Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Easy way out….or maybe not?

Captain Hans Osvalds

There are two ways to go to the city of Mora in Sweden, the easy way and the hard way.
The easy way is to take a SWISS flight to Stockholm and then continue by car, bus or train directly to Mora. The hard way is to take the same flight and the same car or train but get off in the small Swedish town of Sälen and then ski the remaining 90 kilometers to Mora during “Vasaloppet”. This is the world’s longest cross-country ski race which takes place the first Sunday in March every year.
This time I'm going to try the hard way.

Preparations started as early as last spring when I applied to be one of the 15,800 participants in this year’s race. From that day it has, quite literally, been an uphill race. Jogging uphill, roller skiing uphill and doing the x-trainer exercises in the "uphill" program-mode, everything to make sure my body gets the most out of the training for the race.
Not that I aim to beat the record time of 3 hours, 38 minutes and some odd seconds, but the target is set at 7-8 hours and that is one long workout.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Five questions to Blaise Godet (Beijing 1)

Blaise Godet (64) has been based in Beijing since 2008 as Switzerland’s ambassador to China, Mongolia and North Korea. In previous assignments he was stationed in Geneva as Switzerland’s ambassador to the United Nations, in Cairo, where he was responsible for Egypt, Sudan and Eritrea, and in Bangkok, where his remit comprised Thailand, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia. He is a qualified attorney, having studied law in his hometown of Neuchâtel. Blaise Godet is married and has a daughter, a son and two grandchildren. He will retire in the summer of 2012. We asked him five questions.

Text: Tanya König
Photo: Pawel Maciejewski

Mr Godet, if you had 24 hours to yourself in Beijing, how would you spend them?
I would definitely pay another visit to the various temples around the city. The Lama Temple and the Temple of Confucius are my personal favourites, along with the Fayuan Temple – especially for its fabulous collection of buddhas. There are some fine temples in the mountains to the west of the city, too. Go there and you’ll really feel you’re in China: sometimes in Beijing you could just as easily be in a city in the USA. I might spend some of the time strolling in the parks, too. Not many people know it, but Beijing is like London: it has a lot of green spaces.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

How does my suitcase get onto my flight?

Have you ever asked yourself this question? We took a look behind the scenes.

Text: Monica Filthaut
Photos: Urs Maurer

Your suitcase’s adventure begins at check-in. Here the bag (or bulky item) is given a label with a barcode on it. This barcode contains all the details of the item concerned: its weight, destination, flight number and any transfer airport, along with the passenger’s name.
The item now disappears into the baggage sorting facility. At Zurich this is the responsibility of Flughafen Zürich AG, the airport operator. Here the bag is scanned using laser technology. So as you make your way to your departure gate, your bag will be speeding through various transport systems at up to 36 kilometres an hour to its loading station at one of the three main sorting centres. (photo below on the right-hand side)
In the process the bag will be channelled via an automatic sorting system which extends to some 25 kilometres and winds at multiple levels through the airport’s underworld. The whole system of belts, sorting machines and high-speed container facilities is driven by some 4,300 motors and guided by 4,500 sensors. And the entire process is carefully monitored by control room personnel. (photo above on the left-hand side)