Thursday, September 30, 2010

WebEcoist

WebEcoist


Poisonous? Really? Some Surprisingly Toxic Animals

Posted: 30 Sep 2010 10:00 AM PDT

[ By Marc in Animals & Habitats, Nature & Ecosystems. ]

Everyone knows scorpions are poisonous, but what about Slow Loris? Those cute and cuddly primates you see all over the web? The Stonefish is cool looking, but did you know it could pack a wollop? Keep your distance from all these critters, because these are some surprisingly toxic animals:

Stonefish

(Images via midnightwriter, sunseekerdiving, accommodationperth, noahsboats, neaq)

Difficult to see, and easy to step on, these are the most venomous fish in the world. Their powerful neurotoxins are hidden in spines that line their dorsal fin. One wrong foot placement and that “rock” you rested your foot on will make you regret it (and it may end your life). They’re mostly marine, but can also be found in some rivers.

Slow Loris

(Images via thefigtreeforum, indonesiatraveling, dalesdesigns, silflayhraka, nazley)

The Slow Loris is on the endangered list because they’re hunted for their giant, heart meltingly cute eyes, for use in traditional medicine. This makes me wish their toxins were a bit stronger. Unfortunately for the Slow Loris, they don’t have any hidden spines or powerful neurotoxins hidden up their sleeves; they have a toxin produced on the inside of their elbow that they will lick and then transfer onto their young. Similar to the toxin in cat dander, it causes bites from Slow Loris to swell painfully, but unless you’re allergic, you’ll be just fine. Their plan B when in danger? They fall to the ground and curl up into a fuzzy ball.

Komodo Dragon

(Images via pbs, cthuliz, chicagoist, thestar, albuquerquehub)

Able to grow to nearly 10 feet long and weigh up to 150 pounds, the Komodo Dragon doesn’t need venom to intimidate. This lizard does have a nasty surprise hiding in its rancid mouth, however: over 57 strains of bacteria that ensure even the mildest bite will result in a horrible infection. Komodo Dragons can sprint over 12 miles per hour, so I hope you’re faster than your friends.

Blue-ringed Octopus

(Images via pollsb, whyevolutionistrue, underwater, blueboard, wonderquest)

Blue-ringed Octopi are small and docile, whiling their time away eating shrimp and small crabs in tide pools, but if they feel threatened, their dull colors light up into a fantastic blue display. At 5-8 inches long, this Octopus may look harmless, but it contains a neurotoxin that has no available antivenom, and can kill a full grown adult within minutes. The venom targets motor function, causing paralysis in the lungs (and everywhere else), and ending with cardiac arrest due to lack of oxygen.


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Latest Post from Travel Wonders of the World

Latest Post from Travel Wonders of the World


Photo of the Week: Paraportiani Church (Mykonos, Greece)

Posted: 29 Sep 2010 05:08 PM PDT

Along with its seductive beaches, the Greek island of Mykonos is known for its superb white-washed buildings, almost blinding in the bright midday sun. This tiny tourist mecca has a permanent population of less than 10,000 but boasts over 250 churches. Scanned from an old photo, the Paraportiani church is the most photographed and famous. It actually contains a remarkable five churches - the...

Read the full story at http://www.travel-wonders.com.

Balkan Holidays: itravelnet.com Travel Blog

Balkan Holidays: itravelnet.com Travel Blog

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Balkan Holidays

Posted: 29 Sep 2010 08:44 PM PDT

Balkan Holidays

Balkan Holidays are a leading tour operator offering holiday packages to Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia and Montenegro.
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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My Round the World Adventure

My Round the World Adventure


Three Days in Amsterdam

Posted: 29 Sep 2010 11:32 AM PDT

My favorite city in the world is Amsterdam, and it has nothing to do with the colorful green and red buildings that are so characteristic of the city. What I love about Amsterdam is that it reminds me of home with its brick buildings, open skyline, history (the Pilgrims came from Leiden before they landed on Plymouth rock!), and similar attitude towards life. Over the years, I've visited Amsterdam on many different times and I've spent countless hours walking the city, making local friends, and living in the city for a few months in 2006. The city deserves more than just a two day to its coffeeshops most people give it. However, if a few days are all you have, here is a itinerary that will give you an idea as to what the city is really about:

Day 1
Free Walking Tour

A good way to orient yourself to the city is with a walking tour. You'll learn some history and be able to see where all these windy canal streets take you. I recommend the free New Europe walking tour. It covers a lot of ground and gives you a good general overview of the city.

Canal Tour

Amsterdam is a city tied to the water. The canals of Amsterdam are incredibly beautiful and there's nothing like seeing the city from a boat. Skip the big canal boat tours you see around the city. They are over priced and you can hire a private boat tour for less. Look for guides around the Red Light District.

Van Gogh Museum- This may be one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, but don't let the crowds deter you from your visit. The museum features many of Van Gogh's best works of art alongside an excellent biography of his life. The museum is laid out in chronological order starting with his earliest works. They also have paintings by other famous artists like Monet, Manet, and Matisse. I've been three times, but then again I love Van Gogh.

Rijksmuseum – Rijksmuseum is located right next to the Van Gogh Museum. Although it is constantly under renovation, the museum still features an extensive Rembrandt collection, and you'll be able to see the famous painting, The Night Watch. Besides Rembrandt, there's also a good collection of other classic Dutch painters.

Vondel Park

Amsterdam's largest and most popular park is a great place to walk, bike, people watch, or relax, especially after a visit to a local coffee shop. There's a playground, places to play sports, and numerous areas for hanging out. During the summer, Vondel Park is filled with people.

The Heineken Experience
This museum used to be a lot better when it was cheaper and they offered more beer. It's not a working brewery and in comparison to the Guinness Museum in Dublin, it's lame. The price of admission buys you three beers and you'll learn a bit of the history of Heineken. There's even a video game.

Day 2
Anne Frank House

In all honesty, I don't like this place. I found it to be anti-climactic and overall, I felt the Jewish History Museum does a more thorough job of relating the events in Anne Frank's life and the Holocaust. You basically do a slow walk through the house. But if you don't mind waiting in line and you're curious about her, it might be worth the visit. Get there early to avoid a line.

The Jordaan Area- This heavily residential area is one probably the most missed attraction in Amsterdam. I personally think it's the best area of the city. Although it's right near the city center, hardly any tourists enter this maze of restaurants, cafes, and stores. Make sure you walk around. It’s peaceful and a great place to avoid the mass of tourists crowding the main streets.

The Tulip Museum

Located in a room inside a tulip shop, this little place does an interesting job of telling the history of tulips in Holland and the infamous Tulip craze. Best of all: you'll never find a crowd.

Amsterdam History Museum- This museum features a very thorough history of Amsterdam. It's big and you'll need 3 or 4 hours to really see it. There are a lot of relics, maps, paintings, and audio visual information through out the museum. My favorite is the computer graphic showing the growth and construction of the city over time.

Saint Nicholas Church- This is my favorite church in Amsterdam and one of my favorites in all of Europe. It's a baroque style church with nothing amazing about it but the immense interior, its age, and the stain glass make it beautiful. You can sense the history inside.

Red Light District

Though much tamer than it has been in previous years, the Red Light District is still an interesting area. You'll find all the seediness you'd expect, and even a few families. Just don't take pictures of the girls in the windows.

Day 3
Do a Bike Tour

Bikes go with Amsterdam like wine goes with France. The city loves bikes and there are supposedly more bikes in Amsterdam than people. In fact, forget about keeping a lookout for cars. It's the bikes that will run you over! Seeing Amsterdam and its surrounding area from a bike is something I definitely encourage people to do.

Jewish History Museum- An often-overlooked museum, the Jewish History Museum tells the history of Jews and their prominent and influential position in Amsterdam. The exhibit on World War Two does a great job of highlighting Dutch complacency, resistance, and guilt over the Holocaust.

Oosterpark

Everyone goes to Vondelpark to sit around, bike, or get high, but east of the main city center is a beautiful park with a lot fewer people and green space that is just as nice. It's about a 30-minute walk from the city center, but it takes you through residential areas of the city not often seen and way off the tourist map.

FOAM- This photography museum houses wonderful pictures and sees few crowds despite being in the main part of the city. It’s a must for any photography lover. I really enjoyed all the black and white photographs and the outdoor garden.

(Optional activity: Coffee shops. I didn't include any in this list of things to do because there's more to Amsterdam than its famed smoke shops. If you do want to go to some, you'll find them all around the city. They are like Starbucks- one on every corner! I like Dolphin. Skip “The Grasshopper” though. They grossly overcharge.)

This list only touches the surface of things to do in Amsterdam. There's a lot of off the beaten path activities you could include as well as many markets, shops, and museums to see. Three days in any city is never enough time to really see, but, given Amsterdam’s compact nature, it's definitely enough time to hit all the "major" attractions here. You just won't hit anything else.

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