Saturday December 7, 2013
Lyon is a very interesting city, wedged between the Rhône and Saône rivers in the Rhône-Alpes region in the southeast of France. It's France's gastronomic capital. It has a very interesting Museum of Miniatures. It has a hill with a Roman site. It's a great place to spend a few days.
And now Lyon has the world's first "green" tunnel.
Lyon has recently added a new level to "Le tube" which passes under Lyon's city center Croix-Rousse hill. Now bikers and walkers can pass through an upper addition to the tube they call "eco-friendly."
But it's not just a bleak hole through Lyon's underground. They've added a sound and light show to entertain the slow travelers:
With the help of Paris company Skertzo, travellers can enjoy an eccentric mix of sound effects on their trip, and the walls of the two-kilometre tunnel are emblazoned with spectacular, shifting projections of everything from abstract art to a virtual garden.
Whether you can call a tube "eco-friendly" when you're blasting light and sound through it remains to be a battle fought by hard-liners, but it's an interesting concept for travelers. You can learn more and see a video of bikers trying to deal with pedestrians who don't seem to understand the concept of staying in their lanes by clicking: VIDEO: Lyon opens world's first green tunnel.
Friday December 6, 2013
Everyone has their "best of" list. If you want to have a little spat, just put yours out there. Probably every wide place in the road has been on a "best of" list somewhere on the internet.
But when National Geographic Traveler Magazine puts out a list, folks take a little more notice. Their 2014 Best of the World list is actually interesting. European entrants include some pretty far out places. Here they are:
Imagine: Liechtenstein! By the way, I love these suggestions. I could spend countless weeks in the Alentejo and Cathar Country--and have spent many weeks in Puglia. And wouldn't Aunt Fredda be perplexed if you said you were spending your vacation in Liechtenstein!
These aren't the most popular places in Europe. That's why I like them. The industry has to mix up the "in the know" favorite lists, because otherwise all the tour buses would clog up the same 7 places every year and nobody could move in or out.
Click on any of the links above to find out about these places. Then go.
Picture of Chateau de Peyrepertus Cathar Castle © 2013 by James Martin, licensed to About.com
Thursday December 5, 2013
One of the great things about travel is that you discover the nearly infinite ways people do common things or solve common problems. When you mention shrimp fishing to me, I might imagine a big, rusty ship with nets that could engulf a sports stadium full of ruffians rushing to yank the last of the remaining shrimp from the sea. Or I might think of someone creating environmental disaster by cutting down mangrove swamps and building pools in which to "farm" shrimp.
But I'd be quite unlikely to think of fishing for wild shrimp from draft horses.
Well, there is still a spot on the earth where they do. The shrimp fishers of Oostduinkerke on the Flemish coast ride their Brabant draft horses into the sea foam to pull shrimp out of the Med, mostly for tourists these days, but still. The process is celebrated in a shrimp festival on the last weekend in June.
The practice is so unique that it's recently been named, along with such practices as Italy's Catholic processions, to the world list of intangible cultural heritage kept by UNESCO.
You can see them along the Belgian coast, which is linked by the Coast Tram, the longest tramline in the world.
Read more: Oostduinkerke fishermen are intangible cultural heritage.
See a map of Belgium.
Wednesday December 4, 2013
Heidelberg is one of my favorite cities in Germany. It's along the Castle Road and does indeed have the romantic ruins of a castle looking down upon the university town in the German state of Baden Wurttemberg. Conserve, not restore, has been the motto that kept the castle in its ruined state.
"the sandstone ruins at the foot of Königstuhl hill in Heidelberg still look as battered as they did when the French blew them up more than 300 years ago."
The French are to blame. The castle was a victim of the Nine Years' War in 1693.
How did they destroy the castle? Well, fire and mines. In fact, you can see castle reconstructed to be made into ruins in a quite faithful recreation.
"For an exhibition entitled "Die Wittelsbacher am Rhein" ("The Wittelsbachs on the Rhine") the Reiss Engelhorn Museum in Mannheim appointed its curator, historian Schubert, to virtually reconstruct Heidelberg Castle before and during the devastation wrought by the troops of the Sun King"
See the video and get the rest of the story: Virtual Destruction: Film Recreates Siege of Heidelberg Castle.