Posts Tagged bridges
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A train passes by people gathered on the Sydney Harbour Bridge on Oct. 10, 2010. Traffic on the bridge was closed so more than 7,000 people could pack on to the world’s widest bridge to enjoy a picnic breakfast.
By Beth Collins, Budget Travel
Too often, man-made structures mar the landscape around them. A factory cuts a harsh silhouette against a once-picturesque riverbank; a gaudy hotel sprawls onto an otherwise pristine beach. But somehow, bridges do the opposite. Instead of detracting from the view, they enhance it. A valley that you might have overlooked on its own is suddenly breathtaking with a gleaming white bridge spanning it; an uninspiring river becomes grand when traversed by an elegant steel structure. Add to that the engineering prowess that goes into building them, and bridges become destinations in and of themselves. We’ve rounded up 10 of the most remarkable examples here, along with insider tips on how best to experience them.
Tallest: Millau Viaduct, FranceNot long ago, Millau — a provincial town set between two limestone plateaus in the South of France — was known for little more than its traffic jams. Every July and August, the village would become jammed with travelers en route to their summer vacations in Spain. But thanks to the Millau Viaduct, the town is now home to one of the country’s major tourist attractions. Seventeen years in the making, from the first sketches in 1987 to the final touches in 2004, the Millau Viaduct is an architectural feat in more ways than one. Sure, it is held up by the highest pylons in the world (803 feet high) and has the highest road-bridge deck in Europe (886 feet). But, most importantly, it reaches 1,125 feet at its highest point, making it the tallest bridge in the world (for reference, New York’s Chrysler Building is only 1,046 feet tall). Impressive stats, to be sure, but it’s the bridge’s visual effect that has the most impact. Gleaming white and ultra-sleek, it cuts a striking figure against the green valley below and the blue skies above.
Best vantage point: Millau Viaduct is closed to pedestrians, but if you’re a runner you can sign up for La Course du Viaduc de Millau, a 14-mile race that crosses the bridge. Barring that, hop in a car. The bridge was designed with a slight curve, so you can see it in its entirety just before you cross over. course-viaducdemillau.org.
Widest: Sydney Harbour Bridge, AustraliaMeasuring 160 feet across, this suspension bridge has room for eight lanes of traffic, two railroad tracks, a pedestrian walkway and a bicycle path. A bit much? Not when you consider that the bridge connects Sydney’s business district with the residential North Shore, making it the primary route for the city’s commuters. A bridge built to accommodate such volume would seem a modern-day creation, but Sydney Harbour Bridge opened back in 1932 — it will celebrate its 80th birthday in 2012.
Best vantage point: on the walkway at the eastern side of the bridge, you’ll find the entrance to the Pylon Lookout, a tower with some of the best views of Sydney and the harbor. as you climb the 200 stairs to the top, stop on each of the three levels to check out the exhibits on the history of the bridge. pylonlookout.com.au, $11.
Longest: Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge, ChinaWhen it comes to bridges, China doesn’t mess around — the country is home to 11 of the world’s 15 longest. Three of the top five bridges are part of the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway, a $33 billion project that will nearly double the capacity of the route to 80 million annual passengers. Opened to the public in June 2011, the Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge ranks as the world’s longest. it stretches an astonishing 102.4 miles — that’s longer than the distance between New York City and Philadelphia!
Best vantage point: this is a railroad bridge, so the only way to experience it is by hopping aboard the train. Thankfully, the high-speed rail travels up to 186 mph, cutting what used to be a 10-hour trip to a much more manageable five hours. trains.china.org.cn, from $89 one way.
Most traffic: George Washington Bridge, New YorkLast year, 51 million cars, buses and trucks traveled eastbound across the George Washington Bridge, which connects Manhattan and New Jersey over the Hudson River. Every one of New York City’s 8 million residents would have to cross the bridge over six times to hit that number. Fortunately, the bridge is built to accommodate this kind of record-breaking activity, with a total of 14 lanes of traffic (eight on the upper level, six on the lower level). of course, this statistic only takes into account motorized vehicle traffic. if you count absolutely everything that crosses the bridge, the unofficial winner is the Howrah Bridge in Kolkata, India. The eight-laner is traversed by an estimated 80,000 vehicles, as many as 1 million pedestrians — and countless cows each day.
Best vantage point: there are additional lanes on either side of the George Washington Bridge for pedestrians and cyclists, but that puts you too close to the action to get a good view. Instead, take the Circle Line’s Full Island Cruise, a three-hour tour that circles the entire island of Manhattan and passes under seven bridges, including the George Washington Bridge. Boats leave throughout the day, but hold out for an evening departure so you’ll be able to see the bridge lit up against the night sky. circleline42.com, $36.
Longest suspension: Akashi Kaikyo (or Pearl) Bridge, JapanImagine an iconic bridge (the Golden Gate, for example), and chances are you’ve thought of a suspension bridge. these elegant structures are formed by literally “suspending” the road deck from steel cables strung between towers. this style will never measure as far as other types — viaducts like the Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge are supported from below by pylons and can thus stretch as long as needed — but suspension bridges rank among the lightest, strongest, and most beautiful bridges in the world. At nearly four times the length of the Brooklyn Bridge, Japan’s Akashi Kaikyo Bridge (also known as the Pearl Bridge) is the clear winner in this category. With three connected spans — two at 3,150 feet and one at 6,532 feet — the Pearl stretches a total of 12,831 feet across the Akashi Strait from the cosmopolitan port city of Kobe to Awaji Island (which, not coincidentally, is the hub of Japan’s pearl industry). Japan gets hit with extreme weather conditions, and this bridge, completed in 1998, was built to withstand them all, including winds up to 179 mph and earthquakes up to 8.5 on the Richter scale. But that doesn’t mean this bridge isn’t a beauty: in addition to its connection to the Japanese pearl industry, the bridge gets its nickname from the lights on its cables, which are said to resemble a strand of colorful pearls at night.
Best vantage point: From the Kobe side of the bridge, take an elevator to the Maiko Marine Promenade. The 984-foot tubular observation deck offers views of the strait, the bridge’s interior and Osaka Bay.
Most photographed: Golden Gate Bridge, CaliforniaWith its trademark “international orange” paint, its picturesque surroundings, and the daily rolling in of the morning fog, it should come as no surprise that the Golden Gate Bridge is said to be the most photographed in the world. David Crandall, assistant professor of informatics and computing at Indiana University, thinks the numbers back up this claim. in a recent study, he tracked text tags for nearly 35 million images on Flickr to determine which world sights were shot the most. While other bridges — namely London’s Tower Bridge, Florence’s Ponte Vecchio, and New York’s Brooklyn Bridge — were close runners-up, two simple facts gave the San Francisco structure a winning edge: geography and size. The City of Hills has so many vantage points — and the bridge is such a looming presence in the skyline — that the Golden Gate manages to sneak into scores of photos, even when it’s not the intended subject. trying to take a shot of the Presidio? The harbor? The city skyline? There’s a good chance the Golden Gate might make an appearance, whether as the main focal point or just a happy accident.
Best vantage point: At Kirby Cove, in the Marin headlands north of the city, you get the trifecta: a spectacular view, a healthy dose of nature and no crowds. to get there from Highway 101, take the last exit for Sausalito and follow Conzelman Road until you reach the parking area on the left. From there, walk down the steep dirt path lined with eucalyptus and cypress trees until you reach the cove.
Longest covered: Hartland Covered Bridge, New Brunswick, CanadaWhen the Canadian government was being wishy-washy about whether or not to build a bridge across the St. John River, a group of private citizens took matters into their own hands. They formed the Hartland Bridge Company and opened the 1,282-foot-long bridge in 1901. five years later, in what had to be a vindicating we-told-you-so moment, they sold it to the government, who took over all maintenance. though covered bridges are now seen as quaint and old-fashioned, the icon’s construction was not without its share of controversy. Shelter made sense in terms of weather — snow and ice are a sure thing throughout the winters here — but the public worried it would encourage risqué behavior among the town’s youth. in the end, it was covered, and perhaps their fears were warranted: Legend has it, men would train their horses to stop halfway across the bridge so they could sneak in a kiss before crossing over to the other side.
Best vantage point: There’s something about a covered bridge that demands you take it slow. rather than speed across in a car, take the walkway that was added in 1945.
Most bricks used to build a bridge: Goltzsch Valley Bridge, GermanyAt 1,860 feet long, or about one third of a mile, the Goltzsch Valley Bridge in the eastern German state of Saxony may seem like a minor player in the bridge world. But the length isn’t what sets it apart; it’s the material. At a time when most bridges were built with stone or metal, this one was built with bricks — 20 million of them. it would be an odd (and costly) choice of material in most places, but in this area of Saxony, where there were several large clay deposits, it was an economical one. in fact, it’s thanks to those same clay deposits that the second-largest brick bridge in the world, the Elster Valley Bridge, is also in Saxony; it’s a quaint counterpart, made with only 12 million bricks.
Best vantage point: take the autobahn to the town of Mylau, and follow the signs to the bridge from there. You’ll find a designated parking lot, but don’t stay there. Instead, take the path on the left-hand side just before the lot. it will lead you to a meadow, where you’ll get spectacular views of the bridge.
Longest footbridge: Walkway over the Hudson State Historic Park, New YorkWhen this 6,767-foot-long steel cantilever railroad bridge opened in 1889 over the Hudson River, it ranked as the longest bridge in the world. it carried trains across the river for 85 years until a fire damaged the tracks in 1974, forcing it to close. Thirty-five years later, after several false starts at restoration, a nonprofit group called Walkway Over the Hudson reopened the bridge, this time as a pathway for pedestrians and cyclists, in October 2009. now a state historic park, the Walkway Over the Hudson is the longest footbridge in the world, serving as a link between trails on both sides of the river for walkers, runners, cyclists and rollerbladers.
Best vantage point: in the fall, the leaves turn the banks of the Hudson into a collage of reds, oranges and yellows. Picnic on one of the tables at either end of the bridge before strolling across, giving yourself plenty of time to snap photos along the way. walkway.org.
Oldest: Caravan Bridge, TurkeyAt first glance, there’s nothing remarkable about this bridge. The arched stone slab straddling the River Meles, in Izmir, Turkey, extends only 42½ feet and is about as simple as they come. But it’s the age, not the physical aspects, of the Caravan that sets it apart. Built in 850 B.C., the bridge is 2,861 years old and has reportedly been crossed by the likes of Homer and Saint Paul. as impressive as some of the other bridges on this list are, it’s hard to imagine they’ll last even half that long.
Best vantage point: Located in old Izmir, the bridge is best reached by taxi. Simply ask your driver to take you to “Sarnic,” which is the Turkish name for the bridge. We recommend going during the afternoon, when the light is best for photography.
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October each year Sydney-siders have the privilege of walking the seven bridges of Sydney Harbour. now being a Queenslander I really didn’t know much about this walk and stumbled across an article in ‘Great Walks – Australia’s Bush walking Magazine’ a great read I might add. this article inspired me along with my sister and close friend to walk the seven bridges of Sydney Harbour.
Our break in Sydney
We stayed right in town so we could enjoy the whole Sydney experience, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. our accommodation arranged it was now down to planning where to start our seven bridge walk.
Just to clarify we weren’t going to do the 26 kilometre grueling harbour loop in one day, this was all about enjoying the walk, taking in beautiful Sydney Harbour without the crowds. an adventure so to speak.
Sydney Harbour Bridge Walk
We arranged to meet in Darling Harbour with accommodation procured in Pyrmont Street, which was convenient to transport, restaurants and entertainment. A unanimous decision was made after a latte to walk the Sydney Harbour Bridge first. The weather was beautiful so why not start with the famous coat hanger; after all we did not have a tight schedule.
Signage wasn’t clear, so pay attention
Eagerly we started our walk down George Street and headed for the Rocks, I know there is an access point to the Harbour Bridge here. We had a vague idea of the location look for Cumberland Street I said, and suddenly the sign was right in front of us. We all climbed the stairs and could feel the looming pull of the Sydney Harbour Bridge above. The signage to the access point wasn’t very clear but we just kept heading towards the bridge.
Before long we were all climbing the stairs to that famous icon that is in our backyard. there were a few tourist on the bridge taking copious amounts of photos like ourselves, it was so nice to feel like a tourist in your our country. there is a sort of freedom attached to it; you know the people and the customs.
The Sydney Harbour views spectacular
The vista was fantastic, beautiful Sydney Harbour in all its glory, the Opera House with its gleaming wings ready to set sail, Circular Quay and its famous Manly ferry run, all stretched out for us to point too and plan for another day.
They had a vision
The sheer magnitude of the bridge from the walkway is impressive, to think it has been standing for over 83 years is hard to comprehend, the structure appears to be new. The foresight of the future use of this engineering master piece would have taken remarkable vision.. a feat for a small backwater country named Australia in the 1920′s. The approaches of the bridge itself are extensive and sweeping something you wouldn’t have thought would have been envisioned in that decade.
Can you walk the western side of Sydney Harbour Bridge?
We had decided that we would walk on the opposite side of the bridge and enjoyed the view from the other side. The trains speeding past would be noisy but it was all about the view, what’s a bit of noise and pollution. However when we made our way through the underpass Jeffreys Street, there was no access on foot across the Harbour Bridge’s western side, only by push bike. that was a little disappointing but no biggie in the scheme of things. so we headed back the way we came across the bridge.
Lunch at the Glenmore Hotel
The great Walks magazine recommends the Glenmore Hotel for lunch and we were hungry and ready for a nice chardonnay in the shadow of Sydney Harbour Bridge with Sydney Opera House in the foreground. The three of us enjoyed a fabulous rooftop view on a lazy Friday afternoon accompanied by those unfortunate souls who had to go back to work for the afternoon. Tomorrow Anzac Bridge here we come
I love exploring new cities; finding hidden alleyways and cool shops are some of the best travel experiences anyone can have. One of the best ways to learn more about a city though is by leaving it, sort of. Exploring a city from the water is a lot of fun and gives you a perspective of the urban landscape impossible to find anywhere else.
I first noticed this phenomenon while on a Potomac cruise in my hometown of Washington, DC. I’ve lived in DC for 11 years and I feel like I know it pretty well. Imagine my surprise when on the cruise I found myself looking at a totally different city. There were so many landmarks and quirky sites only visible from the water. Ornate design work on bridges, hard to get to parks and yes, even the original water gate after which that famous building was named. That experience sold me on the importance of something I already love doing, getting on the water.
My latest on-water adventure was in Sydney, the perfect place for great maritime experiences. Port Jackson, containing Sydney Harbour, is the natural harbour of Sydney. more than just a spectacular natural wonder, the Harbour area has played an important role in Australian history, from Cook to the arrival of the First Fleet. Today it is an extremely active harbor with ferries and pleasure boats darting around the water almost constantly.
There are many ways to explore Sydney by water, but we chose the Captain Cook Coffee Cruise. Captain Cook small cruise ships offer a variety of trips in and around Australia, with their Sydney sightseeing cruises being some of their most popular. We embarked at Circular Quay, the heart of boat traffic in Sydney and easily accessible by most downtown hotels.
For the thousandth time I was thrilled we had decided to vacation in Australia in their winter, there were fewer people and the weather was fortunately perfect. It was a cool, clear day – perfect for boating. In addition to the views afforded by the ship, there was also a guide who described the various sights and answered our sometimes ridiculous questions.
The two hours flew by as I finally got a sense of the size of Sydney and her neighborhoods. I saw how one neighborhood merged into the next, where the more well known neighborhoods were actually located and how Sydney is organized. It was a point of view impossible to gain from land and it really gave me a whole new appreciation for the city I had come to love so very quickly.
We passed by a variety of high end homes, beaches, World War II defenses and finally the two heads of the harbour that serve as its natural end and beyond which lies the ocean.
On the way back, I put down the camera (mostly) and just sat back and enjoyed the views. Boat cruises aren’t only a great way to explore a new city, they’re one of the nicest experiences in the world. There is nothing as relaxing and innately pleasing as bobbing along on the water.
Have you taken any remarkable boat tours?
Sydney Fireworks on Youtube – Screenshot by Connie DelaneySydney Australia brought in the in the New Year of 2011 with dramatic fireworks on Sydney Harbour, making it to YouTube’s front page of top views.
New Year’s Eve, 2011, was not a good half hour for dogs in Sydney Harbour as an enormous fireworks display lit up the sky. Quickly posted to YouTube the celebration has become one of the days top-watched videos.
Sydney’s Spectacular New Year Fireworks
The city of Sydney, Australia has long prided itself with fabulous fireworks displays on the New Year because the setting of time zones has made it one of the first locations to hit midnight each year. 2011 was no different with an estimated 1.5 million fans gathered to see the display along the harbor.
The spectacular four and a half minute video on YouTube was posted by Russia Today while it was still December 31st for the rest of the world. Set to music, the fireworks display lights up bridges, silhouettes brightly lit sailboats along the bay, and had topped 83,000 hits by the morning of January 2nd.
London’s Fireworks over Thames
Contrasting is the video, courtesy of the BBC and posted by Russia Today, of the London fireworks celebration. This video starts with an awesome shot of the Big Ben tower, fooling us with a very sedate and tastefully white fireworks display; but after the countdown an amazingly colorful display explodes over the river.
Though spectacular, the London display is not gaining as much action. By Sunday morning a mere 19,000 viewers showed their interest in Big Ben.
Dropping the Ball in New York Times Square
Making a good competition with Australia, with a good 80,000 hits by Sunday morning, is a video of the U.S. Celebration in New York Times Square. also posted by Russia Today, we can watch the glittery ball drop, and lots of kissing in the crowded streets. yes, there are some fireworks, but this author can’t help but notice that the celebration in my country seems to be dominated by the brightly lit advertisements of huge corporations lining the event. As a matter of fact, I’m feeling a distinct urge to go out and buy a new computer and camera.
Comments on the Videos
In today’s world of social networking, we can use our twitters, Facebook posts, and comments to gauge the hearts and minds of the people. the downward economy is enthusiastically portrayed in the number of comments to these videos mentioning the overwhelming costs entailed in creating a few minutes of New Years explosions in cities around the globe.
Comments showed that people believed the awesome displays were stolen from the people, just added to the deficit, and that the money could have been used to feed whole countries. other posts blithely remarked that, yes this was true, but it was worth it.
YouTube New Year’s Celebrations for 2011
YouTube gives anyone around the globe who has access to a computer the opportunity to join in by watching videos of events even minutes after they have happened. not only are popular videos posted to YouTube’s front page for their 15 minutes of fame, but enthusiastic watchers often forward links of amazing sights along to their friends through emails, Facebook links and tweets.
YouTube, founded in 2005, has been running a mere six years as we hit the 2011 New Year’s celebration, and has changed the way people view the world. A decade ago no one could have foreseen events such as the Sydney Australia fireworks display being available almost instantly in every home. As we head into the new year it is interesting to speculate what might be in store for us in the next five years. very much like the two-headed god of January, Janus, who can see both the past and the future, we can look both ways and go, “Wow!.”
The good news for tourism in Australia is that business is about to boom even further and the number of cruise ships arriving in the 2012-2013 season could see more than anywhere else. the bad news is that the current ports cannot cope with such demand.
Australians have always been known for being everywhere, with an Aussie voice audible in most resorts around the world. Nowadays Australians are enjoying greater numbers of incoming tourists, many of whom come by ship.
Soaring demand is now hitting the local ports, which seem unable to cope with such a flow of vessels. indeed, some of the ports have bridges, which do not allow for larger ships to pass through. The problem now is finding a way to wisely invest and meet the demands of the booming industry.
The CEO of Celebrity Cruise, a major Australian cruise ship company, has stated that Sydney’s port is inadequate and underdeveloped and could hamper business in years to come. most ships will have to make diversions to industrial areas of Sydney due to the size of the harbor bridge and there is an insufficient amount of entertainment, tour operators and refreshment on land. a simple port would be sufficient but Sydney currently fails to fulfill the necessary criteria.
The Royal Caribbean company has promised to quadruple the amount of traffic to Australia in the near future yet warns of similar problems. it is concerned about poorly positioned and unattractive Australian ports being unable to survive with such an amount of traffic. in order to take advantage of such an opportunity, Australians must improve the infrastructure of their ports in years to come.