Category Archives: Africa

wonders of the world

10 Wonders of the World

The wonders of the world have been presented in various media with different listings, but there is a common agreement regarding seven of them, featuring in the “the 7 wonders of the world.”

However, taking the wonders of all ages into consideration, here are guest writer Gabriella Reznick’s top wonders of the world.

10. Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt

This is the only wonder of the ancient world that is still standing, and it is great in every aspect. Built over 20 years (2580-2560 B.C.), the pyramid held the record for the tallest man-made structure in the world (at 480.6 feet) for over 3800 years.
wonders of the world

9. Stonehenge, United Kingdom

Composing of large stones that are in a standing position, and form a circle, Stonehenge is believed to have been built around 2500 B.C. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Recent studies have led archaeologists to believe that it was used as a burial site in its time.

8. Golden Gate Bridge, USA

Completed in 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge is an engineering marvel for its times and can be considered a wonder of the world. Connecting San Francisco to San Marino, the Golden Gate Bridge is considered by the Frommers Travel Guide as “possibly the most beautiful, certainly the most photographed bridge in the world.”

7. Machu Picchu, Peru

The literal translation of Machu Picchu is “Old Mountain.” It is located 2430 meters above sea level on a mountain ridge above the Urubamba Valley in Peru. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. It is believed to be a Inca site.

6. Mount Everest, Nepal

Though not man-made, the absolutely amazing peak of Mount Everest certainly deserves a place in the top 10 wonders of the world, as a natural wonder. Standing at 8848 meters tall, it is the highest peak in the world above sea level, and was first conquered by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953.

5. Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy

Certainly one of the most known structures in the world, the leaning Tower of Pisa is indeed a leaning structure, standing at 55.86 meters tall. The Tower used to lean by 5.5 degrees, but restoration work carried out between 1991 and 2000 has reduced that angle to 3.99 degrees.

4. Chichen Itza, Mexico

Meaning “at the mouth of the well of the Itza”, Chichen Itza is a large site built by the Mayans, and consists of many stone buildings; all of which are under various stages of preservation. All structures are connected by a network of roads that were formerly paved, called sacbeob. The site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is monitored by the National Institute of Anthropology and History, Mexico.

3. The Coliseum, Italy

The Coliseum is a massive structure, which is actually an amphitheatre, and is the largest ever built in Italian history. The Coliseum is elliptical in shape and is capable of seating 50,000 people! Though damaged partially by massive earthquakes and stone-robbers, this marvelous feat of Roman engineering has stood to survive all the tough times, and is a must visit.

2. The Taj Mahal, India

The Taj Mahal, meaning “crown of buildings”, is a breath-taking structure made of marble, and is located in India. Built over 30 years, the Taj Mahal comprises of a dome mausoleum, and also has the shrines of its creator, the emperor Shah Jahan and his wife, Mumtaz Begum, in whose memory the structure was actually built. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Taj Mahal is a symbol of iconic beauty and love.

1. The Great Wall of China, China

This structure is also one of the most famous ones in the world. Built originally to protect the northern borders of China against attacks, the Great Wall is actually a collection of walls built across centuries by many dynasties. The whole series, collectively called the Great Wall, spans 8851.8 kilometers, and is a fascinating wonder.

Gabriella plans to visit all of the world’s wonders and blog about them at World Wonders but tells us that her site isn’t ready yet. If you would like to guest blog or submit your own list of wonders at Vagobond, submit your travel story, list, or tips for review using the button at the top of the page.

funny safari cc image courtesy of Karim Rezk on Flickr

5 Items You Must Have on Your African Safari

funny safari cc image courtesy of Karim Rezk on FlickrYou are about to live the dream: you are heading off on an African safari. You will experience wide open spaces, adventure and the chance to see some amazing animals in the wild. But before you set out on your grand adventure you will need to give a little consideration to what you should take. There is a plethora of advice out there. Travel professionals like http://www.travel-associates.com.au/ have years of travel experience and can give you very good tips. Being well prepared will go a long way to ensuring your trip is everything you dreamed it would be.

It is really important to travel light. Having to lug around huge suitcases in the African heat will not be a pleasurable experience. That said, being educated about what you should pack becomes even more important. With limited room you will need to choose wisely.

Your Camera and Extra Batteries and Memory Cards

It might seem impractical to start your ‘must have’ list with a camera, but honestly an African safari will afford you with more amazing photo opportunities than almost any other holiday. Take a good camera and practice using it before you leave. And don’t forget to pack in extra batteries and more memory capacity than you could imagine using in a lifetime. What you are about to encounter is so amazing that you will probably not stop snapping shots. Bring aplenty.

A Lightweight Jacket

You will experience searing hot temperatures during the day, but African nights can be really cold. And if you are on safari in the dry winter months the temperature can drop to freezing. You will often set out in the very early morning and you will need a jacket at this time of day. Choose a jacket that you can roll up and compress down to a small size and bring a little sack to push your compressed jacket into so it doesn’t take up unnecessary space.

A Good Hat

A hat is an absolute must in the blistering sun you will experience. Don’t bring a cap; it will not shade your ears or neck. You need a material hat that can be shoved into a small space in your pack. Also make sure your hat has a chord so that it will not get blown off when you are travelling at high speeds in an open safari vehicle.

Wet Wipes

Take a really generous supply of wet wipes. Safaris are notoriously dust laden. Don’t scrimp on this important item. You will use wet wipes continually; to clean the dust from your face, at a remote toilet stop, as an anti-bacterial hand wash and as a refresher when you feel tired and gritty throughout the day.

Clothes you Don’t Mind Leaving

Many of the areas in which you travel will be very poor, so why not pack some clothes you don’t mind leaving behind for the locals. Giving away some clothing before you go home will allow you room to bring back souvenirs.

 

Turkish residence permit tea

Getting Foreign Resident Permits in Morocco and Turkey

Traveling around the world in the slowest possible way means that I generally stay longer in a country than a tourist visa allows.

What that means is that I either have to be illegal or get a foreign resident permit. The difference in requirements and bureaucracy can be staggering. I won’t go into what it takes to stay in countries like the USA if you are a non-citizen, but the two countries I’ve most recently called home offer a startling contrast to one another.

Morocco Foreign Resident Permit

Getting my foreign resident permit in Morocco (called a carte de sejour) was a monstrous undertaking. I had to provide the following documents:
-ten passport photos
-six copies of my passport
-proof of residence, i.e. a rental contract
-five copies of my birth certificate
-five copies of my proof of employment (work contract)
-a letter from my employer stating that I was in fact working (attestation de travail)
-a police report from my last country of residence
- a 100 dirham stamp
All of the documents had to be certified as original and stamped at the local city hall. The process took six months during which I had to check in at the local police station every month. Total cost was only about 50 Euro. By the time I got it, the permit was only valid for six months of the one year I had applied for.

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Turkey Foreign Resident Permit
The process in Turkey was far easier but also much more expensive.

- I had to have a Turkish bank account with 500 lira for each month I planned to stay in Turkey (12 months = 6000 Lira). In order to get the bank account, I had to get a Turkish Tax Identification Card which cost about 700 Euro. I was also asked to prove who my parents were since Turkish ID generally states your parent’s names on it. To get the bank account, I needed just my passport and the tax ID card.

- I needed to have a sponsor who vouched to be responsible for me while I was in Turkey. In this case, me and the 24 year old Turkish man who vouched for me laughed about the fact that a 24 year old man was responsible for a 38 year old man. We had to get a notarized statement.
- I needed to be able to provide an address of residence and phone number to be reached at.
- 5 passport photos
- 2 copies of my birth certificate
- An application for residency
- 900 Lira for the residence card

And finally a trip to the regional police headquarters where there were several visits to different offices for stamps and interviews, during one of which I was served tea and baklava! Turkey is one of the most civilized nations on the planet, this proved it. Two weeks later, they called and I went and picked up my residence permit.

The permit is good until November of next year.

So to summarize: Morocco is cheap but slow and involves numerous bureaucratic hurdles while Turkey is much more expensive but runs efficiently and with a minimum of bureaucracy- not to mention the tea and baklava from the Leftenant!