A TALE OF NINE CITIES

Looking back at where I’ve been is just absolutely amazing. I couldn’t believe myself at where my fate took me. At first I didn’t have the enthusiasm of going on seeing places because of no inspiration, no one to go with and not much of a choice. However, life changes and the reason I’ve been waiting for knocked my door one crazy summer day.

By a twist of circumstance, my feet brought me to Europe and since then I’ve loved every single day of my stay. My new found hobby opened me to a world full of wonders and beauty from vibrant cities to the coolest beaches. In travel, nothing beats the freedom of real relaxation and utter pleasure.

Where have I gone until now?

9. Vienna

I’ve visited the capital city of Austria a few times already because of its close proximity to Hungary. It’s a two hour drive from my hubby’s home town, making it our favorite city break destination. Vienna is a place overloaded with beauty and elegance; history, buildings and architecture, people, cuisine and traditions.

This August we are going to repeat our Viennese experience. Having visited the place more than once,the escape can just get better and better. It would be nice to fall in love with the place all over again- a reunion that has been planned since winter.

Vienna is always good to visit anytime of the year even in freezing winter. Actually, I prefer going to Vienna in December when the city is covered with Christmas lights, luxurious street decorations and fresh snow. A must see attraction also happens during Yuletide season- Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market). While the prices are soaring high during these times, it is a great experience to visit one. With a mug of traditional German gluhwein and Pretzels, you won’t get disappointed.

8. Budapest

The picture above shows the Chain Bridge, one of the most visited bridges in Europe. It is surreal because of the lion sculpture without a visible tongue, although in reality it does have. I love going to Budapest because of its gothic and neo-gothic architecture such as the Matthias Church, The Parliament, Fisherman’s Bastion and the Buda Castle Hill. For Renaissance enthusiast, Budapest also has that to offer like the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest Opera House and St. Stephens Basilica.

If you’re a real architecture fanatic, why not visit the city during Budapest 100. As it name implies, the event features buildings that have been on existence for exactly a century. For more information please check this website.

7. Venice

Voted as one of the most romantic cities in Europe by holiday makers, Venice is the place to be. No matter how may times you’ve seen it in films and pictures, the real thing is more dreamlike than you could imagine. A prosperous city by the Adriatic sea, you won’t get tired with its narrow streets and canals, unique dwelling places, historic churches, fabulous palaces and the shimmering water.

A rather worrying reality is that Venice might one day become the new Atlantis because every year the city gets flooded which results to tourists being disappointed or totally withdrawing plans of visiting the city. With that in mind, it is highly recommended to schedule your trip in late spring or early summer although that means it’s packed with tourists and finding accommodation would be a definite challenge.

On the other hand, if you want to do budget travel and experience the Venetian way of life when it’s aqua alta season, then fall is the season to go. From October to January, the water rises in Venice causing a flood, but this doesn’t bother our Italian friends. This has been part of their lives for hundreds of years.

6. Prague

Commissioned in 1992, this deconstructivist architecture nicknamed “Dancing House” was designed by Vlado Milunic and Frank Gehry. In the first few years after opening, the building didn’t get that much sympathy from the public eye, the reason being too modern and stands-out among the Baroque, Gothic, and Art Nouveau landmarks. As time passes, the building has acquired supporters and now one of the “Top 10 Attractions” in Prague.

If you’ve ever been in Budapest and Prague, you would notice that the two cities have similarities. In the first place they are both old dating back to hundred of years of rich history. Talking about bridges, the Karluv Most (Charles Bridge) in Prague is more appealing than the Chain bridge. The former dominates because you can have an amazing sunrise view, it’s totally a pedestrian bridge, the statues compliment its gothic make, but there’s  a downside to that of course. In peak times, the bridge gets so crowded that you have to bump your way past stream of people. Not a good background for a selfie, isn’t it? Visit the bridge early in the morning and you could have a scenic view of the Vltava river and post card perfect photos.

Among other must-see places in Prague are Prague castle, Jindrisska Tower, Klementinum, Lesser Town and Bridge, National Museum, National Theater, Old Town Bridge Tower, Astronomical Clock, Petrin Hill and St. Vitus Cathedral. There are so much to see and do in Prague. Our 2 days city break was absolutely a pity.

5. London

Who says London is overrated? I’ve visited the English capital in several occasions- one when it hosted the 2012 Summer Olympic Games and my opinion about it hasn’t change. There are a lot of good stuffs about the place, but I just don’t see myself living in that city. I am more of a country girl who loves concrete jungles every so often.

 You know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever spent a good quality time in London. The museums and the high streets are my favorite. Wandering the walls of the busy metropolis when the sun has just risen is ace. Try doing a walking tour instead of getting on a tour bus, it is a lot fun and you can tailor your trip in your own pace.

4. Paris

The fashion capital of the world- Paris is a destination you don’t want to miss. Situated in the North of France, the cosmopolitan lies on the Seine River.

I’ve always wanted to go to Paris and it was a dream come true when we finally visited the place though it took us an awful lot of hours getting there than our actual stay. Nevertheless, our adventure wasn’t different from a luxurious city break. Same as any other visitors, we were able to enjoy a nice Champs Elysees walk, Louvre Museum & Eiffel Tower tour and Notre Dame view. What more? I did some real shopping in Paris. Since we took the bus back and forth, I didn’t have to worry about my luggage being overweight; plenty of rooms for my French souvenirs. Yehey!

Next time I’m in Paris, I’m definitely going to stay for days. I want to explore the city in a manner different from last time. To name a few, here are my rough ideas (1) have a romantic dinner for two overlooking the Eiffel Tower (2) cruise down the Seine River (3) watch Moulin Rouge and (4) a side trip to Versailles. It sounds grand and I want to make it happen!

3. Amsterdam

 We went Dutch in last year’s glorious summer! =))

Tagged as the “Venice of the North”, Amsterdam which is the capital of the Kingdom of The Netherlands is famous for its 160 canals and over twelve hundred bridges.

Our trip to this part of Europe was specially amusing because it was like repeating our Venetian experience with all the boats and water taxis. Even so, probably many would agree to me if I say that Venice is more magical than Amsterdam when we talk about canals, taking into consideration the most recognizable feature of Venice- the Gondola.

How I wish we had spent more time in Amsterdam because I missed so many attractions there like the Van Gogh Museum and the Heineken Experience. We basically just walked the city and didn’t do much museum touring. My feet were killing me as we wander for two days.

2. Brugge

The pride of Flanders, this fairytale medieval town is situated in the Northwest part of Belgium. Languages spoken in Brugge are Flemish (a Dutch dialect), French, English and even German. Being a famous tourist destination, it isn’t a wonder why the place is multilingual so if you’re comfortable speaking in any of those tongues, you’ll easily get by.

My visit to Brugge was my first time travelling without my husband. I definitely enjoyed walking around the city, visiting museums, and pub-hopping. In there, I tasted the most and utterly delicious cherry beer ever. On that note, real Belgian waffle is also something that the country should be very proud of – really pleased my palate. It would be great if I could recreate that taste of heaven. Unfortunately, I don’t have even a pinch of talent in cooking.

For more information regarding what to see and do in Brugge, visit the lonely planet website.

1. Barcelona

A trip that I’ve dreamed since high school came to reality in the last days of spring this year;  romantic than initially planned because I went with the man I love.

At first, we wanted to visit Scotland in February, but his work got in the way so we cancelled our bookings and reservations. It made me so disappointed because we don’t usually have matching schedules and that trip could have been a good bonding moment. He felt guilty for that so he asked me a week after the Scottish trip cancellation about my idea of spending 4 days in Barcelona. Of course I said yes!

Now, I’m counting days and really looking forward to our next trip.

See you Central Europe!

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