Oi from Rio de Janeiro, where I’m traveling and soaking up some serious holiday sun. Staying at a guest house in bohemian Santa Teresa, I got to talking to artists and curators from all over the world the other night about cities. We talked about cities going through urban renewal and creative renaissance, such as here in Rio, Berlin, Havana, and even Detroit. The meaning of the phrase “ruin porn” made sense across multiple languages and cultures, and how popular that type of photography is with travelers. Today’s Photo of the Day shows some urban “decay” in Cuba‘s Havana, but I wouldn’t call it a ruin. It’s a more hopeful image; we can imagine that it’s not a decaying building, but a house in transition. The fraying image of the Cuban woman and the colored buildings are proof that someone tried to make it beautiful.
New York’s skyline might be better known, but there’s few cities on earth that can claim a more impressive architectural heritage than Chicago. Today Flickr user Bens640 shares a good example of why Chicago has one of the world’s most impressive collections of skyscrapers, both modern and historic. On the left is the bluish sheen of the Trump International Hotel and Tower, now the city’s second tallest building. On the right, the gorgeous Wrigley Building, completed in 1921.
Taken any great architecture shots during your urban travels? Why not add them to our Gadling group on Flickr? We might just pick one of yours as our Photo of the Day.
Remember scavenger hunts? The game where individuals or teams go out into the world to gather the items on predetermined list? Whoever gets them all first wins? Great.
In a unique twist on the game, UrbanQuest is a scavenger hunt in a great city that ends at a restaurant where reservations have been made. Along the way, “Questers” learn their way around the city in a fun and challenging way and everyone is a winner.
Held Amazing-Race style, groups of Questers download their clue package online then hit the streets to solve interesting puzzles that force teams to be resourceful. The final destination is a mystery restaurant where UrbanQuest has made a reservation for you. Timed to take about an hour and a half to complete, reservations are made for two hours after starting to allow some extra time for slow teams.
After buying a Quest online, it can be launched from your My Quests pages anytime. While the exact restaurant will be a surprise, you’ll pick a general category, just to be sure it is the kind of food the team will enjoy. Get stuck on a clue, see hints and answers on the included clue package that you printed off before starting.
In New York, for example, two Quests are offered. A Walk In The Park is a Quest in Central Park and another one sends Questers around Rockefeller Center. Each is priced at $28.99 per person + tax and the meal.
UrbanQuest is currently available in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Washington DC, Chicago, Indianpolis, Louisville, Baltimore, Boston, Princeton, Cincinnati, Portland, Philadelphia, Nashville and Seattle plus a number of Canadian cities and some international destinations with more cities on the way. UrbanQuest customers who have successfully completed a Quest are invited to be QuestTesters, trying out new Quests before they become available to the public
UrbanQuest looks to be great for dates, groups of friends, family outings or office team building and can be gifted via e-gift cards.
Just last month, Gadling took you on a journey inside the world of urban exploration, bringing you on a behind-the-scenes look at the urban explorers who are inventing new ways of visiting the areas under, above and inside the cities we traverse every day. Today, we’ve got another intriguing look at the urban exploring phenomenon to share with you, courtesy of the short film series above called “Undercity: Las Vegas.”
Part of an interesting collaboration with shoe company Palladium, the film series follows the exploits of urban historian Steve Duncan, profiled in Gadling’s recent feature, along with director Andrew Wonder, as they investigate the subterranean water tunnels and unfinished construction sites that comprise the lesser-known side of this urban neon mecca of gambling and nightlife. In this particular clip, Duncan manages to sneak inside the as yet unfinished Fontainebleu Resort Las Vegas, climbing nearly 60 floors to take in an eye-popping view of the early Vegas dawn.
Though the trespassing on the construction site is clearly illegal, it’s an intriguing look inside the urban underbelly that few Las Vegas visitors ever see. Those interested in seeing the full film can head over to Palladium’s video hub to check out Part 1 and Part 2 of this ongoing series.
I just spent a month in New Zealand and I don’t ski, snowboard, climb mountains, or bungee jump. I don’t like “extreme” anything and I’m not sure why anyone would participate in something called “zorbing.” In the midst of winter in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s too cold for beaches or swimming but too wet most days for a pleasant hike. Instead, I explored museums and galleries, sipped multi-layered wines and single-origin coffee, and discovered fashion designers and weekend markets as exciting and innovative as New York. There’s no doubt New Zealand has some of the most peaceful yet jaw-dropping nature on the globe, but is there a New Zealand for travelers who aren’t interested in adventure, extreme sports, or rural pursuits? The country may not be known for its cities, but there’s more to Kiwi culture than “Lord of the Rings” tours and “Flight of the Conchords” songs.
Stay tuned for features on finding “Kiwi cool” here, such as why Auckland is worth more than a stopover, how Wellington may be more hipster than Portland, and who is helping Christchurch get its groove back. The South Pacific nation has plenty to offer the urban explorer year round, even if you want to travel without a car (as I did), a tour guide, or special gear. You may go to New Zealand for the great outdoors, but find lots to enjoy indoors as well.
Photo from the awesome Free House pub in Nelson on the South Island.