Best Ruins That I Have Visited So Far

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 Best Ruins That I Have Visited So Far.

“The shattered wall,
the broken tower
have a story to tell –
from the touchstones of ruins
and ancient texts
we make a pilgrimage.” Michael Alexander,

Architectural ruins connect us to the past and bring history alive. There is something about visiting the sites of these ancient civilizations that fascinates me. You can see the potential that people all over the world and thousands of years ago had for greatness. Some of these amazing structures were built long before all the machinery, transport and communication tools that we have now. 

 Peru, Machu Picchu

The purpose of Machu Picchu will always remain a mystery. It is probably a religious and spiritual site.  The Inca trail leading up to Machu Picchu (it takes four days  of camping out in the Andes if you want to do it) was built to always face the snow-capped mountains because that is what they worshipped .How they transported all that granite up there  remains a mystery. It is believed that they quarried  it on site. No other civilization has managed to assemble so many colossal stone blocks so seamlessly cut with stones or bronze.  There is no mortar holding them together and they are earthquake-proof constructions.

 Chile, Easter Island, Rapa Nui Park

Who carved such enormous statues? How did they move them and raise them up onto platforms? The missionary’s stories, the explorer’s diaries, the archaeologist’s shovel, the anthropologist’s bones and the Rapa Nui oral tradition have all revealed something of the story. No one agrees on any of the answers to these questions. Archaeologists have proposed methods for moving the statues, using various combinations of log rollers, sledges and ropes .In the Rapa Nui oral tradition, the Moai were infused with mana, a spiritual force from the ancestors and the Moai walked.The Rapa Nui stories make just as much sense of the unknown as the scientific theories. There is no proof that it did not happen that way.

Turkey, Cappodocia

The dramatic landscape is the result of volcanic eruptions that happened millions  years ago. Wind and water eroded the land leaving these odd surreal land formations, fairy chimneys, caves and underground cities. Goreme Open Air Museum is a group of cave churches and monasteries from the eleventh and thirteenth centuries. The most famous and most restored one is Karanlik Killse (Dark Church) which is filled with elaborate Byzantine frescoes. Early Christians escaping from Roman persecution found shelter in Cappadocia.

Turkey, Ephesus

The ancient city of Ephesus was built in the tenth century. It was a large city (over 250,000 inhabitants in the first century BC) and a major port for trade routes into Asia Minor. Ephesus was known in antiquity for its sacred shrines, the most famous being the temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (only foundations and sculptural fragments remain). Ephesus came under Roman control in 129 BC, and continued to prosper under Emperor Augustus as capital of the Roman province of Asia. It was also an important centre of early Christianity and its greatest Christian monument was the 4th century church of St. John the Evangelist.

 Turkey, Pergamon

Pergamon was one of the key Roman cities of Anatolia and the well-preserved remains hint at the grand spectacle that the city was during its glory days. Excavations reach back to the second century B.C. It  has one of the largest libraries in the world and one of the steepest theatres.

Cambodia, Ta Prohm 

Yes,Ta Prohm is the temple where Angelina Jolie played Lara Croft in Tomb Raider. Ta Promh has been left the way it was originally found.  It was built in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The jungle had completely engulfed the entire complex when it was discovered in the last century. It was amazing to see how the massive trees have grown around and atop the structures, their roots seemingly strangling and holding up the temple’s towers and other buildings.

Cambodia, Angor Wat

Angor Wat is the largest temple in the world and the world’s largest religious building constructed of stone. It is often described as one of the most extraordinary architectural creations ever built, with its intricate bas-reliefs, strange acoustics and magnificent soaring towers. It was built by King Suryavarman II in the 12th century. Angkor Wat was shifted from Hindu to Buddhist use sometime around the late 13th century. The temple is still used by Buddhists today. It is architecturally and artistically breathtaking. No photograph can capture the immensity of this monument.

Jordan, Petra

 Petra is a city of rose-colored stone, carved out of rock by the Nabateans in the third century BC. Like Macchu Picchu, there isn’t a lot of information known about it. It is one of the dryest places on earth and how they got water for the thirty thousand people who lived here is a mystery. Stephen Spielberg brought it to us in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. 

Thailand, Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya was the old capital of the Thai kingdom from the thirteenth to the seventeenth century.  The site resembles a  graveyard of temples,  headless Buddhas (beheaded by the Burmese in the thirteenth century) and ruins showing what it might have looked like.

Myanmar, Bagan

Bagan is an ancient city located in the Mandalay region of Myanmar. From the ninth to the thirteenth centuries, the city was the capital of the Pagan kingdom. During the kingdom’s height between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries, over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed in the Bagan plains alone, of which the remains of over 2,200 temples and pagodas still survive to the present day.

Mexico, Tulum

The ancient walled city perched on the edge of a cliff in Quintana Roo overlooking the Caribbean ocean was a major trading and religious centre between the eleventh and sixteenth centuries. Tulum was built to be a seaport fortress, with steep ocean cliffs providing protection from the East, and a large limestone wall enclosing the rest of the city on three sides. 

Acropolis, Greece

The Acropolis looms over Athens, and is impossible not to recognize.This citadel includes the famous white-columned Parthenon, as well as the fifth century, Propylaia, Erechtheion and Temple of Athena Nike. The Parthenon temple was dedicated to Athena, goddess of wisdom and war who planted the first olive tree on this very spot to found the city of Athens.

Italy, Colosseum

The Colosseum has been regarded as an iconic symbol of Rome since the Middle Ages.  Built in eighty A.D, it is a massive structure and is the largest amphitheatre of the Roman Empire. Being able to seat close to 50,000 spectators, it was the premier venue for wild beast shows and bloody gladiator combat.

Italy, Forum

Once the centre of public and political life in Ancient Rome, the Forum is a sprawling labyrinth of ancient ruins, including the Temple of Saturn, the Arch of Titus and the House of the Vestals. You’re standing in the very center of the ancient city, surrounded by the remains of famous temples and political buildings. The people of Rome saw the funeral of Julius Caesar here, along with the execution of Cicero and countless triumphal processions.

 Italy, Pantheon

The Pantheon was built as a temple dedicated to the worship of  Roman gods. In 609 A.D., Pope Boniface IV and Emperor Phocas converted it into the Christian church we see today. The Pantheon is considered a rotunda, a circular drum structure. Perfect mathematically, the Pantheon’s dome has an opening in the center.  In fact, the Pantheon in Rome still holds the world record for having the largest unsupported concrete dome.

Croatia, Diocletians Palace 

Diocletian’s Palace was built in the fourth century as a retirement seaside residence for the Roman Emperor, his family and seven hundred or so servants and guards in Split. The rectangular structure (520 x 620 feet) was two stories, fronted the sea and was built more like a fort than a palace. It is the most complete Roman ruins of a palace in existence today. It is not a museum .Three thousand people live and work on the grounds and there are many shops and restaurants. It is best seen when not besieged  by cruise ships.

Fly safe,

JAZ

 

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Ten Beautiful Churches In The World

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Ten Beautiful Churches In the World

“The choir always tittered and whispered all through service. There was once a church choir that was not ill-bred, but I have forgotten where it was, now. It was a great many years ago, and I can scarcely remember anything about it, but I think it was in some foreign country.”  Mark Twain, the Adventures Of Tom Sawyer

If you are building a temple to God, you are going to want it to look good. Lets be honest, you want God to be impressed with your work. You can’t just throw something together at the last moment and hope it will work out. It takes time (800 years sometimes). I have a problem with all the ornate churches in the world. I think it is confusing to God to see all that gold and all the poverty that is always nearby.  But these are quite beautiful and very impressive.  

Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem,Israel

St Peters Basilica,  Rome, Italy

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain

Westminister Abbey, London, England

 Church Of the Spilled Blood, St Petersburg, Russia

Notre Dame,  Paris, France

St Stephens Cathedral,  Vienna, Austria

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Talinn, Estonia

Tempelaukion, Helsinki,Finland

 Mosteiro Dos Jerónimos, Lisbon, Portugal

Fly safe,

JAZ

 

 

 

Sugarloaf and Christ The Redeemer, Rio, Brazil

Sugarloaf and Christ The Redeemer

“Some people travel for the culture, or the place’s history, or the sheer experience. Our aim is total dissolution. We travel from Egypt to Estonia, big clunky blocks of metal hanging from our necks, naïve and stuttering and asking all the right questions at all the right times—“Is this the Great Wall I’ve been hearing so much about?”—flashing a few photos and no one looks twice, except maybe to point and laugh but we are just harmless Americans come for a tour of life on the other side.”  Chris Campanion

Rio’s two biggest tourist attractions are on two famous hills overlooking the city.

Christ the Redeemer is one of the most visited sites in Rio.The famous statue is the largest Art Deco statue in the world and the second largest of Christ. The largest is in Świebodzin, Poland, built in 2010. Designed by Polish-French sculptor Paul Landowski, it took nine years to build and finally opened in 1931. The ceremony was supposed to have been lit by electric lights remotely turned on by Marconi in Rome, but the weather was so bad the signal couldn’t get through.

it is located on the top of a mountain known as Corcovado. You can take a van or a train from Cosmic Velho. If you go during any global sporting event, the lines will be ridiculous.

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If you are adventurous, you can hike up. We took a jeep tour with a tour guide who knew everything about everything. We got a lot of World Cup and Olympic inside information.

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You will experience the ninety eight foot statue with hordes of tourists all trying to take the perfect selfie.

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The security guards are the nicest ones in the world. If you climb on something to get a better photo, they so nicely ask you to get down that you aren’t sure if they mean it.

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The guards are busy taking pictures of everyone and showing you where to go to get the perfect shot. Im so used to security guards who think their uniform means they have to be large and in charge.

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Risto Redentor (as it is called in Portuguese) is an architecture wonder, a tourist attraction, a religious symbol and a Rio de Janeiro’s landmark. The views from up there are amazing but check the weather before you go up because the weather in Rio changes quickly and the Christ is often covered in clouds.

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The giant statue is struck by lightning several times a year and is constantly being repaired. The city seems willing to pay for multiple restorations, even though the pale gray-green soapstone that covers the statue is becoming hard to find.

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The other must do in Rio is Sugarloaf Mountain, located in Urca and probably no where near where you are staying. (View from the Christ)

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It is at the mouth of Guanabara Bay on a peninsula jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean. (Olympic water events will be here)

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Sugarloaf Mountain is 1,299 ft high above the harbor in Rio de Janeiro.

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The mountain is named for its resemblance to a traditional shape of a concentrated refined loaf of sugar.

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You can take a bus, taxi or tour to get there. It is called Pao De Acucar in Portuguese if you need to tell the driver. (my name is there now)

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A glass-walled cable car carries 65 passengers on to the mountain every 20 minutes. (the first cable car is there)

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Sugar Loaf Mountain is also one of the largest and most popular urban rock climbing destinations in the world. There are 270 different routes to explore in the area as you climb high above the Atlantic Ocean and the sprawling Rio de Janeiro. Or if you are like me, you can watch.

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The views are stunning and even with a lot of people, you dont feel cramped and can always a find a good place for photographs.

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Fly safe,

JAZ

Ten Things That I Like To Do In Airports

Ten Things That I Like To Do In Airports

‘If God had really intended men to fly, he’d make it easier to get to the airport”.  ~George Winters

I love hanging out in airports. It means I’m going somewhere. It’s a comfortable transitional place for me. Even in the most foreign feeling country an airport feels like an airport.

1. Buy trashy magazines.

2. Try a new kind of gum and if it’s a foreign country add in different kinds of sweets and snacks. Use up all my foreign coins.

3. Shop or look. Even if it isn’t Heathrow, Tokyo, Bangkok or Hong Kong there are always fun stores in airports no matter how small. I love the tourist gift shops to see what they think you should be bringing home. Heathrow has great sales in July in their designer stores.

4. If it is Heathrow,Tokyo or Bangkok get a massage or get my nails done. Yes it’s weird doing that in front of strangers but it passes the time.

5. Sit in the lounge, check my emails, listen to music, read, write my blog and sleep.

6. If its Miami – have Café Cubano, LA – Chaya Brasserie, Chicago – Einsteins bagels, London – Gordon Ramseys Plane Food, Boston – Legal Seafood and Hong Kong – Hungs Delicacies. When I am in Tokyo I buy green tea Kit Kats like everyone else does. . In all other airports, explore!!!!!!!! Try some food place that isn’t Subway or Mcdonalds.

7. Try to guess where people are going. Try to guess what Asian language they are speaking or what Spanish-speaking country they are from. Speak in a fake foreign language and watch people try to guess what language I am speaking. Pick out the people who might be terrorists.

8. Try to guess who’s carry on luggage is bigger than regulation size and will they get stopped. Try to guess by looking at them what kind of stuff they have packed in their carry on luggage, why they bought or borrowed that particular piece of luggage and how they fit everything in.

9. If it’s early in the morning wait on the line at a Starbucks – that could take a half hour in a large airport. If I’m bored I’ll change my drink order a few times and ask questions. I’ve always wondered about people who do that. Are they just looking for someone to talk to or are they really so undecided about coffee?

10.Take a moment to be grateful that I’m in an airport and going somewhere,

Fly safe,

JAZ