Visiting the Pennsylvania Amish in Lancaster County

“Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.”

The Pennsylvania Amish of Lancaster County are America’s oldest Amish settlement, where thousands still live a centuries-old „Plain” lifestyle. Arriving in Amish Country allows you to step back in time to enjoy a slower, more peaceful pace – one where the horse & buggy remains a primary form of transportation, and where windmills dot the landscape, providing power harnessed from nature. There is no such thing as television, radio, cinema theatres, or other entertainment means.

Always a vital part of Lancaster County culture, the PA Amish are involved in agriculture as well as an array of businesses and cottage industries. They opened stores where they sell their excellent produce and food. These stores are to be found not only in Pennsylvania, there are two of them not far from where we live, in New Jersey.

Amish women typically wear solid-color dresses with long sleeves and a full skirt, covered with a cape on the bodice. Some less conservative groups allow the women to wear short sleeved dresses but never sleeveless. Clothing is fastened with straight pins or snaps, stockings are black cotton and shoes are also black.

To be Amish means more than just slow-paced and hardworking. In the course of time I visited several Amish farms and had the opportunity to talk to some of them. They lead a very interesting life that reminds us of very old times. Those we talked to speak of a more relaxed way of living, but a strong work ethic. The visitors can go into the Amish homes and see for themselves their life style.

If you notice, you’ll find that no Amish men wear belts. It is a prohibited accessory — they’re just too flashy. Amish men wear suspenders, sometimes two, or, in certain villages, no suspenders at all. But never belts. 

The Amish people wonder what the impact of fewer farmers and more “Amish businessmen” will be, especially if people become “too well off?” They think “prosperity” is the biggest threat to the Amish way of life, although some of the Amish would put cellphones (“the world in your pocket”) at the top of the list.

The more curious tourists meet local Amish families for a sit-down home-cooked meal, where they can find out lots of details about what means to be Amish nowadays. For some of us, staying at an Amish Bed and Breakfast or guesthouse  is a simple way to step away from many of the technological distractions that seem to dominate our lives. It certainly is a worth living experience. For instance, to avoid idolatry, the Amish do not have mirrors, nor do they allow photographs or pictures of images in their homes. In the Amish community, divorce is forbidden and not sanctioned in the Amish church. The decision to marry a person outside of the Amish church is one that comes with a decision to be made by the person in the community, but before they are baptized by the church.

A few more things: in the Lancaster county, PA, the visitors cen enjoy, if they so desire, bus tours through the County’s backroads and so they learn about Amish traditions while riding in comfort. Have fun while learning something new with the area’s only authentic Amish lessons, taught in their one-room schoolhouse. During the summer, an actual Amish schoolteacher will share her wisdom along with a real Amish lesson. As winter arrives and Christmas nears, see how the Amish decorate for Christmas in the one room schoolhouse and enjoy the Amish Holiday Tradition Tour. Take a guided tour of an authentic 1840’s Amish farmhouse and learn about today’s Amish lifestyle.

You could visit other Amish communities in the states of Ohio or Indiana.

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”

I wish you an enjoyable day!

Cristina David

The Great Lakes National Parks

National parks offer an unparalleled experience for watching wildlife and appreciating the interconnected network of life in and around parks.

“A normal lake is knowable. A Great Lake can hold all the mysteries of an ocean, and then some.” — Dan Egan 

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Photo – internet

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, on the largest and deepest Great Lake, includes cliffs, beaches, waterfalls, and forest for outdoor adventure.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Photo internet

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore encompasses over 40 miles of Lake Superior shoreline. Situated on the largest, deepest, coldest and most pristine of the Great Lakes, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore derives its name from the many sandstone cliffs that dot the shoreline. In addition to the sandstone cliffs, the park includes beaches, sand dunes, waterfalls, lakes and forest.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Photo internet

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Photo internet

As old as continental ice sheets and as young as the 1970 Establishment Act that set aside the lakeshore for preservation and public use, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore offers countless opportunities for discovery. The naturally elevated dunes along Lake Michigan offer visitors spectacular views, all-season hiking trails, pristine rivers for paddling, and a wonderful array of wildlife to explore. 

The most prominent features are the dunes above Lake Michigan, perched atop the already towering headlands. The dune overlooks at the Sleeping Bear, Empire, and Pyramid Point bluffs are about 400 feet above Lake Michigan, and with 65 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline and numerous inland lakes and streams, the park is wonderfully water oriented. 

Isle Royale National Park

Isle Royale National Park Photo intenet

Surrounded by Lake Superior, Isle Royale National Park encompasses 850 square miles of natural wilderness, spacious lands, and aquatic life.  

A cool climate, crystal-clear waters, and the wild North Woods forest characterize Isle Royale National Park. The park encompasses a total area of 850 square miles including submerged lands which extend over four miles out into Lake Superior, and 99% of the land mass is federally designated wilderness. The archipelago is composed of numerous parallel ridges, the result of ancient lava flows which were tilted and glaciated.  

Isle Royale Photo internet

Isle Royale has 165 miles of scenic hiking trails and 36 campgrounds for backpackers, paddlers, and recreational boaters. There is excellent fishing, historic lighthouses, and shipwrecks, ancient copper mining sites, and plenty of spots to observe wildlife.  Isle Royale is accessible only by boat or float plane.

Isle Royale Photo internet

While enjoying a Venturing Crew backpacking trip two of the boys decided to sit quietly on the rocks at Sisskiwit Bay on Isle Royale. Even the roudiest of boys can find a little quiet for introspection while on the Island. It is good to see them deprived of their handheld devices for more than a day.

My advice: take some time, relax and plan a 2 week vacation to spend in the picturesque spots I described above. You won’t regret it! And try to remember:

Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”

Cristina David

Some of the most interesting bridges in the world

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”

I love to travel to different places in this world of ours, full of magnificent buildings and natural beauties, I’ve always have loved to do this.

During my trips I came to see all types of bridges : som very old, others, very long and some of them impressed me by something in particular, something specific to that particular bridge. I will try to say a few words expressing my impressions of each bridge that I really love.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel

TheChesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel connects Virginia’s Eastern Shore with the Virginia mainland at Virginia Beach near Norfolk. It is a modern engineering wonder, a tourist attraction and a travel convenience. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel is a four-lane 20-mile-long vehicular toll crossing that provides direct access from Southeastern Virginia to the Delmarva Peninsula (Delaware plus the Maryland and Virginia Eastern Shore). It is really a unique experience to travel across the Bridge-Tunnel. There is also a scenic overlook and fishing pier which are great places to stop and take in the magnificent views of the Chesapeake Bay.

The Tower Bridge in London

Tower Bridge is a combined  bascule and suspension bridge in London, built between 1886 and 1894. It is the most famous bridge in London, and surprisingly, the bridge only needs 90 seconds to lift. This happens about 500 times a year. The image of it is breathtaking and displays a highly unusual building that makes it a well-known landmark of the Great Britain capital. You must agree with me!

Pont Alexandre III — Paris, France

This famous  French bridge is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful in Paris, if not the world. One of its prettiest features are the gilded, iron, and stone statues of nymphs, pegasus, lions, and cherubs. But the best part of this bridge is its significant location, close to Champs-Élysées and near the tomb of Napoleon.

Brooklyn Bridge — New York City, New York

Brooklyn Bridge photo internet

One of the most recognizable and iconic bridges in the U.S., the Brooklyn Bridge is more than just a gateway between two boroughs — it’s also a gorgeous piece of architecture. Built in 1883, it became the world’s first steel-wire suspension bridge. Today, the bridge is a major tourist attraction and a crossing for thousands of pedestrians and vehicles each day.

Ponte Vecchio – An Everlasting Symbol of Florence

Open all of the time, along the pedestrian zone south of  Piazza della Repubblica towards Palazzo Pitti.

Built very close to the Roman crossing, the Ponte Vecchio, or Old Bridge, was the only bridge across the Arno in Florence until 1218. The current bridge was rebuilt after a flood in 1345. During World War II it was the only bridge across the Arno that the fleeing Germans did not destroy. Instead they blocked access by demolishing the medieval buildings on each side. On November 4, 1966, the bridge miraculously withstood the tremendous weight of water and silt when the Arno once again burst its banks.

Benvenuto Cellini, a 16th century goldsmith, is honoured with a bust on the bridge. By night, the wooden shutters of the shops create a look like suitcases and wooden chests, making it a very suggestive route to take for an evening passeggiata, or stroll. Ponte Vecchio is a very romantic spot in Florence, with its great views over the river and of the bridge itself.

I hope you also like the bridges that I tried to present in my article here. Maybe on one of your future trips you’ll decide to visit at least one of them!

Cristina David

Magic and mystery on the Isle of Lewis, Scotland

The Callanish Stones on Lewis predate Stonehenge. Photograph: Kippiss/Getty Images

Lewis is rich in treasures of many other kinds – historic, religious. ..First light at Callanish. This is one of those places where tourists find themselves mesmerized and overwhelmed by unexplained prehistoric formations of huge pillar- like stones displayed in unusual positions.

The stone circle on the Hebridean island of Lewis may be 5,000 years old, but it would not do to keep it waiting. Besides, coming here at daybreak is, from certain perspectives, positively tardy. Emma Rennie, a local photographer, considers 2am the best time to visit. “It’s beyond mindblowing,” she told me, ahead of my journey. “There’s silence, which the world is so short of nowadays, and millions of stars. I feel small and insignificant, and I love it.”

Callanish – or Calanais in Gaelic – comprises 49 standing stones laid out in a shape that, seen from above, suggests a Celtic cross. Despite this resemblance, the site long predates Christianity and, indeed, Stonehenge.

The world famous Calanais standing stones are older than Stonehenge and much more sculptural and beautiful. Erected 5,000 years ago, they were an important place for ritual activity for at least 2,000 years. The main complex contains around 50 stones in a cross formation, with 13 stones and a small chambered cairn in the inner circle.

This is one of the delights of Callanish, and something you can’t get from the photographs – the look of the stones up close, and the tingling pleasure of the way they feel beneath your palm. Swirls, crevices, bright patches of pink granite … each stone offers a drone’s-eye view of some desert landscape. The oystercatchers and swallows, peeping and piping overhead, have the right idea. Don’t get too close: you could get lost in those patterns and never find your way out again.

 The Callanish standing stones. Photograph: Murdo Macleod/The Guardian

What, though, was Callanish for? The idea that this was some sort of druidic temple draws the crowds, especially at the summer solstice. The visitor centre and information panels play it safe with a lot of “perhaps” and “possibly”; the purpose of the stones, they say, remains a mystery. When I visit Callanish expert Margaret Curtis at her home nearby, she offers greater certainty: the site, she believes, was built as a solar and lunar observatory.

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day.” (Albert Einstein)

the source (partial) – Wikipedia

Cristina David

One of the most beautiful villages in France

“I travel because it makes me realize how much I haven’t seen, how much I’m not going to see, and how much I still need to see.” 

Apremont sur Allier

Located on the banks of the river Allier, not far from the confluence of this river wih the Loire this little mediaeval village full of charm and surprises, offers an authentic romantic and luring ballad.

The place is not just an old and picturesque village, it displays a magnificent park and one can visit a historic museum, The Stables and Carriage Museum.

Enter into the magic of this garden and let yourself be charmed by the colored and scented festival of the many varieties and species of trees, plants and flowers from all over the world.

The Park – Photo on the internet

The Park has been awarded the “Jardin Remarquable” label by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication.

The Park – Photo – the internet

Your fairytale walk will be punctuated by waterfalls, buildings and invitations to travel and to discover the talent of its fanciful designer, the great traveller and nature lover, Gilles de Brissac.

I hope you liked what you have seen in my post and some day you’ll decide to visit this mirific place on the Loire.

Cristina David

Faroe Islands: Middle Earth in the Far North

I love travelling and I did visit many places in Europe, Middle East and America (where I lived for 35 years). However, these countries that I visited were quite easy to reach by plane or train. I often dream of far away places that I would love to see, their history and picturesque scenery attract me a lot. But I am aware that it will not be possible , so I look out for travel articles to read about them, the life of the people that inhabit them, and to admire pictures of wonderful spots taken on location by lucky tourists.

I am determined to write about the nice and interesting places that I did see with my own eyes. I consider it’s worth doing so for the readers who have not have yet the opportunity to see them. But maybe, one day they will…

Today – about The Faroe Islands

In an isolated archipelago bereft of trees and exposed to the harsh elements, we find magic and bliss in its green isles and imaginative cuisine.

It is probably surprising that the mythical Middle Earth can be found in a cluster of 18 islands in the windy North Atlantic Ocean. The Faroe Islands (or the Faroes, as the locals call them) are a cluster of colossal volcanic basalt rocks formed millions of years ago. The top surfaces of these undersea mountains are swathed in heather green and turf. Within their rugged peaks and jagged cliffs lie hidden lakes, small and stoic horses with windswept manes, and a hardy people.

Traditional turf-roof houses are still aplenty in the Faroes

Geographically, the islands are between Norway and Iceland. Politically, they are an autonomous protectorate of Denmark. But locals will tell you that genealogically, they are closer to the Vikings who settled there in the 9th century, while culturally, they are uniquely Faroese with their own traditions and a language that is closer to Icelandic.

Sheep in winter coat

To a frazzled city girl, the Faroes with its natural scenic beauty hold the promise of a refuge from urbanisation and a retreat in peaceful nature. The vast space between the sky and sea and the open land gives the place a sense of magic, and me, a sense of liberation.

A Faroese girl in traditional costume at Ólavsøka, the biggest summer festival in the Faroe Islands

Read more

Cristina David

The World’s Most Glamorous Railway Journeys

“Every luxury must be paid for, and everything is a luxury, starting with being in this world.”
― Cesare Pavese

“Some people think luxury is the opposite of poverty. It is not. It is the opposite of vulgarity.”
― Coco Chanel

Imagine being inside an exotic train that resembles a posh 5-star hotel and takes you on a trip on some of the most breathtaking destinations. Doesn’t that sound like a fantasy? Well, in this video, you will get to discover some of the world’s best luxury train rides. From ‘The Ghan’ of Australia to the Maharajas’ Express of India, being inside these glamorous trains will make you feel like royalty. Take a look.

These Are the World’s Most Glamorous Railway Journeys

Take it slow on these luxurious train rides through some of the world’s most glamorous destinations . Whether you’re exploring the Andes or dashing through an island luxurious train travel consistently proves that fly-by country is much more interesting when seen on the ground. On these luxurious trains people are still expected to dress for dinner and attentive waiters serve five-course meals on bone china .

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express: London to Venice

No other train journey evokes romance and adventure quite like the famous Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, setting of notorious Agatha Christie mystery „Murder on the Orient Express.”The train still rolls by some of Europe’s most captivating scenery through cities that have become legends in themselves: London, Paris, Innsbruck, Verona and Venice.Its Art Deco glamor has persevered through the decades while the train’s elegant suites recall an older, more stylish age.Most guests board the train in London for the one-night journey to Venice. But passengers traveling from Italy might notice a set of unusual crates being delivered personally to the head chef on the Paris platform.They are filled with freshly caught lobsters to be served during a delicious brunch before the train reaches the French port of Calais – only available on the westward route.

 Golden Eagle: Moscow to Vladivostok

The Golden Eagle

Hardcore travelers say you haven’t really experienced train travel until you’ve rode the Trans-Siberian Express, with its intimidating itinerary that spans a whopping eight time zones.The Golden Eagle is a luxury version of the Trans-Siberian, featuring en-suite bathrooms, air-con in the summer, full heat in the winter, laundry services, TVs, a resident pianist and an English-speaking doctor.The two-week passage feels more like a cruise than a train ride as it stops for daily excursions along the way.It rides along Lake Baikal, hauled by a Soviet Era steam locomotive, and makes a detour to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s capital.To help passengers acclimatize in extravagance, five-star accommodations in Moscow and Vladivostok are provided.From US$15,895 per person (Silver Class)

Blue Train: Pretoria to Cape Town

The Blue Train’s 27-hour, 1,600 kilometer journey crosses South Africa diagonally, stopping at the diamond mines of Kimberley on the way south and at the eccentrically colonial outpost of Matjiesfontein on the way north.Luxurious surroundings apart, the image that lingers afterward is of the friendly and helpful staff.Many of the butlers have worked on the train for years and are on call 24/7 for a drink, a snack or even to iron clothes.Some of the luxury double suites have full size bathtubs – there’s nothing quite like lying in a sea of bubbles, glass of champagne in hand as the savannah rolls by.Past passengers include Nelson Mandela, Quincy Jones, Paul Simon, Mia Farrow, Margaret Thatcher and Kylie Minogue.Celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2016, the Blue Train is now offering special journeys from Pretoria to Hoedspruit, in the Kruger Park area.From $976 per person.

 The Ghan: Adelaide to Darwin

The Ghan is a three-night, 2,979-kilometer tour from Darwin to Adelaide that allows travelers to cross Australia while peering into the endless uniformity of the red-earthed antipodean bush.The Platinum service offers more cabin and ensuite space, chauffeured transfers, access to an exclusive dining carriage, breakfast in bed and five-course meals.The menu highlights Australia’s exotic local fare, like saltwater barramundi fish and grilled kangaroo fillet.The Ghan offers scheduled excursions in Katherine and Alice Springs, while special stops provide an opportunity to experience either an outback sunrise in Marla going north, or a nightcap under the Milky Way in Manguri going south.From $2,637 per person

Rovos Rail: Southern and eastern Africa

The Rovos rail

Rovos Rail is a slower, chiller version of the Blue Train, featuring an extended network of far-flung destinations in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Tanzania.Luxurious and lavish cabin surroundings mean the Rovos ride is not an end in itself, but an essential part of a long journey with several overnights.Because the train never travels more than 60 kilometers per hour (37 m.p.h.) passengers can open windows for fresh air or to photograph the landscapes.In fact, the staff provide sets of goggles so that, should the urge arise to stick heads out of windows, dust in eyes won’t be a problem.Popular journeys fill up quickly: the leisurely ramble from Pretoria to Dar es Salaam, the Namibia safari and golfing trips have sold out well into 2017.The four-day Pretoria to Victoria Falls journey in the Pullman suite costs $1,504 per person

The Rocky Mountaineer: Banff to Vancouver

The Rocky Mountaineer: Banff to Vancouver

The Gold Leaf Service of the Rocky Mountaineer offers one of few five-star rail experiences in North America.There are several routes into the Rockies, but it’s the classic Banff to Vancouver ride that still captures the imagination.This was the last, arduous leg of the great rail expansion westwards that united Canada in the late 1880s.Although most tourists prefer the summer season, September to mid-October is possibly the most romantic time to travel, when the leaves turn to a vibrant mix of reds, oranges and yellows and fresh snow accumulates on the mountaintops.To ramp up the romance, couples traveling together can rotate their seats so they face each other during the journey.From $1,309 per person

Belmond Royal Scotsman: Scottish Highlands.

A journey aboard the Belmond Royal Scotsman is a unique way to see the magnificent Scottish countryside in a Downton Abbey atmosphere.Travelers can choose from several round trips from Edinburgh lasting between two and seven days, but the classic voyage is the four-night passage to the Scottish Highlands.It includes visits to distilleries and sightseeing excursions to castles.The UK’s only luxury sleeper train, it has a bar stocked with more than 50 kinds of whisky.Fall is perhaps the best time of year to travel, when the purples of wild heather color the Scottish meadows.From $3,917 per person (two nights)

Maharajas’ Express: Delhi to Mumbai

Often called „the Orient Express of the Orient,” the Maharajas’ Express is a recent entrant to the luxury train market.The decor attempts to emulate the golden days of the Raj when Maharajas traveled with opulence and pomp in ostentatious carriages.Such colonial splendor has been recreated to the full and the week-long journey also immerses travelers in the spirit of the era with gin and tonic sundowners, elephant rides and a chance to chat with erstwhile royal families.It’s an enjoyable three-night ride, but passengers should beware of some hidden extras such as camera and video fees or porter charges.From $3,850 per person

The Transcantabrico Gran Lujo: San Sebastian to Santiago de Compostela

The Transcantabrico Gran Lujo: San Sebastian to Santiago de Compostela

Chugging slowly along Spain’s Atlantic coast for seven days, the Transcantabrico feels more like a five-star hotel on wheels than a full on train experience.In fact a luxury coach catches up with the train at every stop for the day’s excursion, meaning you’ll likely spend as long on the bus as on the train.The rides are short, the sightseeing extensive but what you’ll remember afterward is the exceptional catering with select wines, haute cuisine and excursion meals in top-notch restaurants.Consider this a luxury roll through the best of northern Spain – stops include the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, the prehistoric cave of Altamira, the Picos de Europa National Park and the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela – and you won’t be disappointed.From $4,859 per person

Seven Stars: Kyushu, Japan

The „Seven Stars in Kyushu” is Japan’s most luxurious train, featuring seven carriages that hold just 30 people in 14 suites.The interiors showcase the best in Japanese craftsmanship, such as walls of rosewood and maple, walnut floors, shoji paper screens as window coverings and sliding glass doors etched with flowers and birds.

Enjoy dreamlike journeys around the world!

reference – CNN Travel

Cristina David

The History of These Ancient Temples is Truly Fascinating

Among the earliest structures built by ancient civilizations, places of worship like tombs and temples were perhaps of the highest importance for the population of those days. In fact, of the buildings that still remain today from the early years of civilization, ancient temples are the most captivating and spectacular. You still can find several of the oldest known temples, built thousands of years ago, in different parts of the world today. While not all of them have been well-preserved, they still hold a magical allure and tell us of mysterious stories.. These old temples also help us get a better understanding of humanity’s earliest societies and what the world was like in those times. Some of the ancient temples featured in the list below are older than the written word itself, some have been built underground, and some have been able to maintain their architectural splendor even after thousands of years. Of all these ancient structures I only got the chance to visit The Temple of Apollo in Greece while taking a long trip throughout the country. It’s truly an amazing place! Take a look.

Temple of Amada, Egypt

The Temple of Amada is one of the oldest temples in Egypt and was first constructed by Egyptian pharaoh Thutmose III of the 18th dynasty, sometime around the 15th century BC. Dedicated to the gods Amun and Ra-Horakhty, the temple is considered to be one of the earliest examples of Egyptian temple architecture in the area of the Middle Nile. While it was originally constructed on the east bank of the Nile, the Temple of Amada was moved in the 1960s and ’70s to a higher site on Lake Nasser to protect it from flooding. One of the most significant features of the temple is a relief along with two important inscriptions describing the military feats of the pharaohs who built it – Tuthmosis III and his son Amenhotep II. While the temple is quite small and dilapidated, it is still quite fascinating and vibrant from inside.

Luxor Temple, Egypt

Located on the east bank of the Nile River in Luxor, in the ancient city of Thebes, the Luxor Temple was built in 1,100 and 1,600 BC during the reigns of several pharaohs – Amenhotep III (1390-52 BC), Tutankhamun (1336-27 BC), and Horemheb (1323-1295 BC), and then added to by Rameses II (1279-13 BC). The temple was dedicated to the three Egyptian gods Amun, Mut, and Chons, and is considered the largest and most important site in ancient Egypt.The Luxor temple served as a place of worship for nearly 3,500 years and was also the center of the festival of Opet (ancient Egyptian festival of the second month of the lunar calendar). According to Egyptian legends, the Luxor Temple was “the place of the First Occasion,” where the god Amun experienced a rebirth. Today, the massive Great Colonnade Hall is one of the most vital remains of this vast temple complex.

Hypogeum of Ħal-Saflieni, Malta

Image Source: Flickr/xiquinhosilva

Built around 2,500 BC, the Hypogeum in Malta is the oldest prehistoric underground temple in the world. The island of Malta has several Megalithic Temples and this structure is easily one of the most remarkable ones. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Hypogeum is one of the world’s best-preserved prehistoric sites and contains halls, chambers and passages carved out of rock. Archeologists believe that the Hypogeum was used as a temple as well as a sanctuary and a necropolis in prehistoric times. The complex is divided into three levels – the upper level (3600-3300 BC), the middle level (3300-3000 BC), and the lower level (3150 -2500 BC). Amazingly, the lower level has a room that is 10.6 meters (35 ft) underground. The structure was rediscovered in 1902 and was restored over mid-2016 to early 2017. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980.

Temple of Apollo, Greece

The Temple of Apollo is located at Delphi, the center of the Ancient Greek world, and was built on the location of two earlier temples. The temple was first built around the 7th century BC by the two iconic architects Trophonios and Agamedes and was rebuilt after a fire in the 6th century BC. The temple was of the Doric order and had 6 columns at the front, and 15 columns at the flanks.In 373 BC, the Temple of Apollo was destroyed by an earthquake and was rebuilt for the third time in 330 BC. Even after so many centuries, the foundations of the iconic temple still survive today along with several Doric columns that are made of porous stone and limestone. Not much is known about the temple’s interior arrangement. However, ancient writers have mentioned that the walls of the temple were inscribed with the aphorisms of the seven sages.

Tchogha Zanbil, Iran

Tchogha Zanbil or Choga Zambil is a ruined palace and temple complex of the ancient Elamite city of Dur Untashi in Iran. Built in 1250 BC, the temple was founded by the Elamite king Untash-Napirisha (1275-1240 BC). The primary feature of the complex is a gigantic ziggurat (a rectangular stepped tower built to honor the main god of the city) dedicated to the Elamite divinities Inshushinak and Napirisha. Outside of Mesopotamia, the ziggurat at Tchogha Zanbil remains the best-preserved monument of this type.Incidentally, the city was never completed and was attacked and damaged by the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal around 640 BC. The temple complex was excavated between 1946 to 1962 by archaeologist Roman Ghirshman after prospectors for an oil company discovered it in 1935.

 Vittala Temple, India

The Vittala Temple or Vitthala Temple in Hampi, India, is located near the banks of the Tungabhadra River in Karnataka. Among the many ancient temples at Hampi, the Vittala temple is the most well-renowned because of its stunning architecture and unmatched craftsmanship.Built in the 15th century by King Devaraya II (1422- 1446 AD) of the Vijayanagara Empire, the temple is dedicated to Lord Vittala or Krishna and is known for its iconic stone chariot and the unique musical pillars. Many sections of the temple were expanded and renovated during the reign of Krishnadevaraya (1509- 1529 AD). The temple is amazingly well-preserved and represents the epitome of ancient Indian architecture.

source of inspiration and reference : ba-bamail.com

Cristina David

Fascinating Facts About Paris

Thomas Jefferson once said, “a walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of life.” He wasn’t wrong. There’s a reason that Paris is one of the most popular cities in the world and captivates all of us. Known as the “City of Light” or the “City of Love,” the streets of Paris gush with culture, art, beauty, and history. 

While we have all seen glorious pictures of the French capital, but there’s still a lot you may not know about it. For instance, did you know that Paris wasn’t always called “Paris”? And do you know what the city’s motto is? Here, we have listed some little-known and interesting facts about Paris that you are unlikely to know. Check them out./

1. Pont Neuf is the oldest bridge in Paris

Pont neuf, Ile de la Cite, Paris – France

It was built from 1578 to 1607 and was designed by Baptiste Du Cerceau and Pierre des Illes. It was the city’s first path-breaking public work and introduced them to a new kind of street life.

2. The motto of Paris is “Fluctuat nec mergitur”

small paris street with view on the famous paris eifel tower on a cloudy rainy day with some sunshine

This means ‘Tossed but not sunk,’ or ‘Beaten by the waves, but does not flounder.’ This phrase is most commonly found on Paris’ coat of arms and suggests resilience, courage, and inner strength. 

3. Paris was founded around the end of the 3rd century BC and was initially called Lutetia.

Paris cityscape taken from Montmartre

The city was founded around the end of the 3rd century BC by a Celtic tribe called Parisii who had settled on the banks of the Seine. In 52 BC, the village was conquered by the Romans, who went on to establish it as a Gallo-Roman town called Lutetia. The city changed its name to Paris during the 4th century.

4. Paris was among the first cities in the world to install street lights.

It is said that the first public lamp in Paris was the famous candle lantern placed in front of the Grand Chatelet in 1318. The first gas lamps were placed in the Place du Carrousel in 1829. By 1900, there were around 50,900 street lamps in Paris.

5. The oldest house in Paris was built in 1407

51 rue de Montmorency

The house is located at 51 rue de Montmorency and was built by the city’s most famous alchemist, Nicolas Flamel, in 1407. Historians believe that this is the house where Flamel carried out his experiments in alchemy.

6.The oldest café in Paris has been around since 1686

Café Procope is the oldest and among the most famous eateries in the city. It is known as the first literary cafe in the world and was opened in 1686 by the Sicilian chef Procopio Cutò. The café is said to have played a major part in setting up the café culture in Paris.

7. Cheese shops in Paris have more than 1000 different varieties of French Cheese

Wine and Cheese Shop – French Wine and Cheese Shop in Paris

You will be spoilt for choice when looking for French cheese in Paris. From the soft and creamy Camembert to the rich and firm Comté, you won’t be able to try out all the varieties in one trip.

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source : https://www.ba-bamail.com

Cristina David

Ein Gedi the most picturesque oasis in the world

An awsome Nature Reserve

En Gedi is the biggest oasis in Israel. It has springs and waterfalls, and flowing brooks at the foot of the cliffs, home to ibexes and rock hyraxes. Situated on the eastern border of the Judean Desert, on theDead Sea shore, Ein Gedi is a real jewel of Israel.

Foto: Wikimedia

I visited Israel recently, but never got to see it although I was not too far from it. On that day of my pilgrimage I just contemplated the desolate look oh the Dead Sea, after coming from other jewels one can admire in the desert : very old, impressive monasteries, holy places of spiritual life.

While the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve offers over nine different hiking trails, suitable for everyone from family groups to experienced hikers, and ranging in duration from just half an hour in length to a full day, some of the most popular hiking trails are those which head through Wadi David.

King David fall and cave

Whichever of the hikes you decide to take, you are likely to gaze in awe at the beauty of Ein Gedi Nature Reserve, and be amazed in particular at how it contrasts to its desert surroundings. The springs are a source of beauty today, and have, for thousands of years, been the source upon which life, both human and otherwise, has relied upon for living in the area.

The reserve has two streams which flow year round, and four springs which feed the streams. This hike passes through the David stream and three of the four springs. The David stream has a series of waterfalls and pools and descends 200 meters to the height of the Dead Sea.

The Nahal David lower stream – the internet

Flora in the nature reserve includes the acacia, Sodom apple, Christ-thorn, reeds and cattails. Fauna in the reserve includes foxes, wolves, hyenas, and leopards, as well as the commonly seen ibex and hyrax.

Hoping you will have the occasion to see these great views, I wish you to stay safe and healthy amid this ugly pandemic.

https://www.attractions-in-israel.com

Cristina David