Tuesday, June 28, 2011

These Boots Were Made For Walking

Columbia Laman Peak OmniTech Hiking Boots
Today I took my new pair of boots (see image) for a walk. I think they enjoyed it. On the other hand, I arrived home tired and exhausted after my 12.6 kms walk.

The good news: I am more than happy with my new footwear. The bad news: I am overweight and unfit and need to engage in more exercise on a regular basis if I am to make the most of my future travels.

This is not the first time I have written about the issue of fitness and travel, and probably won’t be the last. I, like presumably every other traveller, want to get the most out of my travel experiences. To do this I need to reach and maintain a reasonable level of fitness. There is no joy to be had in huffing and puffing up and down monuments, through museum galleries, or down city streets bathed in sweat and pausing for extended rest stops every 30 minutes or so.

Google map of my 12.6 km walking route

The image on the right outlines today’s walking route – which according to Google maps is a total distance of 12.6 kms (7.8 miles). That’s the most I have walking in one day since my stay in New York City last summer.

My new Laman Peak boots are made by Columbia. I settled on these because they fit well, look and feel good, and if they are anywhere near as good as my previous Ocanto Peak boots, again made by Columbia, I will have no cause for complaint.

Unfortunately, when I went looking for another pair of Ocanto Peak’s to replace the pair I have worn almost everyday for the past 18 months, I was told by the salesperson that Columbia had discontinued their manufacture. After a long search over a period of several weeks, I settled on the Laman Peak’s and today took them for a work out. Like I said, the boots did well, but I struggled, not due to the boots, but due to several factors including weight, level of fitness, and my age.

Having good footwear is essential if I am going to get out and exercise more, and continue my ‘training for travel’ regime. There is a lot I want to see of the world yet, and like it or not, walking is probably the best way of working out that suits my current lifestyle.


Monday, June 27, 2011

In Review: New York by Lily Brett



The book jacket describes Lily Brett’s 2001 book, New York as a “…wry collection of pieces,” about New York City; a city that has “…entertained, inspired and perplexed her for the decade she has lived there in a SoHo loft apartment.”

The daughter of Jewish holocaust survivors, Lily Brett was born in Germany and moved to Australia (with her parents) in 1948. In 1989 she moved to New York City with her artist husband, David Rankin. At just 156 pages, this collection of fifty-two essays offers short vignettes about New York City, that seek to illuminate and throw light onto life, in arguably, America’s most exciting metropolis.

It occurred to me that New York would make a fine companion piece to the highly successful television series, Sex And The City, since so many of Lily’s essays deal with relationships, fashion, women, personal appearance, marriage, plastic surgery, ageing, celebrity hairdressers, and yes – sex.

What I enjoyed most about Lily Brett’s New York was trying to see how much I could identify about the city based on my own two visits there in 2008, and again in 2010.

Her piece on Chinatown, called appropriately enough, Chinatown, captures the hustle and bustle of that New York neighborhood, and the shock and discomfort many people experience when first encountering the live fish, frogs and crustaceans waiting to be turned into meals of endless variety on nightly dinner tables.

In several essays she seems to lament the demise of the old New York. A city that was more reminiscent of Martin Scorcese’s Mean Streets, or even worse, Taxi Driver. A city bathed in low light, high crime, graffiti and poverty. Of course, all these aspects of New York are still there, though thankfully nowhere near as prevalent as they once were. Ultimately, Brett’s various neuroses leave her grateful that the bad old days alluded to above are for the most part gone, and I can only agree with her regarding this.

According to Lily Brett’s website, the 52 essays that make up New York were originally commissioned as weekly columns for the German newspaper Die Zeit. This accounts for their short length of just over two pages each. As a result, New York, can be read in a matter of hours, and while it doesn’t offer any major insights into the America psyche, it certainly offers many insights into Brett’s mind. So much so, that I couldn’t help thinking, as I read New York, that it would be fascinating to eavesdrop on a conversation between her and Woody Allen. One gets the feeling they might have a lot in common, with both apparently revelling in their neuroses, Jewish heritage, hypochondria, and their love/hate relationship with the Big Apple.

New York is an entertaining, albeit short and easily read collection of New York City observations, and is worth seeking out if you are planning a trip to this amazing city.

Unfortunately, New York appears to be out of print in its English language edition, although there are second-hand copies available on Amazon. Be aware though that there is also a German language edition currently available via Amazon. New York is available as a download for Amazon’s Kindle eReader, and may eventually be available in other eReader formats as well. Your best bet might be to visit your local second-hand book shop and see if they have a copy on their shelves.

Details:
Paperback: 156 pages
Publisher: Picador (January 2001)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0330362453
ISBN-13: 978-0330362450

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Lily Brett has written numerous other books and a range of these presented below. As always, you can purchase these directly via Amazon.Com.
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You Gotta Have Balls: A Novel Uncomfortably Close: A Novel Too Many Men : A Novel

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Website of The Week: I’m Just Walkin’


Screenshot of the I'm Just Walkin' website
Excuse the pun, but I stumbled across the I’m Just Walkin’ website earlier this week, and was immediately hooked. The site documents Matt Green’s walk across America from the time he set off on Saturday, March 27, 2010 from Far Rockaway, New York, until he reached Rockaway Beach, Oregon, on Wednesday, August 25, 2010, five months later. Along the way he encounters the best of America, receiving constant support and encouragement from a wide cross section of ‘ordinary’ Americans who gave him money (not that he was asking for it), bought him meals, and invited him into their homes for hot showers, warm beds, home cooked meals, and friendly companionship.

Elsewhere on this blog I have written a review of the 1979 Peter Jenkins book, A Walk Across America, and Matt’s blog only confirms that the tradition of walking across the USA continues to this day.

Neither Matt Green or Peter Jenkins are the only people to have undertaken long, extended walks of these types, and I’m sure Matt won’t be the last. In fact, reading Matt’s blog will almost certainly inspire others to try similar ventures. And why not? As my occasional series of Things You Discover Walking posts indicates, walking gives you time to see what is around you, to examine the landscape with the greatest care, and it allows time to appreciate the natural environment in ways speeding down an interstate highway will never let you do.

So take some time now to check out Matt’s I’m Just Walkin’ site. Even if it only inspires you to leave your car at home and walk to the local shops, observing your surroundings with a renewed interest as you go, it will have achieved its purpose.

-o0o-

If you are interested in reading some of Peter Jenkins' books documenting some of his own personal walks across America, click on the images below to purchase these titles via Amazon.Com...
A Walk Across America The Walk West: A Walk Across America 2 (Walk West) Along the Edge of America

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday Photos: Chrysler Building


...
I know, I know. The Empire State Building has long claimed the honour of New York City’s most iconic building, but for my money, the Chrysler Building leaves the ESB for dead. For me, there is something incredibly attractive about the Chrysler Building as it rises high over the streets of Manhattan. I think it has to do with the shape and colour of the building’s top floors as they catch and reflect the rays of the sun in a way the Empire State Building doesn’t.

The Chrysler Building is an Art Deco skyscraper, located on the east side of Manhattan at the intersection of 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue. For 11 months it could lay claim to being the world’s tallest building (at 319 metres/1,047 feet), before it was surpassed by the Empire State Building in 1931.

In 2007, the Chrysler Building was ranked ninth on the List of America's Favorite Architecture by the American Institute of Architects. It was the headquarters of the Chrysler Corporation from 1930 until the mid-1950s, but the corporation did not pay for the construction of it and never owned it. Walter P. Chrysler decided to pay for it himself, so that his children could inherit it.

The building (declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976), is recognized for its terraced crown, which is composed of seven radiating terraced arches. The stainless-steel cladding is ribbed and riveted in a radiating sunburst pattern featuring triangular vaulted windows, which give the building its iconic crown.

Four of the decorative eagles overlooking lower Manhattan
The distinctive ornamentation of the building is based on features that were then being used on Chrysler automobiles. The corners of the 61st floor are graced with eagles, replicas of the 1929 Chrysler hood ornaments; on the 31st floor, the corner ornamentations are replicas of the 1929 Chrysler radiator caps.

The Chrysler Building was the first man-made structure to stand taller than 1,000 feet (305 m). Less than a year after it opened to the public on May 27, 1931, the Chrysler Building was surpassed in height by the Empire State Building, but the Chrysler Building is still the world's tallest steel-supported brick building.
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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

It Doesn’t Take Much to Make A Difference

Phnom Penh street seller
This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for a long time. Somewhere during my month long stay in Cambodia this past February, faced with the overwhelming poverty of that country and its long-suffering citizens, the thought occurred to me that, It doesn’t take much to make a difference. Let me explain with three examples.

1. Street Seller Beaten To Death
A few days into my trip, I read a story in the Phnom Penh Post reporting the murder of a female street seller. The woman had been beaten to death by a Cambodian couple who had lent her some money. Apparently, the woman was having trouble repaying the debt, and in their anger, these people had beaten her so severely, she had died as a result of her injuries. What really struck me about this story though, was the amount of the debt.

The street seller had been lent around 40,000 riel (the Cambodian currency). This sounds like a lot of money – and clearly it was for the woman who was having trouble paying back her loan – but here’s the thing, in dollar terms, 40,000R was less than ten dollars! Yes, you read that right. The hapless street seller was beaten to death for less than the price of a cup of coffee and a panini at my local cafĂ©.

2. Villagers Struggle to Buy Their Own Homes
Another item in a subsequent issue of the Phnom Penh Post related the story of a group of villagers who were being forced to move into new housing for which they would have to pay rent for a period of five years. At the end of five years they would own the homes they were living in. However, some of the villagers (whose flimsy timber and thatch homes were about to be destroyed), were concerned they would not be able to meet their monthly payments, and as a result be evicted from the new housing.

Again, in western terms, the amount of money involved was trifling. The families needed to come up with just $23 each month to meet their obligations. At the end of five years they would have paid just under $1400 and own new homes.

Twenty-three dollars. A month. Again, even if I only bought one coffee a day I would be spending more than $23 a week on cappuccinos, let alone each month.

3. Language Learning
I’ve written several times on this blog about learning new languages, so I was very interested to learn from one of my tuk-tuk drivers that he was attending night classes to improve his English. Not only that, but he was learning Chinese as well, due to the massive numbers of Chinese tourists now visiting Cambodia. His ultimate goal was to become a tour guide, since there seemed to be more money in that line of work.

Unfortunately, this young driver was not always able to pay for his lessons and often missed them. When I asked him how much the language classes cost, I was shocked by his reply: each time he attended class, he had to pay a fee of five dollars.

I should point out here that I did not clarify with the driver whether he paid five dollars for each lesson, of five dollars for both, but I suspect he probably had to pay for each language class separately.

Making a Difference
There are many other examples I could have added to this post, but the three mentioned above will do.

Dear reader: in a world were a woman is beaten to death for owing less than ten dollars, and villagers labour to find $23 each month so they can ultimately own their own homes, and a young man struggles to find five dollars to pay for language classes – it doesn’t take much to make a difference.

I came back from Cambodia determined to make a difference in the lives of some of that country’s poorest citizens. I’m also looking for other ways to give back, and support causes and projects that excite my imagination and I will write about these from time to time on this blog – not because I want to big-note myself, but because I want to promote the idea that: it doesn’t take much to make a difference.

I urge readers to think about ways they too may be able to make a difference in the lives of fellow citizens wherever they may be. You don’t have to look as far afield as Cambodia, however. I’m sure there are great projects and causes in your own neighbourhood that would appreciate your support and assistance, whether financially or by your physical presence. And if you are able to contribute financially to help some charitable cause, you don’t always have to give hundreds of dollars. Sometimes, only a few dollars given on a regular basis can help make profound changes in the lives of the world’s poorest people, and I would urge you to find ways you can contribute to a more equitable, just and peaceful world.
-o0o-

Monday, June 20, 2011

Things You Discover Walking: Suburban Koalas

One of the fascinating things about nature, and the creatures that inhabit what is left of our wild places and natural landscapes, is how these creatures have learned to adapt to our suburban environments.

Whether we are talking about the bears and wolves in America, that weave their way through suburban front yards looking for sources of food discarded in compost and trash bins, or whether referring to the foxes that creep through Australian backyards searching for the occasional stray chicken – wild nature is closer than you think.

In Adelaide, where I live, native animals like the koala (please don’t call it a koala bear), are slowly finding their way out of the surrounding Adelaide hills into suburban back yards and parks.

Look carefully at the photo illustrating this blog post. Can you see it? There it is, perched on the fork of a branch calmly surveying man and machine as they come and go in the car park of the Mitcham Shopping Centre on Belair Road.

This is one of at least two koalas that I have noticed in a line of large eucalyptus trees that follow the path of Brownhill Creek as it winds out of the nearby hills on its way to the ocean. I assume the koalas have been following the river as well via the trees that line its banks.

Koalas are quite solitary creatures. They never gather together in family groups, nor do the males watch over a bevy of female koalas, fighting off the amorous approaches of other males of the species. They don’t mate for life with one partner, like some other wild animals do, and all in all, seem to be quite happy with own company.

Like kangaroos, koalas are marsupial animals, meaning that the female gives birth to relatively undeveloped young. A baby koala is referred to as a ‘joey’ (as is a baby kangaroo), and is hairless, blind, and earless at birth. The joey, which is only a quarter of an inch long at birth, crawls into a downward-facing pouch on the mother's belly and attaches itself to one of two teats, and there it remains for about six months, only feeding on milk.

It was interesting to watch people walking beneath this tree and its occupant – completely oblivious to its presence. I knew there was a koala in the tree somewhere, after noticing droppings on the asphalt below the tree. However, I must admit that even I was surprised by just how close to the ground this koala was.
-o0o-

Friday, June 10, 2011

My Bucket List


More than once on this blog I have mentioned the concept of the bucket list – that list of must see places you want to visit before you depart this world for the next. So today, I thought I’d share my bucket list with you. My list includes places I’ve already visited (marked with a strike through line).
Canada (need I say more?)

America

  • New York City
  • Grand Canyon
  • Yosemite National Park
  • Yellowstone National Park
  • Niagara Falls
  • Far too much to list individually

Asia


  • Vietnam
  • Hong Kong
  • Japan (Tokyo)
  • China (Great Wall, Forbidden City, etc)
  • Cambodia

South America


  • Peru (Machu Picchu)
  • Brazil (Rio)
Europe

·    Italy (Venice, Rome, etc)

  • England (London)
  • Ireland (Dublin)
  • Spain (Barcelona)
  • France (Paris,)
  • Czech Republic (Prague)
  • Germany (-)
  • Netherlands (Amsterdam)
  • Switzerland (-)
North Africa

  • Morocco
  • Tunisia
Not Only – But Also

  • Egypt (Pyramids of Giza)
  • India (Taj Mahal)
  • Jordan (Petra)
  • Galapagos Islands
  • Easter Island
  • Cuba
Places I’d like to return to:

  • New York City
  • Grand Canyon
  • Paris, France
  • Athens, Greece
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Venice, Italy

Scraping The Bottom of The Bucket

Most of Africa
Russia (although Moscow might be interesting)

Phew! That’s some list. At 62, I guess I’m being optimistic, but what the heck. The only thing I’m really lacking is money. My enthusiasm and desire is there – even if the years may not be, but I still think I can knock quite a few of those countries and locations off my list.

Besides, while I was travelling in Cambodia during February, I met people in their late 70s and early 80s who were still happily travelling the world – so why not me? Why not indeed.

What’s on your  bucket list?

-o0o-
Here are a few books on America's National Parks that may be of interest. All are available via Amazon.Com. 

National Geographic Guide to the National Parks of the United States, 6th Edition The National Parks: America's Best Idea The National Parks: Our American Landscape

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Walking the High Line

An article in the April 2011 edition of National Geographic magazine about New York City’s High Line ‘park’ got me reminiscing about my visit to the High Line in 2010.

The High Line is not a park in the conventional sense – it is more a raised landscape feature following the course of an old, long defunct and abandoned elevated railway line along the lower west side of Manhattan’s Chelsea district. Part park, promenade, meeting place, and sun deck, the High Line is a great example of a good idea whose time has come.

Once classed as an eyesore and slated for demolition, the High Line was saved from the scrap merchants yard, mainly as the result of the shared vision, work and enthusiasm of two men, Joshua David and Robert Hammond, who had the foresight to imagine a new life for the old El line, and who formed Friends of the High Line in 1999 to bring their vision to life.

The rest, as the saying goes, is history.

I walked the first section of the High Line back in July 2010, and thoroughly enjoyed my birds-eye view along a route that led from Gansevoort Street through the Meatpacking District, and across Tenth Avenue to West 20th Street. As you walk some 25 feet above street level your perspective of New York City changes constantly, and the walk makes for a very pleasant way to spend an hour or so people watching, sunbathing, or just relaxing on a warm summer day.

Here, narrated by the actor Ethan Hawke, is a short history of the High Line:

This week, stage two of the High Line opened, extending the route a further ten blocks north to West 30th Street. The High Line now provides unique views of the Meatpacking District, West Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen, and its total length now extends a full mile.

Best of all, the entire length of the High Line is wheelchair accessible with access provided by elevators located at West 14th, W 16th and W 30th Streets. A fourth elevator is currently being installed at W 23rd Street and should be operating by the end of this month.

The High Line is open daily during the park’s summer operating hours of 7:00AM to 11:00PM, and access is free.

Photographers Delight
Photographers looking for a unique perspective for their New York City images, have found the High Line to be a perfect place to capture the Big Apple in ways that, in the past, may have not been possible – or easily achieved.

Because of the generous opening hours of the High Line, setting up for early morning or late evening sunsets shots of New York’s skyline has made the High Line a popular viewing platform for local and visiting photographers.

Art, Music, Dance
A full program of art, music and dance has being scheduled for the High Line this summer, as well as regular walking tours, volunteering opportunities and more, and you can read about these via the Friend of the High Line newsletter on their website.

More information
More videos can be accessed via the Friends of The High Line YouTube page…
Friends of The High Line Org…

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

My Smartphone – My Life

I hate to say it, but one of the biggest disappointments of my eight month round the world trip last year and into 2011, was the performance of my iPhone 3GS smart-phones. That’s right, both of them.

My first iPhone had problems with the WiFi. Namely, it couldn’t pick up a WiFi signal, even if I was sitting right on top of it. However, all other aspects of its function seemed to be ok. When I arrived in New York City in July 2010 I went to one of the massive Apple Stores in the city and got staff at the Genius desk to look at my phone. They confirmed the WiFi function was non-functioning and a was able to purchase a new iPhone 3GS at a much reduced rate.

Happily, WiFi worked fine during the rest of the American leg of my trip. Unfortunately, it stopped working once I reached Europe in October, and hasn’t worked since! Other aspects of the phone’s function seem to be lest than ideal, as time goes on, and quite frankly I am over it.

Ongoing problems with my iPhone are the reason I haven’t embraced the iPad. Although I think the iPad is an amazing device, I am holding off to see what other manufacturers release over the next 12-18 months, with particular interest in new devices utilising Google’s Android software.

I’m writing about this today because of a recent smartphone survey conducted by Prosper Mobile Insight (PMI), which reveals key insights on mobile usage, security concerns and privacy issues, as well as the way smartphone owners use their devices to buy products and services using their phones.

To quote from the survey media release: “As mobile technology continues to evolve, a majority of smartphone users are fully integrating their devices into every aspect of their daily lives… 52.9% say they utilize all of the functions of their smartphones—it’s their life. 30.4% say they use the basic functions of their smartphones plus some applications and 16.7% only use their smartphones for calling, texting and emailing.”

“With all the unique features of smartphones, texting (21.6%), Internet (16.7%) and email (15.7%) are the top functions smartphone users say they cannot live without. Calling features (7.8%), GPS (6.9%) and Facebook (5.9%) are also necessities to some.”

I’m with those survey respondents. I was totally wedded to my iPhone after my initial purchase – despite the WiFi problem – and the phone seemed to be a permanent extension of my arm. I was never more than a few minutes, or metres, away from it, and even now, I am never without the phone.

Security Ongoing Concern
Despite the joys (or otherwise) of owning a smartphone, security issues are never far from the minds of phone users.

The PMI Smartphone survey also reveals that the top privacy issue among smartphone users is location tracking (35.3%), followed closely by unauthorized access to personal information (31.4%), someone accessing financial data (21.6%), and online behavior being tracked (11.8%). Despite these concerns, 55.9% of smartphone users say they prefer using their smartphone to access the Internet over using a computer – as opposed to 35.3% who prefer to use a computer.

A few more interesting bits of information from the survey: The vast majority of smartphone users (81.4%) say they use their smartphone to browse for products or services online, while 77.5% use their smartphone to locate stores or look for store hours. (Source: Prosper Mobile Insight Smartphone Survey, May, 2011)

Clearly, these are the early days of smartphone development and use, and I for one, am quite sure that these ubiquitous devices will only get smaller, faster, cheaper and more powerful over the next five years. I am also sure that in spite of my own less than perfect experiences with the iPhone, there is no turning back to the ‘old days’ to embrace anything less than state of the art, when it comes to modern phone technology.

-o0o-

Monday, June 6, 2011

Smithsonian Journeys – of a Lifetime

The Rocky Mountaineer Train in the Canadian Rockies
~ Recently, I was asked if I regretted selling my house back in 2008, and using the proceeds to travel on extended journeys around the world. My answer was an immediate, "No.” To which I added, “My only regret is that I was not able to sell the house for twice as much.”

Because if I had sold my house for twice as much as the price I got, I would be able to afford to travel even more than I have been – not in terms of the length of my journeys, but in terms of the number of destinations I could afford to visit and the quality of some of those visits. Which brings me to the Smithsonian Institute.

The American Smithsonian Institution was founded in 1846, and has become the world’s largest museum and research complex consisting of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park and nine research facilities. In 2009 there were approximately 30 million visits from around the world at the Smithsonian, with more than 188 million visits (including a few of my own) to the Smithsonian websites. It is estimated that the Smithsonian houses 137 million objects, works of art and unique specimens.

Clearly this is a massive Institution any way you measure it!

Which brings me to Smithsonian Journeys, the Smithsonian Institution’s travel program. Smithsonian Journeys aims to provide a meaningful experience with genuine insight into the culture and history of all their chosen destinations.

Recently, the organization released information about some of their major tours for the second half of 2011, and I thought I’d highlight a few of the North American ones today. Ordered by date, the destinations are:

Grand Canyon (June 17-20 and July 15-18)
You will need to be quick to join the June tour to Grand Canyon – certainly one of the highlights of my North American visit last year. The Grand Canyon is considered the most spectacular gorge in the world and consequently Grand Canyon National Park merits listing as a World Heritage site. Smithsonian Journeys has taken Americans to this breathtaking site for nearly 40 years. “Grand Canyon Weekend Adventure” (June 17-20 and July 15-18) offers an in-depth weekend experience of the park, which features an overnight rafting trip down the Colorado River and a day at a nearby ranch.

The Great Lakes (July 25-Aug. 3)
This region of North America has been on my ‘bucket list’ for a long time, and I am determined to see some of it on my next trip to the United States. Situated between Canada and the United States, the Great Lakes are the largest inland lake system in the world. During “Canadian Splendors” (July 25-Aug. 3), travellers can take a cruise in Canada that features notable cities and charming towns, engineering marvels and the history and natural beauty of Lakes Ontario, Erie and Huron.

Canadian Rockies (August 5-12)
Like the Great Lakes, Canada is another place on my list of must see travel destinations, and again, I hope to see at least some of it on my next trip to North America. Travellers from all over the world are drawn to the magnificence of the Canadian Rockies, which are celebrated for the region’s pristine alpine lakes, majestic snow-capped mountains and plentiful wildlife. During “A Canadian Rockies Adventure” (Aug. 5-12), Smithsonian travellers get to stay at top accommodations in Banff and Jasper as they explore the landscape, then enjoy panoramic vistas on a two-day train trip aboard the luxurious Rocky Mountaineer (see image above) before arriving in Vancouver.

And just because I can, here is one non-North American destination for you to consider:

Istanbul (August 5-16)
Ok, I’ve got a confession to make. I’m a slacker! The last time I saw Istanbul was in 1971, and despite the fact that I had plenty of opportunities to visit Turkey and Istanbul during my extended four month stay in Greece over the winter of 2010/11, I didn’t take advantage of any of them.

Istanbul is the only city in the world situated on two continents, and features a fascinating history of both western and eastern cultures, as reflected by its magnificent monuments. Smithsonian Journeys travellers interested in visiting Istanbul do so on the popular “Black Sea” luxury cruise (Aug. 5-16). Also “Legendary Turkey and the Turquoise Coast” and “Ancient Worlds of Anatolia” are two small-group, air-inclusive tours that travel to Istanbul before moving south to different regions of Turkey. Both have multiple departures in the spring and autumn.

Which finally brings me full circle. Because the quality of the small-group tours Smithsonian Journeys organises are exactly the types of tours I would join if I had sold my home for twice the price I got. As it now stands, I travel solo, on the cheap, and organise every aspect of my own journeys. Not that this is bad, and not that I don’t enjoy my solo adventures. It’s just that sometimes it would be good to let others do the organising and just go along for the ride (so to speak).

NOTE: Information about Smithsonian Journeys contained in this post was correct at time of publication. Please check the Smithsonian Journeys website for the latest information pertaining to any of the destinations mentioned above. Full details and prices for all Smithsonian Journeys destinations can be found online at their website.

-o0o-
And again, just because I can, here is a tiny selection of books and CDs put out by the Smithsonian Institution which you may like to check out. As always, these are available direct from Amazon.Com simply by clicking on the images below.
Official Guide to the Smithsonian, 3rd Edition: Third Edition Official Guide to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum 
Classic Mountain Songs from Smithsonian Folkways Classic Appalachian Blues from Smithsonian Folkways Classic Bluegrass From Smithsonian Folkways

Saturday, June 4, 2011

World Trade Center Panorama

Click image to view the panorama
Really enjoyed this panorama of the World Trade Center site via the New York Times website. The panorama allows you to look around the construction site (from a fixed point) within the location.

You can see newly planted white oak trees, and 1 World Trade Center beyond the South Memorial Pool that marks the site of the former South Tower.

Make sure you click on the ‘Full Screen’ button to view the panorama at its best. Also you can speed up or slow down the rotation by using your mouse to manoeuvre the panorama to all points of the compass: up, down, backwards, forwards, and every direction between.

Amazing stuff. All they need now is a permanent 360 degree camera providing the same panoramic view in real time, and you could watch the complex being built from anywhere in the world.

Since the panorama can’t be embedded on this page, you will need to go to the New York Times site to view it, but it is well worth the trip!
-o0o-

Here are a small selection of books and DVDs that mark the passing of the Twin Towers and commemmorate the momentous events of September 11, 2001. All are available directly from Amazon.Com. Simply click on one of the images to go to that items page on Amazon where you will find independent reviews and ordering information.
...
102 Minutes That Changed America The World Trade Center Remembered World Trade Center - In Memoriam
City in the Sky: The Rise and Fall of the World Trade Center 9/11 - The Filmmakers' Commemorative Edition Last Man Down NY City Fire Chief Collapse World Trade Center

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