Jeritilley A picture is worth a thousand words..

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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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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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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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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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The Far North of Norway

Thought for the day…”Freedom means the opportunity to be what we never thought we would be.”

“We all have ability. The difference is how we use it.”

Two more photos from the far north of Norway (70 degrees north).    At this time of year, there is 24 hours of daylight, as the sun never goes below the horizon.   Whilst the Norwegians may get excited about having 24 hours of daylight, it is not in fact very useful, because you still have to sleep.  And the other side of the coin is that in winter it has 24 hours of darkness (the so-called ‘eternal night’)  so it must be extremely depressing then.  Seen here in the photo is one of the many cruise ships which visit at this time of year, this one the ‘Mein Schiff’ from TUI Cruises.  Built in Finland at a cost of some 360 million euros, it carries around 2500 passengers, so is much smaller than the 6000+ passenger ships that cruise the Caribbean.   Seen here in Honningsvag, Finnmark, Norway.

and another photo….Mehamn in the far north of Norway

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Money well spent, or not ???

Thought for the day…” Hope but never expect, Look forward but never wait”

“Obstacles are those frightful things that you see when you take your mind off your goal”  (Henry Ford)

The waterfront of the Norwegian capital, Oslo is changing fast.   Currently it is a mass of cranes and building sites.   A photo from yesterday taken in perfect weather and warm temperatures, showing just how much building is going on.  The white building on the right is the Opera House, which was completed in 2007, supposedly based on an iceberg shape.    The exterior is covered with Italian marble, Carrara marble.   This is an odd choice to use, as the architects had perhaps not read about the problems that this same type of marble had when it was used for the Finlandia concert hall in Helsinki.    Whilst Italian marble may be very suitable for use in the Mediterranean, it does not handle the extreme cold temperatures of Scandinavia well.    Much of the marble used in Helsinki on the Finlandia Hall had to be replaced, so it is interesting to see it used in Oslo, which has a similar climate.  Time will tell !   The cost of the Opera House in Oslo was over 4 BILLION Norwegian kronor, or over USD 700 million.   Would this money have been better spent on a new medical centre??

and another photo showing the whole building….

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Norway duo – the Fuji X-T10 camera at work

Thought for the day….”If we were meant to stay in one place then we would have roots instead of feet’

“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die’  (Buddha)

The photo today comes from Svolvaer, the ‘capital’ of the Lofoten Islands in Norway.   About 4500 people live in this town which was built on cod fishing.  Nowadays, summer tourism is very important with about 200 000 tourists visiting each year.   It is served by ferries from Bodo on the mainland and also by a regional airport.  Day trips operate from here to the nearby Trollfjord and also Rafsundet.  Being Norway, everything is VERY VERY expensive, making a holiday here a costly trip.   When a Norwegian is asked to name something that is cheap in Norway, they usually struggle to think of ANYTHING that is cheap.   The words ‘cheap’  and ‘Norway’  do not go together.

and another photo…..the very small village of Urke in the Norwegian fjords.  Both of the photos today were taken as jpegs using the Fuji X-T10 camera.

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Two from the opposite ends of Norway

Thought for the day…..”If you cannot do great things then do small things in a great way”

“Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations”.

So the crazy ‘security’ people in the good old USA have now decided that the humble Kindle e-book reader cannot be taken onboard flights from certain countries, nor a laptop, digital camera or tablet.   Yet people flying from some other countries CAN take the exact same items.    Just another sign of how stupid the USA has become.    And I am even more surprised that the travelling public in the USA is putting up with more and more of this nonsense.  Nothing to do with security, just a way for the Department of Homeland ‘Security’  to exercise even more control over people, without making flying any safer.    Even Australia is now making the use of the naked body scanners compulsory, with no opt-out option,  yet another intrusion into personal privacy and personal rights.     Based on these stupid, groundless ‘security’ procedures ( security scam would be another way to describe it)  then I will continue to avoid the USA, UK and Australia.    Airport procedures now are beyond reasonable.

A photo of the west Norwegian city of Bergen, taken from Mt. Floyen in perfect light.  Again great colours from the Fuji camera, taken as a jpeg.

and another photo….the fishing town of Vardo, Norway.    This is the easternmost town in Norway, and actually lies further East then Istanbul or Kiev !!  One of the town’s slogans is ‘Eternal light, Eternal Night’,  which is a reference to the 24 hours of constant daylight during summer, and the 24 hours of constant darkness during Winter.    The Russian border is only a few km away across the bay.

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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…….

low-res-sailing-boats

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

LOW-RES-Helsinki--harbour

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What is on his mind ? Thoughts and expressions…

Thought for the day….” When ‘I’ is replaced with ‘We’ then even illness becomes wellness”.

“Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something”.

People photos are always interesting, and here is another from the collection.   Despite being well known for fantastic colours, the Fuji X series of cameras also produces great Black & White pictures too.   BW really suits this portrait well, and the neutral expression on the man’s face was perfect.   A series of photos was taken to get one where he looked at the camera at the right moment.   The focus point was set on his eyes.  We can only speculate what was on his mind when the photo was taken……

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and a photo from 2015, Alesund in Norway.

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