A big place to shop small
Small Business Saturday started in 2010 to get shoppers out of the big box stores the day after Black Friday and support local retailers. The US is home to more than 30 million small businesses (500 employees or fewer), representing 47 percent of private-sector employees. Of course, the concept of patronizing local merchants is nothing new. Here in Marrakesh, Morocco, souks (markets) like this one in Jemaa el-Fnaa Square have long been a big part of daily life, as well as major tourist attractions. During the day, musicians, dancers, and even snake charmers entertain shoppers as they search for crafts, clothing, and other goods. At night, the focus shifts to dining, with dozens of stalls offering different specialties and takes on traditional Moroccan food.
Opt outside today
Instead of rushing to the mall today for Black Friday deals, perhaps you could make it a Green Friday and find a treasure in a nearby park or a wilderness like the Maroon Bells near Aspen, Colorado pictured here. A few years ago, outdoor retailer REI made news by closing its doors on the biggest shopping day of the year and encouraging its employees and customers to 'Opt Outside' and spend time with their families instead. And while there is still no shortage of shopping options available to the intrepid Black Friday deal-hunter, a growing number of organizations have gotten behind this concept of Green Friday. And let's face it, after all that turkey and pie yesterday, you could probably use a nice walk. (And you can always shop online at work on Cyber Monday ;).)
Have you turned off your electric device?
If you're already in the air looking down at this bird's eye view of Sky Harbor International in Phoenix (or some other airport), well then, congrats. You've made it through the terminal on one of the busiest travel days of the year. Wait for a second, isn't the day before Thanksgiving the absolute busiest day to travel? Well, according to travel industry experts, traffic is actually heaviest on Fridays during the lazy, hazy days of summer. That's when crowds of people clog the highways and skyways to get out of their respective towns and go on vacation. You, on the other hand, can relax. Unless your plans are to host a table full of hungry guests on Thanksgiving. In which case, may we suggest yoga and meditation tonight? (And turn off this electronic device before the flight attendant comes by again.)
Autumn in the cypress swamp
Autumn still brings a splash of color to this hardwood forest of bald cypress in Louisiana. But make no mistake, a stroll through these wetlands is not a cozy New England leaf-peeping journey. The swamp forest floor is often covered by the waters of Atchafalaya River delta as it drains into the Gulf of Mexico, so the autumn colors here are best viewed from the seat of a canoe or a pirogue, as the local Cajuns use. The water-resistant bald cypress thriving in the Atchafalaya Basin constitutes the largest tract of contiguous cypress forest in the United States. The ecosystem here is so unlike any other in the US, the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area organization calls it ‘America’s foreign country.’
The Cutty Sark in Greenwich, London, England for her 150th anniversary (© Grant Rooney Premium/Alamy)
The Cutty Sark turns 150
We're featuring the Cutty Sark in today's image to mark the 150th anniversary her launch on November 22, 1869. Built for speed, this extreme clipper ship began its abbreviated career as a tea clipper racing across oceans 'at a clip' (hence the designation 'clipper ship') to deliver the season's first tea harvest to England. While at times the Cutty Sark was considered one of the fastest ships in the world, its practical use as a cargo ship was ending almost as soon as it was launched. That's because steamships using the much shorter route through the newly opened Suez Canal were able to deliver the highly anticipated tea harvest faster and cheaper. In 1883, the Cutty Sark began hauling wool from Australia, but within 10 years steamships also disrupted this business.
By 1922, she was the last clipper ship still in use when she was sold to Wilfred Dowman, who had her restored and turned into a cadet training ship. In 1954, the Cutty Sark was docked at Greenwich, restored again, and opened to the public. After a devastating fire in 2006 she was closed again for the Cutty Sark Conservation Project which was completed in 2012. Today, visitors to the Royal Museums Greenwich can explore all facets of this onetime pinnacle of sailing technology, which is part of Maritime Greenwich, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivé!
'Bring us some fresh wine! The freshest you've got—this year! No more of this old stuff.' Steve Martin was joking when his character in 'The Jerk' asked for fresh wine—or perhaps he was talking about Beaujolais nouveau. The red wine, produced in the Beaujolais region of France, is fermented for just a few weeks and requires no barrel aging before it's sold starting on the third Thursday of November. Beaujolais nouveau is a light-bodied red wine, with relatively high amounts of acidity. Located south of Burgundy, the Beaujolais region has a relatively warm climate, so Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and other famous French grapes don't grow well there. But the fruity Gamay grows vigorously in Beaujolais and is used to make Beaujolais nouveau.
Beaujolais nouveau hit a peak of global popularity in the 1980s when it was heavily marketed. But as more producers tried to capitalize on it, a backlash occurred in the '90s and early 2000s. In 2001, more than a million cases of French wine—most of it Beaujolais nouveau—were destroyed or distilled into hard spirits due to overproduction, shoddy winemaking, and poor sales. (It couldn't have been stockpiled to be sold later—the wine doesn't age well due to lack of tannins and should usually be consumed within six months.) More recently, supply and demand have evened out and its release is celebrated with parties and festivals.
Zion National Park Turns 100
It's been exactly 100 years since President Woodrow Wilson signed an act to convert Mukuntuweap National Monument into Zion National Park. Fewer than 2,000 people visited back in 1919 due to poor road conditions and lack of trails. These days, the park has the opposite problem—with more than 4 million people coming each year, crowds create long lines for shuttles and clog popular areas such as the Narrows. Part of Zion Canyon, the Narrows can be seen from a paved path. But many people like to experience it up close, hiking in the Virgin River, and it can get crowded at peak times since it's—as the name implies—narrow.
In recent years, Zion has even moved ahead of Yellowstone and Yosemite to become the fourth-most-visited US national park (Great Smoky Mountains, the Grand Canyon, and Rocky Mountain parks are the top three respectively). Also contributing to Zion's popularity is its proximity to other attractions. It's part of the Grand Circle, a region that includes parts of five states and is the most concentrated area of national parks and monuments in the country.
伏尔塔瓦河上的查理大桥和老城桥塔，捷克布拉格 For the 30th anniversary of Czechoslovakia's Velvet Revolution, bridges over the Vltava River, including the Charles Bridge and Old Town Bridge Tower, Prague, Czech Republic (© Markus Lange/Offset)
Remembering the Velvet Revolution
Today we're visiting Prague for the 30th anniversary of the start of Czechoslovakia's Velvet Revolution. On November 17, 1989, during their annual International Students Day observance, 15,000 students in Prague began demonstrating against the Communist Party's authoritarian rule over the country. After the official end of the demonstration, the students continued marching to the center of the city. When they reached Národní Street, they were met by security forces who, after blocking all escape routes, began attacking. Afterwards, unfounded rumors of an injured or possibly dead student triggered strikes among students, actors, and other theater workers. These groups began calling for a general strike later in the month.
Within days, mass demonstrations were happening in Prague's Wenceslas Square and spreading to other cities. By November 27, the movement had grown so large that 75 percent of the population participated in general strike across the country. Demonstrators and dissidents would successfully achieve the nonviolent end to communist rule over Czechoslovakia on December 10 and within months Soviet troops would leave the country.