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What to Do in Stockholm, Sweden

How to See Stockholm, Sweden in the Best Way

Stockholm, Sweden is a very special place, with the laid-back people, history and intricate island arrangement; it can be described as a visually stunning spot to be.  When you visualize anywhere in Scandinavia you’ll likely remain concerned about the weather.  Vacation season, which runs into September, has high temperatures of up to 70 degrees F. and lows in the 50s, plus the added benefit of very extended days of sunlight.  Winter of course will get rather cold, with temperatures typically in the 20s F.

To essentially appreciate most of Stockholm, it’s best to visit there during the summer and initially acquaint yourself with the city with a boat trip, which could take two hours.  The city is built on 14 island tactically situated between the massive Lake Malaren and the Baltic Sea.  The last half in the 20th century saw Stockholm develop into a contemporary, technologically innovative city, as modern architecture began to spring up.  But places like Gamla Stan, Sodermalm and Ostermalm luckily for us retained their historic ambiance by surviving the restoration.

The Heart of Stockholm is Gamla Stan

Gamla Stan is the historical, geographical as well as cultural center of Stockholm.  Stockholm started as a settlement in 1252, and this island in the hub of the metropolis is still fascinating with the cobblestone streets meandering through beautiful churches, museums, restaurants and bars.  The Nobel Museum is here, and check out the Stockholm Cathedral and Royal Palace, where there is a daily changing with the guard attracting plenty of people but can get a bit long and drawn out.

Gamla Stan is actually a lot of fun, and extremely interesting.  You can see a whole lot of this island just by walking, and I’d recommend employing a tour guide to do a two-hour walking tour.  We were there in July, and while there was a lot of rainfall, other than that it was quite comfortable.  But I’ve been told that as the snow falls during the winter the capital will take on a story-book feeling.

Stockholm is a great walking city, however if you want to explore out further their metro, known as the Tunnelbana (T-Bana) is actually one of the finest in Europe.  Their 66 miles allow it to be one in the longest networks in Europe.  For a 3-day pass you’ll be able to acquire a travel card for the entire public transport in greater Stockholm for roughly $23.  Getting around to the numerous bigger islands within the archipelago may be accomplished year-round (winter ice conditions permitting), and several taxi boat providers are available.

In the event you are going to cruise the Baltic, a cruise I’d very much suggest, you’ll likely launch or end in Stockholm.  I think you are going to be pleased if you plan to spend a few days on one side of the trip in Stockholm.  It is truly a fascinating city.

Stockholm from Gino Maccanti on Vimeo.

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Things to Do in Dublin

You Won’t Soon Run Out of Things to Do in Dublin, Ireland

When we think of things to do in Dublin we probably won’t think it compares with all the great capitals in Europe.  It really is not that large, either in geographic area or residents (about half-million in the city proper in 2011), although what it is lacking in mass it will make up for with character.  There are many places to visit in Dublin, however the true character with the city is the charismatic people.  It is in fact an entertaining place to be, starting with their pubs (of which they’re extremely proud of); you will find most for being brighter and more contemporary compared to their British counterparts.

History Is a Big Part of Things to Do in Dublin

Of course Dublin like any place in Europe will be very historic.  And unlike most Americans, people there seem to have an innate understanding of the times past, and the way it relates with their current culture.  If you go to one of these pubs that has Irish folk music, so much of their lyrics involve their struggles for independence from Britain.  They gained their independence almost 100 years ago, however the tales continue to be passed down.

There is certainly more to the history than under British control.  Initially a Viking colony, it rose to become Ireland’s main town following the Norman occupation of England in 1088.  From the mid-1600s to 1800 Dublin reached a pinnacle, briefly becoming the fifth largest city in Europe during this time.  In 1800, following the Act of Union moving the seat of government to London, it went into a period of stagnation, although remaining an economic hub for almost all of the island.  However it didn’t have a key part in the Industrial Revolution of the 1800s, which drove the development of nearly all cities all through this era.

The Many Ways to Enjoy Irish Culture

1.    Book of Kells.  This is certainly the cultural masterpiece, generally regarded as Ireland’s leading national treasure, that was created by Celtic monks approximately 800 AD.  It’s an illustrated Latin Gospel book which holds the four Gospels from the New Testament.  Based at Trinity College Library, it is a must-see.

2.    Guinness Brewery.  Yes, Guinness is an important part of Irish culture, with more than 4 million visiting each year.  Among the most remarkable thing regarding Guinness I have heard will be that their most well-liked variety was actually a mistake.  In the first years they accidentally burnt the hops during one of their brews, and instead of getting brown beer it came out black.  As opposed to simply throwing it out they gave it away to the locals.  It became a tremendous hit, and subsequent to brewing and promoting it, they ultimately made the commitment to have the dark drink their only beer, which it now is to this day.

3.    Kilmainham Gaol.  Now a museum, this earlier prison played a vital role in the struggle for Irish independence.

4.    Jameson.  Established in 1789 by an attorney from Scotland named John Jameson, the complex in Dublin is now the place of the vatting of their whiskey.  Trip Advisor ranks it as being one of their foremost attractions in Dublin, and is open seven days a week.

5.    Irish heritage.  Have you Irish ancestry you would like to trace?  Two spots that you’ll be able to look will be a quick walk from one another in Dublin: the National Library of Ireland and the National Archives of Ireland.  Each of them remain free, and they have immense catalogs.

Dublin may be navigated fairly easily by foot, or else the tour buses will with no trouble get around the city.  It will  rain quite a bit in Dublin, but it is really an enjoyable city to visit.

Grafton Street from Finn Keenan on Vimeo.

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Visit Prague, Czech Republic

Visit Prague- The Past Becomes the Foundation of its Culture

Of the great cities in Europe I’ve had a chance to see, one that I would most highly suggest is to visit Prague, the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic.  They have warm summers in addition to chilly, but not particularly cold winters. In 2011 it was the sixth city most visited anywhere in Europe.

The Vltava River has been this city’s focal point, and built around it our the principal points of interest.  It’s rich in history and culture, and has ten major museums, theaters and historical exhibits.  Luckily much of the old architecture has survived the destruction of Europe in the last century.

A Center of European History for 10 Centuries

As a major city in Eastern Europe, it has been at the center of history in that area for 1000 years.  At that point it started to be a center of trade for Europe, and aided by the wealth that trade brings it became a seat of control for what would turn out to be the Kingdom of Bohemia.  A sizable Jewish area was established, and the Old New synagogue, constructed in 1270 stands today.

Over the centuries Prague has had its good and bad times.  The city flourished under the King of Bohemia Charles IV, who ruled from 1346-1378.  A good amount of the architecture you will see in the city comes from this time, such as Charles University (the oldest university in Central Europe), the Charles Bridge (the vital thoroughfare connecting the right bank area to the castle area), the gothic St. Vitus Cathedral, in addition to New Town (which is a delightful area adjacent to Old Town).  During this point Prague was the third largest city in Europe, with just Rome and Constantinople larger.

The City becomes a Center of Art in Europe

Following Charles passing away the city went through about 200 years of unrest, caused generally by differences attributable to religious beliefs and religious persecutions.  Things settled down with Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II, who was chosen King of Bohemia in 1576 and took up residence in the Prague Castle.  Rudolf had been a forward thinker and a lover of fine art, and Prague became the capital of culture of Europe.  The year 1618 marked the beginning of one more turbulent time in Prague, when the devastating Thirty Years’ War had been fought especially in the first seven years in Bohemia.  Plague and famine brought on by the war caused the population of Prague to fall.

Prague was to recover later on within the 17th century, and by the mid-1800s factories spurred from the Industrial Revolution were to grant it an additional revitalization time.  Together World Wars I and II profoundly affected the city, as was communism within the last half of the Twentieth Century.

As we are able to see, Prague has had a explosive past, and I have devoted most of this piece to its history.  That is certainly because much of the things you will observe there features a historical setting, and to really appreciate this great city is to have a grasp of what Prague will have went through in the last 700 years.  If you go, for me an incredible dining experience was eating the local cooking and drinking the local beer.  These are both in fact outstanding.  There are literally hundreds of bars and pubs, and the native food we believed was more Slovak with German qualities.  Like most tourist cities, go to the out-of-the-way places (the locals are able to point you in the correct way) and stay clear of the touristy places.

Prague from emre aydin on Vimeo.

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Lyon, France

Lyon, France for  some of the Best Eateries Anywhere

When a vacationer to Europe dreams of the major destination metropolitan areas, probably not at the top of the choices is Lyon, France.  But due to its central location within France; almost wherever you go in France will never be far from this truly remarkable city.  Even back in Roman days this site had geographic importance because of its place at the fork of two major passable waterways, the Rhone and the Saone.  This gave it importance for trade plus for governing Gaul during Roman times.

Significant amounts of Lyon’s wonderful historical past is still intact.  A large part of historic Lyon was listed as a UNESCO Heritage Site in 1998, but has always been faithfully preserved through the years.  Through the many centuries of Roman occupation and after, right up to the Renaissance it was as an important center for industry.  Then during the industrial revolution, the leaders in Lyon didn’t demolish the historic districts.  New construction within the city has been expanding outward, thankfully for people who love heavy doses of times past where we travel it gives us a chance to picture traveling to these long-ago eras.

Lyon Has Quite a Lot of Italian Influence

For a city in mid France you might be surprised by the Italian influence in the city’s buildings.  In the Renaissance the silk trade was a vital part of the commerce of Lyon, which drove the commercial connections with Italy.  This continued throughout the Industrial Era of the nineteenth century and is actually quite evident within the Old Lyon medieval and Renaissance district.

Nowadays Lyon is probably best known because of its dining places and its food.  Many well-known culinary experts have eateries here, headed by the well-known chef Paul Bocuse (see video below).  We dined at his eating place and it is truly an experience.  Explore the inside market Les Halles de Lyon that provides almost all the products to the top restaurants in Lyon.  In here you’ll discover sea food and meat products, desserts, breads, chocolates and more.  Lyon has got 1500 eating places, a sizable amount for a city this size.  Plus the range from low-priced to high-ticketed, not to mention 20 Michelin restaurants will allow you an excellent eating experience for any budget.

There are several great local dishes that everyone need to try.  It is known for its morning snack foods popularized formerly with the silk workers.  But perhaps the greatest advantage that Lyon has is its location to France’s wine area.  Towards the north will be the Beaujolais vicinity where much of Lyon receives its wine, and to the south will be the Cotes du Rhone.  French folks will most likely consume the local wine, and we were told the best wines typically aren’t exported from the region.

These Beaujolais wines should not be mistaken for the Beaujolais Nouveau wines marketed in the United States a few years ago.  The marketing of these wines was more a stroke of marketing brilliance and sold loads of wine, but did not showcase high-quality Beaujolais wine in the states.  The quality for the wines when bought in this part of France is in fact quite magnificent.

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Things to See in Rome, Italy

Rome, Italy- A Metropolis of Art and History

Of all the cities within Europe that I have had a chance to visit for some length of time, I would have to say the things to see in Rome, Italy is in fact my preferred.  Certainly not an easy place to navigate, especially when you drive, and I would not call it a great walking city compared to Paris or London.  But for legendary places, history and beautiful architecture, with a backdrop of ancient structures and ruins that are highlighted at night with lighting, this city really has something to view around nearly every turn.

Trajan’s Column

My advice to anyone wanting to get around Rome, regardless of whether they were there before, would be to take one of the numerous on-off buses.  By acquiring a daily or three-day pass, someone can get to, or near  almost all of the major destinations without the cost of hiring a cab.  Just get off anywhere you would like, and grab a later one coming along the same route.  It might seem like the touristy thing to do, but like I said earlier, unless you love to walk and have a lot of time, hiking around Rome is not your best use of time.

Some of the Things to See in Rome, Italy that You Shouldn’t Miss

1.    The Church of Mary and the Martyrs.  The familiar designation would be the Rome Pantheon (meaning a temple to “all the gods”), the church was constructed in 125 A.D. as a pagan church and continues to be in continuous use ever since.  It now is without a doubt the very best preserved Roman building from its time, and has survived the time because the Pope in 609 A.D. consecrated it as a Catholic cathedral.  It is truly an architectural wonder.

2.    The Vatican.  Not technically part of the city of Rome but its own country, The Vatican is one among the most important locations in the world.  Don’t short-cut your time here, since it will take at least a day to see.  If you really want to get essentially the most out of your time here, use a tour guide.  Lacking one it really is a maze to navigate.

Inside the Roman Coliseum

3.    The Coliseum.  This is the iconic spot of Rome, and again hiring a tour guide helps you negotiate some of the tourist lines which often get long.  Much of the interior had been torn out to be used as materials for additional Roman buildings over the centuries, so you’ll have to make use of your imagination to picture what it was like.  But that is just where the guides can assist.  By the way, they are going to tell you there isn’t any historical record of Christians being fed to the lions there.

4.    Trevi Fountain.  You will find hordes of vacationers throwing coins in the fountain, but my fondest impressions were not the fountain (okay, it’s pretty impressive) but the neighborhood.  To me it sort of epitomizes what a Roman neighborhood is.  Do not buy your gelato nearby, though.  They have a tendency to gouge the tourists.

5.    Roman church buildings in general.  Rome has several magnificent churches with some beautiful artwork from the masters, and they are by and large free.  Hop off the bus to soak up as many as you have time for.



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Five Great Cities in Europe

Five Great Cities in Europe that Are My Favorites

Everyone that has traveled extensively to places in Europe forms opinions of the cities that become their favorites, and become places that have a special meaning for them. The personality of a city goes much deeper than tourist destinations. They go into the identity of a city that makes it unique, and that uniqueness is not found just in those places that make it famous but on the streets and venues where the locals inhabit.

Here Are Five Great Cities to Visit in Europe

Tower of London with Tower Bridge in the Background

London: A great walking city, much of London can be seen by keeping in close proximity to the Thames. Home to four World Heritage Sites, London’s charm is its important historical sites, such as The Tower of London, whose history goes back almost 1000 years, to upriver to Big Ben, Westminster Abbey (over 1000 years in history), and Buckingham Palace in the City of Westminster. Because the city street patterns have not changed much in centuries, there is quite a haphazard way they are laid out. But that is part of the charm in walking this city, and the extensive Underground Tube system is perhaps the best mass transit system in any city in Europe, providing you a break if you can walk no further. The second great aspect of London making it one of the great places to travel is its large theater district, one of the largest of any city in the world.

Arc de Triomphe

Paris: This city obviously has many charms, but to me the greatest asset which makes this one of the best places to visit in Europe is the architecture, thus making this the best walking city, even topping London. Keep close to the Seine, then at the Eiffel Tower walk in the direction of the main street of Paris and the Arc de Triomphe, and you will witness some of the greatest architecture anywhere.

Vienna: One of the great places to visit for the music is Vienna. You can experience much of this great city by walking, from the area around St. Stephan’s Cathedral to the old palace area. There are many concert venues to be found, plus multiple great museums making Vienna a great place to travel for its culture.

Amsterdam: Similar to Venice, Amsterdam’s charm is in its canals. The city is virtually a web of canals, and there is a boat of every size or shape, and for any occasion you may have. The downtown area is a place of great Dutch charm, but the waterways are really what make this one of the great places to travel. Also, as with all large European cities, a great amount of culture can be found in the form of museums of the great Amsterdam artists, among them Van Gogh and Rembrandt.

Barcelona: This city with the small town feel but the progressive attitude is really a hidden gem when looking for the best places to visit in Europe. Situated on the Mediterranean Sea in hilly terrain that gives it character, this second city in Spain gives the attitude that it can provide anything that the great cities of Europe can provide, but still gives off the feel of a smaller metro area. For food, you really must experience the Tapas Restaurants.

This is obviously just a small sample of the great places to travel in Europe, but every one of these places offers a rather unique trait that make it special from other places. If you are contemplating a trip to Europe soon, we hope you will try to take in one or more of these remarkable places.



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Things to Do in Berlin, Germany

Berlin- Modern with a Historically Important Past

Traveling to a lot of the impressive cities of Europe from London, we did not think the things to do in Berlin would measure up to Europe’s other great cities.  But on the advice from many people in London who said it is well worth the trip, we decide to go there.  It is a city extremely easy to navigate, and history, both modern and from the time of Frederick the Great make it very interesting from that point of view.

I’ve chosen four places that should not be missed, but if you do visit Berlin be sure to take a side trip to Potsdam.  It is actually not Berlin proper, but is really a quick trip and has a lot to offer.

Start with Things to Do in Berlin at the Brandenburg Gate

1.    Brandenburg Gate.  Originally constructed as a triumphal arch in 1791, it has had an interesting past.  After Napoleon captured Berlin in 1806 he took the Quadriga statue that rests on top of the arch to Paris.  It was returned in 1814 following his defeat.  As was the majority in the city, it was terribly damaged in the course of World War II, and following renovation saw additional damage in the course of the revelry subsequent to the fall with the Berlin Wall.  Like Big Ben in London or the Eiffel Tower in Paris, it is most likely Berlin’s iconic monument.

2.    Jewish Memorial.  Just south of Brandenburg Gate, this memorial for the Jewish victims of the Holocaust has been quite controversial.  It was opened in 2005, and is a city block of 2711 concrete slabs of varying heights and angles.  You will be allowed to to move through it, and at times you may nearly feel lost within its confines.  At one corner is an underground center for information.

Jewish Memorial, Berlin

3.    Reichstag.  This is currently the Federal German Parliament, called the Bundestag, but in February 17, 1933 it had been gutted by fire.  The Nazis used this as an excuse to suspend basic freedoms.  At the present it is a tourist attraction, and most people would concur the heavy safety measures and long lines is in fact worth the delay to travel to the top.

4.    KaDeWe (shopping).  Not that shopping would be on my list of things to see when visiting such a rich historical locale like Berlin, but some, like Harrods in London, ought to be on your list.  It is the largest department store within continental Europe, and the one thing that help it become an excellent visit will be the truly extraordinary food area.

Remnants from the wall will be located in a few places, and there is a museum that is very interesting farther south from the Gate.  Farther east within a distance you can walk comfortably will be Checkpoint Charlie, the best-known point for crossing between West and East Berlin throughout the cold war.  There now exists a kind of a imitation of what had been a historical location, however it is essentially a tourist trap.

One more place that I discovered that’s quite historically noteworthy is the site of Hitler’s wartime bunker.  It will be a little south from the Jewish Holocaust Memorial, although unless you employ a tour guide you will not locate it, because it goes entirely unmarked.

But speaking of tour guides, it is definitely best if you are new in a city to find one.  We had for a guide a chap from Liverpool who truly knew his stuff, and was really involved.  There wasn’t a fee, and he worked only on tips, which needless to say everyone obliged.  They can tell stories and take you to spots you might not find from your tour book.  We highly recommend searching the web for one before you visit a new city.



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Things to Do in Amsterdam- The Venice of the North

Things to do in Amsterdam-Canal Boat Cruises

Canal Cruises are a Great Way to Explore Amsterdam

With the numerous things to do in Amsterdam, you have to take advantage of the many Amsterdam canal boat cruises on hand. Amsterdam is not known as the “Venice of the North” for nothing. Amid its three rings of canals establishing ninety islands, the city’s fundamental characteristic is water.

To look at this city on one of the exciting Amsterdam inland waterway cruises is without question the perfect approach to see this breathtaking city, whether you happen to be touring for a few hours or a few days. And as one of the greater touring cities in Europe, it is easy to get to by train or airplane.   If you are taking a vacation to this part of Europe and are looking for other areas in Northern and Western Europe, this is definitely a place to go.

Amsterdam Canal Boat Cruises began in 1621

A Travelers Guide To The Best Places To Visit In Amsterdam

A Travelers Guide To The Best Places To Visit In Amsterdam

The story of pleasure cruising on Amsterdam canal cruises harkens back to 1621, when Queen Elisabeth Stuart of Bohemia entered the town with a parade of admiralty sloops, cheering of the citizens from overpasses and canal sides. Since that time numerous VIPs like Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, and the Beatles have made their way throughout the city cruising the canals. Now it is essentially the most popular vacationer attraction within the Netherlands, with more than three million passengers a year. Almost every type of service imaginable that can be presented is available on one of these fabulous cruises, with a diverse fleet of roughly 200 specialized vessels in operation.

Private or Public Cruises Tops Things to do in Amsterdam

1. Private Amsterdam canal cruises. Virtually any event can be arranged on one of canal excursion craft. You will find water taxis for just getting about, to well-appointed saloon boats with five star services. These saloon craft go back approximately 100 years, when they were designed to cater to the rich guests of the important city hotels.

Many are restored and are a component of the fleet of vessels intended for Amsterdam river cruises. These are frequently operated by small businesses, and put forward amenities from a romantic dinner for two to a celebration with dozens of guests. Two hour candlelight cruises, a pizza cruise, a two hour wine and cheese cruise, and a vessel with a Hard Rock Cafe will be amongst a variety of options. One offers a scrumptious meal when cruising for an hour and thirty minutes prior to a visit at the Van Gogh Museum.

2. Public Amsterdam canal cruises. The majority of those are bigger businesses in service beginning at Central Station district, or the center of Amsterdam. For our Amsterdam canal cruise we employed an exceptionally comfortable canal bus that operates a regular service along three routes with fourteen stops close to major museums and city attractions. These have an excursion guide system with interesting commentaries on Amsterdam. Tickets usually are good until midday the following day, which enables you to jump on and off all day, if you want to tour the town that way. An alternative choice will be the open “whisper boats”, that  run two routes and travel through to spots within the city that are less traveled.

Other Things to do in Amsterdam

Other things to do in Amsterdam.  Bicycles are all over, and their riders rush about at speeds that seem to the tourist to be unsafe. You’d think there will be constant accidents in the disorder; however by some means they seem to dodge one another, as well as unsuspecting visitors. Still, do not spend all your time gazing on the marvelous sights.

Also, do not anticipate much banter from the waiters in dining establishments. They may be proficient, but they certainly don’t see their job as making small talk. That said, we really enjoyed our interesting Amsterdam canal cruises and our time there and will definitely go back. But it’s essential to see the city on the canals. Additionally, take a look at our page on vacationing in Europe for travel information and other fascinating things to do.



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Reasons to Vacation in Madrid, Spain

Five Main Reasons You should Holiday in Madrid

Even though Spain has had some economic issues during the past few years, it is still a hot-spot for European travelers. Its climate, rich culture and friendly folks turn it into a holiday spot for Europeans, yet still a bit of a not completely considered destination with Americans. In the hub within this wonderful part of the world will be Madrid, and I found it to be a spot everyone should consider when making holiday plans to Europe.

1. Geographic center of the Iberian Peninsula. Out of Madrid a person might reach a wide range of wonderful places within the Iberian Peninsula during a surprisingly short period of time. For example, in the event you are going out of Madrid for Barcelona, you will be traveling about as far as you can out of Madrid but yet remain on the peninsula. By high-speed train you can make the journey in under three hours, plus have numerous departure possible choices.

There are many destinations in Spain as well as Portugal that are entirely unique. Destinations such as Alicante, Seville as well as Granada, the place that the stunning Alhambra is situated, are only a few destinations you should look for ways to explore. These regions plus many others are easy to get to by train.

2. Wonderful food. What you eat is rather hearty, and you’ll undoubtedly wish to sample the tapas, which happen to be essentially snack-sized helpings which might be shared. Much like Italy where food is a very social affair, a number of varieties of tapas are usually shared by everybody at the table. The afternoon meal will often be the main hearty meal during the day, and supper will be by American norms very late: 10 to 11 PM.

3. Spanish wine. Although beer is gaining popularity with Spanish people, Spanish wines are some of the best within Europe. Vineyards are now sprouting up around the country on account of irrigation, technology, improved grape varieties and a lot of funding. The two foremost wine varieties have become Rioja along with Navarra.

4. Parks and green space. Madrid is known as among the greenest cities in the world. There are the second most trees in any city in the world, second to only Tokyo, Japan, and they are increasing their green space every year. It is believed that in the last 12 years green areas inside the metropolitan area have risen by about 16%, and today over 8% of the city of Madrid is green.

5. Art. The world-famous Museo del Prado is at the top of the long list of prestigious collections of art, but Madrid, and in fact Spain make art a part of their daily life. You will make out art everywhere you go; in my opinion probably more within Spain than at any place else in Europe. It really can be a pleasure just to walk in many areas of the city.

This European capital is a really unique place to just “be”, and also the people are delightful also. Put Madrid on your short list of places in Europe to take a trip to.

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Edinburgh, Scotland for Scottish Culture

Find the Culture of Scotland in Visiting Edinburgh

If you go to London, everyone is aware of the enduring sites that are part of this unforgettable city.  But just four and one-half hours away by train is an absolute treasure which you mustn’t miss.  My acquaintances in Glasgow are going to argue with me on this point, but if in case you have your pick between going to one of those two great cities north of England, by all means choose Edinburgh, Scotland.  I realize it’s hard to believe if you have the experience of train travel in America, but direct trains from London Kings Cross leave for Edinburgh every half hour, so departure times are never an concern.

Edinburgh Castle

At the time I lived in London, I had the chance to go to Edinburgh quite a few times.  Except for the weather, this is truly a spot everyone shouldn’t miss.  Its dramatic landscape, with the visual point the Edinburgh Castle looking down on the city perched on an extinct volcano, along with some of the best Georgian  architecture that can be found anyplace within the United Kingdom make it visually very pleasing.  Plus in case you are into history, the excursions underground with dungeons and stories of witchcraft are very fascinating.

The Time to See Edinburgh, Scotland is in August

But when you plan on going to Edinburgh, if in any way possible go in August.  Yearly for about 25 days in that month it is possible to attend the largest arts festival in the world.  Last year there were totally 2695 shows from 47 countries.  There is really a wide range of performing arts, with a important emphasis on theater and comedy.  Any type of performance may take part, as there is no selection group, so you can hit upon some innovative, experimental works.  Of the 2542 shows last year, 607 of them were free, and the majority had been very moderately priced.  I thought the talent ranged from “okay” to “excellent”, however the shows on the whole are abbreviated so it will be quickly on towards the next one.

The arts are one of the highlights of Edinburgh, as with all within the British Isles.  Outside of the festival time of year Edinburgh supports a number of production companies and theaters.  The National Museum of Scotland and five national galleries are located in the city, plus the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.  One of the principal highlights many people make the most of (in fact, it’s the second most popular paid tourist destination in Scotland, will be the 82 acre zoo.  As of last summer they had two of the few panda bears outside of China.

Lastly, the Scottish people are really great to be around.  They are very friendly and accommodating, and they all seem to have a great sense of humor.  But at whatever time you visit Edinburgh, summer or winter, be sure to dress warm.  It rains a lot, and even in August the evenings can get rather windy and cold.  But you are going to still enjoy the experience.




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