Located in midst of the beautiful fields of the Emilia-Romagna region is it's underrated capital city, Bologna. Most of the people I know who have been there say that the city gives them that feeling of "yeah, it really does feel like those laid back traditional Italian towns". Even though the vast majority of tourists venture off to places such as Rome, Florence, Milan or Venice, they are most likely to go through Bologna train station, which ironically is one of the country's busiest ones. The tiny city is served with a lovely airport, named Guglielmo Marconi after the famous Italian inventor and electrical engineer known for his pioneering work on long-distance radio transmission.
The city is small enough to get around easily on foot, is full of culture, and offers what many people claim is the best food in Italy - the term Spaghetti Bolognese comes from the local dish. One of the first things you notice is that Bologna is red. By that I mean the red bricks that most of Bologna’s historic buildings and porticoes are made from. The best way to explore the city is on foot, taking time to admire the architecture and absorb the nice views, and the best views are without a doubt from the top of the Bologna Tower, which can only be assessed by foot via a narrow staircase consisting of 498 steps and is well worth it.
Situated slap bang in the middle of Bologna's historic city centre and within a comfortable minute's walk from the Two Towers and only 200 meters from the Pizza Maggore, the splendid Corona D'Oro 1890 is an oasis. From the outside it doesn't do justice to the grand splendour of its interior, which is actually inside a 14th century building.
The comfortable four-star hotel which promises a truly five-star experience and provides an excellent service. The Corona D’Oro, with 40 spacious yet ordinary rooms, is no exception to this rule. The hotel neatly blends the combination of an elegant mixture of different architectural styles - the gothic walls, renaissance ceilings, Art Nouveau hall, coats of arms on ceilings and the magnificent liberty of its entrance hall .
One of the added bonuses of the hotel is that the staff are courteous, kind, speak fluent English and are exceedingly helpful. For the adventurous, there is a free bike hire available for exploring this magcificant city of red roofs, tiny Fiat cars and friendly dogs and of course the remarkably delicious cuisine. Make full use of the complimentary Wi-Fi and if you wish the tiny business lounge with fax and printer. One thing you may want to bring with you would be an adapter plug as there is no guarantee that one would be available- plus there is a five Euro deposit charge if you want to borrow one.
A complimentary breakfast is served in the functional basement room- try some of the unique homemade cakes, breads and various jams and preserves including pistachio spread. There is no Club lounge, however there is a €10 evening happy hour service which includes a good selection of stuzzichini and various food and beverages. For dinner, there are numerous reasonably priced restaurants on the streets surrounding the hotel. We went to the nearby Ca' Pelletti on Via Altabella. For disabled guests, the hotel offers two rooms with disabled access and for those with babies, guests can request services such as babysitting from the staff.
This was my first time to the tiny and underrated Italian city of Bologna, and indeed my first time to indulge into it's local cuisine, namely the spaghetti bolognese. The city is the home of the famed dish, and there is no other better place to try it at than the Trattoria Leonida.
The eatery, which has been delighting diners since 1938, is located on one of the oldest streets in the centre of Bologna, near the magnificent Piazza Santo Stefano. Tucked away neatly in the narrow and quiet lanes behind the Two Towers of Bologna, a group of two medieval structures known as Garisenda and Asinelli, and that are the landmark of the city. As you are walking down the dimly lit lanes, which are paved with original medieval stones, you get the feeling that you are effectively stepping back in time.
While the eatery doesn't offer any magnificent views of Bologna’s red roofs and the hills beyond, the setting is rather romantic as it gives a glimpse into why every evening is fully booked among tourists and the locals.
Should you find yourself craving for an authentic Bolognese, rest assured that you are in the vicinity of culinary greatness. Starters that tickle your taste buds include finely oiled slices of salami and speck bacon and the chicken breast with balsamic vinegar. This should be accompanied with a glass of Veneto: try Amarone 2007 - Villabella. Even for the starters, each plate elicits a slow moan of ecstasy that makes you want more.
For the main course, except for the traditional bolognese which everyone wants to try, opt for something adventurous such as tagliatelle pasta with prosciutto ham and peas. If, however, you really want to have your mind and taste buds blown away, try the slightly heavier wild game specialities, such as local hare with polenta. The polenta balances out the heaviness of the meat. It is one of the most ravishing plates of food you will find anywhere, but the cosy and warm ambiance at Trattoria Leonida is too upbeat to stay staring at your dinner for long.
Dress made by paper award-winning British artist and designer by Zoe Bradley on display in the Club Lounge at Heathrow's Terminal 5. For 2017's Milan Fashion Week, Bradley’s latest creation was a full-scale ball gown and headpiece. The commission, from British Airways, furnished Bradley with carte blanche to interpret the brief of “travel, fashion and style”. From first sketch to finishing touches, Bradley’s gown took less than a month to complete. About 700 individual royal-blue ruffles made up the skirt of the dress, while a corset of white petals was accented with a sash of crimson, hand-curled roses. Worth a look. Photo Copyright Navjot Singh
QANTAS A380-842 "David Warren", seen arriving from Singapore and on the way to the parking gate at Heathrow. David Warren (20 March 1925 – 19 July 2010) was an Australian scientist, best known for inventing and developing the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder (also known as FDR, CVR, and "the black box").
Busy dramatic London sky earlier today. An Airbus A300B4 of DHL on approach to Heathrow's runway 27L (at around 3,000 feet and descending on the ILS glideslope), while a BA Embraer E190 crosses paths at around 2,000 feet on approach to City Airport (they are using runway 09 today). Photo Copyright Navjot Singh
(L to R) John Pullman, Reuters Global Head of Video and Pictures; Maisie McCabe, Deputy Editor of Campaign; Madhav Chinnappa, Director of Strategic Relations for News and Publishers at Google; Nathalie Malinarich, Mobile Editor, BBC News Online; and Nic Newman, Research Association at Reuters Institute at the Reuters Tomorrow's News 2017 event in London, June 14, 2017. Photo Copyright Navjot Singh
It’s been a year of huge change and disruption for the global news landscape. On the evening of 14 June at One Marylebone in London, the Tomorrow’s News 2017 event hosted by Reuters unveiled some of the key news consumption shifts in the last 12 months, what’s influencing news attitudes and behaviours, and what the future holds. Some of the key questions revolved around fake news and to understand what are facts worth and how they are verified.
The lively discussion was attended by some of the key influencers in the media industry.
On the discussion panel were Nic Newman, Research Association at Reuters Institute; Madhav Chinnappa, Director of Strategic Relations for News and Publishers at Google; Nathalie Malinarich, Mobile Editor, BBC News Online and Maisie McCabe, Deputy Editor of Campaign. The discussion was chaired by John Pullman, Reuters Global Head of Video and Pictures Reuters.
The opening and closing speeches were conducted by Jeffery Perkins, Commercial Director, EMEA, Reuters. The discussion revolved around a report published by Reuters, which included a global survey of 1,711 Reuters.com users, and the findings which show that while fake news can be damaging for both news brands and advertisers, brands which advertise on trusted news sites can benefit. Unfortunately, Ben de Pear – Editor of Channel 4 News could not make it to the event because he was busy covering the tragic news of the fire at Grenfell Tower in west London.
Some of the findings of the report included:
Some of the highlights of the event included:
Chinnappa said that Google is “trying to give the answers that the users are looking for when they search, which is a very specific thing. So, for us, when you look at false news, on some levels, that’s news spam. It’s people trying to game the system. And we’ve been trying to fight that from the beginning of Google. He noted that as a father he understands the need for security and privacy of content on the site, especially when it comes to graphic content- and that Google is working very hard to make sure that brands and individuals are not lined in with the graphic content and are moderating the content that is published. He also mentioned that it is a challenging task.
Malinarich noted that brand attribution or recognition on social media is difficult. “If you spend your whole day snacking on Facebook, you know you’ve read things about Trump or whatever it is, but you don’t who wrote them or made the video at the end. …it’s just kind of a jumble in your head and you remember the actual stories and the headlines, but you don’t really remember who provided that.” One of the best things I heard was when she said that the problem with mainstream media is that the majority of the key decisions on stories are made by a select few group of networked people and not the mainstream junior staff and that is challenging to change. Does that mean that stories are biased or that editors tell their staff to write stories to shift the public’s viewpoint of someone in government or create a base for a public debate through influence? Maybe.
The way people buy online advertising, McCabe said, was to look for the cheapest way to find people who look like they might be interested in their brand. “That means they don’t pay attention to necessarily where the ad is going to run, so then you have the situation where people are chasing numbers by any means. It’s definitely something advertisers need to be wary of.”
On fake news, Newman said “Whose responsibility is it? Is it publishers, is it platforms, is it users? In this world, it’s all of those. Users get the benefits of greater choice, but downside of that is they have to do more work themselves to work out what is true and what isn’t.
They are, and they relish that. They see that trade off when you talk to them. From a publisher’s point of you, they need to do more about transparency. From a platform point of view, they need to do more as well to show the value of brands.
One of the key trends that nobody spoke about was Big Data and the effect it could have on the publishing and media industries. I mean, for example, if you have one person who has spread fake news then how much of an effort in terms of time, money and human resources would it take to turn that mistrust with the public into a credible and trustworthy piece of news? How much of a help would Big Data have in this, if any?
Other main areas of discussion revolved around the following key areas:
(L to R) Nic Newman, Research Association at Reuters Institute; Jeffery Perkins, Commercial Director, EMEA, Reuters; Madhav Chinnappa, Director of Strategic Relations for News and Publishers at Google; Nathalie Malinarich, Mobile Editor, BBC News Online; Maisie McCabe, Deputy Editor of Campaign; and John Pullman, Reuters Global Head of Video and Pictures at the Reuters Tomorrow's News 2017 event in London, June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor
Can't believe it has been nearly two years since I went on a media press trip to Seoul...feels like yesterday. This is a city on alert 24/7...an attack can happen at anytime. I can only imagine what the atmosphere in the city must be like now. During my stay, I recall the daily war practice sirens and the US military aircraft flying constantly overhead. At that time, the Ritz-Carlton Seoul and the Grand Hyatt, where I was staying, were quite well protected and only open for government officials and the media. The US military personnel are seen as celebs in the city- seen patrolling at every other corner. Every time an American soldier in uniform went past (I bumped into a few in coffee shops), you could not resist but wanting to shake their hand and say "very proud of the work you guys are doing...thanks for keeping us safe and may god bless America!". Let's pray for peace and harmony...and stability. That's all the world needs right now.
It doesn't get better than this. On our flight back from our honeymoon to Shanghai, we receveied a card signed by every member of the cabin crew and cockpit crew, and an announcement made over the PA- to the applause from the passengers. Quite a celebration and a joyful moment to remember for the rest of our lives: Photo Copyright Navjot Singh
This was the exact screening point that the crew of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 went through at KLIA on their way to the aircraft 9M-MRO and they never came back. I took this photo on the morning of February 10 on the way to Hong Kong. A bit of a sad feeling as I went through the same gate...that CCTV image shown on various media outlets of the crew going through this screening gate came to my mind. I interviewed two of the staff (one of them is the Malay lady in the hijab in the photo), who both remember that moment of speaking to the crew and saying goodbye. When I spoke to them, they were still affected by their loss.
I guess most Malaysians still are. Even in Langkawi -where the co-pilot gained his flight training-if you speak to the taxi drivers or some of the restaurant owners, they recall the happy times of meeting him and his family. There are still signs and posters saying things like "Hope MH370 come back".
My mate, James Nixon quite rightly says (I quote):
"Airports are our homes. Their workers our extended families. The camaraderie of the players, from cleaners and the ladies at the canteens where we grab meals between flights, to the check-in staff and gate agents; we all have small but meaningful friendships with the people we see everyday of our working lives. When one crew doesn't come back we feel incomplete."
May god bless the crew and passengers of MH370...you are still in our hearts. Respect.
Sorry photo is blurry because I quickly took this one with my iPhone and did not focus on quality (I should have done!), as did not want to hold passengers standing behind me in the waiting line.
Kuala Lumpur airport is located around 50kms from the city centre- you can either cough up a heavy taxi fare (around $40 one-way) or take a quick express train from the airport to central station. The KLIA Ekspres is a premium non-stop high-speed train service that connects KL International Airport(s) and the Kuala Lumpur city center and takes around 30-minutes. It is clean, air conditioned and makes the London Underground and the New York Subway system look like wagons from a century ago!: Photo Copyright Navjot Singh
Kuala Lumpur is the 13th busiest in the world and always seems to be empty. It's built about 50kms from the city and not quick to get to by all means, and is surrounded by forest. But forests mean green and green means hot. During approach pilots (and passengers) have to contend with turbulence due to the localised hot air rising from the canopy: Photo Copyright Navjot Singh
Get in Touch:
Here I share my thoughts
and experiences during
my travels, and how some things have affected my life as an expat and world traveller. Travelling is about capturing that moment in life. Every word, view and opinion on this page is that of Navjot Singh - except where indicated. The most recent is at the top. Scroll down to read the archive. Or search using CTRL+F (COMMAND + F) and enter a keyword to search the page. Just some of the stories you never heard before.
The NAVJOT-SINGH.COM web blog is separate to this web site....Click blog, which may
not be visible in some
countries due to local
so in those cases this
weblog may be read. The weblog also includes some of my press trip reports- most of which are not published on the official blog because of copyright issues. The weblog also contains articles that may be associated directly with a PR trip for a country, airline or a hotel. These are PR reviews done in relations with various companies.
If you are an investor or a trend watcher then you may find this website useful as investing has a lot to do with personal observations and finding the ideal trend or next big thing. The average human on the street frequently knows far more about the state of the economy than politicians, university professors, subject matter experts, and financial analysts who seldom travel, or if they do so, only from one hotel to another hotel! The pulse and vibrancy of an economy is nowhere more visible than on a country's streets.
All photos and words
are © Navjot Singh unless stated. Photos taken by others or by agencies are appropriately copyrighted under the respective name. No photo or word/s may be taken without the prior written permission by the author (i.e. Navjot Singh). All Rights Reserved.