The newest edition of Moon Belize is a gem

The first things that come to mind when I think of Belize: Mayan ruins, world-class diving, bird-watching, and hiking through nature. Sounds like a vacation in paradise, if you ask me – and I’m from Hawaii. Joshua Berman, a travel expert to both Nicaragua and Belize, recently revised the 8th edition of Moon Belize, and the result is a comprehensive, informative guide for any kind of traveler.

Seeing the best of Belize is a piece of cake, but what makes Moon Belize such a rich resource is Berman’s behind-the-scenes knowledge of the country. The 24-page front section of the book offers fantastic itinerary ideas – my favorites being “The Mundo Maya” (scattered across the inland part of the country are over thirty Mayan ruins), Belize’s “Best Dive Sites” (live-aboard to your heart’s content, or visit one of the country’s many atolls, reefs, and cays), and two off-the-beaten-path nature guides.

The main and middle portion of the guidebook is a comprehensive 230 pages of country information, broken up in seven parts: the Belize District, the Northern Cayes, Belmopan and the Hummingbird Highway, Cayo and the Mountain Pine Ridge, the Southern coast, Punta Gorda and the Toledo Villages, and Northern Belize. Each section begins with a handy “Highlights” guide and map and contains well-written, informational insets featuring local lore or facts where you can learn about such things as the cashew nut, jaguars, and manatees. There are also helpful walking guides within town centers or ruins for those wanting some direction and not wanting to pay for real tour guide.

The back section of the book provides helpful historical information, environmental background, and travel tips – all catered to the informed traveler. Berman leaves no stone unturned: he even writes about “Gettin’ Hitched and Honeymoonin'” in Belize on page 314 (my sister’s best friend had her destination wedding in Belize, so the book really is spot on in including such details). Berman adds personal touches to this edition as well, with a generous first-person Foreward and first-hand accounts sprinkled around the guide and back sections too (check out the cool interview on whale sharks on pages 210-211 and “The Future of the Reef” interview on pages 266-267).

The newest edition of Moon Belize really is a gem. With over 40 maps, a colorful front section of suggested itineraries, readable and informative guide, and amazingly detailed background information, Berman produced a true traveler’s notebook.

You can purchase this latest version of Moon Belize on Moon’s website. While you’re there, stop by Berman’s Moon Belize blog, or visit his Tranquilo Traveler blog if you are a fan – which you will be.

Also, stay tuned to Gadling for a special “Talking Travel with Joshua Berman” and Moon Belize book giveaway!

Moon Monterey & Carmel Giveaway

If you’ve been following my recent posts on the latest happenings around Monterey and Carmel (a.k.a. read my posts about the scenic Monterey coastline or taking a tour of Carmel’s wine country), then it shouldn’t come as a huge shock to you that I’ve fallen in love all over again with coastal California this summer. I guess I’m not alone — and that I don’t have to be, either!

In celebration of the release of its six new and fully updated California guidebooks (Coastal California , Tahoe, Monterey & Carmel, Northern California, Southern California and California Beaches), Moon Handbooks is giving away a copy of its Moon Monterey & Carmel, along with four tickets (admission for two adults and two children) to the world-class Monterey Bay Aquarium. That means you and three friends can enjoy a full day of fun in Monterey. Of course, if you’re there, you might as well make a weekend of it, right?

All you have to do to enter the giveaway is submit your full name, mailing address, and phone number (for shipping purposes only) to by midnight on October 18th. One winner will be selected at random and announced on the staff blog the week of October 19th.

In addition to the giveaway, California trip ideas, and guest blog posts by Liz Hamill Scott, the author of several of Moon’s California guides, can be found this week on the site.

Journey to the dark side of the moon

On this day fifty years ago, humanity got to see something it had never seen before.

On October 7, 1959, the Soviet space probe Luna 3 orbited the moon and took photos of the “dark side”.

Of course, everyone already knew that the dark side isn’t really dark. It gets just as much light as the side we see, but since it always faces away from Earth we’ve spent the last hundred thousand years wondering what’s over there. Luna 3 gave us the answer.

Some of Luna 3’s ghostly images and those from later Soviet probes can be seen here.

If you go to Moscow, you can learn the story of the Soviet space program at the Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics, located in the base of the Monument to the Conquerors of Space, pictured here in this striking photo taken by AlphaTangoBravo and put in our Flickr photo pool. The museum has one of the most impressive buildings of any museum anywhere, being incorporated into the base of a 107 meter (350 ft.) depiction of a rocket and its contrail. A poem on the side of the monument declares, “And the reward for our efforts was that, having triumphed over oppression and darkness, we have forged wings of fire for our land and our century!”

Besides a bit of Soviet-style hypocrisy about “oppression and darkness” this poem is spot on. The Soviet Space program achieved a whole series of firsts–first satellite (1957), first animal in space (1957), first probes to Mars (1960) and Venus (1961), first man in space (1961), first woman in space (1963). . .the list goes on and on.

The museum has undergone three years of renovations and reopened on April 12 of this year, which happens to be Cosmonautics Day, celebrating Yuri Gagarin’s historic 1961 flight, the first time a human being ever left Earth. The Soviets put up a very cool statue to him in Moscow’s Gagarin Square, but sadly there’s no photo of it in the Gadling Flickr pool. The first person who puts one up there and tells me by leaving a comment will get a Soviet-era space program postcard as a thank you. You’ll also see the photo on Gadling, so upload your best!

If you want a sneak peek inside the renovated museum, this article (in Spanish) has an interesting slide show.


Gadlinks for Wednesday 9.9.09

Now that I’ve just typed the date today, I realized what a special day it is! It happens only once a year, and the next one will be on my sister’s birthday, 10/10/10! What that means exactly I’m not sure, but this article provides a little insight. Apocalypse though? I think not.

Here is today’s installment of Gadlinks. Enjoy!

´Til tomorrow, have a great evening!

More Gadlinks here.

Photo of the Day (7.11.09)

Nothing is more quintessentially San Francisco than the iconic Golden Gate Bridge — and the fact that it eclipses the moon in this stunning shot by Bay Area resident ohadby makes this photo all the more breathtaking. Add the moon’s white glimmer on the water and the sparkle of city lights in the background and he’s captured night and this place in all its glory.

If you have some great travel shots you’d like to share, be sure to upload them to the Gadling pool on Flickr. We might just pick one as our Photo of the Day!