Saturday, February 28, 2015

Charles Island, Bahamas

Charles Island – Mini Dubai

Charles Island is the gateway to North Eleuthera and Harbour Island. It is located within the harbour of the settlement of Spanish Wells and has access to utilities as well as support facilities which is within its vicinity. Charles Island is presented as a `mini Dubai’ since it has the capabilities of mixed use luxury property which is quite huge with open zoning.

Presently it is serviced by three electrical lines, telephone service and government water and any developer could be benefited from its amenities that have been offered by the Spanish Well’s community and Eleuthera locals.

The electric lines run across the harbour from Spanish Wells which is a big advantage in any development plans while the power plant in Spanish Wells is known to be one of the best in the whole of Bahamas which is a well-run reliable and privateentity. One will find labour, hardware stores, marinas as well as several other supplies of convenience within reach of their location.

It is an appealing spot of a short distant from the world famous Harbour Island which is easily accessible through the Fast Ferry service together with three airports on Eleuthera, and protected by barrier islands, with full service as well as utilities making it the most appropriate private marina.

The Gateway to Eleuthera

The International Airport is within 15 minutes away which accommodates commercial as well as private charters while the fast ferry services runs daily between Spanish Wells and Nassau and to some other islands and this service helps to go to Nassau/Paradise Island/Atlantis for gambling and nightlife and return back in the morning to head back to the island, to ones’ private home or lodging.

The beautiful and amazingly located property is at times referred as `The Gateway to Eleuthera’ and the property are highly valuable with regards to investment. Not only are the services and supplies accessible, Charles Island helps in building one’s dream home which can be readily found here. Nassau is the capital and the largest city as well as the commercial centre of the Commonwealth of Bahamas. It was formerly known as Charles Town and in 1684, was burned to the ground by the Spanish. It was renamed Nassau in 1695 after it was rebuilt under Governor Nicholas Trott in honour of Dutch Stadtholder and later on by King of England.

Amazing Views & Excellent Elevations

One will find various ridges offering amazing views and excellent elevations at Charles Island together with some low lying areas with deep water surrounding the island. The island has good infrastructure of building supplies, dry dock and repairs, contractors, mechanics, well stocked grocery stores some of which can be home delivered.

The proximity of Spanish Wells to the settlement is of great advantage with its excellent infrastructure. There are freight boats from the US, Nassau and other islands every week, besides golf cart, car rental, taxi and water taxi services, clinics, courier services, doctors, banks, together with customs and immigration and several other business which support and make their contribution to a good lifestyle.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Carthage, Tunisia

Carthage – Centre of Ancient Carthaginian Civilization

Carthage is a city in Tunisia and the centre of the ancient Carthaginian civilization. The name Carthage is an extensive archaeological site founded by the Phoencians, and is located on a hill that dominates the Gulf of Tunis as well as the surrounding plains. Carthage is one of those famous historic sites of the Roman Empire.

It was founded in the 9th century by Phoenician traders from Tyre, in present day Lebanon. Its location made it master of the Mediterranean’s maritime trade. It has two first class harbours and has the advantage in possessing the most efficient means of communication at that time – the sea.

The people from Carthage soon learned the skills of building ships and used them to dominate the seas for centuries where the most important merchandise was lead, silver, ivory and gold, together with beds and bedding, cheap pottery, glassware, jewellery, wild animals from Africa as well as fruits and nuts.

Central Part in Antiquity 

Carthage played a central part in Antiquity as a great commercial empire during the metropolis of Punic civilization in Africa and the capital of the province of Africa during the Roman era. It also occupied the territories which belonged to Rome during the long Punic wars which then destroyed its rivals in 146 AD and the town was rebuilt on the ruins of the ancient city by the Romans.

Besides mixing, diffusion as well as blossoming of many cultures like Phoenico-Punic, Roman, Arab and Paleochristian, this metropolis as well as its ports has given way to wide-scale exchanges in the Mediterranean. Its property comprises of the vestiges of Roman Vandal, Punic, Paleochristian and the Arab presence and the biggest known components of the site of Carthage are the acropolis of Byrsa, the Punic ports, the Punic Tophet, theatre, the necropolises, circus, amphitheatre, residential areas, basilicas, the Antonin baths, Malaga cisterns and lastly the archaeological reserve.

The Carthage site bears great testimony to the Phoenico-Punic civilization which was the central hub at that time in the western basin of the Mediterranean and also one of the most amazing centres of Afro-Roman civilization.

Home of the Legendary Princess of Tyre

Carthage has been associated with the home of the home of the legendary princess of Tyre, Elyssa-Dido, the founder of the town, sung by Virgil in the Aeneid with the great navigator-explorer, Hannon with Hannibal who was one of the greatest military strategist of history together with writers like Apulee, the founder of Latin-African literature, the martyr of Saint Cyprien as well as Saint Augustin who trained and made many visits at that place.

The site of Carthage has retained theelements which characterise the antique town, meeting place, urban network, recreation, worship etc.: inspite of its integrity which was partially altered by uncontrolled urban sprawl duringthe time of the first half of the 20th century. The maintenance and the restoration work that was carried out over a period of years has been in accordance with the standards of international charters which has not caused any damage to the monuments as well as to the remains of the site of Carthage.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The National Museum of Ireland

National Museum of Ireland – Archaeological Heritage of Ireland

The National Museum of Ireland, Archaeology, opened in 1890 is located in Kildare Street, Dublin. It comprises of artefacts which range from 7000 BC to the 16th century and are displayed in seven exhibition galleries.It is a home to the Irish antiquities Division of the National Museum of Ireland and is responsible in maintaining the portable archaeological heritage of Ireland.

The Natural History Museum which is a section of the National Museum is the oldest part and is considered distinct, houses specimens of animals of various parts of the world and its collections together with the Victorian appearance have not changed since early 20th century. The National Museum has three branches in Dublin with one in County Mayo, having strong emphasis on Irish art, culture and natural history.

The development of the Irish civilization can be traced from archaeological exhibitions from the arrival of the people who first came to Ireland in the Mesolithic or Middle Stone Age to late Medieval Ireland. Besides these, there are also other exhibitions which deal with the Ancient Egypt and Roman civilisations.

Provision for Guided Tours 

The National Museum of Ireland, Archaeology’s educational facilities comprises of an audio-visual room, an Activity Cart in exhibition galleries together with an education resource room.They also provided guided tours which could last approximately about 45 minutes where a two weeks’ notice is essential at the time of booking group tours. It is also advisable to notify the Museum staff in advance if the tourist would be visiting on a self-guided tour.

Moreover the Museum also hosts public lectures all through the year together with workshops where admission to the lectures is free and no booking is needed, though seating is done on first come first served basis. The lectures conducted last for around one hour. The National Museum of Ireland, Decorative Arts and History located at Collins Barracks in Dublin comprises of a collection of artifacts namely silver, ceramics, furniture, glassware, weaponry and costume and is home to the Art and Industrial Division of the National Museum of Ireland.

It is responsible for artifacts related to Irish political, social, industrial, economic and military history for the last 300 years while the museum staffs takes care of the collections of Irish, European as well as Oriental decorative arts providing an understanding of international design and culture as they relate to Ireland.

Ancient Treasures/Artifacts 

This amazing Dublin museum in Ireland presents ancient treasures as well as artefacts of 9,000 years of human inhabitation which are rich objects and archaeological discoveries kept on display. Several of the prehistoric gold collection, the largest and the finest native origin gold exhibit are the most impressive than any national museum in Europe outside Athens, including the lunula neck ornament, sheet gold sun disks and collars together with twisted arm bands, ear-spools and clothing fasteners which dates back from 2200 to 500 BC.

The early Christian relics, discovered, are of world importance which includes the Ardagh Chalice, Cross of Cong, Lismore Crozier together with a bell which is presumed to belong to St. Patrick. The discoveries from Dublin’s Wood Quay, the intact Viking urban centre excavated in Western Europe portrayed a town layout as well as the everyday life from 1000 years and prior to it together with widespread commercial connections.

Moreover, the museum also features a large collection of weaponry, an illuminated Book of Psalms which was recently found in a bog and well preserved bog bodies probably belonging to the Iron Age and earlier tribal sacrifices.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Milan, Italy

Milan – Italy’s Largest Urban & Metropolitan Area

Milan is the 2nd most populuous city in Italy and the capital of Lombardy. It is also financially an important city in Italy and situated at the centre of Italy’s largest urban and metropolitan area. Though it is not considered beautiful as some of the other Italian cities, being partly destroyed by Second World War bomb raids, the city has been rebuilt into a cosmopolitan business capital.

Milan when compared to other places is interesting due to the fact that the city is more about lifestyle, of enjoying worldly pleasures, a paradise for shopping, football, opera and nightlife.Milan is also famous for its wealth of historical as well as modern sights like the Duomo which is one of the largest and the grandest Gothic cathedrals in the world.

 The gilt bronze statue of the Virgin Mary which is placed on the highest pinnacle of the Duomo in 1774 has become one of the most enduring symbols of Milan. La Scala is one of the best established opera house, the Galleria Vittoria Emanuele is an ancient and a glamorous arcaded shopping gallery, the Brera art gallery has some of the finest artistic works in Europe.

 The Pirelli tower is a majestic example of the 1960s modern Italian architecture, the San Siro, a huge and famed stadium or the Castello Sforzesco, a grand medieval castle. The UNESCO’s World Heritage Site Santa Maria alle Grazie Basilica contains one of the worlds’ famous paintings namely the Leonardo da Vince’s – The Last Supper.

Grand Palaces & Churches

At first glance, Milan seems to be a bustling and quite stylish metropolis with a good variety of grand palaces as well as fine churches at its centre though it seems slightly prosaic, business orientated and a soulless place. On a rainy, grey or foggy weather, some of the buildings, some ancient while others modern; tend to display a severe appearance.

Milan is a diverse city filled with history at every corner with a plethora of hidden gem together with an established history in theatre, literature, music, sport, art and fashion etc. Milan is the main industrial, financial and the commercial centre of Italy as well as a leading global city and its business district hosts the Borsa Italiana and the headquarters of the biggest national banks and companies. Besides this, the city is also a major world fashion and design capital and its museums, landmarks and theatres which include the Milan Cathedral is the fifth largest cathedral in the world.

Known for Various International Events & Fairs

The UNESCO World Heritage Site draws over 6 million visitors every year. Milan hosts various cultural institutions and universities with the enrolment of over 185,000 students in 2011 which is 11% of the national total. Milan is also well known for various international events and fairs which include the Milan Fashion Week as well as the Milan Furniture Fair which was the largest of its kind in the world.

It will also host the 2015 Universal Exposition as well as the Design world Expo in the year 2016. Besides all this, Milan is also a home to two of the world’s major football teams namely A, C, Milan and F. C, Internazionale Milano.

Friday, February 13, 2015


Taipei – Largest City of Taiwan 

Taipei is the largest city of Taiwan as well as its economic, political and cultural centre having a modern cosmopolitan metropolis with lively and diversified face and full of exuberance. It is the national capital city and is in the northern area of the island in a basin between the Yangming Mountains and the Central Mountains.

Being the fourth largest administrative area of Taiwan after New Taipei, Kaohsiung and Taichung, the Greater Taipei metropolitan area encompassing the central Taipei City with the surrounding New Taipei City and Keelung represents the largest urban group in Taiwan.

 Taipei was founded in the early 18th century during the Qing Dynasty rule and became an important place for overseas trade in the 19th century. Taipei was made the capital of Taiwan Province cicca 1886 by the Qing Dynasty when Taiwan was separated from Fujian Province.

 Taipei City is a home to around 2,695,007 inhabitants, with the metropolitan city having a population of around 7,028,583. The city proper population is on the decrease in recent years while population of the adjacent New Taipei is on the increase.

World’s Largest Foreign Exchange Reserves 

Being the centre of rapid economic development in the country it has now become one of the global cities in production of sophisticated technology and components which have been the part of the so-called Taiwan Miracle bringing about dramatic growth in the city with foreign direct investment in the 1960s.

Taiwan is presently a creditor economy having one of the world’s largest foreign exchange reserves as of December 2012 of more than US$403 billion. Taipei is a world of fascinating contrast from the world’s tallest building to the largest collection of Chinese art and is a mixture of the modern as well as traditional together with a generous amount of energy with friendly people.

Taiwan is endowed with mountains, with over 200 of its peaks, more than 3,000 metres high thus making Taiwan geographically very unique. Since mountains are seen all over, mountain climbing has become a popular leisure activity in Taiwan.

Rich Marine Ecology

Taiwan has rich marine ecology and one comes across groups of bottlenose dolphins, spinner dolphins, Risso’s dolphins as well as pan tropical spotted dolphins that tend to jump out of the Pacific Ocean along the east.

 In Kending towards the southern tip of Taiwan and on Green Island and the Penghu Archipelao one will find Azure seas and magnificent coral reefs and this place is an amazing discovery. The climate is warm and humid and a variety of terrain which include plains, basins, sandbars, hill, mountains and plateaus have made the country a home to various animals and plant life including many endemic species.

This can therefore be regarded as a big gigantic eco-park. Taiwan is also known for its hot springs and the warm waters of these springs are heated and charged by the earth’s own energy and considered to be soothing, revitalizing and reinvigorating.

Few of the spring have been diverted into bath-houses and health spas where it can be enjoyed in pools or private bathrooms with other traditional treatments also offered. Others are left completely natural in forests and along the river side which are ideal spots for relaxing and relieving the tired body on a long hike in the wilderness. Taipei is one of those exciting places with plenty to explore and cherish.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Mountain Railways of India

Mountain of Railways of India – Built during 19th& 20th Century

India is a home to several altitude railway stations which are located at higher than 2,000 metres with over ten stations higher than 1,000 metres. Mountain railways of India are 6 or 7 small lines out of around twenty similar narrow or metre gauge which still remain operational around the world. These were built during the 19th and early 20th century at the time of British colonial rule – the Raj and these lines still function till date. Presently, the Indian Railways operate them together with the Kashmir Railway which is operational since 2005.

 Four out of these seven namely the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway – 1881, the Kalka-Shimla Railway – 1898, the Kangra Valley Railway – 1924 and the Kashmir Railway – 2005 fall in the rugged hill region of the Himalayas in Northern India while two are further down south towards the Western Ghats like the Nilgiri Mountain Railway in Tamil Nadu and the Matheran Hill Railway in Maharashtra.

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, the Kalka-Shimla Railway together with the Nilgiri Mountain Railway has been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the recognition to these three mountain railways of India is due to outstanding examples of bold ingenious engineering solutions for the problem in establishing an effective link of rail through a rugged mountainous terrain. Darjeeling Himalayan Railway obtained it first in 1999 while Nilgiri Mountain Railways followed next in 2005 and the Kalka-Shimla Railway got it in 2008.

Connected to Important Hill Resorts With Foot Hills

All the three together have received the title of `Mountain Railways of India’ under Criteria – ii, iv under the region in the Asia – Pacific while the Matheran Railway, which is the fourth hill line, is pending acceptance by international group.

All these lines are connected to important hill resorts with foot hills that wind up their way through a scenic and rugged mountainous landscape as they travel along uphill. Given to understand, the terrain on which they were constructed during the British rule, were outstanding examples of the interchange of values on development in technology and marvels of engineering.

The mountain railways in the hilly mountain came up as a result of the interest that was delayed during the British rule in establishing control over the Himalayas as well as various other mountain ranges of India and in 1844, Sir John Lawrence, the then ruling Viceroy of India, had the idea of a phased colonization of the hill especially as military garrisons. The British in their simple proposal termed as `Hill Railway’, had intentions of establishing geographically as well as culturally rich, various stations across the country.

Franklin Prestage Initiated Plans for Hill Tramway 

Some of the hill stations taken into considerations for this purpose were Shimla which was then the summer capital of British India, Darjeeling which is known for its tea gardens as well as scenic views of the eastern Himalayas in West Bengal, Kangra Valley in Himachal Pradesh, Nilgiri mountains in Ootacamund and the Matheran hill station in the Western Ghats near Mumbai. Attempts to link the mountainous terrain of amazing beauty together with a hill passenger railway began in 1878 with the construction of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway line when the then Eastern Bengal Railway personnel, Franklin Prestage initiated plans for the building of hill tramway in alignment with the Hill Cart Road from Siliguri to Darjeeling and construction eventually got started. In 1881, the line was commissioned up to Darjeeling.

Inaugurated By Viceroy Lord Curzon – November 1903

Next project was then launched on the Nilgiri Mountain Railway in Tamil Nadu which was first proposed in 1854. Though work started in 1894, the railway was not completed till 1908 since the terrain was difficult and the big difference in altitude that ranged between 326 meters and 2,203 meters covering a distance of 46 kilometres.

The construction of the 96 kilometres Kalka-Shimla railway line started in 1898 opening up the remote hill regions to the people and inaugurated by Viceroy Lord Curzon, in November 1903. The commissioning of the Matheran – Neral `toy train’ was done in 1907, where Matheran is a hill station which is 108 kilometres away from Mumbai while the Kangra line was commenced in 1929 amidst the picturesque Kangra valley.

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway – The new Jalpaiguri-Darjeeling, toy train on the Darjeeling Himalayan area is not only a source of delight for people of all age but also represents the engineering skills of the highest order which is 83 km long connecting Darjeeling with the railhead at Siliguir which is of great importance as well the status of World Heritage Site. Besides it has the Ghum station which is India’s highest railway station at an altitude of 2,257 metres and is an outstanding example of multi-cultural region to serve as a model for similar developments in several parts of the world.

The Kalka Shimla Himalayan Railway is one of the most famous hill railways in India which runs on three tracks, popularly known as `Toy Trains’. The journey on this line is a unique experience since it passes through amazing mind-blowing landscape of the majestic Himalayas through tunnels and over the bridges in the midst of lush green valleys with pine and oak trees. The railway route comprises of tunnel no. 103 known as mini Shimla where in summer, the festival of goddess Shoolini Devi is celebrated, and is the main attraction of the city.

The Niligiri Mountain Railway which is 46 km long, runs on 1000 mm gauge railway and connects Mettupalayam to Ooty. The first part of this railway to Coonoor was completed in 1899 by the Niligiri Railway Company and extended to Ooty in 1903 and is an extension to the world Heritage Site of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. One will find some of the best natural scenery around with wild life around the Nilgiri Mountain Railway. Nilgiri Biosphere Nature Park is one of the most visited places by several tourists.

Neral-Matheran Hill Railway – Matheran is on a hilltop at an altitude of 800 m and the journey to the hilltop in the midst of shady trees and fresh atmosphere is a real experience of witnessing nature as one ascent the top in a toy train. One will find monkeys jumping on and off along with food and drink vendors all through the journey of 11 km. The Neral-Matheran Hill Railway is also one of the most famous attractions of the city and passes through amazing mountain tunnels together with dense forest of the region. It is a Hill Station in the Western Ghat in Raigad district of Maharashtra and is known as one of the smallest hill station in India.

Pathankot-Jogindernagar Railway – the work on this line commenced in 1926 and 3 years thereafter, the 163 km long route was opened to traffic. Kangra Toy Train is where the passengers spend majority of their time going through tunnels. This railway line links Pathankot and Joginder Nagar through a maze of hills and valleys with awesome scenic views.

Monday, February 9, 2015


Pilsen – Amazing Architectural/Urban Landscape

Pilsen lies in the crook which is created by the Chicago River and the railroad lines which run along West 16th Street. Historically it has been a first stop neighbourhood for American immigrants from Bohemia first and later from Mexico. Pilsen has amazing architectural as well as urban landscape which has been developed for its newly arrived settlers.

 It was inhabited by the Czech Republic and the population included other ethnic groups from the Austro-Hungarian Empire comprising of Slovaks, Slovenes, Croats and Austrians together with immigrants of Polish and Lithuanian heritage. Several of the immigrants’ worked in the stockyards as well as the surrounding factories and like many early 20th Century American urban neighbourhoods, Pilsen became home to the wealthy and the working class and doctors lived in the same vicinity of maids and labourers.

Pilsen’s rich Neo-Bohemian Baroque architectural heritage together with its proximity to the Loop remains to strengthen its position as a neighbourhood which is set for revival as reinvestment in Chicago’s inner city neighbourhood. Though these developments have turned out to have a positive impact on the local economy, the negative side was that some lower income locals and families in the community were forced to move to other neighbourhoods due to the rise in housing cost.

Famous for Its Murals

Development in the north of Pilsen has grown significantly over the past few decades which include construction and restoration of the National Historic Register properties like the 800+ unit south Water Market, CHA’s transformation of the ABLA project and an old concrete Cold Storage Warehouse. Development has now spread over into proper Pilsen.

The East Side of Pilsen is Chicago’s largest art districts as well as the neighbourhood which is home to the Mexican Fine Arts Centre Museum. Moreover it is also famous for its murals and the original mural is in Pilsen along 16th Street which started as a cooperative attempt between Slavs and Mexicans when the neighbourhood was going through a change.

On close observations of the murals, one will find images which include storks, scenic European farms as well as Lipizzaner Horses. Cultural landscape of the neighbourhood changed as Mexican artist and business owners made the neighbourhood more appealing with painting, murals and statues which depicted the Mexican culture.

Pilsen – Glorified Community with Strong Hispanic Enclave

Towards the 21st century, the locals of Pilsen resisted attempts to gentrify their neighbourhood and preserved the community as a getaway for Hispanic immigrants. The Fiesta del Sol festival demonstrated their pride and determination of the people of Pilsen in continuing its rich working class legacy which is held during the first weekend of August.

There were several industries that started to thrive; warehouses and transportation began hiring Hispanic residents in Pilsen while small groceries, restaurants as well as other non-basic industries too employed locals of Pilsen. Rent and property tax being low then, the limits of certain businesses were low and less people were needed in order to make a profit.

On the whole, Pilsen is a community which is glorified due to its strong Hispanic enclave and amazing ethnic landscape and Pilsen will continue to remain a community which will serve and strengthen the culture and protect the heritage from Latinos.

Friday, February 6, 2015


Bristol – Fusion of Georgian & Victorian Architecture

Bristol is a county in south West England having an estimated population of 437,500 inhabitants in 2014. It is England’s sixth and United Kingdom’s 8th most populous city.Set in the midst of a historic harbour, Bristol is a commercial, creative and bustling city.

 It is lively, dynamic, cosmopolitan as well as ambitious and its cityscape is fusion of elegant Georgian as well as Victorian architecture with amazing modern buildings and developments. Bristol takes pride in award winning and internationally acclaimed cultural institutions, world class events as well as festivals with enticing markets and shops.

 It is an amazing destination for leisure as well as for business.In 1155, Bristol had received a Royal charter and was a part of Gloucestershire till 1373 when it became a county in its own right. Between the 13th to the 18th century, it ranked among the top three English cities following London together with York and Norwich with regards to tax receipts till the rise of Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool in the Industrial Revolution. The city is built around the River Avon and has a short coastline on the Severn Estuary that flows in the Bristol Channel.

World’s Top Ten Cities – DK Eyewitness

With great developments like the opening of Cabot Circus, the city’s new £500 million shopping and leisure quarter, together with the final phases of the impressive harbour side developments, the city is heading towards exciting times for the future.Bristol has been selected as one of the World’s top ten cities to visit, in 2009 by DK Eyewitness, the world’s best-selling guidebook publisher while other cities included in the list are Buenos Aires, Cape Town, Copenhagen, Fes, Gdansk, Seattle (USA), Washington DC and Vilnius.

Besides this, it is also one of the first cycling cities in the UK and European Green Capital for 2015. In 2008, several days after being recognised as a potential European Green Capital, Bristol was announced as the `UK’s Most Sustainable City’ in a separate independent assessment taken up by Forum for the Future. Moreover, Bristol was also crowned `European City of the Year’, at the annual awards which was held by the Academy of Urbanism, comprising of 100 members of industry-leading architect, engineers, planners, developers and designers.

Best Shopping Centre in Europe

Bristol is street party capital of the UK and its new £500 million retail development, Cabot Circus also won the `Best Shopping Centre in Europe’ award at the 2008 MAPIC International Retail Development Conference in Cannes. Bristol’s prosperity is linked with the sea, right from earlier days and the Port of Bristol was originally in the city centre before it was moved to the Seven Estuary at Avonmouth; Royal Portbury Dock is towards the western edge of the city.

The economy in recent years depended on the creative media, aerospace and electronics industries and the city centre docks have been regenerated as centre of culture heritage. Bristol, being a major seaport, has a long history of trading commodities, like wool cloth exports, and imports of fish, grain, wine and dairy products and later on tobacco, tropical fruits, and plantation goods. Major import products presently are motor vehicles, timber, and fresh produce and petroleum products. Bristol is an amazing historical city to visit and explore.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Havana, Cuba

Havana – Leading Commercial Centre - Cuba

Havana city is the capital city of Cuba and a leading commercial centre as well as one of the fourteen provinces of the Republic of Cuba. The city extends westward and southward from the bay and is entered through a narrow inlet which divides into three main harbours namely Marimelena, Guanabacoa and Atares while the Almendares River travels across the city from south to north making its entry in the Straits of Florida a few miles towards the west of the bay.

It spans a total of 728.26 sq. km making it the largest city by area, the most populous city as well as the third largest metropolitan area in the Caribbean region with a population of 2.1 million inhabitants.This city was founded in the 16th century by the Spanish and served as a springboard for the Spanish conquest of the continent.

 This was due to its strategic location and it became a stopping point for the treasure laden Spanish galleons on the crossing during the New World and the Old World. Havana was granted the title of City in 1592 by King Philip II of Spain. Many forts and walls were built in order to protect the old city and the sinking of the U.S. battleship Maine in 1898 in Havana’s harbour was the cause of the Spanish American War.

Centre of the Cuban Government 

Havana can be described as three cities in one namely Old Havana, Vedado and the new suburban districts where thecity is the centre of the Cuban government as well as home to several ministries, headquarters of businesses and above 90 diplomatic offices.

The city province had the 3rd highest income in the country in 2009 and its current mayor isMarta Hernandez from the Communist Party of Cuba. Before the Communist revolution, Havana seems to be one of the vacation spots of the Caribbean and after Cuba was reopened to the tourist in 1990, it turned out to be a popular destination.

The city draws over a million tourists every year and the Havana Official Census reports that in 2010, the city had around 1,176,627 international tourists which was a 20% increase from 2005. In 1982, the historic centre was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site while the city is also known for its history, culture monument and architecture.

Exploring Havana

The most convenient way of exploring Havana is by taxi where some of the taxis are old American Chevys from the 50s while others are somewhat new Russian Ladas and still others tourist taxis of modern Peugeots, Skoda and also Mercedes.

It is considered illegal for the tourist to ride in anything other than the official government taxis though it is a lot easier to wave down the old Chevys or Ladas. While riding in an illegal taxi, it is essential to negotiate the fare in advance and the fare for illegal taxis is not cheaper than the official taxi fare. Taking an illegal taxi around the city would not be a problem though it may be a cause for worry while taking an illegal taxi to or from the airport which may draw the attention of the police.

The old beaten up yank tanks with taxi sign on the roof or in the front window are the taxi collectivos and though tourist are not supposed to take them, they are fun and cheap options to the state run taxis. They tend to have set fares and run set routes.

Two Currencies –Cuban Peso/Cuban Convertible Peso

The fares may differ from 10 CUP for short run during the day to 20 CUP for a longer ride or during the night. The wait to get a taxi collective could be long since they are very popular with Cubans and are often full but the experience as well as the savings are worthwhile. A cheap way of getting around central Havana is through Coco Taxis and yellow three wheel motorbikes.

Hiring a car could be an interesting experience since the road signs are not too good and some tourist recommend picking up hitchhikers and use their knowledge in getting around and explore the city. If intending to leave Havana, tourist should ensure to use an air conditioned jeep since normal cars would not be capable to cope up with the terrain of the road. It is difficult to enter Cuba by sea, due to political circumstances and visiting mariners should make advance arrangements to enter the port in order to avoid any problem. Besides, several ports are closed to unauthorised visitors.

Cuba has two currencies, such as the Cuban Peso – CUP and the Cuban Convertible Peso – CUC where most of the tourist use the CUC for most of their purchases, taxis, hotels and other activities. CUC was created to replace all the US dollars which were used in the tourist industry till late1990.Havana is an interesting destination filled with plenty of intriguing sites to visit and explore.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Lake Kivu

Lake Kivu – Great Lakes of East Africa

Lake Kivu is one of the Great Lakes of East Africa which lies on the border between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda. It is in the Abertine Rift, the western branch of the East African Rift and empties into the Ruzizi River which flows into Lake Tanganyika, southwards. Kivu means `lakes’, in some Bantu language like the words Tanganyika or nyanza.

Lake Kivu which is located 100 miles north of Lake Tanganyika is at the highest point of the East African Rift Valley and is one of the three known volcanic lakes in the world containing high dissolved amount of carbon dioxide in its deeper waters, while the other known volcanic lakes are Lake Nvos and Lake Monoun in Cameroon.

It has a rough coast containing various islands, the largest being Idjwi which at one point of time was part of a larger body of water, that filled a structural trough in the Earth. Volcanic outpourings towards it northern shore resulted in a dam which separated Kivu from Lake Edward barring Kivu’s northern outflow, reversing its drainage to the south via the Ruzizi River. In 1958, the hydroelectric dam, Mururu was completed at the River Ruzizi’s outlet

Gaseous Chemical Composition - Unique

Lake Kivu is a fresh water lake together with Cameroonian Lake Nyos. Lake Monoun is one the three which experience linmic eruptions and surrounding the lake, geologists found evidence of massive biological extinction of about thousand years which was the result of outgassing events.

In the case of Lake Kivu, the trigger for lake overturns in not known but it is presumed that volcanic activity could be the cause. The gaseous chemical composition is unique to each lake and in case of Lake Kivu, the methane as well as carbon dioxide is due to lake water interaction with a volcano. The estimated amount of methane is around 65 cubic kilometres – which if burnt over a year, it could provide an average power of around 100 gigawatts for the entire period and the carbon dioxide is estimated to 256 cubic kilometres.

Methane is reported to be produced due to microbial reduction of the volcanic carbon dioxide and the risk from a possible overturn of Lake Kivu would be dangerous, dwarfing other lake overturns at Lakes Monoun and Nyos with around two million people living in the lake basin.

Rich in Volcanic Substance 

The shores ofKivu are densely populated, Bukavu and Goma in Congo being the principal towns and Gisenvi in Rwanda. Count Adolf von Gotzen, a German explorer, was the first European to visit the lake in 1894. Though the lake is supplied with fish, it is poor in fauna but rich in volcanic substance with great volumes of dissolves methane gases existing in its deep waters, which could be utilised as energy sources.

Lake Kivu has remained untouched for thousands of years though in the last few years it has drawn the attention in the scientific field where a heat flux in the lake or other meteorological and limnological forces could cause an overturn or perhaps later, rollover of the lake thereby releasing dissolved carbon dioxide from pressure causing discharge of gas which could be harmful to the communities located in the surrounding areas of the lake.