Daily Archives: 27.04.2014

The Center of the Silicon Valley: Santa Clara, California



The Center of the Silicon Valley: Santa Clara, California

California, also known as The Golden State, is well known for long beaches, Hollywood, home of many celebrities, artistic streets, the Golden Gate Bridge and its range of some beautiful and amazing cities. Santa Clara is quite underrated but this city, named after saint Clare of Assisi, gives everything what a tourist desires. It has beautiful locations, affordable accommodation, supportive people and delicious cuisine. Santa Clara, located in Santa Clara County and just 45 miles from San Francisco, is the ninth most populous city of the state. Santa Clara was incorporated as a city in 1852 and the economy was dependent on agriculture at that time but by 20th century, hospitals, schools, colleges were established in the city. The Agnews State Hospital, which used to be a mental health facility, is quite famous here and listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

weather

Santa Clara has a subtropical Mediterranean climate with almost 260 sunny days during the year. July is the warmest month with maximum temperature of 82 degrees and coldest month is January with 39 degrees. The city gets an average of 25 inches of snow every year and 14 inches of rain. The best time to visit Santa Clara is between March and July.

How to get here?

How to get here

Santa Clara does not have its own international airport but there are three international airports within the range of 37 miles from the city. The nearest one is Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport, located just 4 miles from the city and receives all domestic and international flights. Other airports are San Francisco International Airport, 33 miles from Santa Clara and Oakland International Airport which is 37 miles away. All the airports have cabs, rental cars, shuttles, train and bus services to reach Santa Clara comfortably. Sacramento International Airport, 124 miles, is also available as an option but it is not very much preferred by travelers.

Accommodation and Food

Accommodation

There is a long range of luxury hotels, cheap motels, bed & breakfasts, resorts, villas, apartments, boutiques around Santa Clara and you can easily find one which fits your budget. One of the best is Avatar Hotel located at Great America Parkway, offering luxury suites with private spa, free internet, LED TV, an outdoor pool, health club, bar and restaurant. Other good options include Mariani’s Inn and Bella Vista Inn at El Camino Real, Marriott at Mission College Boulevard, Biltmore Hotel & Suites at Laurelwood Road, St.Francis Motel at The Alameda, Embassy Suites at Lakeside Drive, Hyatt House at Rivermark Plaza and Woodcrest Hotel at Stevens Creek Boulevard.

Food

Santa Clara offers some of the finest dining restaurants and cafes with some famous chefs of the state. Whether you like American or Chinese, fast food or seafood, French or Italian, Indian or Mexican, Irish or Japanese, Mediterranean or Mongolian, you are going to find every type of international tastes here. Some of the most famous places to eat in Santa Clara are, American food at Andy’s BBQ, Armadillo Willy’s, Birk’s Restaurant, Ice Creams at Mission City Creamery and Pinkberry, Indian food at Aachi Aappakadai and Mayuri Indian Cuisine and Italian at Mio Vicino, Fiorillo’s Restaurant and Piatti Restaurant.

The Attractions

Great America Theme Park

Great America Theme Park

The Great America Park is a theme park owned and operated by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company. It is located at Great America Parkway in Santa Clara and features some thrilling rides and special events for families and children. Main attractions of the park are Boomerang Bay Water Park, Planet Snoopy, KidzWille, Fast Lane and more. You can get a Gold Season Pass for only $14 and enjoy over 70 rides, shows along with new Gold Striker Coaster. You will get unlimited admission and free parking during entire season.

Mission Santa Clara De Asis

Mission Santa Clara De Asis

Mission Santa Clara is a Spanish Mission located at El Camino Real in Santa Clara. The whole campus of Santa Clara University includes the Mission Garden, the Center for Performing Arts and the de Saisset Museum apart of the Mission Santa Clara. It was founded in 1777 in the land of Ohlone people. The famous Church of Mission Santa Clara was built in 1825 and features a glimpse of amazingly unique architecture.

Intel Museum

Intel Museum

The Intel Museum is located at Mission College Boulevard in Santa Clara, and exhibits Intel’s products and historical artifacts along with semiconductor technology information. The museum covers a total area of 10000 square feet and welcomes the students and youth groups regularly to explore the complex and understand the silicon technology, the chip design and chip fabrication. A lot of interactive exhibits are also conducted for students from time to time. You can also become a part of the group tours and guided tours only with advance reservation.

Our Lady of Peace Shrine

Our Lady of Peace Shrine

Our Lady of Peace Shrine is a Roman Catholic Church located at Mission College Boulevard in Santa Clara. The iconic attraction of the Church is the 32 foot statue of Our Lady also known as Queen of Peace, located in front of the church. The Church was founded in 1961 and the people often come here for the communion and confessions. There is also a large gift shop near the church featuring books, tapes, movies, statues and icons and some other religious goods. The church also holds some events for children like High School Catechetical Program from time to time. The church remains open daily and admission is free.

Fiordland national park, New Zealand



Fiordland national park, New Zealand

Fiordland national park located in south west new Zealand is the largest national park in new Zealand and the largest among all the 14 national parks of the new zealand with an area of 12, 500 km square. Fiordland national park, one of the most dramatic and beautiful parts of new Zealand, Carved by glaciers over 100, 000 years is a cherished corner of the world where mountains and valleys complete with each other for room with waterfalls tumble hundreds of meters into massive fiords, shimmering lakes, spectacular ice- carved fiords, lakes and valleys, rugged granite tops and pristine mountains to sea vistas. It is regarded as one of the notable natural wonders.  

Fiordland National Park - New Zealand 1

Most of the fiordland is dominated by the steep sides of the snow- capped southern alps, mountain, deep lakes and its ocean flooded, steep western valley and by number of fiords also known as sounds. The exceptional beauty of this vast landscape has long been recognized by declaring it as world heritage in 1986. In 1990 fiordland was linked with three other national parks, mount aspiring, westland and mount cook.

New Zealand South Island Fiordland National Park Milford Sound

It stretches from north to south on about 200 km and is surrounded by fresh water and salty fjord. Amazing features breathe taking beauty dominated by dense primary forest of beech from where emerge spectacular waterfalls and mountain peaks, enhancing caves and cliffs. Basically fiord is a long, narrow inlet with steep sides, created by glacial erosion.  The national park is bounded on the north by the Darren mountains, which rises 2700 meters at mount tutoko. In the east number of large lakes and in the west the mountains fall steeply to the tasman sea, which lashed by roaring forties. Park has 14 fiords that fringe this south west corner of south island. On all sides of the fiords, spectacular waterfalls tumble incessantly as the region’s plentiful rainfall find its way to the sea. The one third part of the park covered with virgin beaches and forest. 500 km walking tracks allow visitors to explore the primeval world of mountain peaks, lakes and moss carpeted valleys. Visitors can stay at great walks huts founded on the milford, kepler and routeburn tracks and these provides higher than usual level of comfort

 chasm-fiordland-nz_15987Waterfall

Te anau is the gateway of fiordland national park is located at the southern end of lake te anau. visitors can visit to Lake te anau and lake manapouri, nestled amongst mountains in fiordland national park. The most important sits are the milford and doubtful sounds are situated north of te anau are known for their hundreds of waterfalls during rainy season.Starting with te anau it takes you over 53 km through the most breath taking scenery, mountains, lakes and enormous valleys.  Autum season in fiordland markes the fall of first snow on the mountains. Visitor can first visit to the northern fiordland and can experience the beauty of fiordland’s ice- caves valleys, lakes and waterfalls on the stunning journey along milford road to milford sound. In hollyford valley visitors can explore the remote forested hollyford valley where the river flows from dramatic fiordland mountains to the west coast sea and can enjoy the hollyford tracking, fishing and climbing. Milford sound situatd at north side of fiordland breath taking location visitors can enjoy the tracking and walk over mountains. The 33 mile milford track hike and fjords, glacier carved long narrow inlets surrounded by steep mountains jutting out of water.

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Fjordland is a home to a large undisturbed wildlife. The rainforest is intensely green and incredibly dense with vines, perching plants, tree and ground ferns and podocrap trees. It is also a home to native and rare species birds and animals. The water of fiordland, home to an amazing array of sea life because of the surface layer of dark fresh blue water that block the sunlight and allow corals and undersea life to grow much shallower than they normally grow. Visitors can get to see the whales, dolphins, molly hawks and royal albatross the fur seals, penguins and Many species of fish, sea anemones, starfish and coral with abundance of sea creatures. Among the birds the kakapo, the only flightless parrot in the world and kivi, the national bird of new Zealand.

Mitre Peak on Milford Sound at sunrise, Fiordland National Park

Southern fiordland includes lake monowai, lake hauroko and waitutu offers great ‘ off the beaten track’ tramping, hunting, boating and fishing. Western fiordland offers you the opportunity to explore the more remote areas of fiordland like milford sound, dusky sound from preservation inlet to doubtful sound which is of 421 meters, deepest of New Zealand’s fiords. Imagine standing high in the mountains, looking over a vast landscape of snow-capped peaks, glistening fiords, icy lakes in tussock and sheer, ice-carved valleys with rivers winding through the native forest all this view fell like a heaven.

New Zealand, South Island, Te Wahipounamu, Fiordland National Park, Milford Track, river Arthur

The most attractive geographical features of this park are Browne falls and Sutherland fall, counted among the tallest waterfalls in the world and the lake hauoko, lake manapouri and lake te anau regared as deepest of the new Zealand. The fiordland is one of the wettest place of the world with a mean annual rainfall of 6813 mm. The coldest months are may to august.

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The park is popular for its adventurious acticities like climbing with milford, kepler, hollyford and routeburn tracks. It is a challenging tramping destination. At the end of the park, several peaks rise to over 2,000 meters. Rising above stunning milford sound is mitre peak, rising 1692 meter above the sea level provides the most amazing views of the park. Fiordland national park features three world class great walks tracks kepler track which takes around 4 days to finish tracking, milford track, takes five days to complet and routeburn track ranging from 2 to 4 day walks and all stunning scenery to take your breath away.

Cruise ship in Milford Sound, Fiordland National Park, New Zeala

This place will make you fell as you are visiting in a magical world. The sound of falling water and sound of wild life brake the silence. The sun’s rays penetrate in the forest and by making shining view of the water make this place haven. During the rainy season hundreds of waterfalls transform the fjord into the giant wall of water. This park gives an unique opportunity to experience the beauty and strength of nature. Visitors can get the unforgettable experience It is one of the notable natural wonders of the world and a place you ought to travel before you die.

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Of Opulence and Finery: Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna



Of Opulence and Finery: Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna

Are you dying to relive the moment James Bond and Kara ride through the magnificent gardens in The Living Daylights or Sophia Loren’s A Breath of Scandal? All you need to do is kill a day at the breathtakingly opulent Schönbrunn Palace in Austria’s capital, Vienna. It’s history and culture galore at this 1441 room Rococo regal palace, which is arguably the most popular attraction the city has to offer. A former summer royal residence, the palace and its gardens will leave you awestruck as they tell spell binding tales of the palates, lives and dreams of Hapsburg royalty.

Schönbrunn Palace

 Featuring prominently in UNESCO’s list of World Cultural Heritage Sites, the baroque architecture and the exquisite décor of the Schönbrunn Palace makes it stand out as a major architectural marvel in the world today. The ownership of the palace was transferred from the Hapsburg dynasty to the Republic of Austria in 1918, marking the end of the Austrian monarchy. It was governed by a local government body called Schlosshauptmannschaft Schönbrunn until 1992. After that, the ownership was transferred to the Schloss Schönbrunn Kultur und Betriebsges, a government owned company.

Schönbrunn Palace Winter

 History

 The estate where the Schönbrunn today lies belonged to the manor of the monastery at Klosterneuburg in the 14th century. Then called the Katterburg, the estate fell in to the hands of the Holy Roman Hapsburg Emperor Maximillian II in 1569. The Emperor aimed at expanding the hunting grounds of the estate to facilitate the breeding of native game and fowl. His successor Rudolph II failed to do much for the estate besides the required maintenance.

 It is believed that Emperor Mathias was hunting on the Katterburg estate in 1612 when he saw the Schöne Brunnen or ‘fair spring’ from which it later derived its name. His successor, Emperor Ferdinand II and wife Eleonora von Gonzaga explored their passion for hunting at this venue. After the Emperor’s death in 1637, Eleonora commissioned the building of a chateau de plaisance to house her art collection, hence renaming the Katterburg as Schönbrunn.

 Emperor Leopold I had supremely talented architect Johann Bernard Fischer von Erlach design the preliminary Schönbrunn project, the forerunner of the Schönbrunn Palace today.

Schonbrunn Palace Finery

 The entire estate was renovated and redesigned post the Turkish occupation by architect Nicolaus Pacassi commissioned by Maria Theresia in 1743.

 Post the downfall of the Austrian monarchy and the two world wars; the palace was the setting for important world events, one being the 1961 meeting between J.F. Kennedy and Nikita Khruschev.

 Architecture

As you enter the main gateway guarded by two large obelisks on either side, you will be led into the expansive courtyard adorned with two huge fountains. One of the fountains bears emblematic figures illustrating the Danube, the Inn and the Ems, the all-important rivers of the region. The other fountain consists of representative sculptures depicting Transylvania, Galicia and Lodomeria. You will see the main palace straight ahead and the Schönbrunn Court Theatre to your right.

 Head to the garden for one of the best vantage points of the entire estate. Check out the Wagenburg or the Coach Room to feast your eyes on royal coaches, sledges and carriages. The Orangery is where vegetation was sheltered during harsh winters and inclement weather.

 The main palace with its 175-metre breadth is a testament to symmetry and Baroque art. The Baroque ensemble is painted light yellow and ochre, a colour scheme that later became typically Austrian. Forty of the 1441 palace rooms are open to the public including the grand state apartments and the rooms of Franz-Josef and Elisabeth. Built to outshine the Versailles, the Rococo interior of the palace is unsurprisingly opulent. The Millionenzimmer Room is unrestrainedly extravagant. The round Chinese Cabinet where Empress Maria Theresia held meetings is caked with porcelain embellishments.

Schonbrunn Palace Interior

 The transfer of ownership of the palace from the Austrian monarchy to the State was officially signed by Charles I in 1918 in the Blue Chinese Room decorated with blue Chinese patterns. The surprisingly dark Vieux-Laqcue room is where Maria Theresia spent her hours as a widow. The Spiegelsaal is where young Mozart and his sister performed before the King and Queen. The Rosa room is named after the artist who decorated the palace walls with landscape frescoes.

Schonbrunn Palace Room

 The gardens of the complex are as magnificent as the palace itself with the large sculpted garden, the Great Parterre stealing the show. Filled with sculptures, greenery, fountains and a maze, it was largely planned by Jean Trehet in 1695. Look out for Statue of Omphale, Artemisia II of Caria, Calliope, Brutus and Lucretia and other marvels of sculpture that adorn the garden.

Schonbrunn Palace Garden

 Don’t miss the monumental Neptune Fountain in the Schönbrunn Garden credited to Austrian sculptor Franz Anton von Zauner in 1780. It portrays a mythical scene where Thetis requests Neptune to allow her son Achilles a safe voyage to Troy. Atop the Schönbrunn hill, you will see the Gloriette, a neoclassicist arcaded structure. The uphill climb is well worth it, for the Gloriette offers a fantastic panorama of the park, the palace and the city of Vienna.

Neptune Fountain

 If nature is what you crave, pay a visit to the Palmenhaus, a sort of greenhouse for an astonishing variety of plants. You’ll also find the world’s oldest zoo, the Tiergaten in the complex dating back to 1752. Here, you’ll find elephants, apes, hippos, koalas and other animals.

The Gloriette

 Other attractions to look out for include the mock Roman Ruin, the obelisk, a Botanic Garden, a Japanese Garden, a dovecote called the Taubenhaus, the Najadenbrunnen fountains and a dairy farm called the Meirei among other attractions.

 If you get a bit peckish scouring this entire world in itself, fret not. There are plenty of restaurants to cater to your appetite within the estate itself. Some of them are the Café Restaurant Residenz and Court Backery, the Schonbrunner Schloßcafé, the Landtmann’s Parkcafé, Café Gloriette and Gasthaus Tirolergarten.

Schonbrunn Palace Autumn

Rich, Beautiful and Friendly: Ann Arbor, Michigan



Rich, Beautiful and Friendly: Ann Arbor, Michigan

City of Great Lakes and the birthplace of automotive industry, Michigan, is a famous state of United States located in the Great Lakes Region. If you are planning to visit Michigan then there is no better place than its beautiful city Ann Arbor which is also the county seat of Washtenaw County. It is also the 5th largest city of Michigan and a hub for tourists looking for some attractive places to visit, affordable accommodation, tasty food and healthy environment. The city was founded in 1824 and named originally as Annarbour but after some time the words were separated and it became Ann Arbor, making it only city with this name in the world. A number of bookstores, museums, art galleries, recreational activities, festivals, outdoor sports, University of Michigan make this city one of its kind and a joyful experience.

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Ann Arbor city has quite a humid continental climate with no dry seasons. The summers go hot and the temperature varies from 15 F to 83 F around the year. The warmest month of the year is July with maximum temperature of 83 F and coldest is January with minimum temperature of 14 F. Little snowfall and light rain can be experienced during January and thunderstorms during June. Best time to visit Ann Arbor is from March to July.

How to get here?

how to get here

Ann Arbor is located just 25 miles from Detroit Metropolitan Airport which receives nonstop flights from all major countries and neighbor cities. There is also Bishop International Airport, just 51 miles from Ann Arbor which receives domestic flights from Flint, Michigan and other cities. If you are arriving to Ann Arbor from a nearby city then you can use the rail and bus services as the Amtrak station receives trains from all nearby cities. You can get around the city by Greyhound rail service or Megabus or taxis and cabs.

Accommodation and Food

Accommodation

For every taste, budget or interest, Ann Arbor offers some perfect places to stay. From Hotels and Rental Homes to Motels and B&Bs, you will find everything in affordable price range. One of the most famous is Burnt Toast Inn located at W. William Street offering 4 guest rooms with organic and healthy breakfast, free internet and a bar. Other good options in budget are Ann Arbor Courtyard by Marriott at Boardwalk Dr. , Ann Arbor Marriott Ypsilanti at Eagle Crest, Ann Arbor Regent Hotel & Suites at Carpenter Road, Bell Tower Hotel at South Thayer, Candlewood Suites at Waymarket Way, Chelsea Comfort Inn & Village Conference Center at Commerce Park Dr, and Clarion Hotel and Conference Center at Jackson Road.

Food

American, Mexican, Chinese, French, Indian, Japanese, Pan Tropical, Southwest, Sweet Treats, Deli, German, Irish, Thai, Caribbean, Continental, Mediterranean, Greek or Italian, you just have to name it and there you go. Ann Arbor is very well known for diversity of tastes with more than 250 dining spots offering unique and delicious tastes. You will surely love the tasty lamb chops, lamb shish cabob and dolmades of Parthenon Restaurant located at S. Main Street, Beer and wings at Buffalo Wild Wings, Burgers and sandwiches at Cleary’s Pub, authentic Mexican Food at Las Fuente Mexican Restaurant and some delicious pancakes at City Limits Diner & Pancake House.

The Attractions

Ann Arbor Hands On Museum

Ann Arbor Hands On Museum

Ann Arbor Hands On Museum is located on E Ann Street in Ann Arbor and features exhibits on science, math and technology, educational programs and special events for both children and adults. It was opened in 1982 and was visited by 25000 people in its first year of operation. Some more buildings were added in the museum in 1993 and today its presents more than 250 exhibits. The attractions in the museum are the All About You gallery, Michigan Nature room, an Interactive video screen and a CTN Television Studio. The museum remains open everyday and admission costs $11 for adults and $5 for children.

Matthaei Botanical Gardens

Matthaei Botanical Gardens

Matthaei Botanical Gardens are a group of some botanical gardens, natural trail areas and some habitats. It is located on N Dixboro Road in Ann Arbor and is a part of the property within the University of Michigan. The Gardens were established in 1907 with only 80 acres of land and today it has over 700 acres area with a complex of conservatory, greenhouses, laboratory and teaching spaces. Matthaei Botanical Gardens remain open everyday and admission is absolutely free.

Michigan Stadium

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Michigan Stadium is a football stadium located in the University of Michigan. It is the largest stadium of US and third largest in the world. It was built in 1927 and today it has become world’s 31st largest venue hosting any sport. It has seating capacity of more than 100,000 fans and also used for main graduation ceremonies of the University. The stadium was designed by architect Bernard L. Green.

Michigan Theater

Michigan Theater

Michigan Theater is located at E Liberty Street in Ann Arbor and is a famous movie place of the city. Independent Films, stage productions and musical concerts are featured by this theater, making it a famous tourist attraction in Ann Arbor. The main attractions at Michigan Theater are the Family Friendly Film Series, Penny W. Stamps Series, Rock & Roll Concert, National Theater Live, Young Filmmakers Camp and Cinetopia Film Festival. The theater remains open everyday and entry ticket costs $10 for adults and $8 for kids. You can also watch a matinee show at the theatre for $7 only.

Gran Torre Santiago: Tallest Building in Latin America



Gran Torre Santiago: Tallest Building in Latin America

Gran Torre Santiago (Grand Santiago Tower in English) which was previously known as Torre Gran Costanera is a 64-story tall skyscraper located in the capital of Chile, Santiago. The building is currently the tallest in Latin America. The construction of the building began in the year 2006. The building is still under construction as of April 2014 and will be completed in the very same year. The estimated cost of the building is around US$495 million. It is estimated that once the building is complete it will be the tallest building in the whole of southern hemisphere with its only competition being the Q1 which is located in Gold Coast, Australia. The building upon completion would also just surpass the height of Eureka Tower situated in Melbourne, which is the second tallest building in Australia but the tallest building to roof in Australia.

Architectural Detail

Tower

Upon completion the Gran Torre Santiago will have 64 stories and will stand tall at an astounding height of 300 meters (980 feet) with additional 6 basement floors. Upon completion of the tower there will be nearly 700, 000 square meters of building space available which would have been built on 47, 000 square meters of land. The chief architect of this building is Cesar Pelli and the structural engineering is done by the Chilean company René Lagos y Asociados Ing. The building will have as many as 24 lifts or elevators. The building is quite resistant to earthquakes as the building is located in Chile which lies on the Pacific Ring of Fire and is quite prone to earthquakes. The building was successful in withstanding the powerful force of an 8.8 º Richter earthquake which devastated several parts of central and southern Chile, the tower did not face any structural damage as well in doing so.

Timeline of Construction

The construction of this building began in the year 2006 and the expected time of completion of the building was 2010 but the construction had to be put on hold because of the global financial crisis of 2008 and 2009. The construction then resumed in December 2009. In November 2010 when the building reached the 205 meters landmark the building became the tallest building in Chile when it overtook the neighboring Titatanium La Portada. When the building reached the 226 meters landmark it then became the tallest building in the whole of South America by taking over the twin towers of Parque Central Complex situated in Caracas, Venezuela which stand tall at a height of 225 meters to the roof.

Costanera Center

Complex

The Costanera Center is basically the center or region where Gran Torre Santiago lies or is actually a part of. The costanera center which aims to become a mini-city will have a mall and three other skyscrapers apart from Gran Torre Santiago. It will also have supermarkets, shops, 2 five-star hotels, a helipad, leisure places and a medical facility, making the center one of the largest commercial and business complex in Santiago. The complex is located in the commune of Providencia, Santiago, Chile, and is owned by the holding Cencosud. Another skyscraper in the complex will be 170 meters high. The construction of the whole complex came to a pause in the year 2009 due to the economic slowdown. The developers were worried that they will not be able to find tenants if the complex and Gran Torre Santiago in particular get completed by the originally proposed completion date.

The mall of this complex is the largest mall in South America. The mall opened on 12 June, 2012 and is Designed by Canadian retail agency Watt International. The mall has 6 floors and a supermarket by the name of Jumbo. Apart from the three Chilean departmental stores, namely, Paris, Falabella and Ripley the mall also has shops and showrooms of some of the top brands in the world like Zara, Hugo Boss and Guess. The mall also includes a variety of restaurants, ranging from Fast food restaurants to fine dining. The mall has a gym on its 6th floor. Apart from that the mall has a cinema theater and holds the tag of having the country’s first Hard Rock Café. The mall also brags of being the first mall in South America to use the “Find Your Car” parking technology by Park Assist. So all in all, the mall does have a lot of things to support its tag of “Largest mall in South America”.

Titanium La Portada

La Portada

Situated very close to the Gran Torre Santiago is another iconic landmark called as the Titanium La Portada. The building is located in the high-end financial district of Santiago and holds the record for being the second tallest building in Chile. The construction of the building started in January 2007 and the building was fully constructed by January 2010. Before November 2010 this gorgeous building was the tallest in the country until Gran Torre Santiago stole the title from it. The building has 55 floors and stands tall at a roof height of 194 meters. Like Gran Torre Santiago, this building has been made quite resistant to earthquake by anchoring it 50 meters below the ground.

 

The Lovely Longwood Gardens, United States.



The Lovely Longwood Gardens, United States.

Rows of exotic plants, flowers, trees and fruits, make The Longwood gardens a paradise for Botanists. Located in Kenett square, Pennsylvania, United States, in the Brandywine Creek Valley, the Longwood gardens consist of, over 1,077 acres of gardens, meadows and woodlands. The Longwood gardens have their arms wide open throughout the year, for visitors to come and enjoy the exotic plants and Horticulture. The gardens are open to educational lectures, courses and workshops. There are a lot of people who willingly participate in the events taking place in the gardens.

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A little into history..

The present day Longwood gardens were earlier a working farm. Originally called Peirce’s park, the garden was open to the public since its first days. The owners of the park had accumulated one of the finest collections of exotic trees in the nation of United States.

An industrialist of that time Pierre S. du Pont, bought the farm and saved the trees from getting hacked down. The farm was now a private estate. Du Pont added extensively to the property. Additions such as the gigantic conservatory, a humongous Pipe Organ, a musical instrument commonly used in Churches and Cathedrals, were made. The Gardens were decorated with large systems of fountains. All in all, the Longwood gardens could be called a perfect imitation of the gardens of Eden. They are a paradise for botanists, bird watchers and people looking for solace away from the city and into nature’s lap.

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Presently, the Longwood gardens consist of 20 indoor gardens and 20 outdoor gardens. These gardens exist in the 4.5 acre, heated conservatories also referred to as Green houses. These green houses, comprise of all sorts of exotic plants and trees within them. The gardens contain 11,000 different species of trees and plants within its boundaries. Trees of all shapes, sizes and origins exist in these gardens. The fountains spread all across the gardens, cut the monotony of the green with pearl white, making the combination an absolute treat to the eyes.

The gardens have a number of educational programs, which include a two year tuition free school of Horticulture, a graduate program and offer various other internships. Around 800 horticultural and performing arts events are hosted at the gardens every year. Events ranging from flower show, courses, gardening demonstrations, children programs, to concerts, from organ and carillon recitals, musical theatre, to fountain shows and firework displays, all find shelter in the garden, you name it and its there. If you are out in a holiday season during Christmas, the garden has an elaborate display of lights in store for you.

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Information for aspiring Botanists, the massive conservatory situated at the Longwood gardens, is one of the world’s greatest greenhouse structures, which is a home to some 5,500 types of plants. A tour of the 20 indoor gardens, spanning a half mile, shall consume an hour and a half. The greenhouse gardens, each with its own special display of plants, include the Orangery, Silver gardens, acacia passage, orchid house, cascade garden, palm house, Mediterranean garden, tropical terrace and the outdoor water garden display. These displays are as beautiful and exotic as their names. The gardens have undergone a lot renovations and expansions, since the time they were constructed.

This beautiful gift of nature attracted around 900,000 visitors in the year 2009. West 8, a Dutch Architecture and Urban Planning firm, that has its headquarters in Rotterdam and an office in New York City, was hired to execute the plans laid down for the growth and expansion of the Longwood gardens, for the next four decades. The motive West 8 set for itself was to celebrate Longwood, enjoy it, preserve it, keep it, while looking for ways to make it function as a splendid place for a larger group of people in the 21st Century.

The most eye catching feature of the Longwood gardens is the massive Pipe Organ designed by Firmin Swinnen, a Belgian musician who moved to the United States and became a popular theatre organist in New York City. The Organ’s pipes filled fourteen railway freight cars and they needed a 72 horsepower blower motor to supply wind pressure. The Pipe Organ was one of the largest musical instruments to have been installed in a private residence. When the four manual Pipe Organ plays in the Longwood Garden ballroom the melodious sounds of it, can be heard all throughout the conservatory, when the adjoining panel windows are left open. The Organ itself has undergone renovation lately.

If you have always been attracted to fairytales and believe in the fact that trees and flowers and the soothing sounds of trickling water, all have healing powers. If trees manage to capture your attention, if flowers make you thank nature, just by the mere sight of theirs. If you are an ardent admirer of nature’s beauty. If you too get surprised by the play and display of colors and hues that are present in nature’s palate. If you are tired of living a monotonous life, in the concrete city jungles and want a respite, that shall work as a balm to soothe your sore soul, then this nature’s bounty awaits your arrival!

Maldives of Thailand, Koh Chang



Maldives of Thailand, Koh Chang

Koh_ChangKoh Chang is an island located in the Trat Province in Eastern Thailand. It is the second largest island of Thailand. There are only about 5000 residents on this island and hence it is not very populated however tourism has increased a lot in the recent years. The name of this place means Elephant Island and it is so called because of the elephant shape of its headland. The island is spread over an area of 217 square kilometres and is home to about nine villages. Before World War II little was known about this place and was mainly famous for piracy and was also the ground for sea battles between French naives and the Thai. However, now this place is famous for its chain of white sand beaches, several waterfalls, coral reefs jagged mountains, the rich marine life and the pristine rain forests.

HOW TO GET THERE?

Koh Chang has no airport of its own. The nearest airport to this place is Trat. There are three flights in a day by Bangkok Airways from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport to Trat. It takes an hour to reach Trat and from here you can reach the island by taking a bus or a taxi. You can also travel by road. There are two main roads to reach Koh Chang that run along the east and west coast. Both of these roads start at Ao Sapparot in the north near the ferry piers. You can also take a ferry to reach here. Ferries are available from Laem Ngob in Trat town to Koh Chang.

SIGHT SEEING AND ACTIVITIES

Hat Sai Khao

Hat Sai Khao also known as the White Sand Beach is the most developed area on the island and also one of the busiest. As far as accommodation is concerned, the beach is full of thatched huts and wooden bungalows. There are also many luxury suites and duplex rooms available. There are many hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops near the beach. It has one of the best night life on the island with many bars, nightclubs and jazz clubs. However, it is not the beach for you if you are looking for some quiet peaceful time.

White sand beach

Klong Prao Beach

Another famous beach is the Klong Prao Beach. The northern part of this beach is busier with many three star resorts and shopping plazas compared to the southern part. This is relatively less crowded compared to the White Sand Beach. The Southern part is not very well developed but it is easy to walk along the beach and get away from the crowded places.

Klong Prao Beach

Lonely Beach

If you have a limited budget and you plan on spending more on food and drink rather than on accommodation then this is the place for you. There are many cheap eateries too over here. It is a perfect place for a backpacker. This is also the party capital of the island and parties go on until five in morning with loud music. So if you are the peace loving person then this place is definitely not for you.

Lonely beach

Elephant trekking

This is one of the most famous activities on this Island of Koh Chang. It gives you a chance to glace the mountains, rivers and the beautiful forests. You also get a chance to see the forests that are packed with coconut trees and banana plants. Chang Chutiman Elephant camp offers this ride for 500 Baht for an hour and 900 Baht for two hours. For kids under the age of five it is available for free.

Elephant trekking

Waterfalls

There are many scenic waterfalls on the island. It will cost around 200 baht to enter the national parks to see these falls. Klong Plu is the most popular and also the only waterfall on the west side of the island. This fall can be reached to via Khlong Prao. The Klong Nuend waterfall is said to be the most breathtaking waterfall on the island. The Thanmayom fall is the largest waterfall of the island. Klong Nonsi fall is another scenic waterfall locaed on the east side of the island. About three kilometres away from the Salak Petch village is a medium sized waterfall called as Khiri Petch. There are five waterfalls in Kongoi near Bang Bao which are equally scenic and beautiful.

waterfall

This island is also very famous for numerous water sport activities. Snorkelling and diving are some of the most popular activities among tourists. You can see eel, coral reefs and anemones over here. If you are lucky then you can also spot a white shark which is very rare close to Hin Phrai Nam. You can also go hiking as there are many jungle treks here. There are many Thai cooking schools too which you could join as it is a great opportunity for a traveller to create their own delicious Thai food. You can spend a few hours and learn all the different types of vegetable as well as fruit carving Also you could visit the Bang Bao Fishery village. There are many fishing trips scheduled which you can join too. This is a beautiful island you can visit in Thailand away from the crowd and comparatively less known is what makes it one of the most peaceful places in Thailand.

MOVIE WORLD: THEME PARK OF AUSTRALIA



MOVIE WORLD: THEME PARK OF AUSTRALIA

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Where movie and its characters come to life and get you from reel life of theirs in real life! Warner brothers Movie world is one of Australia most popular theme park, in the city of Gold Coast, Queensland. Opened in June 1991, the movie related theme park is entertaining and serving its visitors with all the fun packed adventure, rides, parades, live shows and lots more of fascination.

movie world, stars paradeAccording to the Warner Bros. movie world is a place where excitement and magic of a world, where movies come to life. Movie world has all for the people of all age group. Along with the adventure rides, there are many other shows and things to do for people who don’t prefer rides for some of the reasons. Movie world is designed in a manner that one can lost their selves in the world of movies, specially their favorites. A holiday is not complete to gold coast without a visit to Movie world, where there are lots of thriller activities for youngsters, kids play zone and rides for smaller ones and with various live performances and parades going on complete family fun.

There are various interactive shows like star streets parade, in which characters come live and parade for you in their very own movie avatar. Starting from 3.30 pm, one can get to see all -star avatars like looney tunes characters and heroes, batman, superman and other DC heroes, villains, Scooby doo, bugs bunny, mystery gang etc. starting from the Big screen parade will go till main street and return, here ones get a chance to click photographs with those famous Warner Bros. movie characters and a chance to interact them. Visitors with age of any group won’t live a chance to interact with them.

There are various live shows and performances which goes on in the movie world. One needs to check the timings prior the day of visiting to make sure that they don’t miss any exciting shows. The general show which takes place are Hollywood stunt driver2, Journey to the center of the earth 2 in 4d, which fascinates the visitors with the 4d venture and experience. Batman- shadows of Gotham, Scooby-Doo, disco detectives and star parade are the few of the shows and live performance. The shows though change within the period of times. There are various cars inside the movie world, which are used in the movie.car used in movies, movie world

Arkhum asylum, the one in its kind is only found in Movie world. It’s a super thrill ride which will that speeds up at 85km and as the ride starts, with five different electrifying inversions one will spin and twist by pulling 4.2Gs apart from the technical part one will come across with all the criminal minds who is trying to pest Gotham city. With the villains like Joker, Harley, Quinn and killer crook it needs a brave and strong heart to experience the adventure ride thrill.arkhum asylum

Green Lantern Roller Coaster is a new roller coaster in Movie world which will let one experience the steepest inverted drop of the southern hemisphere. Wide west falls adventure rides offers one to explore the thrill through the ghost towns, geysers, indian villages etc. the thrill of falling down of a 20m height in the speed of 70km/hr directly into the water is an adventure one should not miss on. Batwing space shot is near the entrance of the Movie world which is one of the high adrenalin ride along with the green lantern coaster and superman escape which with the same amount of 4.5G will go straight up and down again in real speed.batwing space ride

Road Runner Roller coaster, is another ride though with not much thrill as others, but a good option for mid age kids. Superman escape is one of the thrilling roller coaster ride of Movie World. The super adventure ride is based on Superman rescuing a train in the middle of an earthquake, with the super-fast speed of 0 to 100km/h in freaking only 2seconds. The thrill along with the stretch of 760 metres of ups and downs along with all twist and turns is a reall adventurous thriller ride to try for. Scooby Doo Spooky coaster is another fun filled coaster based on the movie shoot, with lots of spooky ghosts and creatures coming across. These were few of the rides for elders with a brave hearts.superman roller coaster ride

For kids, features a magical cartoon world with all famous looney tunes characters like bugs bunny, daffy duck, tweety, porky pig etc. with rides like Yosemite sam railroad, looney tunes carousel, tweety and sylvester cages, Tijuana taxis, looney tune splash zone etc.kidzone, movie world

There are many restaurants available inside the Movie world offering all meals and there are many ice crème parlors and pasterie shops. Thus refreshment and food is not a tension one inside the Movie world. With lots of shops selling toys and items of the movie characters, movie world becomes a perfect destination for one day indulgence.

Movie world is accessed by roads, located in Pacific Motorway, Gold coast, Queensland.  It’s around 45-60mins route from Gold coast and around 90mins from Brisbane airport. There are local transports and other private vehicles available for Movie world. Movie world also provides transfers with the prior bookings. There are many accommodation options available near Movie world and in Gold Coast.

An experience to Movie world is thus worth with all the memories which will last life- long.

Shaoguan, China



Shaoguan, China

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Shaoguan is a prefecture level city located in the north of Guangdong province in the Republic of China. To the northwest it borders Hunan and to its northeast is Jiangxi. It is also home to the remains of the sixth Zen Buddhist patriarch Huineng. It is very famous for its surrounding nature and the hot springs. This is the major reason to attract the tourists. It has a long standing history of more than 2100 years. Initially Shaoguan was called ‘the famous county of south of five ridges’. Also due to its unique geographical position and a very well developed transportation system it has been the key land passage of North China and the lower and the middle reaches of the Changjiang River. With beautiful mountains and the numerous scenic spots that this city has to offer it makes it a must visit.

HOW TO GET THERE?

You can take a flight to the Guangzhou Baiyun Airport which is the closest to Shaoguan. And from here you can take an intercity bus which will further help you to reach Shaoguan. There are also trains available to reach Shaoguan.  You can take a train ride from Guangzhou which takes about three hours. There is also a bullet train which takes about fifty minutes to an hour but is a bit more costly than the other trains.

SIGHTS

Nanhua Temple

The Nanhua temple is a very popular Buddhist site located about 22 kilometres away from the city downtown area in the northern part of Guangdong Province. Hui Neng, the sixth Patriarch of the Chan School of Buddhism used to live here and also teach. This temple has a history as old as 1500 years and keeps some of the many national treasures, the body of Han Shan and is also a very important pilgrimage site for the practitioners of Zen Buddhism. There is a hall of Heavenly Kings which was initially built by the Ming Dynasty in 1474 and later rebuilt during the Qing Dynasty. And in the centre of the temple is the Grand Hall which has a few Buddha Statues.

Nanhua

Danxia Mountain

The Danxia Mountain boasts of the largest scenic area and has some of the most beautiful scenery. It is also a very famous Geopark of the world. It is formed from fresh reddish sandstone which has eroded now over time and turned into a series of mountains which are surrounded by curvaceous cliffs and has some of the most unusual rock formations. There are many temples located on the mountains and there is an old monastery too. There is a river which flows through the mountains where boat trips are allowed. It was also marked as UNESCO marked World Heritage Site in the year 2010.

Danxia

Nanling National Forest Park

This National Park is situated in Ruyuan Yao Nationality Autonomous County. The park is spread over an area of 27300 hectares. This is the core Zone of Nanling Mountain and it is also the only virgin forest in Guangdong that is preserved. It is also the only forest which has an oasis with the largest area in the areas that have the same latitude in the world. The park also has some scenic spots like the number one peak in Guangdong with an altitude of 1902 meters, the Water Loving valley, a small yellow mountain and the numerous waterfall groups.

Nanling national park

Guangdong Grand Canyon

This canyon is situated in Guangdong Ruyuan Yao Autonomous Dabu Town. The Grand Canyon is of up to 15 kilometres and is more than 300 metres deep. It has a number of splendid waterfalls and waterways. The largest waterfall here is about 200 metres in height. There is a place called ‘Heavenly Stairs’ having 1386 stairs where you can ascend from the bottom to the top of the canyon. This is one of the top tourist destinations in Guangdong as rated by foreigners. Although it is a little tiring to get to this place as compared to others but it is definitely worth it. The timings of this canyon are from 8 am to 5 pm and it is open every day.

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Jiangwan District

This district is situated approximately 30 minutes away from Shaoguan. You can take a city bus from Shaoguan East Train Station to the last stop. This place is stretched along a river valley and has two hot springs. At one of the hot springs you can also take a bath. There is a small traditional village here which you can visit. There are also many trekking opportunities available in the side valleys. You can walk along the main road in Jiangwan and then cross the Mountains to reach Dabu town and also go to Guangdong Grand Canyon.

Jiangwang

Thus, Shaoguan has a lot of tourism  resources among which the major attractions are the once mentioned above and apart from that there are many more sights which are worth a visit like Zhuji Alley which is also a hometown to the millions of overseas Chinese, Maba Man Ancient Ruin, Shixia Cultural Remains, Nanxiong Dinosaur ancient living creation fossil, the beautiful Hakka Buildings and the Fengcai Buildings. Thus with the beautiful mountains to the scenic sights and temples, this city has too much to offer for every tourist.

Cu Chi tunnels, Vietnam’s relic



Cu Chi tunnels, Vietnam’s relic

The Vietnam war left behind paged of history, radical defense systems and war strategies that was wholly the invention of the Vietnamese. The singular conception of all these put together is what remains today as the Cu Chi tunnels in Vietnam. These tunnels that cover the length of a whole city under the was literally, a ground breaking strategy drawn out by the nation’s Military during the French occupation in the 1940s. But it was the 1960s Vietnamese war with USA that elongated these underground structures into a networked system used extensively by the army for defense, shelter and army forces. Weapons, goods, documents detailing US military strategies and of course heaps of people resided in the bottom of these germ infested tunnels till the war reached an end.

Although the war itself happened outside in broad daylight, Cu Chi forms the biggest piece of memory left behind from it. Today it is a bustling site for tourists who are held at awe by the genius handiwork of the Vietnamese who hand but only hands and small tools to create this confounding underground system. Whilst all the bombings echoed in the distance, the people of Cu Chi continued their lives beneath the soil where they were held safe with the promise of food rations, sleep, and the most important thing they needed – buffer time before planning a counter attack. Although the conditions weren’t ideal and deteriorating health was a common worry, there were almost 10,000 people who lived and died in these tunnels, making it a monumental space.

Chu-Chi-Tank

There are two locations from where these post-war sites are accessible to the public. The first tunnel is called Ben Duoc and the second is called Ben Dinh The most widely accessed tunnel is the Ben Dinh which is roughly a 2 hour travel from the city of Saigon. Getting there shouldn’t be a concern at all as many active tourist group packages are found in teeming numbers. Both sites have an ample number of public bus, taxi and even speedboat services plying to the site and back. Getting there can be an inexpensive affair of a mere 5 dollars and the entry to the tunnel is also found to be light on the wallet.

When you reach the site, you would have reached a walking track in middle of a clearing with twigs and leaves heaved in strays and piles across the ground. Tourists crowd around looking about, but beyond the trees and the pathways there is no sign of any secret underground passage way. ‘So, where is the tunnel?’ you might think. Look again, you might just be standing right on it!

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Well even if that isn’t true, on a windy autumn day when the tunnel entrance is shut, its close to impossible to spot it. That is because these tunnel openings are found to be brilliantly designed trapdoors that camouflage with the ground, lying incognito to escape the enemy eyes. But beneath the ground, shrouded by the sounds of the wind and the birds lies a tunnel track measuring almost 250 kilometers in length.

The Ben Duoc tunnel tour is about 60 minutes long. But right after that, there is a nearby temple which exists as a part of the same site. As Ben Duoc lies near a prominent water body, there are many attractive restaurants on the river which is also linked to the same place. This site offers up to four tunnel segments for you to clamber into, crawl through and explore. In fact, it is quite a task for the big-boned to squeeze themselves into these tunnels (it is generally prohibited by the guides if that is the case). The insides of the tunnel are quite breath catching, displaying human hand design and will to survive. But while taking an appreciating view of all of it, a bug spray in your bag will go a long way, most definitely till the end of the tunnel!
Ben Dinh is the more crowded, commercialized tunnel site. Most mapped out tours and and tour packages have opted for this as this site is home to the large number of redesigned tunnels. But even the Ben Dinh can foster many bats and mosquitoes, so stick to the bug spray in any case, even if these tunnels seem wider and more welcoming.

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As far as claustrophobia goes, yes, each tunnel is lowly built as one would anticipate. So if you’re afraid of cramped spaces, this trip isn’t designed for you. But the good news is that the stoop roofs and the cramped passages only extend for 40 meters or so. Beyond that are semi structures and sub-tunnels which were thankfully reworked on to give tourists a better view of things. This is widely prominent in the Ben Dinh. This tunnel network has been worked into, creating bigger cavities in the existing structure to facilitate display of the various booby traps and war weapons used. There are also models depicting how the tunnel was housed by people. Also for the most significant improvement that made the tunnels more viable by tourists, one must thank electricity! Unlike in the war days, where the enemy troops could not see five feet beyond their footsteps, the tunnels are now lit up with low voltage lighting so as to make the passage ways clearer without reducing their maze-like feel.

In order to enhance the tourist appeal of the site even further, more number of shops selling local souvenir, traditional goods and war memorabilia are set up at the end of the walking track. Food and drink stalls that line the entrance may seem a little out of place in this war site ridden by disease, deaths and battle. But you will thank their presence when the half a day long tedious trip is over. An added bonus of the trip are the samples of boiled tapioca one can to conclude your trip.

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The tunnels have unspoken words of tenacity and survival determination displayed by the Vietnamese, etched along their historic passageways. Despite braving diseases and rampant illnesses like malaria (which the second most prominent cause of death after death by war) the people, we come to understand, meticulously forged the tunnels with bare hands, disregarding disease and fighting for survival.