6 Oldest Theaters in the World

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

6 Oldest Theaters in the World

As ancient civilizations developed, citizens grew an appetite for different forms of entertainment. Along came theater, with its many forms written to please audiences. Today, theater buffs will love learning more about the first constructions where comedies, tragedies and concerts took place. All of them are popular attractions in their own corners of the world. These are the oldest theaters in the world.

The Roman Theater of Orange, France

The Roman Theater of Orange, France

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Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1981, the Roman Theater of Orange dates back to the 1st century. It sits near the French city of Avignon, and is so well preserved that people today still attend the Chorégies festival during the summers.

Originating in 1869, Chorégies is the oldest festival in France today. The acoustic wall of the theater, which is completely intact, is the key that allows the opera and lyrical theater performances to take place with an impeccable sound.

The Theater of Mérida, Spain

The Theater of Mérida, Spain

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Built between the years 15-16 B.C.E., the Theater of Mérida was sponsored by Consul Marcus Agrippa. It could seat up to 6,000 spectators, who were divided into their social rank. Its original architecture is considered classical Roman, but later restorations introduced a melange of design and decoration.

Considered one of Spain’s (many) gems, this theater is currently used in an annual winter festival.

The Theater of Taormina, Italy

The Theater of Taormina, Italy

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The Taormina Theater, also known as the Graeco-Roman Theater of Taormina, is located in the eastern part of Sicily. It is constructed in a particularly privileged area, as visitors can see the Etna Volcano and the Mediterranean Sea while walking around the top of the theater.

Built in the 2nd century B.C.E., the theater was constructed by the Greeks and later extended by the Romans. Currently, it hosts the Taormina Arte festival every year.

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The Theater of Epidaurus, Greece

The Theater of Epidaurus, Greece

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This Greek theater is said to have the best acoustics in the world. In fact, tour guides famously have their groups dispersed throughout the theater and show them that no matter where they are standing, they will hear a match drop on the floor on stage.

Located near the town of Ligurio, the Theater of Epidaurus rests in the middle of a pine forest. It was designed by Polykleitos the Younger in the 4th century B.C.E. Archaeologists believe that he made use of the natural unevenness of the land to build it.

The Theater at Delphi, Greece

The Theater at Delphi, Greece

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Further up along the hill where we can find the Temple of Apollo, sits the beautiful Delphi Theater. Its position at the top grants spectacular views of an entire valley.

The theater was built in the 4th century B.C.E. with limestone from Mount Parnassus. Archaeologists estimate that its 35 rows held around five thousand spectators who enjoyed plays, poetry readings, musical events and various festivals that were carried out periodically in Delphi.

History also shows us that this theater was remodeled several times. The seats in the lower rows were built during the Hellenistic and Roman periods.

The Theater of Dionysus, Greece

The Theater of Dionysus, Greece

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The Theater of Dionysus was the largest construction of its kind in ancient Greece. It is located in the northern part of the Acropolis of Athens and dedicated to Dionysus, god of the wine and theater. In fact, it was tradition for worshipers to pray to him in a manner that attracted spectators. Later, these rituals became the classic tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes.

Even though this theater was built in the 5th century B.C.E., records show that it carried on being a popular venue for many centuries. In fact, around the year 407, the performance time was extended to about six hours and the entry fees were deemed expensive.

The history behind the Statue of Liberty

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIVIA GENIUS)

 

The history behind the Statue of Liberty

Even if you’ve never had the opportunity to visit New York City, you know that one of its most popular tourist attractions is the Statue of Liberty. Also known as Lady Liberty, this statue has been a welcome sight in New York’s harbor for over a century. But what about the backstory behind this beautiful statue? The Statue of Liberty may be full of symbolism, but she also has a rich history that most people don’t know.

The statue was a joint effort

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Most people think that the Statue of Liberty was a gift from the French to the United States, but the story runs deeper than this. Yes, the statue was a gift to commemorate a strong alliance between France and the U.S., but both countries agreed to financially contribute to the overall build. While France focused on fundraising and crafting the actual statue, America committed to building the base and covering those costs.

Funding issues stalled progress on the statue

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To say that building the Statue of Liberty was a monumental effort is a bit of an understatement. The French historian Edouard de Laboulaye initially pitched the idea for the statue in 1865 with a goal of completion for the centennial of the Declaration of Independence in 1876. But raising funds was so difficult that actual production on the statue didn’t begin until 1875. Finances weren’t just an issue for the French. The U.S. delegation also struggled to raise money to build the pedestal.

It took a decade to create the statue

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In 1875, Frederic Auguste Bartholdi began working on the statue. He was known for creating large-scale sculptures and was awarded the commission. While he knew how to create the statue’s exterior, he worked with Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel (who created the Eiffel Tower) and Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc to create a sturdy steel framework to attach the copper sheets. Bartholdi completed production on the statue in 1884.

Creating the pedestal

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While the French were hard at work on the statue, the Americans focused on finding a location, funding, designing, and building the pedestal where the statue would sit. To raise funds, several inventive methods were used including contests, fundraisers and exhibitions. One such contest involved the iconic sonnet that is inscribed on a plaque at the base of the statue. “The New Colossus” was written by Emma Lazarus in 1883, who won one of the contests. Her sonnet includes these memorable lines: “Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free/The wretched refuse of your teeming shore/Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me/I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” However, this plaque wouldn’t be added to the pedestal until 1903.

As completion of the statue neared, Joseph Pulitzer, owner of The World newspaper, used his paper to secure final funding. He leveraged his opinion column to shame wealthy readers into donating toward the pedestal—and it worked. Meanwhile, the American architect Richard Morris Hunt was tapped as the winning designer for the pedestal. He created a granite pedestal in 1884 and donated his production fee toward funding the statue. The U.S. delegation selected Fort Wood on Bedloe’s Island as the statue’s home in Upper New York Bay. Final funding for the pedestal ended in August 1885, and in April 1886, the pedestal was completely built.

Reassembly and dedication

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How do you transport a statue that is 151 feet (46 meters)? You don’t just strap it to a barge and hope for the best. After Bartholdi finished production on the Statue of Liberty, it had to be disassembled and packed in over 200 crates to ship to the U.S. for reassembly. The statue didn’t arrive in New York until June 1885. Once on Bedloe’s Island, it took four months to completely reassemble it. On October 28, 1886, President Grover Cleveland oversaw the dedication for the Statue of Liberty in front of a large crowd of well-wishers.

Name changes and jurisdiction

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Most people don’t know what Bedloe’s Island or Fort Wood is, let alone where they are located. But present-day Liberty Island underwent name and designation changes before it became what we know it as today. The island and the statue were initially maintained by the United States Lighthouse Board because the statue’s torch was used as a beacon by sailors. In 1901, the War Department took control of the lands even when Fort Wood was designated a National Monument on October 15, 1924.

In 1933, the grounds officially fell under the control of the National Park Service. On September 7, 1937, the National Monument grounds were expanded to include all of Bedloe’s Park, and the island was officially renamed to Liberty Island. In 1965, after Ellis Island was shuttered as an immigration point, it became part of the National Park Service and the Statue of Liberty National Monument.

5 European Cities That Are Breathtaking in Spring

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

5 European Cities That Are Breathtaking in Spring

Spring is the perfect season to visit Europe. Airfare and lodging options are more reasonable, and museums and attractions aren’t as crowded. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, which European city should you choose? Here’s a list of potential destinations that are absolutely breathtaking in the spring.

Budapest, Hungary

Budapest, Hungary

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Ideal for travelers with a modest budget, Budapest is a city that lies on both banks of the Danube. The city was initially three separate towns of Buda, Óbuda and Pest until they were combined in the year 1873. Today, you can visit Budapest in the springtime, stroll down cobblestone streets and enjoy food-themed festivals that highlight Chilean and Moroccan cuisine. Visit the historic Jewish quarter, go to the opera or see a play at a theater. Don’t forget to check out the Aquincum, a museum housing the reconstructed remains of an ancient Roman city.

Paris, France

Paris, France

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Sure, Ella Fitzgerald sang the praises of “April in Paris.” But May and June are even better. That’s because during those two months, the sun is out for 16 hours before it finally sets. This allows you to enjoy so many outdoor activities like sipping wine at a cafe in the sun, strolling by the banks of the Seine or taking a romantic boat ride with your significant other.

What’s spring without flowers? Fortunately, Paris offers plenty of green space for quiet reflection and relaxation. The city boasts over 100 gardens, from simple pocket parks to more flamboyant ones such as the Tuileries.

Glasgow, Scotland

Glasgow, Scotland

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Arts lovers will definitely need to consider a springtime visit to Glasgow, Scotland. Visit the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum to check out the work of various artists, including the designs of artist and architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Mackintosh was born in Glasgow in the year 1868 and is considered one of Scotland’s most influential artists. If you visit Glasgow in April, you shouldn’t miss Glasgow International, a bi-annual art festival featuring contemporary art.

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Lausanne, Switzerland

Lausanne, Switzerland

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Located on Lake Geneva, Lausanne is a Swiss city that offers medieval architecture and beautiful vineyards. A quaint mixture of holiday resort and commercial town, Lausanne is a wonderful place to visit in the spring. Tiny, narrow roads and winding alleyways comprise the city, and many of those roads and alleys contain cafes and quaint shops. The city abounds with opportunities to eat mouthwatering cuisine. And if you visit Lausanne in the spring, don’t forget to visit its parks which boast Mediterranean plant species. There’s plenty to satisfy art lovers too. Art museums, theater, music productions and ballet performed by the world-renowned Béjart Ballet are just a few of the cultural activities available in Lausanne.

Lisse, Netherlands

Lisse, Netherlands

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When you think of Netherlands, you think of tulips. Lots of them. And that’s exactly what you’ll get when you visit Lisse, Netherlands, in the spring. If flowers are your thing, check out Keukenhof, a lovely garden located in Lisse. It has 7 million planted flower bulbs, making it one of the world’s largest flower gardens. Flowers are planted in a specific pattern to fit a theme that changes each year. So the effect will always be stunning, no matter how many times you visit Keukenhof over the years. And, of course, since this is the Netherlands, the garden has plenty of tulips. Don’t miss the rare black tulips that are featured there as well.

3 Ancient Structures That Have Remained Untouched

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

3 Ancient Structures That Have Remained Untouched

Since the dawn of history, humans have created impressive structures that served as a record of their existence and ingenuity. Some structures like the pyramids of Giza leave us awestruck because of their engineering feats. And others like the Great Wall of China were more than just a pretty façade, but a necessary aspect of a national defense strategy.

Regardless of the stories behind why these structures were built, what matters now is that we can still experience them. And if you’re gathering inspiration for a vacation steeped in history, these ancient structures should be on your bucket list. Because of the cultural and historical importance of these structures, it is impossible to find a historical place that hasn’t been aided by modern conservation efforts.

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The Parthenon – Athens, Greece

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Today, when you think of a place of worship, you probably picture a churchtemple, or mosque designed for a monotheistic (one deity) religion. But in ancient times, pantheistic religions (worshiping multiple gods) were much more common. So, it wasn’t strange to erect multiple structures within a civilization that were dedicated to multiple deities. One of the most notable ancient pantheistic religions was in Greece. The Parthenon in Athens is a perfect example and was constructed to allow local Athenians to celebrate and worship Athena, the goddess best known for presiding over wisdom. In other words, Athena is the patron god of Athens, and the city felt it wise to honor her.

But the Parthenon as you know it today wasn’t the first version. In fact, it’s the third version (Parthenon III) that replaced two earlier structures built in 570 BCE (Parthenon I) and 480 BCE (Parthenon II). Incidentally, Parthenon II was destroyed during the Battle of Marathon around 490 BCE by the Persians. But in case you’re concerned that the current Parthenon is too modern, don’t be. It was constructed between 447 and 438 BCE.

Carnac Stones – Brittany, France

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So, the Parthenon is a fairly straightforward ancient site that doesn’t require a suspension of belief for you to enjoy it. Its architecture is in line with other buildings from that era. But there are other ancient structures in other parts of the world that defy logic and continue to confound historians and experts. The Carnac Stones in the Brittany region of France is the perfect example of an ancient structure that’s out of place with other architecture and scientific advancements of its time. Officially, the Carnac Stones were compiled sometime between 3,300 and 4,500 BCE. They’re comprised of 3,000 prehistoric stones that serve as a representation of well-known geological alignments from that era.

For years, scientists struggled to understand what the Carnac Stones meant until they stumbled across geoglyphology in 2004. Geoglyphology is a way in which an ancient culture marked its physical territory. The concept isn’t unique to Carnac as multiple ancient cultures around the world used it to outline their areas of influence. But Carnac’s version of geoglyphology is unique — often viewed as a methodology too advanced for its time. Consider that Stonehenge was erected during the same time period but was considered far easier to decipher.

Aqueduct of Segovia – Segovia, Spain

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Every structure serves a form of functionality, but some buildings or edifices are more utilitarian than others. The Aqueduct of Segovia is one such phenomenon. It embodies the architectural style of the Roman Empire while also serving an essential purpose — supplying water to the city of Segovia. In fact, the aqueduct was so efficient that it served as a water supply from the Frio River when it was first developed during the first century CE until the 20th century.

As if that’s not impressive enough, try to comprehend the fact that this stone structure was created with little to no mortar. Today the aqueduct is just over 8.5 miles long and features an average height of nearly 100 feet. To this day, the Aqueduct of Segovia is considered one of the best-preserved representations of a Roman aqueduct. Even though the structure continued to be used well into the 20th century, it wasn’t maintained as it should be. It wasn’t until the 1970s that a serious conservation effort was launched to preserve its remaining portions. In 1985, the Aqueduct of Segovia officially became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Oldest Structures You’ll Ever See

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There are so many impressive ancient structures in the world that it was hard to narrow it down to just the three we listed here. But each of the ones we selected feature an interesting piece of trivia that you probably didn’t know until today. Whether you choose to visit these places or draft a different itinerary, we hope that you’ll appreciate the ingenuity and creativity of the ancient people who created these.

4 Important WWII Locations to See

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

4 Important WWII Locations to See

World War II changed the planet as we know it forever. According to historians, it was the largest and deadliest war in history, with more than 30 countries sending soldiers to fight for six long, arduous years. The war began with the invasion of Poland by the Nazis in 1939 and lasted until the Allies emerged victorious in 1945. With a war this big and this long, it’s no surprise that its pivotal battles were spread out all over the world. Here are four important locations to see if you want to delve deeper into the history of World War II.

Manhattan Project National Historical Park, United States

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The Manhattan Project was the code name of the top secret collection of engineers, nuclear physicists and military personnel who were given the task of producing an atomic weapon during World War II. This led to the scientific field being advanced in leaps and bounds as the group got closer and closer to creating the thing that would ultimately bring an end to the war: the atomic bomb. The Manhattan Project National Historical Park spans three of the “most significant” locations that played a role in the building of the bomb: Los Alamos, New Mexico, Hanford, Washington, and Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Dunkirk, France

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Movie buffs will recognize the name of this French city from a recent film that depicted the events of “Operation Dynamo,” the evacuation of soldiers from French, Belgian, Canadian and British units from Dunkirk. All in all, over 330,000 soldiers were rescued from the Battle of France using both navy boats and civilian vessels in an evacuation that lasted from May 26th to June 4th, 1940. You can visit the sites of this battle today and walk along the same beaches where these soldiers fought to escape with their lives.

Anne Frank House, Netherlands

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When I was growing up, my favorite book was The Diary of Anne Frank. While many people could think of World War II as something that happened somewhere else, to someone else, Anne’s diary brought people who weren’t born until decades later right into the heart of it, and showed them how the war affected people on a personal, human level. Today, the house in the Netherlands in which Anne and her family were hiding from the Nazis when she wrote that diary has been turned into a museum. You can visit and immerse yourself even more into Anne’s world to see where and how she lived before she became another innocent casualty of the terrible war.

Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, Poland

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The most important World War II location on our list is a somber place, a place that should have never existed. Auschwitz-Birkenau was the largest concentration camp built by the German Nazis. Millions upon millions of men, women and children came through this camp, with more than 1.1 million of them dying here. The museum and memorial on this spot hold relics, archives and other artifacts from the war and serve as a way to educate people about the aspects of history that cannot be repeated.

French inventor makes ‘beautiful’ flight across Channel on hoverboard

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

French inventor makes ‘beautiful’ flight across Channel on hoverboard

Zapata soars over Bastille Day celebrations on flying board.

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Zapata soars over Bastille Day celebrations on flying board. 00:32

(CNN)French inventor Franky Zapata has successfully crossed the Channel on a jet-powered hoverboard for the first time, after a failed attempt last month.

Zapata took off from Sangatte, northern France early on Sunday morning and landed in St. Margarets Bay, near Dover in England. The journey took just over 20 minutes, according to Reuters news agency.
“I had the chance to land in an extraordinary place. It’s beautiful. My first thought was to my family. It was huge. Thanks to my wife who always supports me in crazy projects. We worked very hard,” he told CNN affiliate BFMTV.
Franky Zapata flies past the Calais city hall on Sunday after starting his Channel crossing attempt.

The inventor said that he tried to “take pleasure in not thinking about the pain,” even though “his thighs were burning.”
Zapata, a former jet ski racing champion, took to the skies in July on his Flyboard Air vehicle but missed a platform mounted on a boat as he tried to land midway for refueling. The 40-year-old was uninjured in the fall into the sea, and said that he worked “15 to 16 hours a day to rebuild the machine.”
Franky Zapata stands on his jet-powered "flyboard" next to helicopters as he arrives at St. Margaret's Bay in Dover.

In an interview after he completed his journey across the Channel, Zapata said that for his next challenge he was working on a flying car and had signed contracts, but for now he “was tired” and “wants a vacation,” he told BFMTV.
The inventor captured the world’s imagination when he took to the skies above Paris at Bastille Day parade in July with the board that can reach an altitude of nearly 500 feet — with the potential to go much higher — and a speed of 87mph.
Franky Zapata on his jet-powered "flyboard" lands at St. Margaret's Bay in Dover.

Zapata has worked with the US and French militaries, with the French investing $1.4 million to pay for tests of the board. French special forces are interested in the flying board for several uses, including as a possible assault device, said Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly, according to CNN affiliate BFMTV.
The English Channel has been crossed in many innovative ways over the years — including by hovercraft, hot air balloon, monoski, gondola, pedalo and glider and parachute.
On 25 July 1909, French aviator Louis Blériot made the first airplane flight between continental Europe and Great Britain in a monoplane.
In 1875, British marine captain Matthew Webb was the first to swim from Dover to Calais, completing the journey in 21 hours and 45 minutes.

10 Etiquette Rules to Know Before Visiting Europe

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

10 Etiquette Rules to Know Before Visiting Europe

As the majority of Americans are the descendants of European immigrants, you’d think there would be more cultural similarities between the two. But thanks to a few centuries of separation, there are certain differences that have cropped up that are always getting American tourists into trouble, as well as ruining our reputation abroad. Bone up on your European etiquette by following these 10 tips.

In General | Don’t Tip Like an American

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Tipping culture in America is out of control. Put simply, we’re entrenching ourselves in a custom that shortchanges (pun intended) everyone. In contrast, most countries in Europe operate without tipping, so while staff are aware that Americans are prone to tipping, they’re neither expecting it nor depending on it. Instead, use tipping the way we say it works here at home, by which we mean throw a bartender or waiter a few extra euro only when the service is truly exceptional.

In General | Don’t Rush Your Meal

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On a related note, since waitstaff isn’t working for tips, they’re not focused on turnover and won’t check in on your meal as often as someone might in America. That creates a certain amount of dissonance between the paces of American and European meals. We don’t mean to insult American waitstaff, but the emphasis on tips also emphasizes turnover, which can rush diners. European staff is more focused on doing a good job than a fast one, so relax and enjoy your meal.

In General | Dress Yourself Up a Bit

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To the untrained eye, it might seem like most Europeans are on their way to some kind of meeting, with most people in pants that aren’t jeans and shirts that aren’t T. If you’re abroad in Europe, it’s best to take a cue from this and pack clothes that fit the setting. Button-downs, nicer pants and more formal footwear are a good idea. In fact, on that last point, Americans take a lot of flak overseas for our proclivity for sneakers. Unless you’re doing a lot of outdoorsy walking or playing a lot of sports, you might be best served leaving the Nikes at home.

Continental Europe | End Your Meal at 5:25

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Apparently there’s an American dining style, which, for all the jokes we hear about Golden Corral and cheeseburgers, we think might just be Europeans making fun of us again. Instead, we think it’s safer to go with the Continental style. When you’ve finished your meal, place your utensils at the 5:25 position on your plate.  Traditionally, the fork’s tines would be facing down, but modern dining etiquette allows them to be left up as well. That will show your server you’ve eaten everything you want to and they can come to clear your place, all without interrupting the flow of your evening.

Portugal & Rome | It’s Not Rude to Refuse Extra Snacks

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It’s not a guarantee that someone’s going to do it to you, but sometimes servers will bring unrequested snacks to the table in restaurants in Rome and Portugal. If that happens in America, in our experience at least, it’s on the house. Not so much overseas. You’ll probably find these on the bill at the end of your meal, which could potentially cause some problems, particularly if you’re traveling on a budget. Don’t feel too bad about refusing these dishes, since you’re going to be paying for them anyway. On the flip side, you could eat them too. But again, don’t feel bad saying no.

France | Put Your Bread Right on the Table

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You might think going out to a French meal means you’re going to have more knives, forks, bowls, glasses and plates than you know what to do with. That might be true for all but the last, as you’ll at least be lacking a bread plate. The French place their bread right on the table next to their plates in all but the fanciest dining experiences. It’s weird at first, but by the end, you’ll probably be wondering why you were scared to do it in the first place.

Great Britain | Don’t Mess With the Tea

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While it might be the Irish who have the British beat on per capita tea consumption, the British are the sticklers for how people should take it. You’ll have it with milk and no sugar and be thankful for it, especially since it was a Brit who made it for you and offered it to you in the first place.

It’s also understandable if you want to ignore this particular piece of advice if you find yourself having tea in the U.K. Just know you could get some looks.

Norway | Don’t Talk to People You Don’t Know … Unless They’re Drunk

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Norwegians are a surprisingly reserved nation. We say surprisingly because their major claim to fame is the Viking penchant for outgoing behavior. But a modern Norwegian has assured us it’s a bad idea to talk to people we don’t know in virtually every conceivable situation. Buses, trains, walking around, in shops, they’re pretty much all off limits for the kind of random amiability Americans are reasonably accustomed to. Though, they did clarify that all bets are off once alcohol’s entered the picture. Evidently the only thing standing between us and being friends with any random person in Norway is a few pints.

Ireland | Buy Your Round

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Essentially, when a small group of friends or family goes out drinking and plans on staying out for some time, it falls to each person to buy everyone else’s drinks, but usually only once. To put a finer point on it, if you go out with five friends, each friend should expect to buy five drinks. If you try to skip one, or genuinely don’t know what’s happening, you’ll find some bad blood with people who are otherwise hard to upset.

Greece | Nodding Means No

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Nodding is such a common behavior for us that it almost feels like a human instinct instead of invented behavior. But the people of Greece basically switch our “yes” and “no” head movements, which we assume has led to many a misunderstanding between American tourists and Greek locals. We commend anyone for trying to adjust to the new head indicators, but it might be better to simply switch to verbal responses while you’re there.

Israel: From Europe to the Arctic, temperature records tumble in 2019

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

From Europe to the Arctic, temperature records tumble in 2019

Planet is getting hotter at a rate unparalleled in two millennia, and atmospheric CO2 levels are at their highest in 3 million years

The sun rises near power lines in Frankfurt, Germany as a heat wave scorches Europe, July 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

The sun rises near power lines in Frankfurt, Germany as a heat wave scorches Europe, July 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

AFP — We may only be just over halfway through it, but 2019 has already seen temperature records smashed from Europe to the Arctic circle and could prove to be one of the hottest years ever recorded.

Numerous studies have shown that heatwaves such as the one that baked northern Europe this week are made more likely by climate change, and as man-made greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, 2019 fits a general warming trend.

This June was the hottest on record, beating out June 2016 — so far the hottest year ever.

The record was breached due to an exceptionally strong European heatwave. The continent’s June temperatures were around two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) hotter than average, according to the EU’s Copernicus climate monitor.

People cool down in the fountains of the Trocadero gardens in Paris July 25, 2019, when a new all-time high temperature of 42.6 degrees Celsius (108.7 F) hit the French capital. (AP Photo/Rafael Yaghobzadeh)

Temperatures were also notably higher than historic averages in South America, the US atmospheric monitor NOAA said.

Europe has endured two exceptionally strong heatwaves in a matter of weeks.

Record highs tumbled across France, with the mercury peaking at 46 C (114.8 F) on June 28 in the southern town of Verargues. The previous record, set back in 2003, was 44.1 C (111.4 F).

The second wave of heat this week saw Paris’s all-time high pulverized: Meteo-France measured 42.6 C (108.7 F)  in the French capital on Thursday — more than 2 C (3.6 F) hotter than the previous high, set more than 70 years ago.

An elderly woman covers her face from the hot sun with a newspaper, in Milan, Italy, Thursday, July 25, 2019. Parts of Europe will likely see record-high temperatures on Thursday as much of the continent is trapped in a heat wave, the second in two months. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands all also registered all-time high temperatures.

The World Weather Attribution service this month said June’s heatwave was made between 5 and 100 times more likely by man-made climate change.

“Since 2015, we’ve seen extreme heatwaves every year in Europe,” said Robert Vautard, a climatologist at France’s Laboratory of Climate and Environment Sciences.

The first half of 2019 also saw intense heatwaves in Australia, India, Pakistan and parts of the Middle East, according to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).

In mid-July, for the first time on record, thermometers read 21 C (69.8 F) in Alert, a Canadian outpost that is the most northern settlement on Earth, around 900 kilometers from the North Pole.

That beat the previous record set in 1956, but the number of days where temperatures reach 19-20 C (66.2 – 68 F) have shown a marked increase since 2012.

People enjoy the hot summer weather at the river Isar in Munich, Germany, July 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

The last four years are the hottest on record.

Last year was fourth on the list, with an average surface temperature of 1 C  (1.8 F) above pre-industrial levels.

2016 still holds the crown as the hottest year in human history — a full 1.2 C (2.2 F) above average, aided by a powerful El Nino warming event.

According to the NOAA, the period of January-June 2019 was the second hottest ever measured, hotter even than the same period in 2016.

The WMO estimates 2019 will be among the top five hottest years, and that 2015-2019 will be the hottest five year period ever recorded.

Three papers released this week showed that Earth’s temperature was currently warming at a rate and uniformity unparalleled in the past 2,000 years.

Atmospheric CO2 levels are currently around 415 parts per million — the highest concentration in three million years.

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China: France to implement ‘national decisions’ on digital tax despite Trump’s threat

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

France to implement ‘national decisions’ on digital tax despite Trump’s threat

Xinhua

French Minister of the Economy and Finance, Bruno Le Maire, said on Friday that the digital tax on internet giants was “a national decision” that the government would put on the ground, defying US threat of “a substantial reciprocal action.”

“France will implement its national decisions,” French newspaper Le Figaro quoted Le Maire as saying, in response to US President Donald Trump’s warning.

“The taxation of digital activities is a challenge that concerns all of us. We want to reach an agreement on this issue in the framework of the G7 and the OECD,” Le Maire said.

The French Parliament passed a new law to tax digital giants on July 11, making France one of the first countries to tax “GAFA” companies, namely Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple.

“If anybody taxes them, it should be their home Country, the USA. We will announce a substantial reciprocal action on Macron’s foolishness shortly. I’ve always said American wine is better than French wine,” Trump wrote in his tweet.

The French Digital Services Tax imposes a 3-percent tax on total annual revenues generated by some companies from providing certain digital services to, or aimed at, French users.

The tax applies only to companies with total annual revenues from the covered services of at least 750 million euros (US$834 million) globally and 25 million euros in France.

The tax was initially adopted by France’s National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, on July 4. It is expected to collect 400 million euros this year and 650 million euros by 2022.

Despite a setback in Brussels to reach a European Union-wide taxation, the French government decided to impose the tax at the national level.

In response, the United States Trade Representative announced that it has initiated an investigation against the French law and its impact on US businesses.

The USTR launched the investigation under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, accusing the French government of “unfairly targeting the tax at certain US-based technology companies”. It has been quoting Section 301 in investigating and interfering with foreign countries’ policies.

Section 301 is part of an outdated US trade law adopted in 1974 that allows the US president to unilaterally impose tariffs or other trade restrictions on foreign countries.

New species of glow-in-the-dark shark found in Gulf of Mexico

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CBS NEWS)

 

New species of glow-in-the-dark shark found in Gulf of Mexico

A new species of shark has been identified in the Gulf of Mexico by a team of researchers, and the creature has one very distinctive feature — it glows in the dark. The glowing shark measures just 5.5 inches long, according to a study published in the Zootaxa journal.

The researchers from NOAA and Tulane University determined the small kitefin shark, which was found in 2010, is an American pocket shark based on five features, they explained in a Tulane press release. It has two pockets near its gills that secrete a luminous fluid, which could help the shark attract prey.

front-view-pocket-shark533.jpg
A small glow-in-the-dark shark was first discovered in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. A group of researchers, two from Tulane University, eventually determined this is a new species of pocket shark. MARK DOOSEY

The only other known variety of pocket shark was discovered in the eastern Pacific Ocean in 1979. That shark is now in the Zoological Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.

“In the history of fisheries science, only two pocket sharks have ever been captured or reported,” Mark Grace of NOAA’S NMFS Mississippi Laboratories said in the press release. “Both are separate species, each from separate oceans. Both are exceedingly rare.”

While this shark was caught in 2010 during a mission to study sperm whale feeding, Grace first came across it in 2013 while examining specimens that were collected during the NOAA survey. Grace and researchers at Tulane then began studying the shark, examining its external features as well as taking X-rays and CT scans. Researchers also got help from the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in France, which produced X-rays 100 billion times brighter than the X-rays used in hospitals.

Researchers identified several notable differences between the original Pacific Ocean pocket shark and the newly discovered species from the Gulf of Mexico. While both species both produce the glowing fluid, they have a different number of vertebrae, different teeth, and the Gulf specimen has light-producing photophores that cover much of the body.

“The fact that only one pocket shark has ever been reported from the Gulf of Mexico, and that it is a new species, underscores how little we know about the Gulf — especially its deeper waters — and how many additional new species from these waters await discovery,” Henry Bart, director of the Tulane Biodiversity Research Institute, said.

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