.All Trips / Europe / Slovenia

Ljubljana’s lovely Baroque Cathedral

00 Church of St. Nicholas

The lovely Ljubljana Cathedral (also known as the Church of St. Nicholas) lies in the heart of Ljubljana, Slovenia.  The church is near the popular Central Market and the city’s Town Hall.

There has been a church at this site since at least 1262.  After the fire of 1361 it was re-built in the Gothic style.  That church was burned down in 1469 (by the Moors).  A new cross-shaped Baroque church was constructed between 1701 and 1706, although its octagonal dome was not finished until the 1840s.  The church is dedicated to the patron and guardian of fishermen and boatmen, St. Nicholas.

Sundial outside the Church of St. Nicholas

Sundial outside the Church of St. Nicholas

The exterior of the church is attractive, although relatively simple, but with 2 bell towers and a distinctive dome.  One …

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“Pic of the Week”, March 13, 2020: Grand Ducal Palace, Luxembourg City

Luxembourg 2013 118 Palace

The Grand Ducal Palace is the official home of the Grand Duke of Luxembourg.  It is here that most of his duties as head of this small country are executed.

The building, which has a beautiful Renaissance facade, was originally the city hall of Luxembourg City (1572 – 1795).  During the 19th century it served a variety of administrative functions.  In 1890, following an extensive renovation, the palace became the home of the Duke and Duchess.

The Nazis occupied the palace during the 1940s and turned it into a tavern.  During the occupation, it was damaged and much of its furniture and art were stolen or destroyed.  It was extensively restored in the 1990s and today is used as the Duke’s residence, …

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“Pic of the Week”, March 6, 2020: The Mona Lisa

03 Mona Lisa, Louvre

What’s that small thing everyone’s staring at?  Arguably it’s the world’s most famous painting.  If you want a closer look, you’ll have to push your way through the crowd at Paris’ Louvre to get to it.  And be sure to lock your valuables somewhere on your person because the room is well known as a den of thieves.   Pickpockets rule here, and signs everywhere warn you to be careful.

One of my most anti-climatic moments as a traveler came when seeing the Mona Lisa for the first time.  I’d read and heard so much about it — one of the great Leonardo da Vinci’s few paintings, and of a mystery woman (possibly Lisa del Giocondo) with such an unusual smile.  …

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.All Trips / Europe / Food / Italy

Lunch at Madrid’s San Miguel Market

01 Madrid’s San Miguel Market (1)

We  stumbled upon this market as we were wandering around Madrid, rather than my usual method of researching and then visiting.  Our first glance of the San Miguel market is what you see above.  An attractive building of steel and glass that, to me at least, seemed inviting. 

Mercado de San Micuel is close to the Plaza Mayor in Madrid.  The market opened in 1916 and while not large, is spacious, bright and quite lovely.  About ten years ago, after a change in ownership and a remodel, the market transformed from a general market to an upscale venue that focuses on premium food products.  As such, it’s a popular place for locals and tourists to pick up lunch or a snack …

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.All Trips / Europe / Food Tour / Italy

A Food Tour in Milan

00 Milan Food Tour, Brera neighborhood. (2) Panificio

When my wife and I travel in Europe, we tend to focus each trip on a small region.  Generally we visit one or two major cities, each for 5-7 days including day trips into the countryside.  Also, if our schedule allows and we find one of interest, we will go on a food tour in the cities we’re visiting.

When we visited Milan this past fall, we enjoyed a very fine food tour.  Our guide was Paulo, a professional guide who works for different companies around the city of Milan.  Our particular tour was focused on the city’s popular Brera neighborhood.  He did a great job guiding us through sights in Brera and explaining the city’s food cultural traditions and dishes.

Fresh pasta at Pattini's, Milan

Fresh pasta at Pattini’s, Milan

Our …

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.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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