Virtual Tourism

Virtual tourism, google maps mashup, google video

Environmental News

We have added some new layers to our directory of interesting KML's called Kwideo. The new layers map Jane Goodall's Chimp Blog, the WWF Conservation Projects and the Global Heritage Fund's projects.

These KML's are all from the Google Earth Outreach project, which has many more KML's from non-profit organisations.

Meta Map News

It is quite hard to keep up with the flurry of releases and updates from Google Maps and Google Earth. Therefore we are pleased to announce a new site called Meta Map Mashup which brings you all the news from a number of Google Maps and Google Earth sites.

The sites included are the two official Google mapping blogs, the Google Maps API Blog and the Google Lat Long Blog; the leading directory of Google Maps mashups Google Maps Mania; the two leading Google Earth blogs, Google Earth Blog and Ogle Earth; the leading Google Map satellite views directory Google Sightseeing; and finally Digital Urban which examines how towns and cities are visualised through digital media.

If you are interested in Google Maps and Google Earth then you should bookmark Meta Map Mashup

Click and Drag Directions

Google have just announced a new cool feature on Google Maps that allows you to modify your driving directions. Now when you get driving directions on Google Maps you can click on any point to re-route your journey. The video below describes it better:

Hatshepsuts Temple, Luxor

In what is being billed as the biggest archaeological find in Egypt since the 1922 discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb Egyptologists say they have identified the 3,000-year-old mummy of Hatshepsut, Egypt's most powerful female ruler. DNA from the mummy has been matched with a tooth that is engraved with Hatsheput's name.

Hatshepsuts Temple is one of the most visited monuments in Egypt and if you watch the video you can see why.

View a video of Hatshepsuts Temple on Google Maps

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Some More Fun Street Views

If you like streetviews then you might like these directories of fun streetviews:

LaudonTech's Street View Gallery
Street View Fun

Ile Saint-Louis, Paris

In the shadow of the Notre Dame in Paris is the Ile Saint-Louis. It is one of two islands on the Seine in central Paris, the other being the Ile de la Cite, to which it is connected by the Pont Saint Louis. However it is often overlooked as tourists flock to the Notre Dame on the Ile de la Cite.

What the tourists miss is a peaceful oasis of calm in the busy Paris centre. It is only 1km long and 300m wide and its streets and architecture date back to the 17th century to the eigns of Henri IV and Louis XIII.

View a video of Ile Saint-Louis on Google Maps

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Burghley House, England

Burghley House has been a location in The Da Vinci Code film and the BBC's Pride and Prejudice television series. It is not surprising that the house has proved so popular as it one of the principal examples of 16th-century English architecture and its gardens were designed by Capability Brown.

Burghley was built for Sir William Cecil, later 1st Baron Burghley, who was Lord High Treasurer to Queen Elizabeth I, between 1555 and 1587. It was subsequently the residence of his descendants, the Earls and Marquesses of Exeter, and is now owned by a charitable trust established by the family.

View a video of Burghley House on Google Maps

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Facebook Application

We have now created a Facebook Application of our daily updated 'Streetview'.

Here is what it looks like as a Google Gadget,

If you click on the '+ Google' button above you can place the gadget on your iGoogle page.

It looks very similar in Facebook. If you want it to appear on your Facebook page then just click here .

The Eden Project, Cornwall

The Eden Project is an environmental complex built in a recycled china clay pit in Cornwall, England.

The complex includes two sets of giant interconnected transparent domes made of ETFE cushions, each emulating a natural biome, that house plant species from around the world. The first emulates a tropical environment, the other a warm temperate, mediterranean environment.

View a video of The Eden Project on Google Maps

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Pamukkale, Turkey

Pammukale, or Cotton Castle as it is sometimes called, is a truly magical collection of hot springs in Turkey. The large chalk content of the water gives the springs their famous glimmmering white look.

Pammukale was partly ruined by tourism in the twentieth century when hotels were built on top of the springs. However since becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site the hotels have been pulled down and the springs are now returning to their former glory.

View the video of Pamukkale on Google Maps

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The Continuum, Miami

The Continuum Tower, at $18 million, was listed by Forbes magazine as America's second richest home. The Tower however is in reality a condo that consists of a number of different residential properties.

Each condo has five bedrooms, four full baths, two powder rooms and amenities most people can't even dream of. On the map you can not only view a glossy promo for the condo but also view it in Google's new 'streetview' feature.

View a video of The Continuum on Google Maps

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Hacking Google Maps Street View

Google Map's recent 'street view' development has led to a new trend of 'street view' spotting. A number of sites have sprung up to track the interesting and sometimes weird images that Google have captured.

Virtual Tourism has gone a step further and hacked the actual 'street view' images and produced a fully interactive 'street view' Google Gadget. The gadget shows a different image from street view every day and can be added to your iGoogle page by clicking on the +Google button.

If you are interested in looking at some of the interesting finds that have been made in street view you can scroll down the page where we provide a map in which we have embedded a number of street views. Alternatively you can visit one of the handful of sites that have sprung up to collect these finds.

Streetviewr and Street View Fun being just two.

The more technically minded amongst you however will be more interested in how we managed to hack street view. Brainoff have an interesting article on how they went about hacking Google's latest map feature. The approach they seem to have taken is to extract the 'panoId' from Streetview.

I took a completely different approach, probably because of my experience in building this blog. The maps on Virtual Tourism have YouTube and Google Videos embedded within them. This is an easy process, not much different from embedding a YouTube movie in any web page. By embedding a YouTube movie you are essentially just loading the address of a Flash movie that then plays from YouTube's server.

Now Google Map's 'street views' are just interactive Flash movies, so you can embed the movies in your own web page, Google Maps etc. in exactly the same way.

To do this all you need is the address of the Flash movie. Where you get that from is another story ... to be continued.

San Sebastian / Donastia, Spain

San Sebastian is a coastal town in northern Spain and one of my personal favourite tourist destinations. San Sebastian has a great beach, a beautiful old town area and some of the best food in the world. What more could you ask for?

At either end of the main beach, La Concha, stands a large hill, both of which offer spectacular views of the town. On top of one, Monte Ugull, is a wonderful old fort and a huge statue of Christ which overlooks the town.

Anyway why not see for yourself and ...

Watch a video of San Sebatian on Google Maps

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Heiligendamm, Rostock, Germany

Today the G8 summit gets under way in Heligandamm, Rostock, Germany. In the latest of our intermittent attempts to put the news in geographical context we bring you the G8 Map, with some embedded news.

If you like this map you should also check out the Live News Map, which features news feeds on Google Maps and streaming TV news from a number of different TV stations around the world.

View the G8 Map

Persepolis, Iran

Persepolis was an ancient ceremonial capital of the second Iranian dynasty. This video shows the the archaeological remains but also uses cgi graphics to show the city as it used to be in all its glory.

Archaeological evidence suggests that the earliest remains of Persepolis date from around 518 BC. Andre Godard, the French archaeologist who excavated Persepolis in the early 1930s, believed that it was Cyrus the Great who chose the site of Persepolis, but it was Darius the Great who built the terrace and the great palaces.

UNESCO declared the citadel of Persepolis a World Heritage Site in 1979.

View the video of Persepolis on Google Maps

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Photos on Google Earth

At last week's Google Developer Day Google announced a soon to be released new feature which will allow users to add images to Google Earth in a rather funky way. However that will only be possible with the release of KML 2.2.

But why wait? A Flickr employee Dan Catt has created a way for you to view Flickr photos in Google Earth. OK, the photos are not presented in as attractive a way as they will be with the release of KML 2.2 but this is still pretty impressive.

For example click on this link to view pictures of lightening in Google Earth (Google Earth is required).

The KML of that file is:

So - you can see the word 'lightening' in there so all you need to do is change that word in the address and you will be able to fetch any photo that has that tag in Flickr (well those that have been geo-tagged as well).

And that's not all. You can also load photos from a particular Flickr user or from a particular Flickr group. Check out Dan's blog Geobloggers to find out how.

Here's Jerry

Look it's Jerry! If you don't know who Jerry is then watch this video (he appears about 1 minute 50 secs in).

View Jerry on Google Maps Street View

Barton Stone Alexander

I know it is a bit morbid but here is the grave of one Barton Stone Alexander (1819-1878)

Alexander was a Civil War Union Brevet Brigadier General. He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1842. His entire Civil War career was spent in the United States Regular Army Corps of Engineers. Serving first as a Major, then as a Lieutenant Colonel, he was the Chief Engineer for the Defenses around Washington, DC. He was brevetted Brigadier General, US Regular Army on March 13, 1865 for "meritorious services during the war". He remained in the Army after the conflict, and died in San Francisco while on active duty in 1878.

Click on the grave to view the 'street view' on Google Maps.

Views of San Francisco

OK we've had to stop embedding the street views in this blog because it seemed to make Internet Explorer ill. However the views seem to work fine in a normal web page.

So for your pleasure here are some nice Google Street Views of San Francisco.

Or for Apple Mac fans here are some Apple Views

Street View Spotting

We've now added a few more 'street views' to the map at the bottom of the page - so get viewing.

And remember you can pan around the images.

Want to add the map to your site. Just copy and paste the code below:

Take a Walk Down Sunset Strip

Have you ever fancied taking a stroll down Sunset Strip in Las Vegas? No, well how does the famous wavy Lombard Street in San Francisco sound? Or would you rather a cruise down Ocean Drive in Miami? Maybe you're a little more metropolitan in your outlook, so why not amble down Fifth Avenue in New York? No, well how does Denver's Broadway grab you.

I tell you what why not try them all, with all five street views on one page?

The Famous Five

Street View Without The Map

So what does the Google Map new Street View look like without the Google Map? Pretty good actually. Have a look at these views:

The Golden Gate Bridge
Times Square

Remember you can move the image around by dragging on the image and zoom with the controls or just by double clicking on any point.

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