3 Experiences You can Only Have in Alaska

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

3 Experiences You can Only Have in Alaska

Due to its remoteness and harsh environment, Alaska has long been known as the “last frontier.” Braving tough conditions was worth it to the fishermen, frontiersmen, loggers and miners eager to profit from the state’s natural bounty. Long after those excursions, there remains plenty of room to explore: Alaska is the largest U.S. state, equal in land area to about one-fifth that of the entire 48 contiguous states combined. The former Territory of Alaska gained statehood in 1959, making it the 49th state. Amidst its natural grandeur of forests, tundra, mountains and glaciers, Alaska’s largest centers of population include the capital, Juneau, as well as Anchorage and Fairbanks.  Finding some of Alaska’s most unique wonders requires trekking to more remote climes.

See Alpenglow at Midnight

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Alaska’s extreme northern latitude means that the sun doesn’t fully set for months on end, which is where it picked up the nickname “Land of the Midnight Sun.” As such, the optical phenomenon known as “alpenglow” — which is perceived by the human eye as a soft, shimmering glow off of mountainsides around sunset or before sunrise — occurs during a sizable portion of the year. The condition can only truly happen after the sun is over the horizon, meaning no direct sunlight reaches the colored cliffs. Alpenglow is reflected sunlight bouncing off of precipitation, ice crystals and airborne particulates back up onto the mountains above the horizon. With the sun setting well after midnight throughout the summer in a land full of stunning mountain scenery, Alaska is prime territory to take in one of nature’s free light shows.

Picnic in the Shadow of Denali

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Denali National Park and Preserve is six million acres of wild land in northern Alaska accessible by a single road though one park entrance. The 92-mile Denali Park Road is open to the public mid-May through mid-September, but only on the first 15 miles to Savage River. Beyond that, park-goers board buses for narrated tours to explore further. There are hiking trails near the road, mostly close to the park entrance, as much of the massive park is an actual animal preserve and off limits to tourism. The highlight of the park is its namesake mountain, known to indigenous people as Denali. Renamed after an American president from 1917 to 2015 before reverting to its original moniker, the snow-draped is the tallest peak in North America at 20,310 feet. While the National Park Service offers only campground accommodations within the park, area lodges on privately owned land within or near the park offer a great base camp for those who don’t want to totally rough it. They include Camp Denali & North Face Lodge, Kantishna Roadhouse, Denali Backcountry Lodge and Skyline Lodge.

Follow in the Steps of Klondike Gold Miners

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Commemorating the gold strikes and hard times alike, the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park is operated by the National Park Service in Skagway, in southwest Alaska. A popular tourist spot for cruise travelers who dock in the historic town, more than 20 of its boomtown buildings are part of the park experience. The rustic structures give the feel of a time when miners and ladies of the night would have mingled at saloons in the late 1890’s. Nearby, actually walk where miners and their mules trod the famous Chilkoot Trail. Hikes through the rugged terrain hint at what early explorers endured — and how the trail got its nickname of the “meanest 33 miles in history.” Another nearby attraction is rail excursions on the White Pass and Yukon Route, a Canadian and U.S. narrow-gauge railroad linking the port of Skagway with Whitehorse, the capital of Yukon, Canada. The line’s White Pass Summit Excursion provides a scenic, 40-mile round trip from Skagway up to the summit of White Pass at nearly 3,000 feet.

6 U.S. Cities With the Cleanest Air

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

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6 U.S. Cities With the Cleanest Air

The American Lung Association’s State of the Air Report reveals the U.S. cities with the cleanest air. According to data from 2015 to 2017, all of these cities had zero days when ozone and particle pollution reached unhealthy levels. If you want to enjoy some clean, crisp air on your next stateside vacation, consider one of these cities.

Bangor, Maine

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The city of Bangor in south-central Maine ranks 23rd for cleanest U.S. cities for year-round particle pollution and also had no days with unhealthy levels of ozone or short-term pollution.

Bangor’s success, unfortunately, isn’t replicated throughout the state, which has one of the highest rates of asthma in the country — approximately 10% among adults and 11% among children. Experts suspect that a critical factor affecting the state’s pollution levels is contaminants sweeping into the region on ocean and air currents from upstream urban areas.

In Bangor, however, you can breathe freely. Work your lungs with a hike through nearby Acadia National Park or take a more leisurely stroll along the city’s Penobscot River Walkway.

Lincoln–Beatrice, Nebraska

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Lincoln ties with Bangor at 23rd for year-round pollution with zero days of unhealthy ozone and short-term pollution.

If you find yourself in the Midwest, take advantage by visiting some of its many outdoor attractions. The Sunken Gardens, recognized by National Geographic as one of the 300 best gardens in North America, are full of vibrant year-round flora. Meanwhile, the Pioneers Park Nature Center boasts hiking trails with informative exhibits on the area’s ecology. You’ll also find information on the factors that contribute to the city’s fresh air.

If you’re in Beatrice, you’ll want to visit the pristine Homestead National Monument of America, where you can hike among the prairie grasses and browse the outdoor exhibits depicting the history of American homesteading.

Finally, the Lincoln–Lancaster County Health Department has monitors that provide air quality data to residents so those with respiratory conditions can stay safe and healthy.

Wilmington, North Carolina

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Wilmington, North Carolina, is another city to be congratulated for its air quality. Known as the Port City, Wilmington is recognized for everything from its nearby beaches to the country’s largest movie studios outside of California. The city is also home to the U.S. Coast Guard’s Diligence vessel.

Wilmington’s residents have benefited from statewide environmental initiatives such as the 2002 North Carolina Clean Smokestacks Act. The city’s air also got a boost when Duke Energy, the regional electricity provider, converted the energy source of its Wilmington–adjacent plant from coal to natural gas.

If you visit Wilmington, you’ll want to take advantage of its nearly two miles of Riverwalk along Cape Fear River. The pedestrian boardwalk also connects to the Sea Bikeway and East Coast Greenway.

Palm Bay–Melbourne–Titusville, Florida

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Tied with Wilmington for the 13th lowest year-round pollution — and the same zero days of dangerous ozone or short-term pollution — is the metro area of Palm Bay–Melbourne–Titusville in central Florida.

The region is also known as the Space Coast, due to the presence of the John F. Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral. Anyone interested in the history of our solar system will enjoy visiting the Space Center with its interactive tours and exhibits. You’ll breathe easy knowing that all that rocket exhaust hasn’t overwhelmingly increased pollution in the region.

Meanwhile, enjoy more clean air at the renowned Cocoa Beach or browse the wildlife at Brevard Zoo. You can also explore the various downtown districts, each of with its own unique character and the same pollutant-free atmosphere.

Burlington, Vermont

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With no days of unhealthy ozone or particle pollution levels, the metro area of Burlington–South Burlington ranks 12th overall for year-round particle pollution and is another American city with the cleanest air in the country. As the largest city in the state, Burlington is home to the University of Vermont and is rightfully considered one of the most beautiful college towns in the country.

In 2015, Burlington became the first American city to run entirely on renewable electricity, which has undoubtedly played a role in its clean air success. Along with biomass, solar, and wind power, its largest energy source is hydro, thanks to its use of dams and its location on Lake Champlain.

Burlington also has an ongoing “Great Streets Initiative,” a municipal project aimed at enhancing the city’s sustainability. From a new City Hall Park to improved bike lanes, the various changes make Burlington a vibrant place to visit and explore — with the added bonus of pollutant-free air.

Honolulu, Hawaii

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Tied for the lowest year-round particle pollution, in addition to zero days of dangerous ozone or particle pollution levels, Honolulu has some of the cleanest air in the country. While the Hawaiian islands are known for their natural beauty, what is remarkable is that the state has managed to preserve its fresh and vibrant atmosphere even in its urban capital — and largest city — of approximately 350,000 people.

Despite its favorable ranking, however, Honolulu’s air quality has suffered dramatic swings thanks to the existence of “vog,” the island term for volcanic smog. When Kilauea erupted on the Big Island in 2018, winds spread the resulting sulfur dioxide to other islands in the archipelago, including Oahu, on which Honolulu is located. When vog levels are high, residents — and visitors — can experience symptoms ranging from eye/skin irritation to coughing, headaches, and fatigue.

However, when the winds are favorable, the islands do indeed have the best air in the country. The city’s outdoor attractions are also perfect for visitors who prize clean air and pristine environments. From outdoor gems like Waikiki Beach to the Honolulu Botanical Gardens, this beautiful Hawaiian city certainly offers plenty of value for all tourists.

3 Great Mexican Destinations Close to the Border

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

3 Great Mexican Destinations Close to the Border

Looking for a quick excursion over the border? Check out these great Mexican destinations that are just a quick passport check await—followed by a drive, train ride, boat trip, or river walk.

Boquillas del Carmen, Coahuila

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Set on a bend of the Rio Grande with the Sierra del Carmen mountains rising up in the distance is Boquillas del Carmen. If you want an authentic Mexican experience across the border from Texas, then this could be it. Boquillas is a great place to visit on a day trip from vacations in Big Bend National Park. Get your passport checked at the entry point and then follow a dirt track to the riverfront, where oarsmen wait eagerly to row you across the river; it’s walkable when water levels are low.

Then walk or jump on the back of a donkey for the short journey to the dusty village center. You’ll meet local kids keen to hawk trinkets and find handicraft shops selling animal sculptures, embroidered textiles, and quilts. Feast on enchiladas and sip on margaritas and ice-cold beers at the two lively restaurants. With enough time, you could paddle by kayak to the entrance of Boquillas Canyon and discover areas of the Maderas del Carmen biosphere reserve.

Find out what else there is to see and do in Boquillas del Carmen.

Mexicali, Baja California

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The vibrant capital of Baja California takes its name from the shortening of Mexico and California to create Mexicali, which honors the city’s founders from both sides of the border. Downtown Mexicali has varied attractions such as the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe, House of Culture performing arts venue, and Plaza de Toros Calafia. The city is home to one of the biggest Chinese communities in Mexico and Asian fare is a big competitor to traditional Mexican dishes. You can even see the La Chinesca basement tunnels where the Chinese immigrants first lived. There’s also a burgeoning craft beer scene alongside the century-old Cervecería Mexicali brewery.

What lies outside of the city limits is often a big lure, too. Hike to hot springs and waterfalls in the Guadalupe Canyon, discover cave paintings and petroglyphs around the dry Laguna Salada, or try sand boarding and off-roading in the undulating Cuervitos Dunes.

Find out what else there is to see and do in Mexicali.

Tijuana, Baja California

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Some 350 million people legally cross the Mexico-United State border at Tijuana every year, with many coming to enjoy the city’s bars, beaches, and cultural attractions. Boisterous, gritty, and at times cliché, Tijuana is perhaps the ultimate in border-town experiences. Saunter down Avenida Revolution, where art galleries and craft shops line up alongside casual and stylish dining options, liquor stores, and nightclubs. Here, Asian and European cuisine rivals burritos, enchiladas, tacos, and other typical Mexican food.

Over in the Zona Río, Paseo de los Heroes has sculptures of luminaries such as Abraham Lincoln and Cuauhtémoc. The aptly named Plaza Fiesta is the epicenter of a hedonistic nightlife scene and an ever-growing microbrewery culture. Hit the beach at the Playa de Tijuana, a popular spot for surfing, kayaking and oyster shacks. Further south you’ll soon forget the mayhem of the city at the Playas de Rosarito.

Find out what else there is to see and do in Tijuana.

6 U.S. Cities With the Cleanest Air

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

6 U.S. Cities With the Cleanest Air

The American Lung Association’s State of the Air Report reveals the U.S. cities with the cleanest air. According to data from 2015 to 2017, all of these cities had zero days when ozone and particle pollution reached unhealthy levels. If you want to enjoy some clean, crisp air on your next stateside vacation, consider one of these cities.

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Bangor, Maine

Bangor, Maine

Credit: Luboslav Tiles/ Shutterstock

The city of Bangor in south-central Maine ranks 23rd for cleanest U.S. cities for year-round particle pollution and also had no days with unhealthy levels of ozone or short-term pollution.

Bangor’s success, unfortunately, isn’t replicated throughout the state, which has one of the highest rates of asthma in the country — approximately 10% among adults and 11% among children. Experts suspect that a critical factor affecting the state’s pollution levels is contaminants sweeping into the region on ocean and air currents from upstream urban areas.

In Bangor, however, you can breathe freely. Work your lungs with a hike through nearby Acadia National Park or take a more leisurely stroll along the city’s Penobscot River Walkway.

Lincoln–Beatrice, Nebraska

Lincoln–Beatrice, Nebraska

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Lincoln ties with Bangor at 23rd for year-round pollution with zero days of unhealthy ozone and short-term pollution.

If you find yourself in the Midwest, take advantage by visiting some of its many outdoor attractions. The Sunken Gardens, recognized by National Geographic as one of the 300 best gardens in North America, are full of vibrant year-round flora. Meanwhile, the Pioneers Park Nature Center boasts hiking trails with informative exhibits on the area’s ecology. You’ll also find information on the factors that contribute to the city’s fresh air.

If you’re in Beatrice, you’ll want to visit the pristine Homestead National Monument of America, where you can hike among the prairie grasses and browse the outdoor exhibits depicting the history of American homesteading.

Finally, the Lincoln–Lancaster County Health Department has monitors that provide air quality data to residents so those with respiratory conditions can stay safe and healthy.

Wilmington, North Carolina

Wilmington, North Carolina

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Wilmington, North Carolina, is another city to be congratulated for its air quality. Known as the Port City, Wilmington is recognized for everything from its nearby beaches to the country’s largest movie studios outside of California. The city is also home to the U.S. Coast Guard’s Diligence vessel.

Wilmington’s residents have benefited from statewide environmental initiatives such as the 2002 North Carolina Clean Smokestacks Act. The city’s air also got a boost when Duke Energy, the regional electricity provider, converted the energy source of its Wilmington–adjacent plant from coal to natural gas.

If you visit Wilmington, you’ll want to take advantage of its nearly two miles of Riverwalk along Cape Fear River. The pedestrian boardwalk also connects to the Sea Bikeway and East Coast Greenway.

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Palm Bay–Melbourne–Titusville, Florida

Palm Bay–Melbourne–Titusville, Florida

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Tied with Wilmington for the 13th lowest year-round pollution — and the same zero days of dangerous ozone or short-term pollution — is the metro area of Palm Bay–Melbourne–Titusville in central Florida.

The region is also known as the Space Coast, due to the presence of the John F. Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral. Anyone interested in the history of our solar system will enjoy visiting the Space Center with its interactive tours and exhibits. You’ll breathe easy knowing that all that rocket exhaust hasn’t overwhelmingly increased pollution in the region.

Meanwhile, enjoy more clean air at the renowned Cocoa Beach or browse the wildlife at Brevard Zoo. You can also explore the various downtown districts, each of with its own unique character and the same pollutant-free atmosphere.

Burlington, Vermont

Burlington, Vermont

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With no days of unhealthy ozone or particle pollution levels, the metro area of Burlington–South Burlington ranks 12th overall for year-round particle pollution and is another American city with the cleanest air in the country. As the largest city in the state, Burlington is home to the University of Vermont and is rightfully considered one of the most beautiful college towns in the country.

In 2015, Burlington became the first American city to run entirely on renewable electricity, which has undoubtedly played a role in its clean air success. Along with biomass, solar, and wind power, its largest energy source is hydro, thanks to its use of dams and its location on Lake Champlain.

Burlington also has an ongoing “Great Streets Initiative,” a municipal project aimed at enhancing the city’s sustainability. From a new City Hall Park to improved bike lanes, the various changes make Burlington a vibrant place to visit and explore — with the added bonus of pollutant-free air.

Honolulu, Hawaii

Honolulu, Hawaii

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Tied for the lowest year-round particle pollution, in addition to zero days of dangerous ozone or particle pollution levels, Honolulu has some of the cleanest air in the country. While the Hawaiian islands are known for their natural beauty, what is remarkable is that the state has managed to preserve its fresh and vibrant atmosphere even in its urban capital — and largest city — of approximately 350,000 people.

Despite its favorable ranking, however, Honolulu’s air quality has suffered dramatic swings thanks to the existence of “vog,” the island term for volcanic smog. When Kilauea erupted on the Big Island in 2018, winds spread the resulting sulfur dioxide to other islands in the archipelago, including Oahu, on which Honolulu is located. When vog levels are high, residents — and visitors — can experience symptoms ranging from eye/skin irritation to coughing, headaches, and fatigue.

However, when the winds are favorable, the islands do indeed have the best air in the country. The city’s outdoor attractions are also perfect for visitors who prize clean air and pristine environments. From outdoor gems like Waikiki Beach to the Honolulu Botanical Gardens, this beautiful Hawaiian city certainly offers plenty of value for all tourists.

5 U.S. Camping Destinations With the Best Views

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

5 U.S. Camping Destinations With the Best Views

There’s nothing like a camping trip to disconnect from everyday life and get out into nature. Whether you’re looking for an adventurous camping trip or just a leisurely long weekend to unplug and unwind, you’ll want to take a look at these five U.S. camping destinations that have the best views.

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Acadia National Park, Maine

Acadia National Park, Maine

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They don’t call Maine the Pine Tree State (yes, that’s a real thing) for nothing. Step into any park inside the state and you’ll find yourself surrounded by gorgeous pine trees. Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island in Maine is no exception. Located on the Atlantic coast, you can get views of not just trees, but the Atlantic shoreline.

What’s really stunning is the view from the top of Cadillac Mountain. If you hike there at sunrise, you can enjoy the thrill of being the very first person in the country to see the sunrise, since that’s the easternmost point of land in the United States. This fact alone makes the trek worth it.

There are three campgrounds inside the park. Blackwoods is closer to the town center and is better for those of us who prefer to camp in a secluded area but enjoy knowing there’s civilization just a short drive away. If you want a more rustic camping experience, you’ll want to stay at Seawall. On the other hand, if you want to enjoy views of the water from your campsite, then you’ll want to check out Schoodic Woods. Know that you can hike anywhere you want in the park, but these are the only three designated areas where you’re allowed to set up camp.

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

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When you’re standing in the middle of Washington, D.C., on a busy day, it’s nearly impossible to imagine that just 75 miles away lies an oasis that’s as serene as the D.C. metro is crowded. Shenandoah National Park has over 500 miles of trails. Many of them take you through several miles of quiet and peaceful wilderness, leaving you alone with your thoughts. Others take you to beautiful waterfalls or stunning viewpoints overlooking the trees and Appalachian Mountains in the distance.

The park sits on 200,000 acres of protected land. It allows backcountry camping for the truly adventurous who want to get off the beaten path and away from everyone. If you’re up for a challenge, take the eight-mile hike up Old Rag Mountain. This is the most popular route because of the stunning views at the peak. You can camp in one of four campgrounds during every season except winter. If you want to backcountry camp, you’ll need to get a permit (it’s free).

Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park, Montana

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As one of the few places in the country where you can still see glaciers, Glacier National Park in Montana is open year-round to visitors. It features a shocking 1,009 campsites within 13 separate campgrounds, but they’re spread out enough that the park can be full and you’ll still feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere (which, for the record, you are). There are over 700 miles of trails, making it the perfect destination for avid hikers. You’ll traverse through forests, meadows, and mountains while seeing spectacular views of lakes and, of course, glaciers.

If you’re up for a drive through the mountains, the 50-mile stretch known as Going-to-the-Sun Road runs through the middle of the park and connects the east side to the west side. While it’s a good way to get from one end of the park to the other in a relatively short amount of time (one way takes about two hours), the view from the highest point is the real highlight. Logan Pass is the highest point on the road, and it sits at 6,646 feet. From this point, you get a panoramic view of the majesty around you, including the glaciers below. You’ll probably also run into some animals, including mountain goats and bighorn sheep. Note that portions of the road can close at any time for weather, particularly for snow in the winter.

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Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

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Deep in the heart of red rock country lies Capitol Reef National Park in Utah. While we’ve talked before about how desert vacations can be relaxing, this trip is more adventurous. The really cool thing about this park is the Waterpocket Fold, which is a geological wrinkle (officially termed a geologic monocline) on the surface of the Earth that was formed somewhere between 50 million and 70  million years ago. Capital Reef happens to sit at the most scenic part of the fold. The park extends nearly 100 miles and includes canyons, bridges, domes, and cliffs for hikers and adventurers to explore.

Backcountry camping is available with a permit. If you prefer traditional campsites, you can stay at the Fruita campground, which is a developed campground that holds 71 sites. More remote campgrounds are also available if you prefer roughing it. Cedar Mesa and Cathedral Valley don’t have water but they do have pit toilets.

The national park sits on a historic site that has been inhabited since at least 500 B.C. You can even see petroglyphs etched into stone along with some painted pictographs. These remnants of the people who used to live on the land have been preserved as much as possible.

Little Beaver Lake Campground, Michigan

Little Beaver Lake Campground, Michigan

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Michigan’s Upper Penninsula (or simply “up north” to Michigan natives) is an often overlooked place of natural beauty. Little Beaver Lake Campground is particularly noteworthy for its views of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. You’ll enjoy unbelievable lake views and can take your boat around to see the famed pictured rocks. If you’re more of a hiker, you’ll enjoy hiking through the forests surrounding the campground. Backcountry camping is available with a permit, or you can stay at one of three rustic campgrounds.

This campground is open year-round. While summer brings tourists who like to kayak, boat, or do other water sports, wintertime allows for snowmobiling, ice climbing, winter camping, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. If you’ve never seen a frozen waterfall before, consider making a trip to Little Beaver Lake Campground in the winter. Bring your climbing gear and make sure to pack your warmest clothes, and be prepared for snow. Lots of it. The area can get up to 200 inches of snow during the winter.

Saudi Arabia Opens its Doors to Tourists by End of 2019

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Saudi Arabia Opens its Doors to Tourists by End of 2019

Thursday, 12 September, 2019 – 08:45
Visitors walk outside the tombs at the Madain Saleh antiquities site, al-Ula, Saudi Arabia February 10, 2019. Picture taken February 10, 2019. REUTERS/Stephen Kalin
Saint Petersburg – Asharq Al-Awsat
Saudi Arabia will open its doors to tourists from around the world by the end of 2019, the head of the Saudi Tourism and Heritage Authority, Ahmad al-Khatib, said on Wednesday.

Khatib made the announcement during his speech at the meeting of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), which is held in the Russian city of St. Petersburg on September 9-13.

The Organization’s secretary-general, Zurab Pololikashvili, praised the ambitious plan led by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz to place the Kingdom at the forefront of global tourism destinations.

In March, UNWTO’s general assembly approved Saudi Arabia’s membership in the executive council of the Organization for the Middle East region for the third time in a row. The Kingdom has retained its seats in the Tourism Statistics Committee and the Program and Budget Committee, and also joined the Executive Committee’s Membership Review Committee.

Saudi Arabia has provided some USD1.7 million to fund cooperation with the international organization, according to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

“Saudi Arabia is proud to be one of the first countries to work with the organization in the preliminary studies for the Measuring Sustainable Tourism (MST) project,” Khatib said in his speech.

The head of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Heritage also announced ongoing cooperation with UNWTO for the preparation of a strategy for the development of human capital in tourism, and the establishment of a tourism academy.

He noted that his country has invited the Executive Council to meet in Saudi Arabia in 2020.

3 Facts About the 3 Biggest Islands in the Caribbean

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

3 Facts About the 3 Biggest Islands in the Caribbean

Did you know that there are more than 7,000 islands in the Caribbean? While many of these islands are quite small, plenty of them are large enough to be home to millions of residents.

Take, for instance, three of the biggest islands in the Caribbean: Cuba, Hispaniola and Jamaica. While they all call the Caribbean home, each of these islands has a unique character and culture. Ready to be amazed? Read on to learn three fascinating facts about the Caribbean’s biggest islands.

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Cuba Isn’t Just A Single Island

Map of Cuba and surrounding islands
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Cuba, or as it is properly called, the Republic of Cuba, is the largest island in the Caribbean, with a landmass of over 42,000 square miles. It has the largest population of a single country in the Caribbean, too. Cuba is home to over 11 million people.

But what you may not know is that Cuba isn’t just one island. While most people recognize the alligator-like shape of Cuba’s mainland, the country actually includes more than 4,000 small islands and cays.

Many of these islands are quite tiny. Some are home to all-inclusive resorts and others are uninhabited, but some of them are quite respectable in size. For instance, Isla de la Juventud, Cuba’s second-largest island, measures a little over 900 square miles, and has a population of about 100,000.

Hispaniola: Two Countries, One Island

Map of the island of Hispaniola split between Haiti and the Dominican Republic
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Hispaniola is the second-largest island in the Caribbean. It has a landmass of over 29,000 square miles and a population of more than 20 million.

But if it’s so big, why is it that so many people have never heard of it? That’s because the island of Hispaniola actually includes two countries: Haiti and the Dominican Republic. While most people are familiar with these names, it’s not as well known that the island spanning both of them is called Hispaniola.

While these two countries are locked together by land, they are very different. The Dominican Republic is far wealthier, with a robust tourism economy and several world-renowned resorts. Haiti, on the other hand, has significant poverty issues and is not as popular for tourists.

Sugarcane Is Not Indigenous to Jamaica

Photo of a sugarcane field at sunset
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Jamaica is the third-largest island in the Caribbean by landmass, spanning over 4,200 square miles. This makes it slightly larger than the next-biggest island, Puerto Rico, which measures in at about 3,500 square miles. However, in terms of population density, Puerto Rico is slightly larger, with a population of about 3.25 million as opposed to Jamaica’s at about 2.9 million.

When you think of Jamaica’s most significant crops, you probably think of sugarcane, which is key to making the country’s famous rum. But did you know that sugarcane is not indigenous to Jamaica?

The original residents of Jamaica, the Arawak Indians, grew things like cassava, corn and yams. But when Spanish settlers came through in 1510, they brought sugarcane with them.

Along with the sugarcane, they also brought the custom of slavery. Thousands of Africans were imported to the island to work on sugarcane and tobacco plantations. When the British took over Jamaica, agriculture became the island’s main economy.

While slavery was later abolished, the tradition of agriculture has remained strong in Jamaica. Agriculture is one of the main economies on the island, with the sugar industry being the oldest continuously-run operation on the island.

How’s That For Some Tropical Trivia?

Photo of a beautiful orange sunset behind two palm trees
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The Caribbean may be one large tropical region, but the area’s biggest islands are all quite different from one another. While they may share similar climates and geography, there’s still plenty of economic and cultural diversity among these tropical destinations.

India: 5 Experiences You can Only Have in Mumbai

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

5 Experiences You can Only Have in Mumbai

India’s financial powerhouse and largest metropolis moves at an energetic pace, and it’s a city of diverse parallels where the nation’s thriving Bollywood industry coexists with Asia’s largest slums, and India’s premiere culinary scene with rickety street-side food carts. Between Mumbai’s chronic city noise and stifling heat and humidity, the nation’s most dynamic metropolis overwhelms. But conquer these challenges and you’ll discover a series of unique, only-in-Mumbai experiences.

Take a Bollywood Tour

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As India’s largest film industry, Bollywood produces more films than Hollywood annually. Mumbai prides itself as the center of the Hindi cinematic world and is home to Film City, a film studio complex situated on the outskirts of Sanjay Gandhi National Park that witnesses the action of the industry’s biggest blockbusters. Film City’s official tour is operated by Mumbai Film City Tours in conjunction with Mumbai’s tourism department, and visitors are introduced to a collection of indoor studios and the varied aspects of film making on an organized bus tour. With a knowledgeable guide, explore the history and growth of this industry, as well as Bollywood’s impact on Indian pop culture.

Seek Vintage Cab Rides

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Produced under license from Fiat, Mumbai’s classic black and yellow Premier Padminis dominated the streets for decades as cabs, reaching an all time popularity high in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Outlandish patterns often adorned their interiors, made more eccentric by the presence of vibrant velour seat covers, flower garlands and Hindu deity figurines, alluding to the driver’s personality, beliefs and even home neighborhood. But in a bid to modernize the city’s taxi fleet, it was announced in 2013 that all Padminis over the age of 25, which were manufactured in Mumbai between 1973 and 1998, will be forced to retire. Once ubiquitous and an icon of Mumbai’s transportation system, the Premier Padmini is quickly disappearing from its streets.

Explore a Village Within Mumbai

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Distinctive in character, the tiny village of Khotachiwadi is an enclave of charming old style Portuguese homes, styled with teak-wood and elegantly detailed open verandas on their second stories. Tucked in the neighborhood of Girgaon in South Mumbai, only 23 of the original 65 18th century homes remain intact, many demolished as the city races toward modernity and rapid urbanization. Wander the narrow lanes of one of Mumbai’s oldest communities, and glimpse into its storied past while escaping the city center’s teeming bustle.

Sample a Vada Pav

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One of the city’s favorite street snacks, vada pav was first created in 1966 by a Mumbaikar as an inexpensive, on-the-go item for textile mill workers. The snack originated from a food stall opposite Dadar railway station, where thousands of commuters passed by daily and quickly became a staple item in the city’s street food scene. Nicknamed Mumbai’s burger, the vada pav patty is made by shaping masala infused mashed potatoes into perfect spheres and coated in a thick chickpea batter before deep frying in oil. These golden brown patties are then sandwiched between a pillowy bun and drizzled with tamarind and chutneys for a contrasting flavor and textural experience. Mumbai hosts a competitive vada pav scene, and each of the city’s street vendors entice consumers by claiming the addition of a secret ingredient.

Stroll Marine Drive at Night

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A leisurely evening stroll along Marine Drive, the city’s beachfront promenade, is a quintessential Mumbai experience, affording views of the skyline as waves crash against the shoreline below. As the afternoon sun dips, Mumbaikars congregate at Chowpatty Beach on the north end of the stretch to witness sunset, chat and snack. The local street food stalls and seductive rooftop bars along the waterfront offer visitors a variety of dining options, making Marine Drive a popular evening destination. Lined by iconic Art Deco buildings on one side, the two-mile-long waterfront stretches from downtown’s business district of Nariman Point to Girgaon Chowpatty in South Mumbai. Marine Drive’s string of street lights glow as the night sky darkens, twinkling on the waterfront that gracefully arcs along Back Bay, earning it the nickname Queen’s Necklace.

4 Most Beautiful Views in South America

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

4 Most Beautiful Views in South America

There is absolutely no shortage of picturesque vistas among the vast and varied landscapes that make up South America, all 7,000 square miles of them. Many of the most stunning views happen to be in places of wide-ranging biodiversity and high cultural importance, and they are thriving as destinations through eco-tourism and preservation practices. From epic mountain landscapes in Patagonia to paradise-found beach scenes in Colombia and nature’s tallest cascade in Venezuela, South America holds a rich trove of travel-worthy sights to behold.

Tayrona National Park, Colombia

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Sitting beneath the shade of a palm tree, enjoy endless views of magical blue lagoons and protected coves ringed by bight white beaches, themselves surrounded by hills carpeted in lush, deep-green tropical rainforest. Bring together those ocean and forest biomes, and you have a recipe for boundless biodiversity. Both the breathtaking scenery and the flora and fauna are on view at Tayrona National Park, in northern Colombia. The large preserve area spreads throughout the foothills of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, a mountain range that comes down to recede into the Caribbean coastline. The plant and animal protections within the park provide the perfect ecotourism opportunity, all while allowing trekkers to take in some pretty paradisiacal views. A great overall resource is Colombiatravel.en.

Torres del Paine National Park, Chile

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Known by adventurers and thrill seekers as a pristine outdoor playground, Torres del Paine National Park, in Chile’s Patagonia region, features soaring mountains, bright-blue glaciers and golden pampas grasslands that seem endless. With such varied ecology, the views are endless, as well. The various environments shelter rare wildlife species, some found only here, such as the llama-like guanacos. Three prominent, towing spires of granite — called Cuernos del Paine — give the park its name. The epic terrain draws climbers, sea kayakers, mountain bikers and other outdoors adventure types.

Angel Falls, Venezuela

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Plunging over the cliff edge of Auyán-tepui mountain in Canaima National Park and dropping more than 3,200 feet, Angel Falls is the world’s tallest uninterrupted waterfall. The national park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Gran Sabana region of Bolívar State, Venezuela. Some 60 percent of the park is made up of table mountain formations, whose flat tops are a unique geological formation that lends itself to the sheer cliffs and attendant waterfalls that make for such jaw-dropping natural grandeur. Rising from surrounding grassy savannas below, the tops of the towering table mountains are frequently shrouded in misty fog, making for ethereal, otherworldly views.

Machu Picchu, Peru

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With its verdant green terraces set amidst stark stone walls and surrounding sheer peaks of the Andes Mountains, the ancient Incan citadel of Machu Picchu makes for magical views. Its precarious perch in its mountain fortress makes the site seem surreal, almost defying gravity. The ancient builders not only managed to balance altars and living accommodations on a cliff edge, but did it so well that the structure is still standing much as it was when it was built in the 15th century. American explorer Hiram Bingham was led to the site in 1911, and it has been a bucket-list site for travelers ever since. Due to such heavy use, it has become a prime example of working eco-tourism. Even with so much archaeological attention paid to the discovery over the years, Machu Picchu’s exact original use still isn’t known.

5 States That Make the Most Money From Tourism

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

5 States That Make the Most Money From Tourism

Every state has its unique charms. However, when it comes to vacation destinations, only a select few of the 50 states make everyone’s lists consistently. In fact, tourists from America and around the world tend to flock to five states in particular. Read on to discover the five states that make the most money from tourism, according to World Atlas.

New York

New York

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Unsurprisingly, New York City is the main attraction for people visiting New York. In 2018, the city set a record for the most tourists who visited, an impressive 65.2 million. Most tourists came from other parts of the United States. However, 1.24 million came from Britain, 1.1 million from China, and 1 million from Canada. The total revenues earned by the city last year was estimated at around $44 billion.

Tourism in New York tends to peak in the summer and slow in the winter. The cold and snowy weather tend to keep visitors away from the city, except at Christmastime, of course.

Even though tourists are drawn to the Big Apple to see sights like the Empire State Building, Wall Street, and Central Park, there’s still plenty to see inside New York state itself. For example, Niagara Falls is situated right on the border of the United States and Canada. Meanwhile, the Adirondacks Region has some of the best hiking spots in the country.

Nevada

Nevada

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Like New York, Nevada draws tourists mainly because of one major city — Las Vegas. Over 42 million people visited the city in 2018. However, while tourists from all over the world are drawn to the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas, Nevada has a lot to offer anyone seeking an outdoor adventure.

The state boasts an expansive desert and is also home to the most mountain ranges in the country. It’s a great destination for hikers and anyone who just wants to get off the beaten path for a while.

Travelers looking to escape the hot summer heat or who want to take part in some outdoor sports can head to places like Lake Tahoe, Nevada. Lake Tahoe is the second deepest lake in the country. The city of Tahoe gets around 15 million visitors every year, which is especially impressive when you consider that the population of the area year-round is only 53,000 people.

For a unique destination, check out the Mob Museum, the national museum of organized crime. In all, the Las Vegas region generated almost $60 billion in revenues for the state in 2016.

Florida

Florida

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There’s a lot going on in Florida. The state had about 126 million visitors in 2018, bringing it to the number three spot on our list. Out of those 126 million tourists, about 10.8 million were overseas visitors while 3.5 million were from Canada. In 2016, the tourism industry earned the state of Florida $112 billion in revenues.

Florida is a great tourist destination because of its location and climate. Warm winters bring snowbirds down from the colder regions of the northern states. The state is also home to some of the biggest amusement attractions in the world, such as Disney World and Universal Studios in Orlando (not to mention popular spring break destinations like Key West and Miami).

If you’d like to visit Florida, try to avoid hurricane season, which is typically in the fall. Generally, hurricane season runs from June through November, but Florida tends to see the most damaging hurricanes beginning in the early fall.

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California

California

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The largest state in the United States is California, and it’s also the second most popular tourist destination out of all 50 states. In 2018, the state earned $140.6 billion in revenue from tourism alone. Over $28 billion came from international tourists. California’s robust tourism industry supported over one million jobs across the state.

There’s a lot to see in California. From the busy urban centers of Los Angeles and San Francisco to the less populated Redwood Forest in Northern California, there’s something for everyone. If you prefer sunshine and beaches, San Diego is close to several amazing beaches, like La Jollaand Coronado. Looking for some family fun? Head to LEGOLAND (30 minutes north of San Diego) or Disneyland in Anaheim. There’s really no limit to what you can see and do in California, which is what makes it an appealing destination for many visitors.

Texas

Texas

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In 2018, the Texas tourism industry made a $164 billion impact on the state’s economy. As the second-largest state in the country, Texas has a lot to offer tourists. Major cities like Dallas and Austin give visitors a taste of the big city with a uniquely Texan flair. Tourists can experience traditional Texas culture by visiting destinations like the Fort Worth Stockyards, a historic district in Fort Worth. You’ll step back in time to the days of cowboys and cattle drives.

Be sure to catch the Fort Worth Herd every day at 11:30 am and 4:00 pm. This is the only twice daily cattle drive in the world. You can also take a historic walking tour, visit the bull-riding hall of fame, and eat a meal at The Star Cafe, formerly a saloon built in the 1900s.

Meanwhile, Austin, Texas, is known for its high-octane music scene and is home to some of the biggest music festivals in the country, such as SXSW and Austin City Limits. Like barbecue? The nearby city of Lockhart has officially been recognized as the barbecue capital of Texas. It’s about 35 miles south of Austin and is well worth the drive. Austin is also a great place for families to visit since it provides easy access to lakes and biking trails.

If you’re a history buff, you’ll love San Antonio, Texas, where you can tour the Alamo. Meanwhile, South Padre Island, home of the fourth-longest beach in the world, is your best bet for a rejuvenating vacation along the Gulf of Mexico.

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