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 tag “amsterdam trams”

Reflections on 24 Hours in Helsinki.


This is not a city that I find easy to enjoy. Maybe this is me and not Helsinki. Walking around the city seems bland in comparison with other Scandinavian and Baltic capitals. A kind of hidden vibrancy is missing, something almost invisible cannot be seen.

00003440There were few smiling faces. Many engaged with their headphones, music and phones and not so much conversation going on even in the cafes.

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

The harbour and marina areas looked tired and uninterested in visitors.

00003459 There were indeed many historical looking buildings, some grand and some not. But none enticed anyone inside.

IMG_2804Even the high steps did not seem dangerous or challenging  when walking down them. There were in fact few people around. Maybe at different times in the year the feel of this city will be different but in April this city seemed comatose. The only time it came to life for me was when sitting in a hotel bar and in the next room a private function was taking place , maybe a record launch, with a singer and her singing was amazing. Amazing enough to download Shazam and discover who she was. A rasping voice that oozed feeling. The singer is called Katea. The song was California Baby. IMG_2777

Much of the city centre is a melange of shops and shopping malls. There was little evidence of any pavement cafe society even allowing for the April weather. Few smiling faces. The architecture surely can be described as grand but is it beckoning? Even the trams looked sad as they slowly went their way through the city, with less self-esteem and grandeur than Amsterdam or Manchester trams, that would happily sweep you off your feet.00003429

The only sign of life was inside coffee shops and the one that caught my eye was Strindberg down near the harbour area where enough people were inside to give me a feeling that I was not alone on this earth. The other one that also escapes my criticism is the Neuhaus cafe shop, that sold the delicious chocolates but also functioned as a pleasant street cafe. A cup of tea (3 euros for a teabag, but served in a curiously interesting mug) and some homemade mango cheesecake, though no-one ever states in which home it was made, kept me occupied for the best part of an hour.

IMG_2829 The shop was run by a highly efficient  girl who gave the image of being an academic student ( like a Latin or Greek scholar maybe) who not only ran the shop, sold the chocolates , took and ordered the food, but also made whatever had to be made. Clearly not a British employee.

The boats looked sleepy and disinterested. As though waiting for a different week or month to attract people.00003391.JPG

In huge areas there were so very few people walking around. Part of the harbour area had some tents erected that were mini-restaurants selling mostly Finnish food, such as reindeer hotdogs and other more usual foods. IMG_2806FullSizeRender-1

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Restaurants  in the city centre of course there were many but often impossible to know if they were open or closed.  Food was expensive. In many restaurants, just average ones, the main courses were around 20 euros and with a starter and a drink that made a fairly simple lunch cost over 30 euros. It was easy to find set course lunch menus costing 50 euros or more. Lunch seemed curiously to start around 10.30 am and by 11.30 am ” ladies that lunch” could be seen sipping champagne and having important conversations in some of the more eloquent looking restaurants.

IMG_2784IMG_2782There was little evidence of the wonderful and artistic graffiti that adorns many European cities. In the central part of the city rather curiously the only sign of graffiti was on the door leading to the National Library of Finland. In short the best adjective to sum up 24 hours in Helsinki is Neutral.

IMG_2787IMG_2789As in all cities there were a few characters to be seen, together with some interesting takes on hair styling. The exceptionally tall man in the bowler hat I oddly passed twice in very different parts of the city. People observing us might conclude that we were both spies meeting for our assignments. Considering spies there was no evidence of a queue at the Russian tourist board office.00003414.JPG

A plethora of expensive shops abounded. Tumi, who some might recall I encountered at London City Airport, when finding a small carry on case there that looked good, then finding the cost was £675 ( and yes I checked the decimal point), was present. I saw one professional beggar in the same position on the same street, who started ” work” at around midday, and who incidentally wore better clothes than I own.

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There were sights to see of course, but even these were quiet and few tourists were visible. Maybe I need to go back here on a different day or different season.

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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

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