First of all, what in the heck is a cenote? Put simply, it’s a sinkhole or pit created by the collapse of limestone that opens up to groundwater beneath the earth’s surface. Think of them as surface entrances to subterranean water sources. That rather dry description does not do credit to their greatest attribute: they are very cool!
Here are some photos of some of the more remarkable cenotes on the Yucatan peninsula:
Perhaps one of the most recognizable cenote is the Cenote Suytun, located near the colonial city of Valladolid, Yucatan. Becoming more popular every year, it is becoming a frequent stop for tourists traveling to Chichen Itza or Ek Balam ruins.
Located in the Coral Sea, just off the coast of Queensland, Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is the largest living structure on the planet. Stretching for more than 1400 miles, it is comprised of 2900 individual reefs and 900 islands. It is home to around one-third of the world’s protected marine life. Its significance to the entire world was acknowledged in 1981 with its designation as World Heritage Site.
The importance of the Great Barrier Reef
The landscapes and seascapes of the Great Barrier Reef provide some the most spectacular maritime scenery in the world. There are over 1,500 species of fish, 400 species of coral, 4,000 species of mollusk, and 240 species of birds, as well as a great diversity of sponges, anemones, worms, and crustaceans. The area also has cultural significance to the local Aboriginal people, with stories about the creation of the reef passed down through generations. “Bhiral, the Creator, threw lava and hot rocks down from the sky, causing the sea to rise and the lava to cool — forming what is now known as the Great Barrier Reef.”
Sadly, this environmental treasure and all the species that call it home, are at increased risk of destruction. Environmental problems such as climate change, water pollution and overfishing have led to the destruction of large areas of the reef. More than 50% of its coral coverage was lost between 1985 and 2012. Warmer ocean temperatures have led to coral bleaching events, which involves the corals releasing the algae living in their tissues. El Nino led to mass coral bleaching in 2016 resulting in the coral losing their color and being at risk of dying. Coral bleaching is a big concern when it comes to the health of the reef, as many marine species rely on a healthy reef system for survival. The extent of the existing damage already outweighs the speed in which it can be repaired naturally. For the reef to maintain its diverse ecosystems and survive, human intervention is required to protect it.
Over 3 million people from all over the world visit the Great Barrier Reef every year. Its beauty is legendary, it is a paradise for scuba and snorkeling, it offers the ability to get up close and personal with a vast array of marine species including 6 of the 7 types of marine turtles, and it sports some of the most pristine white sand beaches in the world. By an accident of geography, the most wondrous sites for public viewing are the ones spared the worst damage from the bleaching. And although one might think that tourism is one of the main reasons for the destruction of the reef, this is not actually true. Just 7% of the reef is set aside for tourism. Tourism helps spread the word of how important the reef is to protect. Many of tour operators include visits to world-class research facilities, where guests can learn about the ecosystem and participate in experiments. There are many apps that allow visitors to take photographs and submit them to researchers so they can track the condition of the reef from thousands of perspectives. In addition, tourist dollars contribute to reef protection and management. Visitors pay a federal Environmental Management Charge as part of their ticket price. These funds help the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority provide such things as ranger patrols, site planning, reef protection markers and information signs and maps. Watch the video below to learn more about the magic of the Great Barrier Reef.
Ventresca Travel can help you plan your once in a lifetime visit to this wonderful place. Contact Mary to get started!
Lucky visitors may experience the awesome site of the glacier calving.
Perhaps one of the most spectacular aspects of visiting the glaciers is not the sights, but the sounds. Like a living being, the glacier creaks and groans and the sound resonates throughout the valley. There is a constant crackling and grumbling in the air as the glacier shifts. Suddenly a loud crack booms and gives you warning of a large piece of ice falling into the water.
The weather is warmest January – Mid-March. Because of the favorable weather, it is also the most busiest and most crowded time. If you’d like to avoid the crowds, it can still be lovely to travel in Spring or Autumn. This is truly a awe-inspiring trip. Contact Marie to learn more about the Argentina Highlights vacation offered by Mongrams (a division of Globus Tours).
(From the Radio city Music Hall webpage) When the stock market crashed in 1929, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. held a $91 million, 24-year lease on a piece of midtown Manhattan property properly known as “the speakeasy belt.” In the midst of the country’s worst depression, he made a bold decision that would leave a lasting impact on the city’s architectural and cultural landscape. He decided to build an entire complex of buildings on the property-buildings so superior that they would attract commercial tenants even in a depressed city flooded with vacant rental space. The project would express the highest ideals of architecture and design and stand as a symbol of optimism and hope. Partnering with the Radio Corporation of America as well as impresario S.L. “Roxy” Rothafel, Rockefeller realized a fantastic dream—a theatre unlike any in the world, and the first completed project within the complex that RCA head David Sarnoff dubbed “Radio City.” Radio City Music Hall was to be a palace for the people – a place of beauty offering high-quality entertainment at prices ordinary people could afford. It was intended to entertain and amuse, but also to elevate and inspire.
Donald Deskey, a relatively unknown interior designer at the time, won the competition for design of the Music Hall’s interior spaces. In his design for the Hall, Deskey chose elegance over excess, grandeur above glitz. He designed more than thirty separate spaces, including eight lounges and smoking rooms, each with its own motif. He created a stunning tribute to “human achievement in art, science and industry. He made art an integral part of the design, engaging fine artists to create murals, wall coverings and sculpture; textile designers to develop draperies and carpets; craftsmen to make ceramics, wood panels and chandeliers. He used a brilliant combination of precious materials (including marble and gold foil), and industrial materials (including Bakelite, permatex, aluminum and cork). The strength of his achievement is reflected in how well the theatre has maintained its character over time. It was a remarkable example of contemporary design in its day and it still has the power to take the breath away. It remains an elegant, sophisticated, unified tour de force.
More than 300 million people have come to the Music Hall to enjoy stage shows, movies, concerts and special events. Everything about it is larger than life. Radio City Music Hall is the largest indoor theatre in the world. Its marquee is a full city-block long. Its auditorium measures 160 feet from back to stage and the ceiling reaches a height of 84 feet. The walls and ceiling are formed by a series of sweeping arches that define a splendid and immense curving space. Choral staircases rise up the sides toward the back wall. Actors can enter there to bring live action right into the house. There are no columns to obstruct views. Three shallow mezzanines provide comfortable seating without looming over the rear Orchestra section below. The result is that every seat in Radio City Music Hall is a good seat.
The shimmering gold stage curtain is the largest in the world. For more than sixty-five years audiences have thrilled to the sound of the “Mighty Wurlitzer” organ, which was built especially for the theatre. Its pipes, which range in size from a few inches to 32 feet, are housed in eleven separate rooms. The Hall contains more than 25,000 lights and features four-color stage lighting. And what’s a show without special effects? Original mechanisms still in use today make it possible to send up fountains of water and bring down torrents of rain. Fog and clouds are created by a mechanical system that draws steam directly from a Con Edison generating plant nearby.
Since 1933, more than seven hundred movies have opened at the Music Hall. Before long, a first showing at Radio City Music Hall guaranteed a successful run in theaters around the country. Movies such as King Kong, National Velvet, White Christmas, Mame, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, To Kill a Mockingbird, Mary Poppins and the Lion King opened at the Music Hall. Radio City featured a new movie every week accompanied by a lavish and unique stage production starring the Rockettes.
Since the 1990’s, the Rockettes have only performed at Radio City from November through January in the Christmas Spectacular. The Christmas Spectacular has been a holiday entertainment tradition since the 1930’s. And the Parade of the Wooden Soldiers, which has become synonymous with the Rockettes actually predates that! Though the look has been consistent through the decades, the technology has made the experience even more thrilling for audience members as the dancers wear customer dance shoes which house a sound transmitter so the audience never misses a tap!
Experiencing the Christmas Spectacular has been a holiday tradition for families, students and friends for decades. Ventresca Travel makes it easy for you to kick off your holiday season with the Rockettes – you can choose a one-day motorcoach trip to NYC or a 2-night NYC experience that gives you the chance to see the Christmas Spectacular and all of the splendor that is Manhattan during the holidays! Check out the options below, and contact us as soon as you can to guarantee seats are available for this always-popular event.
Strasbourg, the capital city of Alsace, offers flavors of both France and Germany because of its borderline location. It’s historic city center, the Grande Ile (Grand Island), was classified a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988, the first time such an honour was placed on an entire city center. Strasbourg is immersed in Franco-German culture, and although violently disputed througout history has been a cultural bridge between France and Germany for centures, especially through the University of Strasbourg and the coexistence of Catholic and Protestant culture. It is also home to the largest Islamic place of worship in France, the Strasbourg Grande Mosque.
Strasbourg is one of the grand old cities situated along the Rhine, one of Europe’s most beautiful rivers. Rhine river cruises can take you to other picturesque sites such as the Black Forest, Cologne, Heidelberg, and Rudesheim. Watch the video below to catch a glimpse of this remarkabel experience.