Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Lord Howe Islands – An Island Paradise

Lord Howe Islands
Lord Howe Islands in Australia is one of the world’s most famous tourist destinations, an island paradise which is situated 660 km from the east coast of Australia and is way out in the middle of the Tasman Sea.

The duration of travel to the island by a short flight is less than two hours from Brisbane,Port Macquarie or Sydney. Private planes fly from all parts of the Pacific, New Zealand and Australia and the island’s cargo ship leaves from Port Macquarie every fifteen days. It has been named after a British admiral, Lord Howe and around 350 inhabitants have made it their home and several have descended from families who had settled on the island in the 18th century.

Its tropical ambience with breath-taking view is a sheer delight to any tourist visiting this location which will give one the understanding of why this island has been called Australia’s last great paradise. Lord Howe Island has been listed as a World Heritage site for its remarkable natural beauty, geology together with rare collection of birds, plants and marine life and is surrounded by the world’s southernmost coral reef.

Lord Howe Island Marine Park

The translucent waters with the combination of marine life as well as the rare coral make up Lord Howe Island Marine Park which is one of the largest in New South Wales. The island is the remnants of a large volcano that erupted from the sea floor for about 500,000 years in the late Miocene.

The island group represents the exposed peaks of the large volcanic eruption that is about 65 km long and 24 m wide rising from ocean depths to over 1,800 m. There are also four separate ranges of volcanic rocks which are recognized on the main island group namely, tuffs, breccia, and basalts with widespread traces of basaltic dykes.

The main land forming process on the island from the last volcanic eruptions was marine erosion which has cut and maintained major cliffs.

Blinky Beach/Neds Beach/Mount Gower/Valley of Shadows

The island is an apt location for those interested in fishing as well as for snorkelers and scuba divers. Blinky Beach is the most appropriate place for Australian salmon while Neds Beach would be good for snorkel and also the opportunity to hand feed fish here.

Tourist could also enjoy a variety of other water sports like kayaking, surfing, stand up paddle boarding, kite surfing and windsurfing. One can have a relaxed stay here and getting around the island can be done on foot or by bike with plenty to explore.

The island is famous for its twin peaks together with its natural forest, which is an awesome experience for hikers and walkers. It is also one of Australia’s amazing bird watching locations where you get the opportunity to glimpse the island’s 130 permanent and migratory bird species or 64 species of flowering plants.

Tourist could also contemplate on a guided climb of Mount Gower of 875 m which is considered as one of the world’s best hikes or one could take a serene leisure walk under the evergreen forest canopies in the Valley of Shadows.

Make Money on Your Next Vacation

Make Money

Travel writers and bloggers know that they can make money on every trip they take. They post detailed reviews of every hotel and attraction they visit, and they may also receive money from some companies for posting positive reviews. While this might sound like heaven to you, those writers usually spend so much time jotting down notes and recording their experiences that they don't actually enjoy themselves. You can use travel programs to save money and make money at the same time.Visit Escape and Earn to make money on your next family vacation.

How it Works

When you enroll in a travel program, you agree to make your travel arrangements and bookings through that site. Every time you rent a car, book a hotel room or buy tickets to a popular attraction, the program puts money back in your account. You typically earn back between five and 20 percent of your costs, which can really add up over time. The money goes in your account within five business days of booking your trip. Many travel programs also offer discounted rates on the bookings you make.

How You Can Use the Money

Once the money hits your account, you can use it the next time you take a trip. Keep in mind that some programs do place an expiration date on your cash, but this won't be a problem if you travel often. You can use that money when booking a cruise, renting a townhouse or purchasing a vacation package.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Versailles, Paris

Versailles, Paris
Versailles Known for its Site – Chateau de Versailles 

Versailles, a city on the western edge of the French capital city of Paris is now part of the metropolis in the Ile de France region and is well known for its site of the vast royal palace and gardens built by King Louis XIV which was earlier a royal hunting lodge. Besides this, it was also one of the wealthiest cities near Paris.

 The Palace of Versailles, known also as the Chateau de Versailles had many historical events, one being the signing within the Hall of Mirrors on June 28 1919, of the Peace Treaty between defeated Germany together with the Allies which brought the First World War to an end officially.

This signing at Versailles brought about the proclamation in 1871 within the same long hall, the establishment of the German Empire under the Prussian king, the Kaiser subsequently, Earlier where the palace had started as a hunting lodge which was built by Louis XIII and thereafter Louis XIV build the palace which is known presently. Towards 1789, the palace had lost its power though currently it hosts the Museum of France’s history.

Originated in 1631, Epicentre of French Power till 1789

The former home of the French kings contains royal elegance of Old Europe. Versailles which originated in 1631, remained the epicentre of the French power and home to government offices as well as courtiers till 1789 when it evicted Louis XVI with his queen Marie Antoinette by a group of hungry and agitated crowd of mainly female revolutionaries who stormed the palace and sent the royal couple back to Paris which eventually led to their execution.

The sprawling and amazing palace of Versailles is matched to the splendour of the gardens where it is situated and one can experience a pleasant time by following its paths while admiring the fountains and the splendid view of the flowers without getting into the palace or other buildings in Versailles.

The queen, Marie Antoinette had an attachment to these grounds where it is said that she had created her own private estate here which comprised of rural homes and building along the lines of a Norman village and to escape the atmosphere of the palace would seek her own privacy here. Her estate operated as a working farm with peasants and livestock that produced fresh products for the palace.

Famous Room at Palace – Grande Galerie/Hall of Mirrors

Visitors are permitted to visit the Palace of Versailles and explore the intimate chambers including the king’s grand apartments and the most famous room at the palace is the Grande Galerie or the Hall of Mirrors which is said to have been haunted by courtiers playing politics or awaiting an audience with the monarch.

The best way to get to Versailles palace and avoid lengthy queues is to buy the ticket directly from the Chateau de Versailles website which would cost a bit more than the usual entrance amount though it includes the return railway as well as the metro tickets with an audio guided tour of the Chapel and Opera House, together with the Dauphin’s and the Mesdames’ apartments, the King’s and Queen’s State apartment, the Coach Museum and Trianons accompanied with all the temporary exhibitions.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Nicaragua – Largest country in Central America

Nicaragua is a country which is officially the Republic of Nicaragua and the largest country in Central America. It has coastlines on both the Caribbean Sea in the east and the North Pacific Ocean towards the west with Costa Rica to the southeast together with Honduras to the northwest.

It has an area of 130,373 square km and has the largest freshwater body in Central America, which is Lago de Nicaragua or Cocibolca. Managua is the capital city of Nicaragua where around one quarter of the nation’s population reside in the capital city thus making it the second largest city and metropolitan location in Central America.

The physical geography of the country divides it in three major sections namely the Pacific lowlands, the wet cooler central highlands and the Caribbean lowlands. Towards the Pacific area of the country, are the two largest fresh water lakes. These are surrounded and extended towards the north western side along the rift valley of the Gulf of Fonseca with fertile lowland plains. The soil is highly rich with ash from nearby volcanoes of the central highlands.

Tourism Growth from 10% to 12%

In the early 16th century, Nicaragua was taken over by Spanish conquistadors and this civilization got somewhat destroyed by population losses due to infectious diseases, deportation and enslavement and was made a colony. The oldest colonial cities in the American continent was founded in Granada during which period Nicaragua became part of the Capitania General based in Guatemala.

With regards to tourism, Nicaragua has grown from 10% to 12% yearly where several tourists visit this destination for the richness and the beauty of the country. Nicaragua has been receiving a large number of tourists coming from all over the world due to its low cost of living, beaches, colonial cities, nightlife, eco-tourism and much more. One will find most of the tourists in the colonial cities of Granada and Leon, in the mountainous region of coffee farm of Matagalpa, the Pacific Coast, in the Caribbean coast in the Corn Islands and hiking on the volcanoes.

Culture with Strong Folklore

There is plenty to explore in Nicaragua and could be a budget paradise since Nicaragua is not too expensive due to which tourism in this country has increased over 300% in the last seven years. This has given rise to discotheques, bars, restaurants and hotels opening up at amazing speed in Granada, Matagalpa and Leon while San Juan del Sur has been facing a huge increase in surfing tourism with surfers from across the world as well as an increase in service tourism.

 Matagalpa on the other hand is also going through a process of its own surge of tourism with its booming shade grown and organic-eco-friendly coffee bean production. One will find an abundant supply of cloud forest with local lush estuaries where monkey, bird together with other exotic natural wildlife can be envisaged as well as protected nature reserves which are amazing.Their culture has strong folklore accompanied with religious tradition, music which has been influenced by European culture inclusive of American flavours.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Santorini, Greece

Santorini, Greece
Santorini – Largest Island of a Circular & Small Archipelago

Santorini, an island in the southern Aegean Sea is around 200 km southeast towards Greece’s mainland and is the largest island of a circular and small archipelago bearing the same name as well as the remainder of a volcanic caldera. Santorini has been named by the Latin Empire during the thirteenth century which is referred to Saint Irene, from the old cathedral’s name in the village of Perissa, a contraction of the name Santa Irini.

Prior to this, it was known as Kalliste – `the most beautiful one’, Strongyle, `the circular one or Thira and while Thira was used in the nineteenth century as its official name of the island as well as its main city, the name Santorini continues to be in popular use.Santorini is also a name for a group of islands encircling Thira which once formed a single island before a major volcano had occurred around 1628 BC.Forming the southernmost link of the Cyclades group of islands, it comprises of an area of around 73 square km with a population of around 15,550 as of 2011.

Santorini municipality consists of the islands of Therasia and Santorini together with uninhabited islands of Aspronisi, Nea Kameni, Palaia Kemeni and Christiana and is also a part of the Thira regional unit.

Natural Beaches/Amazing Views – Traditional Architecture

Being a volcanic island in the Cyclades group of the Greek islands, it is situated between Ios and Anafi islands and is popular for its amazing views with beautiful sunsets from Oia town, the strange white aubergine, town of Thira and its own active volcano.

There are some natural beaches like the Perissa beach which is one of the best beaches in Santorini, together with Kamari, the black pebble beach, as well as the white and red beaches.Its main island has a variety of villages and landscapes and in the small village of Mesa Gonia, one can get the opportunity of glimpsing traditional architecture with a mixture of ruins from the earthquake of 1956 together with the restored villas and winery at the foot of the settlement.

Another remarkable village is the Pyrgos which comprises of old grand houses, the remains of a Venetian castle together with some Byzantine churches which are worth exploring. Its natural source of fresh water in the form of a small spring coming from a cave behind a small chapel is located halfway up the steep footpath between Kamari and the entrance of Ancient Thira.

Water from Local Desalination Plant

Though this source provides a small quantity of water, the quality of water is quite good since it comes from the remaining limestone outcrop of pre-volcanic island and in the early 90s, it was essential for water to be delivered through tankers from Crete to the island.

Now water is provided to most of the homes and hotels by local desalination plant and though this water is potable, it is a bit salty and hence most of them tend to drink bottled water on their visit to Santorini. It is an adorable destination of unique natural beauty where several Greek singers who chose this island as a setting for their videos.

Some of the Brazilian and Greek TV series have also been shot at this location together with many other Hollywood movies such as Tomb Raider II.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sky Bridge, Langkawi

Sky Bridge, Langkawi
Langkawi Sky Bridge – Highlights of the Island

Langkawi, an island with several myths and legends is also an island of fun, sun, sea and beaches. It is one of those popular holiday getaways for locals and tourist alike and for those who would like to experience nature without the hustle and bustle of life, could visit this amazing destination for peace and serenity.

Langkawi being the main island amongst ninety nine tropical islands off the north western coast off Peninsula Malaysia is a good 6 hours journey by road from Kuala Lumpur, which is the capital of Malaysia, to Kuala Kedah and then a one hour 1 and 15minutes ferry ride from one jetty to the other.

The Langkawi Sky Bridge is at the end of the Cable car ride and the island’s highlight is its 410 feet long curved pedestrian cable stayed bridge in Malaysia.This suspended bridge was completed in 2004 which is built on the Machinchang Mountain.

For a spectacular view of Langkawi, one could take the cable ride to the summit of Gunung Mat Cinchang and get a view of the emerald waters that surrounds the various islands with dotted boats and vessel together with the Datai Peninsula.

The Sky Bridge can be accessed by Langkawi Cable Car

Located at 2,300 feet above sea level, the Sky Bridge can be accessed by the Langkawi Cable Car and the journey to the top begins at the Oriental Village in the upper northwest of the island near Pantai Kok.

As the cable car begins to climb it tends to get a little cold when the air flows in through the ventilation openings at the top.One can experience an amazing thrill as the cable ride ascends the steep slope and the entire ride last for about ten to fifteen minutes. The cable cars halt at two stations with each station, a circular structure to move around and have a good view of the panoramic scenery of Langkawi.

The sight on the way to the top of Langkawi’s second highest peak comprises of theTelaga Tujuh Waterfalls and the rainforest and travelling for a few hundred feet above, it levels out and stops at the Sky Bridge, which is the final station.

World’s Longest Curve Suspension Bridge

One will find many stalls selling souvenirs snacks, drinks and toys. The bridge has followed safety norms with double steel railings and enclosures of wire mesh for the safety of the visitors.

Measuring 125 metres in length, this structure ranks among the world’s longest curve suspension bridge. Its construction was not easy since a lot of critical factors had to be considered like the structural balance from single point, which was the top of the pylon, optimal weight management and load distribution, pre-fabrication of the bridge and on-site installation.

Besides this the complete bridge had to be lifted in all its elements, to the top of the mountain by helicopter which was later on assembled to its present location. The last scene of Indian movie Don, The Last Chase Begins Again, was filmed here on the bridge.Presently, the Sky Bridge at Langkawi is closed for maintenance and repair work

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Marrakech, Morocco

Marrakech, Morocco
Marrakech – Land of God

Marrakech or Marrakesh is a major city in the northwest African country of Morocco. Marrakech is derived from the Amazigh – Berber words mur (n) akush meaning `Land of God’, and is the third largest city in Morocco after Casablanca and Rabat.

 It is located near the foothills of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains and by road is placed around 580 km southwest of Tangier, 327 km southwest of the Moroccan capital of Rabat, 239 km southwest of Casablanca and 246 km northeast of Agadir.

It is also a few hours on foot of the Sahara Desert and is an awesome destination in Morocco mingled with its location and contrasting landscape. This city is divided into two sections namely the Medina which is the historical city and the new European modern district known as Gueliz or Ville Nouvelle.

While the Medina is full of intertwining narrow passageways with local shops, Gueliz has modern restaurants, fast food chains together with huge brand outlets.

Major Economic Centre/Tourist Destination 

Marrakesh is one of the busiest cities in Africa which is a major economic centre as well as a tourist destination which was advocated by the Moroccan reigning monarch Mohammed VI with the intention of increasing the number of tourist in their country to twenty million by 2020.

The real estate and hotel development in this city has improved to a great extent in the 21st century in spite of the economic recession. It has the largest traditional markets (souk) of Berberin Morocco with some 18 souks selling wares which ranges from traditional Berber carpets to modern consumer electronics.

Marrakesh is very popular with the French and one will find a large number of French celebrities owning property here.

Several Universities/School

This city is served by the Marrakesh railway station and Menara International Airport connecting thecity to Casablanca and northern Morocco with several universities and school which includes Cadi Ayyad University. Besides this, one will also find a number of Moroccan football clubs here which include Najm de Marrakech, KAC Marrakech, Chez Ali Club de Marrakech and Mouloudia de Marrakech.

The Marrakesh Street Circuit hosts the World Touring Car Championship, FIA Formula Two Championship races and Auto GP World Series. There is much to explore in Marrakech and a whole day can be dedicated in visiting interesting places in and around Marrakech which offers many historical and architectural sites together with some interesting museums.

Interesting Sites to Explore 

Palmeraie, the green lung of Marrakech is a real oasis on the edge of the city and is a perfect setting to take a few hours of camel ride and enjoy the surrounding of peace. The square of Djemaa El-Fna, the highlight of Marrakech night has musicians, dancers and story tellers crowding the square, filled with drum beats and plenty of noise. Many stalls are lined up selling a variety of Moroccan fare.

The Souks or markets are adjacent to Place Djemaa El-Fna, where most of the things can be purchased. The Majorelle Gardens in Gueliz is more expensive than other interesting sites and is somewhat priced too high for a modest size attraction of half an hour though it provides an excellent viewing from the everyday life. Marrakech is an amazing destination with many more sites to explore which are worth visiting.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Capri – Isle of the Sirens

Capri, an island is situated in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the Sorrentine Peninsula, on the southern side of the Gulf of Naples in Campania region of Italy. Capri, the main town has been a resort since the Roman Republic till present times.

Capri is known in the Greek mythology as the isle of the sirens and was a favoured resort of the Roman emperors. The interesting features of this island are the Marina Piccola which is the small harbour, the Belvedere of Tragara, a high panoramic promenade which is lined with villas, the limestone crags known as sea stacks which projects above the sea, the Faraglioni, the town of Anacapri, the Grotta Azzura – Blue Grotto and the ruins of the Imperial Roman villas.

It is a part of the Campania, Province of Naples, region and is the island’s main population centre with two harbours namely Marina Piccola and Marina Grande, the main port of the island. Anacapri, the separate commune is placed high on the hills towards the west.

Interesting Sites to Explore

Faraglioni, rock formations are one of the natural wonders of the island. The Faraglioni beach is one of the most beautiful beaches with many unusual rock formations in the sea surrounding the island which includes a natural arch.

Anacapri which is the highest town on the island has amazing view of the harbour which is at a lower level. There is a chair lift to Mount Solaro near the central square and a street with many shops some of which offer limoncello tasting - limoncello is lemon liquor.

 Items made with lemon are also found in several shops with handmade sandals, ceramics as well as perfumes which are specialities of the island. Capri’s fashionable shopping street, Via Camerelle is the place where one will find exclusive luxury boutiques and fashion.

Grotta Azzura, The Blue Grotto is the most amazing site of the islands’ several caves where the refraction of sunlight in the cave gives it an iridescent blue light in the water. Entry to the cave is done with the guidance of small rowboatswhich are available around the cave entrance and once inside one gets the opportunity of seeing the most spectacular sight of the blue water.

Capri – Picturesque – Island of Limestone Rock

Capri is a very picturesque and an interesting island made of limestone rock. Tourist reach by boat at Marina Grande being the main harbour of the island, with beaches scattered all around the island, with only two towns, namely Capri which is above Marina Grande and Anacapri, the highest town. One will find lemon trees, birds and flowers in plenty here.

The island can also be reached through frequent ferries and hydrofoils from the city of Naples as well as from Sorrento on the Amalfi Coast. One will find a range of hotels in Anacapri and Capri and though Anacapri is more peaceful at night, Capri has more nightlife being the main centre of the island.

The Grand Hotel Quisisana, an exclusive hotel with a spa and baths since 1845 is one of Capri’s most excellent hotels while the luxurious Capri Palace Hotel and Spa in Anacapri is a member of the Leading Small Hotels of the World.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Timbuktu - African El Dorado

Timbuktu is a word which is often used in several languages to denote a faraway place but in reality it is an actual city in Mali in the African country. It is located at the gateway to the Sahara desert, in the confines of the fertile zone of Sudan near the edge of the Niger River.

The legend of Timbuktu as a rich cultural centre spread during the 14th century throughout the world and the beginning of the legend is traced to 1324 when the Emperor of Mali went on his pilgrimage to Mecca through Cairo.

It was at Cairo that the merchants and the traders were impressed by the quantity of gold which was carried by the emperor who claimed that the gold was from Timbuktu. Moreover, the great Muslim explorer, Ibn Batuta, in 1354, wrote about his visit to Timbuktu and also about the gold and wealth of that region.

Hence Timbuktu came to be recognized as an African El Dorado, a city made of gold. During the 15th century, Timbuktu became very important and produced some of its few goods but served as a major trading centre for salt trade across the desert.

A Centre of Islamic Study/Home of University & Library    

Timbuktu also became a centre of Islamic study as well as the home of a university and extensive library. During the 1400s, the maximum population numbered between 50,000 to 100,000 with approximately one quarter of the population comprising of students and scholars.

It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988 and in 1990 was added to the list of world heritage sites of being in danger which was due to the threat of desert sands. A program was then set to preserve the site and it was taken off the list of endangered sites in 2005 but re-added in 2012 after the Islamist Rebels took to arms.

The city is a contrast to the rest of the country’s cities due to the fact that it has more of an Arabic flair than the African.

Mosques/Grand Marche/Well of Bouctou/Timbuktu Museum

Interesting sites to be explored in Timbuktu are the Mosques which remains closed at hours of prayers. Major mosques are closed to non-Muslim visitors as of April 7. There are three main mosques here, the Djingereiber Mosque, which is a world heritage site and probably the largest and the most impressive one.

The Sankore Mosque is another impressive minaret which is worth visiting and the Sidi Yehia Mosque. All of which are within walking distance of each other. The Grand Marche, a two storey market with stalls and shops sells all types of things and is worth visiting just to get an incredible view from the roof across the city of Timbuktu to the desert.

The original well of Bouctou, which is presently dry, is in some back garden along with the Timbuktu Museum having a mixture of interesting artifacts and contemporary folk art. Timbuktu which has come to symbolize back of beyond remoteness is not an easy place to reach.

The drive from the capital of Mali, Bamako, takes around 20 hours which is mostly off road journey. A new airport has now eased the travel to a great extent with several flights now operational to and from Bamako.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Hobart – Popular City of Australian Island State of Tasmania

Hobart is the capital and a popular city of the Australian Island state of Tasmania. It was founded in 1804 as a penal colony and is Australia’s second oldest and southernmost capital city after Sydney, New South Wales. It offers a blend of heritage, scenery and culture with plenty of attraction and activities.

Situated amidst the foothills of Mount Wellington, Hobart is filled with heritage charm with modern lifestyle together with exceptional beauty and is considered as one of the top ten spots in the world to be explored.

It is located at the entrance of the Derwent River and its harbour forms the second deepest natural port in the world and is surrounded by well-preserved bushland which reaches close to the city centre with the beaches trimming the shores of the river and beyond the estuary.

Hobart has an area population of 217,973. Hobart is also the financial and the administrative centre of Tasmania, a busy seaport and serves as the home port for French Antarctic and Australian operation wherein it loads around 2,000 tons of Antarctic cargo every year for the Australian research vessel Aurora Australis.

In 2009/10, the Antarctic industry was worth over AU$180 million to the Tasmanian economy. Besides, this the city is also a hub for cruise ship in summer with around 40 cruise ships docking at the time of the season.

Hobart with many Industries

Hobart also has many other industries, like shipbuilding which includes high speed catamaran factories such as the world renowned Incat as well as ore refinement zinc smelters which are operated by Nvrstar, huge breweries like Cascade manufacturers of different beers exported nationally with premium and boutique beers found in Europe together with smaller breweries in the city.

Another well-known business in the city is the Cadbury chocolate factory manufacturing most of the Cadbury’s chocolate for Southern Hemispheres. Besides this the city also supports a light industry manufacturers.

It also supports a large tourist industry wherein tourist visits the city to explore the historic suburbs and nationally known restaurants and cafes together with its vibrant music and the cultures of nightlife. Visitors also come in to see the massive weekly market in Salamanca Place and to use the city as base to explore the country of Tasmania.

Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens/Mount Wellington/Tasman Bridge/Hobart Synagogue

A popular recreation area which is a short distance from the City centre is the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens and is the second oldest botanic gardens in Australia which has extensive plant collections.

Mount Wellington can be accessed while passing through Fern Tree a dominant feature of Hobart’s skyline and at 1,271 metres, the mountain has its own ecosystem which is rich in biodiversity and has a very important part in determining the weather.

Another unique feature of the city is the Tasman Bridge which connects the two shores of Hobart and is visible from several locations. The Hobart Synagogue is the oldest synagogue in Australia and is also a rare example of an Egyptian Revival synagogue. Hobart is a likely destination which is filled with historical charm mingled with modern lifestyle which is worth exploring.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Galapagos Islands

Galapagos Islands
Galapagos Islands - Small Archipelago of Islands

The Galapagos Islands are small archipelago of islands that belong to Ecuador towards the eastern Pacific Ocean which are remote and isolated. Situated around 1,000 km from South American continent, these 19 islands together with the surrounding marine reserve have been considered as a unique living museum and showcase of evolution.

The Galapagos archipelago comprises of 13 main islands with 6 smaller isles which together embrace the 50,000 sq. km of ocean. Placed at the confluence of three ocean current, it is a melting pot of marine species.

The processes which formed the islands was due to the volcanic activity and on-going seismic and these processes with the extreme isolation of the island gave way to the development of the unusual plant and animal species and home to fascinating species like the land iguana, the giant tortoise, flightless cormorants and much more which drew the interest of Charles Darwin.

 In his theory of evolution by natural selection followed by his visit in 1835, Darwin noticed that though the islands had similar volcanic compositions, environment and climate, each of the isolated isles was a home to its own set of species and he suspected that these species had also adapted to a diet as well as the micro environment of their surroundings.

Islands Formed with Repeated Volcanic Occurrence

Most of the islands were formed due to the layering and lifting of repeated volcanic occurrence and this geographic movement is connected to the age of the island as the eastern island – San Cristobal and Espanola, said to be millions of years older than the western islands, Isabela and Fernandina.The islands seem to have a distinctive shape which is conical and is mostly associated with volcanic action.

The mountainous islands on the other hand have been formed from continuous eruption, built by layer upon layer and due to this volcanic formation, the islands have been characterized with server steep slopes with heights that ranges from few meters above sea level to over 5000 feet above sea level.

With the exception of the largest island, Isabela, each major island comprises of single large volcano while Isabela was formed with six volcanoes joined above sea level.

Galapagos Marine Reserve

Galapagos Islands geologically are probably more than five million years old with some of the westernmost islands which are volcanically active, could be around hundreds of thousands years old which are still being formed presently.

The Galapagos Marine Reserve, an underwater wildlife spectacle has abundant life which ranges from corals to sharks to penguins to marine mammals. One can get the best experience of diving with a diversity of marine life forms which are quite familiar with human beings which accompany divers.

Besides this, the diversity of underwater geomorphological form is another advantage with a unique display that is not found anywhere in the world. Accommodation is available on most of the islands with public boat and plane services enabling visitors to move around the islands.

The best way to experience the beauty of the island is by boat tour which is amazing and wherever your interest lies, whether it is diving, bird watching, snorkelling, surfing or any other activities, tour options are made available. The island has two airports, namely Isla Baltra and Isla San Cristobal with regular flights from mainland cities Quito and Guayaquil.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Golden Gate Bridge,SanFrancisco

Golden Gate Bridge,SanFrancisco
Golden Gate Bridge – Technical Masterpiece

The Golden Gate Bridge, a technical masterpiece, is a suspension bridge from the Golden Gate strait, which is a mile wide, three mile long channel located between San Francisco and the Pacific Ocean. Many felt the need to build a bridge to connect San Francisco to Marin County and since San Francisco was the largest American city, it was still served by ferry boats due to the absence of a permanent link with communities around the bay and the city’s growth rate went below the national average.

Several experts were of the opinion that the bridge would not be built across the 6,700 ft. strait due to the strong, swirling tides and currents, with water of 372 ft. deep at the centre of the channel together with strong winds.

They were also apprehensive of the ferocious winds as well as the blinding fogs which would prevent the operation as well as the construction. The construction of the Golden Gate Bridge commenced in 1933 which was designed by engineer Joseph Strauss and built to connect San Francisco and Marin County across a 1600 metre wide strait which came to be known as the Golden Gate that linked the San Francisco Bay with the Pacific Ocean.

One of the Wonders of the Modern World

It links the U.S. city of San Francisco towards the northern tip of San Francisco Peninsula, to Marin County, joining both the U.S. Route 101 as well as California State Route 1 across the strait and is one of the most internationally recognized structures of San Francisco, California and the United States.

The Bridges has also been declared as one of the Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers. When the bridge reached its completion in 1937, it was considered as the world’s longest and the tallest suspension bridge which not only seemed to be an impossible project but also got completed within a span of four years.

It became one of the world’s greatest architectural icons which have influenced bridge design. Being the longest suspension bridge in the world, its mythical construction will always make it the bridge of all bridges as well as one of the most powerful urban structures that has ever been built.

Golden Gate Ferry Company – Largest Ferry Operation

Before the construction of the bridge the only possible route between San Francisco and what is presently Marin County was by boat across a section of San Francisco Bay with ferry services operating from 1820 with regular scheduled service which began in the 1840s to transport water to San Francisco.

Eventually, it was the Golden Gate Ferry Company, a Southern Pacific Railroad subsidiary, launched by the Sausalito Land and Ferry Company, in 1867 to become the largest ferry operation in the world towards late 1920s.

The Southern Pacific’s automobile ferries for railroad passengers as well as customers only, became profitable and good economy for that region and the duration of ferry crossing between the Hyde Street Pier in San Francisco as well as Sausalito in Marin County took around 20 minutes with a cost of US$1.00 per vehicle, which was later reduced to compete with the new bridge.

From San Francisco Ferry Building, the trip took about 27 minutes. The construction of the world’s largest suspension bridge being a colossal task became one of the wonders and a worldwide fame.

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House
Sydney Opera House – Architectural Work of 20th Century

The Sydney Opera House is an amazing architectural work of the 20th century which brought about multipleamounts of creativity and innovation to architectural form as well as structural design. It is a multi-venue performing arts centre in Sydney, New South Wales in Australia and located on Bennelong Point in Sydney Harbour which is close to Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Its facility is adjacent to the Sydney central business district together with the Royal Botanic Gardens which lies between Sydney and Farm Coves. It was inaugurated in 1973 and is a wonderful urban sculpture, set in awesome waterscape at the tip of a peninsula which projects into Sydney Harbour where the building had an enduring influence on architecture.

It comprises of three sects of interlocking vaulted `shells’, that roof two main performance halls together with a restaurant where the shell shaped structures are set on a vast platform, surrounded by terrace areas which function as pedestrians concourses.

Designed by Jorn Utzon – Danish Architect

It was designed by Jorn Utzon a Danish architect and the facility were formally opened on 20 October 1973 beginning with Utzon’s 1957 selection as a winner of an international design competition. Premier Joseph Cahill of The NSW Government authorised the work to begin in 1958 under his direction for the construction.

It was the government’s decision to build Utzon’s design which was often overshadowed by circumstances which was due to cost and rescheduling overruns and the architect’s resignation. The project consists of several performance venues, though its name indicates single venue, which when combined are the busiest performing art centres in the world, accommodating over 1,500 performances each year with 1.2 million people attending it.

 These venues present and produce a variety of in house productions accommodating various performing arts companies which include four key resident companies namely Opera Australia, The Sydney Theatre Company, Sydney Symphony Orchestra and The Australian Ballet.

An UNESCO Heritage Site 

Being one of the most popular tourist attractions in Australia, there are over seven million people visiting the site every year with around 300,000 people taking part annually in guided tour of the facility.

The Sydney Opera House had been listed as the UNESCO World Heritage Site on June 28, 2007. It has also been identified as the most distinctive building of the 20th century as well as one of the most famous performing arts centres in the world where the facility is handled by the Sydney Opera House Trust under the auspices of the New South Wales Ministry of the Arts.

It was presumed to be constructed in three stages which were helpful in understanding the history of the three key elements of its architectural composition namely the podium –

Stage 1, the vaulted shells –

Stage 2 and the glass walls and interiors –

Stage 3. Architect Jorn Utzon conceivedthe design as well as supervised the overall construction of the podium and the vaulted shells while the glass walls and interiors were designed and construction supervised by architect Peter Hall together with Lionel Todd and David Littlemore accompanied with the New South Wales Government Architect at that time, Ted Farmer.

Peter Hall was in contact with Utzon on several aspects of the design for eighteen months after his departure, with Ove Arup & Partners providing engineering expertise in construction of all three stages.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Krivoklat Castle,Prague

Krivoklat Castle
Krivoklat – Oldest & Important Castles of Czech Republic

Krivoklat is a market town in the Central Bohemian Region of Czech Republic and also a place where the Krivoklat Castle is placed. The market town is one the most popular tourist location as well as the seat of the Krivoklatsko Landscape Protected Area.Krivoklat Castle is located 40 km west of Prague and was built in the late 13th century and belongs to the oldest and the most important castles of the Czech Republic.

It was built as a hunting lodge, the seat of the royal Master of Hounds and a weekend getaway for the Premysl Princes. The original gothic castle was discovered during the reign of Premysl Otakar II and later on was rebuilt by king Vackay IV and then enlarged by king Vladislav of Jagellon during the 15th century who built the vaulted Gothic hall having several resemblances with the famous Vladislav Hall at the Prague Castle.Several times the castle got seriously damaged after which it was turned into a dreadful prison and its importance reduced to a great extent. In the 19th century during the Roman times, the castle was reconstructed.

Used as Prison by Habsburgs

The early childhood days of Czech King and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV were spent here before they were sent off to France. The Krivoklat Caste was used as a prison by Habsburgs and in its round tower, Edward Kelley; the English alchemist was imprisoned for two and a half years since he refused to reveal the secret of the philosopher’s stone to Rudolf II.

Its historical interiors comprises of the chapel, the Knight’s Hall, the Furstenberg library, the Royal Hall, the jail and the Furstenberg museum while its cylinder shaped tower housed an exhibit on hunting weapons. Another amazing fact regarding a trip to Krivoklat is the surrounding countryside along with various trails which are apt for hiking, biking and much more.

The Huderka tower too offers an awesome view around. It present appearance dates back to 1826 when the Furstenberg family had extensively restored it after it was damaged by fire and the reconstruction was done by Joseph Mocker and Karel Hilbert, the Czech architects.

Tourist Destination/Museum/Theatrical Exhibition 

Currently the Krivoklat castle is used as a museum, a tourist destination as well as a place of theatrical exhibitions with gothic paintings and books which are stored here. Since the 14h century, the village Krivoklat gradually developed under the castle. During the 14th and 15th centuries, the first cottages developed below the castle and the hamlet came to be known as Budy. Camrdoves, a nearby hamlet grew and towards the 17 and 18th centuries they combined into a single village.

In 1886, the hamlets of Amalin Budy, Camrdoves and Castonice had a single administrative unit – the village of Krivoklat. In 1851, a post office was opened under the German name, PURGLITZ. The village was part of the Austrian monarchy till 1918, in the RAKONITZ – RAKOVNIK district which is one of the 94 Bezirkshauptmannschaften in Bohemia.

It is easy to reach Krivoklat from Prague. A train can be taken to Beroun which needs to be changed thereafter for a local train that stops in the village of Krivoklat. The duration of the journey is around 83 minutes. Above the castle, one will find beautiful carp filled ponds with the reflection of the church which makes the view amazing. Krivoklat is an interesting destination to explore with its beautiful scenery around it.