Called the "City of Healing Waters," Budapest sits along the Danube River where a fault line has produced a series of ancient and beloved thermal springs. For a long time, the residents of Budapest have prized these hot mineral waters, collecting them and utilizing them in thermal baths. During the Turkish Occupation of the area in 1541, then known as the Ottoman Empire, Budapest's bath culture expanded and the number of spas throughout Budapest grew significantly. Today, there are some 28 spas sprinkled across Budapest, and many hotels have also installed mineral spas and thermal baths on their properties. There are many spas in Budapest to choose from, and although not as popular as the Gellért Bath and Széchenyi Bath, a visit to the Kiraly ...
The Spanish Riding School in Vienna is a traditional riding school and training centre for the equestrian art of dressage. This is an elegant sport where horses perform graceful ballet-like dance movements at the (barely visible) commands of their riders. Dressage is a popular sport around the world, and is even a competitive Olympic event. But it is at the Spanish Riding School that the charming white Lipizzan stallions and their riders have been trained in classical dressage since the 1500s. The Spanish Riding School is the oldest of its kind, and is located inside the Hofburg: Vienna's historic and grandiose imperial palace. The architecture of the training arena, known as the Winter Riding School, is well worth a look. Even if you aren't a ...
Jiayuguan Fort in China's northwestern Gansu Province is one of the most exotic, faraway places you can visit in the world. Jiayuguan is a small town whose name means "excellent valley pass" and is home to the last outpost of the Great Wall of China. Gansu Province is a land of vast desert, jutting snow-capped mountains, flaming hills, secret caves filled with Buddhist grottoes, camels, sand dunes, and the last mud remnants of the western end of the Great Wall. This culminates at Jiayuguan Fort, a huge trapezoid-shaped fort that once marked the final boundary of the Chinese empire. As legend has it, when a citizen was banished, they were required to exit through the Jiayuguan gate into the west, never to return. Jiayuguan Fort ...
Few events in the history of the United States have more prominence in the collective memory of Americans than the American Revolution. Paul Revere's midnight ride through rural Massachusetts on April 18, 1775 (sounding the bell that the “British are coming!”), and the infamous Boston Tea Party—fill the history books read by every American child. Boston is probably the best place in the U.S. to explore American revolutionary history, primarily because most of the events took place in and around Massachusetts. The first shots between British troops and American militia were fired at Lexington and Concord, two towns just outside the city, and many of the country's first subversive meetings of government occurred in sly buildings along Boston's cobbled streets. Today, you can actively participate ...
Standing at a majestic 700 ft. tall, Ireland's Cliffs of Moher edge County Clare up to the Atlantic Ocean, creating the country's westernmost outpost. I first went there in 2003 when very little infrastructure surrounded the Cliffs of Moher and it was possible to creep belly-down across the limestone slats and peer over the edge. As one of Ireland's most well-known and heavily visited tourist attractions today, the Cliffs of Moher have been given a new lease on life with the building of a state-of-the-art visitor center that is cut into the side of one of the bluffs, and is totally environmentally friendly. The experience of standing on the bluffs overlooking the Cliffs of Moher is utterly astounding. The harsh Irish wind bats at your ...
Out on the West Texas plains, at the outskirts of a dusty cowtown called Amarillo, sits one of the world's oddest and coolest roadside attractions: the Cadillac Ranch. This public art installation consists of ten antique cars, mostly early model Cadillacs, buried with their noses in the ground and their tail fins high in the air. The cars are splashed in colourful spray-painted messages and pictures, as graffiti is not only tolerated here, it is actively encouraged. The Cadillac Ranch was the brainchild of irreverent Texas millionaire Stanley Marsh III, who owns the land on which the Caddies were buried. The actual installation of the roadside attraction was done in the late 1970s by the avant-garde art firm Ant Farm, which were contracted to put ...
It was late in the day when we jumped in our car and headed out from Santa Fe, New Mexico for an afternoon hike at Bandelier National Monument. Steeped in history, this ancient Native American archaeological site is home to cave dwellings and the ruins of several prehistoric villages of the Pueblo People. With endless and interesting wildlife, and one of the state's most scenic canyons, Bandelier National Monument is a primitive paradise. Arriving at Bandelier National Monument, the desert sun cast long shadows along the adobe visitor centre as we made our way inside, collected a trail map and set out on our walk. The Main Loop Trail is just over one mile long and takes you on an hour-long walk through several ancient ...
The first thing you notice upon entering Taos Pueblo—the northernmost of 19 Pueblo Indian tribes in New Mexico—is a peaceful silence. Sitting along a strip of fertile land at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, just north of the town of Taos, New Mexico the pueblo (Spanish for “village”) exists in almost the same way as it always has—with no piped running water or electricity. Residents (of which there are about 150 full-timers) live in an interconnected maze of adobe buildings, in rooms with adjoining walls. Around 1,900 other Taos Indians live elsewhere on the surrounding pueblo lands. Divided in two by the Red Willow Creek, the largest structure in the pueblo—a multi-story adobe building—sits on the northern side of Taos Pueblo. It ...
White Sands National Monument is a magnificent collection of snow-white sand dunes covering an area of some 275 square miles in Central New Mexico. This unique dune field is comprised of gypsum sand - the transparent mineral that creates the eerie colorless landscape of White Sands. This is considered the largest gypsum dune field on earth and the area consists of an unusual group of plant and animal life that have adapted to the gypsum's white environment, including the spiky soaptree yucca plants that are often the lone evidence of life along the stark landscape of White Sands. White Sands, New Mexico is about 40 miles east of the city of Las Cruces. It sits within the confines of the uber-secretive White Sands Missile Range ...
When the clock hit 7 p.m. on our first evening in Shanghai, we had just finished eating dinner at a large tourist-friendly restaurant somewhere in the suburbs. Along with my Chinese teacher and a few dozen volunteers, we were touring Shanghai after teaching a three-week summer camp in a nearby city. This was our chance to let loose in China's main metropolis, and I had truly never seen anything like Shanghai. As the tour bus drove us around the city earlier that day, we were mesmerized by the tall tower blocks that seemed to reach up to the sky in every direction around us. And as evening fell, the city quieted down and geared up for its big night ahead. After leaving the restaurant, our ...
Of all the enchanting things that I hold dear about the American Southwest, flat water rafting is undoubtedly one of my favorites. A week of clear blue skies, warm muddy waters, stark canyon scenery and non-stop tanning is pretty much heaven. There are a lot of rivers to raft in the Four Corners area, especially Utah and Colorado, but the best one has got to be the length of the San Juan River that flows through the canyon lands of southern Utah. Here, the water mellows out from its white-tipped counterparts, higher up in the mountains of Colorado. The San Juan river stretches lazily out across the dusty desert, where it has carved down into the dirt, forming high canyon walls that soar above you ...
Qingdao, a picturesque coastal city on China's eastern seaboard, boasts an interesting past and a groovy seaside atmosphere. Once colonized by Germans, Qingdao (sounds like "ching daow") is the venerable home of China's most iconic beer: Tsingtao. The name Tsingtao is an earlier Romanized spelling of the same Chinese word: "qing dao," which means “green island.” Although not actually an island, Qingdao is now a major seaport city, and in 2008, it hosted the Beijing Olympic Sailing competition in its scenic bay. The World of Tsingtao is the main brewery and museum of Tsingtao beer, located right in Qingdao City. Tickets to Tsingtao Brewery give you access to the museum, which highlights the history of Tsingtao beer from its founding in 1903 by German settlers. ...
Pagosa Springs is a tiny mountain town in Southern Colorado. Situated along the Continental Divide in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, the town has an alpine atmosphere and its history is rich with Native American culture and gold rush stories of the American West. Alluring visitors with its soothing Hot Springs, this is a spot sure to induce that much needed R & R you've been dreaming of. Still a relatively undiscovered gem, as you drive down the single street in town, snow-capped peaks and tall timbers rise above you on all sides. Here, you'll feel as though you just might happen upon an old west miner panning for gold along the San Juan River, which begins from the rushing headwaters in the mountains ...
It was just after 5 a.m. when I forced myself out of bed, packed on three layers of clothes (to be peeled off later when the desert sun peaked) and sped down Interstate 25 toward the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. When we arrived, the sun was barely starting to peek over the tips of Sandia Peak, which cast a strange glow down the mountain's sheer facade. All around us, the empty fabrics of hot air balloons lay flat and dormant on the ground awaiting the blazing heat of inflation and the start of the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. The high desert air was cool and crisp, and my breath shot out of my mouth in a white puff as I shivered a little. A small wooden stand ...
If you are anything like me, the idea of having infinite conversational skills and the ability to wow friends with your charming anecdotes and interesting musings certainly sounds appealing. High upon the defensive walls of Blarney Castle in County Cork lies the Blarney Stone, that when kissed, is purported to bestow the "gift of the gab" to the smoocher. Though the exact origin of the Stone is unknown, one legend suggests that the Blarney Stone is related to Lia Fáil, or the Stone of Destiny. Others believe that the Stone was a gift from the Scots, and still others hold that Blarney has Biblical origins. Whatever the case may be, the Stone's magic is real to those who kiss it. Make no mistake though, the ...
Once upon a time, there was a great Irish war hero named Finn McCool. Finn was a huge man - a giant revered by all who looked upon him, the fiercest warrior in Ireland. Finn's arch rival was a Scottish giant called Bendandonner. Upon setting out to greet his foe in battle, Finn realized that there was no way for him to reach Scotland, as no boat was sturdy enough to carry him the long journey across the sea. At that, Finn built Giant's Causeway out of rock and stone, creating a lengthy bridge that spanned all the way to Scotland. After arriving though, Finn saw his enemy's size and ran away back across the Causeway in worry. Followed by Bendandonner, Finn coyly hid in ...
The slight dry breeze blowing in from the open car window offered some relief, as the intensely hot Arizona sun beamed down on the car. As I approached the entrance to the Painted Desert, the rhythmic bumping under my tires from the cracks in the road only echoed the isolation of highway, not a single other car in sight. All around barren mountains emerge as flaming dunes, with multicolored strata creating a rainbow of orange, brown, red and purple hues. The Painted Desert stretches over 160 miles, and spans from the Grand Canyon National Park through to the Petrified Forest National Park. Designed over hundreds of years by natural conditions such as volcanoes, sea waters, wind, rain and earthquakes, the unique composition of stratified minerals ...
There is perhaps a no more unique, beautiful and awe-inspiring place to visit in the continental United States than the southwestern desert. Monument Valley stands as, well, a monument to our collective imaginings about the American west - it's played setting to dozens of old western films and, as kids, we watched the Coyote topple over the Valley's teetering clay ledges in search of his ultimate foe, the Roadrunner. Monument Valley was created through thousands of years of erosion, as rivers and lakes slowly receeded, clay and stone deposits were formed, canyons and gullies were carved, and the wind had its way with the fickle sandstone. What is left are distinct rock formations, such as tabletop mesas, lone buttes and natural rock bridges that feature ...
The first thing you notice about Yosemite Falls is not the view, it's the noise. The roar of millions of gallons of water crashing down the length of a 200-story building is deafening, even from half a mile away. The falls known as Yosemite Falls are actually a series of two waterfalls, Lower and Upper Yosemite Falls, which are separated by a series of pools, streams and fissures that snake through a deep gorge. At the bottom of the falls, the spray rises for hundreds of feet, often creating beautiful rainbows as the water glistens in the clear California sunlight. Before it sweeps into the 5th largest waterfall in the solar system, the Yosemite Creek is a gentle stream fed primarily by snow melt. However, ...
It's 6pm. Standing on a metal platform with a harness strapped around my waist, my nerves begin to kick in. A high wind catches my breath, as I gaze down onto the twinkling lights of Queenstown far below. Lake Wakatipu stretches out like inky glass edging up to the rocky peaks of the Remarkables Mountains far in the distance. A few minutes ago, I was relishing the idea of bungy jumping as I rode the spiffy gondola up the mountainside to The Ledge. Now, faced with nothing but 400 meters of air between myself and the city lights, I can't help but feel overcome by a mixture of excitement and fear. Making the final adjustment to my gear, the Jump Master pulls the harness tight ...
Climb and Conquer the World's Longest Man Made Structure, The Great Wall of China
Be a part of an Ancient Army at the Museum of Qin Terra Cotta Warriors
Glide Through the Streets of Wuzhen Water Town
Experience Dizzying Thrill as You Look Over the Edge of the Grand Canyon
The Tale of the Forbidden City, China
Experience Thrilling Mists at Yosemite Falls
Trace the Trail of the Ancients in Monument Valley
Venture Through the Vibrant Tapestry of the Painted Desert Arizona
Explore the Mystical Giant's Causeway
Kiss the Blarney Stone and Gain the Gift of Gab
Bask in Ancient Splendor at the Grand Palace Bangkok
A Golden Glimpse of Heaven at Bangkok's Reclining Buddha
Sumptuously Serene Namuang Waterfall
Teaching English Abroad: A Simple Life
Soar the Skies at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
Take a Healing Soak in the Pagosa Hot Springs
Quaff a Chinese Lager at the Tsingtao Beer Brewery
A Relaxing Float Down the San Juan River
Gaze at Glittering Lights on the Bund in Shanghai
Roam the Tea Fields of West Lake Hangzhou
Walk the Lunar Landscape at White Sands, New Mexico
Feel the Rich Spirituality of Taos Pueblo, New Mexico
Uncover Ancient Cliff Dwellings at Bandelier National Monument
Stand at the Edge of the World on Ireland's Cliffs of Moher
Release a Chinese Lantern at the Mid-Autumn Festival in China
Get a Real Taste of Ireland at Dublin's Best Pubs
Walk in the Footsteps of American Revolutionaries on the Freedom Trail in Boston
Climb the Great Wall's Last Outpost at the Jiayuguan Fort
Watch Baroque Horses Dance to Music at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna
Soak in Healing Waters at Budapest's Thermal Baths
Journey Back in Time to the Lost City of the Incas, Machu Picchu
Discover the Lost City of Stone, Petra
Behold the Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt
Unearth the Mysteries of Easter Islands Giant Moai Statues
Float along the Waters of the Lowest Point on Earth at the Dead Sea
Sail the Greek Islands
Explore Perfect Symmetry at Torres Del Paine National Park
Connect in Croatia at Plitvice National Park
Experience Ancient Sprawl in the Countryside at the Temples of Bagan
Find a Penguin Playmate in Simonstown, South Africa
Relax on the Secluded Shores of Guisi Beach
Lost in Old Town Dubrovnik
See all of Paris from the Sacred Sacre Coeur Basilica
Go Gothic Visiting the Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris
Indulge in Old-Time Parisian Kitsch at the Moulin Rouge
Dance to Vivacious Drum Beats at the Ati Atihan Festival in the Philippines
Unwind Under Nature's Canopy at the Banff Upper Hot Springs
Bartering in Otavalo's Indigenous Market, Ecuador
Travel back in time to Byzantium at Istanbul's Hagia Sophia
Enjoy Radical Ingenuity at London's Tate Modern Museum
Ponder the Paranormal at the Edinburgh Vaults
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