Saturday, November 29, 2014

Noce River, Italy

Noce River
Image Credit: Greenline s.r.l
Noce River – Hot Spot for Rafters

The Noce River in Italy is the hot spot for rafters as the river provides plenty of excitement for all kayakers. Noce River with gigantic waves makes the ride all the more exciting and exhilarating. Situated in Val di sole, it is the leading river in North Italy which beginsits journey from the Corno dei Tre Signori Mountain of the Ortles-Cevedale Range and the complete path of the river is stirring since the river has many levels while the navigational pathways is very long.

When one tends to surf through the waves or floats through the current, surpassing diverse levels of rapids, the amazing landscapes surrounding the path is very intriguing. As the river cascades further down to Cogolo, the water body joins the Noce Bianco and thus one slides through the white waters of the Noce River.

The proximity of the huge waves is fascinating and captivating and as the waves crash on the boat, it pushes you towards a boulder and enables the rafter to past the waters. The whole experience can be an electrifying expedition on the waters of Noce River.

It is recommended to pay heed to the advice of the expert on undertaking the trip. Ensure to make the necessary preparation for the expedition, taking the essentials requirements to have an awesome experience while rafting.

Several Trips Available from Different Adventure Agencies

Several trips are available from different adventure agencies enabling participants to engage in a gradual and safe approach in these activities. After some few kilometres of surfing through lively water and the beautiful scenery, the main attraction begins and the duration of each trip may vary based on the water level, the crew, and the weather condition along with other factors.

Tourists are recommended to bring a swimming costume, a long or short sleeved shirt which can be worn under the wet suit and a towel with shoes that can get wet at the end of the trip. The most appropriate time to visit this destination is from May to September which is when the river is at its highest level. Rafter lovers would find outfitters operating from the Italian province of Trentino who are trained in guiding rafts filled with accomplished rafters to novices through challenging waters of Noce Rivers.

Sheer Cliffs/Vertical Walls/Deep Valleys/Glaciers and Pinnacles

The scenery along the course is awesome with sheer cliffs, vertical walls, deep valleys, glaciers and pinnacles at every turn in the river and the area is a famous tourist destination in Europe where visitors could find excellent accommodation together with alternative adventures in the surrounding locations.

The Noce River in Italy is truly a rafter’s paradise since it offers the maximum entertainment to rafters which sports gigantic waves making one’s ride all the more exciting, captivating with an awesome experience.

Lonely Planet has declared Noce River as one of the top rafting rivers in the world and this ranking confirms that it is the best river for white-water rafting in Europe. Moreover the Noce River has also received a lot of recognition these past several years making it an ideal spot to enjoy river sports while the National Geographic has ranked it as the top 10 rivers for White-water rafting in the world which is the only European river in this ranking and has also been ranked ninth at an international level.

Zion National Park, Utah

Zion National Park, Utah
Zion National Park – Interesting Feature, Zion Canyon 

Zion National Park is situated in the south-western United States near Springdale, Utah and the most interesting feature of the 229 square mile park is Zion Canyon, 15 miles long and around half a mile deep, cut through the reddish and tan coloured Navajo Sandstone, by the North Fork of the Virgin River.

 It is an amazing cliff and canyon landscape as well as wilderness which are full of the world’s most unexpected and largest arch, the Kolob Arch which measures around 310 feet. Millions of years of flowing water which has cut through the red and white beds of Navajo sandstones have formed the sheer walls of Zion and the geologic heart of the canyon originated as a vast desert many years ago while the winds blew one dune over the other till the sands reached a depth of over 2,000 feet.

Located between the Colorado Plateau, Great Basin and Mojave Desert regions, its unique geography as well as variety of life zones have given rise to unusual plant and animal diversity with numerous plant species together with 289 species of bird, 75 mammals inclusive of 19 species of bat and 32 reptiles which inhabit the park’s four life zones namely desert, woodland, riparian and coniferous forest.

Showcase of Geology – Shaping Zion

Besides this, the park also comprises of mountains, buttes, mesas, canyons, monoliths, slot canyons, rivers and natural arches. Wildlife like golden eagles, mule deer together with mountain lion also tend to inhabit the Park. The Park is also in the vicinity of St. George, Utah and is known for Tuacahn Amphitheatre and Tuacahn is an interesting site to explore.

Zion National Park is a showcase of geology with geologic processes playing a very important role in shaping Zion. Its arid climate and sparse vegetation has given rise to exposure of huge expanses of bare rock, revealing the park’s geologic history.

 The rock layers seem to be lifted and eroded which forms a features known as the Grand Staircase, a series of colourful cliffs that tend to stretch between Bruce Canyon and the Grand Canyon while the bottom layer of rock at Bryce Canyon is the top layer at Zion and the bottom layer is the top layer at the Grand Canyon.

Great Place for Rock Climbing

Zion is also a great place for rock climbing with short walls like Moonlight Buttress, Touchstone, Spaceshot and Prodigal Son which are very famous. Accommodation is available at Zion Lodge which is located halfway through Zion Canyon and is open throughout the year. Moreover it also has motel units as well as cabins together with restaurants, café and gift shops.

Three campgrounds are also available namely South and Watchman at the far southern area of the park and a primitive site at Lava Point which is in the middle of the park off Kolob Terrace Road. Watchman seems to be the only campground in the park which has reservations while Lava Point has only primitive facilities which are usually open from June to October and permits are essential for overnight camping in the backcountry. Guided horseback trips, nature walks together with evening programs are available from late March to early November for those interested.

Are You Storing Your Marine Vessel Properly?

Although your boat is made to tread, it doesn't need to be in the water day-in and day-out over the span of its lifetime. Many ships will experience a variety of problems such as barnacle growth across the hull or perhaps the off chance of being damaged by another ship. While the boat dock can offer some protection, storing your vessel on land can be beneficial in terms of security as well as making repairs easier to commit.

Avoiding Storms

While not all shorelines are subjected to the same stress delivered by tropical storms and hurricanes, storing your vessel securely on land can prevent a myriad of damage ranging from capsizing to the crushing effects of debris and other ships. Depending on where and how the vessel is stored, it could also decrease the risk of losing it due to violent storms sweeping it away to other areas. Many ships have found their way to the bottom of the ocean merely from being sunk from the effects of tides and storms.

Committing Repairs

Some repairs can be made while the ship is on the water. However, bringing the ship on land can allow a variety of repairs to be made without risk to the vessel or those working on the vessel. Whether these include holes made by sandbars and reefs to replacing motor and propellers, the work is much easier when repair specialists are not fighting against the movement of the waves.

Whether you're in need of vessel repairs or need new welding and fiberglass for your vessel, contact Dixon's Marine. From crab boats to yachts, your needs are addressed when it comes to your ship. Trust your vessel in the hands of professionals.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Portland – The City of Roses

Portland, the city of roses is one of the largest cities in the U.S. state of Oregon, near the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers. Its population of 583,776 according to the 2010 census is estimated to have reached 609,456 in the year 2013 thus making it the 29th most populous city in the United States as well as the third most populous city in the Pacific Northwest region.

Around 2,314,554 inhabitants live in the Portland metropolitan area MSA, the 19th most populous MSA in United States. Portland is the county seat of Multnomah County which was incorporated in 1851. It has a commission based government which is headed by a mayor with four other commissioners and Metro, a distinctive regional government.

 Moreover the city is known for its superior land use planning as well as investment in light rail. Portland is recognized for its great outdoors environment scenic beauty, a large amount of microbreweries together with its eco-friendly urban planning policies.

It is the largest city which lies between San Francisco and Seattle and on comparing with these cities, its environment is not as fast paced but it has a more laid back feel of smaller town to it.

Largest Collections of Zine and Independent Publishers

Being a city it has its own amenities which include great music as well as arts scene together with the largest collections of zine and independent publishers. Though the city has not developed yet, in recent years, Portland has grown tremendously and has started to catch up with the daily activities like having some of the worst traffic congestion in the West, a high cost of living relative to wages as well as chronic underemployment.

The city has an amazing blend of historic as well as modern architecture together with lush parks like Forest Park and the Washington Park in the hills towards the west area of Downtown offering a variety of plants, trails and wildlife near the city.The beautiful seasonal colour is the result of the Vistas of Mt. Hood and the Willamette River,stately Douglas fir trees together with roses and trees at every corner.

Besides, environmental friendly practices like recycling and extensive public transportation system have been part of the culture here, fuelling several progressive city panning practices like an urban growth boundary making Portland a relatively compact city.

Divided into Five Sections/Five Quadrants

Moving around in Portland is easy either by bike, public transport or even walking though there are topographical features which could affect how the streets and roads flow, hence planning and maps would be essential on a journey of over a few blocks.

Portland is divided into five sections and at times referred to oxymoronically as the `five quadrants’ which are divided by Burnside Street between north/south, the Willamette River between east/west, fifth sector – north between the Willamette River and Williams Avenue. Situated in the Marine west coast climate region, its climate has both warm dry summers and wet cool to chilly winters which is ideal for growing roses having many rose gardens, the prominent one being the International Rose Test Garden.

Portland is a home to several numbers of independent microbreweries, micro distilleries as well as food carts which contribute to the unofficial slogan – Keep Portland Weird.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Colonia Tovar; The Germany of the Caribbean

Colonia Tovar
Colonia Tovar is a town of Venezuela, the capital of the municipality Tovar in Aragua state. It was founded in 1843 from the independent state of Baden then, by a group of immigrants which was later incorporated into Germany.

It is called the `Germany of the Caribbean’, and this northern Venezuelan community has great Bavarian architecture and pride. The economy is dependent on agriculture and tourism and the town is situated 42 km from Caracas. Colonia Tovar is known for its temperate corps like peaches, beets, strawberries, cauliflower, carrots, cabbage, chard, broccoli, onions, potatoes and lettuce together with their derivatives.

Population growth has been rising since 1990 from 3,373 to 14,309 in 2001. The Colonia is around 2,200 m towards the central coastal mountains of the Venezuelan Coastal Range and is connected with Caracas and La Victoria by road.

The city is located in the northern area of Aragua state while the municipality is `L’ shaped and bounded on the north by the Caribbean Sea, while the northeast by the state of Vargas and in the east, Caracas with the south bordering the Aragua River. The east ends with the Santiago Marino Municipality and is settled in rugged terrain with streams and creeks.

Organised as Closed Community

From earlier times, Colonia Tovar was organized as a closed community and the founders were keen in maintaining their cultural traditions for a very long time wherein on arrival; they started building houses retaining its distinctive architecture of the Kaiserstuhl.

Baden dialect,theBadische was the language which dominated at that time and food and clothing remained intact and to a certain extent, marriages outside the Colonia were discouraged to ensure the continuity of ethnic and culture.

Though the official language of Venezuela is Castilian, most of the people in that state spoke alemannisch – Alemannic, Aleman Colonjero, well. It is a variant language which has been inherited from the previous generations after 150 year though several phonetic as well as lexical turns are now not in use in Europe.

Places of Interest 

Some of the places of interest are:

The Breikanz Mall is in the centre of Colonia Tovar in CodazziStreet which has a series of shops with crafts, typical of the region of Germany. The Museum of the City which was created by Dr Nestor Rojas offers glimpses of the history, customs and traditions of the Germanic people. Codazzi Peak Natural Monument has a maximum height of around 2,429 m in Aragua state jurisdiction with a covering area of around 11,850 which is shared by the states of Vargas, Miranda as well as the Capital District.

It has been declared by presidential decree of June 5, 1991 as a national monument, in honour and national recognition to the Italian cartographer and geographer, Agustino Codazzi. The natural area has the installation of the Archaeological Museum Panarigua and Inn Panarigua.

The Historical Centre has several buildings in the city centre while around the Plaza Bolivar are the historical axis of Colonia. The Tovar Brewery was the first Venezuelan beer that was made in Colonia in 1843 on the arrival of the founders and since then, production has remained the same.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Cotswold - An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Cotswolds is located in south central England with the Cotswold Hills which is a range of rolling hills that rise from the meadows of the upper Thames to escarpment such as the Cotswold Edge. This is above the Severn Valley and Evesham Vale and the area is defined by the bedrock of Jurassic limestone creating a kind of grassland habitat which is rare in U.K, and is quarried for golden coloured Cotswold stone.

In 1966, it was designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is considered to have some amazing features from the local Cotswold stone and the rural landscape have some stone built village, stately homes and gardens as well as historical towns. The Cotswold is an area of England somewhat the size of greater Tokyo which is popular with English as well as tourist from all across the globe.

The name Cotswold is attributed to the meaning `sheep enclosure in rolling hillsides where the term `wold’, means hills though the English Place Name Society, for several years have accepted the term Cotswold derived from Codesuualt of the 12th century or other variation, the etymology of which was given as `Cod’s-wold’, which is Cod’s high open land.

Gentle Hills/Sleepy village/Typically English 

It is well known for its gentle hillside, sleepy villages and being typically English. One will find some of the famous cities like Bath, well known beautiful towns – Cheltenham with hundreds of amazing villages like Burford and Castle Combe.

The local honey coloured limestone found here is used for everything right from the stone flooring in the houses to the tiles on the roof and the area has a magical uniformity of architecture. The amazing honey coloured towns and villages of the Cotswold appear as if from the 21st century from another era which is characterized by gentle dynamism together with vibrant festivals and lively galleries with liberal endowment of intriguing museums.

Occupying an area of around 800 square miles across five counties like Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire, the region of `wolds’ or rolling hills as it is called, is one of the biggest of the thirty eight Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty –AONB in England and Wales.

Drystone Walls in Fields

One will find the `Drystone walls’ all over in the fields and most of which were built in the 18th and 19th centuries as a matter of considerable skill since there is no cement to hold the wall in shape.

These represent a unique historical landscape with a major conservative feature which is still used by farmers to enclose their sheep and cattle. During the medieval period between the 13-15th centuries, the native Cotswold sheep were very popular throughout Europe and were known for their heavy fleeces with high quality wool which were priced very high.

The revenue generated from the wool trade enabled the wealthy traders to leave their mark by building fine houses together with beautiful churches which were known as `wool churches’.Besides the amazing countryside, one will also find interesting places to explore which include magnificent castles, ancient churches, stately homes with historic houses and glorious gardens.

You could shop at some of the oldest chartered weekly markets and also visit some market towns to shop or indulge in some leisurely ramble or have a traditional meal at the pub. Cotswold is an amazing destination with plenty to explore.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Cook Island, New Zealand

Cook Island
Cook Islands – Formed by Volcanic Activity

The Cook Islands is an island country in the South Pacific Ocean in free association with New Zealand located in Polynesia between French Polynesia to the east and Tonga to the west. This archipelago comprises of 15 inhabited islands which are spread out over 2.2 million square km of ocean with no land between the tropical Cook Island and the Antarctica.

Its main population centres are on the island of Rarotonga which has an international airport. One will also find larger population of Cook Islands in New Zealand especially in the North Island. These islands were formed due to volcanic activity and while the northern group tends to be older, it consists of six atolls that are sunken volcanoes topped with coral growth.

The climate here is moderate to tropical. The islands are self-governing in free association with New Zealand which holds the primary responsibility with regards to external affairs, in consultation with Cook Islands government. The Cool Islands nationals are the citizens of New Zealand who can obtain New Zealand government services, though the New Zealand citizens are not the nationals of Cook Islands.

Not a United Nations Member State

Cook Island1
Besides, the Cook Islands is also not a United Nations member state, though with Niue, have full treaty making capacity which has been recognized by United Nations Secretariat and is now a full member of the WHO and UNESCO UN specialised agencies.

It is also an associate member of the Economic as well as Social Commission for Asia as well as the Pacific – UNESCAP, together with a Member of the Assembly of States of the International Criminal Court.

The languages of the Island include English, Cook Islands Maori or Rarotongan and Pukapukan. The dialect of Cook Island Maori are Penrhyn, Rakahanga-Manihiki, the Ngaputoru dialect of Atiu, Mitiaro and Mauke, the Aitutaki dialect and the Mangaian dialect.

Cook Island Maori and its dialectic variants are somewhat related to both Tahitian as well as to New Zealand Maori while Pukapukan is closely related to the Samoan language. Cook Islands Maori and English are the official languages of Cook Islands.

Economic Base – Tourism/Agriculture 

Music here is varied with Christian songs which are quite popular though traditional dancing and songs in Polynesian languages also remain popular. Its economic development is hindered due to the isolation of the country from foreign markets, limited size of domestic markets, periodic devastation from natural calamities, lack of natural resources together with inadequate infrastructure.

 Tourism and agriculture is the economic base with major exports made from copra and citrus fruit and manufacturing functions are limited to fruit processing handicrafts and clothing. During the 1980s and 1990s, the country had lived beyond its means and maintained bloated public service incurring a large foreign debt but with subsequent reforms which included the sale of state assets, the encouragement of tourism, the strengthening of economic management and a debt restructuring agreement, they managed to have some investment, growth and progress.

Cook Islands’ currency is the New Zealand Dollar though they issue their own banknotes and coins which include two varieties of highly unusual $3 banknotes and the triangular $2 coins. Cook Islands money can be utilised only within the Cook Islands.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Iowa, United States

Grotto Arcade
Iowa – American Heartland

Iowa, a US state in the Midwestern United States is a region which is called the `American Heartland’. It is lined by the Mississippi River towards the east and the Missouri River and the Big Sioux River on the west. Iowa is the only U.S. state which has the eastern and the western borders entirely by rivers where it is bordered by Wisconsin and Illinois to the east, Missouri to the south, South Dakota and Nebraska to the west and Minnesota to the north. Iowa was part of French Louisiana, in colonial days and its current state flag is designed after the flag of France.

After the Louisiana Purchase, the settlers laid the foundation in the heart of the Corn Belt for agriculture based economy. Its agricultural economy in the latter half of the 20th century, expanded to manufacturing, processing, financial service, technology, information, biotechnology together with green energy production. It is the 26thmost extensive land area as well as the 30th most populous of the 50 United States. Iowa has been listed as one of the safest states and its largest city is Des Moines.

Natural Lakes & Manmade Lakes

Iowa is not generally flat and most of the state comprises of rolling hills. It is divided in eight landforms due to the glaciation soils, topography and the river drainage. Along the western border of the state lie the Loess hills, some of which are hundreds of feet thick.

Towards the northeast area along the Mississippi River lies a part of the Driftless Zone with steep hills and valleys which appear to be almost mountainous. Many natural lakes will be found in Iowa like the Spirit Lake, West Okoboji Lake and East Okoboji Lake towards the northwest area of Iowa while to the east is the Clear Lake, Some of the manmade lakes are Lake Odessa, Saylorville Lake, Coralville Lake, Lake Red Rock, Lake MacBride and Rathbun Lake. Towards the northwest area of the state are a considerable number of remnants of the common wetlands like the Barringer Slough.

Foremost State in Farming

Iowa is one of the foremost states in farming in the United States and one fifth of the nation’s corn harvest comes from Iowa. Iowa stands first in the nation in grain harvest. It produces food, clothing, fuel; medicine for the world and agricultures is one of the leading industries, having more than 100,000 farms in the state.

Each Iowa farm family produces enough food and fibre to feed around 279 people where one-fourth of which live overseas. The wet springs together with the warm summers provide an appropriate environment for plantings of corn as well as soybeans in the top grade farmland. Though agriculture is the main economy, Iowa also encourages the growth of manufacturing and service industries.

Iowa leads the country in the production of corn and has also been called the `Land where the Tall Corn grows’ and the nickname pays tribute to Iowa’s corn crop. Iowa has also been referred to as the `Land of the Rolling Prairie’, due to the vast rolling prairies which cover the state.

Its largest source of income comes from manufacturing, followed by services, wholesale or retail trade and government while 24% of America’s pork and 4% of the nations’ grain-fed beef are raised in the state of Iowa.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Zakynthos – Largest Island in the Ionian Sea

Zakynthos Island, Greece
Zakynthos, one of the largest islands in the Ionian Sea is in fact the second most visited isle besides the Corfu. Like the other Ionian Islands, it is quite mountainous with a number of valleys which are fertile with amazing green landscape on the isle.

The island has vast coast some of which are around 123 km long together with craggy and rocky ones towards the north while they are very sandy towards the southern area which have a number of gulfs like the Laganas gulf. The highlight of this area is towards the West coast that has a spectacular view which is the blue caves.

These are also known as blue caves of Volimes, which is the picturesque village. The most impressive element of the blue caves is that they reflect the vibrating and striking blue colour of the waters and at the same time captures and reflects the shine of the sky which is seen reflected on their surface. The bright reflection creates a magical atmosphere which is at its best at the time of sunrise or sunset. The blue caves have interesting arches which have been created by erosion thousands of years ago making it possible to go through these caves and have an experience of being surrounded in this amazing environment.

The Blue Caves – Natural & Famous Attraction

The blue caves is also one of the soft spot for those interested in diving and getting here into the waters to experience the beauty of the blues caves is a once in a lifetime experience.

Besides this, once underwater, the darkness in several of the caves is interrupted by a few rays of light that dye the water with turquoise shade.

The blue caves are one of the islands natural and most famous attraction which was discovered by Antonio Komouto in 1897 and attracts thousands of visitors annually which are located below the lighthouse at Cape Skinari. The cave gets its name due to the blue waters inside them and objects below the water tend to appear blue.

This also includes people who get into the water inside the caves to take a swim. The blue caves can be visited only by boat Small boats are a good choice in navigating inside the caves and some boats have glass bottom which helps to see the marine life below. 

Shipwreck Cove/Smugglers Cove – Navagio Beach

Several boat trips are conducted to the blue caves which can be boarded at the areas surrounding the island which includes the Skinari Lighthouse as well as St Nikolas Port. Towards the North West coast of the Greek Ionian island of Zakynthos is the Shipwreck Cove or the Smugglers Cove which is also called Navagio Beach and is a famous beach in Greece which can be accessed only by boat.

Shipwreck Beach is within the enclosure of steep cliff which gives it a remote inaccessible feeling. It is also impossible to walk to the beach and one would need to take a boat to visit it. There are frequent boat services to shipwreck Cove from nearby Porto Vromi which is located to the south or from the Harbour of St Nikolas in Volimes situated to the north of Shipwreck Cove.

Besides these, there are many more interesting sites worth exploring providing the tourist with an amazing experience at this remarkable destination.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Newgrange, Ireland

Newgrange, Ireland
Newgrange – Prehistoric Monument 

Newgrange, a prehistoric monument is best known Irish passage tomb in County Meath, Ireland, which dates back to 200 BC.

It is located around one km north of the River Boyne and was built during the Neolithic age thus making it much older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids. The site comprises of a large circular mount which is approximately 80m in diameter.

The circular stone has a stone passageway with interior chambers and has a retaining wall at the front which is ringed by engraved kerbstones. For what purpose the site was used is not known though it is presumed that it had some religious significance and it is aligned with the sunrise with its light flooding the chamber on the winter solstice.

It is the most famous monument in the Neolithic Bru na Boinne complex together with the similar passage tomb mounds of Knowth and Dowth and is a part of the Bru na Boinne UNESCO World Heritage Site. The highly decorated Entrance Stone is the most impressive of these stones seen at the site.

Large Kidney Shaped Mount

Newgrange has been classified by archaeologist as a passage tomb though it is now recognized to be more than a passage tomb and ancient temple could be a much more fitting classification, a place of spiritual, astrological, religious and ceremonial importance similar to the present day cathedrals which are places of prestige and worship wherein dignitaries are placed to rest.

It seems like a large kidney shaped mount and the time and labour taken in constructing it indicates a well-organized society having specialized groups who could have been responsible for the various aspects of construction.

Visitors can access Newgrange only through guided tours from the Brun na Boinne Visitor Centre towards the south side of the river Boyne while Newgrange is towards the north area of the river Boyne. Visitors need to cross the river through the pedestrian bridge after which they can take a shuttle bus to Newgrange.

No direct public access by road to Newgrange is available with the exception of mornings around the Winter Solstice and if intending using Satellite Navigation one can head to Bru na Boinne Visitor Centre.

Known for Illumination of its Chambers – Winter Solstice

Newgrange is well known for the illumination of its chamber and passage by the winter solstice sun where above the passage is an opening known as roof-box. This amazing orifice was a great surprise for those who discovered it where its purpose is to permit sunlight to penetrate inside the chamber on the shortest days of the year, towards December 21, the winter solstice.

Towards dawn from 19th to 23rdDecember, one will find a narrow beam of light penetrating the roof-box which reaches the floor of the chamber which gradually extents to the rear of the chamber and as the sun tends to rise higher, the beam begins to widen within the chamber and the whole chamber gets dramatically illuminated.

This entire scenario lasts for seventeen minutes which begins around 9 am. The winter solstice is a great attraction at Newgrange drawing many to witness it, who gather at the ancient tomb to wait for dawn.

Its demand is so great to be inside the chamber during the solstice that there is free annual lottery for the same. However the event depends on the sunshine and if the skies are overcast, not much can be seen at that time though it is worth the wait if the sunlight shows up.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Caral, Peru

Caral, Peru
Caral – Archaeological Site - Peru

An archaeological site situated on the Pacific coast of Peru known for over hundred years made headlines all over the world. The site of Caral and the cluster of eighteen Late Pre Ceramic sites placed in the Supe Valley comprises of what is now known as the Caral Supe Civilization and seem to be of great importance since they represent the earliest urban settlement in the Americas, nearly 4600 years ago.

 This ancient structure of 626 hectares of archaeological site of The Sacred City of Caral-Supe is located on a dry desert terrace which overlooks the green valley of the Supe River. It has a central public space with six large platform mounds which are arranged round a huge plaza and the largest of the mounds is 60 feet high measuring 450x500 feet at the base.

 These mounds seems to be built within one or two building periods which indicate that a high level of planning probably associated with state level societies could have been involved. The public architecture on the other hand had stairs, courtyards and rooms with three sunken plazas that suggest society wide religion and out of the 18 other sites in the vicinity of Caral, ten are over 60 acres in size, with all having similar public architecture.

Caral – Peaceful Society

Some of the crops here include squash, beans and cotton which were grown in the dry desert climate assisted with intricate irrigation system. The ruins featured evidence of monumental and complex architecture which include six large pyramid structures and an interesting thing was that there was no evidence of any war at the site.

It was presumed that Caral was at the centre of a great peaceful society which was built on pleasure and commerce instead of any conquest. It was also noticed that the site had a collection of musical instruments which include 37 cornetts that were made of deer and llama bone and 33 flutes of unusual creation which were radiocarbon dating to 2170 ±80 BC.

Urban Settlements/State Societies 

The most appealing aspect of Caral along with the rest of the Supe Valley sites is its archaeologists’ dealings with urban settlements together with state societies. The building monuments like the pyramids and irrigation canals and the planning of the cities are well planned and sophisticated.

Caral is a site which is so old that it predates the ceramic period and hence no traces of pottery were found at the sites. The largest ever pyramid in Peru was terraced with staircase which lead to an atrium like platform concluding in a flattened top housing closed rooms with a ceremonial fire pit.

Most of the pyramids were built in one or two phases meaning that there was some plan in erecting these monuments. Surrounding the pyramids were several residential structures where a house portrayed the remains of a body which was buried in the wall and seems to be a natural death instead of a human sacrifice.

Though we have no indication about the political structure of the people who built Caral, it is believed that they had no ceramics, metallurgy or writing. The discoveries made at Caral and the other Supe Valley sites give some information on how the people choose to become urban dwellers.

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Phi Phi Islands, Thailand

Phi Phi Islands
Phi Phi Islands – Most Beautiful Islands in the World

The Phi Phi Island is located in Thailand in the midst of the large island ofPhuket and the western Strait of Malacca mainland coast. It consists of six small islands with amazing sandy beaches giving way to limestone cliffs with splendid scenery.

The crystal clear water and the absence of roads have made it one of the most popular holiday destinations.They are the administrative part of the Krabi province. The islands are the main attraction to Krabi and Phuket Island and are also considered to be the most beautiful islands in the world.

 It gained popularity recently when the location was used for the 2000 British-American filming of the movie `The Beach’, on Maya Bay. This drew a lot of criticism stating that the film company had damaged the environment of the island wherein the producers had bulldozed the beach areas and had planted palm trees to make it look like the book which the film’s makers contradicted.

The film’s release also attributed to the increase in tourism to the island. The island is amazing with its surrounding ocean and island, with a large number of visitors at Maya Bay especially during peak season.

Phi Phi Don/Phi Phi Ley

The most well-known of the Phi Phi Islands are the Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Ley which are the largest. One will find accommodation, dive centres, restaurants and a vibrant nightlife at the main island of Phi Phi Don while the other islands tend to be part of the National Park which can be seen only on tours. Initially the Phi Phi Don was inhabited by Muslim fishermen in the late 1940s but later became coconut plantation.

While coming from Phuket, Krabi, Lanta, Ao Nang and Koh Lipe, by ferry, the main island of Phi Phi Don is the place one arrives at first. Since there are no roads on the island, one would have to walk to get there, though there are porters with pre-booking, at the pier to take the tourist to the hotel or the guesthouse.

The population of Phi Phi Don is more than 80% of Muslims while the actual population including labourers those from the northeast is more of Buddhists and the overall population as of 2013 is between 2,000 to 3,000 inhabitants.

By Ferries & Speedboats

There are two options to get to Phi Phi, by ferries and speedboats wherein the duration by ferries is 90 minutes and speedboats take around 45 minutes. The most popular option of reaching the island is the ferry which takes a duration of two hours from Phuket and about 90 minutes from Koh Lanta or Krabi.

The ferry with its top deck doubles as a sundeck which is a great opportunity for those interested in getting a tan while the lower decks features air-conditioned rooms with drinks and snacks made available to the tourist on-board.

From Phuket Airport, it is a one hour ferry drive and from Krabi it is a 30 minutes run from Krabi Airport. Advance bookings may be needed to reserve seat during peak seasons or half an hour before departure during low season.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Cornwall, England

Cornwall – A Land with Spectacular Coastline & Beauty

Cornwall is a land which has been defined by its spectacular coastline that tapers out into the Atlantic Ocean. It is a ceremonial county as well as unitary authority area of England in the United Kingdom and is a peninsula which is bordered towards the north and west by the Celtic Sea, towards the south by the English Channel and to the east by the county of Devon over the Tamar River.

Its granite cliffs of Land’s End, picturesque harbours, with its wide sandy beaches of the north coast have made Cornwall an amazing holiday resort for a very long time. Besides this it also has a rich cultural heritage which has left a lasting impression on the landscape.

The ancientstones, to the ghost of the mining industry give one a feeling of being in another location and not in England. Cornwall has a population of around 536,000 inhabitants, covering an area of 3,563 sq. km and Truro is the administrative centre and the only city in Cornwall though there is town of St. Austell which has the largest population.
Tradition Homeland of the Cornish People

It is the traditional homeland of the people of Cornwall which has been recognized as one of the Celtic nations that has retained its cultural identity and reflects its history. The area was first inhabited in the Mesolithic and the Palaeolithic periods and continues to be occupied by the Neolithic as well as the Bronze Age people which later on were occupied by Brythons that had distinctive cultural relations with the neighbouring Brittany and Wales. While on a trip to Cornwall with family or friends there are several places of interest which are worth exploring.

Sites Worth Exploring 

Land’s End is one of the West Country’s awesome natural settings together with great places to dine and shop as well as other exciting pay as you go family attractions.

Kernow Coasteering is another place of interest and a most westerly coasteering centre. Coasteering is one of the fastest growing adventure activities in UK and one can take a tour to get a taste of life on the edge and an opportunity to experience the Cornish coastline up close.

The granite cliffs at Lands’ End form some of the best coastline and an adventure with ultimate experience at Kernow Coasteering.

Geevor is another site set amidst 67 acres on the North Atlantic coast and is one of the largest preserved mine site in Cornwall reflecting its outstanding collections together with listed buildings which tells of its industrial mining past and has also made the Western Gateways to the Cornish Mining World Heritage site.

The Levant Steam Engine is located on a cliff edge which is five miles from Land’s End and the oldest beam engine in Cornwall. It is being driven by steam, credits of which go the extensive program of restoration and rebuilding by the National Trust as well as the members of the Trevithick Society.

Porthcurno Telegraph Museum which is an award winning museum set in Porthcurno valley, chronicling the fascinating and unusual story of the people from the Victorian times to World War II. Besides these, there are several more sites which can be explored and gain more knowledge about Cornwall and its heritage.