Friday, 25 September 2009

Travel to America - NewYork

Shimmering from the desert haze of Nevada like a latter-day El Dorado, Las Vegas is the most dynamic, spectacular city on earth. At the start of the twentieth century, it didn't even exist; at the start of the twenty-first, it's home to well over one million people, with enough newcomers arriving to need a new school every month.

Las Vegas is not like other cities. No city in history has so explicitly valued the needs of visitors above those of its own population. All its growth has been fueled by tourism, but the tourists haven't spoiled the "real" city; there is no real city. Las Vegas doesn't have fascinating little-known neighborhoods, and it's not a place where visitors can go off the beaten track to have more authentic experiences. Instead, the whole thing is completely self-referential; the reason Las Vegas boasts the vast majority of the world's largest hotels is that around thirty-seven million tourists each year come to see the hotels themselves.

Each of these monsters is much more than a mere hotel, and more too than the casino that invariably lies at its core. They're extraordinary places, self-contained fantasylands of high camp and genuine excitement that can stretch as much as a mile from end to end. Each holds its own flamboyant permutation of showrooms and swimming pools, luxurious guest quarters and restaurants, high-tech rides and attractions.

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The casinos want you to gamble, and they'll do almost anything to lure you in; thus the huge moving walkways that pluck you from the Strip sidewalk, almost against your will, and sweep you into places like Caesars Palace. Once you're inside, on the other hand, the last thing they want is for you to leave. Whatever you came in for, you won't be able to do it without crisscrossing the casino floor innumerable times; as for finding your way out, that can be virtually impossible. The action keeps going day and night, and in this windowless – and clock-free – environment you rapidly lose track of which is which.

"Little emphasis is placed on the gambling clubs No cheap and easily parodied slogans have been adopted to publicize Las Vegas, no attempt has been made to introduce pseudo-romantic architectural themes or to give artificial glamour or gaiety."
– WPA Guidebook to Nevada, 1940

Las Vegas never dares to rest on its laurels, so the basic concept of the Strip casino has been endlessly refined since the Western-themed resorts and ranches of the 1940s. In the 1950s and 1960s, when most visitors arrived by car, the casinos presented themselves as lush tropical oases at the end of the long desert drive. Once air travel took over, Las Vegas opted for Disneyesque fantasy, a process that started in the late 1960s with Caesars Palace and culminated with Excalibur and Luxor in the early 1990s.

These days, after six decades of capitalism run riot, the Strip is locked into a hyperactive craving for thrills and glamour. First-time visitors tend to expect Las Vegas to be a repository of kitsch, but the casino owners are far too canny to be sentimental about the old days. Yes, there are a few Elvis impersonators around, but what characterizes the city far more is its endless quest for novelty. Long before they lose their sparkle, yesterday's showpieces are blasted into rubble, to make way for ever more extravagant replacements. The Disney model has now been discarded in favor of more adult themes, and Las Vegas demands nothing less than entire cities. Replicas of New York, Paris, Monte Carlo and Venice now jostle for space on the Strip.

The customer is king in Las Vegas. What the visitor wants, the city provides. If you come in search of the cheapest destination in America, you'll enjoy paying rock-bottom rates for accommodation and hunting out the best buffet bargains. If it's style and opulence you're after, by contrast, you can dine in the finest restaurants, shop in the most chic stores, and watch world-class entertainment; it'll cost you, but not as much as it would anywhere else. The same guidelines apply to gambling. The Strip giants cater to those who want sophisticated high-roller heavens, where tuxedoed James Bond lookalikes toss insouciant bankrolls onto the roulette tables. Others prefer their casinos to be sinful and seedy, inhabited by hard-bitten heavy-smoking low-lifes; there is no shortage of that type of joint either, especially downtown.

On the face of it, the city is supremely democratic. However you may be dressed, however affluent or otherwise you may appear, you'll be welcomed in its stores, restaurants, and above all its casinos. The one thing you almost certainly won't get, however, is the last laugh; all that seductive deference comes at a price. It would be nice to imagine that perhaps half of your fellow visitors are skilful gamblers, raking in the profits at the tables, while the other half are losing, but the bottom line is that almost nobody's winning. In the words of Steve Wynn, who built Bellagio and the Mirage, "The only way to make money in a casino is to own one"; according to the latest figures, 85 percent of visitors gamble, and they lose an average of $665 each. On top of that, most swiftly come to see that virtually any other activity works out cheaper than gambling, so end up spending their money on all sorts of other things as well. What's so clever about Las Vegas is that it makes absolutely certain that you have such a good time that you don't mind losing a bit of money along the way; that's why they don't even call it "gambling" anymore, but "gaming."

Finally, while Las Vegas has certainly cleaned up its act since the early days of Mob domination, there's little truth in the notion that it's become a family destination. In fact, for kids, it's doesn't begin to compare to somewhere like Orlando. Several casinos have added theme parks or fun rides to fill those odd nongambling moments, but only ten percent of visitors bring children, and the crowds that cluster around the exploding volcanoes and pirate battles along the Strip remain almost exclusively adult.

(from yahoo travel)

Travel to America - SanFrancisco

SAN FRANCISCO proper occupies just 48 hilly square miles at the tip of a slender peninsula, almost perfectly centered along the California coast. Arguably the most beautiful, certainly the most liberal city in the US, it remains true to itself: a funky, individualistic, surprisingly small city whose people pride themselves on being the cultured counterparts to their cousins in LA – the last bastion of civilization on the lunatic fringe of America. It's a compact and approachable place, where downtown streets rise on impossible gradients to reveal stunning views of the city, the bay and beyond, and blanket fogs roll in unexpectedly to envelop the city in mist. This is not the California of mono-tonous blue skies and slothful warmth – the temperatures rarely exceed the seventies, and even during summer can drop much lower.

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Palace of Fine Art II

Golden Gate

Palace of Fine Art II

The original inhabitants of this area, the Ohlone Indians, were all but wiped out within a few years of the establishment in 1776 of the Mission Dolores, the sixth in the chain of Spanish Catholic missions that ran the length of California. Two years after the Americans replaced the Mexicans in 1846, the discovery of gold in the Sierra foothills precipitated the rip-roaring Gold Rush. Within a year fifty thousand pioneers had traveled west, and east from China, turning San Francisco from a muddy village and wasteland of sand dunes into a thriving supply center and transit town. By the time the transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869, San Francisco was a lawless, rowdy boomtown of bordellos and drinking dens, something the moneyed elite – who hit it big on the much more dependable silver Comstock Load – worked hard to mend, constructing wide boulevards, parks, a cable car system and elaborate Victorian redwood mansions.

In the midst of the city's golden age, however, a massive earthquake, followed by three days of fire, wiped out most of the town in 1906. Rebuilding began immediately, resulting in a city more magnificent than before; in the decades that followed, writers like Dashiell Hammett and Jack London lived and worked here. Many of the city's landmarks, including Coit Tower and both the Golden Gate and Bay bridges, were built in the 1920s and 1930s. By World War II San Francisco had been eclipsed by Los Angeles as the main west coast city, but it achieved a new cultural eminence with the emergence of the Beats in the Fifties and the hippies in the Sixties, when the fusion of music, protest, rebellion and, of course, drugs that characterized 1967's "Summer of Love" took over the Haight-Ashbury district.

In a conservative America, San Francisco's reputation as a liberal oasis continues to grow, attracting waves of resettlers from all over the US. It is estimated that over half the city's population originates from somewhere else. It is a city in a constant state of evolution, fast gentrifying itself into one of the most high-end towns on earth – thanks, in part, to the disposable incomes pumped into its coffers from its sizeable singles and gay contingents. Gay capital of the world, San Francisco has also been the scene of the revolution's rise and fall. The resultant wealth at one time made housing prices skyrocket – often at the expense of the city's middle and lower classes – but the closure of hundreds of start-up IT companies has brought real-estate prices back down to (almost) reasonable levels. Despite the city's current economic ebbs and flows, your impression of the city likely won't be altered – it remains one of the most proudly distinct places to be found anywhere.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Most Beautiful places of the world - 1

Nature reveals its beauty in various forms; deserts, mountains, cliffs, forests, caves, valleys, rocks, islands, waterfalls, springs, oceans and others. Hope you enjoy this tour of beautiful places that take us into a different world – the world of mother nature.

In fact, we had done an article on Ten of the most beautiful places in the world a few days earlier; however, based on the response of our visitors showing interest in other places, we felt there is a lot missing and decided to bring more beauty your way.

Amazon Rainforest – Amazon Basin, South America

Amazon Basin

Amazon rainforest is the thickest rainforest that spans over a billion acres and encompasses areas in Brazil (60%), Peru (13%), Venezuela, Columbia, Ecuador, Guyana, Bolivia, French Guiana and Suriname. The concentration of wildlife is very high and new species or subspecies of existing species continues to be discovered almost all the time. The majestic beauty and timelessness of this awe-inspiring tropical rainforest is indescribable in words and should be experienced.

Sognafjord (Sogne Fjord) – Norway

Naeroyfjord Narrowest Fjord

The second longest fjord (an inset of the sea between steep slopes) in the world and the largest in Norway, the magnificence of this has to be experienced for the magnitude to be understood. Reaching to more than 1,300 meters below sea level and above 2,000 meters above sea level, the sparkling water, the beautiful cliff faces and the picturesque villages make this a must visit place for nature lovers.

The Himalayas – Asia

Mount Everest

Mount Everest

This spectacle of awesome dimensions …the 3000 kilometer long towering mountain range with tiers of rock, ranges upon ranges, sky scraping peaks and canyons, is the planet’s highest mountain system and includes the world’s highest peaks; Mount Everest and K2. It stretches through Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Nepal and Pakistan. This is where earth meets the sky!