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Monthly Archives: June 2013

Amsterdam

Amsterdam the northern European Cosmopolitan metropolis

Amsterdam in HollandAmsterdam is known not just the capital of Netherlands but also the largest city. This city is endowed with about a hundred kilometres of canals, one thousand five hundred bridges and ninety islands that earned it the name Venice of the North. Amsterdam which is in the North Holland province is thus an excellent tourist and holidays destination especially for those people who would like to experience ancient history. In fact, it is among the most popular destinations for tourists in the larger Europe as it receives a huge number of visitors, estimated at 4.6 million, drawn from different parts of the world every year. There are numerous attractions that Amsterdam has to offer ranging from the historic canals to museums and the coffee shops. Also notable is the Amsterdam Stock Exchange which is the world’s oldest.

Some interesting information that visitors who tour Amsterdam appreciate is that the canals did not just happen but they were consciously planned for in the course of planning for the city at a time when the rate of immigration was too high. The planning mainly based on the canals concentric four half circles whose ends emerged at IJ bay. Three of these canals were mainly directed towards residential development. Ultimately though the canals were dedicated to ensuring defence, transport as well as water management. The canals offer scenic views into the beauty of Amsterdam thereby encouraging visitors to explore the city. The canals have since been included in the UNESCO world heritage list.

The other attractions that visitors and tourists get to experience while in Amsterdam include the numerous museums that are home to years of history. In fact, a visit to the museums is considered to be one of the best ways of reliving the history of Netherlands. One of the important museums that tourists must not fail to explore is Rijksmuseum that having been created towards the end of the 19th century. This museum which is also Netherland’s national museum is mainly dedicated crafts, arts as well as history. This is evident in the large collection of Dutch Golden Age paintings as well as the considerable Asian art collection. Originally founded in The Hague in 1800 with the aim of exhibiting Dutch Stadtholders collection, the museum was later to move to Amsterdam under the orders of king Louis Bonaparte. Visitors who travel to Amsterdam may also tour the other museums that include the Stedelijk museum whose specialty is modern art, Van Gogh museum that holds a lot of Vincent Van Gogh’s works and Rembrandt house museum among numerous others museums.

Besides museums, Amsterdam also offers a perfect environment for holidays as it houses De Wallen, an area that is set aside of prostitution that is legalized in its red light district. In fact, the red light district has become popular among tourists and has a well knit alleys and roads network that are rented out. Other attractions in Amsterdam include parks that are very common among people who not only want to experience Amsterdam but also want to enjoy a great family moment at picnics. The parks offer a serene environment that is characterized by water fountains, open fresh air as well as the sun. Additionally, depending on the time of the year that you will travel to Amsterdam, you may engage in festivals like the Qeens’ or Koninginnedag day that have music concerts organized, opera, children’s games among other activities.

In order to ensure that your experience in Amsterdam is worth remembering, you will need to be aware of the best time of the year to travel. For instance in order to have the best of the canals, you will need to be in Amsterdam in the months between April and October during maritime climate. However, the high season runs from April all the way to December while October and November and also January to March are low seasons for tourists. Accommodation is not a matter of concern as there are numerous hotels of different calibres which you can check in. there are also hostels as well as camping sites. Amsterdam is also a great city for shopping as it is dotted with numerous department stores as well as specialty shops. The Cornelis and Pieter Cornelisz Hooftstraat are streets that are usually busy with shoppers. Amsterdam is also home to fashion brands such as G-star, Blue Blood, Gsus as well as Iris van Herpen among others. In fact, it also houses a garment centre at the World Fashion Centre with most of the buildings that were previously used as brothels within the red light district being turned into ateliers for upcoming fashion designers. In conclusion, a trip to Amsterdam for holidays or even as a tourist promises a lot of fun and insight into the history of the city.

Paris

Paris – the romantic jewel of Europe

Paris the capital of FranceA visit to France will be incomplete without alluring the captivating beauty of Paris, also regarded as the city of light. This city offers an amazing experience of the French culture as well as the rich history of France. Paris which is known as to be the most romantic city in the world boasts of a combination of both the old charm of the world with contemporary culture making it an enchanting and intriguing destination for vacations. While in this city visitors get to explore the more than two hundred museums and galleries, hidden treasures, famous attractions, romantic restaurants and chic café all of which offer something for everyone.

Paris is not just the capital of France but also one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world having been ranked third after New York City and Orlando. The city is estimated to receive close to 42 million visitors. It is also ranked first with regards to international tourist arrivals with the number estimated at 17 million visitors. The city as well as its region is known for a number of historical monuments that are key tourist attractions with four of these having been listed among the UNESCO world heritage sites. This is enough evidence that Paris is a great city to tour not just as a tourist but also for holidays for an experience that is unforgettable.  Some of the popular attractions in Paris include Basilique du Sacre Coeur, the Lourve, Notre Dame de Paris, the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triompe and Champs-Elysees and Musee d’Orsay.

The other famous attraction in Paris is the Notre Dame de Paris that means Our Lady of Paris. The cathedral is synonymous with French Gothic architecture that is, stained glass windows that are beautiful as well as dramatic spires and towers. Moreover, it has regained ill repute for being home to Disney’s Hunchback. What captivates visitors most is the intricate art, a magnificent panoramic view of Paris as well stone gargoyles. The Notre Dame Cathedral is said to have been completed over a period of close to two hundred years.

Another attraction  that you cannot miss to see include the Louver, that guarantees you travel through ages as you get to explore antiquities and art work that dates back to centuries ago by walking into one of the few museums in the world that is not only the largest and oldest but also fascinating. This museum which was at one time a royal palace is a historical landmark that houses a number of not just amazing but also acclaimed proof of brilliance in art like Mona Lisa by Da Vinci, Dying slave by Michelangelo as well as Venus de Milo, a famed Greek sculpture. The Louvre also presents an opportunity to tour Mesopotamia in ancient Egypt and the middle ages and also experience the awakening of Italian Renaissance expressed through art. Other attractions worth exploring at the Louvre include the Ottoman period as well as various styles that are representative of the French Revolution. The Louvre presents an opportunity to listen to history speak strength, perseverance and love as seen through ages.

The other place in Paris that is worth visiting is the Champs-Elysees and Arc de Triomphe. This is especially ideal for people who consider relaxed holidays as they can stroll through these undoubtedly beautiful and glamorous avenues. Movie lovers may also consider enjoying popping in at the cinema or the specialty shops and end up at the café for rich delicacies. Visitors are usually advised to take time in order to make the most of what Champs-Elysees offers before ending the tour with Arc de Triomphe an architectural piece crowning crossroads totaling twelve avenues that was initiated by renowned Napoleon Bonaparte being a tribute to not only military prowess but also achievements. This monument has the names of the commanding generals of Napoleon besides housing Tomb of Unknown Soldier that is a 1920 addition. While atop this Arc, visitors are treated to breathtaking sights as well as the opportunity to discover other attractions that are also popular.

Also worth mentioning is the Sacre-Coeur, a grandiose basilica from the 19th century that is magnificently located at the highest point of the city of Paris. This basilica which is located within the Montmartre district adopted the Roman-Byzantyne technique and is regarded as the centre of art. Your holidays in Paris will be incomplete without travel to the magnificent Eiffel tower that is in fact France’s global icon. The Eiffel tower also the tallest structure in Paris standing at just over one thousand meters and is visited most offering millions of visitors that opportunity to go up each year. Even then, in order to make your visit to Paris exciting, you need to find out more about Paris prior to your visit. The internet is a great resource and you can be sure to find all the information you need in order to prepare adequately for your trip.

Vienna

ViennaThere are a number of tourist destinations around the world some of which can only be explored by people who have a made it a habit to tour different countries for holidays. One of the amazing tourist destinations is Vienna, the capital city of Austria. This is mainly because of the numerous attractions and places that offer an amazing experience to visitors of all ages and descent. The first irresistible place in Vienna is the Café central that is an esteemed coffee house. Café central is in fact famous among authors and other intellectuals like Theodor Herzl, Peter Altenberg, Hugo Von Hofmannsthal, Egon Friedell, Adolf Loos, Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky who would hold meetings here and discuss subjects such as philosophy, politics and economics among others. The café’s long history, famous patrons and the beautiful atmosphere have made Café Central a place that every tourist must consider visiting and is thus recommended by the stakeholders in the tourism industry. This is despite the fact that the original Café Central was located in a different section of the building known as Palais Ferstel that was closed at the end of the Second World War.  The café thus has a number of informative signs bearing the images of the celebrities of the old even though they did not sit at any of the tables in reality. Even then, the café has embraced impressive architecture and the drinks and food served hear is mouth watering. You can also get to experience Viennesse Coffee that guarantees you fresh authentic coffee.

The second place that most tourists explore while in Vienna is the Viennese cuisine. The traditional wine tavern also known as Heurige makes the experience worth while. Even then, it is Grinzing which is a combination of Heurige within the vineyards that overlook Vienna that are the main Viennese attraction. In fact, the experience is more rewarding compared to what you get after jostling among Japanese tourists. There are quite a number of Heurige within Austria’s Wine Quarter, Hagenbrunn and even Stammersdorf as well as the town of Perchtoldsdorf. All these locations are within reach by tourists. Another treat for the visitors who travel to Vienna are the Lipizzaner horse shows, an initiative of the Spanish riding school that was instituted in 1572. The school is considered to be one of the most prestigious as well as oldest the world over. Also notable is the Baroque architecture that is strategically nestledin the Hofburg palace that attracts visitors. This is in addition to the Lipizzan horses. However, you will not view these artistry and the horses for free as a fee of about one hundred and seventy three Euros is charged for each performance. Should you be interested in an up close and personal experience with the horses you will need to pay and additional twelve Euros while those desiring to explore the stables for a guided tour will need a combo ticket.

The other place that every tourist needs to consider visiting in Vienna is the famous Sacher hotel. This hotel is known for a world famous dessert that comprises dual sheets of chocolate cake that is separated by another sheet of apricot jam at the centre and is covered in a chocolate glaze that is dark. It is thus Hotel Sacher that has the right to the Sachertorte hence it is abit costly. Even then, there are a few other hotels that sell Sachertorte that is equally mouth watering. Vienna is also known for its numerous souvenir shops besides the sights and sounds. One of the best ways of remembering your holidays experience in Vienna is by purchasing a keepsake that would depend on your experiences. The good news is that there are numerous souvenir shops that offer a wide range of items that accommodate everyone. It is important to ensure that the souvenir items that you select are not cheaply made Chinese products but real Austrian antiques. You could also these memorabilia outside Vienna.

Ultimately, it is true that if you travel to Vienna for holidays and are not the disciplined type when it comes to finances, chances are that you will spend a lot of money on items you will later realize that you do not need. It is therefore advisable that you prepare for your visit to Vienna adequately by preparing a detailed itinerary of your trip. You may also need to find out about the various interesting places in Vienna to enable you to budget adequately. Most importantly, ensure that you take not of any activities that will require you to pay a designated fee so that you do not limit yourself on the activities that you can engage in as well as the places you can visit. You could also look at working with a tour company that will ensure you make the most out of your trip.

Helsinki

Helsinki FinlandHelsinki is Finland’s largest and capital city with a population of at least 500,000 people. It is considered Finland’s cultural center. The Helsinki-Vantaa Airport connects a number of destinations in Asia and Europe and this makes it an ideal place for holidays for people residing in these continents. However, this does not mean that the airport locks out people from other regions or continents that want to tour or explore Helsinki.

The city derives its name from the Swedish name Helsingfors, a combination of two words (Helsinge – the surrounding parish) and (fors – the rapids). There are still many theories surrounding the origin of this name and they could go on and on. Nevertheless, what is important is the fact that this is a vital city and it has been in the records as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991. Helsinki is praised for its richness in the number of islands, peninsulas and bays and could provide an excellent experience for any holidaymaker or visitor. When you explore Helsinki, you will admire a scenic display of patches of forest. Some visitors claim that the Helsinki Central Park is just irresistible; they can not leave the city without taking much of their time in the park. One tourist wished the park would be transported to her neighbourhood back at home.

When you travel to Helsinki, you could consider making a tour to its rich islands such as:

  • Lauttasaari island
  • Korkeasaari island
  • Santahamina island
  • Seurasaari island
  • Pihlajasaari island


These islands are favourite spots during summer. Helsinki and its islands receive a considerable number of visitors during summer as a result of the prevailing humid continental climate. It is also reported that the city experiences long days in summer and this means that you can have all enjoy all the sun rays and warm climate as you please.
Apart from the islands, the city itself is a beauty to behold. Some of the most fascinating buildings and sites include:

  • The Aleksanterinkatu
  • The Helsinki Cathedral
  • The parliament of Finland
  • Kaisaniemenlahti
  • Café Regatta near Sibelius Park
  • The Senate Square
  • The Government Palace
  • The Stora Enso, the headquarters of the paper company
  • Finlandia Hall, the concert venue
  • The Tennis Palace
  • Olympic Stadium
  • The Swimming Stadium
  • Glass Palace
  • The Rowing Stadium
  • The Helsinki-Malmi Airport
  • The Exhibition Hall

All these sites and buildings are demonstrations of the architectural ingenuity and innovativeness that can not be found anywhere else except in Helsinki, Finland. In fact the Helsinki-Malmi Airport and Olympic Stadium have been recognized as important national cultural-historical environments by the National Board of Antiquities.

Helsinki is endowed with museums which are home to a wide range historical collection some of which date as far back as the prehistoric times. They include:

  • The National Museum of Finland
  • The Helsinki City Museum
  • The UNIVERSITY MUSEUM, University of Helsinki
  • The Natural History Museum, University of Helsinki
  • The Kiasma Art Museum for classical modern art
  • The Sinebrychoff Art Museum for classical European art
  • The Ateneum Art Museum for classical Finnish art

In case you are not a fan of museums and galleries, you can take a tour of Helsinki’s theatres and the most popular theatres are: the Helsinki City Theatre, the Finnish National Theatre and the Finland Swedish Svenska Teatern. They will offer you the best experience that you have ever had in your life. While it is good to spend most of your time outdoors, it is also vital to give yourself a break so that you can be witness to what happens in Helsinki’s theatres and musical venues. Some visitors arrive there with the assumption that theatres and musical venues across the globe offer presentations and renditions that are not any different from what they have in their respective countries. You know what they say, “He who has eaten his mother’s food all his life might think that his mother is the best cook in the whole wide world.” If you give it a chance, you will be shocked at how different theatres are in Helsinki.

Whenever you choose to explore Helsinki and its attractions, do not just focus on the recreational, buildings and other attractions. Remember that people are usually the best attractions that you can ever have. Interact with the locals in Helsinki and discover the ideas that they have. The best time you can interact and mingle with the locals is in August when they are having their Helsinki Festival. This event is held with the aim of celebrating the city’s culture and body of arts.

Finally, the city’s well developed transport network makes mobility of visitors to their respective destinations of choice faster and easy. Helsinki is a city of choice and a city visitors and locals.

Lisbon

LisbonIf it has never crossed your mind to explore Lisbon, Portugal’s largest and capital city, it is high time you scheduled a tour of Lisbon in your diary. It is estimated that this city has a population of 3 million and has been rated as the 9th most populous urban area in the European Union. It is strategically placed among the cities in Europe along the Atlantic coast and this has made it an excellent centre for tourism, arts, entertainment and international trade. As a result of its improved transport system, it has become the 7th most visited city in southern Europe. This has been made possible due to its well developed motorway network, the Lisbon Portela Airport as well as its high speed rail which connects major cities in Portugal.  There are plans to connect its high speed rail to Spain so that the city can be accessed easily and conveniently.

If you would like to travel to Rome, Istanbul, Madrid, Barcelona, Milan, or Athens, you can do so without any problem. Being the wealthiest city, it has become home to many headquarters of multinationals in Portugal and it is also the 9th city in the world which attracts international conferences.  Did you know that Lisbon is older than cities such as Paris, Rome and London? Despite the fact that Lisbon has never been declared officially as the capital city of Portugal, it still remains a force to reckon with not only in Portugal and Europe but also across the globe. People throughout the world would love to experience the climate, art, entertainment and culture of Lisbon. Even people who have aspirations of venturing into the business world need to consider making numerous tours of this city so that they can see immense opportunities that are hidden along the Atlantic coast.

It is a good place for your holidays too because of the various sites such as Jeronimos Monastery, Belem Towers. Most visitors come mainly to experience Lisbon’s Mediterranean climate whose summers take about 6 months. It is also known for its warm to hot summers as well as mild winters. Since rains are common in winters, summers are usually dry. If you would like to explore a city in Europe that would guarantee you sunshine hours that range between 4.6 hours and 11.6 hours per day in December and July respectively, then Lisbon is the place to be. Does it deserve mention that Lisbon has the warmest winters among all the metropolises in Europe? You can not help spending part of your time at the beautiful Parque Florestal de Monsanto (English:  Monsanto Forest Park) which takes 10% of Lisbon’s municipality.

As you tour the city’s urban area, you will not hesitate to marvel at its wide range of architecture such as Baroque, Romanesque, Gothic as well as Manueline. You will also not consider it a waste of time and resources spending your holidays in Lisbon because of its remarkable Museums such as

It is almost impossible to exhaust every treasure that Lisbon keeps in its wings. On the southern bank of Tagus River in Amada is a monument to Cristo Rei (Christ the King) whcih was constructed after World War II. It was a sign of thanksgiving since Portugal had been able to survive the ravages of World War II. When your holidays coincide with June 13, you will be able to share in Lisbon’s holiday on which Santo Antonio (saint Antony of Lisbon) is honored for spending the better part of his life preaching to the poor.

Some people particularly want to explore the following places:

  • Fountain in Don IV square, the second largest park in Lisbon
  • Alcantara, a district that is composed of palaces and farms and other old buildings. The youth love the district due to its numerous pubs and discotheques.
  • Alfama, a district that comprises old houses, restaurants and bars.

Lisbon’s panoramic view from the top of Sanctuary Christ the King is breathtaking. You may also consider standing atop Vasco da Gama Tower and viewing the Vasco da Gama Bridge. It is a beauty to behold!

You need to make a date with Lisbon so that you can explore, experience and tour every corner of this city. You will discover how much you have missed.