Tag Archives: Public Transportation

How to get to Antarctica by sea

If you’ve ever wondered how it is to reach Antarctica by the sea, here’s a story about it.

Giant flat iceberg and sea pack in Antarctica

If you are so lucky to have the possibility to visit Antarctica, the journey from your residence place to your Antarctic destination will be typically made of two distinct parts.
First you will reach a country in the southern hemisphere–like Argentina, South Africa, Australia or New Zealand–by commercial transportation.
Then you will fly or sail to Antarctica.

This article tells a story of how Antarctica is reached by the sea in the form of a navigation log. The source is first-hand, since I’ve written it myself during my first trip to Antarctica not long time ago.

This journey has started in Christchurch, New Zealand and has ended at Dumont D’Urville, Adelie Land, Antarctica.
Going from a civilized, temperate-climate region, to Antarctica is like traveling to another planet, especially if you don’t have any previous experience in a polar environment.
You see the world you are familiar with transforming into something else, something really, really different. That happens in the span of a few days.

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Where to find the fastest trains in service in the world?

A French TGV in Europe

A French TGV in Europe – 200 mph

With bright announcements, governments and engineering companies let us know that they have the fastest trains in the world.

The Chinese told the world that they have a train that can reach 245 MPH; Italy has just presented one which will run at 250 MPH; the Japanese feature a futuristic magnetic levitation train topping at 361 MPH.

All these trains exist, they have actually reached such speeds, but they all also share the same downside: you can’t buy a ticket and enjoy a ride at their rated speed.

The reasons are that either their normal service speed is lower, or those trains are not in service at all (or at least not yet).

Therefore, if you are in Europe, you will hardly find a train with a normal service top speed higher than 200 mph (Italy will follow with 225 mph next year), with similar top speeds in China and Japan. China even reduced its fastest trains’ top speed from 220 mph to 186 mph after an accident in 2011.

The main reason behind such discrepancies between train top speed and service speed is given by railway networks, which set a limit for speed, regardless of the train going through them.

While running at 200 mph or faster is still awesome, one could wonder which the fastest train in normal service is.

Well, there is one which reaches 267 mph in normal service already.

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Visiting Zagreb in search of a new conception of Croatia

After knowing Croatia only for the terrible events of the 1990s, it was time to get to know it for what it is today, in person.

Zagreb uptown

Zagreb uptown

Croatia is a beautiful country located in the Balkans, one of the several ones emerged from the disintegration of former Yugoslavia. Actually Croatia existed long before Yugoslavia itself, but only a small part of its history was marked by independence.
An important and long part of its past was under Austrian rule, and that reflects in Zagreb’s downtown appearance, which is characterized by beautiful Middle European atmosphere and architecture. Zagreb old uptown could easily be a neighborhood of Vienna or Prague, and its old streetcars crossing downtown are not so different from the ones you can find in Budapest or Bratislava.

Statue of Josip Jelačić in the middle of Trg bana Jelačića, Zagreb's central square

Statue of Josip Jelačić in the middle of Trg bana Jelačića, Zagreb’s central square

As for me, I had never been to Croatia until a few days ago, therefore the image about that country engraved in my mind was the one we all received from TV news during the 1990s: a country suffering war misery, its tanks facing enemy forces, and people hit with cluster bombs on the streets of Zagreb.
That’s the reason why I was twice as happy about visiting Croatia for the first time. Not only the city covered in snow introduced itself in the best possible way, but I also finally had a chance to get to know the country for its present, not only for its tough past.

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Highest suspension bridge in Europe

Today the highest suspension bridge in Europe has been opened.

It is located on Mount Titlis in Switzerland, a well known ski resort also famous for the breathtaking views that can be enjoyed from the Rotair, the first rotating cable car in the world.

The new Titlis suspension bridge is located close to the top of the mountain, at an altitude approaching 10,000 feet above the sea level. It is a pedestrian bridge, being only one meter wide.

However, being the highest of its kind in Europe is not the most astonishing distinctive point of this new bridge, in my opinion.

For me, it is the fact that from today on, when weather grants permission, tourists will be able to walk over a chasm 1600 ft deep over the Titlis south wall.

Here some images provided by Mount Titlis tourist association. You can see the mountain and the computer project of the bridge.

Titlis suspension bridge

Titlis suspension bridge

 

Video of the first day (German audio)

Follow this link to watch today’s video of the opening in the snow-storm.

Directions

If you want to see the bridge in steel and concrete, and maybe walk on it if you don’t suffer from vertigo, it is very simple to do. Just drive to Engelberg, Canton Obwalden, in Central Switzerland. Alternatively, you can use a train service from Lucerne. Once in Engelberg, take the rotating cable car to the top of the mountain.


View Larger Map

Once there, you will walk on a trail comprising an underground tunnel that will lead you over the abyss of Titlis south wall. There is the bridge.

The famous Titlis Rotating Cableway, first in the world

The famous Titlis Rotating Cableway, first in the world

The Meeting Place sculpture, St Pancras International, London

The Meeting Place is a sculpture by British artist Paul Day. It is placed inside St. Pancras International train station (British hub for international high-speed trains) in London, UK.

We took a photo of it during our last trip to London, back in May.

The Meeting Place at St Pancras International

According to Wikipedia, sculptor Antony Gormley, while talking of this sculpture, said there is an awful lot of crap out there”.

I didn’t find it too bad (but not unforgettable either). On the other hand, I have the same taste in art as an ant.

 

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