Six Incredible Yet Unknown Destinations Across The Globe
Lord Howe Island, Australia
Lord Howe Island is a small island located two hours away from Sydney, Australia. The island earns its “hidden gem” tag because there are only officially 350 residents on the whole island while only 400 tourists are allowed to visit at any given time. With no overcrowding, there is ample opportunity to appreciate the unspoiled paradise boasting pristine beaches, clear waters, rainforests, volcanic peaks, unique wildlife and a stunning crystal lagoon bordered by coral reef.
Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic
Cesky Krumlov is a medieval town located near the Vltava River in the Czech Republic and is part of UNESCO’s world heritage list. Dating back to the thirteenth century, the fairytale town is a little known tourist gem – replete with a towering castle, cobbled alleyways, and surrounding rolling hillside. The town is renowned for its magnificent architecture, particularly of Baroque design. The name, befittingly, translates as ‘crooked meadow’.
Although Rajasthan is a popular tourist destination, eager tourists sometimes bypass the small city of Bundi, favoring popular haunt Jaipur instead. As such, Bundi is a lesser known and traveled destination – although a historically and aesthetically rich one. The city is a marvel of sprawling hillsides, majestic castle (Bundi Palace) and fort (Taragarh), intricately carved architecture, large step wells and beautiful artworks. It was also the site that inspired various artistic and literary minds including writer Rudyard Kipling and filmmaker Satyajit Ray.
Si Phan Don, Laos
Beach bumming holidays find their ideal in Si Phan Don, which is high on relaxation and scant on things to do. The name translates as the Four Thousand Island in English, and is befitting for the archipelago that scatters across the Mekong River. Bordered by a labyrinth of rocks, rivulets and sandbars, Si Phan Don has been able to preserve southern Laos culture and is a virtually untouched haven. It also boasts of the largest waterfall in Southeast Asia – the Khone Phapheng.
Guanajuato is a small city located in the heart of Mexico, halfway between Mexico City and Guadalajara. Rich in colonial history, Guanajuato was inhabited by Spanish settlers because of the discovery of silver mines in the surrounding mountains. At the height of the colonial period, the city was one of the most influential in the world and accounted for two-thirds of the world’s silver production. This rich history is evident in the vibrant city that stands today. Guanajuato is accessible via two major streets and is a colorful labyrinth of alleyways, houses, churches and Spanish architectural marvels.
Wine aficionados can escape the tourist traps of the Tuscan wine country in Cinigiana. Idyllically, the town is surrounded by sprawling vineyards, serves splendid wine and offers true Tuscan sunsets.
Star trails refer to the paths left by stars as seen on earth. As the earth naturally rotates, the stars in the sky move across the horizon. The only star that does not move is in the northern hemisphere – the North Star (Polaris). The North Star remains stationary while the other stars leave tracks around it. Though not visible to the naked eye, the concentric light show has been captured at various times by eager shutterbugs.
Though often hidden by prevalent smog and moonlight, Zodiacal lights are ever-present. They occur when sunlight reflects off dust in the cosmos (cosmic dust) and manifest into a faint triangular glow that extends across the sky.
Crepuscular rays are best described as “Gods light”, and refer to the rays of sunlight that appear as though radiating from a single point in the sky. The rays occur during dawn and dusk, when light and dark is easily discernible, and usually stream through gaps in clouds, or other landscape features, to obtain their effect.
A glory is an amazing natural light phenomena referred to as Buddha’s Light in China. Though a difficult to explain, they are formed when water droplets of a cloud interfere with the direct progress of sunlight. As a result, the waves of sunlight are back-scattered and split into the colors of the spectrum.
Rocket Exhaust Trails
Rocket exhaust trails are the aftermath of a rocket launch, occurring when the small exhaust particles from the rocket diffract sunlight. Add high altitude winds to the mix that carry the particles throughout the sky and you have a brilliant, vivid light show that quickly dissipates.
Light pillars are an optical illusion created by light reflecting off of ice crystal surfaces. These ice crystals can be found in ice clouds, ice fogs, blowing snow or ground-level clouds, but the effect created is the same: a magnificent stream of light shooting up into the sky.
Seventeenth Century Art: Most Significant Artists of the Baroque Period
The tense and extravagant Baroque movement defined the art of the 17th century. The movement was distinguished by exaggerated dynamism and clear detail that aimed to create drama and grandeur in sculpture, painting and architecture.
The style is said to have started around 1600 in Rome before spreading across Europe. It was heavily influenced and encouraged by the Catholic church, which used it to communicate religious themes, war imagery, and aristocrats who appreciated the exuberance. The artists of the time focused on depicting natural images, steeped in intense emotions and exaggerated through the play of light and shadow. It was both simplistic and melodramatic in its form, glorifying the church and monarchy.
Though many artists cemented a place for themselves during the movement, the most renowned were Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, Peter Paul Rubens and Rembrandt for painting, and Bernini for sculptures.
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, 1571 - 1610
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Though technically a 16th century artist, the Italian Caravaggio significantly influenced Baroque art. His paintings were a clear departure from the art conventions of Mannerism - the dominant art form of the 16th century - with his dramatic use of light and shadow and his realistic depictions of objects and people. Caravaggio defined the use of chiaroscuro (artistic play of light and shadows), and through this use he was able to create realistic figures and saturate his art with drama and tension. These elements found their way into the works of the most important Baroque artists.
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Rubens was a prolific, and possibly the most famous, Baroque painter. His style mirrored Caravaggio closely and his work usually depicted religious figures. The main distinguishing element of Rubens art was the extreme emotion it expressed, but with minimal detail. He also had a penchant for painting curvaceous women, which gave rise to the term “Rubenesque” for full-figured women.
Rembrandt was a great rival of Rubens and the leading Dutch artist of his time and in the centuries that followed. He was a pervasive artist who dabbled in sketching, oil painting and etching. Rembrandt’s Baroque paintings depicted biblical scenes, history, and self-portraits – a departure from the landscapes and still life’s his contemporaries painted. True to Baroque style, his works were dramatic and dynamic, and he was a master at handling glowing light against dark backgrounds, and using thick brush strokes to emote on the canvas.
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Gian Lorenzo Bernini, 1598 – 1680
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Bernini was an Italian artist, the leading sculptor and architect of his age, and the successor of the renowned Michelangelo. His work was defined by his ability to combine dynamism, intense emotion and naturalism – the defining features of Baroque art – in his marble masterpieces. These pieces marked a clear departure from the austere, classical sculptures that lacked fluidity.
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The first recorded social disturbance in Chicago was caused by the social lubricant of society – alcohol. The Lager Beer Riot happened after the city mayor, Levi Boone, renewed the enforcement of an old law that mandated taverns be shut on Sundays and the cost of a liquor license was raised from $50 to $300 a year. Naturally, the move didn’t go over too well with the local populace – particularly as it was seen as targeting German and Irish immigrants who had moved to the area in abundance. Matters worsened after several tavern owners were arrested for breaching the law, and angry immigrants took to the streets in protest, clashing with hundreds of police and militia the Mayor had called in.
Cannons and firearms were employed against rioters, resulting in one death and 60 arrests. Though the riot was short-lived, the consequences were far reaching. The following year, immigrants turned out in droves to the city election, driving out Levi Boone as mayor and abolishing the reinstated drinking laws.
10-Cent Beer Night Riot, USA, 1974
Losses in sporting events are particularly apt at sparking statewide riots, but this riot happened before the results were even in. The June 4th, 1974 baseball game between the Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers was held at Cleveland Municipal Stadium. To entice fans to attend, a Ten Cent Beer night promotion was held. With over 25 thousand people showing up, the bait worked, but unfortunately, a spate of unruly behavior – including various incidences of people running onto the field to streak, moon and breast-flash – also ensued.
The actual riot, however, didn’t occur until a fan ran onto the field in the 9th inning and attempted to steal Texas outfielder Jeff Burroughs’ cap. In confronting the fan, Burroughs tripped. The Texas manager thought he had been attacked and led his team (wielding bats) on the field to retaliate. A large portion of the inebriated crowd – some armed with weapons of their own – and the opposing team also ended up on the field for the tussle. Fists, bottles, food, rocks and folding chairs flew, bases were stolen and the game was forfeited.
Rite of Spring Ballet Riot, Paris, 1913
Though widely renowned now, the premiere of Igor Stravinsky’s prestigious French ballet was the source of much conflict in 1913. The Rites of Spring debut at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris completely polarized the audience with its unconventional and jarring musical composition and choreography. Those accustomed to elegance and grace in traditional ballets began to boo the spectacle on stage, while those who liked the ballet began to argue with the detractors. Halfway through the performance, aggressive words turned into physical violence and the police were called in to restore calm. Stravinsky was so aghast at the audiences’ reaction that he fled the theater before the ballet finished.
Disco Demolition Riots, USA, 1979
In 1979, another baseball game riot rocked America, but this time fueled by a deep disdain to disco music. The riot in question occurred during a White Sox versus Detroit Tigers match at Comiskey Park. Attempting to cash in on anti-disco hysteria, son of White Sox owner, Mike Veeck, teamed up with popular DJ Steve Dahl for the Disco Demolition Night Promotion. The objective was for fans to turn up to the stadium with disco records, which would be destroyed on the field in the middle of the double-header clash.
Over 90,000 people showed up to the 52,000 seatstadium. During the first game, fans were already tossing records and fireworks around, but the event truly got out of hand when the burning ceremony began. With the chant “disco sucks” ringing throughout the stadium, Dahl walked out on to the field and blew up the disco records. Rather than simply cheering, fans took this as a sign to storm the field to tear up grass, scale poles and start fires. It took police almost 40 minutes to restore order, and the game was finally forfeited because the field was deemed unplayable.
Death of Indian Superstar Rajkumar, India, 2006
From cricket outcomes, movie delays, political upheaval to religion, Indian’s are undoubtedly dubious for rioting. One of the most bizarre reasons for rioting, however, was the death of Indian acting icon Rajkumar. The actor, who had a led a very successful career in movies (having won various awards and amassed a large fan following all over the city of Bangalore) died of cardiac arrest in 2006. Following the news of his death, rather than mourn in a peaceful manner, his distraught fans turned to rioting.
A large crowd gathered at the actor’s house, hoping for a glimpse of him in death. After being barred by police, however, they began throwing rocks, shattering windows and breaking down doors to get into the premise. The tens of thousands of fans also took to the streets to burn buses and cars, and destroy and storm shops, causing businesses to shut early and transport delays. Eight people were killed in the ensuing unrest.
The Battle of Marathon took place during the first Persian invasion of Greece, fought between the combined forces of Athens and Plataea against King Darius’ Persian army. Darius’ attempted to invade Greece as he was angered after the Athenians had sent aid to Ionia in a revolt against the Persians. Once the Persian armies had defeated the Ionian revolt, they turned their attention on Greece, first capturing Eretria (who had helped the Athenian and Ionian forces) and finally sailing into Marathon for vengeance. Though heavily outnumbered, the Greek forces managed to defeat the lightly armed Persian army after five days of stalemate, expelling Darius and his army.
Though Darius worked on rebuilding his army for another invasion, the second invasion didn’t occur until his death and was led by his son, Xerxes. The Battle of Marathon was significant in showing the world that the Persians could be defeated. It also led to the eventual Greek triumph in the subsequent Persian wars. More interestingly, the battle also created marathon running, which was inspired by an inaccurate story about a Greek messenger running to Athens from Marathon with news of victory, and was subsequently introduced in the 1896 Athens Olympics.
Battle of Salamis, 480 BC
Fought in September 480 BC, the Battle of Salamis was a significant – if not the most significant – naval battle between the Greek city-states and their perpetual enemy, Persia. The battle took place in the strait between Piraeus and Salamis Island, near Athens. Although heavily outnumbered, and having lost previous two battles, the Greek Allied navy was urged by the Athenian general, Themistocles, to engage the Persian fleet into battle again. The Persian navy, led by Xerxes, sailed into the strait in an attempt to block both entrances. However, the cramped conditions made it hard to maneuver and forced the large Persian fleet to become disorganized. The Greek navy used this to their advantage, forming a line and sinking or capturing most of the Persian fleet. The defeat at Salamis shifted the war in Greece’s favor, and led to Persia’s ultimate demise. Historians tend to agree that the Battle of Salamis was the single most important battle in human history. They assert that the win influenced the growth and preservation of Athenian democracy and influenced Western civilization’s core ideas of freedom and individual rights.
Battle of Thermopylae, 480 BC
Another battle against the Persian invasion, the Battle of Thermopylae has become the stuff of legends, cementing the Spartan name in the collective consciousness. It was fought under the guidance of the Spartan King Leonidas and took place simultaneously with the naval battle at Artemisium. While a clash between a 7,000 strong Greek force and a 100,000 to 300,000 strong Persian force ensued, King Leonidas led a small force to block the only road that the Persians could use to enter the area.
Two days into the battle, however, the Greek army was betrayed by a local resident who told the Persians about a small secret passage that led behind the Greek lines. When King Leonidas became aware of this plan, he led a small group of fighters to the passage to block the oncoming army. Though Persia won the battle, the heroic deeds of those who fought were cemented in history.
Battle of Chaeronea, 338 BC
The decline of the Greek empire and the subsequent Macedonian rule under Alexander the Great, was a direct result of the Battle of Chaeronea and was fought in 338 BC between the Greek allied city-states and the forces of Philip II of Macedon. Though Philip had brought peace to the internally warring Greece, he had also claimed himself as the leader of the nation – much to the chagrin of the independent and patriotic Greeks. As Athens attempted to break away from his leadership, and formed an alliance with a city Philip was trying to seize, he declared war on the state. The battle was at a stalemate for several months before Philip’s forces advanced into the region and attempted to take Thebes and Athens. The large Macedonian army easily crushed the Greek forces. The battle is commonly seen as one of the most important in the Ancient World. The Greek city-states were defeated, Athens’ power dwindled and the country came under the rule of the Macedonians for centuries.
Taken from the March 2, 1942 issue of Life, these diagrams and maps detailed how the Axis powers could invade North America following Pearl Harbor. The Axis Plan was imagined in 6 Plans (Plan 1 is above):
Plan 2 has the Japanese invading the West Coast of America via Pearl Harbor and then California.
Plan 3 has the Japanese invading North America through the Panama Canal, then proceeding up through Mexico to the West Coast of the United States.
Plan 4 has the combined naval strength of the Axis powers taking over the Atlantic, leading to an eventual invasion of the United States through the Mississippi River.
Plan 5 has the Axis powers invading the United States through Norfolk, Virginia.
Plan 6 involves the Nazi’s invading the United States through Canada via the St. Lawrence and Hudson valley’s.
Though neither miniature in stature nor with hairy feet, the Dale family has the pleasure of calling a Hobbit sized and designed house home in Wales. Aside from the exquisite design, the house has the privilege of being regarded as one of the most eco-friendly structures in the world.
Forgoing convention, designer, builder, and family father Simon Dale, decided to uproot his family and live a more sustainable life. In four months with the help of his father-in-law, friends, and £3000, he managed to construct the hobbit house in a hillside.
Dale ensured that every element of the house was constructed in harmony with nature. The frame of the house is constructed from oak thinnings that were gathered by the family while the walls and other foundations were constructed from stone and mud. To insulate the house, the family used straw bales in the floor, walls, and roof.
Lime plaster was used for the walls, recycled wood for floors and fittings, and windows, burner, plumbing and wiring were all constructed from recycled material the family collected. Aside from the building materials, the house’s design allows for sustainable living too. There is a skylight in the roof for natural light in the day, solar panels provide electricity, water is collected from a nearby spring, the fridge is cooled from underground air, water on the roof is used for the garden, and the toilet is used as compost.
Standing at 14,690 feet (4.478 meters), the Matterhorn is one of the highest mountains in the Alps. Since when it was first climbed in 1865, over 500 alpinists have died attempting to reach the summit.
While pretty in postcards and from afar, always think twice before attempting to tackle these treacherous tracks.
Ranked the tenth highest mountain in world, the icy peaks of Annapurna are the most statistically treacherous climbs in the world. Since 1950 – Annapurna’s first ascent – a total of 153 people have attempted the climb. Out of those 153, 58 have died in their effort. The summit to fatality ratio is the highest in the world.
Kanchenjunga is ranked the third highest peak in the world, and borders Nepal and India. The mountain is named after it’s five peaks - the name literally translates into ‘five treasures of snow’ - four of which reach above 27,000 feet. The path is pretty standard and moderately difficult until the final ascent, which is almost precisely a vertical pyramid. Regular avalanches also contribute to the heavy loss of life and insurmountable obstacles.
To navigate the world’s second highest mountain, one must cross a glacier, scramble over steep, ascending rocks and negotiate a series of ice pillars that frequently collapse. Needless to say, it is regarded the world-over as the technically most difficult climbs.
Nanga Parbat, Pakistan
Nanga Parbat, or the affectionately dubbed, “Man Eater”, is also an extremely technical and narrow climb. Aggravating the already difficult conditions is the 15,000-foot southern side of the mountain, Rupal Face, which is the largest mountain face on earth.
The Eiger, Switzerland
The picturesque Swiss Alps have a very brutal murderer in their midst - The Eiger. Passionately dubbed the Mordwand (Murder Wall), the north face of the Eiger Mountains provides constant danger to its climbers, including heavy rock fall and an extremely intricate, technical path.
Baintha Brakk, Pakistan
More commonly known as The Ogre, Baintha Brakk, was first conquered in 1971, but wasn’t summated again until 2001, marking its extremely difficult nature. One of the heroes of the first ascent, Doug Scott, didn’t escape unscathed either; he broke both of his legs on the way down, eventually crawling back to safety.
Though relatively smaller than the mountains listed, Denali ranks on this list because the success rate on the mountain is only 50 percent while the death toll is well in the hundreds. The high latitude, which makes the atmosphere thinner, and the extreme weather and temperature conditions worsen the relatively simple track.
While a 27-storey, two billion-dollar house for six people in the most poverty-stricken area of India might seem a tad bit extravagant to most, the richest man in India and sixth richest in the world, Mukesh Ambani, seems to have missed the memo. And that’s precisely why there is a towering skyscraper that reaches 550 feet with over 400,000 square feet of interior space against the Mumbai skyline.
The opulent residence that completed a four-year construction process in early 2010, was designed by American based architects on 48,000 square feet of land in downtown South Mumbai. In its initial days, and even after its completion, the ostentatious display horrified Indian residents. Considering more than half live on $2 a day, and the building overlooks an overcrowded slum, it’s not hard to see why.
Despite the national outcry, the house, dubbed Antilia after the mystical city in Atlantis, stands today. The lowest levels – all six of them – are parking lots with space enough for 168 cars. Above that, and easily accessible via a lobby with nine elevators, the living quarters begin. There are several lounge rooms, bedrooms and bathrooms, each adorned with dangling chandeliers. Also on offer is the large ballroom, with 80 percent of its ceiling covered in crystal chandeliers that opens out to a large bar, green rooms, powder rooms and “entourage room” for security guards and assistants to relax.
The house also boasts of a helipad with an air traffic control facility, multiple swimming pools, a small theatre and health spa/yoga studio, an ice room with man-made snow, and a conference/unwind room on the topmost floor with a panoramic view of the Arabian Sea. Rounding off the opulence, the final four levels of the complex are solely devoted to hanging gardens. These gardens point to the complexes eco-friendly status, acting as an energy-saving device by absorbing sunlight, and deflecting it from the living spaces insulating the area.
Surprisingly though, the family has yet to move into it’s $2 billion mega-mansion.