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 “germany”

An Hour In Heidelberg

Heidelberg is a town around an hour from Frankfurt. A pleasant town it seems although an hour to see it is not extensive. A few photographs to give a flavour of what you might see.

The large Police sign amused me a little in comparison with the minute street sign. The deckchairs in the NH hotel reception were fairly unusual. Simply changing a photo to black and white takes you back 50 years or more. The low clouds over the river give an aura of spookiness.

Who Will Win Euro 2016? Predictions after Day 6

After day 6 and some frantic games with perhaps unexpected results is anything clearer after a few teams have played 2 matches?  The Bookmakers somewhat surprisingly to me have France as the favourites 7/2 with Germany the same.

  1. France are unlikely to win the tournament and have laboured to beat 2 average teams Albania and Romania, and can consider themselves lucky to have 6 points. They have not impressed going forward and look suspect in defence to good wide play.  Semi-final place beckons.
  2. Germany looked a complete team and are potentially a winner. However their soporific and uninspiring performance against Poland did not suggest a Euro 2016 winner tag just yet.
  3. Spain at 4/1 would be a brave bet after their opening game last minute victory over a stubborn but utterly boring and negative Czech republic.
  4. The bookmakers then have 2 more surprise odds, with England at 7/1 and Italy 10/1. England looked average against Russia, who we now know are one of the weakest sides at euro 2016, and were fortunate to beat Wales 2-1 having had a really poor first half. Sterling and Kane did not cover themselves with glory and were simply dreadful. Hart looks suspect.  Italy however looked good and strong and had a far more positive ethos than in recent years and were good value for the victory over Belgium.
  5. From the others Croatia looked a solid side, but probably not a contender for the crown and Portugal disappointed enormously against Iceland.

Allowing for the quirks of the draw the 4 teams I expect to see in the semi-finals are Germany, Italy, Spain and France. A Germany v Italy final might be the outcome. With Italy to win. 



Trilogy of Sonnenallee. Part 2. Just When I Thought Sonnenallee could not get worse….

My little reading flock of this blog would have read my salient words and viewed my photos last night on exactly why Sonnenallee is not a first choice holiday destination despite its label of “Berlin” and in fact one of the large conference centres in Berlin. If Stieg Larsson can write a trilogy then maybe I can try a trilogy of posts from Sonnenallee.

If you have nothing seriously important to do, like deal with death/marriage/criminal justice system or are detained under the Mental Health Act, then maybe go read that post first before continuing.


I had held some degree of excitement over visiting Berlin, but Sonnenallee is to Berlin what Tooting and Croydon are to London. Today I find things are worse than I had imagined. Immediately outside and within maybe 100 metres of the Estrel Hotel entrance lies the splendour that is a recycling plant complete with odours to match.

FullSizeRenderA little further brings one to a huge very industrial site that seemed to be making piles of sand and other aggregates. The road is dirty, dusty and has the usual affliction round here of vandalism style graffiti.FullSizeRender-12

With one notable exception. And that is the curious thing about graffiti here, it is a complete admixture of some of the nicest graffiti I have seen anywhere in the world and some of the least pleasant graffiti, looking like it was painted by a hooligan undertaking a degree course in how to obtain an ASBO ( Antisocial Behaviour Order,  a UK thing we do, where we send those who commit antisocial acts somewhere else to commit more, rather than lock them up. Don’t ask me to explain). A block had been painted on two sides with quotations from the literature including Oscar Wilde. So I can now truly say I have read Oscar Wilde, but have no idea what he is saying as it was written in I presume German.


Decorating the road further were some huge industrial cranes and to complete the package there was evidence of a homeless tent camp on the top of essentially a pile of rubbish near the river. In this era how can we as humans allow people to live in this environment? In the frankly excellent Estrel Hotel maybe 300 metres away people spend £30 on a bottle of wine which could be more than my tent dwellers spend in a month. Not reasonable, not ethical and not right. 

This rapidly became a far more unpleasant area than I had presumed yesterday. Some halfway decent graffiti art on the side of the bridge next to Tent City was the only redeeming feature.


Daring to venture a few hundred yards in the opposite direction  there were some nice smelling trees in blossom that gave the air a pleasant smell, and a single track railway line on which a tree had fallen and was blocking the line.


Big leaves on the line



Tree blocking railway line in Sonnenallee



Estrel Hotel Stands Guard Like A Jurassic Monster Over Sonnenallee

So my three highlights of Sonnenallee are in order:

  1. The amazing graffiti art that pervades some of the roadsIMG_2916
  2. The superb Doner Kebab from Doner Haus ( the only German I know) IMG_2923
  3. LeavingFullSizeRender-5


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.


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

Sometimes I Am Pleased With A Single Photograph

Imagine a stinking tunnel under a bridge with rubbish all around. For some reason posters advertising concerts are pasted under this bridge that no-one in their right mind would walk under, especially for the foul smells if not the absence of view. Anyone following my Sonnenallee trilogy of posts will know my thoughts on this place. Somehow this single photo captures the place well.


A Photographic Memory of Hamburg in Winter 2016

This is a simple slideshow of Hamburg as seen through a humble I Phone camera in February 2016

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Reflections on Hamburg

Spending a day in a city never allows a comprehensive opinion on what it is really like, but first impressions here are good and a potential place for a short weekend break. A couple of things are sticking immediately:

  1. There are many people clustered together like peas in a pod smoking outside of their workplaces. This was analogous to what I saw and was surprised by in Switzerland before xmas. Their expressions all mirrored extreme furtiveness and even guilt. IMG_1637
  2. Outside of hotels one cannot expect, nor should one really, people to speak English. This is actually quite refreshing as so many from the UK do expect it to be their right that everyone speaks their English, and that our abysmal failure to learn foreign languages should be acceptable. The taxi drivers for example cobble a few words together and was able to convey to me with a mixture of curious phrases and even more curious facial expressions that although potentially he could take his fare from credit cards, it was difficult and he really did not want to. He conveyed this nicely with more than a little humour.
  3. The city has many parallels with Amsterdam. Canals and cobblestone streets and inclement weather to start with.IMG_1621

    Hamburg Rain

    Hamburg Rain

The city has a nice relaxed feel to it, the restaurants were all full at lunchtime and maybe because they had limited menus of nice food at more than reasonable prices.  Rialto restaurant was my feeding trough and a nice place too. An excellent Wiener Schnitzel. A lot of building is going on and wherever one looks there are steepled buildings and impressive looking buildings, such as the Rathaus.

Rathaus Hamburg

Rathaus Hamburg

Rialto Restaurant Hamburg

Rialto Restaurant Hamburg

The downside to the city was the huge number of people begging . Many did not look German and some of the begging, although not aggressive as such was certainly beyond what one might want to see when passing by. A large number of Germans were also selling what I presumed to be the equivalent of the Big Issue, in a far more mellow way and indeed interacting nicely with people passing by. The pavements outside shops were littered with evidence of the homeless with their sleeping garments, duvets, sleeping bags and sometimes maybe their entire possessions on public display.

Hamburg Beggar

Hamburg Beggar

In every European capital and city one sees graffiti which in fact is often so artistic in nature that it is better to refer to it as Graffiti Art. Should this be encouraged? My impressions are that it rarely detracts from where it is painted and often adds something to a grey nondescript wall. Technically though I imagine it is illegal, but why not encourage it in the same way that legal busking works on UK railway stations.

hamburg Graffiti

Hamburg Graffiti

hamburg Graffiti

Hamburg Graffiti

There are a plethora of high quality shops, and although I cannot pretend to be an expert in these types of shops, they kind of stand out as shops that have no-one shopping in them and no price tags on the clothes. Prada was one such example where two young women dressed seemingly in doctor’s white coats, maybe they were doctors from the UK and taking part in the UK doctors strike, were avidly cleaning a clean window outside Prada and at times hoovering the pavement or sidewalk. All the time being watched by a woman dressed in black. The beggars and those sleeping rough did have their “beds” on the pavement outside these shops and to the credit of German society I saw no attempt to move these people on.

Prada Hamburg

Prada Hamburg

Prada Hamburg

Prada Hamburg

Walking around Hamburg is a pleasurable and easy thing and my Fitbit told me that I had easily done my 10,000 steps before early afternoon. The canals are pleasant on the eye, and not unlike Amsterdam in many regards. Travelling around seems simple, with the exception that the Underground runs overground looking like the Docklands Light Railway in the UK.


An Overground Underground

Everywhere one looked there were interesting things ranging from a sluice in the centre of the city, locks adorning railings and numerous coloured flags.

One monument that in fact was a memorial to lives lost through war, looked uncannily like the “monument” in 2001 A Space Odyssey. If anyone remembers that curious start to the film.

IMG_1588The Rathaus and the surrounding area were busy with tourists and a nice walking area, with shops nearby. Hamburg is a city well worth visiting and this view is shared by people far more eminent than myself, Karl Lagerfeld and John Lennon.


The Beautiful Girl From Hamburg A Visual Illusion


Deaths of Two young Sportmen Cricket and Football. What do we know? Steve Gouhouri and Matthew Hobden

Hidden in the weekends sports news were two very sad as yet unfinished stories as the causes of the deaths of the young sportsmen remain either unknown or unreported.

Steve Gohouri was 34 years old and an ex-Wigan player 2010-2012 making 42 appearances and an Ivory Coast international. He was reported missing after the xmas party of his fourth tier German club TSV Steinbach. His body has been found in the River Rhine in Krefeld. Paris St Germain posted this on their website this morning:

“Paris Saint-Germain was saddened to hear of the passing of Steve Gouhouri, former academy graduate.
The Côte d’Ivoire international defender played for Les Rouge et Bleu in the 1998-99 season.
Paris Saint-Germain offers its sincere condolences to his family and loved ones.”

Further information comes from Dusseldorf police who confirm no evidence of violence. Dusseldorf Police also  confirmed there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the events of Gohouri’s death.

A statement read: “On December 31 2015, the corpse of initially an unknown man was found in the Rhine near Krefeld. In the meantime, the dead could be identified as the 34-year-old who had been reported missing on December 12 2015. An autopsy showed no evidence of violence by third parties.”

Speculation will abound however early media reports are suggesting suicide as a possible cause of death allied to mental health problems.

The second sad death widely reported this morning comes from the cricketing world. A 22 year old fast bowler from Sussex CCC. Matthew Hobden.

Less is currently known here. He made his first team debut in 2014 and was widely regarded as having potential. He was born and brought up in Eastbourne in Sussex and went to Cardiff University. His performances for Sussex were promising enough to have him as one of only six fast bowlers  chosen for the Potential England Performance Programme (PEPP) this winter. Nothing has been reported on the cause of death.


There is no reason to suppose sportsmen are immune from all the stresses and issues of life, and we await further news on the precise causes of death before any speculation. Recent deaths amongst sportsmen have included undiagnosed cardiac causes, such as HOCM, which leads to fatal ventricular arrhythmias.

Data is published on the leading causes of deaths in the 20-34 age cohort.

Suicide and accidental poisoning leading cause of death for 20-34 year olds
Suicide (including injury/poisoning of undetermined intent) was the leading cause of death for 20-34 year olds (24% of men and 12% of women). Factors that could lead to these deaths include: traumatic experiences, lifestyle choices such as drug or alcohol misuse, job insecurity and relationship problems. For both sexes, accidental poisoning is also a highly common cause of death, followed by land transport accidents.


Gothenburg. Am I missing something? Crime and Chocolate Cheesecake

Arriving on a thoroughly grey day never makes any city look appealing but after an afternoon here I am struggling to see what might make Gothenburg a city to attract visitors. The airport is a fair way out from the city and the thick grey cloud that was covering the ground was relentless when viewed as the plane came into land.

The city itself one might say pretends to have potential. There are canals over which small bridges allow the pedestrians to connect to the squares and other streets. The main square is lined by hotels with the main Central Station on one side. All sounds promising until hoardes of East European, mostly women, attack each passer by through the square to demand money for some magazine, that I presume is the Romanian or Bulgarian equivalent of The Big Issue. Its wrong to say they are threatening but correct to say that they are persistent and in your face.


The buildings all look rather grey and similar and the shops are those one might find in any European city centre. Trams and buses are plentiful and have a good go to knock over any pedestrian who dares to cross the tram lines.

FullSizeRender-3There are a few parks dotted around including one advertising itself as a kind of botanical gardens, except there were few plants to see at this time of year. The water in the canals is dirty with rubbish thrown in of the usual kind, bottles, cans and plastic bags, however uniquely there was a white plastic chair adorning the water too curiously a lifebelt too floating in the water, presumably unused. It cannot be the fault of the paths nor the trees but every single leaf in Sweden seemed to be squashed on the pebble paths making many areas slippery and at a minimum visually unattractive.

On the positive side there were some unusual signs. For example within the train station a sign proclaimed “HAGS” ” made in Sweden”. This seems a little unfair as there is cause to presume they are made also in very many other countries.

Hags of Sweden

Hags of Sweden

The train station was also packed full of a variety of different little cafes and eateries serving delicious looking food, however the venue of eating within a train station just does not seem right to me and the visual accompaniment of the Romanian sellers/beggars, also takes the appetite away a little. Some nice Chocolate muffins though were talking to me. The graffiti painted on the outside of the trains was good enough to rival that on the trains in Essen Germany and The Watermans car park in Brentford. The highlight of my little walking expedition was no doubt the burger restaurant Max. Not only were the burgers delicious and huge, but I managed to order my meal via a machine that gave me all my options in Swedish. The chocolate cheesecake however pictured below is one of the nicest food items I have ever eaten, bought in a little cafe in the station.


The people also seemed downcast. I cannot recall a single smile when outside the hotel. The staff in Max looked like a group session of ECT or bulk purchase of Prozac might be an option to be considered. Why was no-one smiling? Apparently the theory put forward is that they regain their inner happiness when the weather improves, which by my reckoning is 5-6 months away.

Crime however rears its ugly head everywhere and Gothenburg was no exception with a car with its window smashed in on a fairly main street behind the Radisson Hotel. The migrant issue in Sweden is also topical currently with the murder of Alexandra Mezher who was working on a night shift at a refugee centre for unaccompanied migrant children in Molndal near Gothenburg. According to the Swedish Migration Agency violent incidents have doubled in asylum facilities since 2014. Sweden also receives five times more asylum applications relative to its size than its neighbour Denmark, receiving 163,000 applications last year 2015.

IMG_0236IMG_0237The usual excellent European graffiti was evident with the colour of trains being markedly improved by the graffiti. This seem a european thing rather more than a UK thing, and oddly this is type of crime that it a funny way adds to the pleasure.

Would I be tempted to return here for leisure? Not really. I may be missing something but I do not get Gothenburg at all.

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