• Sheep in field in Cotswolds

    Visit Stonehenge like Obama + six other travel tips in the British Isles

    The <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/united-kingdom/" target="_blank">British Isles</a> are a diverse land mixing centuries of history and culture with spirited metropolitan cities and quaint countryside towns. Whatever your interests may be, there’s much to explore across the pond. But with so many options available, it’s easy to find yourself stuck in an enormous crowd staring at the back of a tourist’s head rather than seeing the changing of the guards. Fortunately for you, there is a way to pick just the right footpath, to get the same private access to Stonehenge as former President Obama and to be at the right place at the right time. Just follow this easy cheat sheet. With it, you can take to the streets in London or meander through charming countryside and villages where time seems to stand still. Cue the wanderlust!<br><br><b>London</b><br><br>Surprise, surprise—<a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/londonstonehengecotswolds/" target="_blank">London</a> makes the list! Of course, visiting the British Isles without exploring this magnificent city steeped in history would be missing a great deal of the British Isles. With a local expert Blue Badge Guide, keep your focus on <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/londonstonehengecotswolds/" target="_blank">Buckingham Palace</a>, Westminster Abbey, and the many impressive war monuments and museums. Your guide will help you weave the past into the fabric of the city while blending with the modern architecture in this metropolitan gem. The city’s tremendous diversity (did you know there are over one million British Indians in London?) lends it an inimitable character where delicious food abounds the streets and creativity exists on every street corner. So how to find the well-connected friend a.k.a. Blue Badge Guide? <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/" target="_blank">Classic Journeys</a> has relationships with the best ones so that you can focus all your attention on enjoying your visit.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/londonstonehengecotswolds/" target="_blank"><img alt="User-added image" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000001vxko&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000zV34" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b>Stonehenge</b><br> <br>Stonehenge&#39;s ring of prehistoric standing stones is iconic, a quintessential symbol of Britain and its rich history. This <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/londonstonehengecotswolds/" target="_blank">UNESCO World Heritage site</a>, located in the Salisbury Plain, dates as far back as 5,000 years and carries a powerful ceremonial and ritual significance for people across the globe. Each massive stone weighs about 25 tons and reaches heights of 13 feet, making it a masterpiece of engineering. This wonder of the world, and the mystery and rich history that surrounds it, is a must-see as you explore the United Kingdom. The problem you’ll encounter is that about 1.5 million people visit <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/londonstonehengecotswolds/" target="_blank">Stonehenge</a> every year, meaning that you will have a lot more than the standing stones standing around you. The cure is to visit when the site is closed to the public. No, we don’t mean to jump the fence and skirt the ample security. Instead, <a href="http://www.classicjourneys.com/" target="_blank">Classic Journeys</a> has special permission from English Heritage to bring its guests into Stonehenge when no one else is present. Meaning you’ll be just like the president, if only for a day.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/londonstonehengecotswolds/" target="_blank"><img alt="User-added image" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000001vxko&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000zV39" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b>Blenheim Palace</b><br><br>Britain boasts yet another impressive <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/londonstonehengecotswolds/" target="_blank">UNESCO World Heritage</a> site in one of England’s great country houses: <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/londonstonehengecotswolds/" target="_blank">Blenheim Palace</a>. The impressive palace has been a filming location for many movies but has a storied history of its own. Located just outside of Oxford, the massive property is open to the public but is considered the private property of the 12th Duke of Marlborough. The palace is known for being the ancestral home of Winston Churchill, was used as a hospital for wounded soldiers during the First World War and has housed various dukes and duchesses throughout history. You can arrive by car and simply wander Blenheim on your own, listening for the old halls to share their stories of the palace. Or, join Classic Journeys to walk through the scenic countryside from the nearby village of Bladon—where Winston Churchill was buried—to Blenheim Palace. With this route, you also have the fun of strolling the sweeping lawns and formal gardens.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/londonstonehengecotswolds/" target="_blank"><img alt="User-added image" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000001vxko&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000zV3E" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b>The Cotswolds</b><br><br>The stunning <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/londonstonehengecotswolds/" target="_blank">Cotswolds</a> region is not only known as the birthplace of Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, and George Elliot, but also wows for its sweeping sheep-filled meadows, grand family homes, and honey-colored villages that represent the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/londonstonehengecotswolds/" target="_blank">England of fantasies</a>. Think cozy, flower-strewn cottages and vast swathes of picturesque rolling green countryside. So many of them, in fact, that your head will spin with color, fragrance and options. So how to make sense of it? Opt for a guided walk through Bath that includes afternoon tea served with shortbread and scones, and revel in the location that inspired some of the world&#39;s best literature. The magic of these places is how little they have changed over the centuries, and so how easy it is to imagine yourself in the literary works you treasure and the land that inspired them.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/londonstonehengecotswolds/" target="_blank"><img alt="User-added image" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000001vxko&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000zV3J" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b>Cornwall</b><br> <br>The southwest corner of England is known for its inviting turquoise water, sandy beaches, chalky limestone cliffs and fine coastal trails with terrific views punctuated by lighthouses and villages tucked into tiny coves. Visit <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/cornwall/" target="_blank">Tintagel Castle</a>, which is frequently cited as the birthplace of King Arthur himself. History and legends of the pirates and smugglers of Land&#39;s End exist around every corner. Cozy seaside villages, friendly and quirky locals and the occasional cream tea with scones, jam, and clotted cream will leave you feeling at home in this captivating part of the British Isles. Follow a Blue Badge Guide on walks along cliffs lined with coastal paths, explore seaside hamlets with picturesque harbors, and cross causeways to an island castle in this exquisite county of England. <br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/cornwall/" target="_blank"><img alt="User-added image" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000001vxko&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000zV3O" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b>Killarney, Ireland </b><br><br>The Irish town of <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/ireland/" target="_blank">Killarney</a> is nestled on the beautiful Lough Leane lakeshore in a valley ringed by mountains in southwest Ireland. The scenic valleys, fabled Killarney Lakes and Old Kenmare Road are not to be missed. But what is fact and what is fable? For that, you’ll want to pair up with an expert local as you stroll through the wild, heath-covered hillsides of <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/ireland/" target="_blank">Killarney National Park</a> and look out for its magnificent herds of native red deer and unique plant life. Enjoy beautiful castles and too many shades of green to count as you learn of Killarney&#39;s famous herds of mountain sheep that have been carefully bred for over 150 years. (Because you’re in the know, you’ll also be welcomed to a sheep farm to watch its prized dogs maneuver the sheep all around the countryside.) <br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/ireland/" target="_blank"><img alt="User-added image" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000001vxko&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000zV3d" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b>Ring of Kerry, Ireland</b><br><br>The <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/ireland/" target="_blank">Ring of Kerry</a> is a famed scenic loop in southwest Ireland&#39;s County Kerry. Rugged islands, dramatic beaches, and cinematic mountain passes will amaze you as you roam through the Irish countryside. But how to make Ireland more than just one big green postcard in your mind? The secret is in getting to know the local people. So find a guide who can introduce you to the chocolatier who will become your own personal Willy Wonka, the local who shares his secrets for how to cut turf (totally useless, but very fun) and the master distiller who is taking on the global brands one drop at a time. <br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/ireland/" target="_blank"><img alt="User-added image" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000001vxko&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000zV3i" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br>There you go. Seven travel hacks that will have you exploring the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/united-kingdom/" target="_blank">British Isles</a> like a former president, staying far from the maddening crowds, and getting the trip of a lifetime. For more details on how, take a look at tours offered by <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/united-kingdom/" target="_blank">Classic Journeys</a>.   

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  • Happiest countries

    The Happiest Countries in the World

    A few months ago, I was lying on a beach in <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/costaricafamily/" target="_blank">Costa Rica</a>, under a tropical sun, still wet from a dip in the warm Pacific, an icy cup of rum punch in hand and my wife at my side. And yet, I was not happy. You see, the trip had been on the books for months, and my goal when booking had been to spend as much time as possible on a surfboard, indulging one of my great passions in one of the world’s best surf spots. A knee injury (and subsequent surgery) just prior to the trip changed all that. Now I was just…lying on the beach. Kelli noticed my melancholy mood. “Look around,” she told me. “Everyone here is glad to be here – the tourists <i>and</i> the locals. They’re so content just to be in this beautiful setting. Pura vida, as they say.” Of course, she was right, and I quickly snapped out of my funk.<br><br>Pura vida literally means “pure life”, and it’s the national motto of Costa Rica. But it could easily apply to any of the countries listed in the annual World Happiness Report. Since 2012, the United Nations Sustainable Development Network has published the report, which lists the world’s happiest countries. In a recent interview with the New York Times, report editor John F. Helliwell explained that the report is more of a reflection of contentment than what many of us might think of as sheer giddiness. Helliwell goes on to say that the World Happiness Report measures one’s overall satisfaction with life and the level of belief that your fellow citizens are looking out for one another. Happy people, argues Helliwell, “trust…and care about each other, and that’s what fundamentally makes for a better life.” And it appears, a happier life. <br><br>It goes without saying that happy countries make for great travel destinations; as it happens, Classic Journeys runs tours in 12 of this year’s top 20 Happiest Countries. Here’s a quick look at each of those.<br><br><b>19. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/prague/" target="_blank">Czech Republic</a></b><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/prague/" target="_blank"><img alt="Czech Republic happiest country in the world" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PZ4M&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000ns1i" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br>The end of the Cold War brought sweeping changes to eastern Europe, and no country has had a more dramatic turnaround than the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/prague/" target="_blank">Czech Republic</a>. The country is now considered one of the world’s great cultural destinations, thanks in large part to its friendly, welcoming people. <br><br><b>18. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/united-states/" target="_blank">The United States</a></b><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/united-states/" target="_blank"><img alt="America world&#39;s happiest country" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PZ4M&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000ns1T" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br>We tend to overlook the fact that the U.S. is a pretty amazing country; there’s plenty of reasons why millions of people come here to visit every year. The highest mountain in North America is in <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/alaska/" target="_blank">Alaska</a>; the world’s most famous canyon is in Arizona. Oh, and we also have Hawaii.<br><br><b>16. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/ireland/" target="_blank">Ireland</a></b><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/ireland/" target="_blank"><img alt="Ireland world&#39;s happiest country" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PZ4M&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000ns19" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br>Fun Fact – corned beef and cabbage is widely shunned in <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/ireland/" target="_blank">Ireland</a>, and for good reason. The <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/irish-food/" target="_blank">food</a> there is much better than our go-to St. Patrick’s Day fare. <br><br><b>13. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/england/" target="_blank">The United Kingdom</a></b><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/england/" target="_blank"><img alt="UK world&#39;s happiest country" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PZ4M&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000ns0u" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br>For such a small island, the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/united-kingdom/" target="_blank">UK</a> has a huge amount to offer. The (mostly) good-natured rivalry between Scotland and England is a great way to frame a visit: <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/scotland/" target="_blank">Scotland</a> is said to be the birthplace of golf, and the 600-year old St. Andrews course is the oldest and arguably the most famous in the world. England is home to two of the world’s most famous royal homes: Buckingham Palace, and Tintagel Castle – said to be the birthplace of King Arthur.<br><br><b>11. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/canada/" target="_blank">Canada</a></b><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/canada/" target="_blank"><img alt="Canada happiest country in the world" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PZ4M&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000ns2q" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br>Having travelled extensively through <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/canada/" target="_blank">Canada</a>, I can tell you that the stories are true: Canadians are incredibly nice. I can also testify to the stunning beauty of the Canadian Rockies; British Columbia’s Provincial Parks are home to some of the world’s great scenery. Something else that most people don’t know: the only fortified city in North America (picture the walled cities you might find in France) is in Quebec. And yes, Canadians love their most famous culinary export, poutine. (It’s French fries, covered in cheese and gravy – what’s NOT to love?)<br><br><b>9. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/austria/" target="_blank">Austria</a></b><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/austria/" target="_blank"><img alt="Austria world&#39;s happiest country" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PZ4M&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000ns30" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br>It must be the Danube – it runs through both the Czech Republic and <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/europe/" target="_blank">Austria</a>, and both are in the list of top 20 Happiest Countries. To get a good sense of why Austria is such a draw, simply cue up the movie <i>The Sound of Music;</i> nearly all of the movie’s external scenes were filmed on location throughout the country.<br><br><b>8. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/new-zealand/" target="_blank">New Zealand</a></b><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/new-zealand/" target="_blank"><img alt="New Zealand the world&#39;s happiest country" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PZ4M&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nrz8" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br>Speaking of famous film locations, <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/new-zealand-north-south-island-tours/" target="_blank">New Zealand</a> served as the setting for the classic of fantasy cinema, 1988’s Willow. A few decades before that OTHER big fantasy movie series hit the screens, producer George Lucas and director Ron Howard thought that the county’s green, rugged landscapes would be the perfect location for a swords-and-sorcery epic. <br><br><b>5. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/norway/" target="_blank">Norway</a></b><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/norway/" target="_blank"><img alt="Norway happiest country in the world" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PZ4M&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000ns06" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br>It should be noted that Scandinavian countries have dominated the list of World’s Happiest Countries, routinely taking the top 5 spots year after year. This might seem unusual, since…well, the winters in <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/norway/" target="_blank">Norway</a>, Sweden, Iceland and Finland are very long, and very dark. But it makes sense, and not just because Norway is the world’s second largest consumer of coffee (the average Norwegian will go through about 22 pounds of coffee a year). Adverse conditions often build strong communities, and the common thread of taking care of neighbors and fellow citizens runs through the Scandinavian democracies. Also, it helps that Norway in the summertime is beautiful and inviting; the countless fjords are a major draw, and the temperate weather makes visiting them easy and comfortable. And if the fjords aren’t enough for you, there are about 50,000 islands off the coast of Norway.<br><br><b>4. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/iceland/" target="_blank">Iceland</a></b><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/iceland/" target="_blank"><img alt="Iceland world&#39;s happiest country" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PZ4M&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nrwJ" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br>When I visited Iceland, the one thing I had to try was the locals’ favorite hot dog. I was not disappointed. Reykjavik’s BBP serves up the best hot dog you’ll ever eat (sorry, Chicago). Icelandic food straddles a very strange line, that of familiar comfort food and…well, whatever category fermented shark meat served in a shot of locally distilled grain alcohol falls under. Iceland’s reputation as both stunningly beautiful and thoroughly delightful is well-earned. Icelanders are fiercely proud of their heritage, incredibly protective of their country’s natural resources, and unabashedly welcoming to visitors. And they’re exceptionally literate – Iceland boasts the most bookstores per capita of any country in the world, and 10% of Iceland’s population has or will publish a book. <br><br><b>3. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/switzerland/" target="_blank">Switzerland</a></b><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/switzerland/" target="_blank"><img alt="Switzerland the world&#39;s happiest country" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PZ4M&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nrzI" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br>Ski all winter, hike all summer – it’s not hard to see why the Swiss are among the world’s happiest people. Certainly living in the literal center of the European Alps helps – the opportunities for activity alone have made Switzerland the country with the lowest obesity rate in Europe. But so too does an incredibly high standard of living – the country has one of the lowest poverty levels in Europe, universities are inexpensive, and teachers’ salaries rank well above the country’s average salary mark. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/switzerland-family/" target="_blank">Switzerland</a> has also gained a reputation as a hub of innovation; the country that invented the wristwatch has claimed the number one spot on the Global Innovation Index for the past nine years. Finally, Switzerland is both the world’s largest producer and consumer of chocolate. The country makes about 118,000 tons a year; the average Swiss citizen eats about 24 pounds annually. <br><br><b>2. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/scandinavia/" target="_blank">Denmark</a></b><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/scandinavia/" target="_blank"><img alt="Denmark world&#39;s happiest country" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PZ4M&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000ns0V" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br>It’s ironic that the world’s most famous Dane, Hamlet, was known for being melancholy. Clearly his fellow Danes aren’t. <br><br><b>1. Finland</b><br><img alt="Finland world&#39;s happiest country" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PZ4M&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nrz3" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>For the third year in a row, Finland is the World’s Happiest Country. The New York Times cites the Finns’ happiness with their government (91% say that they think their President is doing a good job) and law enforcement (86% indicate that they trust the police) as driving factors. The Finns seem to be less “happy”, as we might define it, and more content, and this doesn’t seem to be limited to native Finns, but included immigrants to Finland as well.<br><br>Traveling gives us a sense of perspective, of course, and a big piece of that is the empathy born from the connections we form with our international friends. These days, I find myself thinking about my travels both here in the U.S. and abroad – over the past few years, I’ve been lucky to have spent time in Colorado, New Orleans, France, Italy, Iceland, and of course Costa Rica. The Central American nation came in at #15 on the list of World’s Happiest Countries, and I’m honestly surprised it didn’t rank higher. It’s a truly idyllic place, where the veneer of all the stuff that we think is so important is stripped away by the sight of a beautiful sunset on an empty beach. The Ticos – that’s the name that Costa Ricans call themselves – I know are no doubt weathering the current storm anxiously, as we all are. I’m looking forward to my next trip, and reminding myself that la pura vida is still out there.<br><br><i>Jason Avant is a writer and editor; a frequent contributor to the Classic Journeys Blog, he’s also contributed to the James Beard Award-winning travel website Roads and Kingdoms, as well as numerous other print and digital publications.</i><br> 

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  • Earth Day

    Reflections on Earth Day

    Today marks the 50th Earth Day, a time to celebrate our amazing planet and encourage environmental protection.<br><br>Earth Day celebrations today may be more meaningful than ever, given the effects that #stayathome are having on all of us, globally and locally.<br><br>In all kinds of ways, you can explore the ecological changes Earth is experiencing. <br><br><b>Pollution has plummeted, giving the planet a breath of fresh air</b><br><a href="http://https///commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=79293384" target="_blank"><img alt="Fanhe_Town_10_day_interval By Tomskyhaha" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Pduv&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nxjh" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br>Highway closures, factory shut downs and countless cancelled commutes have led to unprecedented drops in emissions.<br><br>March measurements reported pollution in Paris to be down by over 45%, LA by over 25% and Sydney nearly 30%.<br><br>Where Delhi’s Air Quality Index has been known to soar to life-threatening levels, it’s sunk to a fraction of that. Free from boat traffic, Venice’s canal has become incredibly clear. This image (credit: Tomskyhaha CC Wikicommons) is shows the change in pollution after 10 days of lockdown in Fanhe town in China.<br><br><b>We&#39;re noticing new horizons</b><br><img alt="Hollywood sign is clearer in coronavirus LA lockdown" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Pduv&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nxkG" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>In Jalandhar in Punjab, the residents are able to see the Dhauladhar mountains once shrouded by smog. The residents of Milan are waking up to views of the Italian Alps. In Los Angeles, the Hollywood sign and Catalina Island can be seen from a far greater distance. <br><br><b>City-dwellers can hear clear birdsong </b><br><img alt="Birdsong is more audible during coronavirus" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Pduv&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nxjS" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>Stay at home means less or no commuting and so city soundscapes have changed, with measurements showing a dramatic drop in decibels. Classic Journeys guides around the world are telling us how they can suddenly hear birdsong in locations they never have previously, including Susana in Lisbon: &quot;In Portugal, we’ve seen a big change in just a few weeks. It’s like we have gone back in time to the old days when sound pollution wasn’t around and very few people walked the streets. We can hear the birds so clearly now as they sing to welcome in the spring!&quot;<br><br><b>…while whale song is filling the oceans</b><br><img alt="Whales are singing during coronavirus" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Pduv&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nxkL" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>Cruises have been cancelled and shipping traffic slashed.<br><br>Bioacoustic measurements are detecting far quieter waters, and the pollution of the oceans is lessening. Which is wonderful news for whales.<br><br>Whale song is clearer than ever with manmade noise no longer interrupting their communications.<br><br>Sightings have increased thanks to a lack of boat traffic deterring them from coastal areas. Researchers have measured a notable drop in their stress hormones. <br> <br><b>More of us are stargazing </b><br><img alt="Stargazing more popular during coronavirus" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Pduv&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nxjX" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>Stadiums are not lit up. There are fewer car headlights on the highways and fewer airplane trails striping the sky.<br><br>As a result of clearer air and less light pollution, Parisians are seeing starry skies never experienced in decades. There are stunning images of the annual Lyrid meteor shower, and Britons have been watching the Starlink satellites, launched by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, as they cross the skies.<br> <br><b>We have a whole new appreciation for natural spaces</b><br><img alt="Love nature" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Pduv&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nxli" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>As governments limit going outdoors, we’re appreciating the nature on our doorstep more than ever, exploring our local areas on daily walks, craving closed-down beaches and hiking trails and dreaming up a wish list of things to do and see when life returns to normal.<br> <br><b>Animals are roaming free</b><br><img alt="Kruger National Park Twitter lions napping on street" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Pduv&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nxk1" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>Humans may be staying home, but wildlife is freely exploring.<br><br>In Wales, mountain goats have been wandering the streets. In Barcelona, it’s been wild boar. Deer have been spotted grazing in London housing estates and racoons roaming Central Park. Coyotes have been seen on the Golden Gate Bridge.<br><br>South Africa’s Kruger National Park <a href="https://twitter.com/SANParksKNP" target="_blank">tweeted</a> this photo of lions, lazing on roads usually dominated by safari jeeps.<br><br>Even animals in captivity are getting a taste of freedom. Chicago’s <a href="https://twitter.com/shedd_aquarium" target="_blank">Shedd Aquarium</a> released its penguins to waddle around and meet fellow creatures.<br> <br><b>Wildflowers are blooming </b><br><img alt="Wildflowers growing as nature thrives during lockdown" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Pduv&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nxjr" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>Where councils have left grassy areas unmown, bursts of brightly-colored flowers are emerging. With so much new pollen, honeybees are having a field day.<br><br><b>Bike sales are booming </b><br><img alt="Teach your child to ride a bike" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Pduv&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nxjm" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>With limited time to enjoy the great outdoors, people are taking to two wheels.<br><br>Work-from-home parents are using their lunch breaks to teach their toddlers to cycle.<br><br>People are discovering parts of their neighborhood they never knew existed.<br><br><b>We&#39;re taking care of one another</b><br><img alt="NHS sign support healthcare workers" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Pduv&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nxls" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>People are uniting, and the phrase ‘we’re all in this together’ is used more than ever.<br><br>Neighbors are looking out for each other, helping with shopping and dog walking.<br><br>Communities are supporting local businesses to help them stay open.<br><br>Italians have been leaning from balconies to join each other in song.<br><br>Households celebrate essential workers on the front line: flashing lights from apartments in built-up cities, putting up painted painting &#39;thank you&#39; signs on fences and windows and stepping outdoors weekly applause.

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