Rama: a smartphone app for history lovers

Rama is a smartphone app that not only guides you through your favorite cities while giving you historical details, it also makes the past come alive through archival photographs that show users exactly what a particular destination or site once looked like. See the rocky swamp that is now Central Park, walk through Chicago right after the Great Fire, experience the wild atmosphere of Mardi Gras during the Depression, or visit the few lonely buildings in San Francisco after the Earth quake hit in 1906.

Some of the available tours include:

And, many more. Click here to view a complete list of guided tours. Tours cover Africa, South America, the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and North America.

Available on iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. Price ranges from free-$2.99 depending which tour you choose. To download the app from iTunes store, click here.

Abandoned hotels past their days of glory: Which will rise again?

Over at ProTraveler, there is a read worth noting about eight abandoned hotels in various parts of the world. They once had glory days, but didn’t hold onto it for financial woes or pestilence.

These are the places that chronicle shifts of time. Hot destinations that don’t stay hot or where the owners made bad decisions. You’ve probably come across examples of these types of places in your own travels.

“What was this place?” you might say to your traveling companions. You wonder if anyone important stayed here or what the building looked like when it was brand spanking new.

One example is this picture of the Palace Hotel in Jerusalem. I love this shot. The hotel reminds me of John Everett Millais’s painting of Ophelia still clutching flowers, dead, floating face-up in a pond.

The photos are haunting, I think. Chairs with no one sitting in them, debris scattered across the floor, and an old sign that once flashed its neon. These are reminders that nothing gold can stay, but if lucky, can be resurrected into a new life.

For example, the Palace Hotel is to be reopened as a Waldorf-Astoria luxury hotel in a few years. The Diplomat Hotel in the Philippines may be turned into a museum. The folks who are going to do the project better hurry while there is still a building worth saving. It’s thought to be haunted, so hopefully, the ghosts will be happy with the change.