Posts by RGreenberg:
Though Norway may be better known for Vikings and salmon, Pulpit Rock is one of its most famous attractions. Located in western Norway, visitors must hike about two and a half miles, climbing about 1,982 feet along the way, to reach the gorgeous views afforded at the edge of this cliff. See the original post on the NileGuide blog
Image: Today is a Good Day/Flickr
Craving a rush of air, adrenaline and great views? Check out these stunning jump-off spots that will leave you breathless in more ways than one.
1. Bungee jumping at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Located between Zambia and Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls is the largest waterfall in the world – so it should go without saying it is an ideal place to fall 111 meters with a cord attached to your ankles. We wonder if the fall’s namesake Queen Victoria ever felt the rush of plummeting off this waterfall? We guess not.
Image: On The Go Tours/Flickr
2. Base jumping from the Sky Tower, New Zealand
People from all over congregate to the 328m Sky Tower, distinguished as one of the tallest free-standing structures in the Southern hemisphere. Feeling the need for speed? This base jumping spot is the place for you – jumpers reach up to 85km/hr while on their way down. On top of this fast and extremely high fall, you also have to worry about wind entering your equation. Fortunately, base jumpers use a guide-cable-controlled to avert the jumper from bumping into the building.
Image: Andy Beal Photography/Flickr
3. Skydiving over Lake Taupo, New Zealand
Take skydiving to the next level by flying above one of the last active volcano regions in New Zealand. It is very popular for people to experience one minute of freefalling in this 15,000 feet drop. Also, if you are a skydiver on a budget, skydiving over Lake Taupo is known for low-cost jumps. We’re not sure if this is a good thing or not.
Image: Antoine Hurbert/Flickr
4. Hang gliding the mountains of Bariloche, Argentina
Hang gliding in Bariloche, Argentina is said to be an incredible experience any time of the year, but summer has been recognized as the truly best time.
Image: patrícia soransso /Flickr
5. Zip lining the treetops of Durango, USA
If you are an adrenaline junkie jonsing for the great outdoors, then it is time for you to zip line through the treetops of Durango, Colorado. As you travel high up amongst the trees, you can spot reptiles and birds from an incredible vantage point. Sounds like an ideal day to us.
Video: Gary Gaurdreau/Vimeo
6. Paragliding Babadag Mountain, Turkey
In October the small resort town of Oludeniz hosts an annual Air Games week for all the air lovers around the world. Located at the foot of Babadag mountain, be one with nature as you para-glide through the mountains, cedar forests and shores of the Mediterranean.
Anyone with even a slight appreciation of irony would enjoy knowing that hellish prisons around the world, closed down because of overcrowding and human-rights abuse, have reopened as posh hotels and kitschy hostels. [Read the full post at the NileGuide blog.]
1. The Liberty Hotel – Boston, USA
Although The Liberty Hotel might have the gosh darn coolest design of any hotel on our list, it certainly wasn’t always that way. Back when The Liberty Hotel was the Charles Street Jail, the place was so overcrowded and nasty-gnarly, the US District Court ruled it was unconstitutional for even criminals to live there.
Constructed in 1851, the Charles Street Jail was designed by famed Boston architect Gridley James Fox Bryant, who created a massive granite structure with an octagonal rotunda, a 90-foot tall atrium, and 30 arched windows that measured 33 feet high. A mix between a Gothic cathedral and a fortress, the Charles Street Jail was once home to Malcolm X, Sacco and Vanzetti, and Boston mayor James Michael Curley.
Image: The Liberty Hotel
After failing inspections, the Charles Street Jail was closed to inmates in 1990 and renovations began to turn it from an all-around dump into one of the swankiest hotels in Boston. The Liberty Hotel maintained the grand exterior and rotunda while totally refurbishing the jail cells into rooms considerably bigger than the original 7 x 10 foot floor plan.
Interested in rubbing shoulders with the “in” crowd without paying the big bucks to spend the night? Grab an appetizer at The Liberty Hotel’s restaurant Clink (teehee) or a drink at their bar, Alibi (haha), which has an impressive array of celebrity mug shots. Oh, The Liberty Hotel, you’re so clever.
Image: The Liberty Hotel
Image: Trey Ratcliff/Stuck in Customs/Flickr
Located in Buenos Aires, the La Recoleta Cemetery contains the graves of famous people including Eva Perón, Raúl Alfonsín, and presidents of Argentina. Built around 1732, the cemetery surrounds the Our Lady of Pilar convent and a church, and contains incredibly beautiful crypts such as the one captured above.
The city that surrounds the cemetery is the bustling capital of Argentina. Full of tango, art, and hundreds of bookstores, it’s no surprise that a culture with such a flair for life would have a similar flair for the after-life. [via NileGuide]
There were two recurring themes that surprised us while researching cave dwelling cultures from around the world:
2. George Lucas.
Read on to see where we’re going with this.
1. Cappadocia, Turkey
Image: Curious Expeditions/Flickr
Image: sputnik 57/Flickr
The Cappadocia region of central Turkey has some of the strangest, most incredible geology anywhere on earth. And for 3,500 years, humans have managed to build 200 incredible cities in this rocky, mountainous terrain. Lucky for modern day visitors, the cave cities in Cappadocia provide thousands of years of history and miles of caves to explore. And on top of that, all the artifacts found within the caves have been incredibly well maintained over the centuries. The dry, arid weather inside the caves has made for almost perfect conditions for preserving the artifacts, and there is still undoubtedly much more to be discovered.
Along with constructing incredible cave complexes, the multiple groups that have called Cappadocia home also utilized the unique Fairy Chimney rock formations native to the area – turning them into homes. Found only in a few places on earth, the formation looks like a tall pyramid with a large rock balanced on top. Native cultures hollowed them out and used them as freestanding dwellings. Pretty cool huh?
2. Vardzia – Southern Georgia
We certainly don’t envy any 12th century monarch. With the Mongols terrorizing Europe, it must have felt like your chances for survival where slim. So when Queen Tamar of the Caucasus heard that the Mongol army was at her doorstep, she demanded the impossible: Build an impenetrable fortress on the side of the Erusheli mountain. Although it seems barely feasable by modern day standards, in 1185 construction began.
When the complex was completed it had 6,000 apartments on 13 levels, a throne room, a church, and an exterior of terraces for growing crops. Incredibly Vardzia also had an irrigation system and a secret entrance only accessible via a hidden tunnel.
Luckily, it worked in protecting the queen from the Mongols. Unluckily, a hundred years later a massive earthquake in 1283 destroyed much of the complex, exposing the interior apartments that were originally hidden inside the mountain. Even after the damage, monks continued to live in what was left until being attacked by Persians in 1551.
It is now open to visitors, and a small group of monks maintain the incredible ruins.
3. Petra – Jordan
The Nabataeans established Petra around the 6th Century BCE as their capital city. An important stop on the Middle Eastern trade route, Petra’s iconic structures weren’t built until around zero AD. The most famous ruin, Al Kjazneh or “The Treasury”, has an incredibly detailed facade carved out of a sandstone rock face.
Image: To Uncertainty And Beyond/Flickr
Many of the details of the Greek-influenced architecture has been lost over the years, but it still makes for an incredible site. Although it isn’t known what The Treasury was constructed for, it was deemed a World Heritage Site is 1985. But perhaps even more exciting than that, it was also in Indiana Jones an the Last Crusade.
4. Coober Pedy – Northern Australia
The small town of Coober Pedy has 3 great things going for it. 1: It is the Opal Capital of the World; 2: It is the set location for 3rd Mad Max movie; and 3: It was used while filming Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Other than that, living there is pretty rough. Located in a desolate strip of land in northern Australia, temperatures hover at around 105 degrees Fahrenheit for most of the summer. Along with the sweltering heat comes 20% humidity. Not such a comfy place to live – especially since power to run air conditioning is pretty expensive all the way out in the middle of nowhere.
To combat the insufferable temps the original opal prospectors in 1915 built underground homes, and to this day that’s how most of the town lives. One of the only modern additions? Chimneys that can be seen from above ground.
Since it’s become somewhat of a tourist attraction in the past 20 years, Coober Pedy offers a few underground hostels in case you’re dying to live like the locals.
5. Uplistsikhe – Eastern Georgia
Image: Lidia Ilona/Flickr
Located 5 miles from Gori, the city of Stalin’s birth, Uplistsikhe is an ancient town built into the soft rocks of eastern Georgia. Some structures have been dated all the way to the Early Iron Age, but Uplistsikhe really began to hit its stride in the Middle Ages when it was a major stop in the Silk Road. At its peak the city housed a population of around 20,000 residents who lived in 700 caves. Unfortunately in the 13th century, Mongol invasions left the city ravaged. Already weak, subsequent earthquakes struck soon after, which severely damaged the rock city and left it largely uninhabitable.
Today only around 150 caves remain, many of which have barely survived. One of the most incredible structures still left standing is the 9th century church of Uplistulis Eklesia. Although the church was Christian, it was built directly over a previously constructed pagan sun temple. No matter what your religious bent the views from the church are pretty darn incredible.
Image: Mart Laanpere/Flickr
6. Yaodong in the Loess Plateau – China
Image: Next Stop Beijing
For centuries, inhabitants in the Loesses Plateau in northern China have been building their houses into the side of steep cliffs. Cave dwelling may seem like an ancient tradition, but recently Yaodongs have been praised for their eco-friendly construction and sustainability. Modern Yaodongs are constructed carefully with proper precautions, but this wasn’t always the case. When the 1556 Shaanxi earthquake hit northern China, an astonishing 85K people died when their cave homes caved in on them.
Today there is an estimated 40 million people who call Yaodong home including one famous former resident, Mao Zedong.
7. Matmata – Southern Tunisia
Image: Panegyrics of Granovetter/Flickr
If the interior of these buildings look familiar it’s probably because you’ve seen one before. Remember in the beginning of the first Star Wars movie? Yep, Luke Skywalker’s Aunt and Uncles home was actually filmed in a troglodyte house in Matmata, Tunisia. Troglodyte complexes have been built by the Berbers that live in this region for centuries, possibly even since Egyptian times. They are created by digging a large central pit, and then creating artificial underground caves around it.
Image: 10b travelling/Flickr
Even though these homes are ancient, it wasn’t until 1967 that they were “discovered” by the outside world. After 22 days of consistent rain, the small and private community of Matmata were forced to contact authorities when many of their homes began collapsing. It was previously thought that only nomadic tribes lived in the area, and officials were shocked when they came to investigate and found the troglodyte homes.
Image: matee, but who cares?/Flickr
In response to the flooding, above ground homes were built, but as soon as the underground dwellings could be repaired the new homes were abandoned.
8. Bamyan – Central Afghanistan
The modern story of Bamyan is a tearjerker, so prepare yourself.
Bamyan was once an important religious center for Buddhists, and at one point 2,000 monks built their homes in caves in the sandstone cliffs above the city of Bamyan. In addition to creating magnificent paintings inside the caves, the monks also built two massive statues of Buddha between 544-644. Standing 180 and 121 feed high, these were the largest standing statues of Buddha anywhere in the entire world – modern day included. Tragically in 2001 the Taliban intentionally destroyed the statues, calling them an “affront to Islam” and blowing them up with dynamite.
Image: United Nations Photo/Flickr
Previously the Taliban also used the monks’ caves to store ammunition, but once they were driven out of the region the caves became reoccupied with locals looking for homes. Amazingly, the new cave dwellers have found more treasures in the caves, including the world’s oldest oil paintings and a 62-foot reclining Buddha statue.
Image: Tracy Hunter
Image: Tracy Hunter
9. Kandovan – East Azerbaijan Province, Iran
When the Mongols invaded Iran in the 13th century, Iranians fled all over the country. A community ended up in northwestern Iran, and found a bizarre rock formation they decided to call home. These cone structures were created by eroded volcanic ash, and have made incredibly temperate and sturdy houses for the past 700 years.
Most homes built in Kandovan are between 2 and 4 stories tall, and have actually made this very remote village a popular tourist destination within Iran.