Beginning from the Beginning: Swedish Heritage in Illinois

Krista Westerlund is our spiritual + historical correspondent. This missive is from her travels to the midwest —and back in time— to trace her Swedish family’s journey in America.

Little Sweden

Little Sweden in America. All images via KW.

I have been really, really remiss about writing about my travel experiences lately. I have traveled a lot and thought about writing about it, but the pen has not gone to paper or rather the finger has not gone to key. I’ve been to a lot of different kinds of places and also, I have spent my fair share of time in my sleepy little patch of routine daily life dreaming about places farther afield and the world beyond my window.

A while ago, I talked about how travel is not a competition. Well, for me, it still isn’t. There are plenty of other people out there who travel far more frequently than I do and who can tick off far more boxes on their bucket lists. Yes, there are places that I’d like to see and certain goals when it comes to travel that I would like to accomplish, but ultimately I don’t travel that way. I am fairly ordinary and on an ordinary budget in life. What I have, and I wouldn’t presume to say that I have far more of it than others – but I do definitely have it, is curiosity. Continue reading

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In spite of the weather, this is London’s time to shine.

Krista Westerlund is our spiritual + historical correspondent. This dispatch examines and arrives from the present center of the world’s attention: London.

Standard bustle in Trafalgar Square. all images © KW.

Ah, London. City of contrasts and competing visions. It is difficult to discuss such an iconic city with so much variety, so much grandeur, and so much touristic appeal because there are simply so many ways that you can enjoy visiting it. There are as many Londons as there are people who visit or live in the city. The tremendous diversity is the beating heart of London‘s urban charm. This year London is experiencing a unity and pride that has probably not been felt in decades. 2012 is a year that is synonymous with London. Andy Murray may not have won at Wimbledon this summer but Britishness has not been so lauded in years and never before in this fashion. The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Summer Olympics games are aligning to make this summer a celebration of the city.

London has been riddled with social unrest, class tensions, and the legacy of its imperial history as a center of global commercial and political power. Various societal malaises have plagued the city, many of which don’t require mentioning because they have dominated headlines. London has been through a lot of bleak times. There has been a sense of an identity crisis in the city as it struggled to cohere its substantial history with the change brought about by fundamental shifts in the global geopolitical order. Economic and societal woes have been in lock-step with London for many decades as it faced a decline in global significance and, at the same time, a rise in cosmopolitanism. Regularly spending time in the city over the years, I could not help but be swayed by its charm because no matter how difficult things get, it remains a vibrant, fascinating and transformative place. In 2012, London is palpably different though. Some may consider events like those that London is hosting this summer to be trivial. They may think that money spent on things like concerts, sporting events and parades should be suspended when the world is in such economic upheaval, but they are like lights in the storm. They are moments that make life worth living and London excels at those. That is perhaps how the city has been able to retain its magnetism in spite of the difficulties that have beset it at various times in both recent and more distant history.

The rafters of Covent Garden.

As the eyes of the world turn to London, the city correspondingly comes together. The city that emerges after this summer’s festivities are over will still face serious challenges. However, it will do so with more identity and more confidence. There will be more union in that Jack at least as far as the metropolis is concerned. So of course, I suggest that you go to London in 2012, but then again, I suggest that you go there at any time. You didn’t have to attend the actual Jubilee events nor do you need to watch the Olympics in person (congrats to those who are though) in order to get into the spirit of London this year. Visiting a pub (or your nearest imitation if you really can’t make it), raising a glass, and toasting with those near and dear to you is as quintessentially British as anything and, alcohol aside, it is the warm communal spirit of merrymaking and connecting with others that is essence of London. That is the reason that the city endures through all of its incarnations and tribulations. It touches upon the profound social nature of people, which is why it so excels at hosting events like those of this summer.

Go on then, and celebrate London wherever you are. Cheers.

Let the games begin.

 

Words for the Road: Wellington, NZ.

Words for the Road are dispatches from our Editor-at-Large — an image from her travels paired with a relevant musing in haiku.

This one’s a meta missive from Wellington, New Zealand.

Do you know, my bird
Your legacy here on Earth?
You are immortal

Words for the Road: Haikus on Holiday.

Words for the Road are dispatches from our Editor-at-Large — an image from her travels paired with a relevant musing in haiku.

First up: Nanjing, roadside in Xinjiekou, taken April 3, 2012.

Soft plush restful seats
Better days behind yourself
Return to nature

Everybody’s free (to wear sunscreen)

image via

FB+L, like some of you, will be commencin’ and convocatin’ this week. Back for more rambling on Monday. Have a graduated weekend!

This Was New York: NYC Municipal Archives.

Manhattan Bridge, sans bridge. all images via

We’re a little late to the NYC Municipal Archives online access party, but let’s take a moment to highlight this everchanging city. The Atlantic has a good roundup of the variety of subjects held by the Archives (in case you are stuck waiting for their traffic to slow a little) — a peek at pastoral Queens, city nightscapes circa 1930, Weegee-style crime scene photos, and your run-of-the-mill street scenes. These and so so many more to geek out over at the Archives’ online hub. Because sometimes travel should involve some time travel, too.

LaGuardia getting all Office Space on some slot machines aboard a police boat in 1934.

Harlem, 1932.

Find any good ones? Post them below!

DayTrip: Provincetown, MA

DayTrip gives you a quick taste of a town you don’t know. 

ProvHarbor

At the very end of Cape Cod—peek closely to see Long Point Lighthouse across the harbor.

EATsomething classic (a freshly fried malassada?) at Provincetown Portuguese Bakery [299 Commercial St.] and pay homage to this town’s roots. Or try something new in Karoo Kafe [338 Commercial St.], where the South African fare transports you as far as you can get from Cape Cod. Of course, there’s always Lorraine’s [133 Commercial St.], delicious Mexican eatery in the West End that’s reliably open year-round— even New Year’s Eve.

SLEEPsomewhere cozy like Snug Cottage [178 Bradford St.] — quiet, cute, and off the main drag, but only a short walk to the hub of town. Or take advantage of an incredible view at Lands End Inn [22 Commercial St.], but you may not want to leave your perch to see the rest of town.

GOstock up on some beach reads at Tim’s Used Books [242 Commercial St.], a little cottage off the main street stacked to the ceilings with well-loved paperbacks. Switch up your gallery crawl with a stop at Provincetown Art Association and Museum [460 Commercial St.], housed in a strikingly modern building that gives you a break from the quaint. And if the wind is calm, you can walk off your malassadas with a hike to Long Point Lighthouse [1 Commercial St.] which sits all alone at the very tip of the Cape.

Can you top this day trip? Tell us what we missed!