Germany: A confluence of Modernity & Medieval

Germany has many different faces. From the beaches of the North Sea and the Baltic to the high, craggy Alps, or the softer contours of the Swabian Jura; from the Black Forest to the rugged Eifel plateau; from the valleys formed by the famous Blue Danube or the powerful, mythic Rhine: this is a country of contrasts. Each period of history has left its mark: impressive Romanesque churches embellish the Rhine River Valley. East of the Elbe River, the Gothic style is marked by the use of red brick; in southern Germany, masters of Baroque created an architectural style unmatched in its lavish decorative fantasy; the famous Bauhaus school strongly influenced 20th-century design.

Germany is an exciting place, where the very old and the very new find common ground. In the lively cities, the national attachment to cultural heritage is immediately obvious in the preservation of old city centers, and the attentive integration of modern architecture. The preservation of nature is also a concern, and visitors reap the benefits of concerted efforts to protect and enrich green spaces. Berlin, a model of modern city planning, is perhaps the most fascinating city in Europe today – where east meets west, everything seems possible!

Berlin and Brandenburg

Sassy, confident and irreverent, Berlin is a sly seductress who tempts you with her explosive creativity, vibrant cultural landscape and a keen sense of history. Keenly aware of its unique past, the country’s capital has shed its dour Cold War demeanor and grown into a confident and modern city with flourishing art, music and fashion scenes. Take the exciting pulse of the city as you explore landmarks old and new – from the Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie to the Holocaust Memorial and Potsdamer Platz. Whether you stand in awe of ancient treasures on Museum Island, explore the park and building at Charlottenburg Palace or sample the famed Berlin nightlife, you’ll make memories to last a lifetime.

For a break from urbanity, hop on a train to Brandenburg, a timelessly beautiful rural area shaped by water and accented by the dreamy palaces and parks of Potsdam.

The Baltic Coast and Inland

Germany’s Baltic Coast once reveled in the wealth of its Hanseatic League towns. The impressive red-brick buildings of Lübeck, Wismar, Stralsund, and Greifswald still hark back to those medieval glory days. Fringing the coast is a landscape of often startling beauty: a pastiche of bays, islands, and cliffs accented by beach-fringed seaside resorts whose dazzling white spa architecture has drawn royalty and the rich for over a century.

The town of Neubrandenburg has a surprise in store with its imposing medieval ramparts, miraculously spared by the Second World War. With countless lakes and a wide range of activities, Mecklenburg lake district is of particular appeal to nature-lovers. Moving north towards the coast is Wismar, which provides an excellent introduction to the Baltic Coast with its trove of red-brick buildings. The town’s historic center is classed a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Northwest

Germany’s northwest stretches from the wind-battered beaches of the Frisian Islands to the historic towns of Münster, Goslar and Celle and the fairytale cities of Bremen and Hamelin. Take a day in the slow lane roaming around the Harz Mountains, or opt for an urban jolt in maritime Hamburg, which will charm you with cutting-edge couture, culture, and cuisine.

Germany’s second-largest city, Hamburg is also one of its most beautiful, laced by rivers and canals, characterized by great architecture and endowed with a spirit of openness. Wherever you go, it’s imbued with maritime flair, from its vast container port, which can be toured by boat, to its riverside promenades that invite strolling. Must-sees include the canal-laced Speicherstadt with its elegant red-brick warehouses, and the Hafen City, which is the largest urban construction project in Europe.

The West

This region wraps culturally vibrant suburbs and laid-back countryside into one attractive package. Get a dose of world-class art and architecture in Düsseldorf, Cologne, and Frankfurt. Then make a date with the Romans in Trier and with Charlemagne in Aachen. Whatever you do, do not miss a trip down the Rhine or Moselle rivers to explore a remarkably beautiful mosaic of vine-clad slopes, dreamy half-timbered villages, and medieval hilltop fortresses.

“Why is it so lovely on the Rhine?” asks a popular German song. You’ll quickly find the answer in Cologne. With its famous Gothic cathedral, lively beer halls, lovely river promenades, world-class museums, and superb shopping centers, this is a city that’s easy to love. If possible, visit in February during Carnival, a raucous celebration, when locals don fancy dress and demonstrate their legendary joie de vivre at parties and street parades.

The Southwest

Nowhere does Germany feel more radiantly Old World than in the Black Forest, a rustic landscape of “Hansel-and-Gretel” woods, undulating hills, gushing waterfalls and snow-dusted mountaintops. Along with nearby Lake Constance, it has long been a favorite holiday playground.

The easy-going atmosphere of the old university town of Freiburg is infectious, and its paved alleyways beg to be explored. The town is the southern gateway to the Schwarzwald, a region steeped in legend and endowed with a wide variety of scenery. Add to that its picturesque villages, a passion for cuckoo clocks and the possibilities of hiking in summer and skiing in winter. And it is easy to see why this mountainous region is one of Germany’s most popular tourist destinations.

Passing through towns such as the elegant spa resort of Baden-Baden, which attracts a wealthy clientele all year round, and Karlsruhe, the route takes you up to Bruchsal whose sumptuous 18th-century palace houses a museum devoted to mechanical musical instruments. In Ulm, you can stroll between the canals and Danube, and admire the town’s extraordinary cathedral. The Upper Swabian Plateau is dotted with Baroque churches famous for their dazzling decoration and architecture.

Munich and Southern Bavaria

Few cities in Germany exude the contagious energy that you’ll find bubbling away in the streets and legendary beer halls of Munich. Beer, lederhosen, and Oktoberfest – the Bavarian capital certainly conjures plenty of cliches. But what about BMW, high-tech, and world-class music and fashion? Revel in Munich’s contradictions as you stroll around the vast English Garden, pick up gourmet treats at the Viktualienmarkt and hoist a mug of foamy beer at an atmosphere-charged beer hall. For culture, report to the amazing Pinakothek museums or tour the royal splendor of the Residenz.

Outside of the city, natural and artificial beauty is all around. Crane your neck while marveling at the sky-etching Alps, explore higgledy-piggledy villages where ancient traditions still thrive or visit Ludwig Il’s fantasy castles. This is truly a land of superlatives ready to deliver a lifetime of memories.

Northern Bavaria

Nuremberg is one of the most beautiful medieval cities in Germany. Further south, Eichstätt is distinguished by a harmonious mix of Rococo and contemporary architecture. Romantische Straße (Romantic Road), Germany’s most popular holiday route, links some fantastic medieval cities, including Dinkelsbühland Rothenburg ob der Tauber, before reaching its northern terminus in Würzburg. Here the grandeur of the powerful prince-bishops of the Schönborn family is reflected in the splendid Residenz Palace. Next up is Bamberg with its pretty-as-a-penny historic quarter (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and imposing hilltop cathedral.

Central Germany

Central Germany’s appeal is largely in the region’s contributions to literature, music, the arts, philosophy, and religion. Here you can walk in the footsteps of Luther and Bach, Goethe and Gropius, Herder and Nietzsche, all of whom lived and worked in such towns as Weimar, Erfurt, Dessau-Rosslau, Magdeburg, and Wittenberg. Handel was born here, Liszt lived and taught here, and the region spawned architecture’s Bauhaus movement. Germany’s oldest Gothic cathedral still stands here, holding the remains of the first Holy Roman Emperor.

Naumburg stands among hills cloaked in vineyards and forests. The town is particularly renowned for its cathedral, which is an exceptional blend of Romanesque and Gothic style elements. Offering a pleasant distraction from the “cultural pilgrimage”, the Thuringian Forest and, further north, the Harz mountains take you right to the very heart of nature. Steeped in legend, the latter offers a limitless menu of year-round outdoor pursuits.

The East

Since reunification, the German East has shaken off its Cold War-era brooding and blossomed into a dynamic, prolific and forward-looking region. Endowed with a stunning city skyline, Dresden draws cultural types with its architectural landmarks and exquisite art collections. The mighty Elbe courses right through town, linking it with the fairytale landscape of Saxon Switzerland and the porcelain hub of Meissen. Youthful and progressive

Leipzig has shaped German history since the Middle Ages, most recently as the city that sparked the “peaceful revolution” of 1989, precipitating the fall of the East German regime. Leipzig is a city of artistic interest that can be proud of its exceptional musical heritage. Bach, Wagner, and Mendelssohn all lived here at one time, and the city remains very much in the foreground of the German music scene.

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#QuadGoals: Stephen Peot

This week’s #QuadGoals feature goes to Stephen Peot, a South Dakota FPV pilot and self-described “drone nerd.” Regarding his quad, Stephen said: “It’s a tool I use to get a camera right where I want it and that’s pretty amazing to me.”

Drone pilot: Stephen Peot

Video created with this quad: Isle of rocks


Here’s a look at Stephen’s quad build:

GoPro Hero 5 Black
Team Black Sheep Unify Pro HV with AXII antenna and Crossfire receiver
Martian II with thicker top/bottom blades from the 6″ version
Emax red bottoms and props w/Spedix 30a escs
CL racing F4 FC
Foxeer camera
Fatshark HD2‘s with True-D 3.8 and x2 air antenna
Frsky X9D SE w/ crossfire mini
I’ve been flying the same 6 CNHL/Rotor Riot batteries for almost 8 months now and they’re starting to lose chemistry.

Greece: A Country Soaked in History and Sunshine

 

Greece has always had a charm that has enchanted the world since the ancient times. As the birthplace of Greek mythology, ancient civilization, the Greek philosophy, society and culture, Greece has profoundly shaped our modern civilization. The origins of Greece are buried in legends, and it can be difficult to determine where the myth leaves off and the reality begins. A trip to Greece sea, sun, historical sites, and the often overshadowed mountains.

The Greek word xenoi is one of the first things you must understand when visiting the country. It is a word with a dual meaning, both “stranger” and “guest” simultaneously. A stranger is automatically a guest in their country, their town, their home. Visit a Greek home, and you will experience hospitality that can be overwhelming. Admire a painting on the wall, and you may find yourself taking it away with you as a gift. Walk in the country, and you might be given fruit to eat by a farmer, or beckoned to someone’s house for a drink or a slice of bread and cheese.

Athens

Athens is steeped in history. You will want to visit its Parthenon, of course, but don’t overlook the other ancient sites and museums, many of which have undergone a fabulous makeover. Akro poli means “upper city,” and many Greek towns have an acropolis. Athens has the most famous, capped as it is by the Parthenon.

Plaka is the warren of streets that meander to the north and east at the foot of the Acropolis. The streets are mainly pedestrianized, there are some excellent restaurants, souvenir shops, and the atmosphere is lively, day and night. As you approach the district of Kolonaki from Syntagma, you realize that you are entering a more upscale area of Athens. There is an increasing number of galleries, antique shops, and fashion stores, as well as far more well-dressed young people, frequently posing in sidewalk cafés with their cell phones and ladies with their lapdogs. The hill of Lykavittos can be seen from everywhere in central Athens, and a visit there is a must.

Thessaloniki

To get the city’s vibe best, start your tour with a stroll through the Thermaikos promenade. Start from where Makedonia Palace is and then walk up to Thessaloniki Concert Hall. You will get to see beautiful theme parks, like the Umbrellas of Zoggolopoulos and a breath-taking view of the sea. Watching the sunset in Thermaikos while drinking a cup of coffee to one of the cafes in the area is an experience not to be missed.

The White Tower, erected in the late 15th century, is the most famous monument of Thessaloniki and the emblem of the city. It was part of the modernization of the city’s fortifications, constructed by the Ottoman Empire. You can visit the museum located inside the White Tower and learn more about the city’s history through the digital reconstruction available for visitors.

The Greek Isles

With numerous flights and fast ferries from Pireas, the port for Athens, the option of island-hopping opens up. It’s one of the most liberating experiences, to be on the deck of a ferry reluctantly leaving one paradise but heading for a new destination and adventures unknown.

The largest island, Crete, offers the best of everything in one place: beaches, both busy and quiet, mountains for hiking, attractive harbor towns like Hania and Rethymno, proud people and culture, music and good food, and numerous archaeological sites of which Knossos is the biggest and best known.

The Cyclades are probably the prettiest island group, with two unique gems, Santorini and its black sand beaches and Mikonos known for its nightlife. The ancient Gdadic civilization flourished here, producing dazzling works of art. The Dodecanese offer lots of variety, from busy Rhodes to smaller islands like Tilos and Halki. The southernmost of the island groups, they are gorgeous in spring. Ionia is harder to get around so you may want to focus on Corfu, a scenic island with plenty of variety. Close to Italy, its buildings show influences of the Byzantine, Venetian, French, and British past.

Peloponnese

Peloponnese is a peninsula in southern Greece, connected to the mainland by the Rio-Antirio Bridge. The region is home to several famous ancient cities, including Mycenae, Sparta, Olympia, and Epidaurus. It was here, that the Peloponnesians, with their historic fighting spirit, began the Greek War of Independence in 1821. From Mycenean palaces and classic Greek temples to Byzantine cities and Venetian fortresses, the Peloponnese region offers plenty of historical attractions to admire, inspire and astonish.

Important archaeological sites include Mycenae, home to the famous King Agamemnon, he who initiated the Trojan war, and Epidaurus, an ancient healing village with an impressive amphitheater. Further sites such as the ancient Olympia, where the Olympic games first originated, Kalamata and Nafplio are also must-visits.

The scenery is ever changing as you explore, with a mountainous interior featuring deep scenic valleys and gorges, and a coastline dotted with gorgeous beaches.

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Turkey: The Confluence of Asia and Europe

Over the centuries the landmass of Asia Minor, the heart of the tremendous multicultural Ottoman Empire and now the modern Republic of Turkey, experienced waves of migrations in which one civilization displaced another, leaving a unique and glorious cultural heritage. Here you’ll find ancient bazaars, magnificent ruins, sandy beaches, and majestic mountains. The diversity between the Aegean beaches and eastern mountains has to be seen to be believed, and while foreigners can easily find themselves in nightclubs and markets, Turkey offers plenty of chances to explore the less-visited eastern quarters.

Romans, medieval Armenians, Byzantine Christians, Lycians, and Ottoman sultans have all had a part in making Turkey what it is today, and the caves of Cappadocia, ruins of Ephesus, and infinity pools of Pamukkale astound and impress even the most seasoned traveler.

Istanbul

As a bridge between Europe and Asia, Istanbul is often described as a symbol of Turkey as a whole, a meeting place of conflicting ideas and forces. Many argue that this is the city where East meets West; where traditional values clash with modernization; where secularism vies for power against political Islam. The sheer history of Istanbul can be almost overwhelming, and this mix of Asian and European culture has hugely impacted the food scene. Be sure to try the authentic Ottoman food, the meat and fish typical of Turkish cuisine, and one of the famous Turkish desserts. Famous for its vibrant nightlife, the city offers many bars and nightclubs for party animals.

Those who like to shop will also have plenty to do, as the modern shopping centers, combined with the Grand Bazaar and excellent local designers, offer some of the best shopping you’ll find anywhere. With palaces, mosques, bazaars, and towers, Istanbul boasts both incredible architecture and breathtaking views. The best way to discover the true essence Istanbul is on foot, enjoying the smells of rich spices, the sounds of many different languages, and the ever-constant call to prayer. A Bosphorus Cruise is an excellent way to see an overview of the city and explore both the Asian and European shores of the waterway, with mansions and century old palaces on display.

Cappadocia

Cappadocia is 750kms from Istanbul in the Anatolian region of Turkey and features a remarkably barren landscape which some have called Martian or lunar-like. This is the place which inspired the backdrop of Star Wars. Nature has carved out rock pedestals which humans then used to build underground cities and cave homes.

The impressive rock formations are a sight to see, and the region is also famous for its excellent artisans which include rug makers, pottery craftsmen, and winemakers. The soaring rock formations and deep valleys are dotted with chapels, tombs, temples, and homes. Byzantine monks excavated many of the dwellings and monasteries, each beautifully decorated and painted, which are still well-preserved today.

One of the best ways to see the area is from a hot air balloon. Take a sunrise ride, and you’ll get an idea of just how incredible the rock formations are. Bring a camera, as seeing the hundreds of hot air balloons with brightly colored canopies combined with the barren landscape is genuinely a bucket-list experience.

Pamukkale

Pamukkale, known as “Cotton Castle,” is famous for not only its unique geological formations but also the lesser-known historical remains. This UNESCO World Heritage Site gets its nickname from the waters which are full of calcium-oxide, and flow down the slope of Caldag, located north of the ruins. This has caused the deposits to build upon the plateau over thousands of years, forming travertines and hot springs.

But also spare a few days to visit the ruins surrounding the pools as well. The hot springs are still believed to have healing properties, and many people traveled to the site over the centuries to cure their various sicknesses.

Ankara

The capital of Turkey, Ankara is also the second largest city in the country (after Istanbul). The city is a huge student town, along with being the center of the government. Sure, you won’t find many Ottoman palaces here, but the youthful, vivacious atmosphere, booming restaurant scene, sidewalk cafes, and dynamic street-life mean that anyone traveling to Turkey should take the time to visit. Located on a rocky hill, and in one of the driest parts of the country, Ankara is still one of the greenest, with large areas of lush spaces for residents and visitors to take advantage of.

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TURKEY: BLACK SEA REGION

TURKEY: CENTRAL ANATOLIA

TURKEY: EAST

TURKEY: MEDITERRANEAN

TURKEY: WEST

China: Where Antiquity Meets the Future

As well known today for its turbulent modern history as its ancient and proud culture, this once mysterious country has lately reemerged onto the world stage, and in recent years, embarked on a rapid evolution that has made it one of the most important players in world economics and politics.

This dichotomy – being simultaneously old and new – is reflected in China’s landscape. From the ultramodern skylines of Shanghai to the imposing imperial palace in Beijing; from the bustling shopping district on Nanjing Road to the tranquil canals in Suzhou; from the trendy 798 Art Zone to the Great Wall that has been guarding the country for millennia; some Chinese live in soaring high-rises, while others live in traditional courtyards. These two radically different faces of China are equally fascinating, and both are as true as the other.

Beijing

Beijingers take pride in the capital’s history, its revered temples, palaces, and proximity to the Great Wall. This historic appeal is enlivened with creative dining and nightlife, and edgy contemporary art scene. Beijing was the capital of China as early as the 13th century when imperial commands were issued from the Forbidden City and sent to the remotest outposts of the Chinese Empire. Today, China’s ponderous political directives are composed in neighboring Zhongnanhai. But stroll through Tiananmen Square, and you will instantly sense the continuing significance of what is arguably China’s greatest city.

Beijing provides access to both reconstructed and “wild” portions of the Great Wall, superior opera companies, the most delectable roast duck, the most elegant palaces in China, and one of the world’s largest public squares, to name just a few of its rich historical and cultural treasures. The grounds of the former imperial capital envelop the Forbidden City, which is also surrounded by the pure soul of Beijing: the city’s grid of charming hutongs. Lose yourself in these narrow old alleyways – where whole communities still thrive – and you will see Beijing at its more authentic.

Shanghai

Younger, brasher, more hedonistic, Shanghai is often defined by its futuristic skyline. The view from the ground, however, reveals exceptional heritage and art deco architecture alongside China’s most eclectic and progressive fashion, restaurants, and clubs. Perhaps the least Chinese city in China, Shanghai has been molded since the mid-1900s by the cosmopolitan influence of European, American, and Japanese residents.

Formerly a sleepy fishing port, Shanghai – which means “on the sea” in Chinese – has always been associated with water. Over the years, this watery setting has brought Shanghai prosperity as a port. The city is split in two by Huangpu River – the area to the west is called Puxi, while the area to the east is called Pudong. Puxi is the older central part of the city, where the Bund and other attractions from the city’s colonial past can be found, while Pudong is the rapidly developing area across the river, where most high-rises and the Special Economic Zone is located.

Xi’an

Xi’an is the capital of the Shaanxi Province, which is considered the cradle of ancient Chinese culture. The city of Xi’an, or Chang’an as it was known then, with more than 3,000 years of history, was the capital city of 13 dynasties and home to 73 emperors, starting from the Zhou Dynasty dating back to 1046 BC.

The ancient city was also the starting point of the Silk Road. Traders from as far as Ancient Rome brought goods and ideas to Xi’an, and took away Chinese goods and ideas back to their native land. Unfortunately, constant wars in recent centuries have destroyed much of the city’s heritage, but the city remains one of the most popular tourist destinations in China, if for the famous Terracotta Warriors alone.

Suzhou

The city of Suzhou is as beautiful as a classical Chinese painting, with ample water running through the city and stunningly arranged classical gardens that line the canals. In 1997, the classical gardens were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

This ancient city dates back to the Kingdom of Wu, from the 12th to the 4th century BC, before even the time of the first emperor of China. After the kingdom was conquered, the city continued to be the center of the Wu culture, which flourished in these parts. Today, Suzhou is a core city of the Yangtze River Delta Economic Zone. It is an epicenter of China’s silk production and trade as it was in ancient China, and its beautiful canals and tranquil gardens continue to inspire scholars, artists, craftsmen, and travelers every day.

Chengdu

Chengdu is the capital and largest city of the province of Sichuan in southwest China. It is located on the fertile plains of the Red Basin and has had a long history of prosperity. It is sometimes known as the “Land of Milk and Honey” for its agricultural wealth.

The city contains five urban districts, four suburban districts, nine counties, and is home to 14 million people. The culture of Chengdu is considered relaxed and highly livable, unlike other major Chinese cities. The foothills of the mighty Tibetan Plateaus are just an hour to the west of Chengdu, making the city an access point to Tibet.

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#QuadGoals: ShinyFPV

This week’s #QuadGoals feature goes to Frank Arapovich, known in the FPV community as ShinyFPV. The New Zealand-based pilot lets us in on his latest quad build:

Drone Pilot: ShinyFPV

Video created with this quad: There and Back


About this quad:

“My favourite quadcopter is my ImpulseRC Alien 6 Inch. I have had it for well over 2 years now and I built it early on in my FPV journey. From the maiden flight I fell in love with it, I have never felt so connected to a quadcopter like I have with this one. It is still my main quad and even with all the hard crashes and having it being lost and crashing into the ocean. I have always re-built it and flew it again. The only thing I have ever replaced on it is a bottom plate. The rest of the frame is original (something that I cannot say about the electronics though) hard crashes and salt water tend to destroy such things. But I have always stuck to the original setup with this quad and I use Flyduino Kiss FC v1 and Kiss 24 Amp ESC’s. They have been rock solid for me.

Even though I loved flying this quad, I always thought I should be flying 5 inch quads and being the fastest I could be and do all the craziest tricks like all the top pilots were doing. But I found myself to be aimless and unfocused in my flying. I would go out just for the sake of flying itself and not really enjoying it and I did this for a long time. And to be honest I was not enjoying it. I built so many different quads and none of them gave me the feeling that I had when I flew my Alien 6 inch. So I took a step back from FPV. I re-evaluated what I wanted from it and I found what it truly meant to me and that is exploration.

I love exploring new places and I love exploring new places with FPV. SO I combined the two and got into mid to long range flying and I have not looked back. I now travel to all sorts of different places and I take my quadcopter and with me and my wife and children we go together on FPV trips and explore all that there is available to us and I couldn’t be happier with that.

So I guess I have a bit of a message to convey and that is; Find your own groove and do what makes you happy.”


DRONE PARTS:

ImpulseRC Alien 6 Inch
Kiss FC v1 with fw RC33aa Dynamic Filter set to High and 1K loop time
Mr Steele PDB FW 2.5
Kiss 24A with fw v110gRC11 Dshot 600
BrotherHobby R5 2306/2450
Dalprop Cyclone T6040C
Foxeer HS1177 Cam with 2.5 mm Lens
ChinaHobbyLine 4s 2200 70C Batteries
TBS Unify Pro HV 800mW
TBS Crossfire Micro TX 2.40 fw
TBS Crossfire Nano
TBS Immortal T antenna and a Diamond
TRUERC AXII Antenna with SMA (Long Version), TRUERC X²-AIR 5.8Ghz x2 Crosshair Antenna, IBCrazy 5.8 GHz Single Mad Mushroom
Fatshark Dom v3, with FuriousFPV True-D 3.5 running 3.7 FW
FrSky Taranis X9D plus, Open TX 2.2
GoPro Hero 6 Black recording at 2.7k 60fps Superview. Protune Flat enabled and I then usually make some minor colour adjustments in Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2018. GoPro image stabilization enabled.

Romania: The Heart of Transylvania

 

With excellently-preserved medieval castles, fairy-tale villages, and luxurious Black Sea resorts, Romania is one of the fastest growing tourist destinations in the world. The country is linked with one of the most popular characters in literature – Count Dracula. You will find many castles and streets named after this famed character.

Whether you prefer weaving in and out of the green slopes of Transylvania or viewing the painted monasteries with quiet wonder, hiking through the Southern Carpathians or learning about the people’s revolt against its Communist regime, Romania will hook you in. Perhaps you prefer to soak in the medieval history and culture by touring a castle perched on a cliff’s edge, or you like the more thrilling version of the tour, complete with the tales of Count Dracula and the real Vlad the Impaler. Or maybe you just like visiting a beautiful European country that still retains its authentic feeling of being something “real” rather than the overcrowded hotspots of countries further west.

Bucharest

Bucharest is both the capital city and the largest city in Romania. Sometimes known as “Little Paris,” a nickname gained in the 20th century, Bucharest was always known for its residents who live the high life. Despite the Communist-era blocky buildings, its most beautiful spots include lovely boulevards, open green spaces, and charming 17th-century buildings. Although much of the city was destroyed in World War II, you can still see its old charm in the Cismigiu Gardens and Herastrau Park, streets such as Soseaua Kiseleff, and, of course, the Arcul de Triumf, which was intentionally built as a replica of Paris’ Arc de Triomphe.

Brasov

Brasov is known for its authentic medieval atmosphere and charming old city center. You can take a stroll around the town, enjoying its lovely Renaissance, Baroque, and Gothic architecture, or you can get a feel for some of Romania’s past defenses by checking out the old fortifications here. Whatever you do, you will enjoy the history positively oozing from every nook and cranny of this delightful walled city. Check out the Council Square, which is supposedly where the Pied Piper led the Hamlin children. From here you can view the red roofs of the houses (which previously belonged to the city’s merchants), as well as the 13th century Old Town Hall in the center of the square. As the most massive building in the city, Black Church (which isn’t black at all) should be easy to find. If you visit in the summer, you can catch one of the three organ concerts held here every week.

Sibiu

Sibiu is the cultural capital of Romania. A place of bohemian charm that has drawn some of the world’s most famous musicians, Sibiu was also the center of the country’s first modern developments, including its first hospital, school, library, pharmacy, and Romanian-owned bank. More recently, Sibiu was the elected European Capital of Culture in 2007, illustrating the fact that its cultural relevance is far from over. You can expect some kind of festival to be going when you visit, and if not then one of its many regular concerts or performances should suffice.

Sibiu is divided into two parts: the Upper Town and the Lower Town. There are many squares to stumble upon in the Upper Town, the largest of which is the Great Square. The Great Square, a UNESCO monument, is home to the Brukenthal Palace as well as its Roman Catholic Church. Of course, this is also where public executions, as well as other happier public activities, took place. Be sure to climb up the Council Tower to get a fantastic view of the entire city.

Timisoara

As one of Romania’s largest cities, Timisoara is filled to the brim with art and culture. Lovingly nicknamed “Little Vienna,” Timisoara is known for its lovely architecture, beautiful performances and artistic displays, and cosmopolitan city life. The public squares in Timisoara are a significant part of the appeal of this city. Victory Square is home to the Romanian Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral, which includes a memorial to those who died during the Revolution of 1989. To learn more about this important piece of history, visit the Memorial Museum of the 1989 Revolution. Cross the city center to get to Union Square, which served as the center of commerce during the 1700s. It also was the place of choice for certain public events, including military processions and religious ceremonies.

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#QuadGoals FrankheadFPV

Welcome to the first edition of “Quad Goals,” where we feature the gear that some of the top FPV pilots are flying. Find out what equipment the pilots use and hear stories about what makes these quads special for the pilots. Our first pilot is Frankhead FPV, a master of the long-range flights. It takes a special quad to fly distances as long as he does, so he lets us in on his secret for perfecting the long-range game.
Drone Pilot: FrankheadFPV
Video Created with Quad: Skårasalen Cliff Diving

About This Quad:
“Funny story about this quad…I had just dived Europe’s highest cliff face ‘The Troll Wall’ in Norway, (at 1700m high) and while flying back to myself I started to feel the battery lose power! Shortly after, the quad slowly loses altitude as I watched on painfully through the fpv camera. The video feed cuts to static and I figured it must have crashed in the forest about 400m from where I was standing. I gather my gear and start walking to where I think it had crashed. I was interrupted in my search as I discover a river 50m across, consisting of ice cold glacier melt water blocking my path! Hmmm, I knew the quad was somewhere on the other side of that river, so I got down to my underpants and tried swimming across. The water was freezing cold and the current was strong! so I gave up disheartened, having lost a 4th quad in 2 years.
Later that day I drove to a nearby town, and I saw that one of the shops had children’s body boards for sale! So I went in and bought one. I then drove back to the river with a determined smile on my face! 20 minutes later I am standing by the river once again in my underpants, with my FPV goggles on my head, but this time armed with a kids body board. I start swimming across. Immediately the current takes me and I am suddenly 100m down river and still halfway to the other side… I paddle harder and eventually I get to the other side, now 200m down river! It takes me 3 hours of searching in the forest to locate the quad and an additional 45 minutes to dislodge it from the canopy of the tree it was perched in. I yell for joy as my shaking of the branches eventually causes it to fall to the ground. I think to myself how strange I must appear to someone watching this ridiculous scene unfold.  But then I realise there is no one around. I am 15m up a tree, in nothing but underpants and fpv googles and I am on the other side of an ice cold river. No one comes here, ever. I think to myself, “If I fall out of this tree, I am totally screwed”, so I very carefully climb my way down. I pick up the quad and head back to the river, this time taking into account the strength of the current. So I start swimming from a location upstream and arrive exactly where my clothes and belongings were situated on the other side of the river. It was an eventful afternoon.
If I hadn’t retrieved the quad, I would have lost quite a lot of footage from this summer, so I am glad I got it back!
The quad has a range of about 2km, and a flight time between 4 and 6 minutes. It is such a joy to fly these devices and nothing quite matches the feeling of really being connected through FPV. Once it can behave the way you want it to, and you learn to fly it confidently, anything is possible. Nothing beats the feeling of surfing jagged mountain peaks, diving cliffs or getting up close with exposed glaciers. Being able to share the footage of our adventures is an added bonus.”

DRONE PARTS –
Frame: Custom homemade design
Flight Controller: Revolt V3
FPV Camera: Runcam Swift
5.8g Antenna: Aomway Cloverleaf
Receiver: Crossfire Micro

RADIO GEAR –

FPV GOGGLES – 

Colombia: Where Contemporary Meets Colonial

Colombia is a South American giant awakening to its vast potential. In this diamond-shaped tropical nation, you will find a cornucopia of natural wonders side by side with sleepy villages and vibrant cities. A place where tourism is now blooming, and turmoil and guerrilla conflict are yesterday’s news. The country is physically stunning, ecologically astounding, and culturally vibrant.

The cobblestone plazas of Villa de Leyva, Popayán, and Bogotá, the capital city, still echo with the boot steps of Spanish conquistadores. And tiny time-warp colonial villages color Colombia’s rural highways. Geographically, Colombia is a triptych of the coastal plain, soaring mountains, and velvety jungle. Rivers teem from the Andes into the Amazon Basin and the seamless sponge of Choco’s Pacific coast – vast rainforest homes to jaguars, monkeys, poison dart frogs, and other wildlife species of every stripe, spot, and hue.

Bogotá

European in character, Latin American in soul, Bogotá is Colombia’s capital of over 10 million people. In two decades, Bogotá has transformed itself into a surprising tourist destination and welcoming city that is Colombia’s epicenter of business, politics, and entertainment. Much of the city is a hodgepodge of redbrick and concrete buildings. Different architecture – from art deco and modernist to Gothic and Renaissance- lines the city’s streets. Bogotá today is being hailed as the “Athens of South America” – a sophisticated tableau of architecture, action, and art.

The high-rise condominiums of Los Rosales, stylish malls of Santa Barbara, trendy restaurants and boutiques of Zona Rosa makes the city a cosmopolitan center of sophistication. Full of cathedrals and museums, the 400-year-old centro historico is also the government headquarters.

Cartagena

Hot, sultry, filled with bright color, tradition and the sound of music, Cartagena de Indias has been an important port on the Caribbean ever since it was founded in 1533. The cruise ships have returned to Cartagena, where ancient fortresses still echo with the clash of cutlasses and the roar of cannon. The old walled city is the heart of Cartagena. Protected from storms and pirate attacks by the fortress, the old city full of cathedrals, convents, and ancient mansions painted in soft tropical colors – guava green, papaya yellow, tangerine – reflects Colombia’s positive future while showcasing the best of a picturesque past. This area is today known as El Centro and features restaurants as well as a section known as Getsemani which is worth a daytime stroll.

Rosario Islands which comprise a small archipelago on the southern part of the Bay of Cartagena offers crystal clear waters and multicolor reefs ideal for recreational diving. Beach lovers will also find refuge on Playa Blanca with its white sands and crystal clear waters.

Medellin

The second largest city in Colombia, Medellin is a principal industrial and manufacturing area, as well as a commercial flower growing region which is famous for its orchids. A beautiful city that is modern and vibrant yet true to its regional characteristics, Medellin was founded in 1616 within the scenic Aburra valley. Plan your visit around early August to attend Feria de las Flores, the famous Medellin flower festival.

Visit the Basilica de la Candelaria, which is one of the few colonial buildings left in Medellin. Also, tour the Basilica Metropolitana which is situated in Parque de Bolivar. The Basilica was completed in the early 20th century and is believed to be the largest brick church in South America. At Pueblito Paisa, you will find a replica of a typical Antioquia village, complete with handicraft shops. Plaza Botero features displays of several works by Fernando Botero, the internationally renowned Medellin sculptor who specializes in oversized human figures.

Popayan

Founded in 1537 at the foot of Volcan Purace, Popayan is situated in the Andean cordillera. The churches of Popayan rank high on the list of things to do in this Colombian town. Visit Iglesia de San Francisco which is noted for its beautiful side altars. Iglesia La Ermita is Popayan’s oldest church which dates from 1546 and boasts frescoes and an impressive altar. Capilla de Belen offers panoramic views of the city.

Stroll through the streets of Popayan for a closer look at the two-storeyed colonial houses which feature small balconies on the second floor. Just outside of Popayan to the northeast is the town of Silvia, home to an indigenous community of Gambinos. The town holds a weekly market on Tuesdays where the Indian natives dress in traditional clothing and sell handicrafts as well as fresh produce. Set off into the wilderness to Parque Nacional Purace, which is situated to the east of Popayan. Its landscape features the snow-covered Purace volcano which rises 4780m, waterfalls, hot springs and lakes.

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Indonesia: A Vivid Tapestry of Nature, Cultures, and Spirituality

Most countries offer you an insight into a different culture, but Indonesia, with its dozens of historical influences, offers something dramatically more. The strands of varied customs, religions, legends, and modernity are woven into intricate patterns that reveal themselves in layers. Sometimes, when a country is transformed by tourism, it pays a heavy price in terms of cultural losses. Not so in Indonesia. For every stretch of silver beach filled with sunbathers from nearby luxury hotels, there are plenty of villages rich in traditions that date back not just centuries but for millennia.

Indonesia is the largest island nation in the world comprising more than 17,000 islands. The landscape is mostly rugged. Shallow seas patterned with coral reefs surround mangrove swamps and coastal plains reaching back to dense rainforest. The mountains and geological structures are mainly volcanic, with many of the volcanoes still active, for this is a region of geographic turmoil.

Bali

Bali attracts a variety of people, from backpackers and expats to families and newly married couples. This tropical island, once quiet, has become world famous thanks to its incredible beaches, rice fields, waterfalls, as well as its unique cultural, spiritual and artistic environment.

If you have come to Bali in search of intriguing culture and a relaxing ambiance, Ubud is your destination. Avoid its two busy streets and stay in a quiet area overlooking the rice fields. Attend a yoga class, cycle through the rice terraces or watch the macaques climb the roof of the Ubud Monkey Forest. Do not miss the mysterious Elephant Cave and immerse yourself in the Tirta Empul baths, which date back to the 9th century.

Located on the slope of Mount Agung,  Mother Temple is composed of 22 different temples. The main temple is Pura Penataran Agung, an extensive sanctuary with different areas representing the seven layers of the universe. At the top of the Mother Temple is Pura Pangubengan, a darkened stone temple offering beautiful views of the complex.

Jakarta

The capital of Indonesia is a busy metropolis, famous for its colonial relics, beautiful mosques, numerous shops, and family entertainment. Located in the northwest corner of the island of Java, Jakarta is chaotic but also has plenty of flavor and color. Founded in the 4th century and colonized by the Dutch East Indies, Jakarta has long been served as a critical Indonesian port.  The city of over 10 million population has a multifaceted culture with Javanese, Dutch, Chinese, and Arabic influences.

The best-known tourist sight in Jakarta is the 140-meter-tall Monas, often just called the National Monument. It is situated in the famous Freedom (“Merdeka”) Square, and you can go into its observation deck to see views of the entire city. The Presidential Palace is also worth a visit, as the current functioning office of the president of Indonesia, and is free to tour on weekends (but make sure to reserve ahead of time and dress somewhat nicely). You also shouldn’t visit Jakarta without seeing the National Museum, which is 200 years old and a famous icon. It will help you better understand the natural and human history of Indonesia, and you can also see an excellent elephant statue. The nightlife in Jakarta is active and fun, with plenty of bars and clubs to choose from.

Sumatra

While Java offers a rich history and culture, Sumatra is a paradise for nature lovers and thrill seekers. Here you can surf some the best waves in the country, hike through the thick tropical jungle in search of red-haired orangutans, or dive and explore the magnificent underwater world. Toba Lake has been a must in Sumatra for decades: it is the largest lake volcanic lake in the world, with an intense blue color. Observe orangutans in the virgin jungles of Bukit Lawang, as well as tigers, rhinos, elephants, and leopards. You can also swim with sharks and turtles in the coral garden of Pulau Weh, walk through the heart of the matriarchal village of the Minangkabau, and climb up to the steaming peaks of the volcanoes that surround the mountain village of Berastagi.

Bandung

Bandung is a Javanese city with a mountainous backdrop, a pleasant climate, and a relatively bland center until you come across its famous art deco architecture. The fourth largest city in Indonesia, Bandung boasts a population of nearly 3 million and is known for its universities that make it the intellectual center of Java. Condensed traffic and buildings in need of repair only make up the first layer of this city – upon closer inspection, the city’s hidden character is exposed with some incredible street art.

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