Windmills in Bruges

Windmills in Bruges

We often think of Holland for its windmills but Belgium has them too and there are a couple within just a short walk of Bruges’ city centre.

Most tourists do tend to stay in the heart of the city, but if you take a stroll away from the chocolate, the beers, and the crowds you’ll come across a couple of attractive windmills.

Set right on the edges of the historic centre these two windmills overlook the canal that encircles the city in a location far from the crowds.

It’s lovely and peaceful here, making it a good place to bring a picnic and sit on the grass, and if you rent a bicycle you can get here in just a couple of minutes.

st janshuis windmill in Bruges

St. Janshuis Windmill

Out of the two windmills that are set closest to each other, St. Janshuis is the oldest. It was built in 1770 and now houses a museum.

bonne chiere windmill Bruges

Bonne Chiere Windmill

Bonne Chiere Windmill is far younger, built in 1911, but it’s in the same architectural style, known as Staakmolen or post mill, as the first.

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The Beer Wall in Bruges

The Beer Wall in Bruges

If you walk along the shopping street from the Market Square, you’ll find a beer wall.

It’s like a display window with most Belgian beers.





Further in the passage is also an excellent refreshment place located nicely at the canal that runs right outside.

Here’s a link to the place: 2-be.biz

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De Halve Maan brewery in Bruges

De Halve Maan brewery in Bruges

De Halve Maan

No prizes for guessing that Bruges’ most famous brewery means ‘The Half Moon’! “De Halve Maan” is highly recommended if you’re interested in beer – both drinking it and seeing how it’s made.

De Halve Maan holds a place in history in Bruges as it is the only family brewery in the centre of Bruges that is still active today.

Of course, many years ago there would have been numerous family-run breweries such as this, but they have come and gone as the years went by.



Take a guided tour of the brewery museum in which you can see the old traditional brewing methods they use and there’s one part of the tour in which you get a fabulous panoramic view over Bruges.

No brewery tour would be complete without sampling the beer, and beer tasting is included in the price. The tour takes about 45 minutes and they usually start on the hour, but arrive early to be guaranteed a place.

Check their website for latest opening hours: : www.halvemaan.be

Enjoy a meal in the pub or one of the fining rooms after your tour, and order one of their two popular beers, Brugse Zot and Straffe Hendrik.

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Marvelous and Exciting Attractions in Rome

Marvelous and Exciting Attractions in Rome

Attractions in Rome

Full of monuments, culture, and events, Rome is a city with a lot to see and do.

You’ll also need to spend time just wandering around and soaking in the atmosphere

Enjoying its vibrancy and cuisine, and while you can start getting to know the Eternal City within a few days you need weeks to really appreciate everything it has to offer.

Unfortunately most of us can’t spend weeks at a time in a city; settling more for a short break of 3 or 4 days.

Read on to discover the must-see attractions in Rome, which you should be able to fit into a visit of 3 days.

Fontana_di_Trevi_by_night

The Trevi Fountain

Now to one of the most famous fountains in the world, the Trevi Fountain.

It’s a huge Baroque fountain that was completed in 1762 and full of beautiful features.

Tradition is to throw a coin using your right hand over the left shoulder.

They say that around 3,000 Euros goes into the fountain every day and is used to subsidize local projects.

Colosseum_exterior

The Colosseum

Of all attractions in Rome, the Colosseum is undoubtedly the main sight, and for good reasons.

It’s the largest amphitheatre in the world and is considered to be one of the world’s greatest feats of Roman architecture and engineering.

It’s as iconic as the Statue of Liberty or Eiffel Tower though this was built between the years 70 and 80AD.

Once you’ve marvelled at the Colosseum, visit the museum on Palatine Hill.

The Pantheon

Now back to an ancient landmark – the Pantheon is a Roman temple that was built to honour all Roman gods.

An earlier temple built by Augustus was rebuilt by emperor Hadrian around 126 AD, and the famous Corinthian columns have influenced many more modern buildings and monuments.



Catacombs of Rome

There are around 40 different catacombs under the streets of Rome, and they date back to ancient times.

Some of these catacombs were only discovered in the last few decades, and more than just a place to bury the dead the tunnels and rooms are famous and very important for their Early Christian art history.

Not all catacombs are open, and some are easier to visit than others.

The largest and most popular, with plenty of tours, is San Callisto.

Guided Tour in the Catacombs

Explore the underground Catacombs on a guided tour.

It’s a 3,5 hours tour where you will see the Capuchin Crypt and the Basilica of San Clemente.

On this one you’ll see the best of Rome’s underground attractions

Read more about the tour here

Vatican_City

Vatican City

Technically not Rome itself, Vatican City is a city state situated within a walled enclave within Rome.

Even if you have no interest in Roman Catholicism, the Vatican should definitely be on your list.

The Museums together constitute the largest museum complex in the world, with over 1,400 rooms, and includes the beautiful Sistine Chapel and parts of the Papal Palace.

You’ll also be treated to galleries featuring more than 3,000 years of art.

Just trying to see everything within the Vatican can take days, so choose from one of the guided tours.

Be sure to book your tickets in advance as that way you bypass the long ticket lines.

Saint Peter’s Square and Basilica is free to visit, and you must make sure you leave time to see this, one of the largest churches in the world.



Vatican Museum

Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel Tour

Enjoy a morning or afternoon of Vatican splendor on a 2-hours tour of the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica.

Explore the Gallery of Maps, Gallery of the Tapestries and Giuseppe Momo’s spiral staircase, and admire iconic Michelangelo frescoes inside the Sistine Chapel

Click here to read more about this tour



Things to do in Rome



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Rome, The eternal city

Rome, The eternal city

Rome certainly lives up to its nickname, the Eternal City.

Founded over two and a half thousand years ago – so it’s not quite been eternity, but this is one of the oldest cities in Europe.

Synonymous with the Romans and their Colosseum, but also renowned for some of its not so ancient architecture.

Such as St Peter’s Basilica, the capital of Italy is a vibrant and endearing place to visit, any time of the year.

Getting to Rome

It’s the capital of Italy and has the largest airport in the country.

Rome Fiumicino Airport is about 35 kilometers from the historic center.

There’s a major motorway linking the two together if you’re planning to rent a car and drive, or leave the driving up to someone who knows the roads better and take a taxi.

Buses are also another option and they vary in price and schedule.

There are also trains that go into the city, arriving at the central train station, named Termini.

Trains are fairly fast but if you’re travelling with two or more other people a taxi would be more affordable.

As you’d expect, most of the major European airlines cover flights into Rome including Air France, Alitalia, British Airways, KLM, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, and Turkish Airlines, as well as airlines from Africa, North America, Asia, and the Middle East.

You can fly with Cathay Pacific from Hong Kong for example, or from Abu Dhabi, Accra, Beirut, Tel Aviv, and Tripoli, among others, with Alitalia.

American Airlines, Air Canada, and Delta Air Lines are among those offering flights from North America.

If you’re traveling around Europe on a luxury yacht you can now include Rome among your list of destinations, thanks to a new marina, Porto di Roma, which is able to handle medium to large sized yachts.

From there you can travel the 20 kilometers into the city by train or taxi.

Getting Around

Right in the heart of the city getting around by foot is the best way as you’ll get to see more of the city and it’s not a great distance from one landmark to another.

Taxis are an option but they’re the most expensive way to get from A to B, however, driving yourself around Rome is not recommended unless you’re familiar with the city and Italian driving.

When travelling a little further bus, tram, and metro are the best options.

There are tickets you can buy that are valid on all three types of transport, or you can consider buying the Roma Pass which covers you for transport and gives admission and discounted admission to museums, archaeological sites, and cultural events.

When to Visit

Rome is going to be busy no matter what time of year you visit.

The city itself is home to around 2.8 million people while this number climbs to more than 4 million in the metro area.

Of course, this wonderful city also attracts millions of visitors every year – it is the most popular tourist destination in Italy and one of the top cities to visit in Europe, attracting tourists from all over the world.

Summer is the peak time for tourists to visit, and obviously it can be very busy at this time, however, there is an exception.

During August you will actually find that many businesses, restaurants and stores are closed for a two week period while they take their own holidays.

Romans like to get out of the city at the hottest time of year when the temperatures can become a little too hot.

The downside if you visit in August is that places will be closed, but on the plus side there are few fewer tourists and locals around so it can be a very pleasant time of year to visit.

The average high will be around 30C, as it will be in July also, but if you prefer it cooler plan your visit for May or June when average highs are in the low to mid 20’s C.

Hotel tips for Rome

Within Rome’s central districts there are countless places to stay.

If you’re staying within the center it’s fairly easy to get from one attraction to the next.

Therefore unless you have a burning desire to be right near the Colosseum, or the Spanish Steps, it doesn’t matter too much exactly where you stay.

The Spanish Steps, by the way, are in the North Centre district, while the Colosseum is easy to find in the Colosseo district.

In total, Booking.com has over 2,000 properties listed within Rome and its immediate surroundings, so you’ll certainly never be short of a place to stay.

If you’re looking for hotels at the luxury end there are many 4 and 5 star hotels to choose from.

melia_hotel_rome

Gran Melia is always highly rated among guests and rooms feature views of the Vatican, Castel Sant’Angelo or the hotel’s own serene gardens.

Read more

hotel_raphael_rome

Another 5 star hotel is Hotel Raphael – Relais & Chateaux which is renowned for its marvelous roof terrace with spectacular views over the city.

The Pantheon is just a 5 minute walk from here.

hassler hotel roma

If you want to be right next to the Spanish Steps, choose the famous Hotel Hassler Roma; one of the best known hotels in the city.

It is set at the top of the Spanish Steps and rooms are classically furnished in a style you’d expect for Rome!

Colosseum_Rome330

Attractions

Rome has so much to see and it would take weeks to see it all.

At the Rome Attraction page we mention the most important things to see during your stay.

Read more here >>



Things to do in Rome



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Florence – Birthplace of the Renaissance

Florence – Birthplace of the Renaissance

florence

Florence is everything you’ve ever imagined it to be – a beautiful city full of striking, historic architecture, abundant in monuments and culture, museums, churches, squares, and gardens, and more restaurants than you care to count.

Florence originated in Roman times but it’s best known for its Medieval period in history when it became the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance.

It was one of the most important cities in the whole of Europe at this time, and it was during the ‘golden age’ that the majority of Florence’s major landmarks were constructed.

Today the city is home to around 357,000 people but roughly 1.6 million tourists flood to the city every year to see its sights.

Beautiful Attractions

Attractions in Florence

Florence has so many beautiful buildings and monuments that you’d never get to see them all in a short visit to the city.

Just wandering around the historic centre is special and even if you don’t go inside many of the buildings you can still admire their beauty from outside.

The centre is so impressive with its medieval Renaissance period architecture that it was designed a World Heritage Site in 1982.

How to get to Florence ?

As the capital of the region of Tuscany, it is the largest city in this part of Italy so it’s well linked to the rest of the country and the world, via its international airport.

Florence Airport Peretola is just outside the city centre, and despite being such a popular city with tourists from around the world it’s actually a fairly small airport.

There are no flights to Florence from outside of Europe, so when travelling from North America, Asia, or South America you’ll have to fly via one of Europe’s hubs such as London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris, or Madrid.

Another option is to fly in to the Pisa International Airport, as this is the main airport for Tuscany and is connected to Florence via train and road.

Florence_under_snow310

Weather and climate

During the summer Florence isn’t naturally cooled by a prevailing wind so the city can get quite hot and muggy from June to August so dress in light and loose clothing if you’re visiting then.

The average high temperature peaks in August when it’s 31.5C, but July about the same.

Mainly Mediterranean climate here, but it can be rainfall in the summer, so don’t forget an umbrella or rain jacket.

Rain is heaviest in the autumn and early winter, peaking in November.

Winters are cool and there can be snow so it’s not ideal for wandering around the city.



Hotels in Florence

savoy_hotel
The Luxury Savoy Hotel Florence

Florence has oodles of hotels to choose from; in fact there are over 680 places to stay in the city so you’ll never be short of choice here.

Of course these range in ratings and price, with prices all across the board though staying in the historic centre (which is most popular) is now strikingly more expensive than elsewhere in the city.

Hotel Londra – Firenze is a 4 star hotel convenient for the station but only a short walk into the heart of historic Florence. It’s a stylish and modern hotel.

If you prefer something with more historic charm and luxury, try the 5 star Hotel Savoy

florence_luxuryhotel
The 5 star St. Regis Florence lies beside the Arno River and has stunning views of the Ponte Vecchio. A historic building designed by Brunelleschi. It offers a spa, gym and luxurious rooms with antique furniture.

Read more >>

hotel_relais
Relais Santa Croce is one of the most luxurious and elegant hotel in Florence. It is located right in the historic center, between the Basilica of Santa Croce and the Cathedral.

Read more >>

florence_luxury_hotel
Perhaps the absolute prettiest luxury hotel is Il Salviatino a bit off the touristy center.

Can sometimes be hard to be a tourist in Florence and then it is perfect to relax in the hotel’s stunning landscaped gardens and lounging by the pool.

Read more / Book now >>

Things to do in Florence

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The attractive Sylt Island in Germany

Sylt Island in Germany

Sylt Island Germany

Sylt Island – Attractive and with great service!

Because Sylt Island is a little bit like a “Germany’s Mallorca”, it is perhaps not surprising that you experience an extraordinary service.

All the restaurants and eateries we visited on Sylt had excited helpful and amazingly service minded personnel.

Westerland – Principal place of German jet set island of Sylt

You get there by car on train after approx. 40 minute ride from Niebull on the mainland.

Westerland is the place to be if you want a bit of life and close to a wide selection of shops, excellent restaurants and nice pubs.

Restaurants and Pubs

irish_pub_sylt

Service is on top of everything so you can confidently choose according to taste and grace among restaurants with Italian, Asian, and German with specialties from Sylt.

The same applies to the pubs. Especially an Irish pub in Westerland was very good. Great atmosphere and live music some evenings.

Visit their Facebook page here for more information

Sylt Island in Germany

Beach promenade

The promenade that runs along the lovely beach has many outdoor cafes and a stage with musical performances regularly.

It is a fee to get to the beach area, and you get a ticket from the hotel for the duration of your stay.

Bring it with you if you are going to enjoy the beach life by day. Later afternoon and evening there was no control and probably free.

fkk_strand_ahlbeck

Beach Life and happy nudists

The beach is well organized and divided in various departments guarded beach, beach soccer, dog beach, textile and nudist beach (FKK).

FKK beaches

Sylt island was, just like Usedom Island early famous for naturism and nude bathing.

Therefore, it is still a major tourist destination for nudists, but anyway an island where everyone can enjoy the beach-life with or without clothes.

Nudist beaches on Sylt are clearly labeled FKK and there is also a combined dog / nudist-beach.

FKK beach can be found in both ends of the Westerland beach area. They are located about 2km from the center of the beach.

If you think it’s too long to walk, you can drive by the main road 2-3 km. north towards Westerland to a parking lot that is labeled FKK.

dorint_spa_hotel_sylt

Places to stay

Sylt island is famous for its lovely spa hotels, and one of the is Dorint Strandresort & Spa right in the sand dunes near the beach promenade, and great spa facilities.

Overview of all hotels in Sylt

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Attractions in Florence

Attractions in Florence

Attractions in Florence

The City’s Architecture

Without doubt the main highlight of Florence is its architecture.

The historic heart of the city is full of buildings dating back to its golden age, during Medieval times when Florence was a thriving city and the center of the Italian Renaissance.

Of course there are landmarks dating from other periods in history too, but the main ones to head for include the following:

Florence_Cathedral

Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore

(Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower), or more simply, Florence Cathedral is the chief landmark of the city, not only for its size but for its beauty.

Originally called ‘Duomo’ they started construction on this grand building in 1296 and finally finished in 1436.

Located on the Piazza del Duomo, the cathedral along with the Baptistery and Giotto’s Campanile are all part of the city’s World Heritage Site.

The exterior is beautiful with many fine details in the workmanship, while inside the cathedral is vast.

Be sure to climb the 414 steps to the top of the belltower. It actually stands separate to the cathedral and features wonderful Florentine Gothic architecture.

Of course, the views from the top of the campanile are breathtaking!

ponte_vecchio2
The River Arno crosses through Florence and among its famous bridges is Ponte Vecchio, meaning Old Bridge.

This too dates from the medieval period and what sets this bridge apart is what’s on top of it – it’s lined with shops.

Originally these would have all been butchers, now there are souvenir stores, jewellers and art dealers here.

Palazzo Vecchio, meaning ‘old palace’ is the town hall of Florence and another major landmark.

It looks more like a fortress with its small windows and battlement-like roof line.

Just outside is the replica of Michelangelo’s ‘David’ statue, just where the original once stood, and inside there are many works of art.

Palazzo Pitti

– or Pitti Palace – is another of Florence’s major landmarks.

It’s a huge palace that mainly dates from the renaissance, built in 1458 and bought by the powerful Medici family in 1549.

Has been opened to the public since 1919 and features many works of art along with the beautiful architecture itself.

Behind the palace are the popular Boboli Gardens.

This is a beautiful park that features sculptures dating from the 16th to 18th centuries and some Roman antiquities.

The Uffizi Gallery

There are numerous museums in Florence but if you have time to only visit one it must be Uffizi.

This is one of the oldest and largest art museums of the Western world.

The palace in which it’s housed was built from 1560 as the offices for the Florentine magistrates.

This is today one of the top attractions in Florence and has very long wait times during the summer.

You can reduce your wait by reserving a ticket in advance.

There are countless more churches, monuments, museums, and squares to explore too but these are the must-see highlights of a visit to Florence.

Festivals and Events

If you can tie your visit in with one of the city’s annual festivals you’ll get to enjoy even more in Florence.

There’s the Carnival early in the year (dates change each year) which includes a grand parade of floats.

March hosts the traditional Florentine New Year, and over the spring and summer months there are numerous feasts in honor of saints.

The Festival of Paper Lanterns in September is a favorite, followed the next day by the Nativity of Virgin Mary.

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