World’s largest menorah may be in New York City, but there are others

Starting tomorrow, the first day of Hanukkah, the Jewish holiday that celebrates the triumph of the Maccabees over the Syrians and God’s protection, the world’s largest menorah will take center stage on the corner of 59th St. and 5th Ave. The menorah, a 32 feet-tall candelabra, has gas lamps that function as wicks. A cherry-picker will lift the lamp-lighter high enough to reach the lights each night at 5:30, except for Friday when it will be lit at 3:40 pm before the Jewish Sabbath starts, and at 8:30 pm on Saturday when Sabbath ends.

Although this is the largest menorah on display, it’s not the only one. Here’s a link where you can find other public menorah lightings around the world. For example, here’s an address for the Chabad in Paraguay, in case you wanted to know. The one in the photograph is from Barcelona, Spain. Here’s a link to other thumbnails that lead to larger photos.

The world’s cheapest city

The cheapest place on earth?

Well, according to the annual Cost of Living Survey conducted by the multinational consulting firm, Mercer, the cheapest place on this planet is Asuncion, the capital of Paraguay. In fact, this is the fifth year in a row that Asuncion has captured this honor.

So how cheap is it? Lonely Planet writer Rob Crossan recently visited the region where he enjoyed quaffing 60 cent beers and wolfing down $3 steak dinners. It sounds like Prague in the early days, if you ask me.

But there is more to this cheap country than inexpensive gorging. Crossan responsibly points out some of the worthy tourists sites to be enjoyed alongside those 60 cent beers–such as the second largest dam in the world as well as the 18th century town of Trinidad, a beautiful Unesco heritage site. Of course, with the average mid-range hotel room selling for just $4.45, you’ll have plenty of time to soak up all that Paraguay has to offer without going over budget.

Megan Lyles Travel Writer

When really good travel blogs manage to remain secret to me, I get bummed wishing someone had called me sooner to say, “Hey, Adrienne you need to peep this right now!” No personal calls were ever received which leads me to wonder how many folks even know about the travel writing goodness of Megan Lyles? It really makes no huge difference that I didn’t follow Megan and her fiancé/photographer, Michael Simon, while they were blogging on the road. It just means I have a ton of catching up to do.

Back in the summer of 2005 Megan and Michael took off on a one-year long bus trip from Manhattan to the tip of South America. The trip has since been wrapped up and Megan and Michael are back in Manhattan, but the site is still up and there for your viewing pleasure. And I do mean it is a pleasure to check out. I read through some of the Mexico, Paraguay, and Uruguay stops not wanting to stop, but catching up is going to take a while. Before I departed I clicked on just one more plug while they were in North Carolina attending the Vans Warped tour. All I can say is Megan, where ever you are – I can totally relate.

Word for the Travel Wise (03/10/06)

Looks like my three vacation abroad is officially over and as I take a short break away from emptying my suitcase to step back into dreamlands where exploring the world never ends here on Gadling I’d like to point out a unique site in Paraguay and Spanish word.

Today’s word is a Spanish word used in Paraguay:

realidad – reality

My reality – I’ve returned home only to sort through a heap of mail, email, and have billions of phone calls to return in the very near future. (Yes, billions – really.) In addition to the basics worse part about this whole reality thing is I’ve got to head right back into work first thing tomorrow. On the brighter side it’ll help fill my empty pockets and travel piggy bank back up for the next great escape which could be this Jesuit Missions of La Santísima Trinidad de Paraná site found in Paraguay. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Lonely Planet notes you can camp outside of the ruins for free.  Free sounds great right about now.

As you begin to plan your first or next trip to Mexico, Central America or South America think more about making the lingo part of one of your pastimes to better bring the trip planning into reality. Amerispan, Cactus Language and IMAC are all good starting points to learning abroad. A free membership at Spanish Unlimited gives you the opportunity to learn a new word everyday by email, gain pen pals and hear audio of the words. Their website is actually a good resource tool for many different Spanish related topics. I won’t even begin to list some of the texts out there that could further your studies because there are entirely too many. If you know of some language books that would be useful please feel free to list them.

Past Spanish words: escalar, cercano