Stingray City in Grand Cayman

Stingray City is an area of shallow sandbars in the North Sound of Grand Cayman, in Cayman Islands, in western Caribbean Sea. It’s Cayman Islands’ most popular tourist attraction where southern stingrays are found in abundance and visitors can pet and interact with the animals.

The stingrays began gathering in the area during the 1980s when fisherman, returning from an excursion, stopped in the area to clean their fish in the calm water of the shallows and sandbar. The fish guts and squid that were thrown overboard attracted the stingrays who normally feed on mollusks and crustaceans, and on the occasional small fish. Soon the stingrays began to associate the sound of a boat motor with food. Years went by, and eventually some local divers realized that the stingrays could be fed by hand.

Today, an estimated 30 to 40 Southern Stingrays have made Stingray City their home, surviving on squid and food offered by snorkelers and divers. Many tour and excursion boats, along with private watercraft, gather at Stingray City in large numbers. The water is three to five feet in depth – perfect for swimming and snorkeling.


Furore - The Hidden Village

Furore is a small village located in the Coast of Amalfi, in the province of Salerno in the Campania region of south-western Italy. A long time ago, there was a small settlement here scattered over the mountain overlooking the sea, along a scenic road. There were no central piazza and no tight clusters of houses. The paths and stairs that led to the village were also not visible from the coastline, so that Furore remained practically hidden to the passing traveller. This earned Furore the name of “the village that doesn't exist.” It was then the mayor decided it was time to put his tiny comune on the map. He ordered every house to be brightly painted so that they couldn’t escape the sight of travellers passing down the road. This tradition is maintained till this date, by inviting artists from around the world every September to paint and decorate the local buildings with murals.

Furore’s main attraction is the so-called fjord or Fiordo. It’s actually a ria - a narrow gorge cutting inland from the sea, created by the Schiato stream that runs along the mountain to the sea. A cluster of old fishermen's houses cling to the cliffs. The fjord is also the oldest part of Furore. The main village now stands 300 meters above, in the upper Vallone del Furore.

The fjord is bypassed by an arch bridge over which a state road passes. The 30 meters high bridge is also the location where every summer the International Diving Championship is held.

The local authorities have made the fiord into an appealing tourist spot. An old lime kiln has been converted into a bar and gift shop, the old houses have been renovated, and a museum tells of the industrial heritage and botanical diversity of the fiord. On midday, the sun manages to break through the narrow gorge and shines on the short beach just a few meters wide, attracting a lot of people.


The Steepest Street in The World

Located in the city of Dunedin, in southern New Zealand, the Baldwin Street has earned the distinction of being the steepest street in the world. This 350 meters long street begins with a moderate slope and then climbs steeply to reach a maximum slope of 1:2.86 or 19 degrees. In other words, the street rises by 1 meter for every 2.86 meters travelled horizontally. The street is so steep that it's surface had to be laid with concrete instead of asphalt otherwise on a warm day the tar would flow down the slope!

Baldwin Street is located in the residential suburb of North East Valley, running east from the valley of the Lindsay Creek up the side of Signal Hill towards Opoho. It rises about 70 meters along its length generating an average slope of slightly more than 1:5. Its lower reaches are only moderately steep, and the surface is asphalt, but the upper reaches are far steeper, and surfaced in concrete.

The street’s unusual steepness was the result of poor planning. Planners in London, who had no idea of the city’s topography, had laid out the streets in a grid pattern with no consideration for the terrain. This resulted in a number of streets that landed right on extremely steep hills. Instead of returning back to the drawing board, or at least, incorporating switchbacks to tame the slope, the roads were simply built at a staggeringly steep grade. Indeed, some of the streets the city planners intended were so steep that were unable to be laid.

Baldwin street ended up becoming the steepest. Other streets running parallel to Baldwin are all quite steep: Arnold Street (1:3.6), Dalmeny Street (1:3.7), and Calder Avenue (1:5.4).

Today, Dunedin residents take pride of Baldwin’s reputation. Every summer a number of charity events and races are organized on the street, including running from the base of the street to the top and back down again, releasing thousands of spherical chocolate-coated confectioneries from the top or sending thousands of tennis balls down the street.


Libyan Desert Glass

Between the borders of Egypt and Libya is the Great Sand Sea, an enormous sandy desert that stretches about 650 km from north to south and 300 km from east to west, covering an area the size of Ireland. Prevailing winds have organized this great sand mass into huge longitudinal crested dunes rising 100 meters high at places and stretching uninterrupted for hundreds of kilometers, separated by flat corridors about a kilometer or two wide. In these long narrow gaps are areas where the underlying bedrock is exposed. In these exposed surfaces a curious natural glass is found.

The so called Libyan Desert Glass is the purest natural silica glass ever found on earth. The glass is generally yellow in color. It can be very clear or it can be a milky, and even contain tiny bubbles, white wisps, and inky black swirls. Over a thousand tons of these glass are strewn across hundreds of kilometers of bleak desert. Most of these are the size of pebbles polished smooth by the abrasive action of the blowing sand. Others are chunks of considerable size and weight. The biggest piece ever found weighed around 26 kg.

Natural glass, such as Libyan Desert Glass, can be formed either by lightning strike, or volcanic activity or meteorites striking the earth. The Libyan desert glass has been dated as having formed about 26 million years ago, which made scientists assume that the glass here was formed when a meteorite struck earth around this time, but the absence of an impact crater pose problems for this theory. (In 2007, a circular feature was discovered using satellite images but evidence of it being an impact crater is slim to none.) Another theory suggest an exploding comet near the surface heating up the sand beneath it to a extreme temperatures resulting in the formation of a huge amount of silica glass.

The first scientific discovery of Libyan Desert Glass was made by an Englishman named Patrick A. Clayton in 1932, who brought the first samples back to Europe for study. However, the existence of the glass was known to man long before that. Local inhabitants in the Neolithic period made tools out of the glass, and later the Egyptians used it as jewel. A large piece of carved stone on the breastplate of the famous Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun was identified as none other than Libyan Desert Glass

Tutanhkamun’s pendant features a scarab (the light green stone in the center) carved from desert glass.