Read more about the article Eppstein and Diez – Germany
Eppstein and Diez - Germany

Eppstein and Diez – Germany

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German Fairy Tale Land

Leaving behind Heidelberd in the south of Germany which we visited during the morning and continuing our weekend road trip heading back direction towards Dusseldorf, we stop at a must see destination on the proximity of Frankfurt: Eppstein and Diez. This would be the second time for us here and also, unfortunately, another time where the time was quite rushed, not even an hour at each. I must remember for the next time to calculate a proper stay and in the entire region since everywhere you go it’s just full of such beautiful villages.

For me, small towns and villages like these are what comes to my mind when imagining Germany. Small timbered colourful houses and a castle on the hill, more typical of a Hansel and Gretel fairy tale. Well, they do exist almost everywhere in the region of Hesse, and all of them with a castle in a hill! Other such beautiful tows nearby are Idstein and Limburg for example.

The best (and I would say only) way to visit them is by planning these as a second part of a trip. This is, spending a day or two to explore Frankfurt as a good example, then using one more day to get to these small towns. Of course, without a car that would be challenging as you will need to invest a lot of time to commute between them. For us and as the first time we came here, being on the route between North West Germany and the South West, it was a big temptation passing by and not stopping for a little walk. It does not really take too much time and will surprise you for its beauty.


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Read more about the article Zurich – Switzerland
Zurich - Switzerland

Zurich – Switzerland

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Downtown Switzerland

For a very long time Zurich was in the bucket list awaiting for a good occasion, and finally the time came. Quite unexpectedly I have to say. We planned the weekend for a long drive from Dusseldorf to Heidelberg at the south of Germany, farther beyond Frankfurt, and visiting on the way back both Eppstein and Diez. However things got in our usual crazy travelling way and noticed we were merely 300 kilometres away from Zurich. Let’s say no more, temptation is our weakness, but always plays in our favour.

Now that was a well worth decision, although very tiring too. 610 kilometres is what we did in total just on a Saturday since the very early morning, arriving to Zurich right in time for lunch. And what a day! Over 30 degrees and sun, that is a rare sight on its own. Rearranging the rest of the weekend was the less difficult. Since the cities we would be visiting were very small, reducing time here and there was indeed a good decision or we would have ended up with too much time not knowing what to do or where to spend. Zurich in any case deserves much more time than what we spent in all and will plan in the near future a full weekend only for this city and its lake. (more…)

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Read more about the article Barcelona – Spain
Barcelona - Spain

Barcelona – Spain

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Roman Barcino; Ciudad Condal

With so many trips and visits to one of my all time favourite cities in the world; usually coming once or twice a year since 2003 mainly to visit and enjoy being with my friends, it’s finally a great time to create the travel guide for it, no more excuses on why to postpone. And while I am typing these introductory words, I do already know this will be a long guide and harder to create than most of the cities I’ve been, merely because I know it very well by now and can describe lots of facts and places.

Barcelona is a brand on its own. Everyone around the world have heard of it. In fact, although at points painful, many people from non Spanish speaking countries do believe it is the capital of Spain. Well, on the other hand, the city knew well how to sell itself to the world. Adverts, promotions, guides, tourist projects to bring people, great marketing and so on; something Madrid has only started doing recently. But of course, Barcelona has an asset impossible to beat, the sea. It is the 3rd largest city in the Mediterranean only after Istanbul and Alexandria.

Although along the coast, it is not only a seaside destination; it is a major centre for financial, telecommunications, cultural and businesses. Second transport hub after Madrid. Large music, sport and arts city; and an incredible architecture playground unique in Spain. After all, the millions of tourist and business people the city receive per year want to marvel the elegant avenues with the countless collection of Modernist style constructions, having the ones from Gaudi (full name Antoni Gaudi i Cornet) the sight number one. (more…)

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Read more about the article Soller – Spain
Soller - Spain

Soller – Spain

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Art Nouveau Masterpiece

One of the most beautiful places in the Island of Majorca, the incredibly charming city of Soller. The perfect day trip for anyone staying in Palma. That is all it takes, just one day to fully explore Soller and enjoy the beach of Puerto Soller. At only 1 hour away either on the old train or by bus, it is one of the major tourist destination for its rich history and impressive architecture; famous for the Catalan Modernist style chosen by the then bourgeois society which made of Soller and Palma their residences.

For us, there was no way for other option than coming here on the ancient 1912 wooden train. The route is only 27km but the landscapes you will see are well worth to pay the extra than if taking the cheaper option, the bus. It is a very scenic route along plantations of olive, almonds, oranges, lemons and many more; small villages, forests and the mountains. You can be at either end of the carriages on the little balcony for better views and pictures, but also you will get the chance to grab the best pictures when the train stops and you can go out for few minutes on the highest point with views over whole Soller below.

Linking both Soller and Puerto Soller is the 1913 wooden trams. But honestly, this is something we did not take and instead took a taxi for just one quarter of the price the tram would have been.  (more…)

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Read more about the article Astorga – Spain
Astorga - Spain

Astorga – Spain

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Asturica Augusta

Continuing on this holidays in Spain we decided to spend the day in Astorga, just 52km way from Leon. A major point along the UNESCO World Heritage Site listed Way of Saint James, it comes next after Leon and middle way to Ponferrada, the next important stop along this pilgrim way. Listed as Spanish Historic Heritage site, it is well known for being the city in Spain with the best preserved Roman sewers. These are so good in state after 2000 years that are still in use today.

It was a key city during the Roman empire due to the gold mines not far towards Ponferrada to the north west of Spain, still in the region of Leon, known as Las Medulas and listed an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Being one of the largest in production, they provided to the capital of the empire, Rome, with all the gold mined here. The streets follows the original Roman pattern and since the historical city is inside the walls, it is very simple and easy to walk around without need for any map or getting lost.

But the city is not only important for its Roman origins and remains, but also for being one of the very few places outside of Barcelona where Antoni Gaudi designed one of his works; and incredibly enough for this rarity, the province of Leon has 2 of his works, with the second one in the city of Leon itself.


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Read more about the article The Ruhr Industrial Area – Germany
The Ruhr Industrial Area - Germany

The Ruhr Industrial Area – Germany

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Bauhaus and Modernist Coal Mines

Over the next 3 weekends spamming between March and April, all the trips to Dusseldorf in Germany had the very same purpose: visiting the Ruhr Valley Industrial Area, landmark in the European Route of Industrial Heritage, right in coincidence with the celebrations of the “European Capital of Culture 2010: Essen and the Ruhr area”. In total we would visit 3 iconic places, symbols of a bygone industrial era where this coal-rich region was once one of the most important high quality steel producers in the world.

Even nowadays steel production still strong, of course using much modern techniques without the use of coal for heating and melting, the coal era died at the beginning of 1990 leaving dozens of coal mines and industries abandoned. In many cases, their remains have been erased forever with the regeneration of their former sites back to nature or new constructions; but in other “lucky” cases, the most important for their architecture and engineering have been preserved and are now great museums.

One of them, the largest of its kind in Europe was designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site for its engineering achievement and its incredible design; the largest Bauhaus style building ever created: the Zeche Zollverein. Another, the Zeche Zollern, is in the other hand a masterpiece in the Art-Nouveu style. Equally beautiful.


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Read more about the article Bled and Bohinj – Slovenia
Bled and Bohinj - Slovenia

Bled and Bohinj – Slovenia

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Idyllic Setting around the Julian Alps

On our second part of this weekend trip in Slovenia after a nice experience in Ljubljana, the country’s capital; we visit what is perhaps the most known and famous natural landmark of the country, Lake Bled with its little island in the middle. Surrounded by castles, hills, pristine forests and lakes this area seem perfect for a fairy tale. And luckily the weather gave us a break with the sun shining and full clear skies for most of the day, something we cannot say from the rainy day before.

We rented a car upon arriving in Ljubljana airport the day before as we knew we would need it for our day out trip to the lakes and mountains. Reaching Bled via public transportation is not difficult in any case although it’s time consuming. Also remember that it is not only about this lake, but the many others and the nice mountains and landscapes you can only reach if you have your own transportation to be fully flexible.

After Bled you can head towards Bohinj, another beautiful lake surrounded by high mountains around. And other than this, unless you want to continue exploring mountain villages, other lakes and overall nature, you can head to Trieste in Italy, not far away anymore. (more…)

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Read more about the article Ljubljana – Slovenia
Ljubljana - Slovenia

Ljubljana – Slovenia

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Habsburg Laibach

With another weekend, comes another new place. A country never been before in this case for us, Slovenia, new capital city, Ljubljana, and great nature and landscapes as we would visit on the following day after first enjoying a whole day at the capital. It’s been a while we were tracking some flights here but these were always quite over the budget we would generally pay for just a weekend trip anywhere in Europe. Although it’s true we keep increasing constantly this budget since the days of the truly low-cost flights are gone to certain destinations, but with Slovenia in general it was always still too much to even consider bearing in mind our crazy unstoppable bug for travelling most of the weekends in a year.

The city, although small, has a very beautiful and large old town in a great state of conservation. For a long time it’s been a great project of gentrification where the otherwise once decadent and crumbling historical buildings, have been completely restored to their former glory. And incredibly, for Secessionist lovers, the city boasts a very large collection of this architectural style all over, mainly due to the fact that the city was destroyed in the 1895’s earthquake, being the Vienna Secession the new architectural style at that time, the true origins of the Art-Nouveau.

How long you should plan here depends if you want to visit any other place, like the Lake Bled, or even go to Trieste across the border in Italy. In any case, you should not plan any longer than 2 days as you will run out of places to visit on the first day. We planned the day of arrival for visiting the city, the day after for Lake Bled, surrounding villages and other lakes; and reaching Trieste for dinner. As for the last day before taking the flight back we did still enjoyed a walk in Ljubljana, sitting by the terraces along the river and a nice lunch. 2 days and a half was perfect for us to see everything we wanted and even reaching Italy for dinner.


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