Get the best travel news here curated by Lonely Planet’s Destination Editors, who use their expertise to bring you the stories that matter from all over the world. In today’s edition: Turkmenistan to host Caspian Sea windsurfing competition, mosquitoes thrive in southern France, New York gets US$ 250 ‘Indulgence’ burgers.
Secret nuclear command centre re-opens
A Cold War nuclear command centre in Scotland has re-opened after refurbishments to mark its 20th anniversary as an attraction. Visitors to Scotland’s Secret Bunker in Fife can now see the equipment that connected the 2800 phone lines, as well as exploring the corridors and dormitories from where top politicians would have governed in the event of nuclear war. Read more: scotsman.com
Europe’s largest land dinosaur discovered in Portugal
Scientists have announced the discovery of a previously unknown dinosaur, after studying bones found near Lisbon. Torvosaurus gurneyi may have been Europe’s largest land predator, weighing 4 tonnes and measuring 10m long. With sharp teeth up to 10cm in length, the dinosaur is thought to have been near the top of the food chain and to have hunted other large dinosaurs. Read more: theguardian.com
Mosquito mayhem in the south of France
Due to wet and mild weather this winter in the south of France, along with stagnant water left over from the storms, there’s been no respite from the biting mosquitos. Along the Mediterranean coast they have been very active since mid-February, much earlier than usual. In Gironde, the department has been put on a list of alerts for mosquito-borne diseases, such as dengue fever, as there is a strong risk of more tiger mosquitoes – although no cases have been reported in mainland France yet. Read more: connexionfrance.com
Museum reconstruction suffers setbacks in Latvia
Reconstruction of the Latvian National Museum of Art in Riga has suffered major delays, meaning it will not be completed until mid-2015, a year later than planned. The project began in 2013, and involves renovation of the entire museum, as well as constructing three new underground exhibition halls. Read more: baltictimes.com
Erarta launches comedy cartoon series
St Petersburg’s Erarta Museum of Contemporary Art has launched a new comedy cartoon series called The Adventures of BB Square. Its main character is based on Kazimir Malevich’s famous Black Square painting, which comes alive in the series alongside other famous historical and artistic characters such as Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe. The first episodes can be seen on Erarta’s YouTube channel. Read more: russianartandculture.com
First ever mask-competition winners at the Venice Carnevale
The year 2014 marks the inauguration of a new competition at Venice to design a mask inspired by the theme of the festival. This year’s theme was ‘Fantasy of Nature’ and the spectacular winning mask, named ‘Princess for a Day’ was made from one piece of moulded leather by a professional mask-maker from Mira, a town near Venice. Read more: venetiancat.blogspot.co.uk
Vikings come to the British Museum
The British Museum’s first exhibition on the Vikings in 30 years has just opened. It’s also the first exhibition to use the museum’s new Sainsbury’s Exhibition Galleries. The Vikings’ influence stretched from Newfoundland in the west to Afghanistan in the east, and they briefly ruled Britain. Reviews praised the exhibition’s scope and extensive background material but lamented the lack of big, colourful exhibits. Read more: telegraph.co.uk
Swollen Tibetan lakes pose a risk to Nepal
A new study has revealed that four Tibetan lakes are on the verge of bursting their banks, posing a significant threat to communities further south in Nepal. Water levels have increased in glacial lakes across the Himalaya as a result of rising global temperatures, with the potential for devastating ‘outburst’ floods. When Nepal’s Dig Cho burst its banks in 1985, six million cubic metres of water surged down the valley, killing five villagers and destroying 14 bridges and a hydroelectric power station. Read more: myrepublica.com
Smoking ban coming to national parks in Taiwan
From 1 April, smoking will be banned at Taiwan’s national parks and scenic areas. According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, smoking will only be allowed in designated areas and the ban will cover outdoor events, such as the Spring Scream music festival to be held in April at Kenting National Park. Smoking is already banned from all indoor public spaces in Taiwan. Read more: chinapost.com
Windsurfing World Tour event to be staged in Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan has made the rare announcement that it will host an international event as part of the 2014 PWA World Windsurfing Tour. The competition is to be held in the resort city of Awaza on the Caspian Sea from 1–6 July and will feature men’s and women’s slalom events. Largely isolated from foreign travel, Turkmenistan has been labelled an unlikely choice for an international windsurfing competition. Read more: news.asiaone.com
Air India sacks 17 flight attendants in nine days
Air India, India’s national airline, has sacked 17 flight attendants in the last nine days. The main offence, according to management, was flight attendants arriving late for flights, contributing to 65% of Air India’s international flights being delayed. Read more: timesofindia.indiatimes.com
Garuda joins SkyTeam Alliance
Garuda, Indonesia’s national airline, has become the 20th member of SkyTeam Alliance. Joining the likes of Delta Air Lines, Air France and KLM, Garuda ‘s inclusion means Jakarta is now an alternative gateway to Southeast Asia. Read more: skyteam.com
Arty weekend begins in Tokyo
Art Fair Tokyo opens to the public on Friday, running all weekend at the Tokyo International Forum. The major art fair attracts a mix of Japanese and international galleries, featuring a broad range of exhibits, from museum pieces to contemporary art and including displays of fashion and craft. Read more: artfairtokyo.com
Google’s Street View: new underwater perspective
Underwater views of Sydney Harbour are being captured in tests conducted by Google Maps, which will one day be accessible to one billion people online. Divers have begun filming from the bottom of Sydney Harbour and in the waters off Bondi and Manly beaches. Marine scientists say the joint project with Google Maps and the Catlin Seaview Survey will provide a baseline to monitor changes in the harbour. Read more: smh.com.au
Marching to raise awareness for women in Fiji
Fiji’s Women’s Crisis Centre (FWCC) is holding a Reclaim the Night march this Saturday from 6:30pm to mark International Women’s Day in Fiji. Demonstrators want to raise awareness of violence against women in the Pacific nation and how others can actively help its cessation. Read more: fijitimes.com
Top French chefs bring haute cuisine to Las Vegas
Forget Vegas’ legendary all-you-can-eat buffets. Gourmets who might once have despaired of the city’s culinary options are being treated over the next few days to some of the best French cuisine in the world. The 59th General Assembly of Master French Chefs will see Gallic cooks showing off their skills at the Venetian. Read more: usatoday.com
Cool hotel chain comes to West Hollywood
Already established in Chicago, New York and Miami, the hip James group is building its first hotel chain on Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. The area is already a well-known nightlife and shopping destination, and the group hopes that the site will become a hit with locals and visitors alike. Read more: latimes.com
Luxury camping comes to Glacier National Park
The luxury camping company, Under Camping Group, is bringing its tents and tipis to Glacier National Park, Montana this summer. The canvas tents will be fully furnished, with king-sized beds, bathrooms, and there will also treehouses and tipis available. Staff will also be on hand to help plan hiking, fishing and horseriding trips. The site opens on 19 June with rates from US$ 89 per night. Read more: jaunted.com
There’s a new US$ 250 burger in town
New pan-Asian burger restaurant Beer & Buns will be opening later this month in Midtown, New York and the star of the menu will be the US$ 250 ‘Indulgence Burger’. The hamburger, comprised of kobe beef, fois gras, white truffles and caviar, is the latest in the expensive burger trend in New York, which reached a peak with the ‘Douche Burger’, a US$ 666 burger served by the 666 Burger truck. Read more: nydailynews.com
TPHA say hunting ban will harm Tanzanian wildlife
The Tanzanian Professional Hunters Association (TPHA) has stated that money generated from hunting in Tanzania supports conservation, and the presence of legal hunting operations also deters poachers. The statement was in response to a recent call to ban hunting by the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators. Read more: toursimupdate.co.za
Egypt urges Germany to lift travel warning
Egypt’s Tourism Minister has urged Germany to ease its advice against travel to the entire Sinai Peninsula, claiming the move is crippling the local tourism industry. Germany recommended its citizens refrain from travelling to beach resorts in the region, including tourism hub Sharm el-Sheikh, following the February bombing of a tourist bus that killed two Koreans. Read more: tradearabia.com
Nairobi: Africa’s costliest city
London’s Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) says new taxation measures in Kenya have drastically increased the cost of living in Nairobi over the past 12 months, pushing it past Lagos to become Africa’s most expensive city. The relative strength of Kenya’s currency to others on the continent was another factor. Read more: businessdailyafrica.com
Celebrity wedding clash in France
The south of France is always a popular place for celeb weddings and this year is no different. Kanye West and Kim Kardashian are set to tie the knot on 24 May, the same day as Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. The date coincides with the Cannes Film Festival, so a busy time all-round in the region for the snapping paparazzi. Read more: thelocal.fr
A comprehensive geospatial information system (GIS) application is an essential tool in the arsenal of the modern ecologist. Here at Oceans Research, we specifically use a GIS application for our various population dynamics and movement ecology studies.
What is a GIS?
For those of you new to the biological sciences, a GIS application allows users to capture, store, analyse, visualise and manage spatial data. Essentially, it is a mapping system that combines traditional cartography with database storage and statistical analysis. One of the most widespread GIS implementations has been ESRI’s ArcGIS platform. (We even have a number of peers who unashamedly use the decades old ArcView!)
Example of QGIS in action. This chart represents the movement of a Great White in Mossel Bay
In this article I’d like to introduce you to an alternative to the commercial ESRI products; the Free and Open Source QGIS. Every GIS workflow is unique, and I often use a mixture of software approaches to achieve my goals. Lately, however, I find myself increasingly using QGIS. And because it is free and user-friendly, it is also my preferred platform for teaching GIS to new users.
Who can use a GIS?
To list all the possible uses for a GIS would be an exhaustive endeavour; however ecology, conservation, engineering, epidemiology, logistics, and law enforcement are but a few that jumps to mind. Here at Oceans Research, we use a GIS to analyse our cetacean theodolite tracking data and our white shark acoustic tracking data. The real value in GIS is the ability to integrate spatial data with attributes, and to layer data from different sources. For instance, at every location of a tracked shark we could also record and store the stomach temperature, the overall body acceleration, the conductivity, temperature, and dissolved oxygen in the water, or even a photograph or video.
An example of how layers, derived from set attributes, work in QGIS
Information that isn’t typically associated with space or time can now be referenced and analysed in the context of its geographic position and occurrence in time. From an environmental perspective, we could also draw data from different sources and investigate the relationship with a tracked animal and environmental variables. For instance, we could plot the course of a track, and overlay a map of sea-surface temperature or chlorophyll concentration collected by orbiting satellites. And the possibilities don’t end there! A GIS is simply the tool, and I’ve watched Macgyver plug a radiator with an egg.
How much does a GIS cost?
Those of you on a university campus will most likely have access to a number of computer labs with licenses for expensive commercial software like ArcGIS. But for the armchair scientist, or our readers hoping to expand their skillset on a budget, QGIS is an attractive tool because it is both free and platform independent; available on Windows, Mac, and Unix operating systems.
QGIS is also open source software, meaning anyone can voluntarily view and improve the design of the software. This has contributed to a rapid, secure, and highly customisable development. Due to its Free and Open Source nature, QGIS is readily extensible with plugins, and can be integrated with other Free and Open Source software like R and GRASS.
The Free and Open Source software model is particularly attractive for scientists. Software like QGIS offers a non-discriminative approach to conducting science. There is no longer the cost-prohibitive impediment of expensive proprietary software. Experimentation and analysis are easily reproducible, promoting transparency and the spirit of peer-review.
That about wraps up my very brief introduction to QGIS. Keep your eyes peeled for an ebook that details the step by step instructions for some basic GIS tasks that I cover in my introductory GIS course here on Oceans Campus.
BLOGGER PROFILE: DYLAN IRION
Dylan is a resident scientist and principal investigator at Oceans Research. He holds a Master’s degree in Applied Marine Science from the University of Cape Town. When he is not studying sharks, you will find Dylan in the ocean surfing, free diving or hunting for fish on the Mossel Bay reefs.
Connect with Dylan via email: email@example.com ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..by rivwadmin
Most pilots have probably never worried about their aircraft hitting a fish, but that’s exactly what happened to a plane at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa last year.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Gulfstream G-IV was headed down the runway when an osprey (the bird, not the aircraft) flew into its path, according to a report on the MacDill website.
Then the plane hit… something.
The takeoff was aborted, and the crew checked the runway for the bird. But all they found was a fish. Specifically, a 9-inch sheepshead.
They took a sample of the smudge on the plane and sent the fish and the sample off for testing. Sure enough, the DNA from the smudge matched that of the fish.
“At first, we didn’t believe the test results,” the pilot, NOAA Lt. Cmdr. Nicholas Toth, told Inside MacDill AFB, the base’s internal publication. “There was no way we hit a fish during takeoff. I mean, how does something like that even happen?”
Putting the story together, they believe the osprey may have been eating the fish. When spooking by the approaching plane, the bird flew off and dropped the fish.
The Tampa Tribune reports that a search through FAA records finds hundreds of types of wildlife that have been hit by aircraft, but no fish — although the paper did find a 1987 article in The New York Times that mentions an Alaska Airlines jet striking a fish in midair.
In that incident, the fish was dropped by an eagle.by rivwadmin
Culling is the practice of killing wild animals due to overpopulation or the negative effects the species have on the environment it inhabits. It has been accepted as an effective way to manage wildlife in conservancies, to ensure the sustainable survival of all animal and plant species as well as water supplies in these concentrated areas.
Why do we have to cull wild animals? The simple answer is that we have disturbed the equilibrium in nature, and therefore have to use radical methods to rectify our impact. Is culling a successful practice to restore the balance in nature? The answer is NO! – culling just treats the symptoms and not the cause – the cause being development by humans and over-exploitation of resources, also, by humans. Is it not then time that we take a step back, and let nature take its course?Damage by elephants (left) compared to damage by humans (right).
So how do we then deal with this man made problem? As an example, let’s look at the so called elephant problem and their impact on vegetation. Elephant needs are simple: food, water and space.
In the past, we used “farming practises” to conserve, and then supplied water. As a consequence, elephants concentrated around these artificial water supplies and had a negative impact on the surrounding vegetation. A simple solution to this complex problem; close the artificial water supplies, and let nature take its course – the fittest will survive.
We have removed the space elephants need by over populating original wildlife areas or transforming it into agricultural land. This led to conflict between elephants and humans who compete for the same resources – land, food and water. The other practice to conserve was inherited from our colonial forefathers. We fenced in conservation areas and by doing so, curbed natural movement and blocked possible migration routes. Solution; restore areas where elephants can still roam freely and drop the fences that concentrate their numbers. Scientific studies have shown that by giving them space, their numbers will stabilize naturally over time.
In Botswana, people are concerned about the depletion of the riverine vegetation along the major rivers in the north – especially the larger trees that has been around for about 80 – 100 years. It is a fact that these trees have disappeared over the last couple of years and that elephants are responsible to a certain extent. However, here is a possible explanation for this scenario: In the late 1800’s and the beginning of the 1900’s, elephant numbers in the area were much higher than what they are today. It was the peak of the ivory trade and thousands of elephants were shot along the Chobe and Zambezi rivers. At the same time, Rinderpest broke out – an ungulate disease from Europe that almost wiped out the total population of game in the area. A huge drop in the elephant and game numbers in the area, gave the trees along the riverbeds a chance to get past a threshold size before the elephant and game numbers started to increase and return to normal. This led to dense riverine vegetation and a landscape we got used to. But maybe – just maybe, what we see now, is what it used to look like before exploitation – about a hundred years ago.
We can also look at other species, like jackal and caracal, which were seen as vermin in the past and culled extensively in specific areas. We were never successful. Why? Because the moment you take one individual out of his territory, another will occupy that vacant area. A better policy would be to use alternative methods to protect livestock from these predators. There are numerous alternatives, such as Anatolian guard dogs and protective collars preventing predators from taking a suffocating bite to the throat. Even donkeys seem to be effective to guard livestock!
Humans are the ones responsible for the situation wild animals find themselves in today. Don’t we owe them, at least, a chance to survive naturally in the only spaces we left for them, and try to make their situation more comfortable by extending their habitat with the means we have available. Managing wildlife should never be about killing animals. It should be about pooling together all the possible resources we have, to restore the natural conditions where all animals (humans included) can prosper.
Have we already reached the point where we exploited the earth too far to be able to let nature run its course, making culling a viable option? Are we already in the dire situation where we have to control nature to ensure survival of the species left on earth? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.(Ed.)
Blogger Profile – Jo Fourie
Jo’s experience stretches from being involved in research programs on elephant seals on a sub-antarctic island, following meerkats over the red dunes of the Kalahari, to restoring degraded land on the Wild Coast of the Transkei in South Africa.
Jo was recently involved with tracking the majestic African Elephant herds across southern Africa, which led to frequent visits to the Kruger National Park in South Africa, the Okavango delta region Botswana, Kafue, Lower Zambezi, the Luangwa valley in Zambia and Mozambique.
You can Connect with Jo over e – mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Get the best travel news here curated by Lonely Planet’s Destination Editors, who use their expertise to bring you the stories that matter from all over the world. In today’s edition: travellers now have the ability to explore what London was like in the 1890s, flights to Guatemala City are affected by the Pacaya volcanic eruption, and China authenticates the Great Wall’s popular graffiti zone.
Travel back to Victorian London
Fans of maps (and lovers of London) can step back in time to see the Victorian city. An Ordnance Survey map from the 1890s has been laid over the modern city by Google, letting users flick between modern streets and buildings and their Victorian equivalents, taking in docks, canals, parks, schools and railways. Read more: google.com
The highest ‘mega zip line’ in the world opens in France
At an altitude of 3200m, La Tyrolienne is the world’s highest zip line, located in the ski resort area of Val Thorens in France. Daredevils can get an eagle-eye view as they ride at 100km/h on the zip line, which runs between the Maurienne and Tarentaise valleys. The ride (lasting one minute and 45 seconds) costs €50 per person. Read more: telegraph.co.uk
Ski holiday meets dance-music festival at Bulgaria’s Horizon
After a successful 2013 launch, Horizon Festival returns to Bansko, Bulgaria’s premier ski resort, between 8 and 14 March. The festival headliners in 2013 were members of the underground British dance-music scene. The ski resort has trails starting from 900m to 2600m in height, and the the town, which dates from the 10th century, has many historic buildings and several museums. Read more: horizonfestival.net
Controversial plans for transfer of Nikola Tesla’s urn in Belgrade
The urn of the great scientist Nikola Tesla – kept in his museum in Belgrade since 1957 – should be moved to the Sveti Sava church in July, according to the decision of the city authorities and Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarch Irinej. This decision has provoked a lot of opposition from secular circles, including a Facebook group ‘Leave Tesla alone’, and an online petition against the decision. Read more: balkaninsight.com
Madrid celebrates signature dish
The fourth annual Ruta del Cocido Madrileño has started in Madrid, with more than two dozen restaurants participating in the celebration of the local cocido Madrileño dish. Until 28 March, visitors and locals can purchase a route map and compare different interpretations of the dish, which became popular after the Spanish Civil War. The meal consists of three courses and traditionally includes broth with vermicelli, chick peas and vegetables, then a meat dish of beef, chicken, chorizo, bone marrow and blood sausage (morcilla). Read more: elpais.com
Norwegian circus retires its elephants
Norway’s Circus Arnardo has announced it will retire its elephants ‘due to reasons of space’. Two municipalities in the country have introduced strict regulations on the use of elephants, making it more difficult for circuses to visit there. Circus Arnardo maintains that the welfare of its animals is important to them and, while animal rights group NOAH applauds the move, it wants the circus to confirm it will not return to using elephants in future. Read more: theforeigner.no
Papal gardens to be opened to the public
Pope Francis has decided to open the Barberini gardens at Castel Gandolfo to the public. Located in the Alban hills south of Rome, the gardens will be accessible via 1½hr-long tours, available Monday through Saturday morning. Visitors will enjoy wandering through the ruins of an ancient Roman Emperor’s palace, views of Lake Albano and exploring the rose, magnolia and herb gardens. Read more: ansa.it
Is May the best month to visit Croatia?
Tourist operators in Croatia are concerned about a lack of firm bookings for the start of the holiday season in May, thought to be due to the fact that there are no religious holidays in May this year – all either fall in April or June. This could mean that May is a good time for sun-seekers who’d prefer to avoid the crowds on Croatia’s popular coastal resorts. Read more: croatiaweek.com
Stories curated by Lonely Planet’s Pacific Destination Editor: Tasmin Waby.
Wallabies running wild
The north Queensland community of South Mission Beach has been overrun with wallabies recently and locals are perplexed about how best to deal with the intruders. The wallabies are destroying homes and gardens and are a hazard on roads. There are signs they are becoming desensitised to humans and increasingly likely to attack people. The majority of locals would prefer not to cull the creatures, instead opting for increased fencing on properties and hiring contractors to trap the wallabies. Read more: abc.net.au
Nepal celebrates year without poaching
Nepal is celebrating a year without a single rhino being killed by poachers. One-sixth of the world’s surviving one-horned rhinos live in Nepal, but poaching to supply the Chinese medicine trade is a major threat to their survival. More than 700 poachers were arrested in the same year. The last year in which there was zero poaching was 2011. Read more: ekantipur.com
Historic Indian artworks to go on sale in London
Works from the famous Fraser Album – a collection of paintings and drawings of life in Delhi, commissioned by two Scottish brothers at the start of the British colonial period – are to go on sale in London’s Bonhams auction house. The collection includes works from Ghulam Ali Khan, the last royal artist of the Mughal dynasty. The Fraser Album is regarded as the most comprehensive record of life in the Indian capital before the British period. Read more: blogs.wsj.com
Singapore named world’s most expensive city
Singapore has dethroned Tokyo to become the world’s most expensive to city to live in 2014, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). Paris came in at number two on the biannual report ranking 131 global cities, followed by Oslo, Zurich and Sydney. Mumbai was ranked the world’s cheapest. Read more: bbc.co.uk
Great Wall to get special graffiti zone
A portion of the Great Wall at Mùtiányù, one of the most popular visitor sections, is to get a dedicated graffiti zone. Graffiti has been an ongoing issue at the Great Wall, with many messages left in foreign languages. The new graffiti zone is located at the 14th fighting tower, already a popular graffiti spot, which is connected to Mùtiányù village by cable car. Read more: chinadaily.com.cn
Che Guevara & new street names for Ho Chi Minh City
Che Guevara is among the foreigners who are set to have streets named after them in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The city plans to rename around 1000 streets in a program to recognise influential figures in Vietnam’s history, including artists and war heroes. Read more: saigoneer.com
New direct flight links Tokyo to Hanoi
Travellers will be able to fly directly between Tokyo and Hanoi from the end of March. The Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways (ANA) will service the daily route to the Vietnamese capital, departing from Tokyo’s Haneda airport. Read more: vietnamnet.vn
Guatemala volcano eruption disrupts flights, tours
Guatemala remains on amber alert following the Sunday eruption of the Pacaya volcano, about 40km from the tourist town of Antigua. The explosion, which shot plumes of ash and vapor more than 3km into the sky, has affected flights to Guatemala City. Tours of Pacaya, a popular visitor attraction, remain suspended. Read more: dailymail.co.uk
Southwest Airlines expands into Mexico
US airline Southwest is continuing its expansion of international flights, with services to popular Mexican and Caribbean destinations. From August this year the company will have direct flights from Atlanta, Denver, Baltimore and other US cities to Cancún in Mexico and the Bahamas. Read more: abcnew.com
Go on vacation to … Westfield
New York, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Westfield. The last name might not be the obvious destination choice for holidaymakers in the US but the shopping mall giant has launched a marketing campaign aimed at attracting domestic and international travellers to some of its key American outlets. Read more: breakingtravelnews.com
It’s Mardi Gras in New Orleans
It’s party time in New Orleans today as the 300-year-old Mardi Gras festivities take over the city. The ‘Fat Tuesday’ party is the culmination of two weeks of parades, floats, marching bands and of course lots of drinking and dancing, bringing one million visitors to the city. Read more: usatoday.com
Winter 2013–2014 could be worst in US aviation history
As another winter storm batters the US, a report has revealed that the period from 1 December 2013 to 28 February 2014 could be remembered as the worst winter storm period in US aviation history. There were 108,600 flight cancellations during the period, which is the most since the 11 September 2001 attacks. The cost to airlines is said to be as much as US$ 500 million. Read more: skift.com
Stories curated by Lonely Planet’s Africa Destination Editor: Matt Phillips.
Visitors to Bahrain cautioned after explosion
A bomb attack on a main highway in Bahrain has prompted warnings for visitors. Three police officers were killed in the attack, which occurred on Monday during ongoing protests in the west part of the capital city, Manama. The UK Foreign Office has warned that protests are likely to continue and cautioned visitors to be extra vigilant. Read more: travelmole.com
KQ forced to cancel Lilongwe–Lusaka flights
Malawian bureaucrats have cancelled Kenya Airways’ right to operate direct flights between the capital of Malawi and Lusaka, Zambia. The move gives the partly government-owned Malawian Airlines, which started operating last month, a monopoly on the route. KQ released a statement to travellers, saying all those holding tickets would receive a full refund. Read more: eturbonews.com
Controversial 150% increase in KZN park fees dropped
After stern opposition from the private sector, which feared serious repercussions for the tourism industry in KwaZulu-Natal, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife has dropped the recently announced 150% increase in conservation fees. An agreement will see prices increase by 20% on 1 November this year, with future increases to be negotiated with KwaZulu-Natal’s private sector. Read more: tourismupdate.co.za
Forbidden kitty: the cats of China’s Imperial Palace
The Imperial Palace in Beijing – known as the Forbidden City – is home to cats that serve as mousers to keep the palace and cultural relics free from vermin. Cats have been on staff at the Forbidden City for more than 600 years, and the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) even had an office dedicated to looking after them. Currently, 20 palace departments have adopted strays, with some 180 felines on the prowl at any given time. Read more: globaltimes.cn
Alleged cockroach sabotage on Norwegian ferries
A spokesperson from Hurtigruten, Norway’s famous coastal ferry company, has confirmed that they have spoken to the police over a cockroach sabotage scam. A guest contacted the press, claiming he’d seen two huge roaches on board the MS Nordlys while it was docked in Tromsø this weekend. The company claims that the pests had been placed there deliberately, and is seeking compensation for the costs incurred. Read more: newsinenglish.no
My wife and I are artists, and we travel extensively in search of beauty and inspiration. We have been fortunate to see some of the most glorious corners of our country. In our many years of exploring these United States, we had never been to the beloved Outer Banks of North Carolina. We had often heard of the beauty of the Banks, so when we found ourselves with a free week to travel at the end of February, we swiftly booked our visit.
Traveling in the off season affords us the opportunity to explore these vacation destinations unencumbered by swarms of tourists. We enjoy the serenity and quiet of the slower times, and we also like bringing our own tourism dollars during times when they are most needed.
We rented a beach house in Hatteras, in the southern tip of the Outer Banks. Hatteras and the surrounding towns are lovely, and they reminded me of a newer settled Cape Cod. Most of the homes were oversized, vast ocean front properties, accommodating large groups of families for a very reasonable cost. The seemingly endless coast is carved with large, sweeping dunes, and almost entirely untouched. What the area may lack in charm and local color, it compensates for in the sheer expanse of beach front. Even in the busiest summer months, I cannot fathom not being able to find your own quiet place of serenity by the sea.
During our stay, we talked to many locals who expressed how difficult it is to sustain during the off season months. The islands are all but desolate, and finding a restaurant can be a 15 mile trip, depending on the day or time. Having lived in Key West for a number of years ourselves, running an art gallery, we were all too familiar with the challenges associated with an economy fully dependent upon tourism.
Yesterday, we drove up the Banks a bit, and had some lunch at a local Mexican restaurant. As we were driving back to our rental home, we saw blue lights behind us, and we pulled over to let the police officer pass by. When he pulled behind us, we were incredulous. We had been driving gingerly, enjoying the sights. Perhaps there was a light out in the rental car?
Trooper Libby approached the passenger side of the vehicle, and I rolled my window down. He informed us that in North Carolina, it is illegal to pass on the right. We exchanged glances, having no idea what he was talking about. He proceeded to explain that we had driven around a car that had stopped to make a left turn.
We have lived in many states in the U.S., and we have driven through almost all of them. This is the first time either one of us had ever heard of this practice not being common place. In fact, in most places we frequent, if you do not drive past a car that is holding up traffic to turn, the cars behind you will honk.
We were appropriately apologetic, as in our 20-25 years of driving each, this was a first to hear of. My wife, Chris, was driving at the time. She has had her license for 25 years, and she has only ever had one other ticket, and that was over 16 years ago.
Trooper Libby went to his vehicle to check the license and registration, and we were absolutely stunned when he returned with a ticket. I know that ignorance is not an excuse for breaking a law, but we were clearly driving with caution, and our mistake was an honest one. We are both very safe drivers and responsible adults, so to issue a ticket seemed extremely excessive.
The fine for the penalty was $ 50, which seemed appropriate for the error, if a ticket were to be issued. However, the court costs added brought the total to $ 238. Once paid on-line, the entire ticket came to just shy of $ 250, bringing the entire expense to 500 percent of the cost of the penalty. The court fees are assessed, whether the court actually hears your case or not.
I was offended by the experience, so I wrote a letter to North Carolina’s Governor, Pat McCrory. Knowing that he would never read my letter, I also posted a copy of it on my Facebook page, as a cautionary tale to fellow travelers. What happened next, however, surprised me. I started hearing stories of other travelers having similar experiences in the Outer Banks. It wasn’t just me.
A quick Google search of “ticket + Outer Banks N.C.” lead me to dozens of other similar stories, where a minor or non-existent infraction occurred, and a friendly State Trooper would swiftly issue a ticket with a small fee, accompanied by enormous “court fees.” I read story after story of visitors coming to the Banks, only to be greeted with near harassment by the local law enforcement.
There were several examples of speed traps that are set up, right before an increase in a posted speed. For example, you may be traveling in an area that is 45 MPH, and then a sign ahead indicates an increase to 55 MPH. As you increase your speed approaching the sign, hidden officers pull you over to issue you a ticket for speeding.
I know that OBX isn’t the only place to have speed traps, but this systematic, possibly deceitful approach to traffic violations is something I have never experienced. For an area that is fully dependent upon tourist revenue, they must assume they will have a never ending swell of new visitors each year. If no visitors ever return, they will still have plenty more coming in, lining the local municipal pockets, and receiving their own special brand of Southern Inhospitality.
The Outer Banks are lovely, so if you come mentally prepared to receive a $ 250 ticket that you will most likely not deserve, by all means, come. Consider it a local lodging tax. If you want to be treated as a valued guest, and see true beauty free from the encumbrance of harassment, I would recommend visiting anywhere else.
Travel – The Huffington Post
We get thousands of tips and feedback emails each year from our travelers. People who use our guidebooks know they are the most lovingly updated on the market, with in-person visits each year — and, it seems, they want to be sure we have no shortage of places to check out during our research rounds. I’m heading out in a month, and I’ll be packing 30 pages filled with reader tips and suggestions on the cities I’ll be updating.
As part of our updating process, we assemble a series of “what’s new” articles for each region in Europe. Today, I’m kicking off a series of these articles with Italy. If you or your friends have a trip coming up, get up-to-date with the help of these bulletins. We hope you can share them with anyone heading out, and that they will bring a little extra travel joy:
Florence is notorious for long lines at sights. Thankfully, ticketing and line-skipping options for the city’s blockbuster sights continue to improve. The Firenze Card, which admits you to 60-some museums for 72 euros, is now good for these cathedral (Duomo) sights: Baptistery, Campanile bell tower, dome climb, and Duomo Museum. If you want to see any single cathedral sight without a Firenze Card, you’ll need to buy the new 10-euro combo-ticket. It’s still free to enter the cathedral and have a look at Brunelleschi’s sublime dome from the inside.
At Florence’s Uffizi Museum, known for Renaissance art, there’s an exciting change. A new gallery is devoted to Michelangelo, with his famous Doni Tondo painting of the Holy Family as its centerpiece. It’s the only easel painting that’s definitely known to be by the master’s hand.
The private NTV/Italo high-speed train service is up and running, serving Florence along with Venice, Naples, Milan, and Rome. Because rail passes are not accepted, pass holders should choose Trenitalia’s equally fast Eurostar Italia or Le Frecce services instead.
Volterra has my vote for the best less-touristed hill town in Tuscany. Its new Alabaster Museum, featuring workmanship in the prized local stone from Etruscan times to the present, has opened within the 15th-century Pinacoteca painting gallery.
In Rome, there’s good news for those traveling on a budget or who enjoy eating in bars (or both). A pleasant practice traditionally found in northern Italian cities has migrated south: the aperitivo service. Bars set up an enticing buffet of small dishes and anyone buying a drink (at an inflated price) gets to eat “for free.” Drinks generally cost 8 to 10 euros, and the spread is out from 6 until 9 o’clock. Some places limit you to one plate; others allow refills. Another dining trend in Rome is that small restaurants with a full slate of reservations for 8:30 or 9:00 often will accommodate walk-in diners earlier–if they’re willing to eat a quick meal.
Venice is working hard to cope with its mobs of visitors. As ever-growing waves of tourists wash over the city every year, residents are struggling to ward off the trash (and trashiness) left in their wake. Picnicking remains illegal anywhere on St. Mark’s Square, and offenders can be fined. The city is taking a good-cop/bad-cop approach: On St. Mark’s Square, “decorum monitors” admonish snackers and sunbathers, while around town friendly posted guidelines cheerily encourage people to pick up their trash, refrain from pigeon-feeding, and save the beachwear for the Lido.
Structural renovation work on the iconic bell tower that looms over St Mark’s Square is finally finished; a titanium girdle wrapped around the underground foundations now shores up a crack that appeared in 1939. The city’s top art gallery, the Accademia, is still undergoing a seemingly never-ending renovation, with major rooms still closed. The Peggy Guggenheim Collection has also done some rearranging, largely to accommodate the recently bequeathed Schulhof Collection, which brings the museum’s holdings up to the late 20th century with works by Rothko, Calder, de Kooning, Warhol, and many others. Peggy would have loved it.
In Ravenna, a new museum is dedicated to Dante Alighieri, who spent three years here before succumbing to an infernal (or at least malaria-ridden) mosquito. While it’s a buzz for Italians, it’s skippable for those who aren’t fans of the author and his work.
Milan is preparing to host the 2015 World’s Fair. To welcome the expected 20 million visitors, the Rho-Pero district is revamping its layout with new parks, museums, and American-inspired skyscrapers.
Life is pretty much back to normal in the Cinque Terre, where flooding devastated the area just a few years ago. But the beautiful coastal trail system remains at the mercy of nature, with washouts or bad weather closing popular stretches. The popular Via dell’Amore (Path of Love), which was hit by a landslide in 2013, will reopen sometime in 2014. In Vernazza, a new “beach” was formed with debris from the floods. It’s great for wading and sunning, but wear shoes, as bits of rubble are mixed in with the pebbles.
Italy has long been my favorite country in Europe, and some of its thrills will never change with the calendar. Sit silently on a hilltop rooftop and get chummy with the Tuscan view. Write a poem over a glass of local wine in a sun-splashed, wave-dashed Riviera village. Lifelong travel memories are like low-hanging fruit in Italy — yours to harvest and preserve for years to come.
Travel – The Huffington Post
Last fall I joined forces with the fine folks at Marriott Resorts of the Caribbean and Mexico to highlight their properties and the islands they call home. Along the way though something happened, I fell in love. I didn’t expect it to happen, but Curacao truly and honestly stole my heart. It wasn’t just a pretty beach or a nice meal that did it, you can get that anywhere. No, it was something else, something indefinable, a total experience made perfect by the sum of its parts. I’ve thought a lot about why I liked Curacao so much and I believe that these special moments have a lot to do with it. Plus, it’s snowing again here in Washington, DC and the allure of a warm beach is almost too much to handle.
1. That first sunset – One of the many ways I evaluate a new destination is by the quality of the sunset. I’m not all that picky though, a sunset over the glittering skyscrapers of Bangkok is just as pretty to me as when the sun dips into warm tropical waters. I sat in a quiet part of the Curacao Marriott Beach Resort, fruity drink in hand and excitedly awaited nature’s daily show. I’m always amazed by just how quickly a good sunset can come and go. One minute the purple and pink hues light up the sky and the next it’s all over. Time was drawn out on Curacao though, at least for me. Watching the sun fall languidly into the comforting waters of the Caribbean was a comfort to me. Sure it was stunning, but it was a good omen. A promise of great things to come on this strange and quirky island.
2. Walking the Otrobanda – Discovering the Dutch influence was a lot of fun for me, and my best immersion into it was on a walking tour of the Otrobanda. For decades this part of town immediately opposite the more famous Punda district (home to those fabulous painted buildings on every postcard) has not had the best reputation, and it was earned. It was a more rough and tumble part of town, but in recent years the local community has made a dedicated effort to restoring it to its former glory and it’s working. The tour I joined was led by a local architect who, for fun, once a week leads a historical and architectural tour of the Otrobanda. Wait, it’s more interesting than it sounds, I promise, for it was on this tour that I learned the most not just about early Dutch history on the island, but current events as well. There is a stronger tie to the Netherlands than on other Dutch islands I visited and I like it. Walking around hearing foreign languages spoken instead of English added to my travel experience. The island felt removed, foreign and amazing. That’s a hard feat to achieve on a Caribbean island; so many have lost that individuality.
3. Swinging bridge of Willemstad – Like every other visitor to Curacao, the colorful, riverfront buildings in Willemstad’s Punda district mesmerized me. It’s the island’s most famous landmark and is just as beautiful in person as on postcards. Whether it’s the sun glittering off their windows, or the bright lights that keep them illuminated after dark they are always beautiful. There’s one feature I didn’t know about before leaving home though, I didn’t know about the moving bridge that connects Punda with the Otrobanda. The Queen Emma Bridge doesn’t just connect these two important parts of town, it also accommodates ocean-going vessels in a most unique way. Instead of a drawbridge, the Queen Emma is a pontoon bridge. Whenever a ship needs to pass, propellers mounted perpendicular to the length of the bridge allow it to swing parallel to the shore. You can watch this maritime show from shore or you can just stay on the bridge until the move is complete. Whenever the bridge is in motion, a free ferry service takes over and transports people from one shore to the other. I loved watching the bridge; for me it was yet another surprise on an island full of them.
4. Hanging out with ostriches – I love animals and visiting with them is a big part of my travel experience, as long as it’s done responsibly. I found a spot on Curacao that fit the bill though, the Curaçao Ostrich Farm. Started by South African expats in the mid-90s, the Ostrich Farm today is one of the largest outside of Africa. The facility is committed to conserving and breeding these beautiful birds and they have a special safari tour to bring guests closer to the large creatures. An African style safari truck takes visitors through the farm, showing ostriches in all stages of development, from egg to full adult. You can even take a ride on one of the birds, an adventure activity for those without pronounced avian phobias. Everyone though gets a chance to feed them and get up close in a way that is both fun and safe.
Have you been to Curacao? What are your favorite memories of the island?
The post Memories of Curacao – Four Moments That Make Me Want To Return appeared first on LandLopers.by rivwadmin
During July and August 2013, 14 students joined me in Mozambique to participate in the Underwater Photography Internship at Guinjata Dive Center. My goal for 2013 was to help my 14 students take better photographs by teaching a better basic understanding of underwater photography. The dramatic improvement in the quality of their photos were astounding, and I was very pleased to witness how they grasped the concepts of imagination and visualisation and then applied these techniques , with patience, to their work.
The core topics that we covered included:
A few more advanced techniques were covered in the underwater photography internship and we also had fun on land shooting star trails and moon rises. It was a culture-fest to visit Inhambane. We shot images around town and at the market and spent a day in the estuary at Tofo, shooting the weird and wonderful nursery grounds for all the diverse underwater life in the area.
For this article, I chose a couple of before and after images from my students to demonstrate the progress made in technique. I thank these underwater photography participants for being brave enough to allow me to use their initial images- shot on the same cameras on the first day and then later on towards the end of the month.
I think one of the students summed it up best when he said that he felt he has all the technical elements understood, but was grappling with giving feeling and meaning to his underwater shots. Initially, I was concerned that I had failed in my teaching quest but, when I really thought about it, I realised that he was exactly at the place I wanted my students to be at that point. They have been given a solid grounding and can manage all the technical issues, but are now in a space where they can start to really think about this, the elusive quest of all great artists – what is it that makes an underwater photo truly great, and how can they apply their own artistry and emotion to this challenging medium?
I am satisfied I have given them the solid skills to go forth and find out more. Roll on 2014 students- it’s gonna be epic!
BLOGGER PROFILE – FIONA AYERST
Fiona is a world renowned underwater photographer and winner of numerous awards. Passionate about documenting the underwater world, she hopes that her photos will inspire greater marine conservation efforts. She instructs the Underwater Photography internship for Oceans Campus.
I recently had the opportunity to take one of the world’s great train journeys, the Indian-Pacific from Perth to Adelaide, Australia. I’ll be posting a full review plus some other stories from this great adventure soon, but first I want to share this video I put together to show you what the experience in Platinum Service was really like.
The post VIDEO: Platinum Service Onboard the Indian-Pacific Train in Australia appeared first on LandLopers.by rivwadmin
Good Old Fashioned Hand Written Code by Eric J. Schwarz