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eYe-reEs
post Jan 15 2010, 08:51
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eYe-reEs
post Jan 15 2010, 09:26
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The coldest capital cities on earth
Skyscanner takes a look at the some of the lowest temperatures

As temperatures plunged as low as -22C in some parts of Scotland last week, travel site Skyscanner takes a look at the some of the lowest temperatures recorded in capital cities around the world.

Not everyone is a heat lover. With low temperatures scaring away those who only want sun and sand, cold cities are the place to get away from the summer tourist masses. But if you’re going to visit these wonderland's during the winter, be sure to pack your thermal undies and a hot water bottle.



1. Astana (Kazakhstan) -52C
Kazakhstan’s capital (which took the title from Almaty in 1997) is renowned for its futuristic architecture; a tour of the ‘Palace of Peace,’ the Ak Orda Presidential Palace, or the Nur-Astana Mosque should be on the itinerary of any visitor. Bayterek, a 105m monument and observation tower is a symbol of the city and is said to embody a folk story about a tree of life, a magic bird of happiness and an egg. The Borat-style mankini is not recommended attire during the winter months.

2. Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia) -49C

Located on the bank of the Tuul River, Mongolia’s capital is surrounded by four sacred mountains with dense pine forests on the northern slopes and grassy steppes on the south. Summers bring warm weather to the city, but winters are harsh so don some camel hair clothing like the locals do, which is renowned for its wonderful warmth.

3. Minsk (Belarus) -40C

Renowned for friendly locals, clean streets and leafy parks, Minsk benefits from a lack of tourists clogging the streets, yet there is plenty on offer for cultured visitors. The Minsk Circus is well worth a visit and is especially good for children. Adults can catch an opera or ballet, a ticket for which will cost far less than in most other cities in Europe. And the Belarusians like to boogie, so be sure to visit a nightclub or two and bring your dancing shoes.

4. Ottawa (Canada) -37C

Canadians are used to the cold, making the most of the frozen weather to play their national sport: ice hockey. Catch a game at Scotiabank Place, home of the Ottawa Senators – Ottawa’s professional ice hockey team. If you’re really keen, take to the ice yourself on the Rideau Canal, Ontario’s first UNESO World Heritage Site, which winds its way through the city and is the world’s largest naturally frozen skating rink come winter.

5. Helsinki (Finland) -33C

Finland’s cool capital is surrounded by sea and a vast archipelago, creating a city that blends Nordic urban chic with outstanding natural beauty. The Baltic gets so Baltic that it freezes over during mid-winter, and you can even go ice skating on it. If you prefer snow to ice, pick up a pair of cross country skis and take to the city’s Central Park ski trails. And if you’re really feeling brave, join the winter swimming teams at Rastila campsite for a very refreshing dip indeed.

6. Bucharest (Romania) -32C
Bucharest may be pretty chilly in winter, but come spring, the city has thawed making it a popular destination with city-breakers. Known as “The Little Paris”, you’ll certainly find that prices are much smaller than in the French capital, yet Bucharest offers an intriguing mix of neoclassic architecture, old town romance and imposing communist-era buildings that mark Romania’s time under communist control.

7. Vilnius (Lithuania) -30C
The Lithuanian capital has seen a welcome publicity boost following its reign as the 2009 Capital of Culture, and the city is well geared up for winter weekends. A short drive outside of the capital you can take a high-speed snowmobile ride across snowy fields and forest paths. Stop at the frozen lake to go ice fishing for your supper, which can be cooked by your hotel chef, and then explore the nightlife and meet the locals at one of the old town’s many nightclubs.

7. Tallinn (Estonia) -30C
Tallinn welcomes winter visitors with its medieval old town becoming a magical white wonderland at this time of year. Grab your skates and glide around the outdoor ice rink before warming up with a hot spiced wine at one of Tallinn’s cosy cafes. Visit Tallinn in winter and you’ll avoid the stag groups which are drawn to the city for its cheap beer during the summer months.

9. Nuuk (Greenland) -29.5C
With fantastic ice scenery on its doorstep, Nuuk is one of the world’s most unique capitals. Visitors can take a helicopter ride over Greenland’s vast ice sheet, visit Norse ruins or take a wildlife boat safari to see whales cavorting around the coastline. The National Museum, situated in the Nuuk’s old quarter near the fjord, is the place to learn more about Greenland’s frozen past and its fascinating present.

10. Warsaw (Poland) -29C
A favourite of Europe’s culture vultures, Warsaw has all the class at half the cost, when compared to other European cities. Praised for its compact size, Warsaw has an excellent selection of museums, galleries and heritage sites; cultural highlights including the Palace of Culture and Science – Poland's tallest building and an imposing example of Stalinist architecture – and the Polish National Opera.

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fjaka
post Jan 15 2010, 11:21
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eYe-reEs
post Jan 15 2010, 15:08
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Transnistria: The Country That Doesn't Exist

By Daniel Reynolds Riveiro


The mini-bus, packed with passengers, slowed and then stopped. Ahead, barely visible through the dirty windshield and the February mist, was something that shouldn't have been there: a border crossing.

There shouldn’t have been a border crossing because there shouldn’t have been a border.

As far as mapmakers and world governments were concerned, we were still in Moldova, an Eastern European country wedged between Romania and Ukraine.

The guys up there, though, the guys with the guns, they didn't agree.

Back in America, when I let people know I was going to Transnistria, the collective response was: “where?”

And the reason they had never heard of it was because Transnistria, despite having its own constitution, army and currency, isn’t recognized by any other sovereign nation and technically doesn’t exist.


The border crossing from Moldova into Transnistria - photos by Daniel Reynolds Riveiro

Non-Existent or Not, They Make Great Cognac

The factory was built in 1897,” said Natalya. “It originally produced vodka. It burned to the ground in a fire in 1918, was rebuilt in 1925 and started producing brandy in 1938.”

Natalya Lvovna is the senior master brewer at Kvint, a brandy factory in Transnistria’s tiny capital of Tiraspol. The citizens of Transnistria are very proud of their brandy. So proud, in fact, that a picture of the factory is on the back of their five-ruble bill.

It's been said that Transnistria is lacking in things to be proud of, but it's still young, only a teenager, and doesn't have much of a history to draw upon.

It declared its independence from Moldova in 1990, when the Soviet Union was in the process of collapsing, and the Transnistrians worried that Moldova would leave the USSR to rejoin Romania.

The citizens of Moldova shared a language, history and culture with Romania (the two were the same until Hitler and Stalin hacked them apart), but the future citizens of Transnistria did not.


The assembly line at the Kvint brandy factory

Soviet-Era Three-Card Monte

Most had been transplanted there from Russia during the many times the USSR had played Three-Card Monte with its populace, hoping — among other things — that all the relocating would result in a more homogenized empire.


Transnistria has its own army and its own currency, but it is not recognized by most mapmakers.

Stuck on the outskirts and far from their homeland, the last thing they wanted to be was Romanian.

Natalya’s parents were some of those transplants, Russian natives whose daughter grew up with Moldovan dreams. Moldova was famed for its wines, and its children wanted to be wine makers the way other children might want to be doctors or lawyers.

Natalya studied chemistry in college in hopes of entering the alcohol business and ended up designing brandies for Kvint. Since then, Kvint’s products have won two Super Grand Prix Cups, 12 Grand Prix Cups, one Gold Diploma, 84 gold medals, 28 silver medals and four bronze medals at international competitions, most of them in Eastern Europe.

A Brief But Bloody Civil War


Natalya lived through the civil war that led to Transnistria’s creation, but she changes the subject when it's brought up. As wars go, it was bloody but brief. The Transnistrians — supported by USSR’s 14th Guards Army — clashed off and on with Moldova until 1992, after which a cease-fire was called.

Transnistria always hoped to be annexed by Russia, a hope that hasn't faded with time. In 2006, 97 percent of the Transnistria's half million citizens voted for reunification with Russia.
Checking and boxing bottles of Kvint Checking and boxing bottles of Kvint
Again, Russia declined.

On their own, the transplanted Slavs cast about for their own identity and, with little more than a sliver of land to call their own, they ended up putting a brandy factory on their money.

The buildings where Kvint turns grapes into alcohol are angular and built of white concrete.

Flattened under Nazi shelling during World War II and rebuilt in 1948, they are the same lifeless concrete hulks seen in every other Soviet city for ten time zones.

đ
Checking and boxing bottles of Kvint

Ten Million Liters of Alcohol

Inside the main building, long conveyor belts and stainless steel machines fill, seal and label 7,000 bottles an hour.

Humans have little to do with the process until the end of the line, where a group of women with dour expressions silently check bottles and place them into boxes. Little by little, those boxes add up to the ten million liters of alcoholic beverages that Kvint produces each year.
Kvint might be doing well financially, but the rest of Transnistria is not. It is the poorest country in Europe and a haven for smuggling and gun running.


The Parliamentary Building in Tiraspol is still topped by a Soviet Star.

Frozen in Time

Even poor countries usually boast fine capitals, but in Tiraspol everything is faded, crumbling, rusted. An almost complete lack of new construction has left it frozen in a time warp.

A statue of Lenin still stands in front of the president’s administrative offices, a Soviet Star is atop the parliament building and a hammer and sickle sit outside the train station.

Diana, my traveling companion from Ukraine, was in a delirium of nostalgia, pointing excitedly to things not seen since her Soviet childhood: fonts from the 80s, Soviet water dispensing machines, Soviet beer kiosks, 20-year-old buses, and stores that are named by their one state-mandated function.

We stopped in at a “Pelmenaya,” which has been dutifully selling only dumplings since before perestroika.

Noticing her accent, the middle-aged woman at the counter struck up a conversation with Diana, leading Diana to explain how much Ukraine had changed since it shared a political unity with this region, how much of the past had been wiped clean in a tsunami of new clothes and foods and freedoms.

"Change is Dangerous"


As we ate, the counter lady told her (assumed) husband what Diana had said.

“Things are safe, peaceful, here,” he said to her with an edge in his voice.

“Change is needed,” she shot back, the anger seeming to re-arise from a previous argument.

“Change is dangerous,” he grumbled.

We tuned out what they said for our own conversation, until one final retort caught our attention.

“We can’t even buy dollars!” she said. “They’ve closed the banks!”


Vladimir Putin and Che Guevara share a grocery store window

Embracing Capitalism

Despite Transnistria's slow progress, money and modernity do show up in the strangest places, including in a $200 million soccer stadium that was recently built on the outer edge of Tiraspol.

It was funded by Sheriff, a corporation founded by former soldiers shortly after the war. In a country still so gripped by the communist ideal that stores have to advertise themselves as “privately owned,” Sheriff has embraced capitalism wholeheartedly, acquiring supermarkets, gas stations, a cell phone operator, a television station, a publishing house, two bread factories, a car dealership, a construction company and a soccer team.

And it also owns Kvint.


A clothing store with a sign saying 'Private Business'

The USSR's First Named Brandy

Natalya took us past a massive metal tank, twelve feet tall and thirty feet long, which contained a brandy made in 1948.
It's their oldest brandy, made shortly after WWII. Their youngest is only three years-old, defined by the moment the brandy was put into the oak barrel.

Thousands and thousands of those barrels lay stacked in the next room she took us to, each with a metal tap for the portable siphoning machine that plugged into the pipe system over our heads.

That system took the brandy to the girls in the front building, who watched it roll past, hour after hour.

“We made the first named brandy in the USSR,” said Natalya, proudly. “Before that it was just labeled ‘three star’ or ‘five star’ or it was nameless, with just ‘brandy’ written on it. But in 1957, we started producing Brandy Doina.”

More varieties came out soon after, and the factory produces more than 40 today, including one that Natalya personally developed: Chernitski.


Natalya Lvovna with varieties of Kvint brandy

Quality Control


Natalya says that the secret to their brandy is quality control, something she fears may soon end.

“When we were run by the government, we were able to preserve how the brandy was made, year after year. Now that we are privately owned...”

She trailed off and continued walking through the alleys of alcohol.

As we parted back at the front door, I asked Natalya about her favorite Kvint brandy. Without hesitation, she said it was Victoria, a brandy that they age for 25 years.

One would think a master brewer would go on and on about the intricacies of a brandy’s color, smell and flavor, but when pressed as to why it's her favorite, her vision drifted, and she allowed a small smile.

“It’s light,” she said. “Nice.”


A hammer and sickle still adorm the train station in Tiraspol

Daniel Reynolds Riveiro has degrees in English and Religion. He couldn't decide between being a writer or a priest, so he became a teacher instead. This is his 9th year as a teacher, with time taken off for a stint in the Peace Corps and a gig directing a full length documentary on skinheads in Ukraine. He currently works at a school for at-risk youth in the Bronx and travels every chance he gets. His pieces have appeared in numerous publications, including Sports Source, Loud Magazine, Offbeat Travel, InTravel Magazine and International Living.

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fjaka
post Jan 15 2010, 17:48
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eYe-reEs
post Jan 18 2010, 13:42
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matt je isto moj heroj!!! biggrin.gif





This post has been edited by eYe-reEs: Jan 18 2010, 13:43
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eYe-reEs
post Jan 19 2010, 15:14
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sandboarding - totalno genijalno. mogu ici do oko 82 km/h. jebeno.











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eYe-reEs
post Jan 20 2010, 09:33
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eYe-reEs
post Jan 22 2010, 10:05
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Lonely Planet celebrates 100 million guidebooks



21 Jan 10 (TravMedia.com): Lonely Planet is celebrating the publication of its 100 millionth guidebook by inviting travellers to share photographs of their favourite travel experiences online.

The 15th edition of the guide to Australia is officially the 100 millionth book to be published in Lonely Planet’s 37 year history.

To celebrate, Lonely Planet will launch a competition on 29 January to encourage travellers to share their favourite travel images and be in the running to win a round-the-world trip for two, or one of 200 Nokia handsets valued at around $800AUD, £450GBP, $740US. Travellers will be able to upload their travel images from 29 January via lonelyplanet.com/win

Lonely Planet’s co-founder, Tony Wheeler, said shared travel experiences are at the heart of everything Lonely Planet does. “And this is why we decided to reach out to our travel community with a competition to build the world’s largest online mosaic of travel images to support us having published 100 million guidebooks.

“Pictures are a wonderful way to tell a story. They can celebrate memories of travel and capture the essence of our experiences. Over the years, Maureen and I have taken thousands of pictures around the world, and they’re an important part of our travel history.

“I’m delighted and amazed that we’ve published 100 million books, but the real cause for celebration is the hundreds of millions of shared travel stories experienced by Lonely Planet travellers. Sharing those stories is something we’ve been encouraging for decades,” Tony Wheeler said.
Lonely Planet CEO Matt Goldberg said the milestone of publishing 100 million books was an opportunity to reflect on how the company has evolved as a multi-media travel publisher.

“Lonely Planet serves an amazing global community of like-minded travel enthusiasts who, not only buy our books, but also enjoy accessing travel content, information, and services online and wirelessly, as well as through TV and magazines.

“This milestone is not about us; it’s about you. We would never have reached our 100 millionth publication without the goodwill of a loyal travel community who have enthusiastically shared their experiences with Lonely Planet out of the pure joy of travel and to help all travellers on their next journey.

“We hope everyone enjoys sharing their favourite travel images in our effort to build the world’s largest online mosaic of travel photography,” Matt Goldberg said.

You don’t have to be a professional photographer to enter. Entries will be judged on how your story - a combination of an image and a caption - captures the adventurous free spirit of Lonely Planet and getting to the heart of a place.

Tony Wheeler on Lonely Planet’s 100 million books and sharing travel stories. Tony shares his thoughts on Lonely Planet achieving its 100 millionth book milestone and what sharing travel stories means to him on location filming ‘Lonely Planet: Roads Less Travelled’ in Alaska.
Follow this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOx_bpbYsXc
“We invited feedback in our very first books and soon began to include the useful warning that ‘Things change – prices go up, good places go bad, bad places go bankrupt – so if you find things better or worse, recently opened or long ago closed, please write and tell us’. Our travellers have taken that statement seriously, from the very beginning we’ve been supported by thousands of travellers who have written invaluable letters about their experiences.

“The phrase hadn’t been invented yet, but in 1981 Lonely Planet made its first foray into ‘user generated content’ by sending out a quarterly newsletter incorporating information from Lonely Planet travellers and writers out on the road.

“Our newsletter compilers evolved into today’s Talk2Us team, the connection to our travellers and an attempt to be more responsive to their feedback and to develop better ways of incorporating it into our planning for new editions.

“The Thorntree was born in 1996 – likely the first example of a vibrant traveller community on the web – and moved us into the era of online traveller conversations with the ever-growing Lonely Planet community. Today there are close to three quarters of a million Thorntree users and a new post goes up every 12 seconds.

“Today we’re a multi-media travel publisher – content from our guides feeds into the world’s media – you only have to look at the amount of attention Best In Travel 2010 has already received in international media; into research and inspiration for the Lonely Planet Magazine, our award winning television programmes, mobile devices and licensing deals across the globe and, of course, our website, lonelyplanet.com”
Counting those millions - notes to editors

Australia is Lonely Planet’s number one selling title with over two million copies. It was the first to reach a million copies in print in July 1999. India followed by hitting the million mark in April 2001, Thailand in March 2002, New Zealand in October 2002, Southeast Asia on a Shoestring in February 2004, China in March 2007. Lonely Planet’s first European title to reach a million copies was Italy in December 2007.

From Lonely Planet’s first book in 1973, it took 26 years until 1999 to reach 30 million copies in print. Five years later in 2004, 60 million books had been printed. And now, in just six years, we are announcing the 100 millionth book in print.

Join in the celebration
The competition opens on 29 January 2010 and closes on 29 July 2010. All travellers everywhere are invited to participate. Competition details may be found at lonelyplanet.com/win

Tony and Maureen Wheeler are available for telephone and email interviews throughout the competition, contact local PR teams.

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post Jan 22 2010, 14:00
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eYe-reEs
post Jan 27 2010, 15:53
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Lonely Planet's ten hottest countries for next year

The top 10 countries for 2010

Monday, January 25, 2010

Lonely Planet just released its newest edition of Best in Travel. To start with a bang, here’s our list of the ten hottest countries for next year - and why.


El Salvador

El Salvador sneaks up on you: in lefty lounge bars in San Salvador, at sobering war memorials and museums, and along lush cloud-forest trails; it’s a place of remarkable warmth and intelligence, made all the more appealing for being so unexpected. Travellers tend to skip El Salvador, wooed by marquee destinations such as Guatemala and Costa Rica, and unnerved by stories of civil war and gang violence. But the war ended almost 20 years ago, and crime, while serious, is almost exclusively played out between rival gangs; tourists are virtually never involved. And though El Salvador has fewer protected areas than its neighbours, you get them practically to yourself - including pristine forests, active volcanoes and alpine lakes.

Germany
Some countries are simply allowed to be, but Germany has had to reinvent itself more times than Madonna. And it has done so again since 1990, when reunification brought an end to more than four decades of division (thanks for the correction, conetop!). In year 20 after its latest rebirth, Germany is still a country where you can witness history in the making. Head to Hamburg, where an entire new quarter is being wrested from the detritus of a 19th-century harbour. Or to Dresden, where the domed Frauenkirche church is once again the diamond in the shining tiara that is the city’s famous skyline. And, of course, to Berlin, whose climate of openness spawns more creative experimentation than a Petri dish on Viagra.

Greece
Seldom does a travel destination satisfy the blurbs that shout ‘has something for everyone’ - but Greece truly does. Whether you’re there to poke around ancient ruins, soak in the sun on idyllic beaches, or party till you drop, Greece will leave you clamouring for more. It’s guilt-free travel – a slice of history served alongside a healthy slice of hedonism – and everyone seems happy. You get to marvel at the dazzling clarity of the light and the waters, the floral aromas that permeate the air, the pervading sense of spirit – and then sit down to contemplate it all while consuming that great Greek combination of ouzo and octopus!

Malaysia
Malaysia often gets criticised as being mild in comparison with its grittier neighbours, Thailand and Indonesia. It’s true, natural disasters and coups only seem to happen across its borders, the roads don’t have too many potholes, buses and trains have air-con and plush seats, and hotels are of international standard. While troubles are few, visiting Malaysia lets you leap into the jaws of one of the most interesting parts of Southeast Asia’s roaring cultural smorgasbord – and not be too worried about it. Cheap connections to Europe and great exchange rates mean that you won’t get eaten up by your wallet either.

Morocco
‘Hello, bonjour, salaam alaykum, labes?’ Street greetings sum up everything you need to know about Morocco in a word: it’s Berber and Arab, Muslim and secular, Mediterranean and African, worldly wise and welcoming. Morocco sees how the Middle East is portrayed via satellite news and the internet, and is as concerned with violent threats and abuses of power as anyone else in the modern world. But as you’ll see, most Moroccans are plenty busy working to get by, get their kids through school and greet the king’s planned 10 million visitors by 2010 with the utmost hospitality. Every visitor helps Moroccans realise these goals by creating new economic opportunities, and can make a Moroccan’s day by returning the greeting: ‘Hello, good day, may peace be upon you, are you happy?’

Nepal
But for the Himalaya, Nepal would probably be stuck in the shadow of India – but it’s hard to cast a shadow on a country that includes the highest point on earth, the summit of Mt Everest. Over the last decade, Nepal has seen its share of troubles, but 2008 was a watershed year – the rebels became the government, the kingdom became a republic and the king became a civilian. With the fall of the monarchy, the sound of temple bells has replaced the stomp of army boots and peace has returned to Shangri-La.

New Zealand
Recommending New Zealand’s too obvious, right? You’re looking for something a bit edgier, under the radar or further off the beaten track. But there’s wisdom in the old saying, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fi x it’, and last time we checked the land of Maori and hobbits certainly didn’t need repairing. NZ’s checklist of essential experiences remains as strong as ever. Spectacular landscapes abound, from sea-level rainforests to plunging glaciers, geothermal springs and barren volcanic plains. Add a hearty pinch of lens-friendly wildlife, proud Maori culture, and fine food and drink, and it’s easy to see why the natives are so chilled.

Portugal
Skirting along the southwestern edge of the Iberian Peninsula, the once-great seafaring nation of Portugal today straddles two very different worlds. For purists, this is a land of great tradition, of saints-day festivals where ox-drawn carts still lumber through flower-strewn streets, and ancient vineyards bring sleepy medieval villages to life during the annual harvest. Meanwhile, in other parts of the country, something decidedly more modern is transpiring. Old city centres, long ago abandoned by the young and upwardly mobile in favour of the suburbs, are slowly being revitalised. A new wave of boutiques, art galleries and cafes are finding new homes in once crumbling old buildings, and locals are beginning to rediscover the allure of vibrant downtown areas.

Suriname
South America’s smallest country, both in area and population, is easily one of its most diverse. Some three quarters of Suriname’s people are descended from Chinese, Javanese and Indian labourers that arrived in the 18th century, and West African slaves in the 17th. Add indigenous Amerindians and Lebanese, Jewish and Dutch settlers, and you have the makings for a lot of ethnic tension, right? Fortunately, wrong. Suriname is known for its peacefully coexisting cultures, most emblematically represented by the country’s biggest mosque and synagogue situated side by side in the capital Paramaribo. With everyone speaking different languages, celebrating different holidays and worshipping in different temples, visiting Suriname is really like hitting several countries at once.

USA

Suddenly the USA is cool again! Be it from Barack Obama, Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday last year, or just tightened budgets during the recession, but more Americans (even hipsters) are looking backwards - and foreigners too - and taking in traditional American historical sites, beginning with Washington DC’s freebie zone of museums and heroic monuments.

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post Jan 29 2010, 02:19
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post Jan 29 2010, 10:49
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The new open travel guide

Earth.org helps you travel the world

Earth.org (earth.org) is the new open travel guide. Whether your passion for traveling takes you to the other side of the earth or simply to the outskirts of your village, Earth.org encourages you to share your experiences with others. This way we all create a reliable travel guide written by you and like-minded travelers from all over the world.

Traveling to a location for the first time is a beautiful challenge. It is all about getting to know new cultures, new insights and new people. So who knows best and can give you information on your destination? Right, it’s the local in the know or people who have travelled there already.
You can find and benefit from their knowledge at Earth.org, the open travel guide. It’s a collaboratively edited travel guide, where you get the most reliable travel information. It is coming from people who know it best. And that can be you as well! At Earth.org everyone writes the travel guide. By sharing your knowledge on earth.org you can help travellers from all over the world to visit your hometown.

At Earth.org we like to think that we are changing the way people travel. We believe that change must start at the individual. Every citizen across the globe has a tremendous knowledge on places where they live or have travelled to. And this is why we believe a knowledge sharing culture can happen.

Earth.org works just like Wikipedia, but focused specifically on traveling.
“You just add your favorite restaurant in your hometown or some info about your traveling experiences. You share your knowledge - and if we all do this, a new way of traveling can emerge. You suddenly have free and reliable travel information on the Internet, just like you have it now with Wikipedia for the world of encyclopedia” Valentin Yeo, product developer at Earth.org.

Free from corporate profits
Earth.org has a non-profit approach, making the information free from paid sources. Earth.org allows users to share free information about destinations, trips, and new things to discover. The idea is to create a reliable resource for travellers and explorers to use as a research tool.

The Earth.org’s Ambassadors, a network of travel writers

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eYe-reEs
post Feb 5 2010, 15:01
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Trekking rucksack

Trekking rucksack: 9-point check

It is not just a case of being bigger. Some features are absolutely essential.

1. Flap with compartment - Storage for bits and pieces.
Practical: Another compartment on the inside of the flap or purse, keys and papers. If the complete flap can be detached and has a strap on the inside, it can be worn on the waist for short excursions.

2. Length adjustment
Important when the rucksack is first fitted.

3. Shoulder straps
The shoulder straps are anatomically pre-shaped so that they do not dig in. They should distribute the load over as big an area as possible and should not sit too close to he neck.

4. Hip strap
It transfers the weight of the rucksack to the pelvis and therefore relieves the shoulders. So that the strap does not twist under load, it should have two layers: Soft foam on the inside, and stiffening on the outside, e.g. plastic.

5. Back padding
High-quality padding consisting of an air-permeable mesh fabric. It keeps the rucksack firmly in place and makes sure that its contents do not make themselves felt.

6. Flap
Adjustable in height, so it adapts perfectly to the packsack. Provides additional volume.

7. Side compartments
Small side compartments accommodate tent poles or even a tripod; bigger ones, even more.

8. Compression straps
These pull the rucksack contents against the back, making the rucksack easier to control.

9. Bottom compartment
Light to medium-heavy; bulky items such as tent or sleeping bag find room here.

McKinley site
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eYe-reEs
post Feb 8 2010, 10:37
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Laos And Vietnam
Tales of Indochina: to open up or not to open up

By Luc Citrinot, eTN | Feb 04, 2010



Image via flickr.com

Once upon the time in Indochina, there were two countries entwined in their destiny: both Laos and Vietnam fought a terrible war, half a century ago. Both experienced the victory of Communist parties. Both saw then their societies reshaped by socialist ideology. And finally in the nineties, both Laos and Vietnam opened slowly to economic market reforms and consequently to tourism. However, both countries' evolution diverge from this point.

Over the last decade, Laos has fully embraced the idea that tourism development would be beneficial to Laotian people. New border crossings were opened to foreign travelers, more airports became international, visa conditions were simplified, and formalities were kept to a minimum. Today, crossing the border from Thailand to Laos does not take more than 30 minutes – excluding a traffic jam. For US$30, travelers get a 15-day visa allowing them to travel anywhere around the country. Citizens from Japan, Korea, Luxemburg, Mongolia, Russia, and Switzerland can even come visa-free. “We are looking to provide visa-free travel to more and more countries such as France, Germany, or the UK, our most important overseas market,” explaied Sounh Manivong, director general of the Planning and Cooperation Department at the Lao National Tourism Administration. All together, the three countries represent 60 percent of all European arrivals in 2008. Without giving a precise date, Manivong probably already his eyes on 2012 when Laos will play host to a “Visit Year” and also in 2013 where it will welcome the ASEAN Travel Forum.

Opening Laos is of crucial importance. The only southeast Asian country without any access to the sea is a compulsory point of transit between Thailand, Vietnam, and China. Laos has sped up infrastructure development over the last decade with a second bridge over the Mekong River and the upgrading of Savannakhet and Luang Prabang airports. Last year, the country celebrated its first rail link. “I acknowledge that our new rail track is highly symbolic, as it runs only three kilometers after the Friendship Bridge at the Lao-Thai border. But we are now in serious discussions with the French government to construct the next 20 kilometers up to Vientiane city center,” told Manivong.

Laos’ liberal tourism policy is paying dividends. In 2003, Laos only received 637,000 international travelers; in 2008, the number rose to 1.74 million. “We most probably should have received in 2009 some 1.8 million travelers, up by 3 percent” said Sounh Manivong. By 2015, Lao National Tourism Administration estimates that some 3.5 million tourists will be seduced by the country’s natural beauty and slow way of life.

By contrast, the pace of development is hectic in Vietnam. And so was also its tourism until 2008 when the country received 4.25 million travelers compared to 2.4 million in 2003. But in contrast to its Laotian neighbor, Vietnam still feels uncomfortable completely embracing an open tourism policy, as if the government is still unable to exchange a 70s old-style ideology for a more realistic vision of our contemporary world.

The most blatant example of the state’s malaise versus foreign travelers can be seen in its visa policy. Vietnam is – with Myanmar - the only country not able to deliver visa-on-arrival to most citizens of foreign countries, not to mention free visas. Countries entitled to enter Vietnam without a visa are mostly ASEAN members, Japan, Russia, and Scandinavian countries. But what is worrisome is the answer of the authorities when asked on reasons of not granting at least visa-on-arrival - ministers and high-ranking officials have only one word as a reply: SECURITY. If we understand that a country must monitor foreign arrivals to protect its citizens against terrorism or any other kind of threat, how do you explain that Vietnam is potentially more exposed as a destination than Australia, Indonesia, or the UAE?

Questioned about it, Mrs. Nguyen Thanh Huong, deputy director in charge of marketing at the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), looks embarrassed but finally confesses that the visa issue is a problem to attract more visitors. “You cannot blame VNAT for this. They are very much aware of the difficulties of this inconvenient visa policy. They know, for example, that such visa restrictions completely kill last-minute holiday booking such as city-breaks. We pled many times with the government to come out with a more flexible approach,” said Mason Florence, executive director of Mekong Tourism, the office in charge of promoting the six countries bordered by the Mekong River.

Hanoi's head of tourism and VNAT are prompt to point out that it is possible to do a visa application through a travel agency and then pick it up at international airports. But it still requests one to three days and it adds generally another 40 to 70 dollars to the official visa fee. Where is the advantage then?

Only four airports are opened today to international flights – Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Danang, and the special administrative zone of Phu Quoc Island. Every year, VNAT announces that Hue, Dalat, and Nha Trang airports – all destinations with an enormous potential for foreign tourists - will gain international entry status - so far, with no effect.

And it has already had consequences: Bangkok Airways pulled out from Bangkok-Danang a few years ago, as the city was too far away from Hue, the destination tourists really wanted to visit. An executive at the famed Sofitel Dalat - a marvelous French-style mansion belonging to the last Vietnamese Emperor - explained once that they were unable to sell week-end packages abroad due to accessibility. “We dream of having direct flights to Bangkok,” he said.

From 2003 to 2008, total foreign arrivals grew in Vietnam by 75 percent but were up by 173 percent for Laos and 203 percent for Cambodia, and a slowdown in tourist arrivals has been perceptible since 2008. After growing only by 0.6 percent in 2008, tourism collapsed last year by 11.3 percent, the worst performance among ASEAN countries.

Speaking at the ASEAN Travel Forum, Mrs. Nguyen Thanh Huong said that the promotional budget has been doubled this year to US$3 million and that a promotional campaign will run on television, as well as in important source markets such as France or Japan. The country hopes also to attract more visitors for the 1,000th anniversary of Hanoi next October. And finally, a new slogan, “Vietnam, just charming,” should replace “Vietnam, the Hidden Charm,” but it looks more like cosmetic surgery than real medicine. Vietnam tourism unfortunately might need another mediocre year for 2010 in order to maybe inflect government’s mindset.

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eYe-reEs
post Feb 26 2010, 09:24
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Tourism plan for Afghan mountains

By Christopher Sleight
BBC Scotland news website


A Scottish company is promoting Afghanistan as a tourist destination.


Chris Philipson made the first ascent of a peak in Afghanistan in 2009

In pictures: Climbing Afganistan (oh boy! wub.gif)

Dundee-based Mountain Unity was set up to provide information to mountaineers and trekkers who want to visit the north-east of the country.
Mountain Unity's David James, a former soldier, said the area known as the Wakhan Corridor was widely regarded as the safest part of the country.
The mountains of Afghanistan were popular with many climbers until the Soviets invaded in 1979.

Mr James, 37, who completed two tours in Afghanistan with the British Army, said he had started Mountain Unity as a social enterprise, with all profits ploughed back into the Wakhan.
He told the BBC Scotland news website that the area had always been peaceful - even during the Soviet invasion and recent conflict with the Taliban.

"I wouldn't suggest anyone goes with a holiday mentality," he said. "This is for serious trekking and mountaineering expeditions - people that know about working in a real wilderness environment."
"You've got to look after your own medical emergencies and be aware of your own security. You've got to be responsible for yourselves in Afghanistan. But this one particular part has remained entirely peaceful."

"People are pretty shocked when I tell them I've been on holiday in Afghanistan - usually mouths wide open is the main reaction" - Climber Chris Philipson

Mr James lives for much of the year in the Wakhan Corridor - a spur of land bordered by Tajikistan to the north and Pakistan to the south - with his wife and two young children.
He said he would move away immediately if it became unsafe.

"We're not blasé. There is the chance that something might change and if it does we'll just tell people it's not safe any more."

PhD student Chris Philipson, from Edinburgh, is one of a number of climbers who have gone to Afghanistan to climb recently.
He made the first ascent of a peak he named Koh-e-Beefy with his friend Joel Fiddes in September 2009.
The 29-year-old said: "People are pretty shocked when I tell them I've been on holiday in Afghanistan - usually mouths wide open is the main reaction."

"Now I can give them reasons why it's much safer than it sounds, but it was harder when I was planning it to convince people it was a good idea."

Mr Philipson, who now lives in Zurich, said they had been welcomed with "incredible Muslim hospitality" by villagers excited that tourists were beginning to return to the region.

"They were really appreciative that we'd come to understand the culture and climb one of their mountains. They could understand that more people would be coming as a result," he said.


David James hopes tourism will help boost the local economy

"Some of them talked about the tourism that their parents knew in the 60s."

British mountaineer Doug Scott spent six weeks in the Hindu Kush mountains in 1967.
He believes the country is a "climber's paradise" with hundreds of unclimbed peaks and very settled weather.

"It's great that things are calming down," he said.

"The central Hindu Kush would have been affected by the wars, but I think in the far north, in the Wakhan Corridor, it will be a lot safer - and there's a lot more to do up there."

bbc news co.uk
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fjaka
post Feb 26 2010, 19:49
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pa dje su slije, ma neda mi se citati wink.gif

evo puno slija, samo malo naporono za gledati treba jer treba pogledati sve stranice
poljaci sa afircatwinovima...

Afghanistan ride. How to enter, survive and return in one piece...
http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=504942








This post has been edited by fjaka: Feb 26 2010, 19:52
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fjaka
post Feb 26 2010, 20:05
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evo još linkova te ekipe poljaka, isplait se sve pogledati...

Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan, Pamir Highway, afghan border etc...
http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=202624

Indian Himalaya by 6 Africa Twin and 1 old good BMW GS...
http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=%20265584

Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, China. 5 Africa Twin, 1 KTM and 4 4x4. Many pics
http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=407209
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eYe-reEs
post Mar 1 2010, 10:41
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oh boy oh boy!!! fenomenalno!!! pogledala sam slike, nisam citala. jeli pisu o vizama i dozvolama i sl tehnikacijama koje mene muce?
ludilo je s motorom lakse se kreces, i prelazis veca podrucja.. super ovo izgleda. nevjerovatno. ja sam pjesak, hajker ali ne bi odbila ovakvu voznju cool.gif
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