Archive for the Travel Category
Believe me, I’m all for traveling. In fact, I consider myself to be a bit of a travel junkie; it’s my addiction. And whilst most of my travel experiences were simply amazing, I’ve also had my fair share of unpleasant travel experiences. After all,who hasn’t? Here’s the travel lessons I’ve learnt through those unforgettable experiences.
So, What travel Lessons did I learn?
1. Always be at the airport 1 or 2 hours before your flight is about to depart
Mother always said,” Always be at the airport 1 or 2 hours before.”And she was totally right. I should have listened to her wise words. Seriously guys and gals, whether you’ve booked a morning flight or an evening one, just don’t kid yourself. It’s always better to be at the airport one or two hours before the plane departs. Trust me, I learnt that the hard way.
Just a week ago, I went on holiday to London. Now I happen to know London incredibly well as I normally go to visit friends and family twice a year often catching flights to Luton, Gatwick or Heathrow.
Normally I always try to book an afternoon flight going back home. Yet, this time round I had no choice but to catch an early morning flight.
Now you’d think that the silver lining would be lack of traffic at such an early time. Yes, naively thoughts there wouldn’t be a car insight on the way to the airport. So, I opted to leave an hour and half before departure. But boy was I wrong.
Sure, there wasn’t as much traffic as rush hour but there was still loads. To further ice the cake, the family member who drove me (don’t get me wrong very grateful for the lift, if you happen to be reading this!) needed to purchase fuel before we made our way there. The first petrol station we went to had a system failure. Luckily, the second one was in full function mode. Nonetheless, this unplanned hurdle inevitably slowed us down.
Eventually after a grueling hour, I arrived at the airport departure queue. ‘Phew,’ I thought. That is until I saw the huge line. There I was, the last one in the line of about 50 bag-eyed grumpy people who stood in front of me patiently waiting for their turn to place their baggage on the conveyor belt and pass through the screening process. And with roughly 15 minutes left, I really thought I wasn’t going to make it. As I moved up in the queue, all sorts of things were running through my head. What if I were stopped? What if I missed my flight?
With great dismay, I reluctantly prepered myself to call my mother and tell her I wasn’t coming home that day. Yet, fortunately Lady Luck was on my side that day. I managed to pass through security with 5 minutes to spare. So, then I found myself searching for the screen to check which gate I had to go through. Gate number 2, it said. With 5 minutes to go, I had no choice but to run. And run I did with my hand luggage trailing behind me. Indeed, you should have seen me running to the gate like a mad woman – as if my life depended on it. But alas I made it and my panic eventually subsided. It could have been much worse though. Security could have stopped people, I may have not been able to run fast enough to the gate, or anything really. Oh well, it’s something to look back and laugh about now. Next time I’ll think further ahead. I don’t want to be running a marathon at the airport again.
2.have a travel plan B to get to your destination
No matter if a family member or friend has planned to pick you up from the airport/ train station or if you’ve planned to catch the bus or train to your destination, you should always have a plan b. Keep in mind that despite the daydream you might have had when thinking of your holiday, things don’t always turn out as planned. As the expression goes, shit happens. And sometimes it’s really really horrible.
I’ve been in situations were a relative has volunteered to pick me up, only to cancel a few hours before. Moreover, I’ve also been in situations in which I’ve booked a seat on a bus to take me to my destination and experienced flight delays and regrettably been unable to use my ticket. In both situations I’ve had to catch another former of transport. Fortunately for me, Internet and Google Maps were there to help. Without them, I would have been screwed. It would be wiser though to check what different methods of transport are actually available though pre your trip.
3. Always weigh your suitcase before you leave home
Before you travel, pack your suitcase wisely. Don’t over stuff it with things you don’t need or probably will wear on the off chance. It’s a silly thing to do, especially if you’re just taking a hand luggage on your journey. However, you can still go wrong with a regular suitcase, if you like to shop.
I once found myself catching an early flight back home from Scotland and upon arriving to check-in my luggage, it was 3kg overweight (I had packed the previous night after having been shopping that day). So, there I was panic striken in the airport trying to see what I was going to do with the extra contents of my luggage circled by complete strangers. As I tossed some clothes out and placed them in my already heavy hand luggage, zipped it up and weighed it again, I realised it was still overweight. This repeated itself about 3 times, until a kind man saw the worried look on my face and came to help my close it (doing so almost effortlessly). So, lesson learnt on my end; mum was right. I shouldn’t pack just as I’m about to leave. And I should always weigh my luggage before.
4. Buy travel insurance & hide cash in different places
It’s the ultimate nightmare – you travel to a new place and get robbed. It can happen anywhere really,but we all travel naively thinking it won’t happen to us. I once traveled to the Big Apple and lost my camera filled with photos. On a different trip to France, I was a victim of pick-pocketing whilst I was about to go out on a shopping trip. Had I been silly enough not to leave money at the hotel, I would have been skint for the whole holiday luckily I was not. But both occasions thought me a valuable lesson, always purchase insurance even if it means spending that bit more and hide cash in different places to avoid been caught without money just in case something horrible had to happen.
5. Take medicine with you
Getting sick isn’t fun on a regular day when you’re stuck at home. But being sick whilst on holiday or abroad on work is probably the worst. Unfortunately, it’s happened to me once or twice. On one occasion, I remember having to travel with a blocked nose and a high fever on a flight back home from London a few years ago. And god almighty was it painful. Not only was I coughing and sneezing, but I also experienced the most excruciating pain of my life on our descent – no joke. In fact, it was so painful that I literally felt like someone had shoved a screwdriver in both my ear and just started twisting and twisting. Of course, it was the effect of the pressure. But little did I know that it would be so painful. To make matters worse, once the pain subsided I couldn’t hear well for around two days. Now, I’ve learnt to follow my mother’s simple advice – carry painkillers, other medicine and your prescriptions just in case.
6. Never rely solely on plastic money
In this day and age, carrying a debit / credit card is a must. You really never know when you’re going to need one. But no matter how reliant you are on plastic money, you should never rely on this type of cash solely especially when you’re traveling.
There have been instances for example where I’ve been to ATMs, entered my PIN wrongly and the machine has taken my card only to be returned a week later. Likewise, there have also been times when I’ve entered my PIN correctly and the ATM has swallowed my card after a malfunction from the bank’s end. On a separate and far more worrying note, I recently also had the pleasure ( please pardon the sarcasm) of the bank phoning me up to let me know that they’ll need to change my card as I might have been a victim of fraud due to a little device having been attached to the machine. A friend of mine also had the oh-so-lovely experience of having €1000 transferred to an account after having shopped at a particular shop whilst abroad. So, yes people- sorry to say it, but fraud does occur. If you do use plastic money whilst abroad, you should always aim to use Internet banking and check on your account.
7. Always choose a window seat if you’ve got an early morning flight
Ever been on a 7 o’clock flight? Yes, I know it’s unpleasant. I’ve been there, done that and I bet you have too. Personally, I don’t love them one bit. Sure, they might be cheaper half the time. But the sheer memory of the last time I had to catch a flight that early makes me sigh as I type this article. Why? Well, for one thing I’m not a morning person on a regular day; let alone when I need to catch a morning flight and have to wake up at around 4.30 to prepare and head out.
Frankly, it’s tough to stay awake after I’ve finally made it on board the plane. And after being assigned an aisle seat so many times on these morning flights, I’ve finally concluded that it’s best to just pay that bit extra to make sure I get a window seat. Simply because it’s actually much easier to curl up and sleep.
8.Don’t Dress like the typical tourist Or You’ll Put a Target on Your Back
If you’re going out for the day, don’t make yourself stick out like a sore thumb. Ditch the fanny pack at the hotel. And whatever you do, don’t always walk around with your semi-professional camera constantly around your neck.
Yes, yes I get it. It’s fun to take photos whilst you’re on holiday. But believe me, you’ll be putting a target on your back, if you constantly walk around with it. It’s not the first time I’ve had a friend or relative tell me they’ve lost their camera or had it stolen whilst they were on holiday. Bottom line here is keep your camera safe and sound! After all would you want your gear AND your precious memories taken away from you in the blink of an eye?
Anyway guys and gals, hope you enjoyed this blog about travel lessons I’ve learnt through bad experiences. Always learn from personal experiences you’ve had when you travel, good or bad. Have you learnt anything from your travels? If you have, we’d love to hear from you, simply comment below!
Perched on the plug of an ancient dormant volcano, called Castle Rock, sits a beautiful castle which towers over the seemingly small buildings belonging to the ancient Scottish capital. It’s a place that echoes the footsteps of its past royal residents, the firing of cannons and the suffering of its prisoners. Indeed, some of you might have guessed it and others may have not, but the castle I’m on about is none other than the iconic Edinburgh Castle which I recently had the pleasure of visiting.
The Castle Esplanade & its Extraordinary Views
Before walking through the gate to buy tickets to visit Edinburgh Castle, I took a look over the walls of the castle’s esplanade. The view atop was simply amazing and frankly I couldn’t wait to buy my tickets to Edinburgh Castle.
Yet, the cold weather got the better of me and I needed a hot drink first. So, I opted to buy a pistachio hot chocolate from the small food truck parked outside the castle before I proceeded to buy a ticket with my better half.
As I sipped on my hot chocolate, I took around the castle esplanade that’s found directly opposite Edinburgh Castle ‘s main gate. The flat area was built in 1753 and served as the place where the military men typically took center stage in times gone by. Today however, after being refurbished, it looks somewhat different though and is not used in the same way. Nowadays, the castle esplanade is usually used as an open space for concerts and provides an outdoor showground for the Edinburgh military tattoo which takes place in August.
As I looked around it, I also noticed that the walls belonging to the esplanade are flanked with four memorials to the Scottish regimental involvements in various wars.
The memorial to the North of the Castle was erected in 1861 and is dedicated to the memory of the 256 men belonging to the 78th Highlanders who fought for their country and died during the Indian Mutiny. Another interesting monument is dedicated to the men of the Scottish Horse who fought in the South African War – notice the emblem on the front of it. The third memorial is dedicated to the men of the 72nd Highlanders who passed away in the Second Anglo-Afghan War that took place in 1878-80. But the memorial on the south wall of the castle esplanade erected in memory of the Gordon Highlanders who passed away in the Second Boer War, the South African War, in 1899-1902 is the one that struck me most. The unique memorial displays a stag head at the very top along with several names of soldiers that fought in the war and is simply stunning and out of the ordinary.
Entering the Portcullis Gate
Once I had sipped my delicious hot chocolate, I walked through the mighty castle’s regal gate embellished with flags, the Scottish emblem and two monuments on either side of it. Then we proceeded to walk up the ticket booth and purchase 2 entry tickets for the day in order to begin our exploration of Edinburgh Castle.
After we had paid the fee, we walked up the narrow cobblestone road and through the Portcullis Gate leading to the Argyle Battery. This battery overlooks Princes Street and has six cannons comprising part of the northern defense of the castle.
When we were done looking around and taking in the views, we then walked up to the higher part of the castle to visit St.Margaret’s Chapel which is thought to be the oldest building in Scotland dating back to the 12th century. The chapel itself is tiny and is still in use today. The view seen from the top of the Edinburgh castle is phenomenal too!
As we walked away from the tiny site to Crown Square to get to the castle’s Royal Palace, I couldn’t help taking a few snapshots of the views from the fortifications small windows where canons peer out at the city.
Once I was done, we headed inside Edinburgh castle’s Royal Palace and entered part of the world of its former royal residents. On walking through the lavishly decorated rooms, it was easy to tell that the kings and queens that resided in this part of the castle lived lavish but sheltered lives from the rest of the public most of the time. For it was here that Queen Mary of Scots endured the difficult birth of her son James VI in 1566 who was later crowned King of Scotland merely a year later on turning one and was also responsible for the uniting of the Scottish and English crowns in 1603. It was also here that the last member of the Scottish monarchy to stay here was Charles I before he was coroneted with the Scottish crown in 1633. Nowadays, there are no royals living here, though its rooms and decor remain well preserved. Right next door to the Royal Palace is the Great Hall dates back to the early 16th century. What’s intriguing about this hall is that it has a remarkable beamed roof. Its walls exhibit weaponry showcasing the medieval might of the Scottish troops. And next door to this, is the Honours of Scotland. A place which is home to the Crown Jewels and several important artefacts belonging to Scotland’s former monarchs.
On exiting the Honours of Scotland, we ended up back in Crown Square. The square, which dates back to the 15th century, served as a courtyard. Apart from the latter I’ve mentioned in this blog post, we also ended up visiting the National War Memorial which houses an exhibit of medals and war memorabilia.
Last stop: The Dismal Prisoners of War Exhibition
Our last stop was the Prisoners of War Exhibition. The exhibition is a re-enactment of the daily lives of foreign prisoners hailing from all over Europe and even as far as America. On walking through the dismal place, you’ll notice that the place, even though very silent, echoes the screams and shouts of former prisoners held captive in its walls. A few sure indicators of their suffering are the hammock beds, the crowded spaces and the early forms of graffiti on a few wooden doors. Indeed, some claim that the site is haunted. Whether it is or not, I don’t know.
Whilst on my last vacation in Scotland a few weeks ago, I got the opportunity to visit Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Gardens which allowed me to take a step back from the hustle and bustle of the city. It also granted me the opportunity to relax on a bench and enjoy the simple things nature has to offer – the scents, the fresh air and the pretty colors. But the highlight of the day spent at the garden was definitely having a look and exploring inside the Royal Botanic Garden’s glass house. Have a look at some of the photos I took whilst there below!
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As the colourful Luzzu stares out at the Mediterrean sea, knowing that his owner will soon appear, the sea gently rocks him from side to side attempting to lull him to sleep. But his eyes do not close. They continue to gaze fixedly out at sea, waiting apprehensively for the moustached man to show up in the early hours of the morning. For he knows that he must not sleep; he has a duty to protect his owner from evil at sea.
At 5.00 am, the droopy-eyed fisherman arrives and shines his torch on the boat. He then slowly lures his two bags in the Luzzu. One’s made of cloth and carries a bottle of water, a coffee-filled metal flask and a plastic box containing a fresh Ftira which Rita, his dedicated wife, makes him on a daily basis. The second bag holds the fishing bait, a can of worms and some wet rolled up bread, he intends on using for the day.
As he steps in the Luzzu, the fishing boat rocks more aggressively almost making Joe lose his balance. But the old man is quick on his feet and manages to regain it. He then proceeds to take his usual seat in the middle of the boat, grabs his oars and places them on either side of his old wooden companion.
Joe slowly begins to row and within a few minutes he’s out at sea. It’s now dawn and the sun is slowly rising, but the air is still cold. The old man stands up and drops his anchor into the deep blue sea, then his net. Whilst he waits, he grabs his rod with one hand, unravels the fishing line and takes a worm out of a can. As he grabs it, the worm wiggles and the fisherman mercilessly sticks the shiny metal hook that’s connected to his fishing line into its flesh.
Once he’s done, the old fisherman swings the line into the sea and contently soaks up the sun waiting in silence and for the fish to bite. And when one finally does, he pulls, he tugs until it succumbs to weakness and gives up.
One by one as the hours pass, the fish are pulled into the boat. Some are small, some large, but what truly matters to the fisherman most is that his effort for the day has been met with a prize; something to take home to his wife.
As the hour hand on Joe’s watch strikes 11 o’clock, he rows to shore. Ties up his boat and leaves his faithful friend behind to stare out at the sea once again.
Amsterdam is perhaps most famous for its canals, coffee shops and lush green parks. Yet, the colorful city is also also pretty artistic too! Apart from the array of fine museums,which can be quite costly to enter but otherwise completely worthwhile, there’s also plenty of street art to see in Amsterdam’s open-air museum. So, if you happen to have some free time to explore the Venice of the north, rent a bike and get ready to explore the world of Amsterdam Street Art! Below our article highlights a few murals and works of art that can be found all around the city. Have a read through this post and find out where you can spot them!
Street Art Spuistraat
Roughly 5 minutes away from the city center is an artistic gem called Spuistraat. The street, which serves to connect the Hekelveld and Spui, is literally peppered with colorful street art and features a vast array of graffiti ‘tags’ and large murals. On visiting Spuistraat, it will become more than evident to you that the area is run by Amsterdam’s street artists who’ve sprayed everything from furniture, pavements, doors, facades and flanks of buildings and round about everything in site.
One of the most famous buildings in Spuistraat is the light blue BOOM building which has had its facade completely spray painted. The style the street artist seems to have used is reminiscent of pop-art and ‘70s comic books and can be admired as a whole from across the road.
Right opposite the BOOM building is another tall building which will most probably capture your eyes on seeing it. The bright yellow snake building right across the road is one which also cannot be missed. The intricately decorated snake with multicolor elements seems to start off at the bottom and coils up at the top.
Albert Einstein graffiti
Another much smaller artwork in Spuistraat is Ah2’s street art. The subject of the artwork seems to be a man who bares a strong resemblance to Albert Einstein. In his hand, is what seems to be a plastic shopping bag.
Interestingly, Amsterdam’s largest supermarket chain is called Albert Hein. So, perhaps the combination of the supermarket chain and the greatest scientific minds to walk this earth which played a huge part in inspiring the street artist to create this visual pun.
The Pink Flamingo
The pink flamingo splayed out on the flank of yet another building in Spuistraat is also a noteworthy artwork that the area boasts.
Although, it’s far more simplistic in form and is not as intricate as other artworks that can be seen in the area, what’s amazing about this pink flamingo is perhaps the fact that it spans almost four stories which leaves the imagination wondering how the street artist managed to reach such a great height in order to spray paint it.
Fish Graffiti By Sjem Bakkus
Dutch artist, Daan Dirven, who is better known by his street name Sjem Bakkus has also left his mark in Spuistraat. Indeed, on walking through the area, you’ll definitely not be able to miss Sjem Bakkus’s fish graffish.As you pass down the road, the upside-down fish will stare out at you with its bulging eyes and menacing stare. And its toothy grin will desperately seek your attention and trigger feelings of curiousity and perhaps even laughter.
The orange fish contrasts with a lot of other colorful artworks in the area due to the fact that the artist chose to use darker shades instead of bright colors.
Read More: Fish Graffiti, Amsterdam by Sjem Bakkus
Street Art in Voetboogsteeg
If you enjoy roaming around Amsterdam’s alleys, you should head to Voetboogsteeg where you’ll be able to view Icy and Sot’s mural.
Mural of an Iranian Woman by Icy and Sot
Through their mural, Brooklyn-based Icy and Sot revive the themes of protest and rebellion pertaining to dramatic scenes in their native country, Iran. The artwork which was spray painted on the bricks on the side of a building features an Iranian woman as its main subject who is heavily clad in a burka. However, upon closer inspection, you’ll realize that the artwork also features other people who appear to be engaging in a protest. Ergo, it’s evident that the stencil artists aim to showcase the socio-political situation in Iran.
Street Art at Heinekenplein
The circular shaped square, commonly known as Heinekenplein or Marie Heinekplein, is found in central Amsterdam and is most commonly visited by tourists who wish to see Heineken’s former brewery and go on the Heineken experience. It’s also used for open-air events such as a book market and open-air cinema. It’s also home to one of Fabrice’s masterpieces.
Mosaic Street Art by Fabrice
Fabrice Hund is a true pioneer of the street art scene in Amsterdam who’s been adding color to Amsterdam’s dull corners since the ’70s. This particular artwork, which comprises of several small glass mosaic tiles is called ‘Compass’ and is found in the center of the city in Marie Heinkein Street. The work of art represents four cardinal points of the globe and features a number of exotic animals; including a polar bear, a parrot, a fish, a bear and more; and also a few women.
Street Art by the Singel Canal
If you happen to be in Amsterdam, you’ll most probably want to visit the world-famous flower market, Bloemenmarkt, which is located along the Singel Canal between Muntplein and Koningsplein squares. And although the flower market is definitely a must-see whilst you’re there, there’s plenty of other colorful things to see too. Have a look below to discover some of the area’s street art!
Zaira’s Mural of a Woman with Flowers
Swiss street artist, Zaira, has definitely left an edgy, yet feminine twist on the Dutch Capital’s street art scene. As can be seen through this particular mural, her style is soft, playful and quite girly. Typically, Zaira works with stencils and loves to incorporate women’s faces, flowers and butterflies into her artwork.
Bustart Street Art
Bustart is a Swiss street artist who often collaborates with Zaira. His art is usually very provocative and typically incorporates elements of pop culture. This detailed mural, which features a woman clad in a veil, was done in 2015. The evil expression on her face contrasts with pluto’s innocent expression.
The street art you’ll see in Amsterdam is extremely diverse. Whilst some of it appears to have been drawn for the fun of it and has little if any connection to anything, other artworks come across as political and reflective of societies around the world.
Have you seen any interesting artworks in Amsterdam? We’d love to see your favorites!
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Tucked away round the back of one of the most visited sites in Rome, one can find a small but immensely captivating obelisk which will most likely arouse your curiosity as it did mine on passing the statue. Indeed, the obelisk in question I’m making reference to is none other than the one and only found in Piazza Santa Maria sopra Minerva called the ‘Elephant and the Obelisk’.
The Story Behind the Bernini Elephant
As with most monuments, each one has a story to tell and this obelisk which is elevated on a unique pedestal is certainly no exception. It’s unprecedented Egyptian appearance, captivating history and interesting legend is one which ultimately stimulates thought about the past Roman civilization and leaves us yearning to learn more.
An Ancient Obelisk & an Intrigued Pope
Our story starts off with an ancient obelisk and the Pope’s marked interest in it. The obelisk itself dates back centuries and intrigued Pope Alexander VII so much so that upon it’s discovery in the garden adjacent to the Dominican monastery, located in Piazza Maria sopra Minerva, during the mid-17th century that he set a commission for a pedestal to be built for it.
What primarily interested the Pope when it came to the obelisk was the ancient hieroglyphic etched on it. In fact, he asked a well-known Egyptologist at the time to translate its meaning for him. The Egyptologist declared that inscriptions on the needle-like stone meant sunlight and holiness. On hearing this the Pope’s heart burst with even more eagerness to have the pedestal commissioned in order to elevate the obelisk as a symbol of his glory.
The Designs for the Pedestal Rolled in
As designs for the pedestal rolled in, ultimately two were favored; Father Domenico Paglia’s and Bernini’s designs. Bernini’s design consisted of the obelisk raised up high on the back of a little elephant, even though he had never seen an elephant before. Eventually, when the Pope evaluated all of them, Bernini’s design was chosen to the dismay of Father Paglia.
So, Was it Bernini Who Carved the Elephant?
As I relate the story of Bernini’s little elephant to you, you’re most probably picturing the artist now chiseling away at the stone in 17th century Rome in order to transform it into the small but underrated masterpiece. Yet, although it’s widely acclaimed to be the creation of Bernini, the hands that carved it were those belonging to a different man altogether.
Indeed, Bernini was just the creative mind behind the piece who had submitted his design to Pope Alexander VII. But the man who actually chiseled away at the stone fervently with all his might was Ercole Ferranta, a famous baroque sculptor of that era.
The appearance and positioning of the Roman Elephant Sculpture
Today, a few centuries later, the ‘Elephant and the obelisk’ is still exactly where Pope Alexander VII wanted it to be – right in front of the church in Piazza Santa Maria sopra Minerva. It’s sometimes referred to as ‘Pulcino della Minerva’ by the locals and continues to bear testimony to many aspects of Rome’s culture including the Egyptian-inspired Iseum, the piazza itself, the Pope during that era, Bernini and most humorously the little dispute he had had with Father Domenico Paglia over the pedestal he had to place under the elephant’s torso- something which was not in Bernini’s original design and he tried to hide throguh his amended design to include an opulent saddle with tassels.
Ultimately, these are all eminently reflected in the way the stocky little elephant is positioned with his backside facing the Dominican monastery with it’s tail veered slightly to the side for father Paglia to get a view of on walking out the monastery. Moreover, the elephant’s head is also turned away from the church which according to legend hints at Bernini’s disapproval of the way the Dominican’s living in the monastery adjacent to the Piazza had treated Galileo when he was arrested, interrogated and forced to renounce.
The Little Elephant keeps Bernini’s Spirit Alive
From the Ugly Boat fountain at the bottom of the Spanish steps to the Fountain of Four Rivers ,Bernini’s Elephant and the Obelisk found in Piazza sopra Minerva amongst other glorious masterpieces, it’s entirely evident that Bernini’s legacy is one that’s spread all over Rome. The sculpture and painter was one of the greatest of his time and served to capture the Italian capital’s spirit in a profoundly great manner which could in no way be replicated. Through his work on the Elephant and the Obelisk, Bernini’s passionate artistic spirit is one that’s lingered on till this very day and will most likely not disappear. Have you spotted any of Bernini’s other interesting works whilst roaming around Rome? Leave your comment below!
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Situated by the Aniene River, just 30 kilometers east of Rome, is a wonderful town named Tivoli which emanates much of what Italy has to offer. With its terracotta buildings, cascading waterfalls, churches, medieval castle, fountains, lush greenery and monuments, it’s evident that Tivoli is brimming with character. If you’ve never been, you can get one step closer by looking at some of shots I took whilst on my visit!
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The ancient city of Rome is regarded as a cultural mecca of sorts by many avid travelers around the globe. As one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, the place is always bustling with people of all ages and nationalities who are keen to enjoy all that Rome has to offer. And who could possibly blame them? The Italian capital is undeniably peppered with illustrious sites, some of the best art museums in Europe as well as fantastic restaurants serving up some of the tastiest Italian eats around. If you’re currently thinking about going off on a short holiday, a trip to the archaic city is one you should definitely consider. I’d say 5 Days in Rome will more than satisfy your desire to walk down its cobbled streets and to get well-acquainted with Italy’s culture. Have a look at our top attractions in Rome below, to get an idea of places to visit whilst you’re in the Italian capital.
Top Places to See in Rome
One of the most visited sites in Rome has doubtlessly got to be the Colosseum. The oval amphitheater was constructed under the Flavian empire and is the largest one ever built. It was used for entertainment purposes where gladiators and wild animals would fight to the death. Today it emerges as one of Rome’s icons and continues to represent the glory and might of the ancient city.
Situated right next to the Colosseum are the Fori Imperiali. The series of monumental public squares, which are known locally as fora, were built in Rome between 46 BC and 113 AD and certainly provide a site worth reveling in.
Fontana di Trevi
The famous Fontana di Trevi,which celebrates the power and vitality of water and the Roman Empire, is one which is on every tourist’s bucket list of sites to see and marvel at. The glorious fountain represents Baroque style at its finest and it stands as one of the largest and most remarkably beautiful in the world.
On visiting the site, you’ll spot many a traveler tossing a coin in the fountain. The famous coin throw must be done once in Rome,no doubt about it. Legend has it that once a coin is thrown into the beautifully sculpted fountain you’ll be sure to return to the ancient Italian capital.
So,why not toss one in yourself? You could find yourself back in Rome sooner than you know it!
The Spanish Steps
The famous Spanish Steps in the ancient city of Rome must be visited at least once. The steps date back to the 18th century and were commissioned by the French diplomat Étienne Gueffier’ On climbing the steep slope of 135 steps found between Piazza di Spagna and the Piazza Trinita dei Monti, you’ll find the Trinita dei Monti church at the top.
Piazza di Spagna
Piazza di Spagna is an area in Rome which oozes the grandeur of generations past.
The massive square is usually bustling with people during the day as well as in the evening. They can typically be found admiring the piazza’s main attractions; the Spanish Steps as well as the Bernini’s Ugly boat fountain which is parallel to the bottom of the steps. Other keen explorers and locals can also be found going round and about the ritzy designer shops in the area.
La Bocca della Verità
This stone marble disk is one which is famous for two reasons; the movie Roman Holiday and the legend that’s behind the carved mask which features a man’s carved face on it. Upon visiting you’ll notice many tourists placing their hand in its gaping mouth. Legend has it that if a person places his hand inside the mouth and he/she is a liar, the mouth will close.
Castel sant Angelo
Castel Sant Angelo has long towered over the river Tiber and emerges as one of Rome’s most outstanding monument by far. It originally served as a mausoleum for the Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century, but also served as a prison as well as a papal residence. The National Museum of Castel Sant’Angelo contains remnants which retrace its history through its exhibits of Renaissance paintings, military weapons and pottery. A secret corridor connects the Castel Sant Angelo to the Vatican.
With its green gardens, museum and even a lake, Villa Borghese emerges as one of the most luxurious villas in Rome. It’s even got a cinema. In fact, it’s the world’s smallest picture house which is over 75 years old.
The 2000 year old temple is one of the best preserved sites in Rome. Nowadays, it’s still used as a place of adoration. In fact, it’s used as a church and is free to visit.
Round the corner from the Pantheon, is Piazza Minerva which is often missed by eager visitors of the ancent capital who are eager to go to the Pantheon. Although it’s not as large as it’s more famous cousin, Piazza di Spagna, this piazza has a lot of character. For one thing, it’s the home of the church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, one of the main churches belonging to the Roman Catholic Order of Preachers in the italian capital which houses a wealth of beauty. Furthermore, the other spectacle in this area is Bernini’s Elephant and the Obelisk which reveals much of the Piazza’s curious story.
A trip to this part of this enchanting part of the city will allow you to step away from the crowds and enjoy calmer side of Rome. On walking through the cobbled streets you’ll be able to take in all Trastevere has to offer from its terracotta colored buildings, small potted plants to its piazzas and churches.
West of the river Tiber is a place which is known as the city of the 7 hills. Sure, you’ll have to climb up the winding hill and climb the many stairs. But on reaching the top of Gianicolo you’ll be able enjoy the breathtaking view as well as the peaceful garden it has to offer.
Fontana dell’Acqua Paola
The Fontana dell’ Acqua Paola is found on the right bank of the river Tiber and emerges as another glorious fountain you’ll be able to see in Rome. The fountain was designed by Giovanni Fontana and it takes it’s name from Pope Paul V who built it in the year 1612 to leave a mark on the end of the Acqua Poala Aqueduct. This prestigious fountain features lions heads which are the bearers of the gushing water.
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Smack in the north west of London lies a small part of the city which epitomizes the word alternative. Indeed, Camden town is one of London’s hidden gems. It’s as colorful as it is spectacular with its artsy streets, musical sounds, fabulous shops and mouthwatering scents. So, if you’re in London to shop till you drop, forget Oxford street, where you’ll find the big chains, and opt to hit Camden instead!
An Alternative Oasis
As an area of London which features a plethora of shops and eateries, it entirely comes as no shock to us that Camden town is considered to be one of the capital’s hotspots. In fact, it’s been home to some of the world’s famous faces such as Amy Winehouse, Dylan Tomas and Walter Sickert. If you decide to visit the area yourself, you’ll notice that tons of students as well as members of the alternative crowd tend to flock here. So, if you qualify as one of the aforementioned, it’s definitely the place to be!
Getting to Camden Town
The area can be easily accessed both by bus as well as by tube. So, if you’re roaming around the city, go ahead and stop at Chalk Farm Bus/ Tube Stop and walk towards the center or Camden Town’s stop which will land you right in the heart of the area. But be warned it’s usually bustling with people at the weekend, so you’ll probably be better off visiting sometime during the week when most people are at work or university. Yet, if you do in fact find yourself wanting to visit on Sunday, you should take into consideration that there will be no access out of Camden by tube. So, you’ll have to catch a bus or underground train back home from Chalk Farm instead. Nonetheless, no matter when you choose to go, you’re absolutely guaranteed to have a fantastic time!
Arriving in Camden Town’s High Street
Lined with shops as well as indoor and outdoor markets, Camden town’s Main Street is one you certainly can’t miss as soon as you exit the tube station. Outside you might be greeted by a man with a megaphone preaching against consummerism or some other aspect of modern life, a musician trying to showcase his/her music, or perhaps a busker clad in distinct attire and caked in makeup to entertain the masses who wander into Camden’s streets daily. Whilst on my last visit in June 2016, I was actually lucky to stumble across a busker who actually brought Lewis Caroll’s Mad Hatter from the classic fairytale Alice in Wonderland to life. On a seperate visit a few years back during Christmas time, I also withnessed a Santa parade which managed to bring some of Christmas’s magic to life.
London’s Hotspot For Graffiti
When walking down the street, you’ll also notice that this part of the area is home to many wonderful works of art. Even it’s shops are riddled with colorful facades that will draw you in. Indeed, the graffiti you’ll see drawn on Camden’s brick walls is one of a kind.
Camden Town Markets
Other than high street brands such as Urban Outfitters, Punkyfish, Accessorize and the well known franchise H&M, you’ll also find many more shops and stalls in the area featuring independent designers. Camden Town boasts an astonishing 5 distinct markets which entice keen shoppers. These include:
Buck Street Market
Camden Lock Market & Village
Buck Street Market
Situated right on Camden’s High Street opposite Inverness Street, Buck Street market with its 200 stalls is definitely one you’ll be able to grab a bargain at. Here you’ll be able to find a mix of original apparel as well as other items that you’ll be able to haggle for.
Perhaps the smallest market that’s found in Camden is Inverness street market which dates back to the 1900s. The perky vendors at this particular market sell fruit and vegetables, clothing and other things. Yet, if you’d like to take your pick of items from a market with a myriad of items to choose from, you’ll probably be be better off heading to Camden’s Lock market or our favorite; Stable’s Market.
The Electric Ballroom Market – Camden’s in-door market
Take shelter from the rain in winter, but still enjoy the thrill of being at a market by visiting the electric ballroom market which doubles as a nightclub in the evenings. Note, if you intend on visiting, the fashion market is only open on a Sunday.
Adorned by a large sign with the words ‘Stable’s Market’ stamped on its gateway, this part of Camden Town is one which certainly has kept much of its character over the years and continues to hold much historical value. On passing through the entrance, you’ll most likely stroll down its cobbled alleyways which will lead you to see multiple statues of horses. Possibly, this might leave you pondering on the market’s name. In fact, it’s name stems from the fact that it used to be a horse’s hospital during the Victorian age were injured horses were frequently treated. However, now it’s been completely revamped to house over 450 shops which have in effect combined both the hospital as well as the catacombs underneath it in the process. If you’re looking for vintage items, leather goods made by Turkish merchants, original attire by independent designers, the odd little trinket to take home to your family, you’ll find it all here.
Camden Lock market & Village
Located right next to the picturesque Regent’s Canal, Camden Lock Market & village is certainly one not to miss out on. The market’s semi-permanent stalls feature unique products made by the artisans that stand by them. Here you’ll find everything from feather hair extensions,dream catchers, crochet necklaces, homemade flavored teas, beautiful leather bags, hand carved jewellery as well as unique decor. It’s a wonderful place to pick up something truly unique!
Food in Camden Town
Visiting Camden for the day? Grab a quick meal whilst your there! The area is packed with pubs, restaurants and even a marvelous food market to satisfy your inner foodie. Read below to discover some recommended places for you to try out for yourself!
Camden Lock’s Street Food
On walking down Camden road, the waft of delicious food will be one of the first scents to reach your nostrils. Camden lock market offers a vast selection of ethnic street food which appeal to all mouths. From traditional British food to Chinese, Mexican, Japanese, Indian and even Argentinian cuisine hailing from South America, you’ll definitely find all sorts of food here that will make your stomach rumble once you’ve smelt it. Don’t feel like a full meal? No problem! You’ll be able to find many a decadent dessert here, including cakes, macarons and much more.
Pubs, Restaurants & tea rooms in Camden – Grab a beer, sip on tea or munch on a snack
Camden is home to many great eateries and tea rooms. If you’re simply looking for some fish and chips and a cold brew, you can always opt to take a seat at the many pubs in Camden. Amongst them are the well-known pubs The Enterprise, Dublin Castle, The Blackheart and Crown and Goose. Yet, if you’re looking for a full meal and prepared to fork out the money to sit at a restaurant, you should try out trufflesco, shakazulu or masala zone.Found yourself in Camden around tea Time? Visit Yumchaa, one of Camden’s tea rooms.
Live Music & Nightlife in Camden
Frequented for its nightlife and live musical acts, Camden Town’s plethora of clubs, pubs, sports bars and live music venues is sure to satisfy most tastes. Here’s a list of places that Camden has to offer:
Joe’s bar is a retro rock pub by day and a club by night. If you’re there late afternoon, you can enjoy the place’s happy hour from 5-7 pm. DJs then start spinning their records at 10 pm.
KOKO is a multi level club which had formerly been an impressive theatre. Live music is on early and late evening for you to enjoy.
Proud Camden is also a pub by day which is transformed into a club once the clock strikes 7.30pm.
Lock Tavern is one of the area’s highlights which is situated at Camden Lock. The sound of vibrating Bass or Live music fills the air as the sun goes; a definite must-go if you happen to be in the Lock.
Bar vinyl is a bar and restaurant which serves up hearty TexMex cuisine. The place plays loud and exciting music for all to enjoy.
Barfly is the place to discover talented bands and live music whilst you sip on your alcoholic beverage of choice.
The Oxford Arms
The Oxford Arms in Camden is the perfect venue to enjoy traditional British cuisine whilst watching one of the many live sporting matches shown throughout the day. If you’re a sports fan, you’ll have the option of viewing a match on one of its 5 plasma screens.
Don’t Miss Out on a Trip to Camden!
Camden offers rich diversity and is a subculture in its own right. The place is packed with shops and great eateries. We’ve shared some of our favorite places to visit whilst there. Now we’re asking you. Have you ever visited the area? What are your favorite places to go to?
Note to Readers: This post has not been sponsored in any way or form which means that none of the restaurants or other companies mentioned have paid for any sort of advertising.
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