San Francisco Bay Area

San Francisco at Night
Picture of San Francisco Bay at night
Photo by: David, Creative Commons

The San Francisco Bay Area is a metropolitan region that surrounds San Francisco and San Pablo Bays in Northern California. The area covers large areas like San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose. But it also covers many small rural and urban cities. The bay area has a total of 101 cities and nine counties, including Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Sonoma. In total, it covers an area of 7,000 square miles.

The total population of the Bay area is approximately 7.2 million people. San Jose is the thickest populated city in the country when comparing number of people and total area of coverage. The Bay Area has the 49th largest urban area in the world and it is often referred to as the Francisco-Oakland-San Jose urban areas. According to the United States Census, the Bay Area also has the highest median household income in the nation. In terms of economics, it is the second largest financial center in the country, too, following behind New York.

The San Francisco Bay Area has includes a number of military base camps, airports and national parks. It is connected through a huge network of roads, highways and tunnels. Visitors to this area will find great landmarks, beautiful attractions and other features that make the Bay Area a place to consider for a vacation.

Some of the main attractions in San Francisco includes:

Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island Panorama
Panorama view of Alcatraz Island from San Francisco Bay, facing east. To the right, you can see Sather Tower and UC Berkeley
Photo by: David Corby, Creative Commons

Cable cars

Cable car at Powell & Ellis
San Francisco’s cable car at Powell & Ellis
Photo by: http2007, Creative Commons
San Francisco's Cable Car at Lombard Street
San Francisco’s cable car at Lombard Street
Photo by: Aude, Creative Commons

Chinatown

Chinatown Gate at Grant Street in San Francisco
Chinatown Gate at Grant Street
Photo by: Jen SFO-BCN, Creative Commons
Grant Avenue and Sacramento Street in Chinatown, San Francisco
Grant Avenue and Sacramento Street at Chinatown
Photo by: MH, Creative Commons

Fisherman’s Wharf

Picture of Boats at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco
Picture of Boats at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco
Photo by: markus941, Creative Commons
Pier 39 at Fisherman's Wharf
Pier 39 at Fisherman’s Wharf
Photo by: di_the_huntress, Creative Commons

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge Panorama
Panorama view of Golden Gate Bridge
Photo by: kevin, Creative Commons

Lombard Street

Panorama View of Lombard Street
Panorama view of Lombard Street in San Francisco, California
Photo by: Wikipedia, Creative Commons

April 21, 2009 at 3:01 am | 2 comments

Uffizi Gallery in Florence

Uffizi Gallery Narrow Courtyard
The narrow courtyard between the Uffizi’s two wings creates the
effect of a short, idealized street. View toward the Palazzo Vecchio
Photo by: Chris Wee, Creative Commons

The Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, is a popular museum that is known for its famous pieces, including the Birth of Venus and the Primavera, both by Botticelli.

The Uffizi Gallery was designed in 1560 by Vasari, one of the prominent architects of the day. He planned the design so it could be built directly next to the Medici Palace since Granduca Francisco de Medici requested it. The shape of the gallery is rectangular and starts from the Signoria Palace and ends at the Arno River.

Since this museum is a very popular tourist attraction, groups with large numbers are broken into smaller groups and only specific numbers of visitors are allowed to go in each section at a time. There is a special phone number that visitors can call to book their spot to avoid standing in huge lines. That number is 39-055-294-883. The cost of the ticket is 6.50 Euros. Some of the more popular rooms to consider staying in during your visit include the Botticelli Room, the Leonardo Room, and the Rubens Room.

April 21, 2009 at 12:12 am | No comment

Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria

Neuschwanstein Castle
Picture of Neuschwanstein Castle as seen from the Marienbrücke in Germany
Photo by: Softeis, Creative Commons

The Neuschwanstein Castle was built during the 19th century on a hill in Bavaria, Germany. Neuschwanstein is a German word that means “New Swan Stone Palace” in English.

The castle was specially made by King Ludwig II of Bavaria. It is the largest photographed building in Germany even though the interior of the castle is not accessible by the public. The castle is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Germany due to its scenic beauty and gorgeous surroundings.

History

During the rule of King Ludwig II, visitors were not allowed in the castle. It was only after his death in 1886 that it was opened for all to view. More than 50 million people have visited the castle since it was opened to the public and more than 1.3 million tourists visit it annually. That means that more than 6,000 tourists visit the Neuschwanstein Castle daily.

Hollywood

The castle has such a charm that it even attracted Hollywood filmmakers. In fact, it has been the inspiration in several movies, including the Sleeping Beauty castle and Cinderella castles. It is also the model for the castle found at Tokyo Disneyland.

Tourists Information

The Neuschwanstein Castle is a property of Bavaria, which has spent more than 14.5 million dollars on safeguarding and renovating it. Since photography inside the castle is not allowed, visitors can only leave with memories after visiting it. But a visit to Germany is not complete without a visit to the Neuschwanstein Castle.

Picture of Neuschwanstein Castle Taken From the Ground
Picture of Neuschwanstein Castle Taken From the Ground
Photo by: Maurice, Creative Commons
Neuschwanstein: The Bavarian Castle
Picture of Neuschwanstein Castle taken from the top after a high hiked
Photo by: jeffwilcox, Creative Commons

April 20, 2009 at 8:48 pm | 12 comments

Golden Pavilion Temple

Golden Pavilion in Japan
Golden Pavilion in Kyoto, Japan
Photo by: Freakland, Creative Commons

The Golden Pavilion Temple, also called Kinkaku-ji in Japanese, was built in 1397 and it is located in Kyoto, Japan. It was initially made to serve as a villa for retirement for Shogun Ashikaga. It was quite later that his son converted the building into a Zen temple. The Golden Pavilion burned down in 1950 when a monk set fire to the temple.

The Golden Temple is a building with three stories. The upper two stories are covered with a pure gold layer. The main purpose of the pavilion is to work as a shariden, storing relics of the Buddha. One can see a typical Chinese architectural style on the top floor. The second floor has a Zen style and the ground floor is made in the shinden-zukuri style.

The entire temple is surrounded by a beautiful garden with a pond in the front called the Mirror Pond. The stones in the pond give a representation of the Buddhist era. In the year 1987, some parts of the temple were recoated in thicker gold and some of the interior of the temple was remodeled in 2003.

April 20, 2009 at 2:37 am | 9 comments

Delphi, an Archaeological Site in Greece

Delphi - Ancient Temple in Greece
Delphi – Ancient Temple in Greece
Photo by: Wikipedia, Creative Commons

Delphi is a modern town in Greece which is famous for its archaeological site in the valley of Phocis, among other things. The city is located in the center of Greece on the terraces that border the slope of Mount Parnassus. It also includes the Sanctuary of Apollo, a place where the ancient Oracle once lived. It was the place of the Delphic Oracle in Greek mythology when the main god of worship was Apollo. It is a site that is a must view for those who have always been influenced by the charm of the Oracle. The history shows that Delphi was populated during the Neolithic era.

During 100 B.C., Delphi became an important center for religious and political activities. While the exact function of the Oracle cannot be found in any of the prehistoric documents, the importance of Delphi has been well-documented.

Delphi of Greece was considered to be the center of the world and the Oracle was a religious naval that was famous for predicting the future. Since the Oracle could predict the future, most of the kings and common people used to consult the Oracle on matters that were of great importance. These matters would include things like small house hold disputes to big war conditions. Because of its future telling capabilities, it created a name and a reputation of its own not just in Greece but in the entire world. Some of the common sites to visit in Delphi include the famous temple of Apollo, the Tholos, the Delphi Museum and the Charioteer of Delphi. The drive to Delphi from Athens is almost 90 minutes. One can reach Delphi by air or road.

April 20, 2009 at 2:00 am | 1 comment

Santorini, a Small Cluster of Islands

Oia, part of Thera, Santorini
Oia, a community on the island of Thera, Santorini, in the Cyclades, Greece.
Photo by: Wolfgang Staudt, Creative Commons
Santorini Map

Santorini is a small cluster of three islands that were formed due to a volcanic eruption about 3,600 years ago. The islands are located in the southern section of Aegean Sea about 200 km from Greece’s mainland. This region is a destination that is world famous and attracts thousands of tourists who want to spend their vacation here. Several flights travel to Santorini City during the summer season, but visitors can also take a ferry service and enjoy the natural scenic beauty.

On one side of Santorini, visitors get a view of the local villages. This part of the city is highly commercial and generates revenue for the entire island. On another side of the islands is the town of Perissa. This is where visitors find black sand beaches which are popular places for many tourists. The third part of the city is called the Akotiri and it includes the ruins of the Minoan Period. Although this section is not popular among tourists, it is a well-known archeology site for researchers. In fact, legend has it that Santorini is the place where the civilization of Atlantis was once located.

Caldera in Santorini
Oia, a community on the island of Thera, Santorini
Photo by: Wolfgang Staudt, Creative Commons
Agios Nikolaos at the Caldera. Megalochori, Santorini
The caved-in church “Agios Nikolaos” at the Caldera
Photo by: Klearchos Kapoutsis, Creative Commons

April 19, 2009 at 3:53 am | 6 comments

Château de Chambord

Chateau de Chambord and Its Moat
Château de Chambord and Its Moat
Photo by: oletourn, Creative Commons

The Chateau de Chambord is one of the famous manor houses in the world. It is located in Chambord, Loir-et-Cher, France, and is renowned for its perfect and unique French architecture which combines the French and Italian classical traditions.

The Chambord was constructed under the rule of King Francois I. Its main purpose was to become a hunting lodge for the king. There are doubts as to who actually designed the original building. Some say the design is attributed to Philibert Delorme, a French Renaissance architect. Others say Leonardo da Vinci played a major role in designing it.

The Chambord Chateau is the largest castle in the entire Loire Valley. The centerpiece of the chateau is the double helix staircase. Both of the helices ascend up to the third floor and never connect. The castle is made up of a central tower that is used for a dungeon with four other towers that support all four corners. The Chambord has 440 rooms, 84 staircases and 365 fireplaces along with vault-shaped hallways on each floor to give the building its cross-like shape. There are 11 kinds of towers and three kinds of chimneys. The entire castle is surrounded by 13,000 acres of wooded parkland.

Chateau de Chambord Panorama
Viewed from the north of the Façade of the Château de Chambord in Chambord, Loir-et-Cher, France
Photo by: Stevage, Creative Commons

April 19, 2009 at 2:50 am | 14 comments

Petronas Twin Tower in Kuala Lumpur

Petronas Twin Towers
The Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Photo by: Someformofhuman, Creative Commons

The Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, is among the top 10 tallest buildings in the world. At 451.9 meters (1,482.6 feet), the Petronas Twin Towers was considered the tallest building from 1998 to 2004 when measured from the base to the antenna, or spire.

The towers were designed and constructed by an Argentinean architect named Cesar Pelli. Planning for the towers officially began at the beginning of 1992 and construction began in March 1993. They were completed in the year 1998 on the site of the racetrack of Kuala Lumpur. Because of the depth of the bedrock at this location, the racetrack was an ideal location for the towers.

The Petronas Twin Towers had 22 fewer floors than the World Trade Center buildings in New York City (88 floors compared to 110 floors). They are based on the simple Islamic architecture where every floor is based on an eight point star and the overall area of the buildings is spread out over 100 acres. The bottom floor consists of a shopping mall with a wide variety of goods.

These towers are constructed from concrete, steel and glass with reinforced designs for added durability. A special kind of concrete was used because it was more reliable, but it also weighs twice as much as normal steel. Pouring the concrete was a major feat. This project holds the record for the longest pour in the nation’s history at 54 consecutive hours of pouring for each tower.

Petronas Twin Towers Looking Up
View of Petronas Twin Towers and the bridge that connects the towers
Photo by: MVI, Creative Commons
Petronas Twin Tower From the Bottom
Petronas Twin Towers from the bottom looking up
Photo by: zzclef, Creative Commons

April 18, 2009 at 3:40 am | 20 comments

Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park
Waterfall at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, United States
Photo by: erikmarr, Creative Commons

The Yellowstone National Park was established by the United States Congress in 1872. It is located in Wyoming and extends to parts of Idaho and even Montana. It was the home of indigenous Americans, or Aboriginals, for 11,000 years, but today it is open to the public. There are many attractive qualities at this park, but it is mostly known for its variety of species and its geysers. It is also a great place for hikers, mountain climbers, and those who simply enjoy nature.

Yellowstone National Park covers a total area of 8,983 square kilometers and has several lakes, canyons, rivers and ranges of mountains. The Yellowstone Lake is one of the largest high-altitude lakes in all of North America. It also has an active volcano in it called the Yellowstone Caldera and has erupted with massive force many times in the past two million years. There is also an ecosystem in this park that is filled with birds, animals, and several endangered species.

Forest fires are a very common sight to see every year. In 1988, the largest fire that the park ever experienced destroyed almost a third of Yellowstone National Park.

April 18, 2009 at 2:01 am | 12 comments

Suez Canal: Important Waterways

Suez Canal
Satellite view of Suez Canal in Egypt

The Suez Canal is the most important and known waterways that is situated in Egypt. It was opened in the year 1869 and its purpose was to allow transportation of water between Europe and Asia. All this is done without plotting a course around Africa, the Mediterranean and Red Sea. The total length of the canal is 193 kilometers (120 miles). The canal is 24 meters (79 ft) deep at maximum depth. The width of the canal is 205 meters (673 ft). It has 3 lanes with four passing places like great Bitter Lake, Mediterranean, and Gulf of Suez on the Red Sea. The owner of the Suez Canal is Suez Canal Authority (SCA) of Arab Republic of Egypt.

The Suez Canal is considered to be very important oil transit chokepoints from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. The Suez Canal is also responsible for almost 8% of shipping traffic, with more than 50 ships taking a voyage through the canal daily. During the year 1967, the canal was closed because of the Six Day War. The canal has become a source of fighting as it serves as a buffer zone for Israel. The canal was reopened in the year 1975 and since then, it has been widened two times.

From the tourist perspective, one must aim at traveling around the Cape Agulhas. This route is supported for ships that are too large and huge in size. This is also the safest route, as piracy in Somalia is increasing day by day.

April 17, 2009 at 1:44 pm | 9 comments

Temple of Heaven in Beijing

Temple of Heaven
Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China
Photo by: kanegen, Creative Commons

The Temple of Heaven in China is a multifaceted and intricate combination of religious and philosophical traditions and concepts. The temple is found in the southeast part of Beijing and was constructed between 1406 and 1420 by King Yongle, who was also the one who made the entire Forbidden City of China. When Jiajing was ruler of China during the 16th century, he changed the name to the Temple of Heaven as it is known today.

Jiajing also contributed significantly by building three more temples, which were called the Temple of Sun, the Temple of Moon, and the Temple of Earth. King Qianlong did further renovations to the Temple of Heaven during the 18th century. In 1914, the swearing-in ceremony of the Yuan Shih Kai also took place in the Temple of Heaven. It was during this time that he declared himself the Emperor of China. Four years later, the temple became open to the public.

Temple of Heaven Panorama
Panorama view of Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China
Photo by: Maros, Creative Commons

Currently, the temple is one of the most popular places for exercise because of its huge park.
It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998 and was described as a masterpiece in architecture and design in one of the prominent civilizations of the world.

April 17, 2009 at 1:05 pm | 1 comment

Dead Sea between Israel & Jordan

Dead Sea
A view from Israel looking across to Jordan
Photo by: David Shankbone, Creative Commons

The Dead Sea, also known as the Sea of Salt, is a massive salt lake that is situated between Israel and the West Bank to the west and Jordan on the east. This body of water is 1,385 feet below sea level and its shores are believed to be the lowest in the world.

The sea itself is 1,240 feet deep, making it the deepest hyper saline lake in the world. The total salinity content is 33.7 percent. Because of its high salinity content, fish and vegetation cannot exist in it at all, hence its name. The Dead Sea is eight times saltier than the other oceans and it is 67 kilometers long and 18 kilometers wide. The main tributary of the sea is the Jordan River as it lies in the Jordan Rift Valley.

People have been visiting this grand sea for thousands of years. Visitors from all over the world come to the Dead Sea with many of them visiting from the Mediterranean basin. In ancient times, it served as a refugee camp for King David. It is also considered to be the first health resort in the world as it supplies a variety of products likes potash for fertilizers and balms. Moreover, the salt from the sea is used to create cosmetic and herbal packets.

The Dead Sea is not polluted and experiences sunny skies and dry air all year round. The place has become famous for its therapeutic qualities. Some of those include climatotherapy, heliotherapy (which is harnessing the positive biological effects of the suns radiation) and the thalassotherapy (which means bathing in the sea water).

April 17, 2009 at 3:46 am | 15 comments

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House
View of Sydney Opera House at night with lighting in Australia
Photo by: Diliff, Creative Commons

The Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia, is one of the world’s most distinct 20th century buildings. It is also one of the most famous performing art centers in the entire world. In 2007, it became a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Sydney Opera House was designed by a Danish architect named Jorn Utzon. He was the winning entry in a competition that was held to find the best design. In 2003, nearly 50 years after construction began, Utzon received the Pritzker Prize, the highest honor given in the architectural industry. The prize included words like “masterpiece” and “iconic” to describe the building. The unique structure has now become one of the most recognizable symbols for the entire continent of Australia.

The iconic opera house is located in the Sydney Harbor, which is very close to the Sydney Bridge. It serves as a venue for several types of performing arts besides opera, including theater and piano recitals, among other arts. It has been the host building for major events like the Opera Australia, The Australian Ballet, the Sydney Theatre Company and the Sydney Symphony. It is currently maintained and opearted by the Sydney Opera House Trust.

Sydney Opera House Interior
The interior of Concert Hall, which is the home of Sydney Symphony with 2,679 seats
Photo by: Jason7825, Creative Commons
Day Shot of Sydney Opera House
View of Sydney Opera House during the Day
Photo by: Corey Leopold, Creative Commons
Dark Night at Sydney Opera House
Sydney Opera House very dark at night
Photo by: Corey Leopold, Creative Commons
Syndey Opera House Panorama
Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House at Night – Panorama View
Photo by: IaRuth, Creative Commons

April 17, 2009 at 3:23 am | 16 comments

Wat Phra Kaew

Temple of the Emerald Buddha
Inside the grounds of the Grand Palace, Western side of Wat Phra Kaew
Photo by: Wikipedia, Creative Commons
Emerald Buddha Statue
Emerald Buddha Statue inside Wat Phra Kaew
Photo by: Wikipedia, Creative Commons

The Temple of the Emerald Buddha, also called Wat Phra Kaew, is considered the most sacred temple (wat) of Buddha in Thailand. Wat Phra Kaew is located within the historic center of Bangkok (district PhraNakhon) inside the grounds of the Grand Palace. Within the temple is a valuable artifact called the Emerald Buddha Statue which is believed to be the idol that protects the city. The Statue of Emerald Buddha is made up of green jade (not emerald) and is dressed in gold clothes with a total height of 45 cm.

As far as the history of the statue goes, it is said that it was made in India in 43 BC in Patliputra. The statue was transferred to Sri Lanka to keep it safe. In 1784, it was placed in its current home in Thailand. The structure of the statue is called the Jasper Statue. Tourists not only come to this place because of its sacred beauty, but also to adore and admire the beautiful statue that stands in the middle of the temple. It is green in color and covered with gold. It has three different sets of clothes which are changed only by the king when the seasons change. The sets of clothes that are not used are kept safe in Regalia (public grounds) for public display. The temple is like a personal chapel of the royal family and therefore does not house any monks.

The entrance to the temple is in the rear and it faces the back of the Emerald Buddha Statue. To reach the entrance to the ubosot, the audience has to climb up to the terrace. The temple is covered entirely by a gallery, the outside of which is depicted with paintings from the Ramakien epic.

Bangkok Famous Landmarks

April 15, 2009 at 6:50 pm | No comment

Mount Everest

Mount Everest
View of Everest from Kala Patthar in Nepal
Photo by: Wikipedia, Creative Commons

Mount Everest, which literally means “the top or the head of the sky,” is the tallest mountain on Earth. The mountain itself touches the borders of Tibet and Nepal and is a part of the Himalayan Range. During 1856, the name of Mount Everest was Peak XV, but the Geographical Society gave it its official name in 1865 in honor of George Everest. Its total height above sea level is 29,029 feet.

Despite the fact it is the highest peak in the world, hikers and adventurers from all over the world come and attempt to climb this mountain. A whole team of climbers can help both amateur and novice climbers get to the peak. If one follows the standard route to climb, it can be quite safe. However, the problem is that the Himalayas are faced with bad weather and fast wind, leading to difficulty breathing at the high altitude.

Aerial View of Mount Everest
Aerial View of Mount Everest from the south
Photo by: Kerem Barut, Creative Commons

Climbers must pay heavy amount of money to climb the mountain. This fee acts as a continuous source of income to Nepal. However, an equal amount has to be raised to get a license and permit of $25,000 to climb Mount Everest. Until 2007, 210 people have lost their lives to bad weather conditions while trying to climb Mount Everest.

There are two main routes for climbing Mt. Everest. One is from southeast of Nepal and the other is from north of Tibet. The most preferred route out of the two is the one from Nepal. The best time to start climbing is in May before the summer monsoon because the direction of the wind is quite favorable during that time.

Seen from Tingri at 4050 meters above sea level
View from Tingri, a small village on the Tibetan plateau
at around 4050m above sea level.
Photo by: Joe Hastings, Creative Commons
Beautiful View of Mount Everest
Beautiful shot of Mount Everest
Photo by: utpala ॐ, Creative Commons















7 Wonders of the Natural World

April 15, 2009 at 5:30 pm | 30 comments

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia under a cloudy sky in Istanbul, Turkey
Photo by: Alaskan Dude, Creative Commons

Hagia Sophia, also known as the “Church of Holy Wisdom”, is located in Istanbul, Turkey. The church now serves as a museum. The building was originally ordered by the first Christian Emperor, Constantine the Great, who is also known as the founder of Constantinople. The Hagia Sophia structure that stands today is very different from the original edifice due to riots, earthquake damage and remodeling. When the original Hagia Sophia was destroyed, it was rebuilt by Theodosius the Great, but subsequently it was burned down in the Nika riots of 532.

The most notable restoration of the Hagia Sophia was done by Abdulmecid II, who was called upon to restore the damaged dome, pillars and exterior. In 1934, the church was turned into the Ayasofya Museum by the Turkish President Kemal Ataturk. The change involved removal of prayer rugs, and some of the calligraphic panels were moved to other mosques. The Hagia Sophia still stands today thanks to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, which has taken the task of preserving the site by cleaning and restoring the great structure.

Hagia Sophia is a great example of Byzantine architecture as it was built with beautiful mosaics, galleries and pillars. Many of its mosaic paintings reflect the Byzantine culture and artistic skills of the past. The church holds great importance in the Muslim, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox worlds.

7 Wonders of the Medieval World

April 15, 2009 at 2:59 pm | No comment

Pompeii, The Forgotten City

Pompeii
Pompeii in Italy
Photo by: Perrimoon, Creative Commons

Pompeii, also known as the forgotten city, was a Roman settlement that was devastated by volcanic eruptions in 79 A.D. It is located in the province of Naples (Campania, Italy). The city was first occupied by Romans in the 6th century and converted into a resort city. Today, it is an attraction for archaeologists from all over the world due to the fact that most of the architecture has been preserved by the ashes from the volcanic eruption.

The volcano that was responsible for the destruction of Pompeii is Mount Vesuvius. The eruptions from the volcano were so strong that the buildings and the people were covered in twelve thick layers of mud and ash. After the city was covered in volcanic ashes, it was slowly forgotten and erased from the history books until it got rediscovered in 1738 by workers working for the King of Naples. Since then, it has become one of the earliest excavated cities in the world.

Before Pompeii succumbed to the eruptions, it was a blossoming township and a progressive commercial port of the Sarno River in Italy. The most notable buildings that have been excavated from the ashes are a Roman basilica and an amphitheatre. The excavations also include many intact wall paintings, pottery, and coinage.

In today’s world, the University of Bradford is responsible for most of the excavations and provides the history of the great city in the form of photos available on the internet. The city of Pompeii is a highly-visited tourist place due to its unique architectural designs and its history.

April 15, 2009 at 2:31 pm | 94 comments

British Museum

British Museum
View of the British Museum from outside
Photo by: Wikipedia, Creative Commons

If you are planning to visit London, one of the most interesting places to see is the British Museum. This popular museum displays a wealth of British masterpieces which include some of the famous antiquities and documents that are related to the nation’s history. The four most common masterpieces that attract the world are the Rosetta Stone, Elgin Marbles, the Great Court and the Magna Carta (not a part of the museum anymore).

The Rosetta Stone is more than 2,200 years old and stands one meter high. It was discovered in the year 1799 and led the Hieroglyphics Decoder. The same message was written on the Rosetta Stone in three different languages.

The second most important tourist attraction is Elgin Marbles. All the ancient sculptures in Elgin Marbles were Greek. However, in the 19th century, Lord Elgin brought them to England. Many critics say that since these sculptures were originally Greek, it should be returned to Greece.

Another great attraction is the Great Court. This is a sizable court of Queen Elizabeth II and is a sight worth visiting. The court has a reading room, which is in the middle of the courtyard. It looks more like an old fashion library with high ceilings ad long tables. The court is now open for public viewing. These facts and more are what make the British Museum worth a visit.

Official British Museum Website: http://www.britishmuseum.org/

Panorama View of the Reading Room in the British Museum
Panorama view of the reading room within the British Museum in England
Photo by: Wikipedia, Creative Commons

London Famous Landmarks

April 11, 2009 at 6:54 pm | 5 comments

Ladakh and Its Mountains

Ladakh and Its Mountains
View of the mountains at Ladakh, India
Photo by: ReefRaff, Creative Commons

Ladakh, also called the “Land of the High Passes,” is part of the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir. It lies in between two of the world’s greatest mountain ranges, the Himalayan and the Karakorum ranges. The people who live here are migrants from the Indo-Aryan and Tibetan civilizations.

The Ladakh region is very thinly populated. It has an altitude ranging from 9,000 feet at Kargil to 21,170 feet at Saser Kanri. The temperature in winter reaches negative 22 degrees Celsius, and during summers it can go up to 20 Celsius. Ladakh has been said to be one of the few places where people can have sun stroke as well as frostbite at the same time.

Water is always scarce because the region hardly receives any rain. Ladakh does not receive rain for over 300 days in a year. The main source of water here is the melted water from the snow which is carried down by smaller streams.

There are beautiful mountains all over Ladakh and it is worth visiting if you are into mountain activities. Some of the adventures that tourists can indulge into are mountain climbing, cycling, Jeep and yak safaris and trekking. Additionally, there are a lot of monasteries in Ladakh that are worth visiting.

April 11, 2009 at 6:39 pm | 2 comments

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower in Paris, France
Photo by: Al Lanni, Creative Commons

The Eiffel Tower is one of the most famous icons in the world and is located on the banks of the Seine River in Paris, France. This prominent structure is made out of iron and is built on Champ de Mars. The tower got its name from the engineer who built it and it is the tallest building in the entire city. It is one of the few places in the world that is visited by more than 200,000,000 tourists since its construction in 1889 and it generates more revenue than any other monument in the world.

The tower was constructed in just three years and its initial purpose was to broadcast radio signals. It stands 1,063 feet high with a 79-foot antenna and weighs around 7,900 tons. During the time the Eifel Tower was made, many people were surprised and shocked to see its daring and intrepid shape. The engineers who were making an effort to create it were accused of trying to do an experiment. But the engineers were sure and confident of what they had in mind. They also understood the forces of the wind and knew that the structure would support stand up to the gusts. Their persistence finally paid off in 1889 when the tower’s construction was completed and it stood tall as one of the largest structures in all of Paris.

The tower has two restaurants located on the first floor. There is built-in lift that can take visitors to the top floor to witness the marvelous view of Paris, France.

Eiffel Tower and King Kong?
Eiffel Tower and King Kong?
Photo by: paveita, Creative Commons
Looking Up at the Eiffel Tower
Looking up at the Eiffel Tower
Photo by: Earcos, Creative Commons
Looking Through the Eiffel Tower
Looking through the Eiffel Tower
Photo by: WouteR, Creative Commons
Notre Dame's Gargoyle Overlooking Paris and the Eiffel Tower
One of Notre Dame’s Gargoyles overlooking the city of Paris
Photo by: beggs, Creative Commons

Paris Famous Landmarks

April 11, 2009 at 6:22 pm | 34 comments

New York Skyline Its Marvelous Skyscrapers

New York Skyline
View of New York Skyline at Night
Photo by: ajagendorf25, Creative Commons

New York City is primarily known for its busy active life and its many skyscrapers. In fact, the city is known for having some of the world’s biggest and largest skyline buildings. When people from other countries visit the United States, one of the first places they visit is New York City to see the many buildings and skyscrapers.

One of the most popular high-rise buildings is called the Top of the Rock, also referred to as the GE Building. Many people enjoy this building because of the views of the surrounding city. On the 69th floor is Rockefeller Center. The Empire State Building, which was completed in 1931, is another building to visit and there are two different observation decks to visit. The lower observation area is located on the 86th floor and the other is on the 102nd floor. Visitors can also take a tour of Ground Zero, or the place where the Twin Towers stood before the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001. Before that, these two buildings were the tallest in New York City at more than 1,720 feet tall.

Some of the other structures that help make the New York City skyline one of the most popular in the world include the MetLife Building, which is one of the 50 tallest buildings in the nation, the Conde Nast Building located in Times Square, and the Hearst Tower in Midtown Manhattan, which was constructed on the base of the older Hearst Corporation Building.

Panorama View of New York Skyline
Very wide panorama view of New York Skyline
Photo by: wikipedia, Creative Commons

The Citigroup Center has 59 stories and is considered to be one of the most important post wars building in the city of New York. New York City also has the Time Square Building and is a unique example of the green and steel construction. Some other skyscrapers are Midtown Manhattan, Time Warner Center and the International Style.

Aerial View of Midtown Manhattan's Skyscrapers
Midtown Manhattan and its large skyscrapers
Photo by: Patrick Theiner, Creative Commons
New York City
New York City view taken from a ferry going to Liberty Island
Photo by: kennymatic, Creative Commons

April 11, 2009 at 5:41 pm | 3 comments

Uluru/Ayers Rock in Northern Territory

Ayers Rock
View of Uluru/Ayers Rock from a helicopter in Australia
Photo by: Corey Leopold, Creative Commons

Ayers Rock, also known as Uluru, is a huge rock formation made up of sandstone and is located in the southern part of Northern Territory in central Australia. Uluru is said to be a sacred place for the Aboriginals living in Australia. The rocky formation mountain has many water holes, caves, natural springs and old historic paintings. The site is a part of UNESCO and is listed in the World Heritage Site.

The word Uluru has no meaning. It was in 1873 when the new name was given to Uluru and became known as Ayers Rock. This name was given to the rock as an honor to the Chief Secretary, Sir Henry Ayers. During 1993, a new policy was created in which both the names were made official, making both the Aboriginals and the Australians happy.

The Ayers Rock is said to be the greatest monolith at 9 km in circumference and has a height of 348 m. It is very interesting to know that more than two-thirds of the rock is within the ground. The sun can shift and change the colors of Ayers Rock. The colors range from red to blue, pink, brown and silver during the rain. It can be exciting walking up the rock and all you have to do is just keep following the marked lines.

April 10, 2009 at 7:27 am | 53 comments

Yosemite National Park in California

Granite Domes on Tenaya Lake at Yosemite National Park
Granite Domes and its reflection on Tenaya Lake at Yosemite National Park, USA
Photo by: Alaskan Dude, Creative Commons

Yosemite National Park, located in the eastern central region of California, covers an area of 761,266 acres which includes the slope of the Nevada mountain chain. It is about six hours north of Los Angeles and is known internationally for its natural features like the great cliffs, waterfalls, streams and flora to fauna diversity. That is why more than 3.5 million people visit this park every year.

More than 95 percent of Yosemite National Park has wildlife in it, including five types of vegetation zones: oak woodland, lower and upper montane, subalpine and alpine. The park is one of the largest habitat centers in all of Nevada and it has an elevation range of 600 to 4,000 meters. There are also also huge rocks that are more than 10 million years old scattered throughout the natural areas.

For tourists, there are also several hotels and accommodations throughout the park, including restaurants and shops. Many visitors enjoy visiting during the summer to enjoy everything the park has to offer.

Taft Point at Yosemite National Park
Taft Point at Yosemite National Park, USA
Photo by: Joe Shlabotnik, Creative Commons
Vernal Fall at Yosemite National Park
Vernal Fall at Yosemite National Park, USA
Photo by: Joe Shlabotnik, Creative Commons

Yosemite National Park official websites
http://www.nps.gov/yose/
http://www.yosemitepark.com/

Weather & Forecast
Park Weather

April 10, 2009 at 7:02 am | 5 comments

Yangtze River Cruise

Cruise Heading Into Mists at Yangtze River
Ship heading into mists at Yangtze River, China
Photo by: jeremybarwick, Creative Commons

The Yangtze River is also called the Chang Jiang, which is the longest river in the entire china and is said to be third longest river, after the river Nile and Amazon River. The Yangtze River is 6,380 kilometer long. It divides the entire china into north and south. Since it is the largest river of China, it is considered very important to the country from economic, geographic and cultural perspective. The dam made on this river is one of the biggest hydraulic power generator across the world. The name of the river suggests ‘Long River’.

To make the best out of a visit to China, one should plan a vacation through the Yangtze River Cruise. Yangtze River is commonly known for its beautiful landscape and the unique design on the cruise. One can observe a mix of both new and traditional Chinese culture. Some of the places that you can visit during your cruise tour is Shibaozhai, this is a home of 12 story temples which was built in the year 1650 and offers a great spectacular view of the winding Yangtze and villages below.

This site usually figures out in every tourist’s itinerary and while doing so, they also like to take a tour of the Great Wall of China, Tiananmen Square, the Jade Buddha temple etc. Tourists who plan their China holidays through special Yangtze River Cruise can save up to 40% compared to other attractions.If you really want to enjoy your trip to China, then make the best out of it, in terms of money and fun. It is always a better idea to relax on a cruise and enjoy the beautiful scene of the Yangtze River and cover many beautiful parts of China.

For more information about prices and booking your next cruise, visit http://www.yangtzeriver.org/

First Turn of Yangtze River
First turn at Yangtze River, turning 180 degrees from south to north bound.
Photo by: wikipedia, Creative Commons

April 10, 2009 at 6:30 am | 1 comment

Burj Al Arab in Dubai

Burj Al Arab
Burj Al Arab in Dubai, UAE
Photo by: Faithful Chant, Creative Commons

The Burj Al Arab is the “tower of the Arabs” and is located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It is a luxurious hotel which stands 1,053 feet tall and has the shape of a sailboat. It is said to be the second tallest hotel in the world. The tallest hotel building is the Rose Tower. There is another building that is still unfinished and is nine times taller than the Burj Al Arab. This building is an icon that is defined as the symbol of Dubai and it shows the modern trends that Dubai has been moving towards.

The architecture who designed the Burj Al Arab was Tom Wright of Atkins. The hotel has 202 rooms and the construction was completed in the year 1999. The Burj Al Arab has 18 elevators and 60 floors. The hotel is located on an artificial island which is constructed almost 80 meters offshore. The hotel looks like a seven-star hotel in and is known for its unique architecture. However, if you go to the official website of the hotel, it claims to be only a five-star hotel.

One of its restaurants, called the Al Muntaha, is situated 660 feet above the Persian Gulf and shows a splendid view of Dubai. Another restaurant within the hotel is called the Al Mahara, which features a seawater aquarium. This restaurant can be reached by catching a submarine and it is within the sea. It holds about 35,000 cubic feet of water and is voted one of 10 best amongst the world.

April 10, 2009 at 6:18 am | 12 comments

Page 2 of 612345...Last »