Category Archives: Travel

The Musical Building: The Neustadt Kunsth of passage

Not only is this beautiful, but it also plays music when it rains.

The Neustadt Kunsthofpassage, is an artsy neighborhood in Dresden, Germany. Somebody had the genius idea to cover one wall with funnels and gutters shaped like musical instruments that capture water as it runs off the building into this elaborate drainage system.

Apparently this is in Dresden’s student district…Can you imagine the noise during a thunderstorm?

Source: Anybody Somebody Nobody.


The Official New 7 Wonders of the World

The Official New 7 Wonders of the World have been elected by more than 100 million votes to represent global heritage throughout history. The listing is in random order, as announced at the Declaration Ceremony on 07.07.07.

Christ Redeemer (1931) Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

This  statue of Jesus stands some 38 meters tall, atop the Corcovado mountain  overlooking Rio de Janeiro. Designed by Brazilian Heitor da Silva Costa  and created by French sculptor Paul Landowski, it is one of the world’s  best-known monuments. The statue took five years to construct and was  inaugurated on October 12, 1931. It has become a symbol of the city and  of the warmth of the Brazilian people, who receive visitors with open  arms.

The Roman Colosseum (70 – 82 A.D.) Rome, Italy

 This  great amphitheater in the centre of Rome was built to give favors to  successful legionnaires and to celebrate the glory of the Roman Empire.  Its design concept still stands to this very day, and virtually every  modern sports stadium some 2,000 years later still bears the  irresistible imprint of the Colosseum’s original design. Today, through  films and history books, we are even more aware of the cruel fights and  games that took place in this arena, all for the joy of the spectators.

The  Great Wall of China was built to link existing fortifications into a  united defense system and better keep invading Mongol tribes out of  China. It is the largest man-made monument ever to have been built and  it is disputed that it is the only one visible from space. Many  thousands of people must have given their lives to build this colossal  construction.

Machu Picchu (1460-1470), Peru

In  the 15th century, the Incan Emperor Pachacútec built a city in the  clouds on the mountain known as Machu Picchu (“old mountain”). This  extraordinary settlement lies halfway up the Andes Plateau, deep in the  Amazon jungle and above the Urubamba River. It was probably abandoned by  the Incas because of a smallpox outbreak and, after the Spanish  defeated the Incan Empire, the city remained ‘lost’ for over three  centuries. It was rediscovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911.

Petra (9 B.C. – 40 A.D.), Jordan

On  the edge of the Arabian Desert, Petra was the glittering capital of the  Nabataean empire of King Aretas IV (9 B.C. to 40 A.D.). Masters of  water technology, the Nabataeans provided their city with great tunnel  constructions and water chambers. A theater, modelled on Greek-Roman  prototypes, had space for an audience of 4,000. Today, the Palace Tombs  of Petra, with the 42-meter-high Hellenistic temple facade on the  El-Deir Monastery, are impressive examples of Middle Eastern culture.

The Taj Mahal (1630 A.D.) Agra, India

This  immense mausoleum was built on the orders of Shah Jahan, the fifth  Muslim Mogul emperor, to honor the memory of his beloved late wife.  Built out of white marble and standing in formally laid-out walled  gardens, the Taj Mahal is regarded as the most perfect jewel of Muslim  art in India. The emperor was consequently jailed and, it is said, could  then only see the Taj Mahal out of his small cell window.

Chichén  Itzá, the most famous Mayan temple city, served as the political and  economic center of the Mayan civilization. Its various structures – the  pyramid of Kukulkan, the Temple of Chac Mool, the Hall of the Thousand  Pillars, and the Playing Field of the Prisoners – can still be seen  today and are demonstrative of an extraordinary commitment to  architectural space and composition. The pyramid itself was the last,  and arguably the greatest, of all Mayan temples.


Source:  World N7W.


Best designed airport in the world

In Beijing there is amazing new airport!

I think it must be one of the worlds best designed airports at the moment. Here is a picture of it by night.

 Do you have any suggestions of other good competitors to it?
Sure, check:

Madrid Barajas Airport are surely not as big as Beijing’s, but it’s a very good competitor when discussing the design part!

Madrid‘s airport does have a very beautiful design.But check London’s Heathrow, terminal 5. They have a very nice and fresh design.

 Abu Dhabi international airport:

You tell me which one is the best designed airport and tell me if you know better terminals

source: Onlydesigned

The story of Mecca as it’s never been told before

New artwork by Saudi artist Ahmed Mater using a magnet and iron filings to represent people circling the Ka'ba in Mecca.

From a few thousand people traveling by camel in the 7th century to three million a year today: The story of the Hajj — the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca — is an epic journey.

That journey is celebrated in the first major exhibition dedicated to the Hajj, opening at the British Museum in London on January 26.

It includes sacred objects, pictures and the human stories of pilgrims past and present.

“We hope to be able to get across the hardship of the journey in the old days when it was a long journey by camel or by sea and could take two years there and back,” said Venetia Porter, the exhibition curator. “Now of course you can go by plane.”

Yet despite the changes over the years, it was what hadn’t changed which most struck Porter.

“The experience itself doesn’t seem to have changed,” she said. “If you read the historical accounts of pilgrims in medieval times, their rituals, how they feel and the deep spiritual significance is the same as now.”

The exhibition falls into three sections, the first focusing on the journey to Mecca, particularly along the major routes used through history across Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

The second section focuses on the Hajj today, its rituals and what the experience means to pilgrims. Finally, the exhibition takes on Mecca itself, its origins and importance.

Mecca is considered the spiritual center of Islam because it was where the Prophet Mohammed is said to have received his first revelations in the early 7th century.

At its heart is the cube-shaped Ka’ba, built by Abraham and his son Ishmael, according to the Quran.

The Hajj takes place in the last month of the Islamic year, known as Dhu’l Hijja and includes certain rituals which must be completed. Every Muslim who can is expected to go on Hajj at least once in their lifetime.

It took the British Museum more than two years to collect all the objects, which include a seetanah which covers the door of the Ka’ba, archaeological material, manuscripts, textiles, historic photographs and contemporary art.

Also on Inside the Middle East: Finding freedom behind bars

The exhibition was put together with the help of the King Abdulaziz Public Library in Riyadh, which arranged the loan of some objects which had never before been taken outside Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi Ambassador to Britain, HRH Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf Al Saud, said: “Hajj is not just a physical journey, it’s the most extraordinary spiritual journey every Muslim takes.

“We leave our families and our homes to undertake this profound life-changing experience.

“It doesn’t guarantee passage to Heaven, but it focuses us on what’s important in life.

“It’s a sensitive issue for the British Museum to tackle and we had long discussions to make sure it was accurate. Eventually they did an excellent job.”

Porter said: “The most challenging aspect for us was to turn it from a mere collection of objects into something evocative of the strong spiritual experience.

“The way we did it was to include quotes and voices from pilgrims.”

To accompany its exhibition, the British Museum invited Muslims to recount their own experiences on its website, and hundreds have done so.

One, Kamran Majid, from London, wrote: “The moment you enter the Harem Mosque and first lay eyes on the Ka’ba feels like the day you are truly born of life, your soul, heart and eyes soften and ease to the glorious sight.”

Also on Inside the Middle East: Youth march ‘shows true spirit’

Another, Amal Alabdulkarim, from Riyhad, wrote: “Hajj is the journey of pureness, love, hope and optimism. It taught me humility, patience and justice.”

Sophia Khan, from Slough, UK, wrote: “My most memorable moment was when I just happened to sit on some steps looking out to the Ka’ba. There were thousands of people from all over the world circumambulating this sacred structure at the center of the Earth, all there for a common purpose of praising God, yet each engaged in private reflection oblivious of any other.”

source: CNN

How to plan a round-the-world trip

Have the trip of a lifetime on a round-the-world epic adventure. (Brent Winebrenner/LPI)

Circumnavigating the planet and stopping off wherever you fancy is the ultimate trip – perfect for travellers who want to see it all, or who are just plain indecisive. But booking a round-the-world (RTW) trip can be a complex business. Here is a guide to get you started.

How to do it
The most economical way to circumnavigate the globe is to buy a RTW air ticket that uses one airline alliance. Theoretically, any routing is possible, but knowing how the RTW booking system works will make your trip cheaper. For example, the Star Alliance, a coalition of 27 airlines which fly to 1,185 airports in 185 countries, offers a RTW ticket with a maximum of 15 stops.

There are rules: you must follow one global direction (east or west – no backtracking); you must start and finish in the same country; and you must book all of your flights before departure, though you can change them later (which may incur extra charges).

How long you will need
You could whip around the world in a weekend if you flew non-stop. However, the minimum duration of most RTW tickets is 10 days – still a breathless romp. Consider stock-piling annual leave, tagging on public holidays or even arranging a sabbatical in order to take a few months off work. The maximum duration of a RTW ticket is one year.

When to go
The weather will never be ideal in all of your stops. So, focus on what you want to do most and research conditions there. If a Himalaya trek is your highlight, do not land in Nepal mid-monsoon season; if you want to swim with whale sharks off the coast of Western Australia, be there between April and July. Then accept you will be in some regions at the “wrong” time – though this might offer unexpected benefits (for example, Zambia in wet season means lush landscapes and cheaper prices).

In general, city sightseeing can be done year-round (escape extreme heat/cold/rain in museums and cafes) but outdoor adventures are more reliant on – and enjoyable in – the right weather.

Where to go
The classic (and cheapest) RTW tickets flit between a few big cities, for example London – Bangkok – Singapore – Sydney – LA. If you want to link more offbeat hubs (Baku – Kinshasa – Paramaribo, anyone?), prices will climb considerably. The cost of the ticket is based on the total distance covered or the number of countries visited.

Remember, you do not have to fly between each point: in Australia you could land in Perth, travel overland and fly out of Cairns. Or fly into Moscow, board the Trans-Siberian train and fly onwards from Beijing.

Pick some personal highlights and string the rest of your itinerary around those. For instance, if you are a keen trekker, flesh out a Peru (Inca Trail), New Zealand (Milford Track) and Nepal (Everest Base Camp) itinerary with Brazil (Rio’s a good access point for South America), Australia and northern India.

If budget is an issue, spend more time in less expensive countries. Your daily outgoings will be far higher in Europe and North America than in South-East Asia. Indonesia, Bolivia and India are particularly cheap.

Tips, tricks and pitfalls

  • Talk to an expert before you book: you may have an itinerary in mind but an experienced RTW flight booker will know which routings work best and cost least – a few tweaks could mean big savings.
  • Be flexible: moving your departure date by a few days can save money; mid-week flights are generally cheaper, as are flights on Christmas Day.
  • Think about internal travel: it can be cheaper to book internal flights at the same time as booking your RTW ticket. But, with the global increase of low-cost airlines, you may find it better (and more flexible) to buy them separately as you go.
  • Be warned: if you do not board one of your booked flights (say, on a whim, you decide to travel overland from Bangkok to Singapore rather than fly it) your airline is likely to cancel all subsequent flights.

source: bbc in partnership with Lonely Planet.

2011 safest year for air travel since 1945

Finnair A320

It was the best year (so far) for air safety since IATA began recording accidents and incidents. Image by Leo-setä via Flickr

The first 11 months of 2011 was the safest period to travel by plane since 1945, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

“As of the end of November, global safety performance (for Western-built jets) is at the best level recorded, and is 49 percent better than the same time last year,” said Gunther Matschnigg, senior vice president for safety, operations and infrastructure for IATA.

This makes 2011 the safest year for air travel since the International Civil Aviation Organization began collecting data in 1945. IATA has calculated and published global airline safety records based on ICAO data since 2000.

The number of fatal accidents fell to 22 from 23 last year. The number of passenger and crew fatalities also declined, down to 486 compared to last year’s 786 deaths.

Globally, the accident rate was 2.16 per million take-offs in the first 11 months of 2011 and across all regions accident rates have fallen except in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) region –- comprised of Russia and former Soviet republics.

The accident rate in the CIS region increased from 7.15 per million take-offs in 2010 to 11.07 per million take-offs this year.

In North America, accident rates fell to 1.18 per million from 1.51 in 2010. In the Asia-Pacific region, the rate fell to 1.39 from 2.51, and for Europe the figure fell to 1.39 from 1.59.

According to an IATA study conducted in 2010, there is no particularly common type of plane accident that occurs.

The five most common types of accidents are: runway excursions when the jet goes off the runway; a gear-up landing or a gear collapse; loss of in-flight control; ground damage; and in-flight damage, the IATA reported.

The IATA has 240 member airlines from 118 countries, which make up 84 percent of all air traffic in the world.

The World’s Best Airport Architecture

Oftentimes, while traveling, we find ourselves very concerned with the destination or with the journey itself. Seldom do we give a second thought to airports, which, truth be told, are very important parts of a journey.

Upon arrival, airports are literally the first place that we see. Many times, that’s a first-sight that does not inspire much love or appreciation. Famed British writer Douglas Adams, author of the beloved The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series of novels, once wrote “It is no coincidence that in no known language does the phrase ‘As pretty as an Airport’ appear”. To be fair, Mr Adams probably never had the chance to travel through any of these airports, widely regarded as architectural marvels, first impressions never to be forgotten.



The main international airport for Madrid is also Spain’s largest. It is the main hub for Iberia, and Europe’s gateway to Latin America. While the airport has been in continuous operation since its inauguration in 1931. Its T4 and T4S international terminals were designed by architects Antonio Lamela and Richard Rogers (designer of the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Millenium Dome in London), and feature expansive spaces and undulating ceilings designed to provide as much natural light as possible. Terminal 4 is one of the world’s largest in terms of area, with over eight million square feet of space. In 2008, it was voted Best Airport in the Condé Nast Traveller Reader Awards.


Located on an artificial island in the middle of Osaka Bay, Kansai International (its official name) is an impressive construction. Visible from space, the artificial island is spacious enough for the airport terminal itself, hangars, maintenance buildings, and runways, with room to spare. From the outside, it looks modern, almost futuristic. Once inside, one is treated to a long, clean interior full of glass and exposed structures that give an impression of openness, with views of the bay and beyond. The work of Italian architect Renzo Piano, the airport is also a wonder of civil engineering, built to withstand earthquakes and typhoons. It was recognized as one of the 10 Engineering Monuments of the Millenium by the American Society of Civil Engineers. While a few years ago it was sinking due to the weight of construction (this was planned for and expected), it has now settled for the most part and continues to act as a tribute to Japanese engineering prowess.



Truly one of the most amazing airports in the world. The structure is made mainly of glass with wide open spaces, as in many modern airports. However, it also boasts a series of “natural” features that enhance the tropical feel of the airport and give it a distinctive touch: a 300 meter (nearly a thousand feet) green wall with over 25 species of climbing tropical plants, six open air gardens, an outdoor pool in Terminal 1, and more. Spas, movie thatres, luxury shops including a Ferrari boutique, and city tours for those with layovers of over five hours are a few of the amenities that this airport has to offer. Singaporeans are very proud of Changi, and with good reason: since its opening in 1981, the airport has made its mark in the aviation industry as a benchmark for service excellence, winning over 280 awards in a 20-year period from 1987 to 2007, including 19 Best Airport awards in 2007 alone.


Designed by Norman Foster, Beijing International Airport‘s Terminal 3 is a grandiose symbol of China’s rise to global preeminence. At nearly two miles long, it is one of the world’s longest terminals, and it is designed to be airy, open, and luminous. It is larger than Heathrow’s all five terminals combined, with over 15% to spare. With details like an ancient imperial Chinese copper vat and an interior garden in the tradition of those found at the Summer Palace, the airport is undeniably modern and at the same time very traditionally Chinese. As a note, the roof of the control tower is red – the Chinese color for luck.



Designed by world-renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava (who is also the architect for Chicago’s currently under construction ChicagoSpire and the Milwaukee Art Museum), Bilbao’s airport is often nicknamed La Paloma (the Dove), referring to its design resembling two symmetrical wings and a raised tip at the center. The flowing design is predominantly white, in pure Calatrava style, and is amongst Bilbao and the Basque country’s best examples of modern architecture, with its fluid form and clean lines. The design has been criticised by the authorities, claiming that it will be difficult to expand the terminal when the need arises, but even the most vociferous detractors admit that the building itself is beautiful, truly an example of Spain’s best architecture.


Located on an artificial island in the middle of Osaka Bay, Kansai International (its official name) is an impressive construction. Visible from space, the artificial island is spacious enough for the airport terminal itself, hangars, maintenance buildings, and runways, with room to spare. From the outside, it looks modern, almost futuristic. Once inside, one is treated to a long, clean interior full of glass and exposed structures that give an impression of openness, with views of the bay and beyond. The work of Italian architect Renzo Piano, the airport is also a wonder of civil engineering, built to withstand earthquakes and typhoons. It was recognized as one of the 10 Engineering Monuments of the Millenium by the American Society of Civil Engineers. While a few years ago it was sinking due to the weight of construction (this was planned for and expected), it has now settled for the most part and continues to act as a tribute to Japanese engineering prowess.



Officially the Shanghai Pudong International Airport (to distinguish it from the older, smaller original airport in Hongqiao), this is one of East Asia’s and China’s main hubs, receiving flights from the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, Latin America, Africa – there is practically no region in the world that can’t be reached from this airport. Two main buildings make up the airport, joined by a long connecting avenue where stores, hotels, restaurants, and the impressive MagLev train are located. The train itself can get passengers from the airport to the city center in as little as 20 minutes, at a mind-boggling speed of almost 250 mph. The space inside both buildings is very open, with tall ceilings and check-in stations situated as islands in a sea of white marble. The airport is Mainland China’s busiest, but the vastness of the space makes this somewhat impossible to believe, as it never feels crowded. Truly, a space to behold.


Located in the suburb of Gardermoen, some 20 miles from the city center of Oslo, this is the second busiest airport in the Nordic Countries, and Norway’s main hub. Created by a group of architecture firms with Gudmund Stokke as the main architect, it boasts a very Scandinavian look thanks to the widespread use of wood throughout the building. The floating roof acquires an added warmth thanks to this, and so do the lounges, which were required to stick to this design style. Numerous sculptures and art installations by Norwegian and Scandinavian artists can be found throughout the airport, which give it an appearance not only of air terminal but also of modern art museum.



One of Denver International Airport’s most striking features is its roof. Designed to emulate the snowy peaks of the Rocky Mountains, where it is located, the structure is a tensile fiberglass surface that is almost like a series of interconnected tents. The airport also boasts a pedestrian bridge connecting the terminal and one of the concourses. This bridge is notable because planes taxi underneath it, so people walking on it can get an impressive view of the flying machines, as well as the mountains and the plains so characteristic of Colorado. Its design gained Fentress Architects wide acclaim as one of the foremost airport design firms in the USA, and it is widely regarded as the country’s most beautiful airport. It has also recently been equipped with a solar power plant which makes it one of the cleanest airports in the US.

Top Ten Things Airlines Don’t Tell You

Besides the hidden fees and hours sat on an airplane without any clue as to why you’re holding, there are certain things that airlines will never tell you. We tracked down three U.S. pilots and squeezed out some of their dirty little secrets. Due to the sensitive nature, we’re not naming names.

GOOD MORNING, THIS IS YOUR CAPTAIN: Though pilots have been portrayed as superheroes in countless movies, they too get no free lunches, have to take bathroom breaks, and partake in office romances. (Image Source)

10. Even Pilots Have to Pee
“Anyone who has sat near the front of the plane since 9/11 has surely noticed when the pilots are ready to take a bathroom break, or ‘physiological needs’ break, as the Federal Aviation Association (FAA) calls it. When nature calls we alert the flight attendants on the intercom. The attendants set up a barrier to the cockpit and give us an all-clear signal to open the door, as we don’t have a separate bathroom and have to use the same one as everyone else. A few months back my fellow pilot picked up the wrong handset and accidentally asked the entire aircraft if we could ‘come out and pee?'”

9. There Is Such Thing as the “Good Seats”
“If you are susceptible to motion sickness, your best bet is to sit over the wing. An airplane is like a teeter-totter. When the pilot moves the nose of the plane up or down, the seats in the extreme front and back are going to move a greater distance. And as a rule, the tail tends to move more than the front, so stay away from the rear if motion is a problem for you.”

8. The Fasten Seatbelt Sign Is No Joke
“Turbulence isn’t dangerous to a jet aircraft, but it is to the people in it. Past incidents of severe turbulence have slammed people into the ceiling and then dropped them to the floor, causing very serious injuries. If your flight crew tells you to be seated because of turbulence, I highly recommend you heed their warning.”

7. There Are No Free Lunches
“Thanks to the airline bankruptcies starting in 2000, few U.S. domestic airlines still provide food to its crews. As pilots we are allowed to eat in the cockpit once we’re at cruising altitude, but we’re usually eating something from the food courts in the airport terminal: pre-prepared wrapped sandwiches, slices of pizza. Not quite the glamorous lifestyle it used to be.”

6. And You Thought Filling Your Car Was Expensive
“The number-one expense for an airline is fuel, which isn’t going to get any cheaper. And because the cost of gas fluctuates so much, so does the price of the flight. Your average two-engine, narrow-body aircraft burns about 15 gallons of gas per minute at cruising altitude. So you can imagine what the gas bill would be on a transcontinental flight.”

Do wireless connections really interfere with an aircraft's flight instruments? Read on to find out. (David DeLossy/Photodisc/Getty)

5. The FAA Has a Sense of Humor, Sort of
Airplanes follow an invisible map of highways and avenues in the sky in order to make it to their destinations. There are thousands of virtual points in the sky that pilots follow on their route, each with unique names so the air-traffic controllers can tell us where to go and how to get there. The FAA has gotten creative when naming some of these points (which must be five characters), like these over southern Florida—UFIRD, DONLD, and TRUMP over Donald Trump‘s Mar-a-Lago Club, or FINNS, PYRUT, and BUFIT for Florida native Jimmy Buffett. My favorites are at the Kansas City Airport, honoring its local cuisine on the arrival procedure with SPICY and BARBQ.”

4. The Deal With Electronics
“Nothing has ever been proven, but there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that electronics really interfere with an aircraft’s flight instruments. The most likely culprits are things that transmit a signal, like a cell phone or a computer operating in Wi-Fi mode, which emits an electronic pulse or wave. But new aircrafts are being engineered for the wireless age so you should see more and more allowance of electronic devices in the future.”

3. Your Co-Pilot Could be More Experienced Than You Think
“The turmoil of the airline industry over the last 20 years or so has caused many airlines to go out of business or shrink in size, thus laying off massive numbers of employees. If an airline captain loses his job at one airline and goes to another, he or she will start over as a co-pilot at entry-level pay and will be given no credit for their experience.”

2. The Air Isn’t Immune to Office Romances
“All the crew stays at the same hotel, but I remember a couple years ago the pilots’ wives pushed for flight attendants to be at a different hotel than the pilots because they didn’t want to make it easy for their husbands to cheat.”

1. Crews Are Trained in More Than Just Emergency Exits
“Terrorism is a big deal nowadays. Most flight attendants and pilots are trained for those instances and taught self-defense as well as how to detect certain behaviors. Pilots are also able to sign up for a voluntary intensive program that is held at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. For one week they learn things like how to shoot a gun and disable someone carrying one. When they finish the program they’re licensed to carry a gun into the cockpit with them.”