S: Valentina's World Adventures
BC: Valentina's Travel Buddies
FC: Valentina's World Adventures 2010-2011
1: WELCOME TO VALENTINA'S WORLD! FOR ONE SCHOOL YEAR, A SMALL BEAR WAS THE CENTER OF A GEOGRAPHY PROJECT FOR DANIELLE, THE DAUGHTER OF ONE OF DOUG'S FRIENDS. THE MISSION... WHICH MARY AND DOUG CHOSE TO ACCEPT... SEND VALENTINA THE BEAR PACKING... TO SEE THE WORLD AND SHARE HER EXPERIENCES WITH THE STUDENTS BACK IN OLD LYME, CT. SINCE VALENTINA HAD TO EVENTUALLY BE RETURNED TO HER RIGHTFUL OWNER, THIS BOOK WAS PRODUCED TO REMEMBER HER EXCITING ADVENTURES. | DANI, HAVING LOTS OF FUN! WILL TELL YOU ALL ABOUT IT WHEN I COME HOME! LOVE, VALENTINA | DANIELLE MCCARTHY OLD LYME, CT
3: NOVEMBER 17, 2010 | Valentina's Travel Buddy: Mary "I went to the ruins (or remnants) of a city that's more than 1000 years old. A civilization known as Mayan lived in Mexico and countries to the south since 300 A.D. The Mayan people is considered to be very advanced and were in America more than 1000 years before Christopher Columbus arrived! The city I went to is called Chichen Itza. At one point, 80,000 people live here. I'm standing in front of the Kukulkan Pyramid which is about 75 feet tall and was built to help the people keep track of what time of year it was... important for planting crops. Chichen Itza was recently named one of the seven wonders of the world." | CANCUN, MEXICO
4: Valentina's Travel Buddies: Christine, Eleanor, and Lisa "Today we started the day at the Red Planet Cafe. The food was great!" | SEDONA, ARIZONA 26-28 NOVEMBER 2010
5: "We made our way to Meteor Crater, near Flagstaff, AZ. It is a huge hole in the ground made when a giant meteor crashed into the ground. The Apollo astronauts trained here back in the 60's." | In the next picture, I am sitting along the rim. We went up to the Grand Canyon today which is in the northern part of Arizona. Along the way, we passed through Flagstaff which had 2" of snow! The views along the way were beautiful. I was able to get pictures in front of Little Colorado River Gorge and of course the Grand Canyon which was made by the water of the Colorado River."
6: EDINBURGH CASTLE | ROYAL MILE | EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND | 12 DEC 2010
7: Valentina's Travel Buddies: Mary and Joyce "Edinburgh's one of the most beautiful cities in the world! A castle sits on the remnants of a volcano and experts have uncovered evidence of people living on Castle Rock for 3000 years! The city has seven hills and lies next to the North Sea. It has been the site of many battles as England and Scotland were at war for many centuries. The Royal Mile was the main street during the 1600s and connects Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace where the Royal Family stays when they visit. Nelson's Monument sits on top of Calton Hilll overlooking the city and was built to remember a British win over the Spanish and French fleets during the war against Napoleon."
8: Valentina's Travel Buddy: Mary "We went to the Johnson Space Center - Home of NASA's Mission Control Center where all manned space flights are monitored. I got the chance to pose with different rockets - (life sized) real-life models of capsules that were sent into orbit in the 1960's and 1970's The biggest one is called a Saturn V (five). It's horizontal now but when it's standing up, ti's 30 stories tall and it was this type of rocket that was used to propel astronauts to the moon from 1967 to 1973. | HOUSTON, TEXAS DEC 2010
9: 8 missions went to the moon, but only 6 actually landed there. This rocket was due to launch, but the Apollo 8 mission was canceled. Only three of these rockets exist in the world."
10: SEATTLE, WASHINGTON 11 JANUARY 2011
11: Valentina's Travel Buddy: Mary "We're in the northernmost city in the U.S. (not including Alaska). Seattle's most recognizable "building" is the Space Needle - the tallest building west of the Mississippi River at 605 feet high (when it was built for the 1962 World's Fair). It's designed to withstand 200 mile-per-hour winds and 9.1 magnitude earthquake (that would be one of the strongest ever recorded in the U.S. if that happened!) I also went to the Pike Place Market - 10 million people come here every year as it's the country's oldest continuously running public market - opening in 1907, you can buy fish, fruits, veggies and crafty stuff."
12: VALENTINA VISITS MEI XIANG | VALENTINA WITH PANDA STATUE | WASHINGTON, DC 23 JAN 2011 | Valentina's Travel Buddies: Mary and Karen "We went to see two of my fellow bears at the National Zoo... but these aren't pink. | They're black and white. They're giant pandas... in the U.S. from China as part of an effort to keeping pandas from becoming extinct. There are only 1600 of them in China and other 160 scattered at zoos.. mostly in their home country. After three decades of trying, the National zoo researchers were finally able to have a baby panda born that survived. He has since gone back to China to help make more pandas!
13: "And what would a trip to the nation's capital be without visiting the White House - home of our President?"
14: NYC'S FASHION WEEK 9-16 FEB 2011 | Valentina's Travel Buddy: Kristy "We went to the semi-annual NYC Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. It's held in February and September. This huge media event allows fashion designers to show their brand new collections. Fashion Week's admission is by invitation only to the fashion industry, media and celebrities. We were able to watch fashion shows, meet models, play with the Mercedes Benz on display and eat fun food like "sushi" fashion rolls. We rode the NYC subways to several of the showings and were surrounded by the wonderful diversity that only a creative fashion world can bring."
16: SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA 21 FEB 2011
17: Valentina's Travel Buddy: Mary "I thought I'd have a chance to see San Francisco, but we only saw it at night and it's hard to get a good night shot of me and still see the background. :( So I have to settle for some pics from my day in Monterey - a beautiful city sitting along the shoreline of Monterey Bay - about 2 hours south of San Francisco. Here, the Spanish settled before the Declaration of Independence was signed and was the site of the only known land and sea battle on the West Coast in 1818 - during the war where Mexico won its independence from Spain. We also went to the "Lone Cypress Tree" along the scenic 17-mile drive along the coast. The tree is about 250 years old and has survived many storms."
18: HMS BOUNTY | EASTERN CARIBBEAN 6-13 MARCH 2011 | MY CRUISE SHIP
19: ASTRONAUT LANDING | IN MY ROOM
20: Valentina's Travel Buddies: Ray and Paulette "We set sail on the beautiful luxury cruise line, the New Amsterdam, out of Fort Lauderdale. We had a beautiful veranda cabin. We first stopped at Grand Turk Island. This was near where Astronaut Alan Shepherd splashed down in 1961. We next headed to San Juan, Puerto Rico. They have a statue of Christopher Columbus in a downtown park. We also went onto a replica of the HMS Bounty used in the movie, "Pirates of the Caribbean". Our next stop was San Maarten Island. We enjoyed the beach, saw a butterfly farm and ate French pastries. I got a wonderful bear tan while relaxing on the beaches."
22: LA SERENA, CHILE 16 MARCH 2011 | Valentina's Travel Buddy: Mary "Chile is a country in South America - the southernmost nation and its geography is dominated by the longest mountain range in the world, the Andes. The Andes is about 30% longer than the distance from California to Maine! These mountains are also very tall, have very low humidity (it's very dry), and is sparsely populated (few people live in the mountains). These conditions are ideal for telescopes - which is why there are a dozen or so ground observatories there. Why Chile? 85% of the nights are clear and dark skies along with the high altitudes give astronomers amazing views of the universe they can't see from the Northern Hemisphere. From here, I got to see the Milky Way even without a telescope! (This telescope has an 8 meter wide mirror. The Europeans are planning to build the world's biggest in Chile - 42 meters wide!)"
24: LAS VEGAS, NEVADA AND THE HOOVER DAM APRIL 9, 2011
25: Valentina's Travel Buddy: Mary and Riona "When it was completed in 1935, the Hoover Dam was the largest dam in the world. It was built to control flooding caused by the Colorado River and redirect the water to irrigate a million acres of farmland. The water flow is used to generate electricity to 8 million people in 3 states. The dam is 34 miles from Las Vegas and that city's reputation as one of the world's gambling capitals began as the workers who build the dam would go to the fledgling city for some relaxation. Gambling was legalized in 1931 (the same year construction on the dam began. Eventually, Las Vegas would also become the world's entertainment capital, drawing more than 36 million visitors a year. The sign I'm in front of celebrated its 50th birthday in 2009!"
26: BELGIUM 10 APRIL 2011 | Valentina's Travel Buddies: Doug, Mark, and Mark "Ok, it's April, and even though it's Spring, it feel like it's still Winter! However, instead of heading south for Spring Break, we went east and north... east across the Atlantic Ocean and north to Europe. The overnight flight lands us in Belgium, a small country in Europe... a little more than twice as big as Connecticut with about three times the population. The capital is Brussels - to the left is a photo of me hanging out in the Grand Place of Bruxelles.
27: It's Brussels' central square surrounding by buildings belonging to all the trade guilds. Brussels is also home to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (you might know them as NATO), which makes it like a big business office during the week... though tourists rule on the weekends. (To the right) Belgium was invaded by Germany in World Wars I and II with devastating and long-lasting effects. There are still gun pillboxes scattered throughout the countryside along with war museums and too many graveyards.
28: With all the seriousness, the Belgians have learned to relax and get a little crazy... with cartoons! Brussels has a Cartoon Museum, but wall art like this is a common sight... one enjoyed by young and old alike. | Here I am checking out the view from the Bell Tower in Bruges. It had quite a view!
29: Although Belgians are very friendly, they don't agree on too much. Not even their language! The parts near France speak French, the parts near Germany speak German, and the parts near the Netherlands speak Dutch. Then there are local dialects that make things even more confusing... but there is one thing that Belgians can agree on... food! They love to eat and they eat very well. While their combination of Moules et Frites (Mussels and Fries) is a perennial (local) favorite, their chocolate is treasured all over the world!"
30: Valentina's Travel Buddy: Kristy "We went to London, England for a few days after the famous Royal Wedding of Prince William and Princess Kate. There was lots of excitement in the air.
31: LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM MAY 4, 2011 | We toured much, but some of my notable experiences were the walking to tour of Southbank, where I saw the London Eye. It's an amazing ferris wheel that allows you to see all of London(far left pic). We walked by historic castles, which is where I took a picture of Traitor's Gate (on right) built by King Edward during the 1700s. It was beautiful but I wouldn't want to be locked up there! My favorite part was, of course, eating! At Borough Market, I devoured goat's milk ice cream with two new pals! (see left)"
32: MANILA, PHILIPPINES 3 MAY 2011 | Valentina's Travel Buddy: Ida "We hung out at Rizal Park (aka Luneta Park) in the heart of Manila, right by Manila Bay. It's where Jose Rizal was executed in 1896, which sparked the Philippine Revolution against the Spanish occupiers and made him the national hero of the country. On July 4, 1946, the Declaration of Philippine Independence from American rule was proclaimed here. And in 1986, then President Ferdinand Marcos and future President Corazon Aquino both used the site to hold political rallies which ultimately led to the revolution ousting the country's dictator.
33: I flew from Washington, DC, to Manila, the capital of the Philippines, and landed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (also known as Manila International Airport). It was named after Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr, who was assassinated at the airport in 1987 after returning to the Philippines from his 4-year self-imposed exile in the United States. | Here's I'm posing in front of what's arguably one of the best natural harbors in Southeast Asia and one of the finest in the world. The Battle of Manila Bay was held here which was the first major engagement in the 10-week Spanish American War in 1898. In World War II, the siege of Corregidor Island marked the beginning of the Japanese occupation.
34: Now I'm at the National Museum where the country's cultural, historical, and natural heritage is on display. The works of famous Filipino artists like F.R. Hidalgo and Juan Luna are hosted here as well as sculptures, antiques, and artifacts dating back to 1250 A.D. | Driving around the capital, we passed Manila City Hall, which is distinguishable by its hexagonal tower with three red-faced clocks on three of the facets. It is the largest clock tower in the country. Also in the picture (in the bottom left) is a jeepney, the most popular means of transportation here. They were originally made from jeeps left by the US military after World War II. Now they're flamboyantly decorated and have become part of the Philippine culture!
35: One night, we went to a tiendesita. If you know a little Spanish, you might be reminded of the word, tienda, which means store. Well, this exactly what a tiendesita is. The primary language of the Philippines is called Tagalog and has a considerable number of Spanish words. I guess that's what happens when the Spanish occupies a country for hundreds of years."