5 Old Olympics Facilities You Can Still Visit

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

5 Old Olympics Facilities You Can Still Visit

The Olympic Games are the leading international sporting events that still bring the world together. Thousands of athletic competitors from more than 200 nations participate and compete for gold, silver, and bronze medals. Media coverage is intense, sports records are broken, and stories of hope, despair, and triumph generate both empathy and world acclaim.

Since the ancient Olympics games held in Olympia, Greece, the winter and summer Olympics evolved into the modern versions we know today, which have taken place at elaborate facilities across the globe. Here are a few you can still visit to relive the glory.

Olympia, Greece: Ancient Olympic Games

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The roots of the Olympic Games are religious and athletic festivals held in honor of Zeus in Olympia on the Peloponnese Peninsula. During classical times, athletics and combat sports such as wrestling, javelin, and horse and chariot racing events were common.

Starting in 776 BC, they continued every four years through Greek and Roman rule until AD 393 when Theodosius suspended them to enforce Christianity. You can immerse yourself in ancient history by exploring the remnants of the once-grand Stadium at Olympia.

Olympia is located a 3.5-hour drive from Athens. Now transformed into a tourist destination, there is plenty to see and do. The archaeological site itself is surrounded by the Museum of the History of the Olympic Games in Antiquity, the Museum of the History of Excavations in Olympia, and the Archaeological Museum of Olympia.

The ancient site lies a brief five-minute walk from the main entrance. The sanctuary includes the gymnasium, the Temple of Hera, the Philippeion, and other fragments of buildings, statues, and monuments.

Berlin, Germany: Olympic Village (1936)

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This is where the Jews were barred from participating in 1936 during the Nazi rule. Berlin was awarded the Olympic contract two years before being taken over by the Nazis. They were the first Olympic games to be broadcast worldwide, and the competitions were not just for athletes but political messages, as well.

The Olympic village was built approximately 20 miles from the western edge of Berlin. The venue includes training facilities, a swimming pool, and low-level dormitories. The 1936 Olympics saw African-American Jesse Owens make history, earning four gold medals in the track and field events and setting three world records in the process. After the Olympics, the facility underwent renovations and became a hospital, then a Soviet military camp. Tours are available; however, be aware that the center is in decay.

Beijing, China: Birds Nest Stadium (2008)

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Designed for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, the National Stadium—perhaps better known as the Bird’s Nest—was the largest facility created for the games. The one-of-a-kind architecture interprets nature in its rendering of a bird’s nest.

The specifications were daunting: The structure needed to be earthquake-proof, with 111,000 tons of steel and struts, yet visually lightweight, airy, and inspiring. As one of Beijing’s top landmarks, it has hosted many competitions and events. Weight throw, discus, track and field, football, and other sporting events were held at the Bird’s Nest.

For the full visual impact, plan your trip at night to see the artistic illumination. Currently, it is used as a soccer stadium but is open for visitors and will host the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Athens, Greece: Panathenaic Stadium (2004)

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Located on an ancient stadium site from the fourth century, the Panathenaic Stadium is a famous cultural and historic landmark in Athens, Greece. It is built entirely of marble and shaped as a parallelogram. It hosted the first modern games in 1896, and more recently, the 2004 games in Athens. This is where the iconic Olympic flame begins its trek to the new host city for every winter, summer, and youth games.

The Hellenic Olympic Committee owns, operates and manages the Panathenaic Stadium. Its mission is to advance, sponsor, and guard the Olympic Movement day and night, and to encourage the sporting spirit among the next generations. The modern-day stadium accommodates multi-purpose events for conferences, seminars, and athletics. You can take in classical history on a breathtaking tour with a certified guide, audio guide, or interactive nature journey.

Vancouver, Canada: Olympic Village Condos (2010)

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In 2010, Vancouver hosted the Winter Olympics and Paralympics. The Millennium Development Group built one thousand units to accommodate close to 3,000 athletes and visitors. It is touted as the greenest, most environmentally-friendly complex in the world. The structures use natural solar heating, green roof practices, and other sustainable advances.

Do not expect to see artifacts of the 2010 Olympic Games as the property was re-purposed into a mixed-use community and open-space development. This compound is located on the southeast corner of False Creek, which has hiking, biking, shopping, and dog walking paths in a park near the Olympic Village. Vancouver’s famous (and protected) beaver community has taken up residence in the area.

3 Small German Towns Worth Exploring

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

3 Small German Towns Worth Exploring

Germany is an urban travelers dream. Metropolises like Berlin, Munich, and Frankfurt offer enough world-class shopping centers, history, and nightlife to keep anyone busy for days, if not weeks. But Berlin isn’t for everyone, and if you want to escape the bustle of the big city on your next trip to Germany, there are many wonderful small towns you can visit. Here are three unique German towns that are worth exploring the next time you travel through the Fatherland.

Idstein

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A wonderful destination for history, Idstein’s first recorded mention was at the turn of the 12th century, and the oldest building still standing in the town was constructed in 1410. Idstein features an impressive collection of vibrant, painted timber-framed buildings in classic medieval style.

One of the highlights of the town is the Idstein Castle, whose foundations were first constructed in 1170and is flanked by the famous Witch’s Tower. The castle was updated, rebuilt, and renovated over the centuries that followed until it was redesigned in its current baroque style in 1714.

Another place in Idstein of note is the Union Church. This 14th century church may look nondescript from the outside but features a stunning interior, the highlight of which is a set of 40 paintings by Flemish artist Michael Angelo Immenraet.

Quedlingburg

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Nestled in the Harz mountains between Hanover and Berlin, Quedlingburg is another superb small-town destination. Even more history is to be found on the cobblestone streets of Quedlingburg, which has been occupied since the 800s. The town is even referred to as the birthplace of Germany because Heinrich I was named the first king of Germany here in 919.

The entire city sits under the stoic Quedlingburg Abbey. Founded in 936, the abbey is a beautiful example of Romanesque architecture, with stately stone walls topped with a vibrant red roof. Inside the church is a museum displaying many artifacts of ancient humans who lived in the region and fossils from the Ice Age.

Also on display is the Quedlingburg treasure, a collection of lavish manuscripts, weapons, chests and vases, many fitted with valuable jewelry. Pilfered from the abbey during the Second World War, the artifacts have returned and make the abbey a must-see stop on your next trip through the heartland of Germany.

Rothenburg

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Journey back in time with a trip to Rothenburg, the best-preserved walled town in Germany. The town is one of the most visited in Germany, receiving more than 2.5 million visitors per year.

Begin your journey through Rothenburg by strolling along the famous wall that surrounds the oldest parts of the town. Stunning views are offered of both the town and the surrounding countryside, and the wall also gives access to the many towers built into the structure.

Stroll to St. James Church to admire the dual sweeping spires and tall windows decorated with biblical scenes that date back to the 1500s. The church has been standing since 1485 and took almost 200 years to complete. You can also visit the marketplace to find unique gifts and explore the Town Hall, Councilors Tavern, and visit the Christmas Market, if you are traveling during the holidays.

4 Oldest Operating Airports in the World

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

4 Oldest Operating Airports in the World

More than 100 years have passed since Orville and Wilbur Wright took to the air in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. That fateful day in 1903 opened the skies to mankind in ways the Wrights likely never thought possible, and the evolution of aviation continues to inspire humans to fly ever higher.

It’s easy to look back and recognize just how far aircraft technology has advanced since December 17, 1903. What might surprise you is that the first airports still in operation today were established only a handful of years after that short flight in Kitty Hawk. Here’s a quick flyby of four of the oldest airports in the world that are still operating today.

College Park Airport

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College Park, Maryland

The “historic general aviation gateway to the Nation’s Capital,” College Park Airport in Maryland is the world’s oldest continually operating airport. It was established in 1909 to serve as the military demonstration site for the Wright Brothers while Wilbur instructed a pair of military officers in flying the government’s first airplane.

You would expect College Park Airport, being the oldest airport in the world, to serve as home base for a number of aviation achievements, and it does not disappoint. In addition to being the world’s oldest airport, College Park’s claims to fame also include:

  • The first mile-high flight by a powered airplane
  • The first women to fly in a powered aircraft
  • The first controlled helicopter flight
  • Home of the first military aviation school
  • The first radio navigational aids (paving the way for modern landing systems)

Today, College Park Airport spreads across 70 acres, utilizes a single runway, and houses the College Park Aviation Museum.

Ljungbyhed Airport

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Ljungbyhed, Sweden

Ljungbyhed Airport is located in Southern Sweden and was founded in 1910. Today, the airport is used primarily as a hub for private jets, and it sees more than 90,000 flight takeoffs and landings over the year, making it one of the busiest airports in Sweden.

The site of the Ljungbyhed Airport has long been associated with the Swedish military and has been used for military purposes dating as far back as the mid-1600s.

Hamburg Airport

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Hamburg, Germany

Hamburg Airport was founded the year after the Ljungbyhed Airport, but the Hamburg Airport is technically the second-oldest operating commercial passenger airport in the world (since Ljungbyhed mostly serves private jets). As the second oldest commercial airport in the world, it’s no surprise that the Hamburg Airport is also the oldest airport in Germany.

Hangars at Hamburg Airport were utilized during World War I, destroyed by fire in 1916, and used again as a staging area during the Berlin Airlift during the Cold War. The airport serves as a major airline hub for travel into and out of Germany. More than 17.5 million passengers moved through in 2017 according to Hamburg Airport’s annual report.

Shoreham Airport

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Lancing, England

Shoreham Airport (also known as Brighton City Airport) in Lancing, South Essex, England — much like Ljungbyhend Airport — sees much more traffic than its commercial passenger counterparts around the world. Today, Shoreham Airport is used by privately owned light aircraft and helicopter operators, for sight-seeing and pleasure flights, and by a number of pilots and flight schools offering flying lessons.

Shoreham Airport was founded in 1911 and served as a base for the first British aircraft during World War I and again for British aircraft during World War II.

From Point A to Point Z

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Just imagine the number of airports spread across the globe now if this list only covers the oldest four. Airports around the world accommodated more than 8 billion passengers in 2018, according to the annual World Airport Traffic Report released by the Airports Council International.

More than 100 years of aviation improvements and commercial airport history have spread crossed the globe to connect the world. Daily flights navigate nationally and internationally to carry passengers disembarking for business and pleasure, to ship cargo from company to company, and to keep the wheels of the world churning.

Israel among world’s top 10 most innovative countries — global index

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Israel among world’s top 10 most innovative countries — global index

Switzerland tops list, followed by Sweden and US; Jewish state has climbed steadily in rankings since 2015

Participants at the DLD Tel Aviv Digital Conference, Israel's largest international Hi-tech gathering, featuring hundreds of start ups, VC’s, angel investors and leading multinationals, held at the Old Train Station complex in Tel Aviv on September 8, 2015. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

Participants at the DLD Tel Aviv Digital Conference, Israel’s largest international Hi-tech gathering, featuring hundreds of start ups, VC’s, angel investors and leading multinationals, held at the Old Train Station complex in Tel Aviv on September 8, 2015. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

Switzerland is the world’s most innovative country for a second consecutive year while Israel made the top 10, a global indicator showed Wednesday.

The annual Global Innovation Index — compiled by World Intellectual Property Organization, Cornell University and INSEAD — ranks 129 world economies on 80 parameters including research, technology and creativity.

Switzerland was followed by Sweden, the United States, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Finland, Denmark, Singapore and Germany, with Israel rounding out the top 10.

The Jewish state was placed 11th in 2018, 17th in 2017, 21st in 2016, and 22nd in 2015.

India, where the announcement was made, was ranked 52nd but has leaped up the rankings in recent years, WIPO assistant director-general Naresh Prasad said.

The report came as the International Monetary Fund downgraded global growth and warned of a “precarious” 2020 amid trade tensions, continued uncertainty and rising prospects for a no-deal Brexit.

The report’s authors said spending on innovation was still growing and appeared resilient despite the slowdown.

But they also warned of signs of waning public support for research and development in high-income economies usually responsible for pushing the innovation envelope, and increased protectionism.

“In particular, protectionism that impacts technology-intensive sectors and knowledge flows poses risks to global innovation networks and innovation diffusion,” the report said.

“If left uncontained, these new obstacles to international trade, investment, and workforce mobility will lead to a slowdown of growth in innovation productivity and diffusion across the globe.”

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The Oldest Palaces Still In Use Today

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

The Oldest Palaces Still In Use Today

Many ancient civilizations were driven by excess: excesses of power, of wealth, of pride. And when you have all three in spades, it’s easy to understand why so many cultures sought to showcase their strength by building the biggest and most extravagant palaces in the world. Of course, many of these palaces are now gone. But not all of them are — and many of them are still being used, even today.

Citadel of Aleppo

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Location: Aleppo, Syria

One of the oldest structures on this list, the Citadel of Aleppo is a castle in Aleppo, Syria, that has stood for over 5,000 years. This mighty structure features high walls, an entry bridge, and a huge gateway that are all mostly intact, despite being exposed to centuries of war, weather disasters, and natural decay.

From 2002 to 2010, non-profit societies (such as the World Monuments Fund) have tried to preserve the remaining structures of the Citadel, but their activities ground to a halt when the Syrian Civil War erupted in 2011. As of 2017, the site is reopened to public visitors interested in seeing one of the Middle East’s premier historical monuments for themselves.

Topkapi Palace

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Location: Istanbul, Turkey

Today, the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, Turkey, is a large, sprawling museum complex overseen by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. But back in 1458, when the building’s construction was ordered by Mehmed the Conqueror, it was envisioned as a grand palace suitable for generations of Ottoman sultans. And given its impressive majesty, it’s clear that it served this function well — for a while, at least.

By the 17th century, sultans had grown weary of the building, preferring the newer, bigger palaces that had since been built. The Topkapi Palace’s importance continued to wane over the years, moving from royal palace, to imperial treasury, to the eventual museum that we know today. But though it lost favor over the years, you can still go in the palace to see an amazing collection of ancient Ottoman relics, manuscripts, and treasures.

Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine

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Location: Rome, Italy

An ancient part of the Roman Forum, the Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine was built in 312 CE. The building, though not originally conceived as a palace, served multiple functions, including a council chamber, meeting hall, courthouse, and place of worship.

This was a crucial structure for the Romans of the time, but the Basilica wouldn’t last. It was severely damaged by earthquakes over hundreds of years until little remained of the building’s actual construction. So, though the Basilica isn’t technically still used today, it stands as a timeless landmark of Roman history — so much so that several events of the 1960 Summer Olympic Games were held at its former location.

Burg Meersburg

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Location: Meersburg, Germany

Burg Meersburg, or Meersburg Castle, is the oldest inhabited castle in Germany. Reports estimate that the castle was first built sometime in the 7th century, though there are multiple theories surrounding its initial construction. Like many others on this list, the castle has undergone significant renovations over the years, and much of the original construction is no longer visible.

Nevertheless, Meersburg Castle is a popular tourist attraction in Germany, regularly drawing in thousands of visitors a year. You can visit the castle yourself on a self-guided tour, though naturally, several areas are off-limits.

Palace at Pylos (Nestor’s Palace)

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Location: Pylos, Greece

Nestor’s Palace is considered the best-preserved Mycenaean Greek palace of the Bronze Age, located in the town of Pylos, Greece. This ancient structure was actually featured in Homer’s Odyssey and Iliad, from whence its casual title — Nestor’s Palace — was derived.

Historians aren’t sure when Nestor’s Palace was first built, though excavators report that most of the artifacts discovered inside date back to 1300 BCE. The palace itself was destroyed by a fire just 100 years later, though modern-day archaeologists would eventually rediscover it in 1939.

Due to its historical weight, the area is a huge draw for tourists. You can visit the site for yourself and watch the excavators dig through the rubble, along with checking out the nearby Greek museum.

The Oldest Palaces Still Standing

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Many of the amazing ancient palaces built by our ancestors have been lost to time, but others are still standing. Should you get a chance to see one of these amazing artifacts for yourself, take it! There’s no telling how long these buildings will be around, and getting a chance to see them live will certainly make a trip worthwhile — even if you aren’t a fan of history.

4 Most Powerful Passports in the World

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

Most Powerful Passports in the World

Wouldn’t it be great to travel around the world and never have to worry about going through a lengthy process of applying for a visa. For some, their nation’s passports grant them hassle-free entry to hundreds of far-off countries. For others, diplomatic relations hamper the ability to move around at will.

Here we have the four most powerful passports in the world according to statistics compiled by London-based citizenship and residence advisory Henley & Partners, though, since there are a few ties, the list really stands at nine. Using information gathered from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the firm classifies passports by the ease of which they can obtain visa-free and/or visa-on-arrival admission.

Denmark, Finland, Italy and Sweden

Denmark, Finland, Italy and Sweden

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Four European nations, three of which are Nordic countries, share fourth place with the ability to enjoy visa-free travel to 187 countries. Throughout much of Europe, people from these countries not only enjoy ease of entry but are also classified under the Freedom of Movement act. This human rights act grants individuals the possibility to choose where they live and work. Curiously, Finland, Denmark and Sweden (in that order) made the top 10 of the UN’s 2019 World Happiness Report. Is there be a direct correlation between happiness and freedom to travel? Italians meanwhile can set off on adventures to mysterious places such as Benin, Comoros and Guyana with just their passport in hand.

Germany and France

Germany and France

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The Germans and French go one better in third place by having visa-free travel to 188 countries. Since the statistics were first published in 2006, Germany has maintained a top five position and increased their visa-free access by 59. France has done better still in fostering preferable visa relations with 60 new nations. As with their European counterparts in fourth place, the Germans and French can also make use of the Freedom of Movement act. Adventurous citizens of both can pack their bags and set off for lesser-known nations such as Kiribati and Tuvalu.

South Korea

South Korea

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With visa-free travel possible to 189 nations, South Korea takes second place and starts the Asian domination at the top end of the list. South Korea ranked 11th in 2006 but thanks to the addition of an incredible 74 new visa-free arrangements since, it now has one of the most desirable passports. The entire European continent opens its doors to South Koreans. The citizens can also delight in free and stressless visa arrangements with Caribbean islands and much of Latin America.

Japan and Singapore

Japan and Singapore

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The prize for the most powerful passport in the world goes to Japan and Singapore. Their citizens can visit 189 countries either visa-free or by a visa-on-arrival agreement. They beat South Korea to the top spot based on the fact that they also have visa-free entry to the world’s four largest economies of China, India, the European Union and United States. Only four nations have this power, the others being Brunei and San Marino. Japan has established new visa-free relations with 61 new nations since 2006 while Singapore has increased their total by 67. With either of these passports in hand you could travel by land from Portugal to Malaysia and only need to prearrange an eTA (Electronic Travel Authorization) visa for Pakistan.

7 Things You Never Knew About Daylight Saving Time

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

7 Things You Never Knew About Daylight Saving Time

Daylight saving time is the biannual event that gives us an extra hour of daylight during the summer evenings but inevitably interrupts our sleep schedule. We all know to “spring forward” our clocks in March and “fall back” in November — but what about the origins of this practice?

Read on to discover how daylight saving time was first adopted in the U.S. and how other countries utilize it.

Germany Was the First Country to Adopt Daylight Saving Time

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Germany started the daylight saving time trend on April 30, 1916, according to Date and Time, when they turned their clocks ahead by one hour in an attempt to save fuel during World War I. Losing an hour cut back on the amount of artificial light that was consumed. Many countries followed suit quickly but then reverted back to standard time after the war. Daylight saving time temporarily returned to most of Europe during World War II as well.

The U.S. Waited Until 1966 to Make Daylight Saving Time Official

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The United States also adopted daylight saving time during both world wars and allowed states to decide on their own to continue it after World War II, according to the History Channel. This caused confusion and the federal government decided that things should be standard throughout the country. Daylight saving time wasn’t actually put into law until 1966 with the passage of the Uniform Time Act, which also defined the current time zones, according to National Geographic.

Not All U.S. States Participate

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The entire state of Hawaii does not have daylight saving time, because the amount of daylight throughout the year doesn’t vary much due to the state’s proximity to the equator, according to World Atlas. Along with Hawaii, most of Arizona does not practice daylight saving time due to its extremely hot temperatures during the summer. Residents would rather enjoy cool evenings when the sun is down. However, according to National Geographic, the Navajo Nation in northeast Arizona does observe daylight saving time, causing it to have a one-hour time difference from the rest of the state for part of the year.

Daylight Saving Time Technically Begins at 2 A.M. EST in the U.S.

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Although most of us set our clocks forward or back before going to sleep, the official time to make the change in the U.S. is at 2 a.m. EST on the selected date, according to Time and Date. The selected time of 2 a.m. was originally perceived as the easiest, least disruptive option because most people were thought to be asleep.

Countries Begin Daylight Saving Time on Different Dates

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Currently, only 40% of countries use daylight saving time, according to Time and Date, and many do not begin and end on the same dates. For example, the U.S. begins on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November. In most parts of Mexico, it begins on the first Sunday in April and ends on the last Sunday in October. Check out a detailed chart of what countries observe daylight saving time and when.

Countries Near the Equator Don’t Need It

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Countries near the equator, like Colombia and Uganda, experience almost the same amount of daylight hours no matter the season, so the need to maximize daylight isn’t necessary in those locations, according to the National Sleep Foundation. However, some countries near the equator do choose to participate anyway, like Chile and sections of Brazil.

More U.S. States Are Trying to Get Rid of Daylight Saving Time

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Is your state next? Following Hawaii and Arizona, more U.S. states are asking to do away with daylight saving time. According to ABC News, Florida, Massachusetts, Maine and possibly New Hampshire are all on the list. Florida is the closest state to completing this process, passing the Sunshine Protection Act in 2018 — but Congress still needs to approve it, according to Spectrum News 13.

5 Fairy Tale Castles in Europe

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

5

Fairy Tale Castles in Europe

Fairy tales are meant to transport us to different realms, which is precisely what these five castles in Europe also do. Their architecture, setting and enticing histories make visitors feel like they too will live happily ever after.

Eilean Donan, Scotland

Eilean Donan, Scotland

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Melancholic, solitary and robust are some of the terms that define Eilean Donan. Probably the most popular castle in Scotland, it is located on the top of an island on Loch Duich and has been used as a stage for a number of films. A sole glance will bring to mind traditional bagpipes and the fairy tale troops scenes where soldiers and horses gallop through the stone arch bridge. During the winter months, the fog is very heavy around the castle, creating a mysterious air.

Prague Castle, Czech Republic

Prague Castle, Czech Republic

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While the castle is an incredible construction, it’s necessary to highlight all of Prague, with its cathedral, palaces and streets. In winter, the contrast between snowflakes and street lights paint a beautiful picture. The statues on the Charles Bridge always capture attention.

Indeed, Prague itself is like a fairy tale. A succession of ambitious rulers kept on improving the original Czech buildings dating back to the ninth century, meaning that we can now see a mix of Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance styles.

And Prague Castle is an idyllic place that seems to truly come from a fairy tale. The sun’s rays sneak between the different spaces, giving it a magical air.

Tintagel Castle, England

Tintagel Castle, England

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Another enchanting location that brings to mind the story of a child who drew a sword from a stone to become king. In effect, the legend of King Arthur has always been related to the island of Tintagel, which Richard, Earl of Cornwall probably knew when he ordered for the castle to be built in the year 1233.

Today, what has remained of Tintagel Castle immerses visitors in a very eerie atmosphere, for it stands between ruins, a cliff and calm surroundings right next to the Atlantic.

Pena Palace, Portugal

Pena Palace, Portugal

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In Sintra, it’s impossible to take a step without tripping over a palace or castle. Visitors can explore the ruins of Castelo dos Mouros, which offers wonderful views of the city, and the fantastic Quinta da Regaleira. However, you can truly feel like you’re living in a fairy tale in the Pena Palace, which stands out in the town center because of its tall chimneys.

Somewhere buried under the walls of the current structure, are the remains of a medieval convent. And this is only one of the treasures that it hides inside. The Palace is actually divided into three buildings, linked by a succession of fountains, courtyards and different rooms. The tiles are also striking, bearing Moorish designs. It is one of the few medieval palaces of Islamic origin found in Portugal.

Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

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This 19th-century German castle is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful castles in the world. In fact, every year it receives thousands of visitors and has constantly been a source of inspiration for the cinema, most notably in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty.

Located in Bavaria, Neuschwanstein Castle stands in an area of ​​great natural beauty with lakes and mountains, a wonderful set that further enhances its spectacular and imposing presence. Even the smallest detail was taken into account in order to obtain an architectural masterpiece. Its interior is as astounding as the facade, with a large collection of handicraft pieces. Visitors can appreciate some incredible views of the Alps from inside of the main bedroom.

3 Small German Towns Worth Exploring

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

3 Small German Towns Worth Exploring

Germany is an urban travelers dream. Metropolises like Berlin, Munich, and Frankfurt offer enough world-class shopping centers, history, and nightlife to keep anyone busy for days, if not weeks. But Berlin isn’t for everyone, and if you want to escape the bustle of the big city on your next trip to Germany, there are many wonderful small towns you can visit. Here are three unique German towns that are worth exploring the next time you travel through the Fatherland.

Idstein

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A wonderful destination for history, Idstein’s first recorded mention was at the turn of the 12th century, and the oldest building still standing in the town was constructed in 1410. Idstein features an impressive collection of vibrant, painted timber-framed buildings in classic medieval style.

One of the highlights of the town is the Idstein Castle, whose foundations were first constructed in 1170and is flanked by the famous Witch’s Tower. The castle was updated, rebuilt, and renovated over the centuries that followed until it was redesigned in its current baroque style in 1714.

Another place in Idstein of note is the Union Church. This 14th century church may look nondescript from the outside but features a stunning interior, the highlight of which is a set of 40 paintings by Flemish artist Michael Angelo Immenraet.

Quedlingburg

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Nestled in the Harz mountains between Hanover and Berlin, Quedlingburg is another superb small-town destination. Even more history is to be found on the cobblestone streets of Quedlingburg, which has been occupied since the 800s. The town is even referred to as the birthplace of Germany because Heinrich I was named the first king of Germany here in 919.

The entire city sits under the stoic Quedlingburg Abbey. Founded in 936, the abbey is a beautiful example of Romanesque architecture, with stately stone walls topped with a vibrant red roof. Inside the church is a museum displaying many artifacts of ancient humans who lived in the region and fossils from the Ice Age.

Also on display is the Quedlingburg treasure, a collection of lavish manuscripts, weapons, chests and vases, many fitted with valuable jewelry. Pilfered from the abbey during the Second World War, the artifacts have returned and make the abbey a must-see stop on your next trip through the heartland of Germany.

Rothenburg

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Journey back in time with a trip to Rothenburg, the best-preserved walled town in Germany. The town is one of the most visited in Germany, receiving more than 2.5 million visitors per year.

Begin your journey through Rothenburg by strolling along the famous wall that surrounds the oldest parts of the town. Stunning views are offered of both the town and the surrounding countryside, and the wall also gives access to the many towers built into the structure.

Stroll to St. James Church to admire the dual sweeping spires and tall windows decorated with biblical scenes that date back to the 1500s. The church has been standing since 1485 and took almost 200 years to complete. You can also visit the marketplace to find unique gifts and explore the Town Hall, Councilors Tavern, and visit the Christmas Market, if you are traveling during the holidays.

3 Best Road Trips in Europe

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

3 Best Road Trips in Europe

If you live in the United States, you probably tend to think of road trips as “an American thing.” When you were growing up, you and your family probably went on a road trip every summer to go camping or to a theme park in another state. It was a bonding experience full of traveling songs and car games and lots of chips and snacks. Road trips aren’t just for Americans, though. There are tons of great road trips to take in Europe too. Here are the top three.

Autobahn, Germany

Credit: Val Thoermer/Shutterstock

The Autobahn is legendary. It is one of the only roads on the planet that lets you go as fast as you want – or as fast as your car will let you. In non-residential areas, there is literally no speed limit, which can be quite a thrill, especially for those who hate getting stuck behind slow drivers here in the States. The Autobahn isn’t just a racetrack, though. It was built through some truly stunning parts of the German countryside, which allows you to catch a glimpse of some beautiful scenery as you speed on by. It is almost pretty enough to make you want to ease up on the accelerator… almost.

Amalfi Coast, Italy

Credit: ronnybas frimages/Shutterstock

Italy is a gorgeous destination in general, but it can be difficult to navigate through most cities like Milan and Rome in a car. In fact, many of the big tourist cities in Italy are walking cities, and there are a lot of places where vehicles can’t go (or if they do go, they get stuck in traffic jams for hours). If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle in the northern cities, you can head out on a road trip along the Amalfi Coast. Southern Italy is much less crowded than the north, and it is full of natural wonders like mountains, forests, beaches and grassy hills. A road trip along the Amalfi Coast will let you see all that nature, plus it will take you through towns that are much the same as they were hundreds of years ago. You can stop off and try the local food at the restaurants you pass along the way, and you can get a taste of the culture as you pass by the ornate cathedrals, statues and other buildings that have been standing tall and proud for centuries.

Bucharest, Romania to Vienna, Austria

Credit: S.Borisov/Shutterstock

Many people don’t realize just how close the countries in Europe are to each other. You don’t have to take a plane or a train to go from Romania to Austria. You can take a road trip in a rental car and see all the amazing sights along the way. Starting in Bucharest, you can travel north through the Carpathian mountain range to Transylvania – yes, the Transylvania. Here you can visit the actual castle that was said to be home to Dracula himself. Next, get onto the Transfagarasan mountain road, “one of the most incredibly beautiful routes in the world.” It will take you through numerous ancient cities full of historical castles and into Budapest, where you can visit actual Roman baths before heading onto Vienna, which has some amazing, unique architecture in its own right.

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