Doing a bit of Travelling Here and There – Part Three – Browsing Basel

Welcome to the third instalment of my holiday travelling in the summer. Today’s edition is my brief trip to the third most populated city in Switzerland, Basel.

The reason for the brief (about seven hours) trip to Basel was that I was flying out from Basel Airport back to London after my trip to Freiburg later that evening. 

When we think of the Swiss we think of clocks, chocolate…and Roger Federer..and the first thing I was confronted with was indeed a large clock. 

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As you can see this picture was taken at 2.23. Very ‘handy’ having this clock here. 

The main idea of the day was to ‘baselically’ kill time and do a bit of wandering around one of the most famous Swiss cities. 

There are loads of really cultural and heritage like buildings throughout Basel that provides an indication of the city’s image and identity as the following pics show.

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Like Freiburg there’s a tram system around the city which includes old-fashioned trams, the kind you’d expect in Blackpool. 

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The town centre wasn’t that busy, but you can imagine on a warm evening the city centre is packed with people!

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After a nice stroll around the city and a spot of lunch it was off to sit in a nice park..until my bus to the airport! 

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Overall I wasn’t that impressed with Basel, there wasn’t really that much to do or to see there. Admittedly I was only there for a day, but apparently according to my friend with I was with I’d pretty much seen everything there was to see! I was going to title this blog ‘Boring Basel’, but that would be harsh. I’m sure there’s more to do…but a day trip to Basel might not be the best place to do that. However, it’s got some lovely buildings and food, and great to experience a bit of the Swiss culture. 

Next time it’s the fourth and final part of my travelling adventures as I make the trip to Cyprus! 

Until then, many thanks for reading and please feel free to comment 🙂

 

Doing a bit of Travelling Here and There – Part Two – Frying in Freiburg

Now it’s time for part two of my holiday adventures, and this blog is going to concentrate on my week-long trip to Freiburg in Germany.

The main purpose of the trip was to go and see my friend who goes to Freiburg University and who’ve I’ve known for about six years.

Over the week I engaged in many fun expeditions. The first of which was a nice tour around the city to get to grips with the local area, restaurants, bars and shops that I’d be visiting over the week of my trip. The city centre is one of incredible heritage and historical buildings with a modern tram system running through the city.

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(Freiburg City Centre)

The second day of my trip entailed going on a long hike up Freiburg’s many forests and green areas. This was a great way to see the city, and as you can see the view was simply stunning! Perfect photo opportunity!

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(Freiburg!)

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After a long day of hiking it was off for a BBQ Freiburg style at one of my friends’ friend’s house. This included A LOT of beer and lots of delicious sausages. Could you ask for anymore than that?!

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(The view of the lake from our BBQ)

After a late night the next day was once again more of a look around the local area…before the big event of the evening. At night hundreds of students descend on the city centre in one particular area… to drink! It was amazing seeing students just sitting on the floor in groups and drinking on a warm July evening. What made the experience even more thrilling was getting to drink some beautiful German beer out of an oversized bottle. You can buy the large bottle for something like €30-€35, and whenever you want it filled up it will cost you €5! That’s right you read it right, just €5 euros for like a million pints of fine local beer.

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(Lots of students congregate on the city centre)

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(HUGE BEER BOTTLE)

After another pretty late night (bit of theme occurring here isn’t there?!), it was off on the train and bus to Germany’s biggest amusement park and the second biggest in Europe, EUROPA-PARK. This is split by country, so naturally the first area I went to was England, or Britain in this case. With rides everywhere you look (and nice long queues too) it was the perfect place if you’re a thrill seeker for that sudden minutes rush on a fast rollercoaster. There were so many of them! Ones that were made entirely of wood (pretty scary), ones that were inside and in total darkness (pretty scary…again) and massive ones outside (very scary!) I managed to go on the second largest one in the park, with my head down and eyes closed for the entire ride.

And here is that monster rollercoaster

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 (Monster rollercoaster)        

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(Wooden rollercoaster..scary!)

There were more relaxing rides, and the occasional water based one where you got a good socking which was very appreciated in the mid 30 degree heat!

It’s pretty knackering going on these rides especially in such warm weather so it was nice to get back and…sleep!

One of my favourite moments of the trip came on the Saturday when I got to go to a football match. The game was a pre-season friendly between Freiburg and Athletic Bilbao. The whole day was a family fun day so there loads of food stands and competitions for children and their families to participate in.

The game itself however was a boring 0-0 draw. This was expected considering it was a pre-season friendly, but more so because it was one of the hottest days of the year with temperatures peaking at 38 degrees with it being considerably hotter on the pitch. This meant that the players had to take a drinks break every ten minutes which naturally slowed the game down. Despite the game being uneventful there was a superb atmosphere within the ground and it was great to get a sense of a typical German style crowd and the kind of support and songs that go on there

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(The ticket)

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 (Great atmosphere within the ground)

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 (The game)

The rest of my time in Freiburg was a mix of more sightseeing, drinking in bars and eating fine German cuisine. Overall the trip was incredible. Freiburg is one of the most beautiful and picturesque cites I’ve ever been too, and many of the people I spoke to consider it to be one of the best in Germany. With awesome food, very hot weather and probably the best beer in the world I’ve tasted, Ganter Beer, it was one of my favourite holidays ever. I’d definitely recommend it!

Thanks for reading, and please feel free to comment 🙂

Next time it’s my one stop tour of Basel!

More Pics

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(Ganter Beer…incredibly delicious)

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(Beer from the huge bottle brewed onsite)

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(Another great view)

Google Plus or Google Minus: Some Pros and Cons of the Website

Google recently celebrated its 15th Birthday (many happy returns), so I thought I’d do a bit of analysis and critique on one of their newest products, Google+.  Also I recently had a conversation with a friend about the UI and its features. So that I suppose prompted me to write this post too!

introduced in July 2011, Google+ was going to be Google’s answer to social networking and compete with established players such as Facebook and Twitter. However, over two years since its inception Google+ still divides opinion amongst the digital community.

So here are some of my personal Pros and Cons of the site.

Pros

Google+ Hangouts:

There’s no denying it that Google+ Hangouts are an ingenious invention and make use of the ever-growing video market. This chat service can bring so many people from across the world together into one convenient conversation. A bit like a more user-friendly version of Skype. I’ve known of many people who have had so much fun with these from live Q&A’s with celebrities to teaching cooking lessons to people speaking to friends in other countries, the hangouts are unique. Also this is something that Google+ has over other social networking sites, since the likes of Facebook don’t have this…yet.

Good for a Company’s SEO:

Google+ has the ability to enhance a company’s SEO and website traffic potential. Whenever a company shares content on their Google+ Page, such as a photo or status update, elements of this content will be indexed into the search results. For instance, if H&M shared content that focused on a new Mens range of summer shirts, whenever someone searches for something related to ‘shirts’ or ‘summer shirts’, this piece of content or H&M’s Google+ page might appear in the search results. Furthermore, searching for H&M in Google could see their Google+ page appear to. 

Also being able to ‘+1’ a piece of content can increase its search ranking, given that more people have firstly viewed it, but also signified its quality by +1-ing it.

So if content or a company’s Google+ page appears higher up in the search results this will ultimately mean traffic to their website could increase. For instance, taking our H&M example, by seeing a piece of content related to H&M, users are more likely to click on a link to their website, or type it into the search engine. Additionally, H&M’s Google+ page will have a link to their website, thus increasing visitors further. Moreover, with more users on H&M’s website, the purchase intention increases.

Google+ Pages:

As previously mentioned company’s can create Google+ pages as another channel for their social media message. Therefore, this enables them to reach a new audience that might not follow them on other social networks.  Consequently, they can keep their followers updated on their company’s activities with new content and at the same time engage further with them.

Familiar Designs and Quite a Slick Layout:

For new users of Google+ there is the advantage that the designs and layout are quite recognisable if you use Google’s search engine on a regular basis. For instance, the well-known search bar is still present on Google+, as well as similar texts, colours and fonts. This immediately makes the user feel more comfortable whilst using the site as they understand certain elements of it. In addition, the design is quite slick and eye-catching, which strengthens the sites appeal to its users, something that’s incredibly important as there’s a greater focus on good UI and website aesthetics these days.

Cons

Poor Website Navigation: 

One of main reasons I’m not much of a Google+ user is that it’s increasingly hard to navigate my way round the site. Although, as said, the designs are nice, trying to find something simple like your profile can be a bit of a mission. Until you realise that the right hand toolbar comes out when you hover over it, you don’t really know where you’re going. Even when you find your profile, you still need some assistance finding your way back!

Cluttered Homepage/Layout:

Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have quite a nice, free flowing newsfeed, however, Google+’s is very cluttered with content on both the right and left. Where do you look first, what’s more important, what’s the newest piece of content??? These kind of questions come to my mind when I look at Google+’s stream. Although you can change the layout of your stream, you wouldn’t have thought it with the poor navigational tabs! With the tabs at the top, the hangout sidebar and the stream, not to mention the search bar and search bar tabs, there’s a lot going on when you look at your Google+ page, personally giving me motion sickness!

Google+’s Inflated User Numbers:

According to numerous sources, Google+ has over 500 million users, or over 230 million active users. However, this figure is very distorted, given that whenever you create a Gmail or YouTube account, you immediately have a Google+ account. So a disadvantage of the site is that it doesn’t have as many users as you might think or the stats show. So you might be getting a bit fooled if you think its popularity is up there with Facebook and Twitter!

+1-ing Something. Does it Actually Mean Anything?!:

So you’ve seen a piece of content on the web you like. What do you do with it. Tweet it? Like it? inShare it? Email it?…well all those have good uses and are great ideas to spread the word. But why would anyone want to +1 it! I know it does the same things that the other social media plugins do, but with Google+’s popularity being minimal in comparison to other sites, it doesn’t really achieve anything. Added to that, not every site has a +1 button on content, another reason it’s not that useful!

Not all Companies have Google+ Pages:

The unpopularity of Google+ is best summed up by the fact that there are still many companies that don’t have a Google+ page. Therefore, they see their social media strategies and messages not relevant, credible or worthwhile being shared to the Google+ audience. This is a shame for those that are always on Google+, or if competitors are on it. But it does provide some indication that it’s like Marmite for companies (other yeast extraction brands are available!), as they either love it or hate it.

So there are some quickfire pros and cons of Google+, if you have any that I’ve missed or want to comment, please feel free to 🙂 Also here’s a quick poll on whether you like Google+ or not, please vote here! 

Thanks for reading! For more digital news, please follow me on Twitter @digitalstuart 

Stuart 🙂