Shinkansen Sprint -Trip Report: Hiroshima-Kyoto

When I was three, my grandparents bought me my first book of trains. My second book followed when I was four. I must have read that book a hundred times and memorised every word. It was in that book, that I was introduced to the Japanese “Bullet Train” which was launched the year I was born. In 1964, they ran at speeds of up to 210 km/h (130 mph). Now they go up to 320 km/h(200 mph ). Today Japan’s high-speed network is the fourth largest in the world (after China, Spain, Germany) and has the second highest…

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Using User Reviews

User-review sites are a staple of my travel diet. I love Tripadvisor, for hotels! Here is the link to my profile.   Yelp is my go to for city services and restaurants. Airbnb, of course, builds in reviews into its system. Skytrax provides reviews from air travellers about their flight experiences.   I have several rules of thumb with reviews: The more reviews the better. For example, an apartment on Airbnb with 3 reviews is usually skipped by me for one with 20+ I take away the number of worst reviews from the number of best reviews.…

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In Solidarity with Somalia

Two bomb blasts rocked the capital of Somalia, Mogadishu this weekend killing over 200 people. The people killed were students, shoppers, restaurant customers and waiters, kiosk workers, taxi and bus drivers.Men, women and children. President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed declared three days of mourning and called for people to donate blood for the wounded. I understand that in a war, there are casualties. But anyone killing civilians is to be condemned. I call on all armies, all governments and all groups to first of all, find alternatives to war and secondly quit with killing the people through the…

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Auf Wiedersehen Air Berlin- what went wrong?

Next year should be Air Berlin’s 40th birthday. From a small charter operation founded in 1978, the airline grew to become Germany’s second largest, and Europe’s seventh biggest. 8,600 staff work for the carrier which up to recently, was flying to 42 destinations with a fleet of 114 planes. I have a small soft spot for the airline, its staff, history and most of all its home base, my second favourite city in the world. But nothing seems to be going to save Air Berlin. The airline has been in trouble for some time. I…

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Traversing Tokyo’s Two Tallest Towers

I was just six when I first wanted to ride a bullet train and climb the Tokyo Tower. Now, four decades later, I have done both. The Bullet trains still rank amongst the fastest on the world but the Tokyo Tower is no longer the city’s tallest structure. That distinction now belongs to the Tokyo Sky tree.  I was able to scale both last month (and ride a bullet train -review next Tuesday!) Tokyo Tower -opened 1957- 332.9 metres (1,092 feet) Designed as a telecommunications tower with two observation levels at 150 metres (490 ft) and 249.6 metres (819 ft).…

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Japanese Efficiency at its best -flying JAL Japan Airlines

JAL became the 97th airline, I have travelled with, 49 years since my first ever air flight. I have a goal of having flown 100 different airlines by my half-century anniversary of flying in May 2018*. Booking Japan has several major airlines. If I had been longer in Japan, I would have liked to sample them all! I chose to fly Japan Airlines (JAL), flag carrier airline of Japan and its second-largest carrier because I wanted to add another airline to my One World collection! Their main rival is ANA (All Nippon Airways) Japan’s largest-they also own Air Japan and low-cost carrier Vanilla Air. Skytrax…

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Monarch, UK’s largest airline collapse ever! What happened? Has it impacted you?

It has been a horror year for UK low-cost air passengers. Ryanair cancelled 18,000 flights between October and March 2018. Then at 4am on Monday this week, after Monarch flight, ZB3785 from Tel Aviv to Manchester landed at 319am, that airline collapsed into administration. As the UK’s fifth-biggest airline, it is the biggest airline failure in the UK. The collapse left 110,000 people stranded overseas. Monarch dubiously joins an exclusive club of established airlines currently in financial trouble including Alitalia, Air Berlin and Kenya Airways who are all close to bankruptcy. Monarch had just celebrated its 50th Birthday in…

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Britain’s Ancient Roman Roads in Wonderful Transit Style Map

I love a good map and I especially find transit maps to be very absorbing. I am not sure what the official term for this “condition” is. Any thoughts? I was fascinated to find that Cartographer Sasha Trubetsko (pictured left) has created a map of the old Roman roads that crisscrossed Britain. The map is in the form of a transit style map! I love it. The Romans built a massive network of roads across Britain (except in Scotland which they could never quite conquer!). The roads allowed them to transport troops, goods and people across their…

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How many holidays are enough? According to Science

How much vacation have you taken so far this year? If you live in Brazil,  Finland, France, Spain and the United Arab Emirate you are (on average) entitled to 30 days paid holidays per year and on average, those days are fully taken.  At the other end of the spectrum, South Koreans only took eight days of their 15 days and Japanese took 10 of their 20. 37% of US workers had not been on a holiday in more than two years. This comes from Expedia’s Vacation Deprivation® study, an annual study of vacation habits amongst 9,424 employed adults aged 18…

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Las Vegas Shock 

Like most of the world, I am in a state of shock over Las Vegas. The numbers are boggling. At least 50 people who were enjoying themselves have had their lives snuffed out. Over 400 have gone to hospitals. Accusations and recriminations won’t bring back the dead. Reflection and wisdom will prevent future actions like this. Thoughts and prayers to all those affected and impacted.

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