Monday, December 29, 2014

Taos Pueblo


Taos_Pueblo
Taos Pueblo – Oldest Communities in United States

Taos Pueblo is an ancient pueblo of the Tiwa speaking Native American tribe of Pueblo people which is around 1000 years old. It lies about 1 mile north of the modern city of Taos, New Mexico, USA. The pueblos are considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the US. It has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Taos Pueblo is also a member of the Eight Northern Pueblos and the people speak two variants of the Tanoan language. The community is noted for being one of the most secretive, private as well as conservative. Placed in the valley of a small tributary of the Rio Grande, this settlement comprises of dwellings and ceremonial building which represents the culture of the Pueblo Indians of Arizona and New Mexico.

 Taos also has remarkable traditional form of architectural ensemble from the pre-Hispanic period of the Americas which are unique and have retained its traditional forms successfully till date due to the determination of the latter day Native American community who have been successful in resisting the pressures of modern society. Taos is the best preserved of the pueblos north of the borders marked by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

Tradition method of Adobe Construction

The modest rural community of Taos appeared before 1400 which was characterized by common social as well as religious structures and traditional agriculture practices. Taos Pueblo has the traditional method of adobe construction, comprising of two clusters of houses each of which is built from sun dried mud brick with walls that range from 70 cm thick at the bottom to around 35 cm at the top.

 The walls are refinished with new coat of adobe plaster each year as a part of the ceremony of the village and the rooms are placed back so that the roofs of the lower units form like terraces for those above while the units at the ground level as well as some of the ones above can be entered through doors which originally were small and low.

Access to the upper area was by ladders comprising of holes in the roof. On the top and outside were the living quarters while the rooms deep within the structure were utilised for storage of grains. Cedar Logs were used for the roofs with their ends protruding through the wall and mats of branches were placed on the logs which were laid grass covered with thick layer of mud with a finished coat of adobe plaster. This system of structure was most suitable for their rigorous climate.

Two Forms of Spiritual Practices 

Throughout the 18th century, it was a time of war for Taos, who had an important role in resisting the colonizers and their breeds of cattle as well as the types of grain were introduced by the conquerors in their agricultural system.

Converting the Pueblos to Christianity was made and ill-received though unconsciously the religious mentally of the people underwent a change. Two forms of spiritual practices were represented in the Pueblo, the original indigenous religious and spiritual tradition and Roman Catholicism.

While most of Taos Indians practiced their still vital, ancient indigenous religion around 90% of the Taos Pueblo community were baptized as Roman Catholics and St. Jerome or San Geronimo were the patron saint of the pueblo.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Glacier Bay National Park


Glacier_Bay_National_Park
Image Credit: National Geographic (By Peter Robertson)
Glacier Bay National Park – UNESCO World Heritage Site

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is a United State National Park and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site which is in the Panhandle of the state of Alaska, west of Juneau.

Glacier Bay became part of a bio national UNESCO World Heritage site and inscribed as a Biosphere in 1986 and undertook an obligation to work with Hoonah and Tlingit Native American organization in handling the protected area, in the year 1994, On February 25, 1925, President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed this location around Glacier Bay, a national monument under the Antiquities Act and subsequent to an extension of the monument in 1978, by President Jimmy Carter, the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act – ANILCA, on December 2, 1980, increased the national monument by 534,000 acres, the process of which give rise to Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve with around 57,000 additional acres of public land.

This has been preserved as national preserve to the northwest of the park to protect an area of the Alsek River together with related fish and wildlife habitat at the time of sport hunting. The park is known for its massive glaciers as well as a remarkable destination for those interested in wildlife, kayaking or seeking to find a relaxing atmosphere.

First Surveyed in 1794 – Team of H.M.S. Discovery

The park comprises of snow-capped mountain ranges which rise to over 15,000 feet, with coastal beaches together with protected coves, deep fjords, tidewater glaciers, coastal and estuarine waters as well as freshwater lakes.

Sculpted, steep peaks, rock strewn valley indicate glacial activity, marking the advances and retreats of glaciers which date back over 115,000 years to prior to the Wisconsin Ice Age. The ocean waves lash the beaches of the wild and remote Gulf of Alaska coast and between the coast and the bay, snow clad peaks of Fair weather Range draws the moisture that comes in from the Gulf of Alaska spawns the park’s largest glaciers. Towards the base of these huge peaks lie the deglaciered foothills and plains which spread the greenery around once the ice retreats, portraying an awesome spectacle of nature.

The park and the preserve cover an area of 5,130 square mile and the major part of the Glacier Bay is designated as wilderness area covering around 4,164 square miles.The Glacier Bay was first surveyed in 1794 by a team from the H.M.S. Discovery and headed by George Vancouver.

 The survey indicated a mere indentation in the shoreline and the massive glacier was over 4,000 feet thick in some places and up to 20 miles wide, extending over 100 miles towards the St, Elias mountain range.

Discovered in 1879 – John Muir

Towards 1879, it was discovered by John Muir when the ice had retreated to over 30 miles and formed a bay and by 1916, the Grand Pacific Glacier which was the main glacier credited with carving the bay, melted back 60 miles to what is presently the Tarr Inlet.

Great efforts were taken by Muir and other conservationist to protect Glacier Bay and in 1925; President Calvin Coolidge signed a proclamation making Glacier Bay National Monument. The monument, at that point of time covered less than half the area of the current park.

 The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservations Act, in the year 1980, elevated the monument to the national park status as well as extended the park boundary northwest to the Alsek River and Dry Bay which gave rise to further recognition and protection of Glacier Bay’s significance, when the Glacier Bay Admiralty Island Biosphere Reserve, in 1986, was established under the United Nations Man and the Biosphere Program.

 The Glacier Bay became a part of an international World Heritage Site in 1992 together with neighbouring Wrangell-St-Elias National Park and Preserve as well as Canada’s Kluane National Pa.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Savannah, Georgia


Savannah
Savannah – Oldest City in Georgia

Savannah is the oldest city in Georgia and the location of one of biggest National Historic Landmark district in the country. It was established in 1733 and became the British colonial capital of the Province of Georgia which later on became the first state capital of Georgia. Savannah, a port city in the American Revolution during the American Civil War is presently an industrial centre as well as an important Atlantic seaport, whichis Georgia’s fifth largest city and the third largest metropolitan area.

This amazing destination attracts millions of tourist who get the opportunity of enjoying the city’s architecture as well as the historic building, such as, the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low, who was the founder of the Girl Scouts of the United States of America, the Georgia Historical Society – the oldest continually operational historical society in the South, the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences, which was one of the South’s first public museums, the First African Baptist Church – one of the oldest African-American Baptist congregations in the United States, Central of Georgia Railway roundhouse complex – the oldest standing antebellum rail facility in America and Temple Mickve Israel – the third oldest synagogue in America.

Largest Historic Landmark Districts in United States

Its downtown area includes the Savannah Historic District and the Savannah Victorian Historic district together with 22 park-like squares and is the largest National Historic Landmark Districts in the United States which had been designated in the year 1966, by the U.S. government.

The downtown retains the original town plan which had been prescribed by the founder, James Oglethorpe, a design presently known as the Oglethorpe Plan. Moreover, Savannah was the host city for the sailing competitions in the summer of 1966 Olympics which was held in Atlanta.

The Port of Savannah, in the 19th century, became most active in United States and the people had the opportunity of having some of the world’s finest goods which were imported by the foreign merchants and its port became the mainstay of the city’s economy.

Earlier for United States, goods that were produced in the New World had to pass through Atlantic ports like Savannah before they were shipped to England. Presently, Savannah Port manufacturing the military as well as the tourism industry is its four major economic sources.

Well Known for Architecture/Reputation/History 

During the first two centuries, agriculture was very essential for Savannah’s economy and silk and indigo productions were in great demand in England which was the early export commodities. Towards 1767, about a ton of silk each year was exported to England.

Its mild climate was suitable for the growth of cotton which turned out to be the dominant commodity after the American Revolution and its production under the plantation system and shipment through the Port of Savannah, was of tremendous help to the city’s European immigrants to enjoy prosperity and wealth. Savannah is well known for its architecture, reputation and history for Southern charm and hospitability.

Its former promotional name was `Hostess City of the South’, a phrase which is still in use by the city government while its earlier nickname was `the Forest City’, based on the large population and species of oak trees which flourished in that area.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Montenegro


Montenegro
Montenegro – Amazing Tourist Destination 

Montenegro, a country in the Balkans is on the Adriatic Sea, bordering Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina towards the north, Serbia to its northeast, Kosovo to the east and Albania to the south. Towards the west of Montenegro lies the Adriatic Sea.

Due to Yugoslavia’s tragic civil war in 1990, Montenegro’s tourism suffered to a great extent though in recent times tourism in Montenegro has begun to recover along with stabilized situation in the region and is being explored by tourist from across the world.

Montenegro received a high level of tourism in 2007 which reached a pre-war volume resulting in several roads being renovated which reduced the driving time together with many hotels been renovated or constructed. Podgorica is its largest and the capital city while Cetinje is designated as the Prijestonica which means the former Royal Capital City.

This amazing destination was founded as a state in the 15th century and follows the tradition of the Slavic state of Duklja and was able to maintain its independence at the time of the reign of the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans. Its independence was acknowledged formally at the Congress of Berlin in the year 1878.

Mountainous Landscapes/Historic Monuments …..

It formed the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, after the World War I, while fighting for the Allied powers and later in 1929, became the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Later on it also became part of several incarnation of Yugoslavia till it gained its full independence from the federation of Serbia-Montenegro on the referendum of June 2006.

It was the only subsequent republic of the earlier Yugoslavia which rendered its support to Serbia at the time of the wars of the Former Yugoslavia in the year 1990. Montenegro being small with regards to its area, boasts of amazing mountainous landscapes, historic monuments, dramatic coast lines together with beautiful walled towns. It has gorgeous coast like its known neighbour, Croatia and is a good reason for tourist to visit and explore this beautiful destination.

The Serbian Orthodox Monastery of Ostrog is one of the most appealing sites, which is located against a practically vertical background around 15 km from Niksic. It was founded during the 17th century and is one of the most visited pilgrimage destination on the Balkans. It has a magnificent view from the Bjelopavlici plain which is breath-taking.

Middle Income Country 

Montenegro has been classified as a middle income country by World Bank and is a member of the UN, the World Trade Organisation, the Central European Free Trade Agreement, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Council of Europe and a founding member of the Union for the Mediterranean.

Moreover it is also a candidate for European Union as well as NATO. Aluminium and steel production together with agricultural processing make their contribution to its industrial output while tourism is an important contributor to its economy.

Montenegro had approximately one million tourists in the year 2007 providing tourism revenue of around £480. Tourism is the backbone of its future economic growth with the government expenses on infrastructure improvements are focused on this goal.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew


Royal_Botanic_Gardens
Royal Botanic Gardens – Collections of Conserved Plants/Living Plants/Document

The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew was founded in 1759 and this historic landscape garden features the significant period of the art of gardens during the 18th to 20th centuries, housing botanic collections of conserved plants, living plants as well as documents, which have been enriched all through the centuries. Since its creation, the gardens have made remarkable significant as well as uninterrupted contribution to the study of plant diversity and economic botany.

It has also been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003. The Kew Gardens is one of main visitor attraction of London while the second garden in West Sussex, is home to Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank and its science and conservation work, provide help in discovering as well as describing the world’s plant and fungal diversity in safeguarding the plant life of the world for the future, together with promoting the sustainable use of plants.

The Royal Botanic Garden is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in UK. Being an international important botanical education and research institution, it has 750 staff with its chief executive being the current Director, Richard Deverell while its board of trustees is chaired by Marcus Agius, Barclays PLC’s former chairman.

Home to Internationally Important Millennium Seed Bank 

The botanic gardens at Kew is organised in Richmond upon Thames in southwest London and at Wakehurst Place, which is a National Trust property in Sussex. This is home to internationally important Millennium Seed Bank and the Seedbank is the site of several research project as well as international partnerships with around 80 countries.

The seeds stored at the banks helps in two functions namely, it provides an ex situ conservations resource as well as facilitates research across the globe by posing as a repository for seed scientists. Kew also functions jointly with the Forestry Commission, Bedgebury Pinetum in Kent that specialises in growing of conifers. Kew’s `Old Lions’ are the oldest and the most magnificent trees together with known dates in the Garden that dates back to the year 1762 while the first of the five `Old Lions is the oriental plane – Plactanus orientalis, which stands towards the northern end of the Broad Walk and opposite the Orangery. The others being pagoda tree, maidenhair tree – Ginkgo biloba, black locust – Robinia pseudoacacia, Caucasian elm – Zelkova carpinifolia,

Kew’s Old Lion Trees 

The pagoda tree which is given a tongue twisting scientific name – Styphnolobium japonicum is a native to China inspite of japonicum, indicating that the tree is Japanese which grows off of the Broad Walks’ central path near the Ice House. The maidenhair tree is a male tree with pollen producing catkins and it is the female trees that produce the fruits with their smelling fleshing coatings.

This tree is also the early introduction from China and one of the remaining trees from the first section of the botanic garden which was started in 1759, by George III’s mother, Princess Augusta. The black locust or false acacia was introduced in 1630s to Europe and the tree originally planted in 1762 at Kew is presumed to have come from the Duke of Argylls’ estate in Whitton and seems to be the survivor of other trees that had been brought to Kew from the estate during the 18th century. The Caucasian elm is the last of the three original Zelkovas and grows in the Herbarium paddock and is not in the public area of the gardens.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Killarney National Park


Killarney National Park
Killarney National Park – First National Park in Ireland

Killarney National Park is besides the town of Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland and was the first national park in Ireland which was created when Muckross Estate was donated in 1932, to the Irish state. The park has been expanded, encompassing around 102.89 km of diverse ecology which includes the Lakes of Killarney, yew and oak woodlands and mountain peaks.

The park is of great ecological value due to the quality, diversity and extensiveness of several of its habitats as well as the wide variety of species which they accommodate, some of which are rare. In 1981, the park was designated by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve and forms a part of a world network of natural areas having conservation, education, research and training as main objectives.

The main focus of the National Park for visitors is Muckross House and Gardens where the house is presented as a late 19th century mansion with all the necessary furnishings, while the artefact of the period is a major attraction managed jointly by the Park Authorities as well as the Trustees of Muckross House.

Close to Killarney Town is the former Kenmare Desmene which is also part of the National Park featuring Killarney House and Gardens and Knockreer House, an education centre of the park.

Nature Conservation – Important Objective

Killarney National Park is one of the few places in Ireland which had been continuously covered by woodland till the end of the most recent glacial period around 10,000 years ago which was inhabited since at least the Bronze Age around 4,000 years ago.

Archaeologists have discovered evidence that copper mining occurred in the Ross Island area during that era which indicates that it was of considerable importance to Bronze Age people. Moreover the park also has several archaeological features which included a well preserved stone circle at Lissivigeen.

At different period of time, the woods in the park had been disturbed and cleared since the Iron Age, causing a gradual decline in diversity of tree species in the park.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service are responsible in the management as well as the administration of the park and nature conservation is the most important objective of the park where the ecosystems in their natural form are highly valued.

Several Features of National & International Importance

The park is also known for the beautiful scenery and provision for tourism amenities and recreation has been taken care of. The National park has several features of national as well international importance with an abundance of evergreen trees and shrubs together with a profusion of bryophytes and lichens that thrive in the mild Killarney atmosphere, besides the woodlands.

The native red deer are unique in Ireland, a presence in the country since the last Ice Age. The most amazing archaeological remains in the park are from the early Christian period and the most important of them is the Inisfallen Abbey, which are the ruins of a monastic settlement on Inisfallen Island in Lough Leane. The same was founded by St. Finian the Leper in the 7th century and was occupied till the 14th century.

The record of the early history of Ireland, the Annals of Inisfallen as it was known by the monks was written in the monastery between the 11th and 13th centuries which was presumed that the monastery had given rise to the name Lough Leane meaning `Lake of Learning’.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Antelope Canyon


Antelope Canyon
Antelope Canyon – A Popular Slot Canyon

Antelope Canyon is a popular slot canyon, small but an exquisitely beautiful geological formation in northern Arizona. Placed on the Navajo Reservation, few miles east of Page, it is open to visitors by Navajo led tour only.

There are two antelope canyon actually located on either side of route 98 – Upper Antelope Canyon and the Lower antelope Canyon which are both owned by the Navajo Nation though separate fee of $18 for each person is charged for each area of attraction.

The Navajo name for Upper Antelope canyon is Tse bighanilini meaning `the place where water runs through rocks’, while the Lower canyon is Hazdistazi or `spiral rock arches’. It was formed by erosion of Navajo Sandstone mainly because of flash flooding and other sub-aerial processes.

 During monsoon season, the rainwater ran into extensive basin above the slot canyon areas with speed and sand as it rushed into the narrow passageways and over a period of time these passageways eroded away ending in making the corridors much deeper, smoothening the hard edges in a way so as to form flowing shapes in the rock.

Flooding still continues in the canyon and the flood which took place in October 30, 2006, lasted for 36 hours, which caused the Tribal Park Authorities to close Lower Antelope Canyon for five months

Ladders & Staircase Lead to Unbelievable Narrow Canyon

Photographers, nature loversas well as a source of tourism business for the Navajo Nation, will find Antelope Canyon an amazing and a popular destination. Since 1987 private tour companies had the permission to offer tours and have only been accessible by tour since 1997 when Navajo Tribe had made it a Navajo Tribal Park.

Due to the wide exposure range, photography within the canyons is not very easy which is due to the light reflecting off the canyons walls. When one approaches the Canyon on foot, it is not noticeable even from a short distance and will only see a small crack in the rock at the bottom of a dry stream bed. On closer inspection, it reveals a small metal ladder descending into the crack which is barely wide enough for a single person to pass through.

A number of ladders and stairs lead you down in an unbelievable narrow canyon. The sandstone bedrock is intricately carved by the infrequent though violent flow of water and is sculptured into beautiful curves and hollows which vary from one to three meters wide up to 50 meters deep.

Explore Through Guided Tours

The sunlight which filters down portrays a myriad of soft colours and shadows, the effect of which is amazing. Antelope Canyon is to be explored through guided tours especially in areas where it rains during monsoon season and the canyon tends to get flooded quickly since the rain falling several miles away upstream of the canyon tends to funnel into them with little prior notice resulting in flash floods which can take the tourist unaware.

The ladder systems have now been bolted in place and cargo nets are installed at the top of the canyon for safety purpose, while at the fee both, NOAA Weather Radio from the National Weather Service together with an alarm horn has been placed. In spite of improvements being done for safety purpose, the risks of injuries prevails from flash floods.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Capilano Suspension Bridge



Capilano Suspension Bridge
The Capilano Suspension Bridge – A Simple Suspension Bridge

The Capilano Suspension Bridge, a simple suspension bridge crosses the Capilano River in the district of North Vancouver, British Columbia, in Canada. It was originally built in 1889 by George Grant Mackay, a Scottish civil engineer and park commissioner for Vancouver.

 It was an award winning bridge which is one of Greater Vancouver’s top attractions where locals as well as visitors came from all over the world to enjoy the thrill of crossing the 450 ft. swaying bridge which is suspended on 230 ft. above Capilano River.

It was originally made of hemp ropes together with a deck of cedar planks which was replaced with a wire cable bridge in the year 1903. Towards 1910, Edward Mahon purchased the bridge and MacEchran purchased it from Mahon in 1935 inviting local native to place their totem poles in the park and added a native theme and in the year 1945, the bridge was sold to Henri Aubeneau. The bridge was then completely rebuilt in the year 1956.

Offer Spectacular Views

The bridge offers spectacular views below and the old growth forest. It offers visitors a mixture of adventure, culture and history, making it attractive with complete British Columbia experience and the most sought after site for exploration while on a trip to Vancouver.

The Capilano Suspension Bridge is located in a West Coast rainforest and as one explores the nature trails in the Park, they will find interpretive information with regards to ecosystem all over the park. All information with regards to trout ponds with majestic evergreens is provided as one strolls through the rainforest and to get to know more one could join some of the complimentary mini guided tours that are offered on hourly basis within the park.

This bridge is part of a private facility with an admission fee, drawing over 800,000 visitors every year. In 1983, the park was sold to Nancy Stibbard, the present owner. Annual attendance seems to have increased and Treetops Adventures were opened in May 2004. The latest attractions comprised of seven footbridges that are suspended between old growth Douglas fir trees towards the west side of the canyon forming a walkway of around 30 metres above the forest floor.

Largest Private Collections of First Nations Totem Poles in North America

Besides the bridge and Treetops Adventure which is the first venue of its kind in North America, the park also has more attractive features like the rain forest eco-tours, award winning gardens, nature trails, largest private collection of First Nations totem poles in North America, period décor and costumes with exhibits highlighting the park’s history as well as the surrounding temperate rain forest.

Visitors also get the opportunity of experiencing a First Nations performance with their traditional Regalia or ceremonial dress, masks, storytelling as well as dancing. Another attraction was added to the park, in 2011 known as CliffWalk where an entrance fee was applicable.

The heart pounding cliff side journey takes the visitors through rainforest vegetation through a series of suspended walkways which juts out from the granite cliff above Capilano River to previously explored parts of the park. It is high and narrow and not meant for the faint hearted.

Types and Benefits of Travel Packages


Travel packages have been a popular choice among the travellers who like to travel hassle free and make all the arrangement well in advance and enjoy the trip. Also, the tour packages allow people to travel on a pre-determined budget and therefore they have better control on the amount of money they spend. Apart from having a better control, you can also avail Musafir Discount coupons and get valuable savings on your trip.
  • Group Package
As the name suggest, this type of travel package is made especially for travellers in a group. If you are planning to travel with your group of friends or family members, the group package is the ideal solution for planning your travel arrangements. No matter, if you are booking a travel package online if you are booking it from a travel agent you would need to provide certain important information including – the current location of the different member who are travelling, the destination that you want to travel to, number of people who would be travelling. Based on the information you provide and your budget, the travelling agencies meticulously plan the itinerary.

  • Individual Package
If you love to travel alone or with a small group of 2-3 people, independent package would perfectly suit your needs. You can plan your own schedule and list down the names of the attractions that you wish to visit and e-mail it to the travel agency. The good thing about this package is that since the number of travellers is less, you get the liberty to alter the plan as you wish.
  • Family Package
If you want to go on a vacation with your family there are plenty of travelling agencies that offer special tour packages for family trips. Typically, the travelling agencies require you to mentioned details like the travel dates, destinations, current location and the number of people who will be travelling and the agency will make arrangements for your complete trip.

Benefits
  •   The biggest benefit of subscribing for a travel package is that it allows you to save a lot of money on your travel expenses. Majority of the agencies that offer tour packages have tie-ups with hotels, resorts, restaurants and even with the transport services. Thus, when you book your package through the agency you would get valuable discount on your food, accommodation and transportation.
  • Since the travelling agency provides you a detailed plan of the tour well before you start your journey you would exactly know how much amount you would be spending. This would help in planning your budget in a better and easier way.
  • Often times, while travelling along people face a lot of hassles like not getting reservation in a hotel or not getting an entrance ticket for a particular show. But if you have availed a tourist package, the agency is always with you to help you in emergency situation.
  • By subscribing for a travel package you get rid of the hassles of going through the tedious process of making travel reservations, arranging the transportation facilities or booking hotels. The tour operator will do everything on your behalf, you simply have to pack your bags and get going.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

San Diego, California


Museum of Man, San Diego
San Diego – Major City in California

San Diego, a major city in California lies on the coast of the Pacific Ocean in Southern California around120 miles south of Los Angeles and adjacent to the border along with Mexico. It is the eighth largest city in the United States as well as the second largest in California. It is also one of the fastest growing cities in the nation and is the birthplace of California.

San Diego is known for its mild climate all year round, natural deep water harbour with extensive beaches, long association with the U.S. Navy and the recent emergence as healthcare and biotechnology development centre. It was the historical home to the Kumeyaay people and was the first site which was visited by the Europeans which currently is the West Coast of the United States.

Arriving in San Diego Bay in 1542, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo claimed the complete area for Spain and formed the basis for the settlement of Alta California some 200 years thereafter. The Mission and Presidio of San Diego established in 1769 formed the first European settlement to what is now California and in 1821 it became part of a newly independent Mexico.

Towards 1850 it became part of the United States followed by the Mexican American War together with the admission of California to the union.

Seat of San Diego County – Economic Centre

The city is the seat of San Diego County which is the economic centre and the San Diego-Tijuana metropolitan area. Moreover, San Diego’s main economic engines are its military and defence related activities, international trade, tourism and manufacturing.

With the presence of the University of California, San Diego – UCSD together with the affiliated UCSD Medical Centre has made it a centre of research in biotechnology. San Diego’s main attraction is the weather where the average daytime temperature is 70 degrees Fahrenheit and most of the days it is sunny. The winter temperature rarely fall below 40 degrees Fahrenheit and the average annual rainfall is less than 10 inches which occurs during the months of December right through March.

Besides the 70 miles of beaches, it is also home to the historical site of Old Town State Park, Wild Animal Park, the world-renowned San Diego Zoo and the centrally located Balboa Park, together with its 13 Japanese Garden museums, outdoor organ pavilion and several other attractions.

Rich & Diverse Cultural Mecca

San Diego is also known for its rich and diverse cultural mecca with heavy emphasis on performing arts and is home to two Tony Award winning theatres namely the Old Globe Theatre and the La Jolla Playhouse, San Diego Opera together with dozens of dance companies, theatre groups and famous musical entertainers.

Due to its temperate climate, it makes several outdoor concerts at many venues, enjoyable events.The economy of San Diego is influenced by its deep-water port which has the only major submarine as well as the shipbuilding yards towards the West Coast with several major national defence contractors that started and are headquartered there including the General Atomics, NASSCO and Cubic.

The largest naval fleet in the world is hosted in San Diego and is also a home to the California National Guard’s 79th Infantry Brigade Combat team. Five percent of the civilian jobs are military related while 15,000 businesses in San Diego County depend on Department of Defence contracts.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Tower of London, UK


Tower of London, UK
The Tower of London – World Famous Fortress

The Tower of London is one of the world’s most famous fortresses, a historical castle which is located towards the north bank of the Thames River in central London and lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets which is separated from the eastern side of the square mile of the City of London through the open space called Tower Hill.

 It has served the purpose as royal palace, armoury, prison as well as a zoo where the ancient stoneshold secrets as fortified vaults that shine with priceless jewels together with historic uniformed Beefeaters that guarded the grounds. It was founded at the end of 1066 as a part of the Norman Conquest of England and the White Tower which gives the castle its name was erected by William the Conqueror in the year 1708.

 It was considered as a resented symbol of oppression which was inflicted on London by the new ruling elite. From 1100, the castle was used as a prison till 1952, but it was not the main purpose. Early in its history, it served as a grand palace of royal residence and overall, the tower is a complex of many building set within two concentric rings of defensive walls as well as a moat with several phases of expansion under the guidance of Kings Richard, the Lionhearted, Henry II and Edward I in the 12th and 13th centuries.

The White Tower – Keep/Donjon

The White Tower, a keep, was also known as a donjon and in medieval castle was the strongest structure containing lodgings which were appropriate for the lord. According to Allen Brown, a military historian he states that `the great tower – the White Tower’, was also by virtue of its strength, lordly accommodation and majesty, the donjon was par excellence and being one of the largest keeps in the Christian world, is described as `the most complete eleventh century palace in Europe’.

The Tower of London is considered as one of the most popular attraction for tourist and has been a tourist attraction since the Elizabethan period when it became one of the sights of London and foreign visitors related about it.

Painting of  Tower of London
Royal Menagerie and displays of armour were the most popular attractions while the Crown Jewels also drew much interest which has been on public display since 1669. The Tower gained popularity gradually among the tourist through the 19th century in spite of opposition from the Duke of Wellington to visitors with the number of visitors reaching very high by 1851, which give rise to the erection of a purpose built ticket office. Towards the end of the century, there were over 500,000 tourists visiting the castle every year.

Location very Convenient 

Between the 18th and the 19th centuries, this magnificent building was slowly utilised and demolished and only the Wakefield and St Thomas Towers survived. The tower’s location at London is very convenient and the site is a five minute walk from the underground station of Tower Hill where trains and Dockland light railway also stop near the tower.

Bustransports are available to reach the tower together with riverboats which stop at the Tower Pier. Besides these, taxis, bicycles and foot power are also good means of reaching the tower. Driving is not much fun due to the location in the Congestion Charging Zone with limited parking facilities. It is open all year round with the exception of Christmas holiday and New Year.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Port Elizabeth, South Africa


Fairy Knowe
Port Elizabeth – The Friendly City/The Windy City

Port Elizabeth is the fifth largest city in South Africa which is located on the Indian Ocean coast half way between Cape Town and Durban in the Eastern Cape, some 260 km from Knysna. The city in short is PE and is also known as `the friendly city’ and `the windy city’ and stretches for 16 km along Algoa Bay and is one of the major seaports in South Africa. Port Elizabeth was founded in 1820 as a town and named after the wife of Rufane Donkin who was the acting Governor of the Cape Colony during that time.

The town was to house British settlersfor the purpose of strengthening the border region between the Cape Colony and the Xhosa and now forms part of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality having a population of over 1.3 million.

A perfect complement to the Garden Route, the friendly city besides being a major seaport is also an excellent tourist destination placed along the beautiful shores of Nelson Mandela Bay and is also the centre of the South African motor industry which is spoiled with the moderate and warm temperature throughout the year with scattered rainfall all year round. Port Elizabeth is also a popular and significant spot for water sports offering several historical attractions like the Historic Donkin Heritage trail, taking tourist along the footsteps of the settlers of 1820.

Explore British Heritage 

The British heritage is seen in the Port Elizabeth Cricket club together with the Oldest Bowling Green in South Africa. Its best treasures are malaria free wildlife areas in its vicinity with clean beaches that are washed by warm water.

Tourist information centres are in the Donkin Reserve in the town centre at the Boardwalk – Marine Drive and at the Airport Arrivals hall.It is a coastal hub in the Eastern Cape and the locals are proud of the fact that everything lies within the vicinity of a fifteen minutes’ drive of the airport.

Some of the interesting historical and cultural icons worth exploring include the Red Location Museum, Museum in New Brighton township which portrays `the horrors of institutionalized racism as well as the heroic efforts of the anti-apartheid movement’, the South African Air Force Museum, the Donkin Reserve where one will find birds, walking paths, benches, an opera house, a lighthouse with a memorial may be seen together with the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum and Prince Alfred’s Guard Memorial which are both located in St George’s Park. This is the oldest part in Port Elizabeth as well as a home to the St George’s cricket oval.

Venue for the First Test Match – March 1889

The city also has several sporting facilities for cricket, rugby union, field hockey, association football and a variety of other sports and its coastal location provides a base for many water sports. Port Elizabethis the location of St George’s Park cricket ground and holds test cricket matches and is also the oldest cricket ground in South Africa.

 Moreover it was the venue for the first Test match which was played outside Australia or England between South Africa and England in March 12 & 13, in the year 1889. A top Cricket Team, the Warriors, in South Africa is based in Port Elizabeth. It is an excellent destination for those who would like to enjoy the fine beaches in and near the city.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Madrid, Spain


Madrid, Spain
Image Credit:iaes.org
Madrid – Largest Capital City of Spain

Madrid is the largest and the capital city of Spain as well as the capital of the autonomous community of the Comunidad de Madrid. It is also the third largest city in the European Union following London and Berlin and its metropolitan area is the third largest in the European Union after Paris and London. The city’s population is around 3.3 million and the metro area population is around 6.5 million.

 The city spans a total 604.3 sq.kmarea and is located on the Manzanares River at the centre of both the country and the Community of Madrid, comprising of the city of Madrid with its conurbation and extended suburbs and villages. The community is bordered by the autonomous communities of Castile and Leon together with Castile-Le Mancha.Being a capital city of Spain, residence of the Spanish monarch and seat of government, Madrid is also the political, economic as well as the cultural centre of Spain and is known for its great cultural as well as artistic heritage. It is a city of great monuments and among its highlights is the medieval centre which dates back to the Habsburg Empire together with El Prado museum. One will find some of the liveliest nightlife in the world here.

Major Global Cities in the World

The urban agglomeration of Madrid has the third largest GDP in the European Union with influences in education, entertainment, politics, environment, fashion, media, science, arts and culture which contribute to its status as one of the major global cities in the world.

Its high standard of living, economic output together with its market size has made Madrid as the major financial centre of Southern Europe and the Iberian Peninsula. Besides this, it also heads the offices of the vast majority of the major Spanish companies like the Telefonica, Iberia or Repsol and according to Monocle magazine in its 2014 index, is the 17thmost liveable city in the world.

Majority of the companies have established their headquarters here which have profited from the wide range of service made available in the city, such as good public transport, conference resorts and the course of its leisure facilities. These include some of the excellent restaurants, theatres, opera, shopping centres, together with the popular museums and much more.

International Airport with Three Terminals

Barajas, which is its international airport with three terminals, is the busiest airport in Spain which receives domestic as well as international flights from several major cities across the globe. One will find plenty of interesting things to do and explore in Madrid and the city provides a wide range of offers for tourism, business, and culture with good facilities and services.

It was also elected as the city of European Capital of culture in the year 1992 and was also a candidate city in hosting the Olympic Games in the year 2012 though eventually the winning city was London. Madrid had been one of the favourites and has reached a third position in the competition. Moreover, Madrid has also been a home to two world famous football clubs in Real Madrid as well as Atletico de Madrid. Madrid is an amazing destination with several interesting sites to explore.