.All Trips / Europe / Spain

Barcelona’s Other Cathedral

11 Barcelona Cathedral (29)

If you’re in Barcelona, then you absolutely MUST visit the still unfinished Sagrada Familia Cathedral, Gaudi’s masterpiece.  It’s a church unlike any other and must be experienced in person.  But if you have time, then by all means you should also visit the historic and beautiful Barcelona Cathedral.  It’s also a busy place, with many people waiting in line to enter.

Main entrance to the Barcelona Cathedral

Main entrance to the Barcelona Cathedral

Barcelona Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, is a lovely Gothic construction. The site where the Cathedral currently sits has been home to various Christian temples dating to the fourth century.  Construction of the Cathedral you visit today began in 13th century and it was mostly completed by the 15th century.  …

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.All Trips / Belgium / Europe

Brussel’s Amazing Market Square (Grand-Place)

17 Brussels. House of the Dukes of Brabant

Grand-Place (Grote Markt in Dutch) is the central square of Brussels which is know of its beautiful and decorative architecture in a variety of styles (e.g. Baroque, Gothic).  The square is lined by City Hall, Maison du Roi, and a number of guild houses. In 1998 it was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Many famous events in Brussels’ history occurred in the Grand-Place, including the martyrdom of protestant leaders Hendrik Voes and Jan Van Essen, and a brutal attack by the French in 1695 targeting the fa├žade and tower of City Hall, resulting in extensive damage to many buildings of the square. Obviously all has been repaired and today many of the buildings house museums and tourism-related shops.

Some of …

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.All Trips / Europe / Italy

Piazza del Duomo, the Heart of Milan

00 Piazza del Duomo, Milan (11)

If its magnificent Duomo is the heart of Milan, then the Piazza which faces this church certainly is the town’s main gathering place and foremost tourist attraction.  Always filled with throngs of people, the cathedral’s rectangular square has several sights worthy of note besides its famous church (we’ll learn more about the Duomo in a future blog).

Milan's great Duomo, Piazza del Duomo

Milan’s great Duomo, Piazza del Duomo

The piazza was created in the 14th century and developed over the years as construction on the Duomo progressed.  Most of the buildings and monuments you see date to the 19th century.  Our rented apartment was across the street from the Piazza, so we visited it often and frequently walked through it on the way to restaurants or to see an attraction.  It was …

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.All Trips / Europe / Slovenia

A Day at Lake Bohinj, Slovenia

01 Lake Bohinj, Slovenia (4)

Slovenia is a small country that has some big beautiful scenery.  Its two most famous lakes are Lake Bled (the more popular) and Lake Bohinj.  Lake Bohinj is about an hour’s drive from Ljubljana, the nation’s largest city and capital, and a 30 minute drive from Lake Bled.

There’s a lot to recommend a visit to Lake Bohinj over Lake Bled, although by all means visit both if you have the time.  The lakes are separated by only 26 kms of lovely mountain scenery, and it’s easy to drive from one to the other. Bohinj has a more natural setting that Bled, with less development and fewer tourists.  It is surrounded by the grand Julian Alps and Triglav National Park (the only national …

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“Pic of the Week”, December 13, 2019: Radovljica Chocolate Festival

00 Radovljica Chocolate Art

I was unaware that the small city of Radovljica, home of Slovenia’s famous bee-keeping Museum, was home to a chocolate festival until I saw this piece of street art sitting near the main town square.

I did a little research and found this event is fairly new, starting in 2012.  It is held over a weekend in early April of each year, usually on the weekend after Easter.  Chocolatiers from all over the country and some from neighboring countries show up and feature their wares.  You can buy “tasting” coupons that let you sample the delicious assortment of chocolates.  My mouth waters just thinking about it (confession — I am a lover of fine chocolate)

Besides palate tempting displays …

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“Pic of the Week”, October 25, 2019: Remembering Leonardo, Piazza della Scala, Milan

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Just north of Milan’s Duomo and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a popular park known as Piazza della Scala, named for the city’s famous Teatro alla Scala opera house directly opposite this piazza.  It’s a place of space and refuge in a busy and crowded area of the city.  Other buildings on the Piazza include Palazzo Marino (Milan’s city hall) and Palazzo della Banca Commerciale Italiana.

To me the most interesting feature of the square was situated at its center, where a thoughtful monument of Leonardo da Vinci sits.  It was crafted by sculptor Pietro Magni (1872).  Milan was Leonardo’s home for much of his early adult life — likely the most productive in his life — and the city proudly remembers it’s adopted son.

(Click …

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.All Trips / England / Europe

Rambling to the British Museum

00 The Theater District (2)

After finishing our visit to the National Gallery in London, my brother and I still had about half the afternoon left so we decided to walk to the British Museum, less than a mile away.

It was a pleasant fall afternoon and we enjoyed the walk — so much so that we started exploring side roads so as to see more sights and extend our stroll.   This was the kind of day where you avoid the Underground world of the Tube.

The famous Odeon Theater, London

The famous Odeon Theater, London

The first part of our walk was through the theatre district, always a fun and colorful place to catch a play and always full of people.  Many of these marquees are likely familiar to you.  Street entertainers here are common …

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“Pic of the Week”, September 20, 2019: Dragon Bridge, Ljubljana

00 Dragon Bridge, Ljubljana (8)

Dragons are an important historic symbol in Slovenia and, as such, one can see why Dragon Bridge in Ljubljana is so popular.  It crosses the Ljubljana River and provides access to its famous Central Market.

The bridge contains four dragon statues, one at each of its four corners, which were beautifully crafted in Vienna.  It was constructed between 1900 and 1901, a time of Art Nouveau, and was Ljubljana’s first reinforced concrete structure.  It replaced an old wooden bridge, called Butchers’ Bridge, which had been on the site since 1819 and which was damaged by an earthquake in 1895.

The bridge is also decorated by lamps containing griffins at their base, which were originally powered by gas.  When the bridge was completed, …

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