Jeritilley A picture is worth a thousand words..

Switzerland

Road rage, air rage and now airport rage

Thought for the day…”The hardest thing is to take less when you can get more.”                                                                                                                                                                                                    “Obstacles are things a person sees when he takes his eyes off his goal.”

Road rage has now spread to airports as well.   The security checks, long queues and long waits and hassles over baggage mean that people are more stressed than ever.    Airlines have shot themselves in the foot by charging for baggage, as now you see people trying to drag on as much as they can…not uncommon to see them with 3 and sometimes 4 bags.    Airline policies may be wrong, and a lot of the things that airlines are now doing ARE unreasonable, but what is not fair is when you see people’s anger at airports directed at the wrong people – the people working on the check-in desks or at the gate.  These are not the people who have made the rules, they are the ones who are given the unfortunate task to enforce them though.   So it is sad to see passengers at airports getting angry with the wrong people, especially as many of them work for ground companies who are only contracted by the airlines.   By all means get angry with the airlines and the people who have made the mistakes, but make sure that the anger is directed at the correct people.   The person in front of you at the desk or gate may not be the right one.

Late afternoon low sunlight lights up the main street of Brienz, Switzerland for the photo today.  Many of the houses in this area date from the 1700s.

and another photo from the archives – a boat waits at Brienz, Switzerland for the return trip to Interlaken.

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I got scammed – Twice !

Thought for the day…”If you count all your assets you always show a profit.”

“We may pass violets looking for roses. We may pass contentment looking for victory.”

Now I am old enough to know better, but sometimes I get caught.   What makes it even worse is that I got caught twice because of a lack of research on the internet.   The warning signs were there IF I had looked before I bought….

I often used websites that compare prices to find the cheapest price.    I am learning more and more that cheapest is not always best.    I used a couple of websites (kayak.de  and also skyscanner.com    to find some good deals on air tickets.  These websites present you with a list of online travel agents (OTAs) who deal with the actual selling of the air tickets (kayak and Skyscanner just list the agents and do not sell tickets themselves).     If you look online at sites such as Tripadvisor you will find pages and pages of reports of people who have had problems with the online travel agents.    I also fell into the trap, and got caught twice, which makes me feel even more foolish.     Lost a lot of money through these OTAs and now that I have had my fingers burned twice, and avoiding them like the plague.   If you have time, then have a look at Tripadvisor and see what people are writing about the OTAs.

The message is very clear…..book direct, whether it is for hotels or for flights.   Although the prices may look cheaper at first, the OTAs will find a way to make their money from you.    And as a lot of people have found, it is very easy to get scammed by the online travel agents, with the final price often being different to the first advertised price.      So now that I have lost money twice by trying to book via an OTA, now I am just booking direct for both flights and hotels.  Save yourself the problems !!

Clear skies and clean air for this photo from the Swiss town of Grindewald.

and another photo from the archives.

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Houston – we have a problem

Thought for the day…”Happiness is good health and a bad memory.”

“Prosperity tries the fortunate, adversity the great.”   (Rose Kennedy).

You just have to feel sorry for the NASA astronaut who discovered recently whilst on a space walk that he had forgotten to put a memory card in his GoPro camera.    We have all done that, or have forgotten to recharge the camera batteries, but to be out in space on space walk and discover that you have no memory card in the camera must feel very bad, very bad.     And to make it even worse, the omission was even broadcast, the link for the video from NASA is here –

Back down on Earth, here is a photo from a religious even held in the Swiss town of Brig recently –

The Interlaken (Switzerland) to Lucern express train of the Zentralebahn arrives in Meiringen.

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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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The worm has turned (at least for today)

Thought for the day….”When your work speaks for itself, don’t interrupt.”

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

I recently flew with Lufthansa from Oslo via Frankfurt to Zurich.    Apart from the usual rush to get onboard and the usual problem to get space in the overhead luggage bins, the seats on the A320 seemed even closer than before.   But the real insult was the ‘meal’ that was served onboard.  This is what Lufthansa, one of the legacy airlines, served as the ‘meal’….

And not only that insult, but the coffee was served in micro size cups too (the watch is in the photos to give an idea of the small size) –

and the ‘dinner’ on the leg to Zurich was 20g, yes 20g of dry crackers.   Again, no refills of coffee offered, despite the small size.   I had paid an ADULT fare, yet was given these micro sized portions.   Can you believe 20g ??  Lufthansa have also been devaluing the air miles on flights too, so I wonder what is the point in paying extra to fly with the legacy carriers when the service has fallen this much???

BUT fast forward to my next trip to Zurich 3 weeks later.   I am lucky to be able to choose a lot of the time, so due to Lufthansa becoming less good, I chose the German Railways train instead.   What a breath of fresh air. No check in 1 hour before departure.   I could get onto the train carrying tubes of toothpaste, a Swiss army knife and liquids without anybody worrying.   The seats had lots of space.  I could take my own baggage (and be sure that it was going to travel with me on the same train).    The staff on the train were excellent, the coffee in the restaurant car good and in normal sized cups.    I had space to walk around, I had comfortable seats and there were films and TV programmes to watch on the DB entertainment channels.    Despite a much longer journey time, it seemed much faster than flying.  I arrived feeling good, relaxed and that I had enjoyed the journey.    We tend to forget that the train can be a great way to travel.    Just because air travel is fast does not mean that it is good, or that it is the only option.   The train down through Germany was so good that I am not considering using the train for many more future trips.    To quote a great British railwayman (Peter Parker) ..”this is the age of the train”.    Perhaps if airlines continue to pack people in and treat passengers as an inconvenience, then more and more people may discover the train.

No prizes for guessing where the photo below was taken…..yes, a souvenir shop !!   Typically Swiss.  Taken with the Fuji X-T20 camera together with the excellent 35mm F2 prime lens.

and another photo from the archives…..bright colours in Cape Verde Islands….

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Good Customer Service – Fujifilm

Thought for the day…”Prosperity tries the fortunate, adversity the great.”

“When one burns one’s bridges, what a very nice fire it makes.” (Dylan Thomas)

For the last 5 weeks, I have been without the camera, which suffered a cracked screen after being dropped onto the floor.    Sent it back to Fuji, but Norwegian Post (and there is a company who deserves to go out of business if ever there was one)  took 9 days to get it to an address near Oslo.   Then, after that delay, the camera got delayed for weeks due to the virus in the TNT Courier computer systems.   TNT seemed unable to get the camera delivered, and it just sat there for weeks, getting nowhere near the repair shop.   But here is the happy ending….Fuji (who are normally very good with customer service and backup) have offered to send me a new camera.  That was something that I did not expect, but it is good to know that there is good customer service around.   The feedback online is also good for Fuji, as other users have also written about similar good treatment.    So I am happy to continue using Fuji, just have to wait a little longer (now over 5 weeks) for the replacement to arrive.   Then back to photographing again.

Back in 2008, Singapore Airlines (one of the World’s great airlines) were still using 747s on the route from Zurich to Singapore.  The ‘Queen of the Skies’, weighing almost 400 tonnes,  is seen here taking off on 23rd May 2008 for the 10 294km journey back to its’ home base.  Flight time was around 12 hours and 10 minutes.

and another photo, an art gallery in Honningsvag, in the Artic north of Norway.

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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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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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Some red faces somewhere…..a big error.

Thought for the day….”What the mind can concieve, it can achieve”

“You cannot plough a field by turning it over in your mind”

No doubt that there were some red faces at the Nabors Demolition company in Texas, USA.   They recently demolished the WRONG house, and have blamed Google maps for the error.   The house that they demolished was one block from the house that they should have knocked down.   Needless to say, the owners of the now-demolished house were none too happy, although the Nabors Demolition company  described it as ‘no big deal’.    The demolition company’s motto is ” We Could Wreck The World” certainly had a good try.   Apparently, Google maps has now amended the map to show the correct location of the house that should have been knocked down.   Some red faces somwhere??

People photos are always fascinating, so here is another one…fisherman in the park…Fuji X-E1 camera together with the Fuji 55-230mm lens.

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and another photo from the archives…Kandersteg in Switzerland….

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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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