Archive For The “Travel” Category

Malmö (It’s in Sweden) Cont..

Malmö (It’s in Sweden) Cont..

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Written By Nirav Raval

As I said, the best of Malmö was yet to come. And no Malmö chronicle is complete without Turning Torso in it. For me, it is the epitome of elegant design and clean lines. I am no expert but I have an eye for detail and I think it is one of the most carefully balanced illustrations of modern architectural designs. Not too flamboyant to be unpleasant to eyes and also not blandly minimalistic. Very appropriately sized –  tall enough that it won’t go unnoticed in the skyline of Malmo and at the same time, not too tall to be intimidating in relatively modest skyline of Malmo. I have seen Cayenne Tower, Dubai in person. It is almost two times taller than Turning Torso, was built 8 years after Turning Torso was completed and yet it doesn’t look half as impressive (it maybe because of the cityscape and skyline surrounding it). So, to me, seeing Turning Torso was the ultimate reason behind Malmö visit and everything else Malmö offered was added bonus!

 

We reached feet of Turning Torso around sunset time. It looked stunning in that bright orange sunlight. It fulfilled every expectation I had from it.

We decided to walk further down to harbor to view the sunset before we head back to the train station. That’s where we saw the first open shop in Malmö and our survival instincts kicked in. We kept the harbor and the sunset aside for a moment and bought essential items from the shop. Then we continued down to the harbor and the view there left me speechless. It was something I had never seen before. The color of sky, rain pouring down from clouds far far away and the majestic Öresund Bridge at the distance – everything was almost perfect. It looked like these pieces were carefully weaved into the landscape. I tried to take photos but soon realized that not photo, no camera and no photographer can capture what I was looking at in person. I just stood there admiring what was in front of me.

 

Moving onto the last part of the visit – the dinner! Right there, at the harbor, there is this Italian cafe/restaurant called Bar Italia. A perfect place to be on a summer evening in Malmö . Place was fairly busy (by Malmö standards) as they served good ice cream and have outdoor sitting. We were told that their closing time was around 35 minutes away and we may have to take away our food if we don’t have enough time to eat in. So, we ordered 2 dishes, decided to have one there and take away the other. I also got a cup of coffee to go. What made this part memorable was the people on the other side of the counter. They were polite, very professional and very helpful. Until that point we had no clue how on the god’s green earth were we planning to reach back to the train station! We were enjoying one part at a time. Now, having finished with dinner, we started thinking about options. Walking back was out of question. Malmö didn’t exactly seem to be a place where you wave your hand and get a cab. So, this friend of mine asked a lady at the counter. I had hoped that at best,she would give us a phone number to call a cab. Much to my (pleasant) surprise, she went on to call the taxi service and book a cab for us. Great food, good service, good coffee and on top of all, this. They made our day.

 

And yes, we easily made to the train station in time. And it was time bid adieu to Malmö and to catch the night train to Stockholm! A wonderful day ended with a night long train ride? It can’t get better than that! 🙂

Malmo (It’s in Sweden)

Malmo (It’s in Sweden)

Malmo (It’s in Sweden)

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Written By Nirav Raval

 Writing is a tricky thing. You can’t write in two states – when you have nothing to write (of course) and when you are overwhelmed by the content you have. For me, it was quite busy summer. London, Edinburgh (the fringe obviously), Berlin, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Copenhagen, Malmo and Stockholm. With these travels, came  lot of new experiences, learning, stories and of course, photos. And at the end of this summer, I will stick to what I have always been saying – It’s not a small world!

Let’s start with Malmo. [7 out of 10 asked me, where’s that?] It’s 3rd largest city in Sweden which isn’t yet entirely sure if it is in Sweden or Denmark. Part because of its proximity to Denmark and part because of its history.

One of absolute highlights of my trip. I hardly spent half a day there but I will remember every moment spent there, every street I walked, every building I passed by and every face I saw (also because I didn’t see many). It was a beautiful in its own way. It has got this flavor that I know now that when I will visit a place like it somewhere else in the world, I will call it ‘a city like Malmo’. Very modern, very chic and of course, very Scandinavian.

 
 
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We reached there around 7 PM on a Friday evening. First thing we did was to find lockers at the train station and left out luggage in one of the lockers. Lockers  are easy to find and it was very convenient.

Although I was very careful with my expectations knowing Scandinavian cities a little by now, I had hoped that it being Friday evening, the city center will be little crowded with people on streets and food places will be busy. Now on the scale of 0 to 10 of surprise, I got 11. City was practically empty. We walked from central station to the Turning Torso via Malmo Castle. We struggled (and failed) to find a place to eat on the way. We laughed out of amazement all the way. It was funny because we did not eat anything while leaving train station thinking what kind of idiots eat at a train station in a beautiful town like Malmo. Also, We saw a guy walking around with mysterious cup of coffee. Mysterious because there was no cafe open anywhere nearby and even more so because we saw him once and then saw him again after 20 min and he was still sipping coffee from the same cup. Or maybe it was just our empty stomach playing games with us. We found this one cafe but it had a note stuck on the door that they were on vacation until certain date. We even contemplated that maybe whole town was on vacation! We managed with the chocolate bar we had in the bag. We walked through the quietest urban streets we had ever walked! And as if all these were not enough, we saw tram tracks ending right in middle of the road in an area looking like an abandoned ghost town (just a lot prettier)! And of course, the lady in red – the picture below was one very intriguing sight.

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 Don’t take me wrong, Malmo is a very touristy place with all its points of interest. As I mentioned earlier, streets are stunning with mix of modern and old historic structures standing side by side. Just that we were very hungry :). And that too in wrong part of the town at wrong time. I have to admit, I ended up there unprepared. Also unlucky a little because we walked a street hardly 200 meters away from The Stortorget (that’s probably where entire town was that evening!) complaining about not being able to find a place to eat! But then I am glad all that happened because if we had found a place to eat right away, we would have eaten there and then would have walked around. Just another evening like any other European town. Malmo turned that evening into a memorable experience (in a positive way). And the best of Malmo was yet to come! (Continued in next post……)

Of course, the best of Malmo can’t be complete without the one and only –

 
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‘Radiant’ : London Chronicles Continue

‘Radiant’ : London Chronicles Continue

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Written By Nirav Raval

Idea was to click a typical urban scene in London which symbolizes energy radiating from the pace of the city. What could possibly be a better place than a London tube station to witness that first hand? People rushing through London tubes at that pace is like blood flowing through veins in human body. A movement that is evidence of life.

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London has this energy in its atmosphere which affects you even if you are completely unaware of it! The moment you step into the rhythm of the city, you start dancing along, even without realizing it. An unconventional dance that doesn’t ever get over. The tune changes, the dancers on the floor take turns but the dance goes on. Day and night. You don’t realize how much you walk just to change a line on a tube station. Walking on the streets is treat for eyes. Architectures from various times co-exist gracefully without clashing with one another. When I am in London, I walk around 15-20 KM a day with a 2 kg camera strapped to my hand and at times, with an 8 kg bag on my back. Can’t think of many cities where you can walk that long on the streets and not get bored.

Now, I may sound like a tourist awestruck with city’s aesthetics and what I am saying may not make sense from day to day life point of view but just think about it! No matter what city or town or country you are in, we all (almost all!) have to get up in the morning and go to work. We all have to walk on the street and we all have to use public transport every once in a while (especially in big cities) if not daily. Would you not rather prefer to walk on the streets full of people, looking at buildings beautifully designed and built with a lot of effort (and each one with its own story/history) than dead streets with ugly buildings and nobody around? Would you not rather use a public transport crowded with well dressed (important!) people like you, going to and coming back from work, living their lives, making you realize every moment that it’s not just you fighting to achieve whatever it is you have set out to achieve than you being the only person on an entire train?

P.S : This conversation I had with an old Englishman on a train in London. He asked me where was I from and I said, India. He asked me what did I do for living etc. Then he asked, ‘Do you know why every Londoner, from a security guard to a CEO, is a trainee?’ I said, ‘Because London always keeps teaching things?’ He said, ‘No. It’s because they all use trains.’ He laughed. Like he got me with that bad joke but then it is a hardcore fact! Everyone uses tube to go to work!

P.P.S. : Just noticed that I used to assign category ‘Europe’ to all my posts about London. Seems this will probably be last of those. 🙂

City Life : Monochrome Image Of Week 23052016

City Life : Monochrome Image Of Week 23052016

This week’s monochrome image and entry to MM challenge on Leanne Cole Photography.

Sometimes I feel that London should be global center for monochrome photography (Or maybe it already is). In any case, beautiful architecture, busy and happening streets and most importantly, absence of dramatic colors (during the day, at least) from the scene make London look beautiful in grey.

About this particular photo, right amount of light, symmetry and clean lines directed towards visual center of the image create almost 3D effect. Depending on one’s perception, one may see a set of flat travelators or a set of escalators going upward.

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‘City Life’

I think, it is one of the most ‘technically correct’ photos I have clicked so far. Well, a good beginning of a long new year ahead.

P.S. : This one is from the first batch of pictures clicked with new Canon 6D, my this year’s little birthday present to myself. As I always say, when it comes to a gift on your own birthday, don’t disappoint yourself. Or like character Jordan Chase said in one of Dexter episodes – ‘If you think you deserve something, take it!’ 🙂

Conversations #4 : India Connection

“So Where are we going next?”

“We are going back home! Look at you!”

“What’s wrong with me? I’m perfectly fine! We are going there next! That pub! Right there! We have to go there!”

“Look! Let’s go home now, we take some rest and may be we can go to that pub tomorrow! And what’s so special about that pub anyways!?”

“You remember? I used to tell you that here in Ireland they have flags of the USA, Canada, Australia, China, even that of England on pubs, B&Bs and Hotels! I never saw an Indian flag! But that pub has an Indian flag outside! We have to go there!”

“No we don’t! We have to go home! You have to go home!”

“No Home! That pub is special! Can’t you see it? We have to go there!”

“God! That’s not Indian flag! That’s Irish flag you drunk bastard! And you can’t lie down on pavement like that till morning! Get up and let’s go home!”

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