Monthly Archives: November 2014

A concept design of Bosco Verticale. Photo via residenzeportanuova

Milan’s Vertical Forest: The Bosco Verticale

Milan’s Vertical Forest: The Bosco Verticale

Eco sustainability is quickly becoming a hot topic in architectural design for the future, how we can better incorporate smooth, efficient man made designs and mesh them with the untamed, harsh yet beautiful properties of nature.

The eco-sustainable Bosco Veticale. Photo via greenmuze

The eco-sustainable Bosco Veticale. Photo via greenmuze

Imagine you want to live in the city, it’s handy, you’re close to your job and all the cool places you like to visit on the weekend. The only problem if you’re missing something, something natural, that being greenery, the smell of vegetation and the sound of wind through leaves.

In Milan, one of Italy’s most polluted cities, you can find the Bosco Verticale, Boeri Studio’s architectural design attempt to make a greener building for the urban lifestyle. Each proposed building can hold approximately 10,000 square metres of forest, greywater recycling will keep the trees and vegetation alive and photovoltaic panels provide power to the building. If you’ve ever wanted a home that was more attuned with nature, but still held the finesse of modern design, this is where you should live.

If youve ever wanted a home more attuned with nature. Photo via takepart

If youve ever wanted a home more attuned with nature. Photo via takepart

Stephan Boeri is the head architect and designer behind the building and while he has lived in the city his whole life is a self-described nature loving country boy.  He says that when he put forward his idea he was called crazy, not that it just be impossible generally but ridiculously expensive. The final estimated price for the towers actually only comes to about 5% more than that of any other relatively sized apartment block.

The first pair of sky scrapers being built are between 80 and 112 metres tall and can house 480 medium to large size trees, 250 smaller trees and 11,000 plants. This biological architecture took two years to conceive alongside many botanists and the trees have been specifically grown for the building. The vegetation absorbs the dust in the air and creates an adequate micro-climate for filtering sunlight and debris from entering the resident apartments. The management of the vegetation is under building regulation and will be taken up by the owners.

A mixture of small to large trees are planted on the balconies on all four sides of the towers and the diversity of the vegetation will provide habitats to birds and insects and assist in oxygen production amongst a crowded, polluted city. The plants will show difference shades depending on the seasons and absorb carbon emissions from the environment and protect the building from radiation.

Environmental and aesthetic design. Photo via flickr

Environmental and aesthetic design. Photo via flickr

The tower also combats an ever increasing problem with living spaces, the urban sprawl. This is the concept that while everyone might have a house with a nice backyard and trees, the cities and towns become far spread out to be lived in practically. To combat this is high density living in apartment blocks, the problem with this is that there almost no space for vegetation. These towers solve this problem by reducing urban sprawl at the same time offering 10,000 square kilometres of forest.

The photovoltaic energy system optimises and produces energy making the project quite energy self-sufficient. The tower has properties from one-room compact apartments to penthouses and duplexes complete with balconies to allow room for the vegetation. A huge amount of energy is also saved on heating and cooling the building. During Winter when there are less the leaves more sunlight is let in warming the building, conversely in summer more leaves on the trees block sunlight but still let cool breezes in. As well as this soil acts as a great insulator.

The design is inspired by traditional buildings in Italy covered with ivy and features lush vegetation and reportedly costs only 5% more than a traditional skyscraper. Its completion is scheduled for the end of 2014, so soon we’ll be seeing humanity’s first attempt at tackling coexistence with nature on an innovative level.

A concept design of Bosco Verticale. Photo via residenzeportanuova

A concept design of Bosco Verticale. Photo via residenzeportanuova

Feeling gutsy take a photo sitting on the edge. Photo via ilivemydreamz.blogspot.com

Preikestolen, Camping and Trekking on Norway’s Pulpit Rock

Pulpit Rock in Norway towers above the fjord below, this sheer rock wall rises a whopping 604 metres above the landscape. From below the rock wall looks like a barrier put there by the gods. From the top you can feel like a god as you gaze at the surrounding landscape, rugged and lush, and watch the powerful fjord stretch into the distance.

At the top of the rock you might feel a little concerned as there are no fences, no precautions to stop people falling. In many ways this is a good thing as this natural wonder is unblemished by the fears of litigation issues, instead trusting people to respect the danger and stay safe. Even so, those who suffer from a fear of heights will probably not venture to the edge and may even be put off by the many maniacs, who willingly dangle themselves over the edge to get that awesome new photo for their Facebook profile. Don’t worry too much though, there has yet to be an accident.

Feeling gutsy take a photo sitting on the edge. Photo via ilivemydreamz.blogspot.com

Feeling gutsy take a photo sitting on the edge. Photo via ilivemydreamz.blogspot.com

Pulpit Rock is located in the Norwegian region of Ryfylk, known this for its natural beauty and its many places to camp hike and just enjoy the scenery.

Adventure like a Norwegian through the Ryfylke

The best way to experience Pulpit rock and the surrounding areas is to really get in touch with your adventurous spirit, the area is mostly wilderness and staying in a cushy hotel would do no justice to a visit to this natural gem. Norwegians love nothing more than getting outdoors, whether it’s a gentle hike through the wilderness or climbing rocky peaks, it wouldn’t be a real trip to Norway without adventuring through the Ryfylke.

The crowning glory of the region is Pulpit Rock, the hike up to the top of pulpit rock only takes about two hours and from most reports it is only moderately difficult with many families and younger children completing the climb with ease. The best way to enjoy a day trip is to leave in the morning and have lunch at the top before venturing back down. In the winter months it can get dark quite early so venturing up late in the afternoon is not recommended.

Climbing Pulpit Rock is hardly the only thing to do in the area; there are countless other outdoor activities that can be enjoyed on your stay. If, at the top of pulpit rock, you thought the idea of being high up was fun, were you tempted to sit on the edge and laugh in the face of vertigo? If this was the case you might to try abseiling, the many cliffs and peaks in the area have provided an opportunity for people looking to take their outdoor excitement to the next level.

Other than the jutting spectacle that is Pulpit Rock there is another highly noticeable feature of the landscape that can be enjoyed, that being the fjord. This giant body of water is known as the Lysefjord and it truly a grand spectacle; from the top of Pulpit Rock you can really appreciate this slow moving azure giant as it snakes its way across the landscape. The calm slow moving nature of the fjord means it’s a perfect spot for canoeing and kayaking. The great part about canoeing is you can make it whatever you like; challenge yourself to explore as much of Fjord as possible or just sit back casually cruising, enjoying the scenery.

The calm fjord is perfect for a relaxing paddle. Photo via www.visitnorway.com

The calm fjord is perfect for a relaxing paddle. Photo via www.visitnorway.com

To cap off your adventure why not try adventuring through the wilderness, just with a bit more speed. Another popular activity is to go biking through the region, there are many tracks in the region and they range from easy to hard. Biking is a great way to maximise how much of the landscape you can explore.

Where to Pitch Your Tent

As mentioned earlier this is a trip for the adventurous and staying in a hotel is just not what you want from a trip to the region, you’re going to want to camp. This being said there are a number of different campsites in the region from which you can choose from.

One of the best places to stay is Preikestolen Camping (Preikestolen is the Norwegian name for Pulpit Rock); this is the closest campsite to Pulpit Rock itself and offers a comfortable camping experience. The camp ground has all the facilities you would need, toilets and showers, a restaurant, a reception with free wifi and a staff that will help guide you to the local activities.
They can be contacted at:

Preikestolen Camping
Preikestolvegen
4100 Jorpeland – Norway
infor@preikestolencamping.com
+47 51 74 80 77

What’s the best time to go?

Norway can get very cold during the winter and the days are quite short at this time, this is why the best time of year is the summer months, this way you can fully enjoy the hiking and camping with on long warm days.

The whole region is worth exploring just for the scenery. Photo via www.travelvivi.com

The whole region is worth exploring just for the scenery. Photo via www.travelvivi.com

The waterfalls are a popular attraction. Photo via snappcambodia

Jungle Jams in Bokor National Park

Going on an adventure through the Bokor National Park in Cambodia can be quite the surreal experience. You’re surrounded by dense forest, so typical of south east Asia but in Bokor National Park, Cambodia, it’s a little denser and a little more intense.

Thick Jungle with mist. Image iuw Flickr

Thick Jungle with mist. Image by IUW via Flickr

When you finally find a clearing up one of these forested hills you look out across the valley, where a thick mist hovers obscuring any real long distance vision. This misty forest, you now realize is your whole world.

Hiking further through the forest you find yourself in a clearing, as you look around and take in the view, the thick mists rolls away and you realize there is something very odd. An old western looking church, covered in vines stands before you, completely out of place in this wild setting. Going on further there is an even more obscure sight, like something out of science fiction, a huge run down 19th century style mansion sitting right in the middle of the Cambodian jungle, looking to be more at home in Europe.

This building is actually an old French construction built in the early 20th century by the French when they had control of the region. World War II and local insurrections caused the French many problems and in turn the buildings were abandoned during the 1940s. Continual strife in the area has meant that the buildings have been left to deteriorate as the forest encroached, creating such an odd, yet hauntingly beautiful scene.

The French left some interstingly out of place classic architecture. Photo by Alessandro Vannucci

The French left some interstingly out of place classic architecture. Photo by Alessandro Vannucci

Things to do

One of the most well-known sights in the region is the Popokvil Waterfall, also known as the “Swirling Clouds”. These picturesque falls aren’t the biggest you’ll see but they are unique and spectacular in their own way. Instead of a huge drop and raging waters these waterfalls are like a giant natural water feature. Many small cliffs over a wide area surround you with walls of falling water; the sound alone is incredibly soothing.

The waterfalls are a popular attraction. Photo via snappcambodia

The waterfalls are a popular attraction. Photo via snappcambodia

The “Black Palace” which sounds like something out of Game of Thrones but is in fact an actual place and can be found nestled in these very jungles. This relatively small unassuming building was built by King Sihanouk as a getaway in 1936. From this surprisingly subtle palace some of the area’s best views can be taken in.

The burnt out building create an eerie presence. Photo by Erika Tanith

The burnt out building create an eerie presence. Photo by Erika Tanith

One of the main attractions of the park is going to the casino and the church that are at the top of the mountains. The best way to transverse the park is to hire a scooter or a car, take your own food and spend the day exploring (there are tigers but they are all but extinct, this sad fact makes exploring by yourself relatively safe). There are many tours going through the park up to the palace and casino every day but they are not recommended.

Other than man-made structures the park and wildlife living inside are known the world over for their diversity and rarity. This national park is a favourite of bird watchers with over 300 species of birds living in the vicinity. Not only birds but amazing animals such as Indian elephants, asiatic black bears, sun bears, leopards, tigers, gibbons, mongoose, porcupines and bats just to name a few. The site is so unique and diverse that it has almost been registered as a UNESCO world heritage site; as sadly the government doesn’t have the means to use proper conservation practices on the region. It is for this reason, and the ever hastening development of the area that you should get there before it’s gone.

The quick rise in elevation make the views unreal. Photo by Two Roses via Flickr

The quick rise in elevation make the views unreal. Photo by Two Roses via Flickr

How do I get there? What’s the best time?

As far as the best time of the year to visit Bokor national park is concerned, it is the dry season ranging from November to April (For many equatorial countries looking at seasons as summer, autumn, winter, spring just doesn’t make sense, the main weather changes through the year are 6 dry months and 6 rainy months), as most of the activities are outdoors it would be preferable to most if it wasn’t raining. The only exception here is that the Popovkil falls are usually inactive for most of the dry season and are at their best through the wet season.

The easiest way to get to the Bokor National park is through the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh. From the capital there are numerous buses that travel to the national park, the capital is actually quite close and the trip isn’t even that long, for many it is done simply as a day trip.
A good place to stay is the Botanica Guesthouse just outside the park in Kep, this guesthouse offers a relaxed environment, and while the area is a little quiet you’ll probably be too tried from hiking all day in the humidity. They can be found at Road 33A Kep and can be contacted via +855 16 562 775.

Sources

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/

http://www.travelfish.org/weather/cambodia

http://phnombokor.com/

Edirne town is a cultural hub seperated from the chaos of Istanbul. Photo by Tatyana Levitskaya

Exploring Untouched Edirne, Tukey

Painting Edirne’s Picture

The edirne bridge is just one part of the rich old world culture of the town. Photo by Eren Senturk

The edirne bridge is just one part of the rich old world culture of the town. Photo by Eren Senturk

Turkey provides a fusion of many cultures, yet a tiny town named Edirne, easily overlooked, is our choice for any traveller looking to be one of a few tourists in town. This tiny town sits on the border of Bulgaria and Turkey, displaying rich culture, preserved by noble locals.

Its time to go exploring in untouched Edirne, Turkey.

Whilst bazaars are a common attraction in Turkey, Edirne just seems to do it better, less people and more adventure. The warmth of merchants and traders within the bazaar is nothing but addictive, as you find yourself endlessly wandering in and out of stalls engaging in partial conversations with locals, bringing nothing but a smile to your face.

Edirne town is a cultural hub seperated from the chaos of Istanbul. Photo by Tatyana Levitskaya

Edirne town is a cultural hub seperated from the chaos of Istanbul. Photo by Tatyana Levitskaya

Outside, the streets are bustling with kids dashing to school with freshly made ayran (Turkish yoghurt drink) in one hand and lush cherries in the other (sold on the street for a measly 2 euro a kilogram!). Followed closely behind, adults making their way to any one of the seven mosques crying out scriptures from the Quran forcing you to admire the pure beauty of this untouched civilisation.

Selimiye Mosque & health museum

Edirne is home to the beautiful Selimiye Mosque, inspired by Ottoman architecture and built on the town’s only hill; its presence is hard to miss. Standing at 43 metres, Minar Sinan’s design draws your attention to its multitude of little domes and four symmetrical minarets amplifying an upward thrust to the sky like a rocket. Whilst the Blue Mosque is widely regarded as Turkeys best Mosque, the exclusive calligraphy of Selimiye will truly astound all, setting itself apart. We recommend entering the mosque between prayer times so you can freely walk around and capture its presence in its entirety. Be sure to place yourself within the courtyard of the Mosque at dusk as the colours of the Minarets cast down contrasting beautifully with the dark blue sky, leaving you speechless.

Selimiye Mosque rivals that of the great Blue Mosque. Photo by Ilknur Susler

Selimiye Mosque rivals that of the great Blue Mosque. Photo by Ilknur Susler

A brief stroll north of the Selimiye Mosque lays the Kulliye health museum, a sacred treasure of Edirne’s colourful history. For an affordable 5TL (2 Euro) you can enter the 15th century, discovering the birthplace of advanced health technology of the Ottoman Empire serving all kind of patients.

Oil Wrestling & traditional Hammam

If you choose to visit Edirne, we recommend late June, not solely for the climate but for the festival season, famously known for its oil wrestling competition named Kirkpinar. Whilst western civilisation may forgo oil wrestling as a push around with friends, this is far from the case. Contestants travel from all over Turkey and Eastern Europe to compete, whereby men are lathered in olive oil, forced to wrestle until one competitor either pins the other to the ground or lifts his opponent above his shoulders.

The old synagogue in Edirne highlights a mix of culture. Photo by Frans Sellies

The old synagogue in Edirne highlights a mix of culture. Photo by Frans Sellies

Tourists have driven the commercialisation of Hammams within destinations like Istanbul, nevertheless Edirne’s Sokullu remains true to tradition providing a full body massage within a sensual steamy marble colosseum. Females are presented with a peaceful environment inundated with oils and soaps, whereas males are exposed to ritualistic muscular release and spinal adjustments. It is well worth the 40TL, you will thank yourself the next day.

Candy, Fruit soaps and Melting Marzipan

Edirne provides its fair share of sweetened goodness with Macun Sekeri (Ottoman Paste Candy on a stick), bursting your mouth with colourful flavour and said to be that sweet it turns your face bitter, be prepared! Badem Ezmesi (marzipan) is no exception to Edirne’s long line of culinary treats, made from almonds, water and sugar and baked providing a seamless finishing touch to any Turkish savoury meal. Both Macun Sekeri and Badem Ezmesi is best bought on the streets of Edirne and will cost 50c and 1 Euro (100g) respectively.

Fruit soaps, a fun way to stay clean and smell great. Photo by Rochelle Brickner

Fruit soaps, a fun way to stay clean and smell great. Photo by Rochelle Brickner

If you asked any local of Edirne why their town is special to the few tourists that visit, they would answer with “Edmis”. At first glance Edmis can be mistaken for everyday plastic fruit, unworthy of a second glance, however those that know, Edmis are artistically handcrafted scented fruits. Forming the backbone of Edirne, these unique soaps were once vital part of the bathing ritual providing therapeutic function through its essential oil content, however today they are looked upon only as a decoration. Made from natural green soap, rose oil and fruit scented essences, your nose is likely to fall captive to the sweet aroma. Priced at 1 TL for one piece or a basket for 6TL it is well worth the investment.

How to get to Edirne and where to stay

The easiest way to reach Edirne is by bus from Istanbul. Departures are at various times of the day taking 2 hours and 30 minutes costing 27 TL (10 Euro). Once at Edirne bus station, a free minibus service will take you to the city centre.

For those with a mid-range budget we recommend staying at the Tuna Hotel for 75TL for a single including breakfast.

The Brasov town Square encapsulates the Baroque architecture that still strongly permeates the city. Photo via www.flickr.com

Discovering Brasov in Transylvania

The Beauty of Transylvania

Nestled in the heart of Transylvania and bounded by the peaks of the Carpathian Mountains sits the eloquent city of Brasov (Bra-shove). The contrasting colours of the lush green landscape against the blistering orange-tiled roofs will leave you breathless, as you find yourself within the life and times of the baroque period.

The Brasov town Square encapsulates the Baroque architecture that still strongly permeates the city. Photo via www.flickr.com

The Brasov town Square encapsulates the Baroque architecture that still strongly permeates the city. Photo via www.flickr.com

Weaving through the maze-like streets of the new town it is easy to become overwhelmed by the untouched baroque architectures, centred on the picturesque council square known to the Saxon people as Marktplatz. Brasov’s town square is tantalising due to its archaic foundation harbouring modern activities, from exquisite dining (we recommend Sergiana, a traditional Dacian restaurant) to an evening Saxon trumpet show, harmonising a perfect night’s end.

Brasovs old town is its cultural heart. Photo by Travis Ferland via Flickr

Brasovs old town is its cultural heart. Photo by Travis Ferland via Flickr

But discovering Brasov in Transylvania does not end in just one night.

Mount Tampa and a journey through Brasov

Mount Tampa sits at the edge of the city providing a spectacular view of medieval Brasov which can be reached by cable car or an exploratory walk up one of the paths winding up 900 metres above sea level. The peak provides an exclusive perspective of the fortification of Brasov, enclosed by kilometres of brick and mortar which once upon a time, played a significant role in the protection of the crown state through many battles.

From Mount Tampa can get a great view. (gondola). Image via dangerous business

From Mount Tampa you can get a great view. (gondola). Image via dangerous business

Descending Mount Tampa, we highly recommend detouring past the Black Church. As suggested by the name, the structure possesses a dark past; according to the legend in 1383 a German child who criticised the angle of the newly built church was pushed off the church tower by an aggravated citizen. He then buried the corpse within the church thus concealing the crime.

The Black Church and its dark past is iconic of eastern Europe. Image via melbo.net

The Black Church and its dark past is iconic of eastern Europe. Image via melbo.net

The bad omens continue – 300 years later, during The Great Turkish War (1689) half of the church was burnt, creating its ‘black’ complexion adding to its imposing force leaving you overwhelmed with goosebumps. Trundling back through the old city, it may be easy to miss Rope Street or proudly known to locals as Poarta Schei, with a width of almost 1.3 metres you can understand why. The narrowest street in Europe connects two main roads of Brasov, which was formally a corridor for fireman. Remember your camera and be quick, as small spaces and eager tourists are never a good mix!

Draculas Tale and a winters delight

30 kilometres south west of Brasov, situated on the border of Transylvania and Wallachia lies Bran Castle or commonly known as “Draculas Castle”. Whilst the castle itself isn’t anything to write home about, the storyline is the main tourist drawcard. Whether or not you believe in Bram Stokers novel claiming Vlad the Impalers (Vlad III) existence at Bran, don’t be afraid to be swept off your feet by the fun, fictional ride. Don’t forget to pick up some overly tacky Dracula Merch!

Poiana Brasov is esepcially scenic during the winter months. Image via Madaline Gheorghe

Poiana Brasov is esepcially scenic during the winter months. Image via Madaline Gheorghe

If you are lucky enough to find yourself in Brasov in the winter, not only are you engulfed by Carpathian peaks dusted with fluffy white snow, you are a short 20 minute bus ride to one of the most sought after snow fields in all of Eastern Europe. After it’s modernization in 2010, Poiana Brasov attracts countless winter sports enthusiasts with up to 10 main ski/snowboard slopes within the resort. After a big day on the fields, tuck down for a meal at Sura Dacilor (The Dacians Barn) whilst indulging in a traditional mulled wine and a pepper spiced alcoholic drink known as țuică.

History and how to get to Brasov

Aforementioned, Brasov radiates wealth due to its previous connections with Moldavia and Valachia, but also it’s fortunate central position within Romania allowed merchants to trade growing the Brasov economy exponentially. Brasov is made up of a majority Romanians, with a small percentage of Hungarians and Germans (Saxons), giving the town a cultural fusion of entertainment, food, nightlife and fun.

Make sure that you explore the incredible streets of Brasov, Transylvania. Photo via romaniadacia

Make sure that you explore the incredible streets of Brasov, Transylvania. Photo via romaniadacia

Currently Brasov has no civilian airport; however development has begun for an airport by 2015-2016. Otepeni airport (Bucharest) is three hours south by car. We highly recommend jumping on a train to Brasov as it is a major Romanian rail hub with daily connections from Bucharest, Vienna and Budapest.