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Showing posts with label Traveling. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Traveling. Show all posts

Saturday, January 07, 2012

The Greatest Places to Explore the World's Best-kept Secrets

These are 10 great places to explore:

Isla de Margarita
One of the largest islands in the Caribbean remains largely undiscovered by Americans. Yogerst says it offers a huge variety of landscapes and culture in a small area. "It's all of Latin America on one island. It has rainforests, deserts, fabulous beaches and little Spanish colonial towns."

Colca Canyon

The "Grand Canyon of South America" is more than twice as deep as its Arizona counterpart. It's also one of the best places to see Andean condors. "You can go and watch them ride drafts up the canyon wall. It's a majestic desert landscape that goes on forever and ever," Yogerst says.

Wrangell-Kluane Wilderness 
Alaska and Canada 
Head north to explore one of the world's largest protected areas, the combined lands of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Canada's Kluane National Park. Taken together, they reach from the Gulf of Alaska to northern boreal forests and cover about 20 million acres. "It's some of the most spectacular wildlife viewing I've had anywhere in North America," Yogerst says. In one trip, he spotted grizzly and black bears, caribou, mountain goats, Dall sheep, and dolphins. 907-822-5234; OR

Salt Mission Trail 
New Mexico 

Before the Pilgrims arrived, Spanish missionaries were settling the Southwest. But the desert landscape in one corner of what later became New Mexico proved to be too challenging. "What's left now is red-brick adobe ruins," Yogerst says. "People will be surprised by how big some of these missions were with very large churches."

Brimstone Hill Fortress 
St. Kitts  
Once called the Gibraltar of the West Indies, this former British colonial fort dominates a flat-topped seaside mountain. Abandoned 100 years ago, it has been restored and offers views of a volcano on the nearby Dutch island of Sint Eustatius. "It's the most impressive of all the British forts I've seen in the Caribbean," Yogerst says. 800-582-6208;

Tsitsikamma Trail 
South Africa 
This 40-mile path is laced with streams and heavy subtropical forests that reminds Yogerst of the Pacific Northwest. He hiked it over the course of five days staying in unstaffed, basic huts along the route. "It is a wild part of Africa. There are monkeys and baboons and leopards there."

Galle Fort 
Sri Lanka 
Now that Sri Lanka's civil war has ended, visitors are again discovering this charming fortified colonial city. Built on the Indian Ocean in the 16th century, its tall stone walls protected it from the tsunami that ravaged the region in 2004. "It's preserved almost intact," Yogerst says, and now even has a chic boutique resort. "It's unexpected and not too well discovered."

Small Museums of Tokyo 
Like New York, London and Paris, Tokyo has many major museums, but Yogerst suggests seeking out more obscure galleries, such as the Sumo Museum, devoted to the unique Japanese sport, or the Ota art museum. "It's probably the best collection of Japanese wood block prints on the planet," Yogerst says. Another highlight: the Mingeikan Folk Crafts Museum with more than 17,000 objects. "In some ways these say more about Japanese culture than the big museums do." 212-757-5640;

Suffolk, England 
Yogerst says it's just a coincidence that the Tudor town where his mother-in-law lives makes his list. "It's the epitome of a quaint English countryside village." There's a cobblestone square with pubs, and no sign of "twee shops," he says. It also has England's largest collection of half timber buildings. "It's the real deal." When he visits he likes to take half-day hikes through the countryside that surrounds the town.

Ta Prohm temple 
This Southeast Asian ruin near the more famous Angkor Wat reminds Yogerst of something out of an Indiana Jones movie. "The stone ruins are literally wrapped in the branches and roots and arms of jungle trees." He says visitors have the feeling they are discovering the site for the first time. "It's cleared enough so you can walk through, but that's all."

Quoted from USAToday
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Published by Gusti Putra at: 4:39 AM

Monday, December 12, 2011

Niagara Falls displays dazzling light shows

Niagara Falls displays dazzling light shows in winter

NIAGARA FALLS, Ontario – You can't take a boat ride into the roar and spray of Niagara Falls in the winter, but this time of year offers a different spectacle: Nighttime illumination of the falls in a changing array of colors - red, white, blue, purple, orange, amber and green.

The tourism season at Niagara Falls is slowing,
but November started the busy season for those
who light the falls in colors every night.
In spring and summer, the colored lights shine for just three hours, but with less daylight in winter, curtains of color wash over the falls each night for up to seven hours.

Crowds gather along the sidewalk and railing on Niagara Parkway to see the show as mist rises from the falls and basin in front of them; others watch from the windows of hotels and restaurants on the Canadian side.

The display starts with patriotic themes - red, white and blue for the American Falls, red and white for the horseshoe-shaped Canadian Falls - and frequently includes colors to honor a cause. When Niagara Falls hosted the first wedding following New York's legalization of same-sex marriage in July, Mayor Paul Dyster arranged for a rainbow of colors, the symbol of gay pride. On Nov. 16, the falls were lit by white light for 15-minute stretches for lung cancer awareness, a request made by Christine Dwyer, who founded a group called Make Some Noise for Lung Cancer Awareness after losing her best friend to the disease.

"I think it validates us a bit," said Dwyer, of Becket, Mass. She said supporters sent her emails after the lighting saying, "I heard about this, I'm in tears, I'm so grateful."

The light beams emanate from a bank of 18 spotlights, each 30 inches in diameter, sitting atop a raised stone bunker across the road. For more than 50 years, Peter Gordon, 80, has been manning the light show, splitting the week with "the rookie," Dick Mann, 78, who has been at it just under 30 years. Both are from Ontario.

"I never get tired of it," Gordon, 80, said one night in November, the start of his busy season, when fewer daylight hours mean longer nights to light.
The best views come on crisp winter nights, Gordon said, when the mist is transformed to sparkling ice crystals that catch the soft colors.

For the past year, Gordon and Mann have used a relatively new technology to control the lights - computerized touch screens. But the history of Niagara's illumination goes back more than 150 years. The falls were lit for the first time at 10 p.m. on Sept. 14, 1860, when 200 lights like those used to signal for help at sea were put in place for a visit from the Prince of Wales. Electricity was first used in 1879. An Illumination Tower, still used today, was built in 1899.

Colors appeared in 1907 when gelatin films were included in a 36-light system near the base of the gorge designed by General Electric Co. of Schenectady. Workers, including Peter Gordon's father, were paid $3 a night to change the gels when a foreman shouted cues.

The Niagara Falls Illumination Board, a cross-border body established in 1925, has kept the lights on most nights since with a few exceptions. They were turned off during World War II, for example, to conserve power.

The control room where Gordon and Mann work 75 feet above street level has a musty old feel with stone walls, well-worn wooden floors, cobwebby beams overhead and a couple of bare bulbs above a bank of humming generators. "This place is a dump, really," said Gordon, laughing.

But then there's that million-dollar view. After changing the lights' colors on the touchscreen, the controller can see the result 15 seconds later by looking out the windows or stepping through a door to a platform outside where the lights are mounted.

On the face of the waterfalls, colors fade to white as the next colored gel covers the spotlight and a new hue spills with the water over the falls. With each color change, it's as if someone has dumped dye into the river above as it careens over the edge to the rocks below.
The 4,000-watt spotlights burn with a combined brilliance of 8.2 billion candles, about what NASA used to light the runway for night space shuttle landings. Gordon staggers the lights to avoid repeating color combinations, changing them as often as every five minutes to keep things fresh for tourists milling across the street below.

Like other landmarks, including the Empire State Building and Eiffel Tower, the falls have been lit to honor a variety of causes: Alzheimer's Disease, World AIDS Day, Canada's Remembrance Day, March of Dimes and others. The charities are not asked to pay the $85 an hour it takes to light the falls. The cost is split among Niagara Falls, N.Y., Niagara Falls, Ontario, Niagara Parks and Ontario Hydro. Each bulb costs $1,500.

Not everyone loves the illumination. "All that does is make it into a sideshow," said Niagara Falls historian Paul Gromosiak, who advocates for keeping the falls in their most natural state and questions the logic and expense of using artificial light on a natural wonder. "The only light we should have on the falls is moonlight."
As midnight nears, Gordon goes back to the patriotic colors that began the night, leaving them on for 15 minutes. The colors retract and the water rushes white for the last few minutes, and the falls fade to black.

Republished from USAtoday
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Published by Gusti Putra at: 12:31 AM

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Greatest Places to Experience the Simple Life

These are 10 great places:

Block Island, R.I. 
Block Island can be defined by what it lacks: There are no stoplights, no McDonald's, no Holiday Inns. Instead, the town of fewer than 1,000 year-round residents "is a landscape of freshwater ponds, rolling green hills and dramatic 250-foot bluffs," van Ogtrop says. In winter, Block Island becomes an artists' community. 800-383-2474;

Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill

Harrodsburg, Ky. 
It's not uncommon at Shaker Village to see a pair of oxen laboring in the field or a blacksmith in period clothing shoeing a horse. It's a delightful step back in time and "a testament to the simplicity of the Shaker lifestyle," van Ogtrop says. "Plank-and-stone fences lace together nearly 3,000 lush bluegrass acres where a community of Shakers once lived, worked and worshiped." 800-734-5611;

Grafton, Vt. 
The town is "a veritable showcase of historic buildings, including a well-stocked general store, a famed cheese company and a working blacksmith shop," van Ogtrop says. Down a tree-lined road and past a covered bridge is the Grafton Inn, one of the USA's older operating inns. The white-clapboard getaway invites travelers to "follow in the footsteps of Rudyard Kipling, who honeymooned here," says van Ogtrop. 802-828-3237;

Finger Lakes, N.Y. 
For an up-close and intimate shore-side getaway, van Ogtrop likes the Finger Lakes region. "Of the 11 glacial lakes clustered there, Y-shaped Keuka is said to be the prettiest, and the adjacent state park offers hiking, boating, fishing, and views of the rolling, vineyard-dotted hills," she says. 888-408-1693;

Grand Teton National Park 

Grand Teton National Park is home to glacier-chiseled peaks that rise 7,000 feet above the floor of Jackson Hole Valley. You can picnic in aspen groves, where elk graze and bald eagles soar, or check out a ranger program to learn how American Indians used porcupine quills and grizzly claws for artwork, says van Ogtrop. 307-739-3300;

The Willamette Valley 

Wine grapes, Oregon - Willamette Valley
Covered bridges and pastoral picnic spots abound in the heart of Oregon's agriculture country. Rural byways are dotted with picturesque barns, hazelnut orchards and vegetable gardens. Plus, van Ogtrop says, some 200 vineyards flourish in the valley. 800-547-7842:

Point Reyes National Seashore 

Point Reyes Station, Calif. 
Point Reyes Station, CA
"The 30-mile stretch of rugged Marin County wilderness draws hikers, whale watchers, solitude seekers and birders," van Ogtrop says. Whale watching is prime from December to March, and elephant seals populate the beach near Chimney Rock from December through April. "Make an alfresco lunch of barbecued oysters, a local delicacy, from the Hog Island Oyster Company," van Ogtrop suggests. "And catch an unforgettable sunset in Muir Beach." 415-464-5100;

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness 

Northern Minnesota 
The region consists of more than 1 million acres, including 1,200 miles of mapped canoe routes. You won't find any roads, and with more than 1,000 lakes, rivers and streams to explore, a paddler's sense of isolation and timelessness remains intact, van Ogtrop says. "Head to Ely to rent gear for canoe-and-camp outings, or book a trip with Williams and Hall Outfitters, who will fly you deep into the backcountry," she says.

Seward, Alaska 
Resurrection Bay, Seward, Alaska
The town is an ideal place to sail among silver salmon, climb up rocky trails, photograph puffins and stop to smell the wildflowers. It's easy to spot humpback whales, which have been known to swim within 10 feet of the shore, van Ogtrop says. You can also arrange a wildlife-viewing cruise past the glaciers at nearby Kenai Fjords National Park, or kayak in Resurrection Bay, watching for black bears and bald eagles, she adds. 907-224-8051;

Molokai, Hawaii
Molokai, Halawa Valley, couple at waterfalls, Hawaii
The buildings on this rural island are no taller than a coconut tree. Fishing for your dinner is common. And the central town of Kaunakakai has not changed much since the early 1900s. It's "a lush, untouched oasis, devoid of even a single traffic signal," van Ogtrop says. "You'll feel light-years away from the sunburned crowds of Waikiki (not to mention home)." 800-800-6367;

Updated by LetsReadGUsTi from UsaToday
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Published by Gusti Putra at: 10:42 PM

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Best Wonders of Nature in the World

These are 7 wonders of nature in the World.

Halong Bay, Vietnam

The best way to experience impossibly scenic Halong Bay is by boat. Hop on a junk and poke around the 2,000 rocky monoliths emerging dramatically from the water. Some of the limestone karsts are hollowed out and feature caves and grottoes perfect for exploring. The bay, whose name translates as "descending dragon," was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994, honoring its unique geologic and aesthetic value.

Amazon Rainforest, South America

The Amazon rainforest spans the borders of nine South American countries, with the largest portion in Brazil. The Amazon River, the main artery of the rainforest, has more than 1,000 known tributaries, and 17 of those are at least 1,000 miles long. The rainforest has the highest biodiversity on Earth, sustaining life for thousands of plants, bird, fish, mammal and insect species.

Iguazu Falls

Iguazu Falls, on the border of Argentina and Brazil: This semicircular splendor consists of 275 waterfalls on the Iguazu River, surrounded by subtropical rain forest and sporting trails, catwalks and boat rides for visitors. Most of the falls are about 210 feet high, though some are up to 269 feet high, and they extend nearly two miles wide.

Jeju Island, South Korea

Honeymooners flock to this island off the coast of South Korea for the white-sand beaches, palm trees, beautiful sunsets and emerald waters. Two favorite beaches are Hyeopjae and Geumneung, and those looking for more adventure can hike up Mount Halle, the highest point in South Korea, at 6,400 feet. Need more adventure? Poke around inside the Manjanggul lava tube, part of which is open to the public. The busiest months on Jeju Island are July and August, but accommodations are plentiful.

Komodo Island, Indonesia

This island in Indonesia has great scuba diving, but that fact is usually overshadowed by its main attraction: the Komodo dragon. This reptile, technically a monitor lizard, is the largest in the world and can grow up to 150 pounds and 10 feet long. The dragon is protected within the Komodo National Park, which was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991. However, the dragon population is limited to five small islands and only around 3,000 are left in the wild. Poaching and encroaching human activity have put the species on the “vulnerable” to extinction list by the United Nations’ International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Puerto Princesa Underground River, Philippines

Nearly five miles long and emptying into the South China Sea, this underground river is one of the main attractions in the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park. The river, on the Philippine island of Palawan, can be toured by paddleboat with the park service and winds among stalactites, stalagmites and other fantastical formations. After the tours, visitors head back into the sun on Palawan’s many white-sand beaches.

Table Mountain, South Africa

The distinctive flat top of Table Mountain overlooks Cape Town, South Africa. It is just over 3,500 feet high and spans two miles from side to side. Many travelers take the cable car to the top for the fabulous views; others opt for a more adventurous route and hike up the steep sides.

Quoted from MSN

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Published by Gusti Putra at: 2:05 PM

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The Best Outstanding Romantic Travel Ideas

These suggestions, ranging from a one-night getaway to a trek halfway around the world, will give you some ideas to create a memorable romantic vacation.

When work, family and other responsibilities take over your life, it's easy to put your relationship on the back burner. Reconnect with your true love by planning a romantic vacation together.
These 10 suggestions, ranging from a one-night getaway to a trek halfway around the world, will give you some ideas to create a memorable romantic vacation. You can let go of stress, have some fun, and remember why you fell in love. 

Hawaii. The minute you arrive in Hawaii, you start to relax. By the time you've taken your first walk on a scenic Hawaiian beach or enjoyed the sunset with a tropical cocktail, you're ready to let go of everyday worries and focus on each other. Each island has its own charm, and offers accommodations to fit every travel budget, but they all share tropical breezes, lush greenery, vibrant flowers, blue skies and that welcoming, peaceful feeling of "Aloha." 

San Francisco. Tony Bennett may have left his heart in San Francisco, but for many lovers San Francisco is where hearts connect. Walk hand-in-hand along Ocean Beach, or take a sunset stroll on the walking path at Crissy Field. Make a toast to your love at Top of the Mark, the Mark Hopkins Hotel bar that offers 360-degree views of the city. Look for the statue of Cupid in the Embarcadero along San Francisco's eastern waterfront, and find a delicious range of fine to casual dining at Embarcadero Center. 

Paris. Considered by many to be the most romantic city in the world, Paris offers many delights for lovers of all ages. Stroll along the Seine, hold hands in a romantic Paris bistro, sail a toy boat on the pond at Luxembourg Garden, or share a kiss on one of Paris's many beautiful bridges. Whatever you choose to do, it's more romantic when you're in Paris, the City of Light.   

An Impromptu Overnight Adventure. Depending on where you live, a spur-of-the-moment getaway with your partner could take you to a luxury hotel, a charming local B&B, or maybe even camping in your own backyard. Where you go is less important than shaking up your routine a bit and spending time alone together.

Italy. Synonymous with romance, Italy offers many wonderful locales to celebrate your love. The cliffside city of Positano on Italy's Amalfi coast offers stunning vistas, delicious seafood and a temperate climate. Lake Como, where George Clooney has a villa, is surrounded by rolling hills and ringed by romantic resorts and towns. And every lover's trip to Italy should include a visit to Venice.  Enjoy a gondola ride through the canals and explore Venice's narrow, winding streets and the open Plaza San Marco. End the day with a delicious plate of pasta and a local wine.   

Prague, Czech Republic. Since the late 1980's, when Prague broke from communism, savvy travelers have made this magical city a popular destination. World-class architecture, cobblestone streets, the Vltava river winding through the city, and charming locals all combine to create a romantic mood. Prague is especially beautiful at night, so after you enjoy the city's fine wines and gourmet restaurants, leave time to stroll through Prague with the one you love. 

Disney Adult-Exclusive Adventures. Who says Disney is just for kids? If you enjoy hassle-free travel, where the details are taken care of and you can just relax, check out the selection of Adult-Exclusive vacations from Disney. Whether you tour Italy's wine country, canoe in a glacier-fed Canadian lake or zip-line through a Costa Rican rainforest, these Disney vacations are specially designed for adventurous adults. 

Take a Cruise. Ocean breezes, personal service, spectacular scenery and excellent food, plus your own private cabin. Maybe that's why so many romantics choose cruises.  There's a cruise to fit any budget, from a 4-day island trip to a transatlantic ocean adventure. For smaller crowds and more personal service, choose cruise lines with smaller ships or sailing vessels. 

Plan a Weekend Spa Vacation. If you only have a couple of days to get away, don't despair. You can recharge your body, mind and relationship with a weekend spa getaway. Many resort spas offer couples' packages so you can swim and enjoy a sauna or in-room massages together. All that pampering—plus fine food and beautiful surroundings—could be pricey for a whole week, but many resort spas offer affordable weekend packages. With an emphasis on luxury, relaxation and reconnection, a spa weekend could be money well spent. 

Bali. If you saw the movie, "Eat, Pray, Love" you've seen some of the beauty that Bali offers. Lush tropical forests, picturesque rice terraces, pristine white sand beaches and friendly Balinese people all combine to make you feel like you're in another world. Bali offers a range of romantic vacation options, ranging from quiet Nusa Lembongan to the nightlife in Kuta. Check guide books, travel sites and online traveler reviews, then make your plans. 

Quoted from MSN
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Published by Gusti Putra at: 12:53 PM