Sunday, October 2, 2011

Mt. Olympus

Yes, it's a real place. And it's really in Greece. In fact, it's the highest mountain in Greece (and one of the highest in Europe).

According to Wikipedia, the highest peak is Mytikas, meaning "nose" 9,570 ft).
Mytikas Peak

It played a major role in Greek mythology as the home of the gods (Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, hades, Demeter, Hestia, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Aphrodite, Athena, Hermes, and Hephaestus.)

They moved there after it formed itself, and it only formed itself after the gods defeated the Titans in the Titan war. I'm not sure where the gods lived before then, though. One presumes somewhere, but apparently it wasn't as nice as the (Suddenly I have the theme from "The Jeffersons" running through my head. "Movin' on up" indeed!) There was much to recommend it as "it was not shaken by winds nor ever wet with rain, nor did snow fall upon it." (Homer: The Odyssey, 6.41)

I think Homer may have exaggerated the "no snow" thing, but it certainly looks lovely in the summer:

It's supposed to be a relatively easy hike until you get near the top and it's all rocky. Still, it might be worth scaling, just to say you were in the of the gods.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Everglades

Also known as Laguna del Espiritu Santo, River Glades, Pa-hay-okee, and the River of Grass, the Everglades is a subtropical wetland that stretches from Orlando to the bottom of Florida.The Kissimmee River flows into Lake Okeechobee which, in addition to a fun name, is extremely shallow - on average 9 feet with a maximum depth of 15 feet. From there water continues to flow down the peninsula of Florida at a rate of about a half mile per day in what is known as a sheetflow. According to Wikipedia, "water leaving Lake Okeechobee may require months or years to reach its final destination, Florida Bay."This wetlands is home to wildlife such as the great egret (above), in addition to alligators, crocodiles, manatees, bottlenose dolphins, and even the Florida panther.Not only animals, but also a wide array of trees thrive in this area. Mangrove swamps, sawgrass prairies, and Big Cypress swamp thrive in this nearly 11,000 square mile area (which is half the area it once was).
Unfortunately, for many years now, pets have been released or escaped into this area, including Burmese Pythons which thrive in the climate.On a final note, it is home to the smallest post office in the U.S.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Ryukyu Islands

Like several of our other destinations, the Ryukyu Islands have more than one name. They are also known as the Nansei Shoto (Southwest Islands) and Ryukyu Retto. Alternatively, the northern bunch of the islands is known as the Satsunan Shoto and the southern half as Ryukyu Shoto. If that's not enough, from about 1829 until 1950, they were also known as Loo-Choo, Lu-Tchu, Lieu-Baeu, Luchu, Loochoo, or Lewchew (from Mandarin Liuqiu).The islands kind of arc out from the southern tip of Japan and swing around nearly to Taiwan.The islands were semi-independent for much of their history, though they lacked an organized military which made them quite literally sitting ducks for any world power that wanted to overtake them. In fact, China and Japan both colonized and claimed them and for a goodly portion of their history, the independent kingdoms in the Ryukyu Islands paid tribute both to the Chinese Emperor and the Japanese Shogun.In 1879, Japan decided that the Ryukyu Islands were theirs. China appealed to President Ulysses S. Grant to arbitrate the claim, and USG decided Japan's claim was stronger. Ryukyu has been a part of Japan since.Okinawa (above) and Yonaguni (below) are just two of these islands.According to Wikipedia, "An article in the 1878 edition of the 'Globe Encyclopaedia of Universal Information' " (sounds like a handy thing to have, doesn't it?) states that "the islands enjoy a magnificent climate, and are highly cultivated and very productive."Sounds nice, doesn't it?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Bilbao is the capital of the province of Biscay in Basque Country. It is on the north coast of Spain, right near the Bay of Biscay, making it an important port city.There is no agreement on where the name "Bilbao" comes from, but theories range from a corruption of "bella vado" (beautiful river crossing) to a combination of billa (Basque for stacking) and "vaho" (Spanish for mist or steam) because of the stacked appearance of the buildings and the mist rising from the river. The area has been populated since ancient times, with ruins dating to the 11th century. In 1602 it was made the capital of Biscay (previously the capital was Bermeo) and has remained one of the top five ports in Spain.The city's architecture ranges from castles and cathedrals in the "Old Town" to the Guggenheim Museum (above), which demonstrates the vitality of this beautiful city. It is still growing and changing and yet it retains its old world charm.
Doesn't it seem like a nice place for a walk?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Tbilisi means "Warm Spring." This is no doubt due to the presence of sulphur hot springs in the area.It was probably settled about 400BC. It is the capital of Georgia and is located on the bank of the Mt'k'vari river.As you might imagine, the age of the city means that the architecture and culture is mixed with more than 10 different ethnic groups calling this city home.Abanotubani (Bath) Street
It looks like a lovely place to just walk around with a camera, doesn't it?Sameba Cathedral

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Chan Chan

Quick - where is Chan Chan located?

If you guessed Peru, you are correct.
Chan Chan is the largest mud city of the Americas and the world's largest adobe city.
It was built by the Chimor civilization.The adobe bricks were covered by cement which was then carved into intricate (yet stylized) shapes.Unfortunately, Chan Chan is at risk of erosion (as one would guess of a city made of mud), so there is great effort underway to figure out how to preserve it.It looks like a marvelous place to spend a day just wandering and looking.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Cape Kidnappers

"The land on the Sea-Coast is high with steep cliffs, and back inland are very high mountains...the face of the Country is of a hilly surface and appears to be cloathed with wood and Verdure."Captain Cook wrote this in his journal on 8 October 1769, seven days before he landed at Cape Kidnappers.Of course, it wasn't Cape Kidnappers then. When he first sailed into the area, he named the general area Hawke's Bay after Sir Edward Hawke, the First Lord of the Admiralty. Cape Kidnappers got its name when one of Cook's crew members named Tiata was in the water near the Endeavor. Suddenly a Maori fishing boat came alongside and scooped Tiata up, but Cook's crew immediately opened fire on the Maori craft. Tiata jumped out of their boat and swam back to the Endeavor, but the attempted kidnapping prompted Cook to give the headland of the southeastern end of Hawke's Bay the name of Cape Kidnappers.Cape Kidnappers is home to a Gannet reserve. These birds have inflatable air sacs in their necks and breasts, which act as shock absorbers when they dive into the water. Sheep also wander the bay area, including the golf course.
It looks so pristine,so inviting.Want to go for a walk?