Saturday, 30 May 2009

Interesting Comparison

Look At The Food They Bought For One Week and The Number Of Persons In The Family

GERMANY: The Melander family of Bargteheide - 2 adults, 2 teenagers

Food expenditure for one week: 375.39 Euros or $500.07

UNITED STATES: The Revis family of North Carolina - 2 adults, 2 teenagers

Food expenditure for one week: $341.98

JAPAN: The Ukita family of Kodaira City - 2 adults, 2 teenagers

Food expenditure for one week: 37,699 Yen or $317.25

ITALY: The Manzo family of Sicily - 2 adults, 3 kids

Food expenditure for one week: 214.36 Euros or $260.11

MEXICO: The Casales family of Cuernavaca - 2 adults, 3 kids

Food expenditure for one week: 1,862.78 Mexican Pesos or $189.09

POLAND: The Sobczynscy family of Konstancin-Jeziorna - 4 adults, 1 teenager

Food expenditure for one week: 582.48 Zlotys or $151.27

EGYPT: The Ahmed family of Cairo - 7 adults, 5 kids

Food expenditure for one week: 387.85 Egyptian Pounds or $68.53

ECUADOR: The Ayme family of Tingo - 4 adults, 5 teenagers

Food expenditure for one week: $31.55

BHUTAN: The Namgay family of Shingkhey Village - 7 adults, 6 kids

Food expenditure for one week: 224.93 Ngultrum or $5.03

CHAD: The Aboubakar family of Breidjing Camp - 3 adults, 3 kids
Food expenditure for one week: 685 CFA Francs or $1.23

Friday, 29 May 2009

Top 10 U.S. Shores of 2009

01 - Hanalei Bay, Kauai, Hawaii

The white-sand, crescent-shaped beach of Hanalei Bay in Kauai, Hawaii, (above, a woman dips her feet in the surf) has earned the title of best American beach in 2009, a coastal expert announced.

Stephen Leatherman, better known as Dr. Beach, has compiled his annual list of the top ten U.S. beaches for the past 19 years, rating coastlines on 50 criteria that include the presence of native plants, water quality, and overcrowding.

The 2-mile (3.2-kilometer) strand of Hanalei Bay--lined with palm trees and set against a backdrop of waterfalls and 4,000-foot (1,219-meter) mountain peaks--"is one of those places that people say is one of the most beautiful areas in Hawaii," said Leatherman, of Florida International University's Laboratory for Coastal Research.

Well off the beaten path, Hanalei Bay gets more rain than other Hawaiian islands and has "spectacular" plant and animal life, Leatherman added. Hanalei Bay moved up from second place in Dr. Beach's 2008 top ten ranking.

02 - Siesta Beach, Sarasota, Florida

With some of the finest, whitest sand in the world, Florida's Siesta Beach (above) came in second among this year's top ten beaches in the U.S., a coastal expert announced on May 22, 2009.

The beach's unpolluted sand and recreational opportunities--including unique underwater formations that attract snorkelers and scuba divers--led Stephen Leatherman, or Dr. Beach, to add Siesta to his annual list.

Leatherman judges beaches on 50 criteria, rating each variable on a one-to-five scale, with five being the highest. He takes off points for exotic plants, overcrowding, and too much development near the shoreline, among other factors.

03 - Coopers Beach, Southampton, New York

On the south shore of Long Island, New York, Coopers Beach (above) is surrounded by large sand dunes dotted with American beach grass.

The beach, made of grainy white-quartz sand, was selected as the third best U.S. beach of 2009 according to the Laboratory for Coastal Research's annual Top 10 Beaches ranking.

Each year 85 percent of people in the U.S. who go on vacation visit a beach, said coastal expert Stephen Leatherman, making the shore the number one recreational destination.

04 - Coronado Beach, San Diego, California

A "veritable oasis by the sea," San Diego's Coronado Beach (above, a man searches for sand dollars) has lush subtropical vegetation, a Mediterranean climate, and a warm and mild surf, according to coastal expert Stephen Leatherman.

A local landmark, the Hotel del Coronado, was built more than a hundred years ago and offers "spectacular" architecture, he added.

Leatherman rated Coronado as the fourth best beach in America in his list of the top ten beaches of 2009. The annual ranking, now in its 19th year, has a positive impact on the managers of poorer-quality beaches, he said.

"We're recognizing those great-quality beaches, and it's something for the others to aspire to."

05 - Hamoa Beach, Maui, Hawaii

Ernest Hemingway once said that Hamoa Beach (above) was the world's best beach--so it's no surprise the coral-and-lava-sand shore made it on to the list of America's top ten beaches of 2009.

Hamoa is rimmed by cliffs and covered with coconut palms and "beautiful" flowering vegetation, said coastal expert Stephen Leatherman.

In judging a beach, Leatherman first examines whether there is clean sand and water. He uses U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data, for example, to determine a coastal area's water quality.

06 - Main Beach, East Hampton, New York

A 300-year-old conservation agreement has protected East Hampton's Main Beach from overdevelopment, earning it a spot on the 2009 Top 10 Beaches ranking.

Coastal expert Stephen Leatherman, who researches the annual list, takes points off for overdevelopment and overcrowding.

If beach blankets must be placed side-to-side - creating a patchwork-quilt effect - the beach is deemed overcrowded. Likewise, beaches with high-rises or buildings close to the water don't rank highly, Leatherman said.

Some resorts provide an "ecological buffer zone" between the hotels and the natural beach, he said, allowing native coastal vegetation to thrive.

07 - Cape Hatteras, Outer Banks, North Carolina

The barrier island of Cape Hatteras was the first U.S. National Seashore, designated as part of a program that sets aside coastal areas for preservation.

With its historic fishing villages and some of the best surfing along the East Coast (above, surfers walk through beach grass), the cape was included in the 2009 Top 10 Beaches ranking, as judged by Florida International University's Laboratory for Coastal Research.

Coastal expert Stephen Leatherman, who researched the list, plans to launch a new program that will allow beaches to become certified as environmentally safe destinations.

08 - Cape Florida State Park, Key Biscayne, Florida

A large offshore sand shoal makes the emerald-colored waters off Cape Florida State Park ideal for swimming for humans and sea life alike (above, two Atlantic green sea turtles are released into the ocean in 1983).

The park was designated as the eighth best U.S. beach on the 2009 Top 10 Beaches ranking.

The Cape Florida Lighthouse (above, in the distance) allows for a "breathtaking view of this beautiful beach," added coastal expert Stephen Leatherman, who helps compile the annual list for Florida International University's Laboratory for Coastal Research.

09 - Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Accessible only by bicycle or shuttle bus, Coast Guard Beach in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, has coarse sand that creates steep slopes down to the water's edge.

Swimming is only possible during the summer, when water temperatures hover around 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 to 21.1 Celsius). At other times visitors can explore the old Coast Guard station atop the bluffs, which offers a sweeping view of the barrier islands and the bay.

Coastal expert Stephen Leatherman, who chose the beach as the ninth best in the U.S. for 2009, said that the overall popularity of beaches in general makes their conservation crucial.

"We're trying to [strike] a delicate balance between making the resource available and preserving the environment," he said.

10. Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, South Carolina

South of Charleston, Beachwalker Park (above) is a public beach with plenty of recreational opportunities.

Visitors can canoe and kayak through tidal inlets - home to thousands of birds - or bike along the compact sand of the 10-mile (16.1-kilometer) barrier island.

The park was ranked tenth in the 2009 Top 10 Beaches list, compiled by coastal expert Stephen Leatherman of Florida International University's Laboratory for Coastal Research.

"I'm still in search of the perfect beach," Leatherman said. "The good news is I've found a lot of good ones in the U.S."

Bolivia Salt Hotel

UYUNI SALT FLATS, Bolivia - On the bulletin board of the hotel rising out of a surreal moonscape high in the Andes, somebody posted a note: "Please don't lick the walls."

The walls, you see, are made of salt. In fact, much of the hotel - the roof, some beds, chairs, tables and bar - are made of salt. Even the floor is covered with salt granules.

The hotel, recently renamed the Salt Palace and Spa, sits in the middle of the Uyuni Salt Flats - Salar de Uyuni - a prehistoric lake of salt near the Chilean border, covering 40 square miles at an altitude of 12,500 feet.

The salt flat is bordered by a strange land of volcanoes and geysers, flamingoes and cactus, with a rich history and spectacular scenery that has become one of Bolivia's main tourist destinations.

A railroad "graveyard" in the village of Uyuni southeast of the salt pan, was once an important railroad junction. It has vintage locomotives and boxcars that recall the days when Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid robbed trains and banks before being gunned down in 1908 not far from here.

Juan Quesada, an adventurous tourism operator, built the hotel with 14-by-14-inch hard blocks of salt cut with axes out of the salt flat.

Twelve guest rooms with 24 beds and shared bathrooms surround a central courtyard. The intense sun heats the blocks of salt during the day and at night the bedrooms remain cozy while outside temperatures drop below freezing.

I spent two nights at the hotel and found the rooms comfortable and dry with no salty smell. There are flush toilets, but no showers.

One night we dined on barbecued llama meat. Quite tasty.

The hotel, built four years ago, charges $50 for a single, $60 for a double. There is a separate building at cheaper rates for backpackers.

As interesting as the hotel is, the scenery around it is breathtaking. During sunsets and sunrises, the sun casts shadows on the white expanse and geometric forms shaped by salt crystals. Star-watching is dazzling.

The nearest town to the hotel is Uyuni, once one of the country's premier railroad centers, 220 miles south of La Paz.

Minerals are still mined, but it's the tourist industry that is fast changing the region, bringing in money and creating jobs. An estimated 15,000 tourists last year visited the salt flats and Fisherman's Island that lies in the middle of the flats.

On Fisherman's Island - Isla de Pescadores - there are thousands of cactuses, some of them 30 feet high, and a stranded colony of vizcachas, long-tailed rodents related to the chinchilla.

Around the flats, tourists encounter herds of graceful and shy vicunas (relatives of llamas) and dozens of pink flamingoes.

Laguana Colorada in the highlands of this far southwest corner of Bolivia is a fiery-red lake. Birdwatchers are interested in the rare James' flamingoes that inhabit the lake.

Hundreds of Quechua Indians in surrounding villages make a living scraping layers of salt for processing into table salt, or by cutting blocks of salt. After a block the size of a shoe box is cut, brine that lies just below the surface rapidly fills the hole. After a few days, the surface becomes hard as rock.

Today, the salt is carried on rusty trucks to nearby villages where residents make a living by drying, grinding, adding iodine and packaging the salt.

Many quaint villages with beautiful churches that flourished around the salt flats for centuries are being revived thanks to tourism and aid-developed farming.

"Please don't lick the walls."

If you go

Accommodations: Reservations for the Salt Palace and Spa can be made through Hidalgo Tours, fax 591-62-25186. The address is P.B. 314, Potosi, Bolivia.

Getting there: The Andina Train Company offers service to Uyuni on Mondays and Fridays. The Copacabana and Nobleza buses under contract to Andina leave La Paz at 6 a.m, connect with the train in Oruro and depart at 10:10 a.m. for Uyuni. Trains arrive at Uyuni at 4:25 p.m. For reservations contact Andina in La Paz at 591-2-391-770.

Tours: Ecological Expeditions offers a six-day, five-night tour to the Uyuni Salt Flats, Pescador Island, Laguna Colorada and outlying communities. Reservations can be made at 591-2-365-047. E-mail is


Gibraltar Airport

Gibraltar Airport

Probably the only airport in the world to have a public road run across the runway.

Gibraltar Airport (IATA: GIB, ICAO: LXGB) is the only airport in the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar on the Iberian Peninsula. It is owned by the Ministry Of Defence. Civilian operators use the airport; currently the only scheduled flights operate to the United Kingdom and Spain. Passengers depart and arrive through the civilian operated terminal.

Gibraltar Airport has the distinction of being the closest international airport to the city that it serves, being only 500 metres from Gibraltar's city centre. In 2004 the airport handled 314,375 passengers and 380 tonnes of cargo. Gibraltar Airport is one of the few Class A airports in the world.

The airport was constructed during World War II upon the colony's race course (introduced by the Maltese), when Gibraltar was an important naval base for the British. Originally opened in 1939, it was only an emergency airfield for the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm. However, it was later extended by reclaiming some land, allowing larger aircraft to land.

Spain's continuing sovereignty dispute with the United Kingdom over the territory where the airport stands (different to the generic one on Gibraltar itself) has seriously affected the airport's operations. In December 2, 1987, an agreement was signed between the governments of the United Kingdom and Spain to allow the joint civil use of the airport . The agreement foresaw the building of a new terminal at La Línea de la Concepción, Cádiz, Spain, adjacent to the northern side of the existing frontier-fence. However, the agreement was blocked by the Government of Gibraltar, led from 1988, by Joe Bossano. As a result, the agreement was never implemented.

Since then, Spain successfully excluded Gibraltar from European wide de-regulation initiatives, preventing direct links from Gibraltar to the rest of the European Union (except the UK), on the grounds that no regulation that somehow recognizes the sovereignty of the United Kingdom over the isthmus may be implemented without a previous agreement on the airport.

By late 2005 and early 2006, the implementation of a new agreement, sort of a refurbished version of the 1987 agreement, is one of the main topics of the tri-partite talks being held between the Governments of Spain, Gibraltar and the United Kingdom.

On 18 September 2006, the Cordoba Accord was signed by the United Kingdom, the Kingdom of Spain and Gibraltar. This ended all discriminatory restrictions on civilian flights to Gibraltar Airport, including the prohibition of flights over Spanish soil, and exclusion of Gibraltar from all EU agreements on air transport, allowing civilian flights from all nations into Gibraltar Airport.

On 17 November 2006, Iberia announced that it would start flights from Madrid to Gibraltar using Airbus A319 aircraft. This is a landmark move as no Spanish airline has flown to Gibraltar since 1979, because of its disputed status.

The first Iberia flight landed at Gibraltar Airport on December 16, 2006 from Madrid with some members of the Spanish Government onboard. British Airways operated a one-off flight in the other direction with a group of children from Gibraltar making up some of the passengers, and since May 2007 has been running a regular service between Madrid and Gibraltar.

Source: Wikipedia

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