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Top Attractions for Jodhpur Travel

The majestic city of Jodhpur is a sight to behold. Dating back thousands of years ago, this city in India is the second largest city in the state of Rajasthan. Jodhpur is often called the Blue City, because of the bright blue hues of its old houses. But it is also known as the Sun City, in large part due to the sunny weather that shines on the city for the majority of the year. Travelers have always loved visiting Jodhpur because of the breath-taking palaces, forts and buildings that can be found in the city.

Jodhpur travel

Leafcanoer, aartideetoo, recently shared their experiences in Jodhpur in the leaf, “Blue Jodhpur – Sun City of India.” In it, aartideetoo highlights the top attractions to visit for Jodhpur travel.

Here is a look at the top attractions to visit in Jodhpur:

Umaid Bhawan Palace
The Umaid Bhawan Palace is known as one of the largest private residences in the world, partially managed by the Taj Hotels chain. The palace was built between 1929 and 1943, and has over 300 rooms, some of which house the Jodhpur royal family. Part of the palace also houses a museum, which is open to the public to tour.

The palace is built from a combination of sandstone and marble, set over 26 acres of land. As the Jodhpur royal family still lives within the palace, there are a number of decorations dedicated to the royal family, including the family’s coat of arms. The palace architecture pulls from Indo-Gothic, Classical Revival, and Art Deco styles, as well as influences from traditional Hindu and Buddhist architecture. The result is a magnificent space worth visiting.

Jodhpur travel

Jaswant Thada
The tomblike monument of Jaswant Thada was built in 1899 by Maharaja Sardar Singh, in honor of his father, Maharaja Jaswant Singh. The structure of the memorial is built from carved sheets of marble, and the grounds surrounding the monument include a garden, lake, gazebos, and several other mausoleums.

Jodhpur travel

Mehrangarh Fort
The highlight of any trip to Jodhpur is a visit to Mehrangarh Fort, one of the largest forts in India. Set on a hill 410 feet above the city, the Mehrangarh Fort is a looming and imposing presence in the city of Jodhpur. The structure is enclosed by thick walls, and within these walls are several palaces and gardens worth exploring, as well as a museum that is open to the public. Visitors can view the museum’s large collection of palanquins, the popular mode of transportation for the Indian nobility, as well a rare collection of armory from every historical era in Jodhpur.

The Mehrangarh Fort was initially built in 1460 by Rao Jodha as a way to protect the newly founded city of Jodhpur. However, the fort took over 500 years to be completed, with the latest installation completed in the 20th century. The fort can be entered through a series of seven gates, the most notable of which are Jai Pol (Gate of Victory), Fateh Pol, Dedh Kamgra Pol, and Loha Pol.

Visitors to Mehrangarh Fort can also explore the area surrounding the fort. The Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park, adjacent to Mehrangarh Fort, was created in 2006 in an effort to restore the natural landscape and ecology of the area. There are several trails that visitors can follow to explore the 200 acre park, providing travelers an opportunity to see the plants native to the area.

Jodhpur travel

For the intrepid traveler, Jodhpur certainly sparks a sense of adventure and intrigue. But these three sites are just the tip of the iceberg for anyone interested in Jodhpur travel. The city is a treasure trove of unique finds and cultural experiences. For more ideas of what to see in Jodhpur, check out more of aartideetoo’s leaf by downloading the LeafCanoe app.

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How to Prepare for Travel to Rajasthan

The Indian state of Rajasthan is a traveler’s dream come true. With a multitude of color-themed cities, as well as countless festivals being celebrated in the area, Rajasthan invokes in the traveler the quintessential image of India: vibrant, colorful, and full of culture.

LeafCanoer, aartideetoo, recently shared their insights on Rajasthan in their leaf titled, “Golden City of Rajasthan – Jaisalmer.” From exploring the Jaisalmer Fort to riding camels in the Sam Sand Dunes, aartideetoo’s leaf provides plenty of ideas for travel to Rajasthan.

Aartideetoo’s experiences in Rajasthan are sure to inspire you to embark on your own trip to the area. Before you go, however, here are a few things to help you prepare for travel to Rajasthan:

Brush up on your history
Rajasthan has one of the richest and most developed cultures in India, with so much history packed into one state. Officially formed in March 1949, the state of Rajasthan was once part of the Indus Valley Civilization. Many of the major tribes in India – the Rajputs, Jats, Meenas, Gurjars, and countless others – have contributed to the creation of the state of Rajasthan. Their influences, as well as the Mughal influence, can be seen in many of the forts and palaces that dot the area.

Travel to Rajasthan

Invest in a good camera
One of the perks of being in such a historical place is the abundance of palaces and historical buildings, which serves as a wealth of inspiration for the budding travel photographer. Bring along a good camera that will be able to perfectly capture the sights of the area. Rajasthan is known for being one of the most colorful regions of India. It is also known for having a strong classical music and dance tradition, so being able to record dance and music performances are necessary for any visit to Rajasthan.

Travel to Rajasthan

Take along some pocket change
The colors of Rajasthan come not only from the buildings and architecture, but also from the abundance of fabrics and goods that can be found in the markets. Take some time to explore the shopping in the area. The dollar is strong in India, so if you’re American, it will be relatively easy to buy good quality products for an affordable price. Though you’ll most likely be quoted the foreigner price, it’s customary to engage in some bargaining when you shop.

Travel to Rajasthan

Bring along your appetite
Indian food may not suit everyone’s palate, but there are definitely some delectable delights to be found in Rajasthan. Be prepared to sample some of the local cuisine while visiting the area. Rajasthan cuisine is different from the cuisine found in most Indian restaurants in the United States. Due to the scarcity of water, milk is often used as a substitute, and subsequently, much of the cuisine features the use of milk and milk products.

Travel to Rajasthan

Clear your calendar
There are a lot of things to see and do in Rajasthan. To fully experience the area, it’s best to spend at least a week, so be sure you have adequate time in your travel schedule. Popular cities to visit in Rajasthan include Jaipur (also known as the Pink City), Udaipur (known as Venice of the East), Jodphur (sometimes called Sun City and sometimes called the Blue City), and Jaisalmar (often called the Golden City). There are also a number of festivals that happen in the area. One of the local favorites is the desert festival, which features traditional costumes, snake charmers, puppeters, and folk performers.

Travel to Rajasthan

There are so many things to see and experience in Rajasthan. Just one trip is not enough to fully capture what that state has to offer. By far, the most important thing to remember when planning your travel to Rajasthan is to leave more for next time.

Interested in learning more about travel to Rajasthan? Download the LeafCanoe app and check out more of     artideetoo’s leaf.

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The Best Way to Experience Cappadocia

The region of Cappadocia in the country of Turkey is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and intriguing places to visit in the world. It is an area rich with cultural history, and a stunning landscape to beat. Yet it is also slightly off the beaten path, and falls largely under the radar for the average tourist. For those looking for a bit of adventure in their travels, there are a number of ways to experience Cappadocia, and see all that Turkey has to offer.

Leafcanoer, girlxdeparture, recently shared her experiences in Cappadocia in her leaf entitled, Things to do in Cappadocia, Turkey. Her leaf is full of tips and suggestions on things to do while visiting Cappadocia. For those planning a visit to the area in the near future, here is our suggestion for the best way to experience Cappadocia.

experience Cappadocia

With its tall rock formations, often called fairy chimneys, Cappadocia offers travelers a surreal landscape to enjoy. Many of these rock formations were created by volcanic eruption, formed and shaped after millions of years of erosion. The region, located on a high plateau in central Turkey, has a number of cones, pillars, pinnacles, and chimneys reaching as high as 130 meters. Trekking and climbing are popular activities in Cappadocia, and there are a number of companies that offer walking tours and climbing excursions in the area.

experience Cappadocia

In addition to being a geological wonder, the area is also a historical one, with traces of settlements going as far back as several millennium ago. Many of these early inhabitants carved tunnels and caves directly into the rock. Often these caves served as hiding places for political and religious refugees, since Cappadocia sat in the middle of two opposing empires: first the Greeks and Persians, and later, the Byzantine Empire and their rivals. In the early days of Christianity, Cappadocia served as a refuge for Christians, and many monasteries were established in these caves. These days, Cappadocia is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and travelers can visit some of these well-preserved caves to learn about the history of the area.

experience Cappadocia

The major towns and areas to visit in Cappadocia include Urgup, Goreme, Ihlara Valley, Selime, Guzelyurt, Uchisar, Avanos, and Zelve. Many visitors enjoy seeing the historic mansions and cave houses in Urgup, Goreme, Guzelyurt, and Uchisar. Also in Goreme is the Goreme Open Air Museum, which showcases the monastic communities of Cappadocia. This museum allows visitors to see more than 30 churches and chapels carved from the rock formations. Many of these churches have frescoes dating back to the 9th and 11th centuries. Even if you’re not a history buff, it’s worth exploring for the sheer uniqueness of the experience.

experience Cappadocia

Being on the ground to experience the geography and history of Cappadocia is nice, but by far the best way to experience Cappadocia is from the air. From up high, you can really appreciate the otherworldly scenery, and see the influence of humankind’s touch on this natural landscape. Hot air ballooning is a popular activity in Cappadocia, and most of the companies that offer hot air balloon tours center around the town of Goreme. The best time of year to go is from April to October, when the weather is clear and not too cold. However, there are some hot air balloon companies that offer rides during the winter.

experience Cappadocia

If you’re the kind of traveler who is up for adventure, Cappadocia is the perfect place. It offers a good balance of nature and history, while still being a beautiful place to be in. For more ideas of ways to experience Cappadocia, or to find out other places to visit in the world, download the LeafCanoe app.

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Visit Cayo! Five Ways to Discover Belize

Among the countries that make up Central America, Belize is a little known gem. Tucked away in the north eastern corner of the region, Belize is often overlooked by tourists, who favor its more popular neighbors like Guatemala, Mexico, and El Salvador. According to the World Bank, Belize ranked lowest in number of tourists in 2013, among all the countries in Central America. But contrary to what the numbers say, there is a lot that Belize has to offer. For the intrepid and adventurous traveler, like LeafCanoer, Amanda Tiffany, Belize is a country that’s well worth a visit.

discover Belize

There are many ways to discover Belize, but one of the best ways is to spend time in the district of Cayo. In her leaf titled, “Cayo, Belize,” Amanda shares some of her top picks for things to do in Cayo. Known for its diverse array of attractions and activities, Cayo provides visitors to Belize a rich sampling of what the rest of the country has to offer. Here are seven ways a visit to Cayo can help you discover the wonders of Belize:

Go take a hike
There is plenty of hiking to do in Belize, and some of them can be quite unique and exciting. Visitors to Cayo often enjoy visiting the Actun Tunichil Mucknal, a cave near the town of San Ignacio. Not only is it a good place to practice your cave exploration skills, it’s also the perfect place to channel your inner Indiana Jones. The cave is home to a Mayan archaeological site, and is filled with skeletons, ceramics, and stoneware. For the less adventurous visitor, Guanacaste National Park and Blue Hole National Park offer one to two mile hikes along their well-maintained trails.

discover Belize

Hit the biking trails
Belize has seventeen national parks, five of which are in Cayo. Additionally, there are sixteen forest reserves, with five of them located in the Cayo district. For avid mountain bikers, the Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve is a popular spot to hit the bike trails. For those looking for more guided tours, plenty of tour companies offer bike tours in the area.

Explore the ruins
Within the district of Cayo, there are several Mayan ruins worth visiting. Besides Actun Tunichil Mucknal, visitors should also visit Tikal National Park as well as the Caracol Ruins, to get a taste of the deep history of Belize. The Mayans inhabited Belize as far back as 2500 BC. These days, only a handful of their temples and structures remain, due to infrastructure development in the area.

discover Belize

Immerse yourself in the culture
The culture of Belize is a rich mix of Mayan, Spanish, Native American, and Mennonite. There have also been influences from countries like China and Lebanon, due to the large population of these ethnic groups in the country. As a result, Belize’s culture is a hodgepodge of traditions from these various groups. Spending time in the towns in the Cayo district can help you get a taste of the local flavor of the culture. The towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena are bustling with open air markets, and the Mennonite community of Spanish Lookout is also a popular place to visit.

Kick back and relax
The pace of life in the jungles of Cayo is decidedly laid back and relaxed. Since the Cayo district is located inland, there are no beaches, but there are plenty of rivers to enjoy dipping your feet into. Major rivers in the district include the Mopan River and the Macal River. Also, within the Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve is the Rio on Pools, a series of pools and waterfalls that is popular among visitors to Belize.

discover Belize

Despite being not so well known in the tourist circles, Belize is a country worth visting and exploring. For the adventurous traveler, there are plenty of ways to discover Belize. From hiking the jungle to getting immersed in the local culture, there is so much to see and do in that country.

For more ideas of what to do in Belize, download the LeafCanoe app to check out Amanda’s leaf and explore other leafs.

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Inside Washington: Unique DC Attractions

The city of Washington, DC is a treasure trove of history and culture. LeafCanoer, searchingforyourzen, recently visited the city and shared his experiences in his leaf, “Washington DC – In A Day!” The capitol city of the United States, DC is home to well-known attractions like the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and even the Vietnam Memorial. Many visitors know about the free Smithsonian Museums, like the National Air and Space Museum and the Natural History Museum. And places like the National Zoo and Arlington National Cemetery are common stops for visitors to the city. But there are also a number of unique DC attractions that every visitor should see, to really get a feel for the city. Here are our picks for exploring a different side of DC.

Washington monument

Ben’s Chili Bowl
A longtime institution in DC is Ben’s Chili Bowl, which has been serving up soulful chili since 1958. Located on U Street, Ben’s Chili Bowl has served everyone from foreign dignitaries and the President, to the everyday person off the street. Ben’s Chili Bowl is a great starting off point for exploring the rest of U Street and its surroundings, which was once a hot spot for jazz legends like Nat King Cole, Miles Davis, and Duke Ellington. The area surrounding Ben’s Chili Bowl and U Street was also once the cultural center of DC’s African American community, and is still a great place to catch a music show.

C&O Canal
The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, known as the C&O Canal, runs from DC’s Georgetown neighborhood all the way into parts of West Virginia and Maryland. Once intended to connect Chesapeake Bay with the Ohio River, the C&O Canal was never fully finished. But it did serve as a transporter of coal from the Allegheny Mountains into Washington, DC. Visitors can walk or bike along the canal, and explore the old buildings of Georgetown.

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Gravelly Point Park
For those wanting a more exhilarating experience, Gravelly Point Park, along the George Washington Memorial Parkway, is a popular spot to explore. Here, visitors and locals alike can experience the rush of watching jet planes take off and land from DC’s Reagan National Airport, located right next to the park.

Mount Vernon
For another unique and historic attraction, spend the day in Mount Vernon, the home of George and Martha Washington. Located 17 miles south of DC, Mount Vernon is an expansive estate that has been well-preserved and well-maintained. Visitors can take a tour of its grounds any time of the year, and catch a glimpse of what life was like for America’s first president.

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Ford’s Theatre
DC is also full of lesser known historical sites. One such site is Ford’s Theatre, where President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. Visitors to Ford’s Theatre can take a guided tour of the still functioning theater, and learn about its significance in American history. They can also stay to watch one of their many entertaining theatrical performances.

Theodore Roosevelt Island
The city of Washington, DC has many parks and green spaces for relaxing and exploring. Roosevelt Island, located along the Potomac River, below the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge on Highway 66, is the perfect place for an urban retreat. The island is accessible by foot from the Mount Vernon Trail, just off of the George Washington Memorial Parkway. The 88.5 acre island, which is considered a national park, has a number of trails for visitors to walk, jog, or run through, and is home to a variety of wild birds. Canoeing and kayaking are also popular activities on the island during the summer time.

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These are just a few of our picks for unique DC attractions. The city is overflowing with places to see and things to do, and it’s impossible to fit into one single list. Even locals who have lived in the city for years haven’t seen it all! For more ideas of what to see and do in Washington, DC, read more of searchingforyourzen’s leaf, or download the LeafCanoe app for more travel ideas.

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Visit Granada! Six Ways to Explore the City

The city of Granada has always been a popular tourist destination for Europeans. With its mild climate and beautiful historical buildings, it’s no wonder many people come to visit Granada. LeafCanoer, nikkistewart, recently posted about her trip to Granada in her leaf title, “Granada in Southern Spain.” Like many visitors before her, she was captivated by the beauty of the city’s architecture, and the abundance of activities to do in and around the city. For those wanting to see the sights for themselves, here are six ways to explore the city when you visit Granada.

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Moorish Architecture
Granada was once controlled by the Moors, a nomadic people from Northern Africa, of Arab and Berber descent. They came to the area in the 700s, and at one time ruled Spain, Portugal and parts of southern France. Their power began to decline in the 13th and 14th centuries, and by the 1600s, they were completely expelled from the area.  Although the Moors no longer dominate the city of Granada, their architecture still live on in many of the city’s historical buildings.

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The beauty of Alhambra
One of the most popular and well known buildings featuring Moorish architecture is Alhambra, a palace and fortress complex located in Granada. Originally built as a fortress in the late 9th century, Alhambra was renovated and rebuilt into a palace in the 13th and 14th centuries. Now, the palace is considered a UNESCO World Heritage site and is visited by over 2 million visitors a year, making it one of the most visited sites in Spain. There are four groups of buildings within the Alhambra complex: Alcazaba (the oldest part of the fortress), the Nasrid Palaces (the most elaborately designed part of the complex), the Palace of Charles V (the newest portion of the complex, built for the Spanish emperor in the 16th century), and Generalife (the garden portion of the complex). Tickets are needed to visit the site, and tourists can choose among a daytime visit, a garden visit, or an evening visit.

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Magnificent cathedrals
Moorish architecture and Alhambra are not the only reasons to visit Granada. The city is also well known for a number of beautiful and magnificent cathedrals. One of the most visited is the Granada Cathedral, which was built in the 15th century, after the departure of the Moors. The architecture of the cathedral features Gothic and Spanish Renaissance design. The cathedral is still in use, and is the current seat of the Archdiocese of Granada.

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Proximity to the Sierra Nevada
For the outdoor enthusiast, Granada offers a quick trip to the Sierra Nevada mountains, as the city is situated right at its base. Skiing is a popular activity at the Sierra Nevada. In fact, the mountains are one of the popular skiing destinations in Europe, with over 40 kilometers of skiable area. In the summer months, visitors to the Sierra Nevada can hike, trek, camp, and even horseback ride through the mountains.

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Unique shopping experiences
Granada is also known for its flea markets. There are at least four flea markets in the city, happening on various days during the week. The Plaza Large flea market in the Albaicin neighborhood runs every day. On Wednesdays, the La Chana district holds a flea market, and on Saturdays, the city’s most densely populated district, Zaidin, also hosts a flea market. The Cartuja flea market is also a popular one for shopping, held on Sunday mornings in Almanjayar.

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Muslim influences with a European twist
If shopping is not your cup of tea, the final reason to visit Granada is to admire the neighborhoods. Many neighborhoods and sights in Granada have been influenced by the Muslims who once lived in the city. One neighborhood worth visiting is Albayzin, one of the former Muslim quarters in Granada. Parte Vieja, also known as the Old Quarter, is also worth visiting, as this was once the commercial center of the city. Additionally, the Realjo district is worth a stroll as it offers a wide selection of bars, cafes, and tapas bars.

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There are many reasons to visit Granada, and it certainly is one of the not-to-miss destinations of Europe. For more ideas on what to see and do in Granada, as well as other places around the world, download the LeafCanoe app.

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Out of the Box Travels: Explore Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu looms above the Sacred Valley in Peru, a sprawling collection of stone structures, shrouded by mist, and blending harmoniously with the surrounding mountain ridge. Frequently, though inaccurately, described as “The Lost City of the Incas,” Machu Picchu is a favorite among travelers to Peru. Each year, hundreds of thousands of visitors flock to the country just to explore Machu Picchu. LeafCanoer, daijie, recently shared her travels to Machu Picchu in her leaf, “Visit Machu Picchu.” Like many travelers before, daijie spent her time exploring the various areas of this ancient and unique Inca site.

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The citadel of Machu Picchu was built in 1450, presumably as an estate for the Inca emperor, Pachacuti. Using classical Inca style architecture, Machu Picchu consists of structures and buildings made with polished dry-stone walls. The grounds, which sits over 8,000 feet above sea level, is divided into an agricultural area, comprised of terraces, and the urban section, used for administrative purposes. The structures were linked to the rest of the Inca Empire via a road called Qhapaq Nan.

Long overlooked (or unknown) by non-Peruvians, Machu Picchu gained prominence in the early 1900’s through the works of American historian, Hiram Bingham. By 1981, Machu Picchu was declared a Peruvian Historical Sanctuary, and in 1983, it joined the ranks of The Great Wall of China, the Pyramids of Giza, and the Acropolis of Athens as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many of the outer buildings of Machu Picchu have been reconstructed, with over 30% of the buildings having received some form of restoration prior to it being accepted as a World Heritage Site.

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These days, Machu Picchu is visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists each year. It is now one of Peru’s major revenue generators, though it still has managed to retain a certain level of adventure and a rustic feel. For those considering paying a visit to Machu Picchu, here are highlights of places to visit, to get you on your way to explore Machu Picchu:

Visit the Sun Gate
In Inca times, the Sun Gate was used to mark the entrance to Machu Picchu. These days, it serves as a starting off point for exploring the ancient citadel.

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Walk through the Sacred Plaza
One of the most famous parts of Machu Picchu, and undoubtedly one of the most photographed, the Sacred Plaza comprises of three buildings: the Main Temple, the Temple of Three Windows, and the Priest’s House.

Explore the Royal Tomb
Thought to be the final resting place of many Inca leaders, the Royal Tomb boasts some of the best masonry in Machu Picchu.

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Marvel at the Temple of the Sun
The Temple of the Sun is a semi-circular building, the only one of its kind at Machu Picchu, that consists of a large stone altar used for spiritual worship and sacrifice.

Hike along the lower or upper routes
Hiking is by far one of the most popular activities to do at Machu Picchu. There are two main trails to choose from, the lower route and the upper route, and both offer you a nice challenge while you explore Machu Picchu at your own pace.

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Cross the Inca Bridge
Located just 15 minutes away from Machu Picchu is the Inca Draw Bridge, which goes along the original Inca Trail. Though the structure itself is fairly simple and uninteresting, the best part about visiting the draw bridge is the fantastic view of the Andean mountains.

Take in the views at the Guardhouse
Another great place to take in views is at the Guardhouse, which offers panoramic views of all of Machu Picchu.

Whether you are visiting Machu Picchu for one day, or returning for multiple days of excursions, there is just so much to see at Machu Picchu for visitors of all styles and interests. For those of you ready to explore Machu Picchu, check out more of daijie’s leaf on LeafCanoe.

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You can also check out the other leaves on LeafCanoe by downloading the LeafCanoe app.

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Six Reasons to Visit the Ancient City of Petra

The ancient city of Petra has long held the intrigue and imagination of many intrepid travelers. From the allure of its architectural beauty, to the opportunity to play archaeological explorer for the day, even the most jaded of tourists can find something to inspire them in Petra. Leafcanoer, grassrootsnomd, recently shared her visit to Petra in her leaf entitled “Petra“. It’s full of interesting tips and insight about the ancient city. For those interested in their own adventure, here are six reasons to visit the ancient city of Petra:

The city of Petra

Its Rich Cultural History
Petra was established around 312 B.C. as the capital of the Nabatean kingdom. The Nabateans, a people of Arabic roots, had settlements throughout the Middle East, but most were centered around Jordan. Early mention of Petra can be found in ancient Egyptian texts, as well as references to the city in the Bible, particularly in Exodus. Over time, Petra has been influenced by many different cultures, including Egyptian and Greek cultures. The city has fallen under both Roman and Byzantine rule, which also greatly influenced the architecture of many of its buildings.

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Its Structural and Architectural Marvels
The city of Petra is best known for its architecture, as it is one of a few cities in the world that is carved directly into the side of a cliff. The city is also famous for its system of pools, dams, and water channels, a technology that was extremely advanced at the time of the city’s establishment. The most well-known structure in Petra is the Treasury, also known as Al-Khazneh, which was carved directly into the sandstone rock that surrounds it. The architecture is heavily Greek influenced, and was originally built as a mausoleum and crypt. Petra has been called the Rose City, due to the distinctly red color of its sandstone.

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An Opportunity to Visit a World Heritage Site
Though the ruins of Petra were known during the Middle Ages, it wasn’t until the 1800’s that the first European actually visited and described the city of Petra in great detail. This was in 1812, and the European was a Swiss traveler by the name of Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. Due to its importance in ancient history, Petra was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. As a way to preserve the structural integrity of the ancient city, the Bedouin communities who lived near Petra were resettled elsewhere around Jordan. However, despite these preservation efforts, Petra continues to be considered a threatened landscape by UNESCO, mainly due to the sheer number of visitors who flock to it on a daily basis.

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Petra at Night
One of the most beautiful ways to view Petra is at night. On Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights, the city is adorned in over 1,500 candles. For a nominal fee, visitors are welcome to walk through the city as it is illuminated by candlelight.

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A Chance to Channel Indiana Jones
Perhaps one of the most well-known facts about Petra is that it was featured as the backdrop to the final scenes of the movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. If you’re a film buff, you can reenact the scene in person as you walk through the Siq, the winding narrow passage that leads you to the Treasury. Though many of the interior scenes were filmed in a soundstage, the exterior scenes of the movie were filmed on location. Petra has also been featured in other films, such as Arabian Nights, The Mummy Returns, and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

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Bragging Rights
Arguably the best reason to visit Petra is for the bragging rights. This city is rich in history, and is equally fascinating and breathtaking to see in person. Though the Middle East can be a relatively unstable region politically, the country of Jordan is a safe place for tourists to visit.

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For ideas of what to visit in Petra, or to find inspiration for travel to other places around the world, download the LeafCanoe app.

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Unconventional Travels At Wieliczka Salt Mine

Contrary to what most people may think, travel doesn’t always have to mean seeing popular attractions, visiting monuments, or going to the often-visited tourist attractions. One of the fun things about travel is doing unconventional experiences and seeing a new part of the world. The Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland is one such place, where visitors can actively engage in learning about history and geology. Leafcanoer, ladyd, recently visited Wieliczka, and posted about her travels in her leaf, “Miner’s Route – ‘Wieliczka’ Salt Mine“.

The salt mines at Wieliczka, located near the city of Kraków, is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its historical importance to Poland. Built in the 13th century, the mine produced table salt continuously for commercial purposes until its official closurwe in 2007. According to the World Heritage Convention, the salt mine illustrates the development of mining techniques in Europe, from early methods used in the 13th century, to more modern techniques used in the 21st century.

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Reaching a depth of over 1,073 feet, and stretching over 178 miles long, Wieliczka salt mine is certainly one of the larger mines in Europe. The salt in the mine has an appearance resembling granite, having a grayish shade, rather than the typical white color of salt. There is also an underground lake within the mine, which is somewhat unique and worth exploring.

The salt mines were not always used for mining purposes. During World War II, German soldiers used the shafts for war-related activities. In more recent times, the salt mine houses a private rehabilitation and wellness complex. Of course, the mine is also open for tourists to come and visit.

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Wieliczka salt mine is known as the “Underground Salt Cathedral of Poland.” Many of the salt mine’s subterranean chambers have been converted into galleries and underground chapels. Additionally, workshops and storehouses have also been built, along with statues made from salt. Many of the earlier statues were carved by the miners themselves, but more recent statues have been carved by contemporary artists and sculptors. One of the galleries has a highly detailed and ornate chandelier, made from the rock salt which has been dissolved and reconstituted to create a clear and glass-like appearance.

Since the 19th century, tourists can visit the mine and take an underground tour of its subterranean chambers. On these tours, visitors are given a glimpse of what mining life is like. They can observe the social and religious traditions of the miners, and learn about the tools, machinery, and technology used at that time period to mine salt. This tour, though, is more than just an observational tour. It’s also an interactive one. Visitors have a chance to dig and transport salt, explore some of the underground chambers, and measure the concentration of methane underground. Visitors are also provided mining uniforms to wear, and are given a chance to roll up their sleeves and work in the mine. In a sense, they get to walk in the shoes of a miner and experience a day in their life.

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This type of travel, though unique and unconventional, can sometimes be the best type of travel, as it gives the traveler a chance to see life from a different perspective. Often, people travel to places to see a famous monument or a landmark, but at the salt mine in Wieliczka, it’s a chance to step into a piece of history. Poland is full of interesting and amazing sights, and the Wielceska Salt Mine is one such sights worth visiting.

For more ideas of where to visit in Poland and in other parts of the world, check out and download the LeafCanoe app.

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Old Meets New in Tokyo

In a city consistently ranked as the cleanest and most friendly in the world, spending time in Tokyo isn’t difficult or unappealing. Ease of traveling, helpfulness of locals, and plenty of historical sights in addition to modern amenities puts Tokyo at the top of many travel guides’ lists of must-see places.

It is the capital of Japan and boasts the most populous metropolitan area in the world, 36 million people, and growing. The area is divided up into areas, or neighborhoods—each treated like small cities, which explains whyTokyo is frequently referred to as a “city of cities” affectionately. With so much to see, it could become overwhelming to plan an itinerary in Tokyo, but thankfully, Leaf Canoer Julia at vetaretus-6 has compiled a thorough list of sights and experience in this bustling city in her leaf “Things to see in Tokyo”.

The comparative aspect of old vs new makes Tokyo an endlessly interesting place to explore. Culture and way of life is passed down from generation to generation and a tradition of honor and loyalty is well-preserved in Japan in both architecture and attitude. But a booming economy also makes Tokyo home to many global corporations and the amenities are truly first class and state of the art. To fully appreciate Tokyo one has to be ready to dive in to the history while still appreciating modern technology and innovations that are to be found there. Below are a mix of “old vs new” Tokyo sights.

Hachiko Statue at Shibuya Station
It’s no secret that dogs are regarded as inspiringly loyal animals, and the story behind this statue demonstrates just how true that it. Waiting for his owner to come home from work each day at Shibuya Station, Hachiko became a local fixture in the early 1920’s. When his master died of a brain hemorrhage, this remarkable Akita continued to wait for his master each day for nearly a decade after he died. This statue was erected as a national symbol of loyalty to one’s family and to the Emperor, and remains a popular tourist attraction.

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Shop Til You Drop
When you’re ready to take advantage of a populated city, shopping is usually a part of the experience and Tokyo is no exception to a wide array of shopping venues. One particularly interesting area worth exploring is the fashion district of Takeshita-dori in Harajuku. Here one can find living art just watching the people passing by on the street. Don’t feel shy! Ask to photograph them and most people would be flattered to stop and pose. Shops and restaurants abound in the area so explore and pick up some of Japan’s quirky and delightful fashion expressions.

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Temples and Shrines
Worship is a very significant part of Japanese culture. Though there is not one mandated religion, the country is largely Shinto, an ethnic religion, or Buddhist. Buddhism arrived in Japan in the early 6th century and most Japanese death rituals are handled by Buddhist monks. There are many Shinto shrines available for patrons to attend and offer offerings and enjoy their peaceful atmosphere. One excellent shrine to consider visiting is Meiji Jingu, dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his Empress Shoken. After their deaths,  the loyal people of Japan donated over 100,000 trees to commemorate their virtues and created a lush forest amid a busy city. Tips are offered by user vetaretus-6 for showing proper etiquette while visiting Shinto shrines.

From the Water
One great way to take in Tokyo and appreciate it’s panorama is from a river cruise. There are a variety of options for routes, and vessels, including ferries, open air boats, water busses, and even enclosed boats for inclement weather. One option provides for pickups from hotels where you are escorted to the towering skyscraper of World Trade Center Tokyo. From the 40th floor, take in sweeping views of Tokyo, with a guide to answer any questions and provide information. Travel then through parts of the city on your way to Asakusa Kannon Temple, the oldest and most significant Buddhist temple in Tokyo. Passing briefly through a shopping district, you’ll head to the river where you’ll embark on a 45-minute river cruise, gliding under bridges all while hearing audio commentary about this historic city. (www.viator.com see Tokyo Highlights Afternoon Tour and Sumida River Cruise)

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Sky High Buildings
Skyscrapers are part of Tokyo’s iconic cityscape. It wouldn’t be proper to visit Tokyo without ascending one of it’s sky-high buildings and Mori Tower provides an unparalleled view of this metropolitan area. Observation decks on the 52nd and 54th floor are open to visitors. It is a fantastic place to capture some cityscape photography.

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Tokyo Dome City
A small entertainment complex in Bunkyo consists of the mega-arena Tokyo Dome, a spa and an amusement park complete with roller coasters. It is a great way to spend a few hours thrill-seeking and with ample opportunities for relaxation as well.

The contrast of city and nature, old and new, ancient custom and modern amenities make Tokyo a fantastic city to explore. It’s low crime rate and temperate climate should encourage one and all to spend some time in this world-class city.

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For more ideas of things to see in Tokyo visit LeafCanoer Julia’s leaf here and to read what other LeafCanoers have to say, download the LeafCanoe app.

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