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Viva Las Vegas! A Great Spring Break Destination

Saturday, Apr 20 2024 by

Whether you’re young and looking for an adventure, or traveling with a family, Las Vegas is a great Spring Break destination.

Let’s take a look at some of the places everyone should have on their list to see when they make a trip to Sin City.

Welcome to Last Vegas Sign

Perhaps the most recognized feature of Las Vegas, the flashing sign welcoming visitors to Las Vegas was funded in 1959, at perhaps the heyday of Vegas glamor and glitz. These days, it’s a familiar, retro greeting for everyone who tour the Strip, the area jam packed with casinos, restaurants, party venues, and entertainment for all ages. Day or night, the party’s going on, and it’s the perfect photo op to announce your arrival!

Las Vegas: The Strip - Google Earth (StreetView)
Las Vegas: The Strip - Google Earth

The Venetian Casino and Resort

If you want to see a great music concert, check out the Venetian! Christina Aguilera will be there for two weeks in April, followed by Kylie Minogue, who regularly performs at the resort.

The hotel and casino is just as amazing, often making lists of best resorts and casinos in the US. Its theme hearkens back to the height of the Venetian empire, with a recreation of the Rialto Bridge, the Doge’s Palace, and other famous landmarks from the powerful empire of the Middle Ages.

Doge's Palace at the Venetian Casino and Resort (Birds Eye)
Doge's Palace at the Venetian Casino and Resort

The Bellagio

The Bellagio is one of Vegas’s most famous luxury resorts, created in the style of an Italian village, complete with classical-styled sculpture and design, high-end art galleries, breathtaking botanical gardens, and more.

Bellagio Hotel & Casino (Birds Eye)
Bellagio Hotel & Casino

Perhaps the most famous attraction at the Bellagio are the impressive fountains, which perform free water shows choreographed with music and lighting to entertain the crowds. Designed as the focal point in an 8.5 acre man-made lake in the center of the Las Vegas desert, they are certainly impressive. In fact, they are considered one of the most talked-about attractions in the city by people around the world!

Bellagio Fountains (Birds Eye)
Bellagio Fountains

Eiffel Tower and Paris Hotel

The Paris Hotel is an awesome spectacle, and a lot more affordable! It was designed with the average, not high-end, visitor, in mind. But they did not skimp on awesome Parisian features. The biggest draw is the replica Eiffel Tower, which rises about 550 feet in the air. Only 1/3 as big as the original, it’s still impressive against the Las Vegas skyline.

Eiffel Tower in Paris Hotel (Birds Eye)
Eiffel Tower in Paris Hotel

Other replicas on the site include the Arc de Triomphe, Louvre museum, and Paris Opera House. It’s “almost” like going to France, without crossing an ocean or needing a passport.

'Arc de Triumph' (Birds Eye)
'Arc de Triumph'

Luxor Las Vegas

The Luxor Hotel goes all the way to another famous desert for its theme: the deserts of ancient Egypt, and the pyramids of Giza. Some years, the hotel hosts more visitors than the city on which it’s modeled! Its centerpiece is a massive pyramid, which is the actual hotel. At the top of the pyramid is a giant light called the Luxor Sky Beam, the most powerful man-made light in the world.

Like other hotels, it also has lots of entertainment, beyond cool hotel rooms and casinos. It is also known for the expansive and educational Titanic exhibit, that still impresses visitors with artifacts and historical details in a museum dedicated to the ocean, that seems a little out of place in the desert.

Luxor (Birds Eye)

The Mob Museum

Branching out a bit from the Strip and resorts, the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, better known as the Mob Museum, is a really cool museum dedicated to telling the story of organized crime, and the law enforcement agents who fight that crime.

Some people don’t know this, but Las Vegas has deep ties to organized crime and mob bosses, which makes sense with all the gambling and other activities you can do there. While the connections have eased up considerably over the years, the history is colorful, and the museum is a great place to learn about law enforcement over the years in the US, and see some really cool exhibits about the most famous, and notorious, characters, in organized crime.

National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement (Google Maps)
National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement

Hoover Dam

If you’re looking to spend some time enjoying the region’s climate and scenery, you should check out Hoover Dam. The dam, blocking the Colorado River on the border between Las Vegas and Arizona, generates power for California, Nevada, and Arizona, for more than 1.25 million people.

It also generates water for crops and cities and towns in the area, coming off of Lake Mead, the man-made lake created as a result of the dam. Tourists can tour different parts of the dam, can check out the structure from the bridge at the top of the dam, or participate in water activities on Lake Mead. It’s less than an hour away from Sin City, but it feels like a completely different world.

Hoover Dam (Google Maps)
Hoover Dam

If you have the chance to tour Las Vegas, springtime is a great time to go; it’s not too hot, and there’s so much going on to keep you entertained. And if you can’t make it, this list will keep you almost as entertained.


Behind the Scenes of Dune: Part Two

Wednesday, Apr 10 2024 by

Dune: Part Two came out last month, and since then it’s broken all sorts of records, including earning over $600 million, raking in more money on opening weekend than any other film earned all year, and making way more money than even the first Dune did for its opening. Even now, it’s incredibly popular, and has fast-tracked production for the next installment of the sci-fi story.

Let’s take a look at some of the starring actors and locations from the film.

Timothée Chalamet

Making his debut more than a decade ago in Interstellar, Timothée Chalamet has become a major star, with a varied film repertoire, and credit for both artistic and blockbuster successes. At just 28, he’s already been nominated for an Oscar, and won several major accolades. And, he’s been dating celeb powerhouse Kylie Jenner for over a year now, so he’s really got it going on!

Born and bred in NYC, the dual American and French citizen bought a house in Beverly Hills in 2022. The home, formerly owned by Kate Upton and Justin Verlander, set him back about $11 million. The beautiful property has privacy-enhancing landscaping, a tennis court, pool, and great views. Inside, the four bedroom, five bathroom house has distinctive features including a fireplace that takes up an entire wall, in-home theater, wine cellar, and more. The house has been owned by several celebs in addition to Kate Upton, including Kenny G and Pete Sampras!

Timothee Chalamet's House ( Formerly Kate Upton and Justin Verlander's) (Google Maps)
Timothee Chalamet's House ( Formerly Kate Upton and Justin Verlander's)


Since getting her start on the Disney Channel in 2010, Zendaya has been known for her beautiful, piercing eyes, and amazing acting ability. Starring in Dune is just her most recent success, she’s been in the Spider-Man franchise, indie films, television shows, and more.

She has bought a few homes in the LA area, including this gorgeous place in Encino, which offers more space and privacy than some more famous zip codes in the area. The six-bedroom home is more than 80 years old, but several renovations have kept it up-to-date, perfect for the knockout celebrity.

Zendaya's House (Google Maps)
Zendaya's House

Josh Brolin

Josh Brolin’s father has had a long career in Hollywood, but Josh took a long time to determine that he, too, wanted to be an actor. But, once he did, his career has been stellar. His acting in Dune brings to life one of the most interesting and charismatic individuals in the story, and he deserves all the praise he gets for the role.

He left Hollywood a few years ago when he bought a home in Atlanta. While he put it up for rent last month, the $3.25 million home just north of the city in the upscale neighborhood of Buckhead, has five bedrooms, six bathrooms, and 6,500 square feet of living space on 1.5 acres of land. Of course it has a gourmet kitchen, gym, theater, extra sitting and entertaining rooms, and  more.

Josh Brolin's House (Google Maps)
Josh Brolin's House

Wadi Rum, Jordan

Filming the desert scenes of the sci-fi film in a realistic environment was critically important to director Denis Villeneuve and his crew. They picked the Wadi Rum location in Jordan because it had both a “scary” quality and the rocks mixed among the sand described so vividly in the books. And just like on the planet of Arrakis, the area is known for deadly windstorms, but fortunately doesn’t have any sandworms.

A wadi is an area that is desert except when it rains; then it’s flooded with rushing rainwater that helps give it an eerie and unique landscape formation ideal for an other-worldy tale such as Dune.

Wadi Run - The Valley of the Moon (StreetView)
Wadi Run - The Valley of the Moon

Liwa Oasis, Abu Dhabi

While the wadi was great for some angles, the sand dunes in the book were best filmed on site in Abu Dhabi, where the vastness of the desert spread out before the camera, giving the viewer a visual feast of Arrakis in all its dangerous beauty.

Filming wasn’t so hard; the crew and actors stayed at a resort at the oasis, an area of water and vegetation that sprouts up in the desert. In many ways, it helped them feel more in character, and unified them as a team, far away from the distractions that might normally overwhelm a movie crew.

Liwa Oasis ("Star Wars") (StreetView)
Liwa Oasis ("Star Wars")

Ålesund, Norway

About a world away from the desert of the Middle East, Ålesund on the coast of Norway, was the perfect setting for the water-rich world of Caladan. The bays and inlets, as well as the dramatic cliffs, were perfect for portraying the paradise Paul Atreides left behind to follow the directive of the emperor, and eventually fulfill hundreds of years of prophesy and his own destiny.

Ålesund is a small but beautiful coastal city that attracts visitors for its Art Nouveau architecture, great river and ocean kayaking, and amazing hiking.

View of Ålesund from Mount Aksla (StreetView)
View of Ålesund from Mount Aksla

It’s so fun to look at where the stars live and worked while making both Dune films, it only makes us want more! Because the first two installments of the books-turned-movies were so successful, it’s all but guaranteed that there will be more breathtaking films to carry on the story in the next few years. And we can’t hardly wait!


Famous Irish-Americans

Sunday, Mar 17 2024 by

Today is St. Patrick’s Day, when everyone is Irish! While the holiday is celebrated around the world, people in the US take the holiday, and perhaps the excuse to drink a little extra beer, to the next level.

In honor of the day, let’s take a look at some famous Irish-Americans.

John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy might be one of the most famous Irish-Americans. In fact, at the time of his campaign for president in 1960, some people hesitated to vote for him due to ethnic and religious discrimination against Irish-Americans.

However, Kennedy never shied away from his heritage. In fact, when he was president, he took a historic trip to Ireland and visited several places, including his ancestral home in Dunganstown, in Wexford. His great-great-great grandfather was born here, and the Kennedy family still owns the property.

The Kennedy Homestead, ancestral home of the Kennedy clan (StreetView)
The Kennedy Homestead, ancestral home of the Kennedy clan

Taking his Irish heritage seriously, Kennedy and his wife Jackie named their beautiful Virginia estate Wexford, after his ancestral home. Sadly, the home on the 166-acre farm outside Washington, DC was completed only a few weeks before he was assassinated in November 1963.

The home, with five bedrooms and five bathrooms, had been designed by Jackie herself as a retreat for the family, and was a perfect getaway for the talented equestrian. Ronald and Nancy Reagan rented the home during their presidential transition in late 1980. It sold a few years ago for just under $3 million, well below the $4+million asking price.

John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy's House (Former) (Bing Maps)
John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy's House (Former)

Barack Obama

You might not realize it, but Barack Obama has Irish heritage! A true American in the sense that his heritage includes many waves of immigrants, his great-great-great-grandfather came the US in 1850, one of millions who fled economic hardship and chased the hope of a better life across the ocean.

Obama and his wife Michelle own several homes across the US, but after they left the White House in 2017, they took up residence just a few miles away, in the tony Kalorama neighborhood of DC. They first rented, then bought, this gorgeous brick mansion, for about $8 million. Jeff Bezos lives in the neighborhood, along with several diplomats, the Kushners, and more. The house has more than 8,000 square feet; plenty of room to enjoy their privacy after eight years in the limelight of the presidency.

Barack & Michelle Obama's Post-White House House (Birds Eye)
Barack & Michelle Obama's Post-White House House

Alec Baldwin

A man who has reigned in Hollywood for decades, and even portrayed a president on television, Alec Baldwin is one of the most famous Irish-Americans. He’s spoken several times about how his Irish Catholic upbringing influences him now, and even named his daughter Ireland!

Alec and his wife Hilaria live with their seven kids in Vermont, having moved here in 2022, leaving behind the Hamptons in New York, and taking up a more rural, family-centered life up north. The 55-acre estate has a main house listed as having three bedrooms, but there’s got to be plenty of space for seven kids among the 3,600 square feet of living space. And if it’s not enough, there’s an 1,800 square foot guest house!

Alec Baldwin's House (Google Maps)
Alec Baldwin's House

Zooey Deschanel

Zooey (just like her big sister Emily) is another famous Irish-American actor. She grew up in Los Angeles, with a director dad an actress mother; her career choice is basically a family business.

In 2019, she started dating another famous sibling, Jonathan Scott, who works with his identical twin brother Drew in the property business. The two, along with Zooey’s kids from a previous marriage, bought a gorgeous home in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles in 2020. They dropped a stunning $9.5 million for the 6,500 square-foot home on a one-acre lot. It’s in a great location, has an amazing yard that includes a pool and tennis court, and gorgeous, spunky interior that perfectly fits the couple’s personalities.

Zooey Deschanel & Jonathan Scott's House (Google Maps)
Zooey Deschanel & Jonathan Scott's House

Michael Flatley

While everyone knows Michael Flatley, the famous Irish dancer, what may be a surprise is that he was actually born in the US, not the Emerald Isle! His parents both emigrated to the US, where they met at an Irish dance hall (of course) and got married. They passed their love of Irish dance to their son, and the rest is history.

He got his break on the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest, and created a dance troupe that toured the world for decades. He set a Guinness World Record (fitting for an Irishman) for the fastest feet, tapping 32 times per second!

With a remarkable estimated net worth of more than $350 million, he retired to an impressive Irish mansion called Castlehyde house. It’s reported to be more than 50,000 square feet, and has a long and storied history. While he’s tried to sell it from time to time, and can’t live there right now due to poor repairs after a fire, he’s committed to keeping it and getting it fixed.

Michael Flatley’s House (Google Maps)
Michael Flatley’s House

The Irish have a strong heritage in the US, and they have done so much to make the country a wonderful melting pot of culture, tradition, and experiences. On St. Patrick’s Day, have a drink to celebrate the Irish in all of us, and may the Irish blessing prove true for you:

May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow, and may trouble avoid you wherever you go.


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Friday, June 14, 2024

Showing 12 of 44 maps submitted on 2024-06-14:

Liqeni Thatë
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Fier Mimar Lake
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Palace of Ardashir
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Thursday, June 13, 2024

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Liqeni Merhojës
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Liqeni Rimonit
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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

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Ite Island
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Tuesday, June 11, 2024

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C R Wing Cogen
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