Living room angles

4 05 2013

8 months after we moved into our new home, and it is starting to become presentable… There are still a couple of corners of shame (skamvråar) with boxes which haven’t been unpacked (papers and shoes…) and we still don’t have an oven or kitchen cupboard doors. Here are two views of our living room (the dining part is at the front of the room by the windows and the balcony):

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Yes, one of those corners with boxes… The big book case in the middle is from Puerto Rico and we tried to give it a built-in look with Ikea Billy shelves around it. The leather armchairs are also from Puerto Rico and the armchair to the left is my grandmother’s and should be in V’s room but is currently hiding the hole from the partly removed fireplace (to stop V from climbing into the hole which is not too clean…). We still have to decide what to do about the fireplace. We think that you are not allowed to use it so we might put in a fake fireplace? The carpet is from my grandfather and has a label stating that it is from Iran!

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Another living room angle, with my grandmother’s cupboard (her brother made it for my grandparents when they got married in the late 1940’s), her Tandberg radio (V loves to push the buttons and turn up the volume…) and the foot stool that belongs to the armchair plus a picture that O got from his colleagues when leaving Puerto Rico.

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And this is what it looked like last summer… Before and after the demolition of the fireplace, and polishing of the wooden floor!

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Puerto Rican Easter

18 04 2011

I have written before about the Easter processions in Puerto Rico, and also about the Spanish Easter celebrations, but here are some more photos for you from Puerto Rico:

Selling cotton candy on the beach Escambrón, Puerto Rico

As you all know we moved from Puerto Rico little more than a year ago, just after Easter, and I think that it is time to be a bit nostalgic again here on the blog! All holidays in Puerto Rico imply one big thing for Puerto Ricans and that is… GOING TO THE BEACH! I always thought this was a little strange as you can go to the beach every day (or weekend at least) all year around, but a lot of people don’t (and neither did we after a while). I guess it is usually the case when you have something too near by and you need to do your weekly shopping, cleaning etc on the weekends!

Bringing ice to the beach, San Juan
The whole family goes to the beach for Easter…

However, as most of the holidays are religious holidays, and most Puerto Ricans are [more] religious [than maybe other nationalities, if I may generalise] there is usually quite a gathering around religious traditions. The Easter processions in San Juan are very popular and the streets around the cathedral in the old town were packed with worshippers on Good Friday.

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Preparing for the procession, and of course people taking photos…

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The streets were packed, a mix of worshippers and tourists…

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“Jesus” starting the long walk around the city…

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The congregation sings hymns during the walk and the priest reads (hence the loudspeaker). O recognised all the songs from Spain.

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All the way around the Old San Juan goes the procession…

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People showing their devotion in different ways (sorry about the quality, wanted to be discreet…)

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And the procession ends outside the cathedral again, with the crucifixion… Quite macabre for somebody not catholic…

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San Juan’s cathedral

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Fortunately there were ways to cool down after the long walk… A piragua with parcha flavour, maybe? (crushed ice with passion fruit flavour in a cone)

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And afterwards you can reward yourself with a traditional Mallorcan Easter / Lent treat, una coca con sardinas y verduras in La España bakery.





After fauna comes flora…

22 07 2010

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Roble amarillo at the end of March

Or not really, at least in Swedish I think we say “flora & fauna”, not the other way around but since my last blog post was dedicated to animals and insects I thought I would make this the flora post:

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Similar tree in April – less leaves…

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Photo taken in May – almost no leaves left

Help me, how do you search for names of trees and flowers on the internet? I never seem to make succesful searches for flora, nor fauna actually. However, thanks to Britta, I now know that the tree I showed last week is called roble amarillo / plateado in Puerto Rico. The name could be translated as yellow / silver oak. But is that really how the tree is called in English? It definitely doesn’t look like the oaks I am used to in Europe… Apparently the tree also exists in pink – both in Puerto Rico and in Egypt according to Marianne.

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Flowers of the roble amarillo…





A walk in my old Puerto Rican neighbourhood

16 07 2010

Time flies and it is almost 4 months ago now that we left San Juan and our life in Puerto Rico. I haven’t really had time to miss it too much, but I think about our great friends there very often. This week I got a long email from my Spanish teacher, which made me very nostalgic and then my Peruvian friend CALLED me one evening. It was so wonderful to get news from them both and I really hope that we will be able to meet  up again soon because I do miss them and all the other people we knew!

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Our street with the view towards the sea, the Atlantic Ocean

Since we have had a heat wave in Brussels for the last two weeks (it seems to be over now, it is only around 20 degrees at the moment and O and I both used covers while sleeping last night) I have been thinking a lot about the differences between Brussels and San Juan and my conclusion is this: in San Juan there is AC everywhere and you have the sea where you can find a breeze – in Brussels you can’t escape the heat anywhere, except in the supermarkets’ fridge departments!

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The neighbours’ old Jag that was for sale for almost the whole 2½ years we lived in the building. They had of course already replaced it with a new one..

Most of the photos in this post are from the 30th March, the second day the movers came and I went for one last walk to Walgreens (pharmacy / convenient store which is open 24 hours) from our house. As we stayed on for a few days more in a hotel at the other end of the Condado peninsula, we actually did go for some more walks in the neighbourhood but from the opposite direction.

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The old house that could be rented for big parties and during Xmas it would have an amazing light display and Christmas songs would be played – a little tacky some people would say but then Christmas in the Caribbean is kind of tacky!

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Just opposite is this beautiful building which is a small hotel

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Avenida Ashford / Ashford Avenue, the main street in Condado where we lived

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I would always check out the party and wedding dresses in this shop but never entered

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The big Marriott Hotel where we stayed when we came for house-hunting and where we would sometimes go for a mojito and listen to music. Crazy person jogging in the middle of the day – too hot!

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The Marriott is on the right hand side of the street, right ahead is one of three Starbucks in Condado and a Häagen Dazs where O would always chose Belgian chocolate…

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Design shop where they sold DesignHouse Stockholm products and my aunt bought an Alessi Christmas ornament

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Our favourite sushi place where the waitress knew that we always wanted two bottles of Perrier and the Japanese owner always greeted us with a recognising smile

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Ad for the Dominican republican beer Presidente – the Puerto Rican beer is called Medalla

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Every last Sunday in the month there was a jazz festival at the local square by the sea, Ventana al Mar. We only went once with our pic-nic basket but would usually try to at least go for a walk to feel the atmosphere…

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Our Walgreens where we would get our milk, medicine (once they charged me 10 times too much but I was eventually reimbursed on this very day when I went for the walk!! There is a huge difference between paying $20 or $200!), AT& T phone credit etc. One of the things I really miss in Brussels is that there is nowhere that is open 24 hours (or at least I haven’t found it) – in Sweden most cities have a petrol station that is open 24 hours where you can buy basic groceries…

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Walking back, Marriott on the left and Starbucks on the left…

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The piragua (slush puppies, i.e crushed ice with flavour) man – a little bell announced his presence

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Danny’s International – burger and pizza place, we didn’t go very often as we preferred Fuddrucker’s burgers and another pizzeria, Via Appia

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The touristy restaurants – Yerba Buena is Cuban and Tijuana is of course Mexican, both are actually quite good. Except when Tijuana’s mariachi band is playing 10 cm from your ear while trying to eat…

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The Argentinian restaurant Ummo’s terrace would be packed in the evenings but we would always eat inside as it felt too much like sitting in the middle of the street, passers-by could knock over your glass of wine!

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Our bank – the security guy would greet me with a “Buenos días” but there was one girl who was always in a bad mood, barking “Siguiente” (Next) and I was almost scared of her…

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Spot the tourists sitting in the bright sun on the hot metal bench at the bus stop – the [few] locals would wait in the shade opposite the street by the bank. I wonder how many hours I have spent waiting for the bus to the Old San Juan there…

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Eros Mini-market where I would buy milk when it was too hot to walk all the way to Walgreens

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The corner of our street and Avenida Ashford – I didn’t realise until now when looking at the photo that the UPS store has a new FedEx sign in the window!?

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Walking towards our house on the left right

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One of my favourite trees but nobody could ever tell me what it was called! Updated: It is a roble plateado / roble amarillo, thanks B!

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Our condominium – we lived on the 9th floor. The windows to the right (two narrow ones and one small) were for the kitchen and one of the bathrooms, they were facing south while all the other rooms had ocean views to the north (except our bedroom that had views of the ocean from the east

I hope you enjoyed my nostalgic walk in our old neighbourhood!





Show & Tell / Friday theme: Nails

9 04 2010

Already Friday again, which means that we have been 5 days in Europe! I wanted to show something from our week in Spain and since Taina has decided that today’s theme should be “Nails”, this is what I came up with:

Chocolate con churros
On Wednesday we were baby-sitting O’s niece M (3½) after school and she was very pleased when we invited her to El Corte Inglés (Spanish department store) for churros con chocolate…

What does it have to do with nails, you are wondering??

Dipping the churro in the chocolate
Look, O’s nails dipping a churro in the chocolate… The chocolate is so thick that is almost impossible to drink, think liquid chocolate mousse. The churros are dipped in the chocolate and what remains is eaten with a spoon.

Drawing a donkey?
O drawing a donkey, which both M and I thought looked like a horse!?

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O’s and M’s nails (and chin)

Going to El Corte Inglés for churros and chocolate is something we do almost every time we come to Spain and I told M of the first time we went with her, it was almost exactly 3 years ago and of course she was too young for churros. The three of us were definitely the youngest in the cafeteria on Wednesday, as we were surrounded by posh old ladies (and a few men) taking a break from shopping while having tapas or churros.

Some of you might remember my blog post about my Puerto Rican toe nails… O was joking last week that I might want some fake nails as a Puerto Rican souvenir, NO thank you very much! Fake nails are just too fake for me and it doesn’t matter if they are short and have French manicure, they still don’t look real. The very long fake nails so popular with certain Puerto Rican women are quite disgusting, I always wonder how much dirt they gather, and extremely unpractical!

A Puerto Rican style foot on the beach ;-)
My Puerto Rican toe nails – a once in a lifetime experience 😉

Maybe the other Show & Tell:ers are bigger fans of painted nails than I am? Check them out here:
Anki, Anna, Anne, Anne-Marie, Annika, Bejla, Desiree, Erica, Helena, IamAnnika, IngaBritt, Mais-oui, Musikanta, Nilla, Olgakatt, Petra H, Saltis, Simone, Sparkling, Strandmamman, Taina, and Under Ytan.

PS Once again I have to apologise for not having had time to answer all your comments on the previous posts, and to not having had much time to comment on other blogs lately…





Show & Tell / Friday Theme: In my Easter egg I would like…

2 04 2010

Taina in Connecticut is the April hostess for the Show & Tell and her chosen, very challenging, themes are:
2nd April: In my Easter egg I would like…
9th april: Nails
16th April: White lies
23rd April: Power
30th April: OMG how embarrassing!

We have no Easter atmosphere at the hotel, but last year we followed both Swedish and Spanish / Catholic Easter traditions, including eating fish on Good Friday and lamb on Easter Sunday:

Dressed for the Good Friday procession
Good Friday procession in the Old San Juan – religious processions are an integral part of Spanish Easter celebrations

The Easter egg has been filled...
Swedish Easter egg

Easter decorations
Swedish Easter decorations – on a plate. Next year I would like to take in branches from [our?] garden and decorate them with these ornaments

This year there is no Swedish Easter egg filled with Swedish sweets 😦 , we are not going to the Old San Juan to look at the Easter procession (O is too tired after having worked until almost 10 o’clock last night) but we are going to eat fish today as good Catholics (Hello, I am protestant!?). O has promised me sushi, which might not be the most traditional way of eating fish on Good Friday…

Conclusion: this year since I won’t have a proper Easter egg,  I will make do with sushi at my favourite Japanese restaurant in San Juan!!

I apologise for my not-so-updated list of Show & Tell participants: Anki, Anna, Anne, Anne-Marie, Annika, Bejla, Desiree, Erica, Helena, IamAnnika, IngaBritt, Mais-oui, Musikanta, Nilla, Olgakatt, Petra H, Saltis, Simone, Sparkling, Strandmamman, Taina, and Under Ytan.





Show & Tell / Friday theme: Change

26 03 2010

I really have to apologise for my sporadic participation in the Show & Tell / Friday theme, but here’s at least an interpretation of today’s theme which is CHANGE, chosen by Saltis.

Our lives, as I have mentioned so many times before, will change in a week’s time (or so, probably Easter Sunday to be specific) when we leave Puerto Rico and move back to Brussels.

Here are some photos to show the way our everday views will change from living in San Juan to re-making a life in Brussels. It is probably not an entirely fair comparison, but I want to underline that I love both cities and just like I have missed Brussels, I will miss San Juan and our life here.

Viejo San Juan
Street life in Old San Juan

Brussels street view
Brussels street view

A rainy (midsummer's) day in San Juan
A rainy (Midsummer’s) day in San Juan

Belgian rain on Belgian National Day
Brussels on a rainy (National) day

Punta Escambrón, San Juan
Punta / Playa Escambrón, San Juan

Parc Leopold
Parc Leopold, behind the European Parliament, Brussels

The city wall in Old San Juan
The City Wall in the Old San Juan

Brussels City wall
The old City Wall in Brussels – not much left of it…

Plazuela de la Rogativa, San Juan
Plazuela de la Rogativa, San Juan

Manneken Pis on the National Day
Manneken Pis on Belgium’s National Day (21st July), Brussels

Raíces fountain in the Old San Juan
The Raíces (Roots) fountain in the Old San Juan (usually spraying passers-by with water)

Fountain in Parc Royal
Fountain in the Parc Royal, Brussels

Old San Juan by night
Old San Juan by night (seen from our departing cruise ship)

Grand' Place by night
Brussels Town Hall at the Grand’ Place, by night

I will try to make the blog round today but I can’t promise anything with all the things I need to do before the movers arrive on Monday morning…
Anki, Anna, Anne, Anne-Marie, Annika, Bejla, Desiree, Erica, Helena, IamAnnika, IngaBritt, Mais-oui, Musikanta, Nilla, Olgakatt, Petra H, Saltis, Simone, Sparkling, Strandmamman, Taina, and Under Ytan.

PS I did a similiar post comparing a Swedish autumn with autumn in Puerto Rico – click on the link.