Monthly Archives: October 2016

Tallest building worth that you need to visit

One of Dubai’s main attractions and currently the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa draws in hundreds of people daily to marvel at the views from its dizzying observation deck. But does it live up to the hype? Here’s everything you need to know before you plan a visit.

 

The Burj by numbers

As the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa boasts some pretty impressive numbers. It’s 828m tall and it took over 110,000 tonnes of concrete and 22 million man-hours to build. There are over 31,000 tonnes of steel rebar throughout its structure, which, if laid out end-to-end, would stretch a quarter of the way around the world.

Its exterior is clad with around 26,000 glass panels; these give it its mirror finish and are regularly polished by 36 brave window cleaners. Thanks to one of the world’s fastest elevators, you can also travel from the ground floor to level 124 in around a minute (that’s a speed of 10 metres per second).

 

The essentials

There are three different observation levels open to the public. The first two are part of the misleadingly named At The Top, which includes floors 124 and 125 at 452m (not actually at the top, but just over half way up the building). Then there’s luxury lounge, SKY, on level 148, which sits at a height of 555m.

It costs 200 AED for access to At The Top during peak hours, and you can pretty much spend as long as you like up there. Aside from the height, the main difference between the two observation decks is that SKY tends to be quieter and has soft seating scattered throughout, should you need to sit down after peering over the edge. A ticket for SKY(which costs a princely 500 AED for just 30 minutes) will also get you into At The Top.

It’s advisable to book in advance to ensure you get the best time, and if you’re banking on seeing sunset, book a slot at least 90 minutes before to get the most out of it. There are also sunrise slots bookable on Friday and Saturday during winter.

Guide for traveling far away

The series is all about sharing untold travel stories. The kind of stuff you’d tell your friends when you return from a trip, but wouldn’t dream of publishing in a guidebook. It is hosted by Rough Guides travel editor, Greg Dickinson.

In this first episode, Just Like Riding a Bicycle, we talk to two people who have cycled huge lengths of the planet, fifty years apart. Legendary travel writer Dervla Murphy shares stories from her 1963 solo cycle from Ireland to India, disclosing how she accidentally become an arms trader in Afghanistan. And twenty-something adventurer Charlie Walkertells of the scrapes and psychological shifts that he experienced during a four-year cycle around the world.

In future episodes of The Rough Guide to Everywhere we’ll be hearing from our team of intrepid travel writers, with dispatches from across the globe – whether it be a buffalo round-up in South Dakota or a camel market in Rajasthan.

To make sure you don’t miss an episode, you can subscribe now on iTunes or wherever you listen to your podcasts. And if you fancy an immediate podcast hit after tuning in to The Rough Guide to Everywhere, check out this list of our favourite podcasts to listen to while travelling.

Tribal tourism guide

Travelling is all about opening your eyes to new places, people and ways of life. But unfortunately, sometimes we’re so eager for an exciting experience that we can’t see the effects of our choices, and it’s all too easy to stop thinking about them once you’re back home.

While tourists are increasingly aware of the need to consider the environment when they travel, and to be aware of animal rights violations, fewer are informed about their impact on indigenous people. Here, we explain a little about what tribal tourism is, and why you need to take great care if you’re considering it.

 

What exactly is tribal tourism?

Tribal tourism is visiting a place in order to see or meet the indigenous people who live there. “Ethno-tourism” and “ethnic tourism” are sometimes used to describe the same thing. As the name implies, this isn’t the same thing as an expedition for anthropological research, but a trip for recreational purposes.

 

Why are people interested in this kind of tourism?

For some people, it’s an educational opportunity – travel is a way of learning more about the world and yourself, and meeting new people can be a part of that. Others feel that, in our globalised age, they’ll have a more memorable, authentic experience of a place if they see its indigenous cultures.

Inspiring architectural on tourism

From ancient temples to hyper-modern skyscrapers, these are just a few of the world’s most incredible architectural wonders. Whether you’re looking to wander lost ruins or explore lavish palaces, you’ll find inspiration here.

 

1. The Alhambra, Spain

Towering out of an elm-wooded hillside above Granada, a snowy Sierra Nevada behind, there are few more iconic images of Spain than the ochre-tinted enclave of the Alhambra. Over five thousand visitors wander through the restored complex every day. No amount of words, however, can approximate the sensual charge of seeing the Palacios Nazaríes, the best preserved palace of the Nasrid dynasty, for the first time.

 

2. Baalbek, Lebanon

One of the wonders of the ancient world, the Roman archeological site of Baalbek – a place that, in the words of Robert Byron, “dwarfs New York into a home of ants” – holds awe-inspiring temples, porticoes, courtyards and palatial stone stairways. The Greeks and Romans called it Heliopolis, “The City of the Sun”, a name it shares with another great Classical city in Egypt – but this phenomenal site has no equals.

 

3. Burj al Arab, Dubai, UAE

Dubai is a desert turned Disney. What was once a sleepy fishing village is now a futuristic cybercity, with sparkling skyscrapers, shopping malls, water parks, golf courses and hotels so flashy that Elton John would be proud to call them home. The iconic Burj Al Arab is a striking 28-storey symbol of new-world bling. One of the tallest hotels in the world, the gleaming building is built on an artificial island, 280m from the mainland, and is shaped like a huge billowing sail.

Some remember before you go

With its stunning beaches, friendly people, unspoilt countryside and tasty local cuisine, Portugal is, unsurprisingly, one of Europe’s most popular travel destinations. If you’re planning a trip, here are 10 tips from Matthew Hancock, co-author of The Rough Guide to Portugal, to help you find the most authentic parts of the country, escape the crowds and get even more for your euros.

 

1. Go out of season

While it’s true that parts of Portugal – Lisbon and the Algarve beaches in particular – can be overcrowded and busy in high summer, they are surprisingly quiet out of season.

Autumn is a lovely time to visit – the sea is at its warmest (the Algarve average water temperature in October is 21˚C) while the sun still shines for an average of seven hours a day.

Most Portuguese assert that the sea is far too cold outside the self-imposed “swimming season” (usually just July and August), leaving the beaches more or less empty in the shoulder seasons.

 

2. Venture off the beaten track

In Portugal it pays to get off the tourist trail. Head inland to the border region, where fortified castle towns such as Marvão and Estremoz loom over the surrounding plains, and storks nest in spring above the olive and orange groves.

In autumn, go north to the Douro vineyards, where the vines are bursting with grapes – you can even join in with the harvest and grape-stomping at some wine estates.

If you just want some sun and swimming, head to the coasts of the Alentejo, the Centro district or the west coast of the Algarve, where the long sandy beaches are still relatively undeveloped.

 

3. Eat and drink like the locals

Portuguese food and drinks are usually excellent quality and very good value, so stick to ordering what is grown, caught or made locally. You’ll find a fine array of fresh fish and seafood everywhere, while Portuguese pork and local cheeses are hugely underrated.

The local house wine will almost certainly be excellent. Local beers and spirits will cost around half the price (and taste pretty much the same) as the branded international equivalents.