This weekend, I’m visiting Helsinki in Finland and Tallinn in Estonia.
I got here via Norwegian Air Shuttle, a low-cost and mostly no-frills airline that gets you from A to B. Norwegian differs from the likes of RyanAir and EasyJet though in two ways; everyone gets a comfortable leather seat and everyone gets free on-board WIFI. Being able to share photos on Facebook whilst 11,000 up in the air was very enjoyable and made the short journey fly by.
I can’t say the overall experience with Norwegian sparkled, but they got the job done efficiently and got me to my destination safely (despite the best efforts of some very windy conditions upon arrival). Considering what I paid for my fare, I can’t really ask for more.
One Year On
Can you believe the London Olympic & Paralympic Games were a year ago? I can’t!
I recently revisited the Olympic Park, now known as Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to see how much had changed since the games. A small section of the park has now reopened to the public whilst extensive construction work continues to transform the park into a usable space for recreation, sporting events, housing and business.
The Basketball Arena, Riverbank Arena (home to Olympic hockey and Paralympic football) and Water Polo Arena are gone, whilst venues such as the Stadium and Aquatic Centre are now undergoing renovation for their next roles as a football/athletics stadium and a community swimming pool. Another venue, the Copper Box, home during the Games to handball has already reopened for public use and major spectator sports. Before the games, there was nothing here but a stagnant brown field site. Now look at it! In short, when the London Organising Committee promised there would be a legacy to the games, they meant it.
You can find out more about what’s happening at QEOP by visiting the official website.
I promised more photos, so let’s get started with this shot I took a couple of days ago. A ridiculously heavy rain shower had passed over the capital minutes earlier. Stall owners at the nearby outdoor used book market were sent into a panic as they tried to rescue their stock from the almost horizontal deluge. Typically, almost as soon as the rain had stopped, the sun came out. The retreating clouds created a beautifully sinister backdrop whilst the sun illuminated the white stone of St Paul’s famous dome, creating this perfect camera-friendly contrast.
Forgotten Photos of London’s Olympic Park
I just happened upon an SD card whilst looking through a drawer for something else. Not knowing what was on it, I stuck it into the back of my Mac mini and low & behold, I found five photos I took of London’s Olympic Park. The photos were taken the day before the start of the Paralympic Games, which would explain why there’s hardly anyone in the park and why there aren’t any Olympic Rings to be seen. Instead, the dynamic Paralympic Agitos is stamped on everything.
Happy memories of a summer I’ll never forget.
The Olympic Park (now the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park) is currently closed whilst it undergoes a dramatic transformation. You can find out what’s in store by visiting http://noordinarypark.co.uk/.
Come Fly With Me… Hopefully
Something always happens just before I’m about to fly. Days after I booked a trip to Iceland, that pesky volcano decided to blow, clearing European airspace for the best part of a week. Luckily, my plane was one of the first aircraft to take-off after the restrictions were lifted and it was decided planes could maybe, possibly, probably tolerate a greater level of volcanic ash blowing through their engines.
On this trip, the problem was a white powder of a different kind. Winter had arrived in London just in time to cause major disruption to travel days before I was set to depart. Here’s a photo from Gate 1 at Heathrow Terminal 3 of my plane, the mighty A380. As I took this, snow was falling and I was still wondering whether I would actually be leaving. As you can see, planes were taking off, but the snowfall was such that two gentlemen in high-visibility jackets kept having to climb a ladder to sweep snow out of the engines with a domestic broom. Not always a good sign in aviation terms.
Luckily, after a 45 minute delay for deicing (they’d done it once before we boarded but it was so cold, it had to be done again), our super-jumbo eventually trundled down the runway and towards sunnier skies.
Last Monday, Mum and I ventured into the capital to check out the Christmas lights and markets. The city looked amazing and the German markets were as elaborate and varied as ever. I had my usual; Currywurst washed down with Glühwein followed by a round of Poffertjes drenched in melted butter and coated in icing sugar. Delicious!
We walked for around five hours, ending up at Trafalgar Square, just in time for some carol singing.
Good Morning London
This morning, I took a stroll around central London. I live pretty close to London so I’m frequently popping in for one reason or another. This time, I’d been to a concert the night before, so I had some time to kill before catching my train home. It was sunny, but very chilly. It had snowed that morning, though the snow hadn’t settled. The streets were reasonably quiet. Well, quiet for London.
After an hour or two of random wandering, I ended up at Buckingham Palace, just in time to see the changing of the guard. I’d never actually seen it before, so it was an unexpected treat. Before the new guard had arrived, a military band entertained the crowd with a medley of tunes from Spielberg films. I kid you not.
To get to the palace, I had to run the gauntlet in St James’ Park. It’s a lovely green space in the bustling city, but it’s always packed with tourists and increasingly, with fat, fearless squirrels and their stupid & grotty pigeon mates. I always try walking briskly for fear of being either poo’d on or mugged for nibbles but Spanish school groups and Chinese photographers always hinder my plans.
All photos taken and published using Instagram.
Festival of Light
I thought I’d go for a touch of irony and drain the colour from my photos of Trafalgar Square’s Diwali celebrations, what with the event being known as the “Festival of Light”. In reality, the big stage where live music was being played was well-rigged with colourful lights.
Diwali in Trafalgar Square
The spire of St Martin-in-the-Fields looms over thousands celebrating Diwali in Trafalgar Square, London.
Yesterday, London celebrated Diwali and I was there for a short period to enjoy the spectacle.
Trafalgar Square was once again the location for the festivities. This is the forth cultural event I’ve attended in Trafalgar Square (the others being Chinese New Year, Malaysia Night and the Maslenitsa). As usual, music and dance took centre stage (quite literally) accompanied by food and trade stalls.
My day was rather rushed so I couldn’t stay very long. I had already eaten as well, so I could only look on forlornly as hungry revellers queued patiently for “100% Vegetarian” food to be shovelled into their lunch boxes. In the centre of the square, hundreds of people danced and swirled in a traditional “Garba” fashion as Bali and Angrez played live music on stage. It didn’t matter if you were young or old, Hindu or not, everyone (including Police officers) was joining in. The atmosphere was very infectious and was by far the most cheerful Trafalgar Square-based celebration I’ve encountered.