Posted by: Ray | May 2, 2013

50 Unbelievable Facts about Earth

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Posted by: Ray | December 31, 2010

World’s top destinations for 2011

Where on Earth will you find yourself in 2011?

Here’s wishing it’s somewhere unforgettable — and the time to plan your journey is now, as the New Year brings the customary yearning for a fresh start and the promise of new people and places.

To set your itinerary in motion, we sought out recommendations from three travel experts: Robert Reid, U.S. travel editor for Lonely Planet; Pauline Frommer, creator of Pauline Frommer’s guidebooks; and Martin Rapp, senior vice president of leisure sales at Altour.

Here are nine of their top destinations for 2011:

1. New York

A huge tourist destination in any year, the city will be especially unforgettable as it marks the 10th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks next year.

Visitors who have been flocking to ground zero are finally expected to get a chance to pay their respects to the victims at the National September 11 Memorial, which is scheduled to open in time for the anniversary.

“It’s going to be a massive moment for New York,” Reid said. “It feels like the healing begins.”

Visitors also shouldn’t miss the High Line, once an abandoned elevated railway track that’s been turned into a popular park. It expands in the spring, to the delight of New Yorkers.

“It was like a secret garden in the middle of New York,” Frommer said. “It’s become a park that other urban centers are studying because it’s brought new life, a new vitality into the area below it.”

No wonder the Big Apple tops Lonely Planet’s list of top 10 cities for 2011.

2. New Zealand

The Rugby World Cup will be held next fall in New Zealand, adding excitement to an already popular destination.

Wellington, which brands itself as the “coolest little capital in the world,” will host some of the activities and hopes to attract fans who want to explore other parts of the country.

“It’s a great kind of springboard,” said Reid, who is planning a visit and is determined to learn the haka, the fierce Maori dance used to unsettle opponents before matches.

Wellington is known as “Wellywood,” thanks to a thriving film industry and director Peter Jackson, who is now working on “The Hobbit.” Indeed, fans of the “Lord of the Rings” films already know New Zealand for some of the stunning sites used in the trilogy.

Rapp also recommended the country for its “most fantastically luxurious lodges,” including The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, Huka Lodge and Otahuna Lodge.

3. Peruvian Amazon

When many people think of the Amazon, they think of Brazil, but Peru offers a great base for exploring the region: Iquitos, a metropolis of almost half a million people in the heart of the Peruvian jungle.

Iquitos is a fitting destination for 2011, which has been declared by the United Nations as the International Year of Forests.

“You can create your own adventures when you’re there,” Reid said.

It’s the biggest city you can’t drive to in the world, he added. You have to fly in or take a boat.

To experience the region in a unique way, Rapp recommended taking an Amazon River cruise from Iquitos on Delfin or Aqua Expeditions.

4. Barcelona, Spain

Visitors can get a chance to see La Sagrada Familia, the stunning but still unfinished Catholic basilica, like never before after a visit by Pope Benedict XVI in November spurred progress on the interior of the site, Frommer said.

“For the first time in years, most of the scaffolding there is gone,” she said.

“Everybody knows how astounding it is on the outside. The inside is just as glorious.”

Foodies have their own reasons to visit Barcelona and the surrounding region. El Bulli, chef Ferran Adria’s famous restaurant, closes for good next year.

But even if you can’t snag a reservation at the notoriously hard-to-get-into eatery, Barcelona is dotted with restaurants inspired by Adria’s cutting-edge cuisine, like Moo, which Frommer called “astounding.”

5. Norway

For lovers of the outdoors, Norway offers an especially outstanding experience, Rapp said. Adventurous travelers can go heli-skiing, paragliding and bungee jumping. (Rapp was considering a bungee jump himself during an upcoming summer trip to Norway.)

For a more mellow experience, hire a private boat on the fjords and go to little hotels that you can’t get to by road, or stay at the Amot Opera Farm for an unusual combination of accommodations and music.

“All of Scandinavia is really underestimated,” Rapp said.

“People [usually] go to the major cities, Copenhagen, Stockholm or Oslo, but the countryside is extraordinary. Truly majestic mountains, and the fjords are just unbelievable — they seem endless when you’re there.”

6. Albania

The top pick on Lonely Planet’s list of top 10 countries for 2011 may be a surprise for many people, but Albania gives travelers a taste of the Mediterranean without the crowds and the prices, Reid said.

The real rising destination is Gjirokastra, a city whose historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage site, he added.

“It’s this cobbled town with Ottoman-era mansions,” Reid said. “It’s a very atmospheric place that has a lot of history.”

With picturesque beaches, good food and a number of heritage sites, Albania won’t be off the beaten track for much longer, Lonely Planet says in its review.

7. Japan

Many people still have the misconception that Japan is too expensive to visit, but once you get there, it can be more affordable than a vacation in New York, Reid said.

Why go in 2011? The country is ramping up its tourism marketing efforts after some recent disappointing years, so the number of visitors is expected to rise soon.

“We think that the crowds are going to get worse. Maybe it’s time to think about it now,” Reid said.

For help with booking an affordable stay, he recommended visiting the International Tourism Center of Japan and looking into minshuku, traditional guest houses that offer very simple but clean and inexpensive accommodations. You might pay $40 a night in Tokyo, for example.

8. Guatemala

More than 10 years after the end of its civil war, Guatemala is coming into its own as a tourist destination, Frommer said.

The country is an appealing alternative for people looking to travel south of the border and trying to branch out beyond popular places like Costa Rica, she added. Once there, you’ll be amazed by the sites — and the low prices.

Lake Atitlan is one of the most beautiful places in the world. In fact, Aldous Huxley said it was more beautiful than Lake Como. I was there in March, and I would agree,” Frommer said.

She called the destination “a bargain wonderland.” A round-trip flight from New York cost Frommer $350, “decent hotels” charged as little as $35 a night, and a meal at a sit-down restaurant might set you back just $3, she said.

9. Bulgaria

Next year marks the 20th anniversary of the collapse of the Soviet Union, sparking interest in former Soviet bloc countries.

Reid’s favorite choice on that list is Bulgaria, which has the best Black Sea coastline for beach enthusiasts and offers great skiing in the mountains in the winter, he said.

“I love doing road trips in Bulgaria. It begs for it. It’s beautiful, and there’s not much traffic. It feels very safe,” said Reid, who rode around the country last year in a Soviet-era 1972 Moskovich, which he bought for $500.

Reid recommended visiting Veliko Târnovo, an ancient capital, and the picturesque city of Plovdiv, home to Roman ruins.

Posted by: Ray | December 28, 2010

Travel Rudeness

@ ColumnFive Media

@ MNUI

Posted by: Ray | November 22, 2010

The Most Colorful Cities In The World

  • 1. Rainbow Row, Charleston, SC

    (Source)

  • 2. Nyhavn, Copenhagen, Denmark

    (Source)

  • 3. Buenos Aires, Argentina

    (Source)

  • 4. Bo-Kaap, Cape Town, South Africa

    (Source)

  • 5. Guanajuato, Mexico

    (Source)

  • 6. San Francisco, CA

    (Source)

  • 7. Balat, Istanbul, Turkey

    (Source)

  • 8. Jodhpur, India

    (Source)

  • 9. Manarola, Italy

    (Source)

  • 10. Punda, Willemstad, Curaçao

    (Source)

  • 11. Valparaiso, Chile

    (Source)

  • 12. St. John’s, Newfoundland

    (Source)

  • 13. Burano, Venice, Italy

    (Source)

  • 14. Pelourinho, Salvador, Brazil

    (Source)

  • 15. Wroclaw, Poland

    (Source)

  • 16. Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway

    (Source)

  • 17. Lima, Peru

    (Source)

  • 18. Bryggen, Bergen, Norway

    (Source)

  • 19. Utrecht, Netherlands

    (Source)

  • 20. Stockholm, Sweden

@ BuzzFeed

Posted by: Ray | November 15, 2010

Top 7 European Travel Destinations

The top 7 European travel destinations offer so much for the traveler. Any one of the top 7 European travel destinations will provide a wide range of vacation options for a vacation to be always remembered.

Europe is a continent filled with excitement. In every country in Europe one can find historical sites dating back thousands of years, old cities of lost and ancient civilizations. Today’s Europe never gets old, no matter where one goes, excellent drink and food is to be found and culture is everywhere.

There are capital cities galore and many beautiful villages along the way. Europe even has its fair share of beautiful beaches, some that may be as excellent as the beaches in the Caribbean Islands.

Here are top 7 European travel destinations:

 

Paris, France

Paris

 

 

 

 

 

In France, one can find the beautiful city of Paris, known as the city of love. So many amazing things can be found in this city, one being the famed Eiffel Tower which is known by many as one of the wonders of the world.

And don’t forget to check out another amazing structure that is found in Paris, the Arc de Triumphe. The Cathedral of Notre Dame will not disappoint you. If time permits, the beaches of France are some of the most beautiful in the entire world.

London, England

london03

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you wish to visit England, begin with London, the capital city and one of the top 10 European travel destinations. London is an inviting city with many different cultures, great entertainment and so much history.

The Palaces of the English Royal Family are a must see for history lovers and the Buckingham Palace is one of the better known palaces in the world. From London, you can easily visit Ireland, Scotland or Wales. The English Isles are close to France in case you plan on visiting both England and France.

Rome, Italy

Rome

 

 

 

 

 

Rome is one of the largest cities in Europe with an area of 1,290 square kilometers. It definitely is one of the top 10 European travel destinations. Rome is a culturally rich city that has hundreds of historical sites to enjoy. Rome is truly an ancient city where you can even see the ancient Roman Colosseum. The villas in Rome are some of the most beautiful in the entire world – the villas are parks but are much more detailed and beautiful parks than usual. And there are plenty of museums for history buffs located throughout the city.

Venice, Italy

venice-beach-address

 

 

 

 

 

Venice is the capital of the region of Veneto and the Province of Venice. Venice’s nickname is the ‘City of Canals’. Everyone has heard of Venice and how there is water covering almost every part of the city. Transportation within the city remains entirely on water or on foot as it was in centuries past. Venice is Europe’s best known car-free area without motor vehicles and trucks.

Amsterdam, Holland

Amsterdam

 

 

 

 

 

Amsterdam is the city of dreams according to many and one of the top 10 European travel destinations. Amsterdam is famous for such attractions as Central Station, for its clubs and coffee shops. This city is one of the most liberal cities around as you can freely smoke marijuana anywhere you choose. The Schiphol Airport is about 20 minutes away from downtown Amsterdam. It handles about 40 million passengers a year and is the fourth largest airport in Europe.

Brussels, Belgium

Brussels

 

 

 

 

 

The city of Brussels is located directly in the middle of Belgium. You will need two different translation books since half of the population speaks French and the other half speaks Dutch. Brussels International Airport links with most of the transportation for the entire city including British trains. If you want a great value on a hotel stay while visiting Brussels, check out the Best Western hotels in Brussels here.

Barcelona, Spain

barcelona-palace

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Iberian Peninsula features its own beautiful two countries, Spain in the east and Portugal to the west. Barcelona offers a unique opportunity for the tourist to walk from Roman ruins to the medieval city and then to the modern city with its open thoroughfares and gridiron street patterns. The historic city center is flat, while the modern city stretches out towards the hills, bordered by steep streets that are much like those found in San Francisco.

@ bestvacationrentalsonline.com

Posted by: Ray | November 8, 2010

World’s Most Dangerous Airports

North Front Airport

This famous airfield is situated located at the southern end of the Iberian peninsula in Gibraltar in the UK. Its only 6,000 feet runway lies between the Bay of Gibraltar and the Mediterranean Sea. Landing space is scarce in the airport with the hazardous Rock of Gibraltar situated very close to the runway. A road passes through the runway and traffic is kept waiting when a plane has to land. Gates are raised and dropped to shut out traffic much like in railway crossings. It is possibly the only airport in the world to have a landing strip intersected by a road. Only a limited number of international flights operate in the airbase. Most of these belong to the UK.

The airport was constructed during the Second World War as a RAF base. Gibraltar was a prominent British naval base at this time.

Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA)

The Princess Juliana Airport is located in the island St. Martin, one of the western Leeward cluster of Islands that is jointly administrated by France and the Netherlands. It serves the Dutch area of St. Martin. The airfield is well-known for its short runway that extends only about 7,152 feet. This is barely the landing space that heavy jets require. This is why planes fly extremely low when they approach the island. If you want to sea planes flying just a few hundred feet above your head, this is where you should be. It is actually an airport for small and medium-sized aircrafts but large planes like A340s and 747s land on it as well.

The airdrome is often said to be the most dangerous airport in the world. Fortunately, no major accident has occurred at the PJIA which has become the second busiest airport in the Eastern Caribbean region.

Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport

The JEY airport is the only airfield in Saba, a Caribbean island in the Netherlands Antilles. According to a number of aviation experts is one of the most dangerous aircraft landing bases in the world. This is because it has one of the most dangerous runways in the world. Its only runway is open on all three sides to the sea, from the front and back and one side. Its only unexposed side is flanked by high cliffs. Even a small error in calculation on the part of the pilot can cause the plane to drop into the sea or crash into the hills during take-off or landing.

The landing strip is marked at each end with an X. This makes commercial pilots understand that the airfield is not available for commercial aviation.

Kansai International Airport (KIA)

As you know, Japan is an island country and land is scarce in the place. That is why engineers chose to create the Kansai Airport 3 miles offshore into the Osaka bay. The artificial Kansai Island measures 2.5 miles by 1.6 miles. It is said to be visible from space. It is not known whether that is true or not but the airfield itself is often said to be situated in a dangerous location. The air base is under constant threat from dangerous cyclones and earthquakes. Aviation experts warn that the rising sea levels and climate change can also threaten the very existence of the airport. Global warming is one factor that may indeed affect the KIA in the coming years.

Madeira International Airport (MIA)

The MIA is located in Funchal near Madeira, a small island situated very far away from the coast of Portugal. The danger factor of this air base lies in its runway, which was only about 5,000 feet long initially. This was later extended to 9,000 feet by a superb feat of engineering. A huge girder bridge was erected over 200 pillars to extend one end of the landing strip. The 3,000 ft long and 590 ft wide bridge can support the weight of big, heavy aircrafts like 747. But like the Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport, the landing space of this airfield is open to the sea on three sides. This makes it difficult for pilots during landing and take-off.

The Funchal Airport was awarded the “Outstanding Structures Award” for its extension work by the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering (IABSE).

Courchevel Airport

This airfield is famous for its high altitude location. It is used to bring visitors to the famous Courchevel ski resort. The air base has an only 1,722 feet long runway. Only private aircrafts, helicopters and chartered air vehicles land on this short strip that has a cliff edge on one end. You must have seen this airport in the James Bond movie “Tomorrow Never Dies” where 007 steers a plane from the base braving the bullets of baddies. The air field is notorious in the aviation industry.

Barra International Airport

The Barra International Airport is located on the Barra Island in Outer Hebrides, Scotland. The airport is situated on the Traigh Mhor beach on the island. It is the only airfield where planes land on the beach. Even though the airport is almost washed by tide once every day, it is regularly used for commercial aircraft landing. Though landing on the base is quite perilous, no accidents have occurred here in recent memory. The air base is naturally illuminated and it is quite fun for tourists to see such an unusual airport. You can book a flight from British Airways and fly to here from Benbecula and Glasgow.

Gustaf III Airport

This airdrome is also known as Saint Barthélemy Airport. If you think that this is an airfield for royalties or religious personalities, you are making a big mistake. It is very much a public airport. The airstrip is very short and ends directly on the adjoining beach with hills only a little distance away. This is why only chartered and small regional commercial aircrafts land here. Most of these carry less than 20 passengers. During arrival, aircrafts fly over the heads of scores of sunbathers creating an amazing sight for tourists and onlookers.

Lukla Airport

This amazing airdrome is located 2,900 meters above sea level in Lukla, a small town in Nepal. It is also known as Tenzing Hillary Airport. The only asphalt runway of the airfield is a mere 1,500 feet long. It has a high mountain on one end and a steeply angled drop thousands of feet deep. Any minor error on the pilot’s end can cause serious problems during landing or take-off. That is the reason why it is regarded as

Ice Runway

This is surely one of the most perilous airfields in the world. There is no shortage of landing space in this airport. The only problem is, it has no paved runways. Air vehicles have to land on large stretches of snow and ice that have been leveled very carefully. The pilot has to take special care that the weight of the vehicle does not break the surface and make the plane get stuck in the snow. Even huge aircrafts like the C-17 Globemaster III and C-130 Hercules are landed here.

 

@ DirWell Info

Posted by: Ray | November 6, 2010

Green Hotels & Places to stay in worldwide

Can Martí, Ibiza

Can Marti, Ibiza

An organic farm in the quieter north-east of the island. Choose between three self-catering studio apartments or an arabesque stone house that overlooks terraces of almond, olive and walnut trees. Rainwater is harvested, solar panels make the most of the sun, and organic breakfasts are brought to your apartment. The owner donates some of the takings to international NGOs.
+34 971 333 500 canmarti.com. From €145 or €910 for seven nights, room only.

Hoopoe Yurt Hotel, Spain

Hoopoe Yurt Hotel

This remote luxury camp beneath the Grazalema mountains has five yurts among shady groves of cork and olive trees. The yurts have large double beds with sheepskin rugs, velvet cushions, outdoor bamboo bathrooms (including solar-powered hot showers), and candlelit dinners are served poolside in a lantern-lit pergola using produce from the owner’s garden.
• +34 696 668 388 , yurthotel.com. €136 per yurt, per night. No young children.

L’Ayalga Posada Ecológica, Spain

An organic farm in La Pandiella, a hamlet in the Redes nature reserve between the Picos de Europa and the north coast beaches. The farmhouse is part of the European Centre of Eco Agro Tourism, whose members have committed to running their properties sustainably. L’Ayalga has been restored using lime, insulated with hemp, and uses solar power to heat its water.
• +34 616 897 638 terrae.net. Two nights DBB plus one massage, €150 (offer until end May); doubles €59 B&B.

Hotel Posada del Valle, Spain

Hotel Posada del Valle Hotel Posada del Valle, Spain

A small hotel on an 18-acre organic farm, close to the Picos de Europa and Asturias’ sandy beaches. The farm uses solar power for hot water, rears indigenous Xalda sheep, ponies and chickens, grows cider apples and has its own vegetable garden. Nearby are rivers for canoeing and canyoning, plus horse riding and biking.
• +34 985 84 11 57 posadadelvalle.com.Doubles from €62–€86, room-only.

Hôtel Les Orangeries, France

It was the first hotel in France to gain the European Ecolabel, but the elegant Hôtel Les Orangeries in Lussac-­les-Chateaux doesn’t skimp on creature comforts. The restored 18th-century house has four-poster beds and a smart dining room with antique sideboards serving grand, mainly organic meals. The building has been renovated with hemp insulation, lime and natural paint, and solar panels provide heating.
• +33 549 840 707 lesorangeries.fr. Doubles €85.

Canvaschic, France

One of the first yurt camps in France, in oak woodland in the Ardèche Gorge nature reserve. The main clearing has nine yurts with king-size beds and camp beds for kids, while three yurts for couples are further into the forest. The owners prepare vegetarian food four nights a week. Ten percent discount if you arrive on foot or by bike.
• +33 6 50 81 21 40 canvaschic.com. Doubles €95, family room €120, B&B (minimum three-night stay).

Le Camp, France

Take the train to Lexos (via Toulouse) and the owners will pick you up and take you to their plush, safari-style yurt camp in oak woodland overlooking the Averyon valley. The huge solar-lit yurts, raised on wooden platforms, have handmade double beds, and there’s an open-air kitchen and 20m-long natural swimming pool.
• +33 563 654 834 lecamp.co.uk. From €160 per night for two.

Auberge Les Liards France

Renovated farm ruins in the Livradois Forez natural park, east of the Massif Central, where there’s cycling and horse riding. The solar-powered guesthouse serves mainly organic food with fruit and veg from the kitchen garden. Evenings are spent sipping homemade bramble cordial on the terrace, watching the sun set behind the Auvergne volcano range.
• +33 476 968 944 lesliards.com. Doubles from €39.

Orri de Planès, France

A family run eco-lodge for hikers exploring the lush Planès valley on the GR 10 Trans-Pyrenees trail. The main lodge has 10-rooms in an old stone-and-wood farmhouse, but there’s also a self-catering lodge and campground with four mini-yurts. Solar energy heats the water in the eco-lodge, which has been certified by Green Key eco-label.
• +33 4 68 04 29 47 orrideplanes.com From €30pp pn B&B.

Orion treehouses, France

Four luxury treehouses just a whisper from the French Riviera. Made from red cedar, they are built between the trees rather than perched on trunks. Back on terra firma you can soak up the sun by the 15m natural pool, or it’s a stroll to the medieval village of Saint-Paul de Vence.
• orionbb.com. Treehouse sleeping 2 from €650 for three nights.

Locanda della Valle Nuova, Italy

Locanda della Valle Nuova

Like most agriturismos, food and wine are the focus at Locanda, a 1920s farmhouse run on solar power near the hilltop town of Urbino in northwest Italy. The owners grow organic wheat, fruit and vegetables, raise cattle, pigs and poultry, and make their own pasta, jam and wine. In autumn you can gather truffles from the woods and return to a wood-fired stove fuelled by coppicing from the 185-acre farm.
• +39 0722 330303 vallenuova.it. From €55pp B&B.

Aurum Lodge Hotel, Canada

Even by Canadian standards this place is remote: 40km from Banff national park, overlooking Abraham lake on the eastern slopes of the Rockies. The emphasis is on enjoying the natural adventure playground – snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in winter, hiking and canoeing in summer. Most power is provided by renewable energy.
• +1 403 721 2117 aurumlodge.com. Doubles from around £80–£150 B&B.

E’Terra, Canada

At the edge of the Bruce Peninsula, E’Terra is a luxurious private estate and wellness centre with a green underbelly. The building has been awarded gold in the US and Canadian Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design programme (LEED) for rainwater harvesting and energy conservation.
• + 519 596 8300, eterra.ca. Doubles from around £235 per night B&B.

Chumbe Island Coral Park, Tanzania

Chumbe Island

Home to one of the world’s richest coral gardens, 6km off Zanzibar, Chumbe Island is part luxury retreat, part educational centre for marine biology. Fishing and scuba diving are banned, but you can snorkel. Accommodation is in bandas (two-tiered bungalows), rainwater is harvested and solar energy powers the showers.
• +255 24 223 1040 chumbeisland.com. US$250pp pn all-inclusive.

Sandele Eco-Retreat, The Gambia

Winner of the 2009 Guardian and Observer Ethical Travel Award, Sandele is the vision of two Brits who have built 10 eco-friendly forest cabanas next to a three-mile sandy beach, as well as 20 guest rooms for a charity that runs environmental courses. Renewable energy pumps a water well, and the long-term plan is that, after 25 years, the land will revert to the village.
• +220 4495887 sandele.com. From £65pp pn half-board or £80 full-board.

Bulungula Backpackers Lodge, South Africa

The runner-up to Sandele last year, this remote lodge sits by a wide, white sand beach on the Wild Coast. There’s no road to the lodge (the staff collect you), so there’s no light pollution or noise; everything is run off-grid – even the bread is baked in a solar oven; and local fishermen will show you how to land crayfish and octopus by hand.
• +27 47 577 8900 bulungula.com. Doubles around £24, dorms £10pp.

Wilderness Lodges, New Zealand

Two pioneering luxury wilderness lodges on South Island, one at Lake Moeraki and one at Arthur’s Pass, that have helped safeguard thousands of hectares of natural forests, shrub lands, grasslands and wetlands. Much of the food is home-reared or grown, and half the electricity is generated from their hydro-electric power plant.
• +64 3 318 9246 wildernesslodge.co.nz. From £135pp DB&B, inc guided walks.

@ The Guardian

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