Arcticterntalk.org

The blog of a travelling psychiatrist and football lover. Who happens to be a halfway decent photographer. Takes a cynical view of the world

Archive for the category “city of culture”

There is a danger to all chefs in Paris and potentially France. A concerning menu for Chefs


Should I be a chef and that would be unfortunate to the whole population, I might not work in Paris. I am aware of food items eaten with regularity here that do not venture onto my shopping list . I am also aware of a few chefs who perhaps do deserve some sort of criticism. However are the French taking this too far?  I leave that to your judgement 

The People Of Helsinki


When travelling to other cities and walking around it is a fascinating experience to merely observe the denizens of that city. They do vary city to city. Factors such as age, smoking, fashion and quirkiness all define a city as being different from another. Helsinki is full of polite and very different people certainly from the UK and interestingly other Scandinavian and  Baltic capitals. In short a group of people fascinating to observe. Here are a few examples of the people of Helsinki.

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A typical Helsinki couple. Element of distance between them but managing to look cool.

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Cigarette and I Phone. A new Oasis song maybe?

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Smoking was maybe more common than in other Baltic and Scandinavian countries

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A very european image. Attention to the phone but not to where she is walking

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Helsinki Fashion

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A hard worker

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Tourists on the edge

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Tourists in their tourist uniforms. Maybe sometone told them Helsinki was freezing?

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Far more cyclists than London

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On Guard

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A hard working man

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Finnish fashion may differ from other countries? Again attention to that phone .

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The obligatory young persons uniform. Cigarette, headphones and phone. Just dont let the world in

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I really have no comment here. What did he ask for at the hairdressers?

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A very serious business this guarding

The Great Graffiti Art of Neuss


Neuss is the other side of the Rhine to Dusseldorf. It it takes your fancy you could swim across in 10 minutes. You may meet a few Rhine cruise boats coming your way, or the sight of industrial plants there may equally deter you. Nonetheless a walk along the Rhine banks on an early summer late afternoon in the sun cannot be a difficult task.

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Over the Rhine there are many bridges, some carrying trains and others cars, but all decorated with fairly amazing graffiti art and a little graffiti too. It is a curious observation that those who choose graffiti as their communication tool rarely choose to deface the graffiti art. Even a burnt out mattress was to some extent “decorated” with graffiti art.

FullSizeRender-3IMG_3019FullSizeRenderIMG_3022IMG_3020IMG_3025IMG_3037Graffiti art is a real skill and there are too few websites devoted to the art of this.

For more of the best street artists and urban street photography visit ondulee.com

Reflections on 24 hours in Stockholm and Reasons to walk around. Did I find a blonde version of Elisabeth Salander?


One of the many curious things you notice about Stockholm is the absence of lots of things that I have seen a lot of recently in other cities. People look healthy and generally contented. They talk more quietly and are more polite and respectful of personal space. There is little evidence of many people furtively smoking, and little evidence in the central part of the city of graffiti art.Not many homeless people are to be seen either, although as dusk was falling a few were trundling their trolleys with their worldly posessions into what will be their home for the night.  So Stockholm contrasts very strongly with Madrid, Amsterdam and Gothenburg. There also was not the sometimes slightly threatening and certainly disconcerting sights of beggars ( often immigrants to that country) aggressively trying to obtain money or sell unwanted goods to passers by. A huge contrast to Madrid where it seemed every 50 yards or less someone was thrusting, often literally, cups or containers into your face in an attempt to get donations of money.

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Stockholm Railway Bridge

It is very difficult to base a realistic appraisal of a city on a mere few hours walking around but it has a calm aura. I saw signs for places that I recognise from Stieg Larssons books such as Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. In fact a thin girl, very thin, walked past me, short blonde hair, looked like she had cut it herself, and I glanced at her and she at me, and I thought, blonde Elisabeth Salander. She had many of the real features of the character, unlike the incorrectly cast Rooney Mara. Signs pointed to Gamla Stan, Aftonbladet, Sodermalm and Kungsholmen, all names that sounded so familiar from the books. A man scurried past who also might have been Mikael Blomquist.

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Aftonbladet

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Vasagatan

An air of affluence pervades the city, with few walkers by looking poor. Clothes are generally smart and people walk with their heads held high. In the whole 2 hours of walking the only exception to this rule was a group of three dubious characters drinking beer and other poisons on one of the walkways by the river. There was little evidence of the prominence of the graffiti art that so adorned Amsterdam and Madrid. In the city centre one had to look hard to find any and the little there was decorated bridges over the railway less favoured with pedestrians.

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Stockholm Graffiti Art

Central Station is a hub for the city with many trains going in all directions, over bridges and people walking in a thousand different directions at once. Everywhere you look there are important looking monuments and statues. The station somehow comes to life even more when it snows.

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Snowing in Central Station

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Trains escape Stockholm Station

In the world famous Karolinska Hospital and Institute a huge painted mural is the focus of the entrance and outside buses advertise the ABBA museum where we can all become instant dancing queens.

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Who wants to be a Dancing Queen?

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Karolinska Hospital Mural

A walk along the river provides a back drop to the city with steeples and important looking buildings rising out of the dusk. The daffodil bulbs have been slow to wake up and grow.

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Slow Waking Daffodils

At dusk many of the buildings look formal and a little grand and loom up out of what is left of the little fading light. There was an air of grandeur emanating from many of them without even knowing their purpose with an imposing look.

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Central Stockholm

The air was cold, two degrees Celsius in fact, with snow forecast for two days time and one could almost smell that in the air. The coffee shops do a brisk trade. They serve you quickly and are many  hierarchies above Starbucks and Costa Coffee in both their friendliness and ability to serve customers quickly. Not cheap though, with a coffee poured from an urn, some Colombian special coffee 39 SK, so to me 5 euros. The shops were warm and inviting and many of those inside were similar to me, single people in there for a reason, using their computer or talking on the phone to escape transiently the cold.

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Central Stockholm

Generically though there is a massive difference to the  UK in that anyone serving be it coffee, food or hotel workers, are unfailingly polite and respectful and provide a clear service, instead of the sometimes angry and often indifferent service that one gets in UK. And I think I am right. Contrasting similar workers in similar shops in both countries.

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Central Stockholm

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Central Stockholm

Sweden is not a cheap country though. A salami pizza, maybe 50% larger than needed or usual, cost 180 SK, so around 20 euros. A return ticket on the Arlanda Express, which takes you directly from Arlanda airport to central Stockholm is 520 SK.

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Central Stockholm

The highlight of the short walk around was smelling then finding a small stall on the edge of the water selling crepes and waffles decorated with the most gorgeous and calorific toppings. I can recommend paying 60 SK for a waffle covered with Nutella and white chocolate, that was less rich then it sounded but a perfect antidote and therapy to the cold that was making hunger come to life.

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Waffle

Photographs of 24 Hours in Amsterdam


Amsterdam is in my opinion the most photogenic city in Europe and maybe the world. Despite having been there with cameras numerous times there are always things to photograph and see. With only my I Phone this time the weather changes were immense ranging from snowing to sun in 15 minutes and cloud formations to match.

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This time however I took more than a passing interest in the amsterdam graffiti, or graffiti art depending upon how one visualises this option. Graffiti was everywhere including in the urinals that adorn the canals. One knows they are urinals before entering them from the odour de latrine that they ooze for many yards. The question that resonated in my head was who painted the graffiti in them, why did they do it and even how did they do it?

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The Graffiti on the walls was far more eloquent and spoke to a lot of thought before painting. I have posted many blogs already on Amsterdam and the risk is repetition, so I have attempted to minimise anything previously photographed and take views or views from angles that are new. Like Penguin graffiti. A real new experience for me.

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The place was wet and this was easily determined by how much rain fell on one’s head but if that judgement felt unsound then the standing water on the tram tracks gave a better explanation.

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Wet Tram Tracks Amsterdam

Vondelpark is always beautiful but less so on a grey day, however with a little sun it begins to show its charm. However the muddy paths showed again how wet the last few days had been.

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Gates of Vondelpark Amsterdam

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Vondelpark Amsterdam

Even Central Station joined in the fun looking grand in the warm light with the clouds looking like they were dancing in the sky.

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Amsterdam is truly a beautiful city and just an hour walking along the canals it does not matter so much which direction one walks, just remembering that the canals are best thought of as onion rings outside each other and eventually leading to Central Station.IMG_2038IMG_2033IMG_2032IMG_2015

And if you cycle there which has its positives and negatives in terms of enjoyment and death risk, it might not be so easy to remember where you left your bicycle.Unless you left it next to the penguin graffiti in which case it might still be there. Maybe

Paradiso is a world famous music venue but one would never know that from the outside. An old church converted into a music venue in which many famous names have played. Including Lady Gaga, Duran Duran, Joy Division, David Bowie, Suede and Rolling Stones, amongst hundreds.

Paradiso Amsterdam

Paradiso Amsterdam

Favourite Football Photos of this weekend


Carshalton AFC Juggling

Carshalton AFC Juggling

Chasing Shadows

Chasing Shadows

Leighton Town FC  Two headed monster

Leighton Town FC
Two headed monster

Almost a goal but not quite. Carshalton v leighton

Almost a goal but not quite. Carshalton v leighton

Sam Muzarek

Sam Muzarek

Hand ball

Hand ball

How to make Birmingham look nice. A fairly comprehensive challenge


Anyone who has travelled to Birmingham will understand that it is as far from idyllic sandy beaches as is humanly possible. The road systems are enough to induce any kind of serious mental disorder, the many industries create novel pollutants and car parking is nigh on impossible. A little bit cruel but you get the picture. So in the few hours that I had there my challenge was to take photographs to make Birmingham look nice. To make it look a place that the tourist industry might promote, in the same way that this was attempted (?achieved) with cities like Bradford.

An hour walking around the car parks of the Hilton Metropole hotel at NEC and the car parks of the NEC found these photos below, well maybe the fruit and the Raspberry Bakewell came from inside the hotel. But this proves that niceness can exist in Birmingham after all.

Birmingham with Pylons

Birmingham with Pylons

Birmingham looking nice

Birmingham looking nice

Birmingham looking nice

Birmingham looking nice

Birmingham looking nice

Birmingham looking nice

Birmingham looking nice

Birmingham looking nice

Birmingham looking nice

Birmingham looking nice

Birmingham looking nice

Birmingham looking nice

Stockholm


SnowAlthough I have been to Stockholm a few times I have never truly appreciated what a pleasant city it is. This time snowbound, everything looked cute but everything worked. Trains and planes and cars were all on time, taxi drivers spoke eloquently and engaged passengers in meaningful conversation. The people all looked young. Maybe the old ones get locked away in some sinister plot. As one arrives at Arlanda Airport, they really do play ABBA music to welcome you and photos of famous people like ABBA and Roxette adorn the walls of the luggage reclaim area. T

There is a price to pay and that is literally true. This city is expensive and is best visited when someone is paying the bill. A Croque Monseiour would cost you over 12£. Coffee usually is around 4-5£. Hotels are pleasant places where receptionists are helpful and smile. They are also warm. One of main complaints this last winter has been arriving at Marriott hotels to find that the room heating has been switched off for seemingly the last millennium. On my arrival it happily gets turned on but then takes the length of my stay to warm the room up.

The characters in Stockholm also are straight from the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I could have cast that film many times just by sitting in a cafe and looking around. Lastly the food. It is good. The restaurants have a kind of laid back attitude where service is good but not to the point of being obsequious. Tables have gingham cloth covers and serve you pretty much what you want. I had Meatballs. I could have had massive Steaks. This is a place to come back to, but please someone invite me and pay my bills while I am there. The street names are right out of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo like Sodermalm.

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