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Posts tagged “Wanaka

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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RESPECT, CONSIDERATION & FAIRNESS

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Now it is SWISS airlines turn.

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

“The less you talk, the more you’re listened to.”

More evidence of how bad things are getting for Economy Class passengers.   SWISS airlines have now announced that on routes to/from Geneva GVA, that passengers on the cheapest economy tickets will now only get free water.  Gone are the  (included) meals and tea/coffee for those travelling on the cheapest fares.   So given that SWISS airlines are using aircraft such as the Airbus A320, the same as some budget/Low cost carriers (LCC) are using then what is the point of paying extra money to fly with SWISS airlines??   Seats and interiors are very similar, and both are going for a buy-on-board system, flight times are very similar, and increasingly, departure and arrival airports are the same.    So the legacy carriers believe that people will continue to pay higher prices for the same service as on a budget airline?  Not me for one.  Airline managers may have looked to the USA and have been inspired by what airlines there have been able to get away with, but I am drawing the line now.    With SWISS airlines announcing these cuts to basic economy tickets (not to mention the devaluing of the frequent flyer points system), I may end up flying a budget airline such as Wizzair in future.   No point to pay more money for the same service.  At least the budget airlines do not try and pretend that they are full service airlines.  Swiss airlines have gone too far with the latest cuts.

A black & white for for the picture today, one from Iceland taken in 2005.

and another photo from the archives…early morning on the lakefront in Pembroke, South Island, New Zealand.

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RESPECT, CONSIDERATION & FAIRNESS


Flying variety – old and new, north and south

Thought for the day….”Success – keeping your mind awake and your desire asleep.”

“Sooner or later, those who win are those who think they can.”

Two photos from the opposite sides of the Earth….the first is a Tiger Moth aircraft seen here in Pembroke, New Zealand.   This type of aircraft was designed in the 1930s  by the De Havilland company, who went on to make over 8800 of them.   Many pilots learnt to fly in these, and they are still popular for teaching pilots their initial tail wheel training.   Typically, it had a 120hp Gypsy Moth engine, which required hand starting as there was no electrical system in the aircraft.    Top speed was 140 knots.

and another photo….the lunchtime Wideroe Dash 8 aircraft arriving at Honningsvag in Artic Norway.  The aircraft carries 50 passengers, and is often used in Norway on the ‘milk run’ service in northern Norway, stopping at many of the isolated towns along the coast.

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RESPECT, CONSIDERATION & FAIRNESS


Worse service on the airlines, and more to come

Thought for the day…”The envious man grows lean at the success of his neighbour.”

“Hope is such a bait, it covers any hook.”

It is amazing that so many people are still choosing to fly with airlines, as a new round of cuts in services are leaked in the press.  The Hong Kong based  Cathay Pacific Airlines has announced that it too will follow the trend and squeeze in 10 across seating on its Boeing 777 services (the aircraft was designed for 9 across, so the change to 10 across will mean even less shoulder room).  There is also talk about going to 11 across onboard the A380, with the same result, less shoulder room for passengers.  And following on from that announcement, it seems that the Lufthansa group will move towards a ‘buy on board’ system for food.   It is being trialed at the moment, and apparently SWISS airlines (part of the Lufthansa group) are also going to trial a buy on board system.    Here is an example of one of the ‘meals’ that was served on a Lufthansa flight not long ago…about 100g of cheese and bread.   No plate, no meat and no other food.

So even before they start charging for food onboard, then they had almost cut out the included ‘meals’.  Earlier there was the news that British Airways were going to reduce the seating pitch onboard, meaning that their passengers would have LESS leg room than those on Ryanair.    And Lufthansa have also followed the trend by squeezing in more passengers on their new Airbus A320 NEO aircraft.   They have also removed one of the toilets (to fit in more seats) and made the remaining toilet even smaller.   Less leg room, less shoulder room and now even less food onboard.     The airlines mileage/frequent flyer programmes have been devalued so much that they are now virtually worthless, so the question is, is there any point now to choose one of the original airlines over the budget alternatives? Seems not.   You often have to pay for checked-in baggage, advance seat selection and a higher basic ticket price on thee traditional airlines anyway.    So why choose them?????

In most other businesses, giving a poorer service would usually drive people away, but it seems that the airlines are an exception.   Poorer service now, but still increasing numbers of people wanting to fly.  One thing is sure, the airlines that have increased the seating to 10 across on their 777s will not be seeing me onboard.   The limit has been passed.  Economy class has become a test of endurance, and is far from a pleasure now.

Staying with the theme of aviation, a photo that is now history, an AirNewZealand 747, seen here at Brisbane airport in Australia in 2004

and another photo from the archives….a local man in Southern Oman….

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RESPECT, CONSIDERATION, FAIRNESS.


Always connected – the digital overload

Thought for the day….”It is not the years in your life that count.  It is the life in your years”

“Knowledge comes from learning.  Wisdom comes from living”

One of the big challenges now is that we are never disconnected.   People are now suffering an onslaught of information at all hours of the day, and with tables and mobile phones, this continues even when they are not at work.    Internet is available almost everywhere, and the mobile phone means that people are still connected even when they are on the beach or walking in the park.    Not only are people able to be online continuously, but there is also an overload of information now.     Some scientists are now saying that this constant stream of data is making it hard to concentrate, and is also causing increasing levels of stress.  There is also the problem of trying to juggle all the different forms of technology, and to cope with all that information that is now bombarding us.     So rather than making life easier for us, this technology is actually making life MORE difficult and stressful.     People now believe that they have to answer a mobile phone call immediately, and that the email that has just arrived must be read instantly, whilst at the same time they are still bombarded by information from the internet.  Some hotels are now advertising that they do NOT have internet, and also are advertising digital detox breaks.   Always connected, and not a good thing.

Today’s photo comes from the lakefront in Pembroke, New Zealand, where there is also internet.  Who needs it though with a view like this?

and another photo, the waterfront at Picton, South Island, New Zealand.    From here ferries depart for the 3.5 hour trip to the North Island.

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RESPECT, CONSIDERATION,FAIRNESS


Spectacular start to the day – dawn in New Zealand.

Thought for the day….”Dreams do not work unless you do”

“Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise me”

Couple of sunrise photos from Pembroke, New Zealand.  Strong upper winds and lots of clouds, but the golden colours only lasted for about 5 minutes.  The term ‘sunrise’ is actually incorrect, as the sun does not rise at all.  It is the motion of the earth which makes it appear that the sun is rising.   In the days when Concorde was flying, it was possible to see 2 sunrises or 2 sunsets in the same day, as the aircraft flew ‘faster than the sun’.     Both the photos today were taken as jpegs using the Fuji X-T20.

and another photo of the same sunrise….

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RESPECT, CONSIDERATION, FAIRNESS.


The Southern Alps of New Zealand

Thought for the day..”Success is when preparation meets opportunity”

“The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your entire life running up and down the field and never score”

Two photos from yesterday, taken on a flight around the Southern Alps on the South Island of New Zealand.   Unusually there was absolutely no wind over the mountains, meaning absolutely no turbulence, so I was able to fly closer to the mountains than normal.    The photos are screenshots from the video camera (the video will go up on Youtube later), and show Mt. Aspiring (3033m high) in the Mt. Aspiring National Park.  In the first photo, on the horizon left of the wing, you can see New Zealand’s highest mountain, Mt. Cook, which is now 3724m high.   To the right of Mt. Aspiring is the large Bonar Glacier.   Unfortunately there is a movement in New Zealand to rename many of the places and mountains with minority names, however the official names of the mountains are still Mt. Aspiring and also Mt. Cook.   So here is Mt. Aspiring below the wingtip….

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and another photo, again a screenshot from the video camera..The normal climbing route is up the long snow covered face (about 60 degrees) on the left, then along the ridge to the summit at 3033m.

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Triathlon in Pembroke Wanaka, New Zealand

Thought for the day….”Success with a negative attitude is called Luck.  Success with a positive attitude is called Achievement”

Next Saturday (18th February) is the day for the annual Challenge Wanaka triathlon.    This event is part of the worldwide Challenge triathlon circuit, and it has grown into a large competition.    The race comprises of a 3.8km swim  (the lake will be around 15 degrees), followed by a 180km cycle, and finally the 42.2km marathon run.   The fastest competitor will finish in around 8 hours 40 minutes.    Here are a few photos from previous years races….

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Around the Bend – Challenge Wanaka

Thought for the day…” Follow your heart but take your brain with you”

“Success is when preparation meets opportunity”

Every year in Pembroke Wanaka, New Zealand, the Challenge Wanaka triathlon competition is held.   As usual, this consists of a swim of 3.8km followed by a 180km cycle and finally a marathon run of 42.2km.  The photos today show the final turn on the cycle leg.  At this point, the competitors will have already swum the 3.8km and will almost have completed the 180km cycle leg.  It is only a few hundred metres from the final turn to the transition area.   The 2016 race was won by Dougal Allan in a time of 8 hours, 31 minutes and 53 seconds for the total race.    His cycle section (180km) took him just 4 hours and 36 seconds (and 45 km/h is an impressive average speed on a cycle).   The next Challenge Wanaka race will be on the 18th February 2017.

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More depressing news from New Zealand

Thought for the day…”If things do not go right, go left”

“Success – keeping your mind awake and your desire asleep”

More depressing news from New Zealand….even more flights and even bigger aircraft.   As well as increased numbers of flights from the USA and also from China, Emirates airline has announced that it is putting a 4th Airbus A380 on the route to Auckland.    This will mean that there will be 4 A380s at Auckland at the same time in addition to another A380 from Singapore Airlines.  Whilst the tourist board in NZ may be congratulating themselves on record numbers of visitors, the country just cannot cope with ever-increasing numbers.   The country has a population of just over 4.6 million people, but now receives over 3.3 million tourists, many of whom want to see the same few places.   The last 2 summers have seen accommodation fully booked, and tourists having to sleep in cars due to the lack of accommodation.  Buses and flights have been fully booked, and it has even become necessary to reserve some mountain huts ahead.    Queenstown (known as the adventure capital of the world), with a population of around 22 000 people, is now receiving over 2 MILLION tourists a year.  You can imagine what the town centre is like there in high summer.   But the tourist board keeps encouraging more and more flights, thinking that more and more tourists are good for the economy.  Yet the very nature and beauty that these tourists are attracted to is fast becoming destroyed (there have been attempts to build a monorail in one of the national parks already).

Some of the popular walking tracks (such as the Abel Tasman coastal track and the Tongariro Crossing) are now so crowded that they are considering giving people starting times for the walks, in an attempt to spread the crowds out.    Clean and green New Zealand it once was.  Now it is crowded and busy NZ.   So the news that the airlines are putting on even more flights to cope with this demand is hardly surprising, yet nobody in government has had the courage to stand up and say that there is a limit to how many tourists that NZ can accept.   It seems that every month that a new record for tourist arrivals is being reached (China is the big growth area for incoming tourists), with no sign of it easing up.    So when those millions of tourists do finally arrive in NZ, then the fun and games trying to find accommodation, rental cars and domestic flights begins.    Those politicians who think that unlimited numbers of tourists are good for the NZ economy should take a trip (assuming that they can get a seat on a flight or bus) to Queenstown or Milford Sound in summer and see just what sort of effect the millions of tourists are having.    Start queueing now !!!

Early morning in Geilo, Norway for the photo today….great colours from the Fuji camera together with clear air helped make this such a good photo.  The early morning mist had almost burnt off when the photo was taken.

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and another photo from the archives…two tourists admire Lake Wanaka, Pembroke Wanaka on the South Island of New Zealand. Two tourists managed to creep into this photo even !!

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