followed by the fireworks. The hot air balloons, securely fixed to the ground, were being lit up, turning on and off as giant light bulbs, following the sounds of the music.

Bristol International Balloon Fiesta night glow

Bristol International Balloon Fiesta night glow

Luckily the weather conditions changed and the balloons did take off the next morning.

Bristol International Balloon Fiesta

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images by: Bristol International Balloon Fiesta

The ultimate Bristol walking guide

Last weekend we had a chance to visit the cool town of Bristol – a mere 2-hour train ride West from London. Here is the ultimate Bristol walking guide of main sights to see within a day while walking through the town.

Upon our arrival in Bristol, early in the morning, before 9 am, we were greeted by the beautiful architecture shimmering in the sunshine. The Temple Meads railway station is something to look at from outside – dating back to the 1840s it was designed by the British engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel – a name that will come across repeatedly while walking through Bristol.

Temple Meads station, Bristol

Stepping out of the station our attention was first caught by the irresistible aroma coming from a nearby bakery. A little search led to the Hart´s Bakery, situated just under the railway arches, below the station. This artisanal bakery needs to be spoken of due to its absolutely amazing cakes and pastries! Probably one of the best finds in Bristol, everything is baked right there in an open kitchen, in front of the customers´ eyes with the queue winding out of the door on the busier days – and rightfully so! I had the best tasting custard tart and the most amazing brownie of my life – its creamy consistency had a touch of hazelnuts mixed in. I could probably go on and on about how amazing their mini quiches and coffee were (didn´t really get to sample more), but it´s time to move on to the streets of Bristol.

Hart´s Bakery
image by: Hart´s Bakery

As we didn´t have too much time to spend and visiting Bristol for the first time in just a day, the goal was to get a good overview of the town centre. Most of the sights were viewed just from the outside while walking past.

The first sight to pass on our way was St Mary Redcliffe Church. Dating back to the 12-15th centuries, it´s a beauty of Gothic architecture.

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The town centre is made of a canal system and a floating harbour, which plays an important role in keeping the steady water level within the basin. Crossing a few bridges, we found ourselves next to the M Shed – Bristol town museum. The former harbour pier in front of it is lined with old cranes, which used to load the ships. Across the water, at the Millennium Square Landing, a beautiful sailboat was stranded.

M Shed, Bristol

Continuing along the Museum Street, we passed a few more remarkable vessels and constructions, for example, the Matthew boat – a 21-year-old replica of a 500-years old boat, sailed by John Cabot to Newfoundland in North America, in 1497. The ship looks similar to the one from the Asterix film and has frequently been used in the BBC and Disney movies.

Matthew ship, by M Shed in Bristol
image by: Pixabay

The road lead to the Brunel´s SS Great Britain – a museum ship that once sailed the seas of the world from Bristol to New York. The former passenger steamship sailed the seas for nearly 100 years, 1845 to 1933 and is now open for visit.

SS Great Britain
image by: Pixabay

Unfortunately, not having time to pop in this time, we carried on along the Bristol Marina with colourful modern houses lining both sides of the canal. Quite a pleasant walk, I must say.

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Turning at the Underfall Yard power house, from where the floating harbour was controlled, the road took us past the Brunel Lock Road and across the river over Brunel Way, to Ashton Court Mansion. The historic estate is situated just outside of the town, among spacious meadows and a populated deer park.

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From there another half hour walk led to probably the most breathtaking sight of Bristol – the Clifton Suspension Bridge. One of the world´s great bridges it is 101m above the high water level. Planned by the engineer who takes credit for many other famous constructions of the town and opened in 1864, the bridge joins two cliffs high above. Although the bridge´s weight limit is 4 tonnes, I could feel it slightly shaking while crossing over.

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The magnificent view from the bridge above the town was so high, it felt quite eerie.

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Above the bridge there is Clifton Observatory. It´s worth climbing up there for getting the best images of the bridge and the town behind it.

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In conclusion, Bristol is a beautiful town that absolutely deserves to be visited and then visited again to explore further…