Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ghostscrapers - Top ten post-apocalyptic abandoned skyscrapers

abandoned skyscrapers

When city plans exceed reality, or the money dries up, or people simply leave in a mass exodus, skyscrapers vacate and slowly decay. High winds thrash through broken windows. Rats live undisturbed amongst decades old rubble. Stairways lead to doors that may never open again. The ghost of ambition's past arrives in the present like a howling specter, creating eyesores, dangerous conditions, and free housing for opportunistic urban survivalists.

These abandoned skyscrapers range from forsaken structures aborted long before their doors opened to icons from a bygone era. While a slumper like Detroit has its fair share of empty giants, even cities with tiger cub economic growth like Bangkok are not immune to the plague of creepy abandoned high-rises. South America brings vertical favelas to the list, and Poland has a tower named after a pop-culture villain. And even San Francisco, a city with a high recreational scooter to human ratio and droves of individuals who see the world just beyond the tip of their nose, has its very own abandoned skyscraper.

From North Korea to Venezuela, these structures differ in their stories and circumstance, but each is a fine glimpse at post-apocalyptic urban decay.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The top ten castles in Europe

best castles in europe

Castles originated in Europe over a thousand years ago. These fortresses were one of the original defense systems, and erecting the structures on hills or just beyond moats was a functional choice. Castles were built to house rulers, impose power, and above all, spurn would be attackers. Conforming to these basic principles of utilitarian design, the strongholds now appear solitary, majestic, and frozen in time. The attackers are long gone, and now a steady stream of camera clutching invaders breach the castles daily, ready to inspect the epic grandeur of the past.

While Europe has hundreds of excellent castles, these ten all have design, character, and history that sets them apart. Some occupy the center of bustling cities, while others lurk in forgotten countrysides. Spanning eight countries across Europe, each of these castles has a story to tell.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The world's most desolate countries

most desolate

According to a Harvard study
, the earth's population will hit seven billion humans in a few months. Earlier this summer, Gadling labs profiled the effects of increasing populations on finite land resources by showcasing the world's most crowded islands. The earth is, in its own way, an island, and 21st century humanity will be presented with the challenge of adapting to rising population levels and static resources.

While countries like India have wrestled with the conundrum of feeding and housing booming population levels in Delhi, Kolkata, and Mumbai, the countries on this list bear no similarities to the billion strong Indian subcontinent. These countries are the ones with open space - lots of it. Countries like Greenland and Mongolia may someday be utilized for their vast expanses of open terrain, but today they are simply great places to go when you have tired of other human beings.

So while this extraordinarily hot summer may have included elbowing your way through thronged midtown Manhattan in 100 degree heat or hesitantly inhaling the stink rising off the sweaty crowd at Bonnaroo, this list is intended to take you way away from the crowds. From riding a horse through the empty steppes of Mongolia to exploring the glacial highlands of Iceland, each of these countries offers exercises in sweet sweet solitude. None of these countries have more than ten people per square mile.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Friday, June 17, 2011

Underwater Maldives Part One - Feeding the fish, swimming with Turts

Behold, an underwater Maldives picture gallery - these pictures were extremely fun to take.  The snorkeling in the Maldives is so mind-blowingly good that we canceled our last few days diving. This is part one, much more early next week.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Maldives - Arrival in paradise

The Maldives are a collection of sandy atolls in the middle of the Indian Ocean.  Located between India and Africa, the island nation is the sandy mountaintops of a massive underwater mountain range.  The Maldives boast almost 1200 islands, though only 200 of them are settled with a population of about 400,000.  

The Maldives is one of the most luxurious places in the world, and each resort has its own private island.  We stayed on the island of Kurumba near the capital of Male, which was sort of an entry level and convenient place to stay.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Throwback Tuesday: I was robbed in Quito and all I got was this poo stained t-shirt

Last April, I went on my first real travel assignment to Quito, Ecuador.  My second day there, I was robbed.  My camera was stolen and I was covered in human excrement.  Below is my story as I wrote it for

It began like any other day in the life of a travel writer - gingerly exposing my limbs, one at a time, to the arctic water gurgling out of my hostel's shower head. It was Tuesday morning, and I had just arrived in Quito. My research had left me in a state of premature love with this UNESCO heritage city almost 10,000 feet up in the Andes. While hyperventilating in the relentlessly cold stream, I decided that I would open my Quito story with an interesting historical anecdote.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Qatar's new skyline and old souqs

Doha in Qatar is a strange Arab enclave with modern forests of glass and steel casting long shadows on its much older quarters.  It is a city in transition, where the old will stay old and the new will rise from the ground with each heartbeat of the encroaching future.  The ancient souqs of Arabia are home to narrow lanes and markets where everything has a price.  From fluorescent colored chicks to rusty old desert swords, the labyrinthine souqs of Qatar had us turning our heads around every corner.  We unintentionally bartered for things we did not want, were shouted at by parrots a little far from home, and passed droves of cloaked old men, perhaps jedis.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Al Maha Desert in the United Arab Emirates - Luxury, dune bashing, Oryx, falcons, and horses

An hour outside of Dubai, the Al Maha desert is a  sprawling landscape of shrubs, dunes, and the occasional oasis.  The Al Maha desert reserve is also home to many Oryx and Gazelles.  We stayed at the (very 5 star) desert resort in Al Maha and the animals were frequent guests at breakfast and would also amble up to the pool curious of the strange white creatures thrashing about in the water - us.  The impetus for my entire reason for going to Dubai was to stay at this particular resort and visit with the very endangered Oryx (maybe 1000 or so left in the wild).  These are very interesting animals and the access to them, whether they be staring at us about a meter away from our outside breakfast table or walking alongside us during a desert camel ride, was unbelievable.  They are not scared of people, at all. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Doha - Where Blade Runner meets Arabia

 Doha in Qatar is such a cool place.  Check out this picture of old fishing boats in the harbor contrasting with the modernist skyline.  More later.

Diving in the aqaurium at Dubai Mall

 Dubai mall is the nicest mall I have ever been to, without a doubt.  The quality of the stores is extremely high, which makes sense, because Dubai is where the wealthy go to shop.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Ski Dubai

Dubai is the only place in the world where one can ski 3 different ways: snow, sand, and water.  This is thanks to a massive ski slope built into the Mall of the Emirates.  We didn't ski, but did tube down several ice slides, ride the ski lift, and tag-teamed a menacing stretch of slope called Backwinder's Stampede (name I made up).  Both of us almost broke our tailbones on that run.  Kristin also leaped into a padded ball and was pushed down a slope.

A room in the Burj Al Arab

So what does the interior of the Burj Al Arab look like?  The Burj has no stars, but some joke it is the world's only 7 star hotel.  Rooms come with butlers.  Each floor has its own concierge.  Everything is gold.  There is a pillow menu.  Here are some pictures.

Seven courses at the top of the world - At.moshere in the Burj Khalifa

One of our favorite activities in Dubai was an 8 course meal at At.mosphere in the the Burj Khalifa.  It is the highest restaurant in the world.  While I will muse about every savory bite in a few weeks on, here are some pictures of our incredible meal.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Staying at the Armani Hotel in Dubai

If you knew me growing up, then you know that I was a huge follower of the Armani brand, even working for the company at one point, albeit at one if its lowest rungs.  When we checked into the Armani hotel in the world's tallest building, I was very excited to say the least.  It is Armani's first property and is fittingly stylish. After staying in the Jumeriah hotels that kick you in the teeth with glamor and shine, Armani was a welcome change of pace with understated style and monotone coolness.  

We stayed on the top floor and enjoyed every minute of it.

The Burj Khalifa - the world's tallest thing

The Burj Khalifa is an epic structure, proclaiming Dubai's vertical ambitions to the world around it.  While the world's economy receded, Dubai kept building the beast that towers at over 200 floors.  It took over 5 years, with 196 nationalities comprising the 10,000 workers that made the project possible.  By day it looks like it has been hastily photoshopped into the downtown skyline.  By night it appears as though it will shake free of the earth and take off like a rocket, bound for the furthest reaches of our galaxy.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Sheikh Mohammed's Peacocks

While in Dubai we visited the driveway to Sheikh Mohammed's private residence.  The Sheikh is beloved by the people and lives a very normal life, from jogging in public to casually visiting stores like an everyday Sheikh.  Keeping with this theme of accessibility, people can visit the driveway leading up to his house and admire his army of colorful peacocks.  Allegedly (not verified), further into his residence, a pack of lions patrol his gardens - probably not open to outsiders.  The Sheikh essentially willed Dubai's impressive growth and is the absolute monarch of the Emirate and the VP of the UAE.  He has 21 children and a few wives.  He is also very very rich and has exceptional taste in peacocks.

Jumeriah Mosque

As a non-Muslim, a privileged glimpse into a mosque is an eyeopening experience.  The Jumeriah Mosque, one of the only mosques open to Westerners in the United Arab Emirates, provides this opportunity several times per week.  While Kristin and I were too rushed to take in a full service, the individuals running the service let us in before everyone else to take some pictures.  

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A night on the Palm - Jumeriah Zabeel Saray

 In this picture, you can make out the hazy downtown skyline anchored by the towering Burj Khalifa - the tallest building known to man

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Dubai - Camel burgers, waterways, and souqs

As Kristin touched down on before in Boo's corner, we were treated to a feast during our Dubai press trip at Local House restaurant.  One huge detail involved in this feast not lost on its participants was the menu offerings - everything, except the hummus, included camel meat.  There were camel burgers, camel milkshakes, camel steak melt sandwiches, camel meatballs, and camel milk.  If an award were given out for camel consumption and the contest included Kristin and I, then Kristin bested me on all counts.  She ate her burger like a champion, washing it down with a strawberry camel milkshake, after which, in a brazen display of camel madness, she also pounded a small glass of salty camel milk.  Yea, her stomach didn't fare so well.  While I was given a disinterested tour of Dubai's souqs (markets), museums, and waterways by a Pakistani businessman, Kristin sped away with our expert driver and friend, Mr. Mujeev.

She would find solace in our new hotel - Zabeel Saray.  

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Arriving in Dubai at Al Qasr Madinat

 Our arrival in Dubai was not marred by the usual horrible cab driver negotiation tango.  No sir.  We were scooped up in this navigator and brought to our hotel - The Al Qasr Madinat.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The iconic Burj Al Arab - the height of luxury

 Exterior of the Burj on the beach

Boo's corner - Kristin's blog

 Well I am back by popular demand. I am writing this in the Qatar airport at 7:00 am on a Sunday morning. We arrived at the airport 3 hours before our boarding time because we confused our flight time with another. So we have plenty of time to kill in a not so interesting airport. We just dined on roast beef sandwich's and orange juice from A&W and for dessert we had a Oreo shiver from TCBY. There is no dieting on travel days. It is kinda hard to find stuff edible in most of these airports. Our last travel day lunch consisted of Justin and I splitting a can of Pringles that we bought for $7 and a Snickers bar. 
Anyways, here are the rest of the photos from Nepal and a few from Dubai. We are having a great time but it is quite tiring. We are on our one-a-days stretch of the trip. Basically, this means we have stayed in 9 different hotels in 9 days. Which is all fine if you have a small suitcase, which both Justin and I do not have. Every time I have to shut my suitcase I have to sit, sometimes jump, on my suitcase for it to close, EVERYDAY, it is getting annoying. Justin's suitcase does not even stand anymore on its own. He has to prop it up against a wall or my bag for it to stand. I nicknamed his bag BDB-bid dumb bag because it is. Big and dumb.

The largest grooming project of my adult life

I grew my beard long for the Arab world.  The last time I shaved, St. Croix, feels more like a childhood sitcom than a real time and place.  My how the beard grew.  It could sand wood.  It could make polished brass appear antique.  It could make me appear like a disheveled Specter floating from one country to the next.  It was at its worst a costume and at its best a shining badge of my disinterest in the enterprise of grooming.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Bugatti Veyron in Dubai - the world's most expensive car

Exchanging Nepal's world of rickshaws and oxcarts for Dubai's land of super-cars and 5 star hotels was a rush to the dome.  Upon arriving at our hotel, The Jumeriah Al Qasr Madinat, a string of flashy cars were parked out of front, including this blue Bugatti Veyron - a mid-engined demon with four turbos, ten radiators, and a top speed of over 250mph.  With a price tag of $1.9 million, the car is right at home in the excessive car culture of desert Dubai.  While I will do a proper story about it later, one interesting this about the car culture here involves the license plates.  Lower is better, 7's are important, repeating numbers are important, and 5 digit plates are for commoners and pleabs.  Here on this Bugatti is a 7700 plate number.  The 7's mean it is likely owned by someone in the Jumeriah group.  Frequently the plates are auctioned by current owners with "1" selling for over $14 million back in 2008.  Just driving around Dubai, we saw "3" and "5," both on blacked out Mercedes G-wagons.

The breakfast of champions

I do not know that butter will ever be enough again.  After many years on this planet, and still more as a semi-functioning adult, I have crossed over into the land of jams.

I may never again be the same. 

At they very minimum, I do not intend to look back on an existence free of preserves.  Whether they be black currant, strawberry, apricot, or orange honey blossom, my time in luxurious Dubai has been rife with jam eating, smelling, and smuggling.

I am kind of kidding.  Seriously though, our breakfasts have been epic and jam has figured prominently into the equation.  For the traveler, no time is better for carb loading than a breakfast buffet.  Above is a typical plate for me.  It is believed that if not for my intense workout regimen, I would weigh over 300 lbs from bread intake.

Self-realization in Dubai

In my wildest dreams, I never thought that it would play out this way.  On that first night when I set the proverbial pen to paper in Hong Kong, almost a full 3 years ago, I wanted a reason to justify traveling, a link to the world back home, and most of all, I wanted to write.  Some of my friends had done fantastic travel blogs: The Reiersons, Eric Rems, and Mark & Cathy Jackson. I wanted to follow in their footsteps.  Share my experience, allow you to travel with me.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pokhara - escaping from it all, eating bad chicken, fighting the good fight on a glimmering commode

Pokhara is a small city about five hours west of Kathmandu - an adventurer's Shangri-la.  People come here to para-glide, start treks around the Annapurna range, hunt spiders, get food poisoning, climb mountains, go rowing in the lake, and other stuff. 

Kristin and I came here to see the sunrise over the Annapurna range of the Himalayas, among other things.  After a butt clenching 6 hour drive from Kathmandu on a two lane road filled with garishly adorned trucks and buses, we arrived in Pokhara, thankful for cheating death on the dangerous mountain bends.  The traffic went both ways, many a head-on collision was narrowly diverted, and at one point, we got stuck in a traffic jam behind a guy trying to shove a newly purchased coat rack into his small car.  It didn't work.  He drove off in what I imagine to be a fury of disappointment. We were also starving.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Durbar Square in Patan

We took a ride over to Patan with our homeboy Monaj. Since it was the birthday of Buddha, we witnessed some sort of processional.  Taking it in like great travelers, we watched and talked about Nepal.  It is such a beautiful place.  With the mountains looming and Everest champions coming back with tales of the most extreme place on the planet, it is easy to fall in love with the lore of the rooftop of our world.  The pace of life in Kathmandu is frantic, but just a few miles in any direction are small Tibetan villages, soaring peaks, and lush rolling hills.  It has been days since I have passed a solid stool, but Nepal makes this sort of sacrifice worth it.  At times I regretted it, at times my heart soared, but in the end, Nepal added up way past the sum of its parts.  For every poisonous chicken mushroom dish, a snow capped monster soars.  For every traffic jam that seems inescapable, a quaint mountain village filled with tea-houses begs to be explored.  Patan seems to be the place where this truth materialized for me.  That, for every malady or setback, Nepal would reward me with the epic grandeur of an old magical kingdom. 

Rhinos I have known and loved

In Chitwan, an area in southern Nepal, we went on safari on the back of a lumbering elephant and saw these solitary beasts lurking in ponds and green glades.  Rhinos.  One even charged at us as we approached on foot - not for the faint of heart.  Exhilarating though. Luckily, we outran the strange wrinkled goons.

Boo's corner - Kristin's blog

Irma Returns
Last year in Lao we stayed in the jungle and had an encounter with a huge spider that the hotel named Irma. We all noticed it after dinner hanging out above our door. Ryan and I packed up shop and were ready to get the hell outta there. Justin and Megan did not think it would be good to leave during the night in search for another hotel in the jungles of Lao. So we stayed. It was pretty much the worst night ever.

We spent the last 2 nights in the jungle of Nepal.It was pretty awesome. I got to bathe an elephant AND touch its nose ( I will post more pics later) it was seriously the best day of my life.

So yesterday when I heard the words "uh oh, Irma returns" from Boo, I freaked. I grabbed Tweet and jumped on the bed with my camera.  This is a pretty funny video of Justin trying to kick Irma #2 out of our room. He did not know I was filming.

I am actually kinda glad Irma returned. I pulled the "I did not picture us having to escort a huge spider out of our room during our honeymoon" act, and squeezed out a trip to the Maldives! We were suppose to spend 8 days in Sri Lanka, 4 days in the jungle and 4 days on the beach. Instead of us going to the jungle we are going to the Maldives. This was my dream honeymoon location but it was a bit pricey and not adventurous enough for Justin. But he agreed this was not the ideal honeymoon setting he had in mind and so we booked a last minute deal to Male, Maldives....

Monday, May 23, 2011

A ton of pictures of Kathmandu with little to no explanation

Okay, its time for me to open up the floodgates on my photos.  I have been pretty stingy with them, but no more, you have earned it fair reader, behold a flood of Kathmandu... 

The flaming ghats of Pashupatinath - where the dead turn to ash

In Kathmandu, in an area called Pashupatinath, the Nepalese cremate the dead on raised platforms along the Bagmati river.  Running down from the Himalayas, the Bagmati river meets up with the Ganges and flows down to the holy city of Varnassi. 

The air is thick with the smoke of the dead; mourners shuffle about in silence.  Monkeys pick through the offerings like oblivious goons. A ghost like presence haunts just above your shoulder at this Hindu burial site.  The bodies burn slowly and the ashes join the river. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

King Tibs the Bold - Furmonster royalty at Hotel Courtyard in Kathmandu

Upon our arrival at the Hotel Courtyard in Kathmandu, the hotel gates swung open and a dog with the bouncy gait of an Arabian horse came racing towards our car.  It was Tibby, ruler of the Hotel Courtyard kingdom.  Sometimes racist (it is said that Coca Cola was not delivered for a month because the Nepalese delivery man would not come near Tibby and thus the hotel), always sauntering about like royalty, Tibby is one of the finest furmonsters ever encountered by the goboogo staff.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Going medieval in Bhaktapur

Bhaktapur is a medieval town where little has changed in the last thousand years.  While the year in Nepal may be 2068, this hamlet of brick and chaos makes that collection of digits seem arbitrary at best.  The city's narrow lanes are flanked by leaning brick towers and the savageness of its back alleys is told in goat slaughter and starving dogs.  Truth be told, it is not a place for a first date.  You bring her here AFTER you marry her. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Sunrise over the Himalayas

Sunrise over the Annapurna range, snaking up the switchbacks with our hoodies on at 4:30am was a trip in itself 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Boo's corner - Kristin's blog

So I thought this trip I would give blogging a shot. I am in no way a writer like Justin at all. I actually despise writing. But I thought it would be fun to upload the pictures from my camera and give my point of view of the trip. Please do not judge my grammar, I went to Celina High School and we colored signs to put on the lockers of football boys and practiced game day stuff during class. Grammar was the least of my worries then..

Nepalese cucumbers are massive

This woman cannot fathom why her cucumbers are so large

Passing though Changu Narayan

The Kathmandu valley is filled with medieval hamlets, rolling hills, brick factories, and goats.  We had a driver take us up the hillside into Changu Narayan.  

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bryan Adams is huge in Nepal

A strange undercurrent has taken a turn for the surreal during our adventure through Nepal. On our first day in Nepal, we befriended a 16 year old named Monaj and when we got to talking about music, he was only interested in talking about one man - Bryan Adams.  He even sang the first few lines to summer of 69.  We thought it was odd that a teenager was so fond of the aging rock icon.  The Bryan Adams madness only ballooned from there.

After you become aware of something, it seems to occur everywhere.  After Monaj spoke of his love for the crooner popular for such songs as "I wanna be (your underwear)" and 18 going on 55, we could not escape the stylings of the Nepalese heartthrob.  I could not help but picture him bringing down the house in Kathmandu to a crowd of weeping Nepalese with a heartfelt rendition of "(Everything I do) I do it for you."

And it happened, he performed in Kathmandu a few months ago.

The pods of our life

As usual on a trip across the globe, there were characters during our hops from one destination to the next.  On our flight to Amsterdam, we sat next to a Lithuanian chess master on scholarship at UTD.  Apparently UTD is one of the few schools to hand out scholarships to chess players. He was returning home to Lithuania for the summer months.  Kristin swears his name was Cod, but I would almost gamble a fortune that it was Todd.  It is a point of debate between us.  Among his more difficult adaptations to American life was the appropriate way to navigate through a Subway sandwich shop.  He was amazed at the level of sandwich freedom - all of those toppings, for free.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The mask-maker at work in Changu Narayan

Here, in the Kathmandu valley village of Changu Narayan, the mask-maker cannot possibly make enough masks.  He toils away in a ghost like trance carving and painting, carving and painting.

The longest of journeys

Thursday, May 12  - St. Croix to Miami followed by Miami to Dallas
Friday, May 13 - Dallas to Amsterdam
Saturday, May 14 - Amsterdam to New Delhi
Sunday, May 15 - New Delhi to Kathmandu

We are in Nepal, where roads come to an end.    

St. Croix is for lovers - Part 4

Most of our guests left the Virgin Islands, but Kristin, myself, and Nathan Bellah remained.  We explored the far west of the island.  Fredericksted, St. Croix's westernmost city, was ghost town empty, but extremely interesting nonetheless. We ate the best deli sandwiches in the world (seriously) at Turtle's Deli and wandered the empty streets.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

St. Croix is for lovers - Part 3

The wedding day came. Girls did yoga on the beach with Spencer.  The guys went to go watch pigs drink beer and eat lobster at Cane Bay on the north side of St. Croix.  A day trip to gorgeous Buck Island here, swimming in the neon plankton of Salt Bay there, we had an excellent time.

St. Croix is for lovers - Part 2

After a few days in St. Croix, busloads of friends and family began to arrive for our wedding.  We had a great time.  Between literally commandeering the bar care of Eric Rems and Ali Zandi and taking to the calm surf like an army of Hasselhoffs, it shaped up to be a spectacular weekend.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

St. Croix is for lovers - Part 1

The beach in front of our home for the last week - The Palms at Pelican Cove
We came, we saw, we got married.  St. Croix will always be a special place for the new Delaney family.  After spending the last week with over seventy of our closest friends and family in the Virgin Islands, Kristin and I depart for another adventure.  I will be posting many pictures and detailing our exploratory whims with short vignettes.  Please stay tuned and check back frequently at  We arrive in Kathmandu on May 15. First things first, I will be sharing a few posts worth of pictures from St. Croix, wedding excluded. Those wedding photos will come much later.