Discovering Venice on a free walking tour

EXPERIENCE

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venice

A breathtaking city of canals and bridges filled with endless art and architecture to admire

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Venice in brief

Rising from the waters of Venice Lagoon, is the Italian city of Venice. With its incredible rich history and wealth, this city of Venice has been long hailed has one of the most breath taking city on earth, there is no deny that sometimes Venice can be overwhelming by admirers but if you take your time and treat it gently, this city will reward you with moments of profound beauty and place. 

Come, join me and find out why Venice is a popular and most breathtaking tourist destination in the world. Many travel enthusiasts visit this city every year for number of reasons.. There are abundance of must-see and do attractions in Venice which can mesmerise people. Whether you’re going there for romantic destination or simply travelling with your best friends, there is always something for everyone. Many think that Venice is a congested cruise destination and a city of sorts but after visiting Venice, you will be enthralled by the charm and passion of the city. If you cross the Grand Canal in Venice and walk lazily through the Dorsoduoro and the San Polo neighbourhoods, you will be able to see the real Venice. The stress free, slow, Venetian lifestyle will entrance you completely and you will fall in love with Venice. The authentic beauty of the city lives in its intricate alleys, bridges, canals and its elegant architecture.

Venice: View of buildings on water

Why Go?

Venice is a special place and a place that a lot of people want to go. It is one of the most beautiful and romantic cities on the planet. I am privileged to be returning to this city again. I have to say, Venice is my favourite place in Europe and my passion for this city is contagious. I cannot say, it is the most beautiful but something about it is just absolutely breathtaking. They say Paris is the city of love but to me, Venice is the most romantic. The fact is that, the city is built on water makes it the most unique and admiral city in the world. I have never seen anything like this in the world.. Coming back from my second trip to Venice, I would say I am now more than charmed; I may be in love with this city. Yes, if you only stop for few hours in the city while on a coach tour or on a cruise, chances are you will only see the bad sides of Venice: the suffocating crowds, the cheap souvenir carts, the pushy vendors, the bad restaurants and you won’t meet the locals who stay away from Venice’s main sights to avoid these nuisances. I have returned to explore and enjoy more of the city and the surrounding areas.  

With its gondolas, canals, amazing restaurants and unforgettable romantic ambiance, Venice is definitely a city for one’s bucket list. To really experience, I ventured off on my own with challenge and what a thrilling adventure it was. Most of the activities begins in the centre of the business district of San Marco, where you will find one of the world’s greatest squares – St Marks.

St Marks Square

I tried to keep away from the central and over crowded tourist spots and found myself places in Venice where I really enjoyed. Despite that, just within 5 minutes walk from the hotel where I was the Piazza San Marco or St. Mark’s Square. This is the principal public square of Venice. The square is a tourist favourite, mostly because it is enclosed by famous Venetian landmarks, such as St. Mark’s Basilica and the tall Campanile tower. On the smaller Piazetta extension, you can find the beautiful Doge Palace. I was quite intrigued by the fascinating history of the place and discover what it is like to live in this unique city. Walking around in this open air museum took me to the external sights of St. Mark’s Square, the Doge’s Palace, the Sansovino Library, the Bell tower, the incredible legends of the Clock tower and the Bridge of sighs and its adjoining prisons.

The more I explored the place, more I appreciate the place and it was well worth the time I spend on this city of canals. Some of my favourite highlights and pastime experiences while in Venice were:

Trying something new away from tourists:

Venice, like much of Italy has become very popular with tourists and as a result, many of the restaurants cater for foreigners. To have a feel of real part of the traditional culture and way of life, I ventured into the areas of the city with less tourist attractions where I discover some very interesting restaurants which are very popular among the locals. I tried to order the same dishes the locals order and try something that is a bit different. This was an amazing way of trying some local food.

Markets:

Few people who visit Venice intend to visit the markets and they are a great way to explore some of the culture of the city. I found the markets to be very bright and vibrant place to visit. The smells, sounds and colours make the city come to life. I must say, it is amazing to see how many different things are grown in Venice and the surrounding areas.

Getting Lost:

Venice is a city rich with lots of history and abundance of attractions to visit. Before I went to Venice, I was told that “When in Venice, you have to get lost”. I have found out that, one of the best way to explore the city was just simply walking around until I got lost. Unfortunately, I didn’t even have to get lost on purpose, it all happened by itself. Yes, getting lost in Venice is fun because you just walk around like you are in a big big maze and it is nice to see different areas of the not-too-big city. At first, lots of different parts of Venice looked the same, every bridge over the canal looked identical and confusing when I first started to notice them. The longer I stayed and explored more, I soon started to realise that each has its own unique charm. In getting lost, I can enjoy the city at its best. What’s more, it was a cheap way to view the city since there is no need to purchase any tickets or hail a taxi. 

Venice Traditions: 

Most of Venice is awash with millions of tourists. I wanted to experience the real genuine Venice, so I decided to take a bit of walk. I visited the Ghetto, which is a small area of the town which is more traditional than the rest of the city. here I saw the locals going about their daily routine as they always have done. What a thrill it was and a great way to see more than most tourist ever see.

Canals

Venice, also known as the “Floating City” has no road accessible by car. It has lots of narrow alleys and walkways for pedestrians but lacks wider streets, so cars are a rarity in the city. This city relies almost solely on boat transportation through the many canals. It is an archipelago of 118 islands connected by numerous canals and bridges. Therefore, ferries and boats are the means of transport around the city. The main artery of Venice – The Grand Canal is the major waterway of Venice. It is 3.8 kilometres long and sweeps through the while city. The canals are beautiful and the single best thing about this city. I really loved strolling through the canals of Venice and I couldn’t stop taking pictures. I totally mesmerised by looking at the canals and they’re one of the best reasons why I went back to Venice and experience it more it by myself.

Venice by Night
Alone, sitting by the way at night, looking over Venice at night was just magical and it just felt very special and a great feeling to it. It was beautiful and feel the sense of calming. I just found myself to a lines of cafe close to the water, sipping my coffee and enjoying the sunset.

Gondolas

Gondolas are major attractions for the tourists. Although, they’re for touristy experience, taking a ride in one of these long, slim boats was a memory one never forgets; especially if the gondolier sings a song or two. Yes, I don’t think there is any reasons to pay big bucks to go on your own sailing trip in one. Though they are fun to look at and just the essence of Venice but if your in Venice, you must take a ride on one.. I jumped on one, with leisurely pace, the gondolier maneuvers through the quaint canals of Venice, gliding by historical sights and buildins. 

Arts and Architecture

There are lots of things to do in Venice, besides just walking. After taking a visit to Piazza San Marco, Basillica Di San Marco, Guggenheim Museum and Palazzo Ducale, I seen that there are multitudes of cultural treasures and pieces of evidence of city’s glorious history. No wonder, Venice is one of the most important tourist destinations in the world for its celebrated art and architecture. The sites are beautiful, colourful and breathtaking.

Where to stay?

There are various types of accommodations in the Venice, so there is something to suit every budget. Venice, has a whopping 2,000 hotels, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find one that suits your budget. Like any other destinations in the world, the closer you want to stay to the centre, the more expensive it gets.

However, my personal recommendation would be Hotel Do Pozzi, a romantic and comfortable 3-star hotel located in the heart of the old town centre. Few hotels in Venice can boast such an ideal location. Just 5-minutes walking from St. Mark’s Square and 2-minutes walking from La Fenice Theatre.

Popular Attractions

This area is home to many iconic buildings. Walking around in this area is possible if you have the time and want to see more of the area on your visit. To fully enjoy your stay in this area and to make the most of the region’s attractions, I’d recommend just walk around and get lost and meet the locals. Undoubtedly, this is where the true heart of the area shines.

Exploring the area

It is entirely possible to get around and visit many attractions and places in this area by foot. However, I highly recommend to go on a guided tour to avoid headaches and with less stress, when it comes to knowing your places, where to go and what you want to see and do. Venice is really a magical city where one loses track of time

ABOUT ME


icgolina

Papua New Guinean living in Cairns, Australia. Weekend getaway adventurer and Free-Independent-Traveller (FIT). Lover of unique and exotic travel experiences with a touch of luxury. Follow me to my travel world, brining you closer to your destination.

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Visiting Rome’s Heart of Art and History

Rome’s attractions date me back to Historical Ancient Times

After spending an adventurous week in Paris, it was time to visit one of the greatest city in Europe – Rome. This city is one of the most beautiful cities not just in Europe but probably the entire world. A city packed with thousands of years of art and ancient history, tempting shopping arcades to endless list of attractions. The city of Rome with an irresistible charm has been on my dream to-do list for decades.

With its rich ancient history and culture intertwined with today’s modern Rome I was bound for confusion but at the same time with great exhilaration of seeing and feeling this great city. Flying over Rome, I was totally amazed and at the same time mesmerised with what I have seen from above and land as I have made my way to the hotel. This city is certainly vast and complex city that is both historic and modern at the same time.

Brief History of Rome

Rome was formerly the capital of the Roman Empire but today it is the government seat and the capital of Italy. This vibrant city of Rome is best known for housing ancient Roman structures and the Vatican City. It has endured for more than 2,500 years as an important centre for culture, power and religion.

The city of Rome has the most ancient attractions like the Colosseum, the Forum of Augustus, Capitoline Hill and the Roman Forum. Further away on the outskirts of the centre is Old Rome which features the Pantheon, stunning cathedrals, plazas and Renaissance architecture. The Vatican is also well known for St. Peter’s Basilica, the Apostolic Palace and Sistine Chapel. With so much Monuments and museums to see, such as the Vatican Museums and the Colosseum which are among the world’s most visited tourist destinations. These two locations have millions of tourists visiting the sites annually. Yes, there is so much to see and do in Rome and would take months or years to see it all. I am here for a treat in history and the list is endless.

A Taste of Ancient Rome 

No amount of time can be ever enough but my mission was to be able and see and explore as much as possible and at the same time making enough time to sit down and enjoy Rome by night with a scrumptious meal and a glass of exotic Italian wine. One of the most significant site that I wanted to see in Rome which has been on my mind in planning my time is Rome was to visit the Colosseum. 

My first day began in Rome with my “Italiano” breakfast – an “expresso and a pastry” before making my way to the first sight of the day – Colosseum. The Colosseum, also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre is an over an oval amphitheatre build of travertine, tuff and brick-face concrete.  Dating back in history, it was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles. Today, it is protected and a very popular site for both the tourists and locals. Although, it is partially ruined because of damaged caused by earthquakes, stone-robbers and other unexpected natural disasters, the Colosseum is still an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome. It is one of the Rome’s most popular tourist attractions and it also has links to the Roman Catholic Church. It holds many outdoor style seated concerts for outdoor orchestra, singing concerts by world famous tenors and many more.

Yes, to be standing there inside this old ancient ruined arena certainly took be back in time visualising what it was like then. Been inside the heart of the Colosseum, I now can see why Colosseum continues to be the leading attraction for tourists from all over the world. It is just absolutely breathtaking to see it in person and standing there gives you a different perspective on how you view and understand history.


Vatican City

On my second day, I had the tour of the Vatican city. A visit to the Vatican city should be one of the first on the list to do in Rome for any visitors. This is a city built within a city and it is the world’s smallest state which fits snuggly in the centre of Rome, consisting of the St. Peter’s Square and Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican museum. It is also the home of the Pope and about eight hundred other souls, mostly clergy and Swiss Guards. Also, it is home to one of the most famous art collections in the world, as well as an enviable library.

The day involves a visit to the Vatican museum, the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica and you don’t need to be religious to visit this little country and neither do you require a visa – This means no border formalities, no luggage searches, no sour and dour looking custom officials either. You simply cross the white line separating St. Peter’s Square from the rest of Rome and you’re there. There are no hostels or hotels in the Vatican City, so no-one can’t spend the night there, unless of course if you’re invited by the Pope. Neither is there much of a public transport, everything is basically in walking distance.

Prior to entering the Vatican city, I was required to go through a very sophisticated and tightly monitored double security system. Once inside, it was unbelievably amazing. Strolling through this incredible cobblestone streets with centuries of history behind them was just fascinating. There are wonders of religious art and architecture around every corner, the flowering of a European culture formed largely by Catholicism, and its view of the beauty of creation and the dignity of man. If your lucky, you will be able to see monsignors and bishops and cardinals, dashing about their clerical robes flying, the occasional red hat bobbing along. Yes, most importantly, I felt there is the presence of the Holy Father, the Vicar of Christ on earth. It is incredible that you feel the sense of something when entering a scared site or building.

Finally, I made it inside the Sistine Chapel, which is probably the most famous site in Vatican City and St. Peter’s Basilica, with more frescoes, a magnificent dome and many more. Sistine Chapel is famed for its incredible frescoes on the ceiling painted by famous Michelangelo.

As I made my way outside, I then headed over to St. Peter’s Basilica – regarded as the world’s largest church and one of the holiest. To go there, you have to dress conservatively – meaning that your shoulders and legs have to be covered at all times for both men and women. The entrance to the church was free. Since I was racing against time, I didn’t had the chance to climb the magnificent cupola, at a cost. You can climb the entire 551 steps to the dome or take a lift that will leave you with only 320 steps to the dome. It is such a fascinating art of work

As I stood there, looking at St. Peter’s Square, I just could just visualise thousands and thousands of people gathering at this very place for their annual pilgrimage in Catholic’s Holly calendar year. In exploring this tiny territory, I have found out that one-day is not enough to visit this world’s smallest city.

After an eventful morning, it was time for a quick late lunch break at one of the many restaurants, making room for a gelato. I made my way back to the city to view the night life of Rome with a nice dinner at a local restaurant relaxing and seeing the crowd go by.

To spend few days in one of the most beautiful cities that I have come across, not just in Europe but probably the entire world is something that I will take home with flashbacks in years to come. Rome is a city where it is packed with thousands of years of art and history, a plethora of wining and dining hub but also the home of one of the world’s biggest religion – Catholicism. Rome has it all on every dreamers to-do list and it has too many incredible sights to see and experience. 

From personal perspective: In visiting some of this historical sites not only brought enjoyment to me personally but I have profoundly learnt, discover and explore what it was like during those ancient times. It has truly opened my eyes, ways of thinking and understanding. The knowledge I have gained through travelling is just been phenomenal. This is why I love about travelling because it certainly opens up our minds.

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Appreciating London’s most populous attractions

Experiencing the variety of London’s Attractions

Away and across from the familiar world that I grow up with, I am sitting at a busy local cafe right in the main hub of Trafalgar Square in central London, enjoying a cup of coffee and a thick filled chocolate muffin, saying to myself, “Isn’t this gorgeous?” As I set there listening to the sound and voices of people around me, while watching people from all over the world walking by, shopping, dancing and simply enjoying themselves with excitement. It is definitely the perfect London experience.

Trafalgar Square

London, situated in the South-East of England in the Thames Valley is home to almost 9 million people. It is the capital of England and the United Kingdom and is regarded as one of the world’s most populous city in the world. London is the centre of finance, education, trade, politics, fashion, shopping and cultural centre for hundreds of years. This city still remains and seen as one of the most visited best city by international tourists in the world. This is a city where it is hard to pin down just one must-see attraction in London.

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This world city is filled with iconic symbol like the London Tower Bridge which is easily recognisable, the Houses of Parliament and the Big Ben’s reassuring chimes peal across the city every hour, on the hour, the Buckingham Palace, regarded has one of the most famous palace and best-known structures in the world, West Minister Abbey, London Eye ride and the iconic list just never ends. With London’s historic architectures, monuments, castles, museums and theatres are some of its main draws, which are best seen in and around the area. Some of the several museums and historic buildings highlight the city’s colourful history and culture. 

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Windsor Castle
London Eye
Buckingham Palace
Albert Hall

After experiencing different taste of incredible attractions in and around London, I have come to realised that this city of London is enormous, a city as modern as the 21st century yet a history dating back to Roman times, is a place that has fascinated me and without a doubt many travellers from all around the world for decades. 

This city  is noisy, vibrant, multicultural and still contains many famous landmarks. I have found that London is very easy to navigate around and is compact enough to explore on foot which is the best way to enjoy this mega city. The famous London Underground, also known as the Tube, is one of the most extensive subway networks in the world. With its endless list of sight-seeing and attractions from beautiful gardens and parks to historic buildings and monuments  makes London one of the most popular visited place in the world. With its city parks, gardens, zoos, aquariums, museums and amusement parks certainly present idyllic place for family fun and recreation. 

For any honeymooners and visitors, taking a river boat cruise along the River Thame offers romantic and exciting ways to experience the splendour of London. However, outside this bustling city, it offers boundless of unforgettable experiences like the Windsor Castle, Stone Henge, Bath and many more areas that are yet to be explored just in a day or even weeks.

London, a city with endless of tourist attractions can be over-whelming and with its numerous attractions can quite literally engulf you. Therefore, planning is the number one priority when visiting London. My experience in London gives an overview of some of the top attractions in London that are worth visiting and seeing at no cost, as well as paid tours.

Parks and Gardens

After enjoying London’s cafes and restaurants, the following day, it was time to stroll along the parks and gardens. It is incredibly amazing that London is a city where gardens and parks are very much part of London’s free leisure attractions for its visitors and residents to enjoy. They are perfect for relaxing. One of the most noticeable and London’s most loved park as you first step into the heart of the city is the Hyde Park. 

This park is set right in the heart of London and is one of the greatest city parks in the world. It offers both world-class events and concerts together with plenty of quiet places to relax and unwind. London’s parks have plenty of activities to enjoy and very family friendly place. This is the largest of four Royal Parks that form a chain from the entrance of Kensington Palace through Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, via Hyde Park Corner and Green Park past the main entrance to Buckingham Palace. The park is divided by the Serpentine and the Long Water lakes. In history, these parks were once reserved as private hunting grounds for the royal family, but now a days, they’re open for everyone to enjoy.  As you take a stroll along these parks, you certainly won’t miss some of the breathtaking views.

Hyde Park
Green Park
Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain
Entrance of Kensington Palace
Garden inside Kensington Palace

Buckingham Palace 

Feeling like a royal, it was time to visit the Buckingham Palace. It is one of the most liked London sights that many visitors come to see and I wasn’t going to leave London without visiting the area. Buckingham Palace, perhaps the most famous palace in the world and is undoubtedly one of the most popular tourist attraction and most visited palace by millions of visitors to London. 

It is the official residence of Queen Elizabeth and offers tours of staterooms and gardens. Visitors to London don’t have to go far to find this palace for photograph opportunities and was definitely one of the sights that I had to tick off my bucket list. One of the other amazing thing about visiting the palace is watching the “Changing the Guard” ceremony. It is colourful and well synchronised ceremony that will leave you amused.

Buckingham Palace

Royal Albert Hall

Royal Albert Hall, opened in 1871 is one of the London’s most iconic venue and world’s most famous stage. It is one of the most visited tourist attractions in London. Over the years, it has staged almost 200,000 performances – from Sinatra to Wagner, The Beatles to Beyonce, Muhammad Ali to Adele and many of Britain’s own talented and most famous musician like Robbie Williams, Elton John, George Michael, Susan Boyle and many more. It is home to the celebrated BBC Proms. 

It is interesting to know that whilst the venue is most famous for its shows by night, by day this treasured building is open for coffee, lunch, afternoon tea and guided tours of the building which I have done and thoroughly enjoyed. The stunning hall and magnificent interior will absolutely blow your mind away and it is highly recommended for any visitors to London.

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle 

From visiting parks and gardens to Buckingham Palace and Royal Albert Hall, it was time to head a little out of the city area to Windsor Castle. Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. A Royal home and fortress for over 900 years and it is used for state occasions and is one of the Queen’s principal residences. 

Nestled in a quiet town filled with English history, Windsor Castle dominates the landscape. History states that this castle was built by William the Conqueror after he invaded England in 1066. Today, this castle is both a museum and a royal residence. It is the largest working castle in the world located very close to London.

A visit to this castle not only gave me the impression of the feature of the building but the history of the past, present and the future. Visitors to the area can see the magnificent State Apartments, decorated with some of the finest works of art in the Royal Collection, as well as Queen Mary’s Doll’s House, the Drawings Gallery and St George’s Chapel. These are some of the rarest art collections in the world.

Albert Hall

Stonehenge 

Moving further away from central London, I headed to modern-day city of Salisbury to visit the Stonehenge. Stonehenge is one of the popular sites in the world. Stonehenge is a massive prehistoric stone monument which is located on a chalky plain north of Salisbury, England. History states that, this structure was built between roughly 5,000 and 4,000 years ago and this form just one part of a larger and highly complex scared landscape. Research shows that the site as continuously evolved over a period of about 10,000 years. It is one of the most mysterious monuments in the world and unfortunately, archaeologists have not been able to find a data supporting any one purpose for the construction and use of Stonehenge. It may look very ordinary in the eyes of many visitors but it is history that you take away that puzzles your mind.

Stone Henge

Bath

The city of Bath arguably the most picturesque is located in the ceremonial county of Somerset, England. It is rich in history and heritage. As the name implies, Bath is a spa town and this town quickly grew around this complex. History dating back that this England’s West Country has Roman roots and many of its ancient Roman-built baths and structures still stand today and are available for tours. No trip to Bath would be complete without visiting the namesake Roman Baths, which are hot springs that are over 2,000 years old. Yes, I have fall in love with Bath – a unique, feel-good city combining vibrant contemporary culture with a rich history.

Roman Baths

Museums, Shopping and Markets

Like many metropolis town, in central London, there are some noteworthy streets and places to go to fulfil your shopping urge especially in big malls, outdoor markets and visiting museums from history to modern. A city as big as London, things can be overwhelming so the last day in London it was best to keep it simple and light. I started the day with a visit to various museums, markets and shops. To finish of the afternoon and London experience, I went to Tate Modern which is on the Southbank of the River Thames which is lined with bars, pubs, restaurants, shops and coffee shops. I took some time to stroll the riverside and pick a venue for the last meal and drinks in the city. You will be really spoilt for choice here.








From personal perspective: It is always fascinating to me that wherever I am travelling to I always have different experiences, feelings and vibes about the area and the people. These feelings differ from place to place and area to area. There are places where I have the WOW factor and there are other places where empathy and sympathy are felt at the same time.

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Pampering the history and the culture in Paris

Pampering the history, art and culture of Paris

After enjoying London for few weeks, I couldn’t ask anything more from what I have seen and done but to leave London, it was hard for me. As they say, all good things must come to an end but it was time to continue onto my next journey to Paris, known as city of lights but it is a city of romance and art, of the Eiffel Tower and the Musee Du Louvre.

Paris, the capital of France is undoubtedly one of the most sophisticated, beautiful city in the world and one of the most visited cities. Though knows as a chic fashion hub and romance capital of the world it is also a lively city and a centre for art, culture and haute couture. It is the favourite city destination for families, honeymooners and tourists that have an active interest in history and culture. Visiting Paris for the very first time was exciting and I just couldn’t wait to explore this modern day city. 

To get to Paris from London, I took a train trip which I never done before but certainly, it was one of the great way for me to explore one of the major European Union cities – Paris. London is a very popular starting point for many travellers to getaway for their European holiday destination. There is only one train running directly from London to Paris – Eurostar. Aboard this Eurostar high-speed train was so easy in making my decision on which train to take was a bit easier for me. Taking this short and comfortable train ride travelling through the channel-tunnel to the European mainland was absolutely fascinating and what a comfortable experience it was. It was definitely the perfect way to see more of Europe, especially Paris. As I was only travelling to Paris, I only purchased a regular, single train ticket instead of buying a Europass which allows you to get to many destinations or even purchasing a premium class ticket.

Finally, this 348 kilometres train journey arrived in Paris, where I disembarked and took another domestic train to my hotel. Within the city, the Metro is the easiest mode of transportation in Paris. However there are many forms of transportations including taxicabs which are readily available but catching a train would gave me more familiarity around the stations in Paris. Yes, Paris is one of the liveable city in the world where rich and famous come to shop, entertain and display their wealth and indulge in their glamorous way of life. This is also the place where many tourist all over the world come to enjoy. Apart from the modern lifestyle, Paris has an enthralling history and a wealth of well-preserved monuments, history and culture. Though I was only in Paris for a week, it did allowed me to visit some of the major sites and attractions but more time was needed to thoroughly explore more of this city which is undiscovered by many tourist who enter Paris for short stays. Unfortunately, I only had few days in the city and my days were getting numbered and irrespective of how much or how little time I had, there were places and experiences that I just couldn’t miss. Certainly, Paris is one of the most expensive cities in Europe and it can be different for different people. Many of the tourist come to visit as many significant sights as possible – like me, while others come to spend little more time enjoying long lunches, sipping a lot of wine and tasting a lot of French delicacies. 

River Cruise

From what I have observed since I arrived in Paris, you will never spend a dull moment. It has endless number of entertainment options around town and there is tons and tons of places to visit and corners to explore. There were many major sites and attractions that I wanted to visit which I had in my priority list of itinerary. Yes, a trip to many of this places were about to be fulfilled and was already counting days to hours. I began my Paris exploration on a sight-seeing on a river cruise. For me, taking this rive cruise was the best introduction to one of the major European Unity city. As we cruise along the river as it winds through Paris was one of the most romantic thing I have ever done but sadly without a travel companion to share my intimacy but I wasn’t the only solo traveler on board. As an experienced solo traveler, this has become a cultural norm for me but I guess, many come to Paris to find LOVE. The cruise passed under numerous bridges in Paris, going by such sights as the Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Eiffel Tower. The cruise lasted about an hour, but what a magical hour it was.

River cruise
One of the many bridges we passed throu

Palace of Versailles

On my third day, I visited The Palace of Versailles. Visiting to this palace and learning about its history brought me back in time what it was like during those times dating back many years. This palace started out life as a royal hunting lodge in this vast area, but later became a palace housing the king’s court. Looking at this mammoth structure is ornate, opulent and over the top in its richness is just unbelievably incredible. I must say, this is one of Paris’s most visited landmarks. Many visitors come to see its magnificent gardens and the Hall of Mirrors with its 357 mirrors decorating 17 arches. However, the Palace of Versailles ceased being a royal residence during the French Revolution and today it houses a museum of French history.

Inside the palace
Garden inside
View of the palace and the garden
View of the fountain and garden

Notre Dame Cathedral & Arc de Triomphe

The following day, I decided to visit some of the historical sites in Paris before spending the evening to see the Moulin Rouge show. In starting my day in Paris, I spend the morning at one of the most striking gothic cathedrals in the world – Notre Dame Cathedral. No trip to Paris could be complete without a visit to the world famous Notre Dame Cathedral. Standing more than 400 feet (120 metres) high with two lofty towers and a spire, this marvellous church is considered a supreme example of French Gothic architecture. A tour of this 13th century masterpiece allows visitors to admire the awe-inspiring rose windows, Gothic carvings, beautiful sculptures and a collection of relics.  It is absolutely an amazing art of work. After visiting this cathedral, I replenish myself with some nice French gourmet lunch, it was time to visit the Arc De Triomphe. Paris is a wonderland for travellers and Arc de Triomphe is one of the most noteworthy spots in the city. Walking straight on Champs Elyse’e, I found myself at the enormous roundabout that surrounds the Arc de Triomphe. This is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Paris. This Arc de Triomphe was constructed in 1806 to memorialise the triumphal battles of Napoleon Bonaparte. Standing 164 feet high and 148 feet (50 by 45 metres) wide, the arch features intricate reliefs depicting victorious battles and engraved names of many who died fighting for the emperor. Beneath the arch is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from the first world war. 

Taking a self-guided tour of this two historical sites, certainly gave me a profound insight about its significant history of this monuments. As I call it a day, another active lifestyle started to emerge – exploring the night-life of Paris. As it was my fourth day in the city, I felt the need to see and do a lot to make the best of my time in Paris, but in reality I had only 6 days so I had to make the most of every place I visited and yet, kept enough time to actually sit with a glass of french wine, relax and enjoy the sounds of all things French that I hear in and around the capital.

I then made my way back to a restaurant that I found when I strolled through Champs Elyse’s and settled in with a big serving of Cassoulet and a glass of fine champagne before retiring back at the hotel.

Arc de Triomphe
Notre Dame Cathedral

Moulin Rouge

After spending four hectic days sight-seeing in Paris, I still didn’t exhaust myself and I wasn’t surprised at all, especially enjoying this vibrant city. One of the mottos that I believe when I am travelling away from home is that – Holiday is for having a time of your life away from home and when you’re home, it is time for rest. I decided to start out my day to a slow start, which I took time out to treat myself shopping at Boulevard Haussmann. Paris has no shortage for shopping, especially in the fashion world. As I have a very expensive taste for brand clothing, I totally indulged myself without any second thought. This was a great way to end my second last day in the city, especially Paris and to end the day, I booked myself to a performance with dinner and champagne at the world-famous Cabaret – Moulin Rouge. What a thrill to attend this show and the performance from all the cast was just brilliant. I just couldn’t find any fault and the vibrant excitement just kept coming until the end of the show. Though, I had a fabulous dinner prior to the beginning of the show but no cameras were allowed at all and every bag was thoroughly check or scanned as you enter the area. This is undoubtedly one of the best shows that I have thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it.

It was very interesting to find out that, it was in year 1889 which is known as the year when France’s most famous landmark – the Eiffel Tower was constructed. At the same year, the Moulin Rouge opened its doors as an entertainment venue. When it opened, it catered to the rich who wanted to ‘slum’ it. Courtesans worked there and were responsible for inventing the can-can, a dance considered racy for the era. Today, the Moulin Rouge is still considered to be Paris’s premier entertainment venue. It has been the subject to many numerous films. 

Moulin Rouge Theatre

Eiffel Tower

It was my final day in Paris and I thought leaving London was hard for me but leaving Paris, I felt that my heart was broken. I had such a great time in this French capital and just fell in love with the place. I can now understand why, Paris is one of the most romantic cities in the world and definitely I wasn’t in the La-La Land. I haven’t dislike this city at all and to come to the last of my Paris tour, there was no way I could leave without taking few photographs of the Eiffel Tower. I have been dreaming about this moment since I know that I was heading to Paris when I planned my European travel itinerary. This is was my ultimate moment at one of the most iconic structures in the whole wide world. Visiting this iconic symbol of Paris and standing face-to-face at the bottom and on the very top of the Eiffel Tower as I hold my breath, I was just speechless. I felt like someone has choked me in my sleep. The view from the top was stunning and magical from every angle. Looking down from the top of the tower below was a sea of buildings which looked like a remnant of ancient cities in biblical times.

The Eiffel Tower is usually ranked as the number one thing to do for most of the tourists when they visit Paris. Towering more than 1,000 feet (300 metres) high in the Champ de Mars park, this iron structure which was constructed in 1889 for the World Exposition. It is undoubtedly one of the world’s most photographed tourist attraction. The Eiffel Tower creates an excellent photography opportunity for both day and night times. Without a doubt I was certainly in my glory. What a view, what a scene and what an attraction. To view the city of Paris from the top of the tower was amazingly incredible and I just couldn’t get enough of the view and the cameras never stopped clicking. As they say, this is one of the “MUST DO” thing before you die and I totally accept that without any regrets. 

Eiffel Tower
View from Eiffel Tower
View from Eiffel Tower
View from Eiffel Tower

From a personal perspective: Travelling does broaden our mind but it is the very experience that we experience in that moment which justifies how we enjoy ourselves in a very profound way. Whether we are travelling to see the scenes from the unique outback towns to major cities – man-made or natural, it is how we as an individual see, react and appreciate the things around us. 

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Experiencing “Terrific & Terrifying” in small charming city of Lucerne – Switzerland

Experience

Lucerne

The best thing about visiting this location is the history, with a touch of luxury and the pristine nature surroundings

Posted by

akamau

Enjoying this small charming town

Lucerne in brief

This town of Lucerne, in Switzerland is situated in the alpine scenery of central Switzerland, is the gateway to central Switzerland. Few cities around Switzerland can match this fairytale setting, surrounded by lakes and mountains and straddling the banks of the Lake Lucerne. With its outflow, the river Reuss, within the sight of the Mount Pilatus and Rigi in the Swiss Alps defines Lucerne has been a destination for many travel groups and individuals all over the world that make their journey through central Switzerland. With an impressive mountainous panorama and surrounded by spectacular view of the hills, lake and country side makes Lucerne the good place to explore. 

Lucerne is an ancient town with strikingly modern sensibilities and is stunning and deservedly popular since the likes of Goethe, Queen Victoria and Wagner savoured its views in the 19th century. Legend has it that an angel with a light showed the first settlers where to build a chapel in Lucerne, and today it still has amazing grace and thanks to its attractions – The attractive shopping offer, the beautiful lakeside setting and the nearby excursion mountains of the Rigi, Pilatus and Stanserhorn. With a population of just below 85,000 people, not only makes it a great place to live but a great place for visitors to come and enjoy this beautiful seaside town of Lucerne.

Lucerne is waiting to be discovered.

View of Lake Lucerne with mountainous backdrop

Why Go?

While travelling around European countries, Lucerne was on the list of one of the places I wanted to visit. Yes, when dreaming about an idyllic European town, Lucerne is just what comes to mind. Ideally, Lucerne is accessible from all parts of the country and beyond and there is so many reasons why I am visiting this small charming city of Lucerne, surrounded by spectacular view of the hills, lake and country side. Lucerne is an ancient town awash in history, with strikingly modern sensibilities. 

Complete with gable paintings, the covered, medieval Chapel Bridge forms the centrepiece of Lucerne’s townscape and is considered to be one of Europe’s oldest covered bridges, including the landmark of the town is the Museggmauer, a wall which, with the exception only of one of its towers, has been preserved in its original, well-fortified state. The decorated fresco-adorned historic houses line the streets and the picturesque town squares and ethereal beauty is also home to the cutting-edge – the futuristic Culture and Convention Centre (KKL), a concert hall and art gallery.

Lucerne is a city of town squares and churches but its the Lucerne’s pedestrian-friendly walking streets which are filled with unique and fashionable shops and boutiques that I admire. It has a multitude of open-air cafes and restaurants that dazzle any foodie. The glorious architecture all set against the sensational backdrop of the Swiss Alps makes Lucerne the perfect place to base my stay and at the same time I wanted to refuel and relax in a lovely intimate Swiss town.

Getting there?

Getting to this region is accessible in all directions by road and train. Lucerne is located 68 kilometres from Zurich and the nearest major airport to Lucerne is in Zurich and takes about 45 minutes train ride to Lucerne. It is best to fly into Zurich and either take a train ride or rent a car from the airport to Lucerne.. Since I was travelling around Europe by car, my entire road trip was built around flexibility and time.  

Where to stay?

There are various types of accommodations in the area to suit all budget ranging from resorts, backpacker, holiday houses, apartments, B&Bs to luxury hotels and apartments.  I stayed at the delightful Hotel Europe. This hotel may not be the number one luxury hotel in Lucerne, nor pretending to be one but it has been in the business since 1870s. It offers an unforgettable experience on affordable prices. This hotel is located in the heart of the city just steps away from the waterfront of Lake Lucerne. It is a short walk to the the heart of Lucerne’s vibrant life – lake promenade, waterfront cafes and restaurants, Lucerne’s main shopping facilities, casino, museums, arts and galleries. The interior and exterior of the hotel combines a grand past with a touch of contemporary outlook and is distinguish by its subtle elegance. The guest-rooms facing the lake have incredible stunning views of the city, lake and mountains which I certainly took advantage of.  It was the ideal introduction to the area and Lucerne’s life.

View of the hotel with own balcony
Views from the hotel leading to the lake and mountains

Popular Attractions

Located in the Swiss Alps south of Zurich, Lucerne lies waiting to be discovered and is ideally easily accessible from all parts of the country and beyond. After spending few days in this beautiful and stunning city tucked away in the Swiss Alps, Lucerne is an ideal starting point for many excursions to the highlights of Central Switzerland. It is a city of town squares and churches. With a combination of nature and city, Lucerne is home to many iconic buildings and popular attractions. There is no shortage of things to do, which this city offers and there is plenty to do, even if you have limited time or staying for few days. Whether your visiting for culture and history or simply to eat and enjoy yourself (as one does on holidays), Lucerne has it all.

Staying few days in Lucerne, my daily routine were fully scheduled with tours booked for every single day to see some of the best and populars attractions in Lucerne. 

Mount Pilatus

My day began in Lucerne with a trip up one of Lucerne’s regional mountains, the Pilatus or the Rigi –  the queen of mountains and down by aerial cable-car. It is a must do thing when visiting the area and the experience is unforgettable. This is definitely a perfect tour for nature lovers and wonderful way to enjoy the natural beauty of Switzerland. Mt Pilatus is a mountain massif, made of several peaks overlooking Lucerne. The top of the mountain can be reach with the Pilatus Railway and it is the world’s steepest cogwheel railway, from Alpnachstad. Mt Pilatus is considered to be the icon of the city and getting to this place is an adventure in itself. Riding on the world’s steepest cogwheel railway that only operates between May and November was terrific and terrifying experience at the same time. In experiencing this spectacular beauty of the Swiss Alps, the views were mind blowing, the nature was beautiful. I get to see the mountain goats to Swiss cows, brilliant wildflowers and incredible mountain scapes my eyes were not be at a loss for amazing optics. Taking a ride up on the gondola was pretty crazy as we climb up approximately 7000 feet but it was overly nerve wracking for me. Once, we reach the top, the views were profoundly unimaginable. This was definitely the highlight of my Swiss experience. It felt like, I was almost reaching up to the clouds and on top of the world. This is an experience I will never forget.

Lion of Lucerne

I took time to visit this carved lion which has a significant piece of history attached to it which is worth knowing. This is the most amazing sculpture I had ever seen. This figure of a dying lion which was hewn from the face of rock in remembrance of the heroic death of Swiss guards killed during an attack on the Tuileries in 1972 is one of the best-known monuments in Switzerland. Somehow, the sculpture manage to capture the lion’s sadness. It shows that the Lion of Lucerne is a sad, touching tribute to Swiss Soldiers who tried to protect the royal family during the French Revolution. This stone sculpture was created in the 18th century to honour the death of Swiss and it is widely regarded as one of the most moving and poignant sculptures in the world.

Lake Lucerne

Staying in the heart of the town, Lake Lucerne was just steps away from the front of the hotel. Taking a boat ride around the lake was something I couldn’t go by. It was time to discover famous alpine views without breaking on this Lake Lucerne sightseeing cruise. This lake is the country’s fourth largest lake. Without a doubt, this is one of the most beautiful lakes in Switzerland. The 2-hour boat ride amidst the snow capped serene mountains was a unique experience. The boat will stop at different places so you can experience the stunning view. This way, we were able to see the old town, rich people’s houses and the stunning beauty of the landscape along the lake side.

The boat rides offers Lucerne visitors many way to enjoy its fjord-like beauty with mountains that descent right to the shoreline. This lake, especially is scenic on either a pretty summer day or a winter night. It is a great way to relax on the afternoon cruise with a glass of wine and cheese platters which kept coming was something that no-visitors should miss and not forgetting the scenic beauty along the way.

Chapel Bridge

Taking things at slow pace on this particular day and not far from the hotel was the Old Town and Chapel Bridge. I took a stroll along the paved footpath beside the Lake Lucerne with nicely manicured plants which gave me great appreciation of the place and a whole sense of warm charming of the city. This medieval wonderful wooden Bridge not far from the railway station is probably the most photographed monument of Lucerne. It may just look like any ordinary bridge in the city but with an understanding of the history, this landmark bridge was built in the 14th century, until it burned in 1993. It was considered the oldest wooden bridge in whole of Europe. This bridge was promptly rebuilt and is a picturesque as ever. This wonderful wooden bridge, decorated with lots of flower boxes and a stone tower, is just the perfect place in Lucerne and perfect place to get amazing pictures. With beautiful flowers blossomed on the bridge, it really looks very beautiful and is wonderful to stroll along the bridge. The restored bridge also features more than 100 pictures of Lucerne life in the 17th century hanging from the rafters. It is absolutely amazing to see both at night and day.

Day of Leisure

Come to the end of my recent trip to Lucerne and following the hectic days of sightseeing tours, it was time to get down on my knees and go shopping. Leaving Lucerne without shopping means there is something wrong with you. This city is definitely a shoppers paradise for any visitors from clothing to watches and there is always something for your taste. I end up at one of my favourite watch shop – Bucherer. I had read reviews that Bucherer’s had great customer service and that definitely turned out to be true. Swiss made watches are renowned for its quality and elegance dating back centuries. I certainly walked away being a happy customer.

Exploring the area

It was entirely possible for me to get around and visit many attractions and places in this area with the help of public transport. However, my recommendation would be to hire a car or do a self-drive tour and explore the area on your own time. Driving in this area is straightforward as long as you keep your wits about you. When visiting new areas, be aware of no-drive zones and one-way streets. Sometimes, you will save yourself a few headaches when it comes to parking or driving around places to locate the area, it is best to go on a tour and get away with less stress. 

Staying for few days here made it possible for me to have the time and see more of the area during my visit. To fully enjoy your stay in this area and to make the most of the region’s attractions, I’d recommend staying right in the main centre of the area. This way, you don’t have to fight the traffic from locals on their daily commute and you get to sample the beautiful countryside.  Staying in the city area meant, I get to find tons of fantastic restaurants, cafes and shops to keep me busy. As I love watching people and fine eating, I end up eating at one of the busy and fine venue on the waterfront. It was a wonderful place for people-watching with a glass of Swiss wine or a cup of cappuccino in the morning. I was totally impressed and flabbergast with everything. 

From what I have seen and done, Lucerne is absolutely a stunning city to visit, thanks to the surrounding mountains and the glistering lake borders it. This beautiful city has a great number of great views and picture-perfect sceneries but it has a delightful medieval quarter which adds to the charming feel. Walking through winding alleys of the old town weaving their way along the backs of the river that runs through the centre and strolling along the waterfront in the sun is simply heavenly. This city is packed with historic architecture and museums and with the surrounding region boasts natural attractions like Mt Rigi and of course, Lake Lucerne. The city’s attractions has provided plenty of opportunities to me, added to my own praise.

ABOUT ME


ic.golina

Papua New Guinean living in Cairns, Australia. Weekend getaway adventurer and Free-Independent-Traveller (FIT). Lover of unique and exotic travel experiences with a touch of luxury. Follow me to my travel world, brining you closer to your destination.

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