Daily Archives: 18.07.2014

Space Needle: Seattle’s Glass eyed bird



Space Needle: Seattle’s Glass eyed bird

A tower that looks like it is right out of a movie set? A structure that is remiscent of space age films? The glass eyed bird soaring in the Seattle sky? Or better yet, the infamous tower that features in gripping climax of the film ‘Sleepless in Seattle‘ ?

If you were thinking Space Needle, you got it right!

No doubt this is the most prominent of all concrete structures blanketing Seattle’s skyline. Towering and outshining all other buildings, the Space Needle is the jewel left behind from a nation wide event in the year 1962. What began as a rough sketch by an architect in an obscure coffee shop, soon became the designated attraction for the World Fair conducted that year. When it was finally unveiled to the world, America saw it first glimpse into tomorrow. The Space Needle which would put away the existing architectural niches as archaic and allow futuristic designs to stem from the American soil.

Seattle Space needle with crescent moon  Seattle-skyline-space-needle

The Space Needle was originally intended to be an observatory tower but today it is also globally recognized as an icon, something to remember the city by, and also doubling as something close to a historic landmark. A trip to Seattle almost warrants a whirl around the observatory in the deck, which is only about 500 feet above ground level. This basically means that the world below is almost negligible with other smaller buildings appearing as but tiny figures and one is literally walking amidst clouds. Mount Rainier and Mount Baker which drape around the Seattle city appear as artistic curvatures in the mornings and gorgeous silhouettes by dusk from so high up in the air. But of course, a brilliant city vista is a given from this dreamy altitude. Many placards are placed conveniently around the viewing areas in the different corners of the tower to explain the various attractions and its history.

The famous Space Needle elevator ascends upwards at a speed of 10 miles per second taking all but 41 seconds to reach this uppermost level. A large plush restaurant featuring cuisines from around the Pacific is the highlight of this deck. This restaurant is perhaps one the first ever to have had a revolving floor deck theme to it. Although a tad bit expensive SkyCity offers a fine spread for anyone who has worked up their way to this exclusive top level. The whole level that the restaurant is seated on languidly revolves around a completing a 360 degree haul in 47 minutes offering a complete view of Seattle in all its beauty. Bacon wrapped cheese is proclaimed as one of the phenomenal ‘must try’ dishes of this restaurant that boasts of amazing service. Sunday brunches here are also a general favorite among people with all kinds of different taste buds. One of the perks of dining at the restaurant is that the ride to the top is absolutely free of cost.

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Besides offering a restaurant experience, Space Needle also sublets its ample space to people for conducting their private events, elegant banquets, parties, receptions and the like. All this is done safely 100 feet in the air with the whir of the wind, a painting like view and a touch of class. For everyone who wants to take home a memory of visiting Space Needle, SpaceBase is an exciting enclosure of the tower which encloses the world of interesting souvenirs. Gifts, cards, jewelry, almost anything to remember Seattle by, can be purchased here for a few quick dollars. This is conveniently located in the first floor of the Needle itself.

The most impressive thing about the Space Needle is that, although it is similar to many other sight seeing towers of the world, one must remember that it was built way back in 1960s. It belonged to an era when no country’s skyline could boast of anything similar in design or conception. It was a trend setter in its own respect and continues to awe people with its beautiful interiors and stellar views.

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Although the view in summer is priceless with the sun streaming down the concave glass, the best time to visit Space Needle would be around Christmas season. This is when the tower is lit up and the festivity is brimming in full swing in the whole of the tower all the way out to its Sky lighting. Some fantastic shots of the building can be recorded on camera around this time of the year. The souvenir store is also stacked with Christmasy goodies and favorite picks of some great gifts to hand out for the season. On all other days of the year, with a snack or beverage in hand and the city within eye’s limit one can relax under the quiet spell of the wind and enjoy watching the Ferries, ships, water and the mountains from the amazing vantage point. And if you’re lucky, you might even catch a close-up view of an aircraft flying by.

So,what can top a camera full of perfect pictures, a peace inspiring altitude and the wondrous sleekness of an architectural masterpiece?

Of course it has to be the see-through elevator that takes you on a ride up the clouds!

Closer to heaven: Meteora, Greece



Closer to heaven: Meteora, Greece

A place built on the rock pillars, as if they are suspended in the middle of the sky, built by monks (hundreds of years back) taking you closer to heaven, is  Meteora situated in Greece. Meteora is a place where one can enjoy the scenic beauty (from height above), feel relaxed and enjoy adventures here such as climbing, trekking etc.

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Meteora literally means “suspended in the air”, “middle of the sky” or “in the heavens above”. It is located in Greece, a southern Europe country. Athens is the capital of Greece. Meteora is easily accessible from all places especially Athens, as Meteora is a very popular destination. Meteora is located in Thessaly (Central Greece) and the nearest town is Kalampaka.

Meteora owns its popularity not only to scenic beauty, awesome view of nature from heights above and a place to practice adventure sports but also to the religious importance of the place. It was the religious importance of the place which was the first reason to  attract lots of visitors here.

Monasteries

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The place holds religious importance not only due to monasteries but the fact that these monasteries are built on the top of pillars (or mountains), as they take the onlooker by surprise, astonishment and admiration for the one who built it. Though the scenic beauty of the place is attributed to nature, monasteries on the top of it are efforts of the monks who lived centuries ago. They built them when no such technological advancements were there, when no other means would have helped them except for their strength, efforts and will. The place also becomes a source of inspiration for many as to see that nothing is impossible. The monasteries draw an utmost respect for its creation.

Formation- Meteora

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Formation of sandstone rock pillars is of huge interest to all geologists owing to the place being unique in the world. Many theories have been there for the formation of this place but the theory that is mostly accepted is the one given by German Geologist Philipson, who visited the Greece and propounded his theory. It is said that there existed a lake in the place of Meteora. The lake existed for many years and depositions took place. Then, due to some geological disturbance(earthquake) the rocks started getting formed. Therefore after millions of years being subjected to various nature’s phenomena, the rocks took the present shape.

History-Religious importance of Meteora

It is said that during some odd century monks started inhabiting this place to avoid distraction and to avoid Turkish invasions. Thus the monks started living on these rocky cliffs (conglomerates) and started building monasteries. Though many monasteries were built, the six monasteries are quite famous.

Holy monasteries

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The six monasteries are famous and usually tour guides and plans provide a tour to all of them. They are St. Nikolaos Anapafasa Monastery, St. Stephen’s Monastery, Varlaam Monastery, Roussanou Monaster, Holy Trinity Monastery and Great  Meteoron Monastery. Varlaam Monastery has a rich collection of artifacts and sacred things. Great Meteoron Monastery is the oldest monastery and built on widest of rocks, in 14th century. Holy Trinity Monastery is the one which is most difficult to reach due to its location.

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The place in listed in UNESCO world heritage sites due to its being one of the kind in the world and nature at its best. Here, one may also find variety of flora and fauna as of nature being natural. Sunset tours are also famous in the place owing to the captivating view sunset provides from the tops. This is quite famous among tourists and is a must visit for everyone there especially during sunset.

Adventure at  Meteora

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The place along with its religious importance is also famous for its challenge to adventure sports lover. From mountain biking to trekking to climbing, this place has the option and architecture for all. A sports person can indulge in new challenges and can uplift their levels. All the sport enthusiasts love to flock this place for its typical and adventurous environment.

Nearby cities to visit

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Along with visiting these places, nearby cities are also an interesting place to visit. Kalampaka Town, Kastraki Village and Trikala are such places. They also offer a variety of tourist spots. Kalampaka town is the nearest town to Meteora. Kalampaka (prestigious castle) has got a rich history and is home to quite a few old churches. The other two towns also boast of rich culture and history of Greece.

If one is visiting Greece, then Meteora is a must place to visit. The towns help visitors to experience the history, culture and heritage of the place.

A visit to Meteora will leave you with immense pleasure from sightseeing, admiration for nature and monks, and satisfaction and spirits to your sporty nature. In fact visit to this place is almost recommended by everyone who are frequent travelers and who love to travel a lot. A perfect place built by nature through its forces (for years and years to count on) to look at awe inspiring nature, being in a different world altogether is a must experience for one and all.

Visit the City of Medicines: Durham, North Carolina



Visit the City of Medicines: Durham, North Carolina

Located right in the heart of North Carolina, Durham is a city of creativity, sheer beauty, artistic culture and emerging industry. It is one of the most visited cities of Carolina as more than 8 million visitors here to have some good time. It is also the county seat of Durham County and got its name in 1853. Durham is home of famous Duke University and North Carolina Central university and you can enjoy a lot of jazz festivals, art exhibitions, plays and other events all year round in this city. As a matter of fact, Durham has more than 96000 of hardwood forests with only one in the world, Piedmont bottomland forests. It is also called the city of medicines because of a major industry of almost 300 medical health companies and practices.

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The climate of Durham is quite moderate with four seasons i.e. summers, winters, autumn and spring. The most pleasant season is spring with average temperature of 22 C. October is the driest month and the weather remains mild and sunny during this period. Summers are quite hot and you can see some rain during July and August. In the winters, Durham experiences snowfall occasionally and January is the coldest month with freezing weather.

How to get here?

How to get here

There are a lot of options to reach Durham and get around the city. The nearest airport is RDU International Airport at the edge of Wake County which receives all the major airline carriers like Air Canada, Frontier Airlines, United Express, Delta Air Lines and many more. You can also get to the city by the intercity passenger rail service, Amtrak, which serves almost 46 states and three Canadian Provinces. Bicycles, Charter Bus Services, Limousine service, Rental Cars and Taxicabs can be used to get around the city.

Accommodation and Food

Accommodation

There are a lot of accommodation options available in Durham from bed & breakfast inns to hostels and luxury hotels to budget motels. There are total 67 hotels and inns in the city offering all range of stays. One of the most popular is the King’s Daughters Inn, which is a four star hotel located right in the heart of city with free Wi Fi, Spa, Free Parking and accessible facilities. There are many other good options like Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn & Suites, Washington Duke Inn, Staybridge Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Springhill Suites, Chapel Hill, Marriott at Research Triangle Park, Homewood Suites, Wingate by Wyndham Raleigh, La Quinta Inn & Suites, Hilton Durham near Duke University and Red Roof Inn at Triangle Park.

Food

There are more than 40 restaurants, café and pubs around Durham City and a lot of experienced, imaginative and reputed chefs offering from burgers to some luring dishes. You can visit The Palace International for great African food, Rise Biscuits & Donuts for some unique biscuits, Elmo’s Diner for tasty breakfast, Only Burger for great burgers, Sitar Indian Cuisine for Indian food, Lilly’ Pizza and enjoy delicious salad at Saladelia. If you get out for a casual lunch then Foster’s market of Chef Sara Foster will be a good choice.

The Attractions

Museum of Life and Science

Museum of Life and Science

Museum of Life and Science is a museum located at W Murray Ave in Durham and displays a lot of exhibits related to natural science. It is one of the most visited attractions in North Carolina and covers an area of more than 84 acres with an interactive science park, a butterfly conservatory and outdoor exhibition of rescued black bears. The parking is free and there are some additional facilities available like Sprout Café, Stroller rentals, picnic area and Elements Coffee Bar. The museum remains open from Tuesday to Saturday and ticket costs $14 for adults and $10 for kids.

Eno River State Park

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Eno River State Park is a famous park, covering an area of 4200 acre, in Durham and Orange Counties. There are a lot of wilderness trails and the Eno River joins the Flat River to fall into Falls Lake. The park features five areas open for public with hiking trails and some historic sculptures. Famous trails include Cox Mountain, Cabelands, Eno Quarry, Eno Trace and Fanny’s Ford. There is a festival held at Eno River in July every year which exhibits music, food and environmental awareness.

Duke Chapel

Duke University Chapel in Durham North Carolina

Duke Chapel is located in the campus of Duke University in Durham and its structure is so magnificent that your tour would not be complete without visiting this great architecture. It was built in 1930 and commenced its work in 1932. It is recognized as a place for worship, music, learning and service. This cathedral like centerpiece is 210 feet tall and is easily accessible by all means of transport from any corner of the city.

Cameron Indoor Stadium

Cameron Indoor Stadium

Cameron Indoor Stadium is an indoor sports place situated in the West Campus of Duke University, Durham. It has been a classical venue of many basketball games through the years. It is one of the smallest arenas with seating capacity of only 9314 people. It opened its gates in 1940 with quite a big area but got renovated in 1972 and its name was changed from Indoor Stadium to Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Bennett Place

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Bennett Place is also known as Bennett Farm and is famous for being the location of surrender of Confederate soldiers ending the American Civil War in 1865. It is located on the Bennett Memorial Road and can be easily reached by cabs, buses or tubes. It is historically important place for US as Johnston surrendered to Sherman at the end of the Civil War here.

There are many other places to visit in Durham like Carolina Theatre, Falls Lake State Recreation Area, Duke Lemur Center, Ayr Mount, Durham County Stadium and many more.

The Old City of Bern, Switzerland



The Old City of Bern, Switzerland

A medieval city center of Bern, the fourth most populated city in Switzerland, the Old city of Bern is built on a narrow hill, surrounded on three sides by the Aare River (a tributary to the Rhine, is the longest river that both rises and ends entirely in Switzerland). The layout, in which the city was constructed in, has remained essentially unchanged.

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The city was rebuilt in sandstone, after half of it got ruined, when a fire broke out in 1405, substantial construction work was carried out in the 18th century. But in spite of that the city has retained its medieval character.

The old city of Bern is a UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Site, due to the compact and generally intact medieval essence and houses Switzerland’s tallest Cathedral as well as Churches, bridges and a large collection of Renaissance fountains. A number of buildings in the old city have been enjoying the Swiss Properties of National Significance status, including the entire old city itself.

A little into history…the city was founded by a Duke, who vowed to name the city after the first animal he hunts, the first animal happened to be a bear and so the city was christened thus after a Bear.

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The city is a hilly peninsula surrounded by the Aare River on three sides. The location was chosen as it made it easier for the army to defend the city. The city was later modified to suit everyone’s day to day needs. A long narrow shape of the peninsula, made the city develop as numerous long, parallel rows of houses. The cross streets going north and south, marked the stages of development and expansion of the city, as they developed along the city walls and were moved from time to time, to allow the city to expand.

the city was expanded thrice in its history,

The first expansion happened when the city was founded and was divided into three longitudinal streets. Two streets were added one on the north edge and the other on the south edge of the city. A Woodbridge was built over the Aare River, in order to carry out trade activities.

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The second expansion happened when a city wall was added, on the western part of the city. This new wall was added to protect the streets known as the new city. The city expanded southward during the second expansion phase.

The third expansion happened when the people started residing outside the city walls and so a new wall was built to protect the increasingly growing population. A series of six streets and a few defensive walls were added to the new city.

In 1405 a fire broke out in Bern, the city then was mostly made of wood. The fire raced through the city and destroyed most of the buildings. After this deadly disaster, the city was rebuilt with stone, but the medieval character was kept intact. Since the city has undergone en number of modifications. A number of public fountains were added to the city; these fountains were coupled with large allegorical statues and showed how powerful and prosperous the city of Bern was.

Some of the ‘must-visits’ and attractions of the city..

  • The Munster of Bern (cathedral)-

Is a Protestant Gothic Cathedral, situated on the south end of the peninsula. The Cathedral is a home to a 100m Bell tower, the tallest in Switzerland. The largest bell in the bell tower is also the largest bell in Switzerland. The bell weighs 10 tons and is 247 cm in diameter. It rings so loudly that one needs to cover their ears in order to prevent hearing damage. The Cathedral houses a collection of Gothic sculptures, that represent the Christian belief in the Last Judgment, where the wicked will be separated from the righteous. The Cathedral is large and spacious. The stained glass windows of the cathedral are regarded as the most valuable in Switzerland. These windows include a number of religious images as well as an entire ‘Dance of Death’ window.

  • The Holy Ghost Church-

Is one of the largest Swiss Reform churches in Switzerland. The Church has six bells. The interior of the church is basically monolithic columns made of sandstone. The church can house up to 2,000 people, which makes it the largest Protestant church in Switzerland.

  • The Renaissance Fountains-

the old city of Bern has over 100 public fountains, out of which eleven are crowned with Renaissance allegorical statues. These fountains originally served the purpose of public water supply. As the city grew powerful and expanded with every passing year, the fountains too were expanded and decorated, but retained their original purpose. The fountains include Vennerbrunnen, Mosesbrunnen and Simsonbrunnen .

Apart from the Cathedral, the fountains and the church, there other significant places such as the Parliament buildings, the clock tower and the Nydegg Church, which are quite capable of luring your attention.

If you are a lover of history and are keen on tasting the medieval essence and also take a look at the Gothic and the Renaissance architecture, do make a trip to The Old City of Berns, Switzerland. Trust me, you won’t regret it !!

The Pride of California: Palo Alto



The Pride of California: Palo Alto

Palo Alto is a city of California US, located 35 miles south of San Francisco and 14 miles north of San Jose within Santa Clara County and San Mateo County borders. The city of Palo Alto is a historic blend of tradition and innovation which reflects from the architecture, municipality services, food, tourist places, friendly and sophisticated residents and supportive government. There are a lot of parks around the city which makes it more of a natural habitat and a 31 mile fiber ring is also developed in Palo Alto which has helped people to access internet at ultra fast speed. The name of Palo Alto is taken from a 1000 years old coastal redwood tree in San Francis Quito Creek. You will find all the streets tree lined and a lot of historical buildings around the city.

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The climate of Palo Alto is very mild and the weather remains pleasant all year round. The summers go hot and winters are not bone chilling. Almost 261 sunny days are witnessed per year and July is the hottest month. The winters bring some rain with it with absolutely no snow fall and the temperature rarely reaches to minimum of 30 degrees. You can visit this city anytime during the year.

How to get here?

How to get here

Palo Alto has only one municipal airport just two miles from city center but there are three International Airports within 30 miles range. These airports are Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport, San Francisco International Airport and Metropolitan Oakland International Airport. If you are arriving by a chartered plane then there are no private airstrips here so you will have to land at the airstrip located 30 miles from the city. There are all means of transportation available at airports to reach downtown. There is also rail service available as Caltrain station of Palo Alto connects the city to various stations.

Accommodation and Food

Accommodation

There are a lot of hotels, motels, apartments, inns, B&Bs around the city within all price ranges. There is recently opened Rosewood Sand Hill Hotel which provides every luxurious facility you wish for. It has free internet in each room, sleep advantage bedding and onsite dining for every guest. You will also like Crowne Plaza Cabana and Westin Palo Alto with 184 rooms, 19 suites, pool fitness center, restaurant, bar and free internet. In budget options, there is Cowper Inn with 13 rooms and 4 suites, Quality Inn with 53 rooms, free parking and internet, Cardinal Hotel with 60 rooms and 3 suites. You can also choose from Days Inn Stanford, Menlo Park Inn and Country Inn motel.

Food

Palo Alto has some the best eating places in the Bay area and is favorite dinner spot for locals throughout Silicon Valley. You will find some good dining lunching, snacking, sipping and slurping spots in the downtown Palo Alto like Evvia with delicious Mediterranean food, Oren’s Hummus Shop, Philz Coffee with best brewed coffee, Hunan Garden, Pastis, Baume, Sundance the Steakhouse, St. Michael’s Alley, Reposado Restaurant, Fraiche Yogurt, Tamarine Restaurant with great Vietnamese dishes, The Fish Market and La Bodeguita del Medio with some good Cuban cuisine.

The Attractions

Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts

Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts

Iris & B.Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts is an art museum, located at Stanford University, featuring wide range of exhibitions, docent tours, lectures, symposia, classes and special events. It remains open everyday and admission is free for everyone. This museum is home of paintings, sculptures and artworks from Europe & America, Asia, Africa, Oceania and Native Americas.

Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Artscd

Some famous exhibitions of the Arts Center include Jim Dine and Claes Oldenburg, The Royal Image, The Honest Landscape and Conversation Pieces. You can also get membership of Cantor Arts Center and get chance to participate in activities and involve in the behind the scenes programs.

Hoover Tower

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Hoover Tower is a 285 feet tall tower which provides a panoramic view of the Stanford campus and surrounding area. It was built in 1941 to celebrate the University’s 50th anniversary and today it has become center of attraction in Stanford University. It was founded by Herbert Hoover and you can see the documents and memorabilia of his life and career in the rooms on the ground floor of the tower. You can go on a student guided tour and explore the tower as well as other landmarks of Stanford University.

Hewlett Packard House and Garage

Hewlett Packard House and Garage

Hewlett Packard House and Garage is a private museum of the company HP located at Addison Avenue in Palo Alto. It is the place where Hewlett Packard Company was founded in 1939 by Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard. The first product of HP was built in this garage which was an audio oscillator. In 2000, HP decided to acquire this place to preserve its history and bought it for 1.7 million dollars.

Hanna Honeycomb House

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Hanna Honeycomb House, located in the Stanford University Campus, was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1936 for Stanford Professor Paul Hanna and his wife Jean. You will be amazed to see the elegant design and beautiful architecture of the house. It was occupied by the Hannas till 1975 when they gave it to Stanford. The public tours of the house remain open 4 times a month with 3 tours per day and tour fee is $10 per person and children under 12 are not allowed on the tour.

Other attractions in Palo Alto include Professorville, Windy Hill Open Space Preserve, Searsville Dam, Black Mountain, Adobe Creek, Lambert Creek, Matadero Creek and many more.