Tour Paris By Zeppelin

Looking for a way to avoid the tourist crowds in Paris? You might try looking up. Airship Paris is a new company offering tours of the French countryside around Paris by zeppelin.

Tickets range from 250 euro for a half-hour “first flight” tour of the castles around Vexin (including the Villette Castle from “The Da Vinci Code” movie), to 650 euro for a royal tour of Versailles with Paris in the background. Flights take off from the Pontoise airport about 25 miles from Paris. The 250-foot-long airship carries up to 12 passengers and cruises at an altitude equivalent to the Eiffel Tower.

After takeoff, you are free to take in the views from the panoramic windows, sitting or standing. Unlike a hot-air balloon or blimp, the zeppelin is wind-resistant and heavier than air, with a low level of vibration and noise (the company compares it to that of a dishwasher). Airship Paris is the first commercial airship service in the area in 30 years.

Read more and book tickets here.

Teufelsberg: A Photo Tour Inside Berlin’s Secret Abandoned Spy Station

Berlin is a city that harbors its share of ghosts. As Germany’s premier city marches ever further into the future, shiny new government buildings and designer lofts rising on vacant lots across the capital, vestiges of Berlin’s infamous role in two World Wars and a Cold War can still be found if you know where to look. A prime example of this 20th-century legacy is Teufelsberg, an artificial hill just west of Berlin that harbors an amazing connection to Second World War military history and a now abandoned Cold War-era spy station.

The history of Teufelsberg is a fascinating mix of World War II and Cold War intrigue. During the Third Reich, Teufelsberg was to be the site of a proposed Nazi military technical college that was never completed. After the war, German authorities began hiding the unfinished buildings by burying them under more than 75 Million cubic meters of rubble created by Allied bombing campaigns. As the Cold War kicked into high gear, American military personnel began using the artificial hill’s excellent height to improve their efforts to spy on Soviet and East German communications, eventually building the radar domes and buildings in evidence to this day.

Touring the Teufelsberg site today is possible through an organized tour, though there is a bit of an ongoing debate amongst Berlin locals as to who should be allowed access. Once inside, the sight is a beautifully creepy mixture of colorful graffiti and decaying radar towers. Theme park this is not – broken glass, dark staircases and a lack of railings make the tour rather treacherous – but for a one of a kind chance to step inside Berlin history, it can’t be beat. Check out the photos below from Gadling’s recent visit.

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TourWrist Brings New Views Of Old Places

tourwrist

TourWrist has one of the world’s largest collections of geo-located virtual tours, acquired from consumers and panoramic photographers. Different than two-dimensional photos and static-shot video, TourWrist real world panoramic images can greatly enhance travel-planning efforts by offering a different, more detailed view of places we might visit.

A free service, TourWrist delivers a 360-degree view of places we might travel with over 30,000 panoramic images. Using the TourWrist smartphone app to view, shoot, publish and share panoramas is easy too. TourWrist comes loaded with panoramic photography tools, back-end infrastructure and tour viewers.

“If you’ve ever played with Google Earth, you zoom in and get this sensation of being able to go anywhere – but eventually you stop going back because it doesn’t let you do anything,” explained on CoDesign. Tour Wrist CEO Charles Armstrong. “Our goal is to give you the opportunity to actually explore these places.”

tourwrist

Visiting the TourWrist website, we can choose to see the best/everything in categories such as hotels and resorts; arts and entertainment; dining and more. A panorama of a luxury yacht caught our attention and provides a good example of just what TourWrist is capable of. Clicking our way around the yacht took us from one panorama to another, giving about as complete of a tour as possible without really being there.

In that yacht tour, we were able to view in different directions and move forward and backward into the scene, much like Google Street View, something we would not have been able to do not long ago. “Our interface is always in a constant state of improvement,” says Armstrong.



[Photos Credit: Flickr user drocpso]

Explore The Unknown In Your Hometown On Obscura Day

“Travel” is an activity many of us associate with leaving home in search of the new and unfamiliar. But the truth is, there are some strange and wonderful sites in the places we live, often right under our nose. It’s the idea behind a great event called Obscura Day, kicking off its third year this April 28 in cities across the US and the world.

Sponsored by Atlas Obscura, a website devoted to exploring the world’s “wonders, curiosities and esoterica,” Obscura Day aims to give participants insider access to local curiosities they might have overlooked, including access to typically off-limits locations and “unusual” guided tours. For instance, explorers in Philadelphia are invited to tour the spooky abandoned Eastern State Penitentary. Meanwhile, in Boston, participants will have a chance to partake in a mysterious murder-themed scavenger hunt through the Museum of Science. In Alameda, California, gaming fans should check out this chance to play vintage 30s and 40s pinball machines at the Pacific Pinball Museum.

Wherever you happen to live, head over to the Obscura Day website and type in your zip code to find out what’s going later this month at a location near you. It’s sure to be a chance to rediscover the surprising history, unique attractions and unexpected activities you might otherwise take for granted in your hometown.

[Photo by Flickr user country_boy_shane]

5 student travel programs that are hiring this summer

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Want to get out of town this summer? Leading a student travel program may just be your ticket. The requirements vary from program to program, but often include foreign language proficiency, in-country experience, previous work with adolescents, a keen sense of adventure, and a whole lot of patience.

There are dozens of programs out there, but this list is a good place to start. Plus, we know they’re looking for summer leaders.

People to People
The Program: Founded by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1965, People to People’s mission is to promote cultural understanding and world peace among middle and high school students. Programs focus on cultural exploration, leadership, and sports.
Cool Itineraries: Road to the Himalayas in India, South African Adventure, Modern and Ancient Civilizations in Italy, Sicily, and Greece.
Leader Requirements: Teacher leaders must be 21 or older, with preference given to educators and students majoring in education.
How to Apply: Step one is to create an account on Compass, P2P’s leader hub. You’ll then need to complete an online application, which takes around 30 minutes.Putney Student Travel
The Program: Geared toward high school students, Putney Student Travel’s summer trip offerings emphasize education and cultural engagement. Trip themes include community service, cultural exploration, global awareness in action, language learning, and summer school. Putney also coordinates National Geographic Student Expeditions, which include explorational expeditions, field workshops in subjects like photography, and community service projects.
Cool Itineraries: Cultural Exploration at Kilimanjaro, Community Service in Ecuador and the Galapagos, Excel educational courses at Oxford and in Tuscany.
Leader Requirements: They vary from program to program, but generally include a college degree, relevant language proficiency, and travel experience in the target country/ies. The program is selective, and reading through former leader profiles can help you get a sense for whether you’d be a good fit.
How to Apply: Complete the online application and upload your cover letter and CV. Putney starts accepting leader applications for summer employment each December, and interviews are held between January and April.
Note: I previously led for this program, and it was awesome.

Travel for Teens
The Program: TFT offers a wide array of trips focusing on cultural exploration, language learning, and community service, as well as a number of “specialty” trips that involve activities like photography and surfing.
Cool Itineraries: Fiji Service and Adventure, Language in Paris and the South of France, Thailand Photography.
Leader Requirements: Leaders must be least 21 years of age; commit to at least two summers; have experience working with teenagers, particularly in a camp environment; have experience living, traveling, or working in the target country/ies; and possess foreign language fluency, particularly in Spanish, Italian, French, Mandarin, Thai, and German.
How to Apply: Complete the online application and upload your CV and a photo.

Westcoast Connection
The Program: Specializing in “teen tours”, community service programs, language learning, pre-college enrichment, and family adventure trips, Westcoast Connection focuses on both personal and group experiences, with an emphasis on fun.
Cool Itineraries: Major League Baseball Madness Tour across the East Coast, Midwest, and California; Israel Experience; Global Adventure in China.
Leader Requirements: There aren’t any concrete requirements for employment, but Westcoast emphasizes teamwork as a key leader attribute. Available positions include Trip Director, Food Director, and Trip Leader/Specialist.
How to Apply: Complete the online application.

Where There Be Dragons
The Program: With longer itineraries than most of the other programs, Where There Be Dragons emphasizes immersion in physical and cultural landscapes through experiential education, active pursuits, service learning, and language programs. Youth Programs are focused in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East.
Cool Itineraries: Cambodia: Studies in Development and Peace, Jordan: Arabic Languages and Cultures, Senegal: The Warm Embrace of West Africa
Leader Requirements: The ideal applicant has unique in-country experience, relevant foreign language skills, experience leading groups and/or working with teens, dedication to education, experience in a relevant field, and a Wilderness First Responder or Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician certification.
How to Apply: Complete the online application and upload your CV.

[image via Putney Student Travel]