A Disappearing Venice

Venice-ItalyThe Venice, Italy that is known internationally is full of historically intricate buildings, gondola rides, and a maze of narrow canals stretching across the city. Meandering around the small streets and over the hundreds of pedestrian bridges exemplifies the charm of the Italian area. What people know of the Venice captured in photos and seen in movies and television can be considered as one of the most unique and stunning cities in the world. But what locals understand all too well is that their beloved city is disappearing before their eyes. 

Global warming is one of the most spoken about topics related to the environmental field. Temperatures around the world have been rising, including in the atmosphere and in the ocean. Global warming is on the rise because of harmful human actions causing the increase in temperature. Global warming has led to a number of problems, including heightened sea levels. Residents of Venice know all too well how detrimental rising waters can be to their daily lives. 

Situated on top of water, the rise and fall of the canals have been part of Venetian history. Centuries of Venetians have had to live through the “acqua alta”, Italian for high water. For over 1,500 years, people have had to protect their homes, stores, restaurants, and themselves, from the unfortunate instances when their city becomes flooded. Over time and with experience, Venetians have raised their buildings higher to avoid the flooding water levels, and people have learned how to better protect their businesses. Although this phenomenon has been going on for generations, the floods have become more frequent and more severe over the past 60 years. Venice’s most well know square, Piazza San Marco, has not been spared from the reoccurring rising floods, and neither has most spots in Venice. A combination of Venice’s natural location surrounded by water and the powerful effects of global warming has led to a city partially submerged at times. The disappearing Venice can be seen on water lines that trace across the antiquated buildings, a subtle reminder of how easily the Italian destination can succumb to Mother Nature’s force. 

A disappearing Venice can also be seen in the faces of the Venetian residents. That is, those who are left. Locals in the area have been moving out of their cherished city because of the overpowering amounts of tourists traveling into town. The beauty and distinctiveness of Venice draws in millions of visitors a year. Their tourism footprint often damages the natural charm of the city.

Regarded as a magnificent art city, tourists from all over the world come to Venice to experience the rich history seen throughout the town. Venice relies heavily on the tourism industry. Over 100,000 people visit Venice each day during the peak season of summer. A majority of the businesses and restaurants, specifically in the center of the city, cater to the needs of international tourists. Although there are a large amount of hotels to choose from, many visitors don’t always stay the night. Taking tour buses from neighboring areas, visitors have the option of seeing Venice for the day and leaving. Because so many locals depend on the tourism business to generate income, it becomes a problem when tourists come but don’t always spend money in hotels. The heavy amount of people in and out of the city has taken a toll on the area, because with crowds comes an increase in littering and pollution.  The quaint streets of Venice have become overcrowded and unfortunately, historical monuments have been damaged.

The Venice known by locals is quickly slipping away underneath the water and through the hands of the tourism industry. Many who stay work in the business, but it is not the type of work for everyone. Approximately 1,500 local Venetians end up leaving Venice a year, significantly decreasing the population. What gives a city its character and personality is the flavor of the residents. Without the authentic lifestyle of Venetians, Venice is quickly becoming a town run by tourists, as opposed to lived in by its residents. A combination of global warming and an overbearing impact of the tourism industry has shaped the Venice of today.

Photo credit: cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/photo_gallery/it/images/IT_025.jpg

Eco Friendly Weekend: New York City

New York CityNew York City is well known for soaring sky scrappers, congested streets, and a fast paced lifestyle. Often regarded as an international capital city, the experiences present in New York City are endless and the people are strong and driven. With a population of eight million within the five boroughs, and 18 million in the metropolitan area, there is never a slow moment in the area. Over 48 million tourists visited New York City in 2010, many of them in search of the on going excitement and high energy daily life. One thing the city is not usually known for is its abundance of green activities and options. Visitors coming from all ends of the globe can come to the Big Apple and truly enjoy a sense of eco friendliness through the city’s array of natural parks, public spaces, and green events. Spending a green weekend in the city never sleeps paves the road towards sustainable eco tourism, and shows the world that New Yorkers know how to relax from time to time. 

What better way to relax than by checking in to an environmentally friendly hotel. Tucked away in the heart of Times Square is The Muse New York, a contemporary boutique hotel that takes pride in creating a sustainable hotel for visitors. Eco friendly amenities and services are found throughout the hotel and in each luxurious room. Recycling is a large part of the hotel’s standard for maintaing a green environment, and encourage visitors to utilize designated recycle trash cans in each room. Everything from the organic mini bar to the eco friendly materials used in the reusable ceramic mugs have been thought of. Cleaning products on the premise are eco-certified, and guests go through paperless check in and check out. 

Hopping on the subway is experiencing New York City in true fashion. There are over 20 subway lines that easily take visitors to their destination with low impact on the environment. Mass transit is a large part of the daily life of New Yorkers, reducing the amount of cars on the road each day. Heading over to Manhattan’s biggest playground, Central Park, allows visitors and residents alike to bask in a part of nature, right in the middle of an expansive city. Green alternatives reign high in Central Park, which boasts 843 acres of grass, trails, and lakes. The park is also host to the Central Park Zoo, the Central Park Conservatory Garden, and two ice skating rinks in the winter. Summer ushers in Summerstage, a popular concert series in the park. Anyone visiting New York City should not miss the natural beauty of Central Park, New York City’s treasure of green fun.

Aside from using the subway, New York City’s other form of mass transit is walking. New Yorkers walk everywhere, and visitors can expect to do the same. A good pair of walking shoes comes in handy when strolling the busy epicenter of Times Square, watching the oversized billboards and Broadway marquees. Exploring the quaint neighborhood of the West Village gives visitors the chance to glimpse into old world brownstones, walking down quiet, history filled streets. The shopping districts of 5th Avenue in Midtown allow any traveler to buy high end, designer products, or find some bargains in Chinatown. Any neighborhood a tourist explores, it is a sure fired guarantee that walking will be involved. Walking is one of the best, and most green way, to truly experience New York City.

Considered to be the crossroads of the world, New York City is home to people from all around the world. Diverse customs, traditions, religions, and culture mix and mingle in the city, creating one of the most distinct combination of culinary options in the world. Within a few blocks distance, tourists can sample anything from Indian food to Korean cuisine, Mexican food to Malaysian delicacies. There is no shortage of organic restaurants and markets either, which is why New York City is a great place to dive right into mouthwatering, sustainable food. Chelsea Market is now host to organic establishments. Located in a refurbished complex which was once home to the National Biscuit Company, Chelsea Market is a perfect place to try out a place like One Lucky Duck. Everything at this dining option is organic and raw, served in its freshest form. Salads and juices are available on a quick and easy take out basis, which is perfect for bringing to nearby High Line Park. Converted from an old railway system, High Line Park is a progressively designed area that takes an unused space and recreates it into a contemporary park. 

GustOrganics Restaurant & Bar is another environmentally friendly restaurant located on the Avenue of Americas and 14th street. Certified by the Green Restaurant Association, GustOrganics delivers appetite filling meals without doing much harm to the environment. The restaurant uses energy saving appliances in the kitchen, recycles constantly, and uses solar energy for lighting sources. Their menu is an impressive one, catering to the needs of nearly everyone. All meals of the day are available, including breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner, as well as baby food options and an organic fruit selection. A quirky highlight of the restaurant is that it boasts the first organic bar to be certified by the USDA. The reasonably priced menu and wide variety of appetite pleasing options makes GustOrganics Restaurant & Bar a great place to eat sustainable food in New York City. 

New York City is an international merging point for people from all walks of life. For those who firmly believe in eco tourism, the city has green activities, hotels, and restaurants covered for any environmentalist’s trip. Spending a green weekend in the Big Apple allows visitors to see the city in a new and fresh perspective.

Photo credit: health.utah.gov/enviroepi/activities/EPHTP/TrackingStates/new_york_city.jpg

Eco Friendly Weekend: San Francisco

San FranciscoTraveling to the Bay Area may conjure up mental pictures of an urban landscape full of steep hills, cable car rides, and the Golden Gate Bridge. Seeing all the sights in San Francisco, a Northern California treasure, is high priority on many travelers’ list. Now more than ever, there are sustainable approaches to taking in all the Bay Area has to offer, without putting an excess amount of harm on the environment. Only have one weekend to do so? With unique neighborhoods, trendy restaurants and shopping, San Francisco proves itself to be a city lover’s environmental playground. 

The Orchard Hotel, a sustainable boutique hotel, is located in the heart of San Francisco. Surrounded by the shopping district of Union Square, visitors staying at the Orchard Hotel are never far from retail stores and sales. The prime location of the hotel is just one of its attractive features, while other positives include being LEED certified. The Orchard Hotel has this prestigious certification because of its continuous work to provide a healthy and sustainable environment for guests to stay. It is the second hotel in California to be presented with this specific distinction. Everything from the materials of the building and interior decor to the maintenance of the establishment is done with green products and solutions. The low impact of the hotel on the environment assures visitors that their stay in San Francisco is doing minimal harm to the city. Tourists staying at the Orchard Hotel can sleep well at night knowing that not only are they being taken care of, but San Francisco is as well. 

San Francisco’s most iconic monument is easily the Golden Gate Bridge. For those who are adventurous and not afraid of heights, a walk across the 1.7 mile bridge will bring panoramic views of the Bay Area. Great photo opportunities are present throughout the walk, and the activity continues to remain a green solution to traveling across the bridge. 

To experience its beauty to the full extent, any visitor can spend some a leisurely part of the day at the Golden Gate Park. With an expansive 1,017 acres of green grass and scenic overlooks, the park is a great public space that anyone can go enjoy. Located in the western portion of San Francisco, it occupies three miles along the waterfront. Over 13 million people visit the Golden Gate Park each year, which makes it one of the city’s most popular destinations. The park hosts an array of cultural and horticultural experiences for both children and adults. Visitors are able to immerse themselves in eco friendly walks and tours of that explains the nature and history of the park. The Golden Gate Park is also the sight of the San Francisco Botanical Garden and Japanese Tea Garden. Both beautiful areas with nature all around, visitors can truly experience a part of the environment while still in the midst of a fast paced city.

Anyone with an organic appetite can appreciate the Upper Haight Farmer’s Market. Visitors who happen to be in the Golden Gate Park on Wednesdays can enjoy the seasonal foods of the farmer’s market. Operating in the afternoons from 4-8 PM, the Upper Haight Farmer’s Market brings locally sourced organic food to consumers right in the middle of San Francisco’s popular park. Munching on some snacks or creating a picnic in the park is one of the most eco friendly options, right under the Golden Gate Bridge. 

San Francisco is a nature lover’s optimal destination for eating with an eco friendly mindset. Bar Jules is a great option for anyone who wants to maintain a green diet while visiting the Bay Area. The dining establishment serves lunch, dinner, and brunch on the weekends. The chefs at the restaurant believe in providing customers with only the freshest, organic foods. The ingredients are bought from local farmer’s markets, which is good for the local economy and gives back to the community. Meat and fish used in the dishes are all sustainable items. 

Another dining option is conveniently located back at the Orchard Hotel. The hotel’s own restaurant, Daffodil, maintains an environmentally conscious style of cooking while set within the green hotel. Chefs at the restaurant strictly use seasonal ingredients from local markets, which adheres to the restaurant’s theme of sustainable food. Daffodil restaurant strives to bring affordable, green plates to its diners. 

For those who want to see a host of farmer’s markets all in one area, the Ferry Building Marketplace is a spot not to miss. 80 farmers from local areas bring their produce to sell at the large market place. Foodies and anyone who simply has an appetite for fresh eats can wander through the expansive Ferry Building, snacking on all sorts of organic goodies. The Ferry Building Marketplace is a favorite destination for visitors and locals alike.

Any tourist will know that exploring an area by foot is one of the best ways to truly experience the natural pulse of the city. For anyone with the willpower to take on San Francisco’s infamous hills, walking around the unique neighborhoods on the city can highlight the way daily residents live. Walking up and down the often times steep inclinations of San Francisco streets is just part of the travel experience. Visiting Lombard Street, the famous crooked street in the city, shows just how distinct the city’s geography is. Walking through the neighborhoods on San Francisco can be good exercise for anyone, which allows visitors to take full advantage of the cable car when they become tired. The cable car system has become a National Historic Landmark, with over 7 million people riding them each year. Cable car rides are available throughout the city, and are easily accessible. No matter how long or short a trip to San Francisco is, the urban area provides visitors diverse environmentally friendly ways to experience all the city has to offer in true green style.

Photo credit: nps.gov/nero/nhlphoto/1stPlaceSanFranciscoCableCars.jpg

Eco Tourism on the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii-TravelTravelers now more than ever before visit new places with a much more environmentally conscious outlook. With the international progress of individuals decreasing their carbon footprints, world explorers have a large amount of exciting, green activities at their fingertips. The islands of Hawaii, situated along some of the most famous beaches and tropical wildlife in the world, can be any traveler’s dream paradise destination. Over seven million people visit Hawaii annually, which is why eco friendly tourism is imperative to ensure the islands remain an exotic paradise. 

The island of Oahu is the most famous of the group of Hawaiian islands. It also receives the highest amount of tourists, at over four million people a year. Travelers visit popular destinations, including Waikiki Beach, the North Shore, and Diamond Head. The summit of Diamond Head reveals an extraordinary view of the island of Oahu. The Oahu Nature Tour provides a 1.4 mile guided tour of the famous Diamond Head Crater. Staying consciously aware of the green lifestyle, the tour reveals the natural beauty of the crater without leaving a significant carbon footprint on the earth. The tour is in an intimate small group setting that begins early in the morning, just in time for visitors to experience the sunrise over Waikiki Beach. It is a 760 foot hike up to the summit, and the tour provides all the necessary hiking gear. Along the way to the top, visitors can learn about the flowers and plants seen, as well as the natural geology of Diamond Head Crater. A unique view of the Pacific Ocean and area beaches await hikers at the top, which can be considered as one of the most pristine views in the world. The tour takes about two and a half hours and remains eco friendly throughout its duration. 

Oahu is famous for its beaches and waterfalls. Hiking the Manoa waterfall is an experience any adventurer could enjoy while still being kind to the environment. The Manoa waterfall is easily accessible to visitors, and is the tallest waterfall that allows people to get a first hand experience. Travelers are able to walk through island vegetation and areas where bamboo grows. It is only twenty minutes away from Honolulu, which gives tourists a chance to leave the city for a more tranquil part of Oahu. Also through Oahu Nature Tours, the hike is two miles and takes about two hours. It is a great chance to glimpse into the beauty of the tropical island, without doing major harm to the world. 

The second most visited island is Maui, which receives over two million visitors a year. Eco friendly excursions are available in all parts of the island. Often voted as Hawaii’s favorite island, Maui has breathtaking beaches for everyone to enjoy. Kaanapali Beach is a three mile stretch of some of the finest shorelines, giving visitors an opportunity to spend the day swimming in the ocean and relaxing on the soft sand. Kaanapali Beach is one of Maui’s most famous beaches. The Maui Downhill Bicycle Safari Tours is a green option for anyone who wants to see experience the majestic Haleakala, Maui’s signature volcano. Haleakala means the “house of the sun”, which is why it is such a popular destination for people who want to see the sunrise at the summit of the volcano. There are tour options where visitors can head up to the summit before dawn, witness one of the most spectacular sunrise spots in the world, and then ride a bicycle all the way back down from the peak. Keeping up with the eco friendly tour, the bicycling portion reduces everyone’s carbon footprint while exploring the island of Maui outside of a car. 

Known for it’s tropical fruits and fresh produce, Hawaii is a foodie’s paradise for Polynesian and Asian inspired cuisine. The Big Island of Hawaii is also famous for its coffee. Kona coffee is one of the most well liked brews internationally. A visit to the Kona Le’a Plantation shows visitors how the coffee is grown and harvested. The organic farm strives to make sure the trees and earth are well taken care of during the coffee producing process. People are encouraged to visit the farm in Holualoa for free tours of the plantation and free samples of the famous Kona coffee. It is a unique experience for any coffee lover. No matter what island tourists travel to, the islands of Hawaii offer an array of eco friendly activities. There is no shortage of scenic views and enjoyable moments while still maintaining a green lifestyle on the islands of Aloha. 

Photo credit: vacationstohawaii.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/1301614235-87.jpg