The historic urban ensemble of the canal district of Amsterdam was a project for a new ‘port city’ built at the end of the 16th and beginning of the 17th centuries. It comprises a network of canals to the west and south of the historic old town and the medieval port that encircled the old town and was accompanied by the repositioning inland of the city’s fortified boundaries, the Singelgracht. This was a long-term program that involved extending the city by draining the swampland, using a system of canals in concentric arcs and filling in the intermediate spaces. These spaces allowed the development of a homogeneous urban ensemble including gabled houses and numerous monuments. This urban extension was the largest and most homogeneous of its time. It was a model of large-scale town planning and served as a reference throughout the world until the 19th century.
Amsterdam was the first stop on my November 2011 Eurail trip of UNESCO sites in Europe.
I had actually been to Amsterdam before but never bothered to take any photos of inner canal area. It was declared a UNESCO after my first visit, so I never put it on my list. My first stop in this trip was to rectify that issue.
I think in many ways, Amsterdam gets a bad rap. So many people associate Amsterdam as a European version of Las Vegas with its red light district and marijuana cafes. Yes, those things do exist and you will see them in spades when you walk out of the train station, but you don’t have to walk far to find a different city.
Amsterdam is one of the best museum cities in the world. It is easily the best city for bicycling on Earth.
The Seventeenth-century canal ring area of Amsterdam inside the Singelgracht begins right when you exit the Amsterdam Central train station. It is impossible to miss.
It is a cold night here in Dresden, Germany. I woke up in the city of Eisenach and visited the birthplace of JS Bach and then went to the historic city of Weimar in the afternoon visiting the homes of Goethe, Schiller, List and Luther. I’ve probably learned more about German history in the last few days than I have in the rest of my life.
I figure a good way to cap off the evening would be answer some questions from the old inbox.
Quito, the capital of Ecuador, was founded in the 16th century on the ruins of an Inca city and stands at an altitude of 2,850 m. Despite the 1917 earthquake, the city has the best-preserved, least altered historic centre in Latin America. The monasteries of San Francisco and Santo Domingo, and the Church and Jesuit College of La Compañía, with their rich interiors, are pure examples of the ‘Baroque school of Quito’, which is a fusion of Spanish, Italian, Moorish, Flemish and indigenous art.
Quito was the first cultural World Heritage site and the second overall after the Galapagos Islands. Quito is considered to be one of the best preserved Spanish colonial cities in Latin American and the best capital city. The highlight of the old city to me was the cathedral. If you should find yourself at the Quito Cathedral, check out the gargoyles on the outside. They are all animals you will find in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, including marine iguanas and tortoises.
If you have been paying attention to the news the last several days, you might have heard that the New7Wonders Foundation released their list of the New7Wonders of Nature. You also might remember a similar announcement a few years ago for the New7Wonders of the World. Here is the list they released:
Our 100th Episode of This Week In Travel was done live at Blog World Expo in Los Angeles. We didn’t have a normal news show. This week we had a free form discussion with many of the speakers in the travel and tourism track at the conference. Guests include Michael Tieso, Benny Lewis, Kara Williams, Chris Grey Faust, Jen Miner
I’ve announced it on Twitter and Facebook, but I figured I should make it official and post it on the blog: I’m heading to Antarctica in January!
I’ll be traveling with G Adventures as part of their Wanderers in Residence Program and I’ll be sailing on the M/S Expedition.
The itinerary looks to be awesome. The particular cruise I’m going to be on is the top of the line expedition which G offers in Antarctica: The Spirit of Shackleton. In addition to visiting Antarctica I’ll be visiting South Georgia Island (where Earnest Shackelton sailed to help his crew) and the Falkland Islands. Continue reading “I’m Going to Antarctica!”
I arrived in London on Monday from Los Angeles and suffered one of the worst cases of Jet Lag I’ve had in my life. I went almost 48 hours with only an hour of sleep and then followed it up with a 14 hour sleep session on Tuesday.
Despite all the traveling I’ve done over the last 5 years, I actually haven’t suffered from jet lag that much. First, I have mostly been moving to the west and I find it easier to go west than it is going east. Second, I haven’t required that many long flights. When I started in 2007 in the Pacific I mostly had short flights that didn’t require a lot of time adjustment. What long flights I’ve had usually had a large north/south component to it (New York to Johannesburg). Continue reading “Dealing with Jet Lag”
Situated in the Pacific some 1,000 km from the South American continent, these islands and the surrounding marine reserve have been called a unique ‘living museum and showcase of evolution’. Located at the confluence of three ocean currents, the Galápagos are a ‘melting pot’ of marine species. Ongoing seismic and volcanic activity reflect the processes that formed the islands. These processes, together with the extreme isolation of the islands, led to the development of unusual animal life such as the land iguana, the giant tortoise and the many species of finch that inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution following his visit in 1835.
The site is situated on the Galápagos Submarine Platform, and consists of about 120 islands. The larger islands are Isabela, Santa Cruz, Fernandina, Santiago and San Cristobal. The islands were formed by volcanic processes and most represent the summit of a volcano, some of which rise over 3,000 m from the Pacific floor. The western part of the archipelago experiences intense volcanic and seismic activity. The larger islands typically comprise one or more gently sloping shield volcano, culminating in collapsed craters or calderas. Long stretches of shoreline are only slightly eroded, but in many places faulting and marine erosion have produced steep cliffs and lava, coral or shell sand beaches. Other noteworthy landscape features include crater lakes, fumaroles, lava tubes, sulphur fields and a great variety of lava and other ejects such as pumice, ash and tuff.
The fact that the Galapagos Islands are listed as UNESCO World Heritage site #1 is no coincidence. It is one of the most significant ecological sites in the world. Home to multiple endemic species, it was the also where Darwin originally got his ideas which lead to the theory of evolution.
I spent four days traveling around the islands with G Adventures as part of their Wanderer in Residence program. It is one of the places where I know I will return one day. Four days in the Galapagos is not enough.