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Teddy Travels Part II



Teddy Travels Part II

By Ron Blehm (17 June 2008)







When last we left our little Teddy Bear he was sucking on an oxygen tank at over 8,000 feet ASL in the Andean foothills of Peru. After reading the books about a stuffed rabbit named Felix who travels the world, I thought it might be fun to invite your kids' stuffed toys along on some travel adventures to see and learn more about places around the world. If your kids (or their stuffed animals) have places they want to travel, just let my Teddy Bear know and we'll try and work that into our next flight plan!














Our first stop this time is in the beautiful port city of Recife, Brazil (above, left) - the name means "Reef" in the Portuguese language. Recife is the fifth largest metropolitan area in Brazil with a metropolitan population nearing 4 million (above, right)! It is also the capital of the Pernambuco state or province. Recife is located where the Beberibe River meets the Capibaribe River to flow into the Atlantic and is a major port on the Atlantic Ocean. Surrounded by rivers and crossed by bridges (below, left), Recife is full of islands and mangroves that magnify its geographic interest. It is known as the Brazilian Venice, thanks to its fluvial resemblance with the European city, and is considered one of Brazil's cultural capitals.










For the carnival lovers out there, Recife promises four days of excitement on several stages specially built around the city, to attract partygoers of all tastes and tendencies. Carnival goers get to know all the rhythms of Pernambuco: "mangue beat", string orchestras, "coco de roda", "frevo" and "maracatu" (above, right). Besides the central stage in downtown Recife, there are other areas of popular concentration all over the Metropolitan Region where anybody can have fun in what has been called, "The most democratic festivity of the world."










It is a short hop in the Felix 787 over the mountains and across the Amazonian plains to the Guararapes International Airport which connects Recife with other cities throughout South America (above, left). Luckily this was a short flight so taking off from 8,300 feet high was a breeze (above, right).










After partying in Recife our little Teddy was ready for something a bit calmer (above, left). We again loaded up the Felix Tours 787 and set sights on Newport, Rhode Island on the eastern seaboard of the USA (above, right).










Newport is a city on Aquidneck Island and is known as New England's summer resort for the famous Newport Mansions (above, left). It is also the home of Naval Station Newport, housing the United States Naval War College, the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, and a major United States Navy training center (above, right). Newport was known for being the "Summer White House" during the administrations of President John F. Kennedy, and Dwight D. Eisenhower (below, left).










In the 20th century, immigrants from Portugal and the Caribbean began settling in Newport, adding to the rich diversity of this city, yet the population census is still under 75,000 (above, right).


The city has long been entwined with the U.S. Navy and until 1971, it hosted the Cruiser-Destroyer Force of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet, and subsequently it has from time to time hosted smaller numbers of warships. It held the campus of the U.S. Naval Academy during the Civil War, when the undergraduate officer training school was temporarily moved north from Annapolis, Maryland. It remains home to the U.S. Naval War College and the Naval Education and Training Center (NETC), the center of Surface Warfare Officer training, and a large division of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center.


Newport today is a popular weekend or holiday get-away for harried east coast professionals - being close enough to Boston or New York to be reached after work on Friday. With historic buildings, good restaurants, museums, boating and sailing clubs and high-end hotels or condominiums, it offers a quiet "step-back-in time" feel - just what Teddy needed after the Carnivals in Recife (below, left)!










From Newport Teddy heads off to another popular holiday get-away, the Bodensee region (above, right) of Germany ... or is that Switzerland? Maybe Austria or Lichtenstein could lay claims here? This scenic area is nearby the boarders of no less than four European nations (below, left) - but Teddy just wanted to ride around in a motorboat.










The main lake in the region is Lake Constance (above, right), which was first mentioned by the Roman geographer Pomponius Mela about AD 43. The lake is colloquially also known as the Swabian Sea (below, left).










This freshwater lake sits at 395 m above sea level and is Central Europe's third largest, after Lake Balaton and Lake Geneva (above, right). The lake has four parts: Obersee (main, 476 km2), Uberlinger See (north, 61 km2), Untersee (west, 63 km2), and the Zeller See and Gnadensee (northwest). The regulated Rhine flows into the lake in the southeast, through the Obersee, the city of Konstanz and the Untersee and flows out near Stein am Rhein (below, left). Lake Constance provides fresh water to many cities in south Germany and it is popular with sports fisherman.










There is no legally binding agreement as to where the boundaries lie between Switzerland, Germany and Austria where these three countries meet in Lake Constance. While Switzerland holds the view that the border runs through the middle of the lake, Austria is of the opinion that the lake stands in condominium of all the states on its banks. Germany holds no unambiguous opinion (above, right).










From this beautiful and scenic area near the Bavarian Alps, Teddy headed on a long flight south to Madagascar, an island nation in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa (above, left). The island is the fourth largest island in the world, and is home to 5% of the world's plant and animal species, of which more than 80% are endemic to Madagascar. Most notable are the lemur (above, right), the carnivorous fossa, three endemic bird families and six endemic baobab species of tree. Madagascar's long isolation from the neighboring continents has resulted in a unique mix of plants and animals, many found nowhere else in the world (below, left); some ecologists refer to Madagascar as the "eighth continent". Of the 10,000 plants native to Madagascar, 90% are found nowhere else in the world. (Another FS airport in a hole here; below, right.)










At 587,041 km2 (226,657.8 sq. mi.), Madagascar is the world's 46th-largest country, slightly larger than France (below, left). Towards the east, a steep escarpment leads from the central highlands down into a ribbon of rain forest with a narrow coast further east. The Canal des Pangalanes is a chain of natural and man-made lakes connected by canals that runs parallel to the east coast for some 460 km (about two-thirds of the island). The descent from the central highlands toward the west is more gradual, with remnants of deciduous forest and savanna-like plains (which in the south and southwest, are quite dry and host "The Spiny Desert" and many of the baobabs). Though the west side of the island is hotter and dryer, it hosts many protected harbors. The eastern, or windward side of the island is home to tropical rainforests, while the western and southern sides, which lie in the rain shadow of the central highlands, are home to tropical dry forests, thorn forests, and deserts and xeric shrublands (below, right). Madagascar's dry deciduous rain forest have been preserved generally better than the eastern rainforests or the high central plateau, presumably due to historically low population density and scarce water supplies.










Along the crest of the ridge lie the central highlands, a plateau region ranging in altitude from 2,450 to 4,400 ft (750 to 1350m) above sea level. The central highlands are characterized by terraced, rice-growing valleys lying between barren hills. Here, the red soil that covers much of the island has been exposed by erosion, showing clearly why the country is often referred to as the "Red Island". Madagascar's varied fauna and flora are endangered by human activity, as a third of its native vegetation has disappeared since the 1970s (below, left).










The Ankaratra Massif is in the central area south of the capital Antananarivo and hosts the highest mountain on the island, Maromokotro, with an altitude of 2,876 m (9,436 ft) (above, right) The massif also contains the second-highest peak, Tsiafajavona, with an altitude of 2,643 m (8,668 ft). On very rare occasions, this region experiences snow in winter due to its high altitude. Further south is the Andringitra massif which has several peaks over 8,000 ft including the third and fourth highest peaks. This massif also contains the Andringitra Natural or Wildlife Reserve.


It is said that there are two seasons on Madagascar: a hot, rainy season from November to April, and a cooler, dry season from May to October.










From the shores of Africa to the largest island continent, Australia (above, left), Teddy has chosen to first visit a friend named "Princess" in Perth. (Princess likes to play with her stuffed fish which Teddy wanted to call "Nemo".) Perth is the capital and largest city of Western Australia, and the fourth-largest city in the country with a population of 1.5 million estimated. The City of Perth (above, right) is currently the fastest growing area in Australia in percentage terms (10% per year) and with its generally mild climate, smaller feel than Sydney and plenty of water it's no wonder (below, left). With the current resources-based boom the skyline will change dramatically with at least eleven 100 m+ buildings either being currently or soon to be built. The metropolitan area (below, right) extends over approximately 1.5 million acres (6,100 km2).










The metropolitan area is located in the south west of the continent between the Indian Ocean and a low coastal escarpment known as the Darling Range. The central business district of Perth is bounded by the Swan River to the south and east, with Kings Park on the western end, while the railway lines form a northern border. King's Park is a really great place from which to get an overview of the city: (that's a "Felix" head in the picture, below left) http://www.bgpa.wa.gov.au/o/content/section/4/27/










Perth is on generally flat, rolling land - largely due to the high amount of sandy soils and deep bedrock (above, right). This abundance of sand has resulted in West Australians' being given the nickname sandgropers by the rest of the country - the soils of this area are quite infertile.


Perth is one of the most isolated metropolitan areas on earth. The nearest city with more than 1 million people is Adelaide in South Australia, which is 1,307 miles away. Perth is geographically closer to East Timor and Jakarta, Indonesia, than it is to Sydney, Melbourne, or Brisbane. As Teddy was telling Princess about his flights around the globe she thought he might like to see what air traffic looked like flying in and out of this, "isolated metropolitan area" so she recommended this (below, left): (Live Flight Tracking). One other interesting fun fact is that Perth is the antipode of Hamilton, Bermuda.










Perth receives moderate though highly seasonal rainfall. Summers are generally hot and dry, lasting from late December to late March, with February generally being the hottest month of the year, making Perth a classic example of a Mediterranean climate. Summer is not completely devoid of rain with sporadic rainfall in the form of short-lived (above, right) thunderstorms, weak cold fronts and on very rare occasions decaying tropical cyclones which can bring significant rainfall amounts. On most summer afternoons a sea breeze, also known as "The Fremantle Doctor", blows from the south-west, cooling the city by up to 15°C.


So it is here, with a tour down south to the wine country, that we'll leave my Teddy Bear for this round. Only time will tell where Teddy's Travels will lead next...


Ron Blehm

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