Friday, July 25, 2014

Amalfi Coast

Amalfi Coast
Credit: hotmediterraneancruises.com
Amalfi Coast – Magnificent Mediterranean Landscape

Italy’s Amalfi Coast is a stretch of about 50 km of coastline on the southern coast of the Sorrentine Peninsula in the Province of Salerno in Southern Italy. It is a very popular tourist destination for the people of that region as well as Italy, attracting many tourists every year.

Amalfi Coast has a magnificent Mediterranean landscape which is a blend of both natural and cultural wonders with its breath-taking terrain which includes dramatic coastline topography with terraced vineyard, pasture and orchards together with the amazing views of the water below.

The Amalfi Coast is one of Europe’s most breath taking site with cliffs that are terraced with scented lemon groves together with sparking seas, whitewashed villas giving way to slopes adding an awesome sight with the sea and the sky merging in one vast blue horizon.In 1997, the Amalfi Coast was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as a cultural landscape.

For many centuries, its abundant resources, pleasant climate and its natural beauty has drawn many people to this coast with many leaving their mark like the Greeks, Norman, Arab-Sicilians, Romans and Saracens.

Picturesque Tourist Centre

Amalfi itself is a picturesque tourist centre though in the 11th and 12th centuries the city was centred on the Amalfi Maritime Republic and became the naval power throughout the Mediterranean. Its ports were a source of extensive trade with North Africa with the city retaining cloister of Arab-Sicilian architecture throughout, along with the Arsenale, which was a partially preserved medieval shipyard from a glorious period.

For many years after the Amalfi’s glorious days as a maritime superpower, the area became poor and its isolated villages became the target of regular foreign incursions, earthquakes and landslides but it was this isolated environment that drew many visitors in the early 1900 that gave way to the entry of tourism in the latter half of the century.

Presently Amalfi Coast is one of Italy’s most sought after destination which is a favourite to some well to do jet setters and couples seeking some privacy from the hustle and bustle of life.

Positano – Most Expensive and Photogenic Town 

Amalfi is a popular day option together with Positano which is the most expensive and photogenic town along with the town of Ravellowhich is perched high on a hill looking down over it. Salerno which is useful as a transport hub is a lovely old town with several winding medieval streets in its vicinity. The best time to visit Amalfi, is in spring or early autumn.

In summer, the coast’s single road tends to get busy and prices on commodities are inflated while in winter much of the coast seems to be shut down. The Amalfi Coast is famous for its production of limoncello liqueur since the area is popular for cultivation of lemons which are known as sfusato amalfitano in Italian.

These are grown in terraced gardens all along the either coast during the month of February and October. Moreover, Amalfi is also known for its handmade thick paper known as bambagina with other renowned local products which are a kind of anchovies, local Italian – alici from Cetara together with the colourful handmadeceramics which come from Vietri.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Great Wall of China


Great wall of china
The Great Wall – World’s Largest Military Structure

Under the rule of Qin Shi Huang, in 220 BC, certain sections of the previous fortification had been joined together forming a great military defence system of successive Chinese Empire against invasion from the north and construction were carried up to the Ming dynasty in 1368-1644. This Great Wall came to be known as the world’s largest military structure.It has a total length of more than 20,000 kilometres where the Great Wall begins in the east at Shanhaiguan in Hebei province ending at Jiayuguan in Gansu province towards the west.

Its main body consisting of walls watch towers, horse tracks together with shelters on the walls, also includes fortresses and passes along the Wall and its strategic and historic importance is credited only by its architectural significance. It is an outstanding example of the excellent military architecture, art and technology of ancient China and embodies great significance as the national symbol in the protection and securing the people and its country.

Series of Fortification – World Heritage Site 

The Great Wall of China has been a series of fortification which was made of stone, tamped earth, brick, and wood together with other materials and was built along an east to west line on the historical northern borders of China. It is one of the most amazing wonders of the world and has been listed as a World Heritage by UNESCO in the year 1987.

Like a huge dragon, the Great Wall winds up and down across grasslands, deserts, mountains and plateaus stretching from east to west of China. It was constructed with the intention to protect the Chinese Empire or its prototypical states from the intrusions of several nomadic groups or military invasion. Most of the walls were built during early 7th century wherein later on were joined together leading in the expansion of these walls, making them stronger and unified.

It has been rebuilt, maintained and enhanced on several occasions while the majority of the present wall was reconstructed during the Ming Dynasty. Having a history of over 2000 years, some of the sections have been in ruins or have disappeared but it is one of the most appealing attractions of the world due to its awesome architectural grandeur as well as historical significance.

Great Masterpiece

The mystery of construction of the wall isamazing which drew heavily on the resources of the local for construction purpose that was carried out in line with the local conditions under the contract of management and responsibility system.

The manpower comprised of prisoners, soldiers and the local people who built the wall and the results of the construction portrays the wisdom and tenacity of the people of China. It is a great masterpiece and the only work that has been built by humans and can be seen from the moon,which is an excellent piece of architecture integrated into the landscape.

The Great Wall does carry a considerable part of Chinese culture and has been incorporated into Chinese mythology as well as symbolism. One well known legend is related to the collapse of a part of the Wall which was due to Meng Jiangnu who had cried bitterly at the death of her husband and who had died while building the wall. This legend was related in textbooks, traditional operas as well as folk songs.

Byzantine Architecture in Istanbul

The Romans brought a lot to the field of architecture. Without them, we wouldn’t have the dome of the Hagia Sophia, or the aqueduct of Segovia, Spain. That architecture is on display in all of its glory in the city of Constantinople, today known as Istanbul.

Marble was once the building material of choice for ancient builders, but it was quickly supplanted by the much cheaper tiled concrete. Great pillars needed to be erected in order to support these massive structures, and concrete could be shaped to flow freely.

There are examples of this amazing architecture still standing in Istanbul. The Hagia Sophia cathedral, with its amazing dome, is the most famous example. With the Sophia, the dome is supported by large stone pillars that evenly distribute the weight and gravitational force of the structure. Forty windows were placed around the base of the structure, which give the appearance of the dome floating over a sea of white light.

The Karamagara Bridge is another interesting landmark, and the earliest known pointed arch bridge. The arch itself was built without the use of mortar, and a transcription from the bible runs along the eastern side of the structure.

Byzantine architecture had a profound influence on the ancient world. Syria and Palestine based almost all of their art and architecture on Byzantine influences. It also found a small revival during the gothic period of England, where the Westminster Cathedral’s arches and domes still stand.

Written by Samuel Phineas Upham

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Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Samuel Phineas Upham on his website.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fair Isle, Scotland


Fair Isle
Fair Isle – One of Britain’s most Remote Inhabited Island – Northern Scotland

Fair Isle is located halfway between mainland Orkney and Shetland and is one of Britain’s most remote inhabited island in northern Scotland.

It is three miles long and one and a half miles wide and is famous for its bird observatory as well as traditional style of knitting. The Bird observatory and the Lodge are major attractions where bird watchers tend to relax in comfort observing some of the 350 species which have been recorded in this place and a twitcher’s paradiseat the time of bird migratory seasons.

Being a crofting community and thriving with traditional industry, one can see the crafts people of this island at work like boat building, weaving, spinning and knitting. Knitwear originated from Fair Isle and it is still the only place in the world producing these articles.

Besides being known for various species of birds, Fair Isle also has more than 250 species of flowering plants. During summer, the wetlands are covered with bright yellow Bog Asphodel and deep purple Early Marsh Orchids which looks amazing, Towards late May, the cliffs are covered with delicate blue to Spring Squill while in June it changes to a bright pink carpet of Thrift. Rare species of plants include Frog Orchid.

Archaeological Remains/Unusual Flora/Military Relics/Wildlife

One will find archaeological remains, unusual flora, military relics and plenty of wildlife together with amazing cliff scenery. Fair Isle had been carefully studied by archaeologists than any area in Scotland and evidence are found that the Isle could have been settled by Neolithic inhabitants around 5000 years ago.

Besides, there have been traces of oval shaped stone houses which could probably be 3000 years old with line of turf and stone wall which pass across the landscape. The archaeological remains comprises of burnt mounds which are piles of blackened stones that seems to have been heated in fire and dropped in stone trough to warm the water but the purpose is not clear.

It could have been used for cooking, tanning, preparing cloth or for primitive sauna. Besides these, there are also two known Iron Age site, the foundations of a house underlying an early Christian settlements at Kirkigeo and a promontory fort which is at Landberg.

Useful Landmark for Shipping 

For many years, Fair Isle had been a very useful landmark for shipping though in fog and storms, the coastline seemed to be very dangerous.

Fair Isle, in all has around fourteen scheduled monuments which range from the earliest signs of human settlement to the remains of World War II radar station with two fine lighthouses which have been automated and are listed buildings.

From 1982, around two thirds of the power had been supplied through wind turbines with a third by diesel generators. Since Fair Isle is not connected to the national grid, its power supply is being provided by the Fair Isle Electricity Company where power is generated by two wind turbines and two diesel generators.

Diesel generators gets automatically switched off when the wind turbines tend to provide adequate power and additional capacity is distributed through separate network for the purpose of home heating or if insufficient, through a dump load.

Time for a Family Vacation? Tips to Make Yours Less Stressful


travel
Whether you’re going on a summer vacation because the kids are out of school or you’re just looking to get away for the holidays, a family vacation is time everyone can spend relaxing away from the stresses of daily life. However, it doesn’t matter whether you’re taking a trip down to the beach or going to a theme park like Adventure World – family vacations can be a little hectic, at least for parents who have to deal with all of the travel arrangements and packing.

When you’re ready for your family vacation, use these tips to make sure you have fun without losing your mind in the process!

Involve Your Kids

Planning a family vacation should be fun, so why not involve the kids? Before you do however, make a short list of potential trips and vacations that will work for your budget and timeframe. After all, kids may make some suggestions and get their hearts set on something you can’t afford or feasibly do if you don’t have some sort of ideas prepared before involving them.

Get Kids Packed Early

Kids don’t really enjoy packing their suitcases, and chances are they don’t know exactly what they need to bring if they under the age of 15. However, as a parent, you can help guide them along in the process by making them a checklist of everything they need to pack for the trip. After all, you’re their parent and you know what they have – you bought it for them!

Have your kids start packing about 72 hours before the trip if possible, that way you’ll give them a chance to get everything together on their own. 24 hours before you need to leave, double check everything and make sure it’s ready to go. That way you won’t be stressing about what is or isn’t packed the day you’re heading out the door for what should be a fun family vacation.

Load Up the Night Before

If you’re going to be traveling by car, taking the time to pack everything that you’re taking with you except your toiletries – which can all go in a separate bag – to load up the car the night before you head out the door can make the morning much less stressful. You’ll have time for a nice breakfast and you won’t have to panic.

Just make sure you leave your travel clothes for at least the first day out.