Monthly Archives: May 2011

UNESCO World Heritage Site #136: Portovenere, Cinque Terre, and the Islands

Posted by on May 30, 2011

UNESCO World Heritage Site #136: Portovenere, Cinque Terre, and the Islands

UNESCO World Heritage Site #136: Portovenere, Cinque Terre, and the Islands

From the World Heritage inscription:

The Ligurian coast between Cinque Terre and Portovenere is a cultural landscape of great scenic and cultural value. The layout and disposition of the small towns and the shaping of the surrounding landscape, overcoming the disadvantages of a steep, uneven terrain, encapsulate the continuous history of human settlement in this region over the past millennium.

The towns of Cinque Terra are just beautiful. If you are ever in the neighborhood of Pisa or Genoa, you should consider making a trip there. You can visit the five towns by train, by boat or even on foot. It was the highlight of my recent cruise around Italy and would highly recommend it to anyone visiting Italy. It might not be as sexy as some of the other destinations in Italy like Rome, Florence or Venice, but it has its own unique charm. Try to avoid arriving on a day with cruise ships or show up before 10am or after 1pm to beat the crowds.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites

UNESCO World Heritage Site #135: Historic Centre of Naples

Posted by on May 29, 2011

UNESCO World Heritage Site #135: Historic Centre of Naples

UNESCO World Heritage Site #135: Historic Centre of Naples

From the World Heritage inscription:

From the Neapolis founded by Greek settlers in 470 B.C. to the city of today, Naples has retained the imprint of the successive cultures that emerged in Europe and the Mediterranean basin. This makes it a unique site, with a wealth of outstanding monuments such as the Church of Santa Chiara and the Castel Nuovo.

Naples is great city that is high on my list of places to return to. I was only able to spend several hours walking around the city, but I enjoyed the time I had.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites

UNESCO World Heritage Site #134: Archaeological Areas of Pompei, Herculaneum and Torre Annunziata

Posted by on May 28, 2011

UNESCO World Heritage Site #134: Archaeological Areas of Pompei

UNESCO World Heritage Site #134: Archaeological Areas of Pompei

From the World Heritage inscription:

When Vesuvius erupted on 24 August AD 79, it engulfed the two flourishing Roman towns of Pompei and Herculaneum, as well as the many wealthy villas in the area. These have been progressively excavated and made accessible to the public since the mid-18th century. The vast expanse of the commercial town of Pompei contrasts with the smaller but better-preserved remains of the holiday resort of Herculaneum, while the superb wall paintings of the Villa Oplontis at Torre Annunziata give a vivid impression of the opulent lifestyle enjoyed by the wealthier citizens of the Early Roman Empire.

I had always wanted to visite Pompeii and I had my chance this year when the Carnival Magic stopped in Naples. Unfortunately, I was on a tour bus along with several thousand other people who all hit the site at the same time and Pompeii was packed. It really took away from the experience. If you want to see a Roman city which is almost as intact as Pompeii I’d suggest visiting Ostia Antica just outside of Rome. Very few people go there and you can see much of what you can in Pompeii. Likewise, visiting the nearby city of Herculaneum might be a much less busy choice.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites

The Pine Trees of Lanai

Posted by on May 21, 2011

Pine trees on LanaiWhen you think of Hawaii, one of the first images which pops into your head is probably a palm tree on a white sand beach. Indeed, Hawaii does have its share of palm trees. On the island of Lanai, however, the tree you will be most likely to find isn’t a palm tree….it is a pine tree.

The story of the pine trees of Lanai is one of the interesting stories I come across when traveling that shows how people can find innovative solutions to their problems.

The first thing you need to know is Lanai is a rather dry island. It has the least amount of rainfall of all the Hawaiian islands because the mountains on Molokai and Maui capture most of the rainfall which comes its way.
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May 2011: Questions & Answers

Posted by on May 18, 2011

Post box in CroatiaIt is time once again to open up the virtual mailbag and answer the questions which you have been dying to know….

Marianne Schwab asks: What are your top five tips for taking GREAT photos? Get a little technical please. :-)

I am a self taught photographer. I’ve never taken a course or read a book. Everything I’ve done has come from taking a lot of bad photos and researching things online. There isn’t really a lot technical to be said about taking great photos. Here are my tips:
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Thoughts on my Central Europe Trip

Posted by on May 16, 2011

Before I get too far into Europe, I figure I should go back and do a quick review of my time in the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia and Slovenia. It was only a quick trip of 10 days, but I was able to get a taste of the region and see some of the things which I’ve wanted to see. Here are some of my thoughts from the trip:

Most Pleasant Surprise

River in Ljubljana Ljubljana, Slovenia. I had no idea was I was in store for when I visited Ljubljana. When I arrived I couldn’t even pronounce it and I didn’t know much about it other than it was formerly in Yugoslavia. It is a charming city, very walkable, affordable by European standards and is one of the smallest capitol cities in Europe. The only downside to the city is that it has a pretty bad graffiti problem. I’m surprised that Ljubljana doesn’t get more of the backpacker crowd considering how cheap it is and how close it is to Vienna and Venice.
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UNESCO World Heritage Site #133: Old City of Dubrovnik

Posted by on May 13, 2011

UNESCO World Heritage Site #133: Old City of Dubrovnik

UNESCO World Heritage Site #133: Old City of Dubrovnik

From the World Heritage inscription:

The ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’, situated on the Dalmatian coast, became an important Mediterranean sea power from the 13th century onwards. Although severely damaged by an earthquake in 1667, Dubrovnik managed to preserve its beautiful Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque churches, monasteries, palaces and fountains. Damaged again in the 1990s by armed conflict, it is now the focus of a major restoration programme co-ordinated by UNESCO.

Dubrovnik is an very nice, historic town on the Adriatic. Almost all of the original walls of the city are still in place and the old city managed to escape too much damage during the break up of Yugoslavia. I arrived in Dubrovnik during a stop on a cruise ship which was just enough to explore the old city on my own time. I was able to walk twice around the walls of the city as well as explore many of the side streets of the old town itself. It is listed as one of the top 100 Wonders of the World by Howard Hillman.

View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited.

UNESCO World Heritage Site #132: Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn

Posted by on May 12, 2011

UNESCO World Heritage Site #132: Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn

UNESCO World Heritage Site #132: Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn

From the World Heritage inscription:

From the 18th century to 1918, Schönbrunn was the residence of the Habsburg emperors. It was designed by the architects Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach and Nicolaus Pacassi and is full of outstanding examples of decorative art. Together with its gardens, the site of the world’s first zoo in 1752, it is a remarkable Baroque ensemble and a perfect example of Gesamtkunstwerk

When you visit Schönbrunn Palace, you get the strong impression that at one point an Emperor or Empress of Austria visited France and was the guest at the Palace of Versailles. When they got back home they said “We have GOT to have one of those”, and construction on the palace was begun.

It is incredibly ostentatious and it is a surprise that they didn’t have a revolution in Austria as well as France.

View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited.

UNESCO World Heritage Site #131: Historic Center of Vienna

Posted by on May 11, 2011

UNESCO World Heritage Site #131: The Historic Center of Vienna

UNESCO World Heritage Site #131: The Historic Center of Vienna

From the World Heritage inscription:

Vienna developed from early Celtic and Roman settlements into a Medieval and Baroque city, the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It played an essential role as a leading European music centre, from the great age of Viennese Classicism through the early part of the 20th century. The historic centre of Vienna is rich in architectural ensembles, including Baroque castles and gardens, as well as the late-19th-century Ringstrasse lined with grand buildings, monuments and parks.

While not the most exciting city in Europe, I think Vienna deserves inscription as a World Heritage site. Surprisingly, it wasn’t included on the list until 2001, well after most of the major European capitol cities were included. The photo above is of St. Stephens Cathedral, which is the historic center of the city.

View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited.