Jeritilley A picture is worth a thousand words..

Finland

Buying local – the advantages

Thought for the day….”It’s better to be a lion for a day than a sheep all your life.”

“A certain amount of opposition is a great help to a man. Kites rise against, not with, the wind.”

There was a time in my younger days when I would spend hours looking for the cheapest price. Getting something for the cheapest price was the target, and an important one.  But gradually I have come around to looking at VALUE, rather than price.    I have just had delivery of my new camera.  I know that I could have ordered it online cheaper, but because my local photo shop (Photo & Video International, Christchurch, New Zealand) has given me such great service, then it was an automatic and easy decision to order from them.  True, I may have paid more for the camera, but when I need help or advice, the dealer will be there, and will be only too happy to help, even if there is no direct profit in it for him.   Not only that, but it makes trading much more friendly.    And it is good to know that when I need some extra bits, that he will supply them, even if there is little or no profit in it for the shop.    Previously I would have gone for the cheapest, but the value of personal customer service from a shop cannot be measured in money terms.     The best part is that at the end of the transaction, that both the buyer and the seller come away feeling satisfied and happy.   Too many negative experiences with online ‘shops’ located in far off places, who once they have sold you something, do not want to hear from you again.  Long live the friendly local shop !!!

And a couple more photos from the old camera…….

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and another photo from the archives….the Finnish capital of Helsinki

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RESPECT, CONSIDERATION, FAIRNESS

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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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Coffee time in Finland

Thought for the day…”Value is more expensive than price”

“You may not know what is going to happen when you try, but if you do not try, nothing will happen”.

Two photos from opposite sides of the globe next, one from the Finnish capital of Helsinki and the second from the Central Otago region of the South Island of New Zealand.   Interestingly, the building in the first photo is now the City Hall for Helsinki, but was originally a hotel where the first moving pictures were shown in Finland by the Lumiere brothers in 1896.   Even in winter (when temperatures are frequently below -20 degrees centigrade) people will sit outside in the area around the harbour to drink excellent, strong Finnish coffee (kahvi in Finnish language).   Finland is number one in the world for coffee consumption per capita, something to do with the long, dark Artic nights.  But the coffee is excellent !!!   It works out to about 12kg of coffee for each person in Finland.   A survey in 2014 reported that 14% of men and 6% of women in Finland drank MORE than 10 cups of coffee a day.  They like their coffee !!

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And another photo from the archives….Lake Hawea, Otago, New Zealand

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Scandinavian duo – Stockholm & Helsinki

Thought for the day…” A star needs darkness to shine ”          ” Beauty might bring happiness, but happiness always brings beauty”.

It you take around 51 000 steps, and run them in around 2 hours and 2 minutes, and cover a distance of 42.195 km then you will have run the famous marathon, and in a record time too !!   It is said to have started when a Greek messenger called Pheidippides ran from Marathon to Athens with news of the Greek victory over the Persians.  The sad fact is that having run the marathon with the exciting news, that he collapsed and died.    An extra 182 m was added to the distance in 1908 during the Olympics in London, so that the finish line would be in front of the royal box, and since then the marathon has remained at 42.195 km.   Annette Fredskov from Denmark holds the dubious honour of having run 366 marathons in a single year.   In Canada the 101 year old  Fauja Singh completed a marathon in Toronto during 2011 in a time of 8 hours 11 minutes.    Around 21 000 runners compete in the annual Stockholm marathon, from where today’s photo comes.   Judging by the number of runners in the photo, then it was certainly crowded over the first few kilometres.

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And another photo from the archives……snowmobile jumping in the Finnish capital of Helsinki….

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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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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.

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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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Two from Helsinki

Thought for the day…” The future Depends on what we do in the present” (Gandhi)

” Life is the art of drawing without an Eraser”.

Two photos from Helsinki, Capital of Finland.   One thing that you will NOT see a lot of in Helsinki (nor in Finland in general) are European Union flags.   The EU is not popular in Finland, and even on public buildings such as the Finnish Parliament and Helsinki Town Hall, you are unlikely to see an EU flag, just the white and blue flag of Finland.   There is even a cafe in Helsinki which has the prices in the previous Finnish currency (maarka), as even the Euro money is not popular.   Often the only EU flags that you will see are on the ferry terminals, some of the larger hotels and also on the EU Office in the city centre.  Car number plates have to have the EU flag on them by law, but basically you will not see many EU flags in Finland.

The first photo below is from the central Senate Square.  This square, just below the Lutheran cathedral is used for pop concerts, Christmas markets and events (the Eurovision Song contest has even been held here).   The buildings around the square resemble those in St. Peterburg, Russia, and parts of Helsinki were used in the 1960s and 70s for movies based on Russia, until the city council decided that it was not a good idea.

Whilst the architecture and design of Helsinki makes it a great city-break destination, the best thing is the strong Finnish coffee.  Finland is number one in the world for coffee consumption per capita, and the coffee there is excellent (try the ‘Roastery’ on Aleksanderkatu).  Many places around the city sell great coffee from 1 euro a cup, and if you are visiting Helsinki in Winter when the temperature is -25 degrees and it is dark nearly all the day, then the coffee will be especially welcome.

LOW-RES-Helsinki-Senate LOW-RES-Helsinki--harbour

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Faces 4 + 1, Not the Quality Spa Resort Hotel, Norefjell.

Thought for the day…..” To fail to prepare is to prepare to fail”

A photo from the harbourside market in Helsinki for the photo today.     Nice comparison between the real face and the plastic models.    Even in the depths of winter (when temperatures can easily fall to below minus 20 degrees C) and when the nearby sea is frozen, the harbourside market is still there.   Finland is number one in the world for coffee consumption per capita, perhaps helped by the long, cold winters.    Around the harbour in winter, people sit for coffee in heated tents,  and occasionally fish through the ice using a saw.     In the depths of winter, daylight is scarce (around 5 hours, although it remains gloomy all day) but around the middle of June, it is light almost 24 hours a day.

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And one from the archive……sunset over the Baltic Sea.

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Busy doing nothing – Not the Quality Spa Resort Hotel, Norefjell.

Thought for the day…..” Never let perfect be the enemy of better”     ”  It takes twenty years of hard work to become an overnight success”

A photo from a few years back, taken on the main railway station in Tallinn, Estonia.  Estonia has been independent from the Soviet Union since 1991, although there is still a lot of Russian influence there, with around 45% of the population speaking Russian.  It still shares a border with Russia, and another with Latvia.   Around 430 000 people live in the capital, Tallinn.   It has become known as the Silicon Valley of the Baltic due to the large IT industry there, with Skype being its most famous development.    More than 1.5 million tourists visit the city each year, with about 1/3 of them arriving by ship.   Plans to link Tallinn to Helsinki (Finland), some 80km away by an undersea tunnel have been put on hold, although they were part of the European Union plans to improve links to the area.

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And one from the archives, taken a few years ago, the rare Rothschild giraffe.

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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.

Low-res-Helsinki

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