Tag: Historical Travel

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Celebrate Its 100th Birthday and Sail the the Panama Canal

August 18, 2014 at 11:35 AM | by | Comments (0)

Photo of a vessel making a trail run through the Panama Canal in 1913

The Panama Canal celebrated its 100th birthday on Friday, the occasion serving as an opportunity to reflect on just how much this feat of engineering changed the world, and how much it continues to contribute to our shipping capabilities today.

For those who want a quick and dirty history lesson into its development – a process that was riddled with obstacles and problems – you can read up on it here, including the series of events that led to the United States gaining control of the Canal project in 1902 and then finally handing it over to Panama in 1999. There's also a great read that lists some fascinating facts about the project, such as the little-known tidbit that 25,000 workers died during its construction.

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Photos: Some of the World's Largest Mayan Ruins, at Tikal

August 12, 2014 at 12:34 PM | by | Comments (0)

Temple 5 at Tikal

Located in the north of Guatemala, Tikal is one of the world's largest Mayan archaeological sites. The University of Pennsylvania and the Guatemalan government have teamed up to unearth it partially, but much remains underground, including the backsides of many of the structures you see in the photos.

In that, visitors get a sense of just how much remains unknown about this mysterious culture. In total, the "residential area" of Tikal sprawls out over an area of 20 miles, and as you might imagine, only a small percentage has been cleared and mapped. The best excavated portion of the site is called the Great Plaza, which includes the stunning Northern Acropolis, shown in the first photo below.

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Have You Ever Seen a Mayan Cemetery?

August 11, 2014 at 12:33 PM | by | Comments (0)

If visiting a cemetery has never appeared on your travel to-do list, we're with you. Yet when traveling through Guatemala, you might find them hard to ignore thanks to the bright, bold colors that make them stand out on the green hillsides.

This weekend, we had the opportunity to explore one in Chichicastenango (Chi-Chi-Cas-Tin-A-Go). Tourists are most familiar with the town for its huge native market on Thursday and Sundays, but "Chichi" provides visitors much more than opportunities to buy cheap trinkets. In addition to town officials appointed by the Guatemalan government, Chichi's local indigenous people - the Mayans - have elected its own leaders to preserve its culture and religious beliefs. Centered around the Church of Santo Tomás, ancient pre-Christian rituals and ceremonies still take place today.

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Throwback Thursday: The Very First Air Show Happened in 1909

August 1, 2014 at 1:39 AM | by | Comments (0)

Sure, we love all the speed and comfort of modern travel, but it didn't get that way overnight. Every Thursday, we're going to take a look back at travel the way it used to be, whether that's decades or centuries ago. This is Throwback Thursday, travel edition.

This week's aviation headlines have thankfully been dominated by happier events, focusing on the aerobatics and airplane technology on display at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. As over 500,000 people flock to OSH for the flying displays (and nighttime airshow fireworks), it's fun to reflect on the start of this thing we know as an Air Show.

Roll the calendar back to the autumn of 1909, when what was a small aviation display within the Paris Motor Show finally bust out into its own event, the Paris Air Show (Salon de locomotion adrienne). Held within Paris' Grand Palais (which now most notably hosts Chanel fashion shows), the spectacle attracted approximately 100,000 visitors over the span of three weeks, and put forth the crazy idea that airplane travel wasn't just for daredevils and tinkerers.

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Berlin to Honor Fall of Wall with 8,000 Balloons, But is It Appropriate?

Where: Berlin, Germany
July 15, 2014 at 9:15 AM | by | Comments (0)

When it comes to historical travel, Germany attracts people from more nations than perhaps any other in the world. Not only did its actions during World War II affect the lives of those in a variety of countries, but the Holocaust is also arguably the most talked-about, war-related tragedy ever, piquing the curiosity of even those who had no connection to the actual events.

Yet, despite this opportunity to turn this world interest in its past into mass tourism and profits, visitors to Germany will see that it has been very good about not exploiting or glorifying its historical sites. In this travel writer’s opinion, there’s a simplicity to the presentation, a very admirable aspect of respect to the approach of preservation. The last thing the country wants is to appear as if it is proud of what took place in the years leading up to World War II.

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The Vietnam War B-52 Bomber Wreck at the Center of a Small Pond

Where: Hanoi, Vietnam
July 9, 2014 at 11:00 AM | by | Comments (0)

Besides some of the cheapest beer in the world, visitors to Hanoi will find the city to be rich in history, specifically as it relates to America and the Vietnam War. There is much to see and to learn almost forty years since the end of the war, and trips to the National Museum of History and the Military History Museum are a good place to start.

But if you want to get a taste of what day-to-day life was like for locals during the 70s, a trip to Huu Tiep Lake should be on the itinerary. In 1972, as America bombed the city, a B-52 Stratofortress bomber was shot down and crashed into a small lake. It still rests there today, just poking above the surface.

It's more of a pond than a lake, and what surprised us most was its location in a colorful, intimate little neighborhood in west Hanoi. Half of it is sticking out above the water, revealing the top of the tires and a look at some of the damaged undercarriage. It's just been left there, untouched.

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How to Get Tickets to the 2014 Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace

June 30, 2014 at 7:55 PM | by | Comments (0)

A little riddle for you: What costs $35 per person, doesn't allow you to take photographs, and is gold all over? Ding ding ding—the State Rooms at London's Buckingham Palace, which opens very soon for their annual round of public tours. To be specific, the Queen's address will accept visitors from July 26 - September 28, 2014.

As we've experienced in past years, travelers to London will be clamoring to get in, not only to tread on the Queen's lush carpets and gawk at heirlooms, but to view this year's exhibition on "The Royal Childhood" and what it's like to grow up living in a palace.

Tickets for walk-ups will be rare to nonexistent, so going online for guaranteed tix is the best route. Here's how to do it:

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What to Know Before Visiting the Grand Palace in Bangkok

June 27, 2014 at 11:40 AM | by | Comments (0)

First-time visitors to Bangkok will no doubt be pointed in the direction of the Grand Palace as a must-see tourist attraction, and such was the case for us this week. It was a last-minute decision, and when we arrived, the complex was hot, crowded, and there was very limited explanation on site. We quickly realized that a little bit of research would have gone a long way towards a better experience. With that in mind, here's a rundown of what you should know before visiting:

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This Swiss Library Keeps Your Camera Under Lock and Key (But It's Worth It)

May 28, 2014 at 6:20 PM | by | Comment (1)

Tomorrow, we'll start to spill the beans on a few day trip ideas when making your home base in Zurich, one of which being the town of St. Gallen. Everyone knows part of Europe's appeal lies in its long history as compared to that of the U.S., and it is in St. Gallen that you can get a glimpse of a medieval monastery library, one that's in very damn good condition with over 150,000 books (30,000 on display).

The library in the Cathedral Abbey of Saint Gall was built in 710 and now contains about 400 books that are 1,000 years old. Regardless of what's inside of them (none are in English but all are historical texts of different varieties), it's pretty amazing they've survived that many generations. Another ridiculous artifact it houses is the earliest known architectural drawn on parchment, fittingly of the Abbey itself. The Library was remodeled in the 18th century and became a Unesco World Heritage site in 1983.

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Wish You Were Here: Berlin Celebrates 25 Years Since the Fall of the Wall

Where: Berlin, Germany
May 9, 2014 at 9:19 AM | by | Comments (0)

In November of 1989, residents of East and West Germany celebrated as the government announced the "fall" of the Berlin Wall, a breaking of the barrier between the two sides and a signal that the country was ready to reconcile.

A massive celebration ensued, and this year, as the country recognizes the 25 year anniversary of its reunion, we've come to Germany's capital to get a fresh perspective on not only the commemorative events to come, but the state of Berlin as one of Europe's top cities to visit.

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Big Blimpin': We Toured Zeppelin's Germany HQ (And You Can Too)

April 24, 2014 at 7:47 PM | by | Comments (0)

Last week, we shared the story of the time we traveled just to visit Southern Germany's Zeppelin Museum. Today, that tale continues as we switch back to first person and head inside Zeppelin HQ.

Part 1: Checking off the Zeppelin Museum
Part 2: Heading into the Zeppelin HQ and hangar
Part 3: Maybe never leaving?

My great-grandmother was born in 1900. She lived long enough that I actually got to know her well, and her presence in my life made 1900 seem like not so very long ago. Of course it most definitely is, as humanity has managed in the last 114 years to progress from the first flight of a Zeppelin (1900) to that of an airplane (1903), and from the dawn of the jet age (1958) to that of Mars exploration (2004).

What brought me to southern Germany was the temptation to experience a bit of that extremely early aviation magic, thanks to what lives in a massive hangar near Friedrichshafen Airport.

You see, Zeppelins do still exist...and they still fly passengers.

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Big Blimpin': That Time We Flew to Germany Just to Visit the Zeppelin Museum

April 18, 2014 at 2:36 PM | by | Comments (0)

Would you travel half-way around the world to visit a museum? If you've answered "yes" or "maybe," then we like you already, and perhaps you'll enjoy this first-person tale of a trip for exactly that purpose.

Part 1: Checking off the Zeppelin Museum
Part 2: Heading into the Zeppelin HQ and hangar
Part 3: Maybe never leaving?

In April 2011, Retronaut posted a series of vintage color photographs of the infamous Hindenburg airship. In mid 2012, I discovered there was an entire museum dedicated to it. Needing only one good reason to justify any of my travels, it was only a few months later I walked through the doors of the Zeppelin Museum in Friedrichshafen, Germany and climbed into the belly of a 1:1 scale model of the LZ 129 "Hindenburg" Zeppelin.

You may remember the Hindenburg from the tragedy of May 6, 1937, the one which forever impressed the phrase "Oh, the humanity" on, well, humanity. For all intents and purposes, that is the day the Zeppelin died, as flames engulfed the airship while docking at NJ's Lakehurst Naval Air Station and squelched any hope of a future for airships as reliable commercial transportation.

For a time, these hydrogen-filled, diesel-powered balloons were, nonetheless, the wave of the future...above the waves. They had novelty and stability on their side; whereas an ocean crossing could be a prescription for one week of mal de mer, a Zeppelin sailed along smoothly at a few thousand feet up, free from the motion of the ocean.

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