1. Ponte Vecchio
The Ponte Vecchio (literally “old bridge”) is a Medieval bridge over the Arno River in Florence; the only Florentine bridge to survive WW2. The bridge is famous for still having shops built along it, as was common in the days of the Medici. Butchers initially occupied the shops; the present tenants are jewelers, art dealers and souvenir sellers. It is said that the economic concept of bankruptcy originated here: when a merchant could not pay his debts, the table on which he sold his wares (the “banco”) was physically broken (“rotto”) by soldiers, and this practice was called “bancorotto” (broken table).
2. Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate, the strait between San Francisco and Marin County to the north. The masterwork of architect Joseph B. Strauss, whose statue graces the southern observation deck, the bridge took seven years to build, and was completed in 1937. The Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge span in the world when it was completed, and has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in San Francisco and California. Since its completion, the span length has been surpassed by eight other bridges. The famous red-orange color of the bridge was specifically chosen to make the bridge more easily visible through the thick fog that frequently shrouds the bridge.
3. Millau Bridge
The Millau Viaduct is an enormous cable-stayed road-bridge that spans the valley of the river Tarn near Millau in southern France. It is the tallest vehicular bridge in the world, with the highest pylon’s summit at 343 meters (1,125 ft) — slightly taller than the Eiffel Tower. The speed limit on the bridge was reduced from 130 km/h (81 mph) to 110 km/h (68 mph) because of traffic slowing down, due to tourists taking pictures of the bridge from the vehicles. Shortly after the bridge opened to traffic, passengers were stopping to admire the landscape and the bridge itself.
4. Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge is a combined bascule and suspension bridge in London, over the River Thames. It is close to the Tower of London, which gives it its name and has become an iconic symbol of London. Construction started in 1886 and took eight years to build. The bridge consists of two towers which are tied together at the upper level by means of two horizontal walkways which are designed to withstand the forces of the suspended sections of the bridge.
5. Charles Bridge
The Charles Bridge is a famous is a stone Gothic bridge that crosses the Vltava river in Prague, Czech Republic. Its construction started in 1357 under the auspices of King Charles IV, and finished in the beginning of the 15th century. As the only means of crossing the river Vltava, the Charles Bridge was the most important connection between the Old Town and the area around Prague Castle. connection made Prague important as a trade route between Eastern and Western Europe. Today it is one of the most visited sights in Prague with painters, owners of kiosks and other traders alongside numerous tourists crossing the bridge.
6. Rialto Bridge
The Rialto Bridge is one of the four bridges spanning the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy. It is the oldest bridge across the canal. The present stone bridge, a single span designed by Antonio da Ponte, was completed in 1591 and was used to replace a wooden bridge that collapsed in 1524. The engineering of the bridge was considered so audacious that some architects predicted a future collapse. The bridge has defied its critics to become one of the architectural icons of Venice.
7. Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge
The Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge, also known as the Pearl Bridge, is the longest suspension bridge at 1,991 meters (6,532 feet) in the world. It spans the Akashi Strait in Japan connecting Kobe on the mainland and Iwaya on Awayi Island. The bridge took almost 12 years to build and was opened for traffic in 1998. The central span was originally only 1,990 meter but the Kobe earthquake on January 17, 1995, moved the two towers so that it had to be increased by 1 meter.
8. Si-o-se Polwikipedia/Reza Haji-pour
Si-o-se Pol (The Bridge of 33 Arches) is a famous bridge in the Iranian city of Isfahan. It is highly ranked as being one of the most famous examples of Safavid bridge design. Commissioned in 1602 by Shah Abbas I, the bridge is build of bricks and stones. It is 295 meters long and 13.75 meters wide. It is said that the bridge originally comprised 40 arches however this number gradually reduced to 33.
9. Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney Harbour Bridge is one of Australia’s most well known and photographed landmarks. It is the world’s largest (but not the longest) steel arch bridge with the top of the bridge standing 134 meters (440 feet) above Sydney Harbour. It took eight years to build and opened in March 1932. Because the steel expands or contracts depending on whether it is hot or cold the bridge is not completely stationary and can rise or fall up to 18 cm (7.1 inch).
10. Shit River Bridge
Shit River Bridge is known by sailors who trod it’s short distance to and from a paradise that lives in our memories.
by Garland Davis
It doesn’t seem so long ago that I crossed that bridge for the first time. It was 1962. A couple of hours at the club to get a buzz on before you hit the gate and crossed the infamous “Shit River Bridge.” Your shipmates had told you about Olongapo and the one peso beer and the four peso shortimes. You halfway believed them. You really wanted to believe them. But could it be that easy? They were right about liberty in Sasebo and Yokosuka. There was no way liberty in Subic could be better than Sasebo.
Stopped at the on-base money changer. The exchange rate was P3.85 to one US dollar. Supposedly you could get a better rate from the money changers across the river, but a lot of guys had been burned with worthless Japanese occupation Pesos. Better safe than sorry.
With almost forty P’s tucked into the inside pocket of my white jumper, My watch in my pocket. (I had heard about the watch snatchers.) I headed for the gate only to be blocked by Marine Private brandishing a billy club. He looked my uniform over, told me to square my white hat and asked how many packs of smokes was I carrying? After he was satisfied that I was squared away and wasn’t going to wreck the Philippine economy with black market cigarettes, he motioned for me to pass. I walked to the edge of the bridge to wait for my shipmates.
Suddenly I was hit with a god-awful smell. Something like the combination of a leather tannery, a paper mill, a landfill, and an overflowing shitter. It was all I could do to keep from gagging. I surmised that it was the odor of the much talked about Shit River. They had damned sure named the son of a bitch correctly. After a few moments, my friends satisfied the Marine Corps and joined me. As we walked across, we looked at the boys in the water begging for sailors to throw coins, wondering why they still lived after swimming in that black viscous liquid.
The tales about the delights of Olongapo proved true. It became a looked forward to port of call on many WestPac cruises. Of course, there were other ports, the aforementioned Sasebo and Yokosuka in Japan and later Hong Kong, Kaohsiung, and Keelung. They were all sailor towns and catered to the American sailor.
As the Vietnam War dragged on, the economy of Japan and Hong Kong improved and they became less enjoyable and more expensive than in the past. New liberty ports were discovered in Singapore and a small fishing village in Thailand known as Pattaya. All these ports were welcome interludes in the endless hours of flight operations, plane guard, gunfire support, constant rearming and refueling. The cold drinks and the warm willing women healed us and maintained our sanity.
Vietnam ended only to be replaced with Indian Ocean cruises. A stop at Subic on the way into the IO, if lucky, a stop in Fremantle/Perth on the way out and, of course, Subic.
The one port, the one city that became the Asia Sailor’s Mecca was just across that bridge. Olongapo and onward to the much more debauched, if that is possible, Barrio and Subic City became the one liberty port that I looked forward to over all others. I guess one of the best descriptions I have ever heard is, “Big Boy’s Disneyland.” I could do and did shit in Subic that they would put my ass in jail for in Oklahoma City. Am I proud of all that I did there? No. Am I ashamed of some things that I did there? Probably should be, but cannot find it.
Twenty-five years, eight Seventh Fleet ships and numerous trips across that bridge passed until I made the last trip across. It was 1987. That time it was in a Special Service’s van to Clark AFB to catch a flight to Japan and on to Hawaii for my twilight tour before retiring.
Sometimes when I am walking my dog in the mornings, I will see one of my young Filipina neighbors walking to the bus stop and catch the odor of a Filipino mother cooking their breakfast and I flashback to the past and wish I could go back, Just One More Fucking Time!