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Showing posts with the label scenery

Roadtrip: Denmark To Sweden

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I personally love long drives. There is nothing quite like spending a day on the road looking at wonderful scenery armed with a good book or a solid podcast on my iPod (yes an iPod), to get the creative juices flowin' and the life batteries rechargin'. There was plenty of this to be had on our road trip from Copenhagen, Denmark to Stockholm, Sweden.  

* Our trip would take us from Copenhagen, up the coast to the Danish city of Helsingor, where we would then board the ferry to take us across the Oresund strait, separating Denmark and Sweden, to arrive at the Swedish city of Helsingborg, continuing on across the Swedish countryside until we arrive at its capital, Stockholm.

Cabo Da Roca: The End of the World and Other Portuguese Towns

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Aside form being home to imperial monuments and maritime wonders, Lisbon is also the entry point to several charming towns and sights. And like the rest of Western Europe, roads are organized and well-maintained, transportation is easy to find, and the spirit of adventure is high.

* Cabo da Roca, apart from being one of the most dramatic looking coastlines I have ever seen, is more famously known as the westernmost point of Europe.

A Walk Around Quirky Copenhagen

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Denmark is considered one of the most developed countries in the world. Economically, while the Danes have INSANE income tax levels which range from 45% to 60%, Danes have access to FREE education, health care, and welfare protection.. which are ALL of excellent quality! 
Income inequality is low; which means that the gap between the wealthy and poor is miniscule. Social mobility is high; which means that a person's status can actually go from poor to rich based simply on merit or how hard that person works. Corruption levels are one of the lowest in the world. Per capita income is one of the highest in the world, I guess, to make up for the high income tax. 
Furthermore, the Danes enjoy and practice a wider range of freedom and civil liberties as compared to other countries in the West. One truly FEELS free here, like you're part of an ideal society.
No wonder the Danes are referred to as the "happiest people on earth"!

* Like most European cities, street performer…

The Royal Castles and Palaces of Denmark

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Denmark, like many of the former great European powers, is a monarchy.  And as such, Denmark's main (and largest) island, Zealand, is dotted with gorgeous Royal Castles.

* Such as the incredible, Frederiksborg Castle, the largest Renaissance castle in all of Scandinavia.

Belém and the Legacy of Portuguese Exploration

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Enduring for over six centuries, the Portuguese Empire was actually the first colonial empire of Europe, leading the continent's Age of Discovery. With superior cutting-edge maritime technology and having a who's-who of historical explorers and sailors, the Portuguese mapped out whole coasts of the Americas, Africa, and Asia, while its European rivals were still squabbling on the main land. 
And Lisbon's Belem district, contains monuments and landmarks to this proud Portuguese legacy.

* By far, the coolest monument in Belem is that of the Monument of the Discoveries; featuring some of the world's most important explorers and situated right on the port where ships used to depart for Africa, India, and the Orient.

Copenhagen: From Viking Village to Royal Capital

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Copenhagen.
What started as a small Viking fishing village eventually grew to become the seat of the Dano-Norwegian Empire, and current capital of Denmark.
Now while Denmark is well-known for being one of the world leaders in design, clean energy, and sustainability, as well as liberalism, human rights, and modernism (free education, healthcare, and social security for all), its capital contains multiple treasures to its glorious royal past!

* Like most people from Scandinavia (the people formerly known as the Vikings), the Danes LOVE the water. One of Copenhagen's most picturesque spots is the waterfront area known as the Nyhavn.

How To Skillfully Navigate Venice

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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.

Culture Overload at Venice's Piazza San Marco

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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!!

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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).

Prague the Iconic - A Walk Along Charles Bridge

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Charles Bridge is one of Prague's most incredible and iconic landmarks. Crossing the Vltava River, the bridge serves to connect the Old Town Square with the Lesser Quarter, also known as Mala Strana. * The bridge was constructed in 1357 under orders from King Charles IV, the first King of Bohemia to be crowned Holy Roman Emperor.

Prague the Mighty - Castle Complex and St. Vitus Cathedral

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Apart from being the home to the Kings of Bohemia, several Emperors of the Holy Roman Empire, and Presidents of Czechoslovakia, Prague Castle also has the distinction of being the largest ancient castle in the world.

* Nothing screams WELCOME than two giant sculptures of legendary characters beating their foes to a bloody pulp.

The Castles of Mad King Ludwig - Neuschwanstein

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The high point of a traveler's journey along the Romantic Road is seeing the majestic castles of King Ludwig II: the Linderhof and Neuschwanstein.  No wonder a lot of our beloved childhood fairy tales come from this part of the world as there is an ample supply of folklore, scenery, and structures to encourage these!
Unfortunately, no photos are allowed inside any of the castles, credit is given to images not taken personally. * The Linderhof Palace! While we were expecting a palace of such beauty..

Harburg - A Medieval Castle on Germany's Romantic Road

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The Romantic Road is a 350 km highway crossing numerous Bavarian cities and towns highlighting the quintessential Germanic cultural experience. Lined with castles, walls, dense forests, rolling hills, and charming villages straight out of a Brothers Grimm fairytale, the Road is one of Germany's most popular tourist attractions.

* A shot of the Walls of Harburg, one of the largest and best preserved castles in Germania.

The Palaces of Vienna - Belvedere and Schonbrunn

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After experiencing the wonders and glory of Imperial Vienna, we proceeded to visit some of the other homes of the Habsburg monarchs. Seeing as how the Family at one point ruled ALL of continental Europe, save for France, their homes around Vienna are extravagantly and gloriously decorated.

* The Belvedere is this beautiful, historic building complex that once served as the summer residence for Prince Eugene of Savoy. A brilliant commander and statesman, Eugene fought wars against the French and Ottomans, and was referred to by Napoleon himself as one of the seven greatest commanders in history.

Cruisin' the Danube River and Walkin' Buda at Night

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The legendary Danube River is Europe's second longest river, and runs across Central and Eastern Europe. Flowing through Bulgaria, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Slovakia and Ukraine, the Danube has been a major historical setting throughout European history, as well as a main source of trade and travel between the ancient Kingdoms.

* The dramatic-looking Hungarian Parliament Building is the seat of the National Assembly of Hungary, but could easily blend in any Lord of the Rings movie.

Buda Hill and the Best View of Budapest

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Modern-day Budapest is actually a combination of two rival medieval cities: Buda and Pest. While flat Pest is located on the eastern bank of the fabled Danube River and has traditionally been Hungarian, Buda, located on the western bank, is hilly, full of trees, and was historically inhabited by Germans, Ottomans, and Serbians before finally being assimilated by the Hungarians. 

* Buda was the former capital of the Kingdom of Hungary and thus contains Buda CastleMatthias Church, and the Fisherman's Bastion.

A Day in Auschwitz - Shock, Disbelief, and Remembrance

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Now Auschwitz would normally not appear in any honeymoon itinerary, and with good reason. There is absolutely nothing positive to be felt in going to a place were over a million innocent men, women, and children were systematically murdered.
And yet, we were honored to have visited this site and to have heard the shocking tale of evil and depravity that occurred here. We are all witness to this atrocity, and we shall never forget.

* Arbeit Macht Frei - which translates to "work makes you free." Right on the entrance of the camp stands this bold-faced lie, offering hope to all newcomers that they were just to be used as slave labor, far from what really transpired here.

Wawel Hill - Castle, Cathedral, and Crypt of the Polish Kings

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Following our morning in the Underground Salt Cathedral of Wieliczka, we decided to go the other direction in the afternoon by going uphill to learn more about the Kings and Queens of the Polish people.
Wawel Hill, situated on the banks of the fabled Vistula River, is a castle complex built in the 8th Century serving as the political center of the Polish people for over a millennium. The complex includes the Royal Castle and Wawel Cathedral, which contains the mausoleum of the Polish Monarchs.

* The astounding view of the Wawel Cathedral grounds! The castle complex has often been described by observers as one of the most fascinating of all European castles.

Underground Salt Cathedral of Wieliczka - 1000 Feet Down

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One of the must-see excursions while in Poland, the Wieliczka Salt Mine is a one-of-a-kind and unique experience. Apart from being an actual, functional salt mine, there exists an underground Cathedral, made entirely of salt!

* A preview of things to come, a dramatic shot of the loooooooooooong way down.

10 War Memorials and Monuments To See in Warsaw

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Well-rested after a long day of flying and the initial exploration of the city, the newlyweds woke up refreshed and proceeded to tour the highlights of Warsaw's imperial history of warfare where they learned about all the tragedies that befell the Polish people in the 20th Century.

* Easily one of the most beautiful things seen this whole trip was the monument of Frederic Chopin at Lazienki Park. Every Sunday, a pianist performs free recitals of his compositions.