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Oslo airport – a disgrace for Norway and for Scandinavia.

Thought for the day…” You may delay, but time will not”  (Benjamin Franklin)

“We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.” (Martin Luther King).

Because of work, I have to travel a lot, and recently had the misfortune (and misfortune is the word) to travel through Oslo airport (code OSL) again.   It is an absolute disgrace for Norway and for Scandinavia.   Not only is it far too small for the numbers of passengers now using it, but the facilities there are hopeless.   The management there have seen fit to remove most of the chairs, which means that many waiting passengers must sit on the floor (and remember that this is in Norway, which is supposed to be a civilised country).   They have found space to display dumb sculptures (such as the famous bent penis sculpture) but claim to have insufficient space for seats.   And despite their claims of a lack of space for seats, they have been able to greatly enlarge the size of the tax free shop.   So whilst passengers may end up sitting on the floor, the airport does not care.     If you have come off a long flight, then do not bother to look for somewhere to get a shower.   There is nowhere.

And this is the 21st century.   Most travellers now carry mobile phones, tablets etc. all of which need charging.    But try finding sockets in Oslo airport.   And if you have a long wait for a flight, then do not count on finding much to do at the airport….things like TVs to watch or any other facilities that good airports (such as Singapore) provide for waiting passengers.  So, while you are sitting on the floor waiting for your flight with nothing to do, then remember that you are paying to use the airport.   Things are so unpleasant at Oslo OSL airport that I am now considering going across the border to Sweden in future to avoid the unpleasant experience that Oslo airport OSL is.

A photo of a couple, seen in Bergen, Norway.   Not sure which country they were from, but not Norwegian.

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and another portrait photo…from the capital of Azerbaijan, Baku

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In the streets, in black & white.

Thought for the day….”The finest steel has to go through the hottest fire”.

“Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines”.

It is pleasant to read a good news story from New Zealand.    The newspapers there are reporting on yet another helicopter crash (there are a lot of crashes in NZ) near Queenstown on the South Island.   The helicopter, with 6 people onboard, crashed on landing.   The passengers escaped with minor injuries, but Australian Mitchell Green proposed to his girlfriend immediately after exiting the wreckage.   The happy ending is that she accepted.   Not your usual marriage proposal !!!  Wonder what they will do for the wedding ceremony……

Great fun to go back through the photo collection and edit old photos….here are a couple of photos, originally taken in colour, converted to black & white.    Good lighting and being in the right place at the right time helped to make these photos.

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and another…

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Black & White or colour….which is best ?????

Thought for the day…” Broken pencils are pointless”       “Jokes about German sausages are the wurst”

Lots of fun to go back through the photo collections and re-edit the photos….and also get rid of a lot of earlier attempts.   Two versions of the same photo today, from the Spanish island of Menorca.  All photos from the Fuji X series….with the standard 18-55mm kit lens.    See which you like the best.  Same photo but one is converted to B & W.     My vote goes to the black & white version….

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and another photo from the archives….the lake at Geilo, Norway in early autumn…

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Buying decisions….to buy or not to buy, that is the question

Thought for the day…”A goal without a plan is just a wish”

“Success with a negative attitude is called Luck.  Success with a positive attitude is called Achievement”.

To buy, or not to buy.   That is the question.   Having recently upgraded the camera to the newer Fuji X-T10 (great camera, and highly recommended), the finger is now poised over the ‘BUY’ button.  This time it is the new Fuji XF 100-400mm lens.   All the reviews have been great, and the people that have posted their comments praise the lens, so it is undoubtedly a wonderful lens.   I gave the lens a try in the camera shop, and it felt very good, and the extra zoom would be very welcome BUT here is the problem….the lens costs about 3 times as much as the camera did, and with the teleconverter, will cost around 2000 euros.    So the finger is hesitating on the ‘BUY’ button.    Quality always costs more, and the Fuji products are great, but the thought of almost 2000 euros on a lens is difficult to accept.  To buy, or not to buy, that is the question…..

A couple of photos from the north of Norway, taken with the standard 18-55mm Fuji lens on the X-T10.  The first photo is from the small town of Vardo, at the top of Norway.

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and another photo from north Norway…Hammerfest

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Fuji X camera system thoughts

Thought for the day….”The hardest thing is to take less when you can get more”

“Talent does what it can, genius does what it must”

Having had many cameras over the years, including Pentax, Olympus, Sony, Canon and Panasonic, I am now in the happy position of having a camera that does what I want, and a camera that produces pictures of the quality that I want.   Looking back over the earlier attempts at photography, I can see just how much cameras and lenses have improved.   I am now in the happy position of NOT wanting to upgrade the camera.  The current camera, the Fuji X-T10 makes taking photos FUN.  It ‘only’ has 16mp, but the quality of those 16mp is enough for me.   I still read reviews of newer cameras in the magazines and online (www.dpreview.com is an excellent website), but is is now just for interest.   I have no desire to upgrade at the moment, and can now concentrate on actually taking photos and enjoying the fun of producing a good photo.  I am not interested in buying a camera that can take 20 pictures a second, nor do I feel a need for a 50mp sensor.     Another advantage of the Fuji X system is that the jpeg photos straight out of the camera are so good.  I have now stopped taking RAW files just because the jpegs are so good.   This means that I no longer have to spend hours processing RAW files on the computer.   I know that some people really enjoy this, but for me, less time on the computer is good.    I have read that Fuji cameras are made by photographers who are also engineers, whereas brand X cameras are made by engineers full stop.   This means that taking photos with the Fuji is instinctive, as well as being fun.   True, the cameras may look old fashioned with their dials, but most people agree that the cameras are much better to use.   And the most important thing, the X-T10 produces great photos !!

Today’s photo comes from Rafsundet in Norway, not far from the Lofoten Islands.   As usual, the size of the photo has been greatly reduced for the internet.  The quality of the full size image is great.

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and another portrait photo, this time from Lake Malawi, Africa,

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Thought for the day….”Winning is not everything, but it beats anything in second place”.

“Some people are alive only because it is illegal to kill them”

Part of the thrill of travelling is in the planning.   Several years ago, a collection of airlines offered a fantastic ticket called the ‘Navigator Ticket’.    You were given a large, fold-out map of the world, with lots of airline routings marked out in different colours (representing the different airlines), and you were free to map out and plan your own route.  Rules were simple, you could make unlimited stopovers provided that you kept going in the same direction (ie eastwards or westwards).   You were allowed to backtrack if the routes needed it, but basically you could plan a route with as many zig-zags as you could manage.   Such fun to plan a trip and work out an exotic route.  Then the final excitement. was when the ticket arrived in the post.   In those days, airline tickets were messy, carbon paper affairs, but it was great to receive though the post, a stapled bundle of carbon paper tickets.    Sadly the navigator ticket is no more.

Fast forward to today, with buying an airline ticket a frustrating challenge.  Fares seem to change at will, from day to day and at the whim of the airlines.    I will never understand why the same flight on the same aircraft can change price from day to day.    Buying a cheap air ticket now involves so much planning that surely a computer programme is needed for it.   Bring back the navigator ticket !!!

They say that the best camera is the one that you have with you at the time.   Up early for the sunrise near North Cape, at the top of Norway and at 71 degrees north.    Good to have the camera ready for this quick photo….just as the sun came over the horizon to start another day.

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and a photo from the streets of the Danish Capital, Copenhagen….

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How lucky is lucky ??

Thought for the day…”Talent does what it can; genius does what it must.”

Did you see the story in the news about a survivor of the recent air crash in Dubai?    Mohammed Khadar was returning to Dubai from India when the Emirates 777 aircraft crashed on landing.  All 300 passengers got off the aircraft, which later burnt out.  Mr. Khadar, who works in Dubai, purchased a lottery ticket in the duty free shop in airport, and won a USD 1 million cash prize.   Commenting on his win, he said that his escape from the crashed aircraft was a miracle, but that the money would make enemies.   Lucky !!

The photo today comes from the famous dye pots in Fez, Morocco.

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and another photo from the archives…..the night sleeper train from Trondheim, Norway to Oslo.

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Colour in minature at the top of Norway

Thought for the day….”You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough”  (Mae West)

“Ladies who play with fire must remember that smoke gets in their eyes”  (Mae West)

Up to the top of Norway and the border with Russia for the photo today.   Traders from Russia come across into Norway to trade and shop (despite the prices in Norway !).   Some warm sunshine and good light helped to make a very colourful photo of a very typical Russian item, nesting dolls.

Nesting dolls (called Matryoshkas)  were originally a Japanese idea, but are now a common souvenir from Russia.  Sergei Maliutin is thought to have been the first Russian to produce the dolls, with the first sets representing a Russian peasant family of a mother and her 7 children.  The world record is for a 51 piece set, with the largest doll being over 51 cm tall.

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and another photo from the archives…Arrowtown on the South Island of New Zealand, a former gold mining town that is now a popular daytrip from nearby Queenstown.

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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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