To Open and Unlock: A Collection of Photographs of Windows and Doors from Ten Countries (a travel photography book by ME!)

One of the reasons I love to travel is to unlock my curiosity about other people and to open myself to other cultures and religions.” Debby Lee Jagerman

Bhutan Windows and Doors To Open and Unlock

Ten years of travel. Thirty four countries on five continents visited. Thousands upon thousands upon thousands of photographs taken. All while experiencing the people, the cultures, the religions, the scenery, and sometimes even the animals, of the places I visited. And from all this, I have created a travel photography book. A book with ten countries represented, from four continents, based on my favorite subject of my photography- windows and doors.

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Bhutan believes in measuring their development and economy not by a GDP, but with Gross National Happiness. The Buddhist religion is strongly embraced by the Bhutanese. It is in this country where I had the honor of trekking several days to the remote village of Laya, as well as the honor of having a brief conversation with the King and Queen of Bhutan the day after they got married. The above photo from Bhutan is the front cover of my book.

Québec City is one of the oldest cities in North America. It was the historical windows and doors set in stone and brick buildings, along with the matching paint colors of the window frames and shutters, coupled with a modern beautiful display of colorful flowers in planters on the window ledges that were the subject of some of my photographs in Québec City.

Quebec City Windows and Doors To Open and Unlock

Vietnam has 54 distinct ethnic groups, each with its own culture, lifestyle, heritage, language, and style of clothing. The landscape of the country is just as varied. The vibrant and colorful homes of the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam, with their windows and doors, seemed to reflect the equally vibrant and colorful people and landscape of Vietnam.

Vietnam Windows and Doors To Open and Unlock

Quito, Ecuador is one of the gateways to the Galapagos Islands. The restored colonial architecture of the buildings of Old Town Quito, along with the balconies and iron railings of the windows, often overflowing with flowers and plants, captured my attention, and directed my camera lens.

Quito Windows and Doors To Open and Unlock

A 500-mile journey, stretching from the Spanish/French border across northern Spain to the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, is a pilgrimage that hundreds of thousands of Christian pilgrims have walked for over 1,000 years. My pictures in this chapter are organized into colors and other subjects such as materials, decorations, symbols, and objects. Yet many pictures could easily be placed into more than one category.

Camino de Santiago Windows and Doors To Open and Unlock

Bicycling in Skagway, Alaska, an historical boomtown born out of the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898, is the town that started my tradition of taking pictures of windows and doors in 2002. As I zigzagged through the streets with not much intention or planning, I began to notice the older historical homes, becoming aware of porches, stone fireplaces, and other objects. As I took more pictures, the windows and doors came into focus.

Skagway Windows and Doors To Open and Unlock

A five-month solo backpacking trip in Europe brought me to 18 countries, my absolute favorite being Italy. Full of small hill towns, bright yellow sunflower fields, green vineyards, ancient history, fabulous food, gelato. Photos like this one with children’s bikes, made me feel like home. And I found that the windows and doors throughout Italy were as diverse and as flavorful as the gelato.

Italy Windows and Doors To Open and Unlock

Porvoo, Finland, one of the three Baltic Sea Countries that I have represented in the book, is one of the most photographed towns in Finland. It was the cobblestone side streets lined with an assortment of colored windows frames contrasting against the colored siding of the buildings that drew me to photograph here. I felt like I was walking through a rainbow of homes. This photo is the back cover of my book.

Porvoo Windows and Doors To Open and Unlock

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Filled with just one picture shy of 250, and one page shy of 100, To Open and Unlock is a book that you won’t be able to look at just once. With so many pictures, you will need more than one sitting to absorb them all. It is a book that will sit on your coffee table (and your family’s coffee table, and your friend’s coffee table, and your family’s friend’s coffee table) for years to come. Each time you browse through it, you will see a picture that you have never noticed before. Or you may see some new detail in a picture that you have seen before, but didn’t notice its subtleties.

Not only are there all these photographs in my book, I explain what attracts me to taking pictures of windows and doors. In addition, I introduce each chapter with reflections of my travels, including short stories containing experiences, impressions, and information of the countries. I’ve also included great quotes about windows and doors, both poignant and funny, from some famous people, throughout the book.

The book is available for you to order on Amazon, with preview on Blurb. You may also order books for your family, your friends, your family’s friends, even your friends’ family. You may also search for the book under my name, Debby Jagerman, or under the title, To Open and Unlock. One may even search using the words “Windows and Doors.” You may also share this blog.

5% of my profits will be donated to Bhutan Foundation.

Thank you!! and Sweet Travels!

At the Norwegian Folk Museum: The Last “Quirky” Museum Blog

In finishing up my series of blogs on “quirky” museums, I happened upon two more collections that caught my attention during my travels, both contained within the open-air Norwegian Folk Museum in Oslo.

wine 2 (121 x 200) wine 1 (150 x 200)

The first collection contained an assortment of wine bottles – shelf after shelf of neatly-organized, color-coordinated, nicely-labeled bottles of wine. A history of The Wine Monopoly of 1922 was presented, which was a government-owned company, and the only Norwegian alcoholic beverage retailer allowed to sell drinks with an alcohol content of higher than 4.7%.

wine 3 (156 x 200) wine 4 (150 x 200)

The second collection was in the Norwegian Pharmacy Museum, which displayed shelf after shelf of apothecary-related items, and covered the history of pharmacies in Norway from 1595 to the 20th century.

pharmacy 1 (200 x 157) pharmacy 2 (200 x 146)

I actually also saw a similar museum, the German Pharmacy Museum, located in the Castle of Heidelberg, which had over 20,000 objects celebrating the 2,000 year-old history of the pharmacy and medicinal sciences. All quite, quite fascinating!

pharmacy 3 (200 x 114)

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I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed discovering quirky museums during my travels. I mean, after all, where else would I have…

…learned that Baltic Amber, the “Gold of the North,” is petrified resin and sap from deciduous trees, that grew in Northern Europe over 30 to 90 million years ago…

…experienced “the souls of church bells,” where some believe that church bells have souls that are transmitted through their materials…and I believe through their sounds…

…realized that shoes are more than just footwear to protect our feet – they are social indicators, telling of taste, style, prestige, personality, and that “shoes have the power, the vanity, and the magic“…

…researched that coats of arms were used for visual identification, could signify heraldic achievement, or were designed to convey feelings of power and strength…and discovered that the dragon is a symbol for “a valiant defender of treasure“…

…found out about the “facts and history of porcelain in Riga, Latvia,” including that porcelain is made by heating raw materials in a kiln with extremely hot temperatures between 2,192 and 2,552 F…

…been brought back to my childhood while looking at all kinds of games and dolls and stuffed animals and toys, including the art form of paper dolls, as “I remembered playing with those toys“…

…seen three decades-old Latvian fire engines, and thought about fire safety, including the “stop, drop and roll” technique…

…calculated approximately 704 gallons of liquid contained in thousands upon thousands of mini bottles, and had the attitude of “a half-full bottle“…

And where else would I have seen on display over 250 color varieties of amber; a few dozen of the 500 church bells in all of Estonia; 330 pairs of shoes and boots; coats of arms that were 100’s of years old; 6,000 pieces of porcelain; paper dolls dating back to the 1880’s up till the 1970’s; a Latvian fire station build around 1911; and 12,500 mini bottles, but all in quirky museums?

In defining the word “quirky” some synonyms are “original, individual, unusual, eccentric, peculiar, and idiosyncratic.” I really thought that each and every one of these museums was also fascinating, educational, interesting, unique, and truly a lot of fun!

I recommend all these, and any other quirky museums you might encounter in your travels! In fact, if you have any you have visited that you would like to share, feel free to write a comment about them.

Sweet (and Quirky) Travels!

All photos by Debby (except German Pharmacy Museum postcard photo)

Mini Bottle Gallery in Oslo: A Half-Full Bottle

Continuing on with my series of blogs on “quirky” museums, there is one such museum that was unfortunately closed on the day I went to visit. I wish I had researched their open times better when planning my trip to the Baltic Sea. Alas, I will need to travel there again someday, but at least I was able to get pictures through the windows, and their website contains a wealth of information about them.

The Mini Bottle Gallery in Oslo, Norway has a collection of 53,000 mini bottles. You know, like those little bottles of alcohol that you might purchase on an airplane. The Gallery’s website states that “of the museum’s 53,000 bottles in total, 12,500 are displayed in over 50 unique installations. And 40,500 small bottles are strictly monitored in the bottle vault.”

Mini Bottle 2a (300 x 152)

At approximately 1.7 ounces of liquid per mini bottle (at least that is what you are served on an airplane), that would be a total of 90,100 ounces of something to drink in these bottles in this gallery. That is equivalent to 11,263 cups or 704 gallons! (The accountant in me had to figure this out.) Now that’s a lot of bottles, and a lot of liquid! And, I’m pretty sure that drinking from any of these bottles is not allowed.

It was all these bottles that I really wanted to see the day I tried to go to the museum. But, in peeking through the windows, I at least got a taste of what was displayed inside. (Pun intended.)

From their website in doing my research for this blog, I found out though that the gallery is much more than just a museum. They have the facilities to host a variety of parties and celebrations, business lunches and conferences, and other events. They have two bars and four function rooms, including “The Liqueur Room,” “The Banqueting Hall,” “The Beer Hall,” and “The Mini Bar.”

Mini Bottle 1a (300 x 162)

The gallery can even help you out with finding entertainment for your soiree, such as clowns or comedians, and even DJ’s and live bands and dancing. And it looks like they even assist with the invitations, and serve all kinds of tasty-looking food.

Christian Ringnes Jr., also known as “The Mini Bottle King,” is the founder of this gallery/museum/fun place. When he was 7 years old, Christian’s father gave him a “half-empty” bottle as a gift. (For positivity, I’d rather say a “half-full” bottle.) It was then that Christian began collecting the miniature bottles that would someday become the center of his fine establishment.

Mini Bottle 4a (262 x 300)

Christian’s great-great-grandfather also influenced his interest in bottles, as he was the one who founded the honored Ringnes Brewery in 1877, which is now part of the Danish brewing giant Carlsberg.

The next time I get to Oslo, I will really need to pick a day when this gallery is open to the public, which is the weekends. Or, if I had known, I could have booked a private viewing. Or perhaps, I could someday hold an event there, as it sounds quite fun. (Not sure, though, how many of my friends would travel all the way to Oslo just for a party…)

Mini Bottle 3a (1) (300 x 156)

I have several questions about this place that I would ask during my future visit. Is there only alcohol in all those bottles, or is there some other kind of beverage? Does Oslo have earthquakes, and if so, are all the bottles somehow secured down? And, why are most of the bottles in the Mini Bottle Gallery in a strictly monitored vault?

Sweet Travels!

Please read my other “quirky” museum blogs:
The Toy Museum in Helsinki, Finland
“The Shoe Museum” in Stockholm, Sweden
The Riga Porcelain Museum

Royal Armory in Stockholm: Shoes Have the Power, the Vanity, and the Magic

I’ll admit, I don’t have a shoe addiction like Carrie Bradshaw, the icon of the famed “Sex and the City.” Her fondness of expensive designer shoes led her to spend over $40,000 on around 100 unique pairs of shoes.

Nor do I have, anywhere at all, not even close, to the just over 1,000 pairs of shoes that Imelda Marcos, an influential political figure of the Philippines, is known to have indulged in.

lady's shoes (300 x 295)
Lady’s shoes, Swedish, c. 1700

No, put me in a pair of high-heeled shoes, and my feet hurt. In fact, I have more pairs of highly unfashionable hiking boots than I do of fancy, dressy high heels. No, I’m not chic when it comes to my feet. I actually prefer comfort to style. Put me in a pair of flat walking shoes, something that I can just slip my feet into, and I have happy feet. Put me in a pair of flip-flops in the summer, and my feet are doing a happy dance.

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Queen Sofia’s button boots of silk velvet in the fashionable new color mauve, 1870’s

But, when I walked into the Royal Armory of The Royal Palace in Stockholm, Sweden, a place filed with Swedish art, history and royalty, and I saw this unique exhibition on royal footwear, my feet couldn’t help but become quite envious of the beauty, the fashion, the colors, and the variety of what my eyes were seeing. My feet even said to me, “Deb, why don’t we ever wear something like that?”

coronation shoes 1 (300 x 162)
Sofia Magdalena’s coronation shoes, 1771

I spent a lot of time examining the collection displayed before me in this “quirky” museum. There were around 330 pairs of boots and shoes, showing a “representative selection to illustrate how Swedish royals were shod from the beginning of the 17th century to the end of the 1960’s.” It was a regal display of shoes worn by Kings and Queens.

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Coronation boots of Adolf Fredrik (1751), Gustav III (1772) and Gustav IV Adolf (1800)

My feet gazed with awe at coronation boots and shoes, riding and button boots, pumps and sandalettes, wedding shoes, slip-ons and slippers and sandals, leather thigh and ‘Roman’ sandal boots, and evening shoes. There were shoes made of calfskin and goatskin and patent leather; suede and silk and silk velvet. There were shoes decorated with bows and spangles and buckles; and gold and silver embroidery.

wedding shoes (300 x 176)
Queen Victoria’s white silk atlas wedding shoes, 1881

After walking around the museum for a while, I decided that I just had to buy the museum’s book, written in both Swedish and English, entitled, “Shoes Have It All…Power, Vanity, Magic.” I read that “the exhibition sets out to demonstrate that boots and shoes are more that just footwear. They are social indicators which, together with all of our other items of dress, tell of taste and style, power and prestige.” The book continues, “Shoes aren’t just something we put on to protect our feet. [They] serve to tell other people who we are and what we dream of becoming. Shoes don’t only express your personality, group identity and social standing. We can dress up our feet to signal power, vanity and magic.” (Well, I had no idea shoes could do so much.)

bow decor shoes (300 x 169)
Shoes formerly belonging to Charles X, with fashionably red-painted heels and sole edges and decorated with elaborate bows

I had to delve into these concepts more. Power…“Kings and queens in past centuries had the power to reform society, go to war and make peace.” Shoes indicate strength, position, status.

Vanity…Kings and queens “were financially capable of surrounding themselves with luxury and giving free rein to their love of display.” Shoes indicate fashion.

silk shoe (300 x 209)
Queen Desideria’s silk shoe, including a silk bow decorated with 31 gold-colored spangles

Magic…“The aptly chosen shoe can positively reinforce the self-image we want to project.” Some examples from the book – shoes can boost self-esteem; the color can be symbolic (for example, red infers passion, whereas white infers purity and innocence); shoes can represent a memorable occasion, such as weddings; the higher the heel, the more power; and everyone remembers Cinderella and her magical glass slipper…

coronation shoes 3 (300 x 147)
Queen Desideria’s coronation shoes, 1829

In fact, some have described shoes as “candy for the eye, a poetry of the feet.” (Wow, I never really thought about shoes quite this much. I’m impressed.)

There is even a chapter in the book showing that shoes have been portrayed many times in art, from artist such as Vincent van Gogh and Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol.

van gogh (350 x 336)
Vincent van Gogh, A Pair of Shoes. 1886

Shoes somehow then became a theme during my 15-day circumnavigation journey around the Baltic Sea. My feet walked into the royal footwear exhibit on my first day, and by the last day, I was still seeing something related to shoes.

coronation shoes 2 (300 x 163)
Queen Lovisa Ulrika’s coronation shoes, 1751

At a folk museum in Oslo, Norway, Frederikke Helene Cappelen, an elegant Danish actress, wore this pair of white silk-covered shoes, which came from Paris around 1850.

cappelens shoes (271 x 300)
Mrs. Cappelen’s shoes, covered in white silk, from Paris c. 1850

In Copenhagen, Denmark, just walking down the street, out in front of a shoemaker and shoe repair store, was this miniature cobbler doll working on making his miniature shoes. (You may not be able to tell from this picture, but this cobbler was no more than a foot tall.)

mini shoemaker (350 x 310)

In the train station in Mälmo, Sweden, a souvenir shop was ironically selling these mini shoes. Again, you may not be able to tell from this picture, but each pair of these fashion statements was only about 6 inches in length. (Looking back, I should have bought a pair of these…but there were so many cute ones, that it would have been hard to decide which to purchase.)

mini 1 (250 x 128)mini 2 (250 x 122)mini 3 (223 x 250)

Finally, I needed a book to read on my flight back home. I browsed around a bookstore, and what do you know, I came across a book entitled, “How to Walk in High Heels – The Girl’s Guide to Everything.” Well, that was my clue to get the book and figure it out. My feet even said, “Yes, that is the book you will read on the plane!”

mule slippers (300 x 187)
Lady’s mule slippers with long, narrow Continental toe, early 18th century

This book is dedicated to “aspiring Cinderellas everywhere.” (Aha, the magic.) I read in this book very useful things that every girl should know….for example, how to be stylish, how to be groomed, how to deal with unpleasant situations, how to play chess and poker, how to have good table manners, how to apply red lipstick and get it to stay, how to knit one purl one, how to care for tulips, how to make the perfect tea, how to hang wallpaper, and of course…how to walk in high heel shoes.

Monroe shoes (300 x 237)
Marilyn Monroe’s red calfskin pumps, designed by Herbert Levine of New York-Bata Shoe Museum

Well, needless to say though, I still prefer my comfortable flat shoes. But after seeing so many pairs of fun, fabulous, fashionable, funky, and fascinating footwear, and after reading a lot about shoes, I now understand why shoes have the power, the vanity, and the magic…

Sweet (and magical) Travels!

Photos and quotes credits:

Shoes Have It All…Power, Vanity, Magic – written by AnneMarie Dahlberg and Rebecka Enhörning

How to Walk in High Heels – The Girl’s Guide to Everything – written by Camilla Morton

Toy Museum in Helsinki: I Remember Playing with those Toys!

For the culture, for the education, for the history, for the art. Several reasons to set foot in any museum in Europe. Of course we’ve all heard of (or been to) The Louvre, The British Museum, the Uffizi Gallery, the Rijksmuseum, etc., etc.

I really began to appreciate and admire the artists and all their amazing talent more and more as I entered each new museum during my travels in Europe. Monet, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, etc., etc.

And the art that these people created are classic and timeless. Water Lilies, Starry Night, Mona Lisa, David, etc., etc.

But what about toys and paper dolls? What about fire trucks and miniature bottles? What about pharmacies, porcelain and amber? Or how about shoes? Or even coats of arms and church bells? What about nutcrackers? Aren’t any of those items worthy of being in a museum?

toy 1 (393 x 450)

Well, believe it or not, all of these objects have at least one museum of their very own, most of them being in Europe. I made it a point during my travels to not only visit the infamous art museums, but also to experience many of these small, different, or what I shall call “quirky” museums.

I have actually already written a couple of blogs on a few of these quirky museums. The Souls of Church Bells were displayed in a church in Tallinn, Estonia, and the Gold of the North glittered in The Amber Museum in Vilnius, Lithuania and several other cities around the Baltic Sea.

paper dolls 1 (450 x 287)

I think I shall now write a small series of blogs on some of these fun, entertaining, off-the-wall, yet still cultural, educational, historical, and artistic quirky museums.

The Toy Museum in Helsinki, Finland, is actually on an island where the Suomenlinna Fortress is located, a place that has played a key role in Finland’s history. Easy to get to by ferry, and with thousands of toys, you can’t help but be brought back to your childhood.

toy 2 (450 x 346)

This museum features historical toys, dating back to the 1800’s, to modern toys. There are baby dolls, dolls with different outfits and costumes and uniforms, porcelain dolls, cribs and carriages for dolls, games of all kinds, stuffed animals, teddy bears, Disney characters, tea sets, wartime toys, toy boats and ships and cars and trains and fire engines, miniature doll houses filled with miniature furniture, rocking horses and bunnies and monkeys, toy phones and toy cash registers and toy sewing machines. Whew, the list goes on! What fun!

“Oh, yeah, I remember playing with that,” I must have said a dozen times as I wandered through my past. But it wasn’t just my past that was intriguing; it is the past of several generations of children, of items that have brought countless smiles, laughter and joy to kids for several hundred years. (And I’m sure they have brought a few fights between siblings as to who gets to play with the toys…)

paper dolls 3 (450 x 348)

But there was a section of this Toy Museum that I found particularly fascinating…the Paper Doll collection in an upstairs room. You remember, those figures cut out of paper, with separate clothes, usually held onto the dolls by folding tabs? Yes, I remember playing with paper dolls as a child. But I only had a few of the cutouts.

toy 3 (368 x 450)

This collection was something else…it had paper dolls of various time periods, dating back to the 1880’s, the 1900’s, the 1920’s, 1960’s, 70’s, and all decades in between. The dolls themselves varied in different characters and ages; there were celebrities and royalty, Disney characters, and cultural dolls from various countries. The clothes varied with historical costumes, vintage styles, fashions from the decades, outfits for babies, boys and girls, men and women, wardrobes of royalty, attire from different countries, garments appropriate for the seasons, anything from bathing suits to fancy dresses to nighttime pajamas. Whew, the list goes on! What fun!

paper dolls 6 (450 x 275)

Wikipedia notes that “paper dolls have been around as long as there has been paper.” And that today, “many artists are turning paper dolls into an art form.” See – even though paper dolls are no Picasso painting or Rodin sculpture, they truly are museum-worthy!

And when you are all done reminiscing about your childhood, you can stop by the café attached to the Toy Museum, and have yourself a big piece of chocolate cake…or maybe some milk and cookies!

Sweet (and Fun) Travels!

Postcards of Toys purchased at Toy Museum