Jeritilley A picture is worth a thousand words..

Ferries

Censorship by Booking.com

Thought for the day…”Chocolate is ground from the beans of happiness.”

“The man who is swimming against the stream knows the strength of it.”

Free Speech.   Something that is very important, but something that is disappearing fast in Europe.   Political correctness has already gone far to far, but now the online travel agency (OTA)  Booking.com   is also at it.

I recently stayed in some accommodation in Zurich which I booked online via Booking.com         The property was not good (badly run, dirty and with poor facilities) with poor security.   Not only was the property not clean, but it appeared to have many problems, one of which was what appeared to be asylum seekers in the accommodation.   So after my stay, I wrote a TRUTHFUL review to help other people in deciding whether or not to book.    One of the things that I wrote in the review was that the property appeared to house asylum seekers.    I did not make any statements about the rights or wrongs of this, nor did I mention nationalities, skin colour or race.    No references were made to immigration policies or criminality, just a statement that there appeared to be asylum seekers housed in the property.

But Booking.com   refused to publish my review because I had used the words ‘asylum seekers’  which they said could cause offense to some some people.   I would argue that the words described (truthfully) a situation, and were just reporting what I had seen and experienced.   Despite emails to Booking.com   the review did not get published.     So it seems that Booking.com   also want to be politically correct, even if this means distorting the truth.

The result of this….I cancelled a lot of future bookings with Booking.com     and now try to book direct with hotels etc. where this is possible.  I am not going to have Booking.com   tell me what I can and cannot say in a review.   It also makes me think that the other reviews on their website may also have been edited too.    So if you are reading reviews there then be aware that the reviews may have been edited for suitability.    George Orwell’s   1984 is here, just a bit late.   Booking.com    is in the same group as Priceline.com    and Agoda.com

Today’s photo comes from Glendhu Bay on the South Island of New Zealand.    The valley in the photo was until recently one of the homes of the Canadian country-pop singer, Shania Twain.  Nearby is Mt. Aspiring National Park and the Southern Alps.

and another photo from the archives….a SRN-4 hovercraft seen here in Boulogne in France.  These hovercraft had a top speed of 154 km/h and crossed the English Channel in as little as 22 minutes.  The record is held by the hovercraft in this photo, the Princess Anne.

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RESPECT, CONSIDERATION & FAIRNESS

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Oslo airport OSL does it again

Thought for the day…”If the world seems cold to you, kindle fires to warm it.”

“There’s a world of difference between truth and facts. Facts can obscure the truth.”

Oslo airport does it again…makes it unpleasant for passengers.   On Saturday I had the misfortune to use Oslo OSL airport again.   Even with their big, new extension, it is still the same unpleasant place as before.    Despite have a big new space, there are still almost no seats for passengers waiting to check in (WHY??) and even though they have put in a big new duty free shop (which they conveniently funnel passengers through whether or not you want to buy), they still have not got it right for passengers.  Why do their departure gates have seats for about 30 people when the aircraft using them take 170 passengers or more?   And can the managers at OSL not count?   Why on Saturday were most of the security check-points CLOSED ?, resulting in a long queue of people trying to get through security.    The managers at OSL must know how many flights are scheduled to depart, yet they seem unable or unwilling to put enough staff on the security checkpoints.  Bad management?   Of course, if you pay money then you can go ‘Fast Track’ through security, but this is merely an admission that the normal waiting times at security are too long.    And whilst the airport managers may be happy to see more and more (expensive) shops at Oslo airport, they still have not put in enough facilities for passengers.   Try finding a water fountain or a working electrical socket.   Try finding something to do whilst you are waiting at OSL.   And the worst thing……we passengers are actually paying a lot of money to use OSL airport.   Because it has a monopoly position then it can take our money without providing good services.   Flying from Oslo is not something to look forward to, especially if you have to wait there.   Perhaps the train from Oslo is the answer…….

A photo of the SR.N4 hovercraft taken in 1997 in Dover, England, from a scanned slide in my collection.   At that time, the SRN4 was the largest hovercraft in the World.  Top speed was 154 km/h and they could cross the English Channel in as little as 22 minutes.  The noise and vibration inside them was unforgettable, and if you crossed the English Channel on a rough day, then the ride inside them was ‘interesting’ !!  But they were a thrilling way to travel over the waves.

and another photo from the archives…by the sea in Cuba.

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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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Early one morning……71 degrees north

Thought for the day…” The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.”

For some reason, I have few photos of sunrise.    Not that sunrise is the correct term, because the sun does not rise at all, just that the Earth is turning.   Those who are into sundials will know about the equation of time, and the effects of refraction on the actual time of  ‘sunrise’.   Today’s photo was taken on 29th September at 71 degrees north in North Norway, just ahead of a storm.  Suprisingly, about 30 minutes after the photo was taken, the scene had changed to wind and rain, but for a few minutes around ‘sunrise’ the colours and clouds were great.  As usual, the Fuji X-E1 was the camera.

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and another photo from the archives…..the island of Madeira and the fishing village of Camara de Lobos..

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Hurtigruten sunset

Thought for the day…”Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”

“You do not stop laughing because you grow old, you grow old because you stop laughing”.

A couple of sunset photos from the deck of the Hurtigruten coastal steamer boats.    These boats travel between Bergen on the west coast of Norway and Kirkenes at the top of Norway, next to the Russian border, a journey of 5.5 days each way.   11 ships travel the route, and call at 34 ports along the way, including a trip up the famous Geirangerfjord in summer.    Interestingly, Norwegian Television did a live TV sending of the whole 134 hour trip.   The photos today were taken near the middle of the trip, just north of the Lofoten islands, again with the Fuji X-E1.

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Airline etiquette or bad behavior.

Thought for the day….” Follow your heart, but take your brain with you”.

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

There cannot be many people in the western world who have not flown, so I assume that most people know the etiquette of flying.    Even if they do not, then common sense and good manners is enough.  But recently I experienced the worst passengers that I have ever had the misfortune to sit next to (and misfortune was the word.).  Bad enough that there were 300+ passengers on the aircraft, but what are the odds of ending up sitting next to the worst passengers possible???   These two passengers had a screaming baby, bad enough on any flight but on an 11 hour night flight then obviously VERY unpopular with a lot of passengers.  Not only that, but the parents wanted to get up out of their seats.   Not just a few times, but an excessive number of times.    Even when the meal was served, they decided that they wanted to get out (same thing at breakfast too, trays down and the food there, but they still wanted to get out immediately).    The man on my left seemed to be unaware that he did not have a god-given right to put his legs and feet into my leg rest.   When I was not fast enough at moving to let them out, they simply climbed over me, regardless of whether I was getting up to let them out or not.   11 hours sitting next to the worst ever passengers.     I wish that I had taken a photo of them, not just to shame them but to warn others that this couple had a gold medal in inconsideration.   And even on arrival, the man decided that he wanted to be first off the aircraft and was going to try to push past everybody else like a rugby scrum.    I hope that these two particular passengers end up on a no-fly list due to their total lack of consideration.

On a happier note….a photo of the Interislander ferry sailing up the Marlborough Sounds in New Zealand.    The route through the sounds, which takes about 1 hour, is extremely scenic.   During the winter months, the 3 hour crossing between the North and South Islands of New Zealand can be extremely rough in the middle section, so passengers will be relieved once they enter the sheltered waters of the Sounds.   The ferry is seen near its final destination of Picton, top of the South Island, New Zealand

wordpress-ferryand another photo from the archives….a Malawian boy……WORDPRES-Malawi-boy-2

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An unusual online dating site……..

Thought for the day…” A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single cash advance”.

” You miss 100% of the shots that you never take”.

If you are bored at this time of year then you may like to join an online dating site.  But not any old online dating site.  How about ” Dead-meet.com”??   This is THE site for people working with death, such as embalmers, morticians, coroners etc. to meet like-minded partners who will understand the stress and trials of working with death.    So at the end of a long day, you can return home and discuss all the decomposition of the day with a partner who will likely be able to describe their day of death as well.    http://www.dead-meet.com    if you want to check it out.

Less boring, and showing plenty of signs of life is the photo today of a ferry passenger.  The white paint on the ferry acted as a natural reflector, illuminating her face perfectly.

LOW-RES-passengerand another photo from the archives –  speed and action in this cycle race in Portugal, taken a few years ago….

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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.

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

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Sunshine in Stockholm, Sweden

Thought for the day…” Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler”    (Einstein)

” Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts”.

Although not very tall, the City Hall Tower in the centre of Stockholm does give great views of the Gamla Stan (Old Town) in the Swedish captal of Stockholm.   Stockholm is home to about 900 000 people, and lies at 59 degrees north and has daily ferry links to Finland, Estonia and Latvia.  Visible in the photo is the island of Riddarholmen (which means Knights Island) with its pointed church, and behind that, the Gamla Stan (Old Town), and in the harbour behind, the ferries to Finland (and a couple of visiting cruise ships too).  Despite its image as a modern, Scandinavian centre, areas of the city such as Tensta and Rinkeby in the suburbs suffer from high crime and racial problems (including some riots not long back).    Stockholm, in a similar way to London, suffered a great plague.    It has over 100 museums, including the ABBA museum.  The photo shows Stockholm on a summers day, but summer here is very short, and for much of the year it is cold and dark, which the sea freezing during the winter months.    Not a place for a winter holiday !!

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And another photo out of the archives….a hard day in Tallinn, Estonia…..

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Feel free to leave a comment !!

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New, looking old – Not the Quality Spa Resort Hotel, Norefjell.

Thought for the day…’ Life was much easier when Apple and Blackberry were just fruits”.

“Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day”.

The world gets more crazy.    Apparently, the Brightwater Wastewater Treatment centre (which is called a sewage works to you and me), near Seattle, USA is now promoting itself as the perfect place for weddings.  Advertising on its Facebook page, it lists the things that it can offer for your perfect wedding….lots of parking, dance floor and  full catering.   Renting the sewage works costs USD 2000 for 8 hours.   Apparently, there is no smell.

A photo from the Finnish capital of Helsinki for the photo today.   It started as a colour photo, but was then converted to black and white and then finally to Sepia, to give it an old look.  On the skyline is the Lutheran cathedaral, and below that on the left is the Helsinki town hall.   Much of the centre of Helsinki Iincluding the Lutheran Cathedral) was designed by the German architect, Engel and has a Russian style.   Indeed, parts of Helsinki look so much like Russia that in the 1970s and 1980s it was used as a copy of Russia when making films.   With faster trains to Russia now, then there are many more Russian visitors, as well as day trippers from Sweden who arrive on the overnight ferries.

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