Bella Travel


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Singapore Airlines – The Best of the Best?

Singapore_AirlinesSingapore is consistently voted the world’s best airline. So good is their ‘Top Gun’ service many people won’t fly with anyone else.  I was curious to experience this for myself, since everyone raves about them.  This is my completey biased and subjective account of my long haul flight from Paris to New Zealand (NB: this artice was written under the influence of jetlag).

Upon entering the departure lounge in Charles de Gaulle the first thing I noticed is that instead of having one door for passengers to embark onto the plane, they had three. Celebrities and business class passengers didn’t have to mingle with the plebs, except in the confines of the departure lounge. Boarding was reasonably efficient, apart from a small delay of about 15 minutes.

Inside the plane it was definitely more plush than some airlines I could mention. It felt spacious, the seats were generous and there seemed to be more leg room than normal. Not that this is usually a problem for me being 5 foot 2. An added bonus was two extra seats beside me so I could put the armrest up and stretch out if I wanted.

This comparative luxury consoled me for the extra hour we waited for the plane to actually leave the ground.  A slight ‘problem’ meant extra fuel needed to be added.  We weren’t told what the problem was in any detail but this is standard procedure for most airlines, never give out too much information! Safety did seem to be uppermost in the airlines mind however, and I liked the fact there was a video to watch rather than a bored stewardess standing in the aisle wearing a life-jacket pretending to blow a whistle.

The wide video screen consoles were fancier than I expected, and the choice of movies was so good I ended up watching about four or five.  The food selection was also great, with generous portions and my choice was always available (there’s nothing worse than desiring lamb stew only to be told it’s all gone).

Service-wise I was impressed with the professionalism of the stewardesses.  Since our flight was late quite a few passengers were getting antsy about missing connecting flights.  These fears were dealt with efficiently and compassionately, and passengers were reassured they would be getting to where they needed to go.

The first 12 hours passed relatively quickly for me, which was good as I’m usually fidgeting and getting impatient near the ‘five hours to go’ mark.  My only complaint would be the temperature of the cabin, it was freezing!  To the point of needing my coat on as well as a blanket.

After a layover in Changi Airport in the Ambassador Transit Hotel, where I got around 6 hours sleep, it was back onto another Singapore plane for 9 hours.  This is the leg I hate the most, you’re tired, fed up with airline food, sick of watching movies and other passengers are starting to irritate you.  Yet, I was reasonably comfortable and able to endure it serenely. The temperature of the cabin for this leg was perfect.

Overall the combination of friendly service, comfy seat, good food and entertainment system made this the best long haul flight I’ve experienced.  Would I fly Singapore Airlines again?  Yes, without hesitation. Plus my luggage also turned up in Auckland, which gives them extra bonus points.

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$2million Holes Still Won’t Predict Auckland’s ‘Big One’

A study on Auckland’s volcanic activity, involving two new boreholes is planned to cost around $2million (Auckland Now). 

That’s a heck of a lot of money for a couple of holes.  Especially when the results won’t actually predict earthquakes but only “better understand the implications of a natural disaster”. 

The implications of a natural disaster are pretty obvious: disastrous.  I’m not sure how spending $2million is actually going to benefit anyone in this scenario.  Scientists will obtain data which doesn’t actually predict anything, meanwhile the $2million could quite easily go into helping many other areas of Auckland society which sorely need it.

(Or perhaps help the residents of Christchurch still trying to recover from their natural disaster that noone predicted?)

Besides Auckland already has a network of early detection seismometers including six in existing boreholes. So along with all the volcanoes (last count 55), does it really need any more holes?


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Staying 4 Star But Still Paying For the Internet

A recent Tourism Review article has criticised luxury hotels for charging tourists for internet access:

“A common issue tourists face during their travels is the fact that while having internet connection is a given for them, many hotels, especially the luxury ones, are charging extra. Many agree this is not acceptable.”

I came across this in Italy when I splashed out and stayed at a 4 star hotel in Ravello.  When you’re paying €290 per night for a room it’s a little surprising to be charged €3 for half an hour’s use of the internet, and more than a little frustrating when it doesn’t actually work.

Apparently the thinking behind this on the hotel’s part is that if you’re rich enough to fork out for a room in a 4 or 5 star hotel, you can afford to pay a little extra for the internet.  Which kind of sux really.  If you’re paying that much for a room, internet usage should be included with the free shampoo!

Things probably won’t change though unless people start refusing to pay and being vocal about it.  And although free internet isn’t on the top of everyone’s priority list when it comes to choosing a hotel, it certainly makes 2 or 3 star hotels with unlimited internet usage more attractive in my book when choosing where to stay.


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Wireless is a Girl’s Best Friend

So after years of putting up with a clunky Compaq computer with no internet access, I find myself the proud owner of a netbook with wireless internet.

It’s like going from the nineteen hundreds to the noughties in one foul swoop.

The purchase of the netbook took place last week and I have to admit I didn’t take much notice of the ‘specs’. It’s small, I can carry it in my handbag and it’s cute. What else did I need to look for? Er..apparently RAM, Processing speed, battery life, screen width, whether my fingers fit the keypads etc. etc.

I wish I had taken more notice when a friend asked me about it’s storage space. I said it had 1GB and she nearly died laughing. “It’s small and perfectly formed,” I countered. “Yes but 1GB? Oh dear!”

This distressed me somewhat but on checking I discovered it had 250GB of storage space. Whew!

Getting my head around going wireless was another steep learning curve. But after a few attempts at getting into the free Wi-Fi at the local library, voila here I am! In the noughties as opposed to the nineteen hundreds, and feeling quite proud of myself. I’ve even looked up mobile sticks at Vodafone Italy so I can roam freely across the country blogging as I go in September. Well that’s the plan. Getting wireless in a different country could be a whole new blog post.

Meanwhile I just need to figure out how to reconfigure my keyboard so the @ symbol isn’t where the ” symbol is. Hmmmmmm…..help?


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Travel Blogging: Dream Job or Hard Slog?

This could be you!

It seems everyone is blogging these days, especially in the travel industry. Sipping fruit cocktails on a beach in Bali, whilst uploading posts to your blog via your laptop is now a ‘real job’. 

But starting a travel blog isn’t as easy as it looks, as I found out when setting up this blog as a part of a Web Writing Course through the New Zealand Writers College.  

Starting a travel blog

WordPress makes setting up a blog very easy but, if you don’t feel ready, a good way to start blogging is to write guest posts for other blogs.  Check out these posts I did for Travel Tips Plus and  travel blog Velvet Escape

Writing travel tips, such as the one I did for popular travel site Travel Dudes, can also boost your own blog ratings, as they Facebook and Twitter the post to their many followers .  

Maintaining a travel blog 

Consistency is key and the biggest hurdle I’ve found blogging is finding the time alongside a full time job.  It’s difficult to come up with regular posts especially when you don’t travel for a living.  But sometimes posts can come out of just being aware of your surroundings, like my post A Quaking Good Time in Christchurch.

Image Source: Criminal Justice

What makes a good travel blog?

There are a huge array of travel blogs on the net but there’s a distinct difference between a travel writer who blogs, and a blogger who travels. 

Some may disagree but I think being a good writer is essential to being a successful travel blogger. You also have to love  travelling, otherwise your travel blog can come unstuck quite easily. 

One of my favourite travel blogs is The Everywhereist, an ex-copywriter who freely admits she follows her husband around while he travels for his job.  Her blog describes their experiences along the way.  This could get boring but she’s such a good writer, and the posts are so entertaining that you just want to keep reading. 

After all the whole point of travel blogging is to entertain and inform.  Why would anyone bother to read about your experiences, and you to write them, if they weren’t entertaining and informative?

I’m learning that starting a travel blog is the easy part.  To be a successful travel blogger takes a lot of hard work and perseverance.