Bahrain World Trade Center: Wind Turbines on Twin Towers?

The most interesting architecture in the world?

Where’s the most interesting architecture you’ve seen? Have you ever seen a building with its own massive wind turbines? I found the Bahrain World Trade Center to be fascinating! It might be the best example of wind energy integration.

The first thing you’ll notice is the unique shape. Those twin tower triangle shapes are to help maximize the wind power.

This is what I look like on less than an hour of sleep. Impressive architecture though!

How big is it?

The Bahrain World Trade Center is 787 feet (240 meters), 50-floors, with three wind turbines in between twin towers. The turbines are 29 meters, 68 tons, and generate 1100 megawatts per hour. Impressive!

Did you know

Bahrain World Trade Center was the first skyscraper in the world to integrate wind turbines into its design.

Wind Power, in an Oil country!

It’s great to see a country with an oil economy innovate. I never would have guessed that the first country to have a building with wind power integrated is an oil rich economy.

I was fascinated to learn how it was specially designed to maximize wind power. Perhaps you will be too –

Bahrain actually has two skyscrapers with twin towers right near each other. The Bahrain Financial Harbor is even larger than the Bahrain WTC.

How the technology in the Bahrain World Trade Center works:

The tapered, elliptical towers act as airfoils, channelling offshore winds to drive three massive wind turbines set between the towers on a series of skybridges. Engineers say the turbines are designed to generate between 11 percent and 15 percent of the centre’s energy needs.

– Otis (full case study linked here)

Engineers say they used computational fluid dynamics and sophisticated wind-tunnel tests to determine the ideal shape of the towers to maximize the power generated by the wind turbines. Their analysis led to an elliptical, tapered design that funnels offshore winds between the towers and creates negative air pressure (or lift) from behind. That innovative design accelerates the wind’s velocity as it hits the turbines “

More info on the design

The elliptical plan forms and sail-like profiles act as aerofoils, funneling the onshore breeze between them as well as creating a negative pressure behind, thus accelerating the wind velocity between the two towers. Vertically, the sculpting of the towers is also a function of airflow dynamics. As they taper upwards, their aerofoil sections reduce. This effect when combined with the increasing velocity of the onshore breeze at increasing heights creates a near equal regime of wind velocity on each of the three turbines.

research by Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
Bahrain World Trade Center - Visit50
Bahrain World Trade Center

More from my Bahrain trip

I found Bahrain to be really interesting! My Bahrain trip was compressed into just 19 hours on my way to Jordan.

The “500 camels” might have been my favorite part of my Bahrain trip, and I hadn’t even planned to visit!

The Bahrain WTC isn’t the only fascinating architecture in Bahrain

500-Camels-in-Bahrain-Visit50
one of the many camels I met in Bahrain

Update: I’ve visited 50 Countries!

Big update – I just visited my 50th country!  It’s been quite the adventure! As a quick reminder, I started this site based on my crazy travel goal, to inspire people to visit 50 countries by age 50 (click to learn more about the goal).

I’m long overdue to post the stories and photos from my last few trips on here – Portugal, Spain, Tulum, and now Iceland. I loved all of them! I’ve been posting on Instagram regularly and will include more extensive posts here.

Now that I’ve reached 50, I’ll look back at some of my top experiences, Some of the requests I’ve received to reflect on include my craziest adventures, most beautiful views, best beaches, most delicious foods, scariest moments, and more!  What would you like me to weigh in on?

Below is from the announcement that I reached my 50th –

Visit50 is on Instagram!

See photos of my travel adventures @Visit50 on Instagram. While I’ve been slower posting on this blog, I post photos on IG multiple times per week.

I post my travel photos much more frequently on IG. Drop by to say hello!

Visit50 is on Instagram!

7 Reasons to Visit Easter Island

Easter Island is a Chilean island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean. It’s most famous for its 887 extant monumental statues, called moai.

Why visit Easter Island?   7 reasons, via this guest post:

Easter Island at beach. credit

  1. To throw claim to the fact that you’ve been to one of the most remote inhabited islands in the world.

Easter Island is part of Chile, but located nearly 2000 miles (3000 km) away from the mainland. It doesn’t get much more remote than this!

Moai_at_Rano_Raraku_-_Easter_Island_(5956405378)

2. To watch the sun come up over Ahu Tongariki – breathtaking!

I recommend heading there as early as you’re able to wake up. Rent a car to make the experience truly memorable.  Sunrise Ahu Tongariki Easter Island

3. To climb a real volcano, stand at the top and take in nothing but fresh Pacific Ocean air… and this stunning view!

The photos don’t even do it justice. There are several hiking paths around the crater and a visitors center. Views of Hanga Roa town are also spectacular!

Top of Volcano in Easter Island

4. To wander in the footsteps of the ancient Rapa Nui people through the quarry of Rano Raraku.

Admire the unfinished moai and puzzle over just how these (sometimes huge) sculptures ended up scattered all over the island!

Quarry Easter Island
The statues, called moai, were created by the early Rapa Nui people.

5. To make new friends.

Wild horses and cows frequently appear in the road. They have the freedom to roam as they wish so be sure to move aside if you spot them ahead. Don’t be afraid to stop and snap some photographs; they’re renowned for their quiet temperament.

animals in Easter Island

6. To see some incredible wildlife up close and personal.

These beautiful birds of prey were plentiful in number. They were more than happy to sit and pose for photos.

image17. To watch the sunset over the statues at Tahai in Easter Island.

Arrive early to set up your spot. Everybody in Easter Island wants that perfect sunset photo. The sky changes color so quickly – enjoy every moment!

Sunset Easter Island

Know before you go

Easter Island is far, hard to get to, and expensive. But it’s special, and very few people get to visit.

Details below:

Getting to Easter Island:

Comprised of three (now extinct) volcanoes, Easter Island is accessible via a daily flight from Santiago (or a weekly flight from Tahiti).

Costs:

If you’re planning your trip to Easter Island, be aware that flights are expensive and hotels aren’t cheap.  Only a handful of people get to visit Easter Island in their lifetime

This was a guest post by Jess, who writes the awesome travel blog Jess is a Wanderer.  Join Jess’ adventures around the globe, to top tourist spots and off the beaten track.

Come wander with us!

Photo credit:  featured photo and 1st photo, and the rest of the photos  were from Jess’s blog.

 

Volcano Boarding!

I went Volcano Boarding! (and lived to tell about it…)

Volcano Boarding is #2 on CNN’s “Thrill seekers bucket list: 50 things to do before you die.” They say Cerro Negro Volcano in Nicaragua is the only place in the world that has it. Naturally I booked my flight right away. It was so much fun!

Here’s the experience, in 26 photos:

Prison Break? Orange Is The New Black? Nope - we're on the top of a volcano, about to sled down as fast as we can. Volcano Boarding!
Prison Break? Orange Is The New Black? Nope – we’re on the top of a volcano, about to sled down as fast as we can. Volcano Boarding in Nicaragua!

Volcano Jumping! - Volcan Cerro Negro
Volcano Jumping! – jumping on top of Cerro Negro volcano in Leon, Nicaragua

What is Volcano Boarding?

It’s a bit of a misnomer – Volcano Boarding is less like snowboarding, and more like sledding. You’re not standing up; instead you’re

Cerro Negro is a live volcano, which erupted as recently as 1999. They’ll have a speed gun to track you – the record is more than 80 kilometers per hour down the volcano.

Volcano Boarding

right after my first time volcano boarding! That was awesome!
this is right after my first time volcano boarding in Leon! That was awesome!

Ready to hike the volcano with our volcano boards. You can see how high tech these boards are (sarcasm...)
Ready to hike the volcano with our volcano boards. You can see how high-tech these boards are (sarcasm…)

Climbing up a volcano full of lava rocks carrying plywood sleds and prison suits? check.
Climbing up a volcano full of lava rocks carrying plywood sleds and prison suits? check.

you can see where the lava wiped out everything in its path
you can see where the lava wiped out everything in its path

I can hardly believe we climbed this beast
I can hardly believe we climbed this beast

this pic almost doesn't look real. He's standing at the edge of the top of the volcano
this pic almost doesn’t look real. He’s standing at the edge of the top of the volcano

View from the top of the volcano; it almost doesn't look real. That hole behind me would be quite a drop!
View from the top of the volcano; it almost doesn’t look real. I’m one step from falling into a huge crater behind me!

Hiking Cerro Negro Volcano – the climb

The hike was just a few hours long, and isn’t as difficult of a hike as it seems. The only challenging part is that you’re awkwardly carrying your board while hiking. There’s barely a trail and no trees to hold for stability. The first third of it is challenging because of the uneven rocks, while carrying a board. The rest is challenging because of the incline, while carrying a plywood board.

Nica2

there's no ski lift - we're about to hike this active volcano in Nicaragua
there’s no ski lift – we’re about to hike this active volcano in Nicaragua (in Leon)

hiking up the edge of a volcano, before boarding down. There's no rails or trails here!
hiking up the edge of a volcano; there’s no rails or trails here!

Volcano Boarding in Nicaragua -037

Breathtaking views from the top

Once you arrive at the top, the views are stunning! They’re also very scary once you realize you’ll be volcano boarding down this volcano.

Volcano jumping! That's the edge of the cliff of Cerro Negro Volcano below me
Volcano jumping! That’s the edge of the cliff of Cerro Negro Volcano below me

scary view down Volcan Negro
Are we really doing this?? It looks reeeeally steep. I had a little “stage-fright.” It’s a long scary way down. If there was an easy way to chicken out I might have…

Nica - Volcano Boarding -view from the top
Views from the top

What’s it like to go Volcano Boarding?

You get into these (seemingly) former prisoner one-piece outfits. They’re hot so you won’t want to put them on until you need to.

You sit on the board with your hand on the rope, and feet on the board. You can go faster by leaning back; slower by sitting up. You can let your heels go to the outside of the board to apply the brakes. It surprisingly felt like I had some control. If I did it again, I’d certainly let myself go faster.

check out the world-class Volcano Boards we're about to use, wooden toboggan, made of plywood with a piece of Formica on a strip of metal
check out the world-class Volcano Boards we’re about to use, wooden toboggan, made of plywood with a piece of Formica on a strip of metal

 

introducing...Volcano Boarding! CNN named Volcano Boarding as #2 in the world on the “Thrill seekers bucket list: 50 things to do before you die”
introducing…Volcano Boarding! CNN named Volcano Boarding as #2 in the world on the “Thrill seekers bucket list: 50 things to do before you die” That’s a speed gun in the guy’s hand

Is Volcano Boarding safe?

Debatable. From one standpoint, it felt fairly safe, but go at your own risk. They say it is, but then again, they’re collecting your money. You’re flying down an active volcano at crazy speeds. While we had a prison jumpsuit to protect from minor skin abrasions and goggles, there’s no helmet or armor. It feels very unsafe but lots of fun.

Our fearless guide shows us the ropes - he was a traveler until he went volcano boarding 6 months ago and was instantly hooked. Now he volunteers as a guide in exchange for free volcano boarding
Our fearless guide shows us the ropes – he was a traveler until he went volcano boarding 6 months ago and was instantly hooked. Now he volunteers as a guide in exchange for free volcano boarding

With a straight face, the guide said “the secret to the technology is formica on the back” that helps you pick up speed even though we’re on an active volcano. “But don’t leave it out in direct sunlight , or it might peel off.”  Yes he actually called it technology.

There's 1 guy with a camera, and another with a speed gun. Neither has medical training, but that's rarely needed...
There’s 1 guy with a camera, and another with a speed gun. Neither has medical training, but that’s rarely needed…

Volcano Boarding - in the only place in the world where you can do it - Nicaragua
Afterward they show closeups of everyone Volcano Boarding at the hostel and provided your speed.

We lived! We survived volcano boarding. Woohoo!
We lived! We survived volcano boarding. Woohoo!

Volcano boarding!

Where can you go Volcano Boarding?

The only place in the world where we’ve heard you can go volcano boarding is in Leon, Nicaragua, at Cerro Negro Volcano. Book it through Bigfoot Hostel.

Bigfoot Hostel

I had hiked up a volcano before, but this was an active volcano, and we went boarding down it. Add it to your list!

If you go, it's an hour ride to the volcano. You'll be constantly ducking and avoiding tree branches
Tip: If you go, it’s an hour ride to the volcano. You’ll be constantly ducking and avoiding tree branches, so keep alert!

See the full list of CNN’s “Thrill seekers bucket list: 50 things to do before you die.”

bEWQAA1462690210

Where is Leon, Nicaragua?

Travel Bucket List 2016

Top 10 trips that are still on my travel bucket list

Which countries are on your travel bucket list?  Now that I’m getting so close to my Visit 50 goal (the Visit50 Travel Challenge – I’ve visited 47 countries already!), people have been asking, where’s next?  Where haven’t you visited yet?  Here’s a list of the top 10 trips that are still on my travel bucket list.

Warning, viewing this post may give you wanderlust!

  1. African Safari in Tanzania/Kenya/South Africa

Wildlife is among of my favorite things to travel to see (and photograph) – that includes lions, leopards, rhinoceros, cheetahs, elephants, and more. Sign me up!Lions in Africa - travel bucket list 2016

My ideal trip:  I want to visit the Serengeti during the Great Zebra & Wildebeest Migration.

Every year, 300,000 zebras, and 1.5 million wildebeest migrate from Tanzania’s Serengeti to Kenya’s Masai Mara. Watching them cross  the Grumeti River (Tanzania) and the Mara River (Kenya) is supposed to be a spectacular site!

seeing the Serengetti Migration is on my travel bucket list
photo by Diana Robinson

I’d also love to do a safari in Namibia or Botswana. All of them sound awesome!

2. Galapagos Islands / Ecuador

The Galapagos Islands have wildlife that’s unique to their little islands. It’s so close and sounds so amazing. I have to get there!

Galapagos - seeing Puffins is on my Travel bucket list
Puffins!

Seeing Baby Sea Lions is on my 2016 travel bucket list
Baby Sea Lions can be spotted throughout the Galapagos Islands

3. Iceland – Aurora Borealis!

The Aurora Borealis is supposed to be amazingly beautiful. Imagine the sky turning bright green, or even a rainbow of colors!

Seeing Aurora Borealis is on my travel bucket list
Aurora Borealis – the Northern Lights

The sky turns green!

While you can see the “Northern Lights” from all over the world in northern locations, Iceland’s been on my list for a while. They also have so much natural beauty in a little country.

The northern lights - I'll see them soon!

4. Morocco

There’s so much to love: the Sahara, the architecture, the culture, and more. I still haven’t been to Africa, and if I don’t go to a country with a safari, Morocco might be next.

A camel ride through the desert in Morocco is on my travel bucket list

5. New Zealand

NZ is one of the most beautiful countries on Earth. It’s also the adventure capital of the world. Travelers dedicate weeks to exploring New Zealand and

still wish they had more time.

New Zealand's Milford Sound - photo by paul bica
New Zealand’s Milford Sound – (credit)

6. Japan

This is cheating a little – I was in Tokyo for 48 hours. There’s so much more to explore. I need at least a week more to explore Tokyo, but more importantly, I want to get to Kyoto and other regions. There’s so much more to see, like this below bamboo forest:

Sagano Bamboo forest, Arashiyama, Kyoto
Sagano Bamboo forest, Arashiyama, Kyoto – (credit)

7 Argentina – Iguazu Falls & Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is “Paris of the South” – it’s on of the best cities in South America. Mendoza is wine country. Patagonia is incredibly beautiful and offers all kinds of great hiking. Speaking of natural beauty – Iguazu Falls looks awesome! [photo below]

Iguazu Falls looks so impressive!
Iguazu Falls looks so impressive! You can also see it from the Brazil side of the border. (credit)

8. Spain – Barcelona, Mallorca, Madrid, Valencia

The food, the culture, yes sign me up! This might be my next trip. I’ll keep this brief, as I’m about to write a longer post dedicated to Spain.

Spain might be the next on this list for me to visit
Spain sounds awesome – starting with La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

Dancers in Pamplona at the festival of the feasts. (credit)
Dancers in Pamplona at the festival of the feasts. (credit)

9.Egypt

Egypt looks surreal, starting with the pyramids…but there’s way more to this country. Like Israel, it’s been stuck on my top countries to visit list for a while due to current conditions. Lots of travel bloggers report going recently and finding it to be wonderful (with very few lines!).

The Giza Pyramids & Sphinx in Egypt have been on my travel bucket list for a while
This photo captures why I want to see Egypt with my own eyes (and lens!)

10. Cuba

Havana looks frozen in time due, and is finally accessible. You’ll want to visit before a cruise docks – it’ll change the country.

I need to visit Cuba before it changes - the clock is ticking!
I need to visit Cuba before it changes – the clock is ticking!

Travel Bucket List Honorable Mentions –

The next 10 includes Turkey, Israel, Brazil, Chile, and others. There’s also lots of places in the world with one amazing place – like the Salt Flats in Bolivia.

In every country I’ve been to, there’s at least one place that I didn’t get to but am excited to visit. Each travel conversation gets me a little more excited for my next trip.

Which trips are on your travel bucket list?

Have you been to any of these? Any and all advice is welcome! What’s at the top of your travel bucket list?  Let me know in the comments below.

 

Lennon Wall in Prague

Why is there a Lennon Wall in Prague if Lennon never even visited?

The John Lennon Wall in Prague is a memorial to singer John Lennon; it’s been a home to messages of peace, free speech, and non-violent rebellion (as well as some Beatles lyrics) since the 1980’s. The surprising part – Lennon never even visited Prague!

Lennon Wall in Prague - Laska means love. This was originally a white wall that said Wall is over.
Laska means love. This was originally a white wall that said Wall is over.

Peace at the Lennon Wall in PraguePeace at the Lennon Wall in Prague

While it was once just a regular wall, it was one of the few places in Prague where people could practice free speech under communism. Authorities often painted the wall white, but it would be filled up with free speech graffiti by the next day.  People posting political slogans under communism came to be known as “Lennonists.”

What does Lennon have to do with Prague? 

While Lennon never actually visited Prague, young pacifist Czechs viewed him as a hero, a symbol of peace and free speech. Western pop songs were banned in Communist countries throughout the 1980’s.

Jumping for Peace at the Lennon Wall in Prague
Jumping for Peace at the Lennon Wall in Prague. I’ll post more photos of jumping at the Lennon Wall soon!

Fascinating Lennon Wall history explained:

When John Lennon was murdered in 1980 he became a sort of hero to some of the young and his picture was painted on this wall, for whatever reason right here, along with graffiti defying the authorities. Back then the Czech people had few opportunities to express their feelings with their lack of freedom. By doing this, those young activists risked prison for what authorities called “subversive activities against the state”.
But the threat of prison couldn’t keep people from slipping there at night to scrawl graffiti first in the form of Beatles lyrics and odes to Lennon, then they came to paint their own feelings and dreams on what came to be known as the Lennon Wall.

The Communist police tried repeatedly to whitewash over the portrait and messages of peace but they could never manage to keep the wall clean. On the second day it was again full of poems and flowers with paintings of Lennon. Even the installation of surveillance cameras and the posting of an overnight guard couldn’t stop the opinions from being expressed. [credit: Prague.net]

More photos of the Lennon Wall in Prague:

Panorama of the Lennon Wall in Prague
here’s the full panorama of the Lennon Wall in Prague from when I visited in 2015

Eve at the Lennon Wall in Prague
street musicians often play Beatles songs as tourists take photos at the Lennon Wall. In the center of the photo is my friend Eve

Message of Peace at the Lennon Wall in Prague
Message of Peace at the Lennon Wall

Locks of love near the Lennon Wall in Prague
Just around the corner from the Lennon Wall are these locks of love

The World Is Awesome! (Boom De Yada)

I love the whole world, and all its sights and sounds.

The world is awesome, and this one-minute video helps capture that sentiment. If you have a passion for exploring the globe, you’ll love it as much as I did. Keep exploring and appreciating this awesome world!  Boomdeyada!

Thank you Discovery Channel – the world IS awesome!

The more you travel, the more you agree – the world is just awesome! I just went on my 10-country Eurotrip; every country provided new reasons to agree. As I visit new countries, I find more and more moments that reinforce this. Do you agree?


 

Some aspects of travel may be legitimately frustrating, like the Philippines’ inability to keep to a prompt schedule, but this video captures all that’s awesome in the world.  On my adventures, this has included baby monkeys, amazing ruins, beautiful islands, and more. Going snorkeling with Whale Sharks might renew your appreciation for the world.

Actually, all baby wildlife might do that – including seeing baby elephants in Borneo, baby monkeys (macaques) in Indonesia, and baby apes (baby orangutans).

And now, Part 2 of The World is Awesome!

 

Now here’s the original version, followed by Part 2. I Love The Whole World, Boom de yada!

Lyrics of The World Is Awesome! (Boom De Yada!)

It never gets old, huh?
Nope.
It kind makes you wanna…
Break into song?
Yup.

I love the mountains.
I love the clear blue skies.
I love big bridges.
I love when great whites fly.
I love the whole world.
And all its sights and sounds.

Boomdeyada. Boomdeyada. Boomdeyada. Boomdeyada.

I love the ocean.
I love real dirty things.
I love to go fast.
I love Egyptian kings.
I love the whole world,
And all it’s craziness.

Boomdeyada. Boomdeyada. Boomdeyada. Boomdeyada.

I love tornadoes.
I love arachnids.
I love hot magma.
I love the giant squids.
I love the whole world.
It’s such a brilliant place.

Boomdeyada. Boomdeyada. Boomdeyada. Boomdeyada. Boomdeyada. Boomdeyada. Boomdeyada. Boomdeyada. Boomdeyada. Boomdeyada.

Boomdeyada! The world is awesome!

My travels so far have taken me to nearly 50 countries, with some amazing experiences!

The world is awesome Boomdeyada! Visit50

Eurotrip!

Eurotrip!  I traveled for 2 months through 10 countries in eastern and central Europe; it was quite the adventure! I’ll write about my adventures in each country, but in the meantime, here’s a quick photo tour of my trip.

Countries visited:
Sweden -> Finland -> Estonia -> Latvia -> Lithuania -> Poland -> Prague Czech -> Munich Germany -> Greece (5 islands!) -> Budapest Hungary.
I wasn’t planning on backpacking through Europe for two months. I had stopped working a couple of weeks before, and decided I wanted to take a trip before starting a new job. But where to go?

Adventures through 10 countries, including the Czech Republic
Adventures through 10 countries, in Europe. Prague in the Czech Republic was one of my favorite cities!

The Baltics intrigued me – the trio of former Soviet Union countries that border the Baltic Sea.  I had only planned to travel for a 2-3 week trip to the Baltics – Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania – but loved it and kept extending my trip. I’d never been to any of those countries, and didn’t know anyone that had been to any of them either. Imagine visiting a place that wasn’t even a country when you were born. Fascinating!
To get into that region I flew into…

Stockholm is nearly surrounded by water, so a boat photo was a must
Stockholm is nearly surrounded by water, so a boat photo was a must

Stockholm, Sweden!  Coincidently, I have friends in Sweden that I met on my southeast Asia trip. I stayed with a friend that I had last seen while snorkeling with whale sharks in the Philippines. Click that link to see what that was like.

Then I hopped a $37 flight to Helsinki for a quick stop in Finland. I met up with another friend that I met on my Asia trip – we had last connected for a few nights in Beijing. Five years later, reunion in Helsinki, Finland!

Jumping in Helsinki
Jumping in Helsinki

I didn’t actually realize how close Finland was to Estonia. I took a 90-minute ferry Tallinn, Estonia. It’s so easy to get to, and thus you can feel the influence of so many Fins coming to visit.
I loooooved Tallinn! There was just something about it that I was drawn to – I explain in more detail (with photos like this one below) in future posts.

This photo looks like Moscow but it's actually Tallinn, Estonia
This photo looks like Moscow but it’s actually Tallinn, Estonia

Then I took buses to Riga in Latvia and then to Vilnius in Lithuania. It was so easy to get from city to city via bus (thanks Lux Express!).  The Baltics are so interesting, with impressive architecture in each country.

Riga's architecture is fascinating; notice the huge faces on the buildings
Riga’s architecture is fascinating; notice the huge faces on the buildings

I was planning to meet friends in Prague, but since I was passing through Poland anyway, I budgeted a 1-day stop in Warsaw and another in Krakow on the way over. I still need much more time in Poland, but it was on the way so I got about 24 hours in each.

Warsaw, Poland
Warsaw, Poland

Heads rolling in Krakow
Heads rolling in Krakow

I loved Prague – I had high expectations and it met them. I could have spent weeks exploring there. It was magical!

Jets opening day (American football) - I searched the entire city for a bar that might have the game on. Success!
Jets opening day (American football) – I searched the entire city for a bar that might have the game on. Success!

At that point I was (surprisingly) getting a little tired of old medieval cities. Prague is amazing, but towards the end I was ready to switch it up. I was craving something different – nature, wildlife, or a beach. Hello Greece!

Prague has fairytale architecture
Prague has fairytale architecture

It was expensive to fly out of Prague for some reason, but really cheap from Munich. I needed a few hours of WiFi to catch up on things anyway, so I hopped a bus that morning and headed to Germany. It just happened to be the first days of Octoberfest!

Prost! Everyone's thirsty at Octoberfest!
Prost! Everyone’s thirsty at Octoberfest!

I went to opening weekend of Octoberfest. The people, the outfits - everything at Octoberfest is so much fun!
I went to opening weekend of Octoberfest. The people, the outfits – everything at Octoberfest is so much fun!

I arrived in Munich on that Saturday, just in time for the opening weekend of Octoberfest. I spent 2 days meeting new wonderful people dressed up like these (above). Then spent a day exploring Munich before hopping a flight to Crete.

Create's beautiful water
Create’s beautiful water

Nearly every afternoon had an impressive sunset like this in Crete
Nearly every afternoon had an impressive sunset like this in Crete

I actually couldn’t even locate Crete on a map before I went, but I figured once I get to Greece I could island hop. Crete was much larger than I thought – nearly 6 hours from end to end, but so worth it. Beautiful beaches, affordable lodging, delicious food. I’m so glad I went!

The water at the beaches in Crete was sooo beautiful!
The water at the beaches in Crete was sooo beautiful!

While I was in Crete, my friend Cho was in Mykonos, so we met up in the middle in Santorini.  A year earlier we sat next to each other at the same job, and there we were on separate trips meeting up on the other side of the world. So much fun!

Santorini - with iconic blue rooftops
Santorini – with iconic blue rooftops

Santorini’s famous for epic sunsets, and the views live up to the hype.  Towards the end I met a new friend, so he joined my adventure as I continued on to the underrated island of Ios. Then Mykonos and Paros.
I went to 5 islands in Greece, each with a slightly different personality than the last.

View from my hotel in on the island of Ios in Greece
View from my hotel in on the island of Ios in Greece

Then historic Athens.

Historic Athens
Historic Athens

I finished my trip in Budapest, meeting up with some new friends that I met on the small island of ios.
Budapest turned out to be one of my favorite destinations of my trip. It rained nearly every moment of every day, yes I still loved it. I can’t even imagine how much I’d enjoy it if it was remotely nice weather.

Budapest is underrated - loved it there!
Budapest is underrated – loved it there!

I’ll be posting about every one of the places I’ve mentioned, with stories, highlights, and photography of my experiences. It was quite the adventure!

View from the window
Flight home sweet home. It was quite the adventure!

Endangered Animals Light Up NYC

Cecil the lion and other endangered animals are projected on to Empire State Building in an impressive light display

Images of endangered animals were crawling and swimming across the facade of New York’s Empire State Building, as part of the first light show of its kind in ESB history. It was such an awesome display!   It was also a timely reminder of the impact and devastation caused by incidents like the hunting of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe.

I captured photos and put them all into a few animated gif images below:

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Endangered species grace the south side of the Empire State Building

Empire State Tribute To Endangered Animals

How: It was all done with 40 light cannons projecting images of endangered animals upon the Empire State Building. Design firm Obscura Digital put it together, with a cost of around $1 million, according to the NY Times.

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The eyes of the world were on the Empire State Building

Who put it together?  It was organized by the Oceanic Preservation Society and the filmmakers of the new Discovery Channel documentary, Racing Extinction, (#RacingExtinction), an upcoming documentary about humans’ impact on threatened species. Racing Extinction is set to air in December 2015.  Director Louie Psihoyos was also the director of The Cove.

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Endangered Animals projected on the Empire State Building

160 species were featured — including Cecil, the lion that was killed by an American in early July.

You’ll notice from the videos that I couldn’t hear most of the music from where I was set up, but the show featured music from the director’s upcoming movie, Racing Extinction, according to the director’s Facebook page.

Photos of endangered animals on the Empire State Building:

Tiger at ESB-17

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160 species were featured on the  Empire State Building skyscraper – here’s some in group shots:

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We found Cecil the Lion (on left)!

they projected images of Endangered Animals on Empire State Building

The Empire State Building is typically lit up with colors for weekly occasions and even light shows, but this was a first.

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Click the below thumbnail for a full-size image:

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photography by mariacelestearraras

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Proof of American disillusionment towards endangered animals (on right)

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More videos:

More great photos of the endangered animals Empire State Building event can be found on NBC, Daily Mail, and Gothamist.

Image credits: mariacelestearraras / empirestatebldg / Visit50.com

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