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Top Vacation Places in the World

1. Bangkok — 22.78 million

Bangkok is the capital and most populous city of Thailand. The Asian investment boom in the 1980s and 1990s led many multinational corporations to locate their regional headquarters in Bangkok. The city is now a regional force in finance, business, transport, health care, arts, fashion, and entertainment. (Wikipedia)

2. Paris — 19.10 million

Paris is the capital and most populous city of France. Paris is one of Europe's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science and arts. Paris was the second most expensive city in the world. The city is a major railway, highway and air-transport hub served by two international airports. Paris is especially known for its museums and architectural landmarks. (Wikipedia)

3. London — 19.09 million

London is the capital and largest city of England and the United Kingdom. The city stands on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea. London has been a major settlement for two millennia. (Wikipedia)

4. Dubai, United Arab Emirates — 15.93 million

Dubai is the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the capital of the Emirate of Dubai. (Wikipedia)

5. Singapore — 14.67 million

Singapore is a sovereign island city-state in maritime Southeast Asia. It has the second greatest population density in the world. (Wikipedia)

6. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — 13.79 million

Kuala Lumpur is the largest city in Malaysia. (Wikipedia)

7. New York City — 13.6 million

New York City is the most populous city in the United States. New York City is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, significantly influencing commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. (Wikipedia)

8. Istanbul — 13.4 million

Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey and the country's economic, cultural and historic center. (Wikipedia)

9. Tokyo — 12.93 million

Tokyo is the capital and most populous prefecture of Japan. Tokyo is the political and economic center of the country, as well as the seat of the Emperor of Japan and the national government. (Wikipedia)

10. Antalya, Turkey — 12.41 million

Antalya is the fifth-most populous city in Turkey. (Wikipedia)

Source: Global Destination Cities Index 2019

The 25 Most Visited Tourist Spots in America

1. Times Square, New York 2. Central Park 3. The Las Vegas Strip 4. Union Station 5. Golden Gate Park, San Francisco 6. Grand Central Terminal, New York City 7. Magic Kingdom, Disney World, Florida 8. Lincoln Park, Chicago 9. Disneyland Resort, California 10. Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston 11. Balboa Park 12. Disney's Animal Kingdom, Orlando Florida 13. EPCOT, Disney World, Florida 13. Great Smoky Mountains National Park 14. Disney's Hollywood Studios, Orlando, Florida 15. Pier 39, Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco 16. Venice Beach, California 17. Pike Place Market, Seattle, Washington 18. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco 19. South Street Seaport, New York City 20. Mackinac Bridge, Michigan 21. Navy Pier, Chicago 22. Grand Canyon, Arizona 23. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah 24. Mall of America, Minnesota 25. Statue of Liberty, New York

Source: The 25 Most Visited Tourist Spots in America

Munich, Germany

It has been two years living in Munich and even today, the city is able to hypnotize me with its unending mysteries and secrets that I endeavor to unravel every day, much like a child opening a Christmas present....

Source: "Living in Munich – The City That Fulfills Every Dream" by Shaira Mohan

St. Louis, Missouri: Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry had a long career as a pioneering rock 'n' roll musician that influenced rock 'n' roll's future. His showmanship and guitar solos impressed the audience, leading to his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. His hit, “Johnny B. Goode,” was put on a golden record with other recordings and launched into space on the Voyager spacecraft in 1977.

Born Charles Edward Anderson Berry in Missouri on October 18, 1926, Chuck Berry was an outstanding American guitarist, singer, and songwriter. His work shaped rhythm and blues into the new genre of rock 'n' roll.

As a wayward teenager, he was convicted of armed robbery and spent three years in a Missouri prison. During this incarceration, he formed a singing quartet that performed until his release at twenty-one.

A year later, Berry married Themetta “Toddy” Suggs with a child. He took odd jobs in St. Louis to support his family--from automobile factory worker to janitor to beautician. The family lived in a small house, now a historic place on the National Register.

Berry performed locally in his free time. In search of a recording contract, he traveled to Chicago on a road trip. He met Muddy Waters, who referred him to Chess Records. His version of an old country song named “Ida Red” impressed co-founder Leonard Chess, who signed him. Berry named his song “Maybellene,” and it was a runaway success, selling over one million copies and topping the R&B Billboard chart in 1955. In ‘56, he toured with another smash named “Roll Over Beethoven.” In ‘57, he toured with Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers. More than a dozen hit singles followed, including “Sweet Little Sixteen” and “Johnny B. Goode.” He acted in films and played himself in Go, Johnny, Go!

In 1959, he was arrested for violating the Mann Act that prohibits human trafficking, and he was sentenced to three years in prison. After his release, he published five albums and toured the U.K. The Beach Boys' hit “Surfin' U.S.A.” was released in 1963, peaking at number three. The song borrowed the melody of Berry's “Sweet Little Sixteen.” He saw chart-topping success in '72, with his light-hearted single, “My Ding-A-Ling.”

In the 1990s, he was sued by various women for having a video camera in the bathroom of his restaurant. The settlement cost him over one million dollars. Later, he served six months for marijuana possession. In 2000, his former pianist, Johnnie Johnson, sued him claiming he co-wrote many of Berry's songs, but the case was dismissed.

When asked about his meteoric rise, he replied, “Well, actually they begin to listen to it, you see, because certain stations played certain music. The music that we, the blacks, played, the cultures were so far apart, we would have to have a play station in order to play it. The cultures begin to come together, and you begin to see one another's vein of life, then the music came together.”

Fremont, California: Tesla Electric Car Factory

From the company that promises, “To accelerate the advent of sustainable transport and electric technology,” the Tesla Model 3 seems to be exactly what it promises: a version of the groundbreaking electric car that most people can actually afford.

The Model 3 is a four-door sedan that looks similar to the Model S from the side and back. Its general characteristics include a high roof and a smooth bob at the front and backend. It also has a blunt nose, which makes it look a little similar to the Tesla Roadster, at least in the front.

According to Car and Driver, the Model 3 is “genetically linked to all of its ancestors,” which fits well with the assertion of Tesla CEO Elon Musk that this particular model could have only been built with the help and support of those who “bought an S or an X” in the past.

Like Tesla's other models, the Model 3 is an electric car, and it provides drivers with 358 miles of range before needing to recharge. There is room for up to five passengers, and drivers can store items in both the front and rear trunks. The car can also increase in speed very quickly and quietly, as it can jump from zero to 60 in 3.1 seconds.

The model also includes the Autopilot feature found in other Tesla cars, all-wheel drive, and is able to use the Tesla Supercharger charging network. It's a sports sedan with electric car capabilities that could be purchased for $46,990.

Whatever the case, Tesla seems to have pulled out all the stops when it comes to the Model 3 and created an impressive, enviable vehicle that is actually energy efficient and affordable too.

Hawaii: The Aloha State

The Hawaiian Islands may have been settled as early as the second century; by 1000, villages near the ocean were farming, and by 1500, populations were spreading to the interiors of the islands. Around 1200, a new social structure had been introduced, separating the people into classes. It also included new laws, including the kapu, a strict code of conduct governing many aspects of Hawaiian life. Religion in Hawaii included a ritual, high priests, four major gods, many lesser deities, and guardians and spirits.

Each island was split up into several subdivisions, with communities usually set up around streams. Important crops included sweet potatoes, bananas, coconuts, and sugarcane. In addition to community crops, Hawaiians also maintained gardens at their homes.

Contact with Europeans started in 1778, when British Captain James Cook traded for supplies with the residents of the island of Kauai. He continued his voyage to the coast of North America and Alaska, then landed on Hawaii Island during his return trip. After Cook's longboat went missing, he tried to kidnap the king. In defense, the king's attendant killed him with a knife.

The Kingdom of Hawaii began in 1795 with the unification of the islands. The kingdom's first king, Kamehameha I, was a great-grandson of Keawe'ikekahiali'iokamoku, a 17th-century king of Hawaii Island. His uncle Kalani'opu'u had encountered Captain Cook, and raised Kamehameha after his father's death. Supporters of Kamehameha overthrew his cousins, making Kamehameha the king of Hawaii Island, and by 1795, Kamehameha had conquered most of the main islands. Kamehameha then built a palace which became the seat of government for 50 years. The king had many wives, but Ka'ahumanu became the most prominent, ruling alongside her stepson Liholiho (Kamehameha II) and as regent for her stepson Kauikeaouli (Kamehameha III).

The reign of Kamehameha II saw the beginning of a system of dual-government involving a co-ruler, along with the decline of the Hawaiian religion. He and his wife died of measles while visiting England. Kamehameha III was still a minor, so Ka'ahumanu ruled in his stead, along with a new co-ruler, Boki. They both converted to Christianity shortly after Kamehameha II's death.

Sugar had become a major export after Cook's arrival. By the mid-1800s, there were plantations operating on the main islands. American plantation owners wanted a voice in politics, and in 1843 the U.S. did not interfere with a brief occupation by the British.

The Rebellion of 1887, led by the Hawaiian Patriotic League, resulted in a new constitution, known as the Bayonet Constitution, which they forced Kalakaua to sign. This constitution limited the voting rights of native Hawaiians and Asians, and limited the power of the king. It also granted Americans in the kingdom unprecedented freedoms.

Upon Kalakaua's death, his sister, Lili'uokalani, became queen. In 1893, a group of conspirators, known as the Committee of Safety and made up of legislators and government officials who were American and European citizens, gathered about 1500 non-native men across the street from ‘Iolani Palace. They were supported by U.S. Government Minister John L. Stevens. The men placed Queen Lili'uokalani under house arrest at the palace, and the Kingdom of Hawaii became the Republic of Hawaii.

Hawaii remained a republic for about 5 years, then was annexed by the U.S. in 1898, becoming the Territory of Hawaii. A territorial government was set up in 1900, and sugarcane plantations expanded during this period.

On December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Imperial Japanese Navy, and Hawaii was placed under martial law until 1945. In 1954, a series of non-violent protests led to the ousting of the Hawaii Republican Party, and the election of the Democratic Party of Hawaii. This also led to labor unions and the decline of the sugar plantations.

Hawaii was admitted to the U.S. as a state on August 21, 1959.

Pearl Harbor: Surprise Attack on Hawaii

It lasted only about 90 minutes, but in that time the Imperial Japanese Navy managed to kill 2,403 Americans, destroy 18 ships and 188 airplanes, and draw the United States into World War II, all on a day of infamy. More than half the American deaths were caused by a single bomb that hit the USS Arizona, whose remains now lie at the bottom of Pearl Harbor as a memorial to the attack on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941.

Shortly after 7:30 that Sunday, two Army men manning a new-fangled "radar" at Opana on Oahu's north shore saw more than a hundred blips 136 miles north of the island and notified their superiors at Pearl Harbor. The officer in charge there had confidential information that a dozen stripped-down and unarmed B-17s from the West Coast were due in at about that time on about the same route, so he told the radar men to ignore the blips.

By then, five two-man midget submarines launched from the fleet the previous day had attempted to sneak into the harbor morning. One was spotted and attacked by a pair of U.S. Navy ships cruising offshore. Three others ended up at the bottom of the sea just outside the harbor, but not before they managed to launch several torpedoes. A fifth managed to ground itself twice, and after the second time one of its crewmen swam to shore and became America's first Japanese prisoner of war.

The radar blips were the first wave of the attack, led by Commander Mitsuo Fuchida. His plane led 182 others off the decks of six aircraft carriers stationed about 200 miles north of Oahu. The planes included about equal portions of bombers armed with armor-piercing bombs weighing nearly a ton each, bombers carrying quarter-ton torpedoes, dive bombers and fighters known as Zeros for their rising-sun insignia.

The planes formed two groups, each circling the island to attack Pearl Harbor from the south and from the north to begin the attack at 7:48 a.m. Most of the U.S. Navy personnel were on shore leave that weekend, many of those still aboard ship still asleep. As the attack began, they scrambled from their bunks to battle stations unprepared for battle, costing precious minutes. Army anti-aircraft batteries onshore similarly were unprepared. A few ships managed to get underway to get out of the harbor, but only one made it. Some of the dive bombers attacked Oahu air fields, among them Bellows Field, Ford Island, Hickam Field and Wheeler Field.

Fuchida's wave was followed by another led by Lt. Commander Shigekazu Shimazaki. His fleet included 171 planes armed with smaller bombs to attack other targets on the island. One group attacked airfields such as Barbers Point, Ford Island, Hickam Field and Kaneohe; the other two concentrated on the entire Pearl Harbor area. The second wave wrapped up its attack at about 9:30 and returned to its fleet, which weighed anchor and was headed back to Japan by 1 p.m.

The main targets of the twin attacks were the eight battleships—Arizona, California, Maryland, Nevada, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and West Virginia-- at anchor inside the harbor. The fleet's three aircraft carriers were safely out to sea. The attack managed to hit all of the battleships and the unarmed Utah, a former battleship used only for training. But, it was the attack on the Arizona that was most effective, killing 1, 177.

A 16-inch Japanese shell hit an ammunition magazine on the ship, causing a massive explosion. Burning oil in the water from the explosion and from one on the West Virginia drifted to other ships, including the California, which ordered its men to abandon ship, leaving it to sink. The attack also sank or damaged cruisers, destroyers, a seaplane tender, and a repair vessel that had the misfortune of being moored next to the Arizona.

Six of the battleships were back in service and nine of other types of ships also returned to service by the end of the war, most within a year of the attack. And, the dozen B-17s? They arrived over Oahu low on fuel early during the first wave and tried to land however and wherever they could, one on a golf course. Most remained intact.

Japan's losses included 64 fatalities and one captured, 29 planes lost, and 64 damaged by fire from antiaircraft batteries that managed to get into operation in time for the second wave. One of the planes was damaged while attacking Wheeler and managed to fly to Niihau, the designated rescue point, where the pilot was captured by the locals.

The next day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed an emergency joint session of Congress and delivered the speech that called December 7 "a day which will live in infamy." After the speech, Congress voted to declare war.

Pinner, United Kingdom: Elton John

Elton John's career has taken him from humble beginnings to the pinnacle of musical success.

Born Reginald Kenneth Dwight to a father less than delighted with his son's choice of direction in life, Elton changed not only in name, but stature as well - netting numerous awards and accolades usually reserved only for a fortunate few.

One of a small group of artists to be Knighted by the Queen of England and inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, John is a true star at an international level. His life and career were not devoid of hardships, but his music and compositions have held up against time as classics.

Near the start of Elton John's early career, he labored as a studio composer and vocalist, but his entry into the world of music began as early as his school years.

Though Elton flunked out at the age of 17, his musical abilities had actually given him an opportunity to excel academically. He was awarded a scholarship to the prestigious Royal Academy of Music in London at a young age and attended classes there on weekends.

Once he'd left school for good, he devoted much of his time to performing with a band called "Bluesology." He greatly enjoyed the time he spent amongst them and decided to change his name to reflect what the band had meant to him - choosing two of his bandmates' names as his new stage moniker.

It was around this time that he got into studio work and became a resident artist at a local label. For a period of time, Liberty Records employed him alongside another musician by the name of Bernie Taupin as a songwriter. The two spent a year writing lyrics for Liberty artists before switching to the DJM label. It was the year 1969 that bore witness to Elton's first singing release on his album "Empty Sky." However, it wasn't until the following year that he got his big break as a solo recording artist.

Elton's Rise to Notoriety

1970 would come to be a pivotal year in Elton John's development as an artist. It marks the release of his self-entitled album, on which appeared the charting hits, "Your Song" and "Border Song."

This first album had been released in both the U.S. as well as the U.K. - landing John on the radar of an international audience right from the start of his career. From here on out, he was off and running with a series of top albums and stellar hits.

Soon, with the help of his own band, Elton was performing his hit songs in the US and abroad.

During this stretch of time, between 1970 and 1980, Elton John went on to release an astonishing 17 albums and many of his biggest hit singles. Songs like "Rocket Man," "Daniel," "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" and "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" came into existence throughout this decade, among many other notable examples. For this reason, the music he produced throughout the 70's is considered the most exemplary of his unique style, sound and genius.

Elton in the 80's

By the time the 80's rolled around, Elton was no longer working with his original band lineup. It is alleged that he was tired and indeed, his output had waned some, with only 1 Elton John album per year being released. He'd seen immense highs, broken records with his chart-topping albums and even had his own star added to the Hollywood walk of fame, but would not stop there. By 1982, he'd dreamt up a fresh new hit song in loving memory of his friend John Lennon entitled "Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)" that rose high on the charts and brought him back into the limelight. "That's What Friends Are For" and "Nikita" would follow later in the decade.

It was during the 80's that John brought to the forefront another young star and friend of his, George Michaels of "Wham!." This wasn't the only star he performed with though, the 80's saw Elton recording and playing with acts as diverse as Saxon, the heavy metal band, and Dionne Warwick. His collaboration song with Stevie Wonder, "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues," went on to be a major hit as did "I'm Still Standing."

Elton wasn't without hardships in the 80's though. He unexpectedly lost his voice while on tour in '86 - warranting a critical throat surgery that permanently altered his vocal chords. On top of this, the following year, he was accused by publication "The Sun" of having rented young boys for sexual purposes. He later won a libel case against the Sun over these allegations. Despite such troubles, John pushed through into the 90's with more hits up his sleeve and triumphs to enjoy.

Elton's Evolution

After 2 entire decades' worth of hits, performances and accolades, Elton had little need to continue producing great music, but he did so anyway.

Cue the creation of songs such as "Sacrifice" and "Runaway Train," his duet with Eric Clapton. He didn't stop at producing mere singles and albums though, John then branched out to film and musicals - producing the phenomenally successful score for the animated Disney classic "the Lion King." His Lion King single "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" won him an Academy Award and a Grammy.

1994 marks the year in which Elton John was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by none other than Axl Rose of Guns n' Roses. Unfortunately, Elton lost two good friends just 3 years later, one of whom was Princess Diana.

He performed a revised version of his song "Candle in the Wind" at her funeral service in Westminster Abbey which he vowed to never perform again. The iconic song rose to legendary status - setting the record for sales of a single and being the only track to ever be certified Diamond in the United States.

John continued accruing accolades all around with his work on the musical "Aida" and its accompanying album as well as being Knighted by the Queen of England in 1998 for his charitable work. It was also during this decade that Elton and David Furnish began their relationship. They would later go on to marry in 2014 when gay marriage was made legal.

Elton John's Ongoing Success

The singer took to musicals yet again with compositions for "Billy Elliot the Musical" in 2005 which went on to massive success as the 11th longest-running West End musical of all time. John tried his hand at theater alongside his fellow writer Taupin, but their rendition of Anne Rice's vampire novels went over poorly with critics.

Elton shocked many with his contribution to Tupac Shakur's posthumous release, "Ghetto Gospel" in 2005 and continued to sell out huge venues like Madison Square Garden with his public performances. A few years later, in 2009, he shocked many yet again by contributing to an Alice in Chains song entitled "Black Gives Way to Blue." His alt rock contributions far from over, he's sung and played with Queens of the Stone Age as recently as 2013 on their track "Fairweather Friends."

Still performing and even appearing in film (Kingsman, the Golden Circle), the 70 year old musician is admirably active with plans for the future.

His enduring success as a performer and musician has been no accident, but the direct result of his boundless dedication to the arts. Coupled with his commitment to funding AIDS research and generous charity to struggling communities, his impact on the world is not likely to be forgotten for quite some time.
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