Tag Archives: travel

The world’s 10 best travel apps

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FlightTrack

Follow the path of thousands of international flights on slick, zoomable maps, with detailed information on departure gates, delays and (heaven forbid) cancellations. Great for those anticipating the arrival of loved ones, or particularly nerdy train-spotters looking to up their game.

WeatherPro

An intuitive app offering weather reports for well over two million geographical locations, feeding in everything from cloud formations and atmospheric pressure to wind speed and humidity, all in enough detail to leave Michael Fish clammy-palmed with excitement. It’s also accurate to the point of clairvoyance, so if you’re travelling to Berlin and it predicts rain, pack your best umbrella.

TripAdvisor

Stripping away the glossy magnificence ladled on by just about every online travel agency out there, this is the place to find brutally honest reviews of hotels, restaurants, attractions and more. The user-base is notoriously hard to please, so be warned that you’ll most likely find exclamation mark strewn rants next to your favourite spots. Still, on the flip side, touch down in a strange city with nowhere to stay and you’ll only ever be a few prods away from the warts-and-all opinions of travellers just like you.

Wi-Fi Finder

With data roaming charges still laughably high, knowing where to find a decent wi-fi hotspot is essential if you’re to keep the twitterati up to date with details of your latest sojourn. No need to charge through the city waving your handset around like a fly-swatter, though – simply fire up this handy app and follow directions to your nearest source of wireless internet. Best of all, the offline mode means you can download maps before you go, thereby dodging a massive bill.

Onavo

Anyone who’s ever accidentally downloaded a large email while on holiday will attest to the ridiculousness of data roaming charges, and though there’s no indication from the networks that they’re working on putting things right, there are measures you can take to avoid an end-of-month sting. Once installed, this app drastically reduces the amount of data required to perform everyday tasks, such as retrieving email and posting to Facebook. We’re not entirely sure how it manages such a feat – we just know that it works and we’re not about to complain.

Schemer

Currently in a phase of invite-only beta (have a sniff around forums for a free invite) this is Google’s experimental take on a massive, crowd-sourced travel guide. As tech mash-ups go, it’s fairly straightforward: users leave recommendations for things to do in their city, which visitors can then add to a to-do list and check off as they go. Given the app’s youth, content is fairly sparse outside of the US at the moment, but should you find yourself on a business trip to Chicago with a couple of hours to kill, it’s a reliable

Google Goggles

Stumbled across an important looking building? Want to know more but fear striking up conversation with the locals? Fire up this bad boy, direct your phone’s camera lens at the source of your befuddlement and – as long as what you’re pointing at is famous enough – it’ll return relevant Wikipedia articles filling you in with everything you need to know. After a slow start, recent updates have seen the app’s recognition mechanic and database become really rather impressive, meaning that if it draws a blank, it’s probably just a nice-looking car park.

FourSquare

Though it shot to fame as a social networking tool, this location-based app has become a godsend for curious travellers. The way it works is simple – fire up the app when you arrive at any given place (everything from restaurants to churches are listed) and you’ll see a list of tips from those who’ve been before you (‘try the cheeseburger’, ‘arrive by 9am for a good pew’, etc.). Check in regularly enough and you’ll claim virtual mayorship of that particular venue, with some venues even offering perks (a free pint, discounts, and so on) when you claim the crown.

Time Out city guides

Our apologies for the somewhat self-important trumpet-blowing, but we just couldn’t let you go without a little cheeky reminder about our own fleet of painstakingly researched, expertly written travel apps. There are editions for more than 20 of the world’s biggest cities, each stuffed with comprehensive insights into the finest restaurants, bars, shows and exhibitions on Earth. Best of all, each and every one of these indispensible digital marvels is absolutely free. What can we say – we’ve got big hearts.

Better Translator Pro

The best-rated translation app on Android, and for good reason. More than 50 languages are supported in text-to-text mode, while an impressive 11 work with the app’s voice recognition function. As for accuracy, it’s plugged in to both Google and Bing’s translation services, meaning results are very rarely nonsensical. Don’t expect to be bantering the night away with the natives or anything, but it ought to at least mean the end of ineptly miming ‘ou est la gare?’

Tumblr traveling to a town near you

Jeremy Kressmann has the enviable position of being able to travel the world on Tumblr’s dime.

Kressmann, whose unbelievable job title is actually “travel and tourism evangelist,” was hired by the blogging company in January as part of an ambitious expedition to get to know members with particular passions.

Kressmann, a regular voyager with a writer’s resume, joins Tumblr’s arsenal of evangelists for fashion, gaming, music, and other specialized subject matters. Each is tasked with getting to know the communities they’ve been assigned to and amplifying the best voices therein.

“Tumblr is a platform for the creative community,” Kressmann said during an interview with CNET. “It’s important to us to have expertise about communities.”

Specifically, Kressmann’s job is to give structure to Tumblr’s travel community, highlight the best travel publishers, brands, and bloggers, and connect the dots between stellar travel content and the people who care about it. Kressmann oversees the company’s travel resources, which include a news blog, multiple directories, and curated travel tags to help people discover interesting things such as captivating landscapes.

With 95 million blogs fighting for attention on the widely popular platform, Kressmann gets to take members on a digital safari to hidden treasures such as the remarkable aviation photography shot by Adam Senatori, an accomplished photographer and former airline pilot. Senatori purposefully pinpoints visually arresting scenery from up above. He appreciates the intricate patterns formed by interstates, perfectly plotted out suburbs, and industrial wonders.

The photographer is in transition, flying from the commercial editorial realm to the more niche travel world. Tumblr, Senatori says, lets him speak directly to a very specific audience. He shares his shots to Tumblr in the hopes of selling his shots to media outlets like Condé Nast Traveler, a publisher he says follows his photo posts.

Kressmann, who added Senatori to a suggested user list for travel, has been instrumental in ensuring that the photographer’s work gets maximum exposure.

Tomorrow, Kressmann will take his gig offline to meet the people he hopes to inspire. Kressmann will host Tumblr’s first-ever offline travel panel in Los Angeles. A surf photographer and street artist will be among those talking to people about the more diverse gems hidden within the concrete jungle. The following day, Kressmann and the team at tour-guide site Atlas Obscura will take Tumblr users on a expedition to an abandoned zoo in Griffith Park.

Several hundred people have already RSVP’d to the event, Kressmann said, which means Tumblr is having to turn away would-be attendees. The offline event, however, is being supplemented by a collaborative Tumblr blog specifically for the Los Angeles travel community where Kressmann hopes people will share their best travel tips.

Eventually, we’ll see this offline event strategy make its way to other major metropolitan areas though no future cities have been named as of yet.
“When I travel, I like to incorporate local resources,” Kressmann said. “It was a natural idea for me to take what people love in their own town and translate that into a resource for the [Tumblr] community.”

Changan Travel Guide:Hui

Thousands of years ago, here was the largest and most prosperous city of the world —— Changan; after the millennium, the deep culture seems to let me return to the Tang. This ancient city has quietly waiting for a thousand years, let’s ride the time tunnel and cross back to Changan with me!

Shaanxi Cuisine, also known as Qin Cuisine, is the representative culinary achievement in the northwest China. In comparison to other Chinese cuisines, it is outstanding in three aspects. Firstly, due to Shaanxi’s geographical location in the center of China, various kinds of materials deriving from both north and south China are adopted by Shaanxi Cuisine. Second is the special cooking skills of the local chefs, including Tun (deep-fry), Qiang (fry quickly in hot oil, then cook with sauce and water), Chao (stir-fry), Zheng (cook by use of steam), Dun (braise) and so on. Finally is its frequently use of salt, vinegar, capsicum and garlic, making the savory flavor of sour, spicy and fragrant.

The history of Shaanxi Cuisine is said to be as long as the national’s civilization, retaining the table characteristics of the Qin, Han and Tang dynasties. At present, the Shaanxi Cuisine is divided into the Guanzhong (central Shaanxi), Shannan (south Shaanxi) and Shanbei (north Shaanxi) cuisines according to their geographical locations. Here, in Xian, the Guanzhong Cuisine plays the vital role in the citizens’ daily lives as well as the Shannan and Shanbei dishes supply the gastronomists with another choice.

Visitors to Xian must do two things: one is to see the clay figures of terra cotta warriors and horses. The other is to taste Yang Rou Pao Mo (a soup dish that involves breaking wheat flour flat bread into a bowl and adding a delicious mutton stock). Before dinner, you will be served one or two pieces of wheat flour flat bread which you into tiny chunks, the smaller the better.

The waiter or the waitress will then hand your bowl to the cook who mixes the bread and mutton soup with an appropriate relish. When the steaming hot meal is brought in, the waiter will also offer you sweet crisp pickled garlic, coriander, and hot pepper sauce.

In Xian, there is a must for travelers to try the delicious dumplings. While tasting those dumplings, customers will be astonished by the cooks’ smart cooking methods include steaming, boiling, pan-frying, deep frying, and roasting. It seems that all of the indigenous meat and vegetables can be used for the dumplings’ stuffing, such as pork, mutton, beef as well as celery, radish, cabbages, etc.

Nowadays, by the cooks’ continuously improving, the dumpling has been one of the best foods of Xian to entertain travelers from home and abroad. It must be a great pity if you miss tasting the Xian’s featured Dumpling Banquet. Usually, the Dumpling Banquet consists of a number of steamed dumplings as well as the family style dumplings are boiled which can be easily found in some chophouses distributed in Xian City.

It is hardly for any traveler to taste all of the Xian snacks in his short stay here. That is because no one could point out exactly how many kinds of snacks exist in this historic city. In fact, discovering and enjoying as many as local snack should be only next to visiting the Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses. If you are a gourmet longing for typical Chinese food, the various kinds of Xian snacks will give you as much personal satisfaction as possible, ranging from dim sum, candy, cracker to dried fruit and dessert.

When you ask locals for a place to find the featured Xian snacks, it is no doubt that you will be suggested to visit the Moslem Street firstly although this city’s main composition of population is Han. As a unique characteristic, the Moslem food occupies a vital role in the Xian Cuisine (also Shaanxi Cuisine), partly because the Hui people have inhabited here in a large number for many years.

Anyway, this narrow but prosperous street is the largest assembling place for all of the Moslem food over half of which are the Moslem snacks.

Alternatively, you can have some snack at the elegant Moslem restaurants which are distributed everywhere in the city area.

As the representative of Shaanxi Cuisine, Guanzhong dish is well know for cooking pork and mutton as well as in strong and heavy flavor.

In addition, the simplex but choice material in a course gives a pure taste to the Guanzhong dish. Shannan dish emphasizes on the use of pepper, having a spicy flavor.

Also using pork and mutton frequently, the Shanbei dish is usually cooked by steaming.

How Yang Rou Pau Mo is served. The custom is both unique and interesting. When you order the meal you will be given a large bowl and a quantity of round, flat unleavened bread (nan bread). The amount of bread depends entirely upon the size of your appetite! You have to break the bread into small pieces so that it can absorb the flavor of the liquid.

Be warned, the bread is hard and it will prove something of a test of strength for your fingers but the smaller you break the pieces, the better the result. Once you have prepared your bread, you pass your bowl to the chef who will stir it into a pot of hot mutton soup. After some five to ten minutes he will ladle the soup and bread back into your bowl with a quantity of mutton.

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Changan Travel Guide:Tomb

Thousands of years ago, here was the largest and most prosperous city of the world —— Changan; after the millennium, the deep culture seems to let me return to the Tang. This ancient city has quietly waiting for a thousand years, let’s ride the time tunnel and cross back to Changan with me!

The Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses are the most significant archeological excavations of the 20th century. Work is ongoing at this site, which is around 1.5 kilometers east of Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s Mausoleum in Lintong, Xian, Shaanxi Province. It is a sight not to be missed by any visitor to China.

Upon ascending the throne at the age of 13 (in 246 BC), Qin Shi Huang, later the first Emperor of all China, had begun to work for his mausoleum. It took 11 years to finish. It is speculated that many buried treasures and sacrificial objects had accompanied the emperor in his after life.

A group of peasants uncovered some pottery while digging for a well nearby the royal tomb in 1974. It caught the attention of archeologists immediately. They came to Xian in droves to study and to extend the digs. They had established beyond doubt that these artifacts were associated with the Qin Dynasty (211-206 BC).

The State Council authorized to build a museum on site in 1975. When completed, people from far and near came to visit. Xian and the Museum of Qin Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses have become landmarks on all travelers’ itinerary.

Life size terracotta figures of warriors and horses arranged in battle formations are the star features at the museum. They are replicas of what the imperial guard should look like in those days of pomp and vigor.

The museum covers an area of 16,300 square meters, divided into three sections: No. 1 Pit, No. 2 Pit, and No. 3 Pit respectively. They were tagged in the order of their discoveries. No. 1 Pit is the largest, first opened to the public on China’s National Day, 1979. There are columns of soldiers at the front, followed by war chariots at the back.

No. 2 Pit, found in 1976, is 20 meters northeast of No. 1 Pit. It contained over a thousand warriors and 90 chariots of wood. It was unveiled to the public in 1994.Archeologists came upon No. 3 Pit also in 1976, 25 meters northwest of No. 1 Pit. It looked like to be the command center of the armed forces. It went on display in 1989, with 68 warriors, a war chariot and four horses.

Altogether over 7,000 pottery soldiers, horses, chariots, and even weapons have been unearthed from these pits. Most of them have been restored to their former grandeur.

Since Oct. 1st, 2010 the Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses and the Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum have been combined into one large tourist area, Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s Mausoleum Site Park, which also includes three other small sites opened in 2011.

The Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum and the nearby three unopened sites (namely the Museum of Terracotta Acrobatics, the Museum of Terracotta Civil Officials and the Museum of Stone Armor) constitute the so-called Lishan Garden. Besides, 30 free shuttle buses have been available for visitors’ convenience to travel between the Lishan Garden and the Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses from then on.

The Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses is a sensational archeological find of all times. It has put Xian on the map for tourists. It was listed by UNESCO in 1987 as one of the world cultural heritages.

The No.1 Pit is the largest and first unearthed pit, which has over 6,000 full-scale terra cotta warriors and horses. At present, about 1,000 of them have been unearthed and ranked at a well-organized battle array.

These warriors’ facial expressions could be seen clearly although they have been buried for more than 2,000 years. Located to the northeast of No.1 Pit, the Terra Cotta Pit No.2 is more spectacular where the general, the kneeling archer and the warrior with saddle horse were excavated.

The Pit No.3 is smaller than the previous two, but it is said to be the headquarters of the emperor’s army.

Our guide will accompany you to these three pits and see the selected collections at the affiliated exhibition hall.

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Changan Travel Guide:Huashan

Thousands of years ago, here was the largest and most prosperous city of the world —— Changan; after the millennium, the deep culture seems to let me return to the Tang. This ancient city has quietly waiting for a thousand years, let’s ride the time tunnel and cross back to Changan with me!

Situated in Huayin City, 120 kilometers (about 75 miles) east from Xi’an City of Shaanxi Province, Mt. Huashan is known as ‘The Number One Precipitous Mountain under Heaven’. It is one of the five sacred mountains in China. The other four mountains are Mt. Taishan in Shandong, Mt. Hengshan in Hunan, Mt. Hengshan in Shanxi, and Mt. Songshan in Henan.

In ancient times, Mt. Huashan was called Mt. Taihuashan. From a distance the five peaks seem to form the shape of a ‘flower’ (hua in Chinese), hence the name ‘Huashan’. It is famous for its natural vistas of steep and narrow paths, precipitous crags, and a high mountain range.

It is home to several influential Taoist temples where emperors of past dynasties made pilgrimages, making Mt. Huashan the holy land of Taoism.

Usually tourists climb up the mountain assisted by the iron chains along the way and start their tour from Yuquan Yuan (Jade Spring Temple), one of the main Taoist temples in China located at the foot of Mt. Huashan. It has the architectural style of the classical gardens in south China. There is a pond in the center and several pavilions around it.

Walking through the Wuyou Pavilion, the Long Corridor of Seventy-two Windows comes into view, and afterwards Qingke Ping where a big rock called ‘Huixin Rock’ can be seen. It is said that ‘Huixin Rock’ is a reminder for those who wish to stop their tour at this point. Beside the rock are the precipitous 370 rock steps called ‘Qianchi Zhuang’ considered to be the primary breath-taking path of Mt. Huashan.

When climbing, only a gleam of sky above can be seen, making climbers feel as if they were at the bottom of a well.

Across the ‘Qianchi Zhuang’ are two similar precipitous paths-respectively called ‘Baichi Xia’ and ‘Laojun Li’ above which climbers reach Mt. Huashan’s North Peak. There are precipitous cliffs on all sides of North Peak, making it look like a flat terrace in the clouds, hence the name Cloud Terrace Peak. It is 1,614 meters (about 5,295 feet) high.

Three sides are cliffs and one side is to the ‘Ca’er (the ear rubbing the cliff) Cliff’ which is the fourth precipitous path where tourists can climb up only by pressing an ear close to the cliff. In the waist of North Peak trees are luxuriantly green, creating a good rest spot.

When climbing over the ‘Blue Dragon Range’, regarded as the must-pass way to the other four peaks from North Peak, travelers arrive at Gold Lock Pass. Mt. Huashan visitors know that it is customary to buy a golden lock, and then lock it in the iron chains on both sides of the Gold Lock Pass for families and friends to pray for their safety and health.

It is a marvelous spectacle to see thousands of golden locks in the iron chains. Within the mountain gate of Gold Lock Pass, a huge golden lock of about 4 meters (about 4.37 yards) long and 1 .5 meters (about 1.64 yards) high stands in a big rock. It is made of pure copper and forged by 9,999 locks left by visitors. It is a popular photo site.

This huge lock can only be opened by throwing coins – one coin represent the status of an ordinary person; three coins, a blessed person and nine coins a most blessed one. Gold Lock Pass is the throat to Middle Peak, East Peak, South Peak and West Peak.

Other scenic spots in Middle Peak include Rootless Tree and Sacrificing Tree which have beautiful stories and add to the supernatural atmosphere of Middle Peak.

Tour guides may promote climbing the mountain at night to see the sunrise. Climbing to the top of East Peak requires 4 to 6 hours. East Peak has an altitude of 2,090 meters (about 6,857 feet) forming a platform for visitors to view the sunrise.

An astronomical telescope is provided here. The reference time for sunrise and sunset is 5:00a.m.-6:00a.m. in spring, 4:30a.m.-5:20a.m. in summer, 5:00a.m.-5:20a.m. in autumn, 5:30a.m.-6:00a.m. in winter.

One well-known scenic spot called the ‘Immortal’s Palm Peak of Mt. Huashan which is ranked as one of the ‘Eight Scenic Wonders of the Guanzhong Area (the plain area in the middle of Shaanxi Province)’ is located on East Peak.

Then it is a few pictures of people!

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Changan Travel Guide:Night

Thousands of years ago, here was the largest and most prosperous city of the world —— Changan; after the millennium, the deep culture seems to let me return to the Tang. This ancient city has quietly waiting for a thousand years, let’s ride the time tunnel and cross back to Changan with me!

The show presented today is a recreation of a traditional entertainment attributable to a great variety of historical records and relics. In 1981, the artists of Xian’s Shaanxi Provincial Song & Dance Troupe, inspired by the thriving tourist industry, conceived a series of programs to illustrate on stage the history, culture and artistic heritage of Xian.

At that time, the Tang Dynasty Music and Dance Show, as a comprehensive form of art being lost in admiration, promptly came into the sight of the artists.

In order to embody the characteristics of the music and the dance of Tang accurately, the artists spent much time reading the relevant books, historical records and monographs on the entertainments enjoyed by the royal court. They also set about learning traditional arts from folk artists and consulted experts on certain issues.

With the written materials as a basis, they then visited many historical sites such as Dunhuang, Yungang and Longmen as these were a great source of contemporary visual information due to the presence of frescoes, carvings and sculptures.

As for the reason why it is called Big Wild Goose Pagoda, there is a legend. According to ancient stories of Buddhists, there were two branches, for one of which eating meat was not a taboo. One day, they couldn’t find meat to buy.

Upon seeing a group of big wild geese flying by, a monk said to himself: ‘Today we have no meat. I hope the merciful Bodhisattva will give us some.’ At that very moment, the leading wild goose broke its wings and fell to the ground. All the monks were startled and believed that Bodhisattva showed his spirit to order them to be more pious. They established a pagoda where the wild goose fell and stopped eating meat. Hence it got the name ‘Big Wild Goose Pagoda’.

A fenced-in area around the tower is planted with grass and flowers. In early spring, the tender plum blossoms and bright new grass surrounding the old tower provide a harmonious contrast. Not far from the Tower, modern shopping malls and a brightly decorated square reveal the prosperity of the city.

When night falls, lanterns hung from the eaves illuminate the tower, making it even more enchanting.

There are eight main districts to display the dragon element and the historical and cultural features of Xian by hi-tech facilities mixed with sound, light, electricity, as well as miniatures of some famous attractions in China and the world. It is the top choice for citizens and tourists to see the city during the Chinese New Year.

It is one of the most important annual games in the city and also an international sporting platform. At the same time, many people at the home and abroad would know much more about this ancient city by participating in this athletic contest.

By now, the International Marathon has become a special name card in expanding international exchange and operation for the city.

Then it is a few pictures of people!

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