Watching Atléti: Valencia

The lovely folk at @MadridAtleticos have published me again so, if you’re interested in going to watch a Valencia game at the Mestalla, might be of some interest (whether it’s an Atletico Madrid match or not)….

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Fútbol en Córdoba

When most people think of Cordoba, they probably think of the Mezquita, maybe the city’s fascinating Jewish quarter, or even the patios. Some probably want to know if you mean the city in Spain, or the one in Argentina, personally, when I think of Cordoba, I can’t fail to remember the best looking girl I ever managed to, erm, get to know – which always for some reason makes me think the place will be full of attractive women who can’t resist me. After now visiting the place three times I’m beginning to think the latter part of that thought might not be right, but I’m probably not going to right places, or something.
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The Atletico Madrid Experience

I’ve written something that someone else thought worth publishing, so if you’re interested in going to watch Atletico Madrid in action at the Vicente Calderon then my guide to the Atletico Madrid Experience on the excellent Madrid Atleticos website may be of some use.

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Just thought I would try and produce a blog post using my new voice recognition software.

It seems to work quite well

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I haven’t blogged for just over a year, I don’t really have any reason to blog now. It’s just something else to do to stop me from getting started on my college assignment that I sat down at my computer to start on 4 and a half hours ago.

I was always the leave it to the last minute type when it came to doing school-work, that led to me becoming a not do it at all type when I went to uni, and led to me dropping out. I thought I might have developed a bit more self-discipline by now, but it appears that might just be wishful thinking.

I might go look at my bank statement to see the money that came out to pay for the course I’m doing, hopefully that might give me a jolt, but I wouldn’t count on it!

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Budapest, Bucharest and Istanbul

My sixth little trip of the year took me over some old ground in Budapest, Bucharest and Istanbul. As such I don’t have too much to say, or too many pictures to post, but the few I did take can be found on the following link –

The Danube, Budapest

If I’ve only got a weekend in a place I do like going somewhere I know and like, I tend to linger when I travel so being in Budapest for the 4th time meant I didn’t have to rush around seeing sights and consulting maps – but take things at a more relaxed pace and do my own thing. I always try and do something a bit different when I go somewhere I have already been, and this time it was a trip to see the ballet at the State Opera House, any readers who know me will probably be thinking something along the lines of “WTF”, so I’ll have to confess to a bit of an ulterior motive in the shape of Natalie from New York and, to be honest, the production of Gisele wasn’t that bad – although I doubt I’ll rush to the ballet again, it was certainly an experience.

Bucharest, Arc de Triumph

Bucharest is a place I’d spent a mere six hours in back in cold, wet February 2007 and I decided that I’d give it another chance and that it would be more suited to the late summer we’ve been granted by mother nature this October. It was certainly a more pleasant experience this time round – the stray dog situation is a lot better than it was and the gyppos (I believe that’s the PC term) aren’t as omnipresent as they were almost five years ago (a lot of them are over here judging by a stroll through Bradford City Centre) so this visit was hassle free, though it doesn’t change the fact that the city itself isn’t that great and devoid of many attractions after the commies had their way with it  – when a hostel carries leaflets for erotic massage you kinda guess there aren’t that many attractions they can refer you to. I did however stumble across Lake Herastrau, and it’s surrounding park (complete with bizarre Michael Jackson tribute) and I was able to while away a day wandering around there, with regular stops for beer.


Istanbul, Bosphorus views

Last, but not least was my third trip to Istanbul, which has now cemented it’s place in my “top three cities I’ve been to” list, behind Madrid and Buenos Aires. It’s such a big place with so many sights and contrasting suburbs that I could probably spend a fortnight here and not be bored. I managed to luck into a ticket for the Turkey/Germany Euro 2012 qualifier when a German guy I met in the hostel bar had to give up on his friend whose flight from Germany had been delayed, and that was a great experience with the expected fantastic atmosphere topped off by seeing a very impressive young German team in the flesh – though the least said about the karaoke bar I ended up in until 4am with a group of German fans the better! By day I explored a couple of lesser visited suburbs on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus (Kadikoy and Uskudar), and spent a very pleasant evening in Ortakoy, an up and coming arty suburb on the European side. The one disappointment of the trip was setting out with an American girl to find the cartoon museum, only to eventually find it closed for renovation, it wasn’t a total waste though – we managed to stumble upon a restaurant and had a rather pleasant long lunch for a pittance. Of course the fact my mission to find the museum failed means I’ll have to head back at some point!

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An Occupation of Oxygen

As I was meeting a (fashionably late) friend by the Metrolink tram stop in St Peter’s Square I was lucky enough to pass some time by the “Occupy Manchester” camp, that they’ve moved to the adjacent peace gardens.

As someone who believes the role of the state should be as limited as possible (and practically limited to protecting the young, old and incapable in society and raising tax money for non-political experts to run our healthcare, justice, defence and education systems) it isn’t much of a surprise that I have little common ground with any bunch of rag-tag lefties who don’t believe people can be trusted to control their own lives and demand regulation, state control, spending and protectionism for just about everything and anything they can – but I have always respected people’s right to an opinion, and am happy to engage with people who can hold an intelligent and informed discussion, (though as it happens most people I know seem to have new and ever-changing views, taking issue with things depending on what circumstances they suddenly find themselves in, or are influenced by whatever opinions of a new group of friends they have hold, but that’s another matter).

The first thing that struck me about the protest “camp” was that there were far more tents there than actual people (no more than 20), the second was that there were no real stated aims or demands from these “protesters” , in fact the banners and posters around were often contradictory  – “Stop NHS Budget Cuts” next to “Stop buying drugs from big pharmaceutical companies, traditional medicines work”  – I can’t think of anything that would lead to a bigger cut in any health budget – but I think people might be a bit pissed off when we go back to having a life expectancy of 46 and infant mortality spirals out of control if we followed this advice. It seemed they were just happy to have any kind of “protest” sentiment displayed, whoever it was from and whatever it was about. This contrasted quite nicely with the Spanish “M15” movement which picked up in the Spring (and many say has inspired these “occupy” protests) – where (in the camps I have seen in Santiago de Compostela and Valencia) clear demands and issues were highlighted, and the organisers made it clear people with vested interests such as trade unions and political parties weren’t welcome to try and further their own agendas.

"The Manifesto" at a Spanish M15 camp in Santiago de Compostela

The other big difference between the two camps was the behaviour of the protesters, the civilised debating and events from Spain’s camps as opposed to the Manchester version where (in fifteen minutes) I saw a girl flee the camp pursued by her boyfriend hurling abuse at her about how she had stabbed him in the back by sleeping with someone else, and another “protester” chase after a couple of kids threatening to beat them up because they’d shouted something not very nice as they walked past. One hell of a way to make a political or sociological point that.

The system we have in this country, and in the world as whole, is far from perfect and there are plenty of things that could and should be changed, however what these people are expecting to achieve I don’t know. I’d have a lot more time for them if they just admitted they like the idea of camping out, while the weather just about allows it – getting drunk/smoking weed/popping pills and hopefully getting laid as a result, because for a lot of them that’s what it is all about.


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