Posts from ‘July, 2009’

Henry Ford’s House


Fair Lane is the property built by Henry Ford founder of the Ford Motor Company. Located in Dearborn a suburb of Detroit in the USA. Work commenced in 1913 and the Ford family moved in in January of 1916 and hundreds of craftsmen were used to construct the sprawling house all set in magnificent gardens and natural forest. Built of rough Ohio Limestone the house had some amazing technological and architectural features including its own hydro electric PowerStation, a bowling alley and magnificent carvings and lead lights. The budget for the residence was set at $250,000 but final cost blew out to a staggering $1.8 million dollars (remember that is 1916 money) and then there was another $175,000 spent on decorating. Today the estate is a National Historic Landmark and is owned by the University of Michigan and is open for tours by a dedicated team of volunteers.

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A trip to the ‘Rock’


Alcatraz Island or the Rock as it is commonly known is one of the major tourist sights in beautiful San Francisco. Located in the centre of San Francisco Bay the island has had a long history as a fort and more notably both a military and a federal prison, becoming home to many of the most notorious criminals of the USA before it closed in 1963. Today the island is administered by the National Park Service and ferries leaving Pier 33 near Fisherman’s Wharf offer trips and tours of the facility. The island has an abundance of wildlife and rare plant life and is nesting grounds for many birds. The island is free to visit although ferries are the only way to get to the island, which have a transportation charge, booking should be made in advance as only so many people can be transported a day. The tour thought the grounds and the prison facility is accompanied by a fantastic audio tour which really give you a first hand experience of what the prison was really like- its quiet eerie.

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Beware the baboons

YouTube direct

Safari Parks are always a bit of a hoot, some of our favorites animals at many safari parks are the baboons who can be clever little devils as seen in the video above put out by the Knowsley Safari Park in the UK. Apparently the baboons have figured out how to open luggage boxes you find on top of cars to get to all the treats inside. The park is asking people who have the boxes to avoid the baboon section and staged the video above to show us all how the baboons get into the boxes.  If the little rascals ever get to see any of the Planet of the Apes movies we could all be in trouble.

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A grand old lady reopens


The Statue of Liberty has been fully reopened to visitors after closing in September of 2001 after the terrorist attacks on New York City. For the last few years visitors have only been able into the pedestal of the grand old lady but now are able to climb the narrow winding stairs to the top to see the spectacular view of Manhattan through a series tiny windows in the crown. It is expected the climb will be open for two years and then closed for another period for some maintenance and safety works. Due to the restricted space only a limited number of people are able to climb the statue every day, the number is around 30 an hour, so it is going to be one of the most sought after things to do in New York City. Tickets can be purchased up to a year in advance from the cruise companies, and for added security people must show ID matching the names on the ticket to use them. Good news is the tickets only cost $3 each on top of the usual $12 ferry ride.The Statue of Liberty has been looking over the skyline of Manhattan since October of 1886 and is the world’s most recognisable statue, with smaller copies in Paris and Tokyo also much loved and are regular stops on tourist tours of both cities.

see our photo spread

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The Bonsecours Market


The Bonsecours Market can be found in the French speaking city of Montreal in Canada and is a beautiful domed building dating back to 1847. The market is the central point of Old Montreal which features some of the city’s most beautiful and historic buildings. Designed by architect William Footner the market was home to the City Hall and also briefly housed the Parliament of United Canada back in 1949. The building today is home to a variety of specialty stores, cafes, and quaint boutiques offering some beautiful 17th century splendour. The market houses huge exhibition spaces which are booked for fairs, and other events, there are also some wonderful art exhibitions which are well worthy of a visit.

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Fun on Sydney Harbor


After the Sydney Harbor Bridge and Opera House, Sydney’s Luna Park would have to be the third most famous icon on Sydney Harbour. dating back to 1935 the theme park has had a somewhat chequered, troubled and sometimes tragic existence but remains one of Sydney’s most loved places.  Today the park is home to quiet a few heritage buildings and some fun amusement rides, including a historic carousel and 35 metre high Ferris wheel. Luna Park plays hosts to plenty of events during the year, including private functions and music festivals, it has also played host to major TV events like the MTV Australia Music Awards a few years back.  The park is a favourite weekends and in particular school holidays, admission is free and you only pay for the rides and attractions. Make sure when visiting to take your camera on the Ferris wheel the views of Sydney harbor are just sensational. Read the rest of this entry »

A view over KL


The KL tower or Menara in the Malaysian capital is a magnificent place to view the city and get a great view of the huge Pat.. Twin Towers. The tower is actually the city’s highest observation tower, the Twin Towers only offer public viewing from the skybridge linking the towers. Being the fifth highest telecommunications tower after towers in Canada, Russia, China and Iran the structure is a pretty impressive engineering feat. The tower features an antenna reaching 421 metres and viewing pod and revolving restaurant at 276 metres and offers some breath taking views. The tower open-ended in 1996 and has been one of KL’s major tourist destinations ever since. The tower now features a mini zoo with some amazing native animals including reptiles, amphibians and monkeys, a interesting themed snow park complete with cement polar bears, penguins and snow men and some magnificent rainforest including a 100 year old jelutong tree which was saved from construction of the tower.

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Oktoberfest rapidly approaching


The 2009 Munich Oktoberfest kicks off on September 19th and celebrates the 176th year of the world’s biggest party.  This year reservations are high, even the ‘Global Financial Crisis’ cant dampen the Oktoberfest spirit – so if you are planning to attend get in early and book your table, you don’t want to miss out.  This year beer will cost between 8.30 and 8.60 euro a litre or Mass and there is bound to be about 7 million litres of it served, along with half a million chickens, 150,000 sausages, 60,000 pork knuckles and over 100 oxen. Construction of the huge tents are underway and this year there are some new rides and attractions making it bigger and more fun than ever. Some of the services stats are incredible with nearly 1000 toilets needed, 800 metres of urinals, 27 of Munich’s daily water use and 14% of their electricity. About half a million people are expected to attend every day of the 16 day event.

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Romance on the canals of Venice


There is nothing more romantic than taking a gondola through the narrow canals of Venice at sunset, taking in the breathtaking sights and sounds of this beautiful Italian city. Back in the 18th century the gondola was the city’s major source of public transport and there were thousands of the vessels floating around the canals. Today the craft is one of the most popular tourist transportations with several hundred of the elegant vessels available for hire. The gondola has tight seating for two people, there are some larger vessels which can carry more people, but that takes the romance out of it.. The ride can get quiet expensive, but you the experience is well worth every Euro. You can expect to pay around 80 Euro for a 30-40 minute ride and even more with a evening or night cruise. It is well worth shopping around and bargaining a bit during quieter times, you never know what deal you might strike. For a few euro extra you will probably even be able to negotiate a serenade by the gondolier. For those a bit frightened of the high cost, a cheaper although not quiet as magical experience is to board one of the public ferries that punt around the canals around twilight. You don’t quiet get the luxury of your own gondola and are usually packed in like sardines, but you can experience the amazing palaces and architecture from the water and soak in some of the charm and atmosphere of one of the world’s most unique cities.

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Wall Street’s Charging Bull


The Charging Bull is one of the most recognisable pieces of art around New York Wall Street financial district. Weighing in at over 3200 kg and standing 11 feet tall and 16 feet long the huge bronze bull was sculptured by Arturo Di Modica as a symbol of Strength and Power to the American People after the 1987 stock market crash. The artwork was actually a piece of guerrilla art by the artist who had it installed under the stock exchange Christmas tree in 1989. The statue was seized by police and impounded but after public outcry was brought back and installed a little up the road at Bowling Green. The statue today is one of New York City’s most photographed and loved sculptures with thousands posing with the bull every day. Some pose beside the head and horns of the beast while just as many want to pose with the rather graphic rear end.

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