Showing posts from 2017

Imperial Lisbon In All Its Old World Glory

At its height, the Portuguese Empire was one of the largest and most powerful empires in the world. Armed with superior seafaring technology and a lot of bravado, Portuguese explorers helped to establish the very first European colonies in South America, Africa, and Asia - directly starting the Age of Discovery and Colonialism.
And at the heart of the Empire was the city of Lisbon.

* Imagine yourself standing at the center of the world's most important city 600 years ago, think today's New York City. You would find yourself standing at the Praca do Comercio.

The Awesomely Insane Hotels of Macau

Completely exploring all of Macau's 5-star hotel casinos is an almost herculean (borderline insane) task. I consider myself lucky to have been able to appreciate two of them: City of Dreams and The Venetian.

* Developers in Macau weren't kidding when they said they would outdo Las Vegas in terms of extravagance and craziness! This futuristic looking walkway is JUST the entrance of City of Dreams!

Macau, One Night in HK, and Back Again

64km away from the gambling paradise that is Macau, lies its equally world-famous cousin, Hong Kong. Apart from being shining beacons of Eastern-Western coexistence, both cities share a special bond being the final two European colonies (British Hong Kong and Portuguese Macau) in Asia.

* Our adventure begins at the Macau Maritime Ferry Terminal; with this lemon yellow ship and steampunk looking spheres.

Macau: The Final European Colony in Asia

Apart from being Asia's gambling and entertainment capital, Macau also has the special distinction of being the last colony in Asia to be granted independence from a European power.

* And nothing perfectly shows the coexistence of East and West than Macau's Historic Center, featuring the famous Ruins of St. Paul.

When All The Tourists Have Gone Away

...Venice becomes eerily beautiful!

* People like to joke that Venice is one giant tourist trap!

How To Skillfully Navigate Venice

Short answer: Don't! 
To anyone but local Venetians themselves, Venice might as well be a labyrinth. Built over an archipelago of 118 islands linked by bridges, the city is a real challenge to accurately navigate that one might as well purposely wander around and trust in the gods to find the way back home. 

* A few random turns and we find the infamous Bridge of Sighs (in the far background). Local legend has it that it was called so as this was the bridge leading to the prison from the Doge's Palace, and convicts were known to "sigh" as they got one more glimpse of the beauty of Venice before being incarcerated.

The Basilica of St. Mark and the Treasures of Constantinople

Nothing quite prepares you for the spectacle of seeing the interior of the Basilica of St. Mark for the first time. A symbol of Venetian majesty, wealth, and power, the Basilica has also been referred to as the Church of Gold.

* And for good reason! This was probably how the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul (then Constantinople) looked like before it was defaced and converted into a mosque.

Palazzo Ducale - The Doge's Palace

The Doge was the highest official in the once Most Serene Republic of Venice; having total control of the city-state and its global empire for over 1,100 years

* And like most European royal families, the Doge lived in style!

Culture Overload at Venice's Piazza San Marco

At the height of its power, the Republic of Venice was THE major superpower in the world. Insanely wealthy due to its prime position as conduit between Europe, North Africa, and Asia, Venice has been lavishly decorated by its rulers and inhabitants throughout the centuries to showcase its grandeur.
And in this city-state, the social, political, and religious worlds revolved around the Piazza San Marco. 

* From the Lagoon, the Piazza can be accessed via the Piazzetta di San Marco, which contains the famous Lion of Venice (left), symbol of St. Mark the Evangelist, and Statue of St. Theodore (right), a warrior saint venerated by the Greek Orthodox Church.

Hello Venice!!

After enduring my penchant for picking museums, beer halls, cathedrals and war memorials to visit on this trip, it was finally time for Monicca to get to her dream honeymoon location!
The island of Venice is mythical in its beauty, fame, and grandeur. Once THE superpower in the medieval world (for over 700 years - think today's USA), Venice is every bit as charming and awe-inspiring as it appears in all photos showing its magnificence.   

* The only way to and from Venice is via water transportation (water-buses, water-taxis, speedboats and gondolas).

Life in Poland

It's a millennial's dream to explore Europe. As I was nearing my college graduation, I couldn't help but dream of the proverbial Eurotrip, that was probably in every millennial like me's bucket list. Doing everything I could, I was able to turn that dream into reality. Fresh out of college, my curious 21-year old self was fortunate enough to embark on a solo trip to Europe.

I remember mixed feelings of excitement and anxiety as the day to fly out grew nearer. When the day arrived and after our plane took off, all feelings of anxiety and fear left. I remember thinking about this quote then as I played the Secret Life of Walter Mitty's 'Step Out' on repeat: 
“It is so hard to leave—until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world.” - John GreenAfter going through the exhausting almost 20-hour transit, I finally reached my home for the next 2 months: Poland.

I literally knew nothing about Poland. To be honest, I just randomly chose to have…