Forget Mt. Rushmore or the Statue of Liberty—some landmarks are a little bit more unique (and off the beaten path) than others. But that doesn’t make them any less interesting. If you’re looking for something a little different the next time a road trip takes you across the country, make a stop at one of these quirky spots, some of which are truly beautiful, some kitschy, and some downright bizarre. From Kansas to California, here are America’s 10 most unusual landmarks.
by Zachary Laksby rivwadmin
Listening to the radio last week, I was transported to a mountain road in Andalucía. No, it wasn’t Narnia-esque magic – a song had come on that perfectly connected me with my June holiday, instantly making me nostalgic for jasmine-scented air and white villages perched on impossible hillsides.
The song was The Black Keys’ Bullet in the Brain from their album Turn Blue; its poppy blues-influenced beat was a perfect soundtrack to the winding road and spectacular views from Ronda to Tarifa. Hearing it again on the radio triggered those memories with absolute clarity.
Music forms a backdrop to most of my life: it’s on when I’m working, when I’m commuting, when I’m running, when I’m cooking. But there’s something about travel and new experiences that requires a soundtrack. It doesn’t have to be my favourite song, but a piece of music heard on holiday becomes linked to that moment forever.
These musical associations arise purely out of circumstance. Imagine the excitement of my Springsteen fan husband when we picked up a rental car with one of The Boss’s compilations waiting in the CD player. The drive south from Málaga airport became forever associated with Radio Nowhere, played on rotation. Likewise a mishap with our iPod cable in Florida meant listening to John Fogerty, a CD we’d picked up mid-drive, over and over and over. Why didn’t we buy a new CD? Good question. Fogerty’s southern rock just seemed to work with a Florida road trip. I can’t hear that twangy ‘wayellll…’ without thinking of herons lifting off from roadside wetlands and acres of blue sky.
Some songs are just meant to be played on long drives. The wide open roads between Purmamarca and Salta in Argentina needed something epic, so we chose Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours; then when the road got really dramatic, Metallica. To me The Chain sounds like red earth dappled with cloud shadows, of salt flats shimmering with heat on the horizon.
We drove from Shark Bay to Perth in Western Australia earlier this year with no CDs, no iPod, and radio reception that was patchy at best. But the need for music was so great that we sang. It turns out we only know Guns N’ Roses songs from start to finish (largely because my Britpop repertoire was vetoed).
My best advice for a holiday playlist? Don’t force it. There’s no need to spend hours crafting the perfect mix. Sometimes you can’t beat a handful of random CDs and a long road. It will be the songs you least expect that stay with you the most, and every future encounter with that piece of music will transport you right back to that moment.
Jo Cooke is Destination Editor for Iberian Europe and Turkey and would like to emphasise that her music taste extends beyond 1970s and 1980s-inspired rock. But not that far.by rivwadmin
Balanced on the toe of Italy's boot, Sicily is a study in contrasts, and its range is on full display in the regional capital of Palermo, a city where the ancient and the modern come together at every corner. Keeping the mosaic firmly glued together is the food, a vibrant mix of fresh fish, red sauces, and cream-filled desserts that are more than up to the task of fueling your three-day itinerary.
Ice cream lovers rejoice: Sicily is one place where you can begin your day with gelato, often tucked into a pocket of brioche. Palermo is teeming with cafés serving fresh pastries daily. A good place to try is Antico Caffé Spinnato on Via Principe del Belmonte. Next, immerse yourself in the city with a walking tour. You can simply wander or book a guide; Raffaella Niccolini does an excellent job of explaining the city's historical background and the influence of the Carthaginians, Moors, Normans, and others.
Be sure to check out the Quattro Canti (Four Corners, also known as Piazza Vigliena), built at the intersection of two principal streets, Via Maqueda and the Via Vittorio Emanuele. This is an impressive example of early urban planning, anchored by four Baroque buildings with facades representing the seasons.
If you're in the mood for something a little offbeat, try the Capuchin Catacombs in Piazza Cappuccini, where thousands of mummified corpses are on display. For something livelier, visit Teatro Massimo, the third-largest opera house in Europe. You can catch a performance during opera season or take guided tours any time of year. You're never far away from a plate of fresh fish here, so wrap up the day with a dinner of the day's catch. Try Cucina Papoff (32 Via Isidoro La Lumia) for its Sicilian specialties, like slow-simmered fish stew.
If you have a rental car, you might consider making the 90-minute drive to Selinunte, site of ancient Greek ruins that predate the Parthenon in Athens. There are five temples here, although only one, the Temple of Hera, has been reconstructed. Set on the coast, the grounds are strewn with wildflowers and make for a pleasant ramble. Comfortable shoes are a must, although you can ride golf cart-style shuttles to get to the key spots.
For a shorter trip, hop on city bus No. 806 or take a taxi to Mondello, originally a small fishing village and now a borough of Palermo with a beautiful, curving beach lined with snack bars, restaurants, and hotels. Eat a satisfying lunch of frutti di mare (fresh shellfish) at Trattoria da Calogero, or try the upscale Bye Bye Blues, a Michelin-starred restaurant. Don't forget to sample the local wines, which have been experiencing a renaissance in recent years. Varieties to look for include Nero D'Avola, a red, and Grillo, a white. Also keep an eye out for Cantadoro from Stemmari wines, which blends Nero D'Avola with Cabernet Sauvignon.
Morning is a good time to visit churches, and one of Palermo's standouts is the Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio, known as La Martorana, which overlooks the Piazza Bellini. The church has a Baroque exterior, but it's the inside that wows with its gold décor and 12th-century mosaics. After satisfying your spiritual side, fortify the flesh by stopping at a convenient café for an aperitivo of Aperol or Cynar, Italian bitters that are surprisingly refreshing. For lunch consider trying arancini, crispy fried balls of rice stuffed with vegetables, fish, cheese, or meat.
Give the rest of the day over to window—or real—shopping. Visit La Vucciria, which means “loud voices” in the Sicilian dialect. The market, boasting mountains of food, can be found along the side streets of Piazza San Domenico and is open from dawn until about 2 p.m. Monday–Saturday. For more upscale shopping, try Via Principe di Belmonte, a pedestrian-only street lined with cafes and boutiques. Wrap things up with dinner at Osteria Ballarò, a hidden gem set amid the soaring stone walls of a converted stable that features elevated takes on traditional cuisine.by rivwadmin
Croatia is known for its beautiful beaches, laid back coastal cities and ancient urban escapes like Split and Dubrovnik. Unless you’re really in the know, however, you may not realize that Croatia has some of the best national parks found anywhere in the world. From craggy mountains that leave rock climbers drooling, to stunning waterfalls, there are some amazing adventures to be had for the outdoor adventurer in us all.
Plitvice Falls National Park
So what makes Plitvice so special in the first place? Well, it’s a series of lakes arranged in cascades. The lakes are the result of several small rivers originally formed from mountain runoff. The lakes flow into one another, separated by natural travertine dams and all following the same general water flow. To stand in the middle of the park is to experience water and its power in a way you may not have before. Throughout Plitvice you are followed by the constant sound of water gurgling, either slowly dripping or in a massive cascading waterfall. You can’t escape the moistness of the park and the verdant green plants surrounding the lakes are a testament to the life-force found here. The lakes are also famous for their constantly changing colors, from green to light grey and even pale blue. Connecting the paths and lakes are miles and miles of walkways, allowing intimate access to this natural wonderland.
Paklenica National Park
This river canyon, located an easy drive from Zadar, is famous for its craggy peeks and mountains, attracting rock climbers from around the world. The park is the most visited climbing site in Croatia, and the largest in Southeast Europe. It’s hard to believe, but there are more than 360 climbing routes of various difficulty levels, offering challenges for the novice and pro alike. Summer is when most climbers visit and having visited the park twice, I’ve always been amazed at just how many climbers visit Paklenica. The park offers more than rock climbing though, it’s also a hotspot for hikers and walkers. There are 200 kilometers of trails and paths that lead from the bottom of the canyon all the way to the highest peaks of Velebit. A fun historical fact, the mountains contain a series of secret bunkers that were intended to house former Yugoslav leaders in the event of war or attack. Today of course, the park is just a wonderful place to spend the day outside.
Krka National Park
Another park in Dalmatia, Krka is close to the beautiful town of Šibenik making it a perfect day trip option. This park’s claim to fame is the river and falls that attract people from all over the world. Most day-trippers start with a visit to the Skradinski buk, a massive natural pool with high waterfalls at one end and cascades at the other. From there a raised pathway guides nature lovers through the forest, following the river as it ebbs and flows through waterfalls and pools, a peaceful and serene walk that’s perfect for some exercise and self-relfection. The park is large though, around 109 square kilometers, and there’s a lot to see and do, including some harder-to-reach falls. When I visited I saw a lot of families spending the day there with packed picnic baskets and swim trunks so they could dive in the chilly water of the pools. It’s a fun way to cool of during those hot Croatian summers.
Which one of these parks would you explore first?
This campaign was created and sponsored by Croatian National Tourist Board in partnership with iambassador. LandLopers retains all editorial control of what is published and as you know, I never shy away from honest commentary.by rivwadmin
When it comes to avoiding jet lag—that sluggish feeling you get whenever you fly across two or more time zones—you've heard all the advice before: mimic the schedule at your destination before you leave home, avoid caffeine, stay hydrated while in flight, or try remedies like melatonin and natural light therapy. But when preparing for a trip, it's easy to forget these things. So to make sure you can recover on your next long-haul excursion, here's our guide to curing jet lag.
As hard as it can be to power through the day after a long flight, do not take a nap, as this will only exacerbate the problem. Instead, splash some cold water on your face, get a cool drink (or a cup of coffee, if you respond well to caffeine), and leave your hotel room. If you absolutely can't keep your eyes open, take a short nap (no longer than 90 minutes), and be sure to set an alarm and get out of bed as soon as it rings.
Natural light can do wonders when it comes to resetting your body's clock. Head outside and do some light sightseeing (hop-on, hop-off bus tours are great first-day excursions), explore the neighborhood, take a swim, or sit by the beach or pool. It doesn't really matter what you do, as long as you spend some time outside.
Air travel can really dehydrate you; after spending several hours on a plane, you'll want to up your water intake. Carry a bottle of water with you and make sure to drink as much as you can throughout the day. Avoid alcohol on the first day of your trip, as liquor can inhibit your body's ability to adjust to a new time zone.
Make reservations for a nice dinner out or, if you're really wiped, order room service, but make sure to do so at dinnertime. Some people will tell you to avoid heavy or greasy foods, but the National Sleep Foundation disagrees; the type of food you eat won't have any bearing on your jet lag.
After dinner, take a stroll around your hotel or the local neighborhood. Nighttime sightseeing is a unique way to see a city and a little bit of exercise will help you get ready for bed at the right time.
When it's almost bedtime, take a hot shower or bath. The steamy water will lower your body temperature and (hopefully) make you drowsy.
Set the thermostat to a comfortable temperature (if you can control it) and close the drapes to shut out extraneous light. If you're sensitive to noise, use some earplugs. Snuggle into bed and allow your mind and body to relax.
If you suffer from jet lag chronically, talk with your doctor. He or she may prescribe a light medicinal sleep aid that you can take at bedtime on the day of arrival. Getting a full night's sleep on day one is key.
Andrea M. Rotondo is a freelance writer based in New York City. She covers cruise and luxury travel trends for Fodors.com, Condé Nast Traveler, Cruise Critic, and other websites and magazines. She also teaches travelers how to leverage their frequent flyer miles at FrequentFlyerToolkits.com.by rivwadmin
Everyone knows that European capitals like Paris, London, and Rome are brimming with world-class gastronomy, but some of the world’s best restaurants lie outside the city limits. Located in mountain hamlets, industrial suburbs, historic villages, and underappreciated provincial capitals, these 10 spots (all found on The World's 50 Best Restaurants list for 2014) offer destination-worthy dining experiences. From an experimental New Nordic lodge in the wilds of central Sweden to a castle retreat in the Swiss Alps, these restaurants prove that sometimes you have to leave the cities behind to find the most daring, delicious dishes in Europe.
by Nicholas DeRenzoby rivwadmin
Widely considered one of Africa’s greatest art collectors, Joseph Murumbi spent his life collecting a vast collection of art and books. Born the son of a Goan father and Maasai mother, Murumbi rose to become one of the leaders in the Kenya African Union. When he died he left behind more than 50,000 books and letters of correspondance, which included 8,000 rare books (these were books that were published prior to 1900).
Before his death, Murumbi and his American-Kenyan friend, Alan Donovan, another prolific art collector, co-founded The African Heritage House (often called ‘Africa’s most photographed house.’). Designed by Donovan, the beautiful building overlooks Nairobi National Park, and is described by Architectural Digest as “an architecture rising from the serene Kenyan plain like an outcropping of earth, a vision of usefulness informed by the African genius for decoration.” The house itself is “a combination of the mud architectures from across Africa.”
In 1969 Alan Donovan, one of the last Americans sent to Nigeria by the State Department during the Biafran war, decided he no longer wanted to be a bureaucrat. He did, however, want to see the rest of Africa, so he learned French, bought a Volkswagen bus and drove across the Sahara. — Architectural Digest, 1996
The House not only hosts art collections that span over 50 years of African history, but also rare artifacts whose value is considered priceless. The cultural value of The African Heritage House to all of Africa is “immeasurable.” Up until recently it was going to be turned into an Advanced African Studies Center, dedicated to the memory of Murumbi.
Donovan spoke to Architecture Digest about the inspiration behind the House in 1996:
Although I tried to use features from the various architectural forms that enchanted me in my travel in Africa,” says Alan Donovan, “an equally important reason for my home is to show people how to live with African arts and crafts. I think this indigenous artistic and cultural heritage is under appreciated, both in Africa and worldwide. My house is a step toward preservation.
However, this priceless piece of cultural history is now under threat. The Standard Gauge Railway seeks to demolish the house to use the land for construction.
There are several points to challenge this:
1. The present railway was built in l889, fifty years before the Nairobi National Park came into existence which used the railway line as its border. As there were no blasting materials at the time, the Railway line meanders around stone outcrops. The SG railway should stay on the railway reserve but it needs to straighten the old colonial line for the 21st century train and should be allowed to do so.
2. The SG railway can be built on a platform so that wild animals can pass freely below it. This would not require any additional land, just a leeway to pass through park land as is already being planned through Tsavo National Park by the same SG railway.
3. The families living along the border of the Nairobi National Park have all occupied these lands for over 40 years. These borderlands provide a bulwark to protect the park from unwanted structures, poaching, sewage, lights and noise. To take these lands would not only be an environmental disaster but would cost taxpayers huge amounts for compensation. Whereas if the SG railway remains on the present railway route the costs for construction, including the platforms, would be paid by the contractor, not the public.
4. The existing route would provide passengers with sweeping views of the park, as well as preserve the borderlands along the park for other uses that are compatible with the Nairobi National Park.
When asked about the possibility of reconstructing the house elsewhere, Donovan says he may move the Murumbi collection to California. However, this vast collection of African art and artifacts should remain in Africa, where it belongs with the African people.
What you can do: Sign this petition to the President of Kenya.
Read more at Daily Nation.by rivwadmin
Let your stomach be your guide this week, as we take you on a tour of some of the best food and spirits destinations around the world. You won't have to look beyond your own backyard for a taste of Deutschland's finest beer, thanks to an impressive line-up of stateside beer gardens, but for those hoping to venture farther afoot, our Scotch-centric tour of Scotland should do the trick. For something a little heartier, visit D.C.'s best new restaurants, and for the ultimate dining experience, seek out some of Europe's most exquisite dishes in splendidly rural environs. Wherever your travels take you, and whatever you're in the mood for, we have something to satisfy your craving.
Though many of the world's best restaurants can be found in major metropolises around the world, some chefs are showcasing their skills in more remote locales. The food at the 10 best restaurants worth a day trip in Europe will undoubtedly be worth the journey.
The nation's capital isn't known for being the seat of gastronomic prowess, but D.C. has recently welcomed a bevy of exciting new eateries. For the best new bites in the city, check out our guide on where to eat in Washington, D.C. now.
Indulge in traditional German brew and revelry with an American twist at one of the 15 best beer gardens in the U.S.
Those longing for rolling hills and the peaty, smoky scent of Scotland's finest whisky need look no further than our Scotch lover's guide to Scotland to plan their next spirit-inspired getaway.by rivwadmin
The most famous beer gardens in the world may be in Munich, home of Oktoberfest, but that doesn’t mean you need to head overseas to enjoy this al fresco drinking pastime. While some beer gardens in the U.S. have been around for over 100 years, others have been cropping up in recent years, meaning beer lovers can now sample a wider selection of brews close to home. One thing our picks all share in common is a passion for fine pours and convivial outdoor settings. From a contemporary hangout in Philadelphia to a Viennese-inspired locale in the Midwest, these 15 beer gardens will make you want to raise a glass.
by Emily Wassermanby rivwadmin
This week the #FriFotos theme is SIGNS, so I thought I’d share a few of the many signs I’ve encountered around the world. Who knew they could be so beautiful?
The post Discovering the Beauty of Signs Around The World – Photo Series appeared first on LandLopers.by rivwadmin
Good Old Fashioned Hand Written Code by Eric J. Schwarz