Jeritilley A picture is worth a thousand words..

chocolate

Christmas Fireworks in Bergen, Norway

Thought for the day…” You will never know your limits unless you push yourself to them”

”  Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but rather playing a bad hand well”.

Two photos of the Christmas fireworks in Bergen, on the west coast of Norway.  About 275 000 people live in Bergen, which is the second largest city in Norway after Oslo, the capital.   Shipping, oil industry and touristm are the main industries here.  It is known as the city of 7 mountains, one of which was used to get the photos of the Christmas fireworks.  These mountains mean that Bergen gets a lot of rain, with about 2.25m a year.   In the lower part of the photo you can see the lake in the city centre from where the fireworks were launched, complete with a large Christmas tree.   Fireworks are believed to have originated in China over 2000 years ago, from where 90% of all fireworks now come from.   Interestingly, on New Year’s Eve in 2002 in Zurich, Switzerland, a chocolate firework was fired containing 60kg of  Callier Swiss chocolates !! No such luck for the citizens of Bergen, Norway though!

Wordpress-Bergen-2 Wordpress-Bergen

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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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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.

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

Wordpress-Iguana

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Helsinki duo – Two from Helsinki, Finland

Thought for the day…” The difference between genius and stupidity is…..genius has limits”

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

Two photos today  from Helsinki, capital of Finland.   Helsinki is one of those cities that you have to discover, for there is a lot that is not obvious on arrival.   For one thing, Finland is number one on the world for coffee consumption per capita, and the coffee is good, strong and available everywhere. (Try ‘The Roastery’ on Alexanderkatu for some really good coffee). And to go with the great coffee….some Fazer chocolate (although Karl Fazer was actually originally from Germany).   It is also the only city in Finland to have trams and a subway (metro) and is said to have the world’s most northerly metro station.     The language is horribly difficult for a foreigner, in winter is is very cold (-25 is not uncommon) and also dark for most of the day, but to make up for this there are some excellent sports facilities, wonderful architecture, good eating places, and the feeling that you have left Europe behind and have crossed into Russia (like when you see the Russian Orthodox churches in Helsinki, with their onion domes).  Indeed, parts of Helsinki look so much like Russia that Helsinki used to be used instead of Russia when making films (such as ‘Gorky Park’) until the city council decided that it was not a good idea and stopped promoting it.    And if you explore the indoor markets, then you may find things like bear meat for sale as well as the more common reindeer and moose meat.  But perhaps give another tradional (but popular) Finnish sweet, salty liquorice, a miss.   The city has about 53% women (versus 47% men), and after Reykjavik, Iceland, is the world’s most northerly capital city.  More trivia….it was the first country in the world to give women the vote and also the first country to make broadband a legal right for citizens.

LOW-RES-faces

and another photo out of the archives….taken just a couple of hundred metres from the previous photo, but months apart….a new photo converted into Black & White, then converted into Sepia to give it the old-fashioned look.

WORDPRESS FINLAND-Helsinki-Sepia-10-J

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Blue skies and green meadows – Switzerland at it’s best.

Thought for the day….” When you fish for love, bait with your heart”.     ” You cannot cross the sea by merely standing and gazing at the water”.

A classic photo from Switzerland for the photo today.  The photo was taken in the village of Kandersteg, near the centre of Switzerland.   Located at about 1200m altitude, it is surrounded by the Bernese Alps which rise to over 3600m.    Tourism is highly important here, and it is both a winter (skiing) and summer (hiking & climbing) destination.  It is also the home of the international Scout centre, with over 11 000 Scouts visiting each year.    Despite having 4 official languages, Swiss-German is the most prevalent, with around 65% of the 7.3 million residents speaking it.  One piece of trivia….there are now more Starbucks coffee houses in Switzerland than banks.   And Switzzerland has the highest consumption of chocolate per capita in the world…..11.6 kg/capita a year.    As the saying goes…9 out of 10 people like chocolate, the 10th person was lying.

LOW-RES-Kandersteg

And a photo out of the archives….soldiers on parade in Copenhagen, Denmark.

LOW-RES-soldiers

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