Saturday, February 27, 2010

Cities Where Pedestrians Rule

It’s difficult to escape cars. Unless you live in one of a handful of cities where public transit is widespread or you have the patience to take the bus/light rail in a city with a less than perfect network (most cities in the US fall into this category), a car is all but necessary for daily life. Even when traveling, tourists will eventually find their way into a taxi or a Hertz agency. But there are cities out there where it is possible to get by without getting into a car.
Imperfect weather doesn’t stop people in Copenhagen from pedaling to work or school every day. Cycle commuters number in the hundreds of thousands (the web site Copenhagenize puts the number of daily two-wheel commutes at 500,000). That’s about 25% of all commuters. That number puts America’s bicycling-est city, Portland (where 3% of commuters bike) to shame.
Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s iconic ferries still get their pictures on the front page of travel magazines and web sites. But it is the widespread train system (MRT) that makes this one of the easiest cities to get around. The ubiquitous Octupus Card, a stored value transit card, can be used for any form of public transit, from the ferry to the train to the minibuses.


Tokyo is a massive city with an equally massive (and perpetually crowded) network of trains. Stories about being stuffed into subway cars like sardines aside, this is the easiest city in the world to get around solely by train.
Aacticle about Havana has the requisite photo of an antique car rolling down an unkempt street. Many of these aged vehicles double as taxis, but they are not the only means of transportation in the city. Dirt cheap buses run everywhere, as do colorful bicycle taxis.
The Paris Metro is one of Europe’s oldest urban train systems, with the first line completed in 1900. Now 131 miles of track and 380 stations make the Metro one of the world’s most expansive subways. The architecture in some of the more iconic stations and the trains themselves are as much a part of the city’s personality as the Eiffel Tower.
Mumbai’s train network is super-efficient and notoriously crowded. Some visitors find a trip on the train to be the worst part of their visit to India, while for others, it is the highlight. Train is one of the cheapest ways to get around, for sure. There are plans to upgrade the system, doubling its reach over the next five years.
Singapore and Seoul
Most East Asian metropolises put US cities to shame when it comes to train and subway systems. Seoul and Singapore are two more to add to the list of cities with streamlined rail travel. Seoul’s massive subway system is one of the world’s largest, while Singapore’s is one of the most well-planned and cleanest. Both cities’ trains are far enough reaching that a car is completely unnecessary.
London’s Underground is both the oldest and longest urban rail network in the world. Despite being a bit notorious for its delays and overcrowding, 3.4 million riders rely on it for transportation on a daily basis.

The US lags woefully behind European and Asian cities when it comes to public transportation. Two of the exceptions to this trend are New York, with its storied, much-used subway system and San Francisco, with the BART and Muni.
Despite being a smaller metro area, Madrid’s Metro system is on of the most expansive in the world, covering 175 miles and set to expand further. Though it is most known for the tragic and bloody 2004 terrorist attack – the worst on European soil to date – ridership has remained high and as has public support for for further expansion.
Sao Paulo and Amsterdam
Amsterdam has long been known for its bicycle culture. 40% of all its traffic comes from bicycles. Despite the high numbers, biking in the city is quite safe, with traffic laws and roads developed with the goal of streamlining two-wheeled commutes.

Sao Paulo, on the other hand, is not an easy city to negotiate on a bicycle. In fact, the train is a prefered means of transport because it helps people avoid the insane crush of rush hour traffic that pollutes this large Brazilian city.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Amazing photos of ancient Egypt

Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization in eastern North Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern nation of Egypt...

“Gizeh Pyramids”“Nefertiti”
The civilization began around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh, and it developed over the next three millennia.

“SPHINX - Karolos Trivizas”
Its history occurred in a series of stable periods, known as kingdoms, separated by periods of relative instability known as Intermediate Periods.

After the end of the last kingdom, known as the New Kingdom, the civilization of ancient Egypt entered a period of slow, steady decline, during which Egypt was conquered by a succession of foreign powers.

“Hatshepsut’s Temple - by Ian Lloyd”
The rule of the pharaohs officially ended in 31 BC when the early Roman Empire conquered Egypt and made it a province.

“Kairo, Egypt, in the Mosque”
“Great Sphinx, Chephren Pyramid, Giza, Egypt”

“MOUNTAINS EGYPT by Leszek Glowacki”

“Entrance to the Suez Canal, Port Said - Egypt ca.1869?
“Giza, Egypt”
“Egypt, Luxor, Karnak temple of Amun”
“Ramses II at Luxor , by gouliosg”

“Egypt mummy”
“Egypt pyramids”

Innovative Design Of W Hotels

W Hotels – a modern, innovative, stylish brand includes 35 hotels around the world – from the dynamic metropolitan to exotic places.A stunning, impressive, innovative and landmark, the style of W Hotels is the best, admirable «Wow!».

Each of the W Hotels brand offers a creative mix of good design and architecture and the passion for fashion, music, art, garden party, pop culture and all that creates the real world of luxury.

W Hotels – a unique and personal view of high style modern life, as reflected in the exclusive design, fashionable restaurant ideas, glamorous nightlife and luxurious spa.

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Friday, February 19, 2010

The Tree Hotel and Other Swinging Spots

At the Soneva Kiri in Thailand we found those two swinging spots. Start at the Eco-Villa swing, then head over for a unique taste experience in the dining-pod, a woven wooden basket hung above the green tops.
If you've ever wanted to live in the trees, you'll love this tree hotel concept (below) by Tham & Videgård Arkitekter. Look closely and you'll see a cube wrapped around a tree. Which could be the most outlandish (but coolest) idea for a hotel ever.
The concept is for a cluster of cubes in a forest in Harads, in the far north of Sweden. The cubes will be made of light-weight aluminium boxes, 4×4x4m and clad in mirrored glass. Inside, windows will give guests a 360 degree view, while outside the cubes will be practically invisible. To prevent birds colliding with the structures, however, they'll attach transparent stickers to their sides. (Good to know.)
Blending in.
The treehouses will accommodate two people, a large bed, a small kitchenette and bath, a living room and a roof terrace. Access will be by rope ladder or rope bridge. The idea reminds me of the Free Spirit Spheres on Vancouver Island, which already exists. So let's hope this one comes to life.
Dass Architecture designed a tree house (below) as a small hiding place in nature with a very small room. The building is named Tree House Hotel. It's currently located in the Jardim da estral in Lisbon, and you can experience a one-night stay, complete with toilet, sinks, sofas converted to a bed and a rooftop terrace which has a view over the Jardim.

Ten Most Beautiful Skiing Locations in Europe

Apart from being famous for its breathtakingly picturesque location, Europe has always been associated with Skiing. From France to Greece, you get to choose from some of the most beautiful and less explored skiing destinations in the world. Europe offers far more skiing and snowboarding trails than any other part of the world. Let’s have a look at ten skiing locations that make Europe one of the most sought after ski destination.

Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy

Nestled in Ampezzo Valley, Cortina d’Ampezzo enjoys the title of the most beautiful winter playground in the world. It is not only the most famous ski resorts in Italy but is one of the most important and sought after ski resorts in the world. Apart from offering great skiing experience, the slopes offer picturesque view to the valley. This is only place which provides clear distinction between Dolomites and rest of the Alps.

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The picture perfect location combined with exciting slopes makes this resort top destination for the up market crowd from all over the world. The beauty of these slopes has been captured in many James Bond movies as well.

Val D’Isere, France

Skiing in Val-d’Isère dates back to 1930’s after a drag lift was built on the slopes of Solaise. Being named as the most famous resort for experts, Val D’Isere can easily pass as the all round destination in whole of Europe. The resort offers a range of ski schools and has something to offer everyone from beginners to experts. It offers modern chairlift and cable cars with most modern lift system you could think of.

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No wonder the resort is one of the busiest in whole of Europe. If the ski is worth the way up, the journey will not disappoint you as well. The view on the way up to the Val D’Isere is spectacular and looks just out of Narnia series.

Igls, Austria

Located in the “Capital of the Alps”, Innsbruck, Igls offers a combination of old world charm and access to some of the world’s finest ski resorts. The charming village is surrounded by some of the best skiing in Austria. Beginners can start with the lower slopes while intermediates can try the pistes in Igls itself. For advanced skiers, there is a possibility of eight ski areas totaling 295 km all accessible by free ski buses.

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Two time host of Winter Olympic Games, Innsbruck has lot more to offer than skiing. If you’d like an adrenaline pump, a ride down the Olympic bob slight at 100 km per hour is highly recommended. Other adventures offered include ice skating, floodlit skiing, tobogganing. If you’d like to take a break from skiing, there are some rich museums and galleries to draw your attention as well.

Kandersteg, Switzerland

The village of Kandersteg could easily pass for the most picturesque centre for mountaineering. More people land in this destination for the scenic view and tranquility the village offers. Best known among beginners, it is one of the best places to learn skiing. The slopes here are easy and daunting and give learners enough space to test their techniques.

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Courchevel, France

Courchevel ski resort is built for nothing but Winter Sports. It is made up of four villages which are named after thir altitudes in meters- Courchevel 1300, Courchevel 1550, Courchevel 1650, Courchevel 1850. It boasts of about 370 miles of pistes and is is a part of the Trois Vallees ski area.

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Courchevel 1850 – the highest located resort district has been quite popular with the rich from all over the world. Guests arrive on their private jets and if your pockets are deep, it’s worth experiencing the air here. There is room for everyone and if you’d like to go for a ski resort just like any other part of the world, you could choose from the villages from 1650 and lower. The mountain has skiing range for both intermediates and experts.

Wengen, Switzerland

With a terrain of 112 km over 53 pistes, Wengen is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful villages in Switzerland. Wengen is an ideal location if you are looking for a combination of absolutely beautiful views and classic architecture. Only accessible by road, the village has excellent slopes for intermediates.

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It also has ranges for experts but is best known among intermediates and snowboarders. More than skiing, the village rates high for the charm and tranquil alpine beauty.

Chamonix, France

Charmonix offers some of the best mountain skiing in whole of Europe. With 12 ski areas, the valley is apt for skiers at all levels. The valley offers beautiful views and draws crowd from all over the world for its excellent skiing conditions and picturesque scenery. It is located right next to the peak of Mont Blanc and offer range of recreational activities. It is the oldest ski resort in France and has great ski slopes for children and ski area for intermediates and experts as well.

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Pas De la Casa, Andorra

The highest resort in Andorra, Pas de la Casa has an excellent snow record. It is placed on the border between France and Andorra. Before it got combined with Soldeu, the resort had the biggest ski area with highest lift served terrain in Andorra. Now it gas 186 km of pistes and is favored for its southern latitude.

The slopes are more suitable for intermediates than beginners and experts. Image source

Pelion Mountain, Greece

While talking about beautiful locations for skiing, Pelion Mountain is easily one of the noteworthy locations. The best part about the ski resorts here is that not many people know about it and skiing here is still not explored completely. Greece has been gaining popularity for skiing among other winter sports. Pelion Mountains offer majestic scenes and is one of the most preferred destinations for those who have discovered the ski terrains here.

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Newstift, Austria

Newstift is a favorite with family and friends looking for skiing all year round. With 28 lifts, the resort offers skiers 7382 feet of vertical descent. Best suited for beginners and snowboarders, it has some regions for experts and intermediates as well. With finest skiing conditions and largest glacial ski resort, a small portion of the resort is covered by snowmaking. Image Source