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Up to the top of Norway – Finnmark

Thought for the day….”You will never win if you never begin”.

“The purpose of life is a life of purpose”

Today’s photo is from the fishing village of Vardo, in north Norway at 70 degrees north in the province of Finnmark.   Vardo has three names, one in Norwegian, one in Finnish (Vuoreija ) and one in Sami (Várggát).  Russia is also just a few kilometres across the bay, and the island is now connected to mainland Norway by a 2.8km subsea road tunnel.  Vardo is also the name of the gypsy caravan used by romany gypsies in Britain.  Vardo has a history of witchcraft, including trials of witches and also a witchcraft museum.   Curiously, it also lies further east than either Istanbul or Kiev.  It also hosts the yukigassen, a snowball fighting competition.  The average annual temperature here is only 1.3 degrees, not helped by the long, dark artic winter in this part of Norway.

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and a couple of photos from Oksfjord, near the top of Norway at 70 degrees north.  About 500 people live in this fishing village, although the fish processing factories have all closed.  As there are few roads in this part of Norway then ferries are an important way of getting around, including the daily Hurtigruten boats.  Hammerfest is the nearest major town.

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and another photo from the archives….a beach in the Seychelles islands…..

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Last light of the day – sunset

Thought for the day….”Success is more aptitude than attitude”

“Heaven on Earth is a choice that you must make, not a place that you must find.”

As part of my job, I get to travel a lot, and you tend to notice the differences between countries.  At Singapore Changi (code SIN, and possibly the best airport in the world) recently the drinking fountains were closed for maintenance.  Being Singapore, with its fantastically well run services, the airport managers had thought to provide bottled drinking water at the water fountains so that passengers were not inconvenienced.   Travel further up to Norway, which you would expect would also be a well run country and things are the opposite.   In the Scandic hotel in Bergen, the orange juice machine was out of order, but nobody had thought to provide juice in jugs next to it.  Next hotel (again a Scandic hotel) and the coffee machine was out of order.   Just a handwritten sign on the machine saying that it was out of order.  Again, nobody had thought to provide a thermos of coffee to make up for the failure.   And as part of the ‘improvements’ to standard rooms, they do not now provide tea/coffee facilities in the standard rooms.  Gone also are tissues in the rooms, individual shampoo and conditioner and soaps.

And as if that was not enough, the Scandic hotels in Bergen (not cheap, as nothing in Norway is cheap) have decided that they will not put cutlery, cups or serviettes on the tables.   It is the same as the airlines, customer service is disappearing.   Scandic hotels may be happy to ask high prices in order to stay in their hotels.  The prices rise, but the service levels fall.   There comes a point when you say that enough is enough.   Why pay high prices for less service??     Perhaps they should let Singaporeans run the hotels in Norway??

And to end the day, a photo of the sunset near Alesund on the 18th July 2016….wonderful end to the day..

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and another photo from the archives…..happy boys in Albania

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How can they call this a meal?

Thought for the day….”Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on when others have let go”

“Life is not a rehersal, it is the real thing”.

I get to fly a lot, and one of the things that I am noticing more and more are the cutbacks on the airlines.    I used to be a shareholder in Lufthansa, but I am happy that I am no longer one.   Today’s photo is of the ‘meal’ served on a recent Lufthansa flight.    It did come with tea or coffee though, although the small size of this ‘meal’ is quite incredible.   I wonder how Lufthansa can advertise this as a meal?    Not even served on a tray, and only half a sandwich.  Two pieces of bread and a piece of cheese.  That was the ‘meal’.    And, as usual, the coffee came in small cups (paper) which they only half fill.  Why??   Things like this, and the fact that the Lufthansa group are now charging for choosing a seat or checking in a bag, are just going to drive me to the budget airlines.    Before, there was an advantage to choosing one of the ‘legacy’ airlines.  Not now.    The news that seating onboard the new Lufthansa A321’s will be even closer than on Ryanair, and that the extra seats in the back of the aircraft will be windowless,  will also make people choose the cheaper airlines.  No point in paying more for less.    Certainly, the ‘meal’ from Lufthansa would not encourage me to pay extra again.   Luckily, we have a choice…….

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and another photo from the archives…..time for a snooze in Tallinn, Estonia.

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Norway this morning

Thought for the day…” Life is too important to be taken seriously” (Oscar Wilde)

“Life is like a 10 speed cycle.  Most of us have gears that we do not use”.

Another fantastic summer day in Norway….and one photo taken early this morning.  Taken today near the centre of Bergen.   Time to put on the sun cream again….

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and another photo from the archives..a 737 about to land in Funchal, Madeira…

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Great colours from the Fuji camera

Thought for the day….”Too many people overvalue what they are NOT, and undervalue what they ARE”

“It is not the load that breaks you down, it is the way that you carry it”.

Norway has been enjoying some fantastic summer weather…with unbelievable temperatures, even in the far north.   Not only have there been many long, sunny days, but some days with wonderful clear air too.  Today’s photo comes from Svolvaer, the ‘capital’ of the Lofoten Islands, about half way up the long coast of Norway.   The photo was taken in the main harbour, and shows the traditional cottage that was previously used by fishermen, called a rorbu.  These cabins were traditionally built out over the water, so that boats could moor directly alongside.  Many of these have been converted into holiday homes, although the ones in this photo are actually part of a hotel.   At this time of year, there is 24 hour sunshine in this part of Norway, so even late evening it is possible to get photos like this.  Expect to pay around 200 euros a night for a typical cabin during summer.   Taken with the Fuji X-T10 camera and standard 18-55mm kit lens, with almost no editing of the photo.   Once again, great colours from Fuji.

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and another photo from the archives…some great colours in Mindelo, Cape Verde islands….

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More depressing news from New Zealand

Thought for the day…”If things do not go right, go left”

“Success – keeping your mind awake and your desire asleep”

More depressing news from New Zealand….even more flights and even bigger aircraft.   As well as increased numbers of flights from the USA and also from China, Emirates airline has announced that it is putting a 4th Airbus A380 on the route to Auckland.    This will mean that there will be 4 A380s at Auckland at the same time in addition to another A380 from Singapore Airlines.  Whilst the tourist board in NZ may be congratulating themselves on record numbers of visitors, the country just cannot cope with ever-increasing numbers.   The country has a population of just over 4.6 million people, but now receives over 3.3 million tourists, many of whom want to see the same few places.   The last 2 summers have seen accommodation fully booked, and tourists having to sleep in cars due to the lack of accommodation.  Buses and flights have been fully booked, and it has even become necessary to reserve some mountain huts ahead.    Queenstown (known as the adventure capital of the world), with a population of around 22 000 people, is now receiving over 2 MILLION tourists a year.  You can imagine what the town centre is like there in high summer.   But the tourist board keeps encouraging more and more flights, thinking that more and more tourists are good for the economy.  Yet the very nature and beauty that these tourists are attracted to is fast becoming destroyed (there have been attempts to build a monorail in one of the national parks already).

Some of the popular walking tracks (such as the Abel Tasman coastal track and the Tongariro Crossing) are now so crowded that they are considering giving people starting times for the walks, in an attempt to spread the crowds out.    Clean and green New Zealand it once was.  Now it is crowded and busy NZ.   So the news that the airlines are putting on even more flights to cope with this demand is hardly surprising, yet nobody in government has had the courage to stand up and say that there is a limit to how many tourists that NZ can accept.   It seems that every month that a new record for tourist arrivals is being reached (China is the big growth area for incoming tourists), with no sign of it easing up.    So when those millions of tourists do finally arrive in NZ, then the fun and games trying to find accommodation, rental cars and domestic flights begins.    Those politicians who think that unlimited numbers of tourists are good for the NZ economy should take a trip (assuming that they can get a seat on a flight or bus) to Queenstown or Milford Sound in summer and see just what sort of effect the millions of tourists are having.    Start queueing now !!!

Early morning in Geilo, Norway for the photo today….great colours from the Fuji camera together with clear air helped make this such a good photo.  The early morning mist had almost burnt off when the photo was taken.

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and another photo from the archives…two tourists admire Lake Wanaka, Pembroke Wanaka on the South Island of New Zealand. Two tourists managed to creep into this photo even !!

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Queen of the Skies – the Boeing 747 400

Thought for the day….”Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get.”

A photo that is history now….a Singapore Airlines 747-400 taking off from Zurich airport in Switzerland.  Known as the Queen of the Skies, almost 400 tons lifting off for the 11 hour flight to Singapore.    Zurich (code ZRH) is a great place to take aircraft photos, as the authorities there actually encourage people to take photos, and even organize special photo tours.    Great that the managers there have seen the value of photographers, and make it easy to take photos, rather than trying to prevent it like so many airports do today.  Not only that, but Zurich is actually a good airport to fly into or transit, run with the usual Swiss efficiency.     The photo below was taken during one of the organized photo tours, although even from the normal viewing decks, it is easy to get some great photos.

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and some faces from the harbour market in Helsinki, Finland……

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Paradise in photos – The Seychelles

Thought for the day…”Success comes in cans, not in can’ts”

“Failure is the tuition that you pay for sucess”

About 85 000 people live in the island nation of the Seychelles, which is situated about 1500km off the eastern African coast and north of Madagascar.    Around  115 islands make up the country, which have been controlled at times by both France and Britain.   The islands have also been used by pirates, and it is said that the treasure of Le Vasseur, a notorious pirate, is buried there somewhere.     Victoria, the capital, on the main island of Mahe,  claims to be the smallest capital in the world, although it is the outer islands where the real beauty is.     Island hopping is easy there, either on the local fast ferries or the domestic flights in Twin Otter aircraft.    Due to the restrictions on the number of tourists, it is not (yet) overrun or overcrowed, just peaceful and beautiful.    A couple of photos are worth a thousand words……..Both photos taken with the Fuji X-E1 camera.

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And another photo from the Seychelles….

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Unbelievable Norway – summer comes early to the north

Thought for the day…”If you obey all the rules, you miss all of the fun”  (Katharine Hepburn)

North Norway has been enjoying some unusually warm temperatures recently, not to mention some fantastic summer weather.    Temperatures in the far north of Norway have reached over 18 degrees in April (plus degrees that is), along with clear blue skies, windless days and warm sunshine.    At times it has been hard to believe that it is Norway, especially when the sea has been incredibly clear and such a wonderful blue colour.  If this is all due to global warming, then I vote for more of it !!!  The first photo is of the Hurtigruten ship “Kong Harald” in Alesund harbour.

Every day of the year, one of the Hurtigruten ships leaves from Bergen to sail all the way up to the coast of Norway to Kirkenes, just a few kilometres from the Russian border.     Officially, the radar domes in the second photo from Vardo, are part of the European Space Junk monitoring programe, however, a few years ago the covers blew off the radar domes, and a Norwegian newspaper revealed that the radars were not pointing upwards towards space, but were actually pointing across the bay towards Russia.   No doubt there are also radars on the Russian side of the bay pointing towards Norway !!!   Curiously, Vardo, in the second photo, actually lies further east than Istanbul or Kiev, even though it is Norway.

All photos were taken with the Fuji X-T10 camera, which is proving to be a joy to use, and with the 18-55mm standard kit lens (also a joy to use).

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Up In The Air – Two classics of aviation

Thought for the day….”Don’t look back, you are not going that way”

“If you are not meant to have midnight snacks then why is there a light in the fridge?”

A couple of photos from the recent Warbirds Over Wanaka airshow, held at Easter this year in Pembroke Wanaka, New Zealand.   The first photo is the Supermarine Spitfire.    Designed by R.J. Mitchell, it came into service in 1938, and was in production throughout the second world war.   About 53 Spitfires are still in flying condition.   Over 20 300 Spifires were made, and they remained in service until 1961.    This particular aircraft carries a registration to commemorate the New Zealand pilot Alan Deere.

The second photo is the Messerschmidt Bf 109, which was used by the Luftwaffe in Germany during the second world war.   It entered service in 1937, with around 33 000 being made.   At least 10% were lost in take-off or landing accidents.

Both aircraft performed displays during the 2 days of the airshow.

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and another photo from the archives….an early test photo from the X-E1 camera………

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