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How many travel photos have made you say, "There! I need to go THERE!" Sometimes a site is so beautiful a photo hardly does it justice. On the other hand, sometimes photos are the only thing doing something justice. The following landmarks look stunning up close — like serious hop-a-flight-tomorrow, skip-the-suitcase destinations — but the moment you zoom out on the photo-snatching iPhone, you reveal a larger scene that leaves a lot to be desired. (Disagree? Or know other destinations that aren't worth the hype? Tell us in the comments!)
Mount Rushmore: If Mount Rushmore becomes more than a slightly disappointing five-minute pit-stop, let us know. Maybe the monument would be more exciting if visitors could reenact the chase scene in North by Northwest. It’d probably seem bigger as well. [Image via Flickr]
Pyramids of Egypt: Would you like fries with your Pyramids? Or would you prefer pepperoni? The overwhelming commercialization surrounding the Pyramids is about enough to ruin a onde-in-a-lifetime experience to interact with the legacy of one of the most important civilizations in human history. [Image via Youtube]
While tour buses and walking groups all convene around the waterfront, selfie sticks held high to snap a photo with Den Lille Havfrue (“The Little Mermaid”), you could be above it all, alone on the immensely instagrammable spiral staircase-wrapped steeple of the 17th century Vor Frelsers Kirke (Our Saviour's Church), in Copenhagen's Christianshavn district.
Fun fact from the official website of the church:
It has always been regarded as somewhat of a manhood test to climb up and touch the globe on the summit. That the whole spire is built of oak which can shake a little in a strong wind, adds to the sinking feeling as one stands at the top.
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You've just got to see the Library of Parliament, located within the Parliament buildings in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Ranked as one of the "7 Wonder of Canada," but more famously recognized as the "most beautiful room in Canada," the library is the only remaining piece of the original 1876 Parliament building, surviving the destructive 1916 fire thanks to iron fire doors. Inside are 1 million documents and 11 miles of books and, up until very recently, a "no cameras" zone.
Visitors to the Library fall into one of two groups: members of Parliament and their staff, or members of there public making the official (and free!) Parliament tour. The latter would find themselves disappointed by a major rule: photography was strictly prohibited if the room had anyone in it, either staff or politician. Occasionally a weekend tour would get lucky and find an empty library, but viewing the room with all its lights on, a librarian stationed, and in active use brings out the spirit of the space.
Visitors to Stonehenge might have a better experience in just a few years, as it sounds like the British government is thinking about routing traffic elsewhere to reduce the noise pollution and traffic in and around the prehistoric monument.
The initial plans call for the highway to be buried underground near the ancient sites, as the A303 highway will disappear into a tunnel and reappear once safely away from any potential congestion. There are three proposals kicking around, and of course there’s already some serious debate regarding if this will even happen—or if it’s even a good idea.
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National Park Week is upon us, which, on a grand scale, is a time to reflect on what an incredible job our country does at preserving its natural landscape. We are the world leader in this effort, especially when you consider the size of our country and how many cooks we have in the kitchen as compared to other nations.
Although vast open space is the first thing that comes to mind when we think of a National Park, the sites actually come in all shapes and sizes, and include monuments, battlefields, military parks, historical parks, historic sites, lakeshores, seashores, recreation areas, scenic rivers and trails, and even the White House (President’s Park). And as you’ll see, some are even found in cities and take up less space than an apartment building. In total, the parks cover 84 million acres in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
Four newly designated National Historic Landmarks were named by U.S. Department of the Interior only yesterday, but only three of the four will welcome your visit. Most accessible is the "Detroit Industry" murals (pictured above) by artist Diego Rivera.
Of the group, the odd one out is actually a tragic airplane crash site, with exact coordinates kept secret although it exists somewhere in the more remote stretches of the Grand Canyon.
Here's all four newly landmarked areas, and why they matter:
If you haven’t yet heard of the Shukhov Tower, now’s a good time to check it out (at least on Wikipedia), as it might not be around much longer. The funky landmark is a radio tower over in Russia, and some have even called it the country’s version of the Eiffel Tower. We wouldn’t go that far, but there are preservationists eager to keep it hanging around for future generations.
The thing rises 525-feet into the Soviet sky, but structurally it's a little shaky and needs to come down sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, the aforementioned preservationists cite the symbolism of the tower as it relates to Russia’s history and past advances in telecommunications.
You'd think, with Instagram celebrating its fourth birthday this year, that the limits of intriguing new accounts would be stretched. Alas, we still find new and interesting people to follow, and one such account is @usinterior. It's actually the official account of the US Department of the Interior.
They've been active on the app for nearly two years, but only now are they taking the step to get interactive, announcing a contest to join in their first Insta-Meet for the reopening of the Washington Monument on May 12. You see, the monument closed after a 5.8-magnitude earthquake shook the DC area in 2011. This caused cracks near the top of the monument, closing it indefinitely...or at least until May 12.
The opportunity to be among the first back into the national landmark sounds awesome, but there is a major catch:
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Chile’s Chiloé Island is no quick weekend getaway (unless you happen to live in Santiago), but its remote beauty is worth the trek halfway down the world. Until a year ago, the island was only reachable by boat, but in 2012 Chiloé welcomed an airport. The tiny but beautiful red terminal serves only one flight at a time, either to or from Santiago and only on LAN.
To set foot in Chiloé, you'll need to fly into Santiago and, there, transfer to a flight to Castro, Chiloé’s capital. The flight first stops in Puerto Montt, where once travelers picked up the ferry, before the flight continues on for about twenty more minutes to arrive in Chiloé. (This leg is so short that you won’t be able to go to the bathroom or turn your Kindle back on.)
If you've been to Hong Kong, you know that the buzz really never stops. Even with all this action, it can be nice to have a quiet moment with some self-reflection; that's where the city's Tian Tan Buddha (more commonly called Big Buddha) comes in handy. Not only does it offer a little time-out from the energy of the city, but it comes complete with killer 360-degree views of the neighboring islands and waterways.
Just east of the city, at the end of the Tung Ching MTR line, sits Lantau Island. Lantau is better known as the home of Hong Kong International Airport, but amongst some high-rise apartment buildings and incoming approaches is a substantial gondola station taking visitors from sea-level and through the mountains to Ngong Ping. This is a kicking off point to what was the biggest sitting Buddha statue until 2007. It's so big that some say on a clear day it can be seen from Macau, but Hong Kong's clear days are few and far between, so we're not too sure about that.
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Go here for updated dates on when you can visit Downton Abbey.
Downton Abbey just started its fourth season last night—at least overseas—and here at home the television series was mostly snubbed during last evening’s Emmy Awards presentation. They only brought home one piece of hardware, as the show scored a trophy for outstanding music composition. Regardless of what the award show says we know you still love the show, so that’s why we wanted to let you know that you can now visit Downton Abbey.
It sounds like it’s a temporary thing, so you better free up your calendar as soon as possible. Highclere Castle—that’s where a lot of the show is filmed—will be open to those willing to shell out the cash, as it’s going to be available to check out as part of a little bit of a vacation package.
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The Vineyard Gazette of Martha's Vineyard, MA is 167 years old and, though newspapers fail left and right seemingly weekly now, this one is only picking up steam with every crank and bang in the Press Room. It's also one of the few to welcome public visitors for a tour and to observe the actual printing...for free.
With a print run of 10,000 per week, the Vineyard Gazette considers itself a "boutique newspaper," a true broadsheet for locals as well as the summer vacationers who spend the majority of the year pining for the day they may return for sun and sea. Reading the latest news about the island's bird population, therefore, isn't trivial but integral to keeping on "island time" even on the other side of the world. The latest headline? "Biggest-Ever White Shark Tagging Expedition Launched in Woods Hole.
Speaking of, the Gazette shared with us that they'll mail papers everywhere from as near as Cape Cod to as far as Singapore, though the latter will cost a couple hundred dollars a year thanks to the international delivery fees.