Category Archives: Sandra Wagner-Wright

From Gottland to Stockholm

Visby Sweden

Once a major trading center in the Hanseatic League, VISBY on the ISLAND of GOTTLAND is a charming glimpse into the past, said to be the best preserved medieval city in Scandinavia. The 13th century walls are the strongest and most extensive in Scandinavia. At the opposite extreme, is Gallows Hill, probably built in the 15th century and visible at sea. The three stone pillars of the gallows were united with beams.

Gallows HillPrisoners were suspended on the beams with hooks and ropes, and were often left hanging until their remains either rotted, or were eaten by birds. The last execution was in 1845. Today Gallows Hill is better known as a viewpoint.

Photo taken from Gallows Hill

Visby Sweden

Visby is a charming town of gardens and well-kept small houses in the historic area. The Botanical Gardens are close to the beach, yet protected by the city wall from storms.

Botanical Gardens


Stockholm From Island of Djurdarden

Palace GuardIt’s impossible to leave our visit to Sweden without stopping off in Stockholm. There are many things to do, but, as usual, I opted for the historical tour. This began at the Royal Palace which is mostly a municipal center and a chance for visitors to see the Changing of the Guard. It may not be as impressive as the ritual at Buckingham Palace, but it’s no less sincere. During their training, army recruits serve three months in the Household Guards.

From the palace it’s a short walk Stortorget (The Big Square). Notable buildings include the Swedish Academy building, home of the Nobel Prize Committee. Of more interest to me: the well in continuous use since the 13th century, and still dispensing potable water, and the small side streets like Trångsund .

Stadshuset (City Hall) is on the eastern tip of Kungsholmen Island is an interesting building built between 1911 and 1923. The entire building has eight million bricks. City hall serves the usual municipal functions, including the Registry Office for weddings. Couples choose one of two ceremonies. One takes three minutes; the other, one and a half minutes.

Within the exterior facade is a marble statue called Loki’s Punishment. The artist is Ida Matton. I was puzzled about the subject matter, though I assumed it had to do with Norse mythology. Here’s the legend behind the sculpture. Loki was a Norse trickster god who offended the gods frequently and often. Eventually, the gods captured Loki, forged a chain around him, and tied him down to three rocks inside a cave. A venomous serpent was placed above him, dripping poison onto him. Loki’s apparently very faithful and loving wife, Sigyn, sat at his side with a bowl to catch the venom. But when the bowl became full, she had to leave her husband’s side to pour it out. When this happened, the drops of venom that fell onto Loki caused him to writhe in agony. This, according to the legend, is what causes earthquakes in the human world.

Loki's Punishment

Between the city hall building and the shore of Lake Mälaren is a charming pocket park, popular with tourists and residents, especially on a sunny day.

Stadhusparken by city hall


Photos by Author


Possibly the most famous site in Copenhagen, the bronze Little Mermaid sits on a rock at the shoreline of the Langelinie Promenade. The eternally young mermaid personifies Hans Christian Anderson’s somewhat gruesome well-known tale of a young mermaid who gave up her pleasant life underwater to win her true love. You can read the story… Continue Reading


Palanga is on the shore of the Baltic Sea and the busiest summer resort in Lithuania. In addition to seaside activities, Palanga is famous for its Botanical Garden and the Amber Museum located within a Neo-Renaissance palace museum completed in 1897. The garden covers just over 247 acres with forests of pine and fir trees,… Continue Reading


Like other Baltic States, Latvia first appeared on European maps after World War I when Russia relinquished several nations. During World War II, the Soviet Union held Latvia until the Germans took over. After the war, Latvia again fell under Soviet control, finally gaining her independence in 1991. Since that time, Riga has become a… Continue Reading

Tallinn, Estonia — “Postively Surprising”

We don’t hear much about the Baltic States, so I thought it might be useful to look at a map before visiting Tallinn, Estonia. The states on this map are Finland, The Russian Federation, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Finland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania spent much of their history dominated by regional powers, primarily Russia and… Continue Reading

A Day in Helsinki

  Last week I held an impromptu photo contest to guess where I took two pictures. Alas, no one tried to guess, but today I’ll still give you the answers. The first photo, shown at left, is indeed tricky. It’s the ceiling of Temppeliaukio Church, also known as the Rock Church, in Helsinki, Finland. Today’s… Continue Reading


  Saturday is the Autumn Equinox. Lying between Summer and Winter, Autumn has a languid feeling, especially at the beginning. The nights are shorter, but Daylight Savings Time is still in effect. The days are cooler, but not cold. Football comes into its regular season. And best of all, Oktoberfest begins in Munich this Saturday… Continue Reading


Since ancient times women and men have altered their physical appearance to become more attractive to themselves and others. “How ancient?” you ask. Cleopatra used a lip color that got its reddish tint from ground carmine beetles. Before you wrinkle your nose in disgust, consider that modern lipstick formulas contain cochineal or carmine. Cochineal are… Continue Reading

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