Video: History Lesson in Belfast

Michael and Mariana speak with Protestant loyalist about "the Troubles."
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A Journey Through Time

Every city, state and country has historic sites that tell a story, whether it’s as significant as the signing of the Declaration of Independence or as simple as the childhood of a famous author. And when you connect with those stories, you can truly connect with your destination.

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Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II

London Celebrates the Queen
Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her Diamond Jubilee this year, marking her 60th year as monarch. A weekend of events in June is planned throughout the Commonwealth, culminating in a Royal Air Force flyover and a "Fire of Joy," a celebratory cascade of rifle fire given as a salute by the Queen's Guard.
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Spider-Man turns 50

Spider-Man turns 50

Spider-Man Turns 50
Spider-Man made his first appearance in comics in 1962, making this his 50th anniversary. The newest Spiderman movie is also set for release this summer -- the perfect birthday gift for Spidey.
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A War of 1812 reenactment

A War of 1812 reenactment

War of 1812 Bicentennial
The US declared war on Britain 200 years ago, setting off the War of 1812. This year bicentennial celebrations are being held by 10 states, as well as Washington, DC and Ontario.
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Titanic Exhibit in DC

Titanic Exhibit in DC

100 Years After the Titanic Tragedy
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Titanic's sinking, sparking renewed interest in the tragedy. James Cameron's Titanic movie has been rereleased in 3-D, and the National Geographic Museum in Washington, DC, has a new exhibit, "Titanic: 100 Year Obsession," which includes props from the 1997 movie.
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Arizona celebrates its centennial

Arizona celebrates its centennial

Arizona Celebrates Its Centennial
Arizona has taken on a series of statewide projects to commemorate its centennial. Projects include a documentary following 100 Arizona ranchers whose families have been ranching in the state since 1912 and a new museum that explores what it means to be an Arizonian.
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100 years of the Cherry Blossom Festival

100 years of the Cherry Blossom Festival

The National Cherry Blossom Festival
A century ago, Japan gave Washington, DC, a gift of 3,000 cherry blossom trees as a token of friendship. Each year, the US capital is painted pink with the blossoms, which lure visitors from all over the world.
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Louisiana's 200th year of statehood

Louisiana's 200th year of statehood

Louisiana's Bicentennial
To commemorate Louisiana's 200th anniversary, the Louisiana Bicentennial Commission has drawn up with a list of 200 free things that visitors can do in the state. These include visiting the state's 180-mile long Creole Nature Trail, which is home to 400 bird species.
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Charles Dickens turns 200

Charles Dickens turns 200

Charles Dickens' Birthday
Even though Charles Dickens turned 200 back in February, the party is continuing all year long with a Dickensian exhibit at the Museum of London and a guided tour through Chalk Church, which was featured in Great Expectations.
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New Mexico's 100th year as a state

New Mexico's 100th year as a state

New Mexico's 100th Year
New Mexico celebrates 100 years of statehood this year. As part of the celebration, the state's governor created the Centennial Children's Legacy Fund, which hopes to improve the education and welfare of New Mexico's children.
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Nicholas_T, flickr  

Golden Gate Bridge celebrates 75 years

Golden Gate Bridge celebrates 75 years

The Golden Gate Bridge Turns 75
For the Golden Gate Bridge's 75th anniversary in May, San Francisco is going all out with a day-long festival that will celebrate the history of the bridge and the culture of the city -- all culminating in a fireworks grand finale.
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Geoff Stearns, flickr  

The Space Needle opened 50 years ago

The Space Needle opened 50 years ago

The Space Needle's 50th Anniversary
Fifty years ago, when the Space Needle opened at the Seattle World's Fair, it was called "The Space Cage." It was built in just 1 year and 4 days.
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One World Trade Center
One World Trade Center

One World Trade Center

Amid cheers and whistles from workers, the final piece of the spire of One World Trade Center is hoisted into place in May 2013. More than 10 years after NYC’s skyline was changed forever, the new building -- now the tallest in the United States -- rises 1,776 feet into the air, a testament to the Big Apple’s resilience in the years following the day that would come to mark the single-largest loss of civilian life on US soil. 960 1280

REUTERS/Gary He  

One World Trade Center

One World Trade Center

In years past, visitors from around the world came to pay their respects and see the progress being made on 1 World Trade Center. 960 1280

Travel Channel  

9/11 Memorial Plaza

9/11 Memorial Plaza

People walk through the 9/11 Memorial Plaza at One World Trade Center, site of the original World Trade Center Towers. Nearly 400 trees fill the plaza, inviting visitors to reflect on the events that occurred here. Meanwhile, One World Trade Center is set to open for business in 2014, with companies including Conde Nast and Vantone Holdings soon to have offices here. 960 1280

Mario Tama/Getty Images  

9/11 Memorial Plaza

9/11 Memorial Plaza

New York police, firefighters and Port Authority officers at one of the entrances of the 9/11 Memorial Plaza during the 10th anniversary ceremony. In all, 343 firefighters (including FDNY fire chaplain Mychal Judge), 23 NYPD officers and 37 Port Authority police officers lost their lives in the Sept. 11 attacks. Roughly 2,000 first responders were also injured that day. 960 1280

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images   

9/11 Memorial Museum

9/11 Memorial Museum

Two steel "tridents," which once held up the Twin Towers’ walls, stand in the entry of the pavilion area of the future 9/11 Memorial Museum. The museum, located 7 stories below the Memorial Plaza, is set to open in spring 2014, with 110,000 square feet of exhibition space dedicated to recounting the events of 9/11 through multimedia displays and voice recordings, like that of flight attendant CeeCee Lyles. 960 1280

REUTERS/Mike Segar  

WTC Site, Lower Manhattan

WTC Site, Lower Manhattan

In past years on Sept. 11, 2 columns of lights marked the place where NYC's Twin Towers once stood. 960 1280

Reuters  

9/11 Memorial

9/11 Memorial

The 9/11 Memorial in NYC honors the nearly 3,000 people who died in the Twin Towers and on the ground, near Shanksville, PA, and at the Pentagon, along with those who died in the World Trade Center bombing in 1993. 960 1280

Joe Woolhead  

North Memorial Pool

North Memorial Pool

US flags honor the memory of 25-year-old Bryan Bennett, whose name is etched into the rim of the north pool of the 9/11 Memorial. Bennett was one of the 2,606 who died in the World Trade Center attacks; he worked for eSpeed, a company that occupied the North Tower (1 World Trade Center). 960 1280

Jefferson Siegel-Pool/Getty Images  

Flight 93 Memorial

Flight 93 Memorial

After nearly 10 years of planning and fundraising, the Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville, PA, was officially dedicated on Sept. 10, 2011. The first phase of the memorial saw completion with the Wall of Names. The names of all 40 passengers and crew who perished on the flight are etched into the white marble. 960 1280

Jeff Swensen/Getty Images  

Flight 93 Memorial

Flight 93 Memorial

The Flight 93 memorial near Shanksville, PA, honors the 40 people who died on the hijacked flight trying to save others. The memorial was dedicated on the 10th anniversary of the attacks, with fundraising efforts led in large part by Flight 93 families. 960 1280

Paul Murdoch  

Pentagon at Night

Pentagon at Night

Dedicated in 2008, the Pentagon Memorial honors those 184 men and women who died on American Airlines Flight 77 and in the Pentagon itself. Each of the benches displays the name of a victim. They are organized from youngest to oldest, from 3-year-old Dana Falkenberg to 71-year-old John Yamnicky Sr. 960 1280

Michael Myers, flickr  

Pentagon Memorial

Pentagon Memorial

Young visitors pay their respects at the 9/11 memorial outside the Pentagon in Washington, DC. Maple trees are planted on the grounds of the memorial, which is open 7 days a week, year-round. 960 1280

Reuters  

Pentagon Memorial

Pentagon Memorial

Each year DC-area residents pay tribute to the victims of the attack on the Pentagon. Here, members of the military stand in unison, holding state flags. In 2013, President Obama will travel to the Pentagon Memorial to attend the Sept. 11th Observance Ceremony. 960 1280

Reuters  

Caribbean island, Hispaniola
Hispaniola

Hispaniola

Christmas Day 1492 wasn’t all glad tidings and good cheer for Christopher Columbus. On a journey to the northern coast of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, one of Columbus’ 3 ships, the Santa Maria, ran aground and had to be abandoned. It was the first of Columbus’ 4 voyages to the Americas. 960 1280

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Bay of Arrows

Bay of Arrows

Columbus didn’t exactly get a warm welcome when he landed on the Samana Peninsula (in present-day Dominican Republic). He met with violent resistance from the Ciguayos, one of the nations of the Caribbean islands. Because of the Ciguayos' use of arrows, Columbus called the inlet where he encountered them the Bay of Arrows. Historians have since debated its exact location: Some say it is the Bay of Rincon, others that it is Samana Bay. 960 1280

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Lisbon

Lisbon

The good times kept on coming as Columbus headed for Spain, on the last leg of his first voyage. He soon had to put those plans on hold, as a storm forced his fleet into Lisbon. There Columbus anchored next to Portugal King John II’s harbor partrol ship. Columbus spent the next week in Portugal, before he was able to continue on to Spain. 960 1280

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La Navidad

La Navidad

Nine months later, Columbus once again set sail for the high seas. This time, on his second voyage, he returned to Hispaniola, where he intended to visit the fort of La Navidad (built during his first voyage). However, Columbus discovered that the fort, located on the northern coast of Haiti, had been destroyed by the native Taino people. Centuries later, in 1977, an amateur archeologist excavated artifacts from La Navidad. 960 1280
La Isabela

La Isabela

It seemed like a good idea at the time. When Columbus sailed more than 60 miles eastward, along Hispaniola’s northern coast, he established the settlement of La Isabela, in present-day Dominican Republic. But in 1494 and then, in 1495, the settlement was struck by 2 North Atlantic hurricanes. Hunger, disease and mutiny soon followed, until Columbus abandoned the settlement altogether. 960 1280

Wikimedia Commons  

Cuba ... Part of Asia?

Cuba ... Part of Asia?

That's what Columbus was thinking when he arrived in Cuba (which he named Juana) on April 30, 1494. Exploring the island’s southern coast, Columbus placed his bets that it was part of a peninsula connected to mainland Asia. 960 1280

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Gulf of Paria

Gulf of Paria

And this must be the Garden of Eden! That’s what Columbus concluded as he sailed the Gulf of Paria (between present-day Trinidad and Venezuela). The nice climate, the abundance of food, the friendliness of the natives and the richness of the area’s natural resources all led him to that conclusion. He also wagered that, based on the rotation of the pole star in the sky, the Earth must not be perfectly spherical, but rather bulged out like a pear around the new-found continent we now know as South America. 960 1280
Tropical beach, Hispaniola

Tropical beach, Hispaniola

Columbus wasn’t feeling so well when he returned to Hispaniola on Aug. 19, 1498, during his third voyage. He felt even worse when he discovered that many of the Spanish settlers of the new colony were in rebellion against his rule, saying that Columbus had misled them about the supposedly bountiful riches of the New World. 960 1280

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Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo

Columbus’ fourth and final voyage met with choppy waters in June 1502. When his fleet arrived in Santo Domingo, it was denied port by the new governor. But Columbus got his revenge. He told the governor a storm was coming. The gov didn’t listen … to his demise. He ended up surrendering to the sea, along with 29 of his 30 ships. 960 1280

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Belen River, Panama

Belen River, Panama

Columbus’ 4 ships took a bruising while cruising through present-day Panama. Locals had told Columbus about gold and a strait to another ocean. Columbus set out on an exploration and established a garrison at the mouth of Panama’s Belen River. In April 1503, one of Columbus’ ships became stranded in the river. Meanwhile, the garrison was attacked by the Guaymí locals. Further headaches followed when shipworms damaged the ships at sea. 960 1280

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St Ann's Bay, Jamaica

St Ann's Bay, Jamaica

Columbus’ ships sustained further damage when a storm hit off the coast of Cuba. Unable to travel on, the fleet was beached in St. Ann’s Bay, in Jamaica. For 1 year, Columbus and his men remained stranded in Jamaica before help arrived. In all, Columbus’ voyages stretched over 12 years, and -- a few misadventures aside -- opened the door to the “New World." 960 1280
Alleged burial site of Vlad the Impaler
Snagov Monastery

Snagov Monastery

On a tiny islet, surrounded by a lake, stands Snagov Monastery. Vlad enthusiasts have been claiming since the 19th century that Vlad himself is buried inside this monastery, more than 300 miles from Bucharest. While there’s no definitive proof of it, it sure makes for an intriguing story. 960 1280

fusion-of-horizons, flickr  

Count Dracula Club

Count Dracula Club

Inside this 19th-century house in Bucharest, visitors encounter a Dracula-inspired restaurant with some, um, newfangled twists. Dine on menu options like “Count Dracula’s Beefsteak” and the “Van Helsing Plate,” in honor of Dracula’s biggest enemy. But beware -- someone might sneak up on you, and take a bite out of your tasty neck! 960 1280

Count Dracula Club   

Brasov, Home to Dracula’s Castle

Brasov, Home to Dracula’s Castle

The medieval fortress, about 100 miles from Bucharest, was invaded by Vlad back in the day. Perched atop a 200-foot-tall rock, overlooking the village of Bran, Bran Castle yields panoramic views of the village below. 960 1280

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Poenari Fortress

Poenari Fortress

This weathered, cliff-side castle was Vlad’s main fortress. Built between the 13th and 14th centuries in south-central Romania by the rulers of Wallachia (a principality in what is now Romania), the castle was later abandoned and fell into ruin, until Vlad stepped in and oversaw its repairs. 960 1280

RomaniaTourism.com  

Chindia Tower in Targoviste

Chindia Tower in Targoviste

This military tower, in the Romanian city of Targoviste, was built by Vlad in the 15th century. Construction began during Vlad’s second reign (his first reign had been interrupted by a political coup and subsequent exile). Vlad came back strong with Chindia Tower, which stands at more than 88 feet. 960 1280

RomaniaTourism.com
  

Vlad's Old Princely Court

Vlad's Old Princely Court

This place of residence, located in Bucharest’s historic center, was built during the rule of Vlad III. But don’t let its regal arches and (1 remaining) Corinthian column fool you; the princely court was also likely a house of horrors. Local lore has it that Vlad kept his political enemies in dungeons beneath the court’s grounds. 960 1280

Nicubunu, Wikimedia Commons  

Sibiu, Where the Impaling Began

Sibiu, Where the Impaling Began

Vlad’s gory legend was born in the Transylvania city of Sibiu. In 1459, thousands of people were impaled in the city, at Vlad’s orders, on St. Bartholomew’s Day. Vlad’s victims included women and children, along with merchants and the local aristocracy. While some justify Vlad’s gruesome acts as a defense of nationalism (many of his victims were German Saxons), his detractors note that many of his victims were also from his native Wallachia. 960 1280

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Vlad's Birthplace, Sighisoara

Vlad's Birthplace, Sighisoara

See where Vlad III was born. In the winter of 1431, the future Prince of Wallachia was born in the present-day city of Sighisoara -- this yellow building is his supposed birthplace. Vlad’s father was Vlad II Dracul, who went on to become the voivode (warlord) of the area. No one really knows who Vlad III’s mother was; some speculate it was a princess from Moldavia, but Vlad’s father had several mistresses. 960 1280

Aleksandar Cocek, flickr  

Borgo Pass

Borgo Pass

This high mountain pass, roughly 309 miles northwest of Bucharest, is actually known as the Tihuta Pass. Located in the Eastern Carpathian Mountains, the area was made famous by Bram Stoker’s Dracula -- in the novel, he rechristened the area, “Borgo Pass,” depicting it as the gateway to Count Dracula’s lair of horrors.

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Richard Mortel, flickr  

Hotel Coroana de Aur

Hotel Coroana de Aur

Once you’ve checked out the Borgo Pass, settle down for the night at Hotel Coroana de Aur. The property comprises 109 rooms and 4 suites, with air-conditioning, mini-bars and free Wi-Fi among the amenities, making for a clean, streamlined environment to kick back and read up on Vlad and Dracula’s bloody exploits. 960 1280

Iván Vieito  

USS Hornet
USS Hornet

USS Hornet

The USS Hornet, on the shores of Alameda Point, CA, held the most distinguished aircraft carrier combat record during World War II. She was later decommissioned in 1970, then opened to the public as a museum in 1998. 960 1280

the_tahoe_guy, flickr  

USS Pampanito

USS Pampanito

Take a stroll along San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf, where the USS Pampanito awaits. This US Navy ship completed 6 war patrols during World War II. 960 1280

Dawn Endico, flickr  

USS Alabama

USS Alabama

Moored at Battleship Park in Mobile, AL, the USS Alabama fought during World War II in the Pacific as a member of the fast carrier task forces. In 1964, it was donated to Alabama as a museum ship. 960 1280

Courtesy of USS ALABAMA Battleship Commission  

Battleship North Carolina

Battleship North Carolina

The Battleship North Carolina was considered the world's greatest sea weapon in 1941. By 1958, she was headed for the scrapyard -- until a statewide campaign by North Carolina citizens saved her. 960 1280

Courtesy of Battleship NORTH CAROLINA  

USS Lexington

USS Lexington

During World War II, Japanese forces nicknamed the USS Lexington "the Blue Ghost" because of her dark blue paint color. Today, self-guided tours cover 100,000 square feet and 11 decks. 960 1280

Stuart Seeger, flickr   

USS Intrepid

USS Intrepid

This World War II aircraft carrier in NYC was saved from the scrap heap in 1978. Now a museum, the USS Intrepid serves as a hub for the annual Fleet Week events. 960 1280

storem, flickr   

USCGC Taney

USCGC Taney

'Air Raid, Pearl Harbor.' The USCGC Taney heeded the call that fateful day, and became the last ship floating that fought in the attacks. Today, she is located in the Baltimore Inner Harbor. 960 1280

Wally Gobetz, flickr  

Battleship Texas

Battleship Texas

A dreadnought, the USS Texas is the oldest remaining battleship of its kind. Today, it's moored at San Jacinto Battleground, near Houston. 960 1280

Al Pavangkanan, flickr  

USS Nautilus

USS Nautilus

The USS Nautilus was the world's first operational nuclear submarine -- and inspiration for Jules Verne's 20 Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. 960 1280

Victor-ny, Wikimedia Commons  

USS Midway

USS Midway

Located at the San Diego Aircraft Carrier Museum, the USS Midway -- better known as the longest-serving Navy aircraft carrier of the 20th century -- includes 60 exhibits, including a jail, engine room and pilots' ready rooms. 960 1280

Courtesy of USS Midway Museum  

Bowfin Submarine

Bowfin Submarine

This beast of a submarine was aptly named after a predatory fish. Since 1981, it's been open to publc tours as a museum in Pearl Harbor, HI. 960 1280

Courtesy of USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park  

USS Blueblack

USS Blueblack

The USS Blueback is the US Navy's last non-nuclear, fast-attack submarine. For 3 decades, it was in official operation throughout the Pacific Ocean. 960 1280

M.O. Stevens, Wikimedia Commons  

USS Kidd

USS Kidd

The USS Kidd won 8 battle stars for World War II service and 4 for Korean War service. It is now located in Baton Rouge, LA. And -- how's this for fun -- now offers overnight camping aboard the ship. 960 1280

U.S. Navy, Wikimedia Commons  

USS Massachusetts

USS Massachusetts

The USS Massachusetts -- or 'Big Mamie,' as her crew called her -- received 11 battle stars for World War II service. 960 1280

David Smith, flickr  

USS Batfish

USS Batfish

The USS Batfish sank 3 enemy submarines and 11 other enemy vessels during its active years. Today, the submarine rests at Port of Muskogee, OK, and is open to the public from late March to November. 960 1280

Doug Wertman, flickr  

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