Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve India | When it comes to the conservation of wildlife, one does not instantly think of India. This country indeed got other problems to resolve. The Indian population is still growing uncontrolled, and clashes between wild elephants or tigers and humans are rising. But there are exceptions. Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve India leads the way in preserving the last remaining wild living tigers. The National Park of Ranthambhore covers almost 400 sq km. Nearest airport is the one in Jaipur, approx. 160 km northwest of Ranthambhore. From New Delhi in the north it’s a 7-hour-drive to reach this unique wildlife sanctuary. Some years ago Nat Geo Wild produced a touching documentary about a Tiger Dynasty within the borders of this NP. It’s called “Tiger Queen” and it was available on YouTube until recently. But they took down 3 of the 4 video clips. Just Part 1 of 4 is still up.
The NatGeoWild documentary is mostly about Machali (1996 – 2016), a Bengal tigress who lived in Ranthambore National Park. She played a key role in the regeneration of the tiger population in that park in the early 2000s, and was celebrated with titles such as Queen Mother of Tigers, Tigress Queen of Ranthambore, Lady of the Lakes, and Crocodile Killer. She was India’s most famous tigress. By the time she died, Machali was considered the world’s oldest tigress living in the wild.
India reportedly earned about US$10 million per year due to tourists attracted by this tigress alone. Machali won the “Lifetime Achievement Award” of Travel Operators For Tigers due to her contribution to conservation and as a tourist attraction that earned significant income for India.
In 2013, the Indian government issued a commemorative postal cover and stamp to honor tigress Machali for her ecological and economical contributions. Tigress Queen Machali died on August 18, 2016 – aged almost 20 years.
We also found this similar awesome HD video from John Uscian, taken in the Ranthambore NP in 2015:
Worldwide the tiger population has dropped by 96.8% in the last 20 Years. According to the latest estimates, there are about 3,200 tigers left in the wild on our planet. That’s a brutally sharp decline from 100,000 tigers that were estimated to be in the wild in 1990. WWF experts warn that the tiger, which is native to southern and eastern Asia, could soon become extinct soon unless urgent action is taken to prevent hunting and loss of habitat.
Where to stay in Ranthambhore
If you wallet allows some bold moves, check in at the Sher Bagh. A room for two will be approx. US$1,400 per night. But it’s worth it :)
How to get to Sher Bagh
By plane: Fly to Jaipur from New Delhi or Mumbai and then drive to Sher Bagh, approx. a 4 h drive. There is also an airfield in Sawai Madhopur at a distance of 14 kilometres and a Helipad 4 kilometres away from Sher Bagh Resort. By train: There are regular trains from New Delhi and Mumbai to Sawai Madhopur Railway Station which is just 20 minutes to Sher Bagh. By car: you would face these distances from Jaipur: 180 km, Agra: 350 km, New Delhi: 420 km, Jodhpur: 476 km.
Agriturismo Terra Rossa Pistoia | Congratulations! You just hit the jackpot, stumbling upon a 10-of-10 accommodation in Tuscany. Situated in Pistoia, Agriturismo Terra Rossa offers you a fabulous villa in a quite location with barbecue facility, breakfast, a garden, free parking, WiFi, bee hives, ducks, olive trees … But the cool part will be the overall package you get for your money.
We did stay at Agriturismo Terra Rossa for three nights in September 2017. Our goal was to outsmart those greedy hotels and car parking facilities in Florence. We did choose this location in striking distance of Florence – 30 minutes by train. Agriturismo Terra Rossa and its host Lorenzo made us feel like millionaires in Tuscany. We enjoyed silence, fresh air, sun, self-made honey, beautiful clean and stylish amenities. The farmhouse is situated in a quite area next to a small river, but only 5 km north of Pistoia’s medieval historical centre. It’s a rural place considering that wild animals constantly pass by such as deer, foxes, wild boar and porcupines. The property is simply beautiful with very clean rooms, very comfortable beds. The garden outside of the villa is gorgeous. Agriturismo Terra Rossa only rents out three rooms and they are well booked in advance. We stayed in one of the two rooms on the upper floor with private bathroom and a small balcony.
An Italian breakfast was available every morning. Booking.com rates this property as best value in Pistoia. We can only agree. You are getting more for your money compared to other properties in and around Pistoia. Florence (33 km), Lucca (38 km) and Pisa (64 km) are nearby. You are all set. Enjoy every minute on that property.
Germany’s Baltic Sea | The Baltic Sea Coast of Germany is a popular vacation region – among Germans. International tourists are rare or they are Swedish and drunk. Germany’s Baltic Sea Coast is located in the northern federal states of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Schleswig-Holstein. Besides the obvious draw of a beach destination, many of the old coastal cities bear witness to a former wealth: The Hanseatic League (Hanse). The Hanseatic League was a powerful economic and defensive alliance in the middle ages that left a great cultural and architectural heritage. It is especially renowned for its red brick gothic monuments, such as St. Nikolai and the city hall of Stralsund and the Holsten Gate of Lübeck.
Germany’s Baltic Sea Coast offers a variety of sights in particular on the islands of Rügen and Usedom as well as in Stralsund, Lübeck, Rostock and Wismar. Tourists interested in culture and nature are provided with lots of opportunities: Brick Gothic churches and reed covered houses, the Chalk Cliffs of Königsstuhl, Marzipan, nudist beaches and bad weather.
Best time to explore Germany’s Baltic Sea is between June and August. But there is no guarantee for sunshine. The coast is unpredictable. Expect nothing weather wise and you be thankful for any sunny day.
Where to stay at Germany’s Baltic Sea Coast
The amount of accommodation available at Germany’s Baltic Sea goes far beyond 10,000 properties. And booking.com ratings testify: almost 2,000 of them are excellent. We picked a few pearls. No. 1: the Ruegen Ferienhof at Lieschow 26 a/b, 18569 Ummanz. This will be living on a farm – very suitable for families with kids. No. 2: Roewers Privathotel in Sellin. It got modern hotel facilities perfectly fitting into an old building. No. 3: urlaubsart – Schleibrücke. That’s a resort in Kappeln, somewhere between Kiel and Flensburg. It provides a range of ground-floor and duplex apartments, most of with a view of the sea.
Top 10 Statues Worldwide | Let’s go sculpture hunting! Taking their age and size into consideration these are the Top 10 Statues Worldwide – most amazing, most realistic! Half of them you will be able to catch within one vacation in Middle Europe. Your journey would include Berlin, Rome, Florence and Paris. But the remaining five statues really let your travel expenses skyrock, since you need to make it to New York, Cairo, Easter Islands, Volgograd and Xi’an …
Top 10 Statues Worldwide: Sphinx
by Pharaoh Khafre = THE OLDEST Year of Make: 2500 BC | Material: Stone | Location: Giza, Egypt
The creator of the great Sphinx statue is not known clearly. However, there are reports that it was constructed in about 2500 BC by Pharaoh Khafre, who was also believed to have built the second pyramid located at Giza. The face model which the Sphinx represents is also not known. Located at the Giza plateau near Cairo, the “Sphinx” is among the oldest statues that still exist. Though considerably small in size compared to the surrounding pyramids, The Great Sphinx is the world’s biggest monolith statue.
by Thutmose = THE MOST BEAUTIFUL Year of Make: 1345 BC | Material: Limestone/Stucco | Location: Neues Museum in Berlin, Germany
Nefertiti’s Bust is so famous that it became one of the most copied works of ancient Egypt. This masterpiece is attributed to the Egyptian sculptor Thutmose, because it was found in his workshop in 1912 by German archeologists.
What’s so special about it? The bust is notable for exemplifying the highly educated understanding Ancient Egyptians had regarding realistic facial proportions. Always keep in mind: it was made 3,300 years ago. Mankind probably has not reached this level of skill before, and only recently came close to it again with one of Michelangelo’s statues: David.
The Nefertiti bust shows the Royal wife of Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten. The work is believed to have been crafted in 1345 BC by sculptor Thutmose, because it was found in his workshop in Amarna, Egypt. Owing to the work, Nefertiti has become one of the most famous women of the ancient world, and an icon of feminine beauty. A German archaeological team led by Ludwig Borchardt discovered the Nefertiti bust in 1912. It has been kept at various locations in Germany since its discovery, including the cellar of a bank, a salt mine in Merkers-Kieselbach, the Dahlem museum, the Egyptian Museum in Charlottenburg and the Altes Museum. It is currently on display at the Neues Museum in Berlin, where it was originally displayed before World War II.
The Nefertiti bust is a cultural symbol of Berlin as well as ancient Egypt. Today Nefertiti herself has become an icon too. She is widely known for her beauty and versatility. It has also been the subject of an intense arguments between Egypt and Germany over Egyptian demands for its repatriation. But with the current threats of IS to destroy ancient art in Egypt one should be grateful to know she is save in Berlin.
Venus de Milo
by Alezandros of Antioch = THE BROKEN Year of Make: 100 BC | Material: Marble | Location: Louvre in Paris, France
Based on the information found on the sculpture’s base, Venus de Milo was initially thought to have been shaped by Greek artist Alexandros from Antioch. At first, it was erroneously credited to the chief sculptor Praxiteles. What has surprised many is the allegations that it was found inadvertently in a farmer’s field. Venus de Milo artifact was shaped between 100 and 130 BC. The statue is currently displayed at the Louvre Museum in Paris. The standing marble structure of 2.03 meters high is believed to represent Aphrodite, Greek beauty and Goddess of Love. Unfortunately the original base and arms have been lost. But the rest still makes it into Sculpture Hunter’s Top 10. The statue is named after the Greek island of Milos, where it was discovered.
by Polynesian Colonizers = THE MOST REMOTE Years of Make: 1250-1500 | Material: Stone | Location: Easter Island, Chile
The world famous sculptures Moai are believed to be a representation of deceased ancestors as well as the incarnation of powerful living of the previous chiefs. By the time the Europeans visited the land in the early 19th century, they were still standing but some have been cast down as clans clashed.
What’s so special about it? These guys are freaking heavy and hard to move for a 15th century remote tribe. The tallest of them is called “Paro” -> 10 meters high. The dude weights 75,000kg. But the heaviest of all weights astonishing 86,000kg. An unfinished version – Moai Te Tokanga – was supposed to become 21.65m in height. Unfortunately his guy has never been completely carved out of its rock at Mount Raraku. The Rakaku volcano was turned into some kind of Moai factory by Polynesion colonizers. This location is the heart of ancient Rapa Nui society with hundreds of abandoned Moais scattered around. Visitors can see amazing demonstrations of skills in statue carving. There are approximately 400 Moai statues left. Of those, only half are actually finished. The rest never reached completion.
by Chinese government laborers, craftsmen = THE CRAZIEST Year of Make: 246 BC | Material: Terracotta | Location: Lintong District, Xi’an, Shaanxi Provence, China
It was THE discovery of the 20th century: in 1974 local Chinese farmers stumbled upon an amazing army of terracotta soldiers. It is believed to have been constructed by approx. 700,000 workers dating back to the end of the 3rd century BC. This army is a collection of statues representing the forces of China’s 1st emperor Qin Shi Huang. All statues are of different heights – representative of their roles in the army, including chariots, warriors and horses. What we have here is most likely a form of funerary art of ancient China in which the King wished to continue his reign in his afterlife.
What’s so special about it? Please go ahead and finance the construction of 8,000 terracotta soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses – each looking different. And make sure they last 2000 years without falling apart. The level of craziness of Qin Shi Huang might only be topped by those three giant Pyramids in Egypt (Menkaure, Khafre and Khufu), which is another spectacular example of wasted human energy. China’s Terracotta Army is part of a much larger necropolis, covering a vast area surrounding the first emperor’s tomb mound. The earthen tomb mound is located at the foot of Mount Li and built in a pyramidal shape, with Qin Shi Huang’s necropolis complex constructed as a microcosm of his imperial palace or compound. Until today his warriors stand guard to the east of the tomb. It consists of several offices, halls, stables, and other structures placed around the tomb mound, which is surrounded by two solidly built rammed earth walls with gateway entrances. Up to 5 metres of reddish and soil had accumulated over the site in the two millennia following its construction, but archaeologists found evidence of earlier disturbances at the site. During the excavations they found several graves dating from the 18th and 19th centuries, where diggers had apparently struck terracotta fragments, discarded as worthless and used it along with soil to back fill the excavations.
by Michelangelo = THE MOST REALISTIC Year of Make: 1499 | Material: Marble | Location: St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Italy
Pieta is an extraordinary marble structure shaped up by Michelangelo Buonarroti. It is a representation of Jesus Christ in the arms of Mary, his mother. This is one of the most remarkable sculptures that brought Michelangelo to light. During this time, Michelangelo was barely 20 years old when he was asked to come up with a sculpture of Virgin Mary with her son in her arms. With nearly 2 years, Michelangelo managed to explore the utmost of his talent as well as the potential of the single slab of marble and thus brought one of the most famous sculptures to this world.
by Michelangelo = THE PERFECT Year of Make: 1504 | Material: Marble | Location: Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence, Italy
David is an outstanding masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture created between 1501 and 1504 by Michelangelo. It’s a 5.17m marble statue of a standing male nude, representing the Biblical hero David – a favoured subject in the art of medieval Florence. Originally commissioned as one of a series of statues of prophets to be positioned along the roofline of the east end of Florence Cathedral, the statue was placed instead in a public square, outside the Palazzo della Signoria, the seat of civic government in Florence, where it was unveiled on September 8, 1504.
What’s so special about it? The shape of this statue is as close as one can get with a marble copy of a human body. If you are looking the most realistic proportions, visit this statue. Because of the nature of hero David, the statue came to symbolize the defense of civil liberties embodied in the Republic of Florence, an independent city-state threatened on all sides by more powerful rival states and by the hegemony of the Medici family. The eyes of David, with a warning glare, were turned towards Rome. The statue was moved to the Galleria dell’Accademia, Florence, in 1873.
by Auguste Rodin = THE EROTIC Year of Make: 1882 | Material: Marble | Location: Musee Rodin in Paris, France
“The Kiss” was originally titled “Francesca da Rimini”, as it depicts the 13th-century Italian noblewoman immortalised in Dante’s Inferno (Circle 2, Canto 5) who falls in love with her husband Giovanni Malatesta’s younger brother Paolo. Having fallen in love while reading the story of Lancelot and Guinevere, the couple are discovered and killed by Francesca’s husband. In the sculpture, the book can be seen in Paolo’s hand. The lovers’ lips do not actually touch in the sculpture, suggesting that they were interrupted and met their demise without their lips ever having touched. When critics first saw the sculpture in 1887, they suggested the less specific title “Le Baiser” (English: The Kiss).
Rodin indicated that his approach to sculpting women was of homage to them and their beautiful bodies, not just submitting to men but as full partners in ardor. The consequent eroticism in the sculpture made it controversial for the mob. A bronze version of The Kiss was sent for display at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The sculpture was considered unsuitable for general display and relegated to an inner chamber with admission only by personal application. Today we might laugh about it, but yes: ordinary people were that stupid those days, and actuallys still are today. in the 21st century they just hide it a bit better.
Statue of Liberty
by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi and Gustave Eiffel = THE FREE Year of Make: 1884 | Material: Copper | Location: Liberty Island, New York, United States
Essentially, it was a gift of the French people to celebrate the centenary of the United States Declaration of Independence signing. Standing on Liberty Island, it is among the most famous sculptures and symbols on this planet. The statue shows a woman in a stola, wearing sandals and a shiny crown. The woman is trampling a loose chain and has a torch in her right hand raised high. She is also holding a tabula ansata tablet. This robed female figure represents Libertas – Roman Goddess of Liberty. Until today the Statue of Liberty is the first thing in sight for millions of immigrants who come to the United States by ship.
The Motherland Calls
by Yevgeny Vuchetich, Nikolai Nikitin = YOUNGEST AND LARGEST Year of Make: 1967 | Material: Concrete | Location: Volgograd, Russia
The Motherland Calls statue is located in Volgograd (formerly known as Stalingrad) commemorating the epic battle and deciding milestone in World War II. With 85m in height it is the largest sculpture in our Top 10 list, followed by Libertas in New York with 46m. Compared with later higher statues which are all Buddhas, The Motherland Calls is significantly more complex from an engineering point of view, due to its characteristic posture with a sword raised high in the right hand and the left hand extended in a calling gesture. 200 steps, symbolizing the 200 days of the Battle of Stalingrad lead from the bottom of the hill to the monument. The Battle of Stalingrad lastet 5 months (23 August 1942 – 2 February 1943). It is regarded as the single largest (2.2 million personnel) and bloodiest (2 million wounded, killed, captured) battles in the history of warfare. Heavy losses inflicted on the German “Wehrmacht” made it arguably the most strategically decisive battle of the whole war. It became the turning point. German forces never regained initiative in the East again, plus they lost the West because of trying to withdrew vast military forces from the West to replace their losses in the East. Until today no normal thinking human understands the reason why Germans did try to beat the Russians in Stalingrad – a place 2,700 km away from Berlin. There is no acceptable reason to try that. Same is true for Japanese troops in Thailand or Darwin, U.S. troops in Vietnam or Iraq. We can only assume brain damage in the decision makers heads.
France vs Germany | Ok, ok. It’s not entirely fair to compare France and Germany the way we do it here. It lacks a bit of scientifically proven depth. But it’s fun. Enjoy our tourist mix pics comparing elegant France with links-zwo-drei-Germany …