Tag Archives: planning a trip

Plan a trip to the Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar is one the world’s largest covered markets with more than 5,000 shops spread out over its 60 streets. The Bazaar attracts between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors each and every day. Much of the Bazaar has been laid out to support an area for each of the types of goods being sold in the market, such as areas for gold jewelry, leather, and carpets. The market is famous for its carpets, jewelry, spice, antiques, ceramics, and embroideries.

Since 1461, the bazaar has served as key trading center. Its labyrinthine vaults feature two domed buildings, which were built after Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror ordered its construction in 1455. In the 16th century, the bazaar was vastly enlarged during the reign of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, and in 1984, an earthquake led to another major restoration.

In the past, many of the valuables held in the Bazaar were stored in the high domed hall of the Cevahir Bedesten, which now holds items such as copperware, inlaid weapons, furniture, watches, clocks, old coins, and jewelry, among other things. Many visitors come to the Bazaar to spend an afternoon leisurely bargaining for purchases, spending time in one of the cafes, and watching the crowds of shoppers stroll by.

The Grand Bazaar has four main gates located at the ends of its two major streets. The complex also houses four fountains, two mosques, two hamams, and numerous restaurants and cafes. The Bazaar is open Monday to Saturday from 9 AM to 7 PM. The market is closed every Sundays and on band holidays.

The Grand Bazaar is still a thriving market with more than 25,000 workers hosting hundreds of thousands of visitors every day. The market recently started a restoration project to help improve the markets heating, lighting, and overall infrastructure to help it compete with some of the more modern shopping malls in Istanbul.

The hans or courtyards inside the market are also undergoing renovations. These new renovations have partly been done to help solve the Bazaar’s key problems, like lack of proper sanitation and proper toilet facilities. The market has also lacked certain controls to allow dealers to skive walls and remove columns in their shops to gain more space. The roof of the Bazaar has been considered a hazard and needs some renovations to make the market safer over the next few years.

Plan a trip to Tokyo Disneyland, Japan

Tokyo Disneyland is the 1st of 2 major theme parks located on the Tokyo Disney Resort in Urayasu, Japan. Located near Tokyo, this theme park is a 115-acre theme park was the first Disney Theme Park to be built outside of the United States. The park officially opened in 1983, and was designed in the same style as the Florida based Disney World and California based Disneyland. The park is one of only two Disney parks not wholly owned by the Walt Disney Company, but is leased out to the Oriental Land Company. Tokyo DisneySea, a companion park to Tokyo Disneyland, is the other park not owned by the Walt Disney Company.

Tokyo Disneyland has many of the same themes, features, and attractions that are found at the other Disneyland locations. In Tokyo, the Disney Theme park has 7 major themed areas, including Critter Country, Toontown, and the World Bazaar, in addition to Disney classics: Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Adventureland, and Westernland. Much of the parks features and attractions are base around the fables and stories created by the Walt Disney Corporation and its many feature films. Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Snow White’s Scary Adventures and Peter Pan’s Flight are just a few of the key attractions that are based on the classic characters and Disney films.

The park has been built to accommodate large crowds that come to visit the park, with numerous large open spaces. The park consistently ranks in the top 3 most visited theme parks around the world, hosting more than 13 million visitors every year. Tokyo Disneyland only trails its Disneyland sister parks in the US for most visitors to its park.

Critter Country – This is a small area of the park, housing one of the parks major attractions, Splash Mountain. Most of the shops restaurants, themes and even the landscapes have been designed around the key attraction.

Toontown – Toontown is based primarily on the Who Framed Roger Rabbit movie. The areas key attraction is the Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin.

World Bazaar – This section serves as the primary shopping area for the park and its main entry corridor. The general theme of this theme park is based on the early 20th-century America themes found in the Main Street, U.S.A. areas found in other Disney operated parks.

Fantasyland – The Cinderella Castle is the central attraction in Fantasyland. The castle is an exact replica of the one in Florida’s Magic Kingdom.

Tomorrowland – This section of the park is designed around a future world. It contains a more urban look and feel and features a couple thrilling rides: Space Tours: the Adventures Continue and popular Space Mountain.

Adventureland – Adventureland is made up of two distinctly unique sections: a jungle based themed area and a New Orleans themed area.

Westernland – this themed section is based around the concepts of Frontierland, which can be found in other Disney parks. Westernland is themed around ideas and themes of the “old west.”

Plan a trip to Notre-Dame de Paris, France

The Notre-Dame Cathedral is Paris, France is a cathedral church and one of the most famous Gothic cathedrals built during the middle ages. It is distinguished for its architecture, its size, and its antiquity. Notre-Dame is situated on one of Paris’s last remaining natural islands along the Seine and was built upon the ruins of two earlier period churches, dating back to an earlier Gallo-Roman temple dedicated to Jupiter.

The Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral was originally conceived by Maurice de Sully, who had the idea of converting the ruins of the two earlier basilicas into a much grander single building around 1160. In about 1163, Pope Alexander laid the foundation stone, while the consecration of the high alter took place in 1189. By 1250, the Nave, the western façade, and the choir were completed, while the chapels and porches in addition to other embellishments were added over the next 100 years.

The cathedral consists of a nave flanked by double aisles and square chapels, a short transept, and a choir and apse. It wasn’t until the 19th century restoration that the famous central spire was completed. There are two massive Gothic towers, built in the early 13th century, that crown the western façade of the cathedral. These Gothic towers are divided into three stories that are adorned by a row of Old Testament kings figures and doors that are adorned with Gothic carvings. The towers are about 68 meters high, though the spires were never added to the structure.

The cathedral’s interior is roughly 130 meters at its highest point. At the east end of the cathedral, the apse has large high windows above the eye line that are supported by Gothic styled single-arch flying buttresses. The 3 great rose windows are the only windows in the cathedral that still have their original glass.

Due to the damage and deterioration that the Notre-Dame Cathedral suffered over the centuries, major restorations were undertaken to rescue the building from possible destruction. In the mid-19th century, it was architect E.E. Viollet-le-Duc who was responsible for many of the major restorations that took place within the cathedral.

The French Cathedral also served as the setting for Victor Hugo’s 1831 masterpiece, Notre-Dame de Paris.

Plan a trip to Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

Golden Gate Park is a large urban park consisting of 1,017 acres of public grounds in San Francisco, California. The park is shaped as a rectangle similar to New York’s Central Park, but is nearly 20% larger. The park is over three miles long, running from east to west, and is more than half a mile wide. The Golden Gate Park is the fifth most-visited city park in the US with more than 13 million visitors every year.

Golden Gate Park was officially deeded to the people in 1870, as a place to escape the urban clutter and chaos. It was felt at the time that San Franciscans would one day feel overcrowded. This was quite insightful as 13 million visitors use the park every year.

Many of the parks iconic buildings were built for the 1894 Midwinter Fair, which was a large carnival and expo that was established to boost tourism to the San Francisco area. The city at the time wanted to prove that they had culture, so they built an art museum as well. Horse stables and landscaped greens were preserved in an effort to prove that outdoor activities could be pursued. Several themed areas were also created to show off the cities quirky atmosphere. Exhibits included an Eskimo habitat, Cairo Street, and a Japanese Village.

Millions of people flocked to San Francisco and the Midwinter Fair was a hit, succeeding in what it set out to do. Business boomed and locals gained some admiration for the park.

Today, the park has overseen many changes over the years; many of the original pieces have been preserved in the park. One of new attractions to the park include the newly designed California Academy of Sciences, which has brought a more modern feel to one of the city’s more established landmarks.

Many of the parks oldest traditions are still around, with people coming to watch the bison in the park, and those participating in some boating on Stow Lake. Golden Gate Park is also home to a disc golf course, which is a relatively new sport.

Main Attractions at Golden Gate Park

The Conservatory of Flowers – This Victorian styled greenhouse is inspired by the Palm House in London, England. The Conservatory was built over 7 years, from 1876 to 1883, and it currently houses many tropical flowers and plants.

Japanese Tea Garden – The Japanese Tea Garden is another remnant from the 1894 expo. The Tea Garden was constructed to honor and display the Japanese lifestyle. The garden features many native Japanese plants, a teahouse, ponds, bridges, and sculptures in an area of the park that covers more than 5 acres.

M.H. De Young Museum – The Museum was originally built for the 1894 Midwinter expo, but was so successful that the city decided to build a more permanent establishment. The museum houses a fairly diversified collection of paintings and other works.

Plan a trip to the Forbidden City, Beijing, China

The Forbidden City located in the center of Beijing, China is currently the home of the Palace Museum; however, it was once the Chinese Imperial Palace during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The property served as the political center of the Chinese government, as well as the home of emperors for nearly 500 years. It served as the Imperial Palace for 24 emperors throughout its history. The Forbidden City is now one of the world’s most popular tourist attractions, and in 1987, was listed as a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Emperor Chengzu of the Ming Dynasty oversaw the building of the palace in the center of the city called the Gu Gong. It was built over a span of 14 years.

The palace was dubbed the Purple Palace in honor of Polaris, the Purple Star. Ancient astronomers in China believed that Polaris was the center of heaven and that the Heavenly Emperor lived in a Purple Palace. Therefore, the Palace on earth was dubbed the Purple City, the home of the Heavenly Emperor. Entry into the Purple City was only given by special permission of the emperor. The city was named “the Purple Forbidden City.”

Today the Forbidden City is known as the Palace Museum. It is built on a 74 acre complex, making it the largest palace complex in the world. The palace is surrounded by a 52 meter wide moat, a 10 meter tall wall, and a wall gate on each side. The actual palace building contains more than 8,700 rooms. On each of the 4 corners of the curtain wall are some distinctive structured towers that provide great views over the palace and the city outside the palace.

The palace complex is divided into two parts. The northern section of the court includes the Inner Court, where the emperors lived with his royal family. The inner court was home to 14 Ming Dynasty emperors and 10 Qing Dynasty emperors, before finally housing its last emperor in 1924. The inner court served as primary residence for Chinese emperors for nearly 5 centuries. The southern section of the court includes the Outer Court, which was where the emperors exercised his power over the nation.

The actual construction of the palace complex began in 1407, during the fifth year of reign of Emperor Chenzu, Zhu Di of the Ming Dynasty. It was completed 14 years later in 1420. The capital city was moved from Nanjing to Beijing, just one year after completing the project. It is suggested that more than 1 million workers were used in the making of the palace complex. This number includes as many as 100 thousand artisans who were forced into labor for this project. Much of the wood, stone and other materials had to be transported from the other far off provinces.

Plan a trip to Tokyo DisneySea, Japan

Tokyo DisneySea is a theme park located in Chiba, Japan. It was built on a 176 acre property at the Tokyo Disney Resort and is owned by the Oriental Land Company, which leases the themes and characters from the Walt Disney Company. Tokyo DisneySea is the second park built upon the Resort location in Urayasu, and is the 9th Disney based theme park to be built around the world.

Officially, the park was opened in September of 2001, at an estimated cost of more than $4 Billion dollars, making it the most expensive theme park ever built. The park was also the fastest park in history to reach 10 million visitors, having done so in 307 days, which was roughly one month faster than the previous benchmark held by Universal Studios Japan. Both companion parks Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea are the only Disney based theme parks not wholly owned and operated by the Walt Disney Company.

The Tokyo DisneySea theme park is a unique fantasy theme park inspired by the many myths and legends of the sea. The park contains 7 themed ports, including: the Mermaid Lagoon, Port Discovery, Mystery Island, Arabian Coast, Lost River Delta, American Waterfront, and Mediterranean Harbor.

Tokyo Disneyland has been designed to suit all age groups; however, the park really caters to a more grown up crowd. There are many fine dining establishments and wider selection of restaurants serving alcoholic beverages, which is unavailable at Tokyo Disneyland.

Mermaid Lagoon – Mermaid Lagoon is a theme park based on the world of Ariel and her friends in the Little Mermaid. This area of the park is more whimsical in nature and geared towards the smaller children.

Port Discovery – This section of the park is based off of the “marina of the future” concept where visitors can experiment on self-guided watercrafts and play upon a virtual rollercoaster called the StormRider.

Mystery Island – Located at the heart of the park and inside the volcano, Mystery Island themed section is based around the science fiction writings of Jules Verne. Visitors can come aboard one of Captain Nemo’s submarines or one can ride a science vehicle on a journey to the center of the earth.

Arabian Coast – In this themed section, guests can enjoy a fantastic recreation of the world of Aladdin and Arabian Nights. There is a Genie hosted magic show or patrons can travel with Sinbad on his journey of discovery.

Lost River Delta – This theme park was built upon a fictional set of ruins of an ancient pyramid in the jungles of Central America. The two most popular attractions in the park are the Indiana Jones Adventure ride and the Raging Spirits Roller Coaster. Also, the Lost River Delta port serves as a stop for the Transit Steamers, which are boats that travel between the many parts of the park.

American Waterfront – This theme park is styled after 20th century harbor towns that could have been seen in the Eastern USA, between Cape Cod and New York. This park features the Tower of Terror ride, an elevated train, a playhouse, the S.S. Columbia steam liner, and numerous American styled shops and restaurants.

Mediterranean Harbor – This Park also serves as the entrance to the park and is styled after a fictional Italian port town. There are canals and gondolas styled after the famous Venice waterways. Every day in the harbor is large shows featuring boats and water fountains. This park is home to Tokyo DisneySea Hotel MiraCosta.

Plan a trip to Disneyland Park, Paris, France

Disneyland Park was the first of two theme parks built in Marne-la-Vallée, France on the property of Disneyland Paris. The park officially opened in 1992, when it was called Euro Disneyland. The design and layout of the park are quite similar to the Magic Kingdom Park in Florida and Disneyland Park in California. The park is actually the largest Disneyland Park built upon a 140 acre property, and is dedicated to the stories, fairy tales, and characters created by Disney. The park is most popular theme park in Europe, with more than 11 million annual visitors.

Many modifications were made to the park’s concepts and designs in order for the fourth major Disney Park to be based upon the original park. There were many official changes to Discoveryland and Tomorrowland areas, giving these updated theme parks a “retro futuristic” theme. The Haunted Mansion was altered and morphed into Phantom Manor. Just the park’s location brought with it many challenges as many of the structures had to be reevaluated to match the dimensions of the project with the terrain.

The theme park does not feature as many attractions as are found at the two American Magic Kingdom Parks; however, the park features and impressive Disney Castle, Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, and the park has won garnered much praise for its striking décor and phenomenal design.

When it was originally opened in 1992, the park actually made more news for its poor financial management rather than its esthetic design features. Fans have continued to flock to the park since its inception, spending a great deal of time at its top attractions, which include: Big Thunder Mountain, Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast, Space Mountain: Mission 2, and Pirates of the Caribbean. This park has a cool feature for some of these popular rides, where visitors can grab a Fast pass ride reservation when you enter the park, allowing you to visit other rides while you wait for your turn to ride.

Star Tours, based on the popular Star Wars franchise, is the newest attraction currently operating in Disneyland Paris. The ride debuted at the end of 2012.

Walt’s on Main Street has many great reviews for its great prices and quality cuisine. This is France after all; food should be an important part of your stay.

Plan a trip to Epcot Center, Bay Lake, Florida

EPCOT is the second theme park of the four built on Bay Lake, Florida. The park officially opened in 1982, when it was called EPCOT Center, on a property that covers 300 acres, which is twice the size of the Magic Kingdom Park. Dedicated to the celebration of human achievement, international culture, and technological innovation, the theme park complex is often referred to as a “Permanent World’s Fair.” The park in 2011, hosted approximately 10.83 million guests, which made it the sixth most visited theme park in the entire world. The giant geodesic sphere called Spaceship Earth serves as the parks icon and attraction.

The World Showcase is a large area containing eleven world pavilions reminiscent of the world’s fair. Each of the themed pavilions represents a specific country. Each of the 11 pavilions surround the large man-made lake located in the center of World Showcase called the Showcase Lagoon. The World Showcase has a perimeter of 1.2 miles.

The 11 Pavilions include representations from each of these countries: the United States, Norway, Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, Morocco, Italy, China, Morocco, France, and Germany.

The Norway and Morocco pavilion were not originally represented when the park opened, but were added later on. Each pavilion has uniquely themed streetscapes, landscapes, restaurants, shops, attractions, and building architectures. The pavilions have also been primarily staffed by citizens of their respective countries to help maintain the authenticity of the respected countries. Some of the pavilions will also contain shows and live entertainment in addition to themed rides that help represent the country. The Morocco Pavilion is the only pavilion that is directly sponsored by its respective government, while the rest of the pavilions are primarily sponsored by private companies with ties to their represented countries.

The remaining undeveloped parcel of property, which may one day be developed into a new pavilion, is currently home to The Outpost, which is a small African themed refreshment shop. There have been past rumors of pavilions for the countries of Israel, Venezuela, Spain, Russia, UAE, and Switzerland, although these have never made it past the initial planning stage.

Plan a trip to Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

Hong Kong is famous for its fast growing economy and is known as “the paradise for shoppers.” When visiting this modern metropolis, you can feel its vibrancy and you can get a pretty good understanding of its local culture. There are many prosperous areas in Hong Kong, including the Tsim Sha Tsui, which is located in the southern part of the Kowloon Peninsula. The Tsim Sha Tsui is concentration of shopping malls, stores, office buildings, and restaurants. The streets are full of heavy traffic, with many citizens and visitors alike.

The main road in Tsim Sha Tsui is Nathan Road, and most of the other streets extend out from this road. Many international brands can be found along these extensions. Park Lane Shopper’s Boulevard is especially intended for shopping; it is where many young people roam to find fashionable clothes. The areas of Harbor City and Granville Road are great areas for shoppers to find cosmetics.

Tsim Sha Tsui’s Nathan Road

One of the recommended tourist attractions in the Tsim Sha Tsui is the Avenue of Stars and Tsim Sha Tsui Beach, areas that provide the visitor with great shots of Victoria Bay. The Hong Kong Museum of Art, the Cultural Center, and the Hong Kong Space Museum are also located within Tsim Sha Tsui. All these great attractions make this a great area for visitors to come to when touring Hong Cong.

Avenue of Stars

Located in Tsim Sha Tsui East Kowloon, the Avenue of Stars was built to showcase the rich movie history, its movie stars, and many of those who work behind the scenes. The Avenue of Stars has been designed around the concepts of the one built for American Hollywood. The honored members of Hong Long have been inlaid into the avenues surface.

The Avenue is a 440 meter long waterfront promenade, extending from the New World center to the Hong Kong Museum of Art. The cost of construction of the Avenue totaled HK$40,000,000 at the time of completion in 2004.

Currently, there are 73 movie stars that have tablets inlaid in the streets surface honoring their work. 30 of the 73 celebrities have also left their handprints on their tablets, including Jet Lee, Andy Lau, and Jackie Chan. The avenue also features a 3 meter bronze statue of Kung Fu Star Bruce Lee. Hong Kong served as the start to Bruce Lee’s movie career. After making several movies in Asia, Bruce Lee left for Hollywood, where he made many famous Kung Fu movies that are still revered around the world.

Plan a trip to Pike Place Market, Seattle, Washington

Pike Place Market is a public market overlooking Elliot Bay in Seattle, Washington. Opened in 1907, it is one of the oldest public farmers markets in the country. It serves as the primary Seattle venue for small farmers, craftsmen, and merchants. The central street running through the market is Pike Street, which is where the name originates from. Pike Place Market is the city of Seattle’s most popular tourist destination.

The market is actually built on the edge of a steep hill, and has many levels underneath the main level of the market. Each of the levels in the market features a variety of unique shops, like comic book stores, small collectible shops, antique dealers, and many other small family-owned restaurants. The top level or upper street level contains fishmongers, fresh produce, and many craft vendors. In the covered vendor shops, local farmers and craftspeople sell their wares year-round from the tables and vendor shops that they rent on a daily basis. The Markets mission and founding goal was to allow the consumers to “Meet the Producer.”

Pike Place Market is also home to nearly 500 residents who live throughout the market in 8 different buildings. In the past, most of the buildings have been used for low income housing, though some of the residential buildings no longer are for low income residents. The Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority of PDA serves as the markets quasi-government. Every year, the Pike Place market sees as many as 10 million visitors.

The Pike Place Fish Market is the Market’s key attraction, where the fishmongers throw around three-foot salmon and other sea fish to other fishmongers rather than passing them by hand. After a fish is ordered, a fishmonger will pick up a fish and hurl it over the countertop, where another employee catches it and gets is ready for sale.