Rock and awe: William Clift’s Shiprock and Mont St. Michel images; Michael Abatemarco; Santa Fe New Mexican

Any photographer can take a pretty picture of a place, but William Clift sees its timeless soul. One such place is Mont St. Michel, a tidal island connected at low…

Source: Rock and awe: William Clift’s Shiprock and Mont St. Michel images

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5 destinations straight out of a fairytale; Alex Francis; Cheapflights

Poland – Białowieża Forest

If you’re looking for somewhere that looks like it’s been based on illustrations in a children’s book, try these fairytale destinations.

Fairytales are a part of our childhood that we never forget, often passing our favourite ones on to our own children.

Painting magical worlds full of princesses, goblins, wizards and trolls, most fairytales are so powerful that they have endured for centuries.

The mythical worlds we are transported to in fairytales are full of wonder and imagination, but seem so far removed from real life.

But there are certain places that wouldn’t look out of place in a Hans Christian Andersen tale, showing that there is magic to be found in the real world too.

If you’re looking for somewhere that looks like it’s been based on illustrations in a children’s book, try these fairytale destinations.

Bialowieza Forest, Poland and Belarus

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Tallinn’s Medieval Old Town; Sean McLachlan; Gadling

Estonia – Historic Centre (Old Town) of Tallinn

Tallinn is a medieval wonderland. The capital of Estonia isn’t on a lot of people’s bucket list but anyone at all interested in history, architecture or art will love this place.

The central attraction is Old Town, a medieval walled city filled with old buildings and fortifications. The sheltered bay and the easily defended Toompea Hill made it a natural place to settle. Sometime about 1050 A.D. a fortress was built atop the hill, the first of many. In 1219 the Danes showed up as part of the Northern Crusade to subjugate the Baltics and convert the local pagans to Christianity whether they wanted to or not.

The Danes improved the fortifications and expanded the town, which became part of the Hanseatic League, a trading organization of a hundred northern cities. The Danes sold Tallinn to the Livonan Order, a branch of the Teutonic Knights, in 1346. The Swedes came next in 1561. Tallinn weathered plague and the Great Northern War and became part of Russia in 1710. In 1918, Estonia declared independence from Russia and fought a bitter war against Bolshevik Russia.

Source: Tallinn’s Medieval Old Town – Gadling

Dubrovnik: Croatia’s ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’; David Cawley; Stripes

Dubrovnik’s imposing and impressive walls are its marquee monument. It costs a pricey 70 HRK (about $12.60) to walk along them, but the views looking down over locals going about their day beneath vermilion roofs and limestone towers is worth the price. Getting up to the battlements early or late in the day avoids both the crowds, and, in summer, the unremitting heat.

Source: Dubrovnik: Croatia’s ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’

Walk by luminous waters; Richard Pennick; The West Australian

Croatia – Plitvice Lakes National Park

It is a beautiful sight. We are looking down to an emerald valley, where streams of silvery water flow into a succession of turquoise, azure and blue lakes. Intrigued, we walk down into a spellbinding place of glistening water and shimmering leaves.

We follow the paths, boardwalks and bridges – always with water in sight – down through the beech forest. Bubbling springs and streams from the Upper Lakes spread through the trees. The flow fans out through the rocks, gathering momentum, eventually tumbling in veiled waterfalls to the pools and lakes below.

Eddying and swirling along a network of connecting tributaries, the water has carved itself a gorge as it descends 135m over a distance of 8km through 16 crystal clear lakes.

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Building La Sagrada Familia; AZO Build

The Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family, or Sagrada Família, as it is commonly known, was designed by Catalan architect, Antoni Gaudí and is a stunning work of art.

Source: Building La Sagrada Familia

In India’s Ancient Khajuraho, Eroticism Mingles With International Commerce; Raksha Kumar; NY Times

India – Khajuraho Group of Monuments

When you pass the sign that says “Welcome to Khajuraho,” you enter a different land. The roads become broad and smooth. Lush lawns and tall green trees line up on both sides of the street.

And, most strikingly, sex and eroticism are no longer taboo. Khajuraho – which is at the heart of Madhya Pradesh, a state called the “Heart of India” — is famous for its 1,000-year-old temples full of highly detailed erotic art and stone carvings, which draw millions of visitors each year.

In 1968, when Elinor L. Horwitz visited the place for The New York Times, four Indian Airlines flights a week to Khajuraho from New Delhi had just been scheduled. There was only one place to stay overnight, a $6-a-night government bungalow, which also served the only tourist lunch in the area, a $1 affair that included “bland soup, hot curry and custard.”

Recently, India Ink traveled to Khajuraho to see what has changed and what has remained the same in the four decades since.

In 1968, Ms. Horwitz observed, “of the original 85 temples, 32 baroque marvels remain intact in their 1,000-year splendor.”

Read more from source: In India’s Ancient Khajuraho, Eroticism Mingles With International Commerce

Mumbai Multiplex | The line starts here; Supriya Nair; Live Mint

India – Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus)

The ‘heritage wing’ of Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is a railway enthusiast’s dream.

In the Star Chamber of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) booking office, with its dozen busy ticket counters, clattering coupon machines and its tall pillars holding up delicate domed ceilings, millions of suburban commuters begin and end their journeys on India’s oldest passenger railway route without letting history weigh too much on them.

But it is difficult to maintain commuter ennui, or indeed journalistic objectivity, when you find yourself looking down at the station from the gallery on the floor above the ticket counters for the first time in your life. You don’t have to be a railway official or invitee any more. On 28 December, the Central Railway authorities opened the wrought-iron gates of their “Headquarters Building”, the administrative wing, to casual visitors.

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In pictures: Afghanistan’s ‘safest province’; Ali M Latifi & Abasin Azarm; Al Jazeera English

Afghanistan – Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley

Bamiyan may not be wracked by violence, but it continues to suffer from poverty and years of underdevelopment.

Ringed by snow-covered mountains, Bamiyan has often been called Afghanistan’s “safest” province.

Its roads, paved for the first time in the central province’s history, make Bamiyan’s natural beauty and historical artifacts more accessible than ever. In interviews with Al Jazeera, residents of Bamiyan city and mountainside villages alike spoke proudly of their province’s safety compared to the rest of the nation.

But despite Bamiyan’s relative safety, poverty remains rampant. Nearly 70 percent of the province’s roughly 418,000 people live on less than $25 per month.

“We continue to struggle, so many people are without jobs,” said 19-year-old Zahra in Bamiyan city’s Titanic Market area.

The winter’s snow brings with it a host of economic and health problems.

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Former imperial citadel is masterclass in architecture, romance; VietnamNet, SGT

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