Travel

Dura Europos: Where History Lies

There are some places where you would think twice visiting – like the war-torn Syria.

Dura Europos Ruins

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Looking at it the Ruins of Dura Europos, it pales in comparison to the brilliant city lights of Paris or to the grandeur of famous basilicas across Europe; however, beneath every tumbled stones and every torn walls of this besieged, abandoned city is a story of Faith for Christians, Jews, and Pagans alike.

LOCATION

Dura Europos is a Seleucid- founded settlement that rises 90 meters above the right side of the famous Euphrates River. It was located near the village of Salhiyé of present Syria and near the border of Iraq.

CLIMATE

Climate in Dura Europos has hot and dry summer, which starts at May and ends in October. The wet seasons, however, starts in November then ends in April.

TRANSPORTATION

Due to the increase visits from tourists, the management of Dura Europos has reconstructed one of its buildings to serve as a commercial center where one can shop for souvenirs; in spite of this, there are still no available inns in the vicinity.

Tourists are then advised to travel through taxis, buses, or coach tours.

WHAT TO SEE

The discovery of this sand-buried civilization started around the 1920s when a British soldier discovered a fresco near the site where they are digging trenches. American archaeologist James Henry Breasted was then called on-site and thus, the digging of the past started.

Dura Europos Christian House Church

Room for Christian Baptism

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The World’s oldest Christian Church could be found here in the ruins of Dura Europos. It was a house church built around the beginning of the 3rd century. It was a mud-brick upper class Roman style house where there is a courtyard at the center. Due to prohibited Christian practice during that time, this church is designed to be inconspicuous.

This house church is composed of different rooms for different occasions such as Baptism and Eucharistic celebrations. Each room is decorated with well-preserved murals depicting various encounters of Jesus Christ in his Messianic Mission. Examples of murals are Jesus as The Good Shepherd, Healing of the Paralytic and his encounter of the woman in the well.

The Oldest Preserved Jewish Synagogue

Jewish Synagogue Mural

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The oldest preserved Jewish synagogue could also be found in Dura Europos. There are numerous inscriptions in papyrus fragments and parchments that are written in different languages such as Greek, Latin, Palmyrenean, Hebrew, Hatrian, Safaitic, and Pahlavi. Oldest depictions of the Jewish Trah could also be found in the walls of this synagogue.

Pagan Temples

Pagan Fresco

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The Temple of Bel and Adonis has also been excavated in Dura Europos. Numerous frescoes in various depictions of pagan gods lined the wall of the old building.

A 2nd century inscription was found in the Temple Adonis and is now under the care of the Louvre Museum, while other archaeological finds are being preserved in the National Museum of Damascus.

Images:
(1) http://www.sacred-destinations.com/syria/dura-europos/photos/river-c-beck
(2) http://www.sacred-destinations.com/syria/dura-europos/photos/house-church
(3) http://www.sacred-destinations.com/syria/dura-europos/photos/synagogue-fresco-exodus-c-becklectic
(4) http://www.sacred-destinations.com/syria/dura-europos/photos/mithras-2nd-cent

See More:

Archaeology Magazine – Dura-Europos: Crossroad of Cultures
http://archive.archaeology.org/online/features/dura_europos/

Dura-Europos: Excavating Antiquity
http://media.artgallery.yale.edu/duraeuropos/dura.html

Mary Grace Valdez

The Colossal Tokyo Skytree Tower

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HISTORY AND STRUCTURE

The Skytree tower in Tokyo is a colossal symbol of the Japanese capital, aside from the fact that it is also the tallest communication tower in the world. With a titanic height of more than 2,000 feet, Skytree is one of the world renowned tourist spots in Tokyo, a city that is at present full of other remarkable sites.

This projecting structure was initially built as a television communications tower in May 2012. Skytree was planned to represent the customary Japanese structural design, predominantly the bowl-shaped Sori curves and arched Mukuri curves as prevalent in most of Japan’s primeval temples and edifices.

WHAT TO SEE

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Skytree Tembo Deck (1)

The Skytree tower has two observation decks. The first level is the Tembo Deck, and is situated approximately 350 meters above the ground. This observation deck has 5 meter high panels that showcase a full 360 degree sight of Tokyo and the entirety of Kanto region as well.

The second deck is Tembo Galleria which is 100 meters above the Tembo Deck, and just an elevator ride away. Known to be the highest skywalk in the world, this deck is a sloping spiral ramps which encircles the tower.

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Skytree SoraKara Point (2)

The SoraKara Point is the highest reachable point of the tower with a height of about 451 meters. Aside from the observation decks, Skytree is a profit-making center jam-packed with stalls of all sorts for their visitors. Skytree Tower is the foundation for Tokyo Skytree Town.

It encompasses the commercial area called Tokyo Solamachi which is home to a multitude of shops and restaurants, and also has its very own planetarium and aquarium.

LOCATION, TRANSPORTATION AND SCHEDULE

This iconic tower is located in the Oshiage, Sumida-ku neighborhood of Tokyo and is certainly reachable via the metropolis’ wide-ranging train system. The observation decks are open to visitors from 8:00AM – 10:00PM on a daily basis. There are several admission fees obtainable for purchase, comprising same-day permits for the Tembo Deck and Galleria. Tickets to the first observation deck can typically be acquired on the 4th floor and once you get to the Tembo Deck, tickets are available at the second observation level.

Images
1. http://youinjapan.net/tokyo/sky_tree.php
2. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tokyo_Skytree_Sorakara_point_DSCN3722_20121101.JPG

See More:

Tokyo Sky Tree
https://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/spot/comcobtw/tokyoskytree.html

Tokyo Skytree: the second tallest tower in the world
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/property/pictures/9209393/Tokyo-Skytree-the-second-tallest-tower-in-the-world.html

Raphy Salvador

Get Enthralled at Telegraph Hill, California

When you contemplate on palaces or castles, such places as London, Sterling, and Windsor suggest itself.

But one might not anticipate that San Francisco, California should also be well thought-out. Julius Castle on striking Telegraph Hill is an abstruse secret, a gem concealed at the end of an isolated San Franciscan lane.

LOCATION AND TRANSPORTATION

Telegraph Hill is a locality in San Francisco, California. It is one of San Francisco’s original Seven Hills, and one of its infamous 44 hills. So-called for a gesticulate telegraph that formerly stood on its peak, Telegraph Hill served as a refuge for unfortunate settlers, wealthy investors and inspired artists.

Its flight of stairs pass through some of the city’s most amiable landscape, but if you’d desire to avoid the ascent up the 284-foot hill, you can take a cab or bus straight to Coit Tower and initiate the trip from there.

CLIMATE

The city is situated in a network of over 40 hills, measuring altitudes of nearly 1,000 feet and this every so often grounds for wide disparities in hotness and sky conditions in diverse areas.

The Pacific breeze retains the temperatures usually moderate, infrequently reaching beyond 75 degrees or below 45 degrees, marking San Francisco as the air-conditioned city. The climate is very comparable to coastal regions on the Mediterranean.

WHAT TO SEE

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Julius Castle (1)

This fortress was never used to guard a city. No monarchy ever reigned from a throne in this castle. Nevertheless, a banquet fit for monarchs is primed every night inside this modern citadel. Staring out on the sea from the Golden Gate to the Bay Bridge and yonder, Julius Castle offers one of the most remarkable sights in the city while having a royal dinner.

Built to bear a resemblance to a castle using Redwood trees and maples, Julius Castle dates back to the early 1920’s. An Italian settler Julius Roz projected a castle on the hill, and his dream became actuality come 1922.

If you have relished too much of the regal food and wine in the interior of the castle, you might want to try some after-dinner bustle by either attempting to go further up Coit Tower, or downhill via the Filbert Stairs.

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Coit Tower (2)

Set at the topmost of the hill, Coit Tower overlooks the urban both from its base, and all the more marvelously from the tip of its turret.

The tower, which was put up in 1933 and with funds bequeathed by Little Hitchcook Coit, provides more than just the picturesque sights outside.

Murals or wall paintings embellish the inside of the stronghold illustrating scenes during the great depression of California and other historic events.

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Filbert Stairs (3)

If ascending the hills of San Francisco has hastily mislaid its allure, then wandering in the contrasting path down the Filbert Stairs may be a better option. These stairways run down to Sansome Street, right off of the renowned Embarcadero trailing side to side unspoiled gardens and fine-looking homes.

As you wander at the scenic spots on your 377 steps expedition downhill, make certain and appreciate that you are undertaking the only way of getting at the 19th century cottages you pass by, as there is no other access to the road.

As you depart to travel around these other exhilarating fascinations, revel in the thought that you just feasted at a world-class palace, right in the heart of contemporary California.

Images:

1. http://italo36.rssing.com/chan-7505668/all_p9.html
2. http://www.sothebyshomes.com/areas/telegraph-hill-real-estate
3. http://www.sanfranciscodays.com/telegraph-hill/

See More:

San Francisco Walking Tour: Telegraph Hill
http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/city-guides/san-francisco-walking-tour-3/

FAQ for the Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill
http://www.markbittner.net/parrot_pages/faq.html

Raphy Salvador

Visiting the Quaint Narragansett of Rhode Island

Narragansett is a humble city in Rhode Island. The Island is not as popular as other US destinations like New York or Las Vegas, but this spot is known for its beaches and summer recreation.

LOCATION

Narragansett is a settlement in Washington County, Rhode Island, USA. The town is informally branded as Gansett. The urban of Narragansett subjugates a slender strip of territory from the eastern tier of the Pettaquamscutt River to the coast of Narragansett Bay. In 1888, it was disjointed from South Kingstown, and promulgated as a town in 1901.

CLIMATE

Narragansett catches 49 inches of rain in a year but typically, there are 207 sunny days per year in this island. Its hottest is around 81 degrees in July, while coldest is in January which measures down to 19 degrees.

TRANSPORTATION

Amtrak service is available to get you to Providence, Kingston and Westerly, Rhode Island, from other cities all over the Northeast Corridor. Another means of transportation is a seasonal 30 minute hi-speed ferry which leaves from Point Judith and reaches the town center of Old Harbor, Block Island.

WHAT TO SEE

Point Judith Lighthouse

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This lighthouse was constructed in the early 1800s, so you just have an inkling that there’s a lot of history around it. Vacationers love this amazing lighthouse. You can just sit back and relax at an unobtrusive spot while you wonder at the lighthouse and take in the cool breeze and sounds of the ocean.

Narragansett Beach

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There’s a motivation why this is very prevalent among citizens. A lot of them will tell you that this is the town’s “selling point” because this is one of the main tourist spots in the city. Yes, you don’t even have to soak in the pristine waters of this beach.

You can just simply marvel at the sand and the other distant views. It really is one of the prime spots to visit in Narragansett. Why not think through taking a surfing lesson when it’s actually one of the first things that travelers do when they visit the beach. Warm Winds is one of the most reliable surf shops in the area and their surfing lessons are always a hit.

Camp at the Fishermen’s Memorial State Park & Campground

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If your impression of pleasure is camping, then this abode has you covered. This is specifically right if you’re an aficionado of RV camping. You’ll get the best sights if you’re coming with an RV, including the comfort and convenience of course.

The best time to visit the campsite is during off-seasons if you want some peace and quiet, and the month of October is a good time to visit. Also, make sure not to camp at the first spot that you see. Make sure to travel around for a lot of other ideal sites.

Visit the Fishing Village of Galilee

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You will definitely not get bored watching a lot of fishing vessels in this fishing village. If you find fishing pleasurable, this is one of the best things to do in Narragansett RI that you shouldn’t miss out. If you’re fortunate, your stay may even concur with the largest tuna derby in the world.

There are a lot of exciting and reasonably priced activities to do in Narragansett. And these are proof that you don’t have to break a piggy bank just to have a vacation worth remembering.

IMAGES

1. http://lighthousesofri.com/
2. http://goista.com/narragansett-a-hot-spot-for-vacationing-families-during-the-summer/
3. http://www.riparks.com/
4. http://www.narragansettri.gov/383/Port-of-Galilee

See More:

Narragansett Tourism: Best of Narragansett, RI
http://www.tripadvisor.com.ph/Tourism-g54097-Narragansett_South_County_Rhode_Island-Vacations.html

Narragansett, RI – Official Website
http://www.narragansettri.gov/

Raphy Salvador

Spain’s Priorat Region

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The Spanish wine region of Priorat is a remote and rocky place which is known as the birthplace of intense, minerally reds that many wine writers and collectors consider to be Spain’s most elite wines.

The distinctive slate-and-quartzite soil (locally called llicorella), an abundance of sunshine and an energetic group of young winemakers have earned the region a reputation as one of Spain’s most innovative, while the area’s pristine natural beauty and long history make it a fascinating place to explore.

LOCATION

Priorat is a small, dynamic wine region in Catalonia, north-eastern Spain.

CLIMATE

There are several different micro-climates present. Generally, the climate is more extreme than most continental climate areas, though there is a marked contrast between the valleys and the higher areas.

There are both freezing winds from the north (mitigated somewhat by the Montsant mountain) and also the warm Mistral wind from the east.

Summers are long, hot and dry (max temperature 35°) while winters are cold (min temperature -4°C). There is the occasional risk of frost, hailstones and drought. The average annual temperature is 15°C, and average annual rainfall is 400–600 mm.

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TRANSPORTATION

BY AIR – Barcelona International Airport lies to the south of the city near El Prat. Most flights from Barcelona are European based. There is a fast shuttle service (puente aereo/pont aeri) which can take you to your connection in Madrid in half an hour.

• BY ROAD – The main motorway leading southwards out of Barcelona is a continuation of the Diagonal road. This road becomes the AP7 motorway.which turns inland towards Martorell. The motorway has a series of tolls, which makes the one and a half hour journey to the Priorat into a rather expensive one! After the final toll at Tarragona, you take exit 34 and head towards Reus which turns into the N420 and leads you up into the mountains and then down to Falset the capital of the Priorat region.

BY RAIL – Barcelona International Airport is to be found to the south of the city near El Prat. There are regular trains from the airport to Sants station where you can catch a train (2 hour ride) from there to Marçà-Falset station. The line is the Barcelona-Caspe-Zaragoza line and there are five trains a day. The last train leaves Barcelona at 20.33 hours during the week and 17.33 hours at the weekend.

See More:

A visit to the beautiful Priorat wine region of Spain
http://sacreddrop.com/2012/05/19/484/

Spain’s Priorat Wine Region: Small but Mighty | Into Wine
http://www.intowine.com/spain%E2%80%99s-priorat-wine-region-small-mighty

Maria Alcantara

San Diego, California

San Diego represents mellow California culture, full with a Boardwalk, surfing communities, and excellent Mexican food. After a long winter, it’s time to scrap off some layers and restock your vitamin D intake.

Gorgeous sunshine, moderately hot winds, and awesome beaches are calling from San Diego, and we’re enticing you to answer the call. Add some spring to your step and laud the season in San Diego!

San Diego is a dominant city in California, on the coast of the Pacific Ocean in Southern California, nearly 120 miles south of Los Angeles and directly bordering to the border with Mexico.

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Inhale in the fresh ocean air at Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, then gulp down a fresh fish taco at a La Jolla seafood joint. San Diego, the eighth biggest city in the country, is often mentioned to as “America’s Finest City” and for good reason!

Famous for its huge hotels and accommodations, amazing weather, primeval beaches, amiable people and a overabundance of amusement, San Diego is a popular travel destination for visitors around the globe.

San Diego is the birthplace of California and is known for its delicate year-round climate, natural deep-water harbor, thorough beaches, long association with the US Navy, and current development as a healthcare and biotechnology development center.

Brief History

In 20,000 BC Hunting peoples of northeast Asia follow throngs of Caribou, bison, and mammoth across the current day Bering Strait, which at various points in this period is a grassy plain a thousand miles broad. They then move south along ice-free corridors into the American continents.

In May 1769, Gaspar de Portolà established the Fort Presidio of San Diego on a hill near the San Diego River. And on July 16, 1769, the first California mission, San Diego de Alcalá, was devoted.

Later, Serra went on to settle a string of 21 California missions, with some 5,000 Indian follower within their walls, before his death in 1784.

From the beginning of the 20th century through the 1970s, the American tuna fishing fleet and tuna canning industry were situated in San Diego, “The Tuna capital of the world”.

San Diego’s first tuna cannery was established in 1911, and by the mid-1930s the canneries hired more than 1,000 people.

Geography

San Diego is just 20 miles north of Mexico, located in the rolling hills and mesas that increase from the Pacific shore to unite with the Laguna Mountains to the east.

San Diego no longer selects to be characterized merely by 70 miles of beaches, greatest weather, a forward-leaning zoo, or its maritime history.

The city lies on generally 200 deep canyons and hills spliting its mesas, building small pockets of natural open space spread all over the city and offering it a bumpy geography.

The city masks a huge spot of immensely contrasting landscape: miles of ocean and bay shoreline, heavily forested hills, fruitful valleys, and mountains, canyons, and desert.

Downtown’s rebirth has been most breathtaking, arising in the Gaslamp Quarter, followed by a new ballpark in 2004 and block after block of restaurants, hotels, and condos, turning the city into a major convention destination.

In its 2013 ParkScore ranking, The Trust for Public Land reported that San Diego had the 9th-best park system among the 50 most populous US cities.

Some Places to Visit

Sea World San Diego— is an animal theme park, oceanarium, outside aquarium, and marine mammal park, located in San Diego, California, United States.

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San Diego Zoo— this zoo in San Diego California houses over 3,700 animals of more than 650 species and subspecies, a perfect place for family and friends!

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Balboa Park— is a 1,200-acre urban cultural park in San Diego, California, United States. It contains museums, several theaters, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo.

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La Jolla Cove— The Cove is protected as part of a marine reserve; underwater it is very rich in marine life, and is popular with snorkelers and scuba divers.

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Windansea Beach— stretch of coastline located in La Jolla, a community of San Diego, California.

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Hotel del Coronado— A beachfront luxury hotel in the city of Coronado, San Diego California is just across the San Diego Bay where famous events, parties and conferences are usually held.

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Official Travel Resource
http://www.sandiego.org

City of San Diego Official Website
http://www.sandiego.gov

San Diego County
http://www.visitcalifornia.com/region/discover-san-diego-county

Archie Fegidero

A Taste of Pai, Thailand

Pai is a tiny town in northern Thailand’s Mae Hong Son Province, close to Myanmar margin, about 50 miles/80 km north of Chiang Mai on the northern route to Mae Hong Son.

Pai is a chiefly tourism-oriented town, contributing a calmed atmosphere with a broad traveler and hitchhiker scene. Ride your motorbike a few hours into this mountain town for a relaxing weekend of zenning out at Rasta bars, napping in woven wharfs, and — if you can handle to abandon your field hut discovering the waterfalls and hot springs.

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Pai pronounced more like the English ‘bye’, not ‘pie’ is just as fanous among Thais as foreigners.

During the spike of the cool season, thousands of Thais from Bangkok crowd into the town, preparing parts of it feel more like the Chatuchak Weekend Market than a far-flung village in Mae Hong Son.

There are piles of silent lodging outside the main drag, a host of ordinary, lethargic activities to keep visitors feasted, a lively art and music scene, and the town’s Shan roots can still be noticed in its temples, peaceful back streets and amusing afternoon market fair.

Brief History

About 2,000 years ago, the Lua (or Lawa) Tribe was the main cultural group over all of the place of today’s northern Thailand, and a less of their offspring still inhabit in villages only about 20 km away from Pai.

The region now popularly known as Pai has been gradually occupied for more than 5,000 years. The written history of the place begins about 800 years ago with the organization of a conclusion about 3 km north of modern day Pai.

Nearly 800 years ago in 1251 BCE, a decision was made 3km (about 2 miles) north of Pai in an area currently known as Ban Wiang Nuea. In 1943, the Japanese started various projects to build effective military and machinery transfer course between Thailand and Burma in support of their projected attacks on Imphal and Kohima.

In 1967, the Thai government begun cultivating the road leading from Chiang Mai via Pai to Mae Hong Son, famous currently as Route 1095, but didn’t stop paving the route until the early to mid-1990s.

During the latest part of the 19th century, France and England, having already settled conclusions in Vietnam, Cambodia, Burma and Laos, were enhancing interested in the spot that is now Thailand.

How To Get There

By Motorcycle
There no traffic and you can hear the cars and trucks coming. If you’re a little daring, rent a motorcycle in Chiang Mai and make the ride up to Pai.

By Bus
From Chiang Mai, ordinary public buses with no a/c take around 4 hours and charge 78 baht, and there is only one bus at 7am daily. The exclusive regulated mini-buses take around 3 hours.

By Plane
Kan Airlines conducts flights between Chiang Mai and Pai in a twelve seater Cessna Caravan. Flying time is 25 minutes. Passengers can make bookings and buy tickets through the airline website, their call centres, or with a travel agent.

Must See Places

Wat Klang – It is ringed by Mon Chedies, below which Buddha pictures of the seven days a week can be seen in niches. A finial-topped Mandapa was created on the base of the main Chedi.

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Wat Phra That Mae Yen – This is the notable sight for passenger on the plane to know that you are going in Pai boundaries.

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Pai Canyon – The Valley has a dirt track that is best hiked in the morning or evening due to a lack of shade.

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Tha Pai Hot spring – There are hot springs situated in Amphoe Pai area, named Muang Paeng Hot spring in Tambon Muang Paeng, Pong Ron Hot spring in Tambon Mae Hi and Pong Duat Hot spring in Tambon Tung yao.

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See more:

Introducing Pai
https://www.lonelyplanet.com/thailand/mae-hong-son-province/pai

All About Pai:
http://allaboutpai.com

Archie Fegidero

Nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Cuba

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Playa Larga at Cuba

The Caribbean is a perfect vacation getaway. There many countries and islands situated at this impeccable place. All of them are equally beautiful and stunning.

Each offers a unique attraction and a different cultural heritage. It is a romantic place to go for a honeymoon or an adventurous place for friends.

Either way you wish to spend time at the Caribbean, it would definitely be worth it. Tourists would surely leave the country smiling filled with fun and wonderful memories of their adventure.

One place in the Caribbean that would certainly take you on an epic adventure is the country of CUBA.

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CUBA

The Republic of Cuba or simply Cuba is an island country situated in the Caribbean. The whole country comprises at least 4000 islands.

The biggest island, Isla de la Juventud is also the largest in the Caribbean area. Aerial view of the country shows that the main island is similar to a crocodile or an alligator; thus, the terms “El Cocodrilo” or “El Caima” are alternative names for the country.

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Map of Cuba

The capital and largest city in the country is Havana or “La Habana” in Spanish.

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Habana (1)

In 2010 the population reached more than 11 million people. It is a multiethnic community composed of Europeans, Africans, and Native Americans.

Spanish is the official language in Cuba with majority of the population speaking the said language. Haitian Creole, Lucumi, Yoruba, Galician, and Corsican are other languages and dialects used in the country.

The predominant religion in the country would be Christianity and Catholicism. Other religious groups include Jews, Muslims, and Baha’i Faith.

Cuba is rich in history and culture. As a matter of fact there are nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country. The nine sites are:

• Alejandro de Humboldt National Park

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Alejandro de Humboldt National Park (2)

Alejandro de Humboldt National Park is one of the nine World Heritage Sites in the country. The site was included in the list in 2001 due to “its size, altitude range, complex lithology, landform diversity, and wealth of endemic flora and fauna.”

• Desembarco del Granma National Park

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Desembraco del Granma National Park (3)

Another national park included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site is Desembraco del Granma National Park. It was included in the list due to its matine terraces and pristine sea cliffs.

• Vinales Valley

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Vinales Valley (4)

Aside from being a World Heritage Site, Vinales Valley is a famous tourist attraction because of the scenic view, caves, cliffs, and agriculture. Tourists love to hike and rock climb at this area.

• Urban Historic Centre of Cienfuegos

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Cienfuegos Maurische Villa (5)

In 1819 the city of Cienfuegos was established. The city includes the Cathedral of Cienfuegos, Arch of Triumph, Botanical Garden of Cienfuegos, Reina Cemetery, Fortress of Nuestra Senora de los Angeles de Jagua, Tomas Acea Cemetery, a park dedicated to Jose Marti, Theatre Tomas Terry, and University of Cienfuegos. In 2005 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Cienfuegos Jose Marti (6)

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Cienfuegos Pargue Jose Marti (7)

• Trinidad and the Valley de los Ingenios

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Valley de los Ingenios

The next World Heritage Site is a series of three valleys (San Luis, Santa Rosa, and Meyer) spanning 12 kilometers. The name of the site originated from the sugar cane mills in the said valleys.

It was included as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the year 1988. Currently the sugar mills and some nearby infrastructures are left in ruins.

Structures such as the barracones and “Iznaga Tower” are still intact and maintained. The bell tower was built in the Spanish era and used to signify work and prayer time.

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Iznaga Tower

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Barracones

• San Pedro de la Roca Castle, Santiago de Cuba

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Castillo del Morro (8)

San Pedro de la Roca Castle in Santiago de Cuba is also known as Castillo del Morro or Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca. It was built in 1637 as a fortress and defense.

Throughout years of destructions due to raids, attacks and natural calamities, the fortress was rebuilt and reconstructed. In 1997, the place was included in the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.

• Old Havana and its Fortification System

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Havana by night (9)

The Old Havana is located at downtown of the city. It is highly populated and one of the densest city in the country.

The city was established in 1519 by the bay. Because of its strategic location, the city became one of the main stopping point and shipbuilding centers in the area. Architecture of the city was inspired by baroque and neoclassical style.

Some of the places that should be seen include: Malecon, Castillo del Morro, La Cabana, San Salvador de la Punta Fortress, Castillo de la Real Fuerza, Catedral de San Cristobal, National Capitol, Galician Center, Plaza de Armas, Gran Teatro de la Havana, Museum of the Revolution, and San Francisco de la Habana Basilica.

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Cathedral of Havana

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Centro Habana

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Castillo de la Real Fuerza

• Historic Centre of Camaguey

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The town of Camaguey was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008.They say the city was designed with many winding alleys as a defense against pirate invaders.

Aside from the winding alleys, a notable feature of the town is the clay pots used to collect rain water.

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Camaguey (10)

• Archeological Landscape of the First Coffee Plantations in the South-East of Cuba

The coffee plantations in south east of Cuba are one of the nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country. Their architectural, archaeological materials, infrastructure for irrigation, and water management are impressive and world renowned.

See more:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuba
http://www.infoplease.com/country/cuba.html
http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1008
http://www.factslides.com/s-Cuba
http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/sciencefacts/countries/cuba.html
http://wikitravel.org/en/Cuba
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/cuba

Ecstatic Globetrotter

Images:

1. Hajor. Habana. September 2003. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. March 25, 2015.
2. Zoohouse. Alejandro de Humboldt National Park. N.d. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. March 25, 2015.
3. VIChapayey. Desembraco del Granma National Park. August 2008. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. March 25, 2015.
4. Severin Stalder. Vinales Valley. November 2013. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. March 25, 2015.
5. Polarlys. Cienfuegos Maurische Villa. December 2003. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. March 25, 2015.
6. Polarlys. Cienfuegos Jose Marti. December 2003. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. March 25, 2015.
7. DirkvdM. Cienfuegos Pargue Jose Marti. September 2006. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. March 25, 2015.
8. Glogg, Peter. Castillo del Morro. N.d. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. March 25, 2015.
9. Vitalia. Vieja de Noche. July 2009. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. March 25, 2015.
10. Danleo. Camaguey. January 2006. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. March 25, 2015.

Rediscovering Taiwan

Do not let the size of Taiwan fool you. It may be a compact country but there are a lot to see and do. Hopefully this short article can give justice on the beauty and simplicity of Taiwan.

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Taipei (1)

TAIWAN

Taiwan was formerly known as Formosa and occupied by Taiwanese aborigines. In the succeeding years Dutch, Spaniards, and Chinese started to settle in the islands. Aside from towering skyscrapers and cityscape, Taiwan is famous for the luscious greenery and panoramic views. Taiwan’s culture and entertainment is like no other.

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Taiwan (2)

LOCATION

Taiwan is an autonomous state in East Asia but governed by the Republic of China. The main island, which is in the shape of a sweet potato, comprises 99 percent of the state.

The remaining one percent of the nation are isles and islets including Pescadores or Penghu, Quemoy, and Matsu. To the west of Taiwan is China, to the east and northeast is Japan, and to the south is the Philippines.

CLIMATE

Taiwan is generally a marine tropical country. From June to September Taiwan experiences a hot and humid summer with temperatures exceeding 30 degrees Celsius. On the other hand winters are cold and temperatures could drop as low as 8 degrees Celsius.

When visiting Taiwan, the best time would be from October to December. But be wary of these months because the country is usually battered by storms.

DEMOGRAPHICS

In 2013 the nation had a total population of approximately 23.4 million people. The large quantity of people living in such a limited space makes it one of the densest places.

Of the millions of people, majority or more than 95 percent of the population are Han Chinese. The official language is Mandarin and widely taught in schools.

Other languages spoken include Taiwanese Hokkien and Formosan language. As for writing, they use Traditional Chinese.

There is no strict religion and people are free to choose their own beliefs. The five largest religions are Buddhism (35.1 percent), Taoism (33 percent), Yiguandao (3.5 percent), Protestantism (2.6 percent), and Roman Catholicism (1.3 percent).

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Banun dancer in traditional aboriginal attire

TRANSPORTATION

Getting In

The easiest and most convenient way to get to Taiwan is via plane at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport near 40 kilometers southwest of Taipei.

Other airports include Kaohsiung International Airport – international flights are limited to Asian countries, Taipei Songshan Airport – serves only domestic flights, Taichung Airport, and Hualien Airport.

There are also airports at the islands of Makung, Taitung, and Kinmen. The official airline carrier of the country is EVA Air. Other airlines serving the country are AirAsia, Asiana Airlines, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Jetstar Asia, KLM Asia, Malaysia Airlines, TransAsua Airways and many more.

Since Taiwan is an island country, it is common to get to the country via boat. There are scheduled ferries and cruises to and from Hong Kong, mainland China, and Japan.

Getting Around

Getting around Taiwan is easy; there are various modes of transportation available.

One of which is the plane. There are regular and frequent flights to get in and out of the different Taiwanese Islands. Travelling via air to the islands is practical and the best option.

The second best way to travel around is via train. There are two train systems: Taiwan High Speed Rail and Taiwan Railway Administration. The train is the best option in long distance and intercity travels.

Buses are also available. Among the three modes of transportation this is the most affordable in long distance.

Taxis or yellow cabs are also very common on the streets of Taiwan. It is not difficult to hail a cab; the problem would be conversing with the driver. More often than not, Taiwanese drivers have difficulty in conversing English.

Other modes of transportation in the city include scooters, motorcycles, private cars, and bicycles.

WHAT COULD BE DONE IN TAIWAN

After discussing the basics of Taiwan such as the location, climate, the people and transportation we now proceed to what could be done in the country.

PARTICIPATE AND ENJOY THE FESTIVITIES

Taiwanese celebrated traditional Chinese festivals throughout the year. Listed below are a few of the popular Chinese festivals in Taiwan.

• Chinese New Year
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Lion dance costume (3)

The highlight of all festivals is Chinese New Year. Chinese New Year is celebrated for fifteen days but the first three days are the most anticipated. During the three days majority of the shops and restaurants are closed.

• Ching Ming Festival

Ching Ming Festival is celebrated in honor of their deceased ancestors.

• Dragon Boat Festival

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The Dragon Boat Festival was made in honor of Qu Yuan – a patriotic official who died by committing suicide at the nearby river when Chu was conquered.

The villagers would throw rice dumplings and beat drums on a dragon boat on the river to frighten fishes and prevent them from eating his body. From then own, the dragon boat racing and eating of rice dumpling had been a tradition.

• Hungry Ghost Festival

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The Chinese believed that during this time the gates of hell are open and hungry ghost are free to roam around. To protect themselves, the people of Taiwan would offer them food and burn joss paper. Furthermore, to soothe these ghosts performances like the Chinese opera and Chinese shows were done.

• Mid-Autumn Festival

The tradition began when Chang E swallowed divine pills that prevented her husband from becoming immortal. She feared for her life and decided to escape to the moon. They say that the moon shines brightest during this day. To commemorate this, Taiwanese would hang colorful and beautiful lanterns along the streets, parks and shops. They would also east mooncake.

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Moon cakes (4)

TAKE A TOUR AMONG FAMOUS LANDMARKS IN TAIPEI

• Taipei 101
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Taipei 101

Taipei World Financial Center or now called Taipei 101 is the most notable landmark in Taipei. It is a fusion between technology and Asian tradition. There are postmodern and traditional elements in the building.

As the name implies, there are 101 floors above ground and5 underground floors. In 2004 to 2009 it was the tallest skyscraper in the world. And in 2011 it was awarded with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification; at the same time it was known as the “largest green building in the world.”

• National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

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National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall was constructed in honor of Chiang Kai-shek, a former president of the country. It is a national monument and a famous landmark and tourist attraction in Taipei.

• National Palace Museum

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National Palace Museum (6)

A visit to the National Palace Museum would get tourists immersed with a unique Taiwanese culture. The museum is one of the national museums located in Taipei which showcases more than 695,000 antique art, sculptures, and artifacts. One can get a glimpse of China dating back to the Neolithic age to the late Qing Dynasty.

• Mengjia Longshan Temple

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Mengia Longshan Temple (7)

Another interesting place in Taiwan is Mengjia Longshan Temple in Taipei. It was built by Chinese in 1738 and served as a place of worship.

Unfortunately the temple was destroyed due to earthquakes and fires. But luckily the Taiwanese rebuilt and reconstructed the said temple adding a few Taiwanese elements. Currently it is used as a Buddhist and Taoist temple.

VISIT NEIGHBORING CITIES AS WELL AS THEIR LANDMARKS

• Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village

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Totem poles in Formosa Aboriginal Cultural Village (8)

 

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Naruwan Theater (9)

The Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village is an amusement park in Nantou County. It is known for its unique theme – Formosan aboriginal culture. Inside the park tourists could enjoy rides and attractions such as the tallest free-fall ride in the country, the largest European gardens in Taiwan, and the bell tower.

• Fo Guang Shan Buddha Memorial Center

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Fo Guang Buddha at the Buddha Memorial Hall (10)

Another attraction in Taiwan is Fo Guang Shan Buddha Memorial Center which is located in Kaohsiung City. It is a Buddhist cultural, religious and educational complex. It is best known for housing of the tooth relics of Gautama Buddha.

• Dragon and Tiger Pagodas

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Dragon and Tiger Pagodas (11)

The Dragon and Tiger Pagodas were built in 1976 at Lotus Lake in Kaohsiung City. The two towers are named Tiger Tower and the other Dragon Tower.

Each tower has seven floors, with yellow walls, red pillars, and orange tiles. In front is a bridge connecting the towers to the shore. The inside of the pagodas are paintings showing Ksitigarbha.

ADMIRE THE BEAUTY OF NATURE IN TAIWAN

When it comes to nature, there are a lot of beautiful sights that tourists could visit.

• Qingshui Cliff

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Qingshui Cliff (12)

Qingshui Cliff in Hualien County is a must see. It spans a total of 21 kilometers of coastal cliffs with heights averaging 800 meters. The highest summit is 2408 meters at Qingshui Mountain.

• Liyu or Carp Lake

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Liyu or Carp Lake (13)

There are many beautiful natural places in Taiwan, one of which is Liyu or Carp lake in Hualien County. It is the largest inland lake in the area with measurements of 1.6 kilometers in length and 930 meters in width.

Tourists could enjoy different recreational activities like sailing, water sports, and biking. Aside from these recreational activities one could enjoy scenic views such as old logging trains, logging displays, and aboriginal culture.

• Shifen Waterfall

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Shifen Waterfall (14)

Another scenic attraction is Shifen Waterfall in New Taipei City. The said waterfall has a height of 20 meters and a width of 40 meters. With this width, it is the broadest in Taiwan.

See more:

Discover Taiwan
http://eng.taiwan.net.tw/

Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taiwan

Wikitravel
http://wikitravel.org/en/Taiwan

Ecstatic Globetrotter

Images:
1. Trcheng. Taipei. September 2007. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. March 18, 2015.
2. Undefined. Taiwan. February 2010. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. March 18, 2015.
3. Irrawaddy. Lion dance costume. February 2003. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. March 18, 2015.
4. Magnus Manske. Moon cakes. September 2006. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. March 18, 2015.
5. Alton Thompson. Taipei 101. August 2007. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. March 18, 2015.
6. Peellden. National Palace Museum. December 2007. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. March 18, 2015.
7. Bgag. Longshan Temple. February 2011. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. March 18, 2015.
8. Bgag. Totem poles in Formosa Aboriginal Cultural Village. March 2011. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. March 18, 2015.
9. Bgag. Naruwan Theater. March 2011. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. March 18, 2015.
10. Mk2010. Fo Guang Buddha at the Buddha Memorial Hall. January 2012. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. March 18, 2015.
11. Bernard Gagnon. Dragon and Tiger Pagodas. March 201. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. March 18, 2015.1
12. Fred Hsu. CingShui Cliffs. November 2009. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. March 18, 2015.
13. Fred Hsu. Liyu or Carp Lake. November 2009. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. March 18, 2015.
14. Weihao. Shifen Waterfall. October 2006. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. March 18, 2015.

The Cons of MASS TOURISM

mass tourism

Mass tourism is the term used for a destination which has large amounts of visitors/tourists at one time. There are two categories of traveler in the world – the first one is the independent travel planner who likes to do things alone while the second one is the happy-go-lucky type who prefers that the whole travel arrangement be done for them.

Tactlessly, the second type is the root cause of all kinds of complications. Travel agencies offering wide arrays of tour packages are very rampant these days, and while there is no doubt that a package deal a have strong appeal to the general public, this also leads to mass tourism.

Huge numbers of people plunging on a few specific places on the globe unsurprisingly wear down, if we are not cautious. Mass tourism can be a massive stress on local natural wealth and resources such as landscapes.

The local people in mass tourism destinations are often forlornly ignored and at times sternly negatively impacted by the utter numbers and demands placed on them and the natural resources of their place.

Evidently, there is a massive economic advantage as we all know, tourism is big business. But if you give regard about the dwellers of the place you are visiting, then you should take into consideration an eco-option, wherein one takes into account the welfare of locals and makes unbiased and sustainable business.

In addition to this, why should you put up with multitudes? Why sit on an overcrowded beach like a cookie in a jar or push your way through busy throngs in a hotel or mall?

Are you one of those few who return to the same mass tourism locations for a package holiday year after year because of cheap cost and convenience? It is unhealthy to be wedged in a groove so perhaps it is time to consider doing something a little different, something you haven’t tried or gone to before.

I believe that mass tourism is a sign that many people are stuck in a collective pothole. We need to cultivate the idea of mindful travel and start to envision an enhanced alternative.

It will first and foremost entail hosts to wake up and see their world in a different way – not as a source to be ill-used, but as a revered abode to be protected and renowned for its exceptionality.

It is also imperative they initiate to view their patrons not as sheer components of consumption, but as guests in quest of being transformed and mended.

Our cognizant substitute is about a trifling volume, overcrowding, stress, obliteration and damage, and about stressing more significance, tenacity, worth, harmony and self-actualization. In short, not more but better.

See More:

Mass Tourism
http://www.coolgeography.co.uk/GCSE/AQA/Tourism/Mass%20Tourism/Mass%20Tourism.htm

What is Mass Tourism? An Attempt at Defining It
http://www.destinationworld.info/newsletter/feature45.html

Raphy Salvador