Spring is coming in the Northern Hemisphere and the flowers are beginning to bloom.
While it’s a beautiful season everywhere, mid-March through April marks peak cherry blossom season in Japan. Watch our lovely Cherry Blossom season in Japan where we join the annual spring ritual, a unique Japanese celebration of hope and renewal.
Check out our stories and videos on Springtime in Holland, to learn more about the history behind the Dutch national colour and about the origins of the gorgeous tulip.
And of course, back to the Northern Hemisphere, don’t miss our new study guide and TV mini series, A Short History of the English Garden. Our two part documentary beautifully illustrates how the English Garden has evolved through the ages.
The 5th of May this year will mark the 200th anniversary of Napoleon’s death on the isolated island of St Helena where he had been exiled after his defeat by the Duke of Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo.
Although Napoleon remains a divisive figure, plans are underway in France to commemorate the milestone.
Much of the urban footprint of modern Paris, including thoroughfares and monuments such as the Arc de Triomphe, was the work of Napoleon. He also established the Banque de France and the civil and legal “Code Napoleon” which is still in use in France today.
But Napoleon also sewed chaos and carnage throughout Europe caused by expansionist wars.
If there is a silver lining to come out of the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s an increased awareness on our health and motivation to keep us as fit and strong as possible.
Nutrition is crucial to that; we all know what food can do for you and what it can do to you. We live in a world where we can cook the cuisines of other countries and get a step by step recipe with the click of a button, and we are spoilt for choice!
Soups are a wonderful way to add a rainbow of nourishing fruit and veg into your diet without it feeling like you have to! Delicious and wholesome, the following are 3 soups to soothe your soul during the COVID-Zone.
Chicken rice soup with ginger
Ginger is one of nature’s natural medicines; it holds antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, providing a perfect protection against the COVID-19 virus which targets the respiratory system as well as the common cold and flu.
Aromatic and full of natural goodness, ginger is wonderful to have in your diet. Keeping your sinuses clear, have a read of Pilot’s chicken rice soup with ginger recipe here.
Sinigang with milkfish and prawns
Sinigang is a chicken and egg thing, with many debating whether it is a soup or a stew. Originating from the Philippines, its uniqueness is in the balance of getting the savoury and the sourness right.
You can explore many flavours, from meats such as beef or seafood, a wonderful way to get your source of protein or omega-3. Seafood in particular has been proven to boost your immune system and helps protects against infections – very fitting for these times! Read our savoury goa and manila recipe here.
Ajoblanco (White garlic soup with grapes)
Garlic has been proven to have multiple health benefits ranging from your cognitive to physical performance.
Garlic is a natural remedy to preventing colds and boosting the immune system. The powerful smell can easily be overshadowed by its health benefits and something for you to enjoy.
Leading a healthy lifestyle and cooking nutritious soups can be fun, lovely and delightful. At Covid-19 times as well, we have made it a point to put our health in our own hands and look after ourselves as best we can. Nutrition is a key part of that and soups are a brilliant way to add nourishing dishes to our diets.
British Explorers: The Mausoleum of Sir Richard Burton
The Mausoleum of Sir Richard and Lady Burton (pictured above) is a Grade II listed tent-shaped mausoleum of Carrara marble and Forest of Dean stone in the churchyard of St Mary Magdalen Roman Catholic Church Mortlake located in London.
Sir Richard Burton, who died in 1890, was an explorer, geographer, translator, writer, soldier, orientalist, cartographer, ethnologist, spy, linguist, poet, fencer, and diplomat. He was famed for his travels and explorations in Asia, Africa and the Americas, as well as his extraordinary knowledge of languages and cultures. According to one count, he spoke 29 European, Asian and African languages.
Burton’s best-known achievements include a well-documented journey to Mecca in disguise, at a time when Europeans were forbidden access on pain of death; and a journey with John Hanning Speke as the first Europeans to visit the Great Lakes of Africa in search of the source of the Nile.
Any visitor to Californian cities, such as Los Angeles, can’t help but notice the proliferation of shops selling cannabis legally to the public. In addition, a number of industries have sprung up to support this growth.
Here are ten questions answered about California’s legal cannabis boom.
1. Why has it happened?
California has always been known as being amongst the most socially progressive states in America, so its relaxed laws on cannabis come as little surprise. Indeed, cannabis has been decriminalised in California since 1975 before being legalised for medicinal purposes in 1996. Thus, there has been much precedent for cannabis’ complete legalisation in 2018. Due to these long-term relaxed laws, cannabis has been a major part of California’s cultural identity. Even prior to the complete legalisation of cannabis, the state has been generally accepting of recreational marijuana use. Thus, the legalisation of cannabis in California is a culmination of its cultural and legal history within the state in addition to the significant potential economic benefits.
2. What is the extent of the boom in shops selling cannabis?
Prior to the official legalisation of cannabis at the beginning of 2018, cannabis was available for medicinal use through dispensaries. These are prevalent throughout the state. Since legalisation, however, there has been a considerable uptick in cannabis-associated businesses covering a number of different brands. Due to the robust infrastructure already in place from the medicinal marijuana industry, it has been very easy for recreational cannabis sellers to rise up quickly. There are currently 261 separate dispensaries in addition to many more medicinal dispensaries. The only state with more dispensaries is Oregon, where cannabis has been legal for a longer period of time. None of these dispensaries have permanent licenses yet, instead being endowed with temporary ones. In addition to dispensaries, a number of other businesses have emerged including delivery services such as Eaze and dispensary locator apps. A full-fledged, sophisticated industry has emerged surrounding the cannabis industry.
3. What do these shops sell? Are there different types of cannabis reflecting brands and strengths?
Cannabis products in California are divided into four major categories: Flowers, Concentrates, Edibles and Applications. Flowers refer to the marijuana plant itself – dried buds, which are by far the most popular form of cannabis consumption. There are hundreds of different varieties of strains, each slightly different from the other. Concentrates refer to a number of different products created through the extractions of trichome from marijuana plants. Trichomes are the small, shiny crystals found on mature plants. These are generally stronger than flowers and are made into a number of different products including wax and oils. These are most often consumed through the use of a vape pen, a more inconspicuous means of consumption. Edibles, as their name indicates, refer to food items incorporated with cannabis extractions. These often have more of a delayed effect than other means of consumption. Applications are a more medicinal means of consumption, containing high doses of CBD in the forms of patches used to alleviate physical pain or mental disorders such as anxiety.
Cannabis is divided into two main forms – Sativa and Indica, with hybridised forms of the two also being available. Sativa strains are known for being more cerebral effects with a higher THC content whereas Indica strains are known for their more sedate effects and have a higher CBD content.
4. Is the cannabis sold for medicinal purposes?
Cannabis has a number of medicinal functions and has been legal in California for medicinal purposes in the state of California since 1996. There has been evidence to suggest that cannabis has beneficial effects in alleviating pain and nausea for those suffering from illnesses such as cancer, HIV/AIDS and even multiple sclerosis. Its use for mental disorders is more inconclusive such as PTSD, anxiety and depression. Cannabis can have adverse effects, including cognitive impairment and psychosis. However, these effects differ from person to person. Its medicinal purposes, while they doubtlessly exist, are not supported by overwhelming evidence due to laws over its legality restricting research.
5. What are the legal issues?
As of the beginning of 2018, cannabis is legal for recreational use in the state of California. Despite this, there are still certain restrictions in place regarding its consumption and distribution. Users of cannabis must be over the age of 21, the same as alcohol. Furthermore, like alcohol, consumption is legally prohibited in public spaces and there is a penalty of a $100 fine for those who do this. Cannabis in excess of one ounce must be privately stored in one’s residential property away from a public space. There is a limit of six plants at any one residence. Consumption of cannabis while driving is also illegal, as is possession within a school area.
6. Is there a similar boom in the number of growers?
Cannabis plantations can be found throughout the entire state, although production is mainly in the region of Northern California nicknamed the ‘Emerald Triangle’. Prior to legalisation, a vast network of authorised growers were active, producing vast quantities of cannabis for medicinal consumption. Following legalisation, the law allowing adults to grow up to six plants within their own residence has been ratified. There are no limits to the amount those growing marijuana for medicinal purposes, although these laws are rumoured to change. There are over 68,000 cannabis cultivators in California, although fewer than 1% of these are licensed. Many growers have struggled to adapt to the new regulations of cannabis production. Despite the legalisation, a black market still remains intact.
7. How is cannabis taxed? Is it a revenue earner for the government?
Since legalisation, a number of different taxes have been imposed upon the emerging cannabis industry. In the first quarter of 2018, the California State Government collected $60 million in tax from cannabis, well below expectations. The excise tax generated $32 million. Cultivation tax comprised $1.6 million while the sales tax comprised the remaining $27.3 million. Despite falling short of initial predictions, cannabis is projected to generate a considerable tax windfall for the Californian government in the coming years. Prices are increasing from an average of $54 per ounce to $65 per ounce.
8. Is big business getting involved?
There are so far 6,000 licensed cannabis businesses operating within California. A wealth of start-ups have emerged in tech hotspots such as Silicon Valley and Los Angeles in addition to boutique businesses. Larger conglomerates, having sensed the industry’s highly lucrative potential, have gotten involved. This development has left a number of smaller operations concerned, with there being government motions drawn up to protect small-level businesses from being put out of businesses. Despite this, given the ripe potential for the cannabis industry, it is only a matter of time before major companies become more intimately involved. With taxes driving up prices, wealthy companies may look to combat this by flooding the market and dominating supply and demand. This will drive small businesses out of work or alternatively consolidate them.
9. What other states and counties allow cannabis for sale?
Currently, cannabis is legal for recreational use in 9 US states – Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachussetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington as well as in the District of Columbia. With the exception of Vermont and the District of Columbia wherein the commercialisation of cannabis is prohibited, the laws are generally the same between these states. An additional 13 states have decriminalised recreational marijuana use. Furthermore, medicinal marijuana is legal in 31 states. Indeed, only in 3 states – Idaho, Kansas and South Dakota – is cannabis consumption entirely illegal. Despite this, cannabis use and possession is classified as illegal under federal law, which causes conflict and confusion over laws surrounding the drug throughout the country.
Outside of the United States, only three countries have legalised recreational cannabis use – Canada, Georgia and Uruguay. However, a wealth of countries around the world have decriminalised cannabis or have some form of medicinal marijuana laws. Portugal and Spain are well-known for their relaxed laws and the Netherlands is particularly well-known for its cannabis culture. While it is not legal all across the country, in certain areas such as the capital city Amsterdam, it is legal to consume cannabis within coffee shops. This style of cannabis culture differs from the more heavily-regulated one which exists in California and elsewhere in the United States.
10. Can anybody buy cannabis? What documents do you need to produce when purchasing?
Cannabis is available to purchase for those who are over the age of 21, producing a valid form of ID such as a passport or a driver’s license. In regards to medicinal marijuana, customers must be over the age of 18. Since the legalisation as of the beginning of 2018, it is legal for non-citizens to buy and consume, although it remains federally illegal.
Interested in all things Californian and revolutionary? In our Metropolis – Los Angeles episode presenter Charlie Luxton learns that LA’s unique architectural legacy stemmed from a freedom afforded no-where else on earth. In many ways, this was a city where anything goes, and did. Here, revolutionary ideas were tried and tested with spectacular results.
Captain Cook continues to inspire travel habits
As the 26th of August marked the 250th anniversary of Captain Cook’s maiden round the world voyage, take a look at some of the amazing destinations that were discovered on this epic journey.
Departing from Plymouth in 1778, Cook and his 100-strong crew embarked on the trip of a lifetime that would have even today’s jet-setters jealous.
This tiny island off the coast of Portugal, rising out of the Atlantic’s waves, was the first stop of the Endeavour. The iconic harbour of the island’s capital, Funchal – with its dazzling firework displays and botanical gardens – will be sure to keep you entertained. The island is also famed for its wineries, its sports fans and the CR7 Museum is also a must see!
Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Cook used Rio De Janeiro as a supply stop, but travellers today will take in the sights of Copacabana Beach, Christ the Redeemer and shimmy to some Samba Music. Revellers will also marvel at the views from Sugarloaf Mountain or party the days and nights away in Rio’s carnival atmosphere. One thing’s for certain, Rio is a far cry from the days of Captain Cook.
Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina
When Cook ventured ashore at Tierra Del Fuego, he described the locals as, “the most miserable group of people on the planet”. Tierra Del Fuego truly could be ‘The End of the World’. But nowadays, travellers are blown away by the staggering scenery offered at the gateway to Antarctica. The snowy mountains and glaciers are timeless or visit Ushuaia’s busy port and take a boat trip to Penguin Isle.
Tahiti, French Polynesia
Just the thought of Tahiti brings images of palm trees and sandy beaches. In fact, when it was time for Cook’s voyage to leave the island, two of his crew attempted to desert, due to falling for local women. The Polynesian hospitality and staggering natural scenery will make you fall in love with this little piece of paradise in the Pacific.
When Cook first arrived on the coast of New Zealand, he was greeted by the Maori people and the Haka. Nowadays, the traditional war dance can be experienced by watching the world famous All Blacks rugby team. New Zealand is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, and it’s not hard to understand why. The ultra-modern city of Auckland, the beautiful 15,000-kilometres coastline, and of course, the scenery and landscape that made Lord of the Rings possible.
When Cook landed at Stingray, New Holland, as the land Down Under was known back in 1770, he can’t have known that just 250 years later, the area would be home to the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge and some of the most amazing beaches on the planet.
Indonesia’s capital was the port where the Cook’s ship, the Endeavour, received repairs after damaging itself on the Great Barrier Reef. Back then, it was part of the Dutch East Indies, but now, it could be one of the most multicultural spots on the planet. Javanese? Arabic? Malay? European? You name it, there is some part of the culture in Jakarta! Visit the old town for a taste of what Cook experienced when he sailed to this former Dutch Colony.
Cape Town, South Africa
Cook’s final stop on his epic voyage, Cape Town, sits on the Cape of Good Hope. Dramatic cliffs, table top mountain and Robben Island – the prison that held Nelson Mandela for 25 years – are tourist hotspots for visiting holiday makers. Cape Town can truly be seen as one of Africa’s jewels, and no true around the world voyage can be completed without seeing this incredible city.
The Austrian capital, Vienna, has beaten Australia’s Melbourne to be named the world’s most liveable city in 2018.
It’s the first time a European city has topped the rankings of the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) annual survey.
The worldwide league table ranks 140 cities on a range of factors, including political and social stability, crime, education and access to healthcare.
In the survey, Manchester saw the biggest improvement of any European city, rising by 16 places to rank 35th.
Interestingly, Manchester’s rise puts it ahead of London in the rankings by 13 places, the widest gap between the two cities since the survey began two decades ago.
The ten most liveable cities in 2018:
1. Vienna, Austria
2. Melbourne, Australia
3. Osaka, Japan
4. Calgary, Canada
5. Sydney, Australia
6. Vancouver, Canada
7. Tokyo, Japan
8. Toronto, Canada
9. Copenhagen, Denmark
10. Adelaide, Australia
The ten least liveable cities 2018:
1. Damascus, Syria
2. Dhaka, Bangladesh
3. Lagos, Nigeria
4. Karachi, Pakistan
5. Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
6. Harare, Zimbabwe
7. Tripoli, Libya
8. Douala, Cameroon
9. Algiers, Algeria
10. Dakar, Senegal
Inspired to travel (or move) to this incredible European city? Watch our Vienna City Guide below!
France’s Chaîne des Puys joins the UNESCO World Heritage List
On Monday 2 July 2018, the World Heritage Committee inscribed the Chaîne des Puys, a group of 80 dormant volcanoes, on the UNESCO World Heritage List – making it the first natural site in mainland France to be listed. This unique landscape now joins sites such as the Grand Canyon, the Okavango Delta, Kilimanjaro and the Great Barrier Reef on this prestigious list.
The alignment of the Chaîne des Puys volcanoes and the Limagne fault provides evidence for a large-scale process which has fashioned the Earth’s surface continental break-up. A natural showcase, the site demonstrates how the Earth’s crust was faulted and underwent collapse, allowing magma to rise up and the surface to be significantly uplifted.
Backed by the government, this inscription is the culmination of a long process initiated 11 years ago by the president of the Puy-de-Dôme department, Jean-Yves Gouttebel. The nomination is deeply rooted in the local territory, drawing on local authorities, businesses, associations and inhabitants to further the recognition and preservation of this exceptional natural heritage. The dossier was compiled by the departmental council of the Puy-de-Dôme, in close collaboration with local universities for the scientific component, and the Auvergne Volcanoes Regional Park for that of the management. This international recognition follows more than 40 years work of protection and management of the site.
World’s first open air planetarium debuts in Canada
National Geographic and the award-winning Au Diable Vert ‘Station de Montagne’ outdoor resort in Glen Sutton in the Eastern Townships of the Canadian province of Québec, have joined together to present the world’s first open air augmented reality planetarium, the ‘National Geographic ObservEtoiles’. This innovative new activity, that combines the technology of several cutting-edge companies from around the globe, will be officially launched to the public on 23 June 2018.
A world first, made in Quebec and signed by National Geographic
Recently certified as a Canadian Dark Sky Preserve by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC), Au Diable Vert Station de Montagne and National Geographic present a truly unique experience. National Geographic ObservEtoiles is an open air astronomy show combining science and education. Perched at over 1,000 feet of altitude with heated stadium seats, this open air show takes place in a multilevel mountainside amphitheatre, specially designed for this purpose at Au Diable Vert in Glen Sutton.
Guests will be able to witness the night sky take on another dimension, as high definition digital overlays of 17th century illustrations align with the stars and planets. For the first time anywhere in the world, innovative technology in the form of an augmented reality headset will enable visitors to unlock the mysteries of the night sky! Narrated by talented astronomers, each night’s presentation will be tailored to the ever changing beauty of space. One of the key collaborators in developing this experience is the National Geographic astronomy expert, Andrew Fazekas (also known as the ‘Night Sky Guy’) who will be creating content for this Quebec-made and Quebec-based experience.
A unique and innovative concept
Jeremy Fontana, co-owner of Au Diable Vert, well known for creating unique projects such as the VeloVolant canopy cycle activity, the world’s highest suspended bicycle ride at over 1,000 feet high, developed the concept and joined forces with leading technology partners to bring the National Geographic ObservEtoiles to life. To name a few, he called upon the expertise of Escapist Games developers and the developers of the Star Chart application (widely used by astronomers around the world), Aryzon from the Netherlands to create the custom AR headset, as well as National Geographic, in order to present the world’s first open air augmented reality planetarium.
About the National Geographic ObservEtoiles
Thanks to its heated seats, this open air planetarium will be running shows for nine months of the year, immersing up to 184 guests in a time of astronomical discovery. This immersive experience will be enhanced by a high-performance sound system and theatrical lighting. The activity is made possible through the use of an application running on a smartphone and an augmented reality headset. The headset enables the viewer to see digital overlays of the sky, with the names of the stars and more, while seeing the actual sky in real-time. It will also be possible to augment the experience by adding animations and going on a tour of the solar system. Even cloudy weather will not keep the show from running, as the projection made by the smartphone will compensate for any clouds. At the end of the night, guests can take home their augmented reality headsets, so they can relive the experience anywhere in the world, by downloading the application on their own smartphones (download and headset included in the price of the activity).
National Geographic ObservEtoiles would like to thank the Quebec Ministry of Tourism and Eastern Townships tourism for their generous financial assistance, without which this project would not have been possible. Home to 22 regions, Québec is Canada’s largest province. Last year the province’s tourism body, recognised under the brand QuébecOriginal, launched ‘14 Experiences of Québec’ a new tourism strategy which aims to highlight what makes Québec such an original destination. Home to vast protected areas including 28 national parks, Quebec’s forests, mountain ranges, rivers and lakes make the Great Outdoors one of its key signature experiences. As a year-round adventure playground Québec offers an array of activities for visitors to experience its stunning lakes, rivers, forests and wilderness first hand. Visitors are therefore invited to embrace the great outdoors, and the new National Geographic ObservEtoiles experience joins a range of interactive light shows available across the province which help bring the great outdoors to life thanks to the creativity of Québecers and their expertise recognised worldwide in the fields of multimedia and technology.
Singapore Changi Airport has been named as the World’s Best Airport by air travellers for the sixth consecutive year at the 2018 Skytrax World Airport Awards, held at Passenger Terminal EXPO in Stockholm, Sweden. This is the first time in the history of the awards that an airport has won this prestige title for six consecutive years.
See the rest of the results below.
The World’s Top 10 Airports
1 Singapore Changi 2 Incheon 3 Tokyo Haneda 4 Hong Kong 5 Doha Hamad 6 Munich 7 Centrair Nagoya 8 London Heathrow 9 Zurich 10 Frankfurt
The World’s Cleanest Airports
1 Tokyo Haneda 2 Centrair Nagoya 3 Incheon 4 Taiwan Taoyuan 5 Singapore Changi 6 Tokyo Narita 7 Hong Kong 8 Zurich 9 Doha Hamad 10 Helsinki
1 Crowne Plaza Changi 2 Pullman Guangzhou Airport 3 Hilton Munich Airport 4 Fairmont Vancouver Airport 5 Sofitel London Heathrow 6 Hong Kong Sky City Marriott 7 Langham Place Beijing 8 Regal Airport Hong Kong 9 Sheraton Amsterdam Airport 10 Hilton Frankfurt Airport
The World’s Best Airport Staff Service
1 Incheon 2 Tokyo Haneda 3 Taiwan Taoyuan 4 Centrair Nagoya 5 Singapore Changi 6 Hong Kong 7 Kansai 8 Narita 9 Amsterdam 10 Vienna
The World’s Best Airports for Dining
1 Hong Kong 2 Singapore Changi 3 Incheon 4 Tokyo Narita 5 Doha Hamad 6 Munich 7 Houston Intercontinental 8 Vienna 9 London Heathrow 10 Rome Fiumicino
The World’s Best Regional Airports
1 Centrair Nagoya 2 Hamburg 3 Durban 4 London City 5 Denver 6 Dusseldorf 7 Cologne / Bonn 8 Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky 9 Haikou 10 Xi’an
The World’s Best Airport Shopping
1 London Heathrow 2 Singapore Changi 3 Hong Kong 4 Doha Hamad 5 Amsterdam 6 Incheon 7 Dubai 8 Rome Fiumicino 9 Paris CDG 10 Frankfurt
The World’s Best Airport Security Processing
1 Tokyo Narita 2 Centrair Nagoya 3 Copenhagen 4 Taiwan Taoyuan 5 Tokyo Haneda 6 Singapore Changi 7 Zurich 8 Incheon 9 Hong Kong 10 Amsterdam
The World’s Best Airport Baggage Delivery
1 Kansai 2 Tokyo Haneda 3 Incheon 4 Taiwan Taoyuan 5 Tokyo Narita 6 Zurich 7 Singapore Changi 8 Centrair Nagoya 9 Munich 10 Copenhagen
The World’s Best Airport Immigration
1 Taiwan Taoyuan 2 Centrair Nagoya 3 Hong Kong 4 Copenhagen 5 Helsinki 6 Tokyo Haneda 7 Zurich 8 Singapore Changi 9 Incheon 10 Tokyo Narita
The World’s Best Transit Airport
1 Hong Kong 2 Singapore Changi 3 Incheon 4 Munich 5 Taiwan Taoyuan 6 Doha Hamad 7 Tokyo Haneda 8 Amsterdam 9 Narita 10 Frankfurt
The World’s Best Airport Leisure Amenities
1 Singapore Changi 2 Incheon 3 Doha Hamad 4 Amsterdam 5 Hong Kong 6 Munich 7 Taiwan Taoyuan 8 Zurich 9 Frankfurt 10 Centrair Nagoya
The World’s Best Low-Cost Airline Terminals
1 Kansai – T2 2 Tokyo Narita – T3 3 Melbourne – T4 4 Kuala Lumpur – KLIA2 5 London Stansted 6 Brussels Charleroi 7 East Midlands 8 Luton 9 Berlin Schönefeld 10 Frankfurt-Hahn