About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

26 June 2009

No fences for the neighbours

My business meeting in Sweden was in a town called Norrköping, about 150 Km south of Stockholm. The train ride was through a very picturesque country-side - very much picture perfect of forest and rivers. After the meeting, I was given a short tour of the area, and one very striking thing was the almost complete lack of fences between properties. Coming from South Africa, it is a very weird sight indeed!

25 June 2009

Summer, Finally

It has been a strange week so far, weather-wise. Darmstadt and Frankfurt was cold - with almost no difference to the temperatures in SA. Berlin was warmer, but misty, overcast and mostly not too much fun (today at least, yesterday was not too bad). But finally in Stockholm, there is glorious sunshine and no forecast of rain for the foreseeable future. And it is in the mid 20s!

The SAS flight from Berlin was interesting - and unfortunately did not feature any hot blond hostesses :( The plane had three classes: business class which was basically the first two rows on the plane, economy seats and some legroom; economy plus (where I was) and economy. It was only when we got on air, that the differences became clear - business got food and drinks on nice cutlery; economy plus got food and drinks in the standard plastic/polystyrene packaging and economy had to pay for their food and drinks! It's the first time I have seen this kind of distinction on a plane - and in many respects it makes sense. I wonder who else will copy them ...

21 June 2009

Awesome World Cup Ad

While flipping channels, saw this awesome World Cup ad. It starts with a young boy juggling an imaginary football, and slowly getting a lot more people juggling footballs, with a great tag "Rhythm like you you've never seen before".


I have seen quite a few ads by Tourism South Africa, and they are generally very impressive, and many of them are available on YouTube. What is interesting however is the comments that are usually attached - especially the highly negative ones along the lines of South Africa is a den of evil and everyone who goes will step into a warzone to the defensive.

Many of the comments are by ex-South Africans (or from neighbouring countries) such as one I have seen calling himself "ex-Rhodie-racer". In those terms, the labelling of comments as racist is justified - but the fact is, many of the comments have some seeds of truth. After all, there are not that many places in the world where people live behind electric fences - although in other parts of the world, security guards for complexes wield machine guns ... so not exactly too different.

Ultimately, the success of the world cup will depend on visitor's overcoming the negative imagery of South Africa's security. Transport problems - people at some level expect them. I have been to sporting events outside South Africa, where it took hours to get to the gate because of traffic ... and I started at dawn; or where people had to queue for the next train or the one after that, because there was no space. And stories of players and supporters getting robbed (even if the players might be the ones to blame) does not help the image of South Africa's security. But in the same vein, the success of the IPL does give us hope - but how do we combat the negative image?


While queueing for the flight to Frankfurt last night, I met an old friend I had last seen at UCT about 4 years ago. He was on his way to Dusseldorf, and was seated in the row behind me. Furthermore, he actually lives in Centurion, not too far from me (last I heard, he was in a different province altogether)... it's a small world.

I arrived in Darmstadt early in the morning, and the hotel allowed early checkin. I had originally planned to travel to Stuttgart, but the journey times was not attractive (or I had to pay a lot of money for the fast train tickets) - I should have planned better. Instead, I took the opportunity offered by the hotel, and rested :) 10 hour flights on board Lufthansa economy class are quite tiring.

Although it is supposedly summer in Europe, it does not really feel like it. It is in fact only a few degrees warmer than it was in Johannesburg. And there is a slight drizzle - so exploring Darmstadt is not much of an option either. Well, at least Berlin is a lot more promising.