Gobustan State Reserve

Qobustan Marker
Photo by: KurtisEllisWood, Creative Commons

Gobustan State Reserve, otherwise known as Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape, or just Gobustan, is a hill-and-mountain site on the southeast end of the Big Caucasian Ridge. It mainly occupies the basin of Jeyrankechmaz River, situated between the rivers Sumgait and Pirsagat. Located west of the Gobustan settlement and about 64 kilometers (40 miles) southwest of Baku’s center, it is cut up with a number of rather deep ravines, which in Azerbaijani is “gobu,” the suggested origin of the place’s name.

Under harsh exposure to the sun, wind, and seismic activity throughout many centuries, blocks of stone has broken away from the edges of a layer of limestone. These rolled down the slopes and pressed against each other to form about twenty caves and canopies of varying sizes which serve as shelter for the natives. Gobustan State Reserve’s archeological value was then discovered by accident when a group of men came there in 1930 to mine for gravel. There was an abundance of boulders and stone formations but one miner noticed the carvings on the rocks which then led to the team discovering man-made caves which had even more of the rocks engravings within.

Gobustan State Reserve was declared one of Azerbaijan’s national historical landmarks in 1996 to preserve the ancient carvings, mud volcanoes, gas stones, and other relics that have become tourist attractions in the region. Taken under legal protection were the mountains Kichikdash, Jingirdag, and Beyukdash, and the Yazili hill situated in the southeast portion of Gobustan, near the Caspian Sea. It was declared in 2007 as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) due to the place’s rock art engravings which reflect substantially the hunting lifestyles in prehistoric times and the culture which continued to develop until the medieval times.

January 20, 2010 at 4:31 pm | No comment

Lake Atitlán

Lake Atitlán
Lake Atitlán
Photo by: Teomancimit, Creative Commons

Visiting Lake Atitlán (or Lago de Atitlán as it is known by the people living in the land surrounding it) is a very worthwhile activity. The lake has been deemed as the deepest lake all over the realm of Central America since the bottom part of the lake has not been explored as of yet, despite diving efforts.

The people’s way of living is influenced by the geography of the place. Planting of coffee and other crops like corn are extensively supported by the lake’s basin. Besides these goods, Lake Atitlán is also notable for its production of the best onions, squash, chile verde, strawberries and many more famous food ingredients. Moreover, the lake serves as the residence of aquatic animals, making the hunting of these this primary source of food for the indigenous people of the area.

Many towns and villages surround the lake. These towns are still untouched when it comes to the culture and traditions that they practice. Although they were also colonized by the Spaniards, the existing tribes remained to be prevalent in terms of their rituals and beliefs.

The most populous village would be Santiago Atitlán. Tourists might be amazed on how much Maximón, the idol that they heavily worship, influenced their daily living. Different cults have taken form, despite unity in tradition.

A town called Panajachel, on the other hand, does not carry the Maya culture and instead became the most advanced town surrounding the lake. This is also the place where the tourists go the most, since it offers services and dwellings for travelers exploring the area. Still, the town itself boasts its rich culture dating back to the 60s when Hippies flourished in the area.

Of course, the beauty of the lake alone should persuade one to go to Lake Atitlán and its surrounding villages.

January 20, 2010 at 3:33 pm | No comment

San Miguel de Allende

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San Miguel de Allende
Photo by: Esparta, Creative Commons

When people think of Mexico’s historic past, it’s either they picture ruins of ancient civilizations from the Mayan, Aztec, or Olmec times, or they might be looking at Spanish influenced towns that have retained a distinctively colonial flavor. If you’re looking for the latter to spice up your vacation itinerary, then you are in luck! Mexico has a lot of colonial towns that invoke both luxurious and classic charms. A very good example is the town of San Miguel de Allende.

San Miguel de Allende is in the state of Guanajuato in Mexico. This historic town was established in 1542 and has attracted certain type of visitor when it comes to tourism – this town has become a haven for rich residents of the capital Mexico City residents and has been a go-to city for American and Canadian expatriates and retirees.

If you want to explore the wonders of this splendid place, it would be best to go there during the early summer months. The city is a co-host along with Guanajuato of the Expresión en Corto International Film Festival, Latin America’s most prestigious and largest film festival. The film festival has free admission to the public with over 400 films that run in 16 sites until 4 in the morning.

You may also want to visit the newly restored mural in fresco at the city’s Escuela Universitaria de Bellas Artes.This mural was painted by American artist Eleanor Coen, the first woman employee of the TGP (Taller de Grafica Popular). The mural shows women and children washing at a river.

Alas, there’s always time for shopping in this town. Shopping in San Miguel de Allende is a dream for shopaholic – Mexican handicrafts, art galleries, boutiques and shops specializing in furniture and home decor are all available for your shopping pleasure!

January 20, 2010 at 2:35 pm | 2 comments

Wat Phra That Lampang Luang

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Wat Phra That Lampang Luang
Photo by: 7 july, Creative Commons

Wat Phra That Lampang Luang is a famous temple located at the province of Lampang in Thailand. It is 18 kilometers southwest of the central Lampang. The ornaments in the structure date back to the time of the Princess Chama Devi (650 to 700 A.D.). The temple is significant to the Thai people because it is a place of refuge during the invasion of the Burmese. The fortress and thick walls served as their protection. In the temple are steps and stairs which will lead the visitor to entrances located in the north and east part. The balustrade at the entrance is the serpent Naga. This reflects the influences of Burmese art.

On the top of the hill is the center of the temple. It is surrounded by thick trees surrounded by a wall made of bronze with canopies made of copper. There is a hole in the barrier which, according to legend, is the evidence of a cannon ball that killed the Burmese general that led to their defeat. The Thais used this to navigate through the temple using the hidden drainage.

There is a chedi with shrines decorated with flower images. These flower images are visible on the facades and pillars of the structure.

Two Buddha’s depicted in the style of Chiang Mai is on the temple. These Buddha images serve as support to the roof. The altar is designed with emblems that hang on different poles. A small Buddha is rumored to have been carved from the same emerald piece as the popular Emerald Buddha in another attraction of the Wat Phra That Lampang Luang.

There is a museum in the area which protects artifacts and Buddha images made of gemstones. This museum also holds several treasures. When you visit Thailand, don’t forget to tour Lampang province to see the Wat Phra That Lampang Luang.

January 20, 2010 at 1:08 pm | No comment

Issyk Kul Lake

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Issyk Kul Lake
Photo by: Livepine , Creative Commons

Travelers who have an interest for adventure tourism will be delighted to have Issyk Kul Lake as part of their itinerary. This lake is one of the main tourist attractions in Kyrgyzstan, a republic in Central Asia which won its independence with the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. The lake is the 10th largest in the world in terms of volume and is endorheic, meaning it has no outflow to the ocean or sea. Its Kyrgyz name “Issyk Kul”, translates to “warm lake”. The locals call it this not because its waters are warm but because the lake never freezes despite being surrounded by snow-capped mountains whose glaciers actually feed it with water. The lake is in the eastern part of Kyrgyzstan in the province that is also named Issyk Kul, with Karakol as its capital.

One source of delight for visitors is that they would in fact be tracing part of the ancient Silk Road interconnecting trade routes between the Asian and the European continents. Historians say that Issyk Kul Lake was one of the stopovers of traders who took these routes for over 3,000 years since prehistoric times. Among the traces of that these ancient travelers left was an Armenian monastery ca. 14th century, found on the lake’s northeastern shores. Underwater archeologists have also discovered at the lake’s bottom lots of artifacts and structures indicating that a metropolis with an advanced civilization flourished at Issyk Kul when the water level there was very much lower some 2,500 years ago.

A popular vacation destination during the Soviet era, Issyk Kul Lake visitors dwindled after the USSR breakup. But tourism is again picking up. An increasing number of tourists are now again flocking to Issyk Kul to enjoy swimming and sunbathing at the many beach resorts surrounding the lake, as well as challenge their stamina trail-hiking in the surrounding mountains.

January 20, 2010 at 12:12 pm | No comment

Sugarloaf Mountain

Sugarloaf Mountain in Brazil
Photo by: Rodrigo_Soldon, Creative Commons

The Sugarloaf Mountain is a place located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The mountain is the heights peak in the entire sea covered area. It protrudes into the Atlantic Ocean and has a total height of 1,299 feet above the sea level. It got its name sugarloaf as it resembles the original shape of a huge pile or a heap of sugar that has just come out of a sugar refinery. Some school of thoughts as says that the name is a derivation of a ‘high hill’. The Ariel view of the mountain is also breathtaking.

The mountain is a monolith and is made up of granite and quartz. The most interesting thing from the visitor’s point of view is the glass trolley or cable car that can take almost 75 passengers between the peaks of Pao de Acucar and Cara de Cao in every 20 mins. Originally the cable car was laid and built in the year 1912, however, was rebuilt in 1972 and 197. The view from the glass cable is magnificent.

Another best outdoor activity that the tourist indulge into is rock climbing. It is a very common sight to watch the rock climber climb the Babylon Mountain and the Urca’s mountain. It is said that both the peaks together form the largest urban climbing areas in the world. The Sugar Mountains have such an attraction in them that they have even appeared in the some of the Hollywood movies. The famous of all is the James bond released in the year 1979.

January 20, 2010 at 1:29 am | 4 comments

Cesky Krumlov

Cesky Krumlov town in Czech Republic
Photo by: midweekpost, Creative Commons

Cesky Krumlov is a small town located in the south Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic. The place is most popularly known for its architecture and art of the significant old town. Old Cesky Krumlov is a part of the UNESCO, world heritage site. The construction of the city as well as the castle started in the late thirteen century. In the year 1302 the city and the castle was possessed by the House of Rosenberg. A lot of architecture of the old city and the castle dates back from the 14th century to the 17th centuries. One side of the old town is within the rabbit’s foot turns of the river.

Once the World War I got over the city of Krumlov belonged to upper Austria which was a part of the Republic of German Austria. Also during the war zone and era the town became a part of the Czechoslovakia. Between the year 1938 and 1945 it was made a part of the Nazi Germany and Sudetenland. During the II world War the town was restored to Czechoslovakia. The town faced massive floods during the year 2002 due to the Vltava River.The Cesky is a very large town as compared to the standard towns. Statistics say that it is the second largest in the Czech Republic. Inside the town one can see large gardens, huge and long bridges with a big gap in the rock upon and the castle itself. Some of the famous sights to visit in the town are the gothic church call the Church St. Vitus, the Baroque theater the famous museum and some old monasteries.

January 20, 2010 at 1:10 am | No comment

Waimea Canyon

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Waimea Canyon
Photo by: mnapoleon, Creative Commons

Waimea Canyon is located in Kauai, Hawaii and considered as the largest canyon in the Pacific region rivaled only in beauty by the Grand Canyon. It is even nicknamed “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” Waimea Canyon has an interesting geological history as it was created through the centuries from the volcanic eruptions, lava flows and erosions. Waimea Canyon is a natural wonder that is ten miles long and is 3,500 feet deep and is protected by the Kokee State Park of Hawaii.

If you plan to take a trip to Waimea Canyon, here is some useful information that can help during your vacation. Lodging is available for those who would like to stay for several days at the Hale Koa Cabin. There are also bed and breakfasts, vacation rentals and hotels that are available at Kauai if one prefers to stay near the city to enjoy the other things that the city has to offer. Do make sure to book early in order to get a good rate on your room. Check for discounts or promos in order to get better rates.

Hiking is one of the most common things to do when visiting the Waimea Canyon. There are several hiking trails that are made available to the adventurer visitor who would love to scale the beautiful and expansive Canyon. There are certain trails however that require a state permit before one is able to take them and majority of the trails lead up to the canyon which gives you a breathtaking view of the whole valley. The best time to view the valley would be in the early morning, so do get up early in order to get the full impact of your hiking.

Taking a trip to Waimea Canyon will definitely give the visitor a different take on the natural wonders. You will be able to appreciate the beauty of life and your surroundings.

January 20, 2010 at 12:07 am | No comment

The Great Geysir

The Great Geysir
Photo by: meiburgin, Creative Commons

The Geysir, Great Geysir, or Stori-Geysir is one of the most popular attractions in Iceland. The word geyser was derived from the word geysir originating in Iceland. It is a spouting hot spring specifically located at Haukadalur, Iceland. It is said that earthquakes during the 13th century gave birth to the Great Geysir and all other hot springs in the area. Similarly, the earthquakes caused the activity of the Geysir in its early years. It has the ability to spout hot water and steam reaching 60 to an astounding 80 meters in height. This geyser, with an 18-meter wide opening and 20-meter deep chamber, was active every thirty minutes in 1930 and every 6 hours in the following years. Unfortunately, the Great Geysir became totally inactive in 1916.

The digging of a manmade channel around its vent somehow caused the Great Geysir to wake up from its deep sleep. Its eruptions were controlled by the addition of soap. During special occasions, it was stimulated to erupt and give off a magnificent sight. But due to environmental concerns, the use of soap was gradually reduced.

Today, the spouting of heated water and steam is rarely observed. If you fail to witness the spectacular beauty of the erupting Great Geysir, another famous geyser is just 100 meters away from the former. The Strokkur or The Churn, though spouts water only up to 20 to 30 meters high, is more active than the Great Geysir. It erupts every five minutes. The area is just filled with other small hot springs. One can see the breathtaking view of the site on the small Laguarjfall Mountain located west of the area. But people can do more than just being mesmerized by the spouting wonders of Iceland. There are numerous establishments around the area offering other fun filled activities like hiking, golf, horse rentals, and river rafting.

January 19, 2010 at 10:22 pm | No comment

Sequoia National Park

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Log Tunnel at Sequoia National Park
Photo by: GregTheBusker, Creative Commons

A famed U.S. national park, it is one of the foremost tourist destinations in California. The Sequoia National Park is located in the southern part of the Sierra Nevadas east of Visalia. It gets its name from the famous giant sequoia trees that are spread out all over the park. The sequoia tree is one of the largest trees on earth.

The Sequoia National Park is divided into two parts, the front country and the back country. The front country is made up of blue oak woodlands, chaparral, grasslands and yucca plants. Along its foothills abundantly lives different wildlife. You can see mountain lions that have found recluse in this part of the park. The lions co-exist with other wildlife, like foxes, squirrels, rattle snakes and bobcats. The higher elevation of the front country is covered with greeneries from rare species. The back country, on the other hand, is almost covered with wilderness. It offers a vast area of high-alpine wonders.

However, this is the area where you can rent rustic tent cabins and eat meals prepared by gourmet cooks.
The park offers variety of activities that can be undertaken by the whole family. Bonds are strengthened through camping, hiking and fishing. Unique experiences are also offered by the park – the tunnel log where cars can drive through a fallen sequoia log; crystal cave that joins the two parks; the crescent meadow that is popularly known as the gem of the sierra; and Moro rock that offers breathtaking views of the park.

The Sequoia National Park is United States’ premier visitor destination. It is also one of the best locations for family outings. Not only does it allow communing with nature, it also fosters long lasting bond through its tranquil surrounding. One can never really appreciate nature until he experiences a day or two in the park’s forest, because this is where you can really experience wildlife coexist with men.

January 19, 2010 at 8:29 pm | No comment

Tower of Belem

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Belem Tower in Lisbon
Photo by: victoriapeckham, Creative Commons

The Torré de Belém or Belem Tower is Lisbon, Portugal’s most famous landmark. It stands as the city’s most renowned symbol situated along the Tagus riverbank.

During the time of King John II, he posted a ship (called the Grande Nau) in the river to protect the shore of Belem. His successor, King Manuel I replaced the ship with the now known Belem Tower. This tower was originally constructed as a lighthouse and a defensive fortress at the entrance of the River Tagus. It was then constructed on a small island off the river; however, the shift of the riverbank location has resulted to it standing on the mainland at present.

Francisco de Arruda was the architect of this tower. He began building it in 1515. De Arruda was a prominent architect known to use the Manueline style. This style is also called the Portuguese’s late Gothic architecture. It is mainly about incorporating maritime elements and symbols of discoveries by Vasco de Gama and Pedro Cabral, both legendary voyagers. De Arruda also worked on the fortification of Portugal’s fortresses in Morocco so there are evident Moorish-influenced watchtowers in the Belem Tower itself.

The whole complex is composed of four-story tower on a hexagonal ground plan very much visible from a distance. Its main façade is facing the sea. The character of the tower is shown particularly in the lower bastion, offshore. The walls have embrasures where visitors could imagine firearms being positioned, ready to fire at the sight of an enemy.

The three sides of the tower seen from the riverbank have roofed balconies. These balconies have the Cross of the Knights of Christ, while below the altar of the bastion stands a Gothic statue of Nossa Senhora do Bom Sucesso (Our Lady of Good Fortune). Another noteworthy part of the architecture is the rhinoceros’ head below the west tower facing the land. It is said to commemorate the first rhino in Europe given to Manuel I as a present from India. Isn’t this interesting?

So if you are up to some fortress exploration and gothic architecture appreciation, Torré de Belém is definitely a must-see.

January 19, 2010 at 5:30 pm | 3 comments


Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela
Photo by: Andrew®, Creative Commons

The Sphinx is a mythological animal shaped figure which is portrayed as a recumbent lion that has a human head. The sphinx got its name and origin from in sculpture form, from the old kingdom of Egypt, which the old Greeks used to apply their names when compared to the female monster, which again was a Greek mythological figure. The old and ancient sphinx image pictures as a sitting lioness that has a human head. Only occasionally the lion has a head of the falcon or hawk. This tradition was originally started by the Egyptians, but later was taken over by many other cultures. Then it was a very common site to see a picture of the lion body with the head of any other animal other than the lion.

It is very interesting to know that the main purpose of the sphinx was to guard the temple doors. And such sculptures could be very easily found in the royal tombs as well as religious temples. In fact the first sphinx depicted Hetepheres II of the 4th dynasty and lasted from 2723 to 2563 BC. As per records the largest and the most known sphinx can be seen the great Sphinx of Giza, which is located at the Giza plateau on the bank of river Nile. Researchers’ till date have not been able to find out the exact construction date. However, the head of the sphinx is said to be that of the greatest and the strongest ruler called the Hatshepsut.

January 19, 2010 at 5:15 pm | 5 comments

The Royal Museum

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the Royal Museum, Belgium
Photo by: Natsu, Creative Commons

A vacation trip in Belgium is never complete without a visit to the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp. Not only is it an imposing structure in the city landscape, it also serves as a sanctuary to much of Belgium’s artwork.

While art connoisseurs can certainly find their way through the halls, casual art lovers are better off taking one of the guided tours. These tours cater to the different interests of the museum’s visitors. For starters, you can take a tour along the major paintings in the museum. This would introduce you to the art history of Southern Netherlands and Belgium, through the works of old and modern artists. These include collections from popular artists like Jan van Eyck and Rogier van der Weyden. The museum also showcases the works of Peter Paul Rubens, a major proponent of Baroque art and an inspiration to other masters such as Vincent van Gogh. The Rubens collection at the Royal Museum includes 25 oil paintings, so masterful and overflowing with technique that Van Gogh himself visited the museum to admire them.

If you want to know the stories and anecdotes behind the paintings, you can opt for tours that go behind the scenes on these Flemish and Belgian artworks. By learning about the stories and inspirations behind the paintings and sculptures, you gain a deeper understanding of the artists and their works. One of these anecdotes is the story of how Quinten Massijs painted a life-like fly on his master’s own painting. There are also themed tours, such as the Tasty Art tour. This tour shows you numerous paintings depicting harvests, markets, mouth-watering banquets and still-life paintings. They introduce the viewer to the culinary traditions that govern the lifestyle in Belgium and the Netherlands.

Through the many sights and sounds of Belgium, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts is a quiet little respite from the busy streets of Brussels and Bruges. Out of all the little museums that dot the Belgian landscape, the Royal Museum provides you with the most complete and interesting experience that would surely satisfy you’re craving for paintings and sculptures. So, if you’re quite the art lover, remember to drop by the Royal Museum of Fine Arts for a quick fix on European art.

January 19, 2010 at 5:10 pm | 2 comments

Valley of the Queens

Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela
Photo by: Mohd Tarmizi, Creative Commons

The valley of queens is a special place in the Egypt where the wives of the Egypt rulers were buried during the ancient times. The Valleys of Queens in Arabic is called the Wadi el melikat. The older name of this place was Ta-set- Neferu which meant the place of the children of the Egypt ruler in English. During the 18th, 19th and the 20th century many young princess and prince were also buried in this place. The Egyptian rulers however were buried in the valley of Kings. Every notable family member was buried in his or her respective tombs that further were maintained by the mortuary priests. These priests would every day prayer and perform rituals for the deceased identity. The valley of Queens is very close to the Valley of the Kings.

This land was especially chosen for this purpose as it is very barren, isolated and away from the main town. The 18th dynasty kings did not choose to be buried in pyramids, however wanted to be placed in rock cut tombs. The valley together holds more than 70 tombs and many of them look stylish and decorative.

The valley of queens as well as the valley of kings is a must to visit place if you are in the town of Luxor. Every single tomb speaks a story of its own, engulfing many mysteries’ in it. The entire air about the place is different. A lot of visitors have said once you visit the valley, it seems you have formed connection with the other world.

January 19, 2010 at 5:09 pm | 4 comments

Iceberg Calving of Antarctica

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Iceberg Calving of Antartica
Photo by: Alaskan Dude , Creative Commons

Just when you thought that an ice breaker was only used during first time get-togethers during high school, think again. These ice breakers are mid-sized ships that help break ice formations that have grown quite large in the Antarctica. Now what is this iceberg calving and why do tourists flock to witness such natural phenomenon?

It may sound scary and alarming since the first thing that would come to your mind is the word avalanche. It’s a little different. The reason why this cold and freezing place is such a favorite of tourists nowadays is the opportunity to capture on film the moment an iceberg breaks off the main chunk of ice. Together with biologists, tourists can witness this fascinating phenomenon. The Iceberg Calving is one of the true sources of freshwater that can supply the entire United States of America in close to a year.

The moment you experience your first iceberg calving process, you will be alarmed since it is so large it could easily sink and re-sink the Titanic. This why ice breakers are so in demand since they break the ice into smaller chunks which will float on the sea and melt on its own. It will not cause any tsunami as portrayed in movies, but will provide extra water to the ecosystem.

Experience this wonderful tourist attraction and possibly even ride on the ice breaker itself or commission available boats to bring you closer to the site of the iceberg calving. Do not forget to bring in your warm winter clothes since temperatures really drop below your comfort level.

January 19, 2010 at 4:24 pm | 1 comment

The Marquesas Islands

The Marquesas Islands
Photo by: wikipedia, Creative Commons

The Marquesas Islands is composed of smaller island communes. It is part of the French Polynesia region – an overseas territory of France by the Pacific Ocean. One of these islands is the Ua Pou (Ua Pu to some). It is the third largest island in the Marquesas group.

This place is said to be one of the most ideal locations to spend a vacation or a honeymoon. The beautiful scenery can give you the intimate setting you need to get to enjoy each other’s company. The accommodations are fantastic and can conform to practically every need you may have. There are many activities and sights that Ua Pou can offer.

It has been said that the island of Ua Pou is the center for artistic talent. They hold a festival twice each year where the Marquesans showcase the talents they have to offer. They are well known for their dance artists and their renowned musicians. Apart from these, they also feature their tattoo arts and wood carving. As you stay in this place, you can also enjoy and take part in these activities and perhaps bring a piece of its culture home.

Archeological sites are well maintained around this area. They take great pride in what nature has gifted their island with. Among the most popular sights to see in this place is found in the center of the island. There stands four basalt peaks or pillars. From afar, these pillars take the shape of sugar loafs. These peaks overlooks the sheltered bays; this is also where you will be able to find the main village. You can enjoy hiking through these sites and take photos to be able to immortalize its magnificence. The Ua Pou island offers much experience and memories for you to build and take home to remember.

January 19, 2010 at 3:26 pm | No comment


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Tiwanaku, Bolivia
Photo by: Marcalandavis , Creative Commons

Tiwanaku or Tiahuanaco, which is located in Bolivia Lake Titicaca’s southern shore, holds the magnificent culture of the pre-Inca civilization which covered the period between 500 and 900 AD. The culture’s enormous remains include a pyramid, several temples, monoliths, symbolic gates and mystifying carvings of strange faces.

Probably the most amazing architectural structure at the city of Tiwanaku is the Akapana pyramid, which is the most enormous terraced step pyramid found in the city. This 59-foot-tall pyramid looks more like a big natural hill than a pyramid. In the middle of its flat peak is a hollow oval area, commonly believed to be dug by Spanish burglars almost a century ago.

North of the Akapana pyramid is the Kalasasaya Temple. Its walls are made out of large blocks of andesite and red sandstone. It has vast entrance steps which are flanked by two monumental uprights.

To the west of the Kalasasaya Temple is a big rectangular area called the Palacio de los Sarcofagos or Putuni, which is still being dug out. At the easternmost area of the tourist spot is a mound of rubble called the Kantatayita. Nobody really knows what kind of structure was created from the pieces; however they are interestingly carved with beautiful, geometric shapes and designs.

Every year on June 21, as many as five thousand tourists around the world flock to Tiwanaku to witness the Aymara New Year festival. Tiwananaku locals dress in colourful ceremonial attire for this big event. Tourists are welcomed at the event, which includes chewing choca, sacrificing llamas, drinking singani, and partying till dawn. The locals also hold a fair to correspond to the festival. Buses leave from La Paz at around four in the morning in order to arrive just in time for sunrise. More devoted participants get there a few days before the celebration and camp outside.

January 19, 2010 at 2:13 pm | No comment

The Devil’s Island

The Devil’s Island
Photo by: PoM, Creative Commons

Tourists who are into island hopping should include the Devil’s Island as one of their destination areas. Although some people might feel a bit off about the area’s name, the Devil’s Island offers many things that make it a heavenly spot.

The Devil’s Island boasts a rocky island terrain yet covered by a forest of palm trees which makes it a little resort island. Besides its geophysical attributes, the site is also notable for its historical background. It was once use as an exile island for the prisoners during the time of Emperor Napoleon III. Since then, the people dubbed it as the “bagne de Cayenne” in France, which indeed translates to Devil’ Island. Its location is adjacent to French Guiana, a country in South America that is a territory of France. The inmates before ranged from simple people, to the most wanted thieves and blacklisted politicians.

Fortunately, it is not currently used as an exile island. It is inhabited by a small number of people. Everything here is well taken care of. The houses where the inmates lived or stayed are kept intact. Roads and other utilities remain untouched as of late. These make it a perfect place for getting in touch with nature especially if the visitors are into camping.

Besides the history, tourists will also be able to observe the wildlife that is visible in almost the whole island. Also, people here practice rituals and traditions that date back to the period where the first emancipated inhabitants of the island permanently settled.

The Devil’s Island is one example of the few places or tourist spots that should not be judged because of its name alone. Its beauty and strategic location in the Caribbean/South America region surely make up for its intriguing name.

January 19, 2010 at 1:33 pm | 3 comments

The Citadelle Laferrière

the Citadelle Laferrière
Photo by: Rémi Kaupp, Creative Commons

The Caribbean is home to many spectacular tourist spots that are worth visiting, especially for tourists that are into island hopping. Haiti, which is geographically the half-brother of the Dominican Republic, boasts a particular spot that just might be one of the most sought-after destination areas in the future – the Citadelle Laferrière.

The Citadelle Laferrière, also known simply as Citadelle, is a spot situated at the top of a mountain in the north of Haiti. It is recognized as the largest fortress in the continent of the Americas and is also a UNESCO’s World Heritage Site. This tourist spot has become the face of Haiti. Both history and geography have something to say with the site’s massive tourism success.

The mountaintop fortress came to existence when the people who lived there in the 1800s build it as a part of their fortification system which prevented the French people to further infiltrate the lands of Haiti. The fortress, moreover, served as a lookout for those colonizers that would like to change much of Haiti’s culture and traditions, not to mention the possibility of the Haiti citizens to be under the rule of a sinister king or emperor.

Most of the offensive and defensive materials and weapons that were used during the colonization era are still present in the area. Although the citadel itself can be explored by visitors, a small fee may be asked for the area’s maintenance and further development.

Moreover, walking is not a good option since the citadel is an uphill spot. Renting a horse is advised so that people can take quality pictures and record movies without being tired of going up and down in between spots and places.

There is no doubt Haiti became a hot spot for colonizers before. The beauty of the island and its attractions are absolutely sights to behold.

January 19, 2010 at 1:28 pm | No comment

Tallinn Old City

Tallinn Old City
Photo by: Troy David Johnston , Creative Commons

The Tallinn Old City located at Estonia is a spectacular tourist attraction wherein time seemed to have stopped. There are many well-preserved old infrastructures in this old city and because of this, the whole place has been determined a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site in the year 1997. The city existed as early as 11th century, presenting medieval-inspired architecture ranging from the buildings, houses, and up to the walkways. The Tallinn Old City has been a favorite destination for tourists curious about life during the medieval times.

The two must-see places in Tallinn are its two old towns: the upper town or Toompea and the lower town or All-Linn. The upper town is famous for its defense walls and various cathedrals. The lower town, on the other hand, is well-known as one of the best preserved old towns in Europe. The Town Hall Square, different towers and town walls can be found in here as well as the St. Olaf church tower. Walking is advisable while exploring the two old towns rather than taking a vehicle. Through this, a tourist can maximize their appreciation for the city’s magnificent medieval scenery. The old city is good for sightseeing as well as shopping and food.

The means of transportation in Tallinn is the bus, trolley bus and tram. Flat rate of transportation fares is implemented, meaning that tickets are used as a bus fare payment rather than cash. Tickets are available in side street kiosks and can also be purchased from the driver for a little higher price. The best time to visit Tallinn is during the summer as this is also the peak season for tourists. The climate in Estonia during summer is good for strolling around; it’s not too cold and hardly rains. Take a visit and bring yourself back in time at Tallinn Old city.

January 19, 2010 at 1:21 pm | No comment

The Plitvice Lakes National Park

The Plitvice Lakes National Park
Photo by: Owner , Creative Commons

The Plitvice Lakes National Park is the most famous tourist attraction in Croatia. Over time, the mineral-enriched waters of Plitvice Lakes have produce many series of lakes, waterfalls and caves as travertine continuously form natural structures within it. This is normal since the lakes are situated in a limestone region. The continuous process of forming travertine as time passes by has created magnificent views in the place, making it a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the year 1979.

The Plitvice Lakes National Park is composed of 19.5 hectares of series of lakes, waterfalls, and woodland. Various animal species can be found there including European brown bear, eagle, wolf, owl, wild cat and many more. The woodland is also rich in forest greens such as Mediterranean and Alpine vegetation in addition to the commonly found flora. Because of this, there are hiking trails around the National Park for tourists. It is also good for sightseeing as there are series of wooden walkways built as well as shuttle and boat services in order to appreciate the lakes’ beauties. However, swimming in the lakes is strictly prohibited in order to maintain its clear turquoise color.

The best time to visit the Plitvice Lakes National Park requires no seasonal adjustments. During winter, the falls and lakes are mostly frozen creating a breath-taking view to the place. In summer, the park is very lively as there is bright green scenery on the woodland and the falls are continuously running. During spring, it is heart-warming to watch the half-frozen water in falls and lakes transform completely into a running water system. And in fall, it is lovely to see the whole National Park as it prepares for the coming winter.

There three hotels available in the Plitvice Lakes as well as numerous private accommodations available in the local villages. Entrance fee is around 55-100 kunas for adults depending on the season. The price for entrance tickets are cheaper for children and discounted price is applicable for a group of fifteen or more individuals. If you want to get away from life’s stresses, have a nature-inspired vacation at Plitvice Lakes National Park!

January 19, 2010 at 1:15 pm | No comment

The Batu Caves

The Batu Caves
Photo by: Andy Lawson, Creative Commons

Malaysia is very appealing to many tourists all over the world. The unique attractions, as well as the many activities you can embark when you visit the country make Malaysia a great place to visit. For many people who would like to see the exotic places and indulge themselves in new cultures and sights, one of the best places is the Batu Caves located 13 km away from Kuala Lumpur. The Batu Caves have also been a site for Hindu visitors because it houses a temple. Dedicated to Lord Murugan, the caves are one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside India.

To access the 100 m cave, visitors should climb a very steep 272 step staircase. There are three main caves which have many artworks. For interested visitors, an audio tour is also available.

One of the major attractions at the site is the massive 140 ft high statue of Murugan which is the highest statue dedicated to the Hindu deity in the world. The statue boasts of 250 tons of steel bar, 1550 cubic meters of concrete and 300 liters of gold paint which was purchased from Thailand. The huge statue is estimated to cost around 24 million rupees.

Also, one of the activities available upon visiting the area is rock climbing. For many years, the place has been developed into a rock climbing site in Malaysia. Authorities have allowed 160 different routes for climbers. Aside from these, you can also see many unique plants and animals upon visiting the site. There are also monkeys which can be fed by tourists.

It will also be an interesting visit if you chanced upon festivals performed in the Batu Cave. The festival has even attracted some 1.5 million people in 2007. Surely, a visit to Batu Cave will be a memorable experience for anyone. So, what are you waiting for? Come visit the Batu Cave and be delighted by the wonders of the place.

January 19, 2010 at 1:11 pm | 4 comments


Ayutthaya 400
Ayutthaya – A draped Buddha
Photo by: RussBowling, Creative Commons

Ayutthaya, a magnificent city which used to be the capital of Thailand and which evolved into an important trading center in Asia during the 16th and 17th centuries, is where awesome temple ruins can be found. During its glory days, there were palaces, pagodas, and temples set upon an island cut across with canals and waterways.

The picture-perfect river island city actually fell into the hands of Burmese invaders back in 1767. The kingdom was transferred to the present Bangkok location in 1782. Many years later, more people would feel enthralled by Ayutthaya. After all, it has been declared by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as one of the World Heritage sites. When it comes to architectural design, Ayutthaya offers an intriguing showcase. Soaring, opulent spires called prangs reminiscent of ancient Cambodia may be likened to the stunning architecture of Angkor Wat. The pointed stupas carry a Sukhothai style.

The Buddha idols at the temples of Ayutthaya have a faint smile and an unyielding stance. The temples continually attract a throng of people wanting to see the Buddha housed within. The temples of Ayutthaya have actually lured merchants, adventurers, mercenaries, missionaries and leisure travelers.

Scores of people attest to the fact that the temples in Ayutthaya are certainly worth visiting. Guests of the ancient attractions usually are thrilled when they set foot on the temple grounds and take in sights. One of them, the Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon, signified immense good tidings or blessings and forgiveness as well as triumphing over enemies. The Phra Phuttha Chaiya Mongkhon is one of Ayutthaya’s most sacred Buddha images. Another temple, the Wat Phanan Choeng, signifies job prosperity and a well-oiled business. It is one of the most revered temples in Bangkok. Wat Thammikkarat on the eastern side of the ancient royal palace features a stupa surrounded by lion figures. These are some examples of great must-see attractions.

January 19, 2010 at 1:08 pm | 4 comments

The Bahla Fort

The Bahla Fort
Photo by: Wikipedia , Creative Commons

Old places dating back to the ancient civilizations are definitely a good place to visit as a tourist destination. Paying tribute not only to the people behind constructing these buildings as well the structure themselves for withstanding time and difficult conditions is appropriate so that they will not just lie on history books but also remembered by many for serving an important part in the history and eventually development of our culture to what it is today.

In Oman, there are four historic fortresses located on the Djebel Akhdar highlands. The structures were built during the 13th and 14th centuries. The Bahla Fort is one of these structures and the adobe ruins and tower rise 165 feet above the foundations which are made from sandstones. The fortress was not conserved until 1987 which led to mass destruction of many parts of the structure, especially during the rainy season.

The restoration of the area was facilitated as it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. Because it was included in the endangered sites, restoration began during the 1990s. For many years, it has been closed to the public and access to the area was allowed only for the experts who did many reconstructions to save the fortress. Finally in 2004, it was removed from the list of sites in danger.

Visiting the site can be a tranquil source of relaxation for tourists. The area is lined by a long adobe wall and palm trees. A tour in the place will take about an hour. The area is also popular for finding pottery for sale, so you may find yourself a great deal after haggling over the price for a wonderful treasure to add on your collection.

The place is surely a great tourist destination and a visit will surely be worth it.

January 19, 2010 at 1:07 pm | No comment

The Panama Canal

The Panama Canal
Photo by: lyng883, Creative Commons

You have probably heard of or seen the Panama Canal from history books or geography classes. It is a man-made ship canal that is 77 km long and connects the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic. Upon completion of the huge and ambitious project, the Panama Canal has enabled easier and faster maritime navigation. During its early years, one thousand ships use the canal annually and as of today, about 14 thousand ships are able to use the canal for transportation.

The 77 km stretch is a good place to add to your list of destinations when you visit Panama. During the boat ride, you can have a closer look at big cargo ships and vessels passing through the canal. Also, the boat ride can give you a taste of the wonderful flora and fauna of Panama. During the trip, you will be able to see monkeys, Tuscans, sloths, crocodiles and many other fascinating animals as well as unique vegetation. Sometimes, delightful monkeys already familiar with tourists will even interact with visitors. A rainforest feel is surely guaranteed with tours in the Panama Canal.

Having experienced the boating trip, other activities which might be of interest include swimming in the river while marveling the cascading waterfalls. For the adventurers at heart, it is also possible to experience the coolness of the water and take a shower on the falls. Kayaking is also another activity you should add to your itinerary. And who can ever forget the feeling of success when you catch a fish? These are just some of the activities you can do when you have a tour of the Panama Canal.

If you would like to have a refreshing and fun experience, visit the Panama Canal and have a great tour.

January 19, 2010 at 1:05 pm | No comment