Jeritilley A picture is worth a thousand words..

Switzerland

Decluttering and moving on.

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.”

Over the years it is easy to accumulate more and more stuff.   It is very easy to end up with boxes and boxes of books, magazines, CDs, DVDs and a host of other possessions which were stored in the hope that they would be needed again in the future.    I am currently having a major decluttering session, so all the CDs and DVDs are being scanned, old photos sorted out and boxes of books thrown out.    It is surprising that so much of what was stored turns out to be just junk or things that are no longer important.   Whilst it might have been important years ago, now that I look back I find box loads of things that are not relevant or no longer mean anything.

There is a very easy solution to this….decluttering.    And declutter have I done….getting rid of so much stuff and am moving on.    A sort of mega Spring-cleaning exercise.

Here is a photo from the collection, originally a 35mm negative taken about 1990 in England.   The negative was scanned then destroyed, so now it is just a digital copy (but reduced here for the internet).   A British Rail HST125 at Penzance train station waiting to depart back to London Paddington.   A very unusual clear blue sky too !

and another photo from the archives – a steam train on the Brienz Rothorn Bahn BRB in Switzerland.

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Two from the photo collection

Thought for the day….”Life always offers you a second chance. It’s called tomorrow”

“It is the set of the sails, not the direction of the wind that determines which way we will go.”

Winter is a great time to sort out the photo collection, and also get rid of the duplicates and not-so-good photos.    Far too many photos in the collection, so some serious pruning is needed, although it is a lot of fun going back through the old photos and reliving the moments.    A couple of photos here taken not long back, trains around Brienz, Switzerland.   Brienz is a Swiss town very much in the shadow of its famous nearby neighbour Interlaken, which receives nearly all the tourists.   But Brienz has its own charms, such as the steam train up the Rothorn mountain.   Add to this a superb lakeside location, some great bakery cafes and it makes a great alternative to Interlaken.    Both photos were taken with the Fuji X-T20 camera.

and another photo from the archives….

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Video or not. That is the question

Thought for the day…”One fails forward toward success.”

“The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.”

One of the big decisions that I am wrestling with at the moment is whether to concentrate on taking still photos, or take videos as well.    Taking videos is a whole different ball game, needing more equipment (including a much heavier tripod)  and a host of other bits and pieces.   Not only that, taking videos takes more time to set up and then even longer to edit.

Not only that, but I am beginning to question just how much photographic equipment I am sometimes carrying….a Fuji still camera, extra Fuji lenses (including a zoom lens that weighs 1.4kg), battery charger, spare batteries and trip.   Add to that 2 action cameras (Garmin & Go Pro), their battery chargers, their cables and all the special fittings that both need then the camera bag starts to get very big.     And on top of this, there is the quadcopter, again with its own battery charger, extra batteries and controller.   Of course, the leads and plugs for each are different.

So the camera bag is getting fuller and fuller, heavier and heavier.   Sometimes I think that going out to take photos is becoming a bit like a National Geographic photo trip.    So once again, I am trying to decide whether or not to concentrate on still photos, or to continue with videos as well.   Not an easy decision.   The quality of videos on sites like YouTube and Vimeo is SO high now….what was acceptable 10 years ago is not not, so videos have to made much better than before.

Not an easy decision, and one that needs a lot more thought.

Two still photos today, the first from the Brienzersee lake in central Switzerland, with one of the BLS lake boats, the second photo from the military air base at Meiringen, and a photo of an F-18 Hornet taking off for a practice flight prior to the recent airshow.

and another photo from the archives…

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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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Travelling in style….the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland

Thought for the day…” Minds are like parachutes, they only function when open”.

” When it is time to die, let us not discover that we have never lived”

News on the net is that over 1700 private jets are expected in connection with the World Economic Forum, which is being held in Davos, Switzerland.    Zurich airport has already exhausted its private jet parking spaces, and a nearby military base is being opened up to cope with the overflow.    And demand for helicopters is also breaking records.    So what will the 2500 world leaders and business managers actually achieve at Davos???    No doubt lots of talk and lots of very expensive dining, but to what end?     To me, it seems like just another excuse for an expensive luxury trip to wine and dine in Switzerland.     Try telling that to the millions in Greece who have been without jobs for a long time, and where youth unemployment (ages between 15 and 24) is now over 60%.   And whilst some people in Greece and Portugal have to queue for food handouts from charities, the 2500 world leaders and business managers will be dining in style in Davos in 5 star luxury.

Today’s photo is not from a private jet, but is a nice photo of clouds.   This photo works much better in black & white, as then it concentrates attention on the shape of the clouds themselves.

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Battle of the Paddle – Stand up paddleboarding

Thought for the day…” Success depends on your backbone, not your wishbone.”

” The best way to predict your future is to create it.”

The Swiss have a wonderful system of democracy whereby if 100 000 people sign a petition, then a national referendum can be held on any subject.  There have been 9 during 2014, ranging from more funding for the railways to limits on immigration.  More will be held today, including one on gold reserves by the national bank and another on immigration.    But it is the story in the international news at the moment that is catching the attention…..that a group in Switzerland is trying to get enough signatures to hold a petition to ban the eating of dogs and cats.    Hard to believe that in Switzerland that dogs and cats are eaten in some areas, especially the Rhine Valley.     The cats and dogs are eaten as a form of ‘mostbröckli‘.  Dogs are more commonly eaten in Korea, Vietnam and China, but it is surprising to learn of the practice in Switzerland.

Florianapolis, Brazil was the host recently for the ‘Battle of the Paddle’ stand up paddleboard competition.    A couple of photos capturing the action during the final…….

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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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Swiss beauty – early autumn, blue skies

Thought for the day…” What the wise do in the beginning, fools do in the end”.

”  You never know who is swimming naked until the tide goes out”.

Off to Switzerland today and to the beautiful valley at Kandersteg.    Around 7.5 million people live in Switzerland, and interestingly, it is said that there are more banks than dentists there.  Also, it is said that the original Swiss army knives were red in colour so that they could be seen in the snow.    Switzerland is also home to the longest stairway in the world, where the Niesenbahn cable car-funicular has a stairway of 11 674 steps next to it.   Monte Rosa is the highest mountain, at 4634m, whilst Lake Maggiore at 195m is the lowest point.   Kandersteg, in the photo below, is on one of the main north-south routes through the Alps, but is a summer and also a winter resort.   Well worth a stop if you are in Switzerland…

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and another photo from the archives….life in the hills of Nepal…..

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Blue skies and green meadows – Switzerland at it’s best.

Thought for the day….” When you fish for love, bait with your heart”.     ” You cannot cross the sea by merely standing and gazing at the water”.

A classic photo from Switzerland for the photo today.  The photo was taken in the village of Kandersteg, near the centre of Switzerland.   Located at about 1200m altitude, it is surrounded by the Bernese Alps which rise to over 3600m.    Tourism is highly important here, and it is both a winter (skiing) and summer (hiking & climbing) destination.  It is also the home of the international Scout centre, with over 11 000 Scouts visiting each year.    Despite having 4 official languages, Swiss-German is the most prevalent, with around 65% of the 7.3 million residents speaking it.  One piece of trivia….there are now more Starbucks coffee houses in Switzerland than banks.   And Switzzerland has the highest consumption of chocolate per capita in the world…..11.6 kg/capita a year.    As the saying goes…9 out of 10 people like chocolate, the 10th person was lying.

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And a photo out of the archives….soldiers on parade in Copenhagen, Denmark.

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Ultimate Swiss army knife !!! – Not the Quality Spa Resort Hotel, Norefjell.

Thought for the day….” The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement”.

”  Happiness is a road to travel, not a goal to reach”.

Did you know that the original Swiss army knife was grey, not red?  And in the beginning, when the knives were made for the Swiss army, they did not feature a corkscrew because soldiers were forbidden to drink whilst on duty.  Apparently, on modern Swiss army knives, the corkscrew is the one part that is not made in Switzerland (it is manufactured in Japan instead).  The Swiss army knife started life in 1897 after being developed by Carl Elsener.   His idea was to manufacture something to stop emigration due to unemployment.  The design has been so successful that it has even been used in the Space Shuttle.  It is now possible to buy a Swiss army knife WITHOUT the knife part, so that it can be carried on flights (a knife-less Swiss army knife!) .   Wenger, one of the two main companies producing the knives (the other is Victorinox)  produces a knife known as ‘The Giant’, with some 87 tools included on it.    And here is a photo of one…which was on offer in Switzerland for CHF 1200……

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One strange or odd fact about the Swiss army is that they accidentally invaded the neighboring country of Lichtenstein in 2007 after getting lost in a rainstorm !!

And a photo from the archives, this time from Cuba….4 modes of transport in this shot…..

LOW-RES-Trinidad

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Finals to land, colourful – Not the Quality Spa Resort Hotel, Norefjell.

Thought for the day…” Those who forget where they came from, tend to get lost where they are going to”.

” Beauty might bring happiness, but happiness always brings beauty”.

Now it is part of everyday life, but only 111 years ago, flying was new.  The Wright Brothers’ first flight could have been performed within the length of the cabin of a 747 jumbo jet.    And before 1926, a person could fly an aircraft without a license.  Soon after the first flying licenses started, Ellen Church became the first stewardess in 1930.   Although an Airbus A320 is pictured below (from the Swiss company Edelweiss Air), the largest Airbus, the A380 is over 72 metres long and weighs around 590 tons.   When flying, the 4 engines on an A380 have a working temperature of 3100 degrees, whilst the actual aircraft is made up of about 4 million parts.    It also takes around 3600 litres of paint to paint one!

If you are wondering about the flower painted on the aircraft, the Edelweiss, it is normally found between 1700 and 3000 m altitude in the Alps, although some forms of Edelweiss are found much lower down in the Artic regions.  It can be used to make an oxidant-rich tea, and also can be used as sunblock or moisturizer.    And the flower was used in the Rogers & Hammerstein musical, Sound of Music.

LOW-RES-Edelweiss

And a photo from the archives…. a girl from Swaziland, Africa. Great neutral light for this photo, and a subject who was a natural.

WORDPRESS-Swaziland-girl

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Queen of the Skies leaves Zurich – Not the Quality Spa Resort Hotel, Norefjell.

Thought for the day…” When opportunity knocks, please answer the door.  Don’t keep asking who it is”.

”  Your trust account is more important than your bank account”.

Another photo today of the ‘Queen of the Skies’, the Boeing 747.   The 747 series has now logged more than 77.8 BILLION kilometres, which is the equivalent of 101,500 trips to the moon and back.   An estimated 5.6 billion people (or 80% of the world’s population) are said to have flown in a 747.   The aircraft in the photo, the 747 400 series has around 274km of wiring in it, and can fly up to 13 500km non-stop.  It can carry 215,745 litres of fuel.  Interestingly, the Wright brothers’ first flight could have been performed within the length of the economy section of this aircraft (45m).   The photo shows a departure from Zurich, Switzerland bound for Singapore Changi, a distance of 10 318km.  This service has now been replaced by a daily Airbus A380.   Zurich airport, apart from being a pleasant airport to fly from, is also very photographer-friendly, even arranging special trips to the best photo spots around the airport.

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Face with a story – Not the Quality Spa Resort Hotel, Norefjell.

Thought for the day…”Life is not measure by the number of breaths we take, but by the moment that take our breath away”

“Don’ t tell me sky is the limit when there are foot-prints on the Moon”

Did you see the story from Switzerland that Starbucks are going to open an outlet on a Swiss train?     Starbucks is growing very fast (over 3000 new outlets planned in the US alone), and already has over 18000 shops.   There are even 255 in New York alone.   The coffee served onboard Swiss trains from the mobile trolleys is good already, so I wonder how well Starbucks will go down.

Another China photo today, but this time from Yunnan province and a shot from the weekly market in Shaping.   Very easy to get photos like these at these markets, as there are so many people in different tribal costumes, and it does not take long to get a shot like this.   The background was deliberately made out of focus to concentrate interest on the face.   A cloudy day produced bright, even light, and a bit of cropping has removed distractions from the edge of the photo.   How long will it be before it becomes impossible to get photos like this?

LOW-RES-YUNNAN

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Breaking records SPEED – Not the Quality Spa Resort Hotel, Norefjell.

Thought for the day….”Out on the edge, you see all sorts of things that you cannot see from the centre”.

” Losers make promises that they often break, winners make commitments that they always keep”

A photo today of the world record holder for conventional trains, the French TGV.  The train, seen here in Lausanne station (Switzerland) carries a special paint scheme, and includes details of the world record which it broke on 3rd April 2007, when it achieved a top speed of 574.8 km/h.   Although this is the world record for conventional trains (that is, those running on normal rails) the Japanese MAGLEV train set an overall train speed record of 581 km/h.   At the other end of the scale, the world’s slowest train is said to be the last running train in Cambodia, which has a top speed of only 17 km/h.   The normal top speed of the TGV (as in today’s photo) is 320 km/h, although there are plans to raise this in time.

LOW-RES-TGV

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Swiss Bells – Not the Quality Spa Resort Hotel, Norefjell.

Thought for the day….” A wise man can see more from the bottom of a well than a fool can see from the top of a mountain”.

” A ship in a harbour is safe, but that is not what ships are for”.

I had forgotten just how good travel by train could be.  I recently travelled down through Europe on long-distance night train, and it was very interesting to compare this trip with the return trip, which was by air.   No early check in at an airport, no expensive airport ‘box’ hotel, and no long queues to endure.  No silly security checks, and nobody on the train was worried that I was carrying toothpaste or liquids which at an airport would be taboo.   No need to check in at all, just board the train and find the sleeping compartment.   Pleasant evening on the way down through Europe, good snacks in the cafe, and coffee that was far better than airline coffee.    And add to that a good nights sleep and it makes a very pleasant journey.   Then next morning breakfast in the train cafe and voila, it was time to arrive (and on time too).   Compare that to the hassle and frustration at airports and being squashed in economy class for the flight back.  Flight back was late, on an old aircraft and delayed even further due to passengers travelling with far too many carry on bags.  Perhaps one day the train will be THE way to travel again…….The recent trip was a very interesting comparison.

Today’s photo is from the central part of Switzerland, with a photo of Swiss cow bells on a woodland hotel.  Very Swiss !

LOW-RES-Swiss-bells

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