As a world travel writer, there are so many places I have yet not had the chance to go to, mainly because of time restraints, and other commitments in life. However, one of the places I would love to travel to is Antarctica. I highly doubt that I would in reality be able to go - unless I really sit down and plan it carefully one day. One determined adventurer, Gabriella Guglielminotti Trivel, an Italian native and an inspiring lady took a personal challenge of going to Antarctica and achieved it in 2008. Gabriella, known as “The Flying Witch” due to her wit and passion for flying, started working in Italy as a tour leader, interpreter and then moved to UK in 1998. She worked in the travel business for several years and then, due to being made redundant from work, she decided to pursue her other passion in life, the human mind and its potential.
She trained in Neuro Linguistic Programming and investigated several alternative therapies like Reiki, Shiatsu, Aura Soma, the De Martini method, Macrobiotics, Do-in, Aromatherapy, Reflexology, Hypnotherapy, Time Line Therapy, The Journey, The Work which all gave her a better and holistic understanding of the human being that we all are. In 2008 she joined a group of people going to Antarctica to face their fears and limiting beliefs to test herself and put into action first hand in a dramatic way what she learnt and then pass it on to others. She wrote a book about it where she describes her inner journey while she was down under with penguins, seals and the ice.
Gabriella’s book ‘Antarctic Odyssey – A New Beginning’ keeps the reader engaged throughout. Her artistic and yet descriptive writing style gives the reader a true feel for the potential challenges which she and the rest of the team faced. It’s a journey charged with emotions and physical stress. Throughout the book details her courage to fight the fear of giving up and failure, and how she attacked those challenges head on. Indeed, in her own words the book details that this was no ordinary geographical conquest, however “it felt as if I was a fellow traveller, sharing her experiences’.
It clearly comes across that the author has gone through a lot of physical and physiological distress while on this expedition in one of the toughest parts of this world. One does get the impression that Gabriella is a shining role model for anyone of us who has had to go through a difficult period in our lives, and have found it challenging to fight that period through. I have been privileged to read about and meet many inspiring people in my life journey, and Gabriella is one of them.
Gabriella's book is available here.
On the final Sunday of May, blessed with clear blue skies, and sunshine (finally!), I caught this China Southern Airlines Airbus A330 on finals to Heathrow Airport in the afternoon. Flying three times a week non-stop from Guangzhou Baiyun Airport to London Heathrow, this route not only provides another option for those wishing to go to Melbourne (via Guangzhou), but also connects with business people who carry out trade with the numerous factories in the Pearl River Delta (Shenzhen, Dongguan, Foshan, and Guangzhou), as well the large number of Cantonese expats living in the UK who can directly go home instead of flying to Hong Kong first.
I carried out a flight review for this route last year. Check it here.
Perhaps a sign that Summer is finally arriving? Would be a good change for once (oddly Spring never seemed to arrive in the UK this year).
As with most flights that leave North America for Europe, ours was no exception in that it left at night from Detroit, which meant we had a morning arrival into London Heathrow.
London (along with the rest of the U.K. and Europe) is experiencing unusually cold weather for this time of the year. With the capital city covered with plenty of low cloud at around 2,500 feet , and with a slight crosswind pushing the plane away from the runway's centre-line, it was tricky to get shots. But, hey, who needs a helicopter ride over the city when you have complimentary views from a plane!?
These photos were taken as we landed in a crosswind at Heathrow’s runway 27L (and it was a hard landing too!).
Following on from my previous posting, here are some more photos of life in Detroit.
Oh by the way, I did notice that the weather is weird here thanks to the close proximity of many lakes. It's very common to experience rain, thunderstorm, clear blue skies, hailstorm, sunshine, and TORNADO....all in 24 HOURS. I was driving with my cousin from Rochester to Detroit city (a distance of around about 27 miles), and during the 40 minute drive we experienced clear blue skies with sunshine, then some sudden sleet snow, and then rain. By the time we got to Detroit the sun started to show its face again. I have never experienced such as quick and dramatic change of weather anywhere else. People here are used to it as well.
Plus I did eventually pay a visit to a baseball game, thanks to my friends who showed me around. We were treated to a game between Detroit and the Kansas City team.
Baseball game in Detroit
With a population of only around 212,000, Windsor is the southernmost city in Canada. The city lies on the border with Detroit, and is easy accessible by a few border crossings, including a tunnel that runs under the River Detroit, or the Ambassador Bridge. Windsor's economy is primarily based on education, manufacturing, tourism (most people from Detroit like going to the Casinos in Windsor!), and government services.
The lifestyle in Windsor, as with the rest of Canada, is very laid back, and quiet compared to its neighbor down south.
"What Happens On the Flight Deck...Stays on the Flight Deck".
No names, no pack drill. No aircraft types and nothing else. But really. An airline can preach Air Safety, Crew Resource Management and professionalism until the animals come home. But what 'professional' company allows both of its operating Pilots to sleep their way across the Bay of Bengal and half of a busy Indian airspace- failing to answer radio calls for almost an hour!? They apparently got a shock when the air hostess accidentally turned off the autopilot. Lucky the passengers didn't find out...and lucky that they eventually woke up.
Here is how the UK Telegraph reported it.
Founded in 1701 by the French explorer and adventurer Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, and located on the border of Canada Detroit is the largest city in the state of Michigan. With a population of around 5.5 million people, the city’s economy and survival is built around the automotive industry. General Motors have their global Headquarters here, as well as major plants of Ford, and Daimler Chrysler. Oh and not to forget the town that gave us the music from the likes of Diana Ross, Eminem, Stevie Wonder, Motown Rage, Della Reese, Madonna (born in Bay City!), Martha Reeves, Aaliyah...and so many others. World renowned for its Detroit Symphony Orchestra and music celebrities, the area has a long and rich heritage, including several Platinum artists in different genres whose recordings had surpassed forty million copies by the year 2000.
This is my first time to the United States of America, and it’s interesting that I happen to be in a city that is not really strongly representative of the whole country. The city of Detroit has gone through a lot in recent times. My first impressions after landing were that there is not much happening here. One of my first few questions to my taxi driver included ‘Where is everyone?!’. The roads are not busy, and on the way from the airport to my hotel, I came across many derelict buildings, most of them former factories or just left empty by people who could not pay their taxes. According to official statistics, between 2000 and 2010, the city's population fell by around 26%, from the nation's 10th largest city to 18th. In 2010, the city had a population of around 714,000, more than a 61% drop down from a peak population of over 1.8 million at the 1950 census, indicating a serious and long-running decline of Detroit's economic strength. If there was one city that had strong signs of a depriving global economy, then in my opinion it would be Detroit. In some parts of the city, it just feels like a ghost town.
Part of this decline may have to contribute to the history of the city. During the African-American Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, Detroit witnessed some of the worst confrontations between the police and inner city black youth, culminating in the Twelfth Street race riots in July 1967- which went on for over a month. Governor George W. Romney ordered the Michigan National Guard into Detroit, and President Johnson sent in U.S. Army troops. The sad result was 43 dead, 467 injured, over 7,200 arrests, and more than 2,000 buildings destroyed. This also resulted in thousands of small businesses being closed permanently or relocated to safer neighbourhoods around the state or country. The impact of those riots have had a long lasting impression on Detroit and the affected districts lay in ruins for decades- even today the scars of those riots can be seen as in some parts of the city most buildings are derelict. As of 2010, the mean income of Detroit is below the overall U.S. average by several thousand dollars. Of every three Detroit residents, one lives in poverty. Luke Bergmann, author of Getting Ghost: Two Young Lives and the Struggle for the Soul of an American City, said in 2010, "Detroit is now one of the poorest big cities in the country."
While taking a drive around town, my friend told me that the American government and the local Michigan State government are trying their best to bring business back to Detroit however without much avail. The city has a strong baseball team (Detroit Tigers), and a very good American Football team too (Detroit Lions). It comes across that apart from the automotive industry, which itself is suffering because of the outsourcing to growing economies such as India, Brazil, Mexico, and China, there is little else that Detroit has to offer. There are a handful of Casinos in the Greek town of the city, however that’s mostly for touristy purposes and is not really fuelling the economy of the local area.
I don’t want to make it sound like Detroit is a bad city at all, and it’s not all doom and gloom here. It’s a nice, and quiet city. Above all else one must bear in mind that Detroit is an industrial city and where ever in the world you have an economy being fuelled by heavy industry you are not always going to have that neat blend of being a touristy city as well as an industrial city. The same I suppose goes for Seattle which is home to Starbucks, Boeing, Microsoft and others, but its not a touristy city at all. There are many other examples around the world.
There are many beautiful parts to Detroit as well. Like every city in the world, Detroit does posses a few jewels, such as the Grosse Pointe Shores area, which is an affluent suburb on the shores of Lake St Clair. This area is home to A-Listers, government officials and Captains of Industry. Then there are pockets of nice area outside of the main Detroit area such as Rochester, Ann Arbour (home to Michigan University Campus), Troy, and Shelby Township.
So here are some photos I have taken of life in Detroit.
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