Posts Tagged ‘Europe’

 
 

If good looks matter to you…

Written in INTERNATIONAL DESTINATIONS

Then Budapest is your kind of city. It has been called one of the most ‘pretty’ cities in Europe, and it’s certainly visually exciting. History plays a big part in it’s good looks (unlike the rest of us!), with many buildings dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries. The real crown, so to speak, in Budapest’s claim to architectural fame, though, dates back to the 14th century.

Buda Castle was established by the Hungarian kings of the Angevin dynasty and it dominates it’s place on the cliff tops above the Danube River. Getting to the castle is half the treat as you walk through the old city, surrounded by medieval and baroque houses, now containing bars, restaurants or galleries and shops. Merchants, town folk and European royalty have walked the same streets for centuries and there’s a surreal sense of history as you walk the cobblestoned paths.

While you’re in Budapest ride the world’s second oldest subway system (it has been updated somewhat) and make your way to Andrassy Avenue. This beautiful boulevard dates back to 1872 and links Elizabeth Square with the City Park. It’s bordered by magnificent mansions and palaces, built for Hungary’s 19th century ruling classes. It is home to the Hungarian State Opera House, and today, to the fashion houses and boutiques of modern Europe.

Hungary itself is famous for spas – hot, thermal pools where you can relax a while and take the weight off those weary tourist feet. Do it! Not only will you need replenishment after a hard day’s touristing, but you’ll thoroughly enjoy a very central European thing to do.

Charm, good looks and pedigree – if Budapest was breathing, you’d marry it.

BTW, you can take your car in to Budapest – parking is a snap (if a little cramped for your SUV).

 

The only thing Communism got right?

Written in INTERNATIONAL DESTINATIONS

Leaving cities like Prague alone (architecturally-speaking). No money to ‘develop’ things was a blessing for Prague. It is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Home to countless movie crews, scene of many a romantic novel and an inexhaustible supplier of backdrops for car ads.

But Prague has something else for the inveterate traveller… beer. Czech beer is … well, glorious. There’s not a dud beer amongst the rivers of beer available. Even the large multinational companies brew a mighty fine drop. But if you’re visiting for a while check out the micro-breweries. Biggest, or most popular anyway, is U Fleku. It’s part restaurant, part brewery and your visit will be rewarded with typical Czech fare like pork, goulash, sausages and a ton of small goods. But the beer is what you’re here for, so don’t let the food slow you down.

You should consider Bulovka Pivovar, U Medvidku and Novomestsky Pivovar. They’re all great examples of Czech hospitality, supplying a delectable range of filling food and satisfying brews.
Of course, there’s other things to see and do in Prague… roam the city streets for eye-catching historic buildings. The city planning has been in play for more than 1,100 years and it’s a wonderful thing to walk the same streets as merchants of old did. The city has been home to two Emperors of Rome as well as the Habsburg dynasty.

It’s really the scenery in one of Europe’s most beautiful cities that draws the crowds though. It truly is a marvellous place to walk. Get up early with your walking shoes on and take in the sights. It’s a compact city so it’s easy to get around. There’s history on every street corner. Check out Prague Castle (largest in the world!), the Old Town with its famous square, the beautiful Charles Bridge and the Gothic Old New Synagogue. You’ll need a big memory card for the camera in this city so be prepared.

Luckily the walker is well-rewarded because the food will pour on the weight – we can’t figure out why the Czechs don’t weigh a ton. Or maybe it the beer we drank… Surely not.

Check this out… who knew Japan boasted cool rock bands… called Prague. (Great drumming!)

 

There’s a family wedding coming up, so think London…

Written in INTERNATIONAL DESTINATIONS

Of course, you may not be invited to the big day as Prince William ties the knot with Kate Middleton, but, hey, dream a little. Besides, there’s plenty to do in London if you’re at a loose end that particular day.

You could, for example, wander around the outer environs of Buckingham Palace (there’ll be no one home after all), or you could explore Westminster Abbey (it may be a little busy), and you could meander up Fleet St (even though no papers have been produced there for, like, ever). But what you should really do is just walk.

Wherever you’re based, head in to the center of London on the highly efficient tube system and get out and walk. You’ll find the Old Curiosity shop close to Half Moon St, which isn’t far from the ever-exciting West End where theater after theater vies for your attention in grand building after grand building.

It’s often said that London is a living museum piece – beautiful old buildings set amongst the locations you’ve read about in dozens of books. And it’s true – a trip to London is a trip to Sherlock Holmes, Dickens and more.

Here’s an almost sci-fi moment in London