Cape Canaveral Space Center (Florida 2016)

      It Is already well known the fact that NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) has around 20 facilities and centers all over the USA, which means: tests&flight facilities and space, engineering, safety&research centers, which mainly can be visited.

       Este bine cunoscut faptul ca NASA (Administratia Nationala Aerospatiala) are in jur de 20 de centre in toata America Centrala, ceea ce presupune: centre de teste si zbor, inginerie, securitate si cercetare, majoritatea putandu-se vizita.

Kennedy Space Center Entrance

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Kennedy Space Center entrance wall

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      One day at NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre (the scene of numerous shuttle launches over the last decades) is not enough for the greatest space adventure on Earth, so…watch out, the pass can be used over two consecutive days in a seven-day period!

      O zi la Kennedy Space Centre al NASA (scena numeroaselor lansari de navete spatiale de-a lungul ultimelor decade) nu este de ajuns pentru marea aventura “de pe Pamant”, asadar…tineti cont, biletul de intrare poate fi folosit timp de doua zile consecutive, in cursul a unei perioade de sapte zile!

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      This children-friendly place truly will capture your imagination even if you are an adult.

      Acest loc prietenos pentru copii, va va captura cu adevarat imaginatia chiar daca sunteti un adult.

      While I thought the cost of tickets was a bit excessive (50$ per person + an extra 10 bucks for parking), we found plenty of sights and activities.

      Desi am crezut ca pretul biletului este putin cam mare (50$ de persoana + 10 $ pentru parcare), am gasit o multime de atractii si activitati.

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The entrance to the park/center welcomes with a waterfall in front of a large wall with a quote and a photo of 35th President of the United States John F Kennedy. Nearby, there’s also a large NASA sphere that you can get a good photo with the space shuttles in the background. We stopped to get our tickets & then went through security.

      Intrararea catre parc/centru, intampina cu o cascada in fata unui zid mare ce gazduieste un citat si o poza a celui de-al 35-lea presedinte American, John F Kennedy. In apropiere se gaseste de asemeni  o sfera cu logo-ul NASA cu care se pot face poze reusite, avand navetele spatiale ca fundal. Ne-am oprit pentru a ne lua biletele si apoi am trecut prin punctul de securitate.

All the rockets outside are replicas. The only actual shuttle from this space center is the Atlantis shuttle which located inside the Atlantis building. Also, inside the Visitors Complex  you’ll find the actual Saturn V rocket at the actual Apollo rocket.

Toate rachetele din exterior sunt replici. Singura racheta reala din centru, este Atlantis, care se gaseste in interiorul cladirii Atlantis. De asemeni,  in complexul Visitors Complex vei gasi rachetele Saturn V si Apollo.

Next stop was the Atlantis theatre where we saw first some breath-taking IMAX movies which ended with an image of the original Atlantis shuttle projection. The big surprise was when we realized, after several seconds, that the projection was actually a semi-transparent curtain which gave us the the sensation of a image, hiding in fact the original Atlantis shuttle. So, finally after they lifted the curtain, we had a close-up view of Space Shuttle Atlantis and we had too many interactive exhibits to enjoy.

Urmatoarea oprire a fost la teatrul Atlantis unde am vazut intai cateva filmulete IMAX care iti taiau rasuflarea si care s-au incheiat cu imaginea proiectata a naveti spatial Atlantis. Marea surpriza a venit dupa cateva secunde cand am realizat ca proiectia era de fapt o Cortina semi-transparenta care doar ne dadea impresia unei imagini, ascunzand de fapt naveta Atlantis originala. Asadar, in sfarsit, dup ace au ridicat cortina, am putut sa vedem de aproape naveta spatiala Atlantis si de asemeni ne-am bucurat de numeroase expozitii.

Another impressing thing about this place, is the fact that is hosting a moving celebration of humankind’s greatest achievements making great job at paying tribute to all of the people who sacrificed their lives in the name of exploration.

Un alt lucru impresionant despre acest loc, se refera la gazdurea unei emotionante celebrari a celor mai mari mari realizari ale omenirii, facand o treaba minunata cu privire la comemorarea tuturor celor care si-au sacrificat vietile in numele explorarii.

We also discovered the sights, sounds and feelings of a real Space Shuttle launch in the Shuttle Launch Experience.

Am decoperit deasemeni spectacolul, sunetul si senzatia unei reale lansari de naveta spatiala in sectiunea numita Shuttle Launch Experience.

 

Then we took NASA’s KSC bus self-guided tour which is included with admission and departs every 15 minutes from the Visitors Complex. We experienced the behind the scene NASA space centre working, where we saw some of the most iconic landmarks, the launch pads, the historic Apollo 8 lunch site and we visited the Apollo/Saturn V Centre where we stand under the largest rocket ever made – the mighty Saturn V, we touched a real moon rock, checked out a space suit used in an Apollo mission and we saw “Hubble 3D” and “Journey to Space 3D” movies. On the way back from NASA centre to Kennedy Space Centre we also saw alligators and different specific birds in their natural environment.

Apoi am luat autobuzul cu ghid inclus care pleaca la fiecare 15 minute, pentru a vizita Visitors Complex. Am avut experienta vizitarii centrul de lucru al NASA, unde am vazut cateva repere representative, zonele de unde se fac lansarile rachetelor, locul de unde s-a lansat memorabilul Apollo 8 si am vizitat Apollo si centrul Saturn V, unde am stat sub cea mai mare racheta construita vreodata, mareata Saturn V, am atins o roca adevara de pe luna, am “inspectat” un costum folosit in spatiu in una din misiunile Apollo si am vazut doua filmulete 3D “Hubble 3D” si “Journey to Space 3D”. Pe drumul de intoarcere de la NASA catre Kennedy Space Center an vazut si aligatori si diferite pasari specific zonei, in mediul lor natural.

Last stop was the Mars building where we saw a nice video about Mars exploration & enjoy a bunch of different interactive computer games correlated with real simulations. I thought initially that the computers games were too advanced for me, but I saw kids playing with them. Maybe I wasn’t patience enough for them. We didn’t spend too much time in the Mars building. We didn’t experienced here the IMAX movie because we thought it was too long to see for us, during one day.

Ultima oprire a fost: cladirea Mars, unde am vazut un filmulet dragut despre explorarea planetei Marte si ne-am bucurat de o serie de jocuri interactive pe calculator correlate cu simulari reale. Initial am crezut ca jocurile pe calculator sunt prea avansate pentru mine, insa am vazut copii jucandu-se cu ele. Poate nu am am suficienta rabdare pentru acestea. Nu am petrecut prea mult timp in cladirea Mars si nu am experimentat filmuletul IMAX aici pentru ca ni s-a parut suficient  cat de mult am vazut intr-o singura zi.

My favorite thing about this place may have to be the employees. Every single employee was genuine and passionate about NASA history. Our bus driver told us about himself and how he loves his job, showing off rockets and launch pads and even learned some more about Florida’s wildlife.

      Ceea ce mi-a placut cel mai mult la acest loc, ar fi de fapt….: angajatii. Fiecare angajat in parte era cu adevarat pasionat de istoria NASA. Soferul autobuzului ne-a povestit despre el si despre cat de mult isi iubeste slujba, aratandu-ne totodata rachetele spatiale si locurile de lansare ale acestora si chiar ne-au invatat cateva lucruri despre viata in salbaticie in Florida.

So if you want to enjoy this place as much as I did here are some tips:

1-Come early, I thought I was gonna spend half a day here and I ended up spending a whole day.

2-Take the bus tour (ends at 4pm) that comes with general admission. It takes you around to multiple launch sites and since this area is protected wildlife refuge your driver will point out all the fun wildlife. Large bald eagle nests. Manatees. There are lots of alligators, in fact there are so many they need to clear runways of gators before launches.

3-I read before few reviews where people say the Atlantis area is mainly for kids. I have no kids and I spent a majority of the day there. Maybe that speaks to my maturity level. RIDE ALL THE THINGS!!

4-Meet an astronaut if you can. You either have lunch with them or go to a signing. Their stories are always interesting. Also you’ll note that they don’t seem to age, and they live longer lives than average.

Astfel ca, daca vrei sa te bucuri de locul acesta la fel de mult ca si mine, iata cateva sfaturi:

  • vino devreme, eu am crezut ca voi petrece o jumatate de zi aici si in final am petrecut intreaga zi.
  • Ia turul cu autobuzul (care se incheie la ora 4 pm) prevazut in biletul de intrare. Te va duce aproape de multe zone de lansare si daca tot aceasta zona salbatica este protejata, soferul va arata toate lucrurile amuzante ale salbaticiei.
  • Am citit anterior cateva opinii ale oamenilor care spuneau ca zona Atlantis este in principal pentru copii. Eu nu am copii si am petrecut acolo mare parte din zi. Poate asta arata cat sunt de matura! Am incercat toate lucrurile!!
  • Intalneste-te cu un astronaut! Poti fie sa iei cina cu ei, sau sa iei un autograph. Povestile lor sunt mereu interesante. Vei observa de asemeni ca ei nu par sa imbatraneasca si traiesc mai mult decat media.

Now ,some concerns:

1-Parking is $10 be ready for it
2-As like every other park or attraction, the food is expensive and meh!

Acum cateva ingrijorari:

  • Parcarea este 10 $, fii pregatit pentru asta;
  • Ca in orge park sau atractie, mancarea este scumpa si “bleah”!

Cape Caneveral Space Center is a must do if you are down in Florida and have any sort or interest in space or aeronautic fields!

Cape Caneveral Space Center este de vazut daca esti in sudul Floridei si ai vreun interes in domeniul aeronauticii.

Matematica in viata nostra

20200403_225047Ma intreba zilele trecute o persona foarte inteligenta, careia i-a placut matematica dar care a avut norocul sa aleaga o cale artistica, daca folosesc la ceva integralele si derivatele. In momentul acela mi-au trecut prin minte o multime de argumente pentru sustinerea utilitatii analizei matematice in viata noastra si totusi erau atat de greu de exprimat astfel incat sa nu para ceva abstract. Apoi am realizat ca singurele persoane care inteleg cu adevarat utilitatea matematicii sunt cele care urmeaza universitati de profil.

Matematica este absolut indispensabilă dezvoltării logicii, gândirii abstracte și creierului în general. Analiza matematica, in speta derivatele si integralele, servesc la modelarea teoretica, simularea fenomenelor fizice si a proceselor tehnologice, la proiectarea cladirilor, mecanismelor, masinilor, circuitelor electrice si electronice, in domeniul ingineriei in general. 

Sigur ca se poate trai doar cu matematica din calsele I-IV, fara a avea cunostiinte nici macar despre functii, care nu au nicio aplicabilitate fara conceptele de derivata si integrala. Insa, daca ai ajuns la liceu, cu atat mai mult la un profil real, nu este vina nimanui si nu ai niciun drept sa blamezi programa scolara, cel putin nu din acest punct de vedere, cu atat mai mult cu cat scolile de meserii duc lipsa de cursanti. E ca si cum ai spune ca la masina ta nu vrei centura de siguranta pentru ca tu nu vei avea accident si iti este inutila.

Pe de alta parte, multumita lui Newton, care a pus bazele calcului integral din considerente practice, noi toti beneficiem de tehnologie si confort tocmai datorita descoperirii acestor “unelte” de calcul.

Pana si gatitul reprezinta in mod inconstient rezolvarea unei integrale: temperatura apei folosita la gatit, este o integrala a puterii calorice. Viteza cu care un obiect se deplaseaza deriva din/este derivata I a distantei in functie de timp (V=d/t). Deci este o functie de schimbare a distantei fata de referinta, in functie de timp. Acceleratia obiectului respectiv este derivata II a vitezei in functie de timp. Practic aflam cum variaza valorile (viteza, acceleratia, etc) in functie de timp. Ca sa aflii viteza va trebui sa derivezi functia distanta si ca sa aflii acceleratia va trebui sa derivezi functia viteza.

Cand iei o amenda pentru viteza, radarul a facut poze pe o distanta x si a masurat in cat timp ai parcurs distanta, practic a facut o derivata ca sa afle viteza ta. Plata facturii la energie electrica deriva din/este proportionala cu ceea ce consumi, etc.

Diferenta dintre integrale si derivate: integralele reprezinta o inmultire d=v*t (distanta e integrala vitezei) si de regula se refera la calcularea ariilor, lungimilor, volumelor (#riemann pentru cunoscatori) figurilor geometrice care nu sunt marginite de segmente de dreapta, obiectelor care nu beneficiaza de o forma pentru care sa existe standardizata o formula (ex. elipsa), in timp ce derivatele reprezinta o impartire v=d/t. Rezolvarea unei integrale reprezinta operatia inversa derivatei.

Dezvoltarea ingineriei, IT-ului nu ar fi fost posibila fara calculul integralelor si derivatelor.

P.S. poti sa fii inginer sau programator IT fara sa cunosti atat de multa matematica, dar asta te priveaza de o privire de ansamblu si viziune. Degeaba tastezi si introduci date in program daca este un automatism si nu intelegi ce faci sau de ce.

Totodata intelegerea si parcurgerea matematicii iti dezvolta logica si capacitatea analitica, iti ofera o alta viziune asupra vietii si te face mai receptiv pana si la glume.

Cu toate astea, cunoasterea matematicii avansate nu este absolut necesara, insa Iphone-urile nu cresc in copaci (altfel, Newton ar fi descoperit gravitatia urmarind cazand din copac, un Iphone si nu un mar) si fara ea nu ati mai sta ore in sir pe smartphone sa conversati cu Siri.

Slava Domnului ca sunt si oameni care inteleg importanta matematicii, ca altfel ramaneam in epoca de piatra! 🙂

 

 

Victoria Peak – HONG KONG

No not miss Victoria Peak, it is a “must see” attraction and has maybe the most scenic view of HK, Kowloon & Victoria Harbour.

I have been to The Peak during spring and the views from the top have been amazing (but be prepared to be jostled and elbowed by hordes of visitors fighting for the ideal shot/selfie). Definitely worth the price which includes the tram (the ticket costs you around 50 HK dollars.). Also, there are couple souvenir stores and also many places to eat near Victoria Peak. I love this place so much, quite the romantic location too.

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At the top of the peak at night, it is significantly cooler and windy than at the base, so bring a light jacket if you are going at night.
Get up early to avoid ridiculous queues…but if you wanna get the dusky twilight exposure in your pics you should go in the evening! I was in the line for over 2 hours to just board the tram to get up to the observation area, with the line for the ride down taking at least 45 minutes. Tour groups and fast pass holders can skip some of the long lines but for a price. Taxis were offering to ferry people up to the top for almost $400HKD, despite the price for the tram being a small fraction of that price. Some people chose the taxi route later came down to find that it was a short overpriced ride to the top.

 

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The tram ride was interesting but don’t expect people to be polite and remain in queue-Chinese style.

False things about Roumania and Bucharest

As an open-minded traveler I tried hard to get away from stereotypes. I think that every place has something beautiful and unique, it depends only on our outlook and our desire for knowledge.

When you say you are going to Romania, people look at you with shock and horror, as if you are going to some place where there is no law and order and bandits roaming in the hills. But the reality is something quite different.

  1. Gyspsies strory
  • Apparently, Bucharest is the capital of a Balkan country called Romania which reminds us of gypsies due to the political term Roma. But NO, there is a huge difference between Romanian and Roma (Romani) terms and the two have absolutely no relation.
  • The Roma people (or gypsies) originated in Rajasthant (located in the northwest of India), migrated to Europe centuries ago and they have never identified themselve with a territory. They soon spread all around the continent, each with their own traditions, religious beliefs and languages.
  • The Romania name derives from the Latin, meaning citizen of Rome, having a language which shares many features with Italian, French, Spanish an Portuguese languages. Romanian people are warm, open, happy, polite – and emotional. You got to love that Latin blood!
  •  So, keep in mind that not all of Romanians are gypsies, not all of the world’s gypsies come from Romania and not all gypsies are pickpockets. But I hope you already knew that one!

2. The communist terror

  •  Speaking about Romania without addressing the communist regime is impossible, so it’s better to get on with it right away. Living under the communist terror iT wasn’t easy and it’s an ongoing effort that will no doubt take many more generations. Romanian people understand that their best weapon against ignorance and fear is education and that’s why you can find a lot of English speakers guys and smart students. Six thousand of young people are studying at British universities.

3. Old misconception

  • One of the main and old misconceptions of people that have never been to Bucharest is that this is a dirty, smoky and polluted city of two million people and one and a half million rabid dogs, a city of extreme poverty, institutionalized homophobia and nationwide discrimination against gypsies. Well, Bucharest is not a dirty, smoky and polluted city compared with more than 50% of Europe big cities. Even if stray dogs still a problem, rabies cases were isolated and many measures were taken in order to reduce the dogs number. Truth to be told? Romania is safer than most Western European countries I’ve traveled to and its capital Bucharest is a city where, despite the wealth disparity between its richest and its poorest, you can always find a bright future in the eyes of its young inhabitants who are fighting each day to improve the way their country works.

5. Cheating and threaten tourists

  • I usually heard “Be wary of cheating taxi drivers, relentless men/scammers who go and threaten people’s lives if they don’t cough up the money”. This type of taxi drivers cheat and scam happens in almost every big city (and some small ones) around the world and maybe there are some tourists which want to  get experience in life, learn to deal with ”scams” and betrayal, learn to save themselves from nasty situations, etc. Travelers need to take care and learn from experience even if we talk about Bucharest, Paris or Barcelona.
  • As in London, if you see a group of youths walking towards you, to save any hassle, you would usually cross the road, you need to do so in Bucharest.
  • Violent crime in Bucharest is among the lowest of any capital city in Europe, according to figures compiled by The UN Office on Drugs and Crime.
  • The country’s economy is also growing faster than the UK and there are plenty of opportunities for entrepreneurs, according to the British business people based there.

6. Everything is cheap

  • False! Romanian food is not expensive and it is easy to find fresh organic food but it is hard to get  low-budget holiday offers meanwhile the utilities and gas price are similar to Central and western Europe.

I encourage everybody to visit Bucharest and enjoy the beautiful and historical places that have survived for centruries, despite adverse times and extreme political regimes.

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However, I recommend you stay away from areas like Ferentari ghetto (actually this is the only one place in Bucharest that you can call dangerous), situated at the outskirts of the city . The population living there is extremely poor, the level of education is low and the drug usage is high. These are all the ingredients you need for violence, and there’s a lot of it there. Gangs, poverty, drugs, piles of garbage and violence… they are all part of the life there.

 

 

 

Strolling to the Hermitage-Saint Petersburg-Russia

Recently, a friend asked me about my trip to Russia, beeing interested in Hermitage museum. Looking back I realize that I did’t picture the museum (on my blog) as much as I wanted. So I decided to put more color on my “Russian canvas” because the Hermitage of S. Petersburg is one of the best museums in the whole world and a “must-see” place in S. Petersburg.

I highly recommend to visit Hermitage museum if you have the opportunity!general-staff-building-outside-768x512

The Hermitage (Winter Palace) – designed by Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli, 1750s

state-hermitage-museum-in-st-petersburgAccording with his French name, the Hermitage is “a place of solitude”  where the world culture blends perfectly with the history, taking us away from every concern and introducing us in a special atmosphere that awakens the finest elements in the human spirit. If you are an art addicted person, there you’ll find a place where you can breathe in the different cultures, you can admire masterpieces of all times, passing from hall to hall, from the historical state rooms to the ancient sculpture or Dutch painting, thinking about Matisse or Napoleon, Rembrandt, Leonardo da Vinci or Michelangelo.

You can view the paintings and statues but equally you can admire the floors and ceilings with gold coverage.  You can make your way slowly, taking in every detail or quickly, eager to rach some favourite, familiar spot. There are few spectacular views from the Hermitage windows: the Nera with the Peter and Paul fortress and the Spit of Vasilyevsky Island, Palace Square…

The Hermitage had lived a long and complicated existence, experincing wars, revolutions, fires, thefts and sales. For more than 200 years the museum had carried out its duty of beeing the guardian of world culture.

The Winter Palaces of Peter the Great is now occupied by the Hermitage buildings. The interior of the Winter Palace was victim of a terrible fire (in 1837).

The St. George Hall or Great Throne Room was restored by Vasily Stasov in 1842. This two tone room with an area of 800 square metres  with a floor made by 16 types of wood, had a distinctly ceremonial appearance due to the white marble columns around its perimeter and its two rows of splendid bronze chandeliers.

The Small Throne Room or Peter the Great Hall dedicated to the memory of Peter I has the walls covered with velvet and silver embroidered.

The decor of the Small Hermitage’s Pavilion Hall combines elements of the renaissance, Classical and Moorish styles and it has one of the museum highlights – the Peacock Clock which has been dismantled, and only one man was able to reassemble it.

Imagini pentru st george hall hermitage peacock clock

The pride of the museum is referring to the Italian paintings, in my opinion. Without a doubt the most outstanding and famous works to be seen there are the canvases known as: the Madonna Benois

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and the Madonna Litta Imagini pentru hermitage madonna littapainted by Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael’s Madonna Conestabile,Imagine similară

Giorgione’s Judith, Titian’s St. Sebastian, Caravaggio’s Young Man with Lute, Tintoretto’s birth of St John Baptist and so on.

If we are talking about the Dutch an Flemish collections, I have to mention Rembrandt, of course, which is representd by 25 of his painting, including Flora and the Return of the Prodigal Son and Peter Paul Rubens with The Union of Earth and Water, Perseus and Andromeda and Bacchus.

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On the second floor of Hermitage you’ll find paintings from the 19th to the early 20th century (impressionism, post impressionism, fauvism, cubism). The works by Claude Monet, Pirre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissaro, Alfred Sisley, Sergei Shchukin, Ivan Morozov are to be found in the Impressionist painting area. Paul Cezanne, Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gaouguin were also active around the time of Monet, dveloping a new style known as Post-Impressionism.

Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse 20th century greatst artists are reprsented in the Hermitage by some of their bst works.

The found floor of the new Hermitage includes artistic relics of Ancint Greece and Rome, the Greek colonie in the Northern Black Sea, valuable scultures (Tauride Venus), antique ornaments, gold jewelry and ancient Greek vases.

Armorial Hall designed by Vasilii Stasov, late 1830s

Spanish Skylight Hall, designed by Leo von Klenze 1851

Small Italian Skylight Hall, designed by Leo von Klenze, mid-19th c

The Hermitage Theater, designed by Giacomo Quarenghi, 1783-1789

The Leonardo Room. Designed by Andrei Stackenschneider, 1858

he Majolica Room in the New Hermitage, designed Leo von Klenze, mid-19th c

Take care of :

Getting there about an hour before it opens (gate swings open at 10:30am and close 6pm tuesday, thursday, friday, saturday and sunday. wednesday from 10:30am-9pm). Very important…CLOSED on mondays!

Cameras (with no flash turned on) are allowed in the museum with a special permit but they will charge you 200 rubles (about $6.20 US dollars) and they will give you a little sticker in case of some official Hermitage people ask to see it (no one asked for ours though).

If you only have 1 day, be sure to scout out the artists/sculptures/rooms you want to see to ensure you have enough time to see what you want – Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Madonna and child” topped my list.

The tours for the diamond and gold rooms (for which you have to pay extra-10 $) are at set times, so keep track of time!

 

 

Munich Deutsches Museum

 

As a total museum nerd I was really excited about visiting the Deutsches Museum on my recent trip to München. I love all things science and technology-related.

Be prepared to spend an eternity there…not in a bad way. This place is HUGE. I mean really huge. You could spend your entire day there and not feel cheated. It has everything. Was the first most vast museum I’ve ever seen. There are exhibits on anything and everything. Boats (including one you can walk through), planes, aeronautics, computers, trains…it even has a working model train. It’s absolutely fascinating and adorable.  As someone with technical background this in particular held my fascination.

You’ll see of course a lot of German inventions, such as the diesel engine and Zeppelins. There are models of various models of Zeppelin and other airships throughout this section, along with early airplanes, such as the one the Wright Brothers used. There’s a section on subways and a replica of a subway tunnel. Lots on space flight and information on each of the eight planets (ahem, the space in between the wall and Neptune is sadly obvious that they took out Pluto). Various models of rockets, space shuttles, and other things used for space flight are featured.

What really sets this museum apart is that it traces the entire history of each field of science/tech/engineering. for example, go into the aviation section, and you see EVERYTHING along the path of evolution from 18th century hot air balloons to modern jet fighters.

There’s also a section, and I mean a huge section that could be a museum in itself on musical instruments. There’s a room just of various pianos, a section on brass instruments, etc. Every section is like this, huge enough to be its own museum if it were split up.

Given the length of time one would spend here, of course you’re going to get hungry. No worry. There are two restaurants, one more casual offering only a couple things, and another that…it’s not that it’s more upscale, it’s just much bigger and looks newer. Nothing is really overpriced either, especially considering both places are inside a museum where you’re really at their mercy.

If you’re only going to check out one museum while in Munich, or you’re there for only a day or two, this has to be at the top of your to-do list. It’s definitely worth seeing and devoting a lot of time to.

This museum covers science, engineering, and technology very thoroughly. each hall is dedicated to a different aspect – electrical power, chemistry, physics, space exploration, transportation, computers, robotics, childrens’ toys, industrial manufacturing, mineral processing…and so on.

Be aware that not all of the signs are translated into English though- ideally go with someone who speaks German for support.

If you’re really passionate of science, engineering, and technology, then I’d definitely recommend visiting.

 

Romanian mountains-Piatra Craiului National Park

I have visited different countries and after 15 I stopped counting…and I ‘m not subjective about what’s next, but I must admit that stunning views, lovely woodland, natural and untouched areas-all toghether- you’ll not find too often all over the world. So if you are planing to visit Romania, you should not not miss Prahova Valley  and Romanian Southern Carpathians -at least!

Busteni

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Poiana Brasov

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Piatra Craiului National Park-the Carpathians most beautiful protected area

Took a short stroll trough the canyon about 50 minutes, small creek,lots of trees and of course mountains both sides.

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Only a few kilometers from Brasov

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and almost three hours from Bucharest, Piatra Craiului is one of the most loved hiking place in Romania with breathtaking panoramic views.

Not only is it great for hiking but it is even possible to drive up close and park and walk a few feet to see gorgeous mountain sides from the gorge or to see a view from above.

 

Neuschwanstein – Germany (W. Disney’s inspiration)

There are millions of reasons why you should not miss a short trip to the most charming, romantic and spectacular castle in Europe.

Located near the Bavarian Alps and the Austrian border, Neuschwanstein castle meets all the qualities to make you feel part of a fairytale. Due to the Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle inspiration, Neuschwanstein is one of the most well-known castles in the world.

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If you are going to visit Munich or Salzburg I suggest you to take into account a train ride to Fussen in order to enjoy the unbelievable castle located to the village of Hohenschwangau. Commissioned by the King Ludwig II of Bavaria in 19th century, the castle was an obsession for the king who died before to see his dream coming true.

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Each time I visited Munich I took a day trip to visit the village of Hohenschwangau.

I visited Neuschwanstein for the first time in winter and it was …speechless.

I repeated my experience during summer period and I found other magnificent landscapes, colours, forests, waterfalls and lovely lakes. Everyone should experience this trip at least once in their lives for the peace and quiet of nature, away from the crowds.

You are able to get to the castle and look around the outside without purchasing any tickets. However, if you want to go inside the museum, you must purchase a ticket. No pictures on cameras or phones are allowed to be taken of the inside.

The castle was never finished. Apart from the six rooms that you visit the rest remains unseen and has been a building site for a century and a half.

I recommend taking the bus up and down (2,60 Euro for the roundtrip). Other routes to get up to the castle are a 40 minute walk. Please do not choose the carriage ride. I saw those poor animals abused for monetary reasons.

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The perfect spot for a photo is from Mary ‘s Bridge. The bridge just before the castle is a must and be prepared for some walking, so people with difficulties should be aware of this, it’s a bit of a walk once you get off the bus but you’ll have the most spectacular view.

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You can also combine the Neuschwanstein visit with trips to King Ludwig’s other castles, Hohenschwangau, where he grew up, and Linderhof, his final home.

I really recommend the visit!!!

 

Istanbul

  • Dress modestly and remember that some of the city’s most popular attractions, such as the Blue Mosque, are actually religious destinations as well – be respectful!
  • In mosques women must cover their heads, so be sure to have a head scarf with you. Also, take appropriate clothing (no shorts allowed).
  • Keep in mind that Istanbul is a very hilly city: wear comfortable shoes, as you are likely to be doing a lot of walking and the city has many slopes.
  • The city’s public transportation is modern, clean, efficient and inexpensive. For many visitors (and locals), the tram system is an especially handy way to get around.
  • You can buy a museum pass valid for 3 or 5 days. Check the exact conditions (google Istanbul pass) to decide if it suits you and be aware that it doesn’t include transportation.

Istanbul was the most pleasant travel surprise of my life. You have all heard the warnings, stereotypes, and challenges (for women especially) in this Muslim country and I am happy to say NONE of them were experienced by me.

Founded in 330 BC, Istanbul (the city of the four biggest empires: Roman, Byzantine, Latin and Ottoman) is the largest city of Turkey and one of the most important cities in the Orient with a population of 15 million, making it the sixth largest city in the world.  Built on two Continents, divided by the Bosphorus Strait, Istanbul is the link between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara and it held always an important role in the history of humanity in this part of the world due to his strategic location.

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Things about Istanbul:

  1. During the times of the Ottoman Empire, there were 1400 public toilets around the city while in the rest of Europe there were none.
  2. Istanbul has the third oldest subway in the world. It was built in 1875 after the ones in London and in New York in 1863 and 1868, respectively. It is 573 meters long and it is located in the Beyoglu district.
  3. British author Agatha Christie wrote her famous novel, Murder on the Orient Express at Pera Palas Hotel in Istanbul. The Orient Express train ran between Paris and Constantinople (Istanbul) from 1883 to 1977.
  4. The Blue Mosque is the only mosque in the city with six minarets. Legend has it that when it was built, it had one minaret more than the Grand Mosque in Mecca (four was the common maximum at that time) and this was considered disrespectful in the Muslim world. In order to solve the issue, one more minaret had to be added to the Grand Mosque.
  5. Hagia Sophia was the largest church in the world for about 900 years until Seville Cathedral was completed in 1520. It was also one of the 20 finalists for the New 7 Wonders of the World.
  6. The first tulips bulbs were sent from the Ottoman Empire to Vienna in 1554 and they were distributed further to Augsburg, Antwerp and Amsterdam. Afterwards they grew in popularity in the Netherlands as they proved to be able to tolerate the harsher weather conditions.
  7. The four bronze horses decorating the San Marco Cathedral in Venice were taken from Istanbul (Constantinople at that time) by the crusaders in the 13th century.
  8. The Grand Bazaar is the oldest and largest historical bazaar in the world with 3000 shops covering 61 streets. You would need three days to see them all.
  9. Tea has become a national drink only recently. Before that it was Turkish coffee but when it became expensive and tea leaves could be grown in the Black Sea region, tea took its place. Coffee cannot be produced in Turkey because of the unfavorable climate for its production.
  10. Istanbul was the European Cultural capital in 2010. Two years later it became the world’s fifth-most-popular tourist destination. Currently it’s bidding for the 2020 Summer Olympics.

Famous for both its historical monuments that have survived the centuries and beautiful landscapes, Istanbul has become a popular choice for short breaks. Three or four full days in Istanbul will allow you to experience the delights of Istanbul and give you plenty of time to visit the famous sights from the Blue Mosque to the Grand Bazaar. It’s very accessible even by foot, with many attractions and landmarks to explore and with delicious local cuisine. Istanbul has a rich and unique history as the capital of three great empires. Istanbul has friendly people and an abundance of well priced hotels and restaurants that will make your stay comfortable and trouble free.

Beautiful mosques, great restaurants, palaces, museums, Egyptian Obelisks, Roman remains, trams, the bazaars, beautiful squares, bustling shops and friendly people – all within easy walking distance of each other. Best to stay in this area in one of the many cheap hotels. Again: take comfy shoes and a head scarf if visiting the many mosques! The restaurants sell traditional Turkish food in this area and not all serve alcohol. The old city is a fairly conservative area and there is not an abundance of bars, although you should find enough to keep you amused. There are several places to change money and they offer a good rate of exchange.

Sultanahmet district

This is the old part of Istanbul and the area with the most must see attractions. In this are you can find Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern, Laleli University, Grand and Spice Bazars and lots of beautiful views, so you cannot miss going through Sultanahmet. Is a great place to relax and unwind after so much walking. Take a rest stop at one of the many cafés for a Turkish coffee and a game of chess, or be more luxuriant and get all of the day’s dust and ware off at one of the many Turkish Baths in the area – the neighborhood is famous for its Hamams! This is the perfect spot to unwind and rejuvenate while enjoying the metropolitan atmosphere.

As I described in San Francisco post (China Town), I love the red lanterns, which are strung up and down on the narrow streets because introduced me in the magic world of the asian culture.

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Blue Mosque

Located in Sultanahmet, the Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Camii) is an architectural marvel still in use for services today. Known for the cobalt blue tiles that line its interior, this spot is a world-famous destination due to its sprawling courtyard, magnificent mosaics, and vast minarets. Enter via the old Hippodrome.

I suggest visiting here early on in your trip so that you have plenty of time to come and see it again before you leave. Allow yourself at least half an hour to visit inside. There are benches facing the mosque so you can spend limitless time here watching the world go by and admiring the beauty of the mosque. The Blue Mosque was built between 1609 and 1616 and is known as the Blue Mosque because of the blue tiles inside.

 Hagia Sofia

Converted from a church to a mosque, and now a breathtaking museum tiled in gold, the Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya) was built in 537AD and remains not only a tribute to human imagination, but an impressive feat of art, engineering, and architecture. This location is for the history enthusiast, the art enthusiast, and qualifies as a must-see for anyone visiting Istanbul. A short walk from the Hagia Sophia, this Palace-turned-museum houses fantastic ancient relics, waterfront views, and, in the warmer months, beautiful gardens. A great spot to enjoy the view at a café while soaking in more culture and history.hagia-sophia-interior-istanbul-turkey-720x480

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Basilica Cistern

Located near to the Blue Mosque, the ancient hallway of the Basilica Cistern is hauntingly lit. Roman columns have been keeping the underground cistern spacious and beautiful since 532 AD. Soak in the history, and do it in style; you are able to take photos in old Ottoman dress once inside.basilica-cistern-istanbul-turkey-720x502

Taksim Square

Taksim Square is perfect for any nightlife enthusiast. Restaurants stay open late, and the area is resplendent with nightclubs, dance halls, and bars. It is also easily accessible by metro and bus.

Topkapi Palace

Not far from Topkapi Palace (about fifteen minutes by public transport), the Grand Bazaar in the Old City is a place to get your adventurer’s blood flowing. After learning the history of some of the city’s greatest landmarks, experience the culture via the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the Grand Bazaar, one of the world’s largest marketplaces. Located on the Silk Road of yore, it’s good for anyone who is ready for shopping, eating, and interacting with the locals!

Grand Bazar

The Grand Bazaar is one of the largest covered markets in the world. It is huge, a maze of 61 streets and 3000 shops! Some guide books suggest spending several hours here, which you could, however we felt an hour was enough to walk around just some of the many streets. This gave us a flavour of the bazaar and we were able to enjoy the bustling atmosphere. The Bazaar is very busy with tourists exploring, as well as locals enjoying Turkish tea. There were lots of shops selling lamps and carpets as you might expect so it is the place to come if you are looking for a souvenir. Be aware, most of the things are overpriced.

Spice Bazar

After visiting the Grand Bazaar we walked through the Spice Bazaar. The colours and smells are amazing and you can take some fabulous photos. There is so much food here from spices, Turkish delight and tea in so many flavours. It is much smaller than the Grand Bazaar and if anything I preferred it. The spice bazaar has been in Istanbul since the 1660s.turkey-istanbul-spice-stall-spice-bazaar

Galata Bridge

After walking through the Spice Bazaar we walked down to the Galata Bridge. To the right of the bridge you can purchase tickets for the river cruise. A river cruise is an excellent way to see the Bosphorus and the many sites along it such as: Dolmabahçe Palace; Ciragan Palace; mansions, Ortakoy Mosque, Beylerbeyi Palace, Küçüksu Kasri (a hunting lodge). At present they are constructing a new bridge to be called the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge.

Famous for fish take a walk along the bridge following the river cruise. There are lots of fisherman fishing off the bridge and there is a constant flow of people crossing the water. If you walk along the bottom level of the bridge there are fish restaurants which I hear are some of the best – however I did not sample any. The original Galata bridge was constructed in 1845 however the one that stands today (the fifth) was completed in the 1990’s.

 

 

Paris then…and now

I still remember my first trip abroad like it was yesterday!  Eight years ago my dream came true and I felt on my own the magical atmosphere of Paris!

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I had always wanted to see “Le Tour Eiffel”, “Notre Damme”, “Le Louvre”, “La basilique du Sacre Coeur de Montmartre” or “Le Champs Elysees”…all my childhood I loved “la langue francais-la langue de l’amour :)” and later it was my favourite subject in school  that’s why I knew a lot about Paris…

Paris is the 1st touristic destination of the world, 30 millions tourists per year since many years ago, the interest of visiting Paris is mainly arts, architecture, culture and history, even if it’s the capital of fashion, no need to go shopping to enjoy your visit.

From its pretty and remarkable landscapes to its inspiring cafes with accordion music pouring out onto the terrace, Paris has a unique combination of traditional architecture, rich history, pleasant parks and squares, original cuisine and special spirit of life. So no matter how long you’ll be in the City of Lights, you won’t go home hungry!

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I never imagined that The city of lights can be pictured as a grey city. Six months after the Nov 2015 terrible massacre, I found Paris rainy and humid…sirens seam to sound more often…odd soldiers survey all crowded areas …the fear for a near-term attacks targeting sports events, tourists sites, restaurants and transportation continue to grow. There is no doubt that people are  shocked and subdued…because it is clear that everyone is a target and the violence is random and indiscriminate and very close. On the other hand some things are certain…is such tight security in and around the French capital that it may not be a target.

In some ways, Paris is just the same with people sitting at tables outside the cafes, smoking  with one hand and drinking red wine with the other…but it is also not the same at all…

 

 

Dubai&Abu Dhabi…short trip

First impression…Speechless…

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The Burj Khalifa is a beautiful structure – futuristic, very dominating in the skyline and very beautiful at night.

Depending on the angle it looks sometimes tall, and sometimes only a bit taller than its neighbours.

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The view from the top, of the city, is great but price is as high!

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The elevator rises so quickly and without any discomfort to passengers.

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Take a ticket ahead of time (website) and avoid long waits.
Being up there is juste unique. But if you are 20 floors up or over 100 – it does not change much – but you have been there ….
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There are also plenty of staff on hand to help with photos, take photos of you and cleaning to ensure your experience is pristine. There are shops on each floor for your souvenir needs, though they are quite pricey as you would expect in these attractions.

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Burj Al Arab

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You must have a reservation to get onto the island with the Burj Al Arab, so make sure you book something like afternoon tea to get there.

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Jumeirah Beach -just to relax with the view of the Burj Khalifa

20140405_150240Most of the top hotels have daily free shuttles to the beach.

This beach offers a great view of the and the beautiful waters of the  Burj Al Arab and Persian Gulf. Also, the beach has a fantastic running/walking track. It is a great place for a morning run or evening stroll. Relaxing and quiet.

Just make sure you know when ladies day is! Be warned if you’re travelling with family once a week is ladies day where only women and children are allowed into the park and on the beach (I think it is Thursday).

Second impression:  If you already visited New York or Shanghai, the buildings are a bit overrated. It’s too crowded and the view at night isn’t as clear. I was under the impression that coming there at night would be better. It’s so over crowded and there’s a queue for everything, even looking out the window. If it wasn’t a highly-recommended must see, I would have skipped it.

Dubai Mall

This huge shopping mall in the centre of Dubai is just one of the several situated in the town…but there is enough here to last your entire visit. Make sure you wear comfy shoes!

When you’re inside, there is literally everything at your feet – ice skating, cinema, food, every shop you can think of, games center and did I mention food?

In regards to food, you can have everything from fast food, to a proper nice sit down meal – and you truly are spoiled for choice.

Everything is very beautiful and luxury, fully air conditioned, with easy access to metro station. It has everything in it. Although it is expensive it worth going. Gets a bit busy at some points of the day but overall a great experience

 

Taste the spectacular Abu Dhabi tour from Dubai.
Saviour the spectacular Grand Mosque a very humbling experience indeed.

THE SHEIKH ZAYED MOSQUE IN ABU DHABI (Grand Mosque)

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Then see the splendour of the capital, the Ferrari world ogling the sleek bright red racing cars.

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Finally a refreshment stop at Viceroy Hotel on the F1 Grand Prix circuit was truly amazing.