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 “british airways”

Street Art In Ljubljana. An Exciting City


Ljubljana is Slovenia’s capital and largest city. It’s known for its university population and green spaces, including expansive Tivoli Park. The curving Ljubljanica River, lined by outdoor cafes, divides the city’s old town from its commercial hub. Ljubljana also has many museums, including the National Museum of Slovenia.

What however is less well known is the street art that covers walls in many parts of the city.  Here is a selection of some of the variety you can see, all from the city centre. Some are works of art whilst some border almost on the graffiti border. Would you want a half eaten fox on the wall of your restaurant?

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MLK seems to be wondering which bicycle he might use?

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Cannot make up my mind if this half eaten fox is a good thing to see against the wall of a restaurant? 

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An unusual mixture of street art to observe whilst drinking coffee or beer

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Painted door. I think I like this

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A real mixture of street art

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I suppose this is street art but some might say just graffiti

 

Amsterdam Graffiti and Graffiti Art


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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.

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Paradiso Amsterdam

Has Iberia breached any safety regulations? And why such awful service?


Contrary to a few recent comments I am not a negative person nor grumble my way through life. However my flight on Iberia yesterday from Heathrow to Madrid  does go down as one of the worst ever. I do not often fly with them and plan never to in future but I would throw out two questions.

A generic  first question. Is their service always terrible and terrible beyond belief.  A more specific second question. Are they breaching air regulations by having no one seated in an exit row?

Let’s start with the second question. An Airbus 321- at the first set of seats adjoining the emergency exit on the right hand side of the plane there was no one seated there. On the left there was one person. I do not know the specific rules but suspect that someone should be seated on either side to operate the emergency exit doors. During the flight I saw this a number of times and it was not a case of someone temporarily departing for the lavatory. The seats on the left here clearly show no one seated nor apparently in theories in front and behind. imageimg_1926img_1925

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The service was dire. There was no welcome aboard. Okay that will not kill anyone but this was a pattern of the flight. No service. No one offered any food or drink  and when a few of us asked other passengers it seemed a trolley had been zoomed so fast up and down such that no one was aware of the service.  I noticed as it was one of the few occasions where I did want to buy food and drink. In fact the only other time I saw anything resembling service it was the duty free cart being pulled through .

A visit to the toilets situated at the rear of the plane showed clearly the activities of the three crew. One was eating a nice looking meal that I presume was a business class meal. One had her head in an IPad. The last one was reading. All seated at the back hidden from sight of all the passengers. Zero attention to the passengers. Zero attention to anything except themselves.

I have not witnessed such a pathetic attempt at customer service and plan not to again with Iberia. But again the safety angle comes to mind here.

 

The last attempt at customer service was almost amusing. A stewardess at the exit to the plane I presume saying goodbye but it sounded like a repetitive chant that one might hear when a record gets stuck. A voice devoid of inflection or effort. Put simply I don’t think Iberia bothered yesterday and maybe that was why the plane was half full at best. My recommendation? Avoid Iberia until they start considering basic customer service as the norm

Anyone with any thoughts?

The Absurdity of Business Class travel on short haul flights in Europe


When selecting a seat in economy it is an Imprecise art to know where the business class section will end. So on occasions like today one is unfortunate to be sitting in the row immediately outside business class meaning that the ridiculous curtains get pulled across . This is not the happiest nor optimal view of a flapping curtain a few inches in front of ones face. But even this today reached hithertoo unfathomable heights or depths because each time the curtains opened a millimetre the air stewardess rushed towards them to rescue the curtains and pull them closed. This presumably is to protect the business class passengers from visually having to witness their foul economy class cousins or maybe to prevent some supposedly plague ridden air entering the cabin of the elite. This of course is utter nonsense. Business class is dead in short haul and frankly anyone who wastes money on this needs counselling .

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What do you get for your extra money? You get exactly the same seat as on this Airbus 321 operated by Iberia the seats are identical. You might get a spare seat next to you. Where I sit in row 6A I have two spare seats next to me as do many on this empty flight. You get a meal of some sort normally a salad related affair and on Iberia free drinks too. But is this really worth paying for? Usually an extra £100 per flight maybe more. All the frills of easier check in become pointless as most are done now on the mobile phone. But even if checking in luggage there is no preference over the frequent flyers  who use the same check in and indeed board the same time. So the reality is you get a curtain drawn behind you and food and drink . Not terribly special and uplifting.

Meanwhile my view is almost claustrophobic  but I do get to count the number of times the rushing sprinting stewardess recloses the badly behaved curtains. Somewhere in the region of once every 10 minutes on this Madrid bound flight. Comedy and cabaret are free to all on board. However I was able to sneak a view into business through the gap and I could see 30 seats occupied by 4 customers.

 These curtains do actually swing back and forth and I can imagine that folks seated in the aisle seats might not enjoy being continuously massaged by the errant flapping curtain.

 Business class for short haul is absurd as is the thinking behind it now.

Weather Extremes At Heathrow Airport


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Champagne and Cheesecake £19? Scottish Value.


Not sure about this one. The offer of Champagne and Cheesecake for 19£ does not seem that much of a bargain unless one gets the whole bottle of champagne? The definition of a ” Light Breakfast” also seems a little different to any southern interpretation. These food related offers were available at Edinburgh Airport.

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Clearly Things Are Different in Scotland


Scotland is always an interesting place to visit even in winter when it seems a little bleak and cold. The Edinburgh Castle always looms large over the visitors. The food is always an interesting equation with high amounts of cholesterol seemingly obligatory. Interpretations of ” light breakfast ” are maybe not quite what they might be down south, and as for “Champagne and Cheesecake for ONLY 19£” I am quite speechless.

The folks are pleasant and you will find the most talkative and happy taxi drivers maybe anywhere in the world.

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Under 21 League. Brentford 1 Colchester 2. Photos


If anyone has a spare couple of hours on mondays it is well worth going to watch the  Bees under 21 side in action as you might be seeing the stars of the future. A decent game of which there are plentiful and excellent match reports elsewhere, so I will limit this to a few photographs on mostly a blustery day. The two players who did stand out for Brentford were Josh Clarke and Jan Holldack . A highly competitive and physical game.

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Josh Clarke

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Nick Tzanev

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Bradley Clayton

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Jan Holldack in action00000107

Jan Holldack in action

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Dillon Barnes Goalkeeper

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