Jeritilley A picture is worth a thousand words..

hotel

Last light of the day – sunset

Thought for the day….”Success is more aptitude than attitude”

“Heaven on Earth is a choice that you must make, not a place that you must find.”

As part of my job, I get to travel a lot, and you tend to notice the differences between countries.  At Singapore Changi (code SIN, and possibly the best airport in the world) recently the drinking fountains were closed for maintenance.  Being Singapore, with its fantastically well run services, the airport managers had thought to provide bottled drinking water at the water fountains so that passengers were not inconvenienced.   Travel further up to Norway, which you would expect would also be a well run country and things are the opposite.   In the Scandic hotel in Bergen, the orange juice machine was out of order, but nobody had thought to provide juice in jugs next to it.  Next hotel (again a Scandic hotel) and the coffee machine was out of order.   Just a handwritten sign on the machine saying that it was out of order.  Again, nobody had thought to provide a thermos of coffee to make up for the failure.   And as part of the ‘improvements’ to standard rooms, they do not now provide tea/coffee facilities in the standard rooms.  Gone also are tissues in the rooms, individual shampoo and conditioner and soaps.

And as if that was not enough, the Scandic hotels in Bergen (not cheap, as nothing in Norway is cheap) have decided that they will not put cutlery, cups or serviettes on the tables.   It is the same as the airlines, customer service is disappearing.   Scandic hotels may be happy to ask high prices in order to stay in their hotels.  The prices rise, but the service levels fall.   There comes a point when you say that enough is enough.   Why pay high prices for less service??     Perhaps they should let Singaporeans run the hotels in Norway??

And to end the day, a photo of the sunset near Alesund on the 18th July 2016….wonderful end to the day..

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and another photo from the archives…..happy boys in Albania

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Peaceful Swiss Alps – Gstaad

Thought for the day…”Life is 10 percent what you make it, and 90 percent how you take it”

“We learn the ropes of life by untying the knots”.

Did you know that there are 4 official languages in Switzerland (Swiss German, French, Italian and Romansh)?  Swiss German is the main language, with about 64% of the population using it.   And did you know that the abbreviation for Switzerland, CH comes from Confoederatio Helvetica, which is latin, and was chosen as a neutral alternative to using one of the 4 official languages.  It has the second highest life expectancy in the world (Japan is first), and also a high divorce rate (around 43%).  The wrist watch was invented here in 1868 (Patek Philippe).  The photo today is of the Swiss town of Gstaad, in the southwest of the country.  About 9200 people live in this expensive resort, home to the famous such as Julie Andrews, Bernie Ecclestone and previously Roger Moore, Elisabeth Taylor and Roman Polanski.  It looks very quiet in the photo though……

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and another photo from the archives….fireworks over Bergen, NorwayWordpress-Bergen

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View from above – Aruba

Thought for the day…”Action may not bring happiness but there is no happiness without action”.

“You cannot live a positive life with a negative mind”.

Off to the Caribbean for the photo today and the island of Aruba, seen here from above.    Aruba is about 30km off the coast of Venezuela, and is one of the group of islands known as the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao).   About 103 000 people live on this small island, which is only 32km long and about 10km wide.   It is dry and arid (there are no rivers), and also very flat, with a year round average temperature of 27 degrees.   Tourism is the number one industry here, with oil refining and offshore banking also important.  About 1.5 million tourists a year visit, including many arrivals by cruise ships in the capital, Orangestad.   The beaches were very quiet when this early morning photo was taken…..

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and another photo from the archives…..a girl in rural Laos.

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CRAZY hotel prices in Oslo

Thought for the day..” Thinking about exercise burns a total of 0 calories”.

”  You have to be ODD to be number one”.

Anybody planning a holiday to Scandinavia is going to need a lot of money, and if they are intending on visiting Norway, then a great deal of money.    Searching on the internet yesterday for hotels in Oslo, Norway, found some very interesting prices.    Can you believe that a SINGLE room in Oslo last night could cost up to 1073 euros (=UDS $1202)?   And that is not a special room, just a standard hotel room (judging by the pictures).

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And it is not just the hotel prices in Norway that are crazy.    Everything from a bottle of water to a meal out has high prices.    If you are fond of a drink with your meal, then get ready for a big shock.   Most alcohol in Norway can only be bought from the government run alcohol shops (Vinmonopolet) and even in hotels and pubs, only up to certain times.  It is a similar position in Sweden and Finland, where the government controls the sale through the government run shops (Systembolaget in Sweden, Alko in Finland).    So if you are going to eat, drink, sleep and be merry in Norway on holiday, then the final bill could be a nasty shock.

and another photo from the archives….no worries for these Albanian boys….

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New, looking old – more classic cars

Thought for the day….”  It is better to be looked over than overlooked”   (Mae West).

“If you focus on results, you will never change.  If you focus on change, then you will get results”.

Lucky timing with the camera recently and a case of being in the right place at the right time.    There has been a rally of Ford Model A cars in the Otago region recently, and I just happened to be at the village of Cardrona when the cars were also there.   Over 4.8 million Model A cars were made between 1927 and 1932 , the car being a replacement for the famous Ford Model T.    One version of the car even featured a V8 engine.   Prices ranged from USD 385 up to USD 1400.   Interestingly, it was the first car to feature safety glass in the windshield.

Two of the cars are seen here, outside the famous Cardrona Hotel.  Originally a gold-rush village, it now sits at the base of a ski resort.  A disused (gold) mineshaft can be seen inside the hotel bar.   From here, to the left of the photo, the road climbs up the Crown Range, reaching a height of 1119m, before descending towards the tourist town of Queenstown.       Due to the bad light that day, the photo was converted to black and white, then changed to sepia, to give it a 1930s look.

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and another photo….some of the 20 000 plus runners in the Stockholm marathon…

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New Zealand – Discovered

Thought for the day….” Well done is better than well said”.

” When everything feels like an uphill struggle, just think of the view from the top.”

It is sad to see some of the changes in New Zealand now.   Up to a few years ago, it was cheap destination and was the sort of place where you could arrive in a place and decide where to stay and for how long.   Now that has changed.   Huge numbers of tourists (many of them from China) mean that accommodation and buses are booked out, even now which was traditionally a ‘low’ season.    There were 402 518 international visitor arrivals in December 2014, a  new record, with Chinese tourists being the big growth area.     Compare that figure to the total number of people in NZ (just over 4.5 million) and you can see that over a year, that the number of tourists is huge.      Over 3/4 of the population of NZ live in the North Island.    But the problem now is that most of the tourists want to see the most popular places such as Queenstown, which is leading to overcrowding and booked out buses and accommodation.      This season it is hard to travel with advance reservations, and tourist activities are heavily booked, even this late in the season.    Prices have gone up a lot too, and NZ is no longer the bargain destination that it was.   Prices for accommodation have risen sharply, tourist activity prices have reached European levels, and eating out has also reached European price levels too    New Zealand has been discovered !    So if you are going to visit New Zealand, reserve in advance and come with a lot more money !!   And the photo today is from New Zealand, Lake Wanaka early morning…

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and another photo out of the archives….sunset at Ometepe, Nicaragua.

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More photos from a paradise holiday destination – Seychelles

Thought for the day….”It is the road that you take that decides your destiny, not your destiny which decides which road that you take”.

” You are not wealthy until you have something that money cannot buy”.

Situated just south of the Equator and in the Indian Ocean, the Seychelles are made up of 155 islands which were controlled by both Britain and  France until independence in 1976.   About 92 000 people live there (lucky them!), with many of them being employed in the main industry-tourism.     Unlike the Maldvives, the Seychelles have some wonderful inland scenery too, ranging from deep valleys to tropical rain forest, which makes the Seychelles a far more interesting holiday destination.  The beaches (some of which are said to be the best in the world) are uncrowded and extremely beautiful, the sea temperature perfect for swimming and diving (especially around the many coral reefs) and when you tire of sitting on the beach under a palm tree, the tropical rain forests are quite beautiful.  Add to that some fantastic quality hotels and they are really a perfect holiday destination.

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and another from the same area…..

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On the water – Norway Not the Quality Spa Resort Hotel, Norefjell.

Thought for the day…” Laughter is the best medicine, but if you laugh for no reason, then you need medicine”

“Marriage is a workshop where the husband works and the wife shops”.

Norway has been enjoying some very warm temperatures recently, and also lots of summer-like weather.    Already the coastal resorts are coming alive, and people have even been seen in the water.  And it is still April and it is Norway!  Nice photo from the marina at Holmestrand, southern Norway, for the photo today.   Sometimes you get lucky…being in the right place on the right day with the right weather, then just as you are about to take the photo, something exactly the right colour in the right place comes along.   Right !

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Never again Air France/KLM – Not the Quality Spa Resort Hotel, Norefjell.

Thought for the day….” Have you ever thought that the word ‘politics’  comes from the Latin word ‘poli’ meaning ‘many’ and tics, which are blood sucking creatures?”

“Why does round pizza come in a square box?”.

Another airline on the ‘no-fly’ list, or rather, the AirFrance/KLM group.    I cancelled some flights with them about 2 years ago, and whilst I knew that the ticket was non-refundable, the taxes were (because they had not been incurred).  Yet try getting these unused taxes back from Air France (who are collecting the taxes in advance in anticipation that they will become payable WHEN you make the flights).     Lots of useless replies from their so-called Customer Service, many unanswered emails and also wrong answers from them when they did reply.  The matter dragged on and on, and eventually, a partial refund of the taxes was received, but even then AF took out an extra administration fee.

It should not be a difficult and frustrating matter to get unused taxes refunded, but with the KLM/AF group then it is.    The poor customer ‘service’ from AF, their frequent wrong answers, and also their use of  no reply email addresses just made the whole matter so frustrating.    Life is too short to have problems like these, so based on my experience of AF/KLM ‘customer service’ then I will not be making any more bookings with them.   Better to avoid problems in future, and I do not want another exercise in frustration, which is what dealing with AF/KLM turned out to be.    And any airline that sends out emails to which you cannot reply should be avoided.   Lesson learned !!  Good customer service is important, except, apparently at AF/KLM.     So by sending out emails that you cannot reply to, and by making the whole business of getting a refund of unused taxes so frustrating then they have lost all future custom.    Why send out emails that you cannot reply to, especially when those emails come from the CUSTOMER SERVICE department?     And why mess people around when refunding unused taxes should be quick an easy??   AF/KLM will not be seeing me onboard again.

An abstract photo today for a change.    Some beachside railings on a promenade taken from an unusual angle, and then cropped to make it a little more unusual.   See what you think.

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The Open Road – New Zealand – Not the Quality Spa Resort Hotel, Norefjell.

Thought for the day…..” Do not put the key to your happiness in someone else’s pocket”.

” Some people drink from the fountain of knowledge, others just gargle”.

Off to New Zealand for todays photo, and a picture from one of the three main routes (state highway 73)  that crosses the Southern Alps in the South Island of New Zealand.    Having left the flat plains of Canterubury behind, the road climbs up through Porters Pass (939m) then descends in the mountains before climbing again up to Arthurs Pass (925m) then descends steeply towards the west coast.    The main road is seen here at the bottom of this descent, not far from the settlement of Jackson, which now boasts a 5 star resort.  Jackson is more famous for its pub and also its gourmet pies, a New Zealand tradition.   An excellent, scenic drive or cycle if you are in New Zealand, highly recommended.   Non-stop it will take around 3 hours from Christchurch to the West Coast, but with scenery like this, then you are bound to stop for photos.   The view here is looking eastwards, back towards the Southern Alps.

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