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It’s There Somewhere…..but can you find it?

Thought for the day…” Do coffins have lifetime guarantees? ”        ”   Do fish every get thirsty ?”     ” Did Noah keep his bees in archives? “

Did you now that in Arabic, that the Arabic name for ‘Morocco’ means extreme west, or that Morocco is only 13km from Europe at its nearest point?   And if you have visited Morocco then you will have experienced the national drink, Moroccan mint tea, which is green tea with lots of mint leaves and an even greater amount of sugar.   Also, in Morocco the liver, and not the heart, is considered a sign of love.   And in the seaside town of Essouria, the inventor of the first pedestrian crossing light, Leslie Hore-Belisha is buried.   Tourists are surprised to learn that Morocco gets snow, as its highest point is Jebel Toubkal at 4165m in the Atlas mountains.   Although Casablanca is the largest city, it is Rabat which is the capital city.     The photo today is typical of the kasbahs (walled fortified cities) in Morocco, and as usual, a crowded market street.

LOW-RES-Meknes-market

And another photo from the archives….keeping watch in Ethiopia…..

LOW RES ETHIOPIA Bahir Dar 3 Oct 2011 (10)

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Crystal clear autumn day in Norway

Thought for the day….” Life is not a rehersal, it is the real thing”

” Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards”

The photo today was taken a couple of days ago in Geilo, Norway on a perfect autumn day.  Clear air and no wind made for brilliant photo conditions in this view, which is taken looking west.  Captured with the Fuji X E1 camera as a jpg photo.   Did you know that the word ‘photography’ comes from the Greek words ‘photos’ (meaning light) and ‘grafien’ (meaning to draw)?   Whilst ‘conventional’ photography began in the 1820s, the first real digital camera came in 1988, the Fuji DS-1P.    Interesting to think of the quality of this early digital camera and compare it to the 16mp results from the photo below (also taken with a Fuji camera).     Did you know that the owner of Kodak cameras (George Eastman) named the company after the sound that the shutters on cameras made when taking photos?   There are still 12 Hasselblad cameras left behind on the moon after the Apollo missions between 1969 and 1972.   The Hasselblad H4D  is probably the most expensive digital camera currently.  The 60 mp camera costs around USD 41 000.   But even a ‘cheap’ camera can produce fantastic results……..

LOW-RES-NOR-Geilo-lake-4

and another photo out of the archives…..a steam train driver in Uppsala, Sweden…

LOW-RES-engine-driver

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The trend is spreading……more extras from the airlines…

Thought for the day…” Common sense ain’t common”

” If you do not fight for what you want, then do not cry for what you lost”

I have had many good flights with Lufthansa.   Sometimes they have problems, but they are usually very good at trying to sort alternatives out.   Same thing with Swiss Airlines (now also part of the Lufthansa group).    So I had been loyal to them for a long time, and generally very happy with the service and fares.  But it appears that they have now gone the same way as airlines in the USA and also the European budget airlines.   Sad to see that they are now charging for seat reservations (up to 25 euros each flight for long haul for a basic seat).   Not only that, but Swiss airlines are now offering a bag-only fare (to Geneva), ie. if you want to travel with a check-in bag then you must pay more.    And Austrian Airlines are offering Economy passengers the chance to enjoy a better meal on payment of an extra 15 euros.  And KLM (part of Air France), who I refuse to fly with on the grounds of previous bad flights and bad customer service, add in extra charges for paying by credit cards, and also an extra fee of 25 euros if you book by telephone, as well as an extra 15 euros if you check in a bag.   And if you want an economy ‘Comfort’ seat, (are the other seats called discomfort seats on KLM?) with UP TO 10 cm more space, then KLM give you the chance to pay between 5 and 160 euros EXTRA for the UP TO 10cm extra.   And the final straw…..Wizzair airline is also charging for carry-on baggage.

So the quality airlines are copying the budget airlines, and the lines between them become less clear.     But the trend does not stop with airlines.   Swebuss, the Swedish long-distance bus company is offering passengers who pay extra the chance to board the bus first.  Viking Line, the Finnish ferry company that operates around the Baltic is giving passengers even more chances to pay extra…..extra charge to reserve a window seat in the restaurant, extra charge for late check in with a car, extra charge for priority disembarkation with a car etc.

People used to mock Ryanair because although the basic fare was cheap, everything else was extra.    That was the standing joke.  Now it seems, that bus companies, ferry companies and even quality airlines are all going the same way.  You pays your money and you takes your choice, as they say….

Today’s photo comes from Interlaken, near the centre of Switzerland.  A paraglider frames the 4158m Jungfrau mountain in the Bernese Oberland in  Switzerland.  If you are feeling energetic, then you can enter for the annual Jungfrau Marathon, which is run uphill.  One nice touch is that they have Swiss chocolate at the refreshment points during the race.    No doubt that the runners will need a lot of chocolate to run the 42 km uphill.

LOW-RES-Jungfrau

and another photo from the archives…capturing the moment in Korea…

wordpress-Korean-women

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Crossing to Tibet – A portrait in colour

Thought for the day….” Never ask a barber if you need a haircut”

”  If past history was all there was to the game, then the richest people would all be librarians”.

Sometimes it is open, and sometimes it is closed, so getting into Tibet is a bit of a lottery.   Around 3 million people live in Tibet, which is officially regarded as a Chinese autonomous region.    And to complicate matters even further, the ‘borders’ of the Tibetan kingdom are much larger than the official Chinese autonomous region’s borders.   It contains the world’s highest plateau (at over 4000m), and includes the Himalayas.  Tourism is controlled by the Chinese government, and a special permit is needed to visit, even if a Chinese visa is held.  Trains to Lhasa started in 2006, with the trip from Bejing taking around 48 hours.   Interestingly, the train is said to be the highest railway route in the world, and due to the altitude on the trip (up to 5231m altitude) then the trains are provided with an oxygen supply.  They also have windows with special protection against the strong ultra-violet rays at the high altitudes.    And having enjoyed the train trip, then travellers can look forward to yak meat and the (salty) butter tea, and perhaps a photo like the one below……

LOW-RES-Tibet-woman

And another photo from the archives…..a black and white photo from the old town in the centre of Tallinn, Estonia.

WORDPRESS-Tallinn-BW

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Swiss beauty – early autumn, blue skies

Thought for the day…” What the wise do in the beginning, fools do in the end”.

”  You never know who is swimming naked until the tide goes out”.

Off to Switzerland today and to the beautiful valley at Kandersteg.    Around 7.5 million people live in Switzerland, and interestingly, it is said that there are more banks than dentists there.  Also, it is said that the original Swiss army knives were red in colour so that they could be seen in the snow.    Switzerland is also home to the longest stairway in the world, where the Niesenbahn cable car-funicular has a stairway of 11 674 steps next to it.   Monte Rosa is the highest mountain, at 4634m, whilst Lake Maggiore at 195m is the lowest point.   Kandersteg, in the photo below, is on one of the main north-south routes through the Alps, but is a summer and also a winter resort.   Well worth a stop if you are in Switzerland…

LOW-RES-Kandersteg

and another photo from the archives….life in the hills of Nepal…..

LOW-RES-Nepal-man

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The Strange World of Microsoft and Garmin

Thought For The Day…” If we open a quarrel between past and present, then we shall find that we have lost the future”  (Churchill).

”  Laughter is timeless, imagination has no age, and dreams are forever”   (Walt Disney).

It is a strange world.    Microsoft are now announcing details of the next operating system, which, hopefully will be better than the farce that Window 8 was.     If you are counting, what comes after 8??   According to Microsoft, it goes 8, then 8.1 then 10, which is the name of their next operating system.   What happened to 9?   Perhaps the same thing that happens to the missing row number 13 on aircraft.   Next strange thing – I have 2 Garmin GPS systems which through the miracles of technology can tell me my position within a few metres.  So why is it that when I change locations, the GPS asks ME if I have moved several hundred kilometres.  Having bought the thing, should it not be the GPS that tells me that I have moved, not the otherway around.  Strange world.     Stop the world, I want to get off!!

Today’s photo is of a backpacker and a local boy in Nepal.  Lovely candid shot, which is again from a scanned 35mm negative.

LOW-RES-Nepal-Annapurna

And another photo out of the archives….a boy in rural Ethiopia…

WORDPRESS ETHIOPIA Gonder road near Awra Amba boy & stick 5 Oct 2011 (1)

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Chocoholics of the world unite.

Thought for the day…” The only man who never makes mistakes is the man who never does anything”.

” TEAM –  Together Everyone Achieves More ”  or said another way…” Teamwork divides the task, but multiplies the success”

Chocoholics in the world will no doubt be sending in their applications in their thousands for the ‘job’ as a Doctor Of Chocolate at Cambridge University in the UK.     The job description says that the ‘job’ is mainly experimental.   Hopefully the successful applicant will fare better than Angus Kenndy who became a chocolate taster in the UK in 2010.   After gaining more than 15 kg in weight due to tasting around 1 kg of chocolate a day, he was forced to resign after his doctors warned of a  heart attack if he continued.    As the famous actress Mae West said….”too much of a bad thing can be wonderful”.

And for the photo today, another timeless scene from the hills of Nepal.   The photo is a scanned 35mm film negative, so sadly the quality is lower.

LOW-RES-Nepal-man

and another photo from the archives…..an iguana keeping watch……

Wordpress-Iguana

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Two Heads Are Better Than One

Thought for the day…” The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it”

” The secret of getting ahead is getting started”   (Mark Twain).

Excuse the low technical quality of today’s photo, because it is from a 35mm film photo which has been scanned.    It was taken in a market near  Cuenca, Ecuador, which lies at about 2500m altitude.   Ecuador has a population of over 15 million, and lies on both sides of the Equator.   Oil and bananas are the main export, with Ecuador being the number 1 producer of bananas worldwide.   Surprisingly, the currency in Ecuador is the US dollar.  The famous Panama hat was not invented in Panama, but in Ecuador.   And for the photo…two heads are better than one…..

LOW-RES-South-America

and another photo out of the archives….early morning balloon flight in Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey….

WORDPRESS-Turkey-balloon

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Heading to the Fjords, more blue skies

Thought for the day…” If at first you do not succeed then skydiving is not for you”.

” A journey of a thousand miles begins with a cash advance”.

Staying in Norway for the photo again today, and a shot of the famous Oslo to Bergen train.   The train still has over 400m vertical to climb at this point, but the views will be fantastic as it reaches the summit at over 1237m.   It has just passed the half way point of its 493 km journey from Oslo to Bergen.   The opening of the line in 1907 was delayed due to snow (often a problem on this route due to the altitude and exposed nature of much of the route), but the full route opened in 1908.   Despite several new tunnels, the route is still one of the great railway journeys, and is highly scenic.  About 5 trains cover the full route each day, including a night sleeper service.   Soon the passengers on the train will get their first views of the glaciers, as the train will shortly be above the tree line before it starts its long descent towards the fjords and Bergen at seal level.   Highly recommended if you are in Norway !!

LOW-RES-train

and another photo out of the archives….a timeless scene from rural Ethiopia…..

Wordpress-Ethiopia-Awra-Amb

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Blue skies, blue skies, nothing but blue skies

Thought for the day…”  It is better to be looked over than overlooked”  (Mae West).        ” Never test the depth of the water with both feet”.

Never understood why some countries make it difficult and expensive for TOURISTS to visit.  Tourists bring in money, create jobs and also help to develop a country.   Tourism, within reason, is not a bad thing, and countries like New Zealand depend upon it.   New Zealand makes it easy for tourists, and gets lots of them.    But the bottom line is that tourists bring money into a country.    I had details of some good offers on Swiss Airlines (great airline too, so no hesitation in flying with them), including to India.  India is another one of those countries which likes to make things difficult for people just wanting to visit as a TOURIST.   Not only is there all the hassle of forms, possible interviews and questions which go far beyond reasonable (is it really important what my mother’s maiden name was?), but you also have to pay a large amount of money for the privilege as well.   Compare that to many countries where all you need is a valid passport when you arrive.  Guess where I am NOT going??

And another photo of Norway in beautiful weather again (of which there has been lots this year).  Warm temperatures, no wind and cloudless days…can this be Norway??

LOW-RES-NOR-Geilo-lake-(3)-14-Sept-2014

and another photo out of the archives…a traditional house bus in New Zealand……

LOW-RES-housebus

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