Map: The Most Popular Chain Restaurants By State


Americans are notorious for our love of fast food, and now, thanks to Thrillist, we can identify the home (founded or headquartered) of individual chain restaurants by state. The clever-map-creating folks over at Thrillist HQ impressed us all with their Booze Map of the USA, but their latest map, “Red, White, & Food” (full-size here), leads me to believe that they might just be getting started with these diagrams. Some of the findings illustrated in this map won’t come as much of a surprise — like that fact that Washington is linked to Starbucks, New York to Sbarro, California to In-N-Out, Vermont to Ben & Jerry’s or Ohio to Wendy’s — but other chain restaurant homes seem less intuitive.Other maps we love:

World Health Map
Fascinating Map Of London
Cold War-Era Map Of No-Go Zones For Soviets
French Wine Metro Map
Hipster Heat Map
Map Of World Currency
Zombie Survival Map
US Stereotypes Map
US Highways As Subway Map

Restaurant Chains Flock to the Malls

National Geographic’s Mindblowing Interactive Serengeti Lion Feature

National Geographic recently published an interactive Serengeti lion feature that has the internet swooning. Complementing the coverage of the lions in the August 2013 print issue of the magazine, the interactive feature allows users to get up close and personal with the Vumbi pride. Michael “Nick” Nichols, a photographer, and Nathan Williamson, a videographer, made several trips to the Serengeti between July 2011 and January 2013. The duo used cameras mounted on a robotic tank and a remote-control toy car to obtain images that had never before been taken of the lions from low angles and within close proximity. These images were paired with the ones they took by hand and in total, Nichols collected 242,000 images and Williamson recorded 200 hours of video during this time.This interactive feature allows users to sneak into the private lives of these lions, lives that seem to always strike a delicate balance between feast and famine. Explore the Serengeti lion feature here.

Lions in the Southern Serengeti Tanzania

Developing The Island Of Sal: Cape Verde


Nearly three hours past the scheduled landing time, my flight from Lisbon to the island of Sal, Cape Verde (Ilha Do Sal), is now taxiing to the gate. The local time is almost 3 in the morning and I’ve just spent the last 18 hours in Lisbon, where it’s 5 in the morning. My internal clock says it’s midnight, the beginning of a Thursday, and by that clock, I haven’t slept since Monday night, which can also be communicated as: it’s been 42 hours since I’ve slept. The friend I’m traveling with has brought three significantly heavy bags with her and needs me to carry one of them. I have my own bag, of course, on top of a backpack and a bad case of tendonitis. The bag I’m carrying for my friend is one that doesn’t have wheels. It just drags along the concrete resilient as a military tank. I feel as though I’m dragging along the concrete untouched too, but my outer shell is fictional, comprised entirely of my nonplussed delirium.

%Gallery-194271%I locate a man standing at the arrivals gate holding a sign for the hotel where we’re staying, Hotel Morabeza. My online research informed me that the hotel holds a decent ranking among travelers and locals alike. It’s rated as one of the island’s best hotels and the fact that a driver is here at this late hour despite my inability to inform the hotel of the flight’s delay is reassuring to me. The man leads us in the direction of the hotel shuttle and one of my arms is dragging this clunking vinyl bag down a rugged outdoor ramp while the other is guiding my rolling suitcase when a boy appears out of what seems like nowhere to assist with the luggage-loading. I’m wondering whether or not he works with the hotel or if maybe he’s the driver’s son. I then realize he’s just a local kid seizing an opportunity to earn some money, but when I open my mouth to speak, to tell him that I don’t even have Cape Verdean escudos yet to give him, I notice that he only has one arm and yet he’s already hoisted this cumbersome bag up and into the van. He looks about 11 or 12 years old. The man who led us to the vehicle says nothing, his lips seem pursed but his face is sympathetic. When the boy asks the question I knew he’d ask, my heart sinks.

“Coins? Can you spare some coins?” he’s wide awake and, if I might conjecture, exuding a bit of pride over the impressive physical feat he just performed, in a matter of seconds to boot.

“I don’t have any,” I say, confident that it’s true, but rummaging through my purse all the same, because, well, maybe I’m wrong.

It’s probably just because I’m tired, but I want to cry. Poverty and distress can be found everywhere, but most of my travel has been to developing countries wherein the pleas for help are especially plentiful. I know to expect it, I know to prepare for it and I know to not let every request that’s met with my sincerely empty pockets eat me up inside. But I feel my insides being eaten. I have tendonitis. He has one arm.

My friend finally uncovers some coins in her wallet, although it’s too dark for her to tell if they are euros, Belize dollars, or US dollars. She hands them to the boy and he exits the scene as instantly as he had entered.

***

The country of Cape Verde has been held up against other African nations as a beacon of hope; an example of how a young country can best execute democracy. But the islands of this archipelago nation each face their own specific struggles and successes, and Sal’s trajectory seems to have always looked the way it does now: equal parts bleak and promising. Discovered (officially) by the Portuguese in 1460 and originally called “Llana,” the island’s name was changed to “Sal,” which is the word for salt in Portuguese, once the ancient salt of Pedra de Lume was uncovered. The first commercial use of the island was that of a transatlantic slave trade center. The Portuguese brought slaves over to the island from West Africa to the Cape Verdean islands. With exclusive rights to trade slaves from the West African coast, the islands’ slave markets were popular until the exclusivity of West African coast slaves ended in 1560.

Droughts and famines followed on the island of Sal, which is the oldest island of the Cape Verde islands. Hardly any vegetation grows thanks to the low annual rainfall, which nearly categorizes the island as a desert island. The landscape is harsh and unforgiving. The salt from Pedra de Lume was lucratively mined and sold during the 18th century, but the mines are effectively defunct these days. The population of 35,000 is sustained largely on tourism alone now, but the tourism industry can be a double-edged sword on an island like Sal. On one hand, travelers find the white and sandy beaches to be a sunny paradise and perfect for water sports, like surfing, and they bring money to the island when they choose it as their vacation spot. This is arguably very good for the island. On the other hand, these travelers are wealthier than the locals by a large margin and can not only drive up the price of local goods but even worse: stay inside an all-inclusive hotel without circulating any of their money into the local economy.

From the vantage point of Sal’s beaches, the local economy doesn’t necessarily enter conversation. But when traveling inland, the dusty shantytowns are expansive and what might have been the suburbs in some areas are instead a tribe of half-finished skeletons of buildings whose construction was halted mid-way due to a recession. With the influx in tourism to the island, the government is now spending millions developing a sustainable infrastructure for Sal and its economy. Plans for renovations to the airport, fishing port (Palmeira) and local roads have been underway for over a year. With an emphasis on tourism and a collective effort that will support tourism, it seems as though the little island of Sal might continue to persevere against all odds. While Sal has experienced the highest rate of growth among the Cape Verde islands, the unemployment-related poverty is still staggering. The island’s future is in the hands of tourism and the dichotomy of positive and negative effects it brings to the island. Should the tourism decline, should the little boy with one arm have no one to ask for money, should local merchants have no customers, should fewer passengers disembark the planes that land at the island’s international airport – should these circumstances transpire, it’s difficult to envision the inhabitants of the island maintaining their resilience.

[Photo Credit: Elizabeth Seward]

Cabeolica, Cape Verde, Wind-Powered Energy Security

Lisbon Street Art: A Vibrant City Attraction

Lisbon is a city that does street art well. I knew that before I arrived in Lisbon for my 15-hour layover while on the way to Cape Verde, and so I walked around with my camera, snapping shots of every compelling image I saw that had repurposed public space for canvas. I liked Lisbon so much that I came back for an extra four days at the end of my trip.

Terracotta rooftops and cobblestone streets are angled sharply in the town of Lisbon, a place that can’t help but remind travelers of San Francisco, and some of the best art in Lisbon can be found between those cobblestone streets and terracotta roofs. Also situated atop seven hills alongside a bay, utilizing cable street cars for public transportation, triumphing despite a history with severe earthquakes, pouring glasses of phenomenal local wine and boasting brightly colored buildings, the 25 de Abril Bridge cements (or should I say bridges?) the comparison between the two cities – as it should since the same company behind Lisbon’s famous bridge built the Golden Gate Bridge. But the fact that both cities exude remarkable street art is a commonality that secures my appreciation for Lisbon as a parallel universe of San Francisco.

%Gallery-194249%Art, in the broad sense, has a way of amplifying all other elements of a place. Street art, unlike any other form, does this especially well since it transforms a place from the outside and exposes those who aren’t necessarily searching for art to art. Street art provides for us a glimpse into local social commentary, regional values and cultural movements. The messages are relayed instantaneously while the transient art form draws an onlooker to the present to take in that which might not remain tomorrow.

Lisbon’s street art has not only helped to shine light on the vibrant arts community within the city, but the art itself has also been attracting tourists. The city of Lisbon has clearly embraced the role street artists play in the larger scheme of things, at least to some degree. While staying in The Corinthia Hotel, I couldn’t help but notice the murals of animals beneath the nearby overpass, painted in an effort to bring attention to the nearby Lisbon Zoo. Meandering through the slanted city streets offered me views of the varying city recycling bins – many of which are individually painted in a street art style, but clearly the result of a concerted and collaborative effort orchestrated by Galeria De Arte Urbana. Even stencil-type art on plywood surrounding construction is beautiful in Lisbon.

I went out walking in Lisbon one day and didn’t stop until my feet couldn’t physically bear the brunt of another step. My perseverance was mostly at the hand of my inability to quell my quest for views of street art. I purposefully lost myself in the city, taking spontaneous turns and not referring to a map. At one point in time, I happened upon an alley full of street art and a street artist hard at work on one particularly impressive piece. I didn’t dare interrupt him, certain that what he needed to say that day would be said on the wall before him once he was finished.

[Photo Credit: Elizabeth Seward]

Barrio Alto in Lisbon

Rare View Of Empire State Building Endangered


I had only been talking to Brooklyn’s Richard Kessler for a minute or two before he began telling me about his personal passion project: protecting a rare view of the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Mirador.

The view of the iconic building from the edge of Prospect Park, a view many New Yorkers or travelers aren’t even aware of, is framed by the Grand Army Plaza arch. If you stand at the base of the black median lamppost which is on the road that leads into Prospect Park, face the Grand Army Plaza arch and look through it, you can see that the Empire State Building bisects the arch perfectly. Keep in mind that this view will be easier to see in colder months when the leaves have fallen. This serendipitous placement of the arch in relation to the Empire State Building provides a breathtaking image of New York City for those entering or exiting the park, or just passing by.

According to Kessler, plans are underway for the construction of a building that would obstruct this rare view. You can read and sign his petition here.Brooklyn residents have a long history of fighting to preserve increasingly rare views of Manhattan. The Brooklyn Paper has documented this kind of opposition in DUMBO and Greenwood Heights and these aren’t the only cases by any means. Without much in the way of scenic landscape, views of the famous skyline are coveted among New Yorkers.

[Photo Credit: Richard Kessler]