I recently got a new laptop, and one of the first things I did, was to set up iGoogle as my home page. I was pleasantly surprised that there were so many gadgets from which to choose, to tailor one's home page. However, one of the most striking option on offer (at least for me) was the pictures of places to see before you die.
I was so amazed by some of the choices, that I couldn't but share them with you. Google does not offer any details with the pictures, but I've looked them up, and have outlined them below for your enjoyment.
All pictures can be found here at iGoogle's gadget page.
Etosha Park, Namibia
Etosha Park in Namibia (previously known as South West Africa) was set up when the state was still a German colony. Originally, at 38 thousand square miles, the park was the largest in the world, but has since, unfortunately, been chopped down to less than 10 thousand, because of political change.
The park is still one of the most important in the world, housing various native, protected wildlife.
The Forbidden City, Beijing
The Forbidden City was the exclusive home of the Emperor Kublai Khan, and was part of the Imperial City in Beijing during the Mongol Yuan Dynasty.
The Ming Dynasty followed after the Yuan was overthrown. At this time, and under this latter ruler-ship, the capital was moved to Nanjing. Beijing then, was demoted to a secondary capital city. In 1406 Chief engineers and eunuchs started building what was to become the Forbidden City as it is now known, so that rich, important families could live securely away from the rest of the nation.
The Roman Forum, Rome
The Roman Forum (or Forum Romanum) is the nucleus of ancient Roman civilization. The most important buildings like the palace and the senate of the original city can be found in this haunting forum.
The forum was the place to gather for any public meeting, and was considered to be the essence of the Roman Empire. Google is right in its choice of this particular destination, as this is indeed, one of the places you must see before you die – if only for the fact that a lot of the ancient world's most important decisions were made at this spot.
The Grand Canyon, Arizona
The Grand Canyon is a gigantic gorge situated near the Colorado River in Arizona. It can be accessed through the Grand Canyon National Park, which was one of the first National Parks to be established in the US.
Before Europeans moved to America, the area of the Grand Canyon National Park was inhabited by Native Americans who made their homes in the natural caves occurring there, believing that the site was holy and special.
When I noticed that Google had recommended Hallstatt as a site to see before you die, I couldn't understand why until I read about its history.
The name Hall is from the old Celtic name meaning salt, and a few years ago, Halstatt had just 946 inhabitants. The reason for the name is probably due to the many salt mines near to the village, and the reason this area is so attractive to tourists, is because the world's first salt mine is located nearby.
Hallstatt can be toured on foot in just 10 minutes.
Kathmandu is the most developed city in Nepal and stands at an elevation of about 4,500 feet. More than 2.7 people live in Kathmandu, which is situated at the prime area of the most visited mountains of the world.
Kathmandu is considered by many, as the most beautiful city on earth, and has earned a firm place in the list of places to visit before you die.
Amboseli National Park, Kenya
The Amboseli National Park was previously called, Maasi Amboseli Game Reserve.
It spans 151 square miles and spreads across the Kenyan-Tanzanian border. This area is especially note worthy, because of the world-popular Maasai people who originally inhabited it. Nowadays, many people from other part of the country have settled there as well, because of the area's increasing productiveness.
The Amboseli National Park arguably offers the best wildlife-viewing experiences in the world, but not only this, it gives tourists a chance to meet the Maasai and to enjoy the views of mount Kilimanjaro.
Ko Phi Phi Don, Thailand
Phi Phi Don used to be populated by Muslim fishermen in the 1940s, but later it became a coconut plantation. It is the largest island of the group of Thai Phi Phi islands, and is the only one with permanent inhabitants. These spectacularly beautiful islands were the main setting of the film ‘Beach,' staring Leonardo De Caprio.
The Meteora, Greece
The Meteora, (suspended rocks) is one of the mainstream complexes of the Eastern Orthodox monasteries. It is believed that the monasteries were first established in the 11th century and that the monks lived among the caves and contours in these rocks. Although the monasteries have now become some of the most popular tourist sites in the world, a lot of them are mainly museums.
These places listed here are all steeped in natural history, and are destinations which make our world the beautiful, fascinating place that it is. It is exciting that a powerful body such as Google, has chosen to give them the exposure that they so rightly deserve. Every time I log into the internet, my iGoogle page presents me with a different picture of one of these totally remarkable places, places which I would definitely love to see before I die.