Daily Archives: 28.03.2014

The Expo Promenade: Golden Bauhinia Square, Hong Kong



The Expo Promenade: Golden Bauhinia Square, Hong Kong

There is a famous saying “You can leave Hong Kong, but it will never leave you”. Truly Hong Kong is one of the world’s most iconic cities and a hub of shopping and sightseeing. There is a gem in heart of Hong Kong, Golden Bauhinia Square, located on the side of Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, facing the sea of Wan Chai. It has been a historic landmark and symbol of Hong Kong. This site is hugely popular with Chinese visitors who come to take photos of the Reunification Monument and to enjoy the pomp and symbolism of the daily flag raising ceremony.

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Golden Bauhinia Square was a gift from the Central Government to mark the 1997 Handover, an occasion that held tremendous significance for the world’s largest nation and stands out as a landmark event in the 20th century history.

How to Get Here?

Golden Bauhinia Square is very popular landmark, so it is quite easy to find. It is only a 15 minute walk from the Wan Chai MT Station. You can walk across the footbridge and continue walking to Central Plaza and pass through the overhead walkway.

The Attractions

The Daily Flag Ceremony

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The Square memorializes the handover of Hong Kong from the British to China and the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on July 1, 1997. The daily ceremony begins at 7:50 am and goes for about 15 minutes, conducted by Hong Kong Police Officers. On the first day of every month, there is an enhanced ceremony where the police officers and the rifle unit perform the flag raising after the Police Bank plays the national anthem. Just when the Hong Kong and China Flags are raised and the police leave, the Police Pipe and Band enters and performs around the Square for about ten minutes.

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The rifle unit wears their ceremonial attire. The police band also leads the national anthem and closes the ceremony with a musical performance. You will have to rise up early and get there by 7:30 am to watch the full ceremony.

The Symphony of Lights

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Symphony of Lights is the nightly multimedia show, which involves more than 40 buildings on both sides of the Harbour. It is named as the “World’s Largest Permanent Light and Sound Show” by Guinness World Records. You will see some colored lights, laser beams and searchlights perform in an unforgettable all round spectacles synchronized to music and narration that celebrates the energy, spirit and diversity of Hong Kong.

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The light show is based on five basic themes like Awakening, Energy, Heritage, Partnership and Celebration. You can watch this show at every Monday, Wednesday and Friday night and even listen on radio every night on 103.4 FM in Hong Kong.

Bauhinia Statue

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Standing just near the Hong Kong Convention Centre, this statue symbolizes a Hong Kong Bauhinia flower. The Square is named after this 6 m tall statue. The Golden Bauhinia statue was a gift from China to the city island back in 1997 when Hong Kong was returned back to the mainland by the British.

Reunification Monument

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On the corner of the square, there stands a 20 meter high Reunification Monument. It was built by the 206 stone plates. Each stone plate represents a year between 1842 and 2047, of which six round stone plate light colored was made of granite stone representing 1842, 1860, 1898, 1982, 1984 and 1990.

Victoria Harbour

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You can see some breathtaking view of Victoria Harbour and admire such iconic buildings as the Bank of China from Golden Bauhinia Square. Victoria Harbour is a popular gathering place for tourists as well as for locals, especially for The Clock Tower, A Symphony of Lights, the Avenue of Stars and Hong Kong Space Museum. If you are interested to spend some more time on the water, you can consider enjoying a Harbour Tour on the Victoria Harbour. The Harbour is also used for recreations like swimming and water polo.

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Both sides of Victoria Harbour have interesting tourist attractions. You can enjoy the sea breeze and tour the attractions around the Harbour including great museum, free public parks, zoos and amusement areas. It is a strategic location and was and important part of the British Empire. Now it plays an important part in China’s foreign trade and for Hong Kong’s tourism.

Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre

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Adjacent to the Bauhinia Square, the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre here is one of Hong Kong’s most impressive and stunning pieces of architecture. It is a striking visual testament to Hong Kong’s ongoing development with its sweeping sails and vast glass windows. It has been an ideal venue for exhibitions, trade shows and international conventions from years. It hosts more than 45 different trade shows and fairs and remains busy the whole year around.

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The fans of Jackie Chan may remember the building as the setting for the dramatic grand finale of New Police Story. Internationally, the HKCEC is known as a world class convention and exhibition centre and was voted the best Convention and Exhibition Centre in Asia for the ninth time by Industry Awards in 2012.

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There are many other attractions around the square like Ocean Park, Space Museum, Wong Tai Sin and more. If you are in Hong Kong then the Golden Bauhinia Square is a must on your ‘places to visit’ list.

Hollywood Road: Hong Kong



Hollywood Road: Hong Kong

Hong Kong ranks highly in any tourist’s dwellings when it comes to visiting the enchanting continent of Asia. The outstandingly intriguing aspect about Hong Kong is the fact that this administrative outpost of China has not lost its core Eastern culture despite having gone through an exponential few decades of modernization synonymous to the West. Having said that, Hollywood Road is one such integral stretch in the midst of Hong Kong Island that goes on to typify what has been previously stated.

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Having the distinction of being the second road that was built when the colony of Hong Kong was founded, Hollywood Road was the first one to be completed in time. Now don’t jump to conclusions regarding the naming of the road! The road was constructed way back in 1844, a long time before the famous Hollywood in California came into being. The name bears its roots probably to a certain Sir John Francis Davis, who is said to be credited with it after his family home by the same name in Bristol, England. Another possibility for the name coming into being could also be the ‘holly’ shrubs that grew in the area when the road was being built. The conflict for credit remains till date.

That was for the etymology of the name. Historically significant, Hollywood Road was built by Royal Engineers and has always been a hub of sorts for the dealings of antiques and artifacts for more than a century now. At that time, the road was much closer to the coastline and thus facilitated easy trade with respect to logistics and the like. That was when Hollywood Road began its tryst with the antique trade.

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If you are a history fanatic who has a thing for antiques, trinkets, collectibles and what not; Hollywood Street will be nothing short of paradise. You have everything under the sun available here: starting with Chinese furniture to porcelain ware, from Buddha sculptures to Tibetan rugs, from Maoist memorabilia to Ming Dynasty ceramic horseman: you are looking for an Oriental piece of history; Hollywood Street is your best bet to find it. Right along the 2 kilometer stretch of Hollywood Road, you are bound to find such shops flocking your sides; peppered in between by the attractions that are listed below.

 

Hollywood Road Park

Spend some leisure time at this picturesque urban park

Spend some leisure time at this picturesque urban park

One of the foremost tourist attractions on Hollywood Road is the unmissable Hollywood Road Park. Home to the best grade shops selling blasts from the Oriental past as stated above, Hollywood Road Park with its Chinese gateway is an appeasing destination. A park built in the midst of modern structures, it provides the right kind of atmosphere for visitors on the lookout for some leisure time. The park is built in typical Chinese architectural style and is home to some pretty relevant history. In former maps, the Hollywood Road Park used to be marked as Possession Point. Now this was the point where the Royal Navy had landed on the Hong Kong Island before signing the Treaty of Nanking. The land over which the park is built is where James Bremer, the commander of the Far East Fleet had marked the official possession of Hong Kong.

 

Paak Sing Hall

Delve into Hong Kong's golden ancestral history

Delve into Hong Kong’s golden ancestral history

After spending some leisurely time at the Hollywood Road Park, move over to the south side of the road onto the Paak Sing Hall or in other words the ‘Hall of 100 Names’. It was founded in 1856 to keep safely the ancestral tablets that the settlers of Hong Kong had brought over from their mainland. You will find a variety of shrines in there along with several thousand wooden tablets which bear a lot of austere significance to the natives of the land. On the opposite side to the left is Tai Ping Shan Street, a part of Hollywood Road which has its own infamous historical purpose. Here’s where the much maligned pirate Cheung Po Tsai had settled down after he had received pardon and amnesty from the Qing emperor some 30 years before the British arrived. Yet another marker from the past that Hollywood Road is guarding till this date.

 

Temple of Mercy & Man Mo Temple

An inside view of the historic Man Mo Temple

An inside view of the historic Man Mo Temple

Following on further from Tai Ping Shan Street onto the main part of Hollywood Road, you will find a shrine on the left and a vividly painted temple dedicated to Kwun Yam or the Goddess of Mercy. This along with the Temple of Man Mo dedicated to the Gods of Literature and War sum up the faith vested in this very original part of Hong Kong Island. In the distance ensuing these two temples you have Cat Street which is home to a sprawling flea market with an array of items one can only deem unimaginably authentic.

 

Central Police Station & Victoria Prison

The former Central Police Station

The former Central Police Station

Moving upmarket, you will pass by many more antique shops peppered with refreshment centers here and there. South of Hollywood Road, popularly known as SoHo is home to plenty such options, a detour to the left wherefrom will take you to Aberdeen Street which houses Lin Heung; said to be the best traditional tea and dim sum place in Hong Kong arguably. Back on Hollywood Road, you have two famous shops which go by the name of Low Price Second Hand Shop and Goods of Desire wherein you can rummage for some old relics or photos from Hong Kong’s past. Here’s where the Mid-Levels Escalator crosses over and leads on to Shelley Street and that’s where art galleries start getting replaced by restaurants and boutiques for good. Here, you will see two structures that have been regarded the status of ‘Monuments of Hong Kong’ and are no longer functioning in their original capacity: The Central Police Station and Victoria Prison.

They were built as early as 1864 and new buildings were added in over 60 years’ time. You could climb steep onto the Old Bailey Street and have a sneak peek into the decrepit old prison.

Beyond the police station, your stroll of the Hollywood Road will come to an end after you’ve gone the distance onto Wyndham and Pottinger Street. Further off, you’ll be on to Queen’s Road, bringing an end to your Hollywood Road tidings!

Fort Bourtange: The Star Castle, Netherlands



Fort Bourtange: The Star Castle, Netherlands

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Fort Bourtange is particularly designed as a star fort which is a fortification in a very unique style which was fashioned during the era of gunpowder when the cannon were the dominating ones in the battlefield. The village of Bourtange, which is in Groningen (Netherlands), is blessed with the presence of this Star Castle. A total of 430 inhabitants are there in the town of Bourtange as per the records of 2012. Even the population density of Bourtange is 270 per Km2. William the Silent ordered the construction of Fort Bourtange in the year 1953. The year was known for the Dutch Revolt. The Fort was used effectively till 1851 with a lot of assaults. The restoration of this fort was done in mid 18th century and is currently known by the people as an open-air museum.

Origin of Star Fort:

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This fortification came into light during the mid-15th century. The design of this fort is very much complicated and beautiful to look at. Between the end of 15th century and the starting of 16th century, further work on star fortifications started particularly after the incursion of the Italian Peninsula by the French people. There were many traditional fortifications already present that were developed during the Middle Ages but the French army came equipped with bombards and some new cannon that were capable of destroying these fortifications. Thus, star forts were founded by Michelangelo. This star shaped model became very famous in Europe and was used in Europe for consecutively three centuries. As the main design was presented by an Italian, the Italian workers were in demand to make this fortification. Between 1530s and 1540s the idea of this design spread all over the world.

Changes in the Design:

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The design of this Star Castle was taken from its predecessors which were the medieval fortresses found on the high hills. These forts were used to shot arrows at the enemies during wars. These fortresses were built high so that they won’t be vulnerable to assault. The original round design was modified to “dead spaces” or “dead zones” to protect the warriors from defending fire. Thus, the square or round shaped corners were changed into diamond shaped edges to provide no shelter to storming infantry. This was the biggest change in the design of the fort. Another big change was the conversion of the passive model to an active model of defence. There were a few drawbacks of this design that led to the changes. One such drawback was the failed earthen banking protection provided. Another one is that the walls of the model were vulnerable to fire attacks.

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The open slope which is outside the ditch provides a better shelter and access to the glacis. They also dug some counter mines to disrupt and intercept attempts to the fort walls. Now in comparison to the medieval fortifications, the forts are lower, deeper and larger in area which is good in a defensive way.  The defending cannons were protected from bombardment through the open wall inside the fort which is also required to empty the smoke generated by the defending cannons. Thus, these fortifications proved to be effective for years. Repeated changes in the design of the model in order to make it better led to more complications in the design and that’s why still the design of this model was among the most complicated ones.

Complex Construction:

The constructions of these types of fortifications require a lot of money as the design is very much multifaceted. The 22 bastions of Amsterdam were bankrupted when they paid for the construction of this fortification as they whole construction was done for 11 million florins. They wanted to create a solid structure and that’s why they piled earth from the excavation right behind the walls so a solid structure can be created. The fortification was built with brick fascia because the material can absorb large quantities of artillery fire easily. Moreover, the use of this special brick added to the cost of its construction. The round towers were lowered and even they were filled with earth to strengthen the walls more. The original walls were made strong so that they could stand bombardment also. Many more improvising techniques were used over the years to improve the design more.

Significance:

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The main purpose for its construction was to have control over the only road that was between the city of Groningen and Germany. During the Eighty Years’ War this road was being controlled by the cruel Spaniards. In the year 1851, the Fort was finally converted into a village before that it served its purpose on the German border. The place lies in the south of the France, the area is also known as French the Principality of Orange. This beautiful Fort Bourtange is actually built by Guillaume Ler. Now, Fort Bourtange is a recognised historical museum. The beauty offered by this star castle is by far very excellent. Though there are many controversies and assaults involved in this Fort but still the fort is providing valuable tourism to its people and surrounding village especially because of the stunning environment it provides. The fort is still a museum with a lot of people visiting it every year. This fort is indeed worth visiting for once atleast.

 

Strong Beach- Muscle Beach, California



Strong Beach- Muscle Beach, California

Are you a kind of a person who thinks that beaches are boring and has got no life in it? Well, then think again! The Muscle beach in California, also called the “Venice of America”, is the place to be if you are a kind of person who likes to have fun mixed with frolic! The town was originally developed by Abbot Kinney in 1905 as a resort town on the beachfront. The shady sun and the beautiful beach which extends to almost three miles is a perfect blend to people who love to travel and like to explore new places. Ultimately, Abbot Kinney’s dream of creating a beachfront town was a huge success and now, Muscle Beach is referred to as the “Coney Island of the Pacific”. The town is fully developed with a pier which is dedicated to provide amusement and also a beautiful miniature railroad in which the rails run on steam as well. What was once a vision of a man is now one of the most important cultural centres’ in Los Angeles.

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The town is known for its boardwalk. The concrete boardwalk is divided into the east side and the west side. In case you are walking through the west side of the boardwalk, then don’t be surprised to have a chat with the freaky looking fortune-tellers, gentlemen who talk about conspiracy theories and also the immensely talented performance artists. On the west side is the wide array of residences, the beautiful looking restaurants, and also the souvenir shops as well. Well, if you have decided to take a walk on the concrete boardwalk, then don’t be surprised if you are asked for a tip because everyone who is asking for a tip is basically trying to make a quick buck!

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The walk is always interesting in Muscle beach. The performance artists are extremely talented and you might always catch up with the guy who paints himself in gold from head to toe and does some fancy robot steps as well. There is even the guy who “walks on glass” and also the juggler who juggles chainsaws! Well, if your visit to the place is well timed, then you might be one of the lucky ones to catch up with the local escape artists.

Once you are done with the fun-filled walk in the boardwalk, enter one of the piercing, tattooing or t-shirt vendors stall and get yourself some fancy Californian stuff.

And if you are a kind of person who likes to have some adventure, then take some time out and enjoy some of the adventurous sports such as surfing or swimming in the sea. And, if you are good at playing some other sports such as basketball or handball, then California is the place to be as people there are enthusiastic about their sport and there will always be someone to have as company and play with. Oh oh! Never be disheartened if you are not exactly the kind of person who plays the sport. People play the sports year round and visitors can always grab a seat to catch up with all the action.

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The Gold’s Gym is a star attraction in muscle beach. People from all around the world come to this beach to show off their rusty muscular well-built bodies. The Venice beach got its name Muscle beach from this activity that it has got. It was here that Arnold Schwarzenegger had worked out way then. As a matter of fact, the Gold’s Gym is considered to be one of the most important sporting venues in America. It is also a fact to be noted that it has been ranked No. 39 on the ESPN’s list of top sporting venues in America.

Other activity that dominates the beachfront is skateboarding. The Venice Beach Skatepark was opened in the year 2009 at an expenditure of over 2 million dollars. The Skatepark is located near the Ocean Front Walk and Windward. This facility is spread over an area of about 16,000-square-foot and has excellent concrete made skateboard facility to improve street skating. It was here in the 1970’s that the Z-boys skateboarded and revolutionized skateboarding. A point to be mentioned here is that the park is open to everyone and it is free of cost as well. The only thing that the skateboarded has to bring is the skateboard and safety equipment.

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The outdoor weightlifting area is a star attraction in the Muscle Beach at Venice. If you are looking at a giant concrete barbell at the top of a roof, then you are looking at the outdoor weightlifting area. This place is referred to as the mecca for people who do regular workouts. It is because of these workout facilities and the presence of world famous gyms such as the Gold’s Gym and other fitness facilities that the Venice beach is often referred to as the “Muscle Beach”. The Abbot Kinney Boulevard is also a very important shopping destination and it is one of the most famous spots to do some shopping and dine with your loved ones during the sunset. Looking at such wonderful prospects of fun, frolic and adventure, the question that comes to my mind is-“So, where are you heading this summer?”

 

The Natural Wonders of Dorset, England



The Natural Wonders of Dorset, England

Nestled in the very lap of nature, the county of Dorset lies on the beautiful south coast of England. Being a mostly non-metropolitan area, the environment and natural surroundings of this place has been quite well conserved and protected. This land is famously known for its outstanding natural beauty and wonderful sights. Its versatile landscape comprises of broad elevated chalk downs, limestone ridges and clay valleys. Three fourths of its luminous coastline has also been marked as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations. It is ideally located in the South of England with rich history, delicious cuisine and a better climate than most of the United Kingdoms. These factors combined are bound to attract numerous tourists to witness the astounding natural beauty of Dorset.

Lulworth Cove

The Lulworth Cove

This magnificent oyster shaped cove took shape gradually over the course of thousands of years. The sea broke through the Purbeck and Portland Limestone cliffs and eroded away the softer rocks. Today this scenic Cove forms a natural harbour that sits elegantly at the eastern end of the Jurassic Coast. Quite close to this awe inspiring Cove is a fossilized forest where the rare remains of the late Jurassic and early Cretaceous coniferous trees are found. Less than half a mile away from the Cove there lies the smaller ‘Stair Hole’ which is considered to be a reflection of what the Lulworth Cove probably looked like in its infancy and early stages.

Durdle Door

The Durdle Dor (Or The Durdle Door)

This stupendous piece of Nature’s artwork is one of the most photographed objects along the Dorset Jurassic Coast. The giant limestone arches straddle the sea at the eastern end of the Durdle Dor Cove. Years of carving by the relentless and pounding waves have eroded away the softer rock leaving behind only the imposing and resistant Portland stone arches standing firm. This rugged beauty is a sight to behold! During sunset the sun shines right through the arch and illuminates its walls from within while reflecting like diamonds upon the blue of the great sea. The word ‘Durdle’ is derived from the Old English world of ‘thirl’ meaning ‘to pierce’ or ‘to have a hole’ while the term Dor (or Door) reflects its uncanny resemblance to a door. Being one of nature’s most beautiful handicrafts, one must visit the Durdle Dor. It makes for a wonderful and romantic evening out by the gentle sea.

Chesil

The Chesil Beach

This remarkable shingle barrier ridge shelters some of the most spectacular lagoons stretching on for 29 kilometres from Birdport Harbour (West Bay) to Chesil Bay in the Isle of Portland. The Chesil beach is surprisingly one of the most studied beaches in the world for the size, grading and volume of the pebbles that adorn its shores like its armour. At Portland the pebbles are roughly the size of a hen’s eggs and at the West Bay they are almost the size of small peas. The steady decrease in size from one end of the stretch to the other is so perfect and uniform that at night the fishermen are able to tell where they have landed just by simply feeling the pebbles beneath their feet! The Chesil Beach makes for an excellent day outing with your family. The cool sea breeze and the summer sun are wonderful to relax and enjoy some quality time with your family in this serene surroundings.

Jurassic Coast

The Jurassic Coast

After a young 12 year old girl named Mary Anning discovered an unusual fossil skeleton which turned out to be the first complete skeleton of an ichthyosaur(a giant marine reptile that looked a little like a dolphin), the coast came to be known as the Jurassic Coast. Since then, a wide variety of internationally important fossils have been found from these coasts. Stretching for a distance of one hundred and fifty five kilometres, this coast is the only place in the world that displays unbroken evidence of 185 million years of Earth’s history. The great cliffs provide us with an almost continuous sequence of Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous rock formations along the coast. This palaeontology hot spot is also a major tourist attraction with its long stretch of beaches, beautiful scenery, rich history and breath taking views overlooking the sea.  The Jurassic Coast in 2005 was also voted as the fifth greatest natural wonder in Britain, in a poll conducted by ‘Radio Times’

Old Harry Rocks

The Old Harry Rocks

Marking the most eastern point of the Jurassic Coast, the Old Harry Rocks is a group of three chalk formations at Handfast Point, on the Isle of Purbeck at Dorset. A product of erosion over the course of many thousands of years, the area features beautiful promontories, sea stacks and natural arches. There are two very fascinating legends behind the naming of the Old Harry Rocks. The most popular one says that the Devil (known as Old Harry) had slept on these rocks. One can take a pleasant cliff-top walk from the village of Studland to the Old Harry Rocks or during the low tide one can easily walk along the foot of the cliff to the Rocks. This mystical place is most definitely worth a visit.

All brought together: Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, Manhattan



All brought together: Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, Manhattan

Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum located on the west side of Manhattan, New York City as the name suggests houses fearless and adventurous, that is to say that the museum is to watch out for military carriers.

The museum was founded in 1982, when USS Intrepid aircraft carrier was acquired. The museum after two years of renovation exhibits spectacular display of aircraft. USS Intrepid aircraft is said to have survived attacks in World War II. As its website says, “The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is the only museum where visitors can experience a legendary aircraft carrier, the first space shuttle, the world’s fastest jets, and a Cold War-era submarine.”

USS Intrepid Aircraft

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The museum in addition to USS Intrepid aircraft displays Space Shuttle Pavilion, USS Growler, British Airways Concorde, 27 authentically restored aircraft, 18000 square foot education centre and Pier 86, a publicly accessible pier which is a part of Hudson River Park Trust.

USS Intrepid aircraft is now a place of National Historic Landmark. It was built in 1943. The aircraft had fought during World War II and in Vietnam. In addition, it served as recovery vessel for space missions. Today, its four different decks exhibit technological military display. The four decks are: Flight Deck, Gallery Deck, Hangar Deck and Third Deck.

USS Growler

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The submarine Growler is the strategic missile submarine and has the famous “top-secret” missile command centre. It has two Torpedo Rooms and a Control Room and Attack and these are accessible to public making it first of its kind, that is first to be opened to public.

British Airways Concorde

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British Airways Concorde is the fastest commercial aircraft to cross the Atlantic Ocean. It is on display at the museum.

Space Shuttle Pavilion

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Space Shuttle Pavilion is a major point of attraction for tourists. It has been recently opened and it showcases space shuttle Enterprise which is a prototype of NASA Orbiter. It also showcases “original artifacts, photographs, audio, and films that immerse visitors in the science and history of Enterprise and the space shuttle era”.

The museum also has Lockheed A-12 Blackbird, the world’s fastest military jet and spy plane. It also has propeller-driven planes contributed to World War II, jets and helicopters.

Along with the above mentioned major aircraft, Intrepid Sea, Air and Science Museum is also a place for activities for both kids and adults. It has simulators, Audio tours, souvenir photos, guided tours and Exploreum Hall.

Simulators which help the visitors experience virtual flight tour in the 4D motion ride, Audio tours in which visitors hear the talk of pilots as he/she moves around, Souvenir photos taken automatically by the team and could be taken later, Guided tours to hear inspiring and educating facts- all these add to the display of the museum.

Exploreum Hall

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Exploreum Hall, designed for families and groups to discover Water, Air, Space and Life at Sea is a favourite among the visitors. It help the visitors enjoy themselves as kids and adults play together building happier environment. It is a 13000 square feet exhibition space on Hangar Deck. Here, the groups can play variety of games such as space pinball, climb in to an actual lifeboat and many other fun related activities. It is one of the most visited areas of the museum which is most enjoyed by the visitors there.

The museum also provides an opportunity to host an event at the museum that is at a unique place. It also provides various opportunities for kids too. Along with Exploreum Hall and simulators there are scout program and activities, kids zone, family membership schemes, camps, overnight stay and educational activities. Birthday party for the kids could also be hosted here.

Contribution to Society

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In order to add to the above facilities, the museum also plays an important role in education sector. As it website quote it “Intrepid fulfills its mission to honor our heroes, educate the public, and inspire our youth by engaging visitors of all ages and connecting them to history through hands-on exploration while bridging the future by inspiring innovation.” For this it gives its own Intrepid awards to recognize outstanding individuals in state, military and corporate leaders. The Intrepid Salute Award, The Intrepid Freedom Award, The Intrepid Leadership Awards are some of the categories.  It also delivers high quality education by various activities such as Community Engagement programs, Leadership Camps, School and Teacher Programs and Digital Resources. The certain groups such as Tour and Travel Professional group help in the same. It promotes the field of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).

With over a million visitors, the museum continues to display military carriers and advancement of technology and continue to take the visitors by surprise. The place is easily reachable with transport facilities readily available. A person who is interested can even volunteer at the place.

The museum continues to awe its visitors with its technological display. This place is a must visit for people who have interest in technology, military aircrafts and spaceships. In addition to it, the museum is a place for all from kids to youth to grown up adults.

Wellington: The Iron Duke



Wellington: The Iron Duke

Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand, is located on the edges of the Wellington Harbor and is surrounded by beautiful mountains providing perfect scenery for New Zealand people. The city is no doubt a home to many cultural attractions and national arts of New Zealand. Wellington is a city which offers a mixture of heritage, culture, lively arts with much entertainment and tasty food.  As it is the capital city of New Zealand, the centre offices of most of the departments of government of New Zealand are situated in Wellington only. The parliament buildings are residing at the Lambton Quay and the Terrace areas. The city offers a very gorgeous environment to its people as the city is lined with rugged coastline and massive hills with a stunning harbor too.

Reach Wellington:

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People who are planning to visit this place have all the travelling options available. The Wellington International Airport is situated in Rongotai which is quite close to the central city. Flights from many destinations reach there. People can travel through flights during day and nights also. People can even reach the city through its harbor by travelling in ferries. There are many regular ferries that provide services from Wellington to Picton and vice versa. Road lovers can travel on their own cars or in buses going from the two main highways that led to Wellington. State Highways 1 connects western coast to north and State Highway 2 connects the route of the Hutt Valley and Wairarapa. Some train services are also available between Auckland and Wellington.

Things to Enjoy:

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The city’s charm is well maintained by its inner beauty. The city is quite compact and because of that you will find many restaurants, trendy cafes, boutiques and even art galleries together situated in the same line. There is also a massive network of biking and waking trails at the doorsteps of every house in the city. The cute vineyards and wineries, which are some miles away, add some charisma to them. The historic museums, galleries, theaters, music, dance and even arts are the things whose glimpse people can catch in this city. The capital city is full of attractions which people would like to visit. The major attraction among the art galleries and the museums is the “National Museum of New Zealand” which is at Te Papa. This place can fascinate anyone from a 4 year old boy to a 50 year old man. All the displays at its exhibitions are not only attractive but are innovative also. There are many special displays which reflect the culture, geological, social and biological history of New Zealand in a very refreshing way. The museum is open to all without any charges for most of its exhibitions.

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Those who don’t want to miss the best scenic beauty of New Zealand should visit “Mount Victoria” which provides a great panoramic scene of harbor and the city also. All the ferries starting off from the harbor can be seen from this mount. Even sometimes the aircraft taking off from the Wellington Airport can be seen clearly. People can drive their cars or can even walk up to the place easily. The favorite pastime of the local people living there is to sit on the grass with some chips and fish and enjoy the sunset and sunrise. By travelling in the Wellington Cable Car people can witness the gorgeous scenes from a greater height. This Cable Car starts from Lambton Quay and moves towards Kelburn. People can also visit the corresponding Carter Observatory and Cable Car Museum which has some interesting planetarium things, telescopes and virtual sky full of stars which are amazing to look at.

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Bird lovers can also visit the famous “Zealandia Sanctuary” which is in Karori. This Sanctuary, which covers about 225 hectare land, is just a 10 minute ride from downtown Wellington. Visit this Sanctuary and you will definitely notice the pleasant voices of different birds as the place is full of many beautiful native birds. Volunteers are available for information and help. At night, kiwi spotting is famous at this place. To take a break from the heat of the sun, visit the waterfront of Wellington at “Oriental Bay”. This is a marvelous public spot for walking, cycling, jogging and crocodile biking. People can soak up the sun or can swim or can eat from the cafes, ice cream vendors and bars available if they want.

End Your Day With:

wel

Start your day with the delicious coffee and gourmet foods on the streets of Wellington. Take a guided tour if you want to get acquainted with the city easily. Mountain biking under the guidance of experts can be a great fun day-sport. The city of Wellington has more bars and restaurants than New York City so you can end your day by spending some time in these spunky bars and restaurants with your friends and family. Many people around this world call this city the “Craft Beer Capital” as the city offers the best coffee one can ever have in their whole life. Spend the night life at “Cuba Street” which has the most colorful cafes and shops in store. The picturesque Bucket Fountain is also very famous for its clicks! Thus, the city is full of life, joy and color and is really a nice place to hang-out with your close ones…

St. John, US Virgin Islands – the Love City



St. John, US Virgin Islands – the Love City

St. John is a very beautiful island among many in the Caribbean Sea. It is a part of the district of US Virgin States, USVI. It is situated to the east of Saint Thomas at a distance of about four miles having a population of 4,170 humans. It was discovered by the most famous explorer – Columbus during his second voyage. It is the smallest island there, but yet it is the prettiest of all. The most famous attractions here are the beaches which are one of the best beaches in the world. Tourists must not hope of getting an airplane to the island because it houses no airports. The island is only accessible by water. From St. Thomas, you can take a ferry which is available every hour or you may come from Tortola where a ferry is available on daily basis. Other ways to reach here are from Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke. More than 60 percent of the island, which is about two-third of the island, is protected and comes under Virgin Islands National Park.

Cruz Bay:

cruz_bay_st_john

Cruz Bay is the main community of this island which is situated towards the western region of the island. This main town is the one with colorful shops, multiple restaurants and very friendly bars. The ferries usually come to Cruz Bay directly and all you journey of St. John will literally start from this particular town. The area is not too large to cover but is definitely worth a visit. Tourists usually love the gift shops that have a unique charm in them and the quaint restaurants for the amazingly tasty food. Near the ferry dock, there is a park which is the best place to rest for some time after travelling.

Virgin Islands National Park visitor center in Cruz Bay, St. John, USVI

To start exploring the island of Saint John, the starting point is the Visitor Centre. This is in Cruz Bay and offers you the exhibitions (both natural resources as well as cultural resources) that will explain you the history of the parks, the trails for hiking in Saint John, the ancient historically important places and information about the flora and fauna (like the reef fishes and beautiful coral) found on the island. There are Park Rangers that will be at your service always and will answer your questions and queries about anything from trails to hiking. Displayed there are some artifacts that dates back to the pre-Columbian Tainos and some tools which were used to harvest plants like sugarcane and some other objects what were necessary for survival after the period slavery emancipation. They offer brochures containing the information about the park and the maps to show you the proper routes. This centre is open from 8:00 in the morning to 4.30 in the evening every day.

Elaine Lone Sprauve Museum:

library-museum

Just outside the town of Cruz Bay, you will find this beautiful Elaine Lone Sprauve Museum and Library. The Division of Libraries, Archives and Museums maintains this place and keep it organized. All the historically important events and the traditionally rooted culture of the Saint John Island are stored at this small yet important place. Some surprisingly rare photographs and pictures, some newspaper clippings of events, some exceptionally great art and paintings are displayed on exhibit in this place. the building of the museum originally used to be a plantation great house which was later renovated in 1757 and restored as a museum and library. You can visit the museum only on week days, i.e., Monday to Friday between 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Another famous museum of Saint John is Ivan Jaden Museum. It has exhibits of the cross-cultural times of the Ivan Jaden. Ivan Jaden was a man with a lifespan of 94 years in which he became famous as the Great Russian tenor during the 20th century. Professionally, he was an artist who was rebellious against Stalin’s terror in the year 1941. He reached United States after eight years. There are more than five thousand artifacts in this museum which are all equally fascinating. There is also a collection of CD’s, videos, historical documents, photos and books in English and Russian which is highly unlikely in a museum with art pieces.

Virgin Islands National Park:

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Miles of forests and historical plantation ruins on the land along with the reefs lying underwater and pristine beaches at the shores together constitutes the Virgin Islands National Park. The trail of the National park crosses the lookout points of the beautiful scenery of the island, the ruins of sugar plantation (which used to be on a very large scale in the old times), through the rock carvings which are mysterious till today and the unspoiled and lush forest which is magnificent beyond knowledge. These trails of the National Park find their end at the shoreline in form of beaches. The most beautiful beaches in the whole Caribbean are found on St. John Island. Anyone visiting St. John must spend the time on a beach here to get an experience for life-time. Annaberg and Trunk Bay are two parks which are the most popular park sites of St. John; Trunk Bay is the best beach in the world and is breathtakingly beautiful having an underwater trail marked.

StJohn-Annaberg-RuinsTB

The St. John is a very adventurous and beautiful place to live in and to visit to. Never miss a chance that take you to this small and yet amazing spot in Caribbean.

Borra Guhalu, Borra Caves, Visakhapatnam



Borra Guhalu, Borra Caves, Visakhapatnam

The most refreshing thing for a man is the connection he finds with mother nature, away from all the hustle and all the commotion. A little while away from all of it to know how extravagant our planet is one thing everyone should have.

The caves
The Borra Caves in Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh, India are a major tourist attraction in the state. Andhra pradesh that is rich in its culture and traditions. Its know for many of the tourist attractions across the state. Tirupati, Hyderabad, Vijaywada are a few to mention. Visakhapatnam is know for its beautiful weather and beaches. Visakhapatnam is the only city that has a natural harbour on the east coast. It is also the Headquarters for Eastern Naval Command of India.
These cave are on the East Coast of India in the Ananthagiri Hills at the Araku Valley. They are the deepest caves in the country. The caves are famous for its numerous stalactites, spleleothems and stalagmites. The caves are 80 meters deep making them the deepest in the country. These caves are also one of the largest in the country. These caves were discovered by William King George of the Geological Survey of India in the year 1807.

temple
There are many legends that speak of these caves. The tribals aroud this place narrate the stories. They say that, when a cow was grazing on the top of the hill, it fell into a hole and dropped for over 60 meters. The cowherd went to search for the cow, in his search he came across a stone that resembled the Shiva Lingam ( Lord Shiva ). He found the cow and was alright. He believed that it was Lord Shiva who saved the cow. The villagers who heard this belived him and have worshipped this place ever since. Many people visit this place to get a glipse of the lingam in the caves. The river Gosthani originates from here, flows through Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam district before falling into the Bay of Bengal at Bheemunipatnam.
These caves are cleared by Gosthani river that flows through this place. The Gosthani river is the main source of Water Supply to Visakhpatnam. The extensive formation of Stalactites and Stalagmites are a treat to the eyes. The tourism department of Andhra Pradesh has provided excellent lighting and illumination using mercury, halogen and sodium vcapor lamps to make the various formations clearly visible to tourists. The average temperature in this place is about 25 degrees centigrade.

borra_caves
The place houses quite a few varieties of flora and fauna. The fulvous fruit bat is the most sighted in this cave. These bat are known to be found in large caves, old buildings, dungeons and the areas of forts which are very dark. Another regular sighting is that of the Golden Gecko that resides in these caves. The forest in this area are Deciduous, Semi- Evergreeen type. The bats feed on guava, cotton, mango and jamun which are available in these parts. The majority of the species found in these caves are endangered. Hence, mining operations are not allowed as it would be a violation of the Environmental Protection Act.

train route       train
These caves are at about 90 kilometeres away from the famous beach city of Visakhapatnam. The roads to this place from the city are mostly through a hilly area, hence takes about 3 hours to reach the caves. Visakhaptnam also has an airport that is well connected to other major cities of the country. There also runs a train from Vizag ( Visakhapatnam ) to the caves. The name of the station in BorraGuhalu which means Borra Caves. The route is beautiful. The railway line on which this operates is the Kothavasala Kirandul line which comes uner the East Coast Railways, Indian Railways. The journey is of about a 100 kilometeres and includes about 30 tunnels in its route which takes about 3 hours to complete. The train journey is a treat. The best place to visit these caves in during November and December. The temperatures are the best during this time of the year. The Andhra Pradesh State Tourism Department provides an Araku- Borra Cave Rail cum road package which includes everything you need to experience the beauty of this wonderful place. The caves are open to public from 10:00 AM to 5:30 PM. A ice stroll around these caves provides a brilliant view of the scenery and also gives you a chance to see the rich flora and fauna that constitutes these caves.

insidethe cave
The Andhra Pradesh State tourism has many guided tours to these caves from Visakhapatnam. The famous Hill Station, Araku Valley is situated at about 30 kilometers from the caves which is another famous tourist attraction in Visakhapatnam. Araku Valley is one of the few places in South India that has not been spoilt. It is know for its coffee, The Araku Emerald.

to the outside   hotel
There are good hotels available near these caves. At a distance of a couple of kilometers from the caves is a place called sagarnagar which is filled with hotels. some of the good hotels are Senora Beach Resort and Bay Leaf – Ayurveda Spa & Resort. One other good place to stay is the Palm Beach Hotel & Resort which is two and a half kilometers away from the caves and is situated on the Beach Road. This place provides a feel of the endless waters and the magnificence of the caves simultaneously. Andhra Pradesh is known for its spicy dishes and traditional Andhra Cuisine is something one must definitely try within the State’s boundary. The rich pickles and the Dolphin’s Nose Hill is one beautiful attraction in Visakhapatnam. Borra Caves is a famous place that attracts large number of tourists over the year. To experience the natural wonder’s beauty, do visit!

The Remarkable Beauty of Butchart Gardens



The Remarkable Beauty of Butchart Gardens

The Butchart Gardens are the gardens located near Victoria (Vancouver Island) in Brentwood Bay in British Columbia, Canada. These gardens have a floral display which is one of the finest in the world. More than a million tourists visit this place every year. These gardens are so renowned worldwide that they are given the designation of one of the ‘National Historic Site of Canada’. These gardens are now among the premier floral show gardens in the world after a century of their origin.

History:

butchart

The founder of the Butchart Gardens is Robert Pim Butchart. He used to manufacture Portland Cement in Owen Sound, Canada. His wife, Jennie Butchart visited Canada for the limestone deposits. They got a home at the Saanich Peninsula’s base on Vancouver Islands and developed a quarry. As the limestone deposits exhausted, the wife made plants to hide that pit which expanded to become Sunken Garden. Then in the years, 1906 to 1920, they built Japanese Garden, Italian Garden and a Rose Garden.

Sunken Garden:

Butchart-Gardens-Victoria-Canada

The first see to see in these Butchart Gardens is the Sunken Garden. There are deep walls expanded all over which are the remaining parts of some old quarry. There walls support the perfectly organized beds of annuals, shurbs, flowering trees, etc. There is a Ross Fountain which is totally graceful to look at. Also, there is a central rock mound and various plantings in the Bog Garden which, together with the fountain, adds to the beauty and nature of the Sunken Garden and gives you an unforgettable and amazing view of the natural colors. The garden is very well maintained and constructed which is evident from the fact that they have a separate passage for the tourists who use wheel-chairs and separate stairs for the other tourists.

Rose Garden:

Butchart-Gardens-Rose-Garden

When you walk out of the Sunken Gardens, you will find yourself in the domed Children’s Pavilion and the Rose Carousel. It is a menagerie (a zoo and a park) which has 30 wooden animals along with a few chariots, all hand-carved very skillfully. This crafted carousel looks very lovely and is a very popular place of the garden for all age groups. After this, you will see two poles which are very impressively carved by the artists and craftsmen of the Tsartlip. There is a Concert Lawn which you can circle from here and walk through the dahlia garden to discover that they are one the best you could have ever seen. Near this Concert Lawn is the most loved, most liked and most appreciated section by the name Rose Garden. To greet you to this garden, you have rose-laden arches which look beautifully colorful and have luscious scent. The delphiniums are magnificent and form a boundary of the Ross garden. This garden has a vast variety and collection of Hybrid Tea Roses and Pacific Giants. But this is during the early fall or during the summers and not every day of the year. The rose variety can be known by the marks used to label each kind. Other information mentioned on the marks is about the origin and the year of registration in the American Rose Society. After you walk from here, you will see the frog fountain and a “wishing well” which is as popular as the Rose Garden. You will see Sturgeon Fountain made of Bronze and casted in Florence, once you exit from the Rose Garden.

Japanese and Italian Garden:

Butchart Gardens

Another one is the Japanese Garden that is marked by the Torii Gate at the entrance. The paths in this garden are dotted with the Blue Poppies found in the Himalayas in spring season. These gentle paths take you around the ponds, bridges and streams. The most famous sight of this garden is the Japanese maples and beech trees. It was completed in 1906 by Jennie Butchart along with the assistant Isaburo Kishida who is an expert landscaper of Japan. They allow tourists to take a boat tour of the Tod Inlet during the summers which leads to the wharf at the bottom of this garden. After this garden, you will find a Star Pond with a frog fountain at the centre. Past this, you will find the Italian Garden which is another one of the Butchart Gardens. There are two arched entrances to this garden which is situated on a land that used to be the tennis court of the Butchart. It has a statue of Mercury made of bronze and also a cross-shaped pond that looks very charming.

Mediterranean Garden:

mediterranean-garden-in-butchart-gardens-tatyana-searcy

After the Italian Garden, you reach the Mediterranean Garden after coming from a tunnel to the Piazza. There is a Florentine statute of Tacca – the Boar, made of bronze. The statute is rubbed for good luck and most of the tourists do not leave the place before experiencing the Tacca statue. from here, you can walk to the Waterwheel Square to find the Mediterranean Garden. This is a comparatively smaller garden among the Butchart Gardens. But despite the size, it has great lush and exotic plants arranged in a surprisingly wonderful manner.

All these gardens and fountains combined together are a treat for the eyes due to the natural colors and a treat for the nose due to the fresh scent.