Friday, March 27, 2009


Yosemite is one of the most visited national parks in the United States. It is located in central California and takes up an area of over 1000 sq. miles. The most visited part is the seven sq. miles of Yosemite Valley. This is the most photographed part of the park, but there is much more to be explored than just that spot.

The park is known for its granite cliffs, water falls, clear streams, and the biological diversity. Yosemite was actually one of the main focal points when the government decided to protect and preserve national parks and wilderness areas. It is said that the park was made from the shifting of techtonic plates as well as the movement and formation of glaciers.

Yosemite Valley (roughly 1% of the park) has a couple of the most spectacular features. First, El Capitan is a gigantic granite cliff that is perfect for rock climbing. There are tons of different routes waiting to be persued. There are also a couple of half domes in this region just soaring a few thousand feet about the surrounding area.

Some of the other more popular places to visit are in the highlands. There are mountain ranges, extensive meadows, and hundreds of miles of trails to follow. This is a great place to go backpacking and offers the hiker everything needed. This area is full of clear streams for water and washing as well as a great view for constant entertainment.

These views and environment aren't just perfect for people, but also for plants and animals. Black bears are all over the place in this park. If you go hiking here, it is actually required to have bear-safe food containers. Besides bears, one can also see marmots, foxes, deer, and owls, among many others. The park also has some Giant Seguoia to gawk over. These trees are actually the largest in the world in area (not height).

Yosemite is the jackpot of places to go backpacking. You will not be disappointed if you ever make the trek out there. Between the views, the animals, and the gigantic trees, one can never go away without satisfaction.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Dubai continued

So i wrote about Dubai earlier, but since then I have learned more about the city. I think these things are definitely worth mentioning. One of them is like the all-time superbowl championship of architecture and the other is the mona lisa of creative engineering. This city is now one of the wealthiest around the world, and they want everybody to know it.

What is the most coveted feat that everybody wants? Tallest building. Dubai can claim that. The Burj Dubai is by far the tallest building in the world soaring at an amazing 2,684 feet as of January of 2009 (currently still under construction). The building started construction in 2004; the plans have changed since then adding hundreds of feet to the original planned height. Some interested facts:

  • The elevators have evacuation procedures (so you can use them in emergencies)
  • The concrete in this building could make 1900km (which is 1180 miles)
  • The conrete weighs as much as about 100,000 elephants

  • The rebar used end-to-end would make it a quarter way around the world

  • It was made to withstand the worst storm Dubai has had in over 100 years

  • It is as tall as the Sears Tower with the Eiffel tower on top of it

So besides this ridiculous building, there is another feature of the city that will immediately catch your eye. The Palm islands are man-made islands that are made just of the coast in Dubai in the Persian Gulf. There are three different islands that were designed with the Palm Jumeriah as the only one completed. Each of the islands are in the shape of palm trees, and will have an area large enough to house many people. The Palm Deira (which was started in 2007) is supposed to be able to house over 1 million people on it.

There is so much architectural feats to see in this city. Between the tallest building, the two tallest hotels, the biggest water fountains, the largest man-made islands, largest indoor skiing mountain, the longest bridge (in plans), this city will put you in amazement. However, with the recent economic problems, this may not last for long. Most of the things listed are still under construction, and probably won't be finished until the economic problems are solved.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Portland, Maine

Portland is the central city in Maine, and is the focus point for almost all cultural and economic happenings. It is on the coast of the Atlantic close to the southern part. Tourists are usually drawn to the Portland Harbor, the Old Port, and the nearby Portland Head Light. This medium sized city has been recognized from many reputable sources for beng one of the best places to do business.

When coming upon the city, most people want to take a tour of the town and the nearby harbor. When touring the city by bus you will be able to see the historic homes sprinkeled around. Most of the older places in the city were destroyed in a fire that spread in 1866. This fire happened when fireworks were not kept in control for the Fourth of July celebration leaving over 10,000 people homeless. So from the remaining homes, many are listed as historic buildings and are protected by the state. These homes are beautiful and are constantly being renovated so as to make them look good as new.

So besides just seeing the historic homes, one of the most historic lighthouses is nearby. This is the Portland Head Light and is the most photographed lighthouse in the world. The scenery is gorgeous, and you could linger around the building for hours. When I was there this summer, there were tons of people around, included an entire tour bus of Buddhist monks. As you can see in pictures, the building is right of the coast, and shows a tremendous view of the harbor.

Speaking of the harbor, what a great place to tour around by boat. There are tons of small islands right off the coast just waiting to be explored. Besides all of the islands, you can also see all of the crab fisherman on their boats working hard. Most of the boats are the traditional crabbing boats, and are really interesting to just sit and watch. Overall, I was very pleasantly surprised with what I found in this city, and would really recommend it to anybody.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Alps

One of the most glorious of all views, the Alps are a must see and a must do. The Alps are a mountain range that start near the Mediterranean and stretch through Italy, France, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, and Slovenia. The range is split in half between the east and west sides, both with MUCH to offer.

The most common thing that tourists do is go skiing. There are so many places that one can do this too. Almost all of the countries have resorts salted all over the mountains. This skiing is intense too. Some people are think the Rockies are the only place to go, but they are wrong. The Alps are, on average, higher than the Rockies and cover more area. The slopes are also just as extreme as you could possibly want.

While skiing, you can also see the spectacular views. You will not see anything more pure than a sunrise over snow covered mountains. Breathing in the cold air, you will feel more alive than ever before. Besides viewing the scenery, there is also a variety of flora and fauna to see during the summer season. Some of the animals consist of marmots (like a big guinea pig), alpine ibex (ram type animal), or the typical hare.

The Alps are not only beautiful, but they are full of life. On any given day, you will be really close to a ski resort as well as the wilderness all around. This is a great place to be outdoors exercising and enjoying some of God's most amazing creation.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Vienna is the capital of Austria and one of the newest favorite tourist destinations. There have been some very important happenings that have gone on in this city. First, this is where the Habsburg empire ruled from. This may sound familiar as they were the ones who started WWI when Franz Ferdinand was killed. Ferdinand was supposed to be the next ruler of the empire in Vienna.

Most people visit Vienna for the Habsburg palaces or the picturesque view of the white horses trotting around. These people typically not disappointed. Vienna tends to fulfill all of those nastagic stereotypes. But there is also more to the city than what you might think. From museums to castles to architecture to cathedrals, this city really has something for everyone.

One of the most popular places to visit is the Schonbrunn Palace. Don't be mislead by the name, this is not just one building. This is where the Habsburg led from and the palace shows the personality of those that were in charge over the centures. The palace is made of a main palace, gardens, a zoo, and even some Roman ruins. The palace (shown) was built during the beginning of the 1700s and is still one of the main features of the city. Not to mention the obvious beauty and personality that it shows. An entire day could be spent at this tourist haven.

Another must see highlight is the St. Stephen's Cathedral in downtown Vienna. This part of the city used to be all there was to the city. There were walls built around it which were later torn down to build a road. Popular tourist guide (Rick Steves) lists this as one of his favorite places. The lighting on the cathedral at night is supposed to be one of the most spectacular sights. The architecture is so precise that the shadows are very prominant and distinguished. This cathedral is still being used, so hours are limited for tourists, but well worth a visit.