Jeritilley A picture is worth a thousand words..

complaints

Rich Norway but icy pavements

Thought for the day…”Every failure is a step to success.”

“There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still.” (Franklin Roosevelt)

Today’s photo is of some rare winter sunshine in the Norwegian capital, Oslo.   One thing that you will notice if you visit Oslo in winter is how bad the Norwegians are at coping with snow, even in the capital.    For some reason, the arrival of snow in WINTER seems to surprise Norwegians, leading to travel chaos.    It is also very surprising that the local council in Oslo seems to be so bad at treating the pavements.  On some days, walking around is extremely dangerous due to ice on the streets, yet the Norwegians seem very bad at treating the pavements.  Compared with cities such as Helsinki in Finland, Oslo is a long way behind.  So why is it that the arrival of snow causes so many problems in a country that should be used to it?    As most of the country lies above 60 degrees north (and some parts of it are over 70 degrees north)  then snow and ice should not be a surprise to them, but it is.   And with all the money that rich Norway has, then why are the pavements so dangerous because the local councils have not cleared or treated them??  It is another surprise in a country that many think of as modern and advanced.   As an example of how much money Norway has, the Opera House seen in the photo below cost around 4.1 BILLION Norwegian kronor, or about USD 700 million.  Just to the left of the Opera house, the large new building being built is a new library.  Estimated cost of that is 1.8 BILLION Norwegian Kronor.    So, with all this money, why are the pavements being neglected when it is icy ???

and another photo from the archives….the legs have it…

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Overcrowded New Zealand – record tourist arrivals mean crowded resorts.

Thought for the day “The finest steel has to go through the hottest fire.” (Richard Nixon)

“Laughter is the sensation of feeling good all over and showing it principally in one place.”

One of the problems at the moment is that New Zealand is getting too many tourists, resulting in overcrowding and an experience that is far from the idea that many people have of NZ.  With over 3.6 million tourists a year now (versus a population of 4.7 million), the country just cannot comfortably cope with the large numbers of tourists.  Queenstown for example, often called ‘The Adventure capital of the World’   has a population of around 16 000 locals but receives over 2.5 MILLION tourists a year (try finding a local person in Queenstown !) and the airport has plans for a 2nd terminal to handle up to 5 MILLION tourists a year (remember just 16 000 locals).    Part of the problem is that airfares to NZ are incredibly cheap at the moment, less than half the price that they were a few years ago.   Flights from Europe to NZ are being offered for around 500 euros return for the 18 000 km trip, with specials sometimes below 400 GBP return.   So whilst NZ is breaking records every month for tourist arrivals, the country is suffering, with overcrowded national parks, fully booked accommodation and crowded tourist towns.   Cheap airfares are not always a good thing.

One of my older photos here, but a historic one showing the now bankrupt Air Berlin.   Seen here at full power climbing out of Innsbruck Airport in Austria on a winters Saturday.  Now Air Berlin are history.

and another photo from the archives…deep thought on the face of this man…..

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Walking and texting, driving & texting, should be banned – moan for today.

Thought for the day…”Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.”

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”

Are you one of those people who walk down the street with their head permanently fixed on their mobile phone??   I have given up moving out of the way for these people who walk with no regard for anybody else who is walking towards them.    Numerous videos on Youtube of people who have walked into fountains and off piers whilst they used their mobile phone.   Even worse are those people who you see cycling and driving whilst texting at the same time.   Asking for trouble.       The trend seems to be getting worse in cafes and restaurants too, where the mobile phone is THE centre of attention.     Full marks to the cafes and restaurants who are now trying to restrict the use of mobile phones.    One bar in Pembroke, New Zealand has a sign up saying “we do not have internet, TALK to each other “.   Let us hope that more cafes and bars follow suit.

And the photo today is from Sydney, Australia, where there used to be an ex-Russian MiG 15 fighter that you could go flying in.  Not much space in the cockpit !!   Despite being an early jet fighter, it could fly at over 1000 km/h and it could fly up to 2500km.  It could also climb to over 50 000 feet/15500m.

and another photo from the archives….sailing boats line up to start a race…..

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The Worm Has Turned.

Thought for the day…”If moderation is a fault, then indifference is a crime.”

“Power is like being a lady… if you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.” (Margaret Thatcher).

When I was 16 years old, I would always shop around for the cheapest (as students do), with little thought for quality or service.   But now it is the opposite.    I cannot understand why Ryanair (which is so often on the internet or newspapers for cancelling flights or upsetting passengers) is still in business.   There are so many people who will automatically go for the cheapest airline ticket, with no thought about quality or service.   Ryanair can upset thousands of passengers, yet still makes large profits.  When an airline upsets me (and many have) then they lose my business for good.  I vote with my feet.   Plenty of airlines out there, and those that mistreat passengers do not deserve business.  But why do people keep flying with Ryanair?    Cheap is not always good.    Service costs money to provide, but by paying more, you can often avoid problems.    Airlines such as Singapore Airlines are not the cheapest, but the service levels and reliability (and inflight experience) are FAR better.  If more people voted with their feet then average service levels would go up, as airlines such as Ryanair and Air Asia would be out of business.  Same thing with the airlines who are now putting 10 across seats into their Boeing 777 aircraft.  If more people refused to fly on these cramped aircraft then the airlines would be forced to go back to 9 across.  But too many people want the CHEAPEST.   But some of us are saying no, and are voting with our feet/money.

A photo from Aruba, in the Southern Caribbean for the photo today..

and another photo from the archives…beautiful coastline around Antigua, Caribbean……

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Oslo (Norway) Gardermoen airport – Still a disgrace for Norway

Thought for the day…”The young man knows the rules, but the old man knows the exceptions.”

“Sooner or later, those who win are those who think they can.”

I have had the misfortune (and misfortune is the word) to travel through the enlarged Oslo airport.   It is still a national disgrace for Norway.   Despite earlier complaints, the airport managers in their infinite wisdom, have still ignored the needs of waiting passengers.   All very well to build a big new terminal, but the queues to check in and at security seem just as bad as ever.    Not only that, but those same airort managers have STILL not put in anywhere near enough seats for waiting passengers.   Before, their excuse was that they did not have enough space for seats (although apparently they did have enough space for stupid scultpures).  Now that the enlarged terminal is open (with more space), there are still not enough seats for waiting passengers.

And once you have negotiated the snake-like lines to go through the security controls, then you have another challenge to find enough seats whilst you wait for the flight.    If you want to find something to do while you wait, good luck, because there seems to be almost nothing for passengers to do (apart fro slow, restricted internet).   Good luck too if you want to charge your phone or computer…the search for a socket will keep you amused for some time before your flight.

So the recently enlarged Oslo airport is just as bad as before.  The queues are still there, the lack of seats is still the same, and the lack of things to do whilst waiting for your flight is just the same.    And the worst part…..we passengers are paying for the privilege of using these poor facilities.    A disgrace for Norway.

Plenty of space for these 2 people on the beach near Surat Bay, on the Catlins Coast of New Zealand..

and another photo from the archives….black and white lines and modern architecture…

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Think before you install……that app may not be so innocent

Thought for the day…”What happens is not as important as how you react to what happens.”

“If you are lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it.”

It is amazing that so many people install apps on their mobile phones without any regard for just how much information those apps may collect. I recently wanted to install an app to control the flashlight on my mobile phone, but refused to install it when I discovered that it wanted access to my camera, email contacts and microphone. Absolutely no need for a glorified light switch to need access to my emails or the microphone on my telephone. And a second flashlight program proved just as bad.

Now there is the news on the internet about Amazon, and their plans to open physical stores in the USA. Apparently, they are going to monitor shoppers mobile phones, and will block their internet access if they attempt to check prices at other stores or online. So not only will Amazon be able to see what you are interested in, they will also be able to stop you comparing prices, and presumably, will also be able to see other sites on the internet that you are interested in. No doubt many people will quickly install a new Amazon app, without thinking about the loss of privacy. 50 years ago, people would have demonstrated against the idea of carrying something that gave authorities the power to see where they were within a few metres, and also what they were reading/eating/shopping/listening to. Even installing a flashlight app may now mean that somebody is listening to your conversations. Privacy is important, yet many people are now readily giving it up.

A photo from Spitsbergen of the Artic poppy flower, braving the cold weather…

and another photo….early morning in Riverton, in the far south of New Zealand.  At one time, this port received freight boats from Australia before the estuary silted up.  Now the railway and the larger boats have long since gone, leaving just the small fishing boats and a few tourists who pass through Riverton whilst driving the Southern Scenic Route.

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Warning about Kickstarter

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

“A person will sometimes devote all his life to the development of one part of his body – the wishbone.”

Just a warning about the online crowd-funding scheme, Kickstarter.   There are some very interesting new projects advertised there, all seeking backing from people in order to enter production.    Lots of interesting categories, and some clever ideas there.    But here is a warning, because when things go wrong, then the Kickstarter staff are going to be no help at all.

I backed an online project for a solar recharger that I thought would be ideal for travelling.   Ordered the charger and my pledge was accepted, and my debit card was debited.  That was last year.  Fast forward to June 2017 and I have still not received the solar charger.  Messages to the company that is supposed to be producing the item were ignored, as was a message sent via Twitter, but the worst part is that KICKSTARTER would not refund my money, nor would they take any action against the company who is producing the solar charger.    It seems totally wrong to me that Kickstarter can advertise products and then forward your debit card details without taking responsibility when things go wrong.    Messages to Kickstarter’s so called customer ‘service’   have been a waste of time, as Kickstarter still refuse to take action in the matter.  They are refusing to accept any responsibility, despite advertising the product and also arranging payment for the product.

So I am now minus 84 euros, have spent a considerable amount of time chasing up the matter, and have still not received the solar charger.    And yet Kickstarter still refuse to take action.   The words ‘flogging a dead horse’  come to mind, as Kickstarter customer service has been a total waste of time and emails.   Once again, it seems that a company has your money then that is it.   So I am 84 euros poorer and without a solar charger.   Thanks to Kickstarter !!

My advice….avoid using the Kickstarter website.

Nice sunshine for the photo today, which comes from 71 degrees north, and shows the Finnmark coastline near Honningsvag.  Not far from here lies North Cape.   The midnight sun is visible here from May until September.

and another photo…again from the same part of the Finnmark coast near Honningsvag….

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Swiss mountain town bans photography

Thought for the day..”Public opinion is no more than this: what people think that other people think.”

“Courage is fear holding on a minute longer.”  (George Patton)

What is the world coming to?    News on the internet is that the Swiss town of  Bergun in the Graubunden area has voted to ban photography in it’s area.    People taking photos will be fined CHF4 under the new bylaw.     Apparently, the local council has already taken down publicity photos from the internet.    So many places in the world are restricting photography, you have only to think of the USA where photographing public buildings is now likely to lead to trouble with the authorities,  and in many places in the world, taking photos near an airport is also likely to lead to problems.     It is amazing that the central government in Switzerland has allowed the town of Bergun to introduce the new photography ban.   It would certainly change my decision to visit any town if it had a photography ban.  What has happened to freedom?   And what is the town of Bergun so afraid of???    Surely any town should be please that people want to visit and take photographs.    And because Switzerland is usually a civilised country, then the photography ban is even more surprising.     Recently Sweden introduced a complete ban on filming from drones/quadcopters without special permission, and other countries are gradually introducing more restrictions as well.

Today’s photo is a scan of a slide taken many years ago, a local train from St. Ives passes the beach at Carbis Bay in Cornwall, England.

and another photo…..a scanned slide photo from the 1990s.   A Penzance to London train in the Glynn Valley near Bodmin Road in Cornwall, England.

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Worse service on the airlines, and more to come

Thought for the day…”The envious man grows lean at the success of his neighbour.”

“Hope is such a bait, it covers any hook.”

It is amazing that so many people are still choosing to fly with airlines, as a new round of cuts in services are leaked in the press.  The Hong Kong based  Cathay Pacific Airlines has announced that it too will follow the trend and squeeze in 10 across seating on its Boeing 777 services (the aircraft was designed for 9 across, so the change to 10 across will mean even less shoulder room).  There is also talk about going to 11 across onboard the A380, with the same result, less shoulder room for passengers.  And following on from that announcement, it seems that the Lufthansa group will move towards a ‘buy on board’ system for food.   It is being trialed at the moment, and apparently SWISS airlines (part of the Lufthansa group) are also going to trial a buy on board system.    Here is an example of one of the ‘meals’ that was served on a Lufthansa flight not long ago…about 100g of cheese and bread.   No plate, no meat and no other food.

So even before they start charging for food onboard, then they had almost cut out the included ‘meals’.  Earlier there was the news that British Airways were going to reduce the seating pitch onboard, meaning that their passengers would have LESS leg room than those on Ryanair.    And Lufthansa have also followed the trend by squeezing in more passengers on their new Airbus A320 NEO aircraft.   They have also removed one of the toilets (to fit in more seats) and made the remaining toilet even smaller.   Less leg room, less shoulder room and now even less food onboard.     The airlines mileage/frequent flyer programmes have been devalued so much that they are now virtually worthless, so the question is, is there any point now to choose one of the original airlines over the budget alternatives? Seems not.   You often have to pay for checked-in baggage, advance seat selection and a higher basic ticket price on thee traditional airlines anyway.    So why choose them?????

In most other businesses, giving a poorer service would usually drive people away, but it seems that the airlines are an exception.   Poorer service now, but still increasing numbers of people wanting to fly.  One thing is sure, the airlines that have increased the seating to 10 across on their 777s will not be seeing me onboard.   The limit has been passed.  Economy class has become a test of endurance, and is far from a pleasure now.

Staying with the theme of aviation, a photo that is now history, an AirNewZealand 747, seen here at Brisbane airport in Australia in 2004

and another photo from the archives….a local man in Southern Oman….

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Always connected – the digital overload

Thought for the day….”It is not the years in your life that count.  It is the life in your years”

“Knowledge comes from learning.  Wisdom comes from living”

One of the big challenges now is that we are never disconnected.   People are now suffering an onslaught of information at all hours of the day, and with tables and mobile phones, this continues even when they are not at work.    Internet is available almost everywhere, and the mobile phone means that people are still connected even when they are on the beach or walking in the park.    Not only are people able to be online continuously, but there is also an overload of information now.     Some scientists are now saying that this constant stream of data is making it hard to concentrate, and is also causing increasing levels of stress.  There is also the problem of trying to juggle all the different forms of technology, and to cope with all that information that is now bombarding us.     So rather than making life easier for us, this technology is actually making life MORE difficult and stressful.     People now believe that they have to answer a mobile phone call immediately, and that the email that has just arrived must be read instantly, whilst at the same time they are still bombarded by information from the internet.  Some hotels are now advertising that they do NOT have internet, and also are advertising digital detox breaks.   Always connected, and not a good thing.

Today’s photo comes from the lakefront in Pembroke, New Zealand, where there is also internet.  Who needs it though with a view like this?

and another photo, the waterfront at Picton, South Island, New Zealand.    From here ferries depart for the 3.5 hour trip to the North Island.

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