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 “arlanda airport”

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.


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.





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.


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.


Snowing in Central Station


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.


Who wants to be a Dancing Queen?


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.


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.


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.


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.


Central Stockholm


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.


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.



Good food – Bad Food? Defibrillators may be a more immediate answer. And may be free.

In a week when we have learned that red wine, 150ml/day increases our “good” cholesterol HDL, well in Diabetic patients anyway, and 150ml/day of white wine might reduce their blood sugar level, we also can read a lot about Blueberries being a super food, that will potentially also reduce cardiovascular disease. We have also seen at Copenhagen airport demonstrations of resusciation being given to children as young as 4 years who were able to follow the instructions quite simply. There is however a huge disconnect here with the major tool for heart resuscitation having been rarely available. A defibrillator. to the non-medical readers,  provides a localised electric current when applied to the chest wall, that with some good luck can start a heart rhytmn going, if the heart has stopped, or altenatively correct a “bad ” heart rhytmn that is causing the heart to have a poor output of blood.

Defibrillators are cheap. In New York one finds them alll over walls of even sma  cafes, and in UK , many years ago, Brighton football club became the first football club to have them in the ground for potential resuscitation of spectators. They are visible at some airports too like Arlands airport in Stockholm. They are cheap costing as little as 792£ online and require surprisingly little formal training from

If we take a look at the British Heart foundation website, this is what they say:

About defibrillators
DefibrillatorsA high energy electric shock, given to the heart in some types of cardiac arrest, may restore a more stable rhythm.

This is called defibrillation, and it’s an essential lifesaving step in the chain of survival.

Public access defibrillators (PADs) can be found in public spaces like your local shopping centre, gym, train station or village hall. That briefcase-sized box on the wall contains a PAD. It’s there for anyone to use on someone in cardiac arrest.

Simple to use
They are simple and safe. The machine gives clear spoken instructions. You don’t need training to use one.

Once in position, the defibrillator detects the heart’s rhythm. It won’t deliver a shock unless one is needed.

The good news is that they are becoming more widely available and many organisations can apply for one and this is how to do it:

The Department of Health has awarded us £1 million to make public access defibrillators and CPR training more widely available in communities across England.

Applications open on Thursday 1 October 2015 and close in March 2016.
The packages
There are three packages available:

A free public access defibrillator, CPR training kit and a cabinet
A free public access defibrillator and CPR training kit
A cabinet to improve accessibility to a current defibrillator

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Ice and Snow. What can we learn from Scandinavia? Oslo airport. Gardermoen.

At around the same time Manchester airport was being closed due to snow and bad weather, the weather was not so different in Oslo and flights were leaving on time. Not so many are aware that Norway is the northernmost, westernmost and easternmost all all the three Scandinavian countries and has a population of only 5 million, mostly Norwegian people. And it also is a country without an official religon having separated from the church in 2012.    And humble Oslo is only the 17th busiest airport in Europe with 24.2 million passengers in 2014. About half the airport operator’s income is from retail revenue. There are twenty places to eat or drink, in addition to stores and other services including banks and post. In all, 8,000 square metres (86,000 sq ft) are used for restaurants, stores and non-aviation services. And yesterday it felt like an expedition to get through the duty free zone to anywhere near a departure gate. But as Oslo airport is connected to 162 other airports, maybe I can excuse the retail element. This of course has nothing to do with why the airport functions when all others close down.

The reality is pride and equipment and foresight.In Nordic Countries, Skill at Keeping Airports Open Through Blizzards Is a Point of Pride. Winter can last 6 months and airplane de-icing starts in august.Across the chilly water, on the bleak Svalbard archipelago in the Norwegian arctic, winter temperatures can drop to -55C. In winter, airport employees work round-the-clock shifts,  at the first sight of snow.

Another Nordic secret: pushing producers for absurdly powerful equipment. Oslo Airport runs two of the world’s largest self-propelled snowblowers, built by Norwegian airport-equipment maker Øveraasen AS. Only two other of the TV2000 units operate at airports; they, too, are in Norway.The 2,000-horsepower machines can shoot 10,000 tons of snow an hour more than 150 feet from the tarmac.

So we can say that foresight, effort and equipment play major roles in explaining why Scandinavian airports stay open , but also airport capacity . Heathrow for example, one of the worlds worst airports in my opinion, operates to 98% capacity and thus even small disruptions can be chaotic. Stockholm Arlanda has over 40 people dedicated to snow clearing during the winter.The airport has 18 PSB (ploughing, sweeping, blowing) machines. These are followed by snow throwers which move the line of snow left by the PSBs. Behind these come friction measuring vehicles that test the likelihood of skidding on the 2 photo 3 photo 4



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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