Let’s Celebrate Earth Day

It’s Earth Day! Let’s celebrate our planet and work to protect it for the future by taking an environmentally-friendly, virtual tour of some of the most beautiful, breathtaking, and unique places on the planet.

Sequoia National Park

In central California, Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park are home to some of the world’s oldest, and biggest, trees. These sequoia trees, related to the redwoods of northern California, can grow to 250 feet high and 30 feet wide.

The forests are large, cavernous, and quiet. It feel almost hallowed, being among some of the oldest living things on earth. These trees need to be seen to understand their size and massive presence. There are many options to visit the area, you can take a day trip or plan a longer trip, camping or staying in nearby hotels as you take in the remarkable beauty of the large forests.

General Sherman (StreetView)
General Sherman

Amazon River Basin

It wouldn’t be a fitting review of the Earth’s wonders if we didn’t include the Amazon, the world’s second longest river, and largest by volume. It stretches from western South America in Peru, across all of Brazil, and empties into the Atlantic Ocean.

The river, and the surrounding rain forest, are some of the most important lands on the planet. More than three million animal species and 2,500 tree varieties spread across the land. The region provides about 20 percent of the world’s clean water, produces 20 percent of the earth’s clean air, and is the most important carbon sink.

Adventurous travelers can take a guided cruise along the river, or stay in a jungle lodge in the Amazon rain forest. Make sure you pick one that is sustainable and treats the native people, plants, and animals with respect and  consideration.

Amazon River (StreetView)
Amazon River

Mount Danxia, China

As the second largest country on earth, China is certainly going to have some breathtaking sights, and the Danxia range in Guangdong tops the list. Mount Danxia was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010, as part of the overall land form.

The colorful sandstone and conglomerate rocks have been worn in unusual and uneven fashion, leaving jutting columns, interesting holes, and gorgeous naturally-occurring rainbow rock forms. With places named Red Cliff, Sleeping Beauty, and Father Stone, you can tell the place is a unique and breathtaking place to visit.

Mount Danxia (StreetView)
Mount Danxia

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

One of the largest waterfalls in the world, the amazing Victoria Falls on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, is a truly remarkable site to behold. Rainbows from the massive mist are visible constantly, and during full moons, you can even see a “moonbow”!

More than a mile wide and 354 feet deep, it is a global tourist attraction. There’s a “Devil’s Pond” right near the edge of the falls where brave visitors can take a dip in the Zimbabwe River right at the point of no return.

Visitors often come to the falls as part of a safari, but be sure to plan at least a day or two to take in this most memorable natural wonder.

Victoria Falls (StreetView)
Victoria Falls

Bora Bora

Bora Bora is a small group of islands in the Pacific Ocean that make up part of French Polynesia. The islands formed from now-extinct volcanoes, and jut out of the ocean to more than 2,000 feet high. At the center of the islands is a lagoon created by the volcanoes, which is always calm, peaceful, and breathtakingly beautiful.

The green plant-covered mountains create a stunning contrast to the crystal blue water and brilliant white sand beaches that many consider to be the most beautiful place in the world.

People who visit Bora Bora plan a trip of relaxation in luxury hotels designed to integrate the beauty of the island into every feature of the rooms, stretch out on the gorgeous beaches, and spend lots of time SCUBA diving or snorkeling in the unequaled blue waters. But visitors need to make sure their activity on the island doesn’t negatively impact the island, preventing it from being appreciated for years to come.

Hilton Bora Bora Nui (StreetView)
Hilton Bora Bora Nui

These are just some of the many, many beautiful places around the world. But, you don’t have travel across deserts, mighty rivers, or great mountains to appreciate our planet. Today, and every day, you can step outside, appreciate the world around you, and vow to do something to preserve it for yourself and the future. Happy Earth Day!

2020: So Long, and Farewell

Well, 2020 was a year to remember, to say the least. Let’s take a moment to reflect on the past, so we can put it behind us and really look forward to the future.

Australian Wildfires

The world should have known 2020 would be intense on January 1. Already on that date, Australia was in the middle of one of the worst fire seasons in the country’s history. No region was spared, with 80 percent of the population impacted, more than 500 million animals killed, and 34 people killed.

Fires even threatened urban centers such as Sydney and the capital, Canberra. The smoke was so bad in the capital city that residents were forced indoors and could not enjoy the summer weather at places like the famous Commonwealth Park.

Commonwealth Park (Google Maps)
Commonwealth Park

Impeachment of President Donald Trump

For much of 2019, the US news focused on the pending impeachment of President Trump. In December, the US House of Representatives voted to approve articles of impeachment against the President.

In January 2020, the trial began in the Senate. However, the President was acquitted of all charges, on a nearly party-line vote. Nonetheless, the indictment by the House will serve as a black mark on President Trump’s legacy, and will be one of the biggest stories of 2020.

US Capitol Building (Google Maps)
US Capitol Building

Kobe Bryant

On January 26, 2020, Kobe Bryant boarded a helicopter with his oldest daughter on their way to a basketball camp. Not long after takeoff, the helicopter crashed, killing all nine passengers on board. Bryant’s death shook the nation, as he was only 41, and was still very involved in basketball, charities, and most importantly, being a father to four girls.

Kobe and his family lived in the exclusive Pelican Crest community in Newport Coast. The custom-built house with views of the coast has nearly 16,000 square feet of living space spread out over four floors.

After his death, fans gathered outside the community’s gates and left flowers and other items in a makeshift memorial.

Kobe Bryant's House (Google Maps)
Kobe Bryant's House

Harvey Weinstein

After years of speculation and rumor, Harvey Weinstein was finally charged with committing sex crimes against women in 2018. The trial commenced in January 2020, and on February 24, he was convicted, and later sentenced to 23 years in prison.

For the next 23 years, Harvey Weinstein will call the Wende Correctional Facility in upstate New York his home.

Wende Correctional Facility (Google Maps)
Wende Correctional Facility

Weinstein sold his house in the Hamptons in 2018 for $10 million, less than what he paid for it six years earlier. This is just one of many properties he sold following his arrest.

Harvey Weinstein's House (Former) (Google Maps)
Harvey Weinstein's House (Former)

Covid-19 Pandemic

The thing on everyone’s mind for most of the year has been the spread of Covid-19 throughout the world, causing a global pandemic.

While no one knows where the virus initially started, some of the earliest reported cases spread at or near a wet, or seafood, market in the Chinese city of Wuhan. It was first diagnosed in late winter 2019. Thousands quickly fell sick and many died, indicating the virus was extremely contagious, causing global concern.

Huanan Seafood Market (Google Maps)
Huanan Seafood Market

The virus came to the United States in early 2020, and hit metropolitan centers very hard. New York City was the epicenter of the initial outbreak. The city was so overwhelmed that they even prepared a makeshift hospital at the Javits Convention Center. Fortunately, it was only used for a short time before the first wave subsided in the area.

'Jacob K. Javits Convention Center' by I. M. Pei (Google Maps)
'Jacob K. Javits Convention Center' by I. M. Pei

Death of George Floyd

On May 25, George Floyd was killed while in police custody outside a convenience store in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He had allegedly passed a counterfeit bill.

Site where George Floyd was murdered (StreetView)
Site where George Floyd was murdered

The frustration with Floyd’s murder and continued police brutality and racial discrimination boiled over into massive protests, riots, and demonstrations across the country. Government leaders embraced the protests in many places, including Washington, D.C., where the city renamed the plaza outside the White House as Black Lives Matter Plaza.

"Black Lives Matter - Defund the police" on 16th. Street NW (Google Maps)
"Black Lives Matter - Defund the police" on 16th. Street NW

Beiruit Explosion

In the late afternoon of August 4, a large explosion occurred in downtown Beirut, the capital of Lebanon. The blast was caused by improperly stored ammonium nitrate that had been stored at the city’s port for several years.

The blast was so strong it was felt in neighboring countries, killed at least 204 people, and wounded more than 6,500. It caused more than $15 billion in damage, and both the cleanup and investigations are still ongoing.

Building Explosion, Beirut, Lebanon (4 AUG 2020) (Google Maps)
Building Explosion, Beirut, Lebanon (4 AUG 2020)

Kamala Harris

On August 11, Kamala Harris made history. Joe Biden selected her as his running mate, making her the first African American, first Asian American, and third woman to be a part of a major party presidential ticket. She again made history on November 3, when she and Joe Biden were elected to lead the US for the next four years.

A current Senator for California, she maintains a home in the tony LA neighborhood of Brentwood, as her husband is a famous Hollywood attorney.

Kamala Harris' House (Google Maps)
Kamala Harris' House

West Coast Wildfires

It wasn’t enough that much of Australia was on fire earlier this year; the western US also experienced one of the worst fire seasons on record as well. More than 37 people were killed in fires that spread across California, Oregon, and Washington states.

Fires raged across the west for most of the summer and much of the fall. Fires destroyed thousands of homes, including in Shaver Lake, California, where movies such as Captain America had been filmed.

Shaver Lake ("Captain Marvel") (StreetView)
Shaver Lake ("Captain Marvel")

Alex Trebeck

American game show host Alex Trebek announced in 2018 that he had pancreatic cancer, and passed away on November 8, 2020 from the disease. The 80 year old had become a beloved American cultural icon as the host of Jeopardy! He hosted the show for 37 years.

Trebek and his wife had a 10,000 square foot mansion in Los Angeles, but his wealth and fame didn’t stop him from doing everyday things like taking out the trash, which he was seen doing on a regular basis, even when he was fighting cancer.

Trebek set an example for all to follow. In a pre-recorded show that aired after his death, Trebek gave words of encouragement for the world, saying “There are more and more people extending helpful hands to do a kindness to their neighbors, and that’s a good thing.. Keep the faith. We’re going to get through all this and we are going to be a better society because of it.”

Alex Trebek's House (Google Maps)
Alex Trebek's House

Covid-19 Vaccines are Rolled Out

In what might be a sign that 2021 will be better than 2020, multiple vaccines for the Covid-19 virus were approved for use in the US and other countries in December.

On December 10th, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave “emergency use authorization” to Pfizer’s vaccine, and on December 18th, they gave the same authorization to Moderna’s vaccine. These two vaccines will help people all over the world by giving them immunity to Covid-19.

The work at the FDA in 2020 has been a bright spot in what has otherwise been a difficult year for many.

Food and Drug Administration (Google Maps)
Food and Drug Administration

Here’s to hoping the vaccines will help and that Alex Trebek was right and that 2021 will be more rewarding, and less newsworthy, than 2020. Happy New Year!

 

International Assassinations!

Murder has always been a common method of taking out enemies, whether it be a personal rival or political foe. When the murder is planned out in advance and executed in cold blood, it’s often referred to as an assassination.

Here are some of the most interesting and notorious international murders in history.

Franz Ferdinand-Sarajevo, Bosnia

While all deaths are tragic, the death of Archduke Franz Ferdinand at the hands of a separatist assassin actually led to a world war and the deaths of more than 16 million people.

On June 28, 1914, the Archduke and his wife were traveling in Sarajevo, in the province of Bosnia-Herzegovina when a member of the Black Hand separatist group attempted to murder them with a grenade, which failed. Later in the day, they were riding to visit some victims when their driver got lost and drove into an ambush where the Archduke and his wife were shot and killed by another member of the group. The incident led to a series of treaties being called into force, leading to all the major countries of Europe and eventually the United States in the most destructive war the world had ever seen.

Where WWI started - Franz Ferdinand assassination (Google Maps)
Where WWI started - Franz Ferdinand assassination

Thomas Becket-Canterbury Cathedral, England

Thomas Becket was a British nobleman and eventually Chancellor to King Henry II. He was so trusted by the king that when the Archbishop of Canterbury died, he appointed Becket as the new Archbishop even though Becket wasn’t even a priest! However, Becket took his religious calling seriously and refused to bend the will of the church to that of the king, who eventually allegedly called for him to be assassinated.

On December 29, 1170, four knights of the king’s service approached Becket in Canterbury Cathedral and stabbed him to death. After his murder, religious followers throughout England and Europe began to venerate him and he was canonized a saint in 1173. Pilgrims and well-wishers can visit Canterbury Cathedral, although Becket’s bones were destroyed by King Henry VIII.

Canterbury Cathedral (Bing Maps)
Canterbury Cathedral

Gandhi-New Dehli, India

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born in 1869 in India, and while living abroad in South Africa, became an activist for civil rights. He led India’s movement for independence from Great Britain using only nonviolent means, and in 1947, the country was granted its independence. However, many people felt his methods were too accommodating to Great Britain and Pakistan during the post-liberation negotiations.

Gandhi was shot three times by Nathuram Godse in New Dehli on January 30, 1948. He died immediately or nearly immediately, and the entire country mourned his death. Over two million attended his funeral procession. The site of his death was turned into a memorial so that the country could continue to pay their respects to their country’s liberator.

The Martyr's Column (assassination of Mahatma Gandhi) (Google Maps)
The Martyr's Column (assassination of Mahatma Gandhi)

Caesar-Rome, Italy

“Beware the Ides of March” is an old saying that warns of bad things happening in the near future. According to legend, Julius Caesar, the first dictator of ancient Rome, was given this warning from a seer, foretelling he would be dead before the day was over. As Caesar made his way toward the Senate, a group of his friends and peers who were upset with his recent power grabs accosted him and stabbed him 23 times.

As Caesar was stabbed, he is said to have remarked to his favorite protege and follower “et tu, Brute?” meaning, “You too, Brutus?”. Once he realized that even his faithful follower had betrayed him, he surrendered to his fate.

Caesar’s murder was one of the most famous, and most impactful in history, as it led to an entire change in the political direction of the Roman Empire.

Julius Caesar's Murder Site (Google Maps)
Julius Caesar's Murder Site

Pope John Paul II-St. Peter’s Square, Vatican

Pope John Paul II was a very popular and well-regarded leader of the Catholic faith from 1978-2005. He was born in Poland in 1920, and grew up under Nazi rule in Warsaw. Through the years, he was elevated in the ranks of the Catholic Church, eventually becoming elected Pope in 1978 after the untimely death of Pope John Paul I.

On May 13, 1981, he was entering St. Peter’s Square in an open vehicle, greeting the crowd when a lone gunman Mehmet Ali Agca shot him three times, severely wounding him. However, apparently the man of God was watched over that day, because he survived the attack and even forgave his shooter. No concrete motive or theory could explain the shooting.

St. Peter's Square (Google Maps)
St. Peter's Square

One significant result of the shooting was that from then on, the Pope nearly always traveled in a specially designed vehicle that allowed the leader to be visible to his followers while protected by bulletproof glass. Because of the unique design, the vehicle was nicknamed the “Popemobile” and it traveled with the leader wherever he went in the world.

Popemobile of 2016 (StreetView)
Popemobile of 2016

If nothing else, these tragic murders (and attempted murder) show that these crimes happen for mundane, random and insane reasons, and can have impacts that literally change the course of the world.

Beautiful Places Around the World We Can Enjoy from Our Living Room

While most of us are practicing social distancing, now is a good time to take a virtual tour of some of the most beautiful natural wonders around the world.

Mystic Falls, Yellowstone

Mystic Falls in Yellowstone National Park is just one of hundreds of breathtaking sites to see in the park. It is a 70-foot waterfall that can be reached by a short 1.2 mile hike in the Upper Geyser Basin. The waterfall cascades down the mountain canyon, providing a beautiful and calming view for those who reach the destination.

For those hiking in real life, take the clockwise route to take advantage of the easier slope and to enjoy a dramatic reveal of the falls when you reach your destination.

Mystic Falls (StreetView)
Mystic Falls

Uluru, Australia

Uluru, formerly known as Ayers Rock by non-indigenous Australians, is a massive rock formation that juts up nearly 3,000 feet from the surrounding area. It is sacred to the Aboriginal people, and is one of Australia’s most famous landmarks. The formation is nearly five miles around, and is a great tourist destination.

Visitors will be in awe of the rock’s beauty and how it appears to glow red at sunrise and sunset, and change colors throughout the day.

Uluru / Ayers Rock (Google Maps)
Uluru / Ayers Rock

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and Zambia

Flowing from the Zambezi River is Victoria Falls, named in honor of Queen Victoria of Great Britain. The waterfall is considered the largest in the world because of its combined width and height, though it is neither the single widest or tallest waterfall.

The waterfall is dramatic because of the vast plateau that extends for hundreds of miles in every direction. The falls rest on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia, and serves as a symbol of how nature’s beauty cannot be contained to any one country.

Victoria Falls (Google Maps)
Victoria Falls

Grand Canyon, Arizona

The Grand Canyon in the southern United States is one of the largest, and most breathtaking, canyons in the world. It has been carved by the Colorado River over two billion years, and visitors are impressed that the small, muddy river has created something so vast and beautiful.

Visitors to the Grand Canyon National Park can hike into the valleys and walk along crests and ridges to take pictures of some of the most impressive views of nature’s slow and steady progress.

Grand Canyon (Google Maps)
Grand Canyon

Lake Como

Lake Como in Italy is famous for being a vacation spot for the rich and famous, but it’s no wonder people flock to its shores, because it is one of the most beautiful and peaceful places on Earth. The lake was formed by glacier activity, and the mountain lake retains some feel of ancient, more peaceful times.

Villas and small villages dot the lake’s perimeter, adding to the quaint, delicate feel of the region that immediately invites visitors to relax, settle in and become part of the surroundings.

View of Lake Como from Castello di Vezio (StreetView)
View of Lake Como from Castello di Vezio

Mount Everest

No list of Earth’s amazing locations would be complete without a mention of Mount Everest, the largest mountain in the world, nestled in the beautiful Himalayan mountain range. It peaks at nearly 9,000 feet, making it as remote as you can get on the surface of the Earth.

In the last century, climbing the mountain has become a goal of endurance climbers, celebrities, and people looking to break down barriers; but most of us just look at the icy wonder in amazement and appreciate the pristine beauty of the tallest peak in the world.

Mount Everest (Google Maps)
Mount Everest

These are just a few of the beautiful places on Earth that we can all enjoy from indoors, and soon we’ll be out and about enjoying the beautiful scenery closer to home.

This Month in History: February

February may be the shortest month, but it’s still packed with history. Let’s look at some of the important things that have happened in Februaries past.

February 4: Charles Lindbergh is Born

Charles Lindbergh, the world famous pilot of the 1920s, was born in Detroit, Michigan on February 4, 1902. As a small child he moved to Little Falls, Minnesota, where he developed his interest in mechanics and flying.

Charles A. Lindbergh Childhood Home (StreetView)
Charles A. Lindbergh Childhood Home

Lindbergh became famous when, at 25, he flew from Long Island, New York to Paris, France, without stopping. The flight propelled Lindbergh into the national spotlight.

In 1932, his young child, Charles Lindbergh Jr., was kidnapped for ransom and found murdered several weeks later, in what was called the “Crime of the Century”. The murder changed the Lindbergh family, who temporarily moved to Europe for safety and privacy, and remained out out the spotlight as much as possible.

Lindbergh kidnapping home (Birds Eye)
Lindbergh kidnapping home

February 6: Aaron Burr is Born

Aaron Burr was born on February 6, 1756. He was a decorated war hero, lawyer, senator and even vice president. But what he’s famous for is being a participant in the most famous duel in American history.

Burr was born in Newark New Jersey, attended Princeton University, and then enlisted in the Continental Army at the start of the war. He became a national hero, and rode that fame to a political career that peaked with him serving as Thomas Jefferson’s vice president.

However, after years of personal feuding, Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr fought in a duel on July 11, 1804, where Burr killed Hamilton. He was never prosecuted for the murder, and served out his term as vice president before receding from the national spotlight and dying in relative obscurity in 1836.

Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr - site of fatal duel (Bing Maps)
Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr - site of fatal duel

February 11: Nelson Mandela is Freed from Prison

Nelson Mandela (1918-2012) was an anti-apartheid and revolutionary fighter in South Africa, who worked for equal rights his entire life. His radical work, including promoting armed conflict in the fight against apartheid, led to a life sentence in prison, where he continued working for equality.

He served 18 years in the prison on Robben Island, which has been turned into a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Robben Island (Google Maps)
Robben Island

Visitors can see the cell as it would have looked when Mandela lived there.

Nelson Mandela's Cell (Robben Island) (StreetView)
Nelson Mandela's Cell (Robben Island)

After 27 years, much international attention, and even sanctions against the government for their racist policies, the South African President released Mandela on February 11, 1990. Mandela went on to become the first black president of South Africa and a global advocate of equality and human rights.

February 12: President Clinton Acquitted in the Senate

This historical event seems fresh in the minds of many Americans, as Congress again deliberates whether to impeach and remove a sitting president. After a lengthy investigation by a special prosecutor and impeachment by the House of Representatives in December 1998.

The case then went to the Senate, where the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presided over the proceedings. Over the next few weeks, senators considered all the facts laid out on the charges. On February 12, 1999 the Senate voted on the charges: Whether the president had committed perjury and whether he had obstructed justice. Both votes did not reach the two thirds threshold required to remove President Clinton from office.

He served out his term in relative popularity, but has never outlived the reputation of having been impeached, even though he was not convicted.

US Capitol (StreetView)
US Capitol

February 14: St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

During the 1920s, Prohibition Era gangsters ruled the cities of New York and Chicago. The likes of Al Capone and other gangsters fought for control of the lucrative alcohol markets and often resorted to violence. On February 14, 1929, seven men associated with the North Side gang were assassinated in broad daylight in Chicago by four men, including two dressed as police officers.

While the crimes were never solved, it was assumed that Al Capone and the Chicago police were involved in the murder to gain the upper hand in the underground alcohol market and as payback for a murdered son of a police officer.

Site of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre (Google Maps)
Site of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre

February 20: John Glenn Orbits the Earth

During the 1960s, the United States and the Soviet Union were in a tight race to see who could escape the confines of the Earth, and the Soviets were off to a head start. The United States worked hard to catch up, and in 1962, NASA launched John Glenn into space from their pad at Cape Canaveral. He was the first American to orbit Earth, and did so three times before returning safely, and upon reentry he became a national hero.

Cape Canaveral Complex 14 (Google Maps)
Cape Canaveral Complex 14

February 22 George Washington is Born

On February 22, 1732, George Washington was born to a prominent Virginia family. While his family was elated at his birth, no one could have known that the baby born that winter day would someday change history.

George Washington's Boyhood Home (Birds Eye)
George Washington's Boyhood Home

Washington rose to prominence in the Virginia militia and was called upon when the colonies revolted against the British. His military and political acumen helped win independence from Britain. Later, he became the first president of the new country, the United States of America. He retired to Mount Vernon, his plantation outside Alexandria Virginia.

George Washington's Mount Vernon Plantation (Birds Eye)
George Washington's Mount Vernon Plantation

His birthday is commemorated each year on the third Monday in February, and is called President’s Day or Washington’s Birthday. It’s the least a grateful nation could do to honor their first and perhaps greatest leader.

So many important, and world-changing, events have taken place in February, and there’s no doubt that important things are taking place even now that will shape the future of our world.

This Month in History: November

Taking time to reflect on the past is important because it gives us an opportunity to review where we’ve been and how far we’ve come, to celebrate the amazing things that have been accomplished by ordinary people, and to remember the events that changed the course of history.

Let’s look back through history to review some of the important events that occurred in Novembers past.

November 1: Creation of the European Union

On November 1, 1993, the European Union (EU) came into effect, bringing together 12 countries in an economic and political union, lowering barriers and eliminating borders to promote unity among the countries.

Since then, the organization has grown to 28 member states functioning in an ever closer union.

Vrijthof (Maastricht) (Birds Eye)
Vrijthof (Maastricht)

November 3: Panamanian Independence

After breaking away from Spain along with the rest of South America in 1819, Panama was part of an ambitious attempt to govern most of the region as one country. Panama then “separated” from Colombia in 1903.

Panama’s independence allowed the country to take full control of the future Panama Canal, a waterway connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, reducing travel time for people and goods, and effectively making the world smaller and more accessible.

Panama Canal (Google Maps)
Panama Canal

November 4: Discovery of King Tut’s Tomb

King Tutankhamun, or King Tut, was an ancient Egyptian king who ruled in his youth for about ten years. His tomb was discovered by Howard Carter as part of a massive unearthing of ancient royal burial sites in the Valley of the Kings, on November 4, 1915.

The contents were breathtaking, including a stunning blue and gold mask that has become famous the world over.

King Tut & the Valley of the Kings (Google Maps)
King Tut & the Valley of the Kings

November 9: Fall of the Berlin Wall

After World War II, the victors, including the US and the Soviet Union, divided supervision of Germany, and divided the capital city of Berlin as well. To prevent defectors, the Soviet Union built a wall between the eastern and western portions of the city.

It stood until November 9, 1989, when revolution led to the political and physical barrier between the two cities coming down.

The citizens of East and West Berlin physically tore down portions of the wall, and these images of citizens rising up against an oppressive regime became the symbol of the end of the Cold War.

Berlin Wall (StreetView)
Berlin Wall

November 11: Veteran’s Day

After more than four years of brutal fighting on a global scale, the great powers of the world declared a ceasefire, ending World War I. On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, in 1918, fighting was officially halted. Since that day, grateful citizens have commemorated the date, remembering the war and the soldiers who fought it in and every other war. In Europe it is known as Armistice Day and in the United States it is called Veterans Day.

Flanders, a region in Belgium, experienced particularly intense fighting and casualties, and has been memorialized in poem. An American cemetery was built for the many soldiers who died fighting in World War I.

Flanders Field American Cemetery and Memorial (Google Maps)
Flanders Field American Cemetery and Memorial

November 17: Suez Canal

The Suez Canal, a waterway connection between the Mediterranean and Red Sea, was officially opened November 17, 1869. The Egyptian canal created a new trade route between Europe and Asia, cutting off thousands of miles of dangerous sea travel around the Cape of Good Hope at the southern end of Africa.

The canal is still in constant use today, making global travel and trade faster and more convenient.

Suez Canal (Google Maps)
Suez Canal

November 19

Four months after the Battle of Gettysburg, President Lincoln traveled to the site to dedicate a soldiers’ cemetery.  President Lincoln’s short speech followed a two-hour keynote address, and while well-received, was not lauded right away. However, with the perspective of history, his speech is recognized as one of the most important speeches in America. It canonized the American ideal of “government by the people, of the people, and for the people”.

Gettysburg (Google Maps)
Gettysburg

November 22

One of the most infamous events in American history is the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas on November 22, 1963. The President and his wife traveled to Texas on a political trip. The presidential motorcade traveled downtown to greet well-wishers. President Kennedy was shot in the neck and head by Lee Harvey Oswald. He died a few hours later.

The X marks the spot where President Kennedy was shot (StreetView)
The X marks the spot where President Kennedy was shot

His wife Jacqueline planned a memorable state funeral, and he was laid to rest in Arlington Cemetery, with an “eternal flame” memorial.

John F. Kennedy burial site (Google Maps)
John F. Kennedy burial site

November 26

On the evening of November 26, 2008, a coordinated terror attack in Mumbai, India, began. Terrorists attacked 12 separate sites throughout the city, and the attacks lasted four days. More than 174 people died, including 31 individuals at the five-star Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, which was also the final place to be secured by government forces on Sunday, November 29. The hotel became a symbol of the attacks and the impact they had on the psyche and economy of Mumbai and India.

Taj Mahal Palace & Tower (Google Maps)
Taj Mahal Palace & Tower

Every day, history is being made. Not everyone will discover an ancient tomb or give a memorable speech, but everyone has the potential to change the world around them. So, be bold and make your own history.

Romantic Cities Around the World

Ah, true love. No matter where you are, when you’re with the one you love, it feels like you’re in paradise. Everyone knows Paris is a great place for lovers, but it’s not the only place in the world that two can fall more in love. If you’re in love, visit one of these cities. Your love will feel even stronger because of the magic in the air.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

With tango as the city’s unofficial pastime, how can Buenos Aires not be on the list of romantic destinations?

Nothing is more romantic than strolling through a beautiful park, and Rosedal de Palermo is one of the best. With a combination of manicured paths, secluded corners, rose gardens and fountains to enhance the romance, this is one place to be when you’re in love.

Rosedal de Palermo (Google Maps)
Rosedal de Palermo

After your stroll, you and your love might spend a romantic evening at the theater. Teatro Colon, built at the turn of the last century, has grandiose chandeliers, raised balconies, vaulted ceilings and beautiful detailing that inspire romance and connection no matter where you sit.

Teatro Colón (Google Maps)
Teatro Colón

Kyoto, Japan

Smaller and more intimate than than Tokyo, Kyoto is the perfect place for lovers because of the unique combination of history, delicate architecture and natural beauty.

Sakura Alley, also known as Cherry Blossom Alley, is a veritable tunnel of trees, especially when the trees blossom in the spring. Imagine two lovebirds walking hand in hand down the lane, blossoms above them, falling from the trees and pooling at their feet. It’s picture perfect!

Sakura (Cherry blossom) alley (StreetView)
Sakura (Cherry blossom) alley

Jishu Shrine may be the most important place for lovers in Japan. Known as “the Cupid of Japan” the shrine has two stones where, if a person can walk from one to the other with their eyes closed, their wishes for love will be fulfilled. It has so much success that there are plaques from grateful couples who have visited the shrine.

Jishu Shrine
Photo Credit: Fast Japan

Marrakesh, Morocco

Located at the feet of the Atlas Mountains, Marrakesh seduces all who visit with it’s beautiful vistas, lush greenery and exotic smells and sounds.

The Majorelle Gardens are an oasis in the desert of Marrahesh. Visitors can experience much of the native flora and fauna, including rare bird species native to North Africa. They can also rest at pools full of beautiful lilies and enjoy the smells of a lush African garden.

Majorelle Garden (Yves Saint-Laurent's retreat) (Google Maps)
Majorelle Garden (Yves Saint-Laurent's retreat)

Jemaa el-Fnaa is the ancient city’s town square and market. During the day, visitors can mix with locals, buy juice or water and be entertained by trained monkeys and snake charmers. In the evening, the market becomes more animated, with food stalls, retail shops, cafes and entertainment taking place all around. The dynamic feeling of the square makes you feel more alive and more in love than ever before!

Jemaa el-Fnaa (StreetView)
Jemaa el-Fnaa

New York City, New York

New York is always the place to be, and there’s no exception for lovers! The energy and spirit of the city can’t help but energize visitors and leave them feeling passionate about life and love.

Central Park is the perfect place for lovers. A refuge in the middle of the city allows lovers to relax, focus on their emotions and make memories among beautiful landscapes. There’s no bad time to visit the park, and couples will always leave with greater passion for one another.

The Blockhouse (Oldest Building in NYC's Central Park) (Google Maps)
The Blockhouse (Oldest Building in NYC's Central Park)

The Empire State Building does love well. Each Valentine’s Day it lights up with a heart to celebrate love.

Empire State Building and One World Trade Center at night (StreetView)
Empire State Building and One World Trade Center at night

Visitors can go to the top and take in the breathtaking views of the city, or they can spy the landmark throughout the city, taking in the building’s grandeur from wherever they are in the city.

Empire State Building (Birds Eye)
Empire State Building

If you’re in love, whether it’s new or old, visiting these cities will be sure to increase the passion, love and companionship that you and your partner share.