9 Significant Historical Sites of the American Civil War

From 1861 to 1865 this iconic battle of North versus South waged on to determine the fate of slavery in the United States of America. This battle for civil rights and freedom was a defining moment in our nation’s history and marked the abolition of slavery and the preservation of the United States as one indivisible nation. The Civil War remains today as the deadliest war in American history, with approximately 620,000 military , not to mention the undetermined civilian casualties as a result of the relentless battles. From Gettysburg to Andersonville to Richmond, many of the historic sites are preserved and can still be visited today. Here are a few we recommend any history buff check out:

9. Appomattox Court House National Historical Park -Appomattox, Virginia

Among the preserved and reconstructed buildings at this national historic park is the McLean House. This important building is where General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Confederacy to Union commander Ulysses S. Grant on April 9th, 1865, effectively ending the Civil War. Today the park is home to many original artifacts tied to the events which occurred here, including the pencil used by General Lee to make corrections to the terms of surrender. The park’s visitor center is open daily from 8:30am – 5:00pm and admission is $10 per vehicle.

Mclean House

8. Shiloh National Military Park -Shiloh, Tennessee

Shiloh National Military Park preserves the battlefields of Shiloh and Corinth in southern Tennessee and Mississippi. The Battle of Shiloah was one of the first major Civil War battles in the south and resulted in nearly 24,000 soldiers killed, wounded or missing. After this battle the Union troops took the railroad junction at Corinth which is why the sights of both battlefields are preserved within this National Park designation. Among the attractions of these historic sites are the Shiloah National Cemetery, the Confederate Memorial in Shiloah Park, Siloah Indian Mounds and the Sunken Road.

Shiloh National Military Park

7. Richmond National Battlefield Park -Richmond, Virginia

Richmond, Virginia played an integral part of the Civil War, having served as the capital of the Confederate States of America during this time. As a result, there are numerous sites of historical significance to be found throughout the city and surrounding counties. Richmond National Battlefield Park includes 13 distinct sites or units, each commemorating an important event or location of the American Civil War. Among these sites are Fort Harrison, Cold Harbor, the defensive battery of Drewry’s Bluff and the famous Tredegar Iron Works, now home to the park’s main visitor center.

"Pattern building, Tredegar Iron Works, Richmond, Virginia" by Morgan Riley - Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Pattern building, Tredegar Iron Works, Richmond, Virginia” by Morgan RileyOwn work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

6. Antietam National Battlefield -Sharpsburg, Maryland

On September 17, 1862 the Battle of Antietam was fought at the foothills of the Appalachians along Antietam Creek in Sharpsburg, Maryland. This was a significant battle as it marked the end of General Robert E. Lee’s first invasion of the North during the Civil War. Today, the area and its historic sites have been preserved as a National Park and included on the National Register of Historic Places. Each year over 330,00 people visit the park which includes such attractions as a visitor center, National Cemetery, Maryland Monument and the Pry House Field Hospital Museum.

Antietam National Battlefield

5. Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park -Fredericksburg, Virginia

This Civil War site in Virginia gives you a 4 in 1 experience as this National Military Park covers 4 important battle sites of the Civil War; the Battle of Fredericksburg, Battle of Chancellorsville, Battle of the Wilderness, and Battle of Spotsylvania Court House. The park includes 5 preserved structures open to the public (one of which is the location where Stonewall Jackson died of injuries sustained during the Battle of Chancellorsville) and at over 8374 acres, Fredericksburg is the second largest military park in the world.

Confederate Cemetery, Fredericksburg VA

4. Andersonville National Historic Site -Andersonville, Georgia

When we think of POW camps, our minds tend to lean more to Europe and the camps of WWII, long before this however there were POW camps right here in America. Andersonville National Historic Site in Georgia preserves the site of Camp Sumter, also known as Andersonville Prison which was a Confederate POW camp during the Civil War. The site is open to the public and includes a National Cemetery, prisoner-of-war museum, and remains of the camp itself. Visit this site to pay your respects to the over 13,000 men that died here as a result of the unlivable conditions; a somber reminder of the horrors of war camps.

Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com
Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

3. Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park -Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia/Lookout Mountain, Tennessee

This military park encompasses two distinct locations which were the sites of two significant Civil War battles;  the Battle of Chickamauga in Georgia and the Chattanooga Campaign at Lookout Mountain, eastern Tennessee. The park consists of four main areas: Chickamauga Battlefield, Missionary Ridge, Lookout Mountain Battlefield and Point Park and Moccasin Bend. These parks preserve and recount the long and hard-fought battle of the Chattanooga Campaign; the power struggle of North vs South for domination and control of this “Gateway to the Deep South”.

Lookout Mountain  Chattanooga

2. Fort Sumter National Monument -Charleston, South Carolina

Fort Sumter is credited as being the location where the American Civil War really began, when on April 12, 1861 Confederate artillery opened fire on this Charleston Harbor fort. While there are several sites associated with Fort Sumter that are accessible by land, including the visitor center, visiting the fort itself will require transportation by boat as the fort sits in Charleston Harbor. Visitors can either take the public boat tours operated by Fort Sumter Tours at a cost of $19 for adults and $12 for children, or if you have your own boat, there is no admission to visit Fort Sumter on your own.

Fort Sumter National Monument -Charleston

1. Gettysburg National Military Park -Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

It’s no accident that the site of the most notorious battle of the American Civil War comes in as the number one historical Civil War site to visit in America. The Battle of Gettysburg in 1863 was the bloodiest of the entire Civil War with an estimated 46,000-51,000 casualties from both sides. The result of this battle was a Union win, which ended Robert E. Lee’s second and most ambitious invasion of the North. The significance of this battle was such that it spawned President Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address which honored the fallen soldiers of this bloody clash. Today, the public can appreciate the significance of Gettysburg with a visit to the visitors center, the Soldier’s National Cemetery or David Wills House.

Gettysburg National Military Park

The Snorkeling Guide to Florida: 10 Spots for Underwater Exploring

The Sunshine State might be famous for its white sand beaches and tropical blue water, but further north is the place to discover a completely different Florida. After checking out the reefs and sunken shipwrecks of Miami and the Keys, take a break from palm trees and head to the famed cold freshwater springs of North Central Florida, the spot that Jacque Cousteau called “the clearest water in the world.” With so many sunny days year round, Florida is a paradise for underwater exploring.

10. Santa Fe River

Santa Fe River is considered one of the most beautiful and pristine waterways in FL, making it an ideal spot for snorkeling in Florida. You’ll find several launch points in High Springs, a quaint town reminiscent of old Florida with its antique shops, diners, and patio cafes. The 75-mile river is sparsely populated and covered in forests, which provides a habitat for bears, bobcats and the rare Florida Panther. Underwater you’ll find turtles, vegetation, and wading birds as well as small springs and shoals along the way. There are several launch points including US 41/441 Bridge or the US 27 Bridge, which has access to public boat ramps. The water temperature is challenging for some at 72 degrees year round, but with the abundance of sunny, humid days in the Sunshine State, the ice-cold water is the perfect remedy for the oppressive heat.

Santa Fe River, Florida

9. Blue Springs

West of Orange City in Central Florida is a crystalline water oasis in the middle of citrus farms and wild forests. One of the largest springs on St. Johns River is Blue Springs, a favorite spot for manatee sightings. It serves as a crucial winter refuge for the protected West Indian manatee. Mid November to March is manatee season so the park is closed off to water activities, but people flock to the overlooks to see the 100 or so manatees hanging out among the water vegetation. The best time to snorkel is one of the many sunny spring days, that way you’ll beat the summer crowds. With 165 million gallons of fresh water flowing from the spring, the pristine water flows through hardwood, palm forests, and live oak trees along the St. Johns River. Snorkeling is one of the best ways to get an up close look at ancient rocks and marine wildlife.

Photo by: Paul Clark via Flickr
Photo by: Paul Clark via Flickr

8. Biscayne National Park

Considered by many to be the true first Florida key is Elliot Key, which contains the beautiful and fragile barrier reef of Bach Shoal. Unless you have your own boat, Biscayne National Park is the easiest way to explore the reefs and hundreds of tropical fish. Just outside of Miami, the park provides a quiet, serene spot tucked away from the crowds and bustling metropolis. Beneath the bright blue water is a wonderland of protected marine wildlife with the Miami Beach skyline in the distance. With 10,000 years of history, including pirates, shipwrecks, and conquistadors, there are many treasures to be found on the shore and underwater. Hunting for lobster is also available at the park with certain restrictions, including the lobster hunting prohibition at the lobster sanctuary at Biscayne Bay-Cord Sound.

Photo by: National Park Service Digital Image Archives via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by: National Park Service Digital Image Archives via Wikimedia Commons

7. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

Just an hour outside of Miami is Key Largo, the first key of the iconic Florida Keys and a great spot for a snorkeling day trip. Head south on US 1 and stop off at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, a protected area of ancient mangrove islands, corals, and tropical fish. Camping is available but sometimes it takes up to a year in advance to reserve a spot. Instead, opt for reservations on the park’s pontoon boat that leaves three times a day. A 30-minute boat ride through the mangroves will bring you up close to the delicate coral reef habitat. The tropical waters are warm year round but wet suits are available for rental. Don’t worry if you’re a beginner because the crew is happy to help with equipment. And don’t forget the golden rule of snorkeling the reefs: thou shalt look but not touch.

Photo by: John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
Photo by: John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

6. St. Andrews State Park

South Florida might be known for its white sandy beaches and lovely clear blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico, but tucked away just outside Panama City Beach in the Panhandle is a hidden gem for snorkeling and swimming. Surrounded by emerald green waters is the protected area of St. Andrews State Park. The former military reservation features miles of white sand beaches and rock jetties that are amazing spots for exploring hundreds of tropical fish and coral reefs. Feel free to bring your own snorkeling gear or bring a swimsuit and rent a snorkeling set at the concession store. With a variety of marine wildlife and sea plants, prepare to get lost in an underwater utopia. As the staff will most likely remind you, it is important to look but not touch in order to protect the fragile corals from damage and disease.

Saint Andrews State Park

5. Lauderdale-By-The-Sea

Just outside of the sprawling metropolis of Ft. Lauderdale is Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, a small beach town known as “The Shore Diving Capital of South Florida.” Its claim to South Florida fame is the SS Copenhagen, a designated archaeological underwater preserve called the “Shipwreck Snorkel Trail.” The site can be found from a popular entry point off Datura Street one block south of Commercial Boulevard. While exploring one of the only off shore reefs in Florida, you might get lucky and spot a sea turtle hanging out in the corals among schools of tropical fish. Bring your own gear or rent a snorkel and mask at one of the dive shops nearby. They will also be able to give you current weather conditions and visibility, plus the latest information on the beautiful but struggling coral habitat.

Lauderdale-By-The-Sea

4. Bahia Honda State Park

Situated at Mile Marker 37 near the original Seven Mile Bridge is Bahia Honda State Park and the magnificent Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary where you’ll find prime snorkeling spots. The park is a popular destination for its white sandy beaches and the Elkhorn and Star corals, the main allure of this fragile habitat. The park offers tours to the reef for an hour and a half of underwater exploring. Snorkeling equipment is also available for rental and the boats leave promptly at the dock, so don’t be late. Afterwards, discover an island paradise with emerald waters, ocean breezes, and picture postcard sunsets over the sand dunes. With all that pristine water, it’s the perfect stop to cool off on the way back from Key West or for nature lovers, a full day of water adventures.

Bahia Honda State Park, Florida

3. Ginnie Springs

Just outside of the historic town of High Springs in North Central Florida is Ginnie Springs, a privately owned park that serves as the gateway to some of the most spectacular fresh water springs in the Sunshine State. Make a day out of it and spend a hot afternoon exploring the ice-cold waters of Deer, Twin, and Dogwood Springs, then the larger, more popular Ginnie and Devil Springs along the Santa Fe River. If you still haven’t had your fill of crystal clear, blue water and ancient limestone formations, camping is available right next to the springs or along the river. Imagine watching the setting sun over the Cyprus forest on the river and then waking up with a morning swim in one of the nearby springs, which is some of the purest water in the world. The best time to visit is a weekday when you’ll find the waters undisturbed and only a few campers.

Photo by: FloridaSpringLife.com
Photo by: FloridaSpringLife.com

2. Ichetucknee Springs

Ichetucknee Springs is one of the most popular springs in North Central Florida, especially for snorkeling and scuba diving. Situated at the north entrance to Ichetucknee Springs State Park is the springhead, an underwater wonder filled with ancient limestone and bubbling blue waters. Then, after a short hike through a shaded palm and hardwood forest hammock is the Blue Hole, another spring known for its deep blue color and hidden caverns. The best time for snorkeling is on a weekday, preferable in the spring before the summer tubing crowd show up. When the water is its clearest and calmest, you’ll likely see baby turtles, fish, and vegetation, plus the rush of cold 73 degree water on a hot, sunny day. There are also hiking trails, tubing, and canoeing, but snorkeling is one of the best ways to get an up close look at the springs.

Photo by: Florida Fish and Wildlife via Flickr
Photo by: Florida Fish and Wildlife via Flickr

1. Dry Tortugas National Park

First discovered by Ponce de Leon in 1513, the legendary explorer named the tiny island Dry Tortugas after the large sea turtle population he found. Later, it was the spot of Fort Jefferson, which still marks the island with its high stoned walls. Situated about 68 miles west of Key West, Dry Tortugas National Park is considered by many to be one of the best places in the Keys for exploring magnificent coral reef habitat. Once you arrive, the park provides all the snorkeling gear, so all you need is a swimsuit for these warm, tropical waters. Keep a lookout for tropical fish and sea turtles hanging out among the corals and the crystal clear blue waters. From the white sandy beaches, the most popular spot to snorkel is about 75 yards from the west edge of the moat. You can either take a ferry or charter boat from Key West to the remote Island or a registered seaplane or even a private boat.

Dry Tortugas National Park

10 Significant World War II Sites to Visit in Germany

If you’re a World War II aficionado or history buff in general, there’s no other trip quite like seeing the sights left behind by the Third Reich and Nazi Germany. Some were bombed into obsolescence, others were destroyed to cover over the reminder of the atrocities of war, but many significant spots remain accessible to the public today. Here are 10 historically significant WWII sites to see in Germany:

1. Vorbunker/Führerbunker -Berlin

Vorbunker and Führerbunker were once the places where Adolf Hitler took shelter and eventually lived. The elaborate underground concrete bunker complex was designed to be a temporary air-raid shelter for Hitler, his family and his guards. While the site has been redeveloped into the current residential housing that stands today, this remains an important place of WWII significance as it was in the Führerbunker that Hitler committed suicide. Today a commemorative sign can be seen explaining the layout and significance of the bunker complex.

"Place Of Hitler Bunker 2007" by I, Zvucini. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.
Place Of Hitler Bunker 2007” by I, Zvucini. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

2. Dachau Memorial and Museum -Dachau

Dachau was the first of many Nazi concentration camps opened in Germany and was designed to hold political prisoners from Germany and Austria as well as Jewish prisoners. It was also open the longest, from March 1933 to April 1945 spanning nearly all 12 years of the Nazi regime. Today the site of the former concentration camp is home to a memorial as well as a museum and can be visited by the public.

Dachau

3. Nazi Party Rally Grounds -Nuremberg

The rally grounds of the Nazi party covered about 11 square kilometers in Nuremberg’s southeast and were the site of six Nazi rallies between 1933-1938. While not all of the historic buildings remain, many are preserved and can be visited by the public as the entire site is now a memorial.

STRINGER Image / Shutterstock.com
STRINGER Image / Shutterstock.com

4. Holocaust Memorial -Berlin

This 4.7 acre site in Berlin was designed by architect Peter Eisenman and engineer Buro Happold and serves as a tribute to Jewish victims of the Holocaust. The site is covered with 2,711 concrete slabs known as ‘stelae’ and includes a Place of Information on the site’s eastern edge which lists the names of all known Jewish Holocaust victims.

Noppasin / Shutterstock.com
Noppasin / Shutterstock.com

5. St. Nicholas’ Church -Hamburg

This Gothic Revival church was once the tallest building in the world from 1874-1876 and played an important role in WWII. During the extensive air raids on the city of Hamburg, the church tower served as a goal and visual orientation marker for the Allied Air Forces. Unfortunately, on July 28, 1943 the church was severely damaged by bombing and was reduced to the only remaining tower which can still be seen today.

jorisvo / Shutterstock.com
jorisvo / Shutterstock.com

6. Kehlsteinhaus (Eagle’s Nest) – Obersalzberg

The Kehlsteinhaus or ‘Eagle’s Nest’ as it’s known in English speaking countries is a Third Reich-area complex that was given to Adolf Hitler for his 50th birthday as a retreat to entertain friends and guests. The Kehlsteinhaus sits on a rocky outcrop known as Obersalzberg near the town of Berchtesgaden.  Today the Eagle’s Next can still be visited by the public as it houses a restaurant, beer garden and tourist site.

Kehlsteinhaus Eagle's Nest

7. Colditz Castle -Colditz

Colditz is a Renaissance castle located in Germany’s Saxony state. During WWII the castle was converted and used as a high security prisoner-of-war camp for officers who were particularly dangerous or were regarded as escape risks. The German’s believed the castle’s location on a rocky outcrop above the River Mulde made it an excellent spot for a high security prison, however Colditz POW camp had one of the highest records of successful escape attempts during WWII.

Colditz Castle

8. Mittelbau-Dora Memorial -Nordhausen

Mittelbau-Dora was a WWII Nazi concentration camp located near Nordhausen in the German state of Thuringia. This camp was notorious for its extreme cruelty towards prisoners and roughly 1 in 3 of the 60,000 prisoners sent here did not survive. Today the site is home to a memorial and history museum and serves as a place of mourning and commemoration of the victims of this concentration camp.

Photo by: Buchewald and Mittelbau-Dora Memorials Foundation

Photo by: Buchewald and Mittelbau-Dora Memorials Foundation

9. Soviet War Memorial -Berlin

The Soviet War Memorial is located in Berlin’s Treptower Park and was build to commemorate the Soviet soldiers who fell during the Battle of Berlin in 1945. The main feature of the memorial is a 12-m tall statue of a Soviet soldier with a sword holding a German child, standing over a broken swastika. The central area before the monument is lined with 16 stone sarcophagi, one for each of the 16 Soviet Republics. Each of the sarcophagi are adorned with carvings of military scenes and quotations from Joseph Stalin in both Russian and German languages.

Soviet War Memorial -Berlin

10. Besseringen B-Werk -Merzig

The Besseringen B-Werk is the only completely preserved fortification bunker located in the Siegfried Line; a 630 kilometer defensive system built between 19 and featured more than 18,000 bunkers, tunnels and tank traps. 32 bunkers in the Seigfried Line were built to construction standards or thickness ‘B’ hence the term B-Werk. Post-war, the site was used as a rubbish dump but it was restored and opened in 2005 as a museum which can be visited by the public today.

"Besseringen Eingangshof" by AllX - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.
Besseringen Eingangshof” by AllXOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

Like this? Check out 15 Must See World War II Sites in Europe

15 Must See World War II Sites in Europe

For those who are constantly glued to the World War II documentaries on the History Channel and have read countless books and articles about Allied tactics and strategic movements on the European fronts, a visit to Europe is the next step in your historical education. Personally seeing and physically standing on the many sites that were significant to that time will provide an unparalleled perspective and insight into the facts you already know about the war, as well as offer new information that is sometimes hard to come by from secondary sources. So for all the history buffs out there, here are 15 sites significant to the Second World War that, ranging from inspirational to overwhelming, are worth visiting in Europe:

15. Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, Germany

This work camp just outside of Berlin is found about three km from the location of the first ever Nazi concentration camp known as Oranienburg (now destroyed). The camp became the center of Nazi operations and is now a museum detailing the life of the inhabitants, both officers and detainees in a number of exhibits. Visitors can also see the special exhibition dedicated to the Oranienburg camp found in the museum’s permanent exhibit, and walk the ground of the camp for an incomparable lesson in the severity of the Nazi aggression.

Sachenhausen Concentration Camp, Germany

14. Arnhem Bridge, Netherlands

This bridge became well known after the strategic operation known as Operation Market Garden, whereby the Arnhem Bridge was the last in a string of strategic points targeted for takeover by the Allied forces. Successful up until that point, the Allies were unable to capture the bridge in the September 1944 Battle of Arnhem, an event that later became the subject of several books and the Hollywood film “A Bridge Too Far.” Surviving the September battle, the bridge was destroyed by Allied troops in October of the same year to help curb the transport of German supplies. In 1949 the bridge was rebuilt in the same style, and in 1977, renamed “The John Frostburg” in honor of the British commander that defended it in the September battle.

Arnhem Bridge, Netherlands

13. Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory, Krakow, Poland

As many who have read the Thomas Keneally’s novel “Schindler’s List” or seen the Spielberg movie of the same name know, Oskar Schindler was a Nazi Party member who saved hundreds of Jewish lives through political bribery and Jewish employment at his enamel and munitions factories. The administrative building of the enamel factory still stands today, and houses the Krakow Museum of Contemporary Art, as well as the Historical Museum of the City of Krakow, which is mainly devoted to the Party member and the lives of “his Jews.” This museum is must-see for anyone who wants to learn more about the life of a man now largely regarded as a hero.

Agnes Kantaruk / Shutterstock.com
Agnes Kantaruk / Shutterstock.com

12. Humboldthain Flak Tower, Germany

Originally constructed as a solution to air-strike vulnerability, German Flak Towers were domineering concrete complexes that sheltered anti-aircraft guns and protected ammunition from falling bombs. The towers operated in pairs, one a gun tower (Gefechsturm or G tower) and the other a command tower (Leitturn or L tower). Their heavily reinforced structure also served as bomb shelters for civilians as well as an extremely effective defensive center, with a radar dish that could detect bombers from over 50 miles away, eight 128-mm cannons with a firing capacity of 48 shells per minute and a number of other smaller cannons scattered around the tower. Many of the towers have since been destroyed or converted, but the one remaining in Berlin is open to visitors.

Photo by: itineri.de via Flickr

11. Vel D’Hiv Monument, France

Though the actual building of the Velodrome d’Hiver (indoor cycling track) was destroyed and replaced by government buildings, visitors can still stand on the spot, commemorated by a plaque, where in July of 1942, Jewish families in France were rounded up by the French police and forcibly herded into the Velodrome. It is there that over 13,000 citizens waited in deplorable conditions (without food, water or washroom facilities) for days before being dispersed among various concentration camps. A memorial to the victims was erected in the city in 1993, with the French Government issuing a public apology at a memorial service at the site in 1995.

Photo by: Leonieke Aalders via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by: Leonieke Aalders via Wikimedia Commons

10. Oradour-Sur-Glane, France

This small village in western France is memorialized as the site of one of the largest Nazi massacres on French soil. On June 10, 1944 SS officers stormed the village and killed the vast majority of residents, some 642 men, women and children, before largely destroying the area. Though officially rebuilt a few km north, the French government ordered the original site to be untouched and to stand testament to the horrors committed there. Visitors can walk through the ruins of the ghost town and pay their respects at the onsite memorial.

Oradour-Sur-Glane, France

9. Umschlagplatz, Warsaw, Poland

During German occupation, the German-named Umschlagplatz (“reloading point”) was the Square in Warsaw used to round up Polish Jews and organize their deportation from the Ghetto to the Treblinka concentration camp. People waited in hordes for hours until enough detainees were rounded up to fill the train cars, with any signs of resistance resulting in instant death. Today, the site of the former Square is home to a memorial constructed in the image of train cars, erected to pay tribute to the countless lives doomed (and lost) on these very premises.

Dariusz Leszczynski / Shutterstock.com
Dariusz Leszczynski / Shutterstock.com

8. Warsaw Ghetto, Poland

In the beautiful Polish city of Warsaw, there still stands a testament to the largest and deadliest Nazi-created Ghetto in Europe. By the deadline of October 15, 1940, the city’s large Jewish population was forcibly required to move into an 18 km area which enclosed 73 of the city’s 1800 streets, and was divided into the “small” and “large” ghettos linked by a wooden bridge. At highest capacity, the Ghetto housed about 380,000 people, translating to about eight residents per room. Today, the site is commemorated by “The Footbridge of Memory” which denotes the location of the original bridge between the two Ghettos, several monument and memorials. The area also still contains chunks of the original separating wall as well as decrepit residential buildings which have stood untouched for the past seven decades.

Anastasia Petrova / Shutterstock.com
Anastasia Petrova / Shutterstock.com

7. The Wolf’s Lair, Poland

This major complex hidden among a dense Masurian forest was Hitler’s first headquarters on the Eastern Front, and became his most frequently inhabited hideout (he spent about half the war here). Originally built for the impending invasion of the Soviet Union, the property became a sort of small town consisting of shelters, barracks, two airfields as well as a power and rail station. Despite being heavily reinforced and highly secure, this was also the site of the infamous July 1944 assassination attempt of Hitler by Claus Von Stauffenberg. The premises were vacated and destroyed by German officials in January of 1945 and remained untouched by the Polish Government until the fall of Communism. Today, the site is in ruins but has become a popular tourist attraction with a handful of hotels and restaurants now available in the remote area.

Wolf's Lair, Poland

6. Bletchley Park, England

Featured in the film “The Imitation Game,” Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire was Britain’s central site for code breaking during the Second World War. As the location of the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS), it became the largest and most successful institution in penetrating secret Axis communications, most famously of the German Enigma and Lorenz ciphers. Analysis now suggests that the efforts conducted on these premises shortened the war by about 2 years, and the school is now an educational and historic attraction commemorating the accomplishments of the institution.

Photo by: Magnus Manske via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by: Magnus Manske via Wikimedia Commons

5. Fuhrerbunker, Berlin

Now largely destroyed, this bunker was located under the former Reich Chancellery building in the heart of the city, and is the site where Hitler spent the last few weeks of the war, married Eva Braun and committed suicide in April of 1945. Located 11.5 feet below ground level, the bunker was a system of 30 small rooms protected by 13 foot thick concrete walls with an exit point in the Reich Chancellery gardens. Today, the site looks inconspicuous enough as a quiet residential neighborhood, and is largely unmarked save the small plaque and information board that denotes the location and provides a schematic diagram of the bunker.

Photo by: Cezary p at pl. via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by: Cezary p at pl. via Wikimedia Commons

4. Cabinet War Rooms, England

Partially restored and opened as a museum to the public in 1985, the Cabinet War Rooms were originally a secret complex under the basement of the Treasury. The bomb blitz of December 1940 forced the complex to be reinforced as a bomb bunker, becoming the main strategic headquarters for the War Cabinet (consisting of Prime Minister Churchill and several Conservative and Labor Party ministers). Today visitors can descend below the streets of Westminster and check out the various rooms of the complex as they would have existed during the war, and of especial significance, the Map Room, which remains exactly as it was when the premises were closed and vacated in August of 1945.

Cabinet War Rooms, England

3. Auschwitz- Birkenau, Poland

Originally built in 1940 as a detention center for political prisoners, Auschwitz-Birkenau became the Nazi’s most gruesome legacy—the largest death camp and the primary site for the “Final Solution.” Located on the site of a former military base just outside of Krakow, Poland, the complex was regarded as the ideal location to carry out Nazi atrocities because of its proximity to the rail lines used to transport prisoners. Liberated on January 27, 1945 by the Soviet Army, estimates suggest that upwards of 1.1 million deaths were carried out on the property. Today, Auschwitz is a harrowing museum complex not for the faint of heart. While undeniably an important site to see, visitors are urged to check out the museum website (http://visit.auschwitz.org/ ) to familiarize themselves with the rules, entry pass guidelines and capacity restrictions before their visit.

Auschwitz Birkenau, Berlin

2. Musee de la Reddition, France

This red brick schoolhouse just northwest of the Reims train station is the historic site where, in the early morning of May 7, 1945 high officers from the German army met with officers of the Allied forces and signed the declaration of unconditional surrender, ending the second world war in Europe. Now known as the Lycee Roosevelt, the property was being used as the headquarters of Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, and the room where the signature took place, the map room, remains perfectly preserved behind a glass panel and comprises the museum now called the Musee de la Reddition.

Photo by: Gerald Garitan via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by: Gerald Garitan via Wikimedia Commons

1. Normandy, France

It is on this stretch of beaches on the Normandy coast where the infamous D-Day Landings of June 6, 1944 took place, changing the course of the war to favor the Allies. The five beaches—Sword, Juno, Gold, Omaha and Utah—were where the forces of the French, British, Canadian and American armies successfully landed and commenced an operation that changed the tide of WWII in Europe. Today, visitors can pay their respects to the sacrifices made by these troops at the various memorials found on the beaches, at the military cemeteries of each army and learn more about the operation and strategy at the various museums and information centers.

Normandy, France

Like this? Check out 10 Significant World War II Sites to Visit in Germany

The World’s Most Dangerous Airlines

AirlineRatings.com has released a list of the world’s most dangerous airlines to fly, basing them on a rating scale out of seven stars. The airlines below all have a rating of two stars or below and are rated on factors such as is the airline certified by the International Air Transport Association Operational Safety Audit (IOSA), are they blacklisted from the European Union, have they been fatality-free for 10 years, are they FAA approved and do they meet all 8 of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) safety parameters. To explain; the IOSA certification is an evaluation system designed to assess the management and control system of an airline whereas the ICAO measures the standards and regulations necessary for aviation safety, security, efficiency, and regularity. Most of these airlines do not offer in-flight products, have terrible on-time performance, and have been grounded or investigated at least once in their lifetime. Between bomb threats, hijackings, overshot runways, and crashes; these twelve airlines have a history of being unsafe. Discover the world’s most dangerous airlines according to AirlineRatings.com.

13. Yeti Airlines

Eduardo Ramos Castaneda / Getty Images

Yeti Airlines is the parent company to Tara Air (mentioned later); an airline that was rewarded only one-star by AirlineRatings.com. Yeti Airlines comes in with two stars, however, being rewarded for being fatality-free and FAA endorsed. Based in Kathmandu, Nepal this airline was established in 1998 and together with Tara Air forms the largest domestic flight operator in Nepal. Yeti Airlines serves ten domestic destinations with seven aircraft in operation.

In the past decade, Yeti Airlines has had a handful of incidents resulting in the deaths of over thirty passengers and crew as well as destroying a couple of aircraft. They do boast the highest on-time performance of any airline in Nepal though and offer beverages and snacks on flights. Yeti Airlines also offers an hour-long express Everest mountain flight that remains popular with visitors. Like all Nepalese airlines, they are banned from flying into the European Union airspace and have not completed any components of the IOSA.

12. Sriwijaya Air

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This Indonesia airline comes in with a two-star rating as the country’s third-largest airline. Sriwijaya Air is a privately owned airline that started its operations in 2003 and services cities within Indonesia and 3 international destinations. This airline is classified as a medium service airline and does offer snacks and beverages throughout the flights. They had hoped to be a full-service airline by 2013 but that has not yet happened as of 2015.

In regards to safety, Sriwijaya Air is lacking in a lot of departments. With no international safety recognition, blacklisted from flying into European air space, and not being FAA approved it was only the lack of fatalities that earned them any stars. Not without incident though, this airline has had a number of runway incidents that have resulted in injury and aircraft damage.  Sriwijaya Air has a large fleet of aircraft, totaling 39 with an average lifespan of 24 years old, and has been in negotiations to replace a large number of the aging aircraft. Perhaps with newer aircraft and added destinations this airline will consider participating in safety certifications that will bump their star rating up in the coming years.

11. Air Bagan

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One of the only two-star rated airlines on this list that is allowed to fly into European airspace is Air Bagan. Established in 2004 Air Bagan operates domestically in Myanmar with over 20 destinations. International flights were a go-ahead in 2007 but since have been canceled due to safety concerns. Only one international destination remains on their flight schedule. Another fact about this airline is that U.S citizens are prohibited from dealing with this airline due to U.S sanctions against the Myanmar government.

With two accidents and a handful of fatalities, Air Bagan looks to be slightly safer than most others on this list especially considering they are well on their way to completing the necessary requirements for the ICAO audit. Air Bagan also offers good in-flight products with meals and beverages offered on all their flights no matter what the flight length and distance. Passengers seem to like this airline so we expect to see them rise in ratings as they obtain further safety accreditation.

10. Susi Air

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The airlines of Indonesia seem to be heading up the race for two-star ratings from AirlineRatings.com. The combination of extreme terrain, smaller panes, weather, non-cooperation from local tribes, and communication difficulties with air traffic control are all factors that contribute to the safety of these airlines. Susi Air operates commercial and charter flights throughout the islands of Indonesia and has been around since 2004. They are one of the only airlines in Indonesia that hires most of their pilots from Western Countries; most often hiring young pilots wanting to clock up their flying hours.

Besides being banned from flying into the European Union, Susi Air has another type of ban on them. After a rough decade of crashes and casualties, United States Embassy personnel are now prohibited from flying on this airline. Due to the nature of the planes, don’t expect any flight crew other than the pilots. With an open cockpit and access to all of the pilot’s controls passengers who are rowdy also pose a serious safety threat to these flights. Although Susi Air is said to be one of the better Indonesian Airlines, expect them to stay at about 2 stars in the safety rating from AirlineRatings.com.

9. Merpati Airlines

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Merpati Airlines was established in 1962 by the Indonesian government as a second-state airline. Currently, it is a major domestic airline with service to over 25 destinations in Indonesia, as well as flying to East Timor and Malaysia. The history of this airline has been a financial mess and as of January 2015, the airline is not operating any flights. The fate of the airline is up in the air as the Indonesian government has promised to invest the money they need to start flying again.

As for their safety record, in the past decade, they have had over 50 casualties over six serious incidents and are banned from flying in any European airspace due to safety concerns. Merpati boasts a training center and pilot school which makes their safety record even more surprising. In the past, this airline has expressed interest in obtaining their IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) from International Air Transport Association but with unpaid fuel bills, unhappy employees, and frozen operations we would be shocked if they are still an airline by the time this study comes out again next year.

8. Daallo Airlines

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This two-star safety-rated airline has some of the worst passenger reviews in regards to safety, cleanliness, and service. Daallo Airlines is a Somali-owned airline with its headquarters in Dubai and its main operating hub at Djibouti–Ambouli International Airport. Destinations include the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Facts and information are hard to come by about this airline and perhaps this is what makes it even more unsafe.

All flight operations were grounded in 2010 for Daallo Airlines but resumed later in the year; with no reason given as to why. As for the safety record, although this airline hasn’t suffered any casualties there have been a couple of serious incidents. An unsuccessful hijack attempt took place in 2009 and in 2010 a man tried to board a flight with enough explosives to blow up the plane. Now banned from the European Union with no recognized safety certificate; you may want to add Daallo Airlines to your list of airlines to avoid flying.

7. Ariana Afghan Airways

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The largest airline of Afghanistan comes in with a safety rating of two stars according to AirlineRatings.com. Established in 1955 this airline has been blacklisted from the European Union since 2006 due to safety concerns. During the Taliban era, the airline was completely grounded and has to rebuild itself after the overthrow. The UN lifted the sanctions that were preventing the airline from flying internationally although the EU blacklist continues to this day.

Due to its age and history, the safety record of Arian Afghan Airways is not a pretty one. As of 2014 they had written off 19 aircraft and counted a total of 154 casualties. Although most of these incidents occurred in the late 1990s; there are enough of them to justify a low safety rating. No internationally recognized safety audit certificate also bumps this airline down to two stars. Currently operating to three domestic sites and seven international destinations it seems this airline isn’t proactive in trying to earn further safety accreditation.

6. Bluewing Airlines

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Bluewing Airlines, a regional carrier based out of Zorg en Hoop Airport in Paramaribo, Suriname has operated since 2002. This small airline generally transports passengers to destinations in the interior of Suriname, Guyana, Brazil, Venezuela, and the Caribbean. The airline has spent time on and off the blacklist for the European Union and currently in 2015 remains banned from flying into the EU.

Bluewing has had its share of problems from aircraft safety issues to crashes. In the early 2000’s the four Antonov 28s that were part of their fleet came under fire for not meeting specific safety regulations including the absence of Ground Proximity Warning Systems (GPWS) on board. In the past decade, there have been a number of crashes with both crew and passenger deaths. With a poor safety record, a blacklist from the EU, and often poor landing conditions it is not likely that this airline will be awarded more than two stars in the near future.

5. Tara Air

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Tara Air, a subsidiary of Yeti Air (previously mentioned) is a newly formed airline being established in 2009 and uses the Yeti Air fleet. With its main hub at the Tribhuvan International Airport, this airline operates short take-off and landing services, focusing on remote and mountainous airports and landing strips. This small fleet of 8 aircraft earned its one star from being FAA approved.

The safety record of Tara Air, to put it gently, is not good. In the years 2010 and 2011 there were three incidents that resulted in 22 deaths of passengers and crew. Small aircrafts combined with the extremely mountainous terrain make flying this airline a risk. Tara Air is also banned from flying into the EU and has no internationally recognized safety certificate although rumor has it that this airline is working towards obtaining possible IOSA recognition in the future. We will keep an eye on this airline over the coming years to see if they can move upon the star rating.

4. Lion Air

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Indonesia’s largest privately run airline started operations in the year 2000 and perhaps has the worst safety record on this list, along with a slew of other issues it has faced since being established. In the fourth most populous country, the demand for medium-haul jets has been on the rise and Lion Air has stepped forward with significant orders of Boeings and Airbus. Lion Air flies passengers to over 80 destinations and has jointly established two additional airlines in Malaysia and Thailand.

The safety record for Lion Air can rightfully be called atrocious with over eight serious incidents and a number of fatalities in the last decade. From overshot runway landings to water crashes it’s surprising that this airline hasn’t had more casualties. Just recently in 2012, Lion Air came under scrutiny for pilots and crew being in possession of methamphetamine (aka crystal meth). As expected they are banned from flying into the European Union and as of January 2015, the ministry of transportation had frozen fifty-three of their routes. It’s no shock that Lion Air is only given one-star from AirlineRatings.com and expects them to stay at that rating for some time unless drastic changes are made.

3. Nepal Airlines

Aaron Foster / Getty Images

 

The only airline in the one-star category to even get an in-flight product rating is Nepal Airlines, formally known as Royal Nepal Airlines. It was Nepal’s first airline in 1958 with a handful of domestic flights. It has now grown to fly to over 39 destinations including seven international ones. None of these destinations include anywhere in the European Union as all Nepalese airlines are blacklisted; including Nepal Airlines.

The safety record for this airline isn’t pretty. Since the 1960’s there have been numerous incidents and accidents resulting in the deaths of passengers and crew members. The most recent accident occurred in 2014 when a plane went missing on-route to Jaumla and crashed; resulting in the deaths of 18 people. Nepal Airlines has not participated in any of the internationally recognized safety audits and continues to be one of the world’s most dangerous airlines according to AirlineRatings.com. This airline has recently purchased a few new aircrafts including an Airbus A320 and will be using that to fly to Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

2. SCAT Airlines

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The low-cost carrier SCAT Airlines was established in 1997 and operates out of its main hub Shymkent Airport with service to all major cities of Kazakhstan and neighboring countries. Rewarded a ranking of one star by AirlineRatings.com this airline is deemed one of the most dangerous airlines in the world according to this study. The airline is in fact FAA approved and that is what earned them the one star. SCAT is banned from entering European airspace though an audit by the ICAO deemed them non-compliant in keys areas of regulatory oversight.

SCAT has been accident and incident-free for the most part since operations commenced but just recently in 2013 suffered a loss. An aircraft carrying 21 people crashed while flying from Kokshetau to Almaty and all on board perished. A few other minor incidents have occurred with this airline and it continues to operate without an internationally recognized safety audit certificate. The good news about SCAT is they are genuinely trying to improve and working towards professional accreditation.

1. Kam Air

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Coming in with just one star Kam Air is amongst only 4 others that topped the list for the most dangerous airlines in the world. This Afghanistan-based airline is based out of Kabul and has been in operation since 2003. Kam Air was the first-ever privately-owned passenger airline in Afghanistan and operates domestic passenger services and regional international services. Kam Air did try to schedule flights into Europe but as of 2010, the European Union (EU) banned all afghan carriers from flying into the EU due to safety concerns.

Kam Air has had its share of incidents in the past 12 years which include a crash that resulted in the deaths of 96 passengers and 8 crew members. Other incidents include a bomb threat that resulted in the plane being diverted and a tail strike incident that was not taken seriously by the airline; thus resulting in the ban from the EU. Along with not completing the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) audit Kam Airlines is also not allowed into American airspace. This airline is clearly failing at becoming a safer airline and will most likely remain on the bottom of this list for a long time.

10 Things to See and Do in San Francisco

Surrounded by water, brimming with energy and creativity, steeped in history, and located on the beautiful west coast of Northern California, San Francisco makes an excellent travel destination.  Here are the top 10 things to see and do when in the bustling city of San Francisco.  If you’re planning a lot of outings, make sure you check for discounts before you go to save some money on tourist activities.

1. Ride a Cable Car

San Francisco is known for its steep, hilly streets and is home to the world’s last manually operated cable cars.  Of the 23 original lines, only 3 remain, so make sure you hop on a historic streetcar when you’re in town.  Cable cars run roughly every 10 minutes, a single ride costs $6, and a day pass costs $14.  Start off at the intersection of Powell and Market Street and ride the Powell/Hyde line to Lombard Street (called the world’s crookedest street), up a hill so high you can see the island of Alcatraz, all the way to the end near Ghirardelli Square where you can visit the famous chocolate store after which the square is named.

Cable car

2. Visit Alcatraz

Alcatraz, an island in the San Francisco Bay, is the site of a former prison and an absolute must when visiting San Francisco.  The 2.5 hour Alcatraz tour starts on Pier 33, takes you by boat into the Bay where you’ll get great views of the Golden Gate Bridge while you learn about the history of the island, then you get to dock and walk around the island and old prison facilities.  Book tickets way in advance online to guarantee you a spot on this sought after tour.  Thursday through Monday you have the option of a night tour, which ups the creepy factor as well as provides a beautiful view of the sunset on the Bay.

Alcatraz

3. Visit the Exploratorium

The Exploratorium is a hands-on centre to explore the world in which we live.  Exhibits, projects and events will keep you busy all day, and a delicious café on site will keep you well fed.  Open Tuesday through Sunday; grab tickets in advance online to save time.  If you’re 18+, the Exploratorium offers exclusive adult only Thursday night admission from 6 – 10pm, where you get to mix cocktails and jaw dropping exhibits for a truly one of a kind experience.

Exploratorium

4. Cross the Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge is part of the classic San Francisco skyline and must be visited when in the city.  The best way to see it is to run, walk, or bike.  Lanes on either side of the traffic flow are dedicated to pedestrians and cyclists, so you will feel safe as you cross.  Bike rentals are available downtown, and they’ll provide you with maps to help you navigate.  If you’re driving, there is a toll to cross south back into the city which will be automatically assigned to your license plate.  Definitely bring your camera, and check the forecast if you’re on foot or bicycle- it can get windy and chilly out on the bridge.

Golden Gate Bridge

5. Take in a Game at AT&T Park

Americans love their sports – so what better way to immerse yourself in the local culture than to check out a game when you’re in town?  The San Francisco Giants, the local baseball team, plays at AT&T Park, a stadium easily accessible by car or public transit.   Check out schedules in advance to secure your tickets, and sit back and relax and enjoy the game.  Make friends, drink beer, eat hot dogs, and get into the local sports scene.

AT&T Park

6. Take in Some Culture – Symphony, Opera, and Ballet

If want a cultural experience while on vacation in San Francisco, the local music and dance scene will delight you.  Davies Symphony Hall, the San Francisco Opera, and the San Francisco Ballet are easily accessible by public transit downtown and offer a variety of programming.  Make sure to visit their websites in advance to look at their schedules and plan your trips accordingly.

Theater San Francisco

7. Watch the Sunset at Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks are two hills in the center of San Francisco – a great spot to check out the 360 degree panoramic view of the city.  See the bridges, the ocean, the city, and beyond from these lookout points.  There is no public transit directly to the top, but there is a stop at the base from which you can walk up.  To make the most of your trip to Twin Peaks, pack a picnic or pick up some takeout at one of San Francisco’s delicious restaurants and head up the hill to sit and take in the sunset.

Twin Peaks

8. Check Out Pier 39

Pier 39 is packed with attractions and is definitely worth a visit when you’re in town.  Plan a half day visit to take in all that Pier 39 has to offer.  Visit the resident sea lions, watch the street performers, charter a boat to take you under the Golden Gate Bridge, eat some local, sustainable seafood at Fog Harbor Fish House, and grab some clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl.

Pier 39 San Francisco

9. Visit Alamo Square

If you’re an architecture buff or a Full House fan, make sure to visit Alamo Square when you’re in San Francisco.  The square itself is a large park with a playground and tennis court, but the houses that surround the square are beautiful, Victorian row houses that were featured on the intro to Full House.  Snap some pictures with the houses in the background, take in the view, and check out the local cafés nearby on Divisadero Street.

Alamo Square

10. Explore Golden Gate Park

A visit to San Francisco isn’t complete without heading to the Golden Gate Park.  You could easily spend an entire day in this massive park, considering it has a golf course, horseshoe pits, a Frisbee golf course, a bison paddock, archery fields, the San Francisco Botanical Garden, the de Young Museum, the California Academy of Sciences, the Japanese Tea Garden, and Stow Lake.  With so many options, you might want to rent bikes, skates, or disco golf equipment from Golden Gate Park Bike and Skate to cover more ground.  Friday nights at the de Young Museum are free special events – check out their schedule to see what’s happening when you’re in town!

Golden Gate Park

The Worst Airlines in the World

We live in a modern age of travel where it’s just as possible to fly to the other side of the globe as it is to drive to a neighboring state. With this new found accessibility comes demand from consumers who yearn to see things few others have seen. But what’s the thing that many consumers say they hate most about traveling?  Flying. Traveling and taking vacations are memorable experiences but the catch is always getting there. Confusing airports and busy terminals, lost luggage, tight cramped quarters, poor service and delay after delay after delay… This is often the reality faced by passengers world-wide and while some airlines are better than others, there are definitely those that are worse than others as well. These 15 airlines have all been called ‘the worst’ in one way or another and have reputations for delays, poor customer service and even some questionable business practices. Many have received a very poor 2 star rating from Skytrax Global Airline Ratings which bases its ratings on quality of product and service standards.

15. US Airways

One of the largest American airline carriers, US Airways has made attempts to change its reputation for lost luggage and poor overall quality and customer service. According to flightstats.com, the company’s global on-time performance for the first quarter of 2015 is an average of 75.34% with February reaching a low of 73.15% on-time. The good news is that the stats show US Airways seems to be making improvements, albeit they are slow ones. Their most recent stats on lost baggage claims as per the US Department of Transportation were 2.70 claims per 1,000 passengers. Not as bad as many on this list but definitely not good either.

Vacclav / Shutterstock.com
Vacclav / Shutterstock.com

14. Frontier Airlines

While American small carrier Frontier Airlines may have received an overall 3 star rating from Skytrax, a look at the closer details show many areas in which they were only given a 2 star rating including waiting times, standard of customer support service and boarding service efficiency. They actually only received a 1.5  star rating for handling delays/cancellations which is exceptionally low. Surprisingly, lost baggage isn’t as big of an issue with this airline as their stats for lost baggage show 2.21 claims per 1,000 passengers, though we attribute this to the much smaller size of this air carrier when compared to other American airlines.

David Gaylor / Shutterstock.com
David Gaylor / Shutterstock.com

13. United Airlines

This large American carrier has built a reputation for poor customer care…maybe even bordering on abusive as there have been cases of customers being left on the tarmac for hours on end. This reputation got so bad that in 2013 the US Department of Transportation actually fined the airline over $1 million for this offence. For the first quarter of 2015 they only have an on-time performance average of 75.39% with the month of February going as low as 72.96% on time. Not only are the delays a problem but lost luggage is a relatively common occurrence as well with a reported 3.66 baggage claims per 1,000 passengers according to the US Department of Transportation’s most recent statistics.

Chris Parypa Photography / Shutterstock.com
Chris Parypa Photography / Shutterstock.com

12. Tigerair

Tigerair, originally Tiger Airways is a Singapore born carrier that was meant to be on a similar level as low-budget European carrier Ryanair (mentioned later on this list). Singapore service started in 2004, with the carrier expanding to Australia in 2007. In both markets Tigerair is widely considered sub-par by passengers due to their poor customer service and cheap product where absolutely everything costs extra. The company was even known to use their own poor reputation and complaints record as a publicity stunt to show their bottom-basement airfare prices. It seems however that even Tigerair is trying to start a new and better reputation as in 2013 they changed their name from Tiger Airways to Tigerair. They should probably realize it’s going to take a lot more than a name change to get off the worst airlines list any time soon.

Peterfz30 / Shutterstock.com
Peterfz30 / Shutterstock.com

11. EasyJet

Europe is infamous for its number of low-budget air carriers and UK based EasyJet is exactly one of these airlines. No one should really expect luxuries with any budget carrier but that doesn’t mean passengers should have to sacrifice service just to get a good deal. In the Skytrax quality rating, the airline received 2 stars or lower in the areas of in-flight entertainment and handling delays/cancellations. They also received only 2.5 star ratings for airline product information, in-flight service information, and arrival assistance. It sounds like if you fly with EasyJet you’d better prepare yourself for a lack of information.

Giovanni G / Shutterstock.com
Giovanni G / Shutterstock.com

10. Pakistan International Airlines

If you’re the kind of person who values timeliness Pakistan International Airlines is not one you should consider flying with. So far in 2015 their on-time performance average is a dismal 37.53% -granted they only fly about 3,000 flights a month compared to a major carrier like US Airways who operates nearly 90,000 each month but one would think less flights might make it easier to be on time. In addition, the Skytrax ratings show only 2 star ratings for important areas like check-in services, arrival assistance, transfer services and staff language skills.

Naufal MQ / Shutterstock.com
Naufal MQ / Shutterstock.com

9. RyanAir

Dublin based carrier RyanAir isn’t just a budget airline it’s an ultra-budget airline. They’ve taken the phrase “you get what you pay for” to the extreme and with their cheap fares comes a cheap product as well. They’ve seemingly built their business on cutting corners in order to offer the lowest fares possible but as a result, customer experience is pretty atrocious. Seats do not recline meaning you’re upright the entire flight, they have no seatback pockets and historically the airline has even reduced the number of washrooms on board to make room for extra seats. Everything costs extra with Ryanair, from having an allocated seat to bringing an infant on your lap and even using a credit card.

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Marco Prati / Shutterstock.com

8. China Eastern Airlines

Another airline to avoid if you can’t stand delays, China Eastern Airlines is headquartered out of Shanghai, China and operates as a budget carrier. According to flightstats.com global airline arrival performance, the company is plagued by issues with delays and cancellations. Their average on-time performance for 2015 thus far is 53.87% which is not only bad, but is worsened by the fact that this airline operates around 50,000 flights per month. We’d expect as large a carrier to have better organization and practices in place but then again, a look at some reviews on Yelp paint a clear picture of a very low-quality product and almost non-existent customer service.

Anton_Ivanov / Shutterstock.com
Anton_Ivanov / Shutterstock.com

7. Lion Air

Established in 1999, the Jakarta, Indonesia based airline Lion Air is the largest low cost carrier in Asia with service to Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, mainland China and Hong Kong. Despite being the biggest, the budget airline is certainly not the best. In fact, it’s far from it with problems like chronic delays and even drug use by pilots and crew. In 2011 the company was forced to ground 13 planes due to poor on-time performance until an OTP of 80% could be reached and in 2012 there were several incidents of pilots and crew members being found with crystal meth. In one case, a Lion Air pilot was arrested after testing positive for methamphetamine and had been scheduled to fly to Surabaya only a few hours later.

aoo3771 / Shutterstock.com
aoo3771 / Shutterstock.com

6. SmartWings

SmartWings is a european low-cost carrier based out of Prague, Czech Republic. They were established in 2008 and are owned by parent company Travel Service Airlines. A look at many reviews of this carrier paint a picture of deceptively low airfares with some even claiming poor business practices of charging fares and spontaneously cancelling flights a week before departure with no options to re-book. Skytrax ratings only gave the airline a 2 star overall rating with a mere 1 star in areas including product information, service information and online check-in. They also only received 2 stars in the areas of arrival assistance, cabin cleanliness and check-in wait times.

Lukas Rebec / Shutterstock.com
Lukas Rebec / Shutterstock.com

5. Spirit Airlines

Spirit Airlines is the only 2-star rated airline on this list that operates in America. They’ve gained a strong reputation for being cheap to the extreme…and not in a good way. Outrageous fees like charging for carry-on luggage and strict no-refund policies all worsen the customer experience. Seats do not recline and passengers often complain about the cramped conditions. Skytrax gave them very poor ratings in the areas of in-flight entertainment, cabin cleanliness, staff enthusiasm and attitude, staff response to requests and handling of delays/cancellations. It seems the only good thing about this airline are the low-fares but clearly these come at a cost.

Carlos Yudica / Shutterstock.com
Carlos Yudica / Shutterstock.com

4. Nepal Airlines

This tiny national carrier of Nepal is based in Kathmandu and has a fleet size of only 7 active aircraft, most of which are relatively old. Skytrax only gave them a 2 star overall rating for product and service quality with only 1 star being awarded in areas like on-board comfort, in-flight entertainment, washrooms/shower facilities and the company’s website. They may not be the most reliable of airlines either with many passenger reports of sudden flight cancellations. This is clear when looking at their on-time performance for February 2015 as they’re on-time performance of 34% is nearly matched by their flight cancellations at 32%. Rightly so, Nepal Airlines was banned from flying within the EU in 2013.

Nepal Airlines

3. Pegasus Airlines

Pegasus Airlines is another low-cost budget carrier and is the second largest airline in Turkey. It was named the cheapest low-cost European carrier in both 2013 and 2014, but cheap usually comes at a cost. Pegasus operates only 1 flight class on their aircraft with no in-flight entertainment or meals. Skytrax ratings gave nothing higher than a 3-star rating for any of the rated categories with the areas of standard of customer support service, handling delays/cancellations, in-flight entertainment and staff language skills all receiving below 2 stars.

cesc_assawin / Shutterstock.com
cesc_assawin / Shutterstock.com

2. Bulgaria Air

A relatively new carrier, Bulgaria Air was founded in 2002 and is based out of the
Bulgarian capital of Sofia. Even though this article is focused on product and customer service rather than safety, it’s worth noting that there are reports of numerous incidents where this airline has had aircraft skid off the runway and has had sanctions on flying in American airspace due to a lack of equipment safety documents. Skytrax ratings gives the airline a 2 star overall rating with some of the poorest rated categories being in-flight entertainment, staff response to requests, transfer services and arrival assistance.

Senohrabek / Shutterstock.com
Senohrabek / Shutterstock.com

1. Air Koryo

This North Korean state-owned carrier is the only airline to receive a 1 star overall rating from Skytrax airline rating system. That easily puts Air Koryo in the #1 spot for worst airline for product and customer service in the world. The amount of extremely poor 1 and 2 star ratings in the Skytrax categories are too numerous to name but here’s just a few: check-in service, transfer service, arrival assistance, comfort, language skills, and staff response to request all the the lowest ranking of 1 star. Air Koryo was also banned from flying within the EU in 2006 due to safety and maintenance concerns. In 2010 they were allowed to fly certain Tu-204s aircraft into the EU after improved safety features, however all other aircraft in the company’s fleet remain banned.

Attila JANDI / Shutterstock.com
Attila JANDI / Shutterstock.com

Like this? Check out: The World’s 13 Most Dangerous Airlines and 15 Best Airlines in the World

12 Most Annoying Things Travelers Do in Airports

Few travelers would argue that dealing with their stay at the airport is like running the gauntlet. There are numerous reasons to hate it, ranging from enduring security measures to navigating the vast expanse. That said, the most irritating part of being at the airport is other travelers. Many also exhibit some pretty outlandish behavior. Here are the 12 most annoying things travelers do in airports.

1. Conversing Loudly

You’re sitting in the lounge at your gate, just trying to enjoy a book or catch a few winks. Meanwhile, the person next to you is having the world’s noisiest conversation. They don’t seem to get that nobody’s interested in their dirty laundry. It’s almost as if they think that nothing you’re trying to do could possibly be more fascinating or important than hearing about their personal business.

talking airport

2. Loud Music

The day they came out with cell phones featuring speakers was the day the world let out a collective groan. As if hearing loud, awful music from passing cars wasn’t bad enough, you’re now forced to endure it in airports. Maybe it’s the rise of social media that causes people think it’s okay to make spectacles of themselves, but that doesn’t make it any less rude. Nobody wants to listen to your music. That’s why headphones exist.

airport 2

3. Disgusting Food

While a tuna and limburger sandwich might seem delicious to you, it makes everyone else want to vomit. Bringing your own food is a wise decision, but please leave the stink at home.

airport  3

4. Misbehaving Children

Every parent knows that kids can be difficult to control. However, that doesn’t make it alright for parents to let their children go nuts. Few things are more grating than small children running around and screaming. What’s even worse is when no real attempt is made to control them. Sorry parents, but politely asking little Brittany to use her “inside voice” isn’t going to cut it. Furthermore, kids running amok poses a hazard to other travelers. Hot coffee is hot, and all it takes for someone to get third-degree burns is for an unruly child to crash into them at full speed.

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5. Joking With Security

Shockingly, this happens a lot. When asked whether they packed their own luggage, someone just has to get smart. What happens then is that security, bound by law, must thoroughly inspect that person’s bags. As a result, everyone else gets held up. It might be tempting to crack jokes, but it’s not worth it unless you like being embarrassed.

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6. Crazy Attire

While it’s ridiculous that you can’t wear whatever you want on the plane, that’s the way things have become. The news is awash in stories of travelers being denied boarding rights because of short shorts, low-cut blouses and shirts with potentially offensive messages. Body piercings also present a problem. All that metal is going to set off the detector, and the more you have to take out, the longer you hold everyone up. Do everybody a favor and leave the shocking attire at home.

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7. Obnoxious Chewing

Eating and chewing gum are all fine and good, that is until it gets obnoxious. How many times have you been seated next to someone who insisted on chewing with their mouth wide open or incessantly popping their gum? If you’re like most, once was too much. Even in a crowded airport, a certain level of table manners should be displayed.

chewing gum

8. Argumentative Passengers

There’s always somebody who feels the need to argue with staff about their baggage or some other triviality. Besides making a scene, this also forces everyone to wait longer.

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9. Slow Walkers

This is understandable for the elderly or disabled. However, there’s no reason why a young, able-bodied person can’t get a move on. Airport goers are already in a hurry and slow-pokes just make matters worse.

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10. Carousel Crowders

Standing as close as you can get to the baggage claim isn’t going to make your luggage come out faster. Nor are most people interested in taking whatever might be in them. Crowding just makes everything more inconvenient, especially for people with large or many bags.

airport Carousel

11. Not Paying Attention

There are always people in the security line who, despite what everyone else is doing, don’t realize they need to remove their shoes or empty their pockets. When they finally get to the checkpoint, they’re surprised and annoyed that they must follow suit.

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12. Public Diaper Changes

Many a horror story circulates the Internet about parents changing their kids’ diapers right there in the terminal for all to see. Dirty diapers don’t just smell putrid. They’re also unsightly and unsanitary. Plus, who wants to sit in a seat that a poopy baby has been changed on? There are changing stations in the bathrooms for a reason. Try to use them.

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Top 10 Buffets on the Las Vegas Strip

One of the most famous pieces of real estate in the world, the Las Vegas Strip is home to sights and sounds that will dazzle even the most cynical of observers. Still, man can’t live on poker and showgirls alone, and with that in mind, after a late night on the town, the dozens of buffets on the Strip can be a life-saver. With a wide range of styles, prices, and menu options, the following are 10 of the best buffets the area has to offer.

1. The Spice Market Buffet

Located in the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, this buffet has one of the largest selections of food available on the strip. Constantly buzzing with activity, The Spice Market has routinely been voted the best buffet on the Strip, and with flavors from around the globe, it is certain to have something for everyone.

Planet Hollywood Las Vegas
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2. The Buffet at the Bellagio

Featuring fresh ingredients, this upscale buffet offers a number of dining options with an emphasis on Asian and Seafood. During the Gourmet Dinner Service, guests are treated to top-of-the-line caviar, hand-rolled sushi, and a number of other delicacies.

Bellagio Las Vegas
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3. Wicked Spoon

Located at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, the Wicked Spoon offers a mix of familiar staple food, seasonal dishes, and a great salad bar. Although a buffet, the atmosphere here is decidedly sophisticated, helped by the elegant décor and low-lit ambiance.

Cosmopolitan Las Vegas
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4. The Buffet

Located at the Wynn Resort and Casino, The Buffet has also enjoyed “best buffet” honors from USA Today. Featuring 15 separate live-action cooking stations, dining in the ornate hall is certain to conjure the feeling of being European royalty.

Wynn Las Vegas
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5. Bacchanal

One of the most famous buffets on the Strip, Bacchanal is located at Caesars Palace. The buffet’s claim to fame rests mostly in its amazing seafood options, including oysters, clams, sushi, and crab legs.

Caesars Palace Las Vegas
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6. Le Village Buffet

Less expensive than some of the other options on this list, many of the buffets’ choices come with a French twist. The homemade crepes, creme brulee, and Prime Rib are among the best in the city.

Crepes

7. Cravings

Have a taste for something, but not sure what it is? Located at the Mirage, the buffet offers a casual, almost cafeteria-like dining experience that focuses less on pomp and more on food. Stations include standards like Mexican, Chinese, and Italian, as well as specialties like a Raw Bar, Noodles, and Rotisserie. Special mention also goes out to Cravings for having what seems like one of the only Dr Pepper fountains available on the Strip.

Mirage Las Vegas
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8. Todai

There are a number of specialty buffets around Las Vegas, but one of the best on the Strip features an amazing array of Japanese food. Located in the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood, Todai offers over 40 different kinds of sushi and seafood selections ranging from salmon and halibut to green mussels and calamari. Two of the most popular dishes are the half-shell lobster and the snow crab legs.

Seafood Buffet

9. Flavors, The Buffet

A bargain buffet, Flavors at Harrah’s offers a sometimes baffling array of food. In addition to sushi, prime rib, and Brazilian BBQ, Flavors offers everything from cotton candy to endless crab legs. The establishment prides itself on having the most choices of any buffet on the Strip.

Harrahs Las Vegas
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10. The Buffet at Aria

Located in one of the city’s top hotels, this buffet sparkles with the same high-end quality one would expect from Aria. In addition to preparing a wide array of tasty dishes, the buffet chefs here are known for putting on a Las-Vegas style show.

Aria Las Vegas
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