A Travellerspoint blog


sunny 30 °C

Austria is a landlocked country in Central Europe,
and the largest city and capital is Vienna. It's population is 1.6 million
and in 2010 Vienna was named as the world’s number one most livable
city. Vienna is known for it's beautiful architecture and is the cultural center
for classical music & art, the city features many grand historic buildings,
City squares, Imperial palaces, museums and over 280 gardens and parks.


We began our day in Vienna with a walking tour of the city,
which started at the Heldenplatz also known as Heroes Square.
This was were Adolf Hitler made his infamous announcement in 1938.
We than walked through to the grounds of Hofburg Palace which
has housed some of the most powerful people in Austrian history
including the Habsburg dynasty. We walked thought the tunnel of
St. Michael's Wing and passed by the old Spanish Riding School &
the Vienna Opera House. I saw more statues in Vienna than anywhere
else we visited in Europe.

We made a stop at the Holocaust Memorial in front of the Albertina
Museum and strolled up to the Haas House which is one of the newest
building's in the city and features a large glass facade. Then it was off
to see St. Peter's Church or Peterskirche as it is known to locals. The cute
church features a copper clad dome roof dating to the eighteenth century.


Our last stop was St. Stephen's Cathedral, Vienna’s most famous sight.
The Gothic style church dates back to 1147 AD has many unique features
including the tower which stands 137 meters high, one of only a few gothic
towers of such height that were finished in the Middle Ages. It also has a
colorful patterned roof which is covered by 230,000 glazed tiles.


After the tour we headed to one of the largest Swarovski stores in the world.
The store is split over three levels and has displays of all the beautiful
crystal products including jewelry, accessories, figurines and chandeliers.
It was cool they allow photography inside the store and i bought mum
a gorgeous pair of earrings.

We then took a break from all the sightseeing and headed to a little
Viennese cafe for lunch and ordered a chicken schnitzel which is a
traditional Austrian dish and later visited the Sacher Hotel to try a
piece of the world famous Sachertorte, a dry chocolate cake with
a thin layer of apricot jam. It's is tradional quite dry so is often
served with whipped cream, A small piece of cake cost 4 Euro's &
is considered a must do whilst visiting Vienna.


We also opted for a horse and cart ride tour of the old town, this is a fun
way to explore the many little lane ways and offered a nice change of
scenery. The cart holds up to 4 adults and is pulled by two horses,
this is traditionally called a Fiaker, You can find them in many of the cities
squares & there are alot around St. Stephen's Cathedral,
We chose the short ride which lasted twenty minutes and was a highlight
for us during our stay, I would defiantly recommenced it.

Afterwards we took a stroll through Burggarten Park, one of the many
well kept garden's in the city, We visited the Mozart monument which
features a statue of the famous composer and has a treble clef made from
flowers. It was a gorgeous day and it was so nice to sit in the gardens
and soak up the sun.


We also caught the metro out to the Prater amusement park.
The main attraction is the Riesenrad (German for Viennese giant wheel)
which is the world's oldest Ferris wheel and was erected in 1897 to
celebrate Emperor Franz Josef's golden Jubilee, At this time it was
also the largest in the world. The original wheel was destroyed in
World War 2 so had to be rebuilt in 1945.


The next day we visited the picturesque village of Mondsee.
The town in the Vocklabruck district in Upper Austria and is nestled
between the shores of Lake Mondsee and tall mountain tops.
We stopped here for lunch and went to visit the Mondsee Cathedral,
which was used as the church in the wedding scene at the
end of The Sound Of Music!


On our last day in Austria we visited the Mauthausen Concentration Camp,
This was one of the largest and most infamous Nazi camps in Europe.
Once we arrived at the camp the sky had completely clouded over and
the temperatures dropped. We went inside and watched a documentary on
the history of the camp. This was hard to stomach and some visitors walked out.

During 1945 the camps numbers reached 85,000 inmates and the death toll
has been estimated at 320,000 which included socialists, communists,
anarchists, homosexuals, Jews and others who didn't fit the Nazi ideal
of racial superiority.

We than walked around the compound which was very emotional,
you couldn't help but feel the pain and suffering from those who were
killed here and the mood was extremely somber. We went inside the
wooden barracks that were once used to sleep the inmates,
Once so crowded they were forced to sleep on top of each other on the floor.

We passed through the gas chamber and the crematorium complex
which was very disturbing. Outside we visited the Mauthausen quarry
in which many were forced to take their own lives and seen the Stairs of
Death in which prisoners were forced to carry a granite block up the 186
steps which would lead to their deaths.

I remember feeling so sick in the stomach whilst there and just wanted to
throw up, It was hard to see but it was important to experience and is
something I will never forget, Let's pray nothing like this never happens again!


Posted by PhotoGlen 07:23 Archived in Austria Tagged vienna austria cathedral camp europe st wien mauthausen stephen's concentration photoglen riesenrad swarovski Comments (0)



sunny 36 °C

Dubrovnik is one of the most fascinating places i have visited
so far and i would go as far as saying it's one of the most
interesting sites in Europe. It has been nicknamed the pearl of the
Adriatic sea and is surrounded by beauty and is full of
history. Dubrovnik remains unconquered after many attempts,
It's past spans over 1000 years and the city has it's scars
but that's what makes it so appealing.


The Old Town dates back to the 7th century and by the 13th
century the city was completely surrounded by medieval city
walls to keep out the constant invaders. There are many forts and
towers built into the wall as well as 120 cannons. The most recent
attack was in 1991 when Croatia declared their independence from
Yugoslavia. This resulted in a war from the Yugoslav federal Army
and Navy that lasted seven months. 114 civilians were killed and 68%
of the city was damaged. The old town was bombed 650 times and
563 buildings were directly hit. By 1999, over $7,000,000 had been
spent on restoring the city and since then it's popularity has sky rocketed.

Dubrovnik joined the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites and today
there are 1,000 citizens living within the city walls. You can enter the
city via four entrances, the most impressive is walking across the stone
bridge and in through the Pile gate. Keep an eye out for the honorary
guards in period costume who stand guard at the entrance of the city.


Once inside you will be on the stradun which is the city's main street,
The streets are paved of marble and there are many narrow alleyways
that lead thought the city. You will also notice there are no cars allowed
into the city which makes strolling around alot more enjoyable.

There is also lots to see once inside the old town, the first being the
Onofrio’s Fountain, this sixteen sided water fountain was once the
town's central water supply and was completed in 1438,
This is a good place to fill up your water bottles as the water
is so cold and fresh.


At the opposite end of the main street you will see the Church of
St Blaise which dates back to the 18th century and outside look out
for the Roland statue that stands proud as the city's protector
and has become the symbol of the city's freedom.

We also went to visit the war photo exhibition
which features photographs and multimedia footage of
the 1991 bombings and a memorial to those who lost their lives.
For lunch we opted for the traditional cuisine,
a fresh seafood platter for two which was awesome.


But the most popular thing to do when visiting Dubrovnik is to walk
along the city walls, which is a must do. There is a small charge to
do so but it's well worth the cost of your ticket. The walk around
the whole city is two kilometers but you have several exit points
as you walk around. We went all the way around and entered
into the towers as we passed by.

We then took a ride on the cable car, 450 meters above sea level
to the top of Mount Srd. The cable car re opened on the 10th July
2010 just weeks before we arrived. It was shut down for 19 years
due to damages in the bombings. The view from the top is amazing
and offers a picture perfect view over the old town and out to sea.

This city is so beautiful and very photogenic, it's even more magical
at night when all the city walls are lit up, there is also plenty of
nightlife within the old towns many bars and restaurants.


We next day we stopped in Split for a lunch and took a
little tour of the city as well as a stroll through the markets.
We were than back on the bus and continued driving to
our over night stay in the city of Zadar.

Zadar is the fifth largest city in Croatia and was also attacked
by Yugoslavia in 1991. While walking around we noticed the
bullet holes in the buildings from the war. It was once declared
a part of Italy and the city contains Roman ruins from its days
as a Roman colony. The city has a few main attractions including
the St Donatus Romanesque Church which dates back to the 19th century.

Take a stroll along the Old Town peninsula and check out
the world’s first sea organ, Many tourist come to sit along the
waterfront at dusk and listen to the musical instrument that is
played by the sea, as the waves blow air into the pipes and
produces a smoothing audio show.

A bit further around is the Greetings to the Sun monument which
is a 22 meter round platform made up of three hundred glass
panels, it is lit up diffent colours and patterns and is made from solar
energy from the suns rays. This was installed in 2008 and since
then has been a hit with the tourists.


Posted by PhotoGlen 21:37 Archived in Croatia Tagged sea fountain car city world sites heritage zadar adriatic cable croatia europe yugoslavia st historic walls dubrovnik split bombing blaise photoglen onofrio’s Comments (0)

The Greek Islands

Mykonos & Santorini

sunny 38 °C

After visiting the biggest and best cities in Europe
including London, Paris, Barcelona, Rome and Athens it
was so nice to slow down the pace, change up the scenery
and relax on the Greek Islands! We travelled by ferry from Athens
to the island of Mykonos and arrived just as the sun was setting,
What a warm welcome!


We stayed four night at the Aphrodite Beach Resort
which was paradise and featured a large swimming pool,
two outdoor spas, three bars, a tennis court and a gym.
It was directly opposite Kalafatis Beach which is a popular
place for water sport activities especially windsurfing
and there are sun lounges and umberellas for hire.

We were 12 kilometers out of town and had the choice
between the local bus service and taxis, both frequent the area.
The bus runs off the whole greek-ish time which if it's scheduled to
arrive at 2pm may get there anytime between 2:10 and 2:30,
so we found ourselves favoriting the cabs but this adds up quick.


Mykonos spans over 105 kilometers of land and is home to
over nine thousand permanent residences. This is said to be
the most cosmopolitan of all the Greek Islands and is one the most
visited. There are over 6,000 Islands but only 227 are inhabited.

Aside from the sun, sand, surf, swimming, sunbathing and watersports
there is also lots to see on the island. We headed into town to
do some exploring and the town looks just as picturesque as
the postcards. It's situated on a beautiful blue bay and is made up
of little narrow lane ways that lead up through to little white houses,
cafes and stores.

Whilst in town we came across many little surprises including
Little Venice, a row of old house along the edge of the sea.
They date back to the 16th century and once once a place for sea
pirates to load and unload their booty and make a quick getaway.

Today it is one of the most popular tourist attractions on the island
and is known for it's nightlife and seaside alfresco restaurants,
we stopped here to have lunch by the sea and it was just beautiful.


Another great find was the Paraportiani, a greek cathedral.
This is hard to miss with it's unique white dome that resembles an igloo.
There is actually five churches joined all together, it was completed
during the 17th century.

Whilst in town keep your eyes out for the town's mascot,
Petros the Pelican. The original Petros was found in 1958 by a fisherman,
the pelican was injured and nursed back to health by the locals but
was hit by a car in 1985. He has since been replaced with
Petros the second, who can often be spotted in the bay.

We spotted Petros inside a restaurant where he had his very own
reserved seat, he followed the chef out the back of the kitchen and
was later hand fed some fish. This bird is like a celebrity and gets
special treatment all over town, He is very well loved from the
residences and tourists of the island.


We then walked up to the five windmills, they were built in the 16th
century and ever since they have become an international symbol for
Mykonos. Traditionally the windmills were used as grinding mills,
mostly for wheat but today they are no longer in operation.
They can be seen from all over the town and feature in the James Bond film
For your eyes only. This is also a popular spot to watch the sun setting.

But if your looking for more action then head to Paradise Beach,
There are regular buses leaving from Chora. The beach itself is beautiful,
crystal clear blue waters, golden soft sand and has a young, hot party vibe.

This is where the beautiful people hang out and it's now hard to see
why it's called paradise. Here is where you will find the Tropicana
Beach Bar which host the world famous beach parties,
recently ranked the second sexiest beach bar in the world behind Ibiza.

Next stop was Elia Beach which is a lovely long sandy beach on the
South Coast. The beach is very laid back and alot less crowded,
this is also a great place for snorkeling and you can also hire the
sunbeds and umbrellas here too. As we were about to find out it
is also a popular nude beach! haha.


One thing i was keen to tick off my bucket list was to parasail and where
better to do this than the gorgeous surroundings of the Greek Islands.
This is only done on Elia Beach and i went on a thirty minute sail across
the bay, the views were amazing and it was alot of fun,
defiantly my highlight whilst in Mykonos!

I was also keen to visit the beautiful island of Santorini whilst here
and I had booked onto a Hellenic seaways ferry, the trip from
Mykonos to Santorini takes three hours and includes pick ups at
Paros and Ios. The return trip cost 53 Euros and arrives at the Athinios port.
From there we caught a bus into Thira which is the main town.
We then caught a taxi to Oia, which is the picture perfect village
that features in all the paintings and postcards of Santorini.

Santorini spans over 73 kilometers and is an active volcanic island.
The approximate population is 1400 and is surrounded by 300 meter
high steep cliffs on three of it's sides. The last recorded volcanic eruption
was in 1956. Today this is the one of the world's most romantic locations
and has become a popular destination for honeymooners.


There is only one return trip per day so our time on the island
was limited, once in Oia we instantly fell in love with the place
and wondered along the stone footpath that leads through the village,
there are many little shops, art galleries and cafes and the path would
often open up for amazing views down the cliff edge and out to sea.
It is here where you will find the cute little churches with the blue doomed roofs.

A popular treat for tourists is to ride a donkey up the 600 steps to Fira.
The island is so peaceful and is surrounded by beauty.
It was then a mad rush to the port to catch the ferry back.
We caught the bus back down to Thira but the next bus to the wharf
wouldn't have got us there in time so our only option was a taxi which
are quite scarce on the island. We waited for awhile but the few we
did see were occupied.


I ended up going into a hotel lobby holding a 50 euro note and pleaded
with her to call us a taxi, which she ended up doing. It was a very nervous
wait but luckily a taxi had stopped to pick us up, i was holding up that 50
euro note after all...It's amazing how you can communicate better when
there is money involved! On the way to the wharf every minute counts so
i freaked when our driver had detoured and pulled over to pick up two
American tourist also heading to the whalf.

We ended up getting there in the nick of time and without a minute
to spare, We ran on board and felt so relieved to have made it as
we were leaving Mykonos the next morning so had to be back
this afternoon. But in typical Greek style the ferry did not leave on time!
but that was properly a good thing....


Posted by PhotoGlen 21:25 Archived in Greece Tagged islands greece mykonos beach island paradise santorini greek photoglen Comments (5)


sunny 40 °C

Athens is one of the world's oldest cities and
it's history spans over 3,400 years. It's oldest stories
tell the tales of Greek mythology & the Greek gods and
the city itself is named after the Greek goddess Athena.

The Parthenon is the most important site in Greece and
was completed in 438 BC, it stands on top of the Acropolis
and was built as a temple for Athena and was a place to keep gold,
gifts and statues dedicated to the goddess.

Today the Parthenon is considered one of the most symbolic
structures of the ancient world and attracts over seven million
tourists a year. We went on a walking tour of the Acropolis,
which is 150 meters above sea level and got a close up view
of the Parthenon and a great panoramic view back over Athens.
It was 40 degrees that day and i haven't sweated so much in my life.


Also on the Acropolis is another famous ancient Greek temple
The Erechtheum which features the Porch of the Caryatids,
five female statues columns that help to hold up the structure.
These date back to 406BC but during the 19th century a sixth figure
was removed from the site and is now on display in the British Museum
in London. The Greeks are trying to return her to her temple but so
far without any luck.

From here you can enjoy a birds eye view of The Temple of Zeus,
it was built between 472 and 456 BC and in it's time it was the
largest temple in Greece, even bigger than the Parthenon. Today
not much of the temple remains but you can still see some of the pillars
still standing and one that has fallen down. The area gives you an
idea of how large it must have been and is worthy of a closer look
if your interested.


Athens is also the birthplace of the Olympic Games and the city
hosted the first ever international games in 1896. The world's largest
sporting event was held in the Panathinaiko Stadium. In ancient times,
the venue was used to host the Panathenaic Games and at the time
the stadium had wooden seating. In the 18th century it was rebuilt
completely out of white marble and holds up to 80,000 spectators.

108 years later it welcomed home the 2004 Olympics Games.
Greece won medals in total and the games were declared a big success.
Both the old and new stadiums are now major tourist attractions.


The Plaka is made up of narrow streets and alley ways and is
referred to as the neighborhood of the Gods, it is located below the
Acropolis and the area is full of culture, outdoor restaurants and cute little
stores. We went to a Greek restaurant for dinner there and were treated
to a culture show that featured greek dancers and a live music,
it was a fun night but unfortunately there was no plate smashing.
As we left we saw the Parthenon all light up at night and looked
even more beautiful.


The next day we went into the city and ended up at Syntagma Square
to watch the changing of the guards, greek style! The Evzones are
members of the Greek army that are chosen to guard the
Tomb of the unknown soldier infront of the Parliament building.

The ceremony takes place on the hour and involves guards
shuffling their rifles and replacing the former two guards at their
post stations. The guards are known for their unique uniforms
which includes a kilt, woolen stockings, a garrison cap and a pair of
red leather clogs with a black pompon on each foot.
The guards look funny but i think they were quite intimidating.


On our way through Athens we passed two iconic locations, one
being the Rion-Antirion bridge, which opened in 2004 in time for the
Olympics and now is the world's longest multi-span cable-stayed bridge.
It crosses over the Gulf of Corinth and the car toll to cross is a
whopping 12.20 euros.

We also stopped in for a photo stop at the Corinth Canal,
which is a 6.3 kilometers man made canal in which they needed
to cut through the sedimentary rock face at sea level. This is considered
a great technical achievement for its time in 1881 and saves a 700 kilometer
trip around the Peloponnesus. Today 11,000 ships pass through the
canal a year and it has become a place of interest for tourist to see.

In 2010 daredevil Robbie Maddison made history as he jumped
the Cornith Canal on his motorbike. The Australian rider leaped across
the 85 meter wide opening and was 95 meters above the canal's surface.


Posted by PhotoGlen 20:49 Archived in Greece Tagged greece temple the of square athens parthenon canal stadium games ancient greek corinth acropolis evzones zeus syntagma olympic plaka photoglen panathinaiko erechtheum Comments (0)


Verona, Florence, Pisa, Capri, Sorrento & Pompeii

sunny 35 °C

There is so much to love about Italy,
the cityscape, the country side, the food,
the people, the old buildings, the art
the History, Fashion, sunshine and all the landmarks.

Italy is my favorite country i have visited so far,
There is beauty everywhere you look.
Many tourist visit the capital, Rome or Venice but
there is so much more the country has to offer.

We spent a week in Italy and here is a list of
other popular cities to visit...

Verona is in the northern part of Italy and
the historical buildings in the city have made Verona
a World Heritage Site. That includes a Roman amphitheater
that dates back to 30AD and is the third largest in the country.

This is also the city in which Shakespeare's play
Romeo and Juliet was set and many come to Verona to
visit Casa di Giulietta, Juliet's house. It is tucked away inside
a little courtyard and you enter through an arched tunnel.
There are hundreds of love letters pinned up on the walls
which most are replied to by a team of romantic volunteers.

Inside the courtyard you will see the balcony where Juliet
was said to have called out for her Romeo. There is also a statue of
JJuliet they say if you rub the right breast you will become lucky in love.


Florence is considered one of the world's most beautiful
cities in Europe and many would agree walking around central
Florence is like an outdoor museum. The city has a wide collection
of art and the Piazza della Signoria is full of hundreds of sculptures.
Maybe this is because some of the world's greatest artist were
born in this city including Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Donatello.
It is also home to the world's most famous statue, Michelangelo's David!

There are three David statue's in the city, the original sculpture is
now inside the Accademia di Belle Arti Firenze. There is one outside
in the piazza and a green one on top of Michelangelo Park,
which overs a beautiful view back over Florence.
Whilst in Florence I recommend seeing atleast one of the David's.

Other sights to see include Europe's 4th largest church, the Duomo.
Most of the city can be seen by foot so take a stroll through the city.
Cross over the Ponte Vecchio bridge and check out the Fountain
of Neptune in the main Piazza.


Pisa is a city in Tuscany in Central Italy and
it's best known of it's Leaning Tower. The height of the tower is 55.86
meters high and was build as a freestanding belltower to the city's
cathedral. It took 177 years to complete and the lean began as the
tower sank into the ground after the second floor was completed in 1178.
The tower once leaned at a 5.5 degrees angle but after some maintenance
in the 1990's the tower now leans on an angle of 3 degrees.
The most popular thing to do in Pisa is to take a silly photo
pretending to hold up the leaning tower and i couldn't resist!


Whilst in Italy we also visited the beautiful Isle of Capri.
We caught a ferry from Naples over to the island and arrived in
Marina Grande, the main port. Once on the island you won't want
to leave the crystal blue waters and sunshine. There are beaches,
restaurants and shops all in walking distance to the port and the
best thing to do in Capri is to relax and soak up the sun.

The next best thing is to catch a boat out to Grotta Azzurra,
which translates to the Blue Grotto. This is a sea cave along the
coast of the island. The tour boats leave from the main port and
once at the location, you will hope into a small rowing boat and be
taken inside. At first it is a dark but then as you look back towards
the opening the water glows a vibrant blue. This happens when the
sunlight shines through the seawater and creates a blue reflection
that illuminates the cave. It is regarded as one of the seven under
water wonders of the world and looks like a scene out of Avatar!


Our next stop was sunny Sorrento a small city is the south of Italy.
It has stunning coastal views of the Bay of Naples and the Sorrentine
Peninsula and is build on high cliffs above the Tyrrhenian Sea.

It offers beautiful beaches, steep hill streets and some wonderful
sunsets, It is famous for it's limoncello. The main street is full of pizzerias,
gelato bars and coffee shops and the town has a very relaxed vibe.


Last but not least, we went to Pompeii to see Mount Vesuvius
and the ancient ruins. The city of Pompeii was destroyed during an
eruption of the Mount Vesuvius volcano and Pompeii was buried under six
meters of ash and the city was lost for over 1,500 years. It was
rediscovered in 1599 and today the site has become one of Italy's
most popular tourist attraction with 2,500,000 visitors per year.

You can choose to take a group tour or discover the lost city on
your own with the help of an audio guide. The main sight is now The Forum
which once the centre of the city. This is a fascinating place and you get
a rare chance to step into history and see the city as it once was,
as you walk down the original paved streets there are many buildings
still standing including the food market, small restaurants and
even a brothel that features erotic wall paintings.

There are also plaster casts made of the victims, three that have
become a symbol for the last day of Pompeii include the pregnant woman,
the man with a scarf and the dog, all frozen in time. I also recommend
checking out the amphitheater and the Temple of Isis.


Posted by PhotoGlen 16:41 Archived in Italy Tagged verona italy pisa blue florence sorrento pompeii grotto capri photoglen Comments (0)

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