A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about tourist sites

Boogie with a suitcase...

What everyone is talking about, at least they were in 1978...

sunny 13 °C
View Munich 2011 (Superbowl 45) on GregW's travel map.

Since my first visit to Paris in 2005, I have been waiting to do this...

For those who don't see the "radio, video," boogie with your suitcases over to Youtube and watch it here.

Posted by GregW 08:16 Archived in Germany Tagged music tourist_sites Comments (0)

The Mayan Calendar Conundrum

Sitting atop a Mayan temple, discussing the end of the world with a swarm of dragonflies

sunny 26 °C
View Belize before the Mayan Calendar Ends on GregW's travel map.

I stand, legs wide in a sturdy stance, watching the far bank approach. The creak of the hand-cranked wheel and the intermittent buzz of insects in the air are the only sounds I can hear until finally the ferry pilot speaks.

“Once we reach the shore, just follow the road. It is about one mile up, and then you will reach the entrance,” he says.

The entrance to the stone lady - Xunantunich.

The hand-cranked ferry reaches the far shore of the Mopan River, just off the Benque Road. I step off, wipe my brow and reposition my hat against the late morning sun. I set off up the road, one mile away from the Mayan ruins of Xunantunich.

C01_Xunant..k_Ferry.jpg

- - -

The Mayan civilisation flourished in Central America, most especially in the Yucatán Peninsula, until 900 A.D. During the period from 250 A.D. until 900 A.D., some of the most impressive Mayan cities and temple sites were built, including the Mayan sites I have seen previously at Chechen Itza and Tulum in Mexico.

Xunantunich, in the interior of Belize, sits just a few miles from the Guatemala border. The site covers approximately a square mile, with the centre of the site consisting of a plaza with three structures in a row.

The main building on the site is called El Castillo, a 140 foot tall structure with a number of steep stairways and impressive stucco friezes.

El Castillo

El Castillo


Xunantunich side building

Xunantunich side building


main plaza

main plaza


El Castillo

El Castillo


Frieze on El Castillo

Frieze on El Castillo


Frieze on El Castillo

Frieze on El Castillo


one of the smaller plazas

one of the smaller plazas


Xunantunich from middle temple building

Xunantunich from middle temple building

Being low season in Belize, I arrive to find I am almost alone at Xunantunich. As I walk up into the main plaza, a tour group of four (plus a guide) are just leaving. I wander towards the main pyramid - El Castillo - and meet just one other traveller, a solo woman wandering the site without a guide, like I am.

I climb to the top of El Castillo, and look out over the countryside. Off in the distance, the Belize countryside and the borders of Guatamela. Nearer to us, aerial views of the other temples. The air is thick and sticky, not a hint of wind. The only disturbance is a swarm of dragonflies flittering around in the air.

I sit down atop the temple, lean against the hot stone and think about the end of days.

C32_Xunantunich_GJW.jpg
C33_Xunantunich.jpg

For those who like to think about the end of days, the Mayan has most recently come to prominence due to their calendar. The Mayan Long Count calendar, one of many different calendar systems they had, consists of a number of repeating, cyclical counts, each represented as a separate symbol. The long count consists of the five ascending cycles of kins (days), winals (20-day months), tuns (360 days), k'atuns (20 tuns), and bak'tuns (20 k'atuns).

My birthday is represented as 12.17.17.3.16, and the day I visited Xunantunich (October 31st, 2010) represented as 12.19.17.14.18. (For the really pedantic, this is using the "Goodman, Martinez, Thompson" or GMT correlation).

C07_Xunant..alendar.jpg

It is often been quoted that the Mayan calendar ends on December 21, 2012. This is when the all the four lower digits reach zero and the highest order digit (the bak’tun) should tick over to 13. According to Mayan tradition, we are currently living in the fourth world (the previous three having not worked out), and like the three world’s previous, ours will end at the start of the 14th bak’tun (13.0.0.0.0).

Therefore, say the doomsayers, the world ends on that day.

The historical evidence for this, though, isn’t clear. The ending dates of the previous three worlds aren’t definitively known, and some Mayan inscriptions do have dates beyond the 14th bak’tun, though not rendered in exactly the same way. Some scholars even think that the new world should begin on the 15th bak’tun, not the 14th.

So rest easy, the world won’t end in a little over two years.

Just in case, though, I’m glad I got to see Xunantunich before then. Just in case the end of days is coming.

Posted by GregW 23:04 Archived in Belize Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

A White Spider Writing On The Sky

The Outrace Installation in Trafalgar Square

sunny 18 °C

Working is hard. You get up every morning, do your shift, endlessly repeating the same task over and over.

"Geez," you think, "I need a vacation."

"You can't take a vacation," your boss says. "You're a robot."

Why let that stop you, though. You dream of getting away. Maybe seeing a beautiful city. In one of your rare coffee (actually, a 5W30 oil) breaks, you read about folks who take holidays to paint, sculpture and create art.

"Yeah, it's time to get away," you think. "I'm going to go to London, and PAINT! Paint... IN THE SKY!"

So you and seven friends book a trip from Ingolstadt, Germany to London.

Robots_in_..Drawing.jpg

Eight industrial robots, usually used to build Audi automobiles, have been installed in Trafalgar Square by artists Clemens Weisshaar and Reed Kram. The Outrace installation, which was in place from September 16th to the 23rd as part of the London Design Festival.

At the end of the Robot arms are a set of LED lights, which the robots use to trace letters in the air. It's not possible to see the letters when looking at the exhibit in Trafalgar Square, but thanks to slow exposure cameras to capture the lights, you can go to the website, or Youtube to see the images.

Robots_in_..h_Light.jpg

Website visitors could enter a message, and if picked by the robots, they would draw it out for you and send you a link. I put in three messages, and one of them got picked to be drawn.

If the robots are making the art, what are the artists to do? can be viewed at Youtube if you can't see the video above.

I liked my message, and think it decent and arty. Some messages, though, are priceless, like this one submitted by Gavin Olukoju from London.

Make your time, for the Robots are here!

Robots_in_.._Column.jpg

Posted by GregW 00:33 Archived in England Tagged art tourist_sites Comments (0)

Cambridge

A day in Cambridge...

rain 12 °C

I went to Cambridge. Cambridge is the site of the famous and old University of Cambridge. Spent a day and a half there, and frankly feel no smarter for it. Perhaps you actually have to attend the University for your intelligence to improve.

Trinity College, University of Cambridge

Trinity College, University of Cambridge


Tower at Kings College Cambridge, University of Cambridge

Tower at Kings College Cambridge, University of Cambridge


Rooftops Kings College Cambridge, University of Cambridge

Rooftops Kings College Cambridge, University of Cambridge


Loch Fyne Seafood Trumpington Street

Loch Fyne Seafood Trumpington Street


Kings College Chapel, University of Cambridge

Kings College Chapel, University of Cambridge


Flowers and Iron

Flowers and Iron


Kings College Cambridge, University of Cambridge

Kings College Cambridge, University of Cambridge


Jesus College, University of Cambridge

Jesus College, University of Cambridge


Flowers in the rain

Flowers in the rain


Fitzwilliam Museum Entry, University of Cambridge

Fitzwilliam Museum Entry, University of Cambridge


Cafe Bar

Cafe Bar

For reasons that can't be explained, the hotel I stayed in provided three rubber ducks for bathtime, even though my room only had a shower. Not much fun playing with your ducks in the shower...

Rubber Ducky, You're the One!

Rubber Ducky, You're the One!

Posted by GregW 15:00 Archived in England Tagged photography tourist_sites Comments (1)

The World's Stage

William's hometown

all seasons in one day 15 °C

William Shakespeare was born, lived, and died in Stratford-Upon-Avon, just south of Birmingham. His most famous plays were staged originally in London at the Globe Theatre, but William Shakespeare always kept his place in Stratford, and is now buried in the small town in the Midlands.

Shakespear's House

Shakespear's House


Falstaff Stuate with Shakesphere in Background

Falstaff Stuate with Shakesphere in Background


We are merely players

We are merely players


Lady Macbeth Wrings her Hands

Lady Macbeth Wrings her Hands


Alas poor Yorrick, I knew him well

Alas poor Yorrick, I knew him well


William Shakespeare's Grave in Holy Trinity Church

William Shakespeare's Grave in Holy Trinity Church


Shakespeare in the Park, Avonbank Gardens

Shakespeare in the Park, Avonbank Gardens


Jester Statue

Jester Statue


White Swan pub in Stratford

White Swan pub in Stratford


Stratford's Thatch Roof Inn

Stratford's Thatch Roof Inn

Posted by GregW 09:29 Archived in England Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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