World’s longest aerial tramway opens in Armenia

On October 16, Armenia became home to the longest aerial tramway in the world. The three-and-a-half mile track consists of just two stations – without any other supporting tower structures.

The new tramway takes passengers from the village of Halidzor to the Tatev Monastery. In the past, visitors had to make a 40 minute drive up the side of the mountain, but now they’ll be able to make the same trip in just 11 minutes.

The aerial tramway was built by Swiss-Austrian firm Garaventa-Doppelmayr, who are the engineers behind other famous tramways like the Jackson Hole Big Red and the new Peak2Peak ropeway in Whistler.

Construction of the new Wings of Tatev ropeway cost $18 million, and was fully funded by benefactors.

To learn more about the Tatev Monastery and its importance to the nation, head on over to Armenia Now.

[Photo credit: AP/Hayk Badalyan]

Cable cars to cross the Thames

London has been preparing for the 2012 Olympics by going on a huge building boom. Sports facilities have been sprouting up like mushrooms, and the organizers have just announced the latest planned addition–cable car rides over the Thames.

The cable cars will run from the Greenwich peninsula to the Royal Docks, connecting the O2 Arena (formerly the Millennium Dome) and the ExCel Exhibition Centre, both of which will host numerous Olympic events. Trips will take five minutes and the system can accommodate 2,500 people per hour in each direction. This will ease the burden on London’s transport system, which is already overburdened on regular days and which is scrambling to find ways to deal with the invasion of sports fans in 2012.

The route is too far from central London for passengers to clearly see famous sights such as Tower Bridge and Big Ben, but they’ll get fine views of the green hills of Greenwich Park and the impressive O2 arena, plus the high-rise business center of Canary Wharf. After the crowds and noise of the big city, soaring 50 meters over the Thames sounds pretty relaxing.

If you’re headed to Europe and you want to go for a ride right now, try the cable cars in Madrid.

Flying above Madrid in a cable car

Madrid’s museums and bars are a great place to spend a trip, but if you need a quick vacation from your vacation, check out the cable cars between two of Madrid’s best parks. Known as the Teleférico, they go from Parque del Oeste to Casa De Campo, Madrid’s largest park.

Built by a Swiss company and inaugerated in 1969, the system has two sets of cables, one set for going up and the other for going down. Eighty cabins hold five people each and the route goes for 2.5 km (1.6 miles) and gets up to 40 meters (131 feet) up in the air.

I rode this for the first time yesterday with my four year-old son and needless to say he loved it. We were attending a communal birthday party for a few of his friends so the little squeaky voices kept me from having a serene ride over the treetops, but I did get splendid views of the park, the river, the Royal Palace, and the cathedral.

On the Casa del Campo side is a kids’ indoor playground, a mediocre but not too overpriced restaurant, and an outside terrace for the adults to drink a beer and look out over the trees and skyline. So if you’re looking for a fun thing to do with your kids when you’re in Madrid, give the Teleférico a try. It makes for a good getaway from the big city. If you want something more substantial, try hiking in the community of Madrid.

Photo courtesy J.L. de Diego.