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Monthly Archives: September 2016

7 Most Amazing Abandoned Buildings in California

This house near Mission Soledad

This picture shows an abandoned house in Soledad in Monterey County. The house is located near Mission Soledad, which was founded by the Franciscan order in 1791 to convert the Native Americans to Catholicism. Spanish missions were some of the first efforts by Europeans to colonize the Pacific Coast of America.

In the Port of San Francisco

What is simply known as Building #6, located in the Pier 70 area at the Port of San Francisco, was once used for ship building during WWII. It has been left abandoned since the 1989 earthquake, which also left some 3,000–12,000 San Franciscans homeless. Building #6 is now illegally used by graffiti artists.

Eagle Mountain High School in Desert Center

The class of 1983 was the last to graduate from Eagle Mountain High School in Desert Center, which was boarded up and closed for good with students moving to Palo Verde High School in Blythe. The population of Desert Center, a town that was founded in 1921 by ‘Desert Steve’ Ragsdale, is currently around 200.

The Saloon in Bodie

What was once a booming town, awash with prospectors and known for its gold mines, Bodie is now famous as a “wild west” ghost town and attracts around 200,000 tourists every year. Visitors can walk around the deserted streets of Bodie and peer into houses and buildings, such as the pictured saloon, with interiors left as they were upon desertion back in the early 1910s.

Tagus Ranch in Tulare

This photo shows the Tagus Ranch, which opened its doors in 1912. It once hosted live music, theatre and offered cocktails, food and a place to stay for the night. As well as being known as one of the best restaurants in America, Tagus Ranch served as a German POW camp towards the end of WWII.

Spotting stations on the Pacific Coast

This spotting post is one of two that look out across the Pacific Ocean from California. The men who manned the stations would use azimuth scopes to take the bearings of distant enemy ships – they were experts on identifying the ships silhouettes.

Treasure Island Bowling Alley in San Francisco

This man-made island was created in 1936 and was home to the U.S. military from the 1940s until its abandonment. In addition to the bowling alley that is pictured, Treasure Island is also home to an abandoned cinema, swimming pool and lots of army barracks. The view of Alcatraz Island in the distance gives Treasure Island a particularly eerie feel.

6 Most Romantic Destinations in Europe

6) Copenhagen, Denmark

The capital of the happiest country on Earth, Copenhagen is effortlessly romantic and very ‘lagom’ (pronounced ‘lar-gohm’) which means to say it’s ‘just the right amount of everything’. Pay a visit to Cupid at the Thorvaldsen Museum. Enjoy a quiet stroll along the waterfront. Experience the city’s sophisticated café culture with a cup of hot coffee and some mouth-watering pastries. Take it all in, one step at a time, and you will soon realise the perfect dosage of romance has already synchronised with your pace.

5) Isle of Skye, Scotland

A land of Norse legend, the Isle of Skye impresses all who visit her with otherworldly scenes that appear almost straight from a Tolkien epic. The jagged mountain ranges, vast lochs and dramatic waterfalls make this unspoilt terrain a romantic destination without any glamour or pretense. Put on your hiking shoes and head to the Old Man of Storr. Go for a wild swim at the Fairy Pools. After experiencing the magic of Skye, you will realise romance has a supernatural facet too.

4) Fussen, Germany

At the end of the 400km (249 miles) theme-route Romantic Road (Romantische Straße), you will arrive in Füssen and be spellbound by the fairy-tale Neuschwanstein Castle, half expecting Prince Charming to arrive on horseback at any second. If this castle looks familiar to you, that’s because Disney based the designs for its Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland, California on the Neuschwanstein. Visit the castle and create your own chapter of a fairy-tale story here amidst the magnificent Bavarian Alps.

3) Lapland, Finland

If your utopia is riding a snowmobile into the wild and watching the aurora borealis (northern lights) dance across the night sky, then Lapland, Finland’s northernmost region, is the place for you and your loved one. Once you have enough of luminous green and blue hues flowing above you, you can retreat back to a cosy and intimate log cabin complete with sauna and crackling log fire. The outside world is a distant memory and you only have eyes for each other.

2) Cinque Terre, Italy

The Cinque Terre region is arguably the most charming destination in the Italian Riviera; its five colourful fishing villages boast cute terrace buildings that seemingly defy gravity, bravely clinging to the rugged cliff-faces. Head to Manarola, perhaps the oldest town in the Cinque Terre, for a photo that will make your friends envy. Don’t forget to take a stroll on The Way of Love (Via dell’Amore) with your loved one. If the perfect setting doesn’t put you in the mood, the local wine Sciacchetrà certainly will.

1) Santorini, Greece

Your heart will likely skip a beat when you stand before these classy white-washed buildings with blue domed roofs in Santorini, with Aegean Sea below you and the glare of the sun flickering above you. This is the place of romance for countless couples. While most people unwind at Fira, head to Oia for a lovely beach retreat. You’ll need to take over 200 steps to reach the Ammoudi bay – but expect soft sands, warm blue waters and plenty of sunshine. With one of the world’s most romantic destinations as your backdrop, you’ll feel loved, contented, and incredibly happy. Such is the magic of romance!

Highlighted destination in Kolkata

That being said, on first impressions the city can appear overwhelming so make sure you consult our guide to Getting Around Kolkata before you even leave the airport. Don’t think about driving, and buses are also hopelessly overcrowded; instead, hop onto an auto-rickshaw, or one of the lumbering trams that circle the city. Taxis are also cheap and plentiful and work on a meter system.

Once you’re out and about, there are several not-to-be-missed sights. The Indian Museum, set in a building dating from 1875, offers an insight into the city during the colonial era as well as rare collections of historical importance that include art, archaeology, zoology and botany.

Another landmark you can’t help but notice is Victoria Memorial, a domed colonial-era marble building set on the edge of the Maidan, which happens to be one of the world’s largest urban parks.

The city also has a number of notable Hindu temples, a cathedral and a cemetery; for information and further inspiration see our guide on Things To See in Kolkata.

Boat tours of the Hoogly River, a distributary of the Ganges, are a great way to see the city, and usually include a stop at the Botanical Gardens and Belur Math, a complex founded by the 19th century sage, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, who desired a unity of all religions. Sights here include a museum, a ghat and various temples – Ramakrishna Mandir is fittingly a fascinating fusion of Hindu, Christian and Islamic motifs.

Sustenance is easy to come by as Kolkata abounds in street food vendors offering delicious fare – try one of the Kathi rolls (Indian flatbreads served with various fillings) that the city is famous for.

You’ll also find Jewish bakeries, Chinese bazaars and international fare, but best of all is traditional Bengali cuisine, usually made from recipes passed through generations. Bengalis also love their desserts, so you’ll be spoiled for choice. We’ve selected some of the best restaurants in the city for our guide to Restaurants in Kolkata.

Kolkata is one of the best places in India to hear traditional music, so catch a performance at the Academy of Fine Arts. Those of a more hedonistic bent will find clubs catering to most tastes, from rock and dance to jazz, and a highlight of Nightlife in Kolkata has to be a visit to the Tollygunge, a private members country club with fading Raj-era décor and a bar. Temporary memberships are available; make sure you dress smartly for the occasion.

The weather in Kolkata really will impact your stay, so it’s advisable to visit during the months of October to April. In summer, temperatures are stifling, and the monsoon brings heavy rainfall from June-September.

The city is also a gateway to further delights, as covered in our section on What To Do in Kolkata. Sunderbans National Park, set 127km (79 miles) from the city, has a number of endangered species, including royal Bengal tigers, saltwater crocodiles and Ganges River dolphins.

Top 7 things to see and do in San Sebastián

1) Tackle a favourite trek…

Along with food and wine, the outdoors plays a huge role in Basque life. Misty peaks dotted with weathered farmsteads surround the city, and it’s a common sight to see locals packing up their cars to spend a weekend scaling a summit.

Those with a proclivity for plodding should amble to the top of Monte Urgull (123m/404ft), where a 12m-high (39ft) sculpture of Jesus Christ overlooks the city. Experienced ramblers should head to the iconic crucifix-strewn summit of Hernio (1,075m/3,527ft), a more challenging peak and a popular pilgrimage point in September.

2) Pinch a pintxos or three…

The perfect symbol of the sociable and indulgent nature of the Basque people, pintxos (a bite-sized snack consumed during drinking sessions) has become synonymous with easy-going San Sebastián.

As the sun begins to dip behind Monte Igueldo, the tiny taverns that line the snaking alleyways of the city’s old quarter fill their bars with miniature portions of fish and meats, often spread on small slabs of crusty bread. Jolly locals wander in for a beer and a bite then wobble off to find their next haunt. Fish lovers will adore the anchovies at Bar Txepetxa (Calle de la Pescadería 5), while sweet-toothed punters should sample La Viña’s (Calle del Treinta y Uno de Agosto 3) famous baked cheesecake.

3) Sample the Spanish surf scene…

While the swells don’t measure up to those that pound the shores of cross-boarder cousin Biarritz, San Sebastián has a healthy and flourishing surf scene spanning across its two crescent-shaped shores.

The beauteous La Concha Beach (named after its iconic shell-like shape) is the ideal setting for complete novices, with gentle swells favoured by the city’s paddle-boarding crowd.

Across the Urumea River, the Sagüés district is the crest of the city’s main surf scene, with bars and cafés around Zurriola Beach continuously crammed with olive-skinned locals with surfboard in tow. Here, lessons are offered to visitors by numerous schools, including Pukas Surf Eskola, the longest running surf school in Spain.

4) Get lost in a dream world…

One of the standout events of San Sebastián’s chocked 2016 schedule will be the immersive open-air performance of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Coinciding with the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death, the play will run for four weeks from the 21 June.

The city’s atmospheric Cristina Enea Park provides a fitting stand-in for the play’s fairy woodland setting, where audiences chase the action through the trunks of ginkgo and redwood trees as peacocks prowl nearby. The play will incorporate a banquet and be performed in modern English, Spanish and Basque.

5) Catch a game of Basque pelota…

Capturing the imagination of great minds, including Paul Newman and Ernest Hemingway, Basque pelota is perhaps the most famous and visually spectacular of the traditional Basque sports.

The game has many varieties but loosely resembles an old-fashioned form of squash. Initially played on the exterior walls of churches, you’re likely to find a simple version of hand pelota (where the hand is used to hit the ball) being played on makeshift frontons(courts) throughout San Sebastián.

For a real spectacle, head to the Galarreta Fronton in Hernani, where the pros bestowed with xisteras (gloves that extend into a long pointed curved basket) do battle in front of bellowing sell-out crowds.

6) Scout out some new street art…

Specially commissioned for this year’s festivities, the city and its surrounds have benefited from a lick of paint courtesy of acclaimed local and foreign street artists.

The Walls That Talk project sees artists teaming up with local communities to create large murals that depict images of coexistence painted on large walls, traditionally a symbol of division and separation. Don’t miss Harsha’s Fisher of Dreams in Roman Irigoyen Park or Hormachic’s comment on immigration in the neighbouring town of Errenteria.