From Beach Resort Paradise to Rotting Ruins: Crumbling Mediterranean Ghost Town

September 13th, 2013 Permalink

Imagine yourself on an island in the Mediterranean with beautiful white sand beaches, warm weather, fantastic places to shop, fine dining, and modern luxurious hotels that are frequented by the vacationing rich and famous. Then boom, the island is invaded and you must flee for your life from that slice of paradise. From tourist hotspot to ghost town, it’s a No Man’s Land with ruins that are rotting away. This happened: the island is Cyprus, the year was 1974, and the area was known as Varosha, a section of Famagusta. The crumbling vacation resort is a “forbidden zone” that has been stuck in time and slowly decaying for nearly 40 years. Sure, you could cross the “Buffer Zone” to see what that moment in time looked like when people fled and Varosha was abandoned, but if caught . . . trespassers will be shot on the spot. [36 Photos]

Varosha is a beach paradise and crumbling vacation resort where trespassers will be shot

Varosha in Cyprus is a both a beautiful beach paradise and a crumbling vacation resort where trespassers will be shot. Wait, what? You read it right. The photographer explained, “Perhaps the most haunting and downright weird tourist attraction on Cyprus, the abandoned Maras district (known in Greek as the ‘Varosia’) really is a sight worth seeing. The Varosia is a lingering reminder of the relatively recent year of 1974, when the Turkish invasion took place and this whole area was barricaded off with barbed wire, becoming something of a no-man’s land. The beach and crumbing high-rise tower blocks remain unused and make the Varosia area of Famagusta appear rather like a ghost town, with just a tiny portion of this former leading beach resort being still occupied.” You can see both in the “postcard” above. Photo #1 by bass_nroll

More Photos

Outstanding Natural Beauty of World Heritage Sites in Africa [36 PICS]

August 27th, 2013 Permalink

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has designated 129 World Heritage Sites in Africa, but these 36 are listed as Outstanding Universal Value for natural heritage. As you might expect, there is a wide diversity of flora and fauna in each. Sadly, some of these have also been placed on UNESCO’s List of World Heritage Sites in Danger, most often due to poaching of endangered wildlife. The UNESCO committee may inscribe new sites on the list, or it may delist sites if the area no longer meets the criteria, but this is UNESCO’s current list for Africa in 2013 as of the time of publishing.
[36 Photos]

Lion at Serengeti National Park, Masai Mara, Tanzania

Lion at Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. It is one of many UNESCO World Heritage Sites for natural and outstanding universal value in Africa. This vast savanna has 3,648,000 acres (1,476,300 ha) and is world-renowned for its annual herd migrations in search of water and pasture. Two million wildebeests, hundreds of thousands of zebras and gazelles, and all their predators make it “one of the most impressive nature spectacles in the world.” Because there is so much prey, it contains the “Big Five.” Serengeti is believed to hold more than 3,000 lions, the largest population of lions in Africa, about 1,000 African leopards, African Buffalo, African Elephants and Black Rhinoceros — but few rhinos are said to remain due to “rampant poaching.” It was designated as a natural site by UNESCO in 1981. Photo #1 by Anita Ritenour

More Photos

Hidden Gems: 25 Least Crowded U.S. National Parks [50 PICS]

July 23rd, 2013 Permalink

National Park Service sites receive approximately 280 million visitors each year and it publishes a ‘Ranking Report for Recreation Visits’ every year. This public usage list includes all NPS properties, not just National Parks, but also National Monuments (NM), National Historical Parks (NHP), National Seashores (NS), National Military Parks (NMP), National Recreation Areas (NRA), and so on as listed on the ranking report for 2012. The National Park Service says it has one mission, to “care for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage.” There are a total of 367 places on this list, but when it comes to only national parks — some with and without a preserve — what are the hidden gems among national treasures, the least crowded U.S. National Parks? If you want more of nature, and less of people, then you might be interested in visiting one that is less popular. Here’s a list starting at #25 and working down to the #1 least-visited, therefore least-crowded national parks in all of the United States during 2012. [50 Photos]

Virgin Islands National Park, Trunk Bay and the beach on Saint John, called the most beautiful beach in the world

#25 of the 59 U.S. National Parks: Virgin Islands National Park had 483,341 visitors in 2012, coming in with a rank of #119 of the #367 on the list. It is the 25th least-crowded national park in the U.S. This is Trunk Bay and the beach on Saint John, called the most beautiful beach in the world. It is continually listed in the top 10 beaches worldwide to visit. Photo #1 by Iliyan Gochev

More Photos

Endearing, Endangered Gentle Giants: Marvelous Manatees [44 PICS]

July 12th, 2013 Permalink

Massive yet gentle, manatees are endangered marine mammals. Sometimes called “sea cows,” they were once thought to be a bit dimwitted, but now are known to have a similar intelligence to dolphins. We fell in love with them while we were in Florida, so here’s look at these endearing, endangered gentle giants. [44 Photos]

Kissing manatees in Georgia

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (.pdf), “Christopher Columbus was the first European to report seeing a manatee in the New World. To Columbus, and other sailors who had been at sea for a long time, manatees were reminiscent of mermaids—the mythical half-fish, half-woman creatures of the ocean. Manatees are not fish, however, but marine mammals.” When you think about manatees, you probably think of those living in Florida. However, these West Indian manatees traveled to Georgia in late spring and early summer. Photo #1 by Michael Gilbert, Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge Complex / USFWS

More Photos

America’s Most Iconic Statue: Lady Liberty [55 PICS]

July 6th, 2013 Permalink

For 127 years, she’s watched over and welcomed people to the USA. Officially, her name is ‘Liberty Enlightening the World,’ but most call her the Statue of Liberty or Lady Liberty. She is surely America’s most iconic statue. Lady Liberty is made from 300 copper sheets, suspended from a steel framework, which have naturally oxidized over the years making her appear green. She is 151 feet tall, standing on a 65 foot concrete and granite pedestal upon a courtyard shaped like an 11-pointed star. Located on Liberty Island, Lady Liberty calls out, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.” On July Fourth, America’s 237th birthday, Lady Liberty reopened to the public. Here are some rare and historic photos and fun facts, mixed in with stunning shots of the Statue of Liberty. [55 Photos]

Lady Liberty, designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and dedicated on October 28, 1886

Countless millions have been awed by visiting America’s most iconic statue. Lady Liberty, designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and dedicated on October 28, 1886, was a gift to the United States from the people of France. After the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, the Statue of Liberty “reopened” on July 4, 2013. Photo #1 by Mr. Nixter

More Photos

Fireworks: Celebrating Happy Independence Day America! [21 PICS]

July 4th, 2013 Permalink

July Fourth, the day Americans celebrate their independence from that place across the pond. God bless America. Happy Independence Day! [21 Photos]

Independence Day

Happy Independence Day, America! “May the sun in his course visit no land more free, more happy, more lovely, than this our own country!” ~ quote by Daniel Webster. Photo #1 by Jeff Krause

More Photos

Stunning Space Shuttle Atlantis at Kennedy Space Center [51 PICS]

July 1st, 2013 Permalink

The new Space Shuttle Atlantis attraction at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex opened to the public on June 29, but we had the pleasure of a surprise early viewing—a soft opening—on June 20. I was so extremely excited that I felt like a little kid on Christmas morning about to receive a dream gift. Seeing Atlantis, payload bay doors open—a sight that only astronauts could previously witness—was such a moving and inspirational sight that it brought tears to my eyes. Of course it doesn’t hurt that we are big fans of NASA, all things space-related, and Atlantis. If you missed it, then you might be inclined to check out NASA Nostalgia: 42 Favorite Photos of the Space Shuttle Atlantis. Over the course of its 26-year career, Atlantis traveled 125,935,769 miles, completed 33 missions and spend 307 days in space. This amazing craft and her crew helped repair the Hubble Telescope, so there is also a full-size Hubble replica in the building. If you are curious about life on the International Space Station, you can view replicas and learn much more about that as well. There’s more than 60 interactive experiences, with multimedia walls, simulators and augmented reality viewers. Here’s a look at the Space Shuttle Atlantis Attraction, the newest way to be truly dazzled at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, as well as some great shots of the space shuttle in action. [51 Photos]

Atlantis Aerial View

If you love NASA, then you’ll love this. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex has a priceless view in store for visitors: “When guests visit the new Space Shuttle Atlantis attraction at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, they will be treated to a sight previously seen only by astronauts in space – Atlantis tilted at a 43.21-degree angle with its payload bay doors open as if it has just undocked from the International Space Station (ISS). The 90,000 square-foot Atlantis attraction is the marquee element of the Visitor Complex’s 10-year master plan.” Photo #1 by NASA

More Photos

Horses by the Sea: The Other Spectacular Sea Horse [28 PICS]

June 23rd, 2013 Permalink

When we were image hunting for seahorses, we came across photos of the “other” spectacular “sea horse.” Some people choose to experience the breathtaking beauty of the beach by horseback, so here’s some inspirational shots of horses in the sea, horseback riding by the sea, and horse / equestrian quotes.
[28 Photos]

Sea horse at Lac Bay - Bonaire, Netherlands

Sea horse at Lac Bay – Bonaire, Netherlands. “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man, ~ quote by Winston Churchill. Photo #1 by Julia (oijulia)

More Photos

Beautiful Bamboo Forests [40 PICS]

June 19th, 2013 Permalink

Bamboo is a grass, but many of the larger bamboo species look like trees. Grown close to each other, they make up amazing forests. Here’s a look at some of those beautiful bamboo forests found worldwide. [40 Photos]

Bamboo woods in Japan

Bamboo woods in Japan, but bamboo forests are located all over the world . . . including the USA. Photo #1 by digicacy

More Photos

World-Famous Dancing Fountains of Bellagio, Vegas Baby [35 PICS, 9 Vids]

June 15th, 2013 Permalink

People go to Las Vegas for all sorts of reasons, but everyone wants to see the beloved and world-famous Fountains of Bellagio, the most popular free attraction on the Vegas Strip. There’s a reason that crowds are dazzled by watching the water dance. Bellagio’s iconic fountains are an engineering marvel, 8 acres of water, nearly 5,000 lights, and a fog system to help set the mood, as 1,200 water-shooting nozzles create a magnificent ballet of dancing fountains choreographed to music. Whether it is your first visit or your thousandth time to watch the show, there’s something magical about the Fountains of Bellagio.
[35 Photos, 9 Videos]

Sunset Fountain Show, Bellagio, Las Vegas

The Fountains of Bellagio are on every tourist’s list of attractions to see. The show is set in an 8½-acre man-made lake that is about 1,000 feet (300 m) long and illuminated at night by nearly 5,000 lights. The center circle of nozzles, “extreme shooters,” are capable of shooting water almost 500 feet (460 feet) into the air. Photo #1 by Justin Brown

More Photos

Mischief & Daredevil Misadventures: Reasons Why Boys Need Dads [42 PICS]

June 11th, 2013 Permalink

Boys will be boys and who understands that better than a grown boy, a dad? He was once a boy in mischief, full of daredevil energy for fun misadventures. Here are photographic examples of boys being boys to show reasons why boys might need their father. Of course we’re not discounting the value and power of what moms can do in these same situations, but having once been a boy, now a big boy, dad might understand this in a different way. Sprinkle in some quotes and here is lighthearted tribute to dads. Happy Father’s Day! [42 Photos]

Danger Keep Out, why boys need their father

Danger Keep Out! Why boys need their father. Photo #1 by Tom Woodward

More Photos

Cool Karst at China’s Shilin Stone Forest: 270 Million Year Old Natural Wonder [35 PICS]

June 6th, 2013 Permalink

Imagine 96,000 acres of forest, then swap out the trees in your mind’s eye for huge karst formations, some of which formed at least 270 million years ago, and that “stone forest” is Shilin in China. Since the Ming Dynasty in 1368-1644 AD, the collections of intricate karst formations and landscapes at Shilin Stone Forest have “bewitched” people; the site became known as the ‘First Wonder of the World,’ according to the China Travel Guide. South China Karst is not one Stone Forest, but made up of many such individual landscapes of all sizes. In fact, UNESCO says South China Karst has “outstanding universal value” and named two smaller stone forests, Naigu Stone Forest and Suogeyi Village, both as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Here’s a look at Shilin Stone Forest in China.
[35 Photos]

Lunan County, China, Stone Forest, Shilin

Imagine 96,000 acres of forest, then swap out the trees in your mind’s eye for huge karst formations, some of which formed at least 270 million years ago, and that “stone forest” is Shilin in China. It’s located about an hour away from Kunming. Shilin is dotted with 65 reservoirs and ponds. Photo #1 by Richard IJzermans

More Photos