Best Blogs of the Week & What in the World?

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If you came looking for this segment last week, you didn't find it. Last week, I was taking part in Blog4NZ, and so all my posts were New Zealand-centric for a few days. But, Best Blogs of the Week & What in the World? is back in full force today, with extra content to make up for skipping it last week.

Best Blogs of the Week

I read a lot of travel blogs every week. Every day, even. Since I’m constantly coming across good reads, I’ve decided to highlight some of the best and most interesting posts, photos, videos and general blogging gems from all over the web that I’ve discovered in the past week.

Though I try to read a diverse sampling of things, there’s no way that I can possibly get to it all. So, if you have an interesting post that you’d like me to check out and consider for next week, please let me know in the comments! Who knows? Maybe I’ll fall in love with it. At the very least, I’ll leave you my two cents in a comment.

What I'm Reading

Coming to Terms With Life Changes at So Many Places

Kim is usually the one blogging over at So Many Places. Quitting a job to travel the world is HER dream, but her husband, Brian, is going along, too. In this wonderfully honest post written by Brian, he explains how he's come to terms with making possibly the biggest life change a couple can choose to make. I loved this post, because, while I read a lot of blogs written by traveling couples, I often wonder if both halves of the couple are equally as enthusiastic about a nomadic lifestyle, especially in the beginning. After reading this, all I can say is: Kim is one lucky woman!

How traveling improves your quality of life at A View to a Thrill

It's definitely not a new theory, the idea that travel can, in fact, improve your life. In this post, Renee explores the reasons why injecting travel into your life can make you a more open, well-rounded and outgoing sort of person. And I couldn't agree with her more! Travel does have the ability to bridge the divide between cultures and to open our eyes to the wider world. If ever you needed another reason to travel, this is it!

The Definition of Success at Hecktic Travels

Dalene and Pete were recently asked to speak at a career day at an alternative school in Honduras, where they are currently living/volunteering. But they weren't going to talk to the kids about their old jobs as accountant and purchaser — they were going to talk about being travel bloggers. This post is proof that “success” can be measured in ways that don't involve money.

A Dolphin Encounter in New Zealand at The Planet D

Dave and Deb are currently on a very enviable tour of New Zealand, getting to try out some of the most exciting and awe-inspiring activities the country has to offer. I've been following their adventures greedily recently, and really enjoyed this post about swimming with dolphins — a popular, yet accessible adventure activity to try. Apparently, if you need dolphin-swimming tips, Dave is the one to ask!

By Horse or by Hearse? 5 Unique Ways to Experience Savannah at Single Occupancy

Savannah, Georgia, is a great city. I was only there for a day years ago, but it's one of those cities that I always think about going back to. It's full of history, and also a little bit of mystery. In this post, Marsha details some of the less-conventional ways you can get around the old city. One of the strangest options is to see Savannah as part of a ghost tour, where your transportation is actually a converted hearse. That's right — a hearse! I actually did one of these tours when I was in Savannah and loved it (though, some of the ghost stories definitely freaked me out…).

Maori Mountain Myths at Finding the Universe

I love myths and legends, especially as they apply to places I've actually visited. In this post, Laurence describes the Maori myths that explain the formation of volcanoes on New Zealand's north island. I've never actually heard this story before, so it was cool to read about. I think I may steal this idea for a post of my own soon…

The Art of Finnish Ice Swimming at Woman Seeks World

I'm not sure my body could handle the extreme cold of icy Scandinavian water, followed by the extreme heat of a steamy sauna… but Nicole's apparently can! I've always been sort of fascinated by the people who don't just view ice swimming as a novelty, but rather as an everyday, spa-like activity that's not at all crazy. This is how they view it in Finland, and Nicole describes her experience with the chilly pasttime.

Buenos Aires: An Evening in Time Elapse at Brendan's Adventures

Brendan is trying out some new things as he travels around South America, and time lapse video is one of them. Not only do I really like this video (especially the portion with the little kids!), but I like that he describes how he did it. I had no idea it could be done quite easily, without a whole lot of fancy equipment! The things you learn from reading travel blogs…

THIS VIDEO

I love Air New Zealand for a lot of reasons, but this just catapults them into a new, special spot in my heart. I want to hop on an Air NZ plane immediately, just so I can see this video in-flight!

What in the World?

Here's a look at what's going on around the world this week:

Asia

The situation in Japan still is bad. And could be getting worse. The official death toll from the March 11 9.0-magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami has surpassed 10,000, and the actual total could easily be more than 18,000. But the real worry now lies in the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, which has been working feverishly for weeks now to prevent massive meltdowns of its nuclear reactors. Pools of radiation-contaminated water keep cropping up around the plant, and there are fears that at least one of the reactors is leaking radioactive water. Contamination is a real fear — especially if it gets in the drinking water supply. The nuclear crisis in Japan has already surpassed that of Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania in 1979, but is not nearly on the scale of the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine in 1986. But Japan is definitely not out of the woods yet.

If you'd like to find out how you can help earthquake/tsunami victims by making a donation, check out this post.

The Middle-East

Just as in Japan, things in Libya, too, could be getting worse. Libyan rebels and Moammar Gadhafi are still in a fierce battle for control of the country, and now others are getting involved. NATO countries — including the U.S., Britain and France, among others — have begun airstrikes on forces loyal to Gadhafi, essentially bolstering the rebels and giving them a bit of an edge in some areas. Currently, the rebels have their eye set on Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte as they inch ever closer to the capital of Tripoli. While the U.S. has lead the charge thus far, Obama plans to hand over the operation to NATO forces by mid-week. In a speech on Monday, Obama defended the United States' role in attacking Libya, saying that America could not simply stand by and watch Gadhafi kill his own people. While some Republicans certainly don't agree, other world powers do — such as Qatar and France, who are actually recognizing the rebels as the ones truly representing the people of Libya.

On Monday, Frenchman Alain Robert (often referred to as “Spiderman”) scaled the world's tallest building using just his hands and feet. It took him 6 hours to climb the outside of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai — including its tapered spire, over a mile and a half above the ground. For the first time, Robert (who has climbed 70 of the world's tallest buildings) used a safety harness on his climb in order to comply with organizers' wishes. Harness or not, this guy is badass!

The U.S.

A boat capsized in the calm waters of San Diego Bay on Sunday, leaving a father and son dead and 8 others injured. The passengers were all on a sailing excursion geared toward people with disabilities. Why the boat sank is still being investigated, but authorities speculated that the sailboat may have been too crowded and, therefore, unbalanced.

If you follow basketball and get into March Madness, chances are you're going mad right now. The Final Four this year has turned out to be full of underdogs that nobody expected to make it this far. In fact, out of more than 5.9 million brackets filled out for ESPN.com's tournament, only 2 people correctly chose the Final Four. That's right — TWO PEOPLE. Madness indeed.

How did your bracket fare?

For those of you who like to read the New York Times online (and I know at least SOMEONE does), the newspaper is now officially going behind an online pay wall. You'll now have to pay for an “online subscription” if you want to read more than 20 stories per month. I'll be interested to see how this works out for them…

WTF? News of the Week

In Montana, Radio Shack is taking an interesting marketing approach. Whereas other stores in other states might offer free upgrades or perhaps some cash back in order to get customers to purchase satellite TV, the Radio Shack store in Hamilton, Montana, is offering a free firearm to anyone who purchases Dish Network. … Yes, buy Dish, get gun. Customers do, thankfully, have to undergo a background check before receiving their gift certificate to a local gun supply store. But still. Only in America.

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