Kathmandu Valley

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Kathmandu Valley, Nepal
Photo by: Lavenderstreak, Creative Commons

Kathmandu Valley is located in Nepal. The valley consists of Kathmandu Metropolitan City, Lalitpur Submetropolitan City, Bhaktapur Municipality, Madhyapur Thimi Municipality and several other villages. The valley is known to be a political and a cultural hub of Nepal.

Here are some tourist’s attractions in Kathmandu Valley. Durbar Square is located opposite to the old royal palace. It was severely damaged by an earthquake back in 1934. Originally, ninety nine courtyards were attached to this place but now only six of them remains.

Patan is a place located on the elevated part of Kathmandu Valley. The city was said to be initially designed in the shape of a Buddhist Dharma Chakra or wheel of Righteous. The most important monument of this place is the Patan Durbur Square.

Chabahil is known to be as one of the most important place in Kathmandu Valley. Nepal is famous for Licchavi stupa which is known as Charumati Vihara. According to the inscriptions found in stupa, the famous Indian Princess Charumati was the one who built the stupa.

Changu Narayan is the name of the deity in the Changu Narayan Temple. The temple was said to be one of the oldest Hindu temples in the valley. Changu Narayan is the name of the Vishnu or their supreme God.

Kathmandu Valley was said to have been inhabited for as early as 300BCE. The oldest object found in the valley was dated a few hundred years back from BCE and the oldest inscription found was said to be 185CE.

According to the myth of Swyambhu Puran, the Kathmandu Valley was once a lake. Another claims that their God Manjusri uses a sword called the Chandrahrasha to cut a gorge at the place known as Kashapaal which later was known as Chobhar and drained all the water making the place fit for living.

January 11, 2010 at 5:47 pm | No comment

Jeronimos Monastery

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Jeronimos Monastery
Photo by: exfordy, Creative Commons

The Jeronimos Monastery, also known as the Hieronymites Monastery, is a magnificent monument in Lisbon founded in 1501. It is said to be the greatest architecture of Portugal during the Age of Discovery and the perfect exemplar of Manueline architectural design.

It was in 1496 when King Manuel I asked permission from the pope to build a monastery as thanksgiving to the Virgin Mary for the successful voyage of Vasco de Gama to India. His request was granted and construction of the monastery started. It was mainly funded by the treasures from explorations in Asia, Africa, and South America.

The King initially named the building Mosteiro de Santa Maria de Belém. He invited the Order of St. Jerome (Hieronymites) to reside in it, thus, it eventually became known as the Jeronimos Monastery. The members of this order were known for being spiritually contemplative and intellectually productive. Aside from these, they also shared the political views of the king, which was perhaps the major reason why they were chosen to be the ones to dwell in his important project.

The monastery was damaged by the 1755 earthquake but not totally destroyed. A lot of restorations have been made since then. Until 1833, the Hieronymites stayed in the monastery. After that, the building became a state property and used as a college for Casa Pia, a children’s charity in Lisbon, until 1940.

The design of Jeronimos Monastery is a combination of Gothic, Moorish, and early Renaissance styles. It has elaborate sculptural details and includes maritime motifs. The south portal is the main entrance of the monastic church where the statue of Henry the Navigator is. The tombs of King Manuel I as well as other members of the Portuguese royalty are found here. Some important figures from their history rest here too, like Vasco de Gama and poet Fernando Pessoa.

If you are up to witness one of the greatest architectural masterpieces in the world, there is no doubt that Mosteiro dos Jerónimos is something you would love to explore.

January 11, 2010 at 5:12 pm | 1 comment

Belize Barrier Reef Reserve

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Belize Barrier Reef Reserve, Belize
Photo by: Mike Baird , Creative Commons

If you’re in the mood for scuba diving but find the Great Barrier Reef too far away, then you can head down to the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve in South America for a world-class underwater experience. The Belize Barrier Reef is the second largest reef system in the world, making it a sanctuary to a wide array of marine wildlife. In fact, in 1842, the famous Charles Darwin described it as one of the most amazing reefs in the whole world.

Through several diving sites, you can experience the diversity of corals and fish that characterize the Belize Barrier Reef. One such site is the Great Blue Hole, an underwater sink hole that occupies a part of the Belize Reef system. It used to be a submerged limestone cave, until the roof collapsed and created a deep hole in the middle of the Reef. Because of its depth, it has served as host to numerous species of marine animals. The limestone content of the cave also promoted the formation of beautiful stalactites and unique coral structures. You can also go by way of Ambergris Cave to savor the majesty of the Belize Barrier Reef. In Ambergris, you can choose a diving site that suits your interests. If you’re looking to shoot underwater canyons and caverns, then Tackle Box Canyons is the dive site for you. Ambergris even has the Love Tunnels, perfect for underwater weddings. If you’re not in the mood for weddings, you can still enjoy the large coral cavern in that area, aptly called The Chapel.

These are but a few of the popular diving sites in the Belize Barrier Reef system. A good many other natural reserves are still scattered around Belize and its beautiful reefs. It is good to know that many of these diving sites have been given environmental protection from the authorities. That way, future visitors such as yourself can still be wrapped up in the one-of-a-kind sea world that the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve has to offer.

7 Wonders of the Underwater World

January 11, 2010 at 4:53 pm | No comment

Old City of Baku

Baku Coastline
Photo by: teuchterlad, Creative Commons

The oldest section of Baku, Azerbaijan is known as Baku Old City, Inner City, or Icheri Sheher. It is located in the heart of the city and, appropriately, is also the city’s historical core. Defensive walls surrounding the area date from the 12th century, and within it is a city of winding and narrow streets which pass a number of historical sites, including the Maiden Tower, a large stone fortress built in the 12th century; the Shirvan Shah Palace, built in the 15th century but is now a museum; and, the Synyk-Kala Minaret and Mosque built in the 11th century. Outside the walls are modern buildings rising up the hills overlooking one of the bays of the Caspian Sea.

Baku Old City is divided into several quarters that also serve as social divisions. Some of the main neighborhoods are Seyyids, a quarter of clergymen; Juhud Zeynallilar, a Jewish quarter; Aghshalvarlilar a quarter of city nobles; Gemichiler, a quarter of shipbuilders and sailors; Noyutchuler, a quarter of oil workers; Hamamchilar, a quarter of public bath workers; Arabachilar, a quarter of wagoners and cart-drivers; Gilaklar, a quarter of merchants from Gilan; Lezgiler, a quarter of Dagestani armourers and blacksmiths; and, Bozbashyemeyenler, a quarter of “those who do not eat meat.”

Other places of interest include the Baku State University, several theaters and museums, and an opera house. Educational institutions used to abound in Baku Old City, but most of them have been closed and replaced with modern state secular schools and kindergartens. A local bookstore that sells mostly secondhand and some new books is a popular landmark especially for Bakuvian students and book collectors because of the shop’s low prices.

Because of its architecture and heritage influenced by various cultures such as the Zoroastrian, Arabic, Persian, Sassanian, Russian, Ottoman, and Shirvani, Baku Old City, including the Maiden Tower and the Palace of the Shirvanshahs, was named a World Heritage Site by the World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in December of 2000, making it the first in Azerbaijan to receive the distinction.

January 11, 2010 at 4:36 pm | 1 comment

Casbah of Algiers

Casbah of Algiers
Photo by: damouns, Creative Commons

Despite frequent use of the term “Casbah” in movies and media, Casbah actually is in reference to a castle or “citadel”, a stronghold of sorts.

What do you need to know about Casbah’s in Algiers? Basically, an urban city can be found on a plain and paved infrastructure, while on grassland if it is located at countryside. In Central Asian countries such as Algeria, cities are usually located on top of the mountains and are placed on different heights. Casbah which means citadel served as the main quarter of defense of Algiers during their battle from French conquerors. The one of a kind spot of this town is what makes it appealing amid others. It is a small town built on top of an irregular hill which is divided in two cities: the High City and Low City.

Travelers may get lost in this labyrinth-kind of place but the view from the sea will guide them to where they should be. Yet, this extraordinary place is still at risk of devastation due to the current issue of overpopulation. Some say it’s impossible to solve the hitch but an optimistic mind wouldn’t be so bad, right? Furthermore, being able to speak and comprehend Arabic and French would be an advantage but English will do as well.

January 11, 2010 at 4:26 pm | No comment

Jam Minaret

Jam Minaret along the banks of the river.
Photo by: David C. Thomas, Creative Commons

Have you ever heard of Afghanistan’s wonders? One of them is Jam Minaret. Here’s a little overview of the prehistoric site. Jam Minaret gained the first success of UNESCO’s lists of World Heritage Sites for Afghanistan on 2002. It is a 65 m tall structure that is bounded by 2.4 km mountains which lies near with two rivers namely Hari Rud and Jam Rud River. The location of this elegant expertise is seen on the western part of Afghanistan that lies on the core of Ghur province.

This Islamic inspired structural design is made up of baked brick with comprehensive carvings, nashki calligraphy and scriptures from Quoran, the Islamic Bible. For a short history of the location, it was erected during the Ghurid civilization and served as Islam’s “victory tower” amongst others. The historical site will be widely appreciated by travelers, architects, artists and most especially photographers that have a huge admiration and devotion to arts, design and nature.

The construction is leaning by now and is prone from natural disasters. Because of the proximity of two rivers from the edifice, floods will most likely assault the area and wreck this masterpiece in a blink of an eye. Earthquakes and unexpected dangers might harm the place as well. Although this danger has been controlled and ongoing civilizing action has been made, unlikely events might still happen.

When you are at Jam Minaret, you will be climbing a narrow, DNA-shaped, ladder staircase which will be used for going up to the tower that will enhance the dramatic effect and feeling for the exploration of the entire area. Upon reaching the top, you could see other wonders the Ghur province has to offer to its tourists such as the site of the mountains and rivers.

Now that you are very well informed, hurry and visit the place until you have time. Having a thirst for fine art and natural history, this is an exceptional, breath-taking, worthy and once in a lifetime experienced to be accomplished right away.

January 11, 2010 at 4:09 pm | 2 comments


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Madurodam, Netherlands
Photo by: M Wichary , Creative Commons

Madurodam is known to be the smallest city in Holland. It is said that this place is both a war monument and a charity foundation. The city is named after Curacao, son of Mr. and Mrs. Maduro who died in Dechau in 1945. Madurodam opened in 1952 and since then the place has expanded.

A variety of architectural styles can be found at this place. From the Gothic St. Jan Basilica to modern dwellings, bridges, and houses reside along the river. The architectural designs will never fail to amaze the tourists.

In the outskirt of Madurodam, you will find Klompenfabriek, a wooden shoe factory. Wooden shoes are usually hand made out of poplar wood. After drying the wood, the shoe maker would use sand paper to smooth the finish. Wooden shoes are still widely used by the local farmers. The local’s favorite colors are yellow and red which is why most wooden shoes are painted yellow with red pattern designs on them. Back in 1960s, 1100 wooden shoe makers made 3.8 million pairs of wooden shoes. Today, there are only 15 wooden shoe makers left producing only 800,000 pairs of wooden shoes.

In terms of transportation, Madurodam Rail is one of the biggest attractions of Madurodam city. All trains are hand made and are said to be the replicas of Dutch trains.

Madurodam is said to be open all year round. Summer is when Madurodam are mostly loaded with foreigners, tourist and tourist busses. Once you’re inside Madurodam city, there are no benches or chairs to sit on. However, if you are really tired, you can just sit or stay on the edges of the stairs. Wheelchairs are available for free if needed.

In July and August, Madurodam is open from 9:00am to 11:00pm. You should try to see how magical the city is at night because 50,000 miniature light bulbs help illuminate the city.

January 11, 2010 at 11:51 am | No comment

Bayou’s of Louisiana

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Houseboat on the Bayou
Photo by: Matthew Levine, Creative Commons

A bayou is a sight to behold. While its tranquility often invigorates the soul, its eerie ambience has made it a popular setting for Hollywood horror movies. The Reaping and The Skeleton Key are just some of these movies. But what is it about bayous that made it a popular destination among visitors?

Louisiana is known for its bayous. In fact, the mere word was first used in this State. It is said that the word “bayou” actually came from bayuk, a Native American language, which refers to “small stream.” Bayous in Louisiana were closely associated with the Cajun culture because early Acadian settlements were near Bayou des Escores (Thompson’s Creek) and Bayou Lafourche. Bayous are actually bodies of water that is situated in low lying areas. And in Louisiana, these bayous are braided streams stemming out of the Mississippi river. Typically, it can either be a marshy lake or wetland or a very slow moving river or stream. And because of its slow movement, it is often referred to as “sleeping waters,” a perfect background for voodoo rituals – or so legend says. In bayous, the waters often become stagnant and boggy, making it a perfect habitat for creatures like crawfish, catfish and of course, the alligator.

Alligator hunting is one of the known activities in the Louisiana bayou. Every year, a number of visitors embark on a swamp tour at the Bayou Segnette State Park to either look for alligators or simply marvel at the natural environment replete with Spanish moss from oak trees and as well as birds and animals. For those who opt for a more up-close bayou experience, they can go to the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park. Here, visitors embark on a “walking tour” amidst lush vegetation.

An adventure in the bayous of Louisiana is definitely an unforgettable experience, especially to those who have visited the place for the first time.

January 10, 2010 at 8:12 pm | No comment

Pyramids of Gebel Barkal

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Pyramids of Gebel Barkal, Sudan
Photo by: Wikimedia Commons , Creative Commons

Gebel Barkal is a small mountain in the northern state of Sudan situated on a large bend of the Nile River. The Pyramids of Gebel Barkal, also known as the Pyramids of Kush, include over 200 pyramids found south of the Egyptian border. Though smaller than those found in Egypt, these pyramids have been considered to be part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2003.

The pyramids are not alone in this place as there are ruins of about 13 temples and three palaces that surround the area. It was only discovered around the 1800’s and is believed to have been an extension of the empires of Egypt to the south. It is believed that it was the Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmose III that extended this empire.

Since the place was a little too far from Egypt, no one thought anything of great interest would be found in that area. But when word came out that there are places of interest that far south, explorers came to see for themselves. It is said that this place was a perfect specimen of the southern influences on Egyptian culture.

Archaeological excavations only started during the early 1900’s and discovery of its importance in history came little by little after that is why it was only considered recently into the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

As one would see, the pyramids are significantly smaller than those in Egypt. It can be surmised that this is due to the small population of the area having only very few workers at the time to build a pyramid. Also, it might be due to the cultural influences that were present in the area.

January 10, 2010 at 5:40 pm | 3 comments

Madeira Archipelago

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Photo by: vigour, Creative Commons

If you tell friends you are going to Madeira Islands, they would probably say, “Wow!” and then give you a quizzical look even before they finish the interjection. Madeira? Where is that?

Well, a lot of people would ask the same question especially if you are from the other part of the world. Besides, even if you have a map, it would probably not come easy for you to find where these little jewels are. Who could locate dots in the Atlantic anyway?

The archipelago of Madeira is 310 miles from the coast of Africa and 620 miles from the European continent. In plain language, it’s an hour and a half flight from Lisbon. It was accidentally discovered by two young sea captains in the 15th century when Prince Henry the Navigator wanted to gain more knowledge on the West African coast. They were on their voyage when they were blown off course and bumped into a small land they named Porto Santo. When they reported this to King Henry, they were immediately ordered to colonize the island.

A year after Porto Santo was discovered, the voyagers sailed again. There was a dark mass of clouds on the southern horizon then but they still decided to push through the journey. They braved out Atlantic rollers along the northern coast and the angry cross currents at Ponta de Sao Lourenco. As they were rounding the headland, they got into Machico Bay, the threshold to the densely forested island they named Madeira.

There are so many things you can enjoy in Madeira Islands. You can visit the Casa das Mudas Art Centre, The Sao Vicente Caves and Volcanism Centre, the Quinta Monte Palace, the Quinta do Arco Rose Garden, and a whole lot more. You can also just enjoy your usual favorite activities like walking, golfing, shopping, and going to the spa. And since Madeira is an island, it’s the perfect place for nautical sports too like swimming, surfing, sailing, canoeing, and water skiing.

It’s an ideal getaway right in the middle of the ocean.

January 10, 2010 at 5:12 pm | 1 comment

Pico Bolivar

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Pico Bolivar Tourist Guide, Venezuela
Photo by: Diego , Creative Commons

Pico Bolivar is the highest mountain in Venezuela. The famous attraction was named after Simon Bolivar who is a hero for Venezuelan independence. To get to Pico Bolivar, you need to ride the Merida Cable Car which is the longest and the highest cable car in the world.

From the last station in Merida, which is Pico Espejo, you need to make a six hour trek up to Pico Bolivar. The trek will be physically demanding but the view and the feeling you get once you reach the top is priceless.

What You Should Not Miss

While getting to Pico Bolivar, enjoying the Merida cable car ride is a must. Each station has different wonderful sceneries that will definitely amaze you. Stations like Pico Nieve and Pico Espejo are just some of the popular peaks that you will see while riding the world famous cable car in Venezuela.

The glacier formations found on Pico Bolivar is something that you should not miss seeing because of its beauty and amazing history which dates back to the Pleistocene era.

What You Should Remember

Physical preparations are needed if you want to get to Pico Bolivar. Exercising and getting enough training is needed so that you won’t get easily exhausted and you won’t have a hard time getting to the top. You will need to wear cold weather gear when doing the hike since the mountain is capped in snow. Taking a camera to take pictures of the breathtaking view is also advised.

Pico Bolivar is elevated to almost five thousand meters above sea level so it is definitely cold and you will have difficulty when it comes to breathing. As much as possible, you need to have adequate knowledge on how to properly prepare yourself for hiking in high altitude areas since it can get fatal if you get there unprepared.

January 10, 2010 at 3:55 pm | No comment

Polar Ice Cap

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Polar Ice Cap
Photo by: NikiSublime , Creative Commons

For your next travel destination, make it a point to visit the Polar Ice Cap that is found in a very cold place called Antarctica. It seems to look as if Christmas comes everyday due to the thick layers of snow that you will soon come across. Being in this place is as cold as being in an enormous freezer, but more and more tourists are attracted to explore this often overlooked part of the world.

You will meet many tourists on your visit to the Polar Ice Cap who will share this special place with you. It is a spectacular adventure to be so close with nature and be present in a place that can actually cover the entire globe with its ice. Do make this one of your top choices for your trip since it would be a once in a lifetime experience to actually experience a Polar Ice Cap. Sure you can see it in movies and television, but nothing beats the actual experience of seeing it person.

Ask any tourist who has already gone to the Polar Ice Cap and they will tell you how amazed they were to see the tranquility of the place. It’s amazing to witness the various animals that freely roam there. One is the Emperor Penguin who happens to be so tall in real life. Did you know that they reach as high as a six year old boy? That is pretty tall for a bird right? Just be ready to bear the odor since these Penguins can be a little smelly since they eat is fish. Even though there are areas where plants grow, it is not part of their diet.

January 10, 2010 at 2:52 pm | No comment


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Photo by: stevendepolo, Creative Commons

For people who think that Mexico is just for non-stop partying and stretches of luxurious beach and vacation resorts, think again! History nuts, “relic hunters,” and visitors, who just want a more culturally rich experience, rejoice! Mexico will certainly not disappoint you! Mexico is also home to a rich and ancient history, with some of the remains of ancient kingdoms still well-preserved and intact. One of these sites is Calakmul. This area is the site of one of the largest ancient cities by the Mayan civilization that has ever uncovered. This site is located in the Mexican state of Campeche, in the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve which has an area of 1,800,000 acres. Calakmul is surrounded by a jungle region and is only 30 kilometers from Mexico’s border with Guatemala.

Calakmul is a popular destination for those who want a lot of history and culture because there are a lot of structures in this Maya region. Moreover, most of these structures have been recovered intact. Calakmul has 117 obelisks, which represents representing rulers and their wives in paired sets. This figure is the largest obelisk count in the region. The bad news is, these carved obelisks were made out of soft limestone, and the weather, wear and tear has eroded most of them beyond interpretation.

Murals are also present in Calakmul. These Calakmul murals are a bit different from the others found in ancient Maya sites, as the latter depict activities of the elite class. In the Calakmul mural, market scenes are depicted, where people are seen preparing or consuming products such as tobacco, tamale, and atole, while vendors are selling needles and textiles. There are glyphs in the murals which are supposed to describe the activities. There are also ceramic remains with interesting designs in the area, which will sure fascinate archeological fans.

January 10, 2010 at 12:19 pm | No comment

Phang Nga Bay

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Phang Nga bay
Photo by: Allerina & Glen MacLarty, Creative Commons

In southern Thailand, you can experience a piece of paradise at Phang Nga Bay, which has inspired adventures and stories of surprising and happy encounters. Phang Nga Bay is noted for distinctive rock formations – hundreds of limestone cliffs jut out over the sea.

If cave walks, prehistoric art, and nature parks appeal to you, Phang Nga is the place for you. Beyond the superb rock formations and limestone cliffs, the place is replete with hauntingly mesmerizing national parks.

If you wish to go on a speedboat tour, you can see for yourself the unusual eco-system thriving at Ko Panak and Ko Hong, then check out Tapu island and Ko Ping-Gan (otherwise known as the “James Bond Island”) before proceeding to Koh Talu where you can find a mangrove swamp and the huge sea caves of Tham Lod Noi and Tham Lod Yai. There’s also Ko Khai Nai Island which will entice you to snorkel, swim, or simply relax. An excursion to Phang Nga Bay will bring you to a Mosque and an encounter with some Muslim sea gypsies who make a living from the sea. Enjoy a canoe ride into the bay that will bring you to a fantastic exploration of about four islands.

If elephant trekking is your cup of tea, take the off-the-beaten option and go for the rafting & trekking tour. Phang Nga Province beckons with its rich floral and fauna. Go bamboo rafting and see wonderful sights that include tropical birds, exotic hanging fruits and bathing water buffaloes.

Let a thrilling elephant ride along mountain paths cap your day. When traveling with family members, they’d surely have a great time watching elephant antics like picking up leaves with its trunk, and be amazed at how it can adroitly navigate narrow pathways. Oh, and don’t forget to dress appropriately to enjoy these one-of-a-kind experiences.

January 10, 2010 at 12:08 pm | No comment

Meteorite Crater

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Meteor Crater
Photo by: Shiny Things, Creative Commons

Meteor Crater was created about thousands of years ago by a meteorite impact. It is located near Winslow in the desert of northern Arizona. It is named “Meteor Crater” after the nearby post office, Meteor. The site used to be known as Diablo Canyon Crater, but the scientists call it Barringer Crater after Daniel Barringer, the one who first suggested that Meteor Crater was made by a meteorite impact.
At present, the crater is privately owned and maintained by the Barringer family through their Barringer Crater Company.

It is claimed as the “first proven and best preserved meteorite crater” here on Earth. It is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in Arizona and the United States. It can be reached via exit 233 or Meteor Crater Road off Interstate-40. There is an entrance fee to see the crater. A visitor center is on the northern rim of the crater, which is operated by the Meteor Crater Enterprises. They provide displays for visitors about the space program, a gift shop, and a small museum.

There is also a video for the visitors to watch about meteorite impacts. But of course the major attraction is to see the spectacular crater itself. It is very big that a football game can be played with more than 2 million fans watching.

Until now, the crater has been a focus of continuous scientific research. In the 1960s, NASA used it as a training ground for their astronauts for their mission to the moon. The Meteor Crater is recognized as a significant geological site. In November 1967, it was designated as a National Natural Landmark. However, it is not protected by the state as a national monument because this status requires federal ownership. The private owner provides people to patrol the area in uniforms resembling those in the National Park Service.

January 9, 2010 at 11:52 pm | No comment

La Boca District

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La Boca District, Argentina
Photo by: Phillie Casablanca, Creative Commons

La Boca is one of Buenos Aires’s 48 barrios or neighborhoods. It is located at the southeastern part of the city, near the old port in the mouth (boca in Spanish) of the Rio de la Plata. Nearby barrios are Barracas in the west, and San Telmo and Puerto Madero to the north. Many of the district’s residents are of European descent. This is because the old port was where the Italian, Spanish, Basque, French, and German immigrants arrived.

Inside La Boca, one will feel as if they had stepped back in time as the neighborhood still retains its Genoese look with traditional colorful wooden houses. While some inhabitants still spoke the Genoese dialect in the late 20th century, use of the dialect has been in recent decline. Presently, La Boca is part artist colony and part working class neighborhood.

Tourists visiting Buenos Aires always make a point to visit La Boca. The colorful houses, pedestrian-friendly walkways, little shops and restaurants make for a pleasant day of sightseeing and shopping. The street of Caminito is the center of tourist activity in the barrio, and of particular interest for people who are into the dancing the tango. Here, tango artists perform in the many tango clubs found on the street. Tango-related memorabilia is sold in most shops.

Aside from tango, La Boca is also the home of the Boca Juniors, one of Argentina’s biggest soccer teams. To experience the unique flavor of an Argentine soccer match, grab a ticket and watch the games at the La Boca soccer stadium, La Bombonera.

For those who are more into art than sports, there is the Fine Arts Museum of La Boca. It is also called the Museo de Bellas Artes Quinquela Martin as it used to be the residence and studio of the artist.

January 9, 2010 at 5:29 pm | No comment

Pergamum Ruins

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Pergamum Ruins as mentioned in the Bible
Photo by: Alaskan Dude, Creative Commons

The modern city may well be impressive with its battalion of skyscrapers, but something about seeing ancient structures still awes any traveler. In Turkey, an abundance of these ancient sites can be enjoyed.

The Pergamon Ruins lies in Mysia, which is 26 km from the Aegean Sea. An ancient city of Greece in modern Turkey, the ruins attracts many visitors each year, as the structures exhibit the great skills of the masons back then. The city is quite famous, and seeing the ruins will show that the place lives up to the hype.

The place is steeped in a rich history, and people can re-imagine what transpired here by going on tours to the site. The Pergamon Ruins has witnessed the ancient wars, and now stand as silent testaments to the events that shaped the kingdom. When Attalus III Philometer, the ruler, died in 133 BC, the city was relinquished to Rome. The city flourished under the Roman empire. It is also recorded that Antipas, the first bishop of Pergamon, was made a martyr here in ca. 92 AD.

The Pergamon Ruins stands on top of a hill that overlooks Bergama, a Turkish city. The strategic location of the city made it easier to defend the city, thus allowing Lysimachus, a Macedonian general, as storage for his loot in the 4th century BCE.

There are several notable structures in the Pergamon Ruins. Among these, is the Hellenistic Theater, which boasts of a seating capacity of about 10,000. The Trajaneum and the Sanctuary of Athena are also part of the complex. The Library or the Athenaeum also played an integral part in history, as the inhabitants of Pergamon came up with new substance for codices when there was a shortage of papyrus.

Today, large columns, archways and other stone structures are still testament to great masonry. Going to the Pergamon Ruins feels like attending a history class, only this one is a field trip.

January 9, 2010 at 5:25 pm | No comment

The Esplanade

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The Esplanade, Singapore
Photo by: edwin, Creative Commons

The Esplanade is a waterside building that can be found near the Singapore River. It is the proud location for Singapore’s performing arts. It has 1,600 seats for a concert hall and 2,000 seats for a theater. Many people consider this a must-see when you visit Singapore because of its magnificence and cultural significance.

The Esplanade also has places suitable for outdoor performance as well as a mall for shopping and relaxing. Many Singaporeans call it “The Durian” because of its architectural design. You should really watch a performance in the Esplanade because it has world-class talent. It is a venue for concerts, recitals, as well as other performances showcasing Singapore culture.

The theater has a 2,000 seat capacity and capable of holding performances of all genres in performing arts. So far it has had no limitations whether Asian or Western, classical or contemporary. And not to mention, the orchestra can accommodate many musicians as well. It also boasts that the viewing distance between the last seat and the stage is just 40 meters, which means you don’t have to strain your eyes that much.

The Esplanade also has a recital studio for small performances as well as meetings. Even though it is smaller, the walls and ceilings produce good acoustics. It is usually used for rehearsals. There is also a theatre studio for small theater and dance performances. It is really amazing because even though it is small, it is fully equipped with flexible staging, lighting and sound systems.

And lastly, what gives the Esplanade that magnificent look on the outside is the Jendela, meaning window. If you could see a picture, you would appreciate the distinct architecture. Inside it has a space for displaying visual arts. And with a view from the Marina Bay, who wouldn’t be astonished. So, if you’re ever in Singapore, spend some time and be amazed at the theaters on the bay.

January 9, 2010 at 5:16 pm | 1 comment

Sydney Harbour

Sydney Harbour Night Lights
Photo by: iljimae, Creative Commons

Sydney Harbour is a portion of Port Jackson, which is the natural harbor of Sydney, Australia. The entirety of Port Jackson is known for the beauty and as the location of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. It was where the first European settlers came in Australia and it continues to play a significant role in the development of Sydney.

Sydney Harbour is the longest arm of the three harbors which comprise Port Jackson. It stretches to the west, extending as far as Balmain where it meets the estuaries of the Lane Cove and Parramatta rivers. The central business district and the inner suburbs are centered on Sydney Harbour, joining with North Harbour (which is the shortest arm, a large bay stretching to Manly Cove) and Middle Harbour (which extends to the northwest). Port Jackson extends inland from Tasman Sea to Cockatoo Island. Over it are Sydney Harbour Bridge and the ANZAC Bridge (formerly Glebe Island Bridge). Sydney Harbour Tunnel passes underneath to the east of Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Shark Island, Fort Denison, Goat Island, Clark Island, Cockatoo Island, Snapper Island, Spectacle Island, and Rodd Island are several of the islands within the harbor. Other former islands have been linked subsequently to the shore through land reclamation, and they include Bennelong Island, Berry Island, and Garden Island.

Sydney Harbour’s commuter and visitor ferry services are provided by Sydney Ferries. For a tour of the sights in and around the Sydney Harbour, it is recommended that you take a ferry to enjoy a view of Sydney from the water. A small number of water limousine and taxi operators are also active on the harbor for individuals or groups not willing to travel by ferry. Unlike ferries, they do not have specified timetables or routes, so if you already know your way around by water, you may want to try this mode of transportation instead.

January 9, 2010 at 5:15 pm | 3 comments

Waza National Park

Waza National Park
Photo by: javdalen , Creative Commons

Seeing elephants and lions in photos bring pleasure to many, but how much more if you’re given the opportunity to meet and greet these wild animals in person? The Waza National Park in Cameroon is one of the most visited places in this far north side of Africa. The animal population is so great that it also houses endangered species with the likes of the giraffe family, antelopes, bird species and jackals among others.

The Waza National Park was founded in the year 1934 and was originally meant for hunting reserves. However, in the year 1968, it was converted into a National Park with a land area of about 1,700 km and even became a UNESCO biosphere reserve. This National Park is said to be a special place and the most visited one due to the following reasons:

1. It’s the most important wildlife park in the city of Cameroon and one of the most significant in the country of Africa. This is the only park where you can see animals in danger of extinction. Since majority of them were reduced in numbers in the past years all due to too much hunting and dreadful conditions, the Waza National Park brings to the public some of the animals that survived the threats of starvation and severe drought.

2. It’s one of the living evidences of the country’s living resources. Seeing elephants in the waterholes, giraffes bending down for their babies, and some 370 bird species all over the place is paradise in itself. Here, you’re allowed to roam around the entirety of the park with a roving and fully protected vehicle. The grasses may be a little tall hampering a full view of wandering animals, but there are also areas in the place where grasses are burned for a close-up and more vivid view.

January 9, 2010 at 4:54 pm | 2 comments

Silver Pagoda

Searching for national treasures and seeing it with your own eyes is now possible by visiting the most notable royal temple known as the Silver Pagoda or commonly known as Wat Preah Keo. This is known to be a very special place in Cambodia for it boasts different Buddha statues regarded as one of the most significant treasures of the country, and one of which is the Emerald Buddha. Apart from it being a house of jeweled and royal Buddha statues, the Silver Pagoda is likewise the official sanctuary and holy place of the king of Cambodia.

There are still many interesting facts about this place that sparks interest from many tourists, and among those remarkable and fascinating information are as follows:

• The Silver Pagoda’s magnificence and grandiose – The temple of the Emerald Buddha was then made of wood in the year 1962. But as time passed by, the entirety of the place was re-erected and restructured into concrete and marble with more than 5000 silver tiles making up the entire flooring of the temple. Not to mention that each silver tile weighs an approximate mass of 1 kilo.

• Richness in terms of historical aspect – The Silver Pagoda has remained to be one of the most famous and favored historical places in Cambodia as it housed many ancient artifacts and jewels. Aside from this; the pagoda is the only temple that has remained intact and unharmed all throughout these years.

So for those tourists who are planning to visit this historical temple, an entrance fee of $3 is required along with $2 fee if you’re going to bring along a digital camera and $5 for video cameras. However, taking shots is only permissible outside of the temple and proper attire must be observed at all times.

January 9, 2010 at 4:49 pm | 5 comments

Zipaquira Salt Cathedral

Zipaquira Salt Cathedral
Photo by: olliethebastard, Creative Commons

Ever heard of an underground church? If not, then you better check out Zipaquira Salt Cathedral in Colombia. This Roman Catholic Church is constructed within the burrow and warren of a salt mine just in the vicinity of Zipaquira town. It is commonly known as Salt Cathedral as one way of luring more tourists and visitors to go and check out the place. Catholic devotees hear mass every Sunday with the cathedral housing more or less 3,000 guests.

The place has great architectural details coupled with numbers of ancient religious symbolizations that make it much more special and sacred. To help you become familiar on what to expect and see in Salt Cathedral, the following details speak reveal:

1. The 3 symbolic representations of the birth, life, and death of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is found at the bottom part of Zipaquira Salt Cathedral and its awe-inspiring structure is known to be hand sculpted and shaped in a halite rock making it more majestic and regal.

2. The Cathedral is a representation of Colombian architecture. The Zipaquira Salt Cathedral is a vivid evident of Columbia’s uniqueness and ingenuity when it comes to fashioning and structuring world class symbolizations and representations. Known to be the Jewel of Modern Architecture, the Salt Cathedral is a depiction of old and modern Columbia in all aspects of living – historical, cultural, and spiritual.

3. A touch of the old cathedral. Tourists aren’t only interested with designs and architectural details; they are also into determining where these religious symbols originate. The most notable of all is the large cross built by miners to serve as their blessed symbolization in uttering their daily petitions. The large cross can still be seen in the temple today, with its shadow illuminating in the ceiling of the entire Zipaquira Salt Cathedral.

January 9, 2010 at 4:44 pm | 3 comments

Tierra del Fuego National Park

Tierra del Fuego National Parkf
Photo by: Karl Agre , Creative Commons

Tierra del Fuego National Park is considered as the final destination in your Northwest-Southeast Expedition. If you’re heading in the country of Chile, make sure not to miss the two types of forests that prevail and preponderate in the place, the Lenga and Guindo forests. If you explore the place some more, you will come across the great bays of Ensenada and Lapataia. Just like any other national parks, what makes Tierra del Fuego special and appealing to the masses is its rare fauna inhabitants such as red foxes, North American beaver, albatross, an atypical Otter known as Chungungo, parakeets, and firecrown hummingbirds among others.

To inform visitors and tourists of what Tierra del Fuego National Park has to offer, the following highlights of the place will certainly help you consider this National Park in your itinerary:

1. The black lagoon. This is mainly called the black lagoon for its dark colored water due to decomposed organic debris being deposited in the lagoon.

2. The lookout point. If you want to acquire not just good but excellent view of the different bodies of water with other mountains and floras as a backdrop, all you have to do is head to the lookout point through Lapataia bay just a few minutes walk from Lengas wood.

3. A close encounter with the beavers.
These water rodent species have the ability to build water dam systems by letting trees fall and create partly engulfed dens called lodges. This amazing creation does not only provide excellent tourist attraction for every visitor to see, but it likewise generates a great impact to the environment.

If you’re worried about where to stay at the National Park for an overnight or days of settling in the place, there are organized camping tents near the Lake Roca all for free for public guests to take advantage. However, if you’re looking for a more comfortable place to put your feet up, you can go to Ushuaia City and get yourself cozy in some inns and hotels.

January 9, 2010 at 4:29 pm | No comment

Thalay Sagar

Gangotri Group of mountains 400
Thalay Sagar
Photo by: Gaurav-agrawal, Creative Commons

Thalay Sagar is a mountain in the western Garhwal Himalaya, located in the northern Indian town of Uttarakahand. It belongs to the Gangotri Group of mountains and is the second highest after Kedarnath. This 6,000-meter mountain is notorious for being a difficult mountain to climb, earning it the nickname of The Devil’s Red Wall. Steep on all sides, with a band of shale near the peak, and a rocky summit, the difficulty of climbing this mountain is exactly what makes it alluring to climbers.

The first group to attempt and successfully climb the mountain was an Anglo-American team in 1979. Over the years, a number of routes have been added and completed by teams from the UK, Norway, Hungary, New Zealand, USA, Australia and Russia. Despite these successes and the advancement in technique and equipment in mountaineering and rock climbing, the success rate of climbing this peak remains one of the lowest in the Garwhal.

Admittedly, the main bulk of visitors to Thalay Sagar are serious climbers. This doesn’t mean that travelers who are not into climbing mountains won’t find anything of interest here. On the contrary, the town of Uttarakhand where Thalay Sagar is located, is a very interesting and scenic place. It used to be the getaway of British colonials who wished to flee the oppressive heat of Indian summers. The houses, hotels, boarding schools, and churches that they have built are still in existence up to this day. Skiing, white-water rafting, and hiking are popular activities in this region blessed with mountains, hills, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, and glaciers.

Elephant rides and photographing tigers in the Rajaji and Corbett National Parks are other outdoor options. Those of a more sedate disposition can attend yoga classes in the many ashrams that one can find especially in the Rishikesh area. Rich in nature and spirituality, a visit to Thalay Sagar is something one should at least take once in a lifetime.

January 9, 2010 at 1:52 pm | No comment

Kahuzi-Biega National Park

Garamba-National-Park,-Africa 400
Kahuzi-Biega National Park, Africa
Photo by: Wikimedia Commons , Creative Commons

The Kahuzi-Biega National Park is located in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is around 50 kilometers west of Bukavu town in the Kivu region, adjacent to the western side of Lake Kivu and the Rwandan border. It was created to primarily protect the last remaining population of the Eastern Lowland gorilla or Gorilla beringei graueri. The park is one of the few last refuges of this rare sub-species of Eastern gorilla. The famous Diane Fossey, protégé of the equally famous Dr Louis Leakey, originally did her studies here before moving on to Rwanda.

It is estimated that there are only 600 gorillas remaining throughout the park, earning it a place in the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Site. However, ongoing fighting in the Congo and the resulting looting, poaching, and burning of the forest has decimated around 60% of that population. As a result, the Kahuzi-Biega National Park was also included in the list of World Heritage Sites in Danger.

Despite the apparent dangers, people still continue to visit this place just to experience being in a primary tropical forest and spot the diverse wildlife as well as the last few remaining graueri gorillas. Aside from the gorillas, the park is also home to some antelope and elephants. This vast park area is dominated by the two extinct volcanoes from which it is named after, Mount Kahuzi and Mount Biega. In this part of the Kivu region, Mount Kahuzi is the highest peak.

Generally, the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo is very volatile as armed conflicts erupt every now and then. However, visits to the park are doable as long as the necessary precautions are taken. Visitors who have gone there report that the situation has improved a bit and tourism is needed in order to support conservation efforts of scientists and park rangers.

January 9, 2010 at 1:05 pm | No comment