Category Archives: Travels

My Name’s Not Bond

I really like the new James Bond film. I think what Daniel Craig has done with the role is excellent. I prefer the back-to-basic approach over the movies that relied on gadgets and digital effects. It’s more Jason Bourne and, for me, that can only be a good thing. This, however, isn’t a review as I am certain you can find plenty of decent ones if you Google.

I saw Casino Royale last Saturday. On the way home I mentioned – in passing – that I had always wanted to be a secret agent. I have always assumed that every kid wanted to be a secret agent at some point. Isn’t this is a perfectly normal thing to say? PY, however, couldn’t stop laughing. It was the kind of amusment that was induced as soon as he set eyes on me. His mouth would curl up and his shoulders start that laughter quiver; he had to look away. I was a little dumstruck. I take it for granted that I don’t look like a spy but isn’t that what being undercover is all about?

Sadly, however, I have to agree that I am not very spy-like. For starters I am not sure I could, Bourne-like, blow a house up with a toaster and a rolled up newspaper. I couldn’t leap building cranes with anything approaching a Bond-like skill. The final proof that I couldn’t cut the MI6 mustard is that I’m useless in foreign restaurants.

You may have gathered from Monday’s post that I am in Finland. I am on business but I am not with any colleagues. Sometimes I must eat on my own in a foreign city. I paced Helsinki the other night looking for a restaurant. I had forgotten my book which, as any solo traveller will tell you is the key to eating alone in restaurants. Have a good book and hide behind it. You eat slower that way and can hide from the local’s stares as they wonder why you have no friends and must resort to dining alone.

Had I been a Bond/Bourne spy I would have walked into the finest dining room in the city, ordered drink in fluent Finnish, had the maĆ®tre d’ find me a decent table and have struck up an interesting conversation before they put the olive on the stick. Whereas I sulked in a corner and tried to not to lose my scarf.

You hear that travel broadens the mind (it’s like an exercise for the brain, apparently) but I don’t agree. I am sure a certain type of travel expands horizons but my kind only serves to expand the waistline (dining alone you comfort eat for a party of five). I’ve done the airport-taxi-hotel-office-taxi-airport run enough times to make almost every European city appear identical. This week’s arrival in Finland reinforced the feeling that I want to be here on holiday but not on business; I want to see something new.

The day was damp and cold when we landed and it was already getting dark at 3.30pm. I had hoped for snow but there wasn’t any so I got taken straight to my hotel. We passed the outdoor ice-hokey game which, I guess, must be everywhere in winter. I wanted to watch but I have no idea how to get to them. I worked in my hotel room. I didn’t sleep on the first night (I never sleep well on the first night in a hotel). I went to meetings. I drank too much coffee (do secret agents rely on caffeine too?).

It is a perfectly normal business trip. Sure, I hear you. Go out, mix with the locals, live a little. That, though, is a little too Bond-like for me. I guess Bond would have had a hidden revolver to get himself out of any local difficulties. I wouldn’t have made it through the airport with one and so, I comfort myself, that I don’t look good in black and, truthfully, Judi Dench scares me a little.

On this day…

2005: From The Sky Newsdesk

In The Air Again

In The Air AgainPhoto at Flickr: In The Air Again – 29 Aug ’06, 2.37pm BST
I am off traveling again. This morning it was a very early start to get me to Heathrow so that i could make a flight to Oslo. To give myself some extra time because of the security I arrived at 5am – only to find that check-in wasn’t open until 5.20am. Then a nice queue at security and a plane ride to get me here. I am now too exhausted to enjoy the lovely evening. Still, I hope I can get a decent night’s sleep so that I will be awake for tomorrow’s meetings!

On this day…

2006: All You Need To Know About Sharon Osbourne’s New TV Show
2006: Big Pink Crosses (or some such TV nonsense)
2002: Temptation

Hello From Here

I am not going to be able to upload a picture of my latest trip to my Flickr account as I am visiting Amsterdam without a camera (or a camera phone). In fact, I am visiting without any piece of electronic equipment whatsoever. The security alerts over the past few days at UK airports have resulted in this odd situation.

This morning, I arrived at the airport very, very early for my flight. Given this is a day-trip I checked up on the baggage rules last night and decided against anything that would prevent me from walking on board. That meant no mobile, no lap-top, no book, no pens: nothing. I took the train to avoid the traffic queues and checked-in online before I left the house. The result? It took 15 minutes from arrival at the airport to sitting in the lounge (and they managed to x-ray my shoes in that time). I had a few hours to kill so did a little bit of work from an Internet station (oh, for a working Office 2.0 set-up) and now I am in Amsterdam airport with a similar amount of time to kill and only a newspaper for company.

On this day…

2007: The Slag Of All Updates
2005: Charlie And The Chocolate Factory
2002: The Art of the Blog

Another Airport Again

Airport TaxiI am taking another of my trips to Helsinki for work. Today I took the later flight and I have to say that I am happy to have flown British Airways. I find there’s something reassuring about flying with BA (but don’t ask me what). The woman sat in front of me was sporting a pink cowboy hat for some reason (it was remarkably similar to these I found on Flickr) but I don’t think the warm and comfy feeling came from that.

Given the late hour of our arrival I imagine the cabin crew were spending the night in Helsinki too. Only on British Airways would you see them carrying a proper pint of milk with them. I can only dream of arriving at the hotel and making myself a decent cuppa!

The flight was uneventful. Solitaire managed to send me to sleep which was a good job as I had forgotten the headphone for my Treo and couldn’t listen to the many podcast delights I take on my travels. Note to self: buy a spare set of headphones.

And so to the hotel where I was upgraded to a superior room. I think that means the desk on which you can place your laptop is on the other side of the room rather than right by the bed. That means, as I type this, I am straining to watch the television which is – handily – right across the room. Still, there was an old Starsky & Hutch and an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents to entertain me as I fall asleep. Which is exactly where I am heading now.

On this day…

2002: Seven Wonders
2002: What's A Boy To Think?
2002: What’s A Boy To Think?

Helsinki, February 2006

Helsinki, February 2006 - It's cold here in Helsinki. There are people laughing at the tourist taking pictures. They're not laughing at the picture taking but at the fact that one minute with a hand outside of a glove is painfully cold.Helsinki, February 2006: I have to admit that it is colder here than I thought it would be. It was below freezing last week in Oslo but not this cold. I took my gloves off to take a couple of these pictures and the cold became quite painful. I am certain that the locals would have been laughing. Still, the hotel is warm and the restaurant is quite good here so I will have no need to leave this evening.

I recall that on a previous occasion that I was here it was also snowing but that was April and it wasn’t like this. It’s interesting to note that many of the Flickr pictures of Helsinki right now are taken inside – can’t say I blame them. But there are some great ones of the snow.

Previously on Helsinki:


On this day…

2004: South London Jazz
2003: Daredevil
2003: New Host

Oslo Doesn't Look Like This For Me

now with this leg solidly planted here i should be able to.. - now with this leg solidly planted here i should be able to.., originally uploaded by yrigoyen.
Still in Oslo and, clearly, not in the right part (or perhaps I should be here at a different time of year). I do love this city and I’ve always had great hotels here, including the Scandic Edderkoppen that I am in now. If you’ve never been get yourself across to Norway at some point – it’s a beautiful country. Shame I have to leave today (such a short trip) but check out this photo set for more great views of this city.

On this day…

2005: Oslo Doesn’t Look Like This For Me
2004: links for 2004-10-28
2002: Vanity Case

Oslo Doesn’t Look Like This For Me

now with this leg solidly planted here i should be able to.. - now with this leg solidly planted here i should be able to.., originally uploaded by yrigoyen.
Still in Oslo and, clearly, not in the right part (or perhaps I should be here at a different time of year). I do love this city and I’ve always had great hotels here, including the Scandic Edderkoppen that I am in now. If you’ve never been get yourself across to Norway at some point – it’s a beautiful country. Shame I have to leave today (such a short trip) but check out this photo set for more great views of this city.

On this day…

2005: Oslo Doesn't Look Like This For Me
2004: links for 2004-10-28
2002: Vanity Case

Italy Is Smoke Free

I just returned from a business trip to Italy to find that Italian bars, restaurants and airports are now smoke free. This is great news for those of us who don’t want to light up cigarettes as soon as we land in the country. But, honestly, Italy doesn’t smell the same any more and it’s kind of strange. Lovely, but strange.

On this day…

2003: It Was 20 Years Ago
2002: Selling

My Idea Changed

Last night, when I couldn’t get any online access from the hotel I am staying in, I had plenty to say. Right now I seem to have forgotten all that I wanted to speak about so this is a nice reminder to say watch the Flickr sidebar for updates from my trip to Milan!

If you read yesterday’s entry you would have seen the On This Day link to a piece I posted in 2002. The shoes have only been used twice.

Finally for now, ‘Seven years today, on 27 July 2012, the Opening Ceremony of the 30th Olympic Games will take place in east London’ (according to an email I just received from London 2012. The clock is ticking and I’m already excited and tomorrow The National Lottery ‘Go for Gold’ scratchcards will hit the streets.

On this day…

2007: Read The Manual
2004: Administrative Apologies
2003: Buffalo Soldiers
2003: Another Russian Birthday
2003: Not Another Teen Movie
2002: How do you say Happy Birthday in Russian?
2002: Marry Me