Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia, and one of the oldest cities in the Pacific Northwest. And, among other unique things, it is the home to the narrowest street in all of Canada, Fan Tan Alley. During the gold rush period of the nineteenth century, Victoria attracted a large number of Chinese immigrants, who formed their own district in the city, an area that is also the oldest Chinatown in Canada. Fan Tan Alley was a narrow street in this area, and an area of ill-repute, full of opium dens, gambling, and various other illicit activities. However, a hundred and sixty some years later, its narrow passageway is known as a tourist mecca, both for people who like strange, narrow streets, and for people who like to explore the history and shops of Victoria. At its narrowest point, the alley is just under four feet wide, and has been featured in a number of movies, including Bird on a Wire.
Although London has a plethora of historic and iconic locations, one of the top destinations is and has been the distinctive Tower Bridge. The Tower Bridge is also not to be confused with London Bridge, which sits nearby on the Thames, and has been replaced on numerous occasions over the last two thousand years. The Tower Bridge was designed by Horace Jones and John Wolfe Barry with two towers that were connected by two upper horizontal walkways; and at the time of its opening, it was the largest – and most sophisticated bascule bridge in the world. Construction of the bridge took eight years (1886-1984), and over 70,000 tons of concrete and 10,000 tons of steel. Since 1894, the bridge has been open to foot, vehicle, and water traffic, although the internal engines of the bridge have been replaced, and the original upper walkways have been renovated since the opening. While any pedestrian can walk across the Tower Bridge, or admire it from the nearby Tower of London, since 1982 the bridge has been a working museum as well with the “Tower Bridge Experience”; and since 2012, the Tower Bridge Experience has featured glass bottomed walkways in the upper horizontal passthroughs.
From Baja California through the Los Angeles basin, there are many pieces of rock art that link today’s California to the California of the past. While many of these pieces are located in hard to reach places, and have suffered the ravages of time, or mankind, the Cave of the Four Horsemen in Malibu is a location that has been both well-preserved, and for the most part, is easily accessible. Officially known as the “Saddle Rock Pictograph Site”, the Cave of the Four Horseman is a pictograph site located in a rockshelter in Malibu, and is the best preserved rock art of the Chumash tribe. While the Chumash inhabited the Los Angeles basin from 5,000 B.C. onward, the Cave of the Four Horsemen is unique because it depicts the expedition of Gaspar de Portola, which passed through the region in 1769-1770. Although the rockshelter has a plethora of fine paintings that have survived, the signature pictographs depict four individual men on horseback, and is the inspiration for the cave’s name.
Although almost every town of France is charming and picturesque in its own way, one of the best towns, if not the best, is Annecy, which is known as both the “Pearl of the Alps” and the “Venice of the Alps”. Located in the Haute-Savoie region of France, Annecy sits in a unique location with river canals, an alpine lake, and easy access to the foothills of the Alps along with the larger peaks of the range. Annecy is also a historic town, with roots stretching back to the tenth century, the Duchy of Savoy, and a number of items that affected French history, such as the counter-reformation and the French Revolution. With its old town, expansive lakeside park, and associated outdoor activities, Annecy is a town a visitor could spend numerous days in easily; but whether one is spending a day or longer there, these locations in and around Annecy will keep one busy no matter the time of year.
San Diego County has many high points of over a thousand feet; and out of these high points, some are more popular than others. While there are many lists of mountains that can be climbed, the main list for hiking enthusiasts in the confines of the county is the Sierra Club “100 Peaks” list. Over the years, due to a variety of factors, some of the peaks on the list have been exchanged for others. Despite the changes, the mountains that originally started on the list have remained, and in most cases, are still accessible. One of the original peaks of the “100 Peaks” list, Potrero Peak was removed, but is to this day, remains accessible for hikers in the county who want to climb a mountain along the Border Range.
Among other things, Iceland is an amazing place to visit because of its impressive geologic features. When traveling around the Ring Road, one can see lava fields, green rolling hills, tall mountains, moon-like black sand, lakes, ocean, rivers, and more all within a four hour span. Although Iceland has been formed by a plethora of events, the main factor in its creation has been its position on the mid-Atlantic Ridge in the Atlantic Ocean. The mid-Atlantic Ridge is the largest mountain range on the planet, invisibly stretching over 10,000 underwater miles. It is also the boundary of North American and Eurasian plates, which have been moving apart for over one hundred and fifty million years. This movement has caused a continuous flow of magma from the Earth’s core into the ocean, forming the Ridge, and Iceland itself. On a yearly basis, the plates continue to move approximately 2 centimeters further apart. As a result of this movement, in 1789, this pressure was released in the area now known as Þingvellir National Park with the creation of a series of rifts (fissures) in the surrounding region. After it was created by seismic activity, the main rift immediate filled with water from an underground aquifer, and is now known as the Silfra Fissure.
In the middle of a huge lava field, halfway between Keflavik International Airport and Reykjavik lies Iceland’s most popular tourist attraction, the Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa (or simply “the Blue Lagoon”). While a majority of Iceland is visually stunning, with tall snow-capped mountains, waterfalls, and green expanses, this portion of the country looks more like the moon. The Blue Lagoon as well looks like something from another planet with its iridescent blue shade and steaming hot water. While Iceland is the world’s leader in geothermal energy because of its position on a number of volcanoes, and does have a number of natural geothermal pools, the Blue Lagoon is not one of them.